Monday, February 19, 2018

19th February,2018 daily global regional local rice e-newsletter

Huanying! CPEC passes through Pakistani restaurants

  • Local restaurants welcoming visitors with signs in Chinese
ISLAMABAD: Following China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), there has been a notable increase in the two-way traffic between the two ‘brother’ countries. A popular Pakistani food outlet with a couple of branches in the federal capital is welcoming their visitors with Chinese billboards.
The introduction of traditional Chinese food has given a further traditional Chinese look to restaurants. One such example is seafood, where Chinese additions have increased the varieties in otherwise traditionally limited seafood options in Pakistani restaurants.
With the rising trend of Chinese restaurants, hotels have also been seen stepping up to prepare and introduce new Chinese dishes on the eve of Spring Festival. Meanwhile, the Chinese Culture Center in Islamabad has also done a lot to promote authentic Chinese culinary habits and eating techniques, especially the usage of chopsticks.
Promotion of culture through culinary ways in the two brotherly countries is proving the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative as impactful beyond trade and investment. This can be seen in China as well, where a number of Pakistani restaurants can now be found in major Chinese cities, and some as far north-west as Urumqi.
If you are in Islamabad, here are some restaurants you could visit: Tandoori Restaurant, Wang Fu in Blue Area, Chinatown Restaurant in F-8/4, Golden Dragon in F-7/3, Dynasty Chinese Restaurant in Islamabad Marriott, Kim Mun Chinese Restaurant in Jinnah Super, Wild Rice Restaurant in Khayaban-e-Suharwardy, Xinhua restaurant in Margalla Road, F series, Little Asia in F-6, Seres Chinese Restaurant in F-8/3, Heng Chang in F-7/2, EAT in F-7 Markaz, Yogi Haus in Shakar Pariyan, Tandoori Restaurant in F-10 and G-9, Doka Mocca in G-8 Markaz, The Emperor’s Table in F-7 Markaz, and Fijji’s Grill in Blue Area.

Revising China FTA may not make big difference

Hussain H. ZaidiUpdated February 19, 2018

PAKISTAN and China have agreed to amend the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with a view to providing Pakistani exports with better access to the Chinese market.
The FTA has, to a great extent, been responsible for Pakistan’s growing trade deficit with China. According to the United Nations-run database Comtrade, China accounts for 46 per cent of Pakistan’s total trade deficit.
The agreement was signed in 2006 and became operational a year later. In the wake of the FTA, bilateral trade skyrocketed by 220 per cent from $4.77 billion in 2007 to $15.27bn in 2016 (the last year for which full-year data is available).
However, China disproportionately benefitted from this rise. From 2007 to 2016, Pakistan’s exports to its neighbour went up 159pc to $1.59bn while the imports from China ratcheted up by 229pc to $13.68bn.
Thus, Pakistan’s trade deficit with China, which was $3.54bn in 2007, went up by 241pc to $12.09bn in 2016. At present, whereas China accounts for 7.74pc of Pakistan’s global exports, its share in the country’s global imports is 29.11pc.
Under trade concessions offered by the two countries, the FTA tariff reduction modality provided for tariff reduction or elimination on the agreed number of products from 2007 to 2012. China has been the major beneficiary in this case, too.
According to a 2013 study by the Pakistan Business Council, Pakistan’s concession list covered 59pc of its imports from China, whereas China’s concession list covered only 5pc of imports from Pakistan.
Pakistan gave China concessions on 5,686 tariff lines (TLs), while it received concessions on 6,418 TLs. Of the 5,686 TLs on which Pakistan gave concessions, tariffs were eliminated on 2,423 TLs, while tariffs were cut on the remaining.
China is better placed than Pakistan on almost all key economic indicators
Likewise, of the 6,418 TLs on which China gave concessions, tariffs were eliminated on 2,681 TLs while tariffs were reduced on the remaining.
The no-concession list of Pakistan comprised 1,025 TLs, while that of China consisted of 1,132. The concessions offered by both trading partners are more or less equal. However, since, as a rule, it is the coverage of actually traded goods rather than the number of TLs that matters, the exchange of concessions has been loaded in favour of China.
This may be put down to a better negotiating capacity as well as greater negotiating leverage of China, which normally happens with negotiations with a much more powerful country.
Pakistan’s top five imports from China have registered substantial growth over 2012-2016: electrical machinery and equipment (rose from $1.74bn to $3.33bn), other machinery and mechanical appliances ($0.868bn to $2.94bn), iron and steel ($0.357bn to $1.06bn), organic chemicals ($0.374bn to $0.635bn), and man-made filaments ($0.373bn to $0.556bn).
On the other hand, Pakistan’s top five exports to China during the same period show a disappointing performance: cotton yarn (dropped from $1.42bn to $0.823bn), rice ($0.254bn to $0.220bn), ores, slag and ash ($0.120bn to $0.077bn), fish and other marine products ($0.041bn to $0.047bn), and marble ($0.039bn to $0.027bn).
Not only that, but Pakistan’s top three global export products — home textiles ($3.80 global exports), knitted garments ($2.34bn) and woven garments ($2.25bn) — have a minimal presence in the Chinese market: $25.78 million for home textiles, $16m for knitted garments and $20m for woven garments.
Pakistan’s export-interest products either face high tariffs in the Chinese market or have suffered preference erosion in the wake of China’s FTA with countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). The tariff for rice is 65pc, while average tariff for home textiles, knitted garments and woven garments is 4pc, 7pc and 9pc, respectively.

Asean countries face zero tariffs for home textiles, knitted garments, and woven garments under the FTA, while for rice the applied Chinese tariff is 35pc. This places Pakistan’s star products in a relatively disadvantageous position in the Chinese market.
Pakistan wants China to accord its export interest-products the same level of preferential treatment enjoyed by imports from Asean.
However, some issues may vitiate Pakistan’s position. One, in FTAs preferential treatment is given on the basis of reciprocity. If Pakistan wants greater market access for its exports, it will have to offer greater access to Chinese imports as well.
The fact that the two countries have excellent political relations should not lead us into believing that China will not demand an equivalent level of concessions. Is our domestic industry, already reeling from heavy imports from China, ready for an increased access to Chinese products?
Two, because of its enormous domestic market, China enjoys cost advantages few other countries do. For over

UAE-Pakistan food trade set to grow

Filed on February 18, 2018 | Last updated on February 18, 2018 at 09.14 pm

Shawarma being served at the Al Rawdah stand during Gulfood 2018 at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Sunday.
(Photo by Dhes Handumon)

Exports to Emirates worth more than $1B

Trade between the UAE and Pakistan will soon see new heights, as Pakistani companies focus on increasing their exports of fresh fruits, grain and textiles to vendors in the UAE, experts at Gulfood 2018 said.
Speaking to Khaleej Times at the event on Sunday, Syed Javed Hassan, Consul-General of Pakistan in Dubai, said that total trade between Pakistan and the UAE reached $7 billion last year.
"The UAE is Pakistan's second-biggest trading partner, and our exports to the UAE were worth more than $1 billion," he said. "These included rice, herbal medicines, meat, fresh fruit and vegetables... Pakistani products continue to find loyal customers in the UAE and in the world. When it comes to fruits, our mangoes and oranges are highly sought after fresh products that are used by several restaurants in the country."
"Another area that we would like to grow our exports in is textiles. Previously, there was an issue with energy in the country, but the situation has improved and we are once again moving with full strength in this area. We hope that our trade in leather clothing will also pick up again."
The Pakistani pavilion at the exhibition saw the participation of 56 companies across a number of different sectors. In addition to several global brands, the event also saw the participation of several small and medium sized enterprises that are interested in entering the UAE market.
"This event is a launch pad for many Pakistani companies that are looking to form long lasting relations with UAE companies, especially in the F&B and hospitality sectors," Hassan said. "We know that Pakistani products are finding interested parties across the world and we know that this exhibition is going to prove to be crucial in connecting Pakistani companies and products to consumers around the world."

Diplomatic community participates in Taxila’s orange festival


The traditional horse dance at the orange festival remained popular with the diplomatic community on Sunday. — Dawn

TAXILA: Over 60 ambassadors, high commissioners and attachés attended the traditional orange festival in Taxila on Sunday.
The event is hosted by the Zaildar family and includes folk songs, cultural shows, horse dances and traditional sports such as stone lifting.
Speaking at the event, deputy dean of the Diplomatic Corps and the Ambassador of Tajikistan, Jononov Sherali, said Pakistan is heading towards peace and prosperity.
Asked about how to remove the negative image of Pakistan, Mr Sherali said Pakistan is like a diamond and presents different colours when looked at from various angles.
Those who keep seeing a negative picture are only looking at it from one angle, he said.
Developments in various sectors, including in agriculture and industries, is making Pakistan an emerging power among developing countries.
He appreciated Pakistan’s role in facilitating the reconciliation process in Afghanistan and lauded Operation Zarb-i-Azb.
The Tajik envoy said his country wants to enhance trade and investment relations with Pakistan and that the geographical proximity of both countries provides them with an opportunity to cooperate in many areas. He urged the Pakistani business community to invest in Tajikistan.
Speaking to media, Chinese Defence Attaché Maj Gen Chen Wenrong said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a lifeline project for the economies of China and Pakistan and that after the project, the Karakoram Highway will be the second hallmark of friendship between the two countries.
He added that Beijing will utilise all its resources to complete the project on time.
Ambassador of Yemen Mohammad Motahar Alashabi said Pakistan is an important country for the Arab world, including Yemen and that his country was importing rice and textiles from Pakistan.
He said Pakistan has good potential for enhancing its export services including medical and engineering services in Yemen.
One of the organisers of the event and a member of the Zaildar family, Syed Ahsan Shah said Taxila is the custodian of the centuries-old Gandhara civilisation and is therefore rich in history and culture.
He said Pakistan is a peaceful country and its diverse culture and hospitality is showcased through events such as the orange festival.
Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2018

100 Years & Over 20 Varieties: Celebrating India’s First Rice Research Institute
One of the oldest agricultural research stations in India dedicated to rice research, RARS Karjat completes a century in August 2019.
by Guest ContributorFebruary 17, 2018, 2:06 pm
Are you aware that Karjat, the last suburban station on Mumbai’s Central Railway corridor, is home to the country’s first rice research institute—the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS)?
One of the oldest agricultural research stations in India dedicated to rice research, RARS Karjat completes a century in August 2019.
Presently under the Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth (DBSKKV), RARS Karjat, initially founded in the British era, was established by the Government of Bombay Province with a view to develop and improve rice strains from existing tall varieties of the then Thane (now Thane and Palghar) and Kolaba (now Raigad) districts.
A pioneer in rice research, it is the third in the country following the establishment of Coimbatore and Shirgaon Research Stations.

Over the years, the control of the research station changed hands from the Department of Agriculture to the Maharashtra Agricultural University (Pune) to Mahatma Phule Agricultural University (Rahuri), and since 1972 it has been under the control of DBSKKV.
The primary mandate of RARS Karjat is the development of high-yielding, pest and disease tolerant/resistant rice varieties and hybrids for the state of Maharashtra. For its excellent performance, it has received an “A-Grade” award from the Indian Council of Agriculture Research while the State government has conferred it the “Award of Excellence.”
In its 100 years of its existence, RARS Karjat has hosted 34 rice breeders — traditionally referred to as ‘rice specialists’ — the first being Professor SD Bhalerao.
The second most important crop in Maharashtra, rice is grown over an area of 14.99 lakh hectares, and the annual rice production of the state is approximately 32.37 lakh tonnes.

With the average productivity of the state at 2.01 tonnes per hectare (t/ha), the state is ranked 13 in terms of rice production in the country.
Although the Vidarbha region has a greater area of the rice crop, the highest productivity has been observed in the Konkan region. However, its average productivity is less as compared to other rice-growing states like Panjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh etc.
So far, agricultural universities in the state have released a total of 61 high yielding varieties, including five rice hybrids and developed an improved package of practices for the cultivation of rice crop since 1970.
Between 1919 and 1970, RARS Karjat selected and developed ten rice varieties. From 1972, when it came under the control of DBSKKV, till today, it has developed 11 high yielding straight rice varieties and 4 hybrid varieties.
While the straight varieties have a yield between 35 and 55 quintal/ha, and the hybrid ones a yield between 55 and 70 quintal/ha. Grown mostly in the Konkan region, which witnesses 3555mm of rainfall, the straight varieties have had a phenomenal yield compared to the erstwhile 10 to 12 quintal/ha.
The semi-dwarf and high yielding varieties have been instrumental in an exceptional increase in the rice production in the state. Interestingly, the Konkan region contributes to approximately 29.65% of the state’s total rice production as against the area of 23.70 percent.
In the year 1998, RARS Karjat developed a variety of hybrid rice, known as ‘Sahyadri’ the first rice hybrid in Maharashtra and the third in India. In the subsequent years came ‘Sahyadri-2’, ‘Sahyadri-3’ and ‘Sahyadri-4’ were released.
The most popular high yielding varieties of rice developed by it are Karjat-2, Karjat-3, Karjat-7, Karjat-8, Karjat-184, and hybrids Sahyadri and Sahyadri-4. RARS Karjat has entered into MOU with seed producing companies providing them with parental lines and in return receives a royalty for the same.
“A long and slender variety which takes between 115 to 120 days and released in 2008, Sahyadri-4 has performed extremely well in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra achieving close to 100 quintals per ha while Sahyadri 3 which has an average yield of 60 plus quintal/ha has the potential of reaching 108 quintals/ha,” says Rice Specialist Dr AK Shinde. He adds that, “We have MOUs with seven seed producing companies, based in Hyderabad, Wardha, Uttarakhand, Jalgaon and Bhuvaneshwar, for the large-scale production of Sahyadri-4.”
According to Dr Shinde, some of the reasons why there are constraints in rice production in the state, are as follows:

1) Most rice growers are small farmers and with inadequate resources.
2) Low and imbalanced use of manures and fertilisers.
3) Heavy rains in Konkan deplete plant nutrients.
4) Less area under hybrid rice cultivation.
5) The high cost of cultivation.
Currently, rice breeders on the 39-acre campus are working on three high-yielding varieties, namely BARCKKV 13, BM4 and Karjat 10 which matures between 120 to 145 days. “The Karjat 10 is a long slender rice with average grain yield between 5.0 to 5.2 t/ha,” says Dr LS Chavan, Additional Director, RARS, Karjat.
Also Read: This Amazing 11-Year-Old Girl Transformed Her Courtyard Into a Lush Vegetable Garden!
RARS Karjat is home to the offices of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Integrated Farming System (AICRP on IFS) and Network Project on Organic Farming (NPOF). Talking about his plans, Dr Chavan says that, “We are working on the evolution of high yielding, fertiliser responsive rice varieties of different duration and grain types. Besides we are working on developing aromatic rice varieties, nutrition-rich varieties, pest-resistant ones and shade as well as salt tolerant ones.”
For its centenary year, RARS Karjat has chalked out various events, and the celebrations will be a year-long affair! Activities being planned include brainstorming sessions, workshops, exhibitions, Farmer’s Day celebrations, and even an exhibition on rice.
(Written by Hiren Bose)
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Rice exports grow, but basmati lacks lustre

Mohiuddin AazimFebruary 19, 2018
RICE exports seem to be on course to hit the four-million-tonne annual target during this fiscal year, fetching $2 billion in foreign exchange.
The fact that the commodity’s exports have rebounded despite a slower pace of shipments to China shows that exporters know what to do when orders don’t come in from the big buyer. Nevertheless, the slowdown has prompted our policymakers to seek tariff concessions from China to help exporters sell more to that country.
During this fiscal year, Pakistan has managed to export more rice to traditional markets like Afghanistan, Kenya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tanzania, Britain and the United States, according to senior officials of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and trade data based on banking transactions during the first half of this fiscal year.
Despite a commendable performance during this fiscal year, one area of concern in rice exports is our inability to boost basmati shipments
Exporters have also penetrated deeper into various less-explored markets like Benin, Bangladesh, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Russia, Senegal, Somalia, South Korea, Togo, Uganda and Ukraine, the officials say.
Rice exports to China plunged to $105m in the previous fiscal year from a peak of $277m in the 2015-16 fiscal year, mainly because of slow demand and in the face of stiff competition with Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. These rice exporting countries enjoy relaxed tariffs from China as they are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“We are lobbying Chinese authorities for some tariff relaxations to help our exporters regain the lost ground in the Chinese rice market,” says an official of the Ministry of Commerce.
He added that during the ninth round of negations on Pakistan-China free trade agreement (FTA) held earlier this month, the Pakistani side made out a strong case for tariff relaxation on key export items, including rice. “We hope that when we sign the amended FTA in March, we’ll gain easier access not only for rice but for many other items.”
Official data for rice exports during July-January has not yet out, but REAP’s senior vice chairman Rafique Suleman says Pakistan exported 2.28m tonnes of rice during the seven-month period, fetching $1.06bn. According to official data, exports during the same period of the preceding fiscal year were 2.08m tonnes ($877m).
He says the pace of shipments suggests the country can meet the full-year targets of 4m tonnes of exports volume and $2bn of earnings.
In the previous fiscal year, the country sold 3.5m tonnes of rice in foreign markets, fetching $1.6bn in revenue. Half-yearly stats for the current fiscal year put rice exports volume at 1.8m tonnes and earnings at $843m.
Rice markets rely heavily on REAP’s report on rice exports released ahead of official data.
Despite a commendable performance during this fiscal year, one area of concern in rice exports is our inability to boost basmati shipments. In July-December, basmati exports stood at 183,000 tonnes, about 4pc less than 190,000 tonnes a year ago. Earnings from basmati exports, however, inched up 4.5pc to $185m owing to a higher per-unit price that some leading exporters managed to earn on their brands, exporters say.
Many exporters continue to export large quantities of unpackaged basmati rice to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where buyers connected with Indian trade houses package them and re-export elsewhere under Indian brands. Exporters complain the government is doing little to address this issue.
This and similar issues of branding and seeking recognition of some varieties of rice as basmati grade need proper government-to-government level handling. At the same time, our exporters also need to shift basmati exports from loose to packaged cargoes in 10-20kg rice bags or smaller retail packing and reach out to big chains of retail stores across the world, officials of the Ministry of Commerce say. Some big rice export houses that do this earn higher export returns.
As of 2016, Pakistan’s rice sector comprised 22 large processing mills (employing 100 to 500 employees each), nine mid-sized mills (with 50 to 100 employees each) and 76 small mills (each having fewer than 50 employees).
To promote basmati brands of high exports standards, we need more mid-sized and big mills where achieving economies of scale is possible. But this cannot happen without investment. The private sector and the government must ensure additional investment in rice milling for promoting rice exports, particularly those of basmati.
Exports of non-basmati rice continue to do well, as large paddy outputs in recent years have enabled exporters to build and maintain their exportable inventories at relative low cost. Besides, our exporters are now more capable of exploiting requirement gaps in importing countries as and when they appear — thanks largely to better access to market intelligence in this digital era and real-time interactions with their buyers made possible owing to growing digital communication.
In the first half of this fiscal year, exports of non-basmati varieties soared to 1.63m tonnes from about 1.47m tonnes a year ago, resulting in higher earnings of $658.3m against $535.7m, according to official data.
Exporters optimistic of achieving the 4m tonnes target of rice volume this fiscal year say that rice shipments to Kenya are in full swing. In July-January, Pakistan has exported 284,000 tonnes of the commodity to the African country.
They say that exports to some major buyers like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Afghanistan as well as to European and African markets continue to see a decent rise. An occasional boost in exports to Spain and Bangladesh and some regaining of the lost ground in Chinese markets will also be helpful.
Encouraged by increased export earnings, a leading rice company last week got listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange and announced plans for producing more value-added products like rice glucose and rice protein.
“We’re confident that our focus on high-margin products will give us better returns compared to our traditional rice exports,” Matco Foods director finance, Faizan Ali Ghori, told the media after the maiden trading of the company’s share on the bourse.
He said his company planned to triple its rice glucose and rice protein outputs of 10,000 tonnes and 1,000 tonnes per year with the help of money raised through the initial public offering.
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, February 19th, 2018

Looking for genetic variation in all the rice places: Researchers complete the sequencing of thirteen rice genomes

Published Feb 18, 2018 10:03am
Updated Feb 18, 2018 6:06pm
02/16/18 6:00am
Rice has been used by many cultures to sustain their populations. According to Dr. Rod Wing, research being done today could help different varieties of rice feed even more of the worlds population.
The rice of the future may be in our bowls sooner than we think. 
Researchers, led by Dr. Rod Wing, a University of Arizona professor of plant science and director of the Arizona Genomics Institute, completed the genome sequencing of 13 varieties of rice in an effort to cultivate new varieties to feed a changing world.
“Rice feeds half the world and it's that half that is expected to double by 2050,” Wing said. “So we need to develop new varieties of rice that are higher yielding, more nutritious and have less of an environmental footprint. So the way we’re approaching this problem is to understand natural variation that already exists in cultivated rice, as well as in the wild relatives of rice.”
Scientists working on the International Oryza Map Alignment Project worked for 15 years to complete and compile the genomes of nine new varieties of rice, including seven wild varieties. Four additional genomes had already been sequenced. Oryza is the genus for rice.
The project got its start during the end of another landmark genetic discovery, the initial sequencing of the rice genome, which Wing was a participant in. 
“I started studying about the wild relatives of rice and I thought, 'Why don't we learn about these wild relatives?' Because they essentially contain a virtually untapped reservoir of genes that could be used for crop improvement,” Wing said. 
The Map Alignment Project began in 2003. Over the past decade and a half, researchers spent their days in the lab designing experiments, completing the sequencing and validating their data. 
In total, the project cost over $20 million. A majority of the funding came from grants by the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Program, with additional funding coming from other smaller gifts and the Axa Research Fund.
The goal of the project was twofold. The completion of these genomes opens the door for further rice research. In the future, scientists may be able to isolate genes for crop improvement, including higher yielding, more nutritious rice with a lower environmental impact.
But the project also contributes to other scientific fields beyond genetics. The phylogenetic trees, or evolutionary trees, of oryza created by the researchers can be used for understanding plant evolution on a broader scale.
“The genomes that they sequenced are of such high quality … that’s not something that’s available for most other organisms out there,” said Dr. Michael Sanderson, one of the researchers on the project and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “So we can take advantage of that to make these rice species sort of a model system to study the evolution of plants.”
Researchers ultimately took their data package on the 13 rice varieties and outlined their findings in an article that made the cover of Nature Genetics. The cover features a drawing of wild rice dancing, designed by Wing’s daughter, Katie. 
“[We’re] trying to tell a story about the genomes, and that’s pretty hard to do,” Wing said.  “It took us a long time to tell something that was good enough to publish in a journal like this ... The genome is fine, it’s is easy to do now, but it’s really how do you compare it in an interesting way. We think we did a pretty good job.”
All of the data from the project is now in the public domain for scientists from other labs to use in their own research.
 “It’s important that everybody can look at it and come up with new ways of looking at the data,” Wing said. “Because if we just sit on it, and nobody else has access to it, then it really doesn’t exist. Whereas if we release then everybody can look at it and extract new information out of it.”
Moving forward, Wing, Sanderson and other researchers will continue to sequence remaining genomes and compare those already sequenced, with the goal of one day transferring useful genes into new varieties of rice. 
“Having the genome is the beginning of the story,” Wing said. “What we want to do know is comparing their genomes to see what’s similar and what’s different … The other thing that we will use it for is to essentially isolate new genes for crop improvement.”
Indian scientists have reportedly detected anti-cancer properties in three traditional varieties of rice, namely Gathwan, Maharaji, and Laicha, which are found in the state of Chhattisgarh.
According to Deepak Sharma, principal scientist at the Genetics and Plant Breeding Department of the Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (IGKV) in Raipur, the three varieties of rice have medicinal properties that possess the ability to fight cancer.
In context: Rice might help you fight cancer

19 Feb 2018Scientists discover cancer-fighting properties in regional varieties of rice

Congress targeting to approve rice tariff bill before Lenten break

The chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture said the lower chamber remains committed to approve a bill amending Republic Act (RA) 8178 to abolish the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice before Congress goes on its Lenten break next month.
House Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairman Jose T. Panganiban Jr. of Anac-IP said the Duterte administration, particularly the Department of Finance, wants the bill to be enacted by March 23 or before Congress’s break on March 21.
Panganiban told the BusinessMirror that the QR bill is under deliberation in the House Committee on Appropriations. “The passage of the bill requires no appropriation but it still has to be submitted to the House Committee on Appropriations as part of the process.”
“Initially, our schedule to hear the bill [at the appropriation committee] is February 27, but I am asking the committee chairman, Rep. [Karlo Alexei B.] Nograles [of the First District of Davao City] to prioritize the bill and pass it immediately,” he added. After the Appropriations Committee approves it, Panganiban said he expects the bill to be at the plenary level by early-March. The Senate has already committed to pass its version of the measure by March.
Also, after approving their respective versions of the QR bill, the Senate and the House of Representatives will transmit their bills to bicameral conference committee to consolidate their versions and to discuss the divergent provisions of the measure.
The passage of the law allowing the tariffication of rice is included in the priority bills identified as urgent by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council. It is also one of the priority measures of Congress.
The measure was supposed to be approved before the Congress’s Christmas break last December 13 as committed by Panganiban. But lawmakers had to prioritize the passage of the proposed P3.7-trillion national budget for 2018 and the tax-reform program.
The House Committee on Agriculture and Food has set a bound tariff rate of 180 percent for rice imports outside the minimum access volume (MAV). Under the bill, the Philippines will impose a bound tariff rate of 35 percent for rice originating from the Asean region, regardless of its volume. Manila would also impose a 40-percent bound tariff most-favored nation (MFN) rate for in-quota rice imports from countries that do not belong to the Asean.
Once the substitute bill is enacted into law, the country’s MAV for rice shall revert to its 2012 level of 350,000 metric tons (MT), from the current 805,200 MT.
Earlier, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the BusinessMirror that the President’s economic team would like Congress to pass the law scrapping the QR by the end of the year so the country can start imposing rice tariffs by the first quarter of 2018. 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 National Economic and Development Authority, has the power to modify the tariffs applied on Philippine imports.
The Philippines is under pressure toconvert its QR on rice into ordinary customs duties after its waiver on the special treatment on rice expired on June 30. The Wold Trade Organization (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.
Last March the Philippines informed WTO members that it is facing delays in converting the QR because it has not amended RA 8178, which imposed the import caps on rice indefinitely.  As a sign of “goodwill” to its trading partners, President Duterte signed Executive Order 23 last July to extend the concessions made by the Philippines in securing the waiver in 2014.


Ballooning imports raise concern, says economist Mansur

  Abdur Rahim Harmachi,
Published: 2018-02-19 12:08:16.0 BdST Updated: 2018-02-19 12:08:16.0 BdST

Economist Ahsan H Mansur believes import spending may balloon to $60 billion this fiscal year.
At the current exchange rate, the amount would be approximately Tk 5 trillion, which is Tk 1 trillion more than the national budget for fiscal 2017-18 and Tk 500 billion more than the probable budget for the coming fiscal year.
Mansur said the rapid rise was a matter of some concern.
In an interview with, the economist said imports had risen 29 percent in the first half (July-December) of the current fiscal year and spending on imports was rising by the month. More letters of credit are being issued as well.
“According to my calculations, the country’s import spending will pass $60 billion.”
Asked about the cause of the deficit, Ahsan Mansur, the executive director of Policy Research Institute, said: “The recent leap in spending is largely the result of necessary materials being imported for the Rooppur nuclear power plant project. Spending has also risen as a result of increasing imports of rice, fuel oil, capital machinery and raw materials for construction.”
An estimate on the amount of raw materials and machinery imported for the Rooppur project in the July-December period was not available
But, in that period, spending on food imports (rice and wheat) increased 212 percent, capital machinery import spending increased 34.58 percent, fuel oil import spending rose 28 percent and raw material import spending rose 15 percent.
According to the information released by Bangladesh Bank on Sunday, letters of credit amounting to $40.23 billion were extended in the July-December period, a 75 percent increase year-on-year.
Import spending on rice has increased 113 times in the past six months.
Wheat import spending rose 38 percent, onions 80 percent, fuel oil 27.57 percent and capital machinery 35 percent year-on-year in the same period.
Asked about the effect of the rise in import spending, Mansur said: “A normal increase in import spending is considered positive. Increases in imports of capital machinery and construction materials mean increasing investment.”

“But we often hear about import misinvoicing and some shipping containers are empty. Many try to launder money by over-invoicing (reporting larger sums on official documents).”
“For these reasons I do not see the increase as completely positive. I am a bit concerned as well.”
The increased imports could put pressure on foreign reserves, he said.
“For a while now we have been confident about one thing -- having $34 billion in reserves. But it will not remain there as import spending rises. I think reserves will fall to $30 billion quite quickly.”
“There would be no problem if export earnings and remittances also increased accordingly. But import spending is ballooning whereas exports and remittances are rising gradually.”
According to the Bangladesh Bank, reserves stood at $33 billion on Sunday.
Reserves will fall further once the Asian Clearing House import bill is paid in the first week of March, Mansur said.
Exports rose 6.55 percent in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, while remittances rose nearly 16 percent.

On Rice Import Polemic, President Asked to Evaluate Performance of Agriculture Ministry

Illustration: Rice production.
JAKARTA, NNC - President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was asked to evaluate the performance of the Ministry of Agriculture related to polemic on rice import which must be done due to the absence of adequate production data.
"In fact, we need accurate and valid information related to the availability of rice. It must be accurate, otherwise, the performance is poor," said Director of Center for Budget Analysis Uchok Sky Khadafi in a statement in Jakarta on Monday (2/19/2018).
The issue of rice import is also followed by self-sufficiency claims and the procurement of land and seeds that are not as expected because of inadequate coordination.
Uchok saw there is no program from Ministry of Agriculture that goes well, because it is not realized in accordance with the target and goal to prosper farmers.
"The Agriculture Ministry also needs to clarify the issue of procurement of seeds, land and pesticides in accordance to the audit of BPK [Supreme Audit Agency]. BPK should take [the matter] to legal domain if not addressed," Uchok said.
The government has decided to import rice in the beginning of this year by 500 thousand tons. The rice will be used as government reserve as well as for stabilizing the price in the market. Imports are carried out by Logistics Agency (Bulog).


NFA plan to stop sale of cheaper rice hit

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:06 AM February 19, 2018
The National Food Authority (NFA) is once again in hot water for allegedly proposing to stop the sale of its cheap rice variant at P27 per kilo and instead focusing on the sale of its higher priced P32 per kilo variant.
Industry groups Bayan Muna and Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) have criticized the proposal, saying this runs counter to the mandate of the agency to stabilize the supply and prices of rice in the farm and consumer levels.
“This is really antipoor and the height of insensitivity as well as an added burden to consumers who are already overburdened by the skyrocketing prices of other commodities due to the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) law,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate.
“You cannot ensure food security and stabilize prices by taking out the supply of affordable rice. On the contrary, this would create instability and further hardships to consumers,” he said.
“It would be best for the NFA to drop this plan as well as their importation racket and concentrate on helping farmers increase their yield,” the solon went on.
Sinag, for its part, has been cynical of the agency’s recent pronouncements.
“Everything that the NFA has been saying for the last two to three weeks does not make sense,” Sinag chair Rosendo So said in a text message. “If their claim is that there is shortage in their buffer stock, the rice variant doesn’t matter. Rice coming from the NFA should not be available at all.”
“If there really is a shortage, they should have acted with care and prudence. Imagine, the rice agency itself announced that there is a rice shortage,” he said.
‘Just my personal opinion’
But NFA Director Rex Estoperez, who was quoted in the reported proposal, said there was no move from the part of the NFA to remove its cheap rice variant in the market.
“There is no proposal at all,” he said. “We were talking about subsidies during the interview and the buying prices of rice came up. That was just my personal opinion but if [economic managers] want to study that, then that depends on them.”
The director explained that the current absence of rice sold at P27 per kilo in the market was due to the shortage on the part of the agency.
According to NFA spokesperson Rebecca Olarte, cheaper subsidized rice will be available to consumers once the shipment of the imported rice arrives by the first week of June.
After the NFA announced that its buffer stock could only fill the national requirement for two days, its policymaking council approved the additional importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice.
It blamed the council’s delayed approval of its proposal to import, adding that it would be already too late for consumers to enjoy available rice for the next few months.

mugglers Forfeit N153m Vehicles, Rice To Customs In OgunPublished 6 hours ago on February 19, 2018 By YUSUF BABALOLA The Ogun State Command of the Nigeria Customs Service at the weekend revealed that it has intercepted banned items worth N153million in the last two weeks.  The Customs Area Controller, Sani Madugu who revealed this in a chat with journalists vowed to track down some car smugglers who left one of its operatives seriously injured with machetes after an attack at Ibeju River, around Ifoyintedo last week. Madugu said apart from the 13 impounded vehicles, other seizures made from smugglers within the period were 1,168 bags of 50kg foreign rice, 221 kegs of vegetable oil, five sacks of second-hand shoes, and two sacks of second-hand bags. He added that 12 additional vehicles and 21 motorcycles used as means of conveyance of the bags of rice were also seized. “It is pertinent to inform you that within the last two weeks, we have sustained the tempo promised in our anti-smuggling activities. During the period under review, the tireless efforts by the officers and men of the command yielded a total 13 Tokunbo vehicles, 12 means of conveyance, 21 motorcycles, 1,168 bags of rice, 221 kegs of vegetable oil, 5 sacks of second-hand shoes with a Duty Paid Value Of N153million.” On recent attack on an officer, Madugu said the command will not fold its arms while officers are being attacked by smugglers, appealing to traditional rulers to warn their wards against smuggling activities. Copyright LEADERSHIP. All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from LEADERSHIP. Contact:

Scientists find anti-cancer properties in three rice varieties

Scientists have claimed to have detected anti-cancer properties in three traditional varieties of rice found in Chhattisgarh.

Scientists have claimed to have detected anti-cancer properties in three traditional varieties of rice found in Chhattisgarh.
A research has concluded that three medicinal varieties of rice - Gathwan, Maharaji and Laicha - have the ability to fight cancer, said scientist Deepak Sharma.
The research was conducted by the Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (IGKV), Raipur and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Mumbai.
These varieties were taken from the rice germplasm bank preserved in IGKV, said Sharma, principal scientist at the genetics and plant breeding department of the agriculture university.
The three varieties of rice have properties to cure lungs and breast cancers without affecting normal cells, Sharma told PTI.
Of them, Laicha has been found to be the most effective in preventing proliferation of cancer cells and destroying them, he said.
Last year, IGKV, affiliated to the University Grants Commission, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with BARC for carrying out a range of research on various crops.
As a part the agreement, a study is being carried out on these three varieties of rice under the guidance of V P Venugopalan, Associate Director, Bio Science Group, BARC and other scientists, he said.
Sharma, who is also coordinator for researches being carried as a part of the MoU, said Gathwan, Maharaji and Laicha have been used for medicinal purpose in many pockets of the state, particularly in the tribal region of Bastar.
Gathwan also has the property to cure arthritis. Similarly, Laicha has been used in treating skin-related problems by villagers in some areas, the scientist said.
These varieties of rice also showed properties to prevent multiplication of cancer cells without affecting the normal cells, he said.
Certain elements in these rice varieties not only prevented the multiplication of cancer cells but also destroyed them to a significant extent, he said.
The research concluded that the necessary active ingredient can be achieved by consuming 200 gm of these varieties of rice daily by a person, he said.
In the next stage of research, BARC scientists are trying to extract the anti-cancer ingredients or elements from these varieties and conduct trials on the mouse.
Subsequently, they plan to develop it as dietary supplement which will be easy for consumption for people, he said.
Describing the findings as a significant achievement, IGKV Vice-Chancellor S K Patil said very soon these three varieties of rice will be used in treatment of cancer.
He said several research projects are underway to identify medicinal properties of Chhattisgarh's traditional varieties of rice preserved by late R H Richharia, a renowned researcher.


On the rice

After experiencing a major dip for years, Pakistan’s rice exports are on the rise. Will this recovery last long?

The news that Pakistan has exported 2.28 million metric tonnes of rice worth $ 1.06 billion in seven months (From July 2017 to January 2018) is quite encouraging for everybody. During the same period of the previous fiscal year, the figure was 1.971 million metric tonnes worth $.820 million. The rice exporters are celebrating this achievement and hoping for further boost in exports. Around 2012, the country lost many export orders and this resulted in a crisis for this sector. The worst hit were the farmers who had to sell their crop at a throwaway price and couldn’t event recover their input costs.
The question here is that whether this trend is temporary due to external factors or because of some major structural reforms carried out in the agriculture sector and incentives offered to the rice growers, traders and exporters. But before analysing this we need to recall what exactly hit Pakistan’s rice exports in the past.
Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Chairman Samiullah Naeem explains the dip in rice exports over the period from 2012 to 2015 was due to multiple reasons. First, there was loss of a big market in Iran where Pakistan would export huge quantities every year. The trade between the two suffered due to the international sanctions imposed on Iran. In this situation, India benefitted because it had a barter trade agreement with Iran. Pakistan on the other hand did not continue this trade at a noticeable scale.
Agriculture sector experts have been demanding the government invest in research sector and come up with new varieties of rice that are resistant to disease attacks and give high yields.
Second, Thailand and Vietnam had surplus stocks and for that reason they were in a good position to export it. Third, the European markets were captured by India as Pakistan could not match prices because the Indian farmers get heavy subsidies from the government whereas Pakistani farmers do not. The high cost of doing business in Pakistan is a big impediment.
Yet another reported reason, that Naeem does not acknowledge, is that some Pakistani rice consignments were rejected because it was found that exporters had mixed 386 variety of rice with basmati in order to bring down the cost. A few people earned easy profits by mixing a cheaper variety with an expensive one but this practice affected the whole sector badly.
About the charge of mixing varieties, Naeem says it is no more possible to mix any inferior quality of rice with basmati rice because these are easily identifiable. This might have happened in the past but is not possible now because of technology. He adds once he received a complaint from government functionaries about this but during a follow-up it was revealed that only one consignment of 40 tonnes had been found with mixed rice varieties. “For a country with capacity to export 4 million tonnes annually this amount is insignificant.”
Now we come to the question whether this recovery is long-term or a temporary one due to the challenges confronting Pakistan’s competitors in the rice market. In case it is for the second reason, what steps can be taken to make our rice highly competitive in the international export market?.
Khalid Khokhar, Chairman Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI), comes up with a few suggestions in this regard. He urges the government to watch the interests of the farmers if it wants to boost rice sector and further enhance exports. He says what happens is that the farmers, who mostly have small land holdings, are neglected and do not even have access to credit from financial institutions. Dependent on middlemen for this purpose, they have to sell their crops to them at pre-determined prices however low they are, he adds. Quite often they fall in debt trap and get so disturbed that they give up rice farming. “When there is a fall in rice sowing and yield there is hardly any surplus stocks for export.”
Khokhar urges the input costs for farmers shall be reduced by removing taxes and giving subsidies to the agriculture sector. Besides, the farmers must also have access to formal loans at low mark-up rates, he insists. He shares there is no support price for rice in Pakistan whereas in India the government has fixed support price for 26 agricultural commodities. He says when farmers will feel secure, they will cultivate more rice and as a result the country will have surplus crop. “To export, you need surplus.”
Agriculture sector experts have been demanding the government invest in research sector and come up with new varieties of rice that are resistant to disease attacks and give high yields. At the moment, farmers are even using Indian varieties and seed after slightly changing the name. “Kainat” is one such Indian variety that is available in Pakistan under the name of PS 2.
Furthermore, they have insisted over the years that the government shall trade in futures commodity market and strive to secure export orders for the next two years at the least. Once this is done, the government can plan well about how to grow rice in required quantity and according to the desired standards. A commodity futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell a predetermined amount of a commodity at a specific price on a specific date in the future.
About the factors that have helped Pakistan increase rice exports, REAP Chairman Samiullah Naeem says first of all last year Pakistan had surplus rice crop that gave it a cushion to focus on exports. Secondly, the ban on Indian rice imposed by the European Union (EU) gave Pakistan an opportunity to fill the gap. Residue of a fungicide found in Indian rice was the cause of this ban. As it will take India some time to bring down the traces of this fungicide to the allowed limit, Pakistan has a golden opportunity to strengthen its foothold in the European market. Increase in demand for rice in the global market and opening of Indonesian market for Pakistani rice are also the factors that have helped. The country is also trying to recapture Iranian market and if it succeeds in this endeavour the situation will further improve.
On how to ensure long-term stability in the sector, Naeem says the government can do this by giving rice sector the status of an industry. This way farmers, traders, millers and local and international buyers, etc, will become part of a chain and have coordination among them. He also urges the government to announce rebate on rice export so that the exporters find it feasible to receive payments through formal channels and not through hawala. At the moment, many exporters are under-invoicing and getting a chunk of the amount through hawala because they get benefit of a major difference in bank rate and market rate of dollar. This difference is hovering around Rs 5 to Rs 6 per dollar, he concludes. 

Will reducing cultivated rice areas rationalize water?

Monday February 19, 2018
Rice agriculture in Egypt - Photo by Hussein Tallal
Sat, Feb. 17, 201
CAIRO – 16 February 2018: The agricultural sector is considered one of the basic pillars to achieve economic and social development in Egypt, and rice is a key stable foodstuff for millions of Egyptians, but with the government’s new water strategy, thousands of rice feddans will be reduced.

Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Aty recently decided to reduce the rice agriculture area in Egypt from 1,700,000 feddans to 724,200 feddans (1 feddan = 1.038 acres) in order to rationalize water in Egypt.

The decision identified nine governorates to grow rice according to the relevant studies: Kafr El-Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Dakahlia, Beheira, Alexandria, Ismailia, Port Said and Gharbia. The ministry stressed that those who do not comply with the decisions will be subject to penalties.

Rice agriculture in Egypt – Reuters

Egypt’s fare of water is 114 billion cubic meters from all different sources. There is a national strategy for water resources from 2017 to 2037, and one of its main pillars is to rationalize water use by reducing the water consuming crops, Ministry of Irrigation spokesperson Hossam el-Emam told the “Ra’ay Aam” (Public Opinion) TV show on January 27.

The majority of rice is grown under irrigated conditions in which the fields are flooded from planting to harvest. Because of this flooding, rice is said to use a lot of water, about two and a half times the amount of water needed to grow a crop of wheat or maize, according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

On the other hand, some experts expect that reducing the rice cultivated areas will lead to a decrease in production, decrease the quantities offered in the markets and lead to higher prices and a trend towards imports to cover the needs of the local market to insure food security.

Rice agriculture in Egypt – File photo

The start of determining rice cultivated areas 

This leads us to search for the nature of the laws governing rice cultivation in Egypt. This is what Dr. Mohamed Nasr El Din Allam, professor of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering and former minister of irrigation, answers in a book published in 2001 with a group of researchers, titled “Water and Agricultural lands in Egypt past and present”.

Law No. 71 for year 1953 regulates rice cultivation, giving the Ministry of Irrigation the authority to identify rice growing areas and to sign a fine of LE 25-30 ($1.42-1.70) per feddan on the area that violates the decision, Allam said.

Then Law No. 31 for year 1961 was issued, which stipulates that the minister of irrigation shall determine the areas of rice cultivation and determine the percentage of rice cultivation in each area, and to raise the fines paid for violating that law to LE 35-50.

According to Allam, the total area planned for rice cultivation after the construction of the high dam was about 700,000 feddans, and there was no significant increase until 1988, as the planted areas were less than one million feddans. In Egypt, rice used to be planted in coastal areas to reduce sea water intrusion with the underground water stock in the Delta region.

Along with the liberalization of the prices of agricultural crops, rice became one of the most profitable crops for farmers. The cultivated area increased gradually to 1.3 million feddans in 1992 and 1.6 million feddans in 1997, Allam added.

Crop area for rice in Egypt 2002-2015 CC CAPMAS

The highest cropped area for rice was 1.8 million feddans in 2007/2008, and then the area wasn’t stable in the following years, reaching its lowest in 2015 at 1.2 million feddans, according to the Central Agency for Capital Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

The highest rice production through the past 10 years was in in 2007/2008, as it reached 7.3 million tons, while the lowest was in 2010.

Rice production in Egypt cc CAPMAS

The highest rice production through the past 10 years was in 2007/2008, as it reached 7.3 million tons, while the lowest was in 2010, as it reached only 4.3 million tons, and Egypt’s rice self sufficient reaches 100.4%, according to CAPMAS.

Geographical Distribution for Rice Production in Egypt (CAPMAS)

According to CAPMAS, the five highest areas in producing rice in the year 2014/2015 are Dakahlia governorate, producing 1.7 million tons; Kafr el-Sheikh with 1.1 million tons; Sharqia with 0.9 million tons; Beheira with 0.6 million tons; and Gharbia with 0.4 million tons.

Governorates Distribution on Map for rice production –Year 2014/2015 – CAPMAS

The cultivation of rice acres consumes around 6,000 cubic meters of water per year. The area of cultivated rice in Egypt is about 9 billion cubic meters of water per year of Egypt's share of Nile water of 55 billion cubic meters. But rice is not the most water-consuming, as banana uses three times the amount of water consumed by the acres of rice, so more solutions should be seen instead of reducing the areas of rice, which is threatening thousands of farmers in the Delta, said Gamal Syam, professor at the Faculty of Agriculture.

More ways to reduce water consumed by rice 

The Ministry of Agriculture has identified 53 varieties of some varieties of strategic water-saving crops that are adapted to the different environmental and climatic conditions, focusing on breeding during the coming period, which included seven varieties of rice.

These varieties give high productivity, resistance to disease, and adapt to various water and climatic conditions, as well as short life in the soil, to achieve high efficiency in the use of irrigation water and a major rational in consumption, which provides water quantities that can be used for cultivation and other crops.

The head of the farmers syndicate, Hussein Abu Sadam, criticized the way of rationalizing water by reducing the area of cultivated rice, saying, “Egypt is still growing enough quantities of domestic consumption and surplus for export, after wheat, cotton and reed crops have declined. Rice is also the most profitable crop for Delta farmers under the low profitability of vegetables.”

Sadam suggested using modern irrigation methods and cultivating non-irrigated rice strains, also announcing clear policy for the Ministry of Agriculture to determine the land where rice will be grown or not.

A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, as it undergoes construction, is seen during a media tour along the river Nile in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, in Ethiopia March 31, 2015. Picture taken March 31, 2015 - REUTER/Tiksa Negeri

At the same time, Egypt is negotiating with the African front to guarantee its rights in Nile water amid establishing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Recently a tripartite summit occurred between Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and resigned Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at Sisi's presidential residence in Addis Ababa during the African Union (AU)’s 30th summit.

The three countries affirmed an agreement on a single vision based on the Declaration of Principles signed in Khartoum and raising the no-harm principle of the three countries’ interests.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (R), Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (C) and Sudanese counterpart, Omar Hassan al-Bashir (L) during a tripartite summit at the AU's 30th summit on January 29, 2018 – Press photo

They agreed to hold a joint meeting between the ministers of irrigation and foreign affairs of the three countries and the National Tripartite Commission, then raise a final report in a month that includes a solution to all pending technical issues. They also agreed to exchange technical information and studies between the three countries. 

Rice, a politicized crop

February 17, 2018, 10:00 PM

Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara
By Edgardo J. Angara
Former Senator

Prof. Yuan Long Ping in 2000 gave the hybrid rice technology to the Philippines. He said he’s just paying back that utang na loob (debt of gratitude) China owed the Philippines. 500 years ago, when Ming Emperor Wan Mui Li (1573-1615), sent a special delegation to the Philippines who brought back kamote as its aid to the Fujian farmers. Fujian survived the drought and saved millions from death by hunger because of that humanitarian succor.
The National Food Authority Council (NFAC) through Cabinet Secretary Leoncio B. Evasco Jr., announced last Monday that the NFAC has greenlighted the NFA’s purchase of 250,000 metric tons (MT) of imported rice via “government-to-private” (G2P) scheme. Earlier on, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas thumbed down the proposal of DA Secretary Piñol to increase the buying price of palay to 18 to 20 peso from the current P17 per kg. The reason the economic managers rejected the increase of the buying price of palay was its resulting higher inflation.
The time for redefining NFA’s role, as well as the proposed deployment of assistance to agriculture has long passed. The call has never been heeded for nearly three decades, for a variety of reasons.
Under a reformist Duterte presidency, the chances of getting the NFA’s role redefined and the support to agriculture redirected, are much greater.
I strongly suggest the following measures be implemented:
First, NFA should be limited to being a regulatory agency, not at all engaged in importation of rice or fixing of buying price of palay. Limiting NFA to a regulatory body means NFA’s sole authority is to issue license and permits to rice outlets selling imported rice to the local market whether through “government-to-government” or government-to-private sector” arrangement. It means that there will be no cap on the buying price of paddy palay to prevent private traders from buying ahead of NFA at a higher price. That’s what is actually happening today. And that is the reason why NFA perennially runs out of buffer stock.
Second, under the Agricultural Tariffication Act (RA 8178) the quantitative restriction on imports of rice should be converted into regular tariffs. The tariff proceeds should go to assist farmers engaged in agriculture, aquaculture, and dairy production. Through the conversion, government will have a source to pay for the farming assistance, without having to pass new taxes. And it will probably ensure sufficient supply of rice in the country, making rice affordable.
If the selling price of rice is pegged government at P38 to P40 per kg that represents 9.30% to 9.78% of the ordinary Filipinos daily wage of P408.8. A family of 6 probably consumes 2 kg of rice a day.
Third, the tariff proceeds augmented by regular appropriation to DA, should finance research and development in high-yield varieties of rice. The China hybrid rice technology produces between 9 to 12 tons a hectare. Our traditional palay seed produces between 1.5 to 1.8 tons per hectare.
There should be a Presidential Award to the Region and within the region to Province who produces the highest yield per hectare.


Is It Worth Switching from White Rice to Brown?

February 16, 2018
In 2012, a meta-analysis was published tying white rice consumption to diabetes, especially in Asian countries. Even in the United States, where we eat much less white rice, research shows the regular consumption of white rice was associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes though brown rice was associated with lower risk, and that was after controlling for other lifestyle and dietary factors such as smoking, exercise, and meat, fruit, and vegetable consumption. The researchers estimated that replacing even just a third of a serving per day of white rice with the same amount of brown rice might lower diabetes risk by 16 percent.
Since the publication of that 2012 meta-analysis, a study out of Spain suggested white rice consumption was associated with decreased diabetes risk. However, it was a tiny study compared to the others, with only hundreds in contrast to hundreds of thousands of people involved.
In Spain, rice is usually consumed in paella, which is commonly prepared with the spice saffron that research indicates may have therapeutic potential against diabetes. Additionally in Spain, white rice consumers also ate more beans, which appear to have antidiabetic properties, as well. This gives a sense of how difficult it is to infer cause-and-effect relationships from population studies, since we can’t control for everything. Yes, we can control for weight, smoking, alcohol, exercise, and so on, but maybe people who are smart enough to eat brown rice are also smart enough to wear seatbelts and bike helmets, install smoke detectors, and forgo bungee jumping.
What we need is a way to fund randomized interventional studies, where we switch people from white rice to brown rice and see what happens. “Until then, the effect of the consumption of white rice on the development of type 2 diabetes will remain unclear.” But we didn’t have such studies…until now.
Researchers conducted a study in which overweight women were randomized into two groups: one following a weight-loss diet with a cup or so of cooked white rice every day and another with a cup of cooked brown rice every day. After six weeks, the groups switched, and the white rice group ate brown rice and vice versa. When the subjects were eating brown rice, they got significantly more weight loss, particularly around the waist and hips, lower blood pressure, and less inflammation.
Researchers found similar effects for prediabetics: Substituting brown rice for white rice led to significantly more weight loss, more waist loss, and better blood pressures.
Brown rice may not just help get rid of tummy fat, but also preserve our artery function. High blood sugars can stiffen our arteries, cutting in half their ability to relax within an hour, whether you’re diabetic, have prediabetes, or are nondiabetic. For diabetics, though, their arterial function goes down and stays down. We also know that brown rice can have blood sugar lowering effects compared to white rice. So, can switching to brown rice help preserve arterial function? In folks with metabolic syndrome, within an hour of eating about a cup of cooked white rice, we can get a drop in arterial function, but not so with brown rice.
Despite all the benefits of whole grain rice, Asian people often prefer white rice, considering it softer and tastier than brown rice. In a focus group of Chinese adults, however, researchers found that only a minority of them had ever even tried brown rice.  “Before tasting brown rice, the majority of participants considered it to be inferior to white rice in terms of taste and quality…” So, the researchers simply served some up, and, after actually tasting it and learning about it, most changed their minds.
In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Global Corn Combine Harvester Machine Market Projections 2018- Case IH, AGCO, KUHN and John Deere

 Global Corn Combine Harvester Machine Market Research Report studies the progress performance of the Corn Combine Harvester Machine industry. The report estimates forthcoming Corn Combine Harvester Machine opportunities between the period 2018-2022. Likewise, the Corn Combine Harvester Machine market study provides a competitive overview of demand drivers. First, the Corn Combine Harvester Machine report illustrates a conventions, terminologies, and notations. Then it looking into basic Corn Combine Harvester Machine introduction including its definition, applications and Corn Combine Harvester Machine manufacturing technology. Further, it gives classifications and technological framework for the Corn Combine Harvester Machine market.
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Go for food requiring less resources to grow, DA urges consumers

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:16 AM February 17, 2018
The government will try to wean Filipinos on consuming food commodities that require large areas to grow as the country’s resources are seen not be able to cope with the country’s rapid population growth.
A new advocacy under the Duterte administration is set to determine the food requirements of Filipinos in the next 50 years through a National Food Consumption Quantification survey under the Department of Agriculture.
This will complement a study to be done by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that will measure the country’s food consumption in relation to its food production.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed the country’s population in 2015 was already 100,981,437, or a growth rate of 1.7 percent.
Aside from assessing the country’s food requirements, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the study will also determine what food Filipinos prefer to eat, how much of these food do Filipinos consume, where and how can the country produce these food, how much of these food do we need to produce in the next 50 years, and up to what point can the country’s land and aquatic resources can suffice the needs of the population.
It will also find alternatives or new measures on how the sector can produce more food using less land and water, and how it can encourage Filipinos to veer away from consuming food that require more resources to grow.
“People have to understand that the 30-million hectare land area and the width of the seas within the country’s EEZ (exclusive economic zone), including the 25-million hectare continental shelf east of Luzon called the Philippine Rise, is finite,” said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on his Facebook page where he often posts major policies and programs of the agency.
“There will be a point in the life of this nation when the land and the seas will no longer be able to produce enough food for Filipinos,” he added.
In a press conference earlier this week, the secretary revealed that based on the computation of the DA, Philippine Rice Research Institute, and International Rice Research Institute, the country was now 96 percent rice self-sufficient.
He added that the country’s paddy output of 19.3 million metric tons (MT) last year was equivalent to about 13.1 million MT of milled rice at an average milling capacity rate of 65 percent. This is higher than the country’s annual estimated rice requirement of about 11.2 million MT.
Nonetheless, Piñol pointed out that even as the Duterte administration’s target to reach rice self-sufficiency by 2020 would be achieved, it might take only about five to 10 years before the country would revert to producing less than the population requires.
“We may achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2020 but it will be temporary and fleeting as I expect population to overtake the capacity of the country to produce food the traditional way,” he said.


 February 17, 20180268

Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa has called for investment in paddy rice seed processing because the country relies on imports.Mr. Shawa also says the country imports vegetable seeds which is an opportunity for investment by the private sector.
 He said this when Zambia’s High Commissioner to India Judith Kapijimpanga called on him in Lusaka when she took PRASAD Seeds Company that wants to set up a seed processing facility in Zambia.Mr. Shawa says the over ten seed processing companies existing in Zambia have focused much on corn seed processing for the local market and exports.He says the importation of paddy rice seeds has led to low productivity in Zambia.
 And PRASAD Seeds General Manager for Africa Sreekumar Nair says his company is reputable as it supplies 70% of India’s seed needs.Mr. Nair says PRASAD Seeds Company has chosen to invest in Zambia because it is well positioned to reach out to 8 neighbouring countries.
 He says his company is ready to set up a commercial entity in Zambia because of political stability and a conducive climate for seed processing.Meanwhile, Mrs. Kapijimpanga says Prasad Seeds Company has an ambitious out-grower scheme which empowers women and youths through giving them seeds to plant and buy off the produce. She also says the year 2018 will see more investors travelling to Zambia following a continuous aggressive marketing of the country in India and countries of extra accreditation.This is contained in a statement made available by First Secretary Press and Tourism at the Zambian Mission in India, Bangwe Naviley.


Our perennial rice problem

 February 18, 2018, 12:05 AM
Is there – is there not – a rice shortage in the country today?
Secretary of Agriculture Emmanuel Piñol said there is now a surplus of 2.7 million metric tons of locally produced rice, as a result of last year’s record palay production of 19.4 million metric tons, the biggest in history. At least 2.7 million tons of his record harvest remains to this day. And now, for the first three months of this year, the DA expects a harvest of 3.1 million metric tons – for a total of 5.8 million metric tons.
The National Food Authority (NFA), however, said it is supposed to have a buffer stock good for 15 days – 30 days during the lean season from July to September – but its stocks are fast dwindling and it has now stopped releasing to traders. The result is less NFA rice in the market.
But there is a lot of commercial rice in the market. As Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, said, it is only NFA stocks which are down. These are the low-priced stocks sought by the poorer folk. They are the stocks distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development for its Pantawid program.
Senator Villar said the NFA should be replenishing its stocks by buying rice from local farmers instead of importing all of it. She said the NFA could buy palay at low prices in places like Antique and Palawan. This would not only enable it to meet its required buffer stock but will also help increase the income of local farmers.
But the NFA prefers to buy from abroad – either from Thailand or Vietnam. Last week, President Duterte approved the NFA plan to import 250,000 tons after NFA Administrator Jason Aquino said the NFA serves around eight to ten million low-income Filipinos and they are the ones who would suffer from an NFA shortage. NFA rice sells at P27 to P32 a kilo, while commercial rice costs P36 to P65 a kilo.
There is no actual rice shortage in the country because Filipino farmers can now produce enough for the country, but their production costs are higher than those of Thai and Vietnam farmers and their rice harvests are thus costlier. Secretary Piñol also says there is an “anomalous food chain” with traders dictating the prices of rice they buy from farmers.
There are thus so many interests of so many sectors involved – the government, farmers, traders, poor consumers, and the majority who can afford to pay a little more for their rice. A long-range solution, perhaps, is to bring down our farmers’ cost of production so that there would be no more need to import cheap rice for the poor.
An even better goal would be increasing incomes through greater employment in a more active economy so there would no longer be need for special aid programs like the Pantawid dole-outs and low-priced NFA rice.


Azerbaijan to fully provide itself with rice - minister

17 February 2018 15:48 (UTC+04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 17
By Anvar Mammadov - Trend:
Azerbaijan will be able to fully provide itself with rice by 2025, Agriculture Minister Heydar Asadov said Feb. 17 at an expanded meeting of the ministry’s board.Presently, Azerbaijan’s annual demand in rice is 40,000 tons, he added.“Last year, we spent $36 million on rice imports,” Asadov said.
The harvest of rice is planned to be increased to 40,000 tons per year in Azerbaijan, according to the State Program for Rice-growing Development in Azerbaijan in 2018-2025, recently approved by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
According to the program, the area for rice planting is planned to be increased to 10,000 hectares, and the productivity up to 40 centners per hectare in Azerbaijan.The program says that in 2016, the planting area for rice was 2,500 hectares and the harvest amounted to 5,600 tons in the country. In 2017, the sown area was increased to 5,100 hectares, and harvesting – to 15,900 tons. The productivity totaled 31.1 centners per hectare.
The state program’s implementation will increase the rice harvest by more than 2.5 times by 2025.

Agriculture Minister Claims Corn Export Reaches Four Million Tons

Agriculture Minister claimed corn export reached four million tons.
MAKASSAR, NNC - Suppressing imports and strengthening exports in the domestic agricultural sector seems like a pipe dream, in fact rice is still imported amounting to 500,000 tons. However, regarding the data on rice imports, Minister of Agriculture Amran Sulaiman dismissed it.
Through one of the national news websites he claimed in the last two years there was no import. "In 2016 we agreed there is no import, in 2017 absence of import means self-sufficiency," he said on Sunday (2/18/2018).
Switching from rice to corn, the minister said that in February 2018, the country exported up to four million tons of corn, among others to neighboring Philippines and Malaysia.
"We have met with the Philippine Minister of Agriculture and the signing will be in front of the President of Indonesia and President Duterte in the Philippines is ready for the need of one ton of corn, Malaysia four million tons," said Minister Amran, when met with news media and NNC at the Clarion Hotel, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Wednesday (2/14).
According to him, with the harvest and ability to export by up to million tons of corn it is a golden opportunity for Indonesian farmers. Moreover, the plants were grown at the border so that the cost of transport is cheap. "For decades we imported suddenly now we export with a value that is not small, thus we save foreign exchange proceeds," said Amran.
"In the past we imported 3.6 million tons of corn equivalent to IDR10 trillion, we directly turned it into export meaning that we are capable of not only self-sufficiency but exports."

44 rice mills booked by legal metrology sleuths

TNN | Feb 18, 2018, 12:38 IST
GUNTUR: As many as 44 rice mills were booked by the legal metrology sleuths on charges of various violations at Bapatla and Ponnur areas in Guntur district on Saturday.
The legal metrology sleuths conducted raids on rice mills as part of the regular checks and found out the discrepancies.

While many of the rice mills are packing the rice without mentioning name and address of the manufacturer or packer, maximum retail price (MRP), net quantity, date of packing and customer care details.

Out of the total 44 cases, 32 cases have been booked on rice mills for not packing rice without any details on the packages. According to the norms it is mandatory to declare the manufacturer details in case of any packaged commodity.

Two rice mills were found delivering less rice in 25 kg bags. The officials found 2kg short for 25 kg bag at Jayakrishna Rice Mill in Bapatla and 1 kg short at P Nageswara Rao and Lakshmaiah & Co in Ponnur.

In another 10 cases, the weighing machines were not verified in the stipulated time. Every electronic weighing machine has to be verified, stamped and sealed by the legal metrology department once in a year.

The burden of getting stamped from the department lies with the user.
Four teams were formed to conduct simultaneous searches. The controller of legal metrology E Damodhar directed the officials to conduct the raids assistant controller of enforcement K V Raj Kumar supervised the raids. Raj Kumar said that penal action would be initiated against the erring rice mills flouting norms.

Tamil Nadu has to make most of least

Mayilvaganan| TNN | Feb 17, 2018, 10:23 IST
Representative Images
If the Supreme Court order on Cauvery water sharing is the end of the age-old dispute, Tamil Nadu farmers have to learn to live happily with lesser water. What’s encouraging, say experts, is it’s possible provided Karnataka releases the 177.25tmcft water as fixed by the apex court. With better water management practices and cropping methods, farmers can manage a good yield, Tamil Nadu farmers should opt for less water-intensive crops and drought-resistant paddy varieties. At the same time, the government should take steps to tap existing water resources in a judicious manner, say experts.
 “Now we have to readjust our irrigation and cropping methods. TN receives 950mm to 1000mm rainfall, the second largest state to receive this much rainfall during northeast monsoon. About 30% of this drains into sea. We can conserve this water and ensure one crop in all districts,’’ says Tamil Nadu Agricultural University vice-chancellor K Ramasamy.

He suggests that there are irrigation techniques to conserve water. For instance, through alternate wetting and drying method (AWD), 30% of water can be conserved without any yield reduction. A plastic or bamboo pipe of 40cm length and 15cm diameter with drilled holes is sunk into the rice field partially. When the water level inside the pipe falls, it is refilled. This way, farmers can save 5,000 litres of water for each kg of rice produced. TNAU scientists say this method is widely followed in the Philippines and Vietnam.

V Saraswathi, 48, of Thirumangalam near Lalgudi in Trichy district, a progressive farmer cultivating on a 4.5-acre land for the past 25 years, follows wet and dry method. “This method gives a good yield and reduces input costs by way of reduced electricity consumption for pumping water,’’ she says.

Progressive farmers also suggest borewells instead of drawing directly from irrigation channels for lesser water utilisation.
To mitigate water scarcity, drought-resistant varieties can be cultivated. “There are less water-intensive, location-specific varieties like Anna (R) 4 for Thanjavur, Co 51, MDU 5 - a short duration fine grain variety - and modified CR 1009, which are both drought and flood tolerant,’’ says Ramasamy. For Nagapattinam, where sea water incursion has wreaked havoc with agriculture, scientists have developed paddy varieties that grow in saline water. Agricultural experts say the cropping pattern can be reworked. “Right now, we go for 100 to 180 days duration paddy crops, which require 14 to 20 wettings. But millets need six wettings only,’’ said an agricultural scientist. “But there is resistance from farmers as well as government authorities when we suggest alternative crops as Cauvery has now become a politically-surcharged issue,” he said.
Some radical changes should be brought about in the cropping pattern like going for just samba cultivation in the October–January season. During kuruvai season, farmers can opt for cereals and pulses. “Water is no longer released from Mettur reservoir for kuruvai as per the customary schedule on June

12. Instead of waiting for Mettur water release, farmers can go for millets which require less water,” the scientist said.
On the part of the government, there should be an additional thrust on conserving water bodies. A PWD official said the ‘kudimaramathu’ drive initiated by the government was a good start. “We expect large-scale funding from NABARD for conservation of water bodies. We will continuously carry out work to protect our water bodies,” said the officer.


CPM’s ‘food security’ act

PublishedFeb 17, 2018, 1:23 am IST
UpdatedFeb 17, 2018, 1:23 am IST
Comrades raise chicken, veggie, fish for state meet.
Thiruvananthapuram: While the state may be depending largely on Tamil Nadu for major chunk of poultry requirement especially chicken, things are going to be different at the forthcoming CPM state conference beginning in Thrissur from February 22. The CPM workers belonging to local units in Thrissur have created their own poultry farm and raised chicken spending about Rs 90,000.  No antibiotics like neomycin to control bacterial disease of poultry and terramycin are being used in the farm. Even low dosages meant for growth promotion are not being used. 
Only natural poultry feed is being given to ensure the comrades get antibiotic free and best quality chicken curry during their four-day stay in Thrissur. The Mala area committee was entrusted with task of raising of poultry. Around 500 chicks were raised at the farm in Puthenchira and party members Biru and Malathy were given the charge of managing the farm. At the moment more than 400 chickens are ready for the conference.

Apart from poultry, the party committees have also carried out paddy cultivation in a big way in the district to meet rice demand during the conference. Similarly, fish farming and organic vegetable cultivation have been taken up to provide chemical and pesticide free food to the delegates. Over 566 delegates and 16 observers will have the opportunity to relish the home grown rice and organic vegetables besides fish and chicken. The party leaders say the effort is also to send across a message to the people of the state for attaining self sufficiency in paddy, vegetable cultivation and  poultry.
Tags: cpmfood security
Location: IndiaKerala


Chinese New Year Celebrations in San Antonio We're Excited For

Posted By Jessica Elizarraras on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Jessica Elizarraras

If you're looking to celebrate sooner rather than later, Hot Joy's celebration of the Year of the Dog starts Friday night and ends Saturday with chef John Philpot's take on traditional dishes. The menu will feature a la carte small and large items and desserts, along with the restaurant's tiki cocktails.

For this year's celebration of the lunar new year, Philpot and his team are creating two new dumplings (crispy cumin lamb with sour cream pickled mushrooms and dill; and a pork and scallop shumai), foie steam buns with duck sauce and cucumber, steamed pumpkin cake, dan dan noodles and more with prices varying from $8.99 to $14.99. As a nod to the 46 different noodle recipes he tried to make for last year's celebration, Philpot created a master stock with 46 ingredients (lamb, chicken, pork bones were all used along with aromatics and spices), topped with hand-pulled noodles, barbecue pork, bok choy and red vinegar. Prices vary, February 16-17, Hot Joy, 1014 S. Alamo St., (210) 368-9324.

Sichuan House will offer a lunar new year menu throughout the weekend (or sell out) with ginger vinaigrette long beans, pork underbelly lettuce wraps, Sichuan sauteed Brussels sprouts, spicy wok-seared whole fish, lover's bridge baby back ribs and more. Prices vary, Sichuan House, 3505 Wurzbach Road, Suite 102, (210) 509-9999.

The Institute of Texan Cultures will celebrate the Asian Festival. Grab a beer or sake at the Asian Libation Station, and pair it with bites hailing from Malaysia, India, Korea, Philippines, Pakistan, China, Vietnam and beyond. With halo-halo from Sari Sari Filipino Restaurant, bulgogi rice bowls from Takorea, masala fries from the Pakistani tent, fried rice from the Chinese Women’s Club and sweet mango lassi milkshakes from Café Bahar, there’ll be something for everyone to enjoy. $5-$12, Sat. February 17, 10am-5pm, Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., (210) 458-2300.
Next Saturday, Pinch Boil House & Bia Bar will launch Lantern, a new dinner series that'll share Asian cuisines in a unique and modern style. The first will celebrate the traditions of Chinese New Year with dishes such as nian gao rice cake with red snapper; mian tiao longevity noodle with pork belly, garlic and chives; jiao zi mustard greens with chicken dumplings, peking quail (aw), and a selection of sweets and snacks. Seating is extremely limited. $47, Pinch Boil House & Bia Bar,

Pakistan eyes $61bn export revenue in next five years

ENAFN - Gulf Times) Pakistan eyes more than $60bn in exports revenue in the next five years, betting on a double-digit growth in outbound shipments so far in the current fiscal year, but industry officials linked the target with ease of doing business.
Ministry of commerce yesterday arranged consultative meeting with relevant stakeholders, including representatives from chamber and commerce in order to get their inputs for promoting foreign trade in years to come.
They discussed the three different scenarios under Pakistan's strategic trade policy framework (STPF) for 2018-2023.
If the country achieves only 10% annual growth in exports the revenue could go up to $36.21bn over the next five years.
If exports grow 15% a year the foreign revenue could increase to $47.28bn. But, with 20% annual growth, Pakistan's exports could touch $61.03bn over the next five years.
Exports started to pick up in the range of 10% to 11% in the first seven months of the current fiscal year.
However, the overall performance of exports remained dismally low and stood at $20.4bn in the last fiscal year of 2016/17. Exports had actually declined from $24bn to $20.4bn in the last four-year period.
The STPF for 2018-2023 is expected to be presented before the federal cabinet in May 2018 just ahead of the next general elections.
Any policy framework for promoting country's trade without ownership of upcoming government will pose question mark that how effectively the policy framework will be implemented in the next five years.
However, the policy makers said the trade issues need to be looked beyond political divide and the same policy might be fine-tuned after the next government comes to power.
Federal Secretary Commerce Younus Dagha told the participants of the consultative meeting about the preparation of STPF for 2018-2023. He said the new policy would provide more incentives to small and medium enterprises and women entrepreneurs.
The STPF for 2018-2023 will be comprised of eight basic fundamentals, including institutional strengthening, investment linkages, service strategy, product development and compliance, gender mainstreaming, market access and regional connectivity, trade facilitation and finally trade promotion and branding. Vice president Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Karim Aziz Malik said the electricity tariff in Pakistan is 22% high as compared to other regional states.
Malik said government will have to reduce cost of doing business in Pakistan in order to maximise competitive edge. He also called for reduction in tax burden on export oriented sectors.
FPCCI vice president said the trade deficit widened because of free trade agreements especially with China and Malaysia. He demanded of the government to provide the same incentives to Pakistani businessmen in upcoming special economic zones as being provided to China under China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Commerce ministry's top officials, including director general trade policy Nauman Aslam and senior official Mohammad Ashraf briefed the participants about the government measures after listening to their views.
The ministry has so far held nine consultative meetings at different places across the country in order to incorporate views of stakeholders for preparation of the new policy framework. The process kick-started in October 2017 and scrutiny of proposals will be done in the current month. The intra and inter-ministerial consultations will be done in March 2018 and the first draft of the upcoming policy will be ready by April 2018. The SPTF for 2018-2023 will be tabled before the cabinet for approval.
On the implementation of last SPTF from 2015-2018, the ministry officials told the meeting that restructuring of ministry of commerce, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company is underway, while placement of Intellectual Property Organisation under the commerce ministry has been implemented. Government is also strengthening skill development institutes and creating new export councils for rice and pharmaceutical products. But, there has been a medium progress on payment of stuck tax refunds.
Ministry officials said reasons for slow implementation of last SPTF were its nine-month delayed announcement, late publication of statutory regulatory orders/circulars and inherent flaws in business procedures. 

Job Opportunities At National Rice Research Institute, Odisha

Interview detail of NRRI recruitment is available at the official website

Jobs | NDTV Education Team | Updated: February 17, 2018 13:09 IST

NRRI To Recruit For Graduate Assistant, Agricultural Field Operator Posts
NEW DELHI:  National Rice Research Institute (NRRI), formerly CRRI, has invited applications from science graduates and matriculates for recruitment to the posts of Graduate Assistant and Agricultural Field Operator. NRRI will conduct interview for the recruitment on 5 and 6 March 2018 at Cuttack, Odisha. For graduate assistant post candidates must be in the age group of 21-45 years; the minimum age limit for the other post is 18 years. A total of 8 posts are open for recruitment; 6 are for agricultural field operator.

Eligibility Criteria
Graduate Assistant: Candidates must have B.Sc. / B.Sc. (Hons.). Those having working experience in Laboratory/ Field and knowledge in Computer will be given preference.
Agricultural Field Operator: Matriculates with 2 years experience in Agriculture or 10th standard and 2 years vocational work experience in Agriculture or ITI in Mechanical / Electrical are eligible.

Candidates must note that the duration of the project for which the recruitment is being made is till 31 December 2018.
'The above position is purely temporary and is co-terminus with the scheme/project. The services of appointed candidates will stand terminated automatically after expiry of the scheme/project or completion of period indicated in the selection offer, whichever is earlier and the candidate will not have any right for absorption in NRRI/ ICAR. The above age limits are relaxable for SC, ST and OBC candidates as per Govt. of India norms,' reads the official notification.
Wild crops could save chickpeas from extinction, scientists say

FEBRUARY 17, 2018 13:35 IST

About one in five people globally depend on legumes such as chickpeas as their primary source of protein.   | Photo Credit: K.Gajendran

Cross-breeding domestic and wild varieties could be the key.

The humble chickpea is under threat from climate impacts such as higher temperatures, drought and pests. Chickpeas are nutritious, versatile and is a dietary staple for millions of people from South Asia to Ethiopia.
The key to saving the chickpea could lie with a project cross-breeding domestic and wild varieties - found only in southeastern Turkey near the border with war-torn Syria - said a study published this week in the journal Nature Communications.
Unlike domestic crops, which receive dedicated care in the form of fertilisers and pesticides, their wild relatives are able to adapt to changing conditions, according to scientists.

Novel resilient seeds

“It will take another five years before it's in the hands of a farmer in Ethiopia....but we are well on the road to being there,” Eric J. B. von Wettberg, a plant geneticist at the University of Vermont, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. He said researchers were working with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), an India-based agricultural research body, to ensure that the resilient seeds make it to market once they are available.
About one in five people globally depend on legumes such as chickpeas as their primary source of protein, Von Wettberg said. He called for better protection for and conservation of wild varieties of crops, which could have traits that would allow them to survive and thrive under climate pressures.
“They (wild crops) may be our most potent weapon against climate change,” said Chikelu Mba, plant geneticist at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“They are irreplaceable,” he said by phone, adding that chickpeas were vital for nutrition in many developing countries.
Scientists are also assessing wild rice varietals to combat climate change, with one species growing in northern Australia's crocodile-infested waters raising hope for a more nutritious grain that is drought- and pest-resistant.

Water conservation, changing crop pattern key to managing Cauvery deficit

Mayilvaganan| TNN | Feb 17, 2018, 00:15 IST
If the Supreme Court order on Cauvery water sharing is the end of the age-old dispute, Tamil Nadu farmers have to learn to live happily with lesser water. What’s encouraging, say experts, is it’s possible provided Karnataka releases the 177.25tmcft water as fixed by the apex court. With better water management practices and cropping methods, farmers can manage a good yield, Tamil Nadu farmers should opt for less water-intensive crops and drought-resistant paddy varieties. At the same time, the government should take steps to tap existing water resources in a judicious manner, say experts.
“Now we have to readjust our irrigation and cropping methods. TN receives 950mm to 1000mm rainfall, the second largest state to receive this much rainfall during northeast monsoon. About 30% of this drains into sea. We can conserve this water and ensure one crop in all districts,’’ says Tamil Nadu Agricultural University vice-chancellor K Ramasamy.

He suggests that there are irrigation techniques to conserve water. For instance, through alternate wetting and drying method (AWD), 30% of water can be conserved without any yield reduction. A plastic or bamboo pipe of 40cm length and 15cm diameter with drilled holes is sunk into the rice field partially. When the water level inside the pipe falls, it is refilled. This way, farmers can save 5,000 litres of water for each kg of rice produced. TNAU scientists say this method is widely followed in the Philippines and Vietnam.

V Saraswathi, 48, of Thirumangalam near Lalgudi in Trichy district, a progressive farmer cultivating on a 4.5-acre land for the past 25 years, follows wet and dry method. “This method gives a good yield and reduces input costs by way of reduced electricity consumption for pumping water,’’ she says.

Progressive farmers also suggest borewells instead of drawing directly from irrigation channels for lesser water utilisation.
To mitigate water scarcity, drought-resistant varieties can be cultivated. “There are less water-intensive, location-specific varieties like Anna (R) 4 for Thanjavur, Co 51, MDU 5 - a short duration fine grain variety - and modified CR 1009, which are both drought and flood tolerant,’’ says Ramasamy.
For Nagapattinam, where sea water incursion has wreaked havoc with agriculture, scientists have developed paddy varieties that grow in saline water. Agricultural experts say the cropping pattern can be reworked. “Right now, we go for 100 to 180 days duration paddy crops, which require 14 to 20 wettings. But millets need six wettings only,’’ said an agricultural scientist. “But there is resistance from farmers as well as government authorities when we suggest alternative crops as Cauvery has now become a politically-surcharged issue,” he said.
Some radical changes should be brought about in the cropping pattern like going for just samba cultivation in the October–January season. During kuruvai season, farmers can opt for cereals and pulses. “Water is no longer released from Mettur reservoir for kuruvai as per the customary schedule on June 12. Instead of waiting for Mettur water release, farmers can go for millets which require less water,” the scientist said.

On the part of the government, there should be an additional thrust on conserving water bodies. A PWD official said the ‘kudimaramathu’ drive initiated by the government was a good start. “We expect large-scale funding from NABARD for conservation of water bodies. We will continuously carry out work to protect our water bodies,” said the officer.
Glutinous Rice Commotion
SATURDAY, 17 FEBRUARY, 2018 | 13:50 WIB
TEMPO.COJakarta - President Joko Widodo should not allow his ministers to squabble. This inter-ministerial quarrel has not only led to overlapping rules and implementation chaos in the field, but also reveals a lack of clarity in government policy direction. This is especially true in the area of foodstuffs.
Earlier this year, Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita released his Regulation No. 1/2018 on Provisions on the Export and Import of Rice. Apart from it conflicting with both the Food and Farmers Protection and Empowerment Laws, Enggartiasto Lukita’s new regulation clashes with Minister of Agriculture’s Regulation No. 51/2014 on Recommendations for Exports and Imports of Particular Types of Rice.
Under his Regulation No. 1, Enggar grants state-owned company Sarinah permission to import 50,000 tons of sticky, or glutinous, rice from Thailand and Vietnam by the end of June 2018. Sarinah no longer needed to seek any recommendation from the Ministry of Agriculture or include evidence of the absorption of local glutinous rice products. Sarinah’s action clearly violates Regulation No. 51, which is still in effect.
The Minister of Trade openly said he deliberately cut back the powers of his colleague’s regulation in order to accelerate the import of glutinous rice. He said that he based his decision on the fact that several businessmen using the rice as raw material were screaming as its price had by then almost doubled since mid-December 2017. Currently, glutinous rice sells for Rp21,000 to Rp25,000 per kilogram, whereas in December last year it was still between Rp12,000 and Rp15,000.
This increase in price is suspicious. Minister of Agriculture Andi Amran Sulaiman said Indonesia has achieved self-sufficiency in glutinous rice since 2016. The problem is that the government has no valid data on the production, supply, and demand for this foodstuff. There is also no data on the total area under cultivation to grow it, and when it is harvested.
This situation was possibly taken advantage of by suppliers of this rice variety. Sarinah first submitted its request for an import license in August last year. But Minister Enggar could not issue one because he was prevented by Regulation No. 51 that requires a prior recommendation from the Minister of Agriculture. Amran’s position was clear: no more glutinous rice could be imported. To get around that, Enggar then released his Regulation No. 1 on January 9. Then things went on full speed, since only a week later the import license for Sarinah was issued.
Looking at the timeline, Enggar’s actions seem odd because prices had by then only begun to rise in mid-December, long after Sarinah first requested a permit. That means that when the request was submitted, the price was still normal. Another oddity is that the permit was not exactly what Sarinah wanted, but was rather what importers and traders in glutinous rice had pushed for. Later, the game being played became more obvious, as the distribution of this imported rice was controlled by these businessmen, not by Sarinah itself.
Of course, Minister Amran had a stake in this mess. If only the Ministry of Agriculture had possessed valid data on glutinous rice, none of this would not have happened. The importers or rent seekers, given the price of glutinous rice in Vietnam is only half the normal one in Indonesia, would not have been able to get involved if statistics on local rice existed and were open to public scrutiny. It is possible that the increase in price really was the result of a lack of supplies. In this case, we could properly question Amran’s claim of self-sufficiency in glutinous rice.
President Jokowi must get involved. At the very least, he could assign the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to resolve the problem. If left unchallenged, such issues with glutinous and regular rice supplies will rear its ugly head again in the future.

Council to probe NFA import transactions

 February 16, 2018, 10:01 PM

By Madelaine B. Miraflor
NFA Council, which recently succumbed to pressure and allowed rice importation despite abundance in local harvest, decided to look into all import transactions of National Food Authority (NFA) to check why the agency keep running out of buffer stocks.
To recall, NFA Council recently gave in to the request of NFA to use its standby authority to import 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice to replenish its buffer stocks, which had recently gone down to its lowest monthly level in 10 years.
At first, NFA Council rejected it, saying there is no rice shortage, but it eventually approved it on Monday after NFA Administrator Jason Aquino got President Rodrigo Duterte’s support for his importation plan.
Despite the approval, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, who chairs the NFA Council, insisted that there is “no rice shortage” and that the country, one of the world’s biggest rice buyers, currently has 3.8 million MT of rice supply as of this month, which is is enough to cover 121 days of national consumption.
The NFA Council even decided to time the delivery of the imported rice in June, just a few weeks before the lean season, even if the NFA supposedly wants it rushed.
Mercedita Sombilla, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environment Staff, said on Monday that the NFA Council decided to conduct an audit on NFA “as soon as possible.”
“That was the resolution made [in the last NFA Council meeting]. [The audit covers] procurement and distribution of locally purchased and imported by NFA,” Sombilla said on Wednesday.
Agriculture undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, who attended the NFA Council as a resource person, said it was Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo who recommended to do such audit to look into all NFA import transactions, from acquisition to the distribution.
Sombilla also said the NFA should address the reports that claimed most of the rice that the country imports eventually falls in the hand of private traders who are selling the staple on a higher price and labeling them as commercial rice.
“It should come out in the audit,” Sombilla said. “It is also part of the resolution of the Council to clarify and validate the sufficient availability of rice.”
It was Evasco himself who said earlier that there is corruption in importation. To avoid this, he decided to allow importation but only through the open-tender or via a government-to-private (G2P) deal.
Early last year, Evasco accused some NFA officials of “flagrant corruption” and proposed to create a special committee to investigate them.
NFA is one of the 12 agencies that has been placed under the direct supervision of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary pursuant to Executive Order 1.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, for his part, said manipulation of NFA buffer stock in favor of private traders has long been the practice at the agency.
“I’m not accusing the top officials of NFA any irregularity but this has been the practiced a long time ago,” Piñol said.
“Somebody said before that by importing rice, we will effectively reduce the price. I will question that. The truth is, when it arrived here, it will soon be controlled by businessmen,” he added.
Meanwhile, Aquino said the NFA welcomes the audit to clarify issues on how the agency distributes its supply.
Now that the NFA already got the approval for its much desired plan to buy rice abroad, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) won’t also let the agency off the hook for using the government’s low buying price of palay as an excuse not to procure the produce of local farmers.

KTN NEWSKTN HOMERADIO MAISHASDEEVEWOMANTHE NAIROBIANUREPORTEPAPERCORPORATE HOME KENYA WORLD BUSINESS OPINIONS HEALTH SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT EDUCATION LIFESTYLE JOBS IN KENYA You are here  » Home   » Business Regional trade hampered by increasing barriers and influx of cheap imports from China By Frankline Sunday | Published Sat, February 17th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 16th 2018 at 20:48 GMT +3 SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Congestion of containers at the port of Mombasa in 2008. . [PHOTO BY GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD Pakistan has become Kenya’s largest export market even as trade with the country’s East African neighbours continues to falter. The value of exports to the Far East nation went up by 69 per cent from Sh40 billion recorded in 2016 to Sh64 billion last year, boosted largely by tea, Government data shows. Pakistan has in the past been a strong market for Kenyan exports and in 2014 was the fourth largest buyer of the country’s goods after Uganda, Tanzania and Britain. Over the past five years, however, the value of exports to the Asian country have steadily increased and pushed it to the top of Kenya’s export destinations. The value of exports to Pakistan have since risen from Sh18 billion in 2012 to Sh64 billion last year. Imports have similarly recorded a 30 per cent rise to stand at Sh18 billion in 2016, up from Sh12 billion in 2012. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) further indicates the value of Kenya’s tea exports went up by 28 per cent from Sh124 billion in 2016 to Sh159 billion last year. Aside from tea, other export commodities from Kenya to Pakistan include coconuts, dry nuts, mangoes, fresh flowers and powdered milk while the main import is mainly rice. IN DECLINE Uganda and Tanzania, which once commanded a lion’s share of Kenya’s export market, have been on a decline. Trade with Uganda, for years the leading destination of Kenya’s goods and services to the East African region, fell by 28 per cent in the last two years from Sh68 billion in 2015 to Sh49 billion last year. Exports to Tanzania similarly recorded a significant 37 per cent decline over the period from Sh34 billion recorded in 2016 to Sh22 billion last year. Over the past few years, Kenyan traders sending goods across borders have raised concern over the increase in trade barriers between Kenya and her East African neighbours. Last year, manufacturers of edible oils protested Tanzania’s introduction of a 25 per cent duty on products imported from Kenya despite an existing preferential trade agreement between the two countries covering the same. Tanzania also introduced a 1.5 per cent railway levy on milk imported from Kenya, with manufacturers saying the new tariffs are making Kenyan products more expensive and reducing the country’s market share in the region. Data from KNBS shows that Kenya’s share of trade with East Africa shrunk from 10 per cent to seven per cent between 2010 and 2014 with the loss of market share worsened by the flood of cheap imports from China and India.
Read more at:
Keny Shipts more goods to Pakistan as ea market Dips

Ogun Customs records massive seizures of rice, N51million car ON FEBRUARY 16, 20182:02 PMIN NEWSCOMMENTS …Declares war against smugglers Hard time awaits smugglers engaging in illicit business within the operational domain of Ogun Command of Nigeria Customs Service ,NCS, as the Command has declared war against dare-devil smugglers attacking and threatening the lives of officers on duty. The Command within just two weeks made a spectacular seizure of brand new Range Rover (Velar), 2018 model, with a Duty Paid Value ,DPV, of over N51.2million.  The Command also seized 1,168 bags of foreign rice, 221 gallons of vegetable oil, 13 tokunbo vehicles, 12 means of conveyance, 21 motorcycles, five sacks of secondhand shoes, two sacks of secondhand bags, with a total DPV of N153.8millon. Addressing Journalists at the Command’s premises at Idiroko, the Customs Area Controller ,CAC, of the Command, Comptroller Sani Madugu, explained that the latest series of Range Rover ‘Velar’ was launched on May 1, 2017, while the one they seized is the 2018 model. On how they made such unique seizure, he said, “Our men seized the vehicle while on routine patrol. This car is very different from other vehicles, as you can see the handle is inside. When our officers seized the car, the smugglers jumped into the bush, leaving the remote control of the vehicle on the ground. My surprise is why a person bought a vehicle of over N51million and refused to pay duty to government through the seaport, because importation of vehicles through the land borders is banned. Our intelligence unit is doing very well, that is why you see these number of seizures within few days. Responding to question on the condition of the officer attacked few days ago at Ibeyi river while on duty, he said, “He is responding to treatment at the hospital and the Service will not abandon him. This is for you to see that our lives are in danger but no manner of attack or intimidation by economic saboteurs will deter us from doing our job. As they are attacking us, we are left with no option than to fight back. We are battle-ready for them.  They are not happy because we are blocking all avenues of smuggling within Idiroko” “We are calling on the traditional rulers within our area of coverage to call their wards to order. The people at Idiroko  see smuggling as their birth right, but we have a duty to implement government policies for local industries to thrive.  So, they cannot prevent us from carrying out our statutory responsibility”. “Now smugglers are using another method of writing petition against individual officers, because they have seen that we are blocking them from all angles. Everyday, I receive petition in my office but that cannot prevent us to protecting our economic environment from smugglers”.

Rice farmers in Plateau get inputs for dry season farming to boost production

By Polycarp Auta

Jos   –     The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has distributed farm inputs to farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) to boost rice production in the state.
Mrs Helen Temtsen, the Head, Development Finance, CBN office in Jos, while launching the pilot scheme of the distribution on Friday, said the gesture was aimed at boosting food production.
According to her, it is also aimed at encouraging self-sufficiency in the agriculture sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had in Nov. 2015, officially launched the programme in Kebbi State.
Temtsen explained that the apex bank noticed serious depletion in the nation’s external reserve owing to importation of food items that could ordinarily be produced in the country.
This she said necessitated the need to support farmers with loans to go into high production.
“Between 2014 and 2015, more than N1 billion was spent on importation of rice, wheat, fish and other food items in this country.
“These are items we can produce in this country to consume and even export, but we keep depleting our external reserves because of so much importation.

“To address the anomaly, CBN came up with the Anchor Borrowers initiative which RIFAN keyed into, so as to provide farmers with loans to encourage them to go into production of huge and quality rice for the populace,’’ she said.
According to her, the loans will be given to farmers in form of inputs without any collateral as RIFAN will stand as guarantor for the beneficiaries.
She said the beneficiaries would bear the cost of production and collection of items would not be done by proxy, to ensure transparency and accountability in the process
Temtsen explained that for the 2018 dry season farming, 724 hectres of land would be used for the production of rice, adding that 666 farmers would benefit from the gesture in the state.
She called on the beneficiaries to put into good use the inputs given to them in order not to deviate from the purpose of the programme, which was aimed at addressing food scarcity in the state and country at large.
She further warned beneficiaries not to default, as anyone involved would be decisively dealt with and be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Temtsen called on other commodity associations to emulate RIFAN in partnering with the apex bank to make Nigeria a food sufficient nation.

In his welcome remarks, Mr Joshua Bitrus, the RIFAN chairman in Plateau, said the gesture was a right step in the right direction.
According to him, diversification remains cardinal in taking Nigeria to the path of economic growth.
“Today, the long awaited anchor borrower’s programme is taking off in our dear state.
“Farmers will today be given modern farm inputs that will enable them go into best global agricultural practice that will lead to greater rice production in the state.
“While we continually pray for the success of this programme in our dear state, it will be pertinent to draw the attention of all stakeholders in rice farming to partner with us in all aspects to make the state hub of rice production in the country,” he said.
Bitrus commended CBN for the initiative and the confidence reposed in RIFAN and assured that it would do all within its powers to sustain and cement the relationship for the greater good of the state.
NAN reports that items distributed to farmers include water pumps, sprayers, fertilizer, herbicides, and improvised rice seeds, among others.

Dr Humnath Bhandari new IRRI rep in Bangladesh

Staff Correspondent
Dr Humnath Bhandari has been appointed as new IRRI representative in Bangladesh, with effect from February 1.
Dr Bhandari has a wide range of experience in the relevant area, and he will serve as the focal point of IRRI activities in the country, says a press release.
He will lead all key initiatives to further strengthen IRRI's commitment and partnership with the government of Bangladesh, particularly the ministry of agriculture, the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), and key donors, partners and stakeholders for rice-based agri-food systems in the country.

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Today's Farming: Up to 90pc mechanised

Diorama of modern farmlands and state-of-the-art farming equipment were on display at a three-day fair on Krishibid Institute Bangladesh premises last week. Photo: Prabir Das

Two years have passed. Yet the scenes of the onrushing water submerging ripening paddy fields remain fresh in the mind of Matindra Sarker, a farmer in the northeastern district of Netrakona.

This year though, Matindra is relaxed. He does not need to wait for farm labourers to harvest the paddy anymore owing to his combine harvester. The shift towards automation is dramatically changing the farming scenario in the country.
During the flood, the 66-year old could not harvest paddy from two acres of land due to the dearth of workers even after he had paid Tk 10,000, forty-three percent higher than the usual rate, to harvest crop from each acre.
Helplessly, he saw his hard work wash away. This year though, he is no longer powerless.
“This [the combine harvester] gives me a lot of strength. I will be able to harvest my ripen paddy even if water comes,” Matindra said over phone.
With the machine, paddy on each bigha (33 decimal) could be harvested in less than one and a half hours, whereas 7-8 hours would be required if the same amount of land is harvested by five people, he said.
Matindra bought the combine harvester in May last year, frustrated by the lack of farmhands. As more local workers move away from the agricultural industry, the wages of the remaining ones have risen.
However, now Matindra has another option besides manual labour. Even for tilling his land, he can avail tractors and power tillers from rental service providers.  The same service is also available for threshing grain. After using the combine harvester, he will have to hire workers for seeding and transplanting the 12 acre he owns.
“Machines have made farming convenient. It saves our time and money,” said the member of the 1.51 crore farm families, who are gradually switching to fully mechanised cultivation in the face of spiraling wages.
Today, up to 95 percent of land is tilled by power tillers and tractors. Machines are also used for 90 percent of pesticide applications. Most of the grains, particularly rice, are threshed by machines, according to estimates by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).
On the other hand, further expansion of mechanised means for seeding, transplanting and harvesting has been slow owing to a lack of machines that are suitable for the many different types of land, fragmented ownership, limited use and relatively higher prices, said some farmers and a senior official of a farm machinery marketer.
Photo: Prabir Das
Some one percent of transplanting and harvesting is done by machines, according to the DAE, which also estimates that a farmer would require Tk 8,000 if he manually harvests and threshes crops from one acre of land. The cost will decline to Tk 3,000 per acre if a combine harvester is used.
Use of a combine harvester will facilitate farmers in harvesting and threshing crops in six hours compared to 128 hours when the same is done manually.
Use of rice transplanter will help growers save Tk 5,000 and 74 hours on each acre, estimates the DAE.
Refayet Ullah, a farmer at Pirgacha of Rangpur, said the use of machines has allowed them to cultivate crops timely and at a reduced cost. “As a result, we can all cultivate in almost the same time and crops remain less prone to disease,” he said, “Yields have also increased.”
Refayet said he rents a power tiller for Tk 600 to prepare 22 decimal of land.
“In my locality there are four power tiller rental services. Therefore, the price is affordable.”
To irrigate the fields he pays Tk 1000 per 22 decimal a season.
He said combine harvester would be beneficial for them. But its price is too high for farmers to bear as the use of the machine is limited to one month in a season, adding that the cost of a combine harvester currently stands at Tk 8-9 lakh.
The government should take steps to reduce the cost of farm machinery, he said.
Wali Ullah, a farmer in Ujirpur of Barisal, said the use of animals for tilling has come down to almost nil because of increased use of power tillers and tractors.
“We still harvest paddy manually as large harvesting machines are not suitable as the land is swampy here. Reaper is also not becoming popular as we have to hire workers to transport harvested paddy to the yards,” he said.
Rafiqul Islam, a farmer at Lalmonirhat, a bordering district in the northwest, said reapers are not becoming popular as growers have to hire workers to transport harvested crop. As a result, cost almost becomes equal the expenses for manual harvesting, he added.  
“None wants to leave straw in the field. This is valuable as it is used for cattle feed,” he said.
Saiful Islam, a farmer at Kotchandpur upazila of Jhenidah, said the use of machines in farm operations, particularly for tilling and threshing, has enabled him to bag three crops a year because of reduction in turnaround time.
“With the tractor, we can till land just after harvesting crop. This was not possible when we prepared lands manually with draught animals,” he said.
“We grow more today than in the past. But it is sad that we do not get fair prices,” said Saiful.
Md Monjurul Alam, professor of Farm Power and Machinery at the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) said mechanised cultivation reduces time and labour by 30 percent.  Use of machines for seeding and fertilizer application also saves seeds and fertilizer, he added.
As less time is required for cultivation, use of machines also helps increases cropping intensity by 20 percent, he said citing a 2006 study.
“Mechanisation has played a big role in increasing cropping intensity in recent years,” said Monjurul.
“As a whole, production increases by 15 percent.”
Sheikh Md Nazim Uddin, project director of farm mechanisation project phase-II under the Ministry of Agriculture, said mechanisation also helps reduce handling losses. 
Subrata Ranjan Das, executive director of ACI Motors, a concern of ACI Ltd, said mechanisation is needed to attract the young generation to farming. “They will not do everything manually,” he said.
He said mechanisation has expanded mainly because of growth of the rental service market.
“Given average farm land holding of 25 decimal, this is not feasible for a farmer to buy all equipments to mechanise farming,” he said, suggesting provision of easy and low cost loans for rental service providers.
Use of combine harvester remains at a trial and error phase and fragmented land ownership, lack of drainage system and absence of roads in the crop fields slows adoption of the technology, he said.
“Equipment, depending on the environment of every area, should be introduced to increase pace of mechanisation.”
In 2009, the government took up a Tk 150 crore scheme to speed up farm mechanisation by offering 25 percent subsidy for agricultural machineries such as power tillers, tractors, power threshers and combine harvesters, according to DAE.
Later, the project was extended till June 2019 and the government raised the subsidy to farmers for purchase of agriculture machinery to 50 percent in two phases. The amount of subsidy was raised to 70 percent in January last year.
Matindra bought the small combine harvester by paying Tk 2.14 lakh and the rest was borne by the government.
During the immediate aman harvesting season, he used the machine to harvest paddy on 20 acres. He is waiting to use the machine to harvest the boro paddy by the end of April.
“The crop so far looks good,” he said.

Andrew Coppolino on why you need to try a dosa

Dosas can be hard to find, but worth it because they are 'simply delicious'

By Andrew Coppolino, for CBC News Posted: Feb 17, 2018 7:00 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 17, 2018 9:16 AM ET
Dosas, which can be described as medium heat when it comes to spice, are traditionally served with a few chutneys including coconut and a thin lentil and vegetable dipping “soup” called sambhar. (Andrew Coppolino)
There are dozens of Indian restaurants in Waterloo region and Wellington County where you can eat your fill of pakoras, samosas, masalas and biryanis.
For the most part, what you find are primarily the dishes and cuisines of the north of the Indian subcontinent. What is harder to find — but is simply delicious — is the dosa, a favourite dish of south India including regions like Chennai, Kerala and Hyderabad.
The blini, the blintz, the cannoli and the tortilla — all have something in common with the dosa. It's a thin-cooked batter rolled around a variety of ingredients from paneer cheese to onions and potatoes and even scrambled eggs. Traditionally, the dosa is eaten as the first meal of the day, according to Waterloo chef and restaurateur Shiri Madireddy.
"It's breakfast in south India and very popular. It's like a crêpe and is made with rice and lentils. There are many different fillings, but the most famous is the masala with potato and curry inside," said Madireddy, who has operated Shiri's Kitchen in Waterloo for just over four years.
A freshly rolled and stuffed masala dosa being plated at a restaurant in Windsor. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Crispy and lacy

While the dosa is made from rice and lentils, it's not as simple as merely blending flours. Rice (Madireddy would not disclose what type they use) and lentils are soaked and fermented overnight and then ground into a paste before being thinned out into a loose white batter, which is poured onto a hot flat-top and spread out in a thin circular base like a crêpe.
Seasonings such as mustard seed and tamarind are added as well as vegetable or chicken fillings before the dosa is twice folded onto itself forming a foot-long cone or tube. The outside is crisp and lacy; the interior moist and just slightly chewy for a pleasing texture contrast.
Dosas, which can be described as medium heat when it comes to spice, are traditionally served with a few chutneys including coconut and a thin lentil and vegetable dipping "soup" called sambhar. They usually cost under $10.
Prince William, right, eats a dosa or a rice pancake as his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, watches during an event on young entrepreneurs in Mumbai, India, April 2016.

Street food in India

At Amaya Express in downtown Kitchener, Avinash Piradi describes a similar process as the one Madireddy uses for their masala dosa; his is seasoned with ginger and mustard seed.
"Dosas are a street food of south India," Piradi said. "Our batter is urad dhal (black lentils) and basmati rice that soak overnight and are ground into a paste before being cooked in a dosa pan."
The dosa pan, not surprisingly, looks a lot like a crêpe pan.
'Before one dies, one needs to try a dosa.'- Waterloo chef and restaurateur Thiru Maran
And like a crêpe, dosas are a versatile blank canvass. While it's hard to pin down precise origins and definitive ingredients — India is a country with more than one billion people and many different regions — a proper dosa represents time and work for what is essentially a street food snack; there might be dozens of kinds of dosas depending on the region.
"We serve about 10 to 12 styles," Madireddy said. "The most popular is Mysore (a city in southernmost Karnataka state) with masala potato and served with spicy red chili chutney. We also prepare egg bhurgi dosa, which is scrambled egg."
A version of a dosa is served at Beau's Brewery near Ottawa. Chef Bruce Wood uses chickpeas and lentils provide the protein while eating dosas with your hands provides the fun.

Try different varieties

Thiru Maran at Classic Indian Restaurant in Waterloo goes through a similar preparation before serving his dosas with classic fillings like masala or variations thereof; he said the restaurant serves south Indian dishes or adds southern twists to northern dishes.   
"Before one dies, one needs to try a dosa," Maran said, exhorting diners to eat this south Indian dish that is rather rare in and around Waterloo region.
"Some people like to spice it up, so we make a chilli and cheese dosa which has paneer and shredded mozzarella. The vindaloo really cranks up the heat."
Whatever the filling inside, fresh ingredients are key to a great dosa, Madireddy said. And taking the time to wash and soak the rice and lentils for up to 10 hours before grinding the mixture for at least 30 minutes to make a batter that fries to only a few millimetres thin.
The results of that effort are indeed compelling, and Madireddy would agree.
"On a Friday night and Saturday, we will make over a hundred dosas," she said. "People like to try two or three varieties each time."
Agriculture department launches Bigas ng Masa Sunday, February 18, 2018 By JENNIE P. ARADO Two women pose for a picture with Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol after their purchase of the 25-kg Bigas ng Masa exclusively offered by DA at only P38 per kilo. (Photo from the Department of Agriculture). RICE is the staple food of the Filipinos and recently it had made noises in different news platforms on its price increases brought about by “artificial shortages,” as said by the Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol. Following their mandate of making food affordable and sufficient to the Filipinos, Piñol launched last Valentine’s Day, February 14 the “Bigas ng Masa” program in Quezon City. The program is targeted to be replicated nationwide. Piñol said after its launching at the DA central office, the launching in DA regional field offices will follow wherein rice outlets will be set up to sell rice supplied by local farmer-cooperatives. “Our price of rice today is daylight robbery. Technically, rice should only be times two of the farm gate price of palay. We went out of our mandate which is solely on production and decided to set up this program to show that consumers have a choice and that our staple food should not be priced as high as they are today,” said Piñol in a statement released by DA. The Bigas ng Bayan is sold for only P38 per kilo and is currently available on weekdays at the Agribusiness Center fronting DA office in Quezon City. These are sold in 25-kilo bags and are prohibited for re-selling. Despite the rice price increases and rumors of rice insufficiency, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and DA had all confirmed that the Philippines is 96 percent rice sufficient. “The remaining 4 percent will only amount to about 400,000 metric tons (MT). But the buffer stock of the country…coming into 2018 from 2017 is 2.7 million MT good for 88 days. If you add to that the projected harvested rice of about 3.1 million MT in the first quarter of this year, the total buffer stock at the end of the first quarter would be 5.8 million MT but the 2.8 million MT of that will be consumed during the first quarter. So what’s left going to the third quarter will be a buffer stock of about 3 million MT. That is good for 96 days. That is the highest volume of buffer stock in recent years,” Piñol said during a live video press conference of DA. In a data by the Philippine Statistic Authority, the palay production of the country increased by 9.36 percent to 19.28 million metric tons (MT) in 2017 from only 17.63 million MT in 2016.

 Agreement allows Filipino farmers to plant rice in PNG

An agreement with the Papua New Guinea government allowing Filipino rice farmers to plant rice in the 46-million hectare nation with a population of only 8 million will improve the rice industry in the Philippines, according to Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.
“The proposed project will not only ensure the Philippines of stable rice supply but will also employ thousands of rice farmers and agriculture graduates from the Philippines,” Piñol said.
In a bilateral meeting with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, President Rodrigo Duterte officially informed PNG officials that he will dispatch an agriculture delegation that Piñol will head to establish stronger agricultural and fisheries cooperation between the two countries.
President Duterte will visit PNG in November to attend the APEC Summit and witness a harvest in a rice demonstration farm.

Initially, a team of 22 farmers will fly to PNG next month to start the development of a 100-hectare rice demonstration farm within a Seventh Day Adventist College compound in Port Moresby.
Most of the farmers in the first group are Ilocanos and Ilonggos from North Cotabato who will receive an initial salary of P25,000 per month from a private company who will engage them.
In line with the project, Piñol asked the International Rice Research Institute to set up a satellite office in PNG and recommended to the PNG government to set up an office, which will serve as the sole administrator for buying rice from local farmers and for setting prices.
According to Piñol, this will be the third engagement between the Department of Agriculture of the Philippines and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of PNG after a bilateral meeting between Duterte and O’Neil during the APEC Summit in Vietnam last year.
In initial discussions, the proposed bilateral agreement involves allowing Filipino companies to lease PNG lands to plant rice to supply the national requirement of the country estimated to be 400,000 metric tons.
Any excess production could be shipped back to the Philippines as PNG rice exports or could be exported to other countries in the South Pacific that have already manifested their interest to buy PNG-produced rice.
“I told President Duterte that even if the Philippines will achieve rice sufficiency by 2020 as projected by the DA, population growth will overtake the capacity to produce rice because of limited irrigated farm lands,” Pinol said.
“The President was briefed that to prepare for the future, the Philippines must consider outsourcing its rice supply rather than rely on imports from Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, Cambodia and other countries,” he added.
Because of the very close relationship between the two countries and the presence of Filipino investors in the area, including processing and canning of tuna, it was decided, after consultations with top officials of the DA, that PNG is the more ideal country for the rice outsourcing program.
The DA said it is enthusiastic to establish a rice model farm equipped with modern farming technology in PNG to really help develop the country’s rice industry.
Papua New Guinea is a country with 46 million hectares of arable land with only an eight million population and imports about 300,000-400,000 metric tons of rice every year, mostly from Australia.

Scientists find anti-cancer properties in three rice varieties found in C’garh

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Feb 2018 09:13:30

Staff Reporter,
The research conducted by the Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (IGKV), Raipur and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Mumbai has concluded that three medicinal varieties of rice - Gathuan, Maharaji and Lycha - have the ability to fight cancer

A number of paddy varieties of Chhattisgarh have proven to be having medicinal property of fighting against the deadly cancer disease. In the research being done in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, three medicinal paddy varieties of the state, which are ‘Gathuan’, ‘Maharaji’ and ‘Lycha’, have been found to be having the property of destroying the cells of lung and breast cancers. This research is being done with the cooperation of Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (IGKV), Raipur.

The ‘Lycha’ variety has been found to be the most effective and it is worth mentioning that all the said three varieties have been taken from germplasm store of IGKV. This latest research has given a new ray of hope in cancer treatment. MSc student of IGKV Nishesh Tamrakar has done the research under the guidance BARC Scientists Dr Deepak Sharma, who is from Radiation Biology and Health Science Division and Dr B K Das, from Nuclear Agriculture and Biotechnology Division.

Extract made in methanol of all the three varieties has not only stopped the increase the human breast and lung cancers cells, but also destroyed the cancer cells. The ‘Lycha’ variety has been found to be the most effective in destroying the breast cancer cells. All the three varieties have proved to be equally effective against lung cancer.

Against human breast cancer cells, the extract of ‘Gathuan’ variety destroyed 10 percent, ‘Maharaji’ variety extract- near about 35 percent and ‘Lycha’ variety destroyed to the extent of near about 65 per cent of the cells. Against human lung cancer, the three varieties destroyed 70, near about 70 and near about 100percent cells. In order to destroy the cancer cells, the necessary active ingredient can be given to the body by eating 200gm of the rice per day, informed IGKV. In the next stage of research, BARC scientists are trying to extract the anti-cancer ingredients or elements from these varieties and conduct trials on the mouse.
Subsequently, they plan to develop it as dietary supplement which will be easy for consumption for people, Sharma said.
IGKV Vice-Chancellor Dr S K Patil has expressed delight with the research result. It is a major achievement for the university and Chhattisgarh that cancer treatment potential has been found in the collection of paddy germplasm of Chhattisgarh by Dr R H Richharia.

Telangana to draw roadmap for farmer panels

The Chief Minister said the government had also decided to provide farmers with rice-planting machinery at subsidised prices and instructed officials to prepare an

By AuthorTelanganaToday  |   Published: 18th Feb 2018  11:33 pm Updated: 19th Feb 2018  12:19 am

Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao at a review meeting on issues related to farmers at Pragati Bhavan in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Sunday said that regional conferences of the mandal level Farmers’ Coordination Committees will be held on February 25 and 26. The regional conferences will provide orientation to the members of the committees on their role in creating awareness among farmers in the State on the various programmes and measures taken by the State government for the welfare of farmers and the farm sector.
The Chief Minister chaired a review meeting on issues related to farmers and the agriculture sector at the Pragati Bhavan here. The conferences will be held at the Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University in the city on February 25 and at Ambedkar Stadium in Karimnagar the next day.
Interaction with KCR
The attendees to these conferences will also have an opportunity to directly interact with him, the Chief Minister said.
The Chief Minister said the government had also decided to provide farmers with rice-planting machinery at subsidised prices and instructed officials to prepare an action plan to implement this programme. He said that with the trend towards mechanisation increasing in farming, the labour crisis in the agriculture sector is expected to deepen in the future. Hence, it has been decided to encourage mechanisation of agriculture operations in the State.
With Telangana implementing a slew of programmes, schemes and measures for the welfare of farmers and development of agriculture in the State, the government will present a separate Agriculture Budget from this year. Such initiatives are not being implemented in any other state, the Chief Minister said, and instructed officials to prepare draft Agriculture Budget proposals.
On the proposed Farmers Investment Support Scheme under which Rs 4,000 would be given to farmers for each acre and for each of the two crop seasons, the Chief Minister announced that this aid will be given through cheques to the farmers in two phases.
He said the first installment of financial aid should be handed over from April 20 and the second installment of Rs 4,000 per acre should be given to the farmers beginning November 18 for the Yasangi crop. Funds for this scheme will be provided in the Budget, the Chief Minister said.
Chandrashekhar Rao also announced that a 42-member State level Farmers’ Coordination Committee will be set up soon with representation from all districts. This committee will also include agriculture scientists, specialists and experts and officials should suggest names of persons working with commitment for development of agriculture in the State for inclusion in the committee.
Discussing details of the mandal level committee conferences, he said the Hyderabad meeting will be attended by Mandal Coordination Committee members from Jangaon, Medak, Sangareddy, Mahbubnagar, Wanaparthy, Nagarkurnool, Jogulamba Gadwal, Nalgonda, Suryapet, Yadadri Bhongir, Vikarabad, Medchal and Rangareddy districts.
The February 26 regional conference in Karimnagar will be attended by Mandal Coordination Committee members from Adilabad, Mancherial, Nirmal, Komaram Bhim Asifabad, Karimnagar, Jagtial, Pedapalli, Warangal Urban, Warangal Rural, Jayashankar Bhoopalpally, Mahabubabad, Khammam, Bhadradri Kothagudem and Siddipet districts. The conferences will start at 10:30 am and conclude at 5 p.m.
The attendees will hear messages from the Chief Minister, Agriculture Minister and will participate in detailed discussions on the role to be played by the Coordination Committee members in all the government initiatives aimed at farmers’ welfare and development of the agriculture sector. Officials from the Agriculture, Marketing and Horticulture departments will take part in these meetings.
The Chief Minister also instructed Agriculture Department to make arrangements for travel and food for the Coordination Committee members attending the conferences. They will also be provided with copies of manuals on their roles and responsibilities in organizing the farmers as well as construction and maintenance of platforms in villages where farmers can gather and discuss issues.
The conference agenda will include detailed discussion on planning of regular training sessions, the crop input assistance scheme, ensuring Minimum Support Price for crops, regulations to be followed while bring produce to the markets, better agriculture practices, scientific farming methods, setting up of food processing units, cold storages chains and crop colonies.
The review meeting was attended by Finance Minister Etela Rajender, Chief Advisor to Government Rajiv Sharma, Chief Secretary SK Joshi, MPs Gutha Sukhender Reddy, Balka Suman, Mission Bhagiratha Vice Chairman Vemula Prashanth Reddy, Government Whip Palla Rajeshwar Reddy, chairmen of different corporations Gadari Bala Mallu, Seri Subhash Reddy, MLC Karne Prabhakar, Principal Secretaries to Govt S Narsing Rao, Ramakrishna Rao, Parthasarathy, Agriculture Commissioner Jagan Mohan Rao, Agriculture University Vice Chancellor Praveen Rao, Economic Advisor GR Reddy, CMO secretaries Smita Sabharwal, Rajashekar Reddy, Bhoopal Reddy and others.       

Rice husks to be used in the manufacturing of ceiling boards
By Munene Kamau | Published Mon, February 19th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 18th 2018 at 23:31 GMT +3 SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share on Facebook Share on Twitter A rice husks disposal site worker Mugendi Kiava lights up the commodity near Murubara village, Mwea. Notice his bare feet despite the hot fire beneath the sludge. [Photo: Munene Kamau/standard] IN SUMMARY County has four main rice millers and over 200 small-scale factories These will be used to produce, among other things, hay for dairy cows, block boards and ceiling boards For many years, Mwea Irrigation Scheme farmers have grappled with disposing of rice stalks and husks, which take a long time to decompose. For more than 60 years, since the formation of the Mwea Irrigation Board, farmers have had to burn the stalks and husks, which presents another challenge - producing too much ash. ALSO READ: Construction of Thiba dam on course But this will no longer be the case after it emerged that the two by-products will soon start earning farmers extra cash. Rice stalks will now be used to make hay, thanks to a partnership the county government has announced it is pursing with a private firm. On the other hand, Deputy Governor Peter Ndambiri said, the husks will be used to make block boards and ceiling boards, among other products. Production of hay, in particular, is set to be a multi-million-shilling business given the shortage of pasture due to prolonged drought that has hit many parts of the country. Rice stems Farmers say the demand for rice stems is already high due to the drought, even though their nutritional value is low. "We have been forced to take the husks away from the mills to avoid heaping them because they don't rot. The miller has to ensure that the husks are taken far away before they are burnt, which means additional costs," said Morris Mutugi, a local farmer. "We are happy with the recent announcement by the county government that there are plans to enter into a partnership with a private company that will see the tonnes of husks used to make various products." Speaking over the weekend, Mr Ndambiri said the county government was concerned that rice husks were burnt.  "We have consulted with experts who have assured us that husks from rice can be used to make block boards and ceiling boards, among other products. We are pursuing the matter as this will mean extra cash for farmers," he said. Crop scientist John Kimani said rice husks could also be used to produce high charcoal briquettes, which are environment friendly. “I think our farmers have been sitting on a gold mine. Rice husks have many uses, including cement manufacturing. I think the county government is moving in the right direction by helping farmers add value to the byproducts of rice,“ he said. Dr Kimani, who is also the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) Mwea Centre director, said the husks could also be used in tree nurseries. "The husks provide a loose texture ideal for root development in a nursery before a farmer transplants the seedlings," he said on Sunday.  Charles Njiru, who runs a milling factory, said adding value to the husks would also save millers a lot in costs. Making charcoal He said he even began making charcoal but abandoned the venture due to high costs.  "The charcoal was of good quality but very few people could afford it. That is why I abandoned the venture,” said Mr Njiru. The Kalro centre in Mwea has also started manufacturing charcoal briquettes, according to Kimani, but the product is yet to be commercialised. Bran, which is used as animal feed, is another by-product of rice There are four main rice milers in the county owned by the National Irrigation Board, National Cereals and Produce Board, Nice Rice Milers and the Mwea Multipurpose Sacco. The county also has more than 200 small-scale rice millers. Meanwhile, working in a husk disposal site is difficult because of the intensity of heat. Mugendi Kiava, 28, who works at such a site on the outskirts of Ngurubani town, said the husks produced a lot of dust that was harmful to health. Mr Kiava's main job is to offload the husks from lorries and burn them. This earns him Sh300 per day. “While this is an open dumpsite for husks, it is the responsibility of every miller to ensure proper disposal of what comes from their facilities. That is what the millers pay me to do" he said.

Cops caution traders on ‘hawala’ ops
By Express News Service  |   Published: 19th February 2018 02:52 AM  |  
Last Updated: 19th February 2018 06:23 AM  |   A+A A-   |  
The accused arrested for carrying illegal cash of `40.5 lakh in a vehicle | Express
SAMBALPUR: Police on Sunday cautioned the business community of Sambalpur to refrain from indulging in ‘hawala’ transaction, a method of transferring money without any actual movement of cash, for the ensuing Bijepur by-election.As the by-election is scheduled to be held on February 24, the cops are leaving no stone unturned to check illegal movement of cash for poll-bound Bijepur.At a meeting convened on the day to sensitise businessmen, police alerted the traders to keep away from ‘hawala’ transactions.
IG of Police (Northern Range) Susant Kumar Nath, Sambalpur SP Sanjeev Arora and Bargarh SP JN Pankaj sensitised the office-bearers of various associations of  merchants, petrol pump owners, rice millers, hoteliers, private bus and truck owners in the meeting.He appealed to the office-bearers to refrain from ‘hawala’ transactions and requested them to convene meeting of their respective associations and sensitise the members in this regard. The repercussion of illegal money transaction is grave. If businessmen have any information about illegal transaction, they should share it with the police, Nath said.
He said the model code of conduct is in force in Bijepur Assembly segment. Direct or indirect violation of the code of conduct is an offence under the Election Commission (EC) Act. The top cop also appealed to the businessmen to honour the code of conduct and informed that such sensitisation meeting will also be convened in Balangir and Bargarh.
Pankaj said physical movement of cash into Bijepur is difficult due to massive checking and adequate number of check posts. Various innovative ways have been found to be used to send money. “There is possibility of utilisation of paper chit depicting certain amount, which could be encashed beyond the Bijepur constituency. Sambalpur could be a major centre for this purpose and your contact could be misused. Involvement in such illegal transactions would invite trouble,” he warned the businessmen. Persons involved in such illegal activities will not only be treated as violator of EC Act but Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department will also be asked to conduct probe into the matter, the Bargarh SP cautioned.
However, police will not harass anyone found carrying cash for genuine purposes. Persons carrying cash for genuine purposes will have to provide evidence and explanation on the source and destination of the money, Pankaj added.
On Saturday night, Bargarh police seized cash of `40.5 lakh from an MUV which was on its way to Bijepur from Padampur and arrested two persons after they failed to explain the source of money.Earlier, Bargarh police had launched an awareness campaign ‘Yes to vote, No to note’ to educate voters of Bijepur against giving or taking bribe.

Ancient Australian wild rice can boost global production and aid food security

By Lester Wan
- Last updated on GMT
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Australian wild rice's unique genetics may help boost rice production and aid in resolving global food security. ©UQ

A new study confirms Australia’s wild rice to be the most closely related to the ancient ancestor of all species of rice, and its unique genetics may help boost rice production as well as aid global food security.

The rice, which grows in the billabongs in the North, could make it possible to breed disease resistance and climate adaptation into modern-day rice production, say University of Queensland (UQ) researchers who have mapped its genetic family tree.

"Northern Australia's wild rices contain a wealth of untapped genetic diversity and at least two species are very closely related to domesticated rice, so they can be cross-bred with this species," ​explained Professor Robert Henry from the Queensland Alliance of Agriculture and Food Innovation.
“Wild Australian rice genes could make commercial rice production better suited to northern Australian conditions. The wild rices could contribute resistance to diseases such as rice blast, brown spot and bacterial leaf spots,” ​he said.
These hardy qualities of Australian wild rice could greatly aid in boosting global rice production, and therefore aid in promoting food security around the world.

Health benefits

Moreover, Prof Henry said the Australian wild rice has the opportunity to be cultivated as a tasty and nutritious product in its own right.
"It tastes good and we believe it may have more beneficial health qualities than other rice species,” ​he said.
A UQ doctoral thesis study on the grain quality of Australian wild rice showed the species had the lowest "hardness" of cooked rice types, and a higher amylose starch content.
"The higher the amylose content, the longer the rice takes to digest,"​ said Prof Henry.
"This potentially offers more nutrition to our gut microbes, in the same way high-fibre foods do."

Prof Henry noted that human trials were needed to confirm the health benefits but the chemistry suggested this was the case.

Ancient origins of the wild rice

The research shows that in the era when the ancient human ancestor known as “Lucy” lived in Africa, a genetic divergence occurred in the rice variety that is now found only in northern Australia. This divergence led to the Asian and African rice species commonly used in commercial rice production today.
Prof Henry said the study provided a comprehensive insight into the “rice family tree”, and confirmed that Australian wild rice was the most directly-related species to the ancient ancestor of all rice species today.
"Through this research, we've developed a calibrated DNA-based molecular clock that maps when divergences in the rice genome have occurred," ​said Prof Henry.
"Few biological systems are as well described as rice now is."
Rice is the most widely-consumed staple food for much of the world's population, especially in Asia and many parts of Latin America. It is the third-largest agricultural crop worldwide.

Source: Nature Genetics​, 2018
DOI: 10.1038/s41588-018-0040-0
“Genomes of 13 domesticated and wild rice relatives highlight genetic conservation, turnover and innovation across the genus Oryza”
Author: Joshua C. Stein et al

 Kakulangan sa bigas, totoo ba?
Opisyal na pahayag ng Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) hinggil sa usapin ng rice shortage sa bansa at ang kaakibat na importasyon nito
Mainit na usapin ngayon kung bakit kailangang mag-angkat ng bigas ng Pilipinas gayong sinasabi naman na walang kakulangan ng bigas sa bansa.
Paano nga ba nakaapekto sa mga magsasaka ang pag-aangkat na gagawin sa mga susunod na buwan? Matatandaan na matagal na nating inaasam na maging self-sufficient sa bigas ang ating bansa. Ibig sabihin nito, kayang tugunan ng lokal na produksyon ang pambansang pangangailangan natin sa bigas. Sa madaling salita, hindi na kailangang mag-angkat pa ng bigas mula sa ibang bansa.
Ngayon naman ay isinusulong ang rice security at competitiveness. Ano nga ba ang kaibahan ng rice security at rice self-sufficiency, at ano ang kinalaman nito sa tinatawag na competitiveness?
Ang mga sumusunod na tanong at sagot ang magbibigay-liwanag sa mga konseptong ito.
1. May kakulangan ba sa bigas ang bansa natin sa ngayon?

Base sa mga datos na nakalap ng PhilRice, walang rice shortage ngayong first quarter ng 2018. Una, natamo natin ang pinakamataas na produksyon sa kasaysayan ng bansa noong 2017 – 19.3 milyong toneladang palay. Katumbas nito ay 12.5 milyong toneladang bigas. Pangalawa, may carry-over stocks tayo na 2.7 milyong tonelada ng bigas ng pumasok tayo ng 2017. Idagdag pa dito ang naging importasyon natin nung 2017 na 900,000 tonelada o kulang isang milyong tonelada. Ibig sabihin nito, may kabuuang stock tayo ng 2017 na humigit kumulang na 16.2 milyong toneladang bigas.
Kung susuriin naman ang ating konsumo, umaabot halos ng 13.1 milyon tonelada ang ating kabuuang pangangailangan. Kasama na rito ang pagkain, binhi, raw material para sa pagproseso ng mga value-added products (tulad ng bihon), pati na ang mga pakain sa hayop, at mga wastage. Base ito sa assumption
na ang bawat Pinoy ay kumakain ng kulang-kulang na 110 kilo kada taon at sa populasyon na 105 milyon.
Kung tama ang ating pagtataya, sa pagpasok ng taong 2018, dapat ay may carry-over stocks tayo na humigit-kumulang na 3 milyong tonelada. Sapat ito para sa 87 na araw.
Bukod pa rito, inaasahan din natin na may aanihin tayong 23% ng kabuang produksyon sa first quarter ng 2018. Kung kapantay nito ang produksyon natin noong nakaraang taon, madagdagan ulit ang stocks natin ng 2.9 milyon tonelada. Hindi pa kasali rito ang mga parating na importasyon ng pribadong sektor. Kaya kahit magamit pa ulit natin ang ating pangangailangan ngayon first quarter na humigit kumulang na 3.2 milyong tonelada, sapat pa rin ang ating bigas at may balanse pa tayo para naman sa second quarter.
2. Kung hindi kulang ang bigas, bakit kailangan pa rin nating mag-angkat sa ibang bansa?

Kailangan nating maunawaan na ang pag-aangkat ay isang pamamaraan upang mapamahalaan natin ng maayos ang ating supply at demand ng bigas at maiwasan ang bigla-biglang pagtaas ng presyo. Una, tandaan natin na may seasonality ang ating produksyon: 23% sa 1st quarter, 21% sa 2nd quarter, 16% sa 3rd quarter, at 40% sa 4th quarter. Ang dagsa ng ating ani ay tuwing katapusan ng taon. Sa kabilang banda, hindi naman masyadong nagbabago ang ating demand kada quarter. Ibig sabihin, bumababa ang level ng ating stocks lalo na pagdating ng 3rd quarter o yung tinatawag na lean months. Kailangan ay may kumportable tayong level ng stocks pagdating ng 3rd quarter upang maiwasan ang pagtaas ng presyo. Dito importante ang tyempo o timing ng pagdating ng imported na bigas.
Ikalawa, may pagbabago tayo sa polisiya hinggil sa pandaigdigang kalakalan ng bigas. Wala ng kapangyarihan ang ating pamahalaan na magtakda ng volume ng importasyon o ang tinatawag na quantitative restriction. Ayon sa mga pinirmahan nating pandaigdigang kasunduan sa pakikipagkalakalan, dapat ng palitan ng taripa o buwis ang quantitative restriction. Kaya nga ina-amyendahan ang ating batas upang ito ay maisakatuparan. Ibig sabihin, mas malaya ng makakapasok ang imported na bigas basta mabayaran ang itinakdang taripa para rito.
Ayon sa pag-aaral ng PhilRice, ang halaga ng imported na bigas galing Vietnam (25% broken) ay halos P27/kg pagdating sa ating bansa kasama na ang taripa (35%) nito. At dahil mas mura ang mga imported na bigas kumpara sa lokal na produksyon, maraming mae-engganyo na mag-import dahil sa kanilang kikitain kung maibebenta ito sa kalakarang presyo na P40/kg. Sa kalaunan, kailangang bumaba ang presyo ng ating lokal na bigas upang makapagkumpetensya at maibenta.
Dito makikita na kailangang maging competitive ng ating mga magsasaka at ng buong industriya ng pagbibigas. Kaya ang isinusulong natin ngayon ay rice security.
3. Ano nga ba ang rice security? Ano ang kaibahan nito sa self-sufficiency? At ano ang relasyon nito sa competitiveness.

Masasabi nating may rice security ang ating bansa kung ang bigas na mahusay ang kalidad at ligtas kainin ay may sapat na supply (available), madaling mabili sa mga suking tindahan (accessible), sa murang halaga (affordable), sa lahat ng panahon.
Sa self-sufficiency, maaring maging available at accessible ang lokal na bigas, pero kung mas mahal naman ito, nawawala ang elemento ng affordability.
Ayon sa ating pag-aaral, mas mahal ang bigas sa ating bansa dahil mataas ang gastos natin sa produksyon. Para makaprodyus ng isang kilong palay, gumagastos ang magsasakang Pinoy ng mahigit P12/kg samantala ang isang magasasaka sa Vietnam ay gumagastos lamang ng mahigit P6/kg. Ito ang dahilan kaya mahal din ang bilihan ng palay na umaabot sa P17/kg sa ating bansa. Sa Vietnam, ang isang kilong palay ay nagkakahalaga lamang ng P11/kg. At dahil kailangan ng 1.5 kg ng tuyong palay para makapag-prodyus ng 1 kg bigas, ang halaga ng raw material sa atin ay halos P26/kg, kumpara sa P17/kg ng Vietnam.
Nakakadagdag din sa mahal na bigas sa ating bansa ang magastos na transportasyon, at pagproseso tulad ng pagpapakiskis, pagpapatuyo, at packaging. Nakapagpapataas din sa presyo ang patong-patong na marketing layers, mula sa mga ahente, traders, millers, wholesalers, at retailers bago makarating ang bigas sa mga konsyumer o mamimili.

4. Ano ang maari nating gawin upang maging competitive ang ating mga magsasaka at makamit ang rice security?

Kailangan nating pataasin ang ani kada ektarya at mapaliit ang gastos ng mga magsasaka. Magagawa natin ito sa pamamagitan ng paggamit ng mataas na kalidad ng binhi tulad ng hybrid at mga certified inbred seeds. Kailangan din natin ng tamang crop management practices tulad na paglalagay ng akmang dami ng pataba sa tamang panahon pati na ang tamang pamamahala ng peste upang matamo ang mataas na ani. Magagamit natin dito ang Rice Crop Manager, isang application na na-develop ng DA, PhilRice, at IRRI.
Upang mapababa naman ang gastos, kailangan natin ang mekanisasyon. Napag-alaman natin na labor ang pinakasanhi ng mataas na gastos sa ating pagsasaka kumpara sa ibang mga kalapit-bansa. Makatutulong dito ang paggamit ng combine harvester, mechanical transplanter, at iba pang labor-saving techniques.
Ginagawa ng DA na maging accessible sa ating mga magsasaka ang mga teknolohiyang ito sa pamamagitan ng Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA).
Makakatulong naman sa pagpapababa ng marketing cost kung ang mga organisadong grupo ng magsasaka ay matututo na ring sumali sa pagnenegosyo ng bigas. Sa pamamagitan nito, mapaiikli natin ang daan mula palay sa bukid hanggang kanin sa hapag-kainan. Kikita na ang ating mga magsasaka sa value-adding, makikinabang pa ang ating mga konsyumer sa mas murang bigas. Kaya naman bukod sa mga production training, tinutulungan na rin natin ang mga grupo ng magsasaka na magkaroon ng kaalaman sa pagnenegosyo at pagpapalakas ng kanilang organisasyon.
Subject Matter Specialist : Dr. Flordeliza H. Bordey
Agency : Philippine Rice Research Institute,
Maligaya, Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija
Designation : Economist and Deputy Executive Director for
Contact Number : (044) 456-0277 or 0285 loc. 130
Philrice News