Saturday, February 16, 2019

16th February,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Rice Exports to gather steam on US, West Asia demand boost
Rice exports from India are set to swing in the last quarter of this year on a spate in orders after shipments slumped 14% in the last three quarters over high input costs and tepid demand from Bangladesh.  Chandigarh: Rice exports from India are set to swing in the last quarter of this year on a spate in orders after shipments slumped 14% in the last three quarters over high input costs and tepid demand from Bangladesh.  “Consignments in January are better than the previous year and the trade is likely to attain levels close to the previous year,” a senior commerce and industry ministry official told ET. 

Rice import proposal a ‘death trap’

FEBRUARY 15, 2019
A proposal calling for a shift to high-value crop production could lead to the death of the domestic rice industry, a Cabinet official said on Thursday.
“[A proposed] policy to just rely on imported rice and ask our rice farmers to diversify to other crops is a death trap.” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a statement.
Description: man smells rice grains before buying from a dealer at the Commonwealth Market. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ
“This is a shortsighted view which will kill the rice industry and drive away farmers from the rice fields,” he added.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday said the shift would be “the most efficient economic arrangement” and also pressure the agriculture sector to be more competitive.
Earnings from high-value produce are much higher than traditional crops such as rice, which the Philippines is unable to produce in sufficient quantities to meet domestic needs.
Piñol, however, said that relying purely on purchases from neighboring rice produces such as Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia also carried risks given weather challenges and rising demand elsewhere.
“Even if we have the money to buy, there would be no available rice supply in the world market and assuming that there would be available supply, could we outbid China in buying all the remaining rice stocks?,” he asked.
“The sad truth is that we are not the only country with a growing population. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and India, which are all rice exporting countries now, also have growing population. Just like us, their farming areas are not expanding and will in fact shrink because of the sprouting of human settlements,” Piñol added.
“It is as certain as the sun will rise tomorrow that 10 years from now, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and India will no longer be able to export the same volume of rice that they ship out today.”
At current production levels, the Philippines still needs to import about 600,000 to 800,000 metric tons of rice to satisfy domestic consumption and Piñol believes that the government should only allow the importation of rice for the purpose of “fill[ing] up the supply shortfall.”

Duterte signs rice tariffication bill

Description: rice stallPHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law the rice tariffication bill on the last possible day he could have signed or vetoed the measure, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III told reporters, as confirmed by television reports.
Television news programs on Friday evening quoted the President’s spokesman, Salvador S. Panelo, as saying that the President had signed the measure.
Mr. Sotto issued the confirmation in a Viber message to reporters Friday evening, saying: “Pirmado na ang additional discounts for poli(tical) ads, Rice tariffication din (The measures allowing additional discounts for political ads has been signed, as well as the rice tariffication bill).”
Rice tariffication liberalizes the import process for rice while taking away the role in importing of the National Food Authority (NFA). In place of the old system, private importers will pay a tariff of 35% on grain shipped from Southeast Asia, raising revenue for the government and also funding a rice industry competitiveness fund.
Had Mr. Duterte not signed the measure today, it would have lapsed into law. The uncertainty surrounding the signing had also raised the possibility that he might veto the measure as farmers’ groups had urged him.
As of 4pm yesterday, the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office had not confirmed whether the measure was signed or vetoed by the President, as of 4 pm Friday.
The measure was transmitted to the Office of the President on Jan. 15. Under the 1987 Constitution, the President has 30 days to act on a bill upon receipt from Congress, or else it lapses into law.
The measure had the blessing of economic managers and the business sector, but farm groups and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol warned that the country might someday be hostage to a supply crunch in rice-producing countries when their populations grow. The bill’s opponents also said the measure would kill off the industry by discouraging rice farmers from planting the crop.
Former Trade Undersecretary Ernesto M. Ordoñez, in a Feb. 14 column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, cited the position of Alyansa Agricultura on the measure.
Noting that while tariffication is “desirable,” he said 35% is too low, and estimated a 70% tariff as a level sufficient to ensure the survival of domestic farmers.
The Federation of Free Farmers also cautioned that the measure will remove the power of the National Food Authority to regulate the market and limit it to maintaining a buffer stock, to be released during emergencies to shore up the food supply in affected areas.
“Farmers will not be able to depend on the NFA to buy their produce if palay prices fall. Once the NFA accumulates enough for its buffer stock, it will have to stop buying from farmers. Traders will now be free to set whatever price they want,” FFF National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor was quoted as saying in a statement on Feb. 6.
Lining up to support the bill was the Foundation for Economic Freedom, which considers the measure as the “most far-reaching reform” in rice policy.
“By liberalizing the industry the syndicate controlling the value chain will now be nullified by free entry and competition — including entry and competition from foreign rice suppliers,” the group said in a statement on Monday.
The FEF’s members are mostly retired technocrats.
Thirteen business groups also signed a joint statement on Jan. 22, asking the President to sign the measure to ensure food security.
The measure will amend Republic Act No. 8178, or the “Agricultural Tariffication Act,” by lifting quantitative restrictions on rice imports. It is among the bills identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council as a priority of the administration.
The measure will restore the minimum access volume to the 2012 level of 350,000 metric tons and impose a 35% tariff or the import duty rate commitment of the Philippines for rice importation, pursuant to the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).
A 180% out-quota tariff rate will be levied on rice imports originating from non-ASEAN, World Trade Organization member states.
At present, the country has a MAV of 805,200 metric tons on rice imports.
The measure will also establish the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which Senator Loren B. Legarda confirmed had been given a P10-billion allocation under the 2019 General Appropriations Bill.
The RCEF is intended to serve as a special rice safeguard to protect the rice industry, which will be distributed, accordingly: 50% for machinery and equipment; 30% for rice seed development, propagation and promotion; 10% for expanded rice credit assistance and 10% for rice extension services.
The farmgate price of palay and wholesale and retail prices of well-milled rice dropped in the first week of February, according to data by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released Friday, ahead of the possible bill signing or lapsing into law.
PSA data showed the average farmgate price of palay, or unmilled rice, dropped in the first week of February by 0.15% week-on-week to P19.70 per kilogram (kg).
The average wholesale price of well-milled rice was P41.49 per kg, down 0.02% from the previous week. The average retail price of well-milled rice was P44.87 per kg, down 0.29%.
The average wholesale price of regular-milled rice fell 0.18% week-on-week to P38.18 per kg. The average retail price of regular-milled rice, on the other hand, rose 0.02% to P41.14 per kg.
The PSA said the average farmgate price for yellow corngrain rose 0.22% week-on-week to P13.93 per kg. The wholesale average price for yellow corngrain was P20.41, up 0.49%.
The average retail price for yellow corngrain was P25.35 per kg, up 0.68% week-on-week.
The average farmgate price for white corngrain rose 3.08% week-on-week to P14.41 per kg, while the average wholesale price was P20.88 per kg, up 0.38%.
The average retail price of white corngrain was unchanged at P28.12 per kg, PSA said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan with Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

Thai Farmers Raise Concerns Over Junta Rice Bill That Would Ban Non-Certified Paddy Seeds

The draft law requires rice mills to issue purchase papers, specifying the variety of rice, weight, quality and moisture content. Random checks will be conducted and offenders will face up to Bt100,000 in fines and/or a year in jail.
Rice farmers in Thailand are getting increasingly worried about the Rice Bill, which drafters claim would improve their lives, but is now causing huge controversy.
Researchers and senior government officials have now joined farmers’ calls for Thailand’s Junta the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to address their concerns and avoid triggering future problems.
Two major controversial points of the Rice Bill, proposed by 25 NLA members, are the ban on non-certified paddy seeds and the requirement that rice mills issue paddy-purchase papers clearly specifying rice varieties, weight, quality and moisture content.

Offenders face a fine of up to Bt100,000 and or one year in jail, under the draft law.
While the controversial legal clauses aim to boost rice quality and farmer incomes, they are viewed by critics as threatening farmers’ way of life and hurting their ties to rice mills. Farmers worry that the bill will force them to buy commercial varieties of paddy rather than developing their own varieties.
“We are worried that the draft law will practically bar farmers from selecting their own rice varieties or force them into seeking certification.
“That’ll be too much for farmers,” said Daoruang Puechpol, the chair of a community agricultural enterprise.
Even though his enterprise is not likely to be impacted, Daoruang said he opposes certain sections of the bill.

“Farmers should not be forced to change their way of life,” he said.
Ubon Yuwa, coordinator for the Network of Northeast Alternative Agriculture, said the Rice Bill would place power in the hands of the Rice Department as the certifying agency.
“In fact, the government should create opportunities for farmers to manage their own affairs, such as improving their own rice varieties,” he said.
Separately, Assoc Professor Nipon Poapong-sakorn, a researcher at the Thailand Development Research Institute, said that farmers have in the past successfully developed several high-quality rice varieties and have a history of preparing their paddy seeds.
“But their development activities are different from the methods used by private companies. If the current Rice Bill becomes law, farmers will become discouraged. They will be too worried about legal punishments to continue developing varieties,” he said.

Change will Increase Costs
Rice mills should also not be treated as suspected criminals, said Nipon, pointing to a section of the Bill that would allow officials to check paddy-purchase records at the mills without prior notice.
Critics have said the purchase-paper requirement, which is likely to raise operating costs for the mills, could prompt them to offer farmers lower prices for crops and so incite future conflicts between mills and farmers.
Jintana Chaiyawonnagal, vice minister attached to the prime minister, said many farmers were also worried that it would become tougher to get paddy seeds for their fields.
“Concerns are growing among rice-seed distributors as well,” she said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a rice farmer in Prachin Buri province complained that he and other farmers should have been informed of the drafting of the bill and asked to comment prior to the NLA introducing it.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Grisada Boonrach said he had expressed opposition to any restriction on farmers developing rice varieties.
“We have already informed the NLA of this in writing,” he said.
Grisada is hopeful the NLA will heed his ministry’s concerns.
“But we will also make sure that government representatives talk to the NLA’s ad-hoc committee on the Rice Bill before it goes to the NLA for second and third readings,” he said.

Vietnam increases its quota for Kingdom’s rice to 300K tonnes

Hor Kimsay | Publication date 15 February 2019 | 13:55 ICT
Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A farmer works in a rice paddy field outside Phnom Penh on December 5, 2016. Post Staff
After the EU decided to impose tariffs on Cambodia’s rice exports from January, Vietnam agreed this week to expand its import quota for the Kingdom’s rice to 300,000 tonnes.
Vietnam’s actions come as the Chinese government late last night agreed to increase its import quota for the Kingdom’s rice to 400,000 tonnes this year from the previous year’s 300,000 tonnes.
The agreement was announced after Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak on Wednesday met with Do Quoc Hung, the representative of the Asia-Africa Market Department at the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade.
According to the Ministry of Commerce’s Facebook page, Vietnam agreed to extend its quota for Cambodian rice to 300,000 tonnes per annum and tobacco leaves to 3,000 tonnes, starting from this year and next year.
Ministry spokesperson Seang Thay on Thursday said the quota for rice exports to Vietnam is a carry-on from a previous agreement as Vietnam previously provided a quota for Cambodian rice exports for many years.
Price competition
However, he said the Kingdom never exported rice as much as the market allowed due to price competition. Cambodian rice exporters also enjoyed exporting to the EU duty-free.
“Vietnam provided us with a quota, but successfully exporting there still depends on price agreement. They generally offer us a low price because it is also a rice-producing country,” he said.
However, Thay said Cambodian exporters will pay more attention to exports to Vietnam, as they want to test the new market after the EU imposed rice tariffs on Cambodia at €175 ($200) per tonne of rice this year.
“We used to buy T-shirts because they were comfortable, but now they are wet. So, why not try wearing denim shirts?” he said, using the wet shirt as an analogue to the EU market.
Government data said the Kingdom exported a total of 626,225 tonnes of rice last year, of which only 26,712 tonnes were exported to Vietnam.
Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd chairman and CEO Song Saran on Thursday said Vietnam is generally buying raw products such as paddy, rather than milled, rice.
However, he said the quota would encourage more Vietnamese to import the Kingdom’s rice, despite needing time to reach the 300,000-tonne quota.
“We expected more demand to come from Vietnam in the incoming years. It will take time to convince Vietnamese consumers and traders to import rice."
“It is also possible that in the long term, more Vietnamese consumers will be interested in high-quality rice since the Vietnam middle classes have grown a lot in recent years.”
Having higher quotas from China and Vietnam is helpful to the marketing of Cambodian rice. But, Chinese and Vietnamese buyers in the past did not buy as much as they agreed to. The reason, according to industry insiders, is because buyers offer lower prices.

USA Rice will be closed Monday, February 18, in observance of Presidents Day.
USA Rice Daily will resume publication on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.
                                                                      February 15, 2019

            Frank Godchaux
In Memory:  Frank Godchaux 
USA Rice extends condolences to the family and friends of Frank Godchaux, of Abbeville, Louisiana, who passed away February 13, at the age of 92.  Frank was a veteran of WWII who graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1949 before joining his family's business, Louisiana State Rice Milling Company.  He eventually became president of the company, a position he held as through several business iterations, first when it merged with River Brand Rice Mill to become Riviana Foods, and when it was bought by the Colgate Palmolive Company.  In 1986, Frank negotiated the buyback of Riviana Foods and became chairman of the board there until the company was bought by Ebro Puleva in 2004.  In the meantime, he and partner Elton Kennedy started Planters Rice Mill in Abbeville.

Frank was a respected leader in the U.S. rice industry who was active on numerous boards and committees, serving as a member of the USDA National Rice Advisory Committee and as chair of the Rice Council.  He received the Rice Millers' Association Distinguished Service Award in 2015.
"To me, Frank was a leader, a mentor, and my friend and golfing partner," said Mark Creed, CEO of Creed Rice Company in Houston.  "My love and prayers go out to cousins Agnes, Leslie, Frank IV, and Mary.  Unfortunately, we have lost another loved one from the greatest generation in history ... our loss, God's gain!"

A graveside service will be held Saturday, February 16, at Graceland Cemetery, Abbeville, Louisiana.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 101 E. Vermillion Street, Abbeville LA, 70510, or Ochsner Clinic Foundation, Philanthropy Department, 1514 Jefferson Highway, BH 607, New Orleans LA, 70121, for The John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute.
Manning the USA Rice booth, from left:  Kane Webb, Josh Hankins, Lydia Holmes, Mary Jemison, and Steve Linscombe         
Sustainability Takes Center Stage at Recent Cotton & Rice Conference
By Lesley Dixon
BATON ROUGE, LA -- The spotlight was on sustainability at this year's Cotton & Rice Conference where more than 100 speakers gave presentations on agricultural techniques, trade, and economic issues.  USA Rice hosted breakout sessions on the organization's new online conservation program search platform and the recent U.S. Rice Sustainability Report, continuing to roll out the mission of sustainability across the mid-South which began at the Outlook Conference in San Diego last December.  
Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of The Rice Foundation, spoke on the results and implications of the U.S. Rice Sustainability Report, funded by the Foundation and in partnership with the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), that collected and analyzed 36 years of data to highlight the rice industry's outstanding accomplishments in sustainability and conservation.  The presentation utilized the extensive data, evidence, and testimonials compiled by the study to showcase the ways in which U.S. rice farmers and millers have gone above and beyond in their goal of sustainability in four key areas:  land use and soil conservation, water use and quality, energy use and air quality, and biodiversity.

Josh Hankins does a walk-through of new conservation program search tool
Continuing on the momentum of the report, Josh Hankins, USA Rice director of grower relations and the Rice Stewardship Partnership, conducted a breakout session exploring USA Rice's revamped website, which features a new, innovative search tool that puts conservation programs and resources at farmers' fingertips -- whether through cost sharing, management incentives, or tax exemptions.  Hankins emphasized the website's accessibility and showed conference attendees firsthand how easily they can navigate and utilize these programs to enhance their own sustainability practices.
 USA Rice members also represented the industry's commitment to the sustainability cause at the conference.  Arkansas farmer Jim Whitaker presented on new conservation methods such as Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) and rice water automation, and Michael Fruge, of Horizon Ag, spoke on current and potential varieties in development.  
"Conservation systems were first and foremost in our minds," said Conference Chairman John LaRose, president and publisher of MidAmerica Farm Publications.  "Never before in the history of this conference have so many conservation systems agricultural leaders and innovative farmers come together to share their experiences and knowledge with each other."
 "The Cotton & Rice Conference is an excellent platform to shine a light on the many accomplishments the rice industry has made in sustainability and conservation, as well as to discuss the future," said Hankins.  "USA Rice was honored to participate and contribute to the sustainability goals we all share."

Duterte signs rice tariffication law

Description: of assorted varieties of rice are seen at the San Andres public market in Manila in this file photo.
Last updated on February 15th, 2019 at 07:51 pm
PRESIDENT Duterte has signed into law the rice tariffication bill, opening up the country’s rice market as it aims to convert quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice into tariffs.
Asked to confirm if the measure was already signed by the President, Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo replied “Yes” in a text message to BusinessMirror.
Panelo earlier said the President told the farmers in their last meeting that the bill is for the greater good and interest.
Malacanang earlier said that the President will not veto the bill even if the President acknowledged that it will be detrimental to farmers.
This was as Duterte had a dialogue with rice farmers, millers, and retailers last Wednesday to discuss their concerns over the measure. Stakeholders and officials, however, said Duterte will consider their concerns before acting on the bill.
A day after the rice tariffication bill was transmitted to Malacanang last January 15, rice industry stakeholders and even a top official of the agriculture department urged Duterte to veto the measure, particularly because of the provisions that seek to remove the National Food Authority’s regulatory role.
The measure will strip the NFA of its power to control the volume of rice imports entering the Philippine market, as well as of its capacity to license importers.
Under the proposed law, interested importers will only need to secure a sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance from the Bureau of Plant Industry as proof that the rice they will bring in is safe for consumption.
They will also have to pay a tariff of 35 percent if the imports are coming from a member-state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; and 50 percent if they are from outside the region.
The proposed law will also create the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), also called the rice fund, which will consist of an initial P10 billion; and all duties collected from the importation of rice. As a safety net, the rice fund will be used to finance programs —whether through direct support or research—for farmers.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said the President is open to reducing the allocation for research under the RCEF and transferring it to direct support for farmers to provide the latter with a better safety net once the rice tariffication bill is signed into law.
Under the bill, 50 percent of the RCEF is to be used for the purchase of rice farm equipment, such as tillers, tractors, seeders, threshers, rice planters, harvesters, among others, for purposes of improving farm mechanization.
Further, 30 percent of the rice fund will be allocated for the development, propagation and promotion of inbred seeds to rice farmers. The bill also sets aside 10 percent for credit with minimal interest to farmers and cooperatives.
The remaining 10 percent is for research and education on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, as well as technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.
Nonetheless, the government aims to address these problems as it started to craft the implementing rules and regulations for the measure. Description:
Government economists estimate prices of rice will go down by anywhere from P4 to P7 per kilo once the bill is in place. However, farmers fear this could spell the death of the domestic rice industry, as the NFA is stripped of its power to manage the volume of imports.

In a text message last night to Palace reporters, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed the signing of the rice tariffication law.

Rice tariffication, political advertisements discount laws signed
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - February 16, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has signed into law a measure lifting quantitative restrictions on rice importation.
In a text message last night to Palace reporters, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed the signing of the rice tariffication law. 
Duterte also signed a measure granting discounts to candidates for political advertisements, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
The Palace has yet to release copies of the new laws.
In October 2018, Duterte certified the rice tariffication bill as urgent “to address the urgent need to improve availability of rice in the country, to prevent artificial rice shortage, reduce the prices of rice in the market, and curtail the prevalence of corruption and cartel domination in the rice industry.”
A month after Duterte certified the measure as urgent, a report on the bill was ratified by the bicameral conference committee.
Local rice producer have oppose the measure, saying it would kill Filipino rice farmers.
Under the rice tariffication law, quantitative restrictions on rice importation are lifted and private traders are allowed to import the commodity from countries of their choice
The law imposes a 25-percent duty on rice imports from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states and a 50-percent rate on imports from non-members of the regional bloc.
The measure will also create the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) or a special rice buffer fund, with an initial P10-billion annual fund, to ensure rice production competitiveness.
Concerns have been raised that the fund may be misused by corrupt officials.
The country’s economic team has been pushing for rice tariffication, saying this should bring down the prices of the country’s staple and weaken inflation.
The rice tariffication law replaces the government’s quantitative restrictions on importation of the staple with a 35 percent tariff.
Duterte’s economic managers have identified rice tariffication as one of a means to meet the country’s commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Under the law, the tariff of rice imported from Asean member states will be 35 percent. For non-Asean member states, the tariff will be 50 percent or the tariff equivalent calculated in accordance with the WTO agreement on agriculture.
“One of the key features of the bill is also the creation of the RCEF, which shall consist of initial appropriation of P10 billion a year until all duties collected from the importation of rice can replace it,” Sen. Cynthia Villar, sponsor and principal author of the bill, earlier said.
The fund will be used to provide different forms of assistance to the country’s rice farmers such as the development of inbred rice seeds for our farmers, the development of rice farm equipment and skills enhancement.
Villar noted the staple is the only agricultural commodity in the country that has a quantitative restriction, limiting the inflow of imported rice in the country.
The law would in effect remove all unnecessary intervention of the government in the rice market, as recently announced by Duterte.
Duterte also signed the bill pushed by Senators Aquilino  Pimentel III and Richard Gordon mandating radio and television stations as well as newspapers to give candidates high discounts for their political advertisements.
“Free expression of our people’s will is better ventilated during an election period if all those who vie for the votes of our people are undeterred in delivering their messages to their voters, especially if the deterrence is the prohibitive cost,” Pimentel said last year in sponsoring the bill.

SSS contribution hike also signed

Also signed was the law amending the charter of the Social Security System (SSS) to raise member contributions.
SSS president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Dooc earlier said the bill is expected to generate P16 billion in premium collections in a year and the adjustments would be able to help extend the fund life of the SSS.
The bill would repeal the 21-year-old Social Security Law or Republic Act 1161 as amended by Republic Act 8282, and expand the powers of the SSS to ensure the long-term viability of the system.
 In particular, the amendment aims to empower the Social Security System Commission to increase benefits, condone penalties and rationalize investments, among others.
The bill would ensure mandatory SSS coverage for overseas Filipino workers.
The President also signed the New Central Bank Act increasing the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ capitalization from P50 billion to P200 billion and strengthening its regulatory powers. – Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero

IRRI, Philippine department of ag focus on climate change

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Three fake reporters arrested

The police took them into custody at Khammam and shifted them to Miryalaguda

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By AuthorTelanganaToday  |  Published: 15th Feb 2019  11:26 pmUpdated: 15th Feb 2019  11:28 pm
Nalgonda: Miryalaguda Police on Friday arrested three fake reporters, who were involved in extortion of money from rice millers in Miryalaguda and Nakrekal areas in Nalgonda district. The arrested were identified as Velpula Miurali(40), a native of Vallapuram village in Wyra Mandal, Ravuri Nageshwar Rao(58), a resident of Srinivas Nagar, Mandala Ramakrishna(30), a native of Pandurangapuram in Khammam district.
Presenting the accused before the media at Miryalaguda, Deputy Superintendent of Police P Srinivas said that local reporters of different media organisations lodged a complaint with Miryalaguda town saying that some persons were demanding money from owners of rice mills posing as reporters. The police examined the footages of the CC cameras set up in rice mills and identified the fake reporters. The police took them into custody at Khammam and shifted them to Miryalaguda. During the inquiry, the trio also confessed that they have committed such activities in Nakrekal in Nalgonda district and in Khammam district.


Small farmers need more assistance

FEBRUARY 16, 2019
(Second of three parts)
TO SAY that the Philippines lacks agriculture and rural development efforts from both the private sector and government is not fair.
For one, the yet-to-be- signed Rice Tariffication Bill allocates P10 billion per year in the next six years to modernize the country’s rice industry.
Description: harvest palay in Baliuag, Bulacan. PHOTO BY RENE DILAN
When it comes to private-sector led efforts for rural development, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), chaired by former senator Wigberto Tañada, has been undertaking various programs and projects since 1952.
PRRM has also served as a training ground for rural development experts from neighboring countries like South Korea.
Gabby Lopez, the expert who was at the forefront of the government’s rural development efforts in the 1970s, called PRRM “one of the best things” that happened for rural development in the Philippines.
Wigberto’s son, former deputy house speaker Erin Tañada, argues, like his father, that rural development must be pro-farmer.
In 2012, the former Quezon congressman backed 71 coconut farmers who marched from Mindanao to Malacañang calling for about P75 billion worth of coco levy funds to be returned to the rightful owners — small coconut farmers.
“It is surprising that most coconut farmers are still very poor not only in Quezon province but in other regions in the Philippines,” the younger Tañada said, noting that coconut products are the country’s biggest farm export, bringing in at least $1 billion annually.
Rice import liberalization
The younger Tañada is also concerned over Filipino rice farmers who were not as competitive as their counterparts in Vietnam and Thailand.
Citing government figures, he said the production cost of palay (unmilled rice) in the Philippines was about P12 per kilo, higher than the estimated P6 per kilo in Vietnam and P8 per kilo in Thailand.
“We still do not have an estimate as to how may rice farmers will be displaced by rice imports, and that may reach the tens of thousands or more. What I have been saying is government should also consider the side of the producers of rice, who are the farmers, and not only the consumers,” Tañada said, adding that rice imports would be liberalized starting this year.
The Rice Tarrification Bill allocates P10 billion annually from this year to 2024 to make the country’s rice sector as competitive as Vietnam’s and Thailand’s.
For Sonny Domingo, who is with the Koop Kami party-list seeking a seat in the House, getting farmers out of poverty first is also key to rural development.
“It is simple. The book Out of Poverty written by Paul Pollack says farmers can get out of poverty first with agribusiness initiatives using a seed fund. Then you stop urban migration and totally erase poverty out of the face of the earth,” said Domingo, also a board member for the country’s licensure exams for agriculture and bioengineering professionals.
Domingo said rural development and agriculture were “twins.”
“Agriculture is the only livelihood in the rural areas except in the towns that do trading and construction. Take away agriculture and you will have nothing in the rural areas,” he added.
Tañada pointed out that farmers had always wanted one question answered: “Paano lalaki ang kita ko (How will my income from farming increase).”
Farmers, he said, needed government assistance in marketing their crops, as traders and middlemen still earned more than the farmers themselves.
Rod Estigoy, head of the applied communications division of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization under the Agriculture department, also believes that in developing the rural areas, industries created by agriculture can be anchors.
“It should be agriculture that should create industries in the rural areas,” Estigoy said.

Villar mulls creation of rice school in Iloilo

Last updated Jan 23, 2019
Senator Cynthia Villar wants to establish a rice school in Oton town, Iloilo province.
Villar said the proposed school would provide individuals a training program on the mechanization of rice production.
The Daily Guardian reported that the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization and the Philippine Rice Research Institute will teach local government officials and cooperatives, who in turn will relay their knowledge to the farmers.
The rice school is expected to be created this year, according to Villar.
“Inaayos na namin,” she added.
Villar is the chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food.

Introduced Chinese hybrid rice varieties to foster rice production in Namibia

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-14 23:22:59|Editor: yan
WINDHOEK, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Namibia's flagship Kalimbeza Green Scheme Irrigation Project's research department has identified four top Chinese rice varieties that have performed well and are able to produce between 5.5 to 6.4 tons per hectare (ha), according to an official.
The Kalimbeza project located in the northeastern part of the country last year ran trials of 15 Chinese rice varieties to test adaptability, of which the top four varieties were deemed suitable, Kalimbeza project manager Patrick Kompeli told Xinhua Thursday.
Since the varieties are hybrid, the seeds have to be sourced from China every year for planting, he added.
"The target for this year cropping season was to plant 150 ha but due to other technical issues they were only able to plant 90 ha," Kompeli said.
In terms of cultivation and training, through South-South Cooperation, some rice experts from China were deployed at Kalimbeza to exchange knowledge and for Namibians to acquire experience. The last deployed group left in December 2017.
Kompeli said impact of a predicted drought on the project will be limited since it draws water for irrigation from the permanent river source.

KL mosque introduces ATM to dispense rice for the poor

Description: automated teller machine at the mosque that can dispense rice bags.
KUALA LUMPUR: A mosque in the city will launch Malaysia’s first automated teller machine (ATM) to dispense rice to the needy.
The unique ATM at the Al-Akram Mosque in Kg Datuk Keramat mosque would be launched late this month by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi).
A spokesman for the mosque said the ATM will also have a savings function through which a customer can make contribution to a fund for the asnaf, or those from the poor deserving of the zakat.
The representative said such ATMs were common in Indonesia and had been brought to Malaysia at a cost of RM10,000.

India’s rice exports set to gather steam

Consignments in January are better than the previous year .

, ET Bureau|
Feb 15, 2019, 08.50 AM IST
Description: GettyImages-888408372A bumper yield in Bangladesh also took a toll on Indian exports.
Chandigarh: Rice exports from India are set to swing in the last quarter of this year on a rise in orders after shipments slumped 14 per cent in the last three quarters over high input costs and tepid demand from Bangladesh. “Consignments in January are better than the previous year and the trade is likely to attain levels close to the previous year,” a senior commerce and industry ministry official told ET.

Exporters have seen a surge in demand from the UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US this quarter. The official said the supply for exports has picked up after being affected for the last few months of 2018 because of assembly polls in some states. A bumper yield in Bangladesh also took a toll on Indian exports, he said.

Rice Exports to gather steam on US, West Asia demand boost

Rice exports from India are set to swing in the last quarter of this year on a spate in orders after shipments slumped 14% in the last three quarters over high input costs and tepid demand from Bangladesh.

, ET Bureau|
Feb 15, 2019, 02.33 PM IST
The non-basmati rice exports that are dependent largely on varieties grown in Chhattisgarh were affected as paddy supply dried up following announcement of higher than minimum support price (MSP).
Chandigarh: Rice exports from India are set to swing in the last quarter of this year on a spate in orders after shipments slumped 14% in the last three quarters over high input costs and tepid demand from Bangladesh.

“Consignments in January are better than the previous year and the trade is likely to attain levels close to the previous year,” a senior commerce and industry ministry official told ET.

Exporters have seen a surge in demand from the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US this quarter. The official said the supply for exports has streamlined after being affected for the last few months of 2018 because of assembly polls in some states. A bumper yield in Bangladesh also took toll on Indian exports, he said.

The 5% subsidy on export value extended to non-basmati rice under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) in November helped in recovery of trade, but margins remained thin, exporters said.

“Raw material (paddy) prices are still high as most farmers are inclined to sell to the state agencies in states, including Chhattisgarh,” said P Baskara Reddy, promoter of Kakinada-based Sri Chitra Agri Exports. He said the exporters hope that the scheme will be extended beyond March 26 and the incentive doubled to 10% under MEIS to complement the shrinking margins.

The announcement of higher price assistance by political parties just ahead of the harvesting season in the run-up to the assembly polls had spiked government procurement and dampened private purchase in states like Chhattisgarh where the procurement price was higher by 60%.

The non-basmati rice exports that are dependent largely on varieties grown in Chhattisgarh were affected as paddy supply dried up following announcement of higher than minimum support price (MSP).

Exporters are wary of such politically motivated price assistance. “Higher procurement price will subdue trade in the coming years. Direct financial assistance is a better route to support farmers,” Rice Exporters’ Association president BV Krishan Rao said. Higher procurement would lead to a surplus buffer stock and a situation where the government will have to auction its stocks at a loss, he said.

“Similar situation took place in 1999-2000 when Food Corporation of India had to release its brimming stocks at a discount after higher MSP had boosted federal procurement three-times over the buffer stock norms,” Rao said.

The rice procurement crossed 41 lakh tonnes so far compared to 32.5 lakh tonnes in Chhattisgarh in the last Kharif marketing season. “We have not taken export commitments this season as farmers are keen to sell to government agencies,” a senior executive of Uttar Pradesh-based Laxmi Rice Mills said.

While export of basmati rice has increased till December, non-basmati exports stayed downhill with 5.6 million tonnes of shipment till December as against 6.3 MT a year ago.