Thursday, November 29, 2018

29th November,2018 Daily Global Regioal Local Rice E-newsletter




Rice Farmers Protest
Rice farmers say they have been left undone by the government. They protested at the Ministry of Agriculture's Head office in Chaguanas on Wednesday, saying their income-earning ability has been stymied and recent floods have wiped them out. Nicholas Lutchmansingh has more
Vietnam, Thailand to supply NFA with 203,000 metric tons of rice
Published November 28, 2018 5:16pm 
The National Food Authority (NFA) on Wednesday ordered a total of 203,000 metric tons (MT) of rice from Vietnam and Thailand, according to a report of Maki Pulido on Balitanghali.
Thailand offered the lowest bid of $469.80 per metric ton of rice—lower than the NFA's reference price of $470—but it could not meet the 203,000 metric tons that the NFA demanded.
Thailand can only supply 80,000 metric tons of rice, the report said.
Due to this, NFA gave Vietnam the chance to match Thailand's bid.
Vietnam cut its original bid of $470 per metric ton to level with Thailand’s bid, and will now supply the remaining 123,000 MT required by the Philippines.
The imported rice will arrive before the year ends at the price of P27 per kilo. — Joviland Rita/BM, GMA News
C/A deficit narrows 4.57pc in July-October
KARACHI: Pakistan’s current account deficit narrowed by 4.57 percent or $232 million in the first four months of the current fiscal year on lower trade gap in goods and higher remittance inflows, the central bank figures on Thursday.
The current account deficit stood at $4.840 billion during July-October 2018/19, compared with $5.072 billion in the same period last year, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) data showed. However, the current account deficit presented a dismal picture during October 2018 due to higher import bill.
The deficit widened to $1.218 billion in October from $909 million in the previous month, the SBP data showed. Contraction during four months was helped by slowdown in trade deficit.
The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics reported last week that trade gap reduced by a meagre 1.97 percent to $11.786 billion in July-October amid stronger exports. Exports of goods rose by $3.52 percent to $7.285 billion as tax breaks on exports, and weaker rupee boosted foreign exchange earnings. Imports however inched up to $19.071 billion from $19.060 billion a year earlier.
The deficit on trade in services widened to $11.601 billion from July to October this year, compared with $11.455 billion in the same period last year.
Remittances to Pakistan increased 15 percent to $7.419 billion in July-October 2018/19. The current account deficit has started seeing reduction since the first quarter of this fiscal year.
Analysts welcomed the narrowing current account deficit. They said it has improved the balance of payments position and potentially eased fears about foreign debt repayments.
“Pakistan’s move to IMF and a much larger than anticipated Saudi external support package, should ease off the balance of payment concerns,” said a report published by Alfalah CLSA on Wednesday. “We forecast FY19 current account deficit, in terms of GDP, to remain significantly lower at 4.4 percent versus 5.8 percent witnessed in FY18. That said, with oil trending considerably above our comfort band of $65-70 per barrel we see stronger inflation numbers and further interest rate lift-off,” it said.
The central bank expects the current account deficit to be in the range of five to six percent of GDP for FY19 against the government target of 4.0 percent.
“Total goods import is estimated to post a 3.2 percent decline, food, machinery and transport good imports are expected to post 13.8 percent, 20.4 percent, 14.7 percent decline, respectively, whereas energy import bill is expected to post a 5.7 percent increase only (due to oil deferment facility),” the report added.
Services balance would deteriorate by 10.9 percent year-on-year in FY19, mainly due to higher freight charges, it projected.
Rupee is expected to weaken further, depreciating to 140 by the end of this fiscal year. Since December 2017, it has depreciated about 25 percent against the dollar.
Pakistan has secured a $3 billion direct deposit and $3 billion deferred oil payment facility from Saudi Arabia. Cumulatively, the $6 billion package amounts to roughly 50 percent of Pakistan’s FY19 net financing gap.

MB member cites ebbing price pressures
INFLATION PRESSURES “have subsided” after overall price increases hit a nine-year peak the last two months, according to a member of the central bank’s policy-making Monetary Board, even as he cited the need to lift import restrictions for rice soonest as a key step to keep such pressures at bay.
 “The pressure has subsided for now,” Monetary Board Member V. Bruce J. Tolentino told reporters yesterday. “Harvests are in and even for meat and vegetables and fish, the pressure is down. We’re being helped by the oil, so in total, the big things — food prices and rice prices — the pressure is off right now.” Inflation steadied at 6.7% in October from the previous month’s level, which was a nine-year peak, driven largely by food and oil costs. However, central bank officials noted a sharp decline in month-on-month inflation, which they took as a sign that price pressures are ebbing.
 Prices rose by 5.1% overall in January-October, well beyond the original 2-4% target set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for 2018. That prompted the central bank to carry out five consecutive rate hikes totaling 175 basis points (bp) to rein in inflation expectations, in hopes of bringing full-year inflation down to a 3.5% average in 2019. Mr. Tolentino, who once served as deputy director general of the International Rice Research Institute, flagged that rice supply problems may recur in the coming years, which could spur inflation to shoot beyond target anew.
“On food, unless we do tariffication, unless we start investing in R&D (research and development) and irrigation, it will happen again,” he said. Lifting of rice import restrictions coupled with investment in climate-resilient crops will help sustain the long-term reduction of rice prices, experts said in a forum on rice and inflation at the central bank headquarters in Manila on Wednesday. Authorities hope to bring inflation below four percent in 2019, saying that lifting import quotas on rice and replacing them with regular tariffs would reduce the headline rate by 0.7 of a percentage point in 2019.
The increased supply of the crop is expected to bring down rice retail prices by as much as P7 per kilogram (kg). The measure, which has been approved by both chambers of Congress and now awaits signing by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, will allow private parties to import rice from abroad subject to a regular 35% tariff. The government allocated an average of P15 billion annually for the National Food Authority’s subsidized rice acquisition from 1995-2015, representing half the total rice program budget for the decade. However, this has not translated to lower rice prices and stable supply.
 Mr. Tolentino said local rice has been two to three times more expensive than those produced by Thailand and Vietnam. Production cost stand at P12.41/kg in the Philippines, versus P8.55/kg and P6.53/kg, respectively. Looking ahead, he cited the need to develop flood-tolerant rice to help improve productivity. Emil Q. Javier, chair of the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization, said that the NFA should be “re-engineered” to focus on maintaining rice reserves and for emergency food distribution. He added that the state should aim for higher incomes of rice farmers and allow them to diversify to other crops, rather than pursue rice self-sufficiency. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez

Rice Prices

as on : 28-11-2018 11:55:36 AM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Arrivals
Price
Current
%
change
Season
cumulative
Modal
Prev.
Modal
Prev.Yr
%change
Rice
Barhaj(UP)
130.00
-40.91
3924.00
2260
2240
-
Ghaziabad(UP)
90.00
NC
5070.00
2725
2725
13.54
Cachar(ASM)
60.00
-25
6242.00
2400
2400
9.09
Hapur(UP)
60.00
NC
2730.00
2600
2580
14.04
Basti(UP)
50.00
-5.66
2572.50
2250
2260
6.38
Khalilabad(UP)
40.00
NC
1224.50
2200
2175
-
Lakhimpur(UP)
40.00
14.29
1078.00
2250
2230
3.69
Fatehpur(UP)
21.00
16.67
1094.30
2180
2180
-0.91
Khurja(UP)
12.50
-16.67
1178.00
2600
2620
-
Vilthararoad(UP)
10.00
NC
531.00
2050
2150
-4.65
Sheoraphuly(WB)
10.00
11.11
75.40
3000
3400
-3.23
Chitwadagaon(UP)
9.00
12.5
423.70
2100
2100
-1.41
Tamkuhi Road(UP)
8.50
21.43
1035.00
2150
2150
-
Vishalpur(UP)
8.00
-56.76
724.00
2275
2310
-
Ruperdeeha(UP)
7.00
16.67
398.00
1600
1600
-
Dibrugarh(ASM)
6.00
NC
818.90
2920
2920
29.78
Tundla(UP)
3.80
58.33
221.50
2520
2485
-
Anandnagar(UP)
3.00
200
104.80
2350
2300
-
Mirzapur(UP)
3.00
-14.29
949.00
2270
2270
-
Amroha(UP)
2.00
-9.09
79.62
2600
2600
5.26
Doharighat(UP)
1.50
NC
54.00
2000
2000
-
Nautnava(UP)
1.00
NC
52.50
2200
2200
7.84

New scheme introduced to help Bulog buy more rice from farmers
The government will begin the implementation of a new rice procurement scheme in January that is designed to ensure stable rice stocks and to absorb more rice produced by farmers. Coordinating Economic Ministry food and agribusiness undersecretary Musdalifah said in Jakarta on Tuesday that under the new scheme, the government would allow the use of funds originally allocated to procure the government’s rice reserve (CBP) to cover the difference between the market price and the rice price under the government program.
 As an example, she explained that the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) had to sell rice for Rp 8,000 per kilogram under the government program, while the market price was Rp 10,000 per kilogram. “For that, Bulog will receive Rp 2,000 for each kilogram of rice it sells,” she said as quoted by kontan.co.id, adding that the fund to pay the price difference was taken from the fund allocated for procuring the CBP.
Through the scheme, Bulog can absorb as much rice as possible without incurring any losses because of the price differences. The new scheme was stipulated at Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister Meeting No 5/2018 on the coordination of the CBP management to stabilize the rice price issued in October. Article 4 of the regulation rules that the finance minister will allocate in the state budget funds (a) to pay the price differences and (b) to pay compensation to Bulog for carrying out the government program to distribute rice. To support the implementation of the new mechanism, the Finance Ministry will issue a regulation next week. (bbn)
Good news for farmers as rice export deals clinched
Thai rice traders are enjoying robust sales at a better price driven by higher demand in the world market, after the the country struck deals to export 324,000 tonnes of rice grain to China and the Philippines. Upto 100,000 tonnes to be exported are a result of government-to-government (G2G) contracts between Thailand and China while the sale of another 224,000 tonnes to the Philippines followed successful bids by both the Thai state and private sectors  .
Rice millers’ assn alleges irregularities in paddy distribution, seeks probe
 Nov 27, 2018, 1:48 AM; last updated: Nov 27, 2018, 1:48 AM (IST)

 

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 26
Accusing officials of the District Food and Civil Supply Department of accepting bribe during the distribution of paddy to rice millers, members of the Punjab Rice Millers’ Association have urged Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu and the Principal Secretary to immediately hold an enquiry into the issue. 
A resolution in this regard was passed at a meeting of the Rice Millers’ Association. The meeting was presided over by Tarsem Saini, national president of the Rice Millers’ Association.
Addressing mediapersons here on Monday, Saini said officials of the district Food and Civil Supply Department did not bother to implement the directions of the state government while distributing paddy to rice millers due to their vested interests. 
He said, “As per the milling policy of the state government, the procured paddy should be equally distributed among all rice mills, but Food and Civil Supply officials in the district in connivance with certain millers took hefty bribe and allotted paddy against the government policy.” 
“I have spoken to the district Food and Civil Supply Controller in this regard as complaints had started pouring in. But, she did not listen to my suggestion. It resulted in unequal distribution of paddy,” Saini added. 
Despite repeated attempts, Harjit Kaur, district Food and Civil Supply Controller, did not respond to various phone calls and text message.

Rice millers buckle under pressure, ink procurement pact

The district administration had decided to procure 14.5 lakh quintals of paddy through PACS from 33,000 farmers and give it to millers for custom milling in the current kharif season.
Published: 27th November 2018 04:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th November 2018 08:01 AM  |  
By Express News Service
JEYPORE: Farmers of the district on Monday breathed a sigh of relief as millers agreed to participate in paddy procurement. Since November 9, the farmers, who had harvested paddy, were running from pillar to post to sell their produce as 90 millers refused to take part in procurement process over certain demands.
Buckling under pressure from the district administration, 66 millers of Koraput district signed agreement with the Odisha Civil Supply Corporation for taking part in the Kharif Marketing Season 2018-19. They submitted the required document and bank guarantee to the District Civil Supply Officer. They were asked to begin procurement with immediate effect for smooth conduct of the process.
Koraput Millers Association president RP Panigrahi said all the interested millers will sign the agreement with the Civil Supply Department and begin procurement on Tuesday. As many as 107 mandis have been opened in Koraput and Jeypore sub-divisions for procurement.
On Saturday, the district administration had issued a notice to Koraput millers to sign the agreement for custom milling of paddy in the Kharif Marketing Season 2018-19 by Sunday or face disciplinary action.
Although 90 millers had expressed interest in participating in the procurement process that was to begin from November 9, they did not sign the agreement. With the millers abstaining, primary agriculture cooperative societies could not purchase paddy from farmers.
The district administration had decided to procure 14.5 lakh quintals of paddy through PACS from 33,000 farmers and give it to millers for custom milling in the current kharif season.
Paddy was cultivated in 45,000 hectares of land in Jeypore sub-division and 70 per cent of crops have been harvested. Small and medium farmers of Jeypore, Kotpad, Boiparigua, Lamtaput, Nandapur, Kundra and Borrigumma blocks have already harvested one lakh quintals of paddy in the last 15 days. They had appealed to the district administration to begin procurement at the earliest to avoid distress sale.
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No penalty if rice millers pay dues in five
VIJAYAWADA, NOVEMBER 28, 2018 08:20 IST

Prathipati Pulla Rao.  

Government offers waiver following pleas

The State government will waive the penalty if rice millers cleared all the dues relating to the custom milled rice in five days. The millers will have to pay dues to the tune of 93.82 crore. The total dues will touch 115 crore if the penalty is included. In view of the request from the millers to extend some ‘grace time’, the government has decided to waive the penalty if the dues were cleared immediately.
Addressing the media at Secretariat on Tuesday, Civil Supplies Minister Prathipati Pulla Rao said that 45 millers in the State failed to clear the dues despite repeated reminders and other legal actions, including arrest and seizure of the mills. The millers pleaded that they would sell their mills and clear the dues if the penalty was waived. Considering their requests, the government has decided to give a grace period, he said.

Paddy procurement

The Minister said that the government would procure 47.81 lakh metric tonnes of paddy.
The government has already paid 252 crore to 4,440 farmers following the norm that the payments should be made within 48 hours, he said.
Referring to supply of millets, Mr. Pulla Rao said that the government would supply 10.16 lakh metric tonnes of jonnalu (jowar/sorghum) and 11.16 lakh metric tonnes of raagulu (finger millet) this month.
AP Civil Supplies Corporation Managing Director A. Surya Kumari said that the double fortified salt was being supplied at 12 per kg. Likewise, a kg of redgram was being supplied at 40 a kg, she said.

Government mulls banning rice imports

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 27 2018
     
A rice grower dries rice in Butalejja. FILE PHOTO  

In Summary

The ban on rice imports is intended to boost local production, Dorothy Nakaweesi writes.
By Dorothy Nakaweesi
Uganda has more mills than rice to process, a situation that has left players in the industry in a tight spot as government plans to stop importing the unprocessed grains.
A new study on the size of the rice market in Uganda found that, the country has a daily milling capacity of 7,158 metric tonnes. This implies that it takes only 38 days to mill paddy rice that is currently grown in Uganda.
This means if it were not for the imports of unprocessed rice, the mills would be redundant for the remaining 327 days of the year.
Third deputy Prime Minster, Moses Ali who officially launched the report said, “The ban on importats is intended to protect farmers and increase our domestic production.”
He said the country’s domestic production target should double from the current 1.5 tonnes to 3 tonnes per hectare.
“Last year, Uganda alone imported rice worth some $120m (Shs450b). That money should have gone to our farmers and millers to improve domestic production and create more jobs,” Mr Ali added.
Responding to the looming ban, Mr Philip Idro, the chairperson of the Rice Millers Council of Uganda said, “Millers have set up factories to process locally produced rice. Unfortunately, farmers are not producing enough. We want government and the private sector to help out on this.”
Mr Idro added that investors have put in a lot of money to set up mills and if they stop operating, their mills will be taken away.
“This is why we are asking government to allow us (millers) import a bit of rice from Pakistan and other areas at least for the next two years to prepare for this action. This will give time to farmers to produce enough,” Mr Idro pleaded.
He urged the ministry of agriculture to train farmers to grow more rice which will be supplied to the millers.
Imports
According to statistics from Uganda Revenue Authority and International Trade Centre (ITC), Uganda’s imports have increased by 71.4 per cent in the last 10 years.
In 2008, the country imported a total of 59,988 tonnes. This has since increased to 210,102 tonnes recorded in 2017.
Rice imports into the country mainly come as raw (brown & paddy) and final refining happens in the country. It is parked and re-distributed into consumption areas.
Exports
Much as Uganda’s production is not enough to run the mills throughout the year, the country also exports some.
Data indicate an increase in the rice exports from 33,757 tonnes in 2008 to 71,890 tonnes in 2017.
“Rice exports are mainly done as white rice which is exported to DRC and South Sudan. Part of the exports are from the local production and another part is from the imports,” Mr Haam Rukundo, the team leader at Rhamz International – a multidisciplinary consultancy that conducted the research, said.
Mr Rukondo said their findings show that Uganda’s imports of rice for the year ending December 2017 were 210,102 tonnes of paddy. Of this volume, 59,852 tonnes of paddy were re-exported to neighbouring countries.
“In the same year, the country exported 71,890 tonnes of paddy equivalent from the locally produced rice. Therefore the imports netted 78,360 tonnes of paddy rice,” Rukondo added.
Due to the fact that the net imports also reflect informal exports which were not confirmed by this study, net imports range between 78,360 tonnes and 150,000 tonnes of rice.
 )

CBI probe sought into bogus paddy purchase

Nov 26, 2018, 1:12 AM; last updated: Nov 26, 2018, 1:13 AM (IST

Our Correspondent
Ferozepur, November 25
Congress MLA from Zira Kulbir Singh has demanded a CBI inquiry into large-scale misappropriation and “bogus purchase of 1 lakh bags of paddy worth Rs 5.6 crore by certain rice millers in connivance with government officials”.
The MLA said it was necessary to break the nexus and check the illegal movement of paddy from other states to Punjab. During inspection, the district manager of Ferozepur had detected abnormal purchase at Jiwan Arain and Panje Ke Uttar grain markets by local commission agents two days ago during which some businessmen and local firms had also been identified who were behind the racket.
These firms had allegedly made bogus purchase of 86,939 bags of paddy in connivance with another rice mill in Jiwan Arain against which payments to the tune of Rs 5.6 crore was taken. It had further come to fore that erring millers were planning to buy paddy from other states like UP and Bihar, where it is much cheaper than the MSP in Punjab and then deliver the same during milling to make a quick buck. Meanwhile, another Congress MLA Parminder Singh Pinki said though the police had booked some millers in this case, no action had been initiated against them.
District managers of Punsup had been told by Food and Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu to recheck all purchases and verify the same with stocks on the millers’ premises personally.

Importer sues KRA over seized rice, sugar

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2018 10:33 A KRA machine mixes rice with tar before it is destroyed by incineration. FILE PHOTO | NMG 
An importer is seeking to have the taxman and the police compelled to release its million shilling consignment of rice and sugar which it says is being held despite conforming to Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) requirements.
Phoenix Global Kenya Ltd also wants an order issued restraining the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the police from carrying out any further re-sampling tests on its 1,664 and 206.55 metric tonnes of rice and sugar respectively.
The company has sued KRA, the Director Criminal Investigations, regional criminal investigations officer-coast and the Attorney General after a multi-agency team fighting contraband goods detained its consignment.
Kebs has been named as a necessary party in the proceedings filed under certificate of urgency in which Phoenix is seeking some of the orders pending hearing and determination of the application and a petition it has filed.
'Denied access'
Through lawyer Sanjeev Khagram, Phoenix argues that the respondents have denied it access to the Mitchell Cotts Bahari warehouse and others where the goods are being held.
“All the Mitchell Cotts warehouses where the petitioner’s rice and sugar are stored have been sealed with KRA seals and (the petitioner’s) efforts in obtaining access have been futile,” the application states in part.
Phoenix says it is unable to carry out business, thus risking incurring losses and harming its reputation in the market.
The importer further says it cannot access the warehouses to have the rice fumigated, noting that it is a perishable commodity.
According to the petitioner, KRA and the police are conducting themselves in disregard of its rights to protection of property or fair trial.
“Should the respondents continue to wrongfully shut out the petitioner out of the warehouses for no reason, its business will be adversely affected to an extent that it would in all probability result in having to shut down its operations leading to lost jobs,” the application further states.
Sealed godowns
Phoenix further argues that the respondents have acted and continue to act with lack of candour, in bad faith and malice in sealing the warehouses and refusing to allow access when aware that the rice and sugar have been cleared by Kebs.
In his supporting affidavit, a director at Phoenix Mr Biren Jasani says the company is a significant contributor to government revenues, claiming that the firm pays tax and has traded ethically and professionally for over 15 years.
“Clearly the respondents conduct means that potentially, the petitioner is being locked out from undertaking its core business leading to not only closure of its business but its reputation shall also be adversely tarnished for no valid reason,” said Mr Jasani.
Justice Eric Ogola certified the application urgent and directed that it be heard today (Wednesday).

Bicam report on rice tariffication bill ratified by Senate

Published November 28, 2018 8:46pm 
By AMITA LEGASPI, GMA News
The Senate adopted and ratified Wednesday the bicameral conference committee report on the bill seeking to lift quantitative restrictions on rice and allow private traders to import the commodity from countries of their choice.
Under the reconciled bill, the private sector will be allowed to import rice as long as they have secured a phytosanitary permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry and pay the 35% tariff for shipments from neighbors in Southeast Asia.
It will earmark P10 billion for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement fund, of which P5 billion will be allotted to farm mechanization and P3 billion to seedlings. The fund intends to ensure that rice imports won’t drown out the agriculture sector and rob farmers of their livelihood.
Senator Cynthia Villar, committee on agriculture and food chairperson, said the mechanization fund will provide cooperatives and farmers’ groups with tractors, transplanters, harvesters, dryers, and milling equipment.
The goal is to improve farmers’ yield per hectare and facilitate the flow of their produce to markets,  she said.
The bill also mandates the National Food Authority to buy rice from local farmers. —LDF, GMA News 
Navy arrests 6 Cameroonians smuggling contraband rice into Calabar
by  David Oladele - Six Cameroonians have been arrested for smuggling 700 bags of parboiled foreign rice into Nigeria through the Calabar channel - The illegal immigrants were nabbed by men of the Nigerian Navy Ship in Cross River - Commodore Julius Nwagu has handed over them to the Nigeria Immigration Service Emerging reports have claimed that men of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Victory in Cross River state arrested six Cameroonians smuggling 700 bags of parboiled foreign rice into the country through the Calabar channel. Commander, NNS Victory, Commodore Julius Nwagu, handed over the illegal immigrants to the Nigeria Immigration Service, and the seized rice and Nigerians to the Nigerian Customs Service, at the NNS Victory jetty in Calabar. Nwagu who explained that the contraband was worth about N11.2 million said:
“These six Cameroonians got involved in the smuggling of the parboiled rice and they entered into Nigeria without the requisite papers thereby violating the Immigrations Laws in Nigeria and that is why I invited the Immigration to hand him over while the Nigeria Customs Service will take over the rice and the other Nigerians who are involved in the smuggling. READ ALSO: Buhari reduces cost of JAMB, NECO forms “Christmas is coming and people want to make quick money by smuggling in rice into the country but the Nigerian Navy is hell bent on ensuring that the Federal Government on ban on importation of parboiled rice into the country is upheld. “We would never allow it as a service, and under the able leadership of Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, we will not leave any stone unturned in ensuring that our policing roles are upheld and we have the available platforms to patrol the waters, especially in the Eastern flank here.” Assistant comptroller of immigration in charge of the Marine Unit, Tsumba Terna, who received the Cameroonians, said anyone entering Nigeria must have the requisite papers. PAY ATTENTION: NAIJ.com upgrades to Legit.ng: a letter from our Editor-in-Chief Bayo Olupohunda He added that they would be dealt with according to laid down procedures to handle such situations. A superintendent of customs, Akpan Ime Edet, also said the rice would be transferred to government warehouse, while the Nigeria suspects would face prosecution. Meanwhile, Legit.ng had reported that Kano/Jigawa command of the Nigeria Customs Service expressed concern over a new method adopted by smugglers by using cows to smuggle contraband foreign rice into the country through porous borders.
The customs area controller, Alhaji Nazir Ahmed, made this known on Monday, November 26, during a media briefing on the activities of the area command. Ahmed while parading the animals carrying tones of rice at the Bompai premises of the command, said the arrest of the animals followed intelligence report on a new method of smuggling bags of rice through the bush paths. NAIJ.com (naija.ng) -> Legit.ng We have updated to serve you better Read more: https://www.legit.ng/1206492-navy-arrests-6-cameroonians-smuggling-contraband-rice-calabar.html

Added measures needed vs. supply-side risks: MB member
By Joann Villanueva  November 28, 2018, 8:13 pm
SANILA -- A member of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) policy-making Monetary Board (MB) on Wednesday said inflationary pressures have eased for the moment but additional measures are needed to ensure that supply-side issues can be avoided in the future.
MB Member V. Bruce J. Tolentino, in a brown bag session at the central bank office in Manila, said risks to inflation has been lessened because the supply of rice has increased due to harvest season.
“Harvests are in and even for meat and vegetables and fish, the pressure is down. We’re being helped by the oil, so in total, the big things – food prices and rice prices – the pressure is off right now,” he said.
Supply deficiencies in primary food items, particularly rice, was the main reason for the shooting up of the inflation rate to 6.7 percent in the first 10 months this year.
However, the October figure is steady compared to the previous months’ level and authorities have noted that month-on-month upticks have slowed due in part to remedial measures implemented by government beginning September.
These measures include the directive for the National Food Authority (NFA) to immediately release rice stocks in all its warehouses nationwide to boost supply in retail outlets.
Malacanang also directed several other agencies to ensure that supplies, particularly rice imports, are safely delivered from the ports to NFA warehouses and the markets.
With the decline in price pressures, Tolentino said there is a need to put in place rice tariffication as well as deregulate the NFA.
The Department of Finance (DOF) has proposed rice tariffication to ensure that more businessmen can import rice, and in turn, boost domestic supply.
Just this year, the government scrapped the rice importation quota and instead wants to impose levy on rice imports.
On Wednesday, the Senate ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed rice tariffication measure.
Aside from these two measures, Tolentino said that for medium-term the government should enhance irrigation and drainage systems to increase cropping intensity and reduce loss from flooding.
Long-term measures should include tapping of science and technology to ensure high productivity and resilience.
Tolentino said that for one, although rise supply issues have been addressed a bit “it will happen again if we don’t make the changes.”
He explained that “through rice tariffication, we will be able to bring in more rice.”
“We will be able to feed more people at lower prices. We will be able to push our farmers to compete," he said.
The welfare of the farmers should also be prioritized to make them competitive, he said.
“Let’s invest in irrigation. Not only invest in irrigation but invest in water management because sometimes our irrigation works so well
that we flood the rice fields and crops die," he said.
"We also need to invest in science and technology to enable the rice and rice farmers be more resilient and be able to combat the impact of climate change,” he added. (PNA)

House ratifies bicam reports on rice tariffs, coco levy

  
File photo of House of Representatives from CNN Philippines
THE House of Representatives on Wednesday endorsed for President Duterte’s signature the rice tariffication bill and the coco levy trust fund bill after it ratified the bicameral committee reports on the two measures.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr. said the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the rice tariffication bill will help boost farm productivity and partly address the tight rural credit crunch that has today ballooned to P367 billion.
Villafuerte noted that only 10 percent of its P10-billion allocation, or P1 billion, would be set aside for credit to farmers and cooperatives. But, he said, this would in some way help farmers gain access to lending facilities that were denied them by the banking sector despite a law requiring banks to allot a specific portion of their credit facilities to the agriculture sector.
“That’s only P1 billion offered at preferential lending rates to farmers and cooperatives. But alongside the other features of the RCEF, the agriculture sector would finally get the assistance it needs to directly provide palay farmers the facilities they need to boost their incomes and make them competitive,” he said in a statement.
The bicameral conference committee report on the rice tariffication bill aims to replace quantitative restrictions on (QR) rice imports with tariffs and remove unnecessary government intervention in the rice market. Villafuerte, one of the authors of the bill, said he believes that the measure, which was certified by President Duterte as an urgent and a priority measure, would boost farm productivity and help rein in inflation.
Under the bicameral panel-approved measure, the RCEF will have a minimum annual allocation of P10 billion for six years, and tariff revenues from rice imports in excess of P10 billion shall be appropriated by Congress for the farm sector, based on a menu of programs in the rice tariffication law.
The proposed fund will be allocated as follows: 50 percent for grants to farmers’ associations, registered rice cooperatives, and local government units in the form of rice equipment, to be implemented by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech); and 30 percent for the development, propagation and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and organizations, to be implemented by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
The 10 percent will be in the form of credit at preferential rates to rice farmers and cooperatives to be managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines; while the remaining 10 percent is for extension services to teach rice farmers modern methods of farming, seed production and farm mechanization, to be administered by PhilMech, PhilRice, the Agricultural Training Institute and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
Villafuerte said the amount allocated for low-interest credit to farmers appears to be small compared to the credit gap in the agricultural sector that now stands at P367 billion based on Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data.
“Lack of credit is one reason for the stunted growth of our agricultural sector,” Villafuerte said. “The BSP should find ways to crack the whip on banks for being stingy in extending credit to farmers.”

Coco levy

The House also endorsed to the President the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, which guarantees the utilization of the coco-levy fund for the benefit of all coconut farmers.
The levy refers to a 40-year-old tax on coconut farmers, the resulting fund of which was supposed to be used to develop the coconut industry.
In September, the House overwhelmingly voted on third and final reading on House Bill 5745, which sets up the Coconut Farmers And Industry Development Trust Fund.
Then Davao City representative and now Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles, one of the authors of the measure, said the expected signing of the law would institutionalize the needed mechanism for the “prudent and proper management” of the coco-levy funds.
The bill mandates the creation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund, which shall consist of the trust principal and the trust income. It provides that no portion of the trust fund shall accrue to the general fund of the national government.
The bill tasks the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to conduct a complete accounting and inventory of all coconut-levy assets.
Also, the Commission on Audit (COA) is mandated to audit the inventory of the coco- levy assets prepared by the PCGG and to submit to the Coconut Famers and Industry Trust Fund Committee the initial audit report within 120 days upon completion.
China 'to lift import ban' on Niigata rice

NHK has learned that China has decided to resume imports of rice from Niigata Prefecture.

Japanese government sources say China has notified Tokyo of its decision.

China suspended imports of all agricultural and fisheries products as well as animal feed produced in Fukushima, Miyagi, Tokyo and 7 other Japanese prefectures, following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Japanese government has repeatedly asked Beijing to lift the ban, saying the food items from these prefectures have all passed safety checks.

In a meeting last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to address the issue. The Chinese side said it would consider relaxing the restrictions and its decision would be based on scientific assessment.

The Japanese government plans to continue pressing China to lift the remaining restrictions as soon as possible.
No need to apologize for tariffication bill
November 29, 2018 at 12:00 am by Rudy Romero
"It’s a sound proposition."


Reading the media reports on the passage by both chambers of Congress of the rice tariffication bill, one gets the uneasy feeling that the approving legislators and the Duterte administration’s economic managers are apologetic—somewhat, anyway—about their espousal of the bill.
Why should they feel apologetic? The bill, when signed into law by President Duterte, will simply change the basis upon which rice is brought into this country. Hitherto rice, the staple food of most Filipinos, has been brought into this country through transaction—between the Philippine government and other government—undertaken on the basis of quotes. Once the tariffication law is in effect, (1) the quota system will be replaced by a two-rate tariff system—one rate for rice imports from ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and another, higher rate for imports from non-ASEAN countries—and (2) private importers will be able to bring rice into this country. A quota system replaced by tariff, which are in essence taxes; those are the only changes that will take place.
Why do I say that the congressional supporters of the rice tariffication bill and the Duterte administration’s economic managers appear to be apologetic about the pending implementation of the Rice Tariffication Act? Because of three propositions advanced by them, including the chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture.
The first proposition is that tariffication will necessarily result in a lowering of the inflation rate as measured by the consumer price index. How this will come about has not been explained by the tariffication advocates in their rice import decision making, traders will be guided by the state of the rice marker, bringing foreign rice into this country only when consumption and supply conditions are conducive to profitable operations. They will not import rice when the market is awash with the staple and they will rush to import rice when they perceive an impending shortage of it. Rice imports in government-to-government transactions are priced with market price behavior in mind. So will tariffied rice imports automatically bring about a decline in inflation? The Filipino people should not be made to develop false expectations.
The second proposition advanced by the Rice Tariffication Act’s advocates is that tariffication will lead to a flooding of the market with imported rice, causing rice prices to collapse, causing great damage to Filipino farmers. This proposition is absurd. Why would rice traders import rice in volumes calculated to bring about sharp declines in rice prices? What would they stand to gain from such a change in market conditions? Poor Filipinos will of course benefit enormously from rice price reductions—that would be most welcome from the poverty-reduction standpoint—but is that the principal motivation underlying traders’ decisions to import rice? Unfortunately, it isn’t.
Finally, there is the proposition that Filipino rice producers stand to benefit from the farmer-support fund that will be established with the revenue generated by the rice tariffication law. A part of the fund will be used to finance farm equipment—including tractors and threshers—for Filipino rice farmers, a part will go toward low-cost credit to farmers and a part will finance expanded agricultural extension services to the farming communities. Those who are passionately interested in the progress of the Philippine agriculture should not hold their breath. The benefits being promised to Filipino rice farmers by the Rice Tariffication Act have again and again been promised to them—was an Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act not passed in 1990s? Still, adequate and consistent government support has long eluded this country’s farmers. And I dare predict that it will likely elude them in the coming days.
Rice tariffication is a sound economic policy change, and it serves to fulfill a national obligation to the WTO (World Trade Organization), which prohibits merchandise trade quotas. It can stand on its own. It is justifiable.
It needs no apology from its proponents.

Millers bemoan lack of credit lines for wheat, rice imports

By Newsday

 November 29, 2018
THE milling industry has raised concern over the omission by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube of long-term credit facilities for importation of wheat, rice and salt, which they say are key in averting food shortages in the country, in the 2019 National Budget.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara yesterday told members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry that nostro support to the milling industry was imperative as the country is still importing flour.
Bread prices recently went up from 90c per loaf to $1,40 due to distortions in exchange rates and foreign currency challenges.
“The milling industry has been getting support from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. In respect of nostro support, however, we expected an indication (from 2019 budget) of long-term credit lines to fund the purchase of imported wheat, rice and salt, and further, we expected to see policy direction in the amortisation of the grain foreign legacy debt,” Musarara said.
“We expected the budget statement to make pronouncement on the Grain Marketing Board producer prices of the wheat recently harvested because farmers are asking for a price of $730 per metric tonne, against a buying price of $310 per metric tonne.”
Zimbabwe produces 120 000 metric tonnes of wheat annually, while consumption stands at 42 000 metric tonnes per month.
Locally produced wheat was only good for biscuits and buns, but not bread, Musarara said.
“We still need to import 350 000 metric tonnes of wheat annually because local wheat is not good for bread,” Musarara said.
He also told MPs that given the sensitivity around the pricing of staple food, there were expectations that Ncube would give counsel in respect of ceilings on key cost drivers of food prices such as labour, electricity and water charges.
Musarara said the country was also experiencing generational dietary challenges, where the youthful population was fast migrating towards consumption of rice and wheat flour.

“Imposition of value-added tax in foreign currency on pasta importation will affect the availability of pasta on the market, consequently disrupting the diets of several households and boarding schools.”
He said there was need for input support to farmers to sustain grain and cereal production in the country in order to realise food self-sufficiency.
“Currently, banks and private players are owed more than $500 million by farmers, largely due to inputs abuse, side-marketing and poor yields. These vices must be criminalised and lengthy prison terms must be imposed to give a deterrent effect,” Musarara said.

Government finally secures 203,000 metric tons rice imports
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - November 29, 2018 - 12:00am
Vietnam, represented by Vietnam Southern Food Corp. II, will supply bulk of the volume or about 123,000 MT of 25 percent brokens long grain white rice well-milled after it matched Thailand’s offer of $469.80 per MT.
Boy Santos
MANILA, Philippines — After two failed attempts, state-run National Food Authority has finally secured the needed 203,000 metric tons (MT) of rice via the government to government (G2G) scheme after increasing its reference price.
Vietnam, represented by Vietnam Southern Food Corp. II, will supply bulk of the volume or about 123,000 MT of 25 percent brokens long grain white rice well-milled after it matched Thailand’s offer of $469.80 per MT.
Thailand, represented by its Department of Foreign Trade, on the other hand, will supply 80,000 MT of rice with the same specifications.
This time, the governments of Thailand and Vietnam both offered bids that are below the NFA reference price of $470 per MT.
The new reference price was significantly higher than the $447.88 per MT set during the previous failed bidding two weeks ago.
“We are extremely happy because we were hoping that the bidding this time would be successful and it was. Everything was taken up,” said Mercedes Yacapain, chairperson of the committee on government-to-government procurement.
“And they committed  they can bring in the volume as specified. They will comply because there will be penalties on the certain number of days beyond,” she added.
Of the total volume, 50,000 MT will arrive not later than Dec. 15, while the remaining 153,000 MT should be in the country not later than Dec. 31.
Only the two countries participated in the bidding process since they are the only ones with an existing memorandum of agreement with the Philippines.
The rice imports will be discharged in the ports of La Union, Subic, Manila, Cebu, Tacloban, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos City, Davao, and Surigao.
NFA said all rice imported should have been harvested starting June 2018 onwards only and stocks should be freshly milled not more than four months prior to loading.

Agriculture income tax breaks, just lazy, populist measures – Mangala

November 26, 2018   06:02 pm
Former Finance Minister MP Mangala Samaraweera the recent removal of income tax will not have a material impact on the agriculture sector and the productivity.
Issuing a press release today (26) he stated that agriculture-based income taxes are accountable for only 0.03% of total government tax revenue and thereby it is a negligible figure.
According to Samaraweera, the real need for the agriculture sector is access to affordable finance, good quality irrigation, quality storage and warehousing, and access to markets.
He says that the agriculture relief package provides a tax break for corporate but provides no benefit to the small farmer. He calls these income tax breaks ‘lazy, populist measures that do not address the real underlying issues of a sector’.
Samaraweera says that the tax exemptions for agriculture sector raise questions regarding support for the other small-scale industries. He added that the tax break was given to the agri-sector as it is a sector with a large number of individuals of which very few benefit from the tax break.
He further said that this is an unfair proposal which will have no real impact on the agriculture sector.
The complete statement of Samaraweera is as follows:
“The Ministry of Finance has announced a package of tax exemptions for the agriculture sector. However, the announced measures have little or no real impact on the sector. Most small-scale farmers do not fall into the bracket of income tax payers. Data over the last few years shows that revenue collected from all agriculture-based income taxes accounts for approximately 0.03% of total government tax revenue – this is a negligible figure and suggests that the removal of this will not have a material impact on the agriculture sector and the productivity thereof.
The real requirement for the agriculture sector in Sri Lanka is access to affordable finance, good quality irrigation, quality storage and warehousing, and access to markets. Through the Enterprise Sri Lanka programme we initiated several loans schemes including Ran Aswenna (interest rate 6.8%), GoviNavoda (interest rate 3.4%), that cover the entire agriculture value chain. Through the ‘Gampereliya’ programme we initiated the rehabilitation of small irrigation tanks around the country that had been neglected for decades, leaving farmers so vulnerable to the droughts of the last 2 years. We initiated several major agriculture warehousing projects including those at Polonnaruwa, Ratnapura, and Killinochchi through the 2018 budget, which has helped stabilise farmer incomes. Our Agriculture Modernisation Programme initiated numerous schemes of connecting small scale farmers into larger local and global value chains, connecting the village farmer to global markets. All of these programmes were targeted for expansion through the 2019 budget.   
The proposed tax breaks will not address any of these critical issues in agriculture, it will however benefit the large plantation companies and commercial agricultural players, who could afford to pay taxes anyway. Therefore, in effect the agriculture relief package provides a tax break for corporate but provides no benefit to the small farmer. Tax breaks are lazy, populist measures that do not address the real underlying issues of a sector.   
The tax exemptions for agriculture will however raise other questions. What about support for the other small-scale industries? SME carpenters, SME retailers, SME manufacturers, SME construction sector, SME fisheries? Do they not deserve tax relief? Why just agriculture? Perhaps since it is a sector with a large number of individuals of which very few actually benefit from the proposed tax break. The tax package also includes measures to reduce taxes for agricultural processing which will benefit large scale, highly profitable rice millers. 
The income tax policy of our government was based on levels of profit, and not based on favouring certain sectors. Accordingly, whether you are in agriculture or in IT, if you make a profit over a certain level, you pay a tax of 14%, whereas if you do not make a profit you do not pay tax whichever sector you are in. Our income tax policy was based on fairness and equity, whilst also recognising the need for profitable companies to contribute to government revenue to fund services such as free education, health, and infrastructure which they also used in creating such profits.
As per what is proposed by the Finance Ministry, a large plantation company and profitable multinationals in the agriculture sector will not pay any taxes, whereas a local construction company would pay 28% tax. This is an unfair proposal which will have no real impact on the agriculture sector.”
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Paddy delivered, Markfed wants to cancel allotment

 Nov 27, 2018, 1:35 AM; last updated: Nov 27, 2018, 7:41 PM (IST
Tribune News Service
Sangrur, November 26
The working of the Markfed authorities in the district have come under the scanner after its district manager wrote to the District Food and Civil Supplies Controller to cancel the allotment of paddy to a Ratolan-based rice mill after the delivery of Rs35 lakh paddy to it last month.
The owner of the mill has accused the district manager of demanding money and written to the senior authorities seeking action against him. However, the district manager has denied the allegations. “After the allotment of paddy to RK Jain Rice and General Mills, Ratolan, on October 8, 2018, Markfed delivered 5,300 bags of paddy worth Rs35 lakh for milling. However, after the delivery, the Markfed district manager issued a letter for the cancellation of allotment after I refused to pay him money,” said mill owner Rajan Jain.
“District manager Gurbir Singh had been alleging that I was declared defaulter by an arbitrator in 2012 in misappropriation of paddy worth Rs45 lakh,” he said.
“In 2012, two other millers were declared defaulters for misappropriation of Rs45-lakh paddy. I was never declared a defaulter and I have all documents. Had I been a defaulter, why Markfed issued NOC and released my last year payment and allotted paddy to me. I will meet the CM with all documents to expose them,” he said.
He said then district manager, Markfed, and even chief manager (P&R), Markfed, Chandigarh, through their letters had stated that his mill could not be considered a defaulter.
However, Gurbir Singh denied the allegations, saying he would take legal action against Jain. “The allotment was done as a routine, but when a letter from my head office directing not to make allotment to this mill came to my notice, I stopped the delivery. If need be, we will shift all paddy to another mill and will seek police help.”



A Brief History of Rice in Space 

ARLINGTON, VA -- After traveling 301 million miles and seven months through space, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Insight mission landed on Mars on Monday.  Insight is the ninth successful NASA mission to the surface of Mars, and will provide scientists with valuable information about the structure of the planet's deep interior as it sends photographs and data back to Earth.

Mars may be dry and barren for now, devoid of the kind of water and soil rice needs to grow, but space agencies around the world have been studying the role rice might play in future space travel as rice has been around since the early days of space exploration.

During the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 when man first walked on the moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins ate freeze-dried chicken and rice specially designed by scientists and engineers to survive space travel.  The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, still possesses an original package of chicken and rice from this momentous mission, and though it looks a little worse for wear, it's an important reminder of rice's contribution to the space race.

The story of rice in space didn't end with the moon.  Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) still enjoy the simple pleasure of a zero-gravity meal made with vacuum-packed rice, though other ingredients are sometimes necessary to keep the grains from floating away.


Astronaut Cristoforetti:  Set it and forget it and it floats away
In 2015, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti demonstrated one of her favorite recipes to a YouTube audience while stationed on the ISS, assembling tarragon chicken with mushrooms and brown rice into a tortilla like a futuristic Julia Child.

By the looks of it, the science of space food has come a long way since the days of Apollo 11, but it's clear that rice is still as much of an essential nutritional staple up there as it is down here.
 
After successfully growing edible peas, dwarf wheat, and leafy greens in 2014, the ISS moved on to rice and tomatoes, and can now successfully grow rice in a zero-gravity, experimental environment on the space station.  In 2016, Chinese astronauts on the Tiangong space station grew rice to study how plants grow without an Earth-based cycle.  And NASA has conducted experiments on how microgravity affects the growth of rice plants, determining that while it weakens the plant's cell walls, it does not inhibit growth .

These rice experiments are essential to scientists in determining how astronauts might feed themselves during long-term space missions in the future.

It may seem like science fiction fantasy to imagine rice fields on space stations orbiting the Earth, or rice crops being harvested on other planets, but humans and rice have been inextricably entwined for 13,000 years, and rice's role in space exploration signifies that it's as much a part of our future as our past.  Historically, it's clear that wherever humans go, rice goes - even if that means leaving Earth. SPORTS

Chinese scientist outrages researchers by claiming he gene-edited twins

Some researchers say it’s time to allow gene editing, with careful regulation.
An embryo receives a small dose of Cas9 protein and PCSK9 sgRNA in a sperm injection microscope in a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province on Oct. 9, 2018.Mark Schiefelbein / AP
Nov. 27, 2018 / 4:56 AM GMT+5
By Maggie Fox
The scientific world erupted with outrage and concern Monday after a Chinese scientist claimed he used gene-editing to alter the DNA of a pair of twins who were born recently.
The scientist, He Jiankui of Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, said he used a DNA-editing tool called CRISPR to alter the genes of the twin girls to make them resistant to infection by the AIDS virus HIV. He plans to present more details later this week at a scientific meeting n Hong Kong. 201801:42
Fertility researchers around the world were quick to denounce both the way He announced his work — with a YouTube video and in an interview with the Associated Press — and the work itself.
Scientists usually present their work in journals, which vet their data and methods and usually also invite other experts in the field to check for errors before it's published.
The idea of permanently altering a baby's DNA so that their own children also carry the change is controversial, if not abhorrent, to much of the world. But some experts also say the furor surrounding the case shows it may be time to legalize such work and create a regulatory framework to ensure it is done safely and ethically.
China’s Southern University said it did not support the experiment. "The research work was carried out outside the school by Associate Professor He Jiankui. He did not report to the school and the department of biology, and the school and the biology department did not know about it," it said in a statement.
The university said it was investigating. Likewise, Rice University in Houston distanced itself from Michael Deem, a bioengineering professor there who said he collaborated with He on the project. “This research raises troubling scientific, legal and ethical questions,” the university said in a statement.
“Rice had no knowledge of this work. To Rice’s knowledge, none of the clinical work was performed in the United States. Regardless of where it was conducted, this work as described in press reports, violates scientific conduct guidelines and is inconsistent with ethical norms of the scientific community and Rice University. We have begun a full investigation of Dr. Deem’s involvement in this research,” it added.
“If true, this experiment is monstrous."
Other experts pointed out that the work was evidently done on healthy human embryos, and not to correct any genetic diseases. They said there is a difference between experimenting to save a life, and experimenting on babies out of scientific curiosity.
“If true, this experiment is monstrous,” said Julian Savulescu, an expert on bioethics at Britain’s Oxford University. “Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations, capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including the development of cancer. There are many effective ways to prevent HIV in healthy individuals: for example, protected sex. And there are effective treatments if one does contract it.”
Dr. Robert Winston, a fertility expert at Imperial College London, said the experiment amounted to scientific misconduct.
“It should be condemned,” he said in a statement.Experts worry that permanently altering the germline — the genes that are passed on to children — can cause unanticipated problems for future generations.
Several European countries ban germline gene editing, while allowing gene therapy to treat disease in a patient without altering DNA likely to be passed along to offspring. The U.S. has a complex system that strongly discourages germline gene-editing in people. Congress has expressly forbidden the Food and Drug Administration to approve germline gene editing treatments involving people and that has had the effect of discouraging the work.
Scientists including MIT's Feng Zhang and Jennifer Doudna of the University of California Berkeley, who developed the CRISPR-cas9 gene editing technique, have called for a moratorium on its use in treating real human patients.
"The work as described to date reinforces the urgent need to confine the use of gene editing in human embryos to cases where a clear unmet medical need exists, and where no other medical approach is a viable option, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences," Doudna said in a statement.
But several groups said the case showed that such experiments should be encouraged while being strictly regulated.
"We would like to see research in this area be allowed to continue with vigorous oversight," Sean Tipton of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine told NBC News.
“It has potential to eliminate known genetic diseases ... so people could have healthier children," he added. "Our view is that you have got to let the best American scientists pursue this work with the rigorous research oversight system that we have."
The International Society for Stem Cell Research also supports experiments, but not using gene-editing to make live human babies.
“The ISSCR supports laboratory-based research that involves editing of the nuclear genomes of human sperm, eggs, or embryos, but that is only when it is performed under rigorous review and oversight, as suggested in our international guidelines,” ISSCR president Doug Melton, of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, said in a statement. “We do not support any clinical application of human germline or embryo editing at this time,” he added.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has said gene editing should be acceptable if overseen properly. Organizers of the Hong Kong meeting said it was not yet clear if He’s work met the recommendations.
"We hope that the dialogue at our summit further advances the world's understanding of the issues surrounding human genome editing. Our goal is to help ensure that human genome editing research be pursued responsibly, for the benefit of all society," the National Academies said in a statement.
Maggie Fox
Maggie Fox is a senior writer for NBC News and TODAY, covering health policy, science, medical treatments and disease.


Government mulls banning rice imports

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 27 2018
     
A rice grower dries rice in Butalejja. FILE PHOTO  

In Summary

The ban on rice imports is intended to boost local production, Dorothy Nakaweesi writes.
By Dorothy Nakaweesi
Uganda has more mills than rice to process, a situation that has left players in the industry in a tight spot as government plans to stop importing the unprocessed grains.
A new study on the size of the rice market in Uganda found that, the country has a daily milling capacity of 7,158 metric tonnes. This implies that it takes only 38 days to mill paddy rice that is currently grown in Uganda.
This means if it were not for the imports of unprocessed rice, the mills would be redundant for the remaining 327 days of the year.
Third deputy Prime Minster, Moses Ali who officially launched the report said, “The ban on importats is intended to protect farmers and increase our domestic production.”
He said the country’s domestic production target should double from the current 1.5 tonnes to 3 tonnes per hectare.
“Last year, Uganda alone imported rice worth some $120m (Shs450b). That money should have gone to our farmers and millers to improve domestic production and create more jobs,” Mr Ali added.
Responding to the looming ban, Mr Philip Idro, the chairperson of the Rice Millers Council of Uganda said, “Millers have set up factories to process locally produced rice. Unfortunately, farmers are not producing enough. We want government and the private sector to help out on this.”
Mr Idro added that investors have put in a lot of money to set up mills and if they stop operating, their mills will be taken away.
“This is why we are asking government to allow us (millers) import a bit of rice from Pakistan and other areas at least for the next two years to prepare for this action. This will give time to farmers to produce enough,” Mr Idro pleaded.
He urged the ministry of agriculture to train farmers to grow more rice which will be supplied to the millers.
Imports
According to statistics from Uganda Revenue Authority and International Trade Centre (ITC), Uganda’s imports have increased by 71.4 per cent in the last 10 years.
In 2008, the country imported a total of 59,988 tonnes. This has since increased to 210,102 tonnes recorded in 2017.
Rice imports into the country mainly come as raw (brown & paddy) and final refining happens in the country. It is parked and re-distributed into consumption areas.
Exports
Much as Uganda’s production is not enough to run the mills throughout the year, the country also exports some.
Data indicate an increase in the rice exports from 33,757 tonnes in 2008 to 71,890 tonnes in 2017.
“Rice exports are mainly done as white rice which is exported to DRC and South Sudan. Part of the exports are from the local production and another part is from the imports,” Mr Haam Rukundo, the team leader at Rhamz International – a multidisciplinary consultancy that conducted the research, said.
Mr Rukondo said their findings show that Uganda’s imports of rice for the year ending December 2017 were 210,102 tonnes of paddy. Of this volume, 59,852 tonnes of paddy were re-exported to neighbouring countries.
“In the same year, the country exported 71,890 tonnes of paddy equivalent from the locally produced rice. Therefore the imports netted 78,360 tonnes of paddy rice,” Rukondo added.
Due to the fact that the net imports also reflect informal exports which were not confirmed by this study, net imports range between 78,360 tonnes and 150,000 tonnes of rice.

Swan tours offered along rice fields near Marysville

Swans fly over the area of the 2014 California Swan Festival. (Submitted by David Rosen)
By KYRA GOTTESMAN | Correspondent
November 26, 2018 at 4:46 pm
MARYSVILLE — Before winter takes hold in the Arctic, more than 100,000 tundra swans migrate along the Pacific Flyway from their remote and solitary breeding grounds to spend winter in California. Many of those swans make their winter home in the rice fields around Marysville.
Now through January, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife offers the public an opportunity to see these spectacular birds in their habit.
The Fish and Wildlife host Swan Tours, at no charge, every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. Each tour is limited to 30 participants and advance registration is required. Lead by Fish and Wildlife vehicles, tour groups caravan in their own vehicles and stop for wildlife viewing opportunities. Little walking is required during the two-hour tours.
During the tour attendees are guided along public roads throughout a 23,000-acre expanse of privately owned rice fields and restored habitat.
“We encourage people to bring their own binoculars. And even though there is not much walking, they should wear good, comfortable walking shoes. We also recommend not bringing dogs and if you do, to keep them in your car,” said Brian Gilmore, scientific aide.
While they may be “ugly ducklings” when they’re small, the tundra swan grow into magnificent birds. At maturity they are all white with a little bit of yellow on the lower area of their bills. These swans can weigh 14 to 21 pounds with wingspans that reach up to 5.5 feet.
“They are spectacular and there are typically thousands of them. There are also other waterfowl we see sharing the habitat. Sometimes we see bald eagles,” said Gilmore.
Among the other birds that folks can glimpse on the tour are greater white-fronted geese, snow geese, white-faced ibis and ducks including the northern shoveler and the northern pintail.
“Unless you’re a birder, you know someone who is really into birds and bird watching, the most impressive thing is the sheer number of birds in this habitat,” said Gilmore.
The Swan Tours started in 2010 shortly after the ban on burning rice fields was put in place.
“The alternative to burning is to flood the fields so the rice stubble can decompose. This highly benefitted wildlife, especially the birds that migrate in the winter from the arctic tundra,” said Gilmore.

Driving swan tour

9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays through January in the rice fields around Marysville
Free, but pre-registration required at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/2/swan-tours
For information, (916) 358-2869 or interpretiveservices@ wildlife.ca.gov

Millers, tillers, miners – all in the mix in MP's poll race

By  Madhvi Sally, ET Bureau|
Nov 28, 2018, 06.59 AM IST
The state has 70% of its workforce employed in agriculture and allied sectors.
NEW DELHI: Here’s a little-noted fact of the closely contested Madhya Pradesh elections — prominent in the list of candidates, whether big names or little-known aspirants, are big farmers, miners, oil millers and fishery owners.

The state has 70% of its workforce employed in
agriculture and allied sectors. So, candidate profiles have followed the economy profile — 134 of the 167 re-contesting MLAs have declared agriculture as their main source of income.

Chief minister
Shivraj Singh Chouhan has dabbled in floriculture & agriculture. His son Kartikey Singh Chouhan manages Sunder Dairy in Vidisha, which boasts over 200 black-and-white Holstein-Friesian cows. Congress candidate Nilay Daga, an oil miller, and BJP MLA Moti Kashyap, who is into fish farming, say they have the advantage of knowing the pulse of MP’s rural community.

Kashyap does fish farming on 20 acre of pond in Katni district. “My wife owns the farm but I manage it. It’s a good way to remain connected with the farmers,” he says. A candidate from the Betul constituency, Daga’s facility crushes 500 tonne soyabean per day. He says rural employment is the key issue. Gourishanker Bisen, agriculture minister of MP, cultivates 20 acres of land. He is contesting from Balaghat, a Naxal-affected district of Madhya Pradesh.

A total of 2,899 candidates are in the fray for MP’s 230 seats. Analysis of 2,716 candidate profiles by the Association for Democratic Reforms shows 650 candidates are crorepatis. The richest contesting MLA, Sanjay Satyendra Pathak, is a mining baron. His agro-manufacture and seeds businesses, says Congress nominee from Depalpur, Vishal Patel, help him understand ground realities in MP’s villages. Rice miller Tamlal Raghuraj Sahare from Balaghat’s Katangi assembly constituency is also a farmer.

This Congress leader is also a rice cultivator, owning 25 acres of land. “I know uninterrupted electricity supply or reimbursement of crop insurance or irrigation for the second crop are key issues,” he says. Across MP, there are candidates from both parties that have their ear to the ground, because that’s where they are making their living from
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/elections/madhya-pradesh-assembly-elections/millers-tillers-miners-all-in-the-mix-in-mps-poll-race/articleshow/66837133.cms

Meet on new paddy seeds held in B ‘ngir

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A workshop on evaluation of stress-tolerant paddy seeds was held at village Phatamunda in Deogaon block, 20 km from here, on Wednesday.
The workshop was organised by the Reliance Foundation along with the International Rice Research Institute, the State Department of Agriculture and the Bhimpahad Producers Limited.
A team of agriculture expert led by Dr Bhanu Prasad Bhadoria, Dr Dilip Rout of IRRI, BG Mahesh of Reliance Foundation, Mumbai, visited the field offFarmer Gangaram Patel in which as many as eighteen varieties of paddy are cultivated.
The eighteen paddy varieties include DRR-44, DRR-39, Harsit, Ardhajal, Bina-11, Bina-17, Sahabhagi, Susk Samrat, IR-64 and Danteshwari.
The expert team interacted with farmers and took their opinions on the paddy varieties. Later, a meeting was held in which farmers shared their experiences and problems of paddy cultivation in the earlier years.
https://www.dailypioneer.com/2018/state-editions/meet-on-new-paddy-seeds-held-in-b----ngir.html

House ratifies bills on rice tariff, coco levy

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By Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA
MANILA — The House of Representatives on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee reports on the rice tariffication bill and the coco levy trust fund bill.
The Lower House approved the reconciled version of House Bill 7735 and Senate Bill 1198, which seeks to replace the quantitative import restrictions on rice with tariffs and creating the rice competitive enhancement fund (RCEF).
Under the measure, a total of PHP10 billion shall be earmarked for the RCEF.
Fifty percent of the proposed fund would be allocated to the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Modernization (PhilMech) for rice farm equipment; 30 percent will go to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for the development, propagation, and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and organizations; 10 percent will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives, to be managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines; and 10 percent will be used for extension services to teach rice farmers modern methods of farming, seed production, and farm mechanization.
The House also approved the bicameral version of House Bill 5745 and Senate Bill 1233, which seeks to establish the coconut farmers and industry development trust fund.
The bill was already ratified by both the House and Senate, but was recalled from the Office of the President to introduce amendments.
It was reported that two contentious provisions in the coco levy bill needed to be addressed by the Palace. First is the composition of the council that will manage the funds, and the second is the additional PHP10-billion allotment that would come from the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Once both chambers of Congress ratify the bicameral committee reports, the proposal would be transmitted to MalacaƱang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

MB member pushes rice industry reforms

NOVEMBER 29, 2018
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·       MB MEMBER PUSHES RICE INDUSTRY REFORMS
The government should continue to implement reforms and invest in the rice industry to keep prices of the staple low, a Monetary Board member said.
Victor Bruce Tolentino
Speaking at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Wednesday, Monetary Board member Victor Bruce Tolentino — former deputy chief of the International Rice Research Institute — noted that inflation pressures coming mostly from rice prices had gone down.
“The big things — food prices and rice prices — the pressure is off right now,” he told reporters.
Latest Philippine Statistics Authority data show that rice prices decreased in the first week of November, with the average wholesale price dipping by 0.73 percent from P44.04 per kilo the week before.
“But I’m saying with regards to rice it (higher prices) will happen again if we don’t make the changes,” Tolentino said.
“Unless we do tariffication, unless we start investing in R&D (research and development) and irrigation, it will happen again,” he added.
A bicameral committee last week approved the consolidated version of Senate Bill 1998 and House Bill 7735 or the Rice Tariffication Bill. The harmonized version will now be submitted to the Senate and House of Representatives for ratification.
“Through rice tariffication, we will be able to bring in more rice. We will be able to feed more people at a lower prices. We will be able to push our farmers to compete,” Tolentino said.
“Let’s invest in irrigation. Not only invest in irrigation, but invest in water management because sometimes our irrigation works so well that we flood the rice fields and crops die,” he added.
Tolentino also cited the need to invest in science and technology to enable the rice industry and farmers become more resilient and able to combat the impact of climate change.
https://www.manilatimes.net/mb-member-pushes-rice-industry-reforms/475096/