Saturday, June 02, 2018

2nd June,2018 daily global regional local rice e-newsletter

31st    May,2018  Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Rice grown by Chinese scientists using seawater in Dubai’s deserts  

South China Morning PostMr Yuan Longping, the father of hybrid rice, centre, visits a project in China's Hebei province.
Published01 JUNE, 2018
Successful harvest of salt-resistant strain raises researchers’ hopes that one day large swathes of the desert could be turned into paddy fields
DUBAI — Chinese scientists have successfully grown and harvested rice in the deserts of Dubai after developing a strain that allows the crop to grow in saltwater.A team of scientists, led by China’s “father of hybrid rice” Yuan Longping, has already started growing the crop in diluted sea-water at home and is now bringing the technique to the Middle East, where fresh water is too precious to use for growing water-intensive crops.
Last week’s rice harvest, which had been planted in January on the outskirts of the city, far exceeded scientists’ expectations, according to a report by the state news agency Xinhua.
The high yield reported – 7,500kg per hectare compared with the global average of 3,000kg per hectare – has encouraged scientists to expand the project.
They now plan to set up a 100-hectare experimental farm later this year, put it into regular use next year and then start expanding after 2020.
Eventually, the report said, the goal is to cover around 10 per cent of the United Arab Emirates, which has a total area of 83,600 sq km (32,278 sq miles), with paddy fields – although details as to how this will be achieved have yet to be disclosed.
Xinhua said the Dubai venture is the result of a collaboration between China’s research centre into saltwater rice, based in the eastern port of Qingdao, with The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed Bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, a billionaire member of Dubai’s ruling family.
The two parties have also signed an agreement to promote seawater rice across the Arab world to reduce the risk of food shortages in the future.
While scientists in some countries where water shortages are a serious concern – such as Israel or Australia – have been developing desalination techniques to convert seawater for use in agriculture, China has been working to develop strains of salt-resistant rice for the past four decades.
Although it is not yet clear how the Dubai project will be able to secure enough fresh water to dilute seawater for large-scale rice cultivation, Chinese scientists have already started growing it closer to home on a commercial scale.
China has one million square kilometres of waste land – an area the size of Ethiopia – where plants struggle to grow because of high salinity or alkalinity levels in the soil.
If a tenth of this area was planted with saltwater rice, it could boost China’s rice production by nearly 20 per cent, producing 50 million tonnes of food – enough to feed 200 million people, Mr Yuan told mainland media last year.
The project began in the 1970s when a researcher named Chen Risheng discovered a species of wild rice that grew near a mangrove forest in the southern province of Guangdong.
After four decades of cross-breeding and genetic screening, researchers had developed eight separate species but their yields remained too low to make widespread cultivation worthwhile.
But last year the team made a breakthrough by doubling the yield to more than 4.5 tonnes per hectare.
Last autumn the first salt-resistant rice, grown on a beach near Qingdao, made it into the shops.
As the South China Morning Post reported at the time one woman who had bought a bag of the rice found it was “very good”, adding that her boyfriend said it reminded him of the rice he had eaten in his home village as a boy. SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

A Controversial GMO Crop Was Just Approved For The US Food Supply

A win for science!
1 JUN 2018
20 years ago, Time Magazine put a goateed man and some plants on its cover, declaring a breed of rice would save the world's children.
The claim didn't age well. In the years since, that crop, named golden rice, hasn't saved any lives. No farmers grow it, so no one eats it.
But now, that might change - the US. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approvedthe crop and deemed it safe to eat. This makes us the fourth nation to give the rice a thumbs up.
And maybe, after three decades of debate, the tide of public opinion is turning in favor of genetically modified crops.
Golden rice is one of the oldest genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the books.
It's different from other types of rice because its genes have been altered so that the plant produces Vitamin A, which would help children who subsist on rice get the required dose of the vitamin to the 250,000 to 500,000 children who go blind each year when they don't get enough of it.
The idea came about in the 1990s, and researchers modified the crop's DNA in 2000.
It's received overwhelming support from the humanitarian community: the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have funded its progress, while Pope Francis gave Golden Rice his blessing.
But people are still against GMOs. More than half of Europe bans farmers from raising GMOs, and the Pew Research Center found nearly 40 percent of Americans think GMOs are worse for people's health.
The Philippines, a nation that was easy-breezy about GMO foods, created stricter approval policies in 2016.
Greenpeace encouraged that shift, since the organization espouses a conservative stance on GMOs, stating that scientists don't know enough about how the crops impact the environment.
Other groups have popped up to oppose golden rice on other grounds. Back in 2001, UK-based environmental organization Friends of the Earth posited that there are less-expensive ways of treating Vitamin A deficiency (UNICEF can administer droplet doses that prevent the deficiency for less than 4 cents per child).
MASIPAG, an advocacy group for poor farmers, stated, in 2013, that Golden Rice will only make biotech companies a lot of money. Activists from two anti-GMO organizations even destroyed experimental rice paddies growing golden rice in 2013.
Now that the US has become the fourth nation to approve golden rice, others may follow. The US is part of an international body that forms recommendations about food safety that other countries can adopt if they lack their own version of the FDA.
Though three other nations have approved golden rice, they might have a tough time winning over the 186 other countries that have a say in international food standards - all of which have been silent on the crop.
And that's all contingent on people growing it.
2016 report from Mother Jones shows crop might not be field-ready; golden rice plants aren't as efficient as they could be, which means farmers may not get as much viable product from their fields as they might with traditional rice.
But the FDA approval is still a win for golden rice. Little by little, the crop is becoming more widely accepted. And that means it's more likely that golden rice will reach the children who need it most.

Panel waves off Arkansas herbicide-ban vote

June 1, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.
With just three weeks left in the spraying season for rice, a committee of the state Plant Board on Thursday found few options for dealing with crop damage possibly caused by a new herbicide.
Farmers across the state the past two weeks have flooded the Plant Board, crop consultants, county extension agents, and experts with the University of Arkansas System's Agriculture Division with complaints that Loyant, a new herbicide for rice fields, has damaged their soybeans.
The off-target movement of the herbicide has come from both aerial and ground applications, even when applicators are closely following the label instructions for spraying the herbicide, said Denny Stokes of Earle, a Plant Board member and owner of Stokes Flying Service.
Stokes said his company is among many aerial applicators who've stopped spraying rice for the season because of the problems. "We're one for one," Stokes told colleagues on the Plant Board's pesticide committee. "One job, one complaint. We're done."
Stokes, who represents the Arkansas Agricultural Aviation Association on the board, said his pilots and crew followed the directions the federal Environmental Protection Agency approved last year for spraying Loyant. "I've dealt with drift my whole life, but we're seeing [damage] a mile away" from rice fields where Loyant was applied, he said.
With rice farmers just two or three weeks from the end of spraying, a vote by the committee for a stop-use order likely would do little good because of the time involved in getting such a measure approved by the full board, Stokes said. "I think the problem is taking care of itself because people aren't putting it out anymore," he said.
After spraying for weeds and grasses is concluded, rice fields are flooded, providing another level of weed control until harvest time.
Stokes and other committee members said Dow AgroSciences, as the manufacturer of Loyant, and other herbicide makers, in general, need to do more to make their products safer.
With no desire to approve a ban, the committee asked staff members to work with Dow representatives in drafting a new memorandom to rice growers and applicators. The advisory, released a couple of hours after the meeting, stresses the need to follow the label with a couple of other points:
• Soybeans "are especially sensitive to drift" from Loyant.
• Farmers should not apply the herbicide when the wind is blowing toward "adjacent cotton, carrots, soybeans, corn, grain sorghum, wheat, grapes, tobacco, vegetable crops, flowers, ornamental shrubs or trees, or other desirable broadleaf plants."
How to define "adjacent" was debated among committee members but wasn't settled.
While the Plant Board has received seven official complaints of Loyant damage, Jonathan Siebert, a Dow representative, said he and other Dow employees have walked 18 fields where Arkansas farmers have found wilted soybean plants only about a month into their growing season. The size of damaged fields ranged from 15 acres to about 200 acres, he said.
They've also scouted damage at six farms in Louisiana and two in Mississippi, two states that generally have later planting and spraying schedules than Arkansas'.
Some plants have recovered, but effects of the early damage on yields won't be known until closer to harvest.
Siebert said Dow sold enough Loyant in Arkansas to cover about 170,000 acres of the estimated 1.3 million acres of rice but didn't know how much has actually been sprayed.
Siebert said farmers and applicators have to abide by instructions on the label to avoid off-target movement, whether by physical drift or a temperature process called inversion.
Siebert said the company would work with UA weed scientists and soybean and rice experts on a plan for next year's crops.
Business on 06/01/2018
Print Headline: Panel waves off herbicide-ban vote

Pakistan: Food Assistance Fact Sheet - Updated May 29, 2018

Published on 29 May 2018
·       In recent years, Pakistan has become a food surplus country and a major producer of wheat and rice. Following three consecutive years of good harvests, food availability is relatively stable, according to the UN. However, the poorest and most vulnerable members of the population cannot afford a sufficient and nutritious diet despite the overall growth in food production.
·       Approximately 60 percent of the Pakistani population is facing food insecurity, and malnutrition is highly prevalent, according to the UN World Food Program (WFP). WFP reports that 44 percent of Pakistani children younger than 5 years of age are stunted, suffering from chronic malnutrition, and 15 percent suffer from acute malnutrition.
·       Ongoing conflict between the Government of Pakistan (GoP) and militant groups, recurrent natural disasters—including drought, earthquakes and floods—and economic instability exacerbate food insecurity and disrupt livelihood opportunities, particularly in rural areas.
·       Poor 2017 harvests due to erratic rainfall, loss of livestock, and limited agricultural inputs—such as quality seeds and fertilizer—have contributed to concerning food security conditions in drought-prone regions of southeastern and southwestern Sindh Province, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
·       As of March 2018, more than 29,600 Pakistani families remained displaced in northwest Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPk) Province, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Additionally, the UN estimates that 2.4 million displaced Afghans—including approximately 1.4 million registered refugees and one million unregistered Afghans—are living in Pakistan.

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Trump Lets Steel and Aluminum Tariff Exemptions for Allies Expire; EU Retaliation Names Rice 
WASHINGTON, DC -- At midnight last night, the temporary exemptions on steel and aluminum tariffs granted to Canada, Mexico, and the European Union expired, leveling tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imported from these trading partners.

In a unified response, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union announced they would impose billions of dollars' worth of retaliatory tariffs against a wide range of U.S. exports from apples to whiskey.  Earlier this month, the EU had notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it intended to enact tariffs on more than $3 billion of U.S. commodities and goods, including rice.  The EU also announced that it intends to file a dispute settlement case in the WTO against the U.S. action.

President Trump originally announced the tariffs in March, claiming the trade deficit in steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. was an issue of national security.  Canada, Mexico, and the European Union were temporarily exempted from the tariffs at the time in order for negotiations to occur with each country.  Yesterday, the administration asserted that there had not been enough progress in trade relations with these countries to justify any further exemptions, temporary or permanent, but that the situation could change.

"In response to the exemption expiring, the EU announced that it would proceed with imposing an additional 25 percent import duty on certain imports beginning as soon as June 20," said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings.  "Such retaliation will remain in place, according to the EU, until the United States removes its additional import duties on steel and aluminum."

Rice - namely semi-milled, wholly milled, and broken - is but one commodity in a long list of U.S. exports that the EU will target.  Other targeted goods include corn, peanut butter, cranberries, and orange juice.

The U.S. rice industry and other export commodities and products will be negatively impacted by the actions.  The targeted commodities constitute 2.4 percent of U.S. exports to the EU, and the looming trade war could mean higher prices overall for U.S. consumers.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 250 points in the wake of the tariff announcements, (but today did gain much of that back on a strong jobs report released this morning).

"Of course we're disappointed that rice is on the retaliation list," said Carl Brothers, of Riceland Foods and member of the board of AARQ, the body that manages access to the EU's Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) for U.S. milled rice.  "There's a lot of uncertainty regarding the TRQ certificates purchased at auction just last week, and whether the EU's tariffs are going to override them.  Right now, I have concern for those who paid for certificates, since it is unclear as to whether certificates will be honored." 

2018 Leadership Class tours Arbuckle Reservoir in Texas
Rice Foundation Accepting Applications for 2019 Rice Leadership Development Program 

MOUNTAIN HOME, TX -- The Rice Foundation is accepting applications for the 2019 Rice Leadership Development Program.  Rice producers or industry-related professionals between the ages of 25 and 45 are eligible to apply for the program.  The application deadline is October 5

The Rice Leadership Development Program provides a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills.  During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills through studies of all aspects of the rice industry.

The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals chosen by a committee of rice industry leaders.  The committee evaluates the applications of all candidates, reviews letters of recommendation, and conducts personal interviews with the finalists.  Interviews will be conducted at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in San Diego, California, in December.

The Leadership Development Program has graduated 180 individuals over the previous 30 years, many of whom are active leaders in the U.S. rice industry.  The program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and managed by USA Rice.

Additional information on the Rice Leadership Development Program and an application form can be found on the USA Rice website.

Rice Prices

as on : 01-06-2018 12:14:00 PM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Indus(Bankura Sadar)(WB)

FG Cuts Rice Import Bill to $160m

Lai Mohammed
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has declared it spent only $160 million on importation of paddy rice last year.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the revelation thursday.
He said the spending represented a 90 percent cut in the country’s rice import bill of $1.65 billion annually.
Mohammed made the disclosure at the inauguration of the of the newly-elected Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), under the chairmanship of Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo. According to the minister, the cut was the highest of such ever and it became possible because the country imported lesser volume of processed rice from Thailand and India.
The volume of imported rice by Nigeria from Thailand dropped from 1.23 million metric tonnes in 2014 to 23,192mt as at November 2017.
The data released by the Thai Rice Exporters Association said the value of these exports dropped to 324 million Thai baht from 8.2 billion Thai bhat.
Mohammed said with the progress made in the rice cultivation, the country was inching towards self-sufficiency than any administration before through the efforts of local rice farmers and millers.
“We are just two years away from meeting our target production of 6 million metric tonnes of milled rice, which is Nigeria’s total rice consumption. We increased the number of rice farmers from five million to an all-time high of over 11 million,” Mohammed said.
The minister also said the administration had taken power generation from 2,690MW to 7,000MW and was feeding 8.2 million pupils in 45,394 schools in 24 states and employing 87,261 cooks.
He also added the economy grew by 1.95 percent in Q1 2018, while inflation fell for 15 consecutive months, from 18.7 per cent to 12.5 per cent as of April 2018.
The external reserves of $48 billion are also the highest in five years just as agriculture exports grew 180.7 per cent above the value in 2016. Raw material exports grew 154.2 per cent above the value in 2016; while exports of manufactured goods grew 26.8 per cent above the value in 2016.
‘’With our Whistleblowing Policy yielding N13.8bn from tax evaders, as well as N7.8billion, $378million, £27,800 in recoveries from public officials naysayers say they have not seen all these achievements, but Nigerians who are benefitting directly from them have testified to the reality of the successes”.
He advised public relations practitioners never to be tired or discouraged from projecting the image of their establishments, even when some people decide to play the blind or the spoiler.
The new NIPR President, Sirajo, said with the unity of the country being called to question now more than ever before, government should utilise the human resources in NIPR to ensure better management of communication across different strata of society.
He also appealed to government to check the influx and unwholesome activities of quacks as well as end the practice where political parties and their candidates engage foreign PR firms to handle campaigns which NIPR members can conveniently handle.
He said the such acts could jeopardise the security and stability of the country.

Indonesia demand boosts Vietnam's rice exports

Friday, 01 June 2018 14:11

Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that the country's export of rice rose nearly 40 per cent in value in the first four months of 2018 due to demand from Indonesia

Rice is among the dominant crops in Vietnam.
The country's rice exports rose to US$1.11bn in value and 23.8 per cent to 2.2mmt in the first four months.Agriculture is one of Vietnam's dominant industries with coffee, rubber, cashew and rice being the dominant crops.
The ministry said that its contract to deliver 141,000 tonnes in January and 300,000 tonnes in April to Indonesia were the main factors in boosting rice exports.
Vietnam is also seeing demand from newer markets such as Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq.
The ministry expects to sign "a number of" rice contracts worth "hundreds of thousands of tonnes in volume" with private companies in May.
Vietnam is also looking to sign deals with the Republic of Korea and Australia, according to  the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

Gov't to support farmers amid moves to lift rice import quotas

(UPDATED) Lifting rice import quotas means cheaper rice for consumers, but may hurt Filipino farmers if they can't compete with their counterparts in countries like Vietnam
Ralf Rivas
Published 9:55 AM, June 01, 2018
Updated 1:16 PM, June 01, 2018
RICE TARIFFS. Several government agencies and legislators are pushing for 35% rice tariffs instead of imposing import quotas. File photo by Rappler
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The government will help farmers compete with their counterparts in the region in the likely event of cheaper rice entering the country, the chairperson of the Senate agriculture committee said.
Senator Cynthia Villar gave the assurance to farmers as she pushed for a 35%- tariff on rice imports and the lifting of quantitative restrictions (QR) or a limit of imports. (READ: Philippines hopes to pass rice tariffication law in 2018)
QRs help protect local rice producers from cheap rice imports.
However, Villar favors tariffs, or charges a government imposes on imports, to level the competition in the market.
Villar’s proposal aims to make the market more competitive, which would lead to lower rice prices. The senator noted, however, that farmers may not be able to keep up with competition if they do not get support from the government.
"[Even with] 35% tariffication, you cannot compete with Vietnam. The solution is you have to bring down cost of production of rice and be competitive," Villar said.
The senator said that Vietnam is able to produce rice at a cost of P6 per kilo of palay, while the Philippines produces rice at P12 per kilo.
For local farmers to be competitive, Villar said that she is working with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to push for the mechanization or use of machines in rice production and the distribution of seeds with better yield.
"Vietnam's seeds are better than what we have. Right now, ours can produce 4.5 metric tons per hectare. Seeds from Philrice can produce 6 metric tons per hectare... so let us support that," Villar said.
She admitted that mechanization in the sector is "very low" at the moment.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said farmers can now easily borrow money from the agency through the DA's easy access financing program.
"Gusto natin may sense of ownership ang ating mga magsasaka kasi kung bibigyan lang natin ng binhi o kalabaw, ibebenta lang nila ‘yan. Pero kung inutang nila, hindi ganoon,” Piñol said.
(We want farmers to have a sense of ownership because if we just give them seeds or a carabao, they will just sell it. But if they borrowed money for it, that won't be the case.)
Villar and Piñol are confident that training and supporting farmers will help them survive stiffer competition in the market.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is also for imposing tariffs over rice QRs. The agency said that the measure would lower the cost of rice in the market to P30.30 per kilo, P4.30 lower than the domestic wholesale price of regular milled rice. (READ: With rising inflation, NEDA calls for measures to help the poor)
NEDA estimated that with lower rice prices, a typical Filipino household would save P2,362 per year. Headline inflation rate would also be reduced by one percentage point, if the domestic whole sale rice market reduces its prices to the level of imported rice.
President Rodrigo Duterte has previously stated that he wants to ease rules on rice importation. –

‘Smart crops’ replacing rice as Asian wealth and health grow

A street vendor in Taipei, one of the cities across Asia where urbanization, rising incomes and health concerns are driving a move toward protein-rich alternatives to rice. | THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION / RINA CHANDRAN

TAIPEI – Lunchtime in Taipei’s Ximending district is a test of wills and patience as tourists and locals jostle at restaurants and street stalls to choose from steamed and fried dumplings, flat and thin noodles, stuffed pancakes, grilled foods and desserts.
In this foodie haven, one item makes only an occasional appearance on menus and on plates: rice.
Once a staple of Taiwanese diets, rice consumption per person has fallen more than two-thirds in 50 years, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, as “smart crops” and “superfoods” muscle their way onto plates.
Taiwan has the steepest drop in Asia, but the trend is growing across the continent as urbanization, rising incomes, climate change and concerns about health and food supplies all drive a push for alternatives such as millet and grains with more protein.
“I ate a lot of rice when I was younger, but now I eat more vegetables, fish and meat. It’s healthier,” said Guan-Po Lin, 24, who moved to Taipei for university. “People are spending more on food and they want to eat healthy, and rice is not seen as a healthy choice.”
About 90 percent of global rice production and consumption is in Asia, home to 60 percent of the world’s population.
Yet, as trends in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong show, consumption will drop significantly as diets change.
Per capita consumption has fallen about 60 percent in Hong Kong since 1961, and by almost half in Japan. In South Korea, it has slid 41 percent since 1978, FAO data showed.
The consumption of fish, meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables has risen significantly.
Rice will still be the most important crop in the region, key in diets and a symbol of Asian culture, but it will not be as dominant in the coming years as new foods are snapped up, said David Dawe, a senior economist at the FAO in Bangkok.
“It is the future for Asia: well-nourished people who can perform better. You cannot get that by filling up on rice; you need more fish, meat, fruits and vegetables,” he said.
Rice is said to have first been domesticated in the Yangtze River valley in China more than 10,000 years ago.
In Asia, rice was consumed mostly by the wealthy and did not become as ubiquitous until the Green Revolution of the 1960s, when governments introduced higher-yielding seeds and better fertilizers to improve output and feed expanding populations.
In Taiwan, millets were the staple of indigenous and rural people and had a higher status in ritual ceremonies than rice.
In India, malnutrition is one reason the government is pushing millets that are richer in protein, fiber and micronutrients than rice or wheat, said S.K. Gupta, a principal scientist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in Hyderabad.
Millets also need less water and can grow in saline soil and withstand warmer climate — crucial factors as temperatures and sea levels rise in South Asia.
“Historically, a large section of the population was eating millets and maize, but when they moved to urban areas they switched to rice and wheat,” Gupta said.
“Consumers can be encouraged to go back to millets if they are more readily available, and farmers will grow more if they get better prices. It’s already happening.”
The shift away from rice in wealthier Asian nations, Dawe said, is explained by Bennett’s Law: As income increases, people spend less on starchy staples.
Rice is regarded as inferior when per capita income reaches $2,364 in Asian nations, according to FAO’s estimates.
Changes are already evident in mainland China and some Southeast Asian countries, where people are eating a more protein-rich diet with more meat and fish, Dawe said.
In the Philippines, one of the world’s biggest importers of rice, the government has considered substitutes such as corn, bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, taro and adlai — an heirloom grain also known as Job’s tears or Chinese pearl barley.
At the other end, food companies and chefs are responding to the demand for healthier diets with millets in bread, pasta, even craft beers.
“It took some time to get people excited about these lesser-known, stereotypically inferior grains like ragi (finger millet), jowar (sorghum) and kodo,” said Thomas Zacharias, chef partner at The Bombay Canteen, which is among Asia’s top restaurants.
“We showcased them in new and interesting ways that appealed to the current generation, and there’s definitely been a shift,” said Zacharias, whose barley and jowar salad with a hung curd dressing is a hot favorite of diners in Mumbai.
Marketing helps. Production of quinoa increased by more than 70 percent from 2000 to 2014 in the top growing countries, according to the FAO, because it was sold as a “superfood.”
The FAO promotes rice alternatives as “smart crops” to make them more attractive.
It is also promoting aquaculture — farming shrimp, carp and tilapia alongside rice — to help farmers improve incomes while making fish more cheaply available.
“Asian farmers will not get rich growing rice on a small farm,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO’s Asia representative.
“Countries are also starting to take the issues of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency and obesity seriously. Sticking to rice means that fruits and vegetables are not as easily available and affordable as they could be.”
Malnutrition and climate change are also top concerns for rice biologists and breeders, said Rod Wing, a University of Arizona professor who recently completed the genome sequencing of seven wild rice varieties.
“Rice feeds the poorest of the poor, and as long as there’s overpopulation and poverty, people are going to be eating rice,” said Wing, referring to the fact that 60 percent of the world’s hungry are in the Asia-Pacific region.
“So it’s important that we can grow varieties that have a higher nutritional value and a smaller environmental footprint.”
For consumers like Lin in Taipei, rice is here to stay.
“We may eat less of it, but for my family, no meal is complete without rice,” he said.

Indian Basmati Hopes Fade Over Fixed Import Price

Indian Basmati Hopes Fade Over Fixed Import Price

Saturday, February 11, 2017
Basmati exports market of India was expecting a good time this year, as Iran had decided to resume rice imports from the country.  But the higher price of Basmati rice made the situation hard, as Iran has fixed its import price at $850 per ton, Indian news portal Commodity Online reported.Iran is one of the major importers of Indian Basmati rice, but at present the import price fixed by Iran is not viable for Indian suppliers due to higher freight costs. Indian exporters have to fix the price at least $900 per ton for the trade to be economical, which has made the hopes of Indian exporters fade.Iran is one of the largest buyers of Basmati rice in the world. It is now estimated that India’s Basmati export earnings for the current financial year will be almost the same as last year, according to the director of Basmati Export Development Foundation.
Iran annually imports about 1 million tons of rice to supplement its domestic production of about 2 million tons and Iran imports about 0.7 million tons of Basmati rice from India. 
India’s Basmati exports from April-December 2016 were 2.92 million tons, compared to 3.06 million tons in 2015-16 in the same period.
After touching a record export value of $4.88 billion in 2013-14, basmati export earnings were on a downtrend over the past three years in India on a decline in prices and lower purchases by Iran.
A 20-member Indian trade delegation visited Iran from January 28-30 to promote the export of rice. 
According to Indian newspaper Business Standard, about 250 people participated in the sales promotion event held at Tehran’s Hotel Espinas. The deliberations helped dispel the negative image in Iran about possible health risks associated with the consumption of Indian rice. 
The Iranian government has recently amended tariffs for importing rice by reducing it from the previous 40% to 26%. It was announced on January 21 that the rate would stand at 5%, following a series of tariff cuts on a list of agro-food products.
There is an all-out ban on rice imports during harvest seasons in Iran. This year the measure was in place from July 21 to November 21.