Tuesday, March 12, 2019

12th March,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Indigo Agriculture and Anheuser-Busch Partner to Meet Sustainability Goals for Rice Production

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar 11, 2019--Indigo Agriculture, a company dedicated to harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet, and Anheuser-Busch, the country’s leading brewer, have announced a partnership focused on sustainable rice production. Indigo has committed to delivering 2.2 million bushels of Indigo Rice™ to Anheuser-Busch that is grown with specific environmental attributes. Growers contracting with Indigo to produce rice for Anheuser-Busch will reduce water and nitrogen used by 10% and achieve at least 10% savings in greenhouse gas emissions compared to state benchmarks. This partnership is the first of-its-kind to offer growers an end-to-end solution that incentivizes the commercial production of sustainable rice.
“Anheuser-Busch is leading the food and beverage industry in meeting consumer demand for sustainably-grown ingredients,” said David Perry, Indigo’s CEO. “Indigo is leveraging its end-to-end, integrated approach to agriculture to grow, capture, and preserve the value of sustainably produced ingredients. We are thrilled to partner with Anheuser-Busch, a company that shares our vision for beneficial agriculture, to create meaningful value for the growing community and higher quality options for consumers. By collaborating with leaders across the supply chain, we’re conserving natural resources, preserving farmland for future generations, and producing healthier final products.”
“Sustainability isn’t just part of our business, it is our business. Partnering with Indigo to source rice with unique environmental attributes rewards our farming community for adopting sustainable agricultural practices and incentivizes further innovation,” said Ingrid De Ryck, Vice President, Procurement and Sustainability, Anheuser-Busch. “Most importantly, this trailblazing collaboration supports three of Anheuser-Busch’s 2025 Sustainability Goals by advancing smart agriculture, watershed health, and carbon emissions reductions.”
Anheuser-Busch has proudly supported farmers and the agricultural community for generations. The company buys rice from all over the U.S., and mills approximately 2.6 million pounds of rice a day at a company-owned facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The brewer is the largest end user of rice in the United States, and rice is a key ingredient in their leading beers. Rice helps provide a clean, crisp taste, and has been part of the Budweiser recipe since 1876. Budweiser has stayed true to the original recipe since it was first introduced, and rice is a prized ingredient in both the Budweiser and Bud Light recipes.
“Indigo’s field teams, data collection tools, and commitment to grower profitability make them the ideal partner to source rice with lower environmental impact,” said Jess Newman, Director of Agronomy for Anheuser-Busch. “Beyond the sustainability gains, we are excited that this partnership is a win-win for grower profitability. Growers can earn a premium for progressive practices, save on water and nutrient input costs, and realize yield increases due to the Indigo microbial seed treatment for rice. By creating a market for rice grown with innovative practices, we are delighted to empower and support our growers as they continue to move the industry forward on farm efficiency.”
Indigo’s full suite of microbial and digital offerings, trained on-farm professionals, and data analysis capabilities allow the company to guarantee identity preservation and transparency in the planting, growing, and delivery of rice to meet defined thresholds for sustainability. With Indigo microbial technology and data-driven agronomic support, growers are able to improve rice yield while reducing the use of chemicals, irrigation, and fertilizers. Anheuser-Busch will leverage these capabilities to assure a high-quality final product, meeting consumer demands for thoughtful sourcing and preservation of the environment, while enabling growers to earn more for their grain.
For more than 165 years, Anheuser-Busch has been woven into the cultural fabric of the United States, carrying on a legacy of brewing great-tasting, high-quality beers that have satisfied beer drinkers for generations. Today, we own and operate 23 breweries, 15 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities, and have more than 18,000 colleagues across the United States. We are home to several of America’s most recognizable beer brands, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA and Stella Artois, as well as a number of regional brands that provide beer drinkers with a choice of the best-tasting craft beers in the industry.
From responsible drinking programs and emergency drinking water donations to industry-leading sustainability efforts, we are guided by our unwavering commitment to supporting the communities we call home.
For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com or follow Anheuser-Busch on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.
Indigo harnesses nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet. Applying innovative technologies across the agricultural supply chain, Indigo is working to bring about a more beneficial agricultural system that improves grower profitability, as well as environmental and consumer health. Growers working with the company are offered an integrated solution, including beneficial plant microbes, agronomic insights, and data in support of regenerative and sustainable growing practices. Growers and buyers are then connected directly by Indigo through a marketplace and hauling platform to bring high quality harvests to market. The company is headquartered in Boston, MA, with additional offices in Memphis, TN; Research Triangle Park, NC; Sydney, Australia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and São Paulo, Brazil. For more information on Indigo Agriculture, please visit www.indigoag.com and follow the company on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.
View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190311005271/en/
CONTACT: FleishmanHillard for Anheuser-Busch
Alex Roberts
Alex.Roberts@fleishman.comHatch for Indigo
Judy Huang
SOURCE: Indigo Agriculture
Copyright Business Wire 2019.
PUB: 03/11/2019 09:00 AM/DISC: 03/11/2019 09:01 AM

Philippines set to be world’s 2nd largest rice importer
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - March 11, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is once again setting record levels in terms of buying rice in the world market as it is expected to be the second-largest global importer this year at 2.6 million metric tons (MMT) of rice.
After the 2008 rice crisis, the Philippines is now seen sourcing some 2.6 million MT after the removal of quantitative restrictions on Filipinos’ basic commodity.
This makes the country the second-largest rice importer for 2019, next to China with an estimated 4.5 million MT of rice imports.
In the latest report of the United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), this year’s importation is 37 percent higher than the 1.9 million MT imports in 2018.
Just last week, Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Import Liberalization Law took effect, which replaced rice import quantitative restrictions with tariffs and reverted the Minimum Access Volume to its 2012 levels.
Rice is a staple food in the country and the law is intended, in part, to spur imports in order to quell domestic unrest caused by inflation.
“As a result of this legislation, higher rice imports are expected from nearby ASEAN member countries, with their relative low cost and preferential access to the Philippines,” the USDA said.
“This is a record not seen since the international price spike in 2008 and would make the Philippines the second-largest global importer in 2019,” the report added.
Given the high non-most favored nation (MFN) tariff rate and in the absence of a free trade agreement, it is not anticipated that the US or other countries will be competitive enough to pick up much of the expanded volume of Philippine imports.
The USDA already hiked this year’s rice imports from the earlier projection of 2.3 million MT following the lifting of the quantitative restriction on the commodity.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, for his part, said the huge volume of importation is only temporary and will eventually slowdown.
“Ironically, we are also expecting a higher local harvest this year. I believe that when the market chokes, the inflow of imported rice will naturally slow down,” Piñol told The STAR.
“This is just for now because everybody is excited to import. With the price of local palay dropping to as low as P16 [per kilo], local rice prices could go as low as P36. That would be competitive with the imported rice,” he said.
In fact, application to bring in the commodity even before the law took effect already reached nearly two million MT.
The country’s additional imports also aim to strengthen buffer stocks ahead of the midterm elections scheduled in May 2019.
Rice consumption has also been raised to 13.75 million MT from 13.65 million MT as rising food prices are forcing less affluent Filipinos to consume more rice and less meat and vegetables.
Production of milled-rice this year is seen decreasing by one percent to 12.15 million MT from the 12.23 million MT in 2018.
USDA said there may be slight reduction in area planted as rice areas in 2019 will be at 4.81 million hectares, one percent lower than the 4.84 million hectares last year.

Government urged to intervene in detention of containers of rice from Vietnam at Sepanggar Port

Last Update: 11/03/2019

Description: http://pcms.bernama.com:7788/storage/photos/171bc99625817982db4cdb1262c143965c4ad1ae4c4e0
KOTA KINABALU, March 11 (Bernama) -- The issue of the detention of 351 containers of 9,000 tonnes of rice from Vietnam at the Sepanggar Port here since five months ago must be handled properly so as not to jeopardise trade relations between the country and Sabah.
According to president of the Sabah Cross-Border Trade Association,  Nordin Ening, the government should take action to resolve the matter.
He said the container with its load of 351,000 sacks of rice worth RM16 million should not have been detained as it had been temporarily placed at the Sepanggar Port because of congestion at the Labuan Port last September.
He said the container had been sent from Vietnam for transshipment to the Philippines through Labuan Port.
He said the MV Formosa left Ho Chi Minh with 351 containers carrying the rice on Sept 8 last year, and two days later arrived at Labuan Port. Due to congestion at the container terminal in Labuan Port, MV Formosa had to offload the rice containers at Sepanggar Port and would reclaim it two weeks later on Sept 24.
“But when it was about to reload the containers on to MV Formosa, the application was rejected by the  Royal Malaysian Customs Department on the grounds that the six companies in Labuan who were the go-between for the import of the rice did not have an import permit,” Nordin said in a press conference here today.
Yesterday, a local news portal reported that seven rice companies in Vietnam called for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed to intervene for the release of the 351 containers of rice which had been detained at the Sepanggar Port since last September.


Cambodian Farmers Struggle Against Changing Climate

March 10, 2019 0:15 AM
·       Sun Narin

Description: Villagers gather to catch fish in Trapaing Thmar reservoir as the drought continues to hit the community, in Banteay Meanchey, Feb. 23, 2019. (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Villagers gather to catch fish in Trapaing Thmar reservoir as the drought continues to hit the community, in Banteay Meanchey, Feb. 23, 2019. (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Built atop the bones of the dead, Trapaing Thmar reservoir is largest irrigation project built by the Khmer Rouge regime. Today, it is running dry amid one of the worst droughts to hit Cambodia in living memory.
In northwestern Cambodia, more than 400 kilometers from Phnom Penh, the vast protected area serves as a crucially important source of water for thousands of rice farmers and their families in Phnom Srok district and other neighboring areas.
Trapaing Thmar reservoir is also the habitat of numerous endangered species, including the Sarus crane, the world’s tallest flying bird.
During a recent visit to the area, farmers were fishing and pumping water to their rice fields from a scattering of small ponds, all that remains of the more than 12,000-hectare reservoir.
Description: Ping Chantrea is a farmer in Banteay Meanchey province’s Phnom Srok district. She told VOA that this year rice farming was bad due to the lack of rain, on Feb. 22, 2019 (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Ping Chantrea is a farmer in Banteay Meanchey province’s Phnom Srok district. She told VOA that this year rice farming was bad due to the lack of rain, on Feb. 22, 2019 (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Lack of rain, wet season or dry
In this part of Banteay Meanchey province, farmers remark on the lack of rain, during the wet season as well as the dry season. Cambodian farmers grow rice in both seasons. Cambodia’s rainy season typically arrives in May and ends in October and dry season runs from November until April.
“It is not like before. It is worse than ever,” said Ping Chantrea, a 30-year-old farmer who adds she can no longer produce enough rice to sell.
“It only rained twice during the wet season last year,” she laments from her home in Ponley commune’s Porabun village, a concern echoed by others.
“Early this year until now, it has not rained at all,” said Chantrea who is eight months pregnant.
“I lost the money I saved from my wedding,” she added.
Description: A farmer collects and packages his rice along a local road in Banteay Meancheay province, on Feb. 23, 2019. This year rice farming in the province was affected by drought and lack of reserved water in the reservoir. (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
A farmer collects and packages his rice along a local road in Banteay Meancheay province, on Feb. 23, 2019. This year rice farming in the province was affected by drought and lack of reserved water in the reservoir. (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Rice production falls
Farmers in this district have complained that production of rice in both rainy and dry seasons has declined.
Another farmer, Laing Thom, says he believes the temperature is rising and the rains are no longer as regular as they once were.
“Now it is just only about 8 a.m., but it is very hot,” Thom said.
Cambodia has been ranked among the Southeast Asian countries most vulnerable to climate change, according to a report by Asian Development Bank.
Many of Cambodians rely on agriculture, and the changes to the country’s climate lead to more droughts or more floods.
According to UNDP statistics, 22,695 Cambodians out of every million were impacted by natural disasters in the country between 2005 and 2012, especially by flood and drought. Flooding in 2009, 2011 and 2013 led to more than $1 billion in damage and 461 fatalities.
Thom says he cannot produce as much rice on his 2.6-hectare farm.
“I can’t make a profit, or even cover the cost of fertilizer,” he said, complaining of price manipulation. Farmers expect to sell their rice for at least 18 to 20 cents per kilogram, but it has been sold at a lower price.
Description: FILE - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures while speaking in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Aug. 1, 2018.
FILE - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures while speaking in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Aug. 1, 2018.
Only one rice crop
On Feb. 20, Prime Minister Hun Sen, citing the drought, asked rice farmers to plant only for the wet season harvest.
“Please farm only one crop this year because we do not have enough water,” Hun Sen told thousands of workers in Kandal province, adding that Cambodia will face a severe drought and water shortages this year.
In a directive dated Jan. 17, Hun Sen called on local authorities and villagers to conserve water for crops because Cambodia will likely be indirectly impacted by El Niño, which refers to a short-term period of warm ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, stretching from South America towards Australia.
Cambodia will also grapple with soaring temperatures of between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius in April and May.
Description: Farmers pumped water from Trapaing Thmar reservoir to their rice fields, in Banteay Meanchey province, Feb. 23, 2019 (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Farmers pumped water from Trapaing Thmar reservoir to their rice fields, in Banteay Meanchey province, Feb. 23, 2019 (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Lim Kean Hor, minister of water resources and meteorology visited the Trapaing Thmar reservoir area Feb. 23, and told Phnom Srok villagers that by farming during the dry season, they had acted against Hun Sen’s directive.
“They have farmed more than the plan allowed. They were allowed to farm only a total of 5,000 hectares of land,” said the minister, adding “we lack water” until an anticipated break in mid-May.
Impact on farmers
Drought has now affected more than 20,000 hectares of rice fields in 13 provinces, according to Cambodia’s National Committee for Disaster Management.
In 2015, Cambodia experienced its worst drought in half a century, with most of its 25 provinces experiencing water shortages, and about 2.5 million people severely affected.
Description: Mean Seum, chief of Porabun village, is concerned about rice farming in his community, in Banteay Meanchey province, Feb. 22, 2019. (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Mean Seum, chief of Porabun village, is concerned about rice farming in his community, in Banteay Meanchey province, Feb. 22, 2019. (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Mean Seum, chief of Chantrea’s Porabun village, said an estimated 10 percent of the normal amount of rice will be produced this year.
“Mostly they owe money to microfinance [institutions] and other people,” he said. “The debt will be more.”
Since April 2017, the interest rates on new loans from MFIs and rural credit operators was set to a maximum of 18 percent. Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the MFIs and credit operators previously offered loans with interest rates of 20 and 30 percent per year.
“If it is worse like that in the future, parents will migrate to work in Thailand or children will be forced to work,” he added.
“There is no family in this village whose members don’t go to Thailand,” he said, adding that the migrants work in construction or agriculture.
Normally the migrant workers return to help their families with the harvest.
“But they won’t come this year,” he added.
Seum himself has three hectares of land and rents two hectares for farming. But he cannot break even in the current climate, he said.
“People also get angry with each other because some families get water for their rice fields and some don’t,” he added. Families who live closest to Trapaing Thmar are the ones who get the water supply for their crops.
Thousands of families
Em Dara, the technical assistant at the Ministry of Water Resources, who oversees the reservoir, said about 5,000 hectares of land have been affected so far.
“It has affected thousands of families,” he said. “Some don’t have water to use now.”
“It has affected species and fish in the reservoir as well. The climate has changed now. It is the worst in 10 years,” he said.
The reservoir can store up to 180 million cubic meters of water, but now holds less than 1 million cubic meters, according to Dara.
Villagers are also concerned about the impact on fish stocks, which nationwide provide a living for millions of Cambodians and up to 80 percent of all animal protein in the diet.
“There is no water. This year is worse than other years,” said Mea Siz, 58, as he fished at Trapaing Thmar reserve. “I am now concerned about fish here.”
Taking a chance
Having land to farm crops, especially rice, is central to the lives of many Cambodians. It is what gives them a sense of security, community and family. Eighty-five percent of Cambodia’s approximately 16 million people depend on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.
Despite being aware of the water shortage, farmers in this district say they have decided ignore Hun Sen’s directive and farm through the dry season.
“I could not make do with just the rice farmed during rainy season, so I decided to go ahead in the dry season, but it was not successful,” Chantrea said.
“I thought that the water in the reservoir was enough, but it was not because many farmers have done farming at the same time and the water is insufficient,” she added.
Description: Deu Yuch, a rice farmer, is concerned that his debt might not be paid off if he continues to lose profit from rice farming, in Banteay Meanchey, Feb. 22, 2019 (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Deu Yuch, a rice farmer, is concerned that his debt might not be paid off if he continues to lose profit from rice farming, in Banteay Meanchey, Feb. 22, 2019 (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Deu Yuch, another farmer, says the poor farming conditions have led him to fall behind. He reckons he’s about $3,000 in debt.
“I don’t know what to do, but will keep growing rice in the next season,” he said. “We have no choice. We have to take a chance.”
Some parts of the community have been provided water from an irrigation system built by Chinese investors. The water has been transported from nearby provinces Siem Reap and Oddar Meanchey, according to Khut Khuon, Poichar commune chief.
Description: The irrigation system constructed by Chinese company in Banteay Meanchey province for farmers in the community to access water for their rice farming, Feb. 23, 2019. (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
The irrigation system constructed by Chinese company in Banteay Meanchey province for farmers in the community to access water for their rice farming, Feb. 23, 2019. (Sun Narin/VOA Khmer)
Khut Khuon Poichar says farmers will pray for rain during Choul Chhnam Thmey, the Cambodian New Year, celebrated from April 14 to 16 this year.
“We will ask the Buddha to give rain,” he said.
​As the drought continues to blast the countryside, Chantrea says she is worried that it will get worse and she will not have enough water to farm in the wet season.
“What can I do? I have to take the chance to do it,” she said.
Farmer Laing Thom said villagers would attend a New Year ceremony to seek help from Tevada, a host of guardian angels central to Cambodians’ traditional spiritual belief system.
“We are farmers, if we don’t do farming, what do we have to eat? So I take a chance with Tevada. I pray to Tevada to bring rain so it will be cold and have water,” Thom said.

Rice and broken rice exports expected to decline
From April 1, 2018 to March, 2019, Myanmar’s rice and broken rice exports are expected to reach about 2.3 million tons, down about 1.2 million tons compared with the same period last year.
Ye Min Aung, President of Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) said: “This year, we have exported more than two million tons of rice. The total rice exports are expected to hit about 2.3 million tons including the additional exports in March.”
In the past, Myanmar’s fiscal year was from April 1 to March 31. Since 2018-2018 fiscal year, Myanmar has changed its fiscal year from October 1 to September 30.
Aung Than Oo, Vice-President of MRF said: “Our calculation is based only on crops. It is related to the paddy harvest season. It is nothing to do with the government’s fiscal year. But the rice export is calculated during the period from April 1 to March 31.”
“In 2017-2018 FY, Myanmar exported more than 3.5 million tons of rice and broken rice. The rice export broke the record set over 50 years ago. The total rice export is no more than three million tons. Over five or six years, the country exported more than two million tons of rice,” Ye Min Aung added.
The country earned 699.467 million US dollars from exports of over 2.115 million tons of rice and broken rice from April 1, 2018 to February 15, 2019.
Exports of rice via the border trade camps account for 50 per cent of the total export while the exports of rice via sea route represent over 49 per cent.
During ten and half months, Myanmar exports rice to more than 50 countries.
Myanmar is negotiating with China to official export a quota of 400,000 tons of rice to China. Both sides will soon sign the MoU, Aung Than Oo added.

India's April-January rice, buffalo meat exports drop: government body

MARCH 11, 2019 / 2:44 PM
A Kashmiri labourer carries a sack containing rice on his shoulder as he walks inside a government godown in Srinagar September 14, 2012. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli/Files
MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s rice exports for the April-January period dropped 10 percent from a year earlier to 9.49 million tonnes, as leading buyer Bangladesh trimmed purchases due to a bumper local harvest, a government body said in a statement on Monday.

The country’s buffalo meat exports during the period fell 11 percent from a year ago to 1.03 tonnes, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority said, as demand moderated from the biggest buyer - China.

Guar gum exports edged up 2.4 percent to 415,822 tonnes on robust demand from the United States.

India is the world’s biggest exporter of buffalo meat, guar gum and rice.

The country’s exports of pulses more than doubled during the period to 247,789 tonnes, while dairy exports surged 77.7 percent to 138,936 tonnes due to government incentives for exports of skimmed milk powder, the agency said.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

Foreign rice threatens Nigeria’s rising domestic production

Published Date 

Description: The Sunday Rice Market in Kamba area of Kebbi state.
The Sunday Rice Market in Kamba area of Kebbi state.
Despite rising Nigeria domestic rice production profile, imported and smuggled rice continue to make consumers first choice in the market and it’s everywhere, investigations by Daily Trust on Sunday have revealed.
Domestic rice production received a boost when President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Kebbi State in November 2015 to address the huge import problem.
Current statistics in the public domain indicates that in 2016, 58, 260 metric tonnes of rice was imported into the country and that by November 2017, the figures have dropped to 23,192 metric tonnes; this figures further shrink to just 6, 277 metric tonnes in 2018.
However, despite that figures of local production and various brands in the market, many wonders where all the foreign rice that floods the country comes from even with the official ban on rice importation through the land borders.
With more speechifying claims around the rice revolution, Daily Trust went to the producing states to investigate the nation’s drive to achieve self-sufficiency in rice. And also to understand the underlying issues that may drive down production and how the local rice fares in the market vis-a-vis the imported or smuggled rice.
How smuggling erodes success, threatens investments
Millers and other stakeholders in the sector are of the belief that smuggling of foreign rice is threatening their confidence.
Mr Babatunde Ajibola, Head, Media and Communications, Elephant Group Plc, said in Lagos that the massive rice smuggling into the country was threatening the confidence and ability of local rice millers and farmers.
He noted that a visit to major rice markets, such as Iddo, Daleko, Ketu, Mile 12, Alaba and Sango-Ota, revealed that the various brands on display were imported with few or no local ones.
“This unprecedented flooding of the nation’s major markets with smuggled imported rice is of great concern to investors in rice, Agro companies and farmers in spite of government’s ban on the products.
Observers said thousands of tonnes of rice come through the porous borders floating the market and making difficult for investors.
In Katsina State, the acts of bringing in commodities most especially Rice, Vegetable oil and other consumables is called ‘Fito’ and is the most thriving and lucrative business and commercial activities being perpetrated by the majority of people residing across the Nigeria- Niger border along the state.
This act involves ferrying commodities most especially rice across the border through the numerous illegal routes due to the porous nature of the border.
People of these Border communities knowingly or unknowingly see this act as just another way of making a living despite several fracases with law enforcement agencies like the customs in which many lives have been lost.
In Katsina, there exist some recognised border points namely Magama in Jibia, Dankama in Kaita and kwangolom in Daura and Babban Mutum in Baure. However, these smugglers to evade customs and other security operatives by using untarred roads and difficult farmlands to drive in their commodities.
Their operational cars popularly referred to as “Rai banza” are old rickety Peugeot which normally gets overloaded with rice and other items to move into the country.
Also, big time importers engaged these youths to either use motorcycles, J5 buses or Peugeot cars to ferry Rice across the border in which each bag is charge N300 from Dan Isa town in the Niger Republic to get into Nigeria, a distance of 5km.
Sometimes, the trailers mostly from Cotonou, Benin Republic carrying the rice reaches Hirji village, another border town community to unload before the youths are engaged. Hirji is just a kilometre to Magama in Jibia.
Investigation showed that a bag of rice sells between N9,000 to N11,000 at both Dan Isa and Hirji.  The prices fluctuate depending on the exchange rate as business is done in French francs (CFA).
As at this week, in Magama a border town Jibia , in Nigeria, the rice sells for N11,500 and by the time it reaches Katsina the price jerks up to N12,500.
Aside youths, women are not left out in this trade as they troop to Jibia to purchase this rice from the youths and then transport to Katsina.
Sometimes they pay the youths N700 difference to ride through untarred roads to appear behind army barracks and Dubai market to Katsina town.
Hajiya Jamila, a divorcee told our reporter that she was introduced to the business after the demise of her husband.
“ I make a living from this and people come from Kano even to get supply some times they make available monies to help them get it across’ she added
Most of the routes used along Jibia passes through Hirji, Bayan post, Gidan Dan Bafilace, Agangaro, Riko and Gutama.
In Kwongolom of Maiadua local government, several routes are also been used to perpetuate such act.
Towns like Maimaje, Botsotsuwa, Tsatsumburm and Yekuwa of Niger Republic are always the routes for the illegal trade.
A Nigerien, Musa said every now and then youths on motorcycles do pass by his farmland carrying bags of rice to evade officials.
A Maiadua resident Muhammad Aliyu told our reporter that the cost of carrying such rice varies on the difficulty of the roads during such trips.
‘When security is tight definitely it’s higher and can reach N500 but most at times the cost ranges from 200-300’ he said
Malam Salisu who runs a noodle joint in Katsina and hailed from Tawa state in Niger said hardly a car they board to Nigeria that will not be stocked with rice.
He said, people are tucked between bags of rice noting that even our people do help come in with rice for Nigerians, they pay us a good price of between N1000 to N1500’.
Despite the risk involved, smuggling continues in Katsina and the customs are always at fracas with them arresting and seizure people are still going into the trade.
On many occasion, motorcyclist in Large numbers can be seen carrying between three to five bags while these specialised cars are also spotted.
A lot of lives have been lost between the smugglers and officials over confrontations at different places in the state.
In January last month alone, the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the  Nigeria Customs Service, Zone ‘B’, said it seized  1,520 bags of parboiled rice in Katsina with a duty paid value of N62m and two persons were arrested.
Also in the last quarter of last year,  The former Area Comptroller in charge of Katsina/Kaduna command, Oyeleke Olakunle Abdulrazak said  606 bags of 50Kg foreign rice, 239 bags of 50Kg imported sugar, 73 bales of second-hand clothing, 327 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 25 motor vehicles of various kind, one truck and two motorcycles were seized.
In Sokoto state, foreign rice still dominates the local food stores and markets according to Daily Trust investigations.
A resident of Sokoto metropolis, who is privy to the rice business, wondered if the ban in the community would totally block it from gaining access to the markets and stores because of the porous nature of Nigeria’s borders.
The resident, who sought for anonymity, said the smugglers now use motorcycles to bring in the commodity through unapproved routes. “The motorcyclists are very conversant with the terrain because they are born and brought up there. The smugglers use them for their illicit business.”
He suggested intensive sensitization campaign especially in the border communities to discourage them from involving in such economic sabotage.
When our reporter visited Illela border community, he observed that their market was flooded with foreign rice.
One of the traders, who spoke to our reporter, confirmed that they were getting it from the neighbouring Niger Republic through secret routes.
When contacted the Head of Customs in the border post, DC Sa’idu Ahmed said their renewed onslaught on smugglers was the reason for the traders to be running out of stock.
According to him, they have over five checkpoints along the axis and their men were there 24 hours daily.
On his part, the spokesman of Sokoto zonal command of Customs, Magaji Mailafiya said they were not raiding market to recover foreign rice to avoid rancour.
“We emphasized on intelligent surveillance which enables us to track the movement of contraband including foreign rice from the loading point to storage facilities where it is re-bagged and reloaded for onward delivery to marketers,” he said.
He said that it was through this arrangement that they had been making a lot of seizure along Sokoto- Gusau road and Koko-Yauri road in Kebbi states, adding that the command had in January intercepted two tankers conveying foreign rice along these roads.
Our findings in the area shows that the smuggling usually crash the price of the rice per bag near the boarders.
A 50kg bag of smuggled rice can cost as low as N10500 and N11,000 at the boarder.
 How upsurge in mills boost local production
One of the good things that have happened to the current drive to increase local production is the increase in local capacity to mill the rice.
Nigeria has been able to attract both local and foreign investments in the last few years into processing, leading to many local brands to debut the market.
There are currently many rice mills (large-scale, medium and small-scale) in the country producing different brands of the rice.
Olam mill in Rukubi in Nasarawa has a capacity for 105,000 capacity and produces the Mama Gold/pride, which is currently a household name in the country.
WATCOT mill is said to even have a bigger capacity of 120,000 located in Argungu, in Kebbi State. It produces the Bulls brands. Also located in the state is Labana Mill in Birni-Kebbi producing Labana and Lake Rice brand, which is a joint venture between Kebbi and Lagos states.
Popular Farm Rice Mill located in Chalawa in Kano state produces some of its parent brands by Stallion (Royal Stallion Shinkafa, the Supper Champion). Kano is also host to the Umza Rice Mill.
In Benue state, Mikap and Ashi mills have also entered the market with their local brands called Miva and Ashi.
Onynx Mill in Bida, Niger State is producing the Savanah Premium while another brand from KK mill in Sokoto state is also in the market.
In Anambra State, Stine Rice Mills produces the Anambra Rice which is a product of the Anambra state government while Ebony Rice by Ebonyi integrated Rice Limited is also a household name in Nigeria.
Another N10bn Lolo rice mill is also billed to take off in Kamba and Dangote is said to be building another N20bn rice mill which is slightly larger at Saminaka area of the state. WACOT has started the second N20bn rice mill plant in Yauri-all in Kebbi State.
Besides these big mills, there are host of many other local brands spreads across many localities.
These milling companies hunt through the major producing belts and major grains markets for paddy to feed their various mills.
Olam’s Vice President Corporate and Government Relations Olam Nigeria, Ade Adefeko, had told our agric editor during a recent interview that apart from its out grower policy, his company also source for paddy rice from major producing belt including Nasarawa, Taraba and Kwara states.
Chairman, Umza Rice in Kano, had during a similar interview, told our agric editor that the company usually takes delivery of paddy rice from Jigawa, Taraba, Kwara and other parts of the country.
A visit to the company in Kano will show long cue of fully loaded trailers waiting to offload paddy rice.
Walcott’s agent at Lafiagi also confirmed that the company also buys paddy rice from as far as Kwara state.
This, according to our findings, has been a catalyst for local farmers in the rice producing belt to expand their farm hectares.
For instance, in Kebbi State, rice production has become a serious business. Buyers go as far as to the farms to buy rice. In the state, there are farmers who have up to 200 hectares of rice fields.
Investigations revealed that the Sunday Rice Market at Kamba is usually flooded with finished rice and paddy from different areas of the state and neighboring Niger and Benin Republic. A 50kg of finished local rice is sold between N9,500 and 8,000 at the border areas. Paddy that are sold between N10,000 and N9,000 at Birnin Kebbi, Bunza, Suru, Bagudo, Argungu, Augie are sold at Kamba rice market between N7,000 to N6000.
Project Coordinator of Labana rice farms, Alhaji Umar Dodo Aliero, revealed a new strategy that will further boost production from their end and if every other thing goes well the farm is expected to realize over 198,600 bags of rice during harvesting. “We can transplant about 50 hectares in a day. We have developed our own variety of rice,’’ he said.
On a similar front, Taraba State is one of the largest producing states than many people previously thought as this investigation has shown.
A survey of the major markets in the states has shown that about four major big millers in the country- Olam Rice Farm based in Rukubi in Nasarawa State, Stallion Rice, WACOT in Argungu, Kebbi State, Umza in Kano, and other medium scale milling companies in Benue state troop to the place to buy paddy rice.
Daily Trust on Sunday went to Mutum-Biyu in Gassol, Karim Lamindo Local Government areas and Yelwa at the outskirt of Jalingo to assess production level and it was discovered that although this is not the production peak period, many millers have aggregated a lot of paddy from the state.
Olam alone collects about 430 trailers of rice annually, about half of this paddy comes from Mutum Biyu (Gassol) alone, 70 trailers from Jalingo and other places in the state. Each of these trucks carries 30 tonnes of rice.
Emeka Isaac Amakwe who is into procurement with Olam said the company gives out money to the indigene to source this paddy which the company buys between N100 to N119 per Kg.
Stallion Group has an aggregation centre for collecting paddy through various agents who are also rice farmers.
It is a common sight to see many trucks loading paddy out of mutum biyu daily as a visit to the area twice have shown- the same in Jalingo, the state capital.
Daily Trust on Sunday findings in rice producing communities of Kwara State have shown massive production of local rice. Communities along the River Niger including Lafiagi, Patigi, Paada and Shonga recorded massive production of rice in the last planting season.
Our Agric Editor, who visited some of the communities gathered that local rice milling companies like Umza, Olam, Stallion and Walcott are the main buyers of paddy rice from the communities.
Their agents were stationed at their various collecting centres to buy paddy directly from the farmers.
One of the agents, who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday at Lafiagi, Suleiman Mohammed, said over 100 trucks had already left the community since the beginning of dry season.
He said a 50kg paddy costs between N7,000 and N8,000.
At Pada, hundreds of bags of paddies are being moved to Patigi on daily basis from where agents will buy them off for their companies.
There are lots of rice productions along Kaima and Barutine axis of Kwara State from where millers buy them off to Kebbi and Kano states.
The rice producing communities in Kwara are said to be producing about one million metric tonnes per anum.
Investigations in Benue revealed that rice is produced in commercial quantity at Naka in Gwer West, Guma, Ikpayongo in Gwer East, Kwande, Oju, Ushongo, Buruku, Kastina-Ala, Makurdi, and Agatu local government areas respectively among others.
Presently, most warehouses are stocked with rice paddy while marketing points such as the one located at Daudu in Guma have overfilled their barn with more paddies still being brought for sales by the farmers.
Rice specialist and Chairman of Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN) in Benue state, Fidelis Iyorumgwa Akosu, intimated that the 6000 registered farmers of the association are currently doing exploit under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) anchor borrowers programme.
Akosu said each of the farmers under the programme is growing at least two hectares of rice farm which is expected to produce a maximum of between 120 and 160 bags of 100kg at the end of harvest with the advantage of modern technology implored and adequate rainfall.
The RIFAN chairman worried about the smuggling of rice from the state by alleged Anambara traders who go as far as re-packaging the local rice and sell same as foreign produce because according to him the quality of rice produced in the state is quite better than other.
Akosu stressed that current local rice production is rising in the state following the massive involvement of farmers in growing the crop, especially, as there are ready markets for the produce.
Our correspondent who visited rice producing and processing areas such as, Wadata in Makurdi, Daudu in Guma and Wurukum rice mills observed massive rice being processed by both farmers who brought their paddy for sales and millers doing their job to bring forth the finest of the rice for consumers delight
In Kaduna, the State Chairman of Rice Farmer Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Muhammad Umar Nungu, said that Rice farmers across the 23 LGAs in Kaduna has reached about 85 percent production capacity out of the expected target despite the fact that some parts of the producing areas in the state are affected by severe crisis.
In Sokoto state, before the FG’s interventions, farmers across Sokoto state could not produce above 50,000 tonnes of local variety.
Alhaji Salihu Ibrahim, chairman of RIFAN disclosed that the support was enjoyed by 33,000 farmers during the wet season and 10,000 for dry season which allowed production capacity to reach 175,000 metric tonnes adding that Attajiri Mill, KK polish local variety to a level that matches all attribute of foreign rice.”
The state has over 120,000 registered members with major producing communities in Goronyo, Wurno, Kebbe, Silame, Sabon Birni, Tambuwakl, and Wamakko.
Our correspondents in Edo and Kogi states report that there has been a significant increase in rice production activities despite the input challenges bedeviling the industry in some places-some like Kaduna are ridden with conflicts.
In Anambra state, the chairman of JOSAN Integrated Rice Mills and Farms, Chief Oliver Okeke, has commended the Anambra Government for the successful inauguration of the JOSAN Rice Mills, with about 10,000 farmers.
Okeke said in Abuja that the resuscitation of the JOSAN Giant Mill, formerly Omor Rice Mill, meant that the country would soon bounce back as the largest rice mill in West Africa.
Consumers’ taste, preference, a huge problem
Although this investigation has found a huge increase in rice production across all the belts, there are factors that threatening the survival of the local brands.
Many people across the market seem to prefer the “better-polished” imported rice for two reasons: its cleaner appearance, the price, which in some case is even lower than the locally produced ones.
“Since the prices are almost the same or lower, people will naturally buy the foreign ones because even in the cooking, some of the local rice melts and gums together which is why I prefer the foreign rice which has better quality,” a buyer, Mrs Emmanuella Emeka, told Daily Trust in Wuse market in Abuja and many shared her opinion.
This is a factor that shapes the performance of the foreign rice people like Mr. Jonathan Emeka who sells local brands wants the government to step up more campaign against foreign rice.
But Mrs Veronica Aremu, a resident of Ita-Amadu area of Ilorin told Daily Trust that there is no much difference between the price of local rice and the foreign ones. ‘’So instead of buying the local rice that usually melts during cooking, I will rather add the little money and get the foreign one that will rise with good quality,’’ she added.
She said in many rice markets in Ilorin, the common brand of rice you can find are Pearl, Falcon, Royal Stallion, Tomato Aroso, Thai Caprice and Moto, which are mainly foreign rice and are sold between N15,500 to N17,000 per 50kg compare to the local rice like Mama Gold and Umza which are sold close to N16,000 too.
A notable farmer at Lafiagi, one of the main rice producing communities in Kwara State, Abdullahi Ndako, attributed the differences in the quality to the poor milling process by the local millers while activities of the smugglers are crashing the prices of foreign rice at the detriment of the local ones.
A seller at the rice market in Daleko, Mushin, Lagos, simply identified as Mum Abdullah, said there was a very low quantity of local rice in the market.
She noted that only a few people have local rice, the majority of the market men and women depend on foreign rice.
She also listed Pearl, Falcon, Royal Stallion, Tomato Aroso, Thai Caprice and Moto, Tripple Seven and Oriba as common rice brand at the market, which according to her are foreign brands.
Our correspondent in Lagos reports that the Lagos State government local rice ‘Lake rice’, is sold only at a few designated locations and is not available all year round.

The way out for the local brands
These findings demonstrate that the federal government needs to deconstruct Nigerians’ perceptions of the rice produce locally. It would not be out-of-place if a subsidy is placed on the final product in the market to attract first choice preference.
Struggling is killing the millers, the farmers and as well denying the government of the huge money it can generate if the product comes through the normal seaports.
The fact that the smuggling still thrives massively across the country’s land borders, the customs and other sister agencies needs to re-strategize to protect the farmers and the millers.
In the opinion of Mr Babatunde Ajibola, Head, Media and Communications, Elephant Group Plc, investors in rice business including agro companies and farmers can only survive if government addresses the issue of illegal rice smuggling.
Mr. Babatunde Olajire, an agric economist, said apart from checking the activities of the smuglers, the federal government can grant rice producers a kind of subsidy or better still a kind of tax waivers to some of millers in order to reduce the price of the local rice.
‘’If the price is cut down, local rice will be able to compete favorably with the smuggled rice in the market and this will lead to more production. Also, the waivers or the subsidy will encourage more millers into the production and this will mean more employment for the people,’’ he said.
Mr. Olajire, who spoke with one of reporters on phone from Ibadan, said with such policy more farmers will embrace rice farming knowing fully that there are enough millers to off take the paddy rice from them.


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THE open­ing up of the Philip­pine rice mar­ket could push its im­ports this year to a record-high 2.6 mil­lion (MMT) met­ric tons, mak­ing it the sec­ond­biggest buyer of the sta­ple since the 2008 rice price cri­sis, ac­cord­ing to the United States De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA).In its monthly grains re­port, the USDA pro­jected that rice ex­ports to the Philip­pines would ex­pand by 4 per­cent to 2.6 MMT, from the es­ti­mated vol­ume of 2.5 MMT in 2018.
The USDA also re­vised up­ward its Fe­bru­ary fore­cast for Philip­pine rice im­ports in 2019 from 2.3 MMT to 2.6 MMT.
The USDA at­trib­uted the hike in im­ports to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rice trade lib­er­al­iza­tion (RTL) law, paving the way for a new trade regime for the Philip­pines.
Un­der the RTL law, im­porters would just have to se­cure a san­i­tary and phy­tosan­i­tary im­port-clear­ance (SPS-IC) from the Bureau of Plant and In­dus­try prior to ship­ment ar­rivals. The law also dereg­u­lated the Na­tional Food Au­thor­ity (NFA), re­mov­ing all its power over rice trade in the coun­try.
Un­der the RTL law, im­porters would just have to se­cure a san­i­tary and phy­tosan­i­tary im­port-clear­ance (SPS-IC) from the Bureau of Plant and In­dus­try prior to ship­ment ar­rivals. The law also dereg­u­lated the Na­tional Food Au­thor­ity (NFA), re­mov­ing all its power over rice trade in the coun­try.
“As a re­sult of this leg­is­la­tion, higher rice im­ports are ex­pected from nearby As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions mem­ber­coun­tries, with their rel­a­tive low cost and pref­er­en­tial ac­cess to the Philip­pines,” the USDA said in the re­port, pub­lished over the week­end.
“As a re­sult of this leg­is­la­tion, higher rice im­ports are ex­pected from nearby As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions mem­ber­coun­tries, with their rel­a­tive low cost and pref­er­en­tial ac­cess to the Philip­pines,” the USDA said in the re­port, pub­lished over the week­end.
“[The 2.6-mil­lion met­ric ton im­port vol­ume] is a record not seen since the in­ter­na­tional price spike in 2008 and would make the Philip­pines the sec­ond-largest global im­porter in 2019,” it added.
Gov­ern­ment data sub­mit­ted to the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion in­di­cated that this could be the big­gest vol­ume of rice to be im­ported by the Philip­pines in his­tory, over­shad­ow­ing the vol­ume it pur­chased in 2008.
Gov­ern­ment data sub­mit­ted to the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion in­di­cated that this could be the big­gest vol­ume of rice to be im­ported by the Philip­pines in his­tory, over­shad­ow­ing the vol­ume it pur­chased in 2008.
In 2008, the Philip­pines im­ported 2.39 MMT of rice, with 2.297 MMT of the to­tal vol­ume be­ing bought by the NFA; while in 2010, the coun­try pur­chased 2.369 MMT.
In 2008, the Philip­pines im­ported 2.39 MMT of rice, with 2.297 MMT of the to­tal vol­ume be­ing bought by the NFA; while in 2010, the coun­try pur­chased 2.369 MMT.
De­spite the an­tic­i­pated in­crease in im­ports, the USDA main­tained its rice out­put fore­cast for the Philip­pines at 12.15 MMT, slightly lower than last year’s 12.235 MMT.
De­spite the an­tic­i­pated in­crease in im­ports, the USDA main­tained its rice out­put fore­cast for the Philip­pines at 12.15 MMT, slightly lower than last year’s 12.235 MMT.
De­spite the an­tic­i­pated in­crease in im­ports, the USDA main­tained its rice out­put fore­cast for the Philip­pines at 12.15 MMT, slightly lower than last year’s 12.235 MMT.
In a sep­a­rate re­port, the United na­tions Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO) noted that global rice prices con­tin­ued to de­cline de­spite the lib­er­al­iza­tion of the coun­try’s rice in­dus­try.
“Fe­bru­ary quo­ta­tions of Indica white rice de­clined across much of Asia, as fresh de­mand re­mained per­sis­tently thin, over­shad­ow­ing news of the pas­sage of the rice tar­if­fi­ca­tion law in the
“Fe­bru­ary quo­ta­tions of Indica white rice de­clined across much of Asia, as fresh de­mand re­mained per­sis­tently thin, over­shad­ow­ing news of the pas­sage of the rice tar­if­fi­ca­tion law in the
Philip­pines,” FAO said in its monthly rice mar­ket mon­i­tor re­port pub­lished re­cently.
FAO’s higher qual­ity Indica rice in­dex in Fe­bru­ary fell by 4.7 per­cent to 191, from 200 in Jan­uary. Like­wise, lower qual­ity Indica in­dex de­clined by 7.2 per­cent to 194 from 209 in the pre­vi­ous month, FAO data showed.
FAO’s higher qual­ity Indica rice in­dex in Fe­bru­ary fell by 4.7 per­cent to 191, from 200 in Jan­uary. Like­wise, lower qual­ity Indica in­dex de­clined by 7.2 per­cent to 194 from 209 in the pre­vi­ous month, FAO data showed.
Quo­ta­tions for 5-per­cent bro­kens of Viet­namese rice fell for the third straight month to $335 per MT, while its 25-per­cent bro­kens de­clined fur­ther to $323 per MT, FAO data showed.
“Ac­cord­ing to the In­dex, in­ter­na­tional prices in the first two months of 2019 were 1.1 per­cent be­low their lev­els in the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod of 2018,” FAO said.

Rice Prices

as on : 11-03-2019 12:32:27 PM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.

Quest for disease and pest-resistant rice: Ugandan researchers turn to hybrid, GMO breeding programs

Description: rice harvesting
Life for Ugandan rice farmers is not easy. They struggle against an array of pests, diseases and drought as they dream of capturing more of a $5 billion global market for rice.
For now, their best options revolve around a robust line of new rice varieties bred to cope with some of the difficulties plaguing them. But key crop researchers are pushing for the development and eventual commercialization of GMO varieties tailored to suit the nation’s needs.
Traditional breeding by scientists at Uganda’s National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) has led to the development of varieties known as New Rice for Africa (Nerica). The Nerica series include a group of 18 varieties developed by the African Rice Centre, which is part of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) along with national research organizations in West Africa.
They are based on crosses between a robust African species and a higher-yielding Asian species.
Description: gmo riceImage credit: Lominda Afedraru

Conventional rice breeding

Jimmy Lamo, the program leader for rice breeding at Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Institute, said several Nerica varieties were introduced in 2002. Over the following seven years, the area planted with the rice increased from 1,500 hectares to more than 50,000 hectares.
Among the most successful of the new varieties is the Nerica 4, known for its hardiness, high yields and shorter maturation period of 90-100 days compared to traditional varieties that take 120-140 days.
While many of its neighbors grow rice primarily to feed local populations, Uganda’s farmers see an opportunity for commercial sales and increased income.  Today, Uganda is one of the leading producers of Nerica 4, ranking twelfth in Africa for overall rice production.
The work done by Lamo and his team has played an important role in that – particularly the introduction of new upland rice varieties that are succeeding where lowland varieties are suffering. Said Lamo:
We have been carrying out research in lowland rice varieties. We released three varieties in 2002, two in 2007 and four in 2010 which farmers are now growing but with little prospect of giving them good yields. This is because the main disease Rice Yellow Mottle affecting rice growing in lowlands is a challenge to farmers throughout the globe.
At the research initiative, which began four years ago, scientists have been breeding these varieties using a collection of species both from Africa and Asia. The varieties from Africa were mainly WITA 9 rice varieties, bred in most West African countries, two varieties from Tanzania and others from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) breeding center in Mozambique.
Lamo said four new varieties in the Nerica 6 family will have the potential to grow in both upland and lowland areas. “These varieties mature in less than 102 and 120 days compared to the traditional varieties that take 136 days or more,” he said, adding that farmers will be able to harvest four to six tons of rice seeds per hectare from the newly released varieties.

GMO rice breeding

Yet even as researchers score wins through traditional breeding efforts, they worry that prolonged success will only be possible through GMO rice, better able to face pests, diseases, drought and nutrient-challenged soils.
Lamo said his team is working on a GMO rice variety that can thrive in nitrogen-deprived soils and in drought conditions. This was in response to the concerns of farmers in northern, central and eastern parts of the country, where drought is a common concern.

The first trial was conducted in 2013 where the team obtained three promising lines that can be grown in soils with less nitrogen. A current trial is underway to evaluate the varieties under drought conditions as well. The project is funded by US Agency for International Development (Usaid) in collaboration with University of California, which is collecting data on efficiency of the rice varieties.
It’s still unclear whether the nation will approve GMOs for commercial release. Uganda’s legislators recently passed a new Genetic Engineering Regulatory Bill. It is designed to provide a regulatory framework for development and application of biotechnology. A previous version, known as the National Biotechnology and Bio-safety Bill, failed after the nation’s president refused to sign it, citing concerns over patent rights of indigenous farmers and sanctions for scientists who mix GMOs with indigenous crops and animals.

Target interest

The initial gene acquisition was from African scientists providing Nerica varieties to their counterparts at University of California. This is where the genes were incorporated into the African rice variety.
During breeding, scientists introduced a gene from barley to the Nerica 4 rice variety to improve drought resistance. Said Lamo:
“Adoption of these transgenic varieties by farmers will be faster since it’s already a popular variety. These lines will be transferred on farmer’s fields directly once the approval process of commercialization of transgenic rice has been satisfied.”
Abubaker Muwonge, field trial manager, said the team is applying nitrogen at different levels. But they are most interested in how the rice performs without fertilizer.
He believes there are positive results in the two selected lines because they can grow under low soil nitrogen conditions of 30 kg per hectare unlike the conventional that require 50 kg per hectare for normal growth and high yield.
This means there is yield advantage of 15-20 percent when the transgenic rice is planted under 30 kg per hectare when compared with non-transgenic rice.
These lines appear capable of thriving in soil with low nitrogen. But this needs to be confirmed through more widespread filed trials. Thus far, evaluations have taken place at the institute under confined field trials.
The next move is to conduct multi-location evaluations in different regions in the country to gather data on the performance of the transgenic lines under different agro-ecologies over the next two years. The research is focused on upland rice varieties where the challenge of nitrogen efficiency is faced by most farmers.
Geoffrey Asea, director of NaCRRI, said the focus of GMO rice breeding is on rice planted in soils with zero fertilizer. He said current rice market potential is $5 billion, and that African countries have the potential to compete in that market.
Lominda Afedraru is a freelance science journalist in Uganda who specializes in agriculture, health, environment, climate change and marine science. Follow her on the Daily Monitor web sitewww.monitor.co.ugFacebook or Twitter @lominda25

Is It U.S. Medium Grain Inarizushi Or Is It Japanese Inarizushi? 
By Jim Guinn

TOKYO, JAPAN - Last week at Foodex Japan 2019, USA Rice conducted a taste-testing demonstration at the U.S. Embassy Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) booth to promote the availability and suitability of U.S. medium grain for sushi items.

More than 700 samples of inarizushi, a flavored boiled rice wrapped in fried bean curd, and a rice salad with nuts and dried fruit were tasted by those attending this, the largest food trade exhibition in Asia, and feedback was positive.

"After our booth visitors tasted the inarizushi, both traditional and a new style flavored with curry, and the rice salad, we asked if they noticed a difference between the inarizushi they usually eat and the inarizushi using U.S. medium grain rice," said Yumi Kojima, the USA Rice contractor in Japan who attended the show.  "Most said the inarizushi using U.S medium grain tasted good, and more than 92 percent of those polled said they did not find a difference between U.S. and Japanese rice-based inarizushi.  Those who could discern a difference were not negative as they mentioned the light, non-sticky texture of the inarizushi using U.S. medium grain."
"Featuring U.S. medium grain rice in sushi is our latest effort to build demand for U.S. rice under the Simultaneous Buy and Sell (SBS) system," said Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president international. "It is being met with wide acceptance, especially as the availability and high price of domestic medium grade rice has been a challenge for the nakashoku (deli and take-out) industry here over the past several years."

‘Rice phase out’ saddens Negrenses

BACOLOD. Rice outlets at Bacolod City Central Market are expected to receive weekly allocation of National Food Authority rice until August this year, pending the final implementing rules and regulations of the Rice Import and Export Liberalization Law. (Erwin Nicavera)
March 11, 2019
SOME consumers in Negros Occidental were saddened by the impending “phase out” of the P27 per kilogram government rice among markets in the province due to the Rice Import and Export Liberalization Law.

The National Food Authority (NFA) in Negros Occidental earlier said that pending the issuance of the final version of the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR), the distribution of the cheaper rice in the province will continue. 

Based on last week's inventory, the province still has a buffer of about 195,000 bags.

These stocks are up for distribution until August this year as long as there's no new order mandating the NFA to stop the distribution.

For consumer Lablab Manalo, a mother of two from Barangay 13 in Bacolod City, the P27 per kilogram NFA rice has been part of her family's food table.

Given her husband's meager income as a vendor, Manalo said their stomachs are tied with the cheaper government rice.

“Aside from its cheaper price, NFA rice's quality is also competitive with that of commercial rice,” she said, adding that the impending “phase out” of the P27 rice in the market is a sad development.

“Poor consumers like us are left with no option. We'll be forced to buy commercial rice with prices that are double compared to NFA rice,” Manalo said.

Prevailing prices of commercial rice at the Bacolod City Central Market range from P40 to P52 per kilogram depending on classification.

These prices are slightly higher than the suggested retail prices (SRPs) set for the commodity.

Based on the general guidelines stated on the Memorandum Circular issued by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on October 24, the SRPs set for local rice range from P39 to P47 per kilogram depending on classification.

Regular milled rice costs P39 per kilogram while well-milled and premium rice cost P44 to P47 per kilogram, respectively.

For imported rice, on the other hand, the SRP for well-milled is P39 per kilogram. While, those for premium grade one and two are P43 and P40 per kilogram, respectively.

Under the guidelines, special rice such as glutinous, aromatic, pigmented, japonica and micronutrient-dense rice are not covered by the SRPs.

Other consumers said NFA's absence in the market would mean additional burden and struggle for households belonging to the marginalized sector.

Most consumers are taking advantage of the remaining days where NFA rice is still available in the local market by increasing the volume they purchase.

Since consumers are allowed to buy only up to five kilograms per rice outlet, others are buying from more than one retailers.

Effective March 5, the Rice Import and Export Liberalization Law removed the regulatory functions of the NFA over international and domestic trading of rice.

NFA-Negros Occidental, like other provincial offices, can no longer act on licensing and registration of persons and entities engaged in the grains business, and collection of regulatory fees.

Other functions stripped from the agency included issuance of negotiable warehouse receipts, warehouse inspection, authority to seize hoarded stocks, and enforce rules and regulations in the grains business.

For accredited retailers in the city, the tariffication measure would also mean “opportunity loss” for them.

Arnel Malayang, president of Rice Retailers Association at the central market, said when price of commercial rice increases, most consumers are resorting to NFA rice.

The four accredited retailers at the central market are receiving a weekly allocation of 50 bags each.

Malayang said they have no choice but to “focus” on commercial rice once NFA rice is no longer available.

“It would be advantageous if there's NFA rice in the market as, for one, it helps stabilize the price of commercial rice,” Malayang said.

Aside from reduction on potential income, local retailers are apprehensive of the possible surge in buying prices of commercial rice from the traders, he added.