Wednesday, January 30, 2019

30th January,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

REAP hails Dawood for getting ban on rice lifted by Qatar


·      JAN 29TH, 2019

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has appreciated Prime Minister's Advisor on Commerce, Textile, Industries and Production and Investment, Abdul Razzak Dawood for his efforts towards lifting ban on rice imports from Pakistan by Qatar State Company. In a letter to the Advisor, Chairman REAP Safdar Hussain Mekhri said that rice exporters are indebted to Dawood and the Commerce Division's team for their focus and commitment towards rice export sector.

During the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan on January 21-22, the Qatari government agreed to include Pakistan origin rice in the tender documents of the Central Trading Committee which falls directly under the purview of Qatar's Ministry of Economy and Commerce. As a viable solution, a third-party inspection for supply of rice through CTC tenders will be offered to take strict action against those found involved in supplying substandard rice and ensure that quality rice are being exported to Qatar in future.

The lifting of ban is expected to provide additional $ 40-50 million rice exports to Qatar if quality is maintained. Qatar annually imports 200,000 tonnes of rice.

Pakistan, Iran to hold talks on FTA next month


·      JAN 29TH, 2019

Iran and Pakistan will hold further talks on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) during second week of February 2019 focusing on finding out ways to resolve banking channel issues that are the main hurdle in bilateral trade, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

In November 2017, Trade Negotiation Committee (NTC) comprising officials from both countries met in Tehran for two days to finalise the draft Pakistan-Iran FTA as Iran showed extraordinary interest in trade tries after the visit of Army Chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa.

However, the draft PIFTA did not sail through the federal cabinet due to restrictions imposed by the United States of America (USA), which does not allow business with Iran.

Pakistani banks'', sources said, had refused to do business with Iran despite State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) pressure fearing that any such step could put them in hot waters. An official stated that bilateral trade without proper banking channels is not possible with any country.

According to the private sector, Iranian authorities have imposed a number of Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) to discourage Pakistani products but Pakistan extends all facilities to Iranian products.

Official sources told this scribe that Pakistan would ask Iran to sign Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) aimed at making it mandatory both for Pakistan and Iran to accept each others'' standards. With the signing of the MRA hurdles in smooth transportation of Pakistan products will be removed.

In order to expedite early finalization of the drafts of FTA, MRAs on TBT and SPS issues and customs cooperation, both sides have already agreed that the relevant sub-committees'' members will negotiate on concluding MRAs texts simultaneously with TNC negotiations.

"Both countries have decided to carry out further deliberations in order to complete all Annexes of the FTA agreement by June 2018 which would complete the technical process of final FTA for consequential approval by respective governments," the sources continued.

Iran is now facing international isolation and has lost the channel of receiving foreign exchange through UAE, is now interested in barter trade with Pakistan. Many Pakistani businessmen who were exporting rice to Iran through Dubai were not paid by their Iranian business partners. Pakistan is not ready for any arrangement that will not help Pakistan earn foreign exchange, sources stated.

"Pakistan will extend all possible cooperation to Iran in trade but US sanctions which are already in place may not allow trade between the two countries to move further," said an analyst.

Both parties would review recent trade bilateral trade statistics and reaffirm the necessity of formal exchange of trade statistics by their customs authorities regularly in the format which has already been determined.

The sources further stated that during the meeting in November 2017, TNC discussed and negotiated on the FTA draft in goods in a positive manner and in a friendly atmosphere and reviewed it article by article.

Pakistan and Iran have also held preliminary discussions on the base year, HS Digits level, Tariff Reduction Modality (TRM) and FTA in goods which are expected to be finalized in the next TNC meeting.

When contacted, an official told this scribe that Pakistan would extend full cooperation to Iran to further deepen trade ties and finalization of different clauses of the FTA.

Philippine envoy says although bilateral trade had risen but should be higher

·       January 30, 2019
Salahuddin Haider
Bilateral trade between Philippines and Pakistan, although, had almost doubled in last years from US dollars 110 million annually to US dollars 260 to 280 million, yet there were greater potential a and trader community from both sides, should try to multiply it manifold, said the Philippines envoy to Islamabad Daniel Espiritu told a periodical meeting of the English Speaking Union of Pakistan here Monday evening.
The trade is in favour of Pakistan by 140 million dollars, which is good thing for this country, but lack of communication between businessmen and traders of the countries should be in constant contact with each to help achieve that objective. Philippines traders and businessmen knew more about Japan, China, Korea, North America, Europe etc, but very little about Pakistan. That anomaly needed to be addressed with vigour.
Largest export of his country to Pakistan was auto parts, but imports from Pakistan was rice which had jumped from US dollars 34,000 to 24 million dollars, pharmaceutical products etc. Farmers in his country had gradually switched from rice growing to cash crops, for weaker profitability, and rapidly changing mindset. Pakistan, therefore, had great opportunity to push up its rice exports to Manila. It is bound to yield results like in the case of pharmaceuticals where japan, later India occupied larger share, but now Pakistan has received a greater focus. This should be cashed on.
Comparing his country’s population with that of Pakistan, he said it was 110 million against over million which was larger than combined population of Canada, Australia, Newzealand, and even to some extent England.
Vietnam and Thailand head toward trade goal of $20 billion by 2020
| Publication date 29 January 2019 | 14:46 ICT
Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ships was ready to dock at Da Nang Port. AFP
Vietnam and Thailand have pledged to create favourable conditions for businesses of the two countries to increase investment and business cooperation as well as to facilitate agricultural import and export activities between the two countries.
Vietnam and Thailand have agreed to implement measures to boost economic cooperation with the aim of reaching $20 billion in two-way trade turnover by next year at the meeting of their Joint Committee on Bilateral Cooperation in Thailand which wrapped up on Friday.
The two-day meeting was co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh and Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai.
The two sides agreed to create favourable conditions for businesses of the two countries to increase investment and business cooperation as well as to facilitate agricultural import and export activities between the two countries.
They also agreed to promote cooperation and share experience in rice research, production and export.
They stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation in sub-region connection, particularly in connecting road, water and air transport between Vietnam and Thailand as well as among Asean countries.
The two sides committed to continue promoting and expanding cooperation in culture, education and people-to-people exchanges, including increasing the teaching of Vietnamese and Thai languages in each country.
Vietnam applauded the Thai Government for its decision to expand fields that Vietnamese workers will be licensed to work in Thailand.
The two sides expressed delight at the active development of the strategic partnership between Vietnam and Thailand. The political, diplomatic and security and national defence cooperation between the two countries has developed practically, which is evident through the regular exchanges of delegations between high-ranking officials of the two countries.
They expressed pleasure at the cooperation between the two countries during the framework of regional and international forums, particularly Asean and the UN.
As Thailand is Asean Chair this year and Vietnam becomes Asean Chair next year, the two sides agreed to work with member countries to promote the key role of Asean in regional issues, including the East Sea (South China Sea). They stressed the strategic importance of ensuring peace and maritime and aviation security and safety, and maritime safety. VIET NAM NEWS/ANN

Vitamin rich purple paddy sees success

12:00 AM, January 30, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 30, 2019
Farmers in Tarf Pahari village in Sadullapur upazila of Gaibandha planting purple paddy seedlings. Photo: Star
Our Correspondent, Gaibandha
Farmers in Sadullapur upazila have started cultivation of purple paddy seeing the success in Sundarganj upazila, where it began two years back simply from curiosity and has spread to different upazilas.
Edilpur Union Parishad Chairman Rabbi Abdullah, Shutku Mia of Chalknadi village, Shakil Mia of Tarf Pahari village in Sadullapur upazila, among many others, have started planting seedlings of purple paddy, locally known as Beguni Dhan for its violet colour.
A farm labourer shows seedlings of purple paddy in Edilpur village in the upazila. Photo: Star
“Listening to the success story of cultivation of vitamin-enriched purple paddy in Sundarganj upazila, I became interest in farming the paddy and communicated with Sub-Assistant Agriculture Officer Tanjimul Hasan, who extended help to get purple paddy seeds,” Abdullah said.
Dulali Begum, member of local IPM farmer's club of Ramjibon village, brought a few grams of purple paddy seeds from one of her relatives in Gazipur district, who collected the paddy from a Boro field early in 2017 simply because of its purple colour.
Dulali planted seedlings of purple paddy on 25 decimals of land as per instruction of the upazila agriculture department the same year. After harvesting, a farmer can get 25 maunds of purple paddy per bigha, according to Sundarganj agriculture office.
Purple paddy produced around 25 maunds per bigha after harvesting in the last Boro crop season, whereas Boro produced 18 maunds to 20 maunds per bigha. Farming of purple paddy started for the first time in Gaibandha and created curiosity among the farmers, said Sundarganj Upazila Agriculture Officer Rashedul Islam.
The purple paddy plant is about 90 centimetres long and has 20 pikes to 28 spikes and each spike contains 200 corns to 313 corns, whereas HYV Boro crop has 180 corns to 190 corns in each spike. Purple paddy needs 140 days for harvesting, and the seedlings preserved in the last Boro season are being planted this season, he added.
According to agriculture experts, purple paddy first originated in China. It contains high amount of vitamins and fibre, but they are still in the dark about recently developed purple paddy in Sundarganj upazila, the agriculture officer said, adding that they have sent a sample of the paddy to the rice research laboratory for further investigation.
Production of purple paddy was 25 maunds per bigha higher than the yield of Boro crop in the last Boro crop season. Later, the paddy was cultivated in the Aman crop season and got similar output, he added.

Rice farmgate prices drop

Government has reduced rice farmgate prices in a move that has raised the prospects of a dip in revenues for farmers.
Last week, the Ministry of Trade and Industry set new farmgate prices for short gain rice at Rwf270 and Rwf290 for long grain rice.
This means that farmers will now get Rwf18 less for a kilogramme of short grain rice and Rwf8 less for long grain rice compared to the previous season.
Apollinaire Gahiza, the president of Rice Farmers’ Federation (FUCORIRWA), told The New Times  that the new  prices imply that, overall, a farmer will get about 20 per cent in profits compared to the investment they made, which reflects a reduction of five percentage points.
Cassien Karangwa, the Director of Domestic Trade at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said that was triggered by complains from processing factories saying that they had witnessed high supply from framers yet they still had stock from last season.
According to the ministry, as at January 8, 2019 rice processing firms across the country had an estimated stock of 5,000 tonnes of short grain rice and 1,600 tonnes of long grain rice carried forward from the previous season.
The ministry and analysts say the reduction in rice farmgate prices was also caused by changing consumer behaviours, with more and more people resorting to other staple foods such as cassava, bananas and corn.
Last year, Rwanda produced 113,880 tonnes of rice, up from 83,338 tonnes in 2017, according to information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
Yet the country produces more than 1.12 million tonnes of cassava in 2018 from 1.04 million in 2017 as banana yields rose from 724,544 tonnes to 759,696 tonnes in the period under review.
Production of Irish potato increased to 835,576 tonnes in 2018, from 776,722 tonnes in 2017 while maize yields increased to 424,204 tonnes from 357,665 tonnes.
Now with the rise in the output of other staples, consumers prefer more affordable commodities.
 “The Government sets minimum rice price to protect farmers’ interests so that they do not incur losses that might be caused by their weak bargaining power. Also, putting in place minimum prices helps farmers have contracts with agro processing factories as well as banks as it helps to make reliable estimates of finance based on projected production,” he said.
While government intervenes in setting farmgate prices, it does not have control over commodity prices in the retail market, leaving it to be determined by market forces.
Peter Uwamahoro, the Vice Chairman of Rwanda Forum of Rice Millers, told The New Times that while the prices that were set last year were favourable for farmers, they did not cater for the interests of rice millers whose business expenses were high.
“We were expecting to sell a 25 kilogramme sack of short grain rice at between Rwf14,500 and Rwf15,000, but we ended up selling it at Rwf12,500,” Uwamahoro said.
He added that the factory price for a sack of 25 kilogramme for short grain rice is Rwf16,000, some Rwf1, 000 lower than it was projected.
Short grain rice—locally known as Kigori—is the one which is attracting low demand from milling firms, a situation that is partly blamed on quality.
Gahiza said that only between 30 and 40 per cent of the rice the farmers grow is long grain.
“Long grain rice does not develop well in cold areas. So, we are telling farmers who have farmland suitable for such a variety to grow it based on the factories’ demand. We want to have 70 per cent of rice production occupied by long grain variety,” he said.

UK-Thailand research yields rice progress 

opinion January 29, 2019 01:00
By Brian Davidson
Special to the Nation

Science and innovation is at the forefront of the modern partnership between Thailand and the UK. Both countries recognise the importance of strong science as key to our continuing development and prosperity. We also recognise the importance of international collaboration to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery. 

This international collaboration is exemplified by the Newton UK-Thailand Research and Innovation Partnership Fund. Launched in 2014, the Fund is supporting up to Bt325 million worth of joint science and innovation activities – and is jointly funded by both the UK and Thailand. 
Under the Partnership Fund, the UK and Thai governments support a diverse range of world class science. This includes research on human and animal health, agriculture; resilience against drought and other extreme weather, as well as the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship. This work helps to tackle difficult global challenges, as well as supporting Thailand 4.0, the Kingdom’s ambitious economic development strategy.
Earlier this month, Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), hosted a workshop in Bangkok on sustainable rice production. The workshop brought together scientists from the UK, Thailand, China, the Philippines and Vietnam to discuss the outcomes of their joint research, which was funded through the Sustainable Rice Research Initiative under the Newton Fund.
The scientists presented some of the key findings from their research. They also discussed some of the opportunities and challenges in relation to rice. These included improving rice breeding and the development of new strains, increasing the nutritional value of rice, as well as maintaining crop yield under difficult environmental conditions. 
After three years of research, initial findings look promising. The researchers are helping to make rice production more resilient to the growing risks of climate change, ensuring it will continue to play its vital role as a staple food in both Thailand and the region. The burning of rice straw is also a major contributor to pollution and greenhouse gases, and researchers are looking closely at the alternatives. 
At the workshop in Bangkok, Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Jantong presented awards to some of the most exciting and innovative projects in the initiative. He spoke about the importance of rice to the Thai economy and the Thai people, as well as to consumers around the world. He also spoke about the importance of research into improvements to the way rice is bred and grown, so that it can be more resilient to the threats of pests, climate change and weather extremes. 
This Sustainable Rice Research Initiative has brought together UK and Thai scientific excellence, with partners from around the region, to improve our understanding of a crop which is vital for health and economic wellbeing. I look forward to further work under the Newton UK-Thailand Research and Innovation Partnership Fund in other, equally important, areas of science and innovation, and to continuing to deepen our research and innovation cooperation with Thailand. 
Brian Davidson is British ambassador to Thailand.

Ministry works with farmers to meet local rice demands

Sainiani BoilaMultimedia | @SainianiFBCNews
JANUARY 29, 2019 6:57 AM

The Agriculture ministry is working with rice farmers to meet the current local rice demands.With the local demands currently being met by rice imported from other countries, Senior Agriculture Officer Mohammed Khan says they are working on increasing local rice production.
Khan says they’re focusing on farmers who have land that is suitable for rice farming. Description:
“The amount of rice consumed by Fijians is quite high, this is number one commodity apart from noodles and potatoes. When you look at the training provided to the farmers’ here, they have land with them. We have come down to them to motivate them, to provide them with technology and how the commodity is done. That is the reason why we are providing training to Rewa farmers because they have land. They can expand to become commercial rice farmers or semi-commercial rice farmers.”
Khan has also urged potential rice farmers to fill out a form at their nearby Ministry branch in order to receive assistance, training and awareness regarding rice farming.
The Ministry is currently working with rice farmers in the Rewa Delta and is open to work with farmers in identifying alternative areas around the country for rice farming.


The College of Science welcomes two leading researchers to campus during the spring 2019 semester.

 Discover Science Lecture Series announces its spring speaker schedule


Description: Dr. Karen Lloyd (left) and Dr. Robert Zeigler
Dr. Karen Lloyd (left) and Dr. Robert Zeigler will both speak as part of the Discover Science Lecture Series.
1/30/2019 | By: Jennifer Sande
With the start of the spring 2019 semester comes the announcement of two new speakers for the College of Science Discover Science Lecture Series. The series will wrap up its ninth season of bringing the country's top scientists to the University of Nevada, Reno to share their knowledge, research and wisdom with the community.
"Science encompasses a wonderfully diverse collection of explorations into the unknown," Jeff Thompson, Dean of the College of Science said. "We invite science lovers and the science-curious to join us and experience the extent of the science universe as the best scientists on the planet visit the University of Nevada, Reno for our Discover Science Lecture Series

Dr. Karen Lloyd, March 14

First up for the spring speakers is Dr. Karen Lloyd, deep surface microbiologist, on March 14. Lloyd will present her lecture titled "Microbes in weird places: what life is like in the deep Earth."
"We do not currently know how deep life extends into the Earth's crust," Lloyd said. "A major discovery in the past few decades has been that microbial life is abundant and diverse deep into sediments and crust underneath the world's oceans."
Lloyd studies these novel groups of microbes in Earth's deep surface biosphere, collecting them from disparate remote places such as Arctic fjords, volcanoes in Costa Rica, even deep in mud in the Marianas Trench.
Lloyd is an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee. Lloyd has participated in six oceanographic cruises and served as a scientific leader for six coastal field expeditions. Honored as a 2015 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Ocean Sciences, Lloyd is actively involved in DCO's field investigation "Biology meets Subduction," helping to lead many early career scientists in a multi-disciplinary sampling expedition.

Dr. Robert "Bob" Zeigler, April 25

Second in the Spring series is Dr. Robert "Bob" Zeigler, Director of the International Rice Institute and plant pathologist, on April 25. Zeigler has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural research in the developing world, and his lecture titled "Science and policy: the Yin and Yang dynamic of global food security" will explore how science, technology and public policy are in a constant state of flux - a Yin and Yang like dance, as he describes it. From the onset of the Green Revolution of the 1950s - the large increase in crop production in developing countries achieved by the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and high-yield crop varieties - to now, advancements in agriculture technology have shaped our modern understanding of food security in the developing world.
Zeigler's professional life spans Africa, Latin America, United States and Asia. He has had a productive research career on diseases of rice that focused on host-plant resistance, pathogen and vector population genetics, and their interactions to develop durable resistance and sustainable disease management practices.
Discover Science lectures are always free to the public. They are held at 7 p.m. in the Redfield Auditorium inside the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. Free parking for the event is available on the top level of the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex on North Virginia Street, next to the E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center. For more information, call 775-784-4591 or visit the Discover Science Lecture Series website.


USA Rice International Promotions Benefit California Markets 
USA Rice's Sarah Moran
(Jim Morris photo)
By Asiha Grigsby

COLUSA & YUBA CITY, CA -- Last week, the California Rice Commission held annual grower meetings here to provide updates on political matters in the state and in Washington, DC, the water outlook for 2019 and progress on local reservoirs, and the implementation of new employment regulations in California. 

Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president for international, shared information on USA Rice promotional activities in key California markets such as Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, as well as trade policy updates, including the development of a new and now attainable export market:  China.

Moran reported on USA Rice's strong promotions program in Japan, developed over the past two decades, aimed at introducing the Japanese consumer to identified U.S. rice.  In 2010, 38 tons of Calrose rice entered the market in this manner; in 2018, it had increased to more than 58,000 tons indicating that the distribution of U.S. rice is now nationwide. 
Additionally, Moran discussed the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, a free trade agreement that is working well for the entire U.S. rice industry having brought $65 million to U.S. rice research since 2012, and nearly $14 million of that for California.
 "I enjoyed meeting many new faces in California and hearing about the research being done in the state as well as environmental initiatives such as the salmon pilot project in rice fields," said Moran.  "One of our industry's strengths is the diversity in products we grow and initiatives we pursue, and it's always great to see and hear about these things firsthand."

Rice Webinar:  Thursday January 31
Tune in Thursday, January 31, at 8:00 a.m. Central Time, for a new rice webinar hosted by Dr. Bobby Coats, with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Arkansas.  Keith Coble, professor and head of the Agricultural Economic Department at Mississippi State University, will focus on the provisions of the new Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, AKA the Farm Bill.  Specific provision of interest to row crop farmers will be examined.

Go here to register for the webinar.

A Day of Rice Cakes for the Lunar New Year

A Los Angeles chef gathered about 100 women to make traditional Vietnamese banh chung with a supply of fresh banana leaves and a half-dozen pressure cookers.
On a farm in West Compton, Calif., over 100 people gathered to make banh chung — rich, sticky rice cakes — to celebrate and prepare for Vietnamese New Year.CreditCoral Von Zumwalt for The New York Times
On a farm in West Compton, Calif., over 100 people gathered to make banh chung — rich, sticky rice cakes — to celebrate and prepare for Vietnamese New Year.CreditCreditCoral Von Zumwalt for The New York Times
·       Jan. 28, 2019
WEST COMPTON, Calif. — In a sunny field here in Los AngelesCounty, the chef Diep Tran folded a banana leaf like wrapping paper, running her fingers along the crease. As she spooned some pork jowl and rice on top, a dozen women leaned over to observe her technique.
“Not too much!” Ms. Tran said. “Don’t forget, rice expands as it cooks.”
Tet, or Vietnamese New Year, falls on Feb. 5 this year. To celebrate and prepare for the holiday, Ms. Tran gathered about 100 women to make banh chung, the rich, sticky rice cakes filled with pork, shallots and mung beans, wrapped in banana leaves and boiled until tender. The women would take home their finished banh chung to share with family and friends.
“Usually people buy it at the store because, unless you’ve made it before, it’s an unwieldy beast,” Ms. Tran said.
Ms. Tran has hosted Lunar New Year parties centered on making banh chung for years, beginning at home with a small group of Vietnamese-American friends. “Tet can be such a heteronormative space, and it’s usually very conservative,” Ms. Tran said. “I wanted to share it with progressive women, and more people of color.”
The chef Diep Tran, center, who organized the event, demonstrating how to shape banh chung using strips of banana leaf and a square metal mold.CreditCoral Von Zumwalt for The New York Times

The chef Diep Tran, center, who organized the event, demonstrating how to shape banh chung using strips of banana leaf and a square metal mold.CreditCoral Von Zumwalt for The New York Times
This year, the party grew so big that Ms. Tran sold tickets and set up a half-dozen pressure cookers to boil the rice cakes in a field at Alma Backyard Farms, a nonprofit farm in West Compton where formerly incarcerated people are trained to enter the workforce.
Traditional banh chung can be the size of a birthday cake and simmer all night. They are often beautifully wrapped and tied with ribbons, to be shared as gifts for the New Year. Ms. Tran’s versions were dainty parcels — they fit on the palm of your hand — and cooked through in about 45 minutes.
After watching Ms. Tran’s tutorial, the group made their own. They passed scissors back and forth, and helped each other with tricky steps, like reinforcing the parcels so that rice wouldn’t spill from the seams.
“It’s just like a tamalada,” said Hong Pham, one of a few men who attended, referring to the communal spirit and collaborative work of making tamales.

The interior at Cafemandu
Alison McLean

Cafemandu Brings a Taste of Nepal to Irving — Including Nine Kinds of Momo Dumplings

| January 28, 2019 | 4:00am
It all started, in part, because of a chicken burger.
Dipesh Acharya’s home country, Nepal, is in love with burgers. But Nepal is also 80 percent Hindu, so restaurants there can’t make patties out of beef. Local chefs responded with a logical new fusion food: a ground chicken burger graced with a blend of Nepali spices. When Acharya moved to Texas in 2009, he was surrounded by burgers — none of them like the kind he had back home.
 “I definitely crave burgers,” he says, “but chicken burgers are not so common here.”

Cafemandu manager Dipesh Acharya (left) and chef Sailesh Bajracharya
Description: Cafemandu manager Dipesh Acharya (left) and chef Sailesh BajracharyaAlison McLean
When Acharya was a student at Texas State University, nothing Nepali was common in Texas, and he had more cravings besides chicken burgers, including chai and Nepal’s ubiquitous, iconic dumpling snack, the momo. Before he could cure that shortage with a restaurant of his own, he had to deal with one small obstacle: learning how to cook.
First Acharya begged his friends and family back home for their recipes. Soon enough, his Texas neighbors and taste-testers were the ones doing the begging, and Acharya opened a stall, Muda Flavors of Nepal, at the Dallas Farmers Market in 2015. After a brief stint in the food truck business, Muda has expanded into its own permanent space, Cafemandu Flavors of Nepal, in Irving.
Cafemandu has a full-time head chef, Sailesh Bajracharya. It has a blend of traditional and fusion-style foods, ranging from rice bowls and lentil pancakes to a Texas fairground-style sausage on a stick. Best of all, Cafemandu’s enthusiastic staff and descriptive menu make it an ideal starting point for Dallas-area diners who want to try Nepali food for the first time.
Cafemandu's serves nine varieties of Nepalese dumplings known as momo.
Alison McLean
Cafemandu offers nine varieties of momo, ranging from plain steamed dumplings served in a tray to a bowl of momo soup with crisp red broth. You can get your momos covered in cheesy sauce, if you like, or deep-fried and slathered in spices. Every preparation can be had with chicken, pork, vegetarian or vegan filling.
A plain bowl of steamed chicken momos is an opportunity to admire the craftsmanship of chef Bajracharya and his team. The momos may be plump, but they’re almost all filling. The skin is smooth and so thin it’s nearly transparent, with a dozen pleats zigzagging in a ribbon across the top. Inside is so much chicken, scallion and gentle spice that eating a full order of 10 momos in one serving is practically a Man vs. Food challenge.
Even more remarkable: That bowl of 10 steamed momos costs just $5. It’s an outrageous bargain.
A bowl of 10 steamed momo is just $5, which is a total bargain.
Alison McLean
Other momo styles here may cost more, but they’re similarly good deals. The kothey, or pan-fried, momos ($8 for 10) have nice char from their moments in the skillet, and they leave behind only a trace of grease. Unlike the chicken filling, pork dumplings come formed with a crown across the top, the dough pleated into a ring.
One of Nepal’s favorite ways to eat dumplings is slathered in a spicy coating of chili sauce with a handful of chopped bell peppers and onions. Cafemandu’s “C-Momo” ($9 for 10) are an excellent introduction to the genre: The hot sauce here is only gently fiery, although the heat builds in intensity as you chow down on a full order. (Contrast this with nearby Momostop, a gas station counter that serves C-Momo in a shade of red nature usually reserves for animals trying to warn off their predators.)
Two traditional Nepali dishes, chatamari and bara, could serve as appetizers or even work, in a pinch, as brunch. Chatamari ($6.89) is described by staff as a “Nepali pizza,” and it sort of is: A thin crust made of rice flour gets seared until nearly black and topped with egg, ground chicken, onion and a mix of sweet and hot peppers. Anybody who’s enjoyed bibimbap served in a hot stone, or savored the result of a home-cooking mistake, will already know the pleasure of eating gently burnt, crispy rice.
Description: The Mandu Bowl
The Mandu Bowl
Alison McLean
Most American diners will be new to bara, however ($6.99). This is a pancake made with ground lentils and ground chicken, seared in a skillet. Between flips, the bara is topped with a fried egg, which cooks straight into the pancake itself, so that finding the egg yolk is a bit like discovering a prize. Bara is simple, straightforward and utterly delicious.
While more or less everyone can dig into a bowl of momos or a plate of bara and fall in love, some of Cafemandu’s offerings are better suited to diners who are already familiar with Nepali spices. A goat curry bowl ($9.49) arrives with bones still in the cubed meat, which rests on a bed of long-grained basmati rice, chunked red onions and a variety of Nepali beans. With a brace of cilantro added to the spice blend and the raw onions’ sheer heat, it’s a nose-clearing, eye-popping bowl that’s a bit of an acquired taste.
Acharya says introducing local customers to Nepali tradition is a major reason he opened the restaurant. He serves tea brewed with leaves from his native country and is working on sourcing Nepali beans to use in the shop’s coffee.
There’s no doubting which dish is Cafemandu’s top seller. “People just love momos,” Acharya says. “Momos in Nepal, it’s more like burgers here in the U.S. On every corner, you drive by and you find momo stalls. You find restaurants selling momos in each and every corner.”
But the fusion foods are important too, including chow mein adapted from the country’s neighbors in China and, yes, the chicken burger that helped inspire Cafemandu’s journey.
Cafemandu's chicken burger
Alison McLean
How is that chicken burger? Well, mostly it tastes like a normal American chicken sandwich ($7.69). A sauce pink with seasonings is counterbalanced by cooling slices of avocado. It’s not bad at all, and it comes with a big handful of black pepper potato chips.
The most tempting of the fusion foods is a Nepali burrito loaded up with a proprietary nine-bean mix ($7.89). A burrito might seem out of place here, but the components — rice, beans, flatbread, hot sauce — are as much a fit in Nepal as they are in the American Southwest. And that’s not the only reason the burrito is on the menu.
“You’re in Texas,” Acharya explains. “You gotta know burritos.”
Cafemandu Flavors of Nepal, 3711 N. Belt Line Road, Irving. 469-647-5067, Open daily 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Brian Reinhart has been the Dallas Observer's food critic since spring 2016. In addition, he writes baseball analysis for the Hardball Times and covers classical music for the Observer and MusicWeb International.

The miracle method for sustainable rice that scientists dismissed

A technique developed by a Jesuit priest is producing bigger harvests – and reducing emissions of a crop responsible for 1.5% of greenhouse gases
John Vidal in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Description: Kriengkrai Chanpeng from Warin Chamrap district Kriengkrai Chanpeng from Warin Chamrap district with his large crop of jasmine rice, grown without flooding the soil. Photograph: John Vidal/The Guardian.The fragrant jasmine rice growing on the left side of Kreaougkra Junpeng’s five-acre field stands nearly five feet tall.
Each plant has 15 or more tillers, or stalks, and the grains hang heavy from them. The Thai farmer says this will be his best-ever harvest in 30 years and he will reap it four weeks earlier than usual.
It is very different on the other side of the field. Here, Junpeng planted his rice in closely spaced clumps of 20 or more seedlings in shallow water just as he, his father and millions of other small farmers across south-east Asia have always done. He used the same seeds but the conventionally grown plants are wind-battered and thin, and clearly have fewer, smaller grains.
Junpeng is part of a pilot project to see if it’s possible to grow more rice with less water and fewer greenhouse gases. The dramatic difference between his two crops points a way to help the world’s 145 million small rice farmers, and could also greatly reduce global warming emissions from agriculture.
The project, backed by the German and Thai governments and by some of the world’s largest rice traders and food companies, has seen 3,000 other farmers in this corner of Thailand’s “rice basket” near the Cambodian border trained to grow sustainable rice according to the principles of a revolutionary agronomical system discovered by accident in Madagascar in the 1980s.
Jesuit priest Henri de Lalanié working in the highlands observed that by planting far fewer seeds than usual, using organic matter as a fertiliser and keeping the rice plants alternately wet and dry rather than flooded, resulted in yields that were increased by between 20 and 200%, while water use was halved. Giving plants more oxygen, minimising the competition between them and strictly controlling the water they receive is thought to make them stronger and more resilient to flood and drought.
When it was first employed outside Madagascar in 2000, the system of rice intensification (SRI) was dismissed by a handful of scientists who questioned the legitimacy of the reported increased yields. But since then, it has evolved and been developed by peasant farmers working in many different climates around the world.
Academic criticism has since all but disappeared and the SRI system of farming has been validated in hundreds of scientific papers and adopted by up to 20 million farmers in 61 countries, according to the SRI information centre in Cornell University.
 “The results consistently cite yield increases, decreased use of seed, water and chemicals, and increased income,” says Norman Uphoff, professor of global agriculture at Cornell.
Vietnamese, Cambodian, Nepalese, Filipino, Indian and African farmers have all reported large increases. In 2011, a young Indian farmer broke the world record for rice production, harvesting 22 tonnes from a single hectare (2.47 acres).
“SRI is very positive in west Africa. It uses fewer seed and fertilisers and needs less water. Farmers saved up to 80% of the cost of seed and got increased yields and incomes. They see the advantages and they change. People are teaching each other now,” says Professor Bancy Mati, director of the water research centre at Jomo Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Thai farmers who took part in the Ubon Ratchathani trial say they are delighted. Says Khampha Bunchansee from Noan Dang village: “It was very easy to learn. I will use the extra money to invest in a tractor. If I can do it, anyone can. Everyone can come and learn.”
“I applied more fertiliser on my conventional crop but it produced lots more leaf but not more grain,” says Wanna Sriwila, also from Noan Dang. “Now I bring other farmers to see what can be done. Seeing is believing.”
But what is now exciting some of the world’s largest food corporations and governments is that growing rice along SRI principles also greatly reduces emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane, which escapes when rice, or any other crop, lies waterlogged for weeks at a time.
Description: Farm leader Duangchan Witchalin Farm leader Duangchan Witchalin. Photograph: John Vidal/The Guardian
Methane is roughly 30 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, and rice emits as much as 1.5% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. With the human population in south-east Asia expected to grow by around 100m people in the next 20 years, emissions from rice growing could increase 30% or more.The urgency to act for the global good, self-interest in maintaining production and the possibility of accessing money to reduce farm emissions has now led heavy rice-using food companies like Mars and Kellogg’s, and the agri-business colossus Olam, to set up the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP).
This coalition of companies, NGOs and governments sets the world’s first voluntary sustainability standards for rice growing. It adopts the basic SRI principle of planting seedlings further apart, and keeping them moist rather than flooded, but adds targets and measurements to provide consistency.
“Rice is both a victim and a cause of climate change,” says Sunny Verghese, CEO of Singapore-based Olam’s, which grows its own rice on 25,000 acres in Nigeria, owns mills and processing plants across south-east Asia and ships nearly 20% of the world’s globally traded rice.
“South-east Asian rice farmers are among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, salinity, temperature rise and droughts. Yields can decrease as much as 10% for each 1C temperature increase, threatening food security for billions of people.
“With another two billion people we cannot carry on the way we are. We must go beyond what is currently being done and achieve far more at greater scale. We must re-imagine the whole food supply chain if the world is to become carbon neutral by 2050,” he says.
“SRI should influence everyone’s thinking. In Nigeria we saw a 70% increase in yields, albeit from a low base. SRI is revolutionary. It is a genuine change in thinking. It is difficult for scientists to understand that an amateur [like Lalanié] should have a solution. We want to partner with SRI, to scale up in Africa.
“But reducing emissions from rice cannot be a trade-off that hurts farmers and communities who depend on it for their income and sustenance. We have to measure the true cost of food and dismantle the subsidy system.”
Working with German development agency GIZ and south-east Asian governments, Olam now plan to roll out SRP rice to 100,000 farmers in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and India within five years, increasing yields and incomes, and reducing methane emissions by 50%.
Governments and global bodies must act too, says tropical agronomist Erika Styger, director of climate-resilient farming systems at Cornell University who led a three-year World Bank study of 50,000 farmers using SRI methods in 13 west African countries. This saw a 56% rise in yields in irrigated areas, an 86% increase in rain-fed areas and an average 41% increase in income.
“The SRI revolution is happening. People are changing their practices and you can see SRI in the field in many places now. There is no reason why SRI should not become normal agronomic practice,” says Styger.
“But there is no long term funding. If we want to make it mainstream it needs to get to a critical mass. We are left with breadcrumbs, with only short-term project finding,” she says.
“The food system is broken. Olam on its own cannot fix it, we can only change it. We can’t do it overnight but there is a new way of collaborating. Companies must change and reduce their resource intensity. The whole food sector must change,” says Verghese.
“What is needed now is large retailers to brand SRP. It’s the way we can reduce emissions, use less water and grow more. Win. Win. Win.”

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Thailand aims to export 9.5m tonnes of rice in 2019
Thailand aims to export 9.5 million tonnes of rice this year, the Thai Rice Exporters Association said on Wednesday, a 14% decline from 2018.
The world's second-biggest rice exporter shipped 11 million tonnes of rice in 2018. "This year's rice export situation will not sail as smoothly as last year," association president Charoen Laothamatas said in a news conference.
The lower volumes are due to a stronger Thai baht and increased competition from India and Vietnam, Chookiat Ophaswongse, the association's honourary president, said.
The baht has gained nearly 2.6% against the US dollar so far this year. "Our competitiveness is lower, but our production remains the same," Mr Chookiat said. He also said Indonesia will import less Thai rice this year due to ample rice stocks, and the Philippines and Malaysia are expected to turn from Thailand to Vietnam due to pricing. The target of 9.5 million tonnes is expected to be worth US$4.8 billion (150 billion baht), Mr Chookiat said. Thailand mainly exports rice to African and Asian countries. India is the top exporter of rice and Vietnam is third-largest

Vietnam Jan coffee exports likely to fall 19.1 pct y/y to 175,000 tonnes

JANUARY 29, 2019 / 7:44 AM / A DAY AGO
HANOI, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Vietnam’s coffee exports for January are expected to fall 19.1 percent from a year earlier to 175,000 tonnes, while rice exports will likely decline 18.5 percent, government data showed on Tuesday. COFFEE Coffee exports from Vietnam will fall an estimated 19.1 percent in January from a year earlier to 175,000 tonnes, equal to 2.92 million 60-kg bags, the General Statistics Office said in a report on Tuesday.
Coffee export revenue for Vietnam, the world’s biggest producer of the robusta bean, will decline 27.2 percent to $305 million in the month, the report said.The country’s coffee shipments in December totalled 154,000 tonnes valued at $276 million, it said. RICE Rice exports in January from Vietnam were forecast to fall 18.5 percent from a year earlier to 400,000 tonnes. Revenue from rice exports in the month was expected to drop 24.8 percent to $180 million.
December rice exports from Vietnam, the world’s third-largest shipper of the grain, totalled 478,000 tonnes, worth $229 million. ENERGY Vietnam’s January crude oil exports were seen rising 28.6 percent from the same month last year to an estimated 490,000 tonnes. Crude oil export revenue in the month is expected to decline 12.4 percent to $180 million.
Oil product imports in January were estimated at 500,000 tonnes, falling 56.9 percent from the same period last year, while the value of product imports fell 65.4 percent to $260 million.Vietnam’s January liquefied petroleum gas imports were seen falling 48.9 percent from a year earlier to 85,000 tonnes.
Egypt’s GASC tender attracts 4 offers for Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian rice — traders
A farmer is seen next to freshly harvested wheat at a field in Beni Suef, south of Cairo, Egypt April 24, 2017. Picture taken April 24, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 27 January 2019
January 27, 201913:18
  • The offers presented were for Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian rice, the traders said
CAIRO: Egypt’s state grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), on Sunday received four offers at its first international purchase tender for rice in 2019, traders said.
The offers presented were for Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian rice, the traders said.
GASC said it was seeking white rice with 10 percent to 12 percent broken parts on a cost, insurance and freight (CIF) basis for arrival March 20-April 20 and/or April 1-30. Each bidder should present samples alongside its offer to be tested by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Traders gave the following breakdown of the offers presented, however prices were not immediately available:
* Hakan: 20,000 tons of Indian rice for arrival from April 1-30
* Mufaddal: 25,000 tons of Vietnamese rice for arrival from April 1-30
* Wakalex: 20,000 tons of Chinese rice for arrival from March 20 — April 20 and 48,000 tons of Chinese rice for arrival from April 1-30
* Al Amal: 20,000 tons of Chinese rice for arrival from April 1-30
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- JAN 30, 2019
JANUARY 30, 2019 /
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-January 30, 2018 Nagpur, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Gram and tuar prices firmed up again in Nagpur Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) on good buying support from local millers amid thin supply from producing regions. Notable rise in Madhya Pradesh pulses and reported demand from South-based millers also helped to push up prices. About 1,300 bags of tuar and 150 bags of gram reported for auctions in Nagpur APMC, according to sources.

* Gram varieties ruled steady in open market here but demand was poor.

* Tuar Gavarani recovered further here on good seasonal demand from local traders.

* Lakhodi dal and Watana dal declined in open market here on poor demand from

local traders in good supply from producing belts.

* In Akola, Tuar New – 4,800-5,000, Tuar dal (clean) – 7,600-7,800, Udid Mogar (clean)

– 6,500-7,500, Moong Mogar (clean) 7,600-8,100, Gram – 4,200-4,300, Gram Super best

– 6,300-6,500 * Wheat, rice and other foodgrain items moved in a narrow range in

scattered deals and settled at last levels in weak trading activity.

Nagpur foodgrains APMC auction/open-market prices in rupees for 100 kg

FOODGRAINS Available prices Previous close

Gram Auction 4,000-4,585 3,850-4,400

Gram Pink Auction n.a. 2,100-2,600

Tuar Auction 4,400-5,275 4,400-5,220

Moong Auction n.a. 3,950-4,200

Udid Auction n.a. 4,300-4,500

Masoor Auction n.a. 2,600-2,800

Wheat Lokwan Auction 2,000-2,081 2,000-2,075

Wheat Sharbati Auction 2,700-3,000 2,700-2,900

Gram Super Best Bold 6,500-6,800 6,500-6,800

Gram Super Best n.a. n.a.

Gram Medium Best 5,600-6,000 5,600-6,000

Gram Dal Medium n.a. n.a

Gram Mill Quality 4,300-4,400 4,300-4,400

Desi gram Raw 4,400-4,500 4,400-4,500

Gram Kabuli 8,300-10,000 8,300-10,000

Tuar Fataka Best-New 8,000-8,200 8,000-8,200

Tuar Fataka Medium-New 7,600-7,800 7,600-7,800

Tuar Dal Best Phod-New 7,800-8,000 7,800-8,000

Tuar Dal Medium phod-New 7,000-7,400 7,000-7,400

Tuar Gavarani New 5,250-5,450 5,200-5,400

Tuar Karnataka 5,350-5,550 5,350-5,550

Masoor dal best 5,600-5,800 5,600-5,800

Masoor dal medium 5,200-5,400 5,200-5,400

Masoor n.a. n.a.

Moong Mogar bold (New) 7,800-8,800 7,800-8,800

Moong Mogar Medium 6,500-7,200 6,500-7,200

Moong dal Chilka New 6,500-7,500 6,500-7,500

Moong Mill quality n.a. n.a.

Moong Chamki best 8,000-8,800 8,000-8,500

Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 7,000-8,000 7,000-8,000

Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG) 5,500-6,500 5,500-6,500

Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG) 3,800-4,200 3,800-4,200

Batri dal (100 INR/KG) 5,600-5,700 5,600-5,700

Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg) 4,900-5,000 5,050-5,150

Watana Dal (100 INR/KG) 5,500-5,600 5,550-5,650

Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG) 6,600-6,800 6,600-6,800

Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG) 2,200-2,300 2,200-2,300

Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG) 2,150-2,200 2,050-2,200

Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG) 2,500-2,600 2,500-2,600

Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG) 2,450-2,650 2,450-2,650

Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG) 2,300-2,400 2,300-2,400

Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG) n.a. n.a.

MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG) 3,600-4,000 3,600-4,000

MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG) 2,800-3,200 2,800-3,200

Rice Parmal (100 INR/KG) 2,100-2,200 2,100-2,200

Rice BPT best (100 INR/KG) 3,400-3,600 3,400-3,600

Rice BPT medium (100 INR/KG) 2,600-3,000 2,600-3,000

Rice Luchai (100 INR/KG) 2,900-3,000 2,900-3,000

Rice Swarna best (100 INR/KG) 2,600-2,800 2,600-2,800

Rice Swarna medium (100 INR/KG) 2,500-2,600 2,500-2,600

Rice HMT best (100 INR/KG) 4,000-4,400 4,000-4,400

Rice HMT medium (100 INR/KG) 3,500-3,900 3,500-3,900

Rice Shriram best(100 INR/KG) 5,400-5,600 5,200-5,500

Rice Shriram med (100 INR/KG) 4,800-5,000 4,600-5,000

Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG) 9,700-14,000 9,500-14,000

Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG) 4,800-7,200 4,800-7,000

Rice Chinnor best 100 INR/KG) 6,600-7,000 6,800-7,300

Rice Chinnor medium (100 INR/KG) 6,200-6,500 6,500-6,700

Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG) 2,350-2,550 2,350-2,550

Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG) 2,050-2,250 2,050-2,250 WEATHER (NAGPUR) Maximum temp. 25.2 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 4.6 degree Celsius Rainfall : Nil FORECAST: Mainly clear sky. Maximum and minimum temperature likely to be around 25 degree Celsius and 05 degree Celsius. Note: n.a.—not available (For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, but included in market prices)

DA sets up P200-million fund for lending to rice farmers

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said farmers who would sell their palay to NFA could borrow up to P50,000 which they could pay back after harvest at three percent interest without any collateral.
Andy G. Zapata Jr Description:
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture is allocating P200 million in loan funds for farmers who will sell their produce to the National Food Authority (NFA).
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said farmers who would sell their palay to NFA could borrow up to P50,000 which they could pay back after harvest at three percent interest without any collateral.
DA recently launched Production Loan Easy Access for Rice Farmers at the Southern Philippines Grains Center in Sultan Kudarat with about 500 rice farmers expected to become the first beneficiaries of the program.
“The PLEA for Rice Farmers is the latest variant of the DA’s easy access credit program aimed at providing farmers access to production loans which they traditionally get from traders and loan sharks at 10 percent interest per month,” Piñol said.
Unlike the regular PLEA program where borrowers are required to be members of a cooperative or association, the PLEA program for rice farmers will be granted to both individual farmers and members of cooperatives or associations.
Farmers in Sultan Kudarat and in some areas of North and South Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Saranggani have either finished harvesting or are now harvesting their palay to prepare for the next planting season.
“Since many of them borrow their production expenses from traders at high interest rates, the bigger part of their income would go to the payment of loans leaving them with no choice but to again borrow money to finance their land preparation and planting,” Piñol said.
Farmers, who will participate in the program will be documented by the DA and basic information will be backed up by satellite images and aerial photos which will pinpoint exactly the location of the applicants’ farms.
Based on the data, DA will be able to project the expected harvest of the applicant which will serve as the basis in determining the amount of the loan to be granted.
“Once the applicant is validated, his loan will be immediately released in full through a local conduit bank to allow him to finance his farm operations,” Piñol said.
During harvest time, NFA will buy the farmers’ produce at P17 per kilogram clean and dry with an incentive of P3.70 per kilo after which his loan will be deducted from his proceeds.

Philippines set to import 1.2 mln T of rice as caps…

By Enrico Dela Cruz
MANILA, Jan 22 – Rice traders in the Philippines are set to import about 1.2 million tonnes of the staple food, a state grains agency spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday, as the Southeast Asian country lifts a two-decade-old cap on purchases.
Bigger rice purchases by the Philippines, already one of the world’s top importers and consumers of the grain, could underpin export prices in Vietnam and Thailand, traditionally its key suppliers.
Prices in Vietnam fell last week ahead of the country’s largest harvest this month, while the Thai market is likely to see additional supply towards the end of January from the seasonal harvest.
President Rodrigo Duterte in October ordered the “unimpeded” importation of rice after the country’s inflation shot up to 6.7 percent in September and October, the highest in nearly a decade, partly due to food prices.
The National Food Authority (NFA) has approved initial applications from 180 rice traders for permits to import a total of 1.186 million tonnes of either 5-percent or 25-percent broken white, the NFA spokeswoman said.
“We have not set any deadline for accepting applications to import rice. There’s no more limit,” she said.
Importers are allowed to bring in rice from any country, but grains from Southeast Asian suppliers will be charged a tariff of 35 percent while those from elsewhere will face a 50-percent charge.
Lawmakers have approved the bill removing the import cap on rice imports and replacing it with tariffs. Duterte will “most likely” sign it into law “soon”, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Tuesday.
Philippine inflation eased in November and December, and the rice tariffication law could help curb it this year by as much as 0.7 percentage point, the central bank has said. Rice is the biggest food item in the country’s consumer price index. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford)