Friday, November 30, 2018

30th November,2018 Daily GLobal Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Chinese scientist’s claim of gene-edited babies creates uproar

Chinese researcher He Jiankui claimed he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies — twin girls. 
A Chinese scientist triggered alarm and confusion across the scientific community Monday with the claim that he had edited the DNA of human embryos to create twin baby girls, Lulu and Nana, who he said had been born “crying into the world as healthy as any other babies” a few weeks ago.
The controversial experiment, publicized through the media and videos posted online by He Jiankui of Southern University of Science and Technology of China, was criticized by many scientists worldwide as premature and called “rogue human experimentation.” More than 120 Chinese scientists called the experiment “crazy” in a letter, adding that it dealt a huge blow to the global reputation of Chinese science. Southern University said in a statement it would be investigating the experiment, which appeared to have “seriously violated academic ethics and codes of conduct.”
The unverified claim by He came on the eve of an international summit dedicated to discussing the emerging science and ethics around powerful tools that give scientists unprecedented potential to tweak traits and eliminate genetic diseases — but that have raised fears of “designer babies.” By editing the DNA of human embryos, scientists change not just the genes in a single person, but also their potential offspring — in effect, altering the human species.
“Here you have a scientist changing the human race, and you have a YouTube video about it, with no [scientific] paper. It’s just almost surreal,” said Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, who said he has seen some of the data behind the experiment. “This guy must have just remarkable chutzpah to proceed. Basically for the first time in history, he has used this powerful tool in a reckless way for no good reason.”
physicist by training, He told the Associated Press that embryos from seven couples who underwent in vitro fertilization had been edited. He said he used a tool called CRISPR-Cas9 that can make targeted cuts to DNA — to disable a gene that allows HIV to infect cells — with one successful pregnancy so far.
He did not respond to attempts to reach him by email and phone. He is scheduled to make a presentation at the conference on Wednesday. In opening remarks for the summit, biologist David Baltimore made only an oblique reference to the project.
“We may even hear about an attempt to apply genome editing to human embryos, giving rise to children carrying edited genes,” Baltimore said.
“I think this just shows the time is now that you have to talk about the ethics of genome editing, because the world may not wait,” said Insoo Hyun, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University. “We don’t know how much of this is true or verified. These are all kind of . . . rumors at this point . . . but in terms of scientific and medical rationale, I don’t think there is one.”
The experiment was first reported by MIT Technology Review and the Associated Press. According to a descriptionof the project posted online, He created embryos from couples with an HIV-infected father. The use of the technology immediately raised questions from ethicists since there are other ways to prevent HIV transmission to a fetus, and many think that the first applications of gene editing should be reserved for diseases that are deadly with no treatment options. In a video released on YouTube, He said that only a single gene had been changed, but gene editing is known to introduce unintended genetic effects that could raise concerns — either for the children themselves or the human gene pool if the children grow up to pass on their genes.
In a series of videos posted on YouTube, He explained that his experiment had worked and that the gene editing hadn’t made any unintentional changes to the children’s DNA, but Topol said that it was “frankly not possible” to make that claim and added that now Nana and Lulu’s offspring would be affected in ways that no one fully understands.
He, who is also a founder and chairman of Direct Genomics, a DNA sequencing company, sought to differentiate himself from those who would recklessly tweak the genome to create designer babies.
“Gene surgery is and should remain a technology for healing. Enhancing IQ or selecting hair or eye color is not what a loving parent does. That should be banned,” He said in one of the videos. “I understand my work will be controversial, but I believe families need this technology, and I’m willing to take the criticism for them.”
The public announcement was highly unconventional, with no supporting data provided to verify the claims and no submission to the traditional process of peer review. It raised deep questions for scientists about whether traditional oversight channels were followed, as well as what to believe about the experiment and the results. He posted a medical ethical approval form for the trial on his website from the HarMoniCare Shenzhen Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Jennifer Doudna, one of the pioneers of genome editing from the University of California, Berkeley, said that the experiment appeared to be a “clear break” from the cautious and transparent approach recommended by international leaders.
“The lack of transparency and disregard for risk are deeply concerning,” Doudna said. “There are safe and effective ways to protect children from HIV transmission, so the study as reported does not appear to address an unmet medical need.”
Feng Zhang, a leader in the field from the Broad Institute, called for a moratorium on implanting edited embryos until safety requirements have been set.
“If it’s true as reported then it’s an extremely premature and questionable experiment in creating genetically modified children,” said Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. “There’s much to understand and discuss about oversight or lack thereof.”
When the international gene-editing summit was last held, in 2015, scientists who organized the meeting concluded with a statement calling it “irresponsible to proceed” with editing human embryos until “there is broad societal consensus about the appropriateness” of any proposed use.
“While each nation ultimately has the authority to regulate activities under its jurisdiction, the human genome is shared among all nations,” the statement said.
Matthew Porteus, a pediatrician and stem-cell scientist at Stanford University who is on the organizing committee for the meeting in Hong Kong, said that the announcement highlights the weaknesses of the current regulatory system. “This is not the way I would like to see science advance. I have serious concerns,” Porteus said.
Southern University of Science and Technology said in a statement that He is on unpaid leave and condemned the experiment, saying the university was “deeply shocked” by the news and had called an emergency meeting. The research was conducted off-campus, and the university was unaware of the project, according to the statement.
The Associated Press reported that Michael Deem, a professor of bioengineering at Rice University, was involved in the experiment. Deem did not immediately respond to calls or emails, and Rice said in a statement that it was investigating his involvement.
“Coming on the eve of the second international summit on genome editing, this announcement looks like a cynical attempt to seize headlines,” said Pete Mills, assistant director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. “If the claims are true, it is a premature, inexplicable and possibly reckless intervention that may threaten the responsible development of future applications of genome editing.”
William Wan contributed to this report.

USA Rice Outlook Conference and Think Rice Truck Raffle Deadlines Approach 

ARLINGTON, VA - With the 2018 USA Rice Outlook Conference just one week away registration rates are set to rise again - increasing another $25 for on-site registration. Additionally, the raffle to win the Think Rice Road Trip Truck has been capped at 1,000 tickets and they are moving thanks to a Twitter and Instagram ad blitz launched this week. The conference takes place at the Marriott Marquis Marina in San Diego, California from December 5-7.

"We have great speakers and sessions lined up covering everything from grain bin safety and spray drift mitigation, to the Trump trade agenda and the future of retail," said USA Rice Chairman and California farmer Charley Mathews, Jr. "And of course, we're going to be spending a lot of time learning about sustainability and conservation practices that are being utilized on farms and in mills right now."

Another highlight of the largest annual rice-specific gathering in North America is the Awards Luncheon. Rice Farming Magazine, along with Horizon Ag and USA Rice will present the Rice Farmer of the Year, Rice Industry, and Lifetime Achievement Awards. USA Rice and Corteva Agriscience will award the National Rice Month Scholarship, the new Rice Leadership Development class will be announced, and more.

The conference Exhibit Hall is home to several receptions and meals and features the Innovation Stage. Attendees will also be able to see the Think Rice Road Trip truck freshly back from a 5,000-mile promotional tour that started in Louisiana two months ago. The truck is being raffled off with the winning ticket being pulled during the third General Session - but the winner does not need to be present. Tickets are $75 for one, $200 for three, or $350 for five, but no more than 1,000 tickets will be sold.

"If folks haven't yet registered for the conference, I urge them to do it now before rates rise again, and whether you are attending or not, you should buy a truck raffle ticket because those odds are hard to beat," Mathews said.

Full conference information and schedules can be found here and truck raffle tickets and rules can be found here.

Farm Bill Conclusion in Sight 

WASHINGTON, DC - The "Four Principals" of the Farm Bill Conference Committee - House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) - released an official statement this morning announcing an "agreement in principle" on the 2018 Farm Bill.

Many of the finer details of the agreement are still under wraps, including compromises on contentious policy differences in the commodity, conservation, and nutrition titles in the two versions of the Farm Bill, while the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders await the bill scoring, referring to the official Congressional Budget Office projected cost of the nearly trillion dollar farm bill over the next ten years, and the formal bill and report language. The principals have cautioned that depending on the outcome of the scores, they may have to return to the negotiating table if the bill exceeds spending limits.

"USA Rice is extremely appreciative to the House and Senate Agriculture Committee Leaders and the Farm Bill Conference Committee for their work towards passing a Farm Bill in 2018 when farmers and the agriculture industry are facing devastatingly low prices and market and trade disruptions," said Joe Mencer, Arkansas rice farmer and chair of USA Rice Farmers. "We're hopeful for a bill that continues to provide a strong farm safety net with no further restrictions to eligibility, continues critical conservation programs, and continues the use of commodity-based food aid."

The process of getting a 2018 Farm Bill passed began over two years ago. USA Rice members testified before Congress twice in 2017 to share the priorities and needs of the U.S. rice industry for the 2018 Farm Bill and members have been diligent in their advocacy efforts by attending roundtables, town halls, and through direct contact with their Members of Congress.

"Just 10 scheduled days remain on the Congressional calendar when both the House and Senate are in session, so time is of the essence to pass a Farm Bill before the end of this Congress," said Ben Mosely, USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs. "It is important to note that our job is not quite done yet - we need our members to contact their Members of Congress and encourage them to vote yes on the conference report."

As far as process from now until the finish line, the four principals must agree on the final bill and report language along with its scoring, then Farm Bill Conference Committee members will sign the report before it's sent to each chamber of Congress for a straight up or down vote, with no amendments allowed, where only a simple majority is needed for passage. From there, if passage occurs in both chambers, the report will be sent to the president's desk to be signed into law.

"I want to thank our USA Rice members who have been advocating for a positive Farm Bill for the rice industry from the start," said Charley Mathews, Jr., California rice farmer and USA Rice Chairman. "I'm so impressed by the work and dedication of these individuals, organizations, and companies conveying our priorities and making their voices heard through multiple mediums - emails and phone calls to Members of Congress and meetings in states, districts, and in Washington. Now, let's get the Farm Bill across the finish line!"

Did Rice Scholar Assist in Banned Research?

University to investigate whether a physics and bioengineering professor was involved in a banned genome-editing procedure that allegedly produced the world's first genetically edited babies.
By Greg Toppo 
November 27, 2018

Michael Deem
Rice University will launch a “full investigation” into whether one of its American scholars had a hand in controversial new research that a Chinese scientist claims has produced the world’s first genetically edited babies.He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, on Monday stunned attendees at a Hong Kong genetics conference by announcing that he used the genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the DNA of embryonic twin girls to make them immune to HIV infection. He said the babies were born earlier this month.
A Rice physics and bioengineering professor, Michael Deem, worked with He on the project after He returned to China following graduate school in the United States, the Associated Press reported Monday. Deem had been He's adviser at Rice in Houston and holds what he has called “a small stake” in He’s two companies in Shenzhen. Deem is also on the companies’ scientific advisory boards, AP reported.
The type of gene editing described by He is banned in the United States because the DNA changes can pass to future generations. The modifications also risk harming other genes.
By the time of Monday’s announcement, there had been no independent confirmation of He’s claim, which was not published in a peer-reviewed journal. He revealed the breakthrough to one of the organizers of an international conference on gene editing that is set to begin today. He also spoke to AP, telling a reporter, “I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example,” adding, “Society will decide what to do next.”
The announcement generated a flurry of news coverage and a resurgence of debate about the ethics of gene editing. One Oxford University medical ethicist told England's Telegraph that He would be facing jail time in most countries for the experiment. If true, said Julian Salulescu, "this experiment is monstrous," calling it "genetic Russian roulette."
Rice on Monday said the research “raises troubling scientific, legal and ethical questions.” The university said it had no prior knowledge of the work, and that none of the clinical work had been performed in the United States.
“Regardless of where it was conducted,” Rice said, “this work as described in press reports violates scientific conduct guidelines and is inconsistent with ethical norms of the scientific community and Rice University.” It announced “a full investigation of Dr. Deem’s involvement in this research.”
Deem did not respond to a request for comment. In an interview, he told AP that he was present in China when potential participants in the research gave their consent. Deem said he had worked with He on vaccine research at Rice and considers the gene editing similar to a vaccine.
Rice wouldn’t comment further but said Deem remained on faculty. On Monday, his profile page remained on Rice’s website, as did the webpage for its program in systems, synthetic and physical biology, which he founded.
But several pages, including those dedicated to Deem’s research, his research group, his publications and his patents, had been taken down.
He, the Chinese scholar, studied at Rice and Stanford Universities before returning to China to open a lab at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen.
In a statement issued Monday, the Chinese university said, as did Rice, that the research was conducted outside its campus and that it wasn’t reported to the university or its biology department. The university said it learned of the research through media reports, noting that He has been on “no-paid leave” since February.
The university said it was “deeply shocked by this event” and has attempted to reach He for clarification. It also said the biology department had called an emergency meeting of its academic committee. He’s work “has seriously violated academic ethics and codes of conduct,” the university said. It called for international experts to form an independent committee to investigate He’s claim and to release the results to the public.
In a statement, the National Institutes of Health on Monday said officials there had not been able to review the "unexpected and deeply troubling claims" by He. "Without further information, NIH cannot comment on the scientific merits of the study, but we are profoundly concerned about the ethical implications of modifying the human germline."
In a 2015 statement, NIH director Francis S. Collins said that while genomic editing has enabled researchers to more easily study the underlying genetic causes of several diseases, NIH "will not fund any use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos. The concept of altering the human germline in embryos for clinical purposes has been debated over many years from many different perspectives, and has been viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed."
Kiran Musunuru, a University of Pennsylvania gene-editing expert and editor of a genetics journal, called the development “unconscionable,” telling AP that experimenting on humans “is not morally or ethically defensible.”
Likewise, Scripps Research Translational Institute director Eric Topol cautioned, “We’re dealing with the operating instructions of a human being. It’s a big deal.”
But Harvard Medical School genetics professor George Church said attempted gene editing for HIV is “justifiable,” given that HIV is “a major and growing public health threat.”
Church said He’s claims were “probably accurate,” telling Stat News by email that he’d been in contact with the team in Shenzhen and had “seen the data” on the gene editing.
“Is the genie really out of the bottle?” Church wrote. “Yes.”

Pakistan and India break ground on visa-free Kartarpur corridor

Amid tense bilateral ties, South Asian neighbours agree to provide a visa-free corridor for Sikh pilgrims.
Islamabad/New Delhi - Nestled in the verdant green rice fields of Pakistan's eastern Narowal district, the white domes of the Sri Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara offer a striking contrast.
Centuries ago, it is said, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent his final days in this small village, farming the fields and formalising many of the practices of what would become a religion followed by more than 25 million people around the world.
When he died in 1539, the legend goes that he was so revered by both Hindus and Muslims that there was a dispute over how his remains should be treated: Should he be buried, in the Islamic tradition, or cremated, as Hindus wished?
Today, at the Sikh gurdwara, or place of worship, built over his final resting place, there is both a Muslim grave and a Hindu samadhi (shrine) marking his passing.
A few kilometres away, Sikhs gather at a podium to view one of the most sacred sites in their religion, lining up to pay tribute to Guru Nanak by viewing the gurdwara through a set of binoculars.
They are unable to access the site, just five kilometres away, because between the two gurdwaras lies an obstacle that has been almost insurmountable for most: The international border between India and Pakistan.
All that, however, is about to change.

Starting a new era

On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated a new visa-free corridor between the gurdwara at Kartarpur and the Indian town of Dera Baba Nanak, about six kilometres away.
Sikh pilgrims will be able to travel freely between the two holy sites without visas for the first time since the border was established here in 1947 when India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain.

Sikh pilgrimage transcends Pakistan-India tensions

Khan, inaugurating the project, which will see the construction of a new road and bridge that would link the two sites, spoke of wanting to open a new era of relations between India and Pakistan.
"There have been mistakes on both sides [in the past], but we will not be able to move forward until we break the chains of the past," said Khan. "The past is there only to teach us, not for us to live in."
Also present on the occasion were Indian federal ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri, and provincial Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The inauguration in Pakistan follows a similar event on the Indian side of the border earlier this week, attended by the chief minister of India's Punjab province and the country's vice president. The corridor will formally open next year, in time for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations for Guru Nanak.
It marks a rare moment of positivity in relations between the two South Asian nations, who have fought three wars since gaining independence and between whom dialogue has been stalled for years.
Indian cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu was present at Wednesday's inauguration [KM Chaudary/AP]
Earlier this year, India cancelled planned foreign minister-level talks on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly following the killing of Indian security forces personnel in the disputed region of Kashmir by armed separatists.
India accuses Pakistan of supporting the armed separatist movement in Kashmir, which both countries claim in full but administer separate portions of. Pakistan denies the charge and alleges that India foments instability by supporting separatists in Balochistan province.

India, Pakistan trade barbs at UN over failed bid for talks

With the opening of the corridor - a long-standing demand of the Sikh community and one which Pakistan proposed to be followed through with earlier this year - the Pakistani government says it is showing that it is prepared to take concrete steps to ease tensions.
"The story of Kartarpur is as old as the history of Pakistan and India's independence itself," Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan's information minister, told Al Jazeera.
"We have groups on both sides of the border, some who are pro-peace, and many who do not want [talks] to occur. It is for the government to decide who to support. With this step, we have shown where we stand."
For Sikhs in the area, the opening of the corridor is the culmination of a long-held dream.
"We have been asking for this for years," said Ramesh Singh Arora, a Sikh community leader in Narowal who tends to the gurdwara. "It will make it a lot easier for people to come from India and then return to their country."
With the inaugurations this week, work will now begin on a fenced-off road between the gurdwara at Kartarpur and the gurdwaras on the Indian side of the border, which will allow Sikhs to access both sites without a visa.
Previously, Arora says, pilgrims were forced to cross the border at the Wagah/Attari crossing, a journey of more than 200km that involved dealing with a restrictive visa regime and travelling by road for hours.
"It's a sense of homecoming. This is an emotional moment for the community," says Bhabishan Singh Goraya, 67, a Sikh resident of nearby Amritsar, in India's Punjab province. "We have been demanding this for so long."

Political pressures

Analysts say the Indian government, led by right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was pressured into opening the corridor due to domestic political pressures.
"Politics did play a factor, with general elections in India less than six months away," Krishan Pratap Singh, a New-Delhi based analyst, told Al Jazeera. "The Akali Dal, a coalition partner of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, is struggling in Punjab with internal strife and the Kartarpur corridor is being seen as an attempt to provide them a much-needed fillip."
It is a point that has been made in Pakistan, too.
"The reaction from Delhi [to the Kartarpur proposal] was always very negative," said Pakistani Information Minister Chaudhry. "But now that they have elections in Punjab, so the Indian government has changed its position because of that. Internal public pressure has changed it."
Indian artist Gurmeet Singh poses with a paper model of the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan [Narinder Nanu/AFP]
One of the sources of opposition to the corridor within India has been security concerns regarding the free movement of citizens between the two countries, even in the controlled environment of the corridor.
"There are apprehensions that some left-over elements of the [Sikh separatist] Khalistan movement still operate from Pakistani territory," said Sreeram Chaulia, dean of New Delhi's Jindal School of International Affairs.
"They are still capable of appealing to vulnerable Sikh youth, recruiting and mobilising them. India has no way of monitoring once they are inside Pakistani soil."
Sikh separatists in India began agitating for a separate homeland in the 1970s, but the movement petered out two decades later. India believes there has been an attempt to revive separatist groups in the recent past.
Pakistani analysts, too, warn that while the corridor may be a rare success story, the prospect of any resumption of dialogue between the countries remains dim.
"This is a good move in a situation where there is little hope of any improvement in the relations between the two countries," said Zahid Hussain, an Islamabad-based security analyst.
"But I don't think it will change the overall atmosphere that prevails right now. It's more for public consumption rather than a move that could change the politics of the region," he added. 
Hussain points out that the opening of the corridor could not have occurred without backing from Pakistan's powerful military, which has ruled the country for roughly half of its 71-year history.
This is a good move in a situation where there is little hope of any improvement in the relations between the two countries.
Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa has publicly supported the project and first discussed it with Indian legislator Sidhu at Prime Minister Khan's inauguration in August. General Bajwa was also in attendance at the ground-breaking on Wednesday.
Pakistan's government is planning further confidence-building measures, Information Minister Chaudhry said, including the easing of visa restrictions on Indian journalists.
"Pakistan has shown a bigger heart," he said. "We had the attack on the Chinese consulate [last week] and we still didn't stop this initiative [on Kartarpur] - the Indian support for the Baloch Liberation Army is not a secret."
Chaudhry was referring to an attack on the Chinese diplomatic mission in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi by Baloch separatists on Friday, which killed two policemen.
Regardless of the tension in the relationship between the states, the Sikh community remains jubilant about the opening of the corridor.
"There are lots of relations on either side. When partition happened, most of our relatives went to India from Pakistan," said Arora. "We decided to stay. We are Pakistani, but we are one people."
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera's digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.
Zeenat Saberin is Al Jazeera's digital correspondent in India. She tweets at @SaberinZe.

Cochin Port Trust in talks with private rice millers of West Bengal

In September, 25,000 tonnes of cement from Krishnapatnam arrived at the CPT, marking the beginning of operations of the fourth cement terminal at the Cochin Port.
Published: 29th November 2018 10:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th November 2018 10:50 AM  |  

Chakravath disaster relief demonstration held at Cochin Port Trust on Thursday | Express
By Express News Service
KOCHI:  After luring the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to transport a big consignment of rice through coastal shipping, the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) is holding talks with the private sector to move their goods to Kerala via the coastal route.A V Ramana, deputy chairman, CPT, met the private rice millers of West Bengal in Kolkota to convince them of the benefits of the coastal movement of rice to Kochi the other day. Officials said this is a major thrust area for port, and more sectors will begin to use the coastal route for transport of goods and consignments to the state.
In September, 25,000 tonnes of cement from Krishnapatnam arrived at the CPT, marking the beginning of operations of the fourth cement terminal at the Cochin Port. “This modal shift in transport of cement from road/rail to sea is another step towards promoting coastal shipping as a cost-effective and environment-friendly means of transportation as envisaged under the Sagarmala Programme of Ministry of Shipping.  Cement being a high-volume, low-value product, lower-cost sea transport is very important as a game changer in logistics,” officials said.
The CPT’s other three terminals are Ambuja, UltraTech and Zuari, and they handle 7,83,000 tonnes of cement annually. The bagging terminal of Penna Cement Ltd. is the fourth such terminal at Cochin Port. The terminal has been set up in 1.14 ha of land leased by Cochin Port Trust and is expected to handle 3 lakh tonnes of cement annually.
Recently, a consignment of 4,732 tonnes of rice from the FCI arrived in 182 containers at the International Container Transshipment Terminal at Vallarpadam here.  The consignment of rice – which is for public distribution in Kerala – arrived at the Vallarpadam terminal in a container ship ‘SSL Kochi’ from Kakinada Port via Krishnapatnam (both in Andhra Pradesh), said a statement from Cochin Port.
Until recently, FCI brought the rice to Kerala mostly via trains. It is expected 10,000 tonnes of rice will be brought every month from Andhra Pradesh to Kerala in the days to come. “This is a modal shift to coastal shipping as it has proved cost-effective for FCI,” officials said.

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.
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.

EU gets new letter from concerned local exporter

Sok Chan / Khmer Times  

For the second time in less than two weeks, a local rice exporter has reached out to European Union institutions to express dissatisfaction regarding the possible imposition of tariffs on Cambodian rice.
In a letter addressed to the European Commission and the EU Embassy in Phnom Penh, Chan Sokheang, chairman and CEO of Signatures of Asia, criticised the European bloc for considering the activation of a safeguard clause that would see the imposition of tariffs on rice exports from the Kingdom as a way to protect farmers in Europe, particularly those in Spain and Italy.
“We, Signatures of Asia Co., Ltd, a rice millers and exporter from Cambodia, would like to write this official letter to express our disagreement with your intention to temporarily introduce a safeguard clause measure on Indica rice from Cambodia,” the letter said.
“As per our business model, we work directly with farmers from 11 cooperative following organic farming techniques. Our cooperation has improved the livelihoods and living standards of these farmers. We have directly impacted approximately 4,000 smallholder families in 3 Cambodia provinces: Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom and Stung Treng.”
A similar letter was sent on Nov 16 by Amru Rice, one of the Kingdom’s largest rice exporters.
Signatures of Asia’s letter – titled “Our Farmers should be fairly treated as Italian or Spain farmers for the fairer farmer and better world” – was addressed to Frederic Michiels, deputy head of unit of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade, and George Edgar, the EU Ambassador to Cambodia.
The letter said activating the safeguard clause would have a serious impact on Signatures of Asia’s farmers, adding that these farmers deserved to be treated fairly.
“Cambodian farmers are no different from those in Italian, Spain or any other country. Therefore, we again would like to ask for your understanding in the matter. Please take the right decision for a better world and fair terms for all farmers,” Signatures of Asia added.
According to the letter, the EU absorbs 90 percent of Signatures of Asia’s production – which nears 3,000 metric tonnes a year – while the US market receives the rest.
In the previous letter sent to the European bloc by a Cambodian rice exporter, Song Saran, Amru Rice CEO, said the EU should avoid imposing tariffs on Cambodian rice since Cambodia’s share of the market is too small for its products to impact the pricing of rice from European farmers.

Low prices spoil joy of bumper aman harvest

12:00 AM, November 29, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, November 29, 2018
Farmers harvesting paddy at Gumai Beel in Rangunia upazila, Chattogram. Photo: Rajib Raihan
Farmers are deflated by the drop in paddy prices, which will leave them with hardly any profit from the current bumper aman harvests.
Aman is the second biggest crop out of the three rice crops produced by growers in a year, accounting roughly for 38 percent of the total production.
“This is not a good sign for us,” said Mohammad Mokhlesar, a 50-year-old farmer at Adamdighi of northwest district Bogura, adding that the production cost is higher this year but the prices are lower.
Coarse paddy is now trading at Tk 650-Tk 690 each maund in various areas in the northwest, in contrast to Tk 720-Tk 750 a year ago. At this rate, farmers are unlikely to make any profit, said some growers and traders.
Growers have planted aman on 58.76 lakh hectares during last monsoon, up 3.4 percent year-on-year, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension's estimates.
Mokhlesar said many farmers including him had to spend for irrigation in the face of scanty rainfall this year. The prices of pesticides were also higher this season.
If the paddy prices do not increase, there will not be any profit for them.
“The only consolation is that I will not incur losses because of higher yield per decimal,” he added.
Traders, agricultural workers and farmers are expecting higher yield during this harvesting season for increased acreage and favourable weather.
Last month, the US Department of Agricultural Extension raised its forecast for aman rice cultivation and production for the current season.
“It appears to me that we are going to have a bumper aman crop as the crop did not see any major hiccup and disease,” said KM Layek Ali, general secretary of the Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mills Association.
The prices of paddy increased after the government announced purchase of 6 lakh tonnes of the grain during the current aman harvesting season. Yet, the prices of paddy are below last year's level.
“The prices may go up when we will start buying to supply to the government warehouses.”
As millers will get higher allocation this year they will buy more, so prices are likely to go up, he said. Last year the food ministry initially announced purchase of 3 lakh tonnes of rice during the aman season, but it ended up procuring about 6 lakh tonnes, according to the Directorate of Food. 
The prices of paddy should be Tk 800 each maund if the government procurement price of Tk 36 is taken into consideration, said Fazlul Haque, a grower in Dimla of another northwest district Nilphamari.
Those who cultivate by hiring labour and other farming implements will face losses at the current prices of Tk 660-670 per maund, he said.
The paddy prices may go up after the general election, said Chitta Majumder, managing director of Majumder Group of industries that operates rice mills and also imports the staple.
Mokhlesar, too, is hopeful the paddy prices will pick up after the national elections on December 30. 
“It appears that many traders have taken on a wait-and-see stance ahead of elections. They will begin purchasing after the polls,” said the farmer who has kept paddy harvest on hold owing to low prices of the grain.
Meanwhile, the prices of rice have fallen in the last one month on the back of higher production of aus and boro crops and good public stock of grains.
At the retail level in Dhaka, the prices of fine grains fell 4.92 percent to Tk 54-Tk 62 per kilogram and coarse grains 3.53 percent to Tk 38-44 each kilogram over the last one month, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
“There is a surplus of the staple now and this is causing the prices to fall,” said Nirod Boron Saha, president of the rice and paddy wholesalers' body Naogaon Dhan O Chal Arathdar Babshayee Samity. One of the main reasons for the surplus is last year's record imports of 38.92 lakh tonnes.
“There is scarcity of buyers for rice,” he said.

JKG Group launches Millers Place

29 NOV 2018 / 12:51 H.
From left JKG Land Director Datuk Seri Eddie H.C. Tan and Teh (right) at the launch of Millers Place.
JKG Group’s latest venture is Millers Place, a modern oriental food haven located at JKG Tower.
In his speech at the launch on Monday, Managing Director of JKG Land Bhd Datuk Teh Kean Ming, said Millers Place will serve as the perfect lunch venue for tenants of JKG Tower and the surrounding offices in the area.
“It’s a ‘makan’ destination where patrons won’t have to worry about parking problems.
“It also serves as a venue for corporate events, and family celebrations such as birthday parties and weddings,” he said.
In his speech, Teh said the name Millers Place was chosen because a miller is a person who operates a mill, which is akin to a chef who prepares food.
“So this is a place where chefs prepare meals for us. In chinese we say, wherever there is rice, there is happines.”
The design concept of Millers Place is “a modern interpretation of oriental classics” with plenty of greenery.
There is also an Instagram corner at Millers Place, where patrons can snap photos with their friends and family to share on social media.
Millers Place has a 4,500sf dining area with a capacity to seat 250 people. The building also has 640 parking bays, so customers need not worry about the hassle of finding parking.
Bicycle politicos aversion to Agri Industry
Posted on November 28th, 2018


The ungrateful designer turned former Finance Minister and a notorious Butterfly leader quisling Mangala Samaraweera has ridiculed the tax concessions announced by Prime Minister Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa recently for the agriculture sector.  Before going to elaborate about the benefits the country could derive from these concessions, it is prudent to have a broad idea about the agriculture sector of this country and its history.
Priority and special attention from our ancient Kings and due to their dedication to agriculture and irrigation sectors a culture of Wewai Daagebai (Tank and the Temple) sprouted all over the country with a majority of population dedicated to agriculture and embracing agriculture as a vocation. They, the farming community became the majority community in the country and Sri Lanka became a major rice and spices exporting country during the times of King Maha Parakrama Bahu and many others. The farming community dominates almost all the districts in Sri Lanka today including the North in which South Indians (Tamils and Malayalis) brought by Dutch colonialists were settled there as tobacco cultivating farmers and were assimilated with the Sri Lankan population.
It is sad to note that quisling Mangala Samaraweera who does not belong to the farming community perhaps does not understand the importance of agriculture and as usual of him to forgetting his past has forgotten that he entered Parliament for the first time in 1989 because of the support extended to him by the Goigama (farming community) voters on the persuasion of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa undertook this mission even neglecting his own election on the instructions of the late Prime Minister Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike.  Madam Bandaranaike who had a thorough knowledge of compositions of people in all districts had instructed Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa  who had much adoration by the Goigama community in the South and particularly in the Matara district as his mother was a respected lady from the Matara district to take Mr. Samaraweera (known at that time as Bicycle apekshaka without having even a vehicle to indulge in canvassing in the vast terrain of Matara district) to the Goigama chieftains in his vehicle and muster their support to Mangala’s candidacy.  This former bicycle apekshaka h as now completely forgotten his own history and has become ungrateful to the man who was the ladder to his rise in politics. When his mother the late Mrs. Khema Samaraweera was alive she used to tell many including this writer that Mangala would not have won his first election in 1989 if not for Mahinda.
This bicycle apekshaka has now become one of the super rich politicians in Sri Lanka and owns a super luxury palatial mansion in Panadura facing the Bogolla Lake and when he comes to Matara he stays at a luxury multi roomed Hotel built by him at Nakulugamuwa, facing the sea reportedly with a bevy of butterflies.  Despite spending millions at elections this super rich politician (former bicycle apekshaka) cannot become first in the district due to caste consciousness of the voters in the Matara district and beat the UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana who belongs to the Goigama caste in the race to become first in the district.
Mr. Samaraweera’s criticism of the agricultural sector could be understood due to  his utter ignorance of the agriculture sector, the products and services coming under this sector, the tools and equipment used in this sector, and its evolution up to the modern times.  It should also be mentioned that he is a politician who has never stepped into a paddy field, ploughed a field, does not understand the vocabulary used in the sector such as Wakkada, Niyara, etc., never gone to a rubber or tea estate, a cinnamon, betel, areca nut, pepper, or other plantations, never driven a tractor, even a hand tractor, never handled  a mamoty, does not know what is a sickle, a rubber tapping knife, how to use pesticides, weedicides and insecticides and when and why it should be used, when the Maha and Yala seasons for paddy start, how cinnamon is peeled, and how other tools are used and the modern methods being used to process agricultural products as value added export products, and anything about plants and cut flowers which have also gained a significant niche in the Agri industry.
Overwhelmed by jealously and criticising the Prime Minister’s tax concessions package he has said that the package also includes measures to reduce taxes for agricultural or other plantations which will benefit large scale, highly profitable rice millers and we wonder how rice millers could benefit from concessions granted to plantations?
Mr. Samaraweera states that revenue collected from all agriculture-based income taxes accounts for approximately 0.03% of total government tax revenue and it is a negligible figure and says that the removal of this will not have a material impact on the agriculture sector and the productivity thereof. How can he make such a stupid statement when over 70% of people in this country depend on various aspects of the agricultural sector?
We would like to point out that Ranil Wickremasinghe government on the whole was averse to the agricultural industry in this country and its first Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake advocated to farmers to focus less attention on farming and said that it is cheaper to import rice compared to the cost incurred for paddy cultivation. One of the first measures undertaken by the butterfly clan was to halt the fertilizer subsidy which was a great incentive to the farmers. Tanks to Prime Minister Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s farmer friendly measures the fertilizer subsidy has now been re-introduced.
Mr. Karunanayake said that paddy and coconut lands should be sold to foreigners to establish industries there.  The historical increase in coconut price and the need to import coconut resulted due to farmers neglecting coconut cultivation. In the pretext of establishing a factory for producing Walksvagon vehicles in Kuliyapitiya and thereby giving employment to many several hectares of coconut land were given to government supporters and the same thing was done in Horana saying that it was for establishing a tyre factory.  They introduced legislation to repeal landing holding laws and legislation banning sale of lands to foreigners and facilitate foreigners to purchase lands in Sri Lanka.
Starting a programme called Gamperaliya recently they in fact attempted to disintegrate villages and one of the objectives of this programme was to encourage foreigners to establish water bottling plants to tap our tank waters for export.  They even said that there are too many tanks in the country full of water being unused whereas there is an acute dearth of water all over the world.   These are a fraction of damages caused to the agriculture sector by the neoliberal and foreign servile butterfly quislings
By the end of 2014 Sri Lanka was self sufficient in rice, maize and several other agriculture products.  Locally produced fruits and vegetables filled market stalls everywhere. We even donated rice to the World Food Programme and commenced exporting rice to several African countries.  We exported maize as well.  If that trend continued Sri Lanka would have by now become a major food exporting country thereby further reducing our balance of payment deficit and providing employment to many youth and our Agriculture Research Institute discovering many improved varieties of seedlings. It is also suitable to mention here that many middle east countries receive a steady supply of fruits, vegetables, cashew, coconut and canned king coconut kernels, fresh coconuts, young coconuts (Kurumba) from the Philippines, Kerala (South India), Pakistan and some African countries earning valuable foreign exchange to those countries.  We also can fill a niche in this field by exporting these products and many others due to the large Sri Lankan population in these countries.
In addition to this many of our families were producing various food crops in their home court yards under the Divineguma programme thereby minimizing their expenses on food and selling the excess production to the nearby markets. Another major crime committed by Mangala and his butterfly clan was completely abandoning all assistance and encouragements provided under the Divineguma programme and force a natural death to this programme which was appreciated by several African countries and even Seychelles adopting it as a model programme.
The Tax concessions announced by Prime Minister Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa have been hailed by agricultural equipment importers and exporters of value added food products.  They claim that in the long run export of food products will increase, and more and more people will get encouraged to become involved in agriculture and the sale of agricultural equipment and tools will get increased drastically.
As regards quisling butterfly Mangala’s criticism relating to tax concessions what we can say is that there is a Tamil saying which asks how can a donkey understand the fragrance of Camphor? (end)

Navy intercepts 700 bags of rice, arrests 13 smugglers
The Nigerian Navy has intercepted 700 bags of parboiled rice and arrested 13 suspected smugglers. The rice, valued at N11m, was said to have been smuggled into the country from Cameroon.

The Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Victory, Commodore Julius Nwagu, said this in Calabar on Tuesday while handing over the suspects and contraband to the relevant security agencies. He said seven out of the 13 suspects were Nigerians, while the others were Cameroonians. Nwagu said, “We are here this afternoon to hand over 700 bags of rice valued at N11m and 13 people, who were involved in smuggling of rice from Cameroon. They were accosted by my men, who were on patrol on Saturday at about 21:45hours. They were brought here and we are here to hand over the rice and the individuals involved as well as the boats used. “But you will notice today that the Immigration is involved in taking over of the suspects. We have 13 individuals, seven Nigerians and six Cameroonians. “These six Cameroonians got involved in the smuggling of parboiled rice and they entered into Nigeria without the requisite papers, thereby violating the immigration laws of Nigeria. “And that is why we invited the Immigration to hand them over, while the Nigeria Customs Service will take over the rice and the other Nigerians involved in the smuggling.” Nwagu noted that smuggling, which subsided sometime ago, had resumed as Christmas was approaching, adding that some people wanted to make quick money by smuggling rice into the country. He added, “And you know that the Nigerian Navy is there to ensure that the Federal Government’s ban on the importation of rice into the country is upheld. And you know that this rice may be coming in through our waters and we are the protectors and promoters of our national interest.

“We will never allow it as a service under the leadership of Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas or leave any stone unturned in ensuring that our policing roles are upheld and we have available a platform to patrol the waters, especially in the eastern flank here. And that is exactly what we are doing.” The Assistant Controller in charge of the Marine Unit, Nigeria Immigration Service, Tsumba Terna, received the alleged smugglers on behalf of his boss, Felix Uche, while the smuggled rice was handed over to the NCS officer, Akpan Imeh. Terna said, “We will do the needful. As a matter of fact, whatever happens, we will be able to know. Any person desiring to enter Nigeria must have his requisite papers. There are also certain requirements. “Even though Cameroon has a visa abolition agreement with Nigeria, Cameroonians need to come with their papers. We have to profile the smugglers and take necessary action by looking into the Immigration Act of 2015 where there are spelt out procedures.”

Vietnam Jan-Nov coffee exports seen up 23 pct y/y; rice to rise 4.8 pct y/y

·       NOVEMBER 29, 2018 / 7:30 AM /
HANOI, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Vietnam’s coffee export volumes for the January-November period are expected to have grown 23 percent from the same period a year ago, while rice exports are estimated to have risen 4.8 percent in the same period, government data showed on Thursday.


Coffee exports from Vietnam will climb an estimated 23 percent between January and November from a year ago to 1.725 million tonnes, equal to 28.75 million 60-kg bags, the General Statistics Office said in a report on Thursday.
Coffee export revenue for Vietnam, the world’s biggest producer of the robusta bean, will edge up 2.9 percent to $3.3 billion in the 11-month period, the report said.
November coffee exports were estimated at 140,000 tonnes, worth $264 million.


Rice exports in January-November from Vietnam were forecast to rise 4.8 percent from a year ago to 5.7 million tonnes. Revenue from rice exports in the period was expected to grow 16.8 percent year-on-year to $2.86 billion.
November rice exports from Vietnam, the world’s third-largest shipper of the grain, were estimated at 450,000 tonnes, worth $218 million.


Vietnam’s January-November crude oil exports were seen plunging 42.5 percent year-on-year to an estimated 3.6 million tonnes.
Crude oil export revenue in the first 11 months of 2018 were expected to decline 20.4 percent to $2.1 billion.
Oil product imports in the 11-month period were estimated at 10.7 million tonnes, falling 8.1 percent from the same period last year, while the value of product imports rose 15.4 percent to $7.3 billion.
Vietnam’s January-to-November liquefied petroleum gas imports were seen increasing 1.5 percent from a year earlier to 1.3 million tonnes. (Reporting by Mai Nguyen Editing by Joseph Radford)

New scheme introduced to help Bulog buy more rice from farmers

News Desk
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Thu, November 29, 2018 | 09:11 am
Workers unload rice from a truck at Cipinang Market in East Jakarta. (The Jakarta Post/Ben Latuihamallo)
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, 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)

Group calls for transparency in Transjakarta's procurement

Andi Muhammmad Ibnu Aqil
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Wed, July 18, 2018 | 12:24 pm
Transjakarta bus passengers line up at Harmony bus stop in Central Jakarta on July 13. (JP/Seto Wardhana.)
PT Transportasi Jakarta has procured facilities at high cost but with low quality, including spending Rp 2,175 billion (US$151,257) on a ticketing system worth Rp 500 million, pressure group Jakarta Monitoring Development has said.  
The group’s executive director Mahfud Latuconsina said on Monday that the bus operator had not been transparent in setting the owner’s estimate price (HPS) for the procurement of the electronic ticketing system.
Mahfud said the budget for the procurement should have been only Rp 500 million, but was later revised to Rp 700 million before finally being increased to Rp 2.175 billion.
Pak [Jakarta Governor] Anies Baswedan and Pak [Deputy Governor] Sandiaga Uno should be more vigilant, why did the budget keep changing? It was a large budget but the quality [of Transjakarta's facilities] is low and inadequate,” Mahfud said in a written statement.
He added that the large procurement budget was not followed up with necessary oversight.
“There are even buses housed by the Transportation Agency because their operational permits have expired. That should not happen because it bothers public transportation users and discourages them from using public transportation,” Mahfud said.
He called for restructuring to improve the supervision of Transjakarta's procurement procedures.

Cutting out rice not enough: More lifestyle changes needed to prevent diabetes

Dyaning Pangestika
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Wed, November 14, 2018 | 10:07 am
Indonesia's popular dish of nasi goreng (fried rice). (Shutterstock/File)
As the prevalence of diabetes continues to increase at an alarming rate, the government has called on people to adopt healthier lifestyles to reduce their risk of contracting the disease.

The results of the latest Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) report show that the prevalence of diabetes has increased from 6.9 percent of the population in 2013 to 8.5 percent in 2018 based on blood glucose tests at health facilities nationwide. 

About 6.3 percent of sufferers are people aged 55 to 64. The survey also showed that the majority of diabetes sufferers are women, and that most live in urban areas.

The Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Anung Sugihantono, urged the public to adopt healthier lifestyles to reduce their risk of diabetes. 

Although rice consumption is often blamed as a major cause of diabetes, Anung said that a person could not avoid diabetes simply by replacing rice with other sources of carbohydrate. 

“Replacing rice with other carbohydrate sources such as corn, cassava, or potato will only slightly reduce the risk of diabetes. It would be better if someone changed their eating habits to become healthier and exercise regularly,” Anung told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

However, Anung also said that diabetes was caused by many factors, and that an unhealthy lifestyle could not be blamed as the sole cause.

“Diabetes occurs when there is an imbalance of insulin production in someone’s body due to a genetic condition, infection, or unhealthy lifestyle. In conclusion, there are many factors that cause diabetes,” Anung said.

Diabetes is a chronic disease where the body becomes incapable of using its insulin to break down glucose or fails to produce enough insulin, resulting in high blood sugar and causing other serious health problems such as vision loss, kidney disease and heart disease.

There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 1 is caused by an autoimmune condition. The exact cause is unknown, although in the majority of cases it is considered to be genetic factors, while gestational diabetes often occurs among pregnant women and is only temporary.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common and is mostly caused by lifestyle factors, such as excessive body weight caused by overeating and lack of exercise. The condition sees the body start to resist insulin as the excessive amount of glucose forces the body to produce more insulin, causing the body to work twice as hard.

Even though diabetes is mostly experienced by adults aged 24 and above, the Riskesdas also showed that a small percentage of children also suffered from diabetes. 

One diabetes survivor is 12-year-old Fulki Baharuddin Prihandoko who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was only 9. His parents started to notice that there was something off when Fulki wet his bed almost every night and lost his weight drastically.

What was more alarming was that his blood sugar levels reached 700 mg/dL at the time he was diagnosed, which is higher than even the average blood sugar level of adults. Fulki was only diagnosed with diabetes after his third visit to the pediatrician, after previous pediatricians failed to see that Fulki was showing the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. 

Indonesian Pediatric Society (IDAI) chairman Aman Bhakti Pulungan said that 80 percent of diabetic children in Indonesia suffered from Type 1 diabetes.

“Unfortunately, a lot of pediatricians are still unaware about type 1 diabetes symptoms and mistake it as another disease,” Aman said.

The lack of awareness, Aman added, was very dangerous because it would prevent children from receiving the proper medical treatment.

Children who contract polio or coxsackievirus, as well as having vitamin D deficiencies, are at risk of suffering from type 1 diabetes. The symptoms include frequent urination, heavy thirst, weight loss and fatigue.

SunRice is expecting a small rice crop and has to change its operations

The Weekly Times
LOW water availability and high water costs have resulted in SunRice reconfiguring its Riverina operations.
SunRice announced today it will be reconfiguring its Riverina milling, packing and warehouse
operations over the coming eight months to cater for the significantly reduced Riverina rice crop expected next year — anticipated to be the second smallest crop recorded since 2003.
The reduced size of the 2019 rice crop is due to very low water availability and
high water prices.
In a statement today, SunRice said it remained firmly committed to the Riverina region and the difficult decision to implement changes in operations followed an extensive review process.
While SunRice said it was focused on minimising the number of job losses the changes will mean a reduction in employee numbers across Riverina operations, with the company anticipating the loss of fewer than 100 positions.
The proposed reconfiguration, which is subject to consultation with employees and unions, will see operational changes and shift restructuring at the Deniliquin and Leeton mills.
These changes will be undertaken in a phased approach to match the production requirements created by the significantly reduced 2019 crop.
The proposed changes include:
PHASE 1 — Reduction of Deniliquin Mill 2 shift structure from 24/7 to 24/5 will take effect from 2 January 2019
PHASE 2 — Reduction of Deniliquin Mill 1 shift structure from 24/5 to 16/5 will take effect from 31 January 2019
PHASE 3 — Will take effect from end of April 2019 at both Deniliquin and Leeton Mills:
‒ Deniliquin Mill 1 will cease production and be placed into maintenance
‒ Reduction of Deniliquin Mill 2 shift structure from 24/5 to 16/5
‒ Reduction of Leeton Mill shift structure from 24/7 to 24/5
PHASE 4 — Reduction of Deniliquin Mill 2 shift structure from 16/5 to 8/5 will take effect from July-August 2019.
SunRice chief executive Rob Gordon said “our priority is the welfare of SunRice employees”.
“We deeply regret the departure of loyal SunRice staff, and we look forward to returning to more normal production levels in the future when we can expand our workforce,” Mr Gordon said.
“The decision to reconfigure Riverina milling operations in 2019 is necessary to ensure a competitive and sustainable business for our employees, growers, shareholders and the communities we support.”

Govt assures farmers will not be sidelined if rice-import monopoly ends

29 NOV 2018 / 19:17 H.
KUALA LUMPUR: The government gives assurance that local farmers will not be sidelined if the Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) rice-import monopoly is terminated, says Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin (pix).
He said the new paddy and rice industry players would be expected to continue to prioritise the supply of rice from local farmers rather than from outside.
“We will give that responsibility to new companies who want to participate because if they want to profit from rice imports, they also need to carry out social responsibility,“ he said this in a question-and-answer session at the Dewan Rakyat here today.
“We want the companies to earn fair profit for them to carry out their responsibilities, to ensure a healthy industry.
He said this in his reply to a question from Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN-Bera) who wanted to know if the termination of rice-import monopoly would affect the farmers who had supplied paddy to Bernas all this while.
On Oct 17, the government announced it was looking at removing 30% of Bernas rice-import monopoly next year to enable other industry players to enter the market before the concession of the company expired in 2021.
He said further studies on the new model to replace Bernas’ rice-import monopoly were currently being discussed by taking into account all aspects including the national food security as well as the welfare of other industry players including farmers, manufacturers and citizens as end users. — Bernama

India rice rates dip on subsidy, while low China demand saps Vietnamese rates

·       NOVEMBER 29, 2018 / 5:53 PM
BENGALURU (Reuters) - Rice export prices fell for the first time in four weeks in India as a government subsidy for overseas sales prompted traders to cut rates, while lower demand from China weighed on the Vietnamese market.
A labourer unloads a sack of rice from a supply truck at a wholesale market in Ahmedabad, October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files
Top exporter India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety was quoted around $366-$370 per tonne, against $367-$375 in the previous week.
The Indian government will give a subsidy of 5 percent for non-basmati rice exports for the four months to March 25, 2019, the country’s trade ministry said in an order dated Nov. 22.
Prices could have jumped had it not been for the subsidy, since the rupee has risen, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The top exporter’s rupee currency rose about 1 percent on Thursday, trimming exporters’ margins.
In Vietnam, rates for 5 percent broken rice dipped to $408 a tonne from $410 a tonne last week as exports to China fell, traders said.
“China has been applying stricter conditions for Vietnamese rice, including lengthy inspection time,” a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said. 
Rice shipments to China, Vietnam’s largest rice export market, fell 39.1 percent in the first ten months of this year from a year earlier, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Thursday.
Also the Philippines will not open any more tenders for the rest of this year, hurting the Vietnamese prices, another trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.
The Philippines’ state grains agency National Food Authority (NFA) on Wednesday accepted rice supply offers totalling 203,000 tonnes from Vietnam and Thailand in fresh government-to-government deals.
The import tender was the last this year for the Philippines following a buying spree to boost thin state stockpiles and bring down high retail prices.
Meanwhile in Thailand, benchmark 5 percent broken rice prices widened to $380-$397 per tonne, free on board (FOB) Bangkok, from $382-$395 last week, due to weaker demand and prospects of fresh supply.
“The sale of rice by Thai exporters for the Philippines deal has been relatively small, and with no other demands price will likely remain flat as we head into the new year period,” a Bangkok-based rice trader said.
Rice from a seasonal harvest in Thailand is expected to gradually enter the market in December.
The market will likely see little activity unless there are new government-to-government deal, another trader said.

India rice rates dip on subsidy, while low China demand saps Vietnamese rates

·       NOVEMBER 29, 2018 / 5:53 PM
BENGALURU (Reuters) - Rice export prices fell for the first time in four weeks in India as a government subsidy for overseas sales prompted traders to cut rates, while lower demand from China weighed on the Vietnamese market.
A labourer unloads a sack of rice from a supply truck at a wholesale market in Ahmedabad, October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files
Top exporter India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety was quoted around $366-$370 per tonne, against $367-$375 in the previous week.
The Indian government will give a subsidy of 5 percent for non-basmati rice exports for the four months to March 25, 2019, the country’s trade ministry said in an order dated Nov. 22.
Prices could have jumped had it not been for the subsidy, since the rupee has risen, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The top exporter’s rupee currency rose about 1 percent on Thursday, trimming exporters’ margins.
In Vietnam, rates for 5 percent broken rice dipped to $408 a tonne from $410 a tonne last week as exports to China fell, traders said.
“China has been applying stricter conditions for Vietnamese rice, including lengthy inspection time,” a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said. 
Rice shipments to China, Vietnam’s largest rice export market, fell 39.1 percent in the first ten months of this year from a year earlier, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Thursday.
Also the Philippines will not open any more tenders for the rest of this year, hurting the Vietnamese prices, another trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.
The Philippines’ state grains agency National Food Authority (NFA) on Wednesday accepted rice supply offers totalling 203,000 tonnes from Vietnam and Thailand in fresh government-to-government deals.
The import tender was the last this year for the Philippines following a buying spree to boost thin state stockpiles and bring down high retail prices.
Meanwhile in Thailand, benchmark 5 percent broken rice prices widened to $380-$397 per tonne, free on board (FOB) Bangkok, from $382-$395 last week, due to weaker demand and prospects of fresh supply.
“The sale of rice by Thai exporters for the Philippines deal has been relatively small, and with no other demands price will likely remain flat as we head into the new year period,” a Bangkok-based rice trader said.
Rice from a seasonal harvest in Thailand is expected to gradually enter the market in December.
The market will likely see little activity unless there are new government-to-government deal, another trader said.

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.
Up to 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.
All contracts were made earlier this month, Foreign Trade Department chief Adul Chotinisakorn said on Wednesday, adding the latest rice deals would be music to the ears of farmers, who have often struggled to deal with low grain prices and a surplus in rice stock.
"The huge exports in the short run will help release rice from stock rapidly," he said.
"Farmers will rack up good revenues, which is good for the rice market in the country in the long run."
The exports, set to be delivered in December and January, are expected to help the government attain its rice export target for 2018 of 11 million tonnes.
As of Nov 27, some 9.89 million tonnes had been exported this year, bringing in revenue of 161 billion baht.
Mr Adul said Thailand and China have agreed to a G2G deal with Beijing promising to buy 1 million tonnes of rice.
The latest deal to export 100,000 tonnes to China is the seventh batch in a series, he said.
The Philippines' National Food Authority, meanwhile, opened bidding for rice trading on Wednesday.
This saw the Thai government win a contract to export 80,000 tonnes.
The private sector also bagged a deal to export 140,000 tonnes to the Philippines in a bid held on Nov 20.