Thursday, March 07, 2019

7th March,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Asia may have given the world beer yeast, new research finds

A novel study into the historical origins of beer yeast finds that it likely emerged via an East-West transfer, probably through avenues such as the Silk Route.Description: Yeast bags.
Image via Pixabay.
The yeast fermenting your beer right now is a mixture of European grape wine and Asian rice wine strains, new research reports. The findings come from a study of the historical origins of brewer’s yeast — which is still poorly understood despite its economic significance — and points to the emergence of beer yeast from a historical East-West transfer of fermentation technology, similar to the transfer of domesticated plants and animals by way of the Silk Route.

An international product

“We conclude that modern beer strains are the product of a historical melting pot of fermentation technology,” the authors explain in the study’s abstract.
Pinpointing the origins of domesticated yeast is not an easy feat. Yeast has been taken along by humans on countless migrations (some recent, others ancient), which mixed its genes quite a lot, and in an unpredictable manner. It’s also made more difficult by a lack of genetic material. Archeologists and anthropologists draw on DNA to date and reconstruct many of the events they’re studying, but they can’t do that with yeast. We simply don’t have suitable samples of ancient fermented beverages from which to draw the microbes used in their production.
The team of the present study turned to beer yeast because one of its characteristics gave them a chance to work around these issues. Many strains of beer yeast are polyploid — the nuclei in their cells have more than two copies of their genome. The team hoped that this abundance of genetic material allowed different strains to remain isolated from other populations, effectively providing a living relic of their ancestors’ DNA.
In order to try and piece together the history of beer yeast, the team sequenced and compared the genomes of different beer yeast strains from around the world. These beer yeast strains formed four related groups, according to the team: two for ales, one for lager, and one which contained both beer and baking yeasts.
All groups showed a mixed ancestry of European grape wine and Asian rice wine strains, with some novel genes (not found in any other populations of yeast) peppered in. The origin of these final genes is still unclear, but judging by their number — they’re quite abundant — the team believes they may have originated in a now-extinct strain (or maybe a living population whose genome has yet to be sequenced).
Piecing together the exact history of the yeast — such as determining the order and likely timing of different events in its evolution — was beyond the team’s grasp, however. While the yeasts’ polyploid genome gave them a way to peer into its family tree, it’s by no means stable; it changes each time yeast cells divide. On the one hand, this makes is impossible for the team to reconstruct its evolution; on the other hand, the same process likely played an important part in the domestication of yeast and its subsequent specialization to various brewing styles.
That’s a good trade-off in my book.
The paper “A polyploid admixed origin of beer yeasts derived from European and Asian wine populations” has been published in the journal PLOS Biology.

Seeds of change

| Updated on March 06, 2019  Published on March 06, 2019

Organic farming needs state support to become the norm rather than exception

BusinessLine report (March 5) features Rahibai Popere, an adivasi farmer of Ahmadnagar district, who has conserved about 43 varieties in the case of 17 crops (paddy, hyacinth, millets, pulses, oilseeds, among others) by establishing a germplasm conservation centre. Having resisted hybrid seeds for two decades, she has emerged as an ambassador for organic farming in her State and beyond, observing that traditional varieties are better able to cope with pests and the vagaries of weather. Rahibai exemplifies not just the immense value of traditional knowledge, but also the potential of India to become a major organic producer and exporter. India’s gene pool with respect to crops is extraordinary owing to its agro-climatic diversity; in the 1960s and 1970s RH Richharia of the Central Rice Research Institute had created a gene bank of nearly 20,000 varieties of rice alone and resisted the introduction of Green Revolution hybrids. Today, the wheel has come full circle, with organic farming finding its way into policy. This is because the introduction of hybrids on a large scale has led to increased dependency on fertiliser, pesticides and water, contaminating the food chain.
According to a study by ICRIER, a number of companies and start-ups have entered the scene since 2006. They perceive better returns in the organic than conventional food business. India’s export of organic products has been rising at above 15 per cent in volume terms in recent years and is expected to touch 20 per cent in the next five years, given the global shift in dietary preferences. However, there are regulatory and logistical challenges that need to be overcome. A major hurdle is the loss of yield in the two or three years of transition from conventional to organic cultivation, for which the State needs to step in. A certification system that meets global standards without being expensive or cumbersome is called for. At present, a multiplicity of agencies and authorities are involved in this process. Despite the growth of FPOs and other groups to pool in marketing and input resources, processing cost can be brought down. Karnataka, with its arid tracts, has promoted organic farming through FPOs, with many of them growing millets and value-added products.
According to researchers, India accounts for 30 per cent of the world’s organic producers but just 2.6 per cent of the global area under organic cultivation, which is about 58 million hectares. The Centre’s free organic certification programme — the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana — has not picked up as most States have failed to utilise the funds set aside for the scheme. Innovators like Rahibai cannot be let down. Trained scientists and civil engineers need to learn from such farmers and age-old water conservation practices in Rajasthan. They should tap into the ingenuity of farmers in Bagalkot district who made a dam to deal with water shortage. The future of farming lies in harvesting these energies.

Country does not have even 1,000 garment units, Senate body told


·      MAR 7TH, 2019

Secretary Textile Division Syed Iftikhar Babar on Wednesday said that whatever increase has been registered in exports is because of Textile Division not the Commerce Division. The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile was also informed that there are 4500 garments factories in Bangladesh but in Pakistan such factories are less than 1000. In Pakistan, he said, garments sector has been ignored. Pure cotton seed and fertilizer are not available in Pakistan. Other countries formulated laws after introduction of BT cotton. In Pakistan, the Plant Breeders Act has been enacted but registry is not established.

Secretary Textile Division stated that cotton is not a food item but the department of cotton has been given to Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Standing Committee directed that cotton department should be given to Textile Division.

The committee was informed that the demand for cotton is declining globally but in Pakistan cotton production is on the higher side. In Pakistan synthetic cotton production is 19 per cent whereas globally its production is 62 per cent.

Pakistan is at 5th place in cotton production in the world but has failed to benefit from it by as much as much smaller countries. The Committee directed the Ministry to conduct a study of Bangladeshi and Vietnamese textile production and export policies and submit to the committee.

Senator Nauman Wazir said that sugar output has slashed cotton production. Most of the sugar mills are owned by the influential who also demand subsidy. However, KP government has refused to give any subsidy to sugar sector.

Chairman Standing Committee directed the Textile Division to share the draft of five-year Textile Policy with the standing Committee so that the latter can give its input. He also suggested that textile policies of other countries should also be taken into account while preparing a textile policy for the country.

The Standing Committee also sought performance report of Trade Officers in Pakistani Missions abroad aimed at reviewing it. Commerce Ministry has recently recalled four Trade Officers due to their dismal performance however one could not be recalled as he won the case in court against the Ministry. Senator Dr Ghous Niazi suggested that low performing Trade Officers should be recalled. Senator Dilawar Khan maintained that exports will not increase until Trade Officers are taken from the private sector.

The committee also held a detailed discussion on the performance of IPO. Members of the Committee stressed upon the need to protect Pakistani products like salt and rice when they are exported abroad as reports have been heard about Pakistani rice and salt being sold as other countries'' products. The need to ease the process of registration of patent, trademark/copyright was also discussed while at the same time an effective mechanism to deal with people involved in using or copying fake names was discussed.

Chairman Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) Mujeeb Ahmed Khan, requested the Standing Committee to write to Commerce Division and Cabinet Division to expedite approval of Geographical Indication (GI) laws as the country is without this law since 11 years.

In reply to a question, he said that Banaspati rice trade is not illegal but its sale by another country by repacking our material is illegal. The committee decided to discuss the GI law for five minutes in the agenda of each meeting.

Chairman IPO further stated that India had formulated GI laws in 2002 which enabled it to register Banaspati but Pakistan could not do this due to lack of this law. The committee was informed that patents backlog has been reduced from seven months to 25 days. The duration of patent registration is 30 months which is similar to other countries. The duration of Trade Mark is six months.

Senator Nauman Wazir said that Pakistan''s situation with respect to patent and trade mark is poor. Senator Dilawar Khan said that due to his knowledge there is no case of someone being penalized for a violation of a patent.

Chairman IPO informed the committee that 500 cases of copyrights and trademarks have been pointed out of which 189 cases are related to copyright.

"Pakistan cannot defend its products at the international level because we don''t have relevant laws," he maintained. Senator Nauman Wazir said that Pakistan''s Khewra salt is being exported to India in trucks.

Our Favourite Ambassador Martin Kobler Is Retiring Soon!

Description: Our favourite ambassador Martin Kobler is retiring soon!

The German envoy is now thinking about his back-up plans and halwa production is one of them.

Islamabad (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 7th March, 2019) German Ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler had won over the hearts of Pakistanis in a very short time.
However, the ambassador recently announced that he is soon retiring.
Taking to Twitter, Kobler said he already feels sad going on retirement soon.
The German envoy is now thinking about his back-up plans and halwa production is one of them.
Sharing the picture while preparing Halwa at Munawar Sohan halwa shop near Lodhran, Kobler asked, “Shouldn't i prepare a back up plan after retirement and help with halwa production?”
“Feel already sad going on retirement soon. What do you guys think? Shouldn't i prepare a back up plan after retirement and help with halwa production? 😂 Pic from 'Munawar Sohan halwa shop' near Lodhran, recently,” he wrote.
Description: View image on Twitter

Feel already sad going on retirement soon. What do you guys think? Shouldn't i prepare a back up plan after retirement and help with halwa production? Description: 😂
Pic from 'Munawar Sohan halwa shop' near Lodhran, recently.

Pakistanis are already sad over this announcement and want Kobler to stay here forever.
Martin Kobler has certainly made his place in the hearts of Pakistani people with his posts expressing admiration for this country and his lovefor desi food being one of them.
In his recent tweet, Martin Kobler shared about his experience of having ‘sweet Jalebi’.
Martin Kobler was all praise for the Pakistani food, saying it is just amazing. He also asked his followers if he should try ‘Doodh Jalebi’.
Description: View image on TwitterDescription: View image on Twitter

Had this delicious sweet #jalebi on a winter day. #Local Pakistani food is just amazing. should i also try jalebi dipped in milk?

Previously, Martin Kobler shared how he loved Pakistani student biryani. The German ambassador was surely intrigued by the desi flavours, calling it an aromatic, flavoursome rice.
Description: View image on TwitterDescription: View image on Twitter

delicious!! again followed your advice to try aloo biryani at famous student biryani in #karachi! what an aromatic, flavoursome rice! their motto well deserved "WOW-WHAT A TASTE!”

Not only that, Martin Kobler also brushed his teeth with a liquorice root (Miswak).
Martin had trouble brushing his teeth without water as he on a visit to northern areas. His problem was however soon solved when a Pakistanifriend told him to use a liquorice root.
The German ambassador was glad that it actually worked for him.
Description: View image on Twitter

how to brush your teeth without water in the middle of the mountains? a #pakistani friend told me to use a liquorice root. It actually worked and felt clean afterwards. have you ever tried that?

He also recently got a made in Pakistan bicyle for himself and was absolutely in love with it.
Description: View image on TwitterDescription: View image on TwitterDescription: View image on TwitterDescription: View image on TwitterDescription: View image on Twitter

uff,was a hard-choice day! wanted to buy a bicycle MADE IN PAKISTAN.
first,it was hard to find one.All foreign made!! then finally found it in #rawalpindi. then get stuck between Sohrab or peco? Finally,bought this red one. Also has a horn 'i
Description: ❤my bike"
what do u guys think of it?

We also love Kobler for his simplicity and gratitude towards the people of Pakistan. These are just few of the many things Kobler did that made people call him the best ambassador in Pakistan.
We only hope he does not leave Pakistan so soon.

Double whammy for deficient

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:08 AM March 07, 2019
On March 5, two seemingly unrelated events occurred that significantly affected our agriculture.This first event of focus group discussions was to update the findings and recommendations of seven water presummits held during the first part of 2017. The country is confronted by a water crisis that has caused more than 50 people to die every day, the onset of El Niño we are ill-prepared for, and the fact that several key recommendations of the 2017 seven presummits have still not been acted upon.
PRRD’s political will shown in Boracay and Manila Bay should now be exercised in water areas that are even more important because of their greater overall impact, especially for the poor.
One example is the proposed presidential directive increasing our dismal 4 percent rainwater harvesting rate (compared to India’s 60 percent in key areas). Because this was not done, all the rainwater over the past two years that could have been used to mitigate the impact of El Niño is not there.
The second event involved farmers’ expressing in a press conference their anger over the way the government treated rice trade liberalization. After our government was given three extensions and 25 years to prepare by the World Trade Organization, our farmers were not provided the necessary support services to prepare for liberalization.
Partly led by Raul Montemayor of the Federation of Free Farmers and Romeo Royandoyan of Centro Saka, these farmers argued that the rice tariffication today will be harmful to the farmers, the consumers, and the credibility of our government.
Studies have shown that the 35-percent tariff is much lower than the 70-percent tariff that would enable our farmers to compete. At this rate, Philrice’s Flordelis Bordey said 53 out of 82 (or 65 percent) of our rice producing provinces would not survive. Some 40 percent of our 3.4 million farmers will will not be able to sell their produce because of the low imported prices. They cannot heed the ill-informed suggestion of a senior government official that they can immediately produce alternative crops. This takes time, and the necessary support services are simply not there.
The consumers will certainly immediately benefit from lower rice prices. But in the long run, they face the prospect of paying much higher prices. In 2008, when our farmers had a significant rice production gap and a great need to import, the world market responded by increasing the $400 per ton of imported rice to $1,000.
With El Niño, the 35-percent tariff, and China erecting structures that will significantly decrease the flow of water from the Mekong Delta to affected counties where we wish to import, overall rice supply will decrease. Consequently, prices will increase, harming our food security, especially for the poor.

Thirdly, the credibility of our government in agriculture governance will further deteriorate. Already, our average 1.5 percent agriculture growth rate over the last eight years has significantly dragged down our overall growth of more than 6 percent. The mechanization budget of P5 billion annually given to Philmech, a small organization in Nueva Ecija with no other offices in the Philippines, shows a lack of due diligence in making this decision. Depriving the National Food Authority of the ability to effectively monitor the rice trade—unless this function is given to another organization—shows inadequate foresight in understanding the dire consequences in areas such as rice smuggling and cartel behavior.
This double whammy could have been managed much better with the proper preparation. In the same manner, our current water crisis suffers the same tragedy of lack of analysis and strategic direction. Government must now act, rather than react. To avoid this dangerous situation in our country, a special high level group with outside experts must be formed and report to PRRD himself. It is only with PRRD’s demonstrated political will that we can overcome this enormous challenge.
Kazakhstan Plans to Export 500 Tonnes of Persian Rice to Iran

07.03.2019 11:50 272
 Kazakhstan is set to export 500 tonnes of Tarom Hashemi rice grown in the Kyzylorda region to Iran this year. Currently, negotiations are underway between the two countries on the shipment of the first batch of the rice, which is planned to be exported this month. Technical adviser of Iran’s Agriculture Ministry, Mohammad Hossein Ansari Fard said Iran had given the samples of the Tarom Hashemi rice to Kazakhstan and Russia and found that the Central Asian country yielded higher amount of rice. “The yield in Kazakhstan was the highest as your country is close to the Caspian Sea. Iran is a country with arid and semi-arid climate. It is only possible to grow the rice in Caspian Sea region. However, this amount is not enough to cover the domestic demand in Iran,” he said. Currently, Kazakhstan is cultivating the Persian rice to meet Iran’s need of rice. Iran imports rice from India, Iraq, Pakistan, Thailand and the UAE. A trial consignment of 60 tonnes of Tarom Hashemi rice was exported to Iran in 2018. The move to export higher amount of Tarom Hashemi rice benefits the local Kyzylorda farmers. Kyzylorda region also exports its rice to Central Asia countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Europe, Mongolia and Russia. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan is also increasing its meat export to Iran to 500 tonnes this year. The two countries also signed an agreement with Russia on the shipment of wheat. Under the deal, Iran will import wheat from Kazakhstan and Russia which the country will then process as flour before re-exporting it to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Iran has enough wheat to meet the flour demand in the country and the country does not export its locally-produced flour. Photo: KAZAKHSTAN

Reasons for dip in Pakistan Exports to Iran

By Mati
The Senate has been informed that Pakistan exports to Iran decreased from US$ 319 million in April-December 2017 to US$ 209 million in April to December 2018 on year on basis.
However, the exports data shared by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) shows total exports of Pakistan to be US$ 12.32 million during July­-December 2017 and US$11.00 million during July­-December 2018.
The following are the reasons for the dip in Pakistan exports to the Iran:
·       Protectionist Policy of Iran: Iran’s Supreme Leader has declared outgoing year as “Iranian Year” as the year of Iranian goods only and prohibited Iranian government from importing foreign goods.
·       Iran bans foreign rice every year for four months from July to November. This was also one of the major reasons for decline in the Pakistani exports because rice makes almost 60 to 70 per cent of total exports of Pakistan to Iran, as per Iranian Customs Data.
·       Devaluation of Iranian Rial owing to sanctions imposed by the U.S is also a reason for decrease in exports of Pakistan to Iran.
·       The absence of banking channels compounded with ample informal trade between the two countries is also responsible for decrease in exports of Pakistan to Iran. That is why Top Pakistan Exports to Iran shared by the Iranian Authorities is not coherent with the data present with Pakistani Authorities.
·       It is stated that Iran has imposed restrictions on exports of fruits from Pakistan in a bid to support their local farmers. That is why Iran has banned Pakistani Kinnow since 2010.
·       Similarly, imports of banana from Pakistan are also not allowed owing to small size and early rotting of the banana, as Pakistan have not developed facilities for its processing. Therefore, Iran imports banana from UAE, Turkey, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, India and Philippines.
·       However, Pakistani mango is imported in huge quantity. The mango exports along with guava amount to US $ 12.05 million in 2017­-18.

It is pertinent to mention here that it cannot be counted as loss in revenue because these items are banned for many years and exports bring foreign exchange rather than providing revenue. Mango is already coming to Iran without much restriction but other fruits like kinnow come to bordering province of Sistan­-Balochistan informally.Description:
 Note: The above info was provided by the Minister for Commerce and Textile to the Senate on March 8, 2019.

Senate Committee For Bringing Back Cotton Research Centre Under Textile Ministry

Description: Senate Committee for bringing back Cotton Research Centre under Textile Ministry

Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile Industry in its meeting has recommended to bring Pakistan Cotton Research Centre back under the control of Textile Industry Division from Ministry of National Food Security & Research since the Textile Industry division is a more relevant ministry to oversee cotton research

ISLAMABAD (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / NNI - 06th March, 2019) Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile Industry in its meeting has recommended to bring Pakistan Cotton Research Centre back under the control of Textile Industry Division from Ministry of National food Security & Research since the Textile Industry division is a more relevant ministry to oversee cotton research.The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi here at the Parliament House on Wednesday and was attended among others by Senators Nauman Wazir Khattak, Dr.
Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Syed Shibli Faraz, Atta ur Rehman, Dilawar Khan, Ahmed Khan, Secretary Commerce Mohammad Younus Dagha, Secretary Textile Industry Syed Iftikhar Babar, Chairman Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) Mujeeb Ahmed Khan, Rector National Textile University Dr.
Tanveer and officials from the ministry.The Committee meeting held thorough discussion on the current performance of textile sector. The Committee was told that the world has now moved from raw cotton to synthetic cotton but Pakistan is still producing raw cotton in bulk which does not have high quality.
Pakistan is at 5th place in cotton production in the world but it has failed to benefit from it production as much as much smaller countries are benefitting.The Committee directed the ministry to conduct a tracers study of Bangladeshi and Vietnamese textile production and export policy and submit to the committee.
The Committee also asked the ministry to share the draft of new textile policy with the Committee once it is made so that meaningful inputs can be given.The Committee also held a detailed discussion on the performance of IPO.
Members of the Committee stressed upon the need to protect the Pakistani products like salt and rice when they are exported abroad as reports have been heard about Pakistani rice and salt being sold as other countries' products.
The need to ease the process of registration of patent, trademark, copyright was also discussed while at the same time having effective mechanism to deal with people involved in using or copying fake Names. NNI

Administration to End Special Treatment for Turkey and India, Rice Will Be Impacted  

WASHINGTON, DC -- President Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to make changes to a little-known U.S. trade assistance program that will affect U.S. rice exporters and importers.  Lighthizer announced on Monday that India and Turkey would lose beneficiary status under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the oldest U.S. trade preference program that's designed to promote economic growth in developing countries by allowing duty-free entry to the U.S. for many products if certain criteria set by Congress are met.

According to USTR, India's termination from GSP follows its failure to provide the United States with assurances that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors.  Turkey's termination follows a finding that it is sufficiently economically developed and should no longer benefit from preferential market access to the U.S. market.  Both countries' GSP status will end 60 days after Congress and the governments of India and Turkey are informed.  These notifications were reportedly sent on Monday.
India, the second largest source of imported rice to the United States, will no longer be able to ship rice here duty-free.  India exported 187,000 metric tons of rice to the United States in 2018, most of which was long grain milled rice, up from an average of 139,000 MT during 2013-2016.  Imports from India of long grain rice, including basmati, will go from zero duty to 3.1 cents per pound.  The highest import duties are on parboiled rice at 11.2 percent ad valorem.

Five years ago, Turkey was the United States' fourth largest export market bringing in more than 240,000 MT of rice, valued at $121 million.  This valuable export market evaporated last year, bringing in less than 1,000 tons of U.S. rice making Turkey the 62nd largest export market for rice. 

A major factor in the disappearance of this important market is the 50 percent retaliatory tariff levied on U.S. rice in response to the U.S. Section 232 duties on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey.  In addition to the 50 percent tariff for U.S. rice, there are prevailing tariff rates which are 34 percent for paddy, 36 percent for brown and 45 percent for milled.  This means that U.S. rice is subject to tariffs ranging from 84 percent to 95 percent depending on the form of rice.

Turkey's imposition of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products preceded a U.S. review of Turkey's GSP eligibility.  Approximately 3,500 products from Turkey are eligible to enter the U.S. duty-free, which amounted to $1.1 billion in imports in 2012. 

"Rice is a global commodity which means our industry is vulnerable to actions outside the sphere of our control," said Bobby Hanks, chair of the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee.  "Government actions can create new markets, such as Mexico via NAFTA, or level playing fields when people aren't playing by the rules as we see now with India, or they can erode markets such as what we're seeing here in Turkey.   We have to do our best to be nimble, patient, and adapt to the realities on the ground.  But no matter what, we stand by our product as safe, sustainably-produced, delicious, and nutritious."

Cheap NFA rice to stay available under new law

MARCH 07, 2019
State-subsidized rice at P27 per kilo will remain available despite the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, a Cabinet official said.
This has been assured under implementing rules and regulations (IRR) approved on Tuesday by the the National Food Authority Council, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
Piñol, chair of the NFA Council, said the agency would adopt “rolling buffer stocking” and buy palay (milled rice) from local farmers all-year round with an optimal buffer stock level good for 30 days.
Once the NFA reaches the optimal level, it will be allowed to release the “aged stocks” to prevent spoilage as milled rice cannot be kept beyond six months, Piñol added.
This overrides a provision of the law that allows the release of stocks only during calamities and emergencies.
Description: carry a sack of rice at the NFA warehouse in Quezon City. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ
Piñol said this would ensure that the NFA will continue supplying retailers with low-priced rice despite losing its authority to license them in the domestic market.
Current imported rice stocks of the NFA stand to last until August this year.
“We still have stocks… and since these supplies were acquired at a lower price then we will have to sell it P27 [per kilo]. By the end of August or before that, the NFA Council will determine what will be the right price for the purchased local palay,” Piñol told reporters.
He explained that the NFA palay buying price would have to be adjusted “to ensure that the agency does not lose money” since it will be limited to buffer-stocking agency under the new law.
“Since our buying price for local palay is a lot higher compared to the price of imported rice, we will have to recompute. So there will be adjustments but we will determine that in the future NFA Council meetings,” Piñol said.
By September, the NFA will start buying local farmers’ produce which will be released to the markets as cheap priced NFA rice.
“We would like to let the farmers know that NFA will buy your palay. It will be continuous; we will not stop,” Piñol assured.
It was also agreed during the NFA Council meeting yesterday that requirements on “collaterals” in the P1-billion credit facility under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) be eliminated.
This means that the RCEF Credit Program will impose interest that is 1/3 of the prevailing rates of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to farmers who wish to avail the loan.
Also, the new IRR ruled that machinery and farm equipment and seeds will be given to the rice farmers as grant.
The NFA Council has also approved a draft resolution of other minor revisions of the IRR based on inputs gathered in consultations conducted last week.
The paper, Piñol said, will then be endorsed to the Department of Agriculture, National Economic and Development Authority, and the Department of Budget and Management, whose secretaries will sign it to signal the official transition to a new rice regime.
The Rice Import Liberalization law replaces quantitative restrictions that had hindered imports of the grain.
Under Republic Act 11203, the country will apply a 35 percent tariff for rice shipments from Asean member states, 40 percent for in-quota or within minimum access volume (MAV) shipments from non-Asean sources, and 180 percent for out-quota and non-Asean shipments.
It also calls for the establishment of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), to be endowed with P10 billion a year for six years, which will be utilized to provide different forms of assistance to rice farmers.

PHilMech needs more time, funds for rice sector mechanization

Published March 6, 2019, 10:00 PM
By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Even if billions of funds will soon be made available, the needed machinery and equipment to make local rice farmers competitive amid rice tariffication could not be distributed until late this year or early next year.
Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) Deputy Director Raul Paz said even if the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) will be made available this month, his agency — used to handling only P200 million to P300-million budget every year — could not immediately distribute machineries all over the country.
Under the Rice Tariffication Lawl, an initial budget of P10 billion should automatically be injected to RCEF, which is where all the tariff to be collected from all the imported rice set to enter the country under a liberalized regime should go.
The fund will be used to make Filipino rice farmers competitive so they can produce equally cheaper rice.
Right now, the cost of producing rice in the Philippines stand at P12 per kilo, which is more than half of the production cost of Thai and Vietnamese rice farmers. Thus, making the locally produced rice more expensive than the imported supply.
Bulk of RCEF, or about P5 billion, will go to PHilMech primarily to help mechanize the rice sector as well as reduce post-harvest losses. Some will go to Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for seed distribution.
But before PhilMech could spend such allocation, Paz said his agency would first need to hire more people, get more vehicles for effective transportation, and expand its procurement unit.
This is before they could start the validation process of areas that would receive the needed machinery and then the procurement process for the actual equipment to be distributed. Paz said all of this could take months.
“PhilMech is a very small agency,” Paz said, but he also noted that it is the most appropriate agency to handle the farm mechanization program of the government.
What PhilMech needs right now, he said, is additional “administrative cost” of at least P250 million to expand its operations and structure.
Paz said this is something that PhilMech is still clarifying with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Nevertheless, he said PhilMech is now “ready” to help the government implement the Rice Tariffication Law, which tasked the agency to immediately rollout sets of farm equipment to 57 priority areas across different parts of the country.
PhilMech can only start the procurement process on the fifth month of the Rice Tariffication Law’s actual implementation.
The target is for the agency to be able to distribute 200 sets of equipment across the country every year.
“It will take a while,” he said. “But at this time, we are already doing preparatory activities and we are starting to validate the municipalities.”
Raul Montemayor, National Manager of the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), has earlier questioned the inclusion of local government units (LGUs) as among the direct beneficiaries of the P5-billion farm mechanization program under the RCEF.
“There have been many complaints that LGUs use these programs for political patronage, and only their supporters are able to access these support programs.
So we want clear rules in the IRR [Implementing Rules and Regulations] that will limit their access to the RCEF and prevent them from acting as conduits for machinery grants to farmers and farmer organizations,” said Montemayor.

Amira Nature Foods Ltd to present at the MicroCap Spring Invitational Conference in New York City on March 27th 2019

March 05, 2019 08:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Amira Nature Foods Ltd (the "Company") (NYSE: ANFI), a global provider of packaged specialty rice, today announced that the Company has been invited to present at the upcoming MicroCap Spring Invitational in New York City.
The MicroCap Spring Invitational will be hosted by Diamond Equity Research and Veyo Partners on March 27th, 2019 at the Cornell Club in New York City. The event will feature 14 presenting companies and over 100 qualified institutional & retail investors. The 14 invited companies will present to the investors from 6:00PM to 9:30PM.
About Amira Nature Foods
Founded in 1915, Amira has evolved into a global provider of packaged specialty rice, with sales in over 40 countries today. Amira sells Basmati rice, premium long-grain rice grown only in certain regions of the Indian sub-continent, under their flagship Amira brand as well as under other third party brands. Amira sells its products primarily in emerging markets through a broad distribution network. Amira’s headquarters are in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and it also has offices in India, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Cautionary Note on Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal securities laws. These forward-looking statements generally can be identified by phrases that we or our members of management use such as “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “foresee,” “forecast,” “estimate” or other words or phrases of similar import. Specifically, these statements include, among other things, statements that describe our expectations for the global rice market, the financial impact of new sales contracts on our revenue, our expectations regarding the successful efforts of our distribution partners, and other statements of management’s beliefs, intentions or goals. It is uncertain whether any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur, or if any of them do, what impact they will have on our results of operations, financial condition, or the price of our ordinary shares. These forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to our ability to perform our agreements with customers; our ability to recognize revenue from our contracts as planned; continued competitive pressures in the marketplace; our reliance on a few customers and distribution partners for a substantial part of our revenue; our ability to implement our plans, forecasts and other expectations with respect to our business and realize additional opportunities for growth; and the other risks and important considerations contained and identified in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements attributable to us or to persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by these risk factors. Other than as required under the securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking or other statements herein, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


Wendy Eguez
The Amira Group

Indonesian offer for market access to rice notified: Suleman


·      MAR 6TH, 2019

·      KARACHI
Rafique Suleman, Convener, FPCCI Standing Committee on Rice Tuesday said Indonesia has offered market access to Pakistani rice and a formal notification has been issued.

Addressing the first meeting of FPCCI Standing Committee on Rice at the Federation House, Suleman said that international scenario for Pakistan rice is positive and with aggressive marketing Pakistan can enhance its rice exports.

The first meeting of the rice committee attended by S M Muneer, Abdul Rahim Janoo, former chairman, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap), Engr. Daroo Khan Achakzai, President FPCCI, Safder Mehkri, Reap, Jawed Jillani, Muhammad Raza, Members of Reap's Managing Committee along with prominent rice exporters, Muzammil Chappal, Mahesh Talreja, Faisal Anis Majeed, Fuad Garib, Salman Paracha and a large numbers of rice exporters. Various matters related to rice export trade were discussed.

Suleman informed the meeting that Reap has decided to arrange Biryani festivals at domestic as well as international level for promotion of Pakistani Basmati rice and explore new export markets.

Reap is going to organize a grand Biryani festival at Sindh Governor House this month. Second festival is being planned in South Africa by the end of this month. Another grand Biryani festival will also be arranged at FPCCI for all diplomats to promote Pakistani rice, he added.

Suleman said Reap is closely working with federal government to enhance rice export and earn more foreign exchange for the country. As part of these efforts and the consistent efforts of Reap and Ministry of Commerce, Indonesia has offered market access to Pakistani rice and in this regard a notification has already been issued, he added.

He said trade delegations of rice exporters will visit various countries for the promotion and marketing of Pakistani rice.

S M Munir said that he always gave preference to rice export trade which is the 2nd largest trade of Pakistan. He assured all rice exporters that FPCCI will continue to support and resolve all the issues related to rice export trade.

Abdul Rahim Janoo said at Johannesburg Biryani festival all the diplomats in South Africa as well as large number of rice importers will be invited to promote Pakistani rice.

He was hopeful that after this event, rice export to South Africa will take a boost as South Africa is a major market for parboiled rice - approximately one million tons, wherein Pakistan's share is negligible.

Safder Mehkri, Chairman Reap informed the participants about the recent activities of Reap. He said after the success of rice conference at Larkana, Reap is working on projects that will lead to doubling the rice production in five years.

"We are hopeful that till 2023, we will be able to increase rice exports to $ 5 billion," he added. He said support of provincial and federal governments will be instrumental in achieving the target.

Later, Rafique Suleman thanked all the participants for attending the meeting and sharing valuable suggestions for promotion of rice trade.

Self-improvement a must to compete abroad, minister tells agriculture firms

May Kunmakara / Khmer Times 

Local players in agribusiness must strive to become more efficient and productive while also upping the quality and safety standards of their products, Minister of Industry Cham Prasidh said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the three-day National Conference on Developing Sustainable and Competitive Agribusiness in Cambodia, held at the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts this week, the minister urged Cambodian companies in agriculture and agro-processing to streamline their operations so that they can compete with international firms.
He highlighted efforts by his own ministry to advance local standards, which include organising workshops, training sessions, and conferences aimed at enhancing the productivity and efficiency of local firms.
. .
Mr Prasidh said the ministry has also been working alongside the Asian Productivity Organisation to upgrade the local agriculture industry.
“Today’s conference focuses on the development of agribusiness, a sector crucial to economic development, accounting for 50 percent of the jobs in manufacturing and export,” he said.
The minister said the development of the rice sector in recent years represents a success story for the government. He said local rice is now in line with international standards, adding that a local variety even won the title of ‘World’s Best Rice’ last year at the TRT World Rice Conference.
“However, productivity in agribusiness is still small due to limitations in labour, techniques, and technology.
“A lot of our companies are still unable to export their products abroad. They need to try harder to improve quality and safety standards to join the global market,” the minister said.
. .
Kann Kunthy, vice president and managing director of Amru Rice Cambodia, echoed Mr Prasidh’s remarks regarding the local rice sector, bringing attention to the progress achieved in recent years.
“The rice sector serves as a model for other industries. Our rice now complies with international quality and safety standards and we are able to compete with other countries,” he said, adding that this progress was possible because the government had a clear strategy for the sector.
“There are other agricultural products that can be improved and eventually exported abroad,” he added.
Minister Prasidh urged firms in agribusiness to adopt new production methods and technologies to bump up quality standards and boost exports.
“If companies don’t strive for self-improvement, big foreign companies will come and grab their share of the local market. Companies must become more competitive by improving quality and productivity,” he added

Press Conference for Pusa Krishi Vigyan Mela held at I.A.R.I.

06 March, 2019 4:19 PM IST By: Dr. Sangeeta Soi

Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) is an institute of par excellence in agricultural research and education in India. IARI has been playing a pivotal role in the advancement of agricultural research, education and extension as well as enhancing farmer’s prosperity for last 114 years. To achieve commitment towards realizing the goals of national food, nutritional and livelihood security through quality research, education, and extension, IARI has made much technological interventions in the field. Since 1972, the institute is organizing Krishi Mela for the transfer of technologies developed and to solve the problems of farming community. During 2018-19, institute released a high yielding, non-basmati, medium slender grain, blast resistant rice variety named “Pusa Sambha 1850” for Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Two new wheat varieties “HI 1612” and “HD 8777” were developed by ICAR-IARI, Regional Station, Indore for North Eastern Plain Zone and Peninsular Zone respectively. Institute has also released Maize hybrid “Pusa Super Sweet Corn 1” with enhanced sweetness with good grain (9.3 t/ha) and fodder (16.2 t/ha) yield. In Pearl millet, a number of inbreds having high iron (72-113ppm) and zinc content (40-55ppm) have been developed for nutraceutical importance.
In chickpea, high yielding extra-large kabuli chickpea (>50g/100 seeds) genotypes having high export potential; in pigeon pea, extra early and early varieties of dwarf stature and amenable to mechanical harvesting have been developed. Institute has identified germplasm lines of rice and wheat with >20% higher water use efficiency (WUE) as compared to the known checks viz., Nagina 22 and C306, respectively, and QTLs for WUE are also identified.
Grape hybrid “Pusa Aditi” was released by the Delhi State Variety Release Committee for its commercial cultivation in NCR region. The varieties of cherry tomato i.e. (Pusa Cherry Tomato-1) and onion (Pusa Sobha) have been released and notified by CVRC for cultivation under protected condition in Delhi NCR and major onion growing states of the country, respectively. Onion variety ‘Pusa Sona’ has been released by All India Network Project on Onion and Garlic and recommended for notification by CVRC. Ten new varieties, viz. Longmelon ‘Pusa Utkarsh’, round melon ‘Pusa Raunak’, cucumber (parthenocarpic, gynoecious) ‘Pusa Seedless Cucumber-6’, muskmelon ‘Pusa Madhurima’ & ‘Pusa Sunahari’, brinjal ‘Pusa Safed Baingan-1’ & ‘Pusa Hara Baingan-1’, okra (resistant to YVMV) ‘Pusa Bhindi-5, garden pea ‘Pusa Prabal’ and chenopodium ‘Pusa Green’ and two hybrids viz. sponge gourd ‘Pusa Shrestha’ and bitter gourd ‘Pusa Hybrid-4’ have been released for cultivation in Delhi NCR region.
400 nematode samples have been given digital form to provide information to the scientific community. For the benefit of the farmers, an Android app called 'NEMATODEINFO' has been launched to solve the problems related to nematode damage in plants. By downloading this app on mobile handset, solutions can be searched by available archives. An Integrated Farming System (IFS) Model has been developed by the Agronomy Division of IARI, for ensuring livelihood security of small and marginal farmers. This 1 ha area made IFS model intend to generate year-round income from appropriate integration of crops, dairy, fishery, duckery, biogas plant, fruit trees and agro-forestry, provided net returns of Rs 3,78,784/ha/year with an employment generation of 628 man-days. The soil testing tool, named Pusa Soil Test and Fertilizer Recommendation (STFR) Meter, has been upgraded to analyze fourteen soil parameters viz., pH, EC, OC, available nutrients [(derived N), P, K, S, Zn, B, Fe, Mn and Cu], gypsum and lime requirement. This soil testing kit can be used for generating soil health card.
The eco-friendly waste water treatment technology of the Centre was recently commercialized to the UP Jal Nigam for developing an eco-friendly wastewater treatment. KRISHI Portal ( has been enriched through providing links of several online resources available/developed at different ICAR institutes. An institutional mechanism for upscaling IARI Post Office Linkage Extension model has been developed with Department of Posts, Government of India. Through this model, 2.3 tonnes of IARI paddy varieties were disseminated in 56 districts of 13 states. Similarly, 2.76 tonnes of IARI wheat varieties were disseminated in 9 districts of 6 states. To promote the direct interface of scientists with the farmers and strengthen the lab to land process, Mera Gaon Mera Gaurav programme is being implemented by IARI in 120 clusters comprising of more than 600 villages in 17 districts of Delhi and NCR.
Farmers can visit various research and display stalls at this fair. Lectures and discussions on topics related to agriculture will be held during Kisan Goshthi each day. Apart from this, crop, fruits, flowers, vegetable and animal exhibition are being organized during the Kisan Mela.

Alzheimer's-like symptoms reversed in mice

Special diet with compounds contained in green tea and carrots restored working memory

Date:March 6, 2019
Source:University of Southern California
Summary:A diet containing compounds found in green tea and carrots reversed Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice genetically programmed to develop the disease.
Green tea.
Credit: © Kittiphan / Fotolia
A diet containing compounds found in green tea and carrots reversed Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice genetically programmed to develop the disease, USC researchers say.
Researchers emphasize that the study, recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, was in mice, and many mouse discoveries never translate into human treatments. Nevertheless, the findings lend credence to the idea that certain readily available, plant-based supplements might offer protection against dementia in humans.
"You don't have to wait 10 to 12 years for a designer drug to make it to market; you can make these dietary changes today," said senior author Terrence Town, a professor of physiology and neuroscience at the Keck School of Medicine of USC's Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute. "I find that very encouraging."
What's more, the study supports the idea that combination therapy, rather than a single magic bullet, may offer the best approach to treating the 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer's. Combination treatment is already the standard of care for diseases such as cancer, HIV infection and rheumatoid arthritis.
For this study, the researchers took a look at two compounds: EGCG, or epigallocatechin-3-gallate, a key ingredient in green tea, and FA, or ferulic acid, which is found in carrots, tomatoes, rice, wheat and oats.
The researchers randomly assigned 32 mice with Alzheimer's-like symptoms to one of four groups with an equal number of males and females. For comparison, each group also contained an equal number of healthy mice. For three months, the mice consumed a combination of EGCG and FA, or EGCG or FA only, or a placebo. The dosage was 30 mg per kilogram of body weight -- a dosage well-tolerated by humans and easily consumed as part of a healthy, plant-based diet or in the form supplements.
Before and after the three-month special diet, scientists ran the mice through a battery of neuropsychological tests that are roughly analogous to the thinking and memory tests that assess dementia in humans. Of particular note was a maze in the shape of a Y, which tests a mouse's spatial working memory -- a skill that humans use to find their way out of a building.
Healthy mice instinctively explore each arm of the Y maze, looking for food or a route to escape and entering the three arms in sequence more often than by chance alone. Impaired mice can't do this as well as their mentally healthy counterparts.
"After three months, combination treatment completely restored working memory and the Alzheimer's mice performed just as well as the healthy comparison mice," Town said.
How did it work? Town says one mechanism appeared to be the substances' ability to prevent amyloid precursor proteins from breaking up into the smaller proteins called amyloid beta that gum up Alzheimer patients' brains. In addition, the compounds appeared to reduce neuroinflammation and oxidative stress in the brain -- key aspects of Alzheimer's pathology in humans.
Town said he and his lab will continue exploring combination treatment, with a focus on plant-derived substances that inhibit production of the sticky amyloid beta plaques.

Story Source:
Materials provided by University of Southern California. Original written by Leigh Hopper. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
1.     Takashi Mori, Naoki Koyama, Jun Tan, Tatsuya Segawa, Masahiro Maeda, Terrence Town. Combined treatment with the phenolics (−)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate and ferulic acid improves cognition and reduces Alzheimer-like pathology in miceJournal of Biological Chemistry, 2019; 294 (8): 2714 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.004280

Cite This Page:
University of Southern California. "Alzheimer's-like symptoms reversed in mice: Special diet with compounds contained in green tea and carrots restored working memory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2019. <>.

Wise selection of crops to revive agro-economy: experts
FAISALABAD: Close and productive working relationship between Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), National Textile University (NTU) and National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetics Engineering (NIBGE) is imperative to re-organise the industrial sector on scientific lines.

Addressing the FCCI Standing Committee on Technical Training and Industry-Academia Linkages, NIBGE Director Dr Shahid Mansoor said that Faisalabad was predominantly an agro-industrial city.

“Textile is the mainstay of its economy and to face the future challenges, we must add value in the entire chain of the textile sector - from ginning to fashion garments,” he added. He said that the NIBGE had world-class laboratories where testing facilities were also available and the local exporters must avail these facilities.

The NIBGE is working on different crops, including rice. “It has evolved many new varieties of different crops which are high yielding and have the resistance against different diseases. Pakistan is currently importing edible oil whereas being an agriculture country, we could produce oilseeds locally to fulfill our domestic needs,” he added.

Dr Waheed Khan, principal scientific officer NIBGE, said that biotechnology could enhance the shelf life of our perishable items, including vegetables and fruits. “We have knowledge, skills and technology but the FCCI has to play its role to convince the concerned sectors to adopt these technologies to improve the quality of their exportable surplus.” He said that the NIBGE had invented many new products and technologies which should be commercialised to harvest its economical benefits.

Regarding the nanotechnology, he said that we could earn billions of dollars by introducing this emerging technology in the textile sector. Earlier, FCCI president Zia Alumdar Hussain said that Faisalabad was producing more than 50 per cent raw material for the entire domestic industry of Pakistan. He specifically mentioned four major crops of wheat, sugarcane, corn and cotton. “Our real issue is to enhance the per acre yield of these crops as we are lagging far behind in it. Despite being an agriculture country, we are importing pulses, cereals and edible oil whereas our focus is only on the wheat. The local seeds of rice can produce 30 to 35 maunds and through imported seeds, we could get yield up to 55 maunds per acre. Similarly, the local seed of corn has the potential to give the yield of only 30 maunds whereas we could get 60 maunds per acre yield through the imported seeds. Wrong selection of crops is our major problem. We could revive our economy by putting the agriculture on the right track,” he said.

“We have surplus wheat but we are spending three billion dollars on the import of edible oil. To exploit our domestic potential, we must bring more area under the corn cultivation instead of sowing sugarcane and wheat. Sugarcane has been cultivated in cotton belt which dwindled our cotton production from 14 million to 10 million bales. On the other side, the Indian cotton has jumped from 8 million to 30 million bales due to the use of imported seed of BT cotton,” he explained. The NIBGE should also introduce new and cost effective technologies for the treatment of industrial waste water.


Gaithersburg, MD, March 05, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Verus International, Inc. (“Verus” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has received an order from a distributor to deliver approximately $4 million worth of rice annually for the Dubai market. Verus will source three to four varieties of rice from multiple producers in India to meet this initial demand. Under the terms of the agreement, Verus will sell rice under both the supplier’s brand name and a Verus brand.
Financing should be in place within a week and the first containers are expected to begin shipping soon at a rate of approximately ten containers per month. These products will consist of basmati and other rice varieties in primarily 10kg package sizes for the retail and commercial markets.
“This is exactly the kind of contract that we believe we can replicate many times over,” explained Verus CEO Anshu Bhatnagar. “As we announce these orders for branded staples found in just about every home and restaurant in our current markets, investors should remember that these are starter quantities. We expect these orders to grow as they season, with expansion coming from both market penetration and extension into new geographies.”
The rice agreement fits into Verus’s strategic plan to gradually layer on product lines across many retail and wholesale food categories, with an early emphasis on scalable staples.
“In our core markets, branded products and fresh foods get the best margins,” explained CEO Bhatnagar. “So, those are areas where we intend to initially focus. When you can establish a footprint with a branded version of a leading staple, such as rice or our previously announced honey, you get the added bonus that the opportunity is essentially open-ended. Rice is a multi-billion dollar import in the places where we already operate, so it was essential that we establish a presence in this key category.”
Interested investors are reminded to watch for product updates on the official Twitter feed @Verus_Foods.
About Verus International, Inc.
Verus International operates an international food subsidiary (Verus Foods) that sells branded consumer products to customers worldwide. The Company trades on the OTC market (OTC:VRUS). Investors can find Real-Time quotes and market information for the Company on
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are identified by the use of the words “could,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “estimate,” “expect,” “may,” “continue,” “predict,” “potential,” “project” and similar expressions that are intended to identify forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Although we believe that our plans, objectives, expectations and intentions reflected in or suggested by the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that these plans, objectives, expectations or intentions will be achieved. Forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties (some of which are beyond our control) and assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from historical experience and present expectations or projections. Actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements and the trading price for our common stock may fluctuate significantly. Forward-looking statements also are affected by the risk factors described in the Company’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
Investor Contact:
MKR Group Inc.
Todd Kehrli or Mark Forney

Basmati shipments set to rise 10%

Vishwanath Kulkarni  Bengaluru | Updated on March 05, 2019  Published onMarch 05, 2019
Basmati exports grew by 9 per cent in dollar value at $3.6 billion during April-January as against $3.31 billion in the same period last year   -  EleSi

Get a boost from price jump; but volumes may stay flat at 4 mt

India’s basmati rice exports for the current fiscal year are set to grow by a tenth in dollar value terms over last year on higher realisations. However, the volumes are likely to be remain at last year’s levels of four million tonnes.
Basmati is the largest product in India’s agri-export basket and accounts for about a fourth of the total farm product shipments.
After a sluggish start during the early part of the fiscal, shipments of basmati have gained momentum over the past couple of months on good demand from key buyers such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and the European Union, said AK Gupta, Director, Basmati Export Development Foundation, under the Agricultural and Processed Foods Exports Development Authority (APEDA).
The latest data (for the April-January period) indicate that basmati exports grew by 9 per cent in dollar value to $3.6 billion as against $3.31 billion in the same period last year. However, in rupee terms the growth was higher at 24,919 crore (as against 21,319 crore last year) at close to 17 per cent for the period, aided by a weaker rupee.
In volume terms, the shipments for the period were marginally higher at 3.36 million tonnes as against 3.27 mt. So far, average per-unit realisations have been about 6 per cent higher at $1,070 per tonne as against $1,010 per tonne in the previous year.
“The sentiment for exports is good. Going by the current trend, the prices will remain good. We expect a 10 per cent growth in dollar value terms,” Gupta said. Basmati exports during 2017-18 stood at 4.05 mt valued at $4.17 billion.
Vijay Setia, President of the All India Rice Exporters Association said the export volume may remain unchanged at around 4 mt, while there could be 10-15 per cent growth in value terms.
Setia said the higher realisation was driven primarily by higher raw material prices this year. Basmati paddy prices were 10-15 per cent higher this year on reports of a lower crop. However, Setia said there is no shortage of the cereal as such and market arrivals of the paddy were still on in the major mandis of Haryana and Punjab.
Further, Setia also said that Iran has re-opened its markets for import of basmati rice after the seasonal curbs imposed to protect its domestic growers during the harvest season.

Non-basmati rice slips

While the shipments of the aromatic basmati rice are gaining traction, the growth trend witnessed in non-basmati rice in recent years has not been sustained this fiscal.
Non-basmati shipments were down 18 per cent in dollar value terms during the April-January period over the corresponding period last year.
An increase in the support price for the common variety of paddy has made Indian non-basmati rice expensive in the world market. Also the higher duty imposed by Bangladesh on rice imports has impacted shipments.

Rice farmers feel the strain of the rain as wet weather delays 2019 season

As our wet winter continues, farmers across Arkansas are sweating, wondering if they will ever be able to plant their crops.
Author: David Lippman
Published: 9:27 PM CST March 5, 2019
Updated: 10:10 PM CST March 5, 2019
As our wet winter continues, farmers across Arkansas are sweating, wondering if they will ever be able to plant their crops.
That that’s especially true for rice growers, who are feeling the strain of the rain.
Normally, fields like those along Highway 70 in Lonoke County would be busy, as farmers get ready to plant their crops. But, at this point, they have no idea when rice season will begin.
“We’re really just staring at it,” Jarrod Hardke said Tuesday, “going, ‘we haven’t even truly started yet on the ’19 season.’”
Jarrod Hardke, the Rice Extension agronomist for the University of Arkansas’s Division of Agriculture, said stress levels are rising for our state’s farmers.
“We’re very much approaching a 10 [out of 10] for a lot of growers right now,” he stated.
That number is because it correlates to the level of water that remains in their fields. Hardke, whose research of soil conditions helps farmers around the state plan their crops, said their earth is too wet, or too frozen, to work with, and that’s been the case since fall. This is not the first wet winter, but Hardke said most of them feature a break in the weather to allow farmers to prep their fields.
“Unfortunately, 2018 harvest—which was terrible,” Hardke said, “in that it was prolonged and wet, has really never given way to preparation for the 2019 season. So, at this point, we’re really just standing here with a lot, if not almost all of the field work, preparation from last year’s harvest to be able to plant this year, is still left to be done.”
Hardke’s forecast for the state’s overall rice production keeps falling, and he currently predicts a statewide output of approximately 1.2 million acres. Some years, a smaller yield would mean farmers could focus more on corn or soybeans, but Hardke said it is nearly too late to make that switch. And he added that a smaller yield might not translate into higher prices.
“At this point in time, none of our main commodities are—again, nationwide—are showing any appreciable increases at this time,” he stated. “There’s some slight rises for fall prices, but when you start penciling out the net returns for growers right now for any of these, it’s not looking very good right now. So, any of those, even slight, increases in costs are going to be felt very, very hard.”
Ideally, farmers would start planting in the next week or two, then ramp up after April 1. But with more rain in the forecast, Hardke said it could be too wet to put seeds in the ground for quite some time.
“We have to prepare it all first,” he explained, “we don’t get the opportunity to just drop in and start planting, so the delay is even greater than I think most truly consider at this point.
“A lot of the normal tillage prep work that would be done, well, now we’re gonna be in a mode of what I would best describe as excessive tillage.”
He added that making multiple tilling runs across a field would be a considerable expense this year. He said each pass costs a farmer roughly $10/acre, but ruts have become so deep since fall that it will take several passes to smooth out the earth. With many fields stretching over 10,000 acres or more, the cost to prepare a rice field this year could cost some farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars, before a smaller-than-average yield ever sells.

Philippine rice funding to hit $421M with new law

| Publication date 06 March 2019 | 14:00 ICT
ilippine rice funding to hit $421M with new law. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ANN
Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post GOVERNMENT funding for the country’s rice industry is set to hit a record of 22 billion pesos ($421.531 million) this year with the implementation of the Rice Import Liberalization Law, the agriculture chief said.
In an interview with reporters on Monday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said with funding from the national government along with the agency’s budget for the sector, “the rice industry will be given the biggest budget in history”.
Last week, the Department of Budget and Management released five billion pesos to the Department of Agriculture (DA) to protect rice farmers against the possible adverse effects of the Rice Import Liberalization Law.
This is on top of the annual 10-billion-peso subsidy under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, which aims to cut the cost of producing rice so local farmers may be able to compete with the influx of more affordable imported rice.
DA has also allocated seven billion pesos of its funds to rice.
In total, the rice industry will get 32 billion pesos for its development.
“This is actually the greatest irony,” the secretary said. “Farmers are worried with the implementation of this measure but it’s also now that they will be getting this kind of financial assistance.”
The measure, which was expected to be implemented on Tuesday, removes the regulatory and importing function of the National Food Authority and allows the expansion of the private sector’s role in the market. Shipments would be charged tariffs of between 35 per cent to 50 per cent, which would be used for the industry’s modernisation.
Economic managers said the law could cut retail rice prices in half and ease inflation by 0.5 to 0.7 per cent.
During the DA’s nationwide consultation with industry stakeholders last week, Pinol said farmers only wanted assurance from the government that the unimpeded entry of imported rice would not pull farm-gate prices of paddy down.
Last year, the farm-gate price of paddy reached its highest at 24 pesos per kg, but following speculation that imported rice will flood the market, prices in some provinces dipped to 15 pesos per kg.
But according to Pinol and officials from socioeconomic planning agency National Economic and Development Authority, such worry is misplaced.
Pinol admitted that the government’s intervention should have been implemented as early as last year, but bureaucratic processes have been derailing the budget’s release.
This is the reason government agencies are scrambling to complete the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR). Pinol said the IRR would be ready on Tuesday.
“There are calls from other industry stakeholders that the formulation of the IRR should be extended but I’m against that. The longer we wait, the longer it will take for the budget to be released. That’s one planting season lost for us,” he said.
The IRR tackles the details of the law, including the government’s safety nets for local farmers who may be affected by the industry’s liberalisation. It will also explain in detail the importation process and the transition of various agencies to the new rice regime. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ANN

Stakeholders' inputs included in amended rice tariffication law IRR

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol says the government listened to some of the proposals of rice industry stakeholders
Anna Gabriela A. Mogato
Published 6:26 PM, March 06, 2019
Updated 6:26 PM, March 06, 2019
Description: DRAFT IRR. The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the rice tariffication law includes suggestions from industry stakeholders. File photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler
DRAFT IRR. The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the rice tariffication law includes suggestions from industry stakeholders. File photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11203 or the rice tariffication law was amended Tuesday, March 5, taking into consideration the proposals of rice industry stakeholders.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol told reporters on Wednesday, March 6, that they will be implementing more changes in the National Food Authority (NFA) to accommodate safeguards the stakeholders were asking for.
These changes were approved during the NFA Council meeting on Tuesday.
The IRR will be passed to the secretaries of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Trade and Industry, and the National Economic and Development Authority for signing.
"It (draft IRR) had amendments and improvements, and I'm happy to report to the farmers and other industry stakeholders that the government listened to some of their proposals," Piñol said in Filipino. (READ: FAST FACTS: How government will implement rice tariffication)
"They had asked, what if the NFA has bought all the needed buffer stock? 'Will we be at a financial disadvantage?' The answer is no because we will be implementing something we call rolling buffer stocking."
This means that as soon as the NFA has enough buffer stock for 30 days, the state grains agency will have to release this into the market and then procure palay from farmers again. This scheme of buying from farmers will occur year-round.

NEDA decision on IRR for rice tariff law could come this month
March 6, 2019 | 9:31 pm
Description: NFA rice warehouse The National Economic and Development Authority expects to decide by the end of March on the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Rice Tariffication Act submitted by the National Food Authority Council. -- PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS
THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it expects to decide by the end of March on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Rice Tariffication Act submitted by the National Food Authority (NFA) Council.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said “(The IRR) should be (decided on) because the law is already being implemented)” when asked if it is possible to make a decision in March.
The NFA Council submitted an amended IRR on Monday, March 5, the first day of the rollout of the law.
Among the provisions in the draft, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a phone interview Wednesday are one that permit the continuous sale of rice by the NFA at prices to be determined by the NFA Council, provided that the prices are set such that the agency does not lose money.
Ms. Edillon said that NEDA has yet to review the IRR.
“We will check the reasons for the policy, (and) if it supports the bottomline objective which is to improve the rice trading regime,” Ms. Edillon added.
NEDA’s original plan was to auction NFA buffer stock as needed before the inventory ages out, and not to sell it directly in the market through retailers as per current practice.
Mr. Piñol also said that the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) should be staffed by personnel from the NFA as it finds itself with an enlarged role as private entities import rice and need to obtain sanitary permits.
“The law’s implementation has gone ahead but there should be some period of adjustment. The BPI should be beefed up by employees from the NFA because it cannot possibly (fulfill its) food safety function right away because it lacks the background,” Mr. Piñol said.
Ms. Edillon concurred but added there is a need to conduct an inventory of the skills of NFA employees as well as prepare for a capacity building program or retraining these personnel. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

VN central bank urges more support for rice farmers
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has told commercial banks to provide continued support for the rice sector in the Mekong Delta by offering loans to rice farmers and trading firms to beef up their rice production and consumption.

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Farmers harvest rice in the Mekong Delta region 

Under the central bank's Document 1289, commercial banks should boost the deployment of the credit policy for agricultural and rural development in line with the Government’s decrees 55 and 116.
Besides this, the central bank asked lenders to focus on giving loans geared toward developing the connectivity model from production to consumption and to implement Decision 68 on supportive policies on the reduction of losses in agriculture.
In addition, commercial banks should order their branches in the Mekong Delta to guarantee sufficient loans for farmers, traders and producers so that they can purchase, store and export the rice grown in the 2019 winter-spring crop.
This aims to remove financial difficulties and create favorable conditions for rice-trading firms to apply for loans, including extending debt payments, offering new loans and speeding up loan disbursement.
Further, SBV requested commercial banks to offer medium- and long-term loans to support enterprises in beefing up their rice production and processing activities.
Commercial banks, apart from simplifying their lending procedures, should diversify credit products and make credit terms flexible to aid rice trading firms.
Moreover, SBV required strict enforcement of the regulation on the cap on interest rates for Vietnamese dong-denominated short-term loans for agricultural and rural development, especially for the growth of the rice industry. Based on the borrowers’ financial capability, the interest rate can be adjusted downward.
SBV governor Le Minh Hung said that as of end-December 2018, the country saw the outstanding loans for the agricultural and rural sector amount to VND1.73 quadrillion, up 21.4% year-on-year, with the Mekong Delta region accounting for 17.24% of the total, at VND298,000 billion.
Of the total outstanding loans reported at the end of January, amounting to VND1.75 quadrillion, VND300,000 billion was offered to the Mekong Delta, Hung said.
Hung added that for the rice industry, the country’s outstanding loans reached VND99 trillion in 2018, growing by VND29.8 trillion against the figure seen at end-2017, adding that the Mekong Delta made up 50% of the total VND100 trillion by end-January.

Thailand delays rice bill due to farmers’ objections. Will it open the door for the Shinawatras?

Thailand delays rice bill due to farmers’ objections. Will it open the door for the Shinawatras?

·       March 24 elections will be the first since 2011, heralding a return to democracy after a military junta took power in 2014
·       Support in Thailand’s rural northeast was central to Shinawatras’ electoral success, relying heavily on subsidies to rice farmers
Description: Laura Villadiego
Updated: Thursday, 7 Mar, 2019 8:59am
Description: A supporter of Pheu Thai Party wearing a T-shirt of former prime ministers Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinawatra. Photo: AP
A supporter of Pheu Thai Party wearing a T-shirt of former prime ministers Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinawatra. Photo: AP
Rice is once again at the centre of 
 politics after a controversial bill was postponed indefinitely due to opposition from farmers who make up one of the country’s most influential voting blocs.
The proposed rice bill would have established a board controlled by the government to oversee the industry, granting the state sole authority to license certain strains of rice seeds for sale.
The bill passed the first reading in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) in January but was postponed last week due to growing opposition from rice farmers who claim it would exclusively benefit large-scale producers by banning the distribution of rice seeds not approved by the proposed new board. The bill will be reconsidered after 

Listen to the Asian Briefing podcast: Thai election analysis


“It has been a miscalculation of the timing and the political consequences,” said Thanapan Laiprakobsup, a researcher on rice policies in Thailand at Chulalongkorn University, who noted farmers, millers and exporters found rare common cause in opposing the bill.
“[The military junta] didn’t think there would be such a big opposition … but this time all the stakeholders [except the big corporations] agreed in opposing. The rice industry wants assistance but not direct intervention.”
The March 24 elections will be the first since 2011, heralding a return to democracy after a 
took power in 2014.
However, the junta has its own proxy, the Phalang Pracharat Party, which has nominated Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the now-retired general who led the 2014 coup, to retain the top job. The opposition to the rice bill could hurt his chances, though, Thanapan said.
The Phalang Pracharat Party has condemned the bill and proposed a subsidy if they win the elections but rural voters could punish them anyway, given Prayuth’s highly visible association with the party and the junta’s support for the unpopular bill.
“Rice farmers think that Phalang Pracharat Party is equal to Prayuth … And they are sending signals of political dissatisfaction especially to [him],” Thanapan said.
On the other hand, the postponement of the bill could benefit the Pheu Thai Party, a proxy for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was elected in 2001 before being forced from office by a coup in 2006.
Thaksin’s sister, 
, later served as prime minister from 2011-14, but she was also forced from office by a coup, which installed the current military government.
Former Thai prime ministers Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. Photo: AFP
Support in Thailand’s rural northeast was central to the Shinawatras’ electoral success, relying heavily on government subsidies to rice farmers, who in turn formed the backbone of the Shinawatras’ populist “red shirt” movement, which clashed repeatedly with the anti-Thaksin, pro-monarchy “yellow shirts”.
The latest controversy over rice policy could create an opportunity for the Pheu Thai Party to reinforce their appeal to these rural voters that delivered the Shinawatras’ previous victories.
Thailand is the world’s second-largest rice exporter after India, and the second-largest exporter to China after Vietnam. However, the Thai Rice Exporters Association has forecast a 14 per cent drop in 2019 from 2018.
Proponents of the rice bill claim it would give the government a stronger hand to support the rice industry and expand export markets.

Who’s who in Thai election’s Game of Thrones


Thailand has a long history of rice market interventions. Indeed, government rice subsidies were a major factor in the coup that deposed Yingluck in 2014, after her government committed to buying every grain of rice at inflated prices.
The disastrous scheme cost the government US$8 billion, according to the military junta, and Thailand lost its status as the world’s largest rice exporter as a result.
It was cited by the military as one of the main justifications for its intervention and Yingluck was subsequently sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.
“Rice farmers and their families were among the largest groups that could be reached through a single policy intervention,” said Jacob Ricks, assistant professor of political science at the Singapore Management University. “Farmers and their families still make up over 30 per cent of Thai voters, so they will continue to be important.”
Accordingly, the junta has approved its own short-term loans and cash handouts for rice farmers.
“The military regime has also tried to win farmers over with a series of policies, although they have met with limited success in convincing farmers,” Ricks said.
Witoon Lianchamroon is the director of Biodiversity Sustainable Agriculture Food Sovereignty
Action Thailand (Biothai), a farmers’ rights advocacy group. He said the military government had sought to increase its control over the kinds of rice able to be grown and traded.

It has been a miscalculation of the timing and the political consequencesThanapan Laiprakobsup, researcher on rice policies

“[If approved], we estimate that in the near future only a few varieties will remain, [and they will be] controlled by the government and the private sector,” he said.
Witoon said the bill was designed to promote trade regardless of the interest of farmers to preserve diversity and improve their seeds.
“Some varieties that are more nutritious might be lost,” he said, adding that the bill would discourage farmers from cultivating and improving certain strains of rice because registering them would be “very difficult for farmers”.
According to Thanapan, farmers were concerned that greater control exercised by the state would have benefited larger firms at their expense.

Thai election: can Shinawatras keep it in the family, again?


“It meant that the state was not going to help the farmers … and that they would give power to agricultural business to monopolise the rice variety market,” Thanapan said.
In turn, the fact the bill was postponed has once again underlined the political influence wielded by the country’s rice farmers, even under a military government.
“The new rice bill failed to convince farmers of any benefits,” Ricks said. “Even supporters of the regime found it hard to swallow. This shows the importance of farmers as a constituency. Even an insulated military regime couldn’t pass the new rice bill with the threat of a farmer protest.”

How could a sharp slowdown in China affect growth prospects for the rest of Asia?

·       Uncertainty is the only certainty for economies until US and China declare trade peace
·       Latest data shows only Malaysia has coped with recent pressures
Description: Karen Yeung
Updated: Saturday, 16 Feb, 2019 10:34pm
Description: Analysts say that while optimism is rising about the prospects for trade talks between the US and China, smaller Asian economies must prepare for more turbulence. Photo: Xinhua
Analysts say that while optimism is rising about the prospects for trade talks between the US and China, smaller Asian economies must prepare for more turbulence. Photo: Xinhua

Rice exports expected to fall on declining consumption
YU WAI 06 MAR 2019
Description: A rice glut is expected as consumption falls in export markets. Aung Htay Hlaing/The Myanmar Times
A rice glut is expected as consumption falls in export markets. Aung Htay Hlaing/The Myanmar Times
A fall in rice consumption especially from China have rice merchants worried as the market could face a glut since there is leftover supply from the previous season with more in-coming supply.
Despite a record export in the 2017-18 fiscal year of over 3 million tonnes, there was still leftover supply as global consumption has declined.
Myanmar Rice Federation Deputy Chair U Aung Than Oo said rice exports will struggle to beat last year’s exports. He noted that exports to China has also declined, with the country not taking in as much as before.
Meanwhile, Myanmar Rice Federation Chief Executive U Chan Thar Oo said rice exports will not reach the target of 2.5 million tonnes for the 2018-19 fiscal year. For fiscal 2020-21, the federation expects to sell 4 million tonnes to overseas markets and receive US$1.5 billion.
Myanmar Rice Federation officials who were in Kunming, China for a meeting on the Myanmar-China Economic Corridor in late February sought assurances from China on a rice export quota of 400,000 tonnes, a rise from the 2016 quota of 100,000 tonnes that has not been increased since.
At present, the Myanmar and China governments only have a draft agreement on the 400,000 tonnes quota, with the details not having been officially announced.
Separately, Myanmar Rice Federation officials also want the tariff on rice exports to the country to be reduced.
“It would be better if they lower the tariff on the export of rice by quota. China imposes 60pc tariff on rice export as a protection for its farmers. We want it to be 17-20% only,” U Chan Thar Oo said.
He added that it would be better if China just awards import licenses to its companies to import rice from Myanmar by quota Separately, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Deputy Secretary U Myo Tint Tun said given the glut, market information will be supplied to farmers but the final decision in choosing crops is up to them.
The local rice market has a value of K6 billion annually, equivalent to around 14 million tonnes, of which K5 billion or 10 million tonnes goes to local consumption with around K900 million for export.
Ministry of Commerce statistics showed that agricultural exports in fiscal 2017-18 was 21pc of total exports with export volume decreasing since fiscal 2011-12 when it was 30pc of exports.

Rice and broken rice export earnings hit nearly 700 million US dollars
During ten and half months, Myanmar earned nearly 700 million US dollars from exports of over 2.1 million tons of rice and broken rice, according to the export figures of Myanmar Rice Federation.
From April 1, 2018 to February 15, 2019, the exports of rice and broken rice hit over 2.115 million tons, fetching 699.467 million US dollar.
Myanmar exports rice via sea route and border trade camps. Export earnings from border camps hit over 360 million US dollars through exports of rice and broken rice worth over 1.076 million US dollars.  It accounts for more than 50 per cent of the total exports.
In addition, Myanmar shipped 1.038 million tons of rice and broken rice worth nearly 340 million US dollars via sea route, accounting for more than 49 per cent of the total export.
During this period, Myanmar exports rice to 50 countries and broken rice to 21 countries. Reliance on a single market for the rice export is a high risk. Thanks to the expansion of high-quality markets, the country exports rice to more than 60 countries, said Ye Min Aung, General-Secretary of Myanmar Rice Federation. This is the result of efforts to explore the quality-oriented market.”