Thursday, April 11, 2019

11th April,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter


Navy Arrests 3 Suspects, Seizes 416 Bags Of Contraband Rice In A’Ibom

Description: Navy
The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo LGA in Akwa Ibom, says it has arrested three suspects and seized 416 bags of contraband rice brought in from the Republic of Cameroon.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Cpt. Reginald Adoki, made the disclosure during the handover of the seized items to Nigeria Customs officials in Mbo on Wednesday.
Adoki said the three suspects were intercepted in a wooden boat along the Mbo River by officials of the navy during routine patrol.
They discovered that the medium boat which was fitted with two 40 horsepower Yamaha outboard engines was carrying the 416 bags of 50kg rice
He said: “The gunboat of FOB, Ibaka, while conducting routine patrol along the Mbo river and other adjoining creeks intercepted a medium-sized wooden boat.
“After offloading, it was discovered to be carrying 416 bags of 50kg rice and two 40 horsepower Yamaha outboard engines which are fitted to the wooden boat.
“ The three suspects, from preliminary investigations revealed they were bringing the rice from Cameroon.
“This handover is customary to us and a way of renewing the commitment the Navy has put in clearing this area of illegal activities.
“It also reiterates the confidence the Navy has in the customs to deal with the cases handed over to them for further investigation and prosecution,” Adoki said.
Receiving the suspects and bags of rice from the Navy, the Comptroller, Eastern Marine Command, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Port Harcourt, Mr Elton Edorhe appealed to the smugglers to desist from harming the economy of the country through their actions.
Edorhe, was represented by Mr Ibrahim Adamu, Chief Superintendent of Customs
“On behalf of the Customs Comptroller, Eastern Marine Command, Comptroller Elton Edorhe, I thank the Navy for the seizures and appeal to the smugglers to consider the economy of the nation that is being bastardised through smuggling.
“They should do the needful and desist from this economic sabotage and also save themselves the pains of losing their money,’’ he said.
However, one of the suspects, Mr Victor Asuquo, a professional barber from Mbo LGA, said he was innocent of the charge against him.
Asuquo, who said he was returning home after about six months sojourn in Cameroon, said he was only a passenger in the captured boat and not involved in smuggling.
He said, “I am not involved in this smuggling; I just entered the boat as a passenger. The driver of the boat escaped when the boat was arrested, the three of us are passengers.
“I left Cameroon because of the crisis there and since I did not have an international passport to board a flying boat, I paid 5,000 franc to board the local boat,’’ he said.

 

Pessimism prevails in industry, bureaucracy

APRIL 11, 2019
·       PESSIMISM PREVAILS IN INDUSTRY, BUREAUCRACY
(Last of three parts)
Despite assurances from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agencies primarily tasked to implement major projects under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), pessimism prevails within the rice industry and the bureaucracy, including the National Food Authority (NFA).
Description: https://s14255.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/160209_harvest01.jpgA young boy take a look to this photographer when he and hios older brother photographed while harvesting palay along the ricefiled along the national highway of Balaoan, La Union. File Photo
The two attached agencies that will implement the bulk of the programs under RCEF to make the country’s rice sector competitive are the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) that will be getting P5 billion and P3 billion, respectively, from this year up to 2024.
Among the regions where pessimism is being felt is Cagayan Valley (Region 2), which, ironically, already has a competitive rice-growing sector particularly in Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya. In these provinces, palay (unmilled rice) yield is at least 4 metric tons per hectare, among the highest in the country.
“DA has all the blows to parry…and Secretary Piñol is under siege,” an agriculture official from Cagayan Valley said, referring to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.
“We wait until additional measures will be discussed by the agriculture chief. Meantime, we gather as much feedback as we can from farmers. However, these would, I personally presume, go to the other side of the coin. How will we survive? How can we thrive if private traders can import?” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Manila Times.
NFA to lose powers
There is also a level of pessimism in the NFA offices in Cagayan Valley, which may reflect the sentiments of the agency’s units in other parts of the country.
A source said all the provincial units of the grains agency in the region are concerned with the influx of imported rice. The source described Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the “Rice Tariffication Law” as “anti-people.”
The draft of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for RA 11203 calls for the reorganization of the NFA and the formulation of a package for employees who will be “considered redundant.”
The draft IRR also states that rice importers need not seek NFA permits or licenses to import rice, and that the licenses the agency issued to rice traders and retailers are revoked.
The draft IRR makes the NFA an “open market player” in the rice industry, while maintaining a buffer stock. The second draft of the IRR does not go into detail, however, on what constitutes an “open market player” or buffer stock.
The NFA source said that liberalized rice imports would affect the agency’s accredited dealers and cooperatives, who might be forced to sell their stocks at lower prices to compete with grain imports. News of the rice imports has also driven the retail price of rice to as low as P20 to 21 per kilo.
‘Misinformation’
In Isabela, a source from the PhilRice office said there was misinformation that RA 11203 was the cause of the lowering of palay prices.
“Our farmers also think this way, that we will be flooded with low-priced rice from abroad…but this is not true… the 35 [percent] tariff of imports from Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] countries will increase their prices to become competitive with our rice which we produce at a much higher cost,” he explained.
“We should be employing better production management technologies, such as direct seeding, use of hybrid rice varieties, higher fertilization rates both organic and inorganic, more use of machinery, and others, to lower our cost per kilo of production,” he added.
A few farmers interviewed by The Times in Cagayan Valley fear that their rice will become worthless with the arrival of more affordable stocks from abroad.
However, Charles Lim, a farmer-businessman based in Isabela province, said the problem was not the price of rice but the high cost of production.
“Farmers should work on lowering cost of production while increasing yield per hectare,” Lim said, explaining that an average of 90 cavans of palay per hectare was very low, producing an income estimated at only P5,250 per month.
He said a farmer should maximize production up to 300 cavans per hectare to earn up to P20,000 per hectare.
“Helping the farmers increase their yield with new approaches and technology is what we need and not importation, thus, we become rice self-sufficient country,” Lim added.
Mental Health:  Ag Community Urged to Address the Stress  

ARLINGTON, VA -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Journal of Rural Health published studies last year that show suicide rates among farmers and farm workers are some of the highest of any industry, and are on the rise.  This disturbing trend has brought to light the many unique stressors and hardships that farmers face and the growing need for healthcare resources and support in rural areas. 

In March, USA Rice joined a coalition of dozens of agriculture organizations in signing a letter calling for Congress to fully fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) included in the 2018 Farm Bill.  Congress provided $2 million in the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill for a pilot of FRSAN, which will hopefully lead to full implementation by 2020.  The program provides grants for extension services, state departments of agriculture, nonprofit organizations and other entities to provide stress assistance to farmers, ranchers, farmworkers, and other agriculture-related occupations.  Resources will include farm helplines and websites, training programs and workshops, outreach services, and home delivery of assistance.

The letter notes that up to 60 percent of rural residents live in areas that lack adequate access to mental health resources.  Many farmers live in counties that don't even have a doctor or a hospital, much less a counselor or therapist, and they may have to drive for hours to seek treatment.  Compounding the problem is that mental health professionals often don't have the specialized knowledge to understand what farmers go through; they may not be informed on the complications of tariff issues, for example, or the particular pain of losing a multi-generation farm.  Studies show that farmers who work on smaller farms-11 people or less-may be at higher risk of depression or suicide. 

Several states, including Virginia, Arkansas, and North Dakota, have already begun adopting policies and developing programs that aim to increase mental health support for agricultural workers.  The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture has recently implemented a free, hour-long educational program aimed at farmers that covers causes of stress and healthy ways to cope. 

"People under heavy stress may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, like substance abuse or working harder to solve the problem when what's really needed is rest," said Brittney Schrick, assistant professor of family life at the Division of Agriculture.  "We also offer group trainings, and an eight-hour training course for our country agents and our extension personnel, to arm them with some tools they can take out into the field." 

Schrick says that these agents may be in the best position to have candid discussions with farmers about mental health.  "We're hoping to train them for what signs to look for, how to respond, and how to utilize the resources available to them when someone seems like they're in a crisis." 

The CDC report was a wakeup call for agriculture.  The significant efforts being made by state and local farm agencies to create more honesty around mental health and provide better access to healthcare come at a crucial time.  For those in the farming community who are suffering, these new resources will shine a light in darkness.

Rice Webinar:  Thursday April 11 

Tune in Thursday, April 11, at 10:00 a.m. Central Time, for a new rice webinar hosted by Dr. Bobby Coats, with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Arkansas. Riceland Foods, Inc. Senior Vice President Terry Harris will discuss the challenges the U.S. rice industry faces selling rice in a world increasingly focused on food security, protectionism, and nationalism. Harris will touch on subjects such as NAFTA 2.0, Chinese trade and policy disputes, European Union economic and trade challenges, Brexit, and other issues impacting today's U.S. rice trade.

Go here to register for the webinar.

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USA Rice Daily

Most of China's rice fields suitable for water saving irrigation: research

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-11 17:03:20|Editor: mingmei
BEIJING, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have disclosed that over 94 percent of the country's rice fields are suitable for water saving irrigation (WSI).
The researchers from Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Peking University constructed an index system considering soil, climate hydrology, terrain, soil fertility and salinity, rainfall and underground water levels.
They analyzed water saving, pollutant reducing, and yield increasing effects, based on multi-site field studies across China. The potential overall effect of WSI practices at country level was also estimated.
Results showed that a higher pollutant reduction rate appeared with a higher water saving rate, while the yield increasing effect would end when the water saving rate increased to a specific amount.
They also found that soil structure deterioration and low soil fertility made 5.81 percent of the rice fields unsuitable for WSI.
The application of WSI in China has noticeable potential to alleviate water shortage, control the greenhouse gas emissions of rice fields and reduce pest disease.
China has four commonly-used WSI methods: shallow-wet irrigation, controlled irrigation, intermittent irrigation and rain-gathering irrigation, according to the paper published in the journal Agricultural Water Management.

IRRI, partners to transform Asean rice-fish systems

APRIL 11, 2019
·       IRRI, PARTNERS TO TRANSFORM ASEAN RICE-FISH SYSTEMS
Description: https://s14255.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/irri.jpgSource: IRRI FB
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), WorldFish and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) signed a five-year tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday, providing the framework for cooperation on research for development (R4D) initiatives focused on the sustainable intensification and management of rice-fish production systems in irrigated landscapes and wetlands in Southeast Asia.
The agreement aligns with the CGIAR 2030 Plan that calls for transformations of its research programs to usher in a “food systems revolution” to tackle challenges related to sustainability, nutrition, genetics, socioeconomics and information, and to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through greater cooperation between the centers.
“This agreement exemplifies a food systems approach to transforming the global rice sector. The combined global research expertise and influence of IRRI, WorldFish and IWMI in the core elements of diets such as rice and fish, as well as land and water systems make this strategic collaboration essential to a food systems revolution,” said IRRI Director General Matthew Morell.
Previous individual and joint program partnerships involving IRRI, WorldFish and IWMI have yielded positive results. These include the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (2004), and an earlier project on fish-rice between IRRI and WorldFish with Bangladesh research and nonprofit agencies.
More recently, WorldFish, IRRI and IWMI came together for the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research-funded Development of Rice Fish Systems (RFS) in the Ayeyarwady Delta project. The project aims to improve the productivity and profitability of rice-fish systems in Myanmar and seeks to benefit small-scale rice farming households, and fisherfolk by diversifying production in rice-based farming systems and landscapes, enhancing resilience of rice-based farming systems.
WorldFish Director General Gareth Johnstone said the multi-agency partnership provides a strategic push for wider research, promotion and implementation of integrated rice-fish systems, and builds on previous successes of WorldFish and its partners.
“This partnership helps create better synergies for leveraging our individual research expertise and network strengths to accelerate the sustainable supply of nutritious fish and rice into national, regional and global food systems. Together, we will also be able to better support regional cooperation by increasing awareness, disseminating knowledge and scaling critical solutions for this intensification to be truly sustainable,” Johnstone said.
IMWI’s work on sustainable water and land use converges well with IRRI’s work on landscape-level water management and environmental sustainability.
“What we aim to achieve as individual organizations is interconnected and geared toward the fulfillment of almost the same SDGs. We envision a sustainable food, nutrition and water secure world and this strategic partnership gets us closer to that goal,” said IMWI Deputy Director General for Research for Development Mark Smith.
Under the MoU, IRRI, WorldFish and IWMI will co-develop and implement R4D activities to discover the impact of rice-fish production systems on environmental, socioeconomic and cultural values on land and waterways. The R4D projects will be developed based on themes, including constructed water bodies, rice-fish landscapes, climate resilience and water, trade-offs and foresight analysis, and information and communications technology and big data.

Farmers seek more subsidies under rice tariff law

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:02 AM April 11, 2019
Description: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2019/04/11farmer.jpg
A farmer in Pangasinan Willie Lomibao
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, Philippines — In the wake of the passage of the implementing rules of Republic Act No. 11203, or the rice tariffication law, Cordillera farmers have sought for amendments to include subsidy on farm inputs.
Half of the rice competitiveness enhancement fund focuses on farm mechanization, but there is no direct mention of aid for farm inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, said Remy Albano, president of Cordillera Federation of Irrigators Associations (FIA-CAR).
Under the new law, the rice fund has an annual allocation of P10 billion for six years and 30 percent of this will go to the development, propagation, and promotion of inbred rice by the Philippine Rice Research Institute.
“Even if farms are mechanized but input prices continue to rise, we remain losers in the trade,” said Albano, who is also vice governor of Apayao.
He said farmers in Cordillera need to shift to hybrid rice to be at par with other rice-producing regions and increase yield per hectare since they can no longer expand their farms.
Hybrid rice varieties produce higher yield and are more resistant to diseases and insects. However, they are more expensive than the commonly used inbred variety.
Albano said farmers cannot use hybrid rice seeds harvested from the previous season because these have already lost vigor, a genetic characteristic which results in lower yield.
“This means farmers need to allocate money to buy seeds every season,” Albano said.
In recent years, prices of fertilizers have also significantly increased along with other farming commodities, he said, adding that this has forced many farmers to resort to “credit-for-harvest” offers from rice traders or pawn .


The war on weeds

Supplement - 2019 problem solvers // weed control

Topdress containers with PBH rice hulls to reduce the need for herbicide and hand weeding.
April 5, 2019
Herbicides and hand weeding have long been the two options for managing weeds in nursery containers. In recent years, however, a new grower-developed technique has emerged and gained significant credibility. Nursery professionals have discovered the benefits of managing weeds by topdressing containers with parboiled rice hulls – a weed management practice now substantiated by USDA research.
Although rice hull topdressing may not totally eliminate the need for herbicides and/or hand weeding, it can reduce both and provide several other key advantages.
A rice hull top-dress of 1 to 2 inches offers the following:
  • Prevents airborne weed seeds from reaching the growing media and germinating
  • Dramatically decreases container weeds, including moss species such as liverwort
  • Significantly reduces hand-weeding labor and expense
  • Provides excellent potential for reduced herbicide use
  • Helps decrease damage in herbicide-sensitive plant material
  • Can reduce drought stress and watering
  • Costs just pennies per container
  • Provides economical, earth-friendly weed management
When topdressing with rice hulls, allow space at top of container at transplant and cover entire surface with one to two inches of PBH rice hulls.
PBH rice hulls, a product of Riceland Foods, Inc., are the popular choice for topdressing nursery containers and currently in use at many nurseries. Uniquely processed to verify purity and cleanliness, these rice hulls are a readily renewable resource supporting sustainable production. PBH is OMRI Listed and WSDA registered, making it suitable for both organic and traditional production. PBH is available in a compressed 50-lb. standard bag or a compressed 30-cu.-ft. bulk bale.

CRI develops new rice varieties to increase local production

·        Facebook
Description: https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Rice-300x216.jpgThe Crop Research Institute (CRI), of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), at Fumesua near Kumasi is using science and technology innovations to boost commercial production of local food crops, especially rice in the country.
This is part of CRI’s move to execute its mandate as a research hub for crops, in a bid to position itself at the forefront of leveraging on scientific and technological innovations, that would ensure phenomenal increase in the cultivation of rice and other food staples in the country.
CRI is doing this by increasing the accessibility and availability to farmers its newly-improved quality, high yielding and disease resistant crop seeds.
The goal is to support the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative and other major agricultural interventions, being pursued by the government to improve food security, as a catalyst for the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
To demonstrate this, crop scientists and breeders from the Institute have for the first time developed and released six new rice varieties to scale up the commercial production of quality rice.
The development of the varieties, four of which were from local crosses of the CRI, is seen as an unprecedented and a major milestone for national crop research in Ghana.
It is aimed at boosting food security and a resultant reduction in rice importation into the country.
The 2017 annual scientific report made available to the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi indicated that the six new varieties were expected to respond to the industry challenges of low production, low average yield and poor grain quality and  to “satisfy the strong demand for high-yielding jasmine and conventional US long grain rice types, the most preferred rice choices in Ghana.
“The six new varieties, which have been accepted and approved by the National Varietal Release Committee, are CRI-Dartey, CRI-Kantinka, CRI-Emopa, CRI-Mpuntuo, CRI-Oboafo and CRI-Aunty Jane,” the report indicated.
Ghana’s rice import bill is said to be about $600 million, regardless of the country’s potential to produce to meet local and international demands and according to the report, besides maize, rice is the second most important cereal and major staple in Ghana.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) estimates that the annual per capita consumption of rice is about 40kg per person and is expected to increase to 63kg by the end of 2019.
The Institute believes that all the six varieties, suitable for lowland and irrigated ecologies, with their potential for higher yields, tolerance to Rice Yellow Mottle Virus Disease and Iron toxicity, will boost acceptability by farmers as they have high raising, easy cooking and aromatic qualities.
Source: GNA

CRI to Complement Local Rice Production with New Varieties

Description: Rice FarmRice Farm
The Crop Research Institute (CRI), of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), at Fumesua near Kumasi is using science and technology innovations to boost commercial production of local food crops, especially rice in the country.
This is part of CRI’s move to execute its mandate as a research hub for crops, in a bid to position itself at the forefront of leveraging on scientific and technological innovations, that would ensure phenomenal increase in the cultivation of rice and other food staples in the country.
CRI is doing this by increasing the accessibility and availability to farmers its newly-improved quality, high yielding and disease resistant crop seeds.
The goal is to support the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative and other major agricultural interventions, being pursued by the government to improve food security, as a catalyst for the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
To demonstrate this, crop scientists and breeders from the Institute have for the first time developed and released six new rice varieties to scale up the commercial production of quality rice.
The development of the varieties, four of which were from local crosses of the CRI, is seen as an unprecedented and a major milestone for national crop research in Ghana.
It is aimed at boosting food security and a resultant reduction in rice importation into the country.
The 2017 annual scientific report made available to the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi indicated that the six new varieties were expected to respond to the industry challenges of low production, low average yield and poor grain quality and to “satisfy the strong demand for high-yielding jasmine and conventional US long grain rice types, the most preferred rice choices in Ghana.
“The six new varieties, which have been accepted and approved by the National Varietal Release Committee, are CRI-Dartey, CRI-Kantinka, CRI-Emopa, CRI-Mpuntuo, CRI-Oboafo and CRI-Aunty Jane,” the report indicated.
Ghana’s rice import bill is said to be about $600 million, regardless of the country’s potential to produce to meet local and international demands and according to the report, besides maize, rice is the second most important cereal and major staple in Ghana.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) estimates that the annual per capita consumption of rice is about 40kg per person and is expected to increase to 63kg by the end of 2019.
The Institute believes that all the six varieties, suitable for lowland and irrigated ecologies, with their potential for higher yields, tolerance to Rice Yellow Mottle Virus Disease and Iron toxicity, will boost acceptability by farmers as they have high raising, easy cooking and aromatic qualities.

Rice industry in dire straits despite billions in federal aid, says KRI study

Published 1 day ago on 10 April 2019
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Lead author and Research Associate at Khazanah Research Institute Dr Sarena Che Omar, April 10, 2019. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — The country’s rice industry remains severely deficient despite having received billions worth of federal subsidies, incentives and other forms of assistance, said a new study on food security by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) released today.
The think tank in its ‘Status of Paddy and Rice Industry’ report found the rice trade is beset with structural weaknesses, even if production has increased over the last 30 years to allow Malaysia to meet its safe self-sufficiency target (SSL) of 60 to 70 per cent.
If left unaddressed, KRI said any supply shock risk hurting the most vulnerable groups such as the poor, rural residents or migrant workers, the most dependent on rice as a food source.
“Households in the below 40 per cent group, rural areas and non-citizens spend a higher proportion of their monthly F&B expenditure on rice, compared to their respective counterparts,” it said in a fact sheet.
“For some consumers such as undocumented workers, their consumption is invisible and are therefore easily left behind making these communities more vulnerable.”
The study identified four key weaknesses that needed urgent remedies.
At the policy level, it found the government’s definition of food security too narrow and heavily-production driven with rice SSL used as a proxy for food security.
KRI said this definition only covers availability and exclude nutritional importance of other food, which pushes farmers to focus only on meeting production targets, neglect quality and resort to unsustainable methods like the overuse of dangerous but cheap pesticides.
Dr Sarena Che Omar, lead author of the report, said the government must expand and incorporate food quality factors in a broader definition of food security.
“We need to emphasise on nutritional values... it’s important because we need to design the right policies,” she said during her presentation of the report here.
Malaysia ranks among nations with the highest obesity rate, according to the World Health Organisation in 2018.
Poor policies are also behind what KRI called a “midstream squeeze”, in which rice millers are forced to buy low quality grains at a premium and sold at a controlled price despite a steadily increasing production cost.
The think tank said protectionist policies aimed at safeguarding farmers and consumers neglect the difficulties faced by midstream players.
Dealt with a thin profit margin, the study said most millers either diversify or resort to “malpractices”, which deepens the distrust between them and farmers that KRI said worsened after the government standardised the RM1,200 Guaranteed Minimum Price per tonne nationwide.
There are also numerous cases where millers were forced to close shop.
“This is what we call a midstream squeeze: they are forced to buy low quality grains from farmers and then they have to sell it at a controlled price,” Serena said, adding that millers need urgent federal support.
“In Kelantan, only one miller is still operating while the rest couldn’t operate anymore.”
Malaysia is predicted to remain a net rice importer for the next 20 years despite decades of production-oriented policies, KRI noted.
Some economists have called on the government to return its focus on agriculture for food security reasons.
Consumption goods imports totalled RM2 billion last year, down from RM6.5 billion the year before with food and beverages posting a RM440 million drop or 44 per cent year-on-year, official data showed.
Rice supply chain needs fixing — KRI

April 11, 2019 10:27 am +08
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 11, 2019.
Description: https://assets.theedgemarkets.com/state-food-msia_20190411102546_theedgemarkets.jpg?null
(From left) Food and Agriculture Organization regional strategy and policy adviser senior economist Dr David Dawe, Sarena, KRI chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi, Fatimah and KRI senior research adviser Professor Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram at the panel discussion on ‘The State of Food in Malaysia’. Photo by Suhaimi Yusuf
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s rice industry is suffering from too much attention being paid to farmers and consumers, and not enough focus on other components of the supply chain, says Khazanah Research Institute (KRI).
As upstream and downstream policies have been implemented over time, millers and wholesalers have experienced tightening profit margins, forcing them to diversify operations, resort to malpractice or cease operations, KRI said in a report on the status of the country’s padi and rice industry.
“A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. There (has been) a squeeze in the middle segment, in the interest of protecting the farmers and consumers,” the report’s author, Dr Sarena Che Omar, said at its launch yesterday.
She added that this “artificial supply chain” had created the need for a buyer of last resort, which is the role of Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas). To compensate for the costs of being that buyer as well as for its social obligations, Bernas also acts as the country’s sole importer.
Rice millers had previously complained about Bernas’ monopoly over rice imports and supply to the market. Bernas is also the sole importer and buyer of last resort for padi at a floor price of RM1,200 per tonne from Malaysian farmers.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub had previously said that the cabinet had agreed to abolish Bernas, although it is still planning how this will be carried out.
Sarena, however, cautions that any actions to change Bernas’ role should take into consideration the effects of such actions on the rest of the industry.
“If you do not want the import rights given to Bernas, think first about how to strengthen the whole supply chain,” she said.
Rice millers in particular operate in a loss-making segment of the supply chain.
“If you are a small to medium-sized miller, you lose RM19 for every tonne of padi that you buy. Millers in Kelantan, because they had the lowest quality grains, actually had to close shop — from 60 mills to one, and now to zero,” Sarena explained.
Meanwhile, Datin Paduka Dr Fatimah Mohamed Arshad, a visiting senior fellow at KRI, said that, “despite years of market intervention and subsidies, the structure of the industry has not changed.”
“The problems remain the same, the farmers remain poor despite six decades of market intervention ... in fact, the industry is getting much more duopolistic, with poor farmers (on one hand) and millers (on the other.)
“In 1971, there were 971 mills and 60% were owned by farmers’ cooperatives. The moment Bernas came in, things changed. There are now 171 mills. That means the downstream side is extremely concentrated.
“That has to change,” Fatimah said during a panel discussion at the launch.
KRI’s study revealed that farmers earn an average that is below even the median wage of the bottom 40 (B40) income bracket. The mean monthly household income of Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) padi farmers in 2016 was RM2,527, compared with the national mean monthly household income of RM2,848 for the B40.
“Until farmers themselves are self-sufficient, don’t expect them to contribute towards the nation’s self-sufficiency,” she said.
On the consumption side, the report highlighted that the high percentage of household income spent on rice by rural, lower income households and migrants makes them the most vulnerable consumers.
Other concerns highlighted by KRI include the low number of seed varieties produced by Malaysia, which are cultivated by only one agency. The Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute is the country’s sole research and development unit for padi-related breeding. As of 2018, the institute had cultivated 49 padi varieties

FG distributes 300 rice mills to farmers, millers in states

Home » News » FG distributes 300 rice mills to farmers, millers in states
Description: FG distributes 300 rice mills to farmers, millers in states - rice mills, rice, mills, Farmers, 300 rice mills, 300 rice
The federal government says it has distributed no fewer than 300 rice mills to farmers and millers in different states of the country in 2018.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who made the disclosure in Abuja over the weekend, said government would also distribute more to farmers in 2019.
“In 2018, we distributed 300 rice mills to different states, people applied from all over the country. There is hardly any state where we have not sent rice mills and we are bringing more,’’ he said.
Ogbeh assured citizens that government is working toward ensuring further increase in rice production and other agricultural produce to create jobs and wealth for the people.(NAN)

Healthy red rice and quinoa salad

AP
PublishedApr 9, 2019, 10:29 am IST
UpdatedApr 9, 2019, 10:29 am IST
Forget white rice or even brown rice. Try red rice tonight.
Description: The red rice does not get enough play. (Photo: AP)
 The red rice does not get enough play. (Photo: AP)
Washington: Regular white rice; aromatic basmati; chewy, healthful brown rice; and even rustic wild rice are common pantry items. But there’s one rice variety that doesn’t get enough play: red rice.
Red rice sports surprise a red husk and it has a nutty flavour and is highly nutritious. For rice and grain salad that was colourful, hearty and a little out of the ordinary, mix the healthful rice with nutty quinoa, cooking both in the same pot using the pasta method.

Give the rice a 15-minute head start and then add the quinoa to the pot to ensure that both grains are done at the same time. Then drain them, drizzle them with lime juice to add bright flavour and let them cool.
Next, look for ingredients that would make this salad fresh and a little sweet. Add dates and orange segments for sweetness (and use some of the orange juice in the dressing). Add a bit of fresh cilantro and red pepper flakes and a bit of spiciness to round it out.
Red rice and quinoa salad
3/4 cup red rice
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup prewashed white quinoa
3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
2 oranges
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro plus 1 cup leaves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces pitted dates, chopped (1 cup)
Step 1
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot over high heat. Add rice and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add quinoa to pot and continue to cook until grains are tender, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain rice-quinoa mixture, spread over a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons lime juice and let cool completely about 15 minutes.
Step 2
Meanwhile, cut away peel and pith from oranges. Hold the fruit over a bowl and use a paring knife to slice between membranes to release segments. Cut segments in half crosswise. If needed, squeeze orange membranes to equal 2 tablespoons juice in a bowl.
Step 3
Whisk 2 tablespoons orange juice, remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, shallot, minced cilantro, and pepper flakes together in large bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil. Add rice-quinoa mixture, dates, orange segments, and remaining 1 cup cilantro leaves, and toss to combine. Season it with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Arkansas rice production bounced back in 2018

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·       Apr 10, 2019 Updated 21 hrs ago

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Arkansas rice growers saw higher production in 2018 than in any of the three previous years, according to an April 4 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Bob Scott.)
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After a bruising 2017, in which substantial spring flooding cost growers in the state an estimated $175 million in lost production and damaged acreage, rice growers saw higher production in 2018 than in any of the three previous years, according to an April 4 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In the report, produced by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, rice growers saw clear improvements in harvested acres, yield and production throughout the state. Most of the largest increases in yield, percentagewise, were seen in eastern Arkansas counties that suffered flooding losses most acutely in 2017.
Phillips County, which suffered between $400,000 and $1 million in crop loss in 2017, saw its rice production more than double from 1 million hundredweight to about 2.13 million hundredweight. Increases of similar proportions were reported in Lawrence, St. Francis, Ashley and Desha counties.
While the county-by-county acreage estimates provided in the NASS report often differ from those estimates provided by the Farm Service Agency, also part of the USDA, the statewide numbers are typically very similar.
Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said that while the higher production numbers were a welcome sight, the higher rice acreage in 2018 wasn’t necessarily a surprise, as it followed the natural cycle of shifting acreage, crop rotation and prospective planting in response to relative commodity prices.
Looking forward, Hardke said that with the window for much of the state’s planned early planted rice closing for 2019, shifts in acreage are an open question.
“Until a week ago, I’d maintained my expectation that we’ll remain close to flat, at 1.4 million acres of rice,” Hardke said. “But we’ve seen what’s happened with this spring. After a week of dry weather, we saw rains again over the weekend, with more pointed our way.
“1.4 million acres is still the target, but if this pattern doesn’t give, we’ll possibly head down toward 1.2 million acres,” he said. “At this point, we’re staring at a downward trend, but we have a while to go yet before we start losing rice acres.”

Rain hinders rice planting

Bruce Schultz  |  4/9/2019 8:06:38 PM
 (04/09/19) CROWLEY, La. — Heavy rainfall has been a challenge as rice farmers strive to get their 2019 crop planted.
Farmers were able to get much of their crop planted during almost three weeks of dry weather, but rainfall during the first week of April has created an obstacle for farmers who needed to complete the rest of their planting.
Todd Fontenot, LSU AgCenter agent in Evangeline Parish, said farmers there were nearing completion of planting before the rains came. He estimated farmers had finished planting up to 70% of their crop.
Drill seeding is the dominant method of planting, but many farmers still use airplanes for planting. “We had a good bit of early rice water planted,” he said.
Farmers who want to drill seed the rest of their crop will have to wait for fields to drain. “It will take several days.” Fontenot said.
Jeremy Hebert, AgCenter agent in Acadia Parish, said planting there is about 75% to 80% finished. Farmers took advantage of a dry spell after a long stretch of wet weather.
“The last two to three weeks, it’s been full blast. There’s been a lot of rice put in the ground,” he said.
Before the dry weather, many farmers thought they would have to water seed. Now with flooded fields from excess rain, some farmers may choose to water seed the rest of their crop. “The longer they wait, yields will start to reduce,” he said.
Hebert expects rice acreage in Acadia Parish to remain about the same as last year, about 80,000 acres.
Evangeline Parish farmer Richard Fontenot planted his last field by April 3 and said this is the earliest he’s ever finished. “Usually we’ve finished by the 10th or 15th of April,” he said.
Jimmy Meaux, AgCenter agent in Calcasieu and Jefferson Davis parishes, said farmers in his area were almost 75% planted. “In the last two weeks, they really put a lot in the ground,” he said.
Rain on April 4 came at a good time, although it was excessive with some areas reporting as much as 5 inches. “It’s a little more than they needed to flush the fields. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get the water off soon,” Meaux said.
Keith Fontenot, of the AgCenter Rice Verification Program, said he inspected a field Monday morning that had already drained and had received 7 inches of rain.
Andrew Granger, AgCenter agent in Vermilion Parish, said the rain will slow down planting for farmers not finished. He estimated that more than 60% of the farmers in Vermilion Parish are done.
Vermilion Parish received 4-7 inches of rain on April 7. “It’s too early to know if young rice will be damaged by the flooding,” he said
AgCenter rice specialist Dustin Harrell said the heavy, continuous rains in late February and early March had farmers concerned that fields would be too wet for drill seeding. “It looked like it was never going to dry out,” he said.
But after March 17, the weather cooperated and gave farmers a 2 1/2-week window for planting, he said.Northeast Louisiana farmers will start planting rice soon.
“So far, we’ve been lucky, and there’s a lot of optimism for a good crop,” Harrell said.

Rice inventory grows to 2.22 million MT in March

Rice stocks are still increasing from a year ago despite the weak El Niño causing damage to crops early this year
Anna Gabriela A. Mogato
Published 4:15 PM, April 10, 2019
Description: BOUNTIFUL HARVEST. Rice stocks jump to 2.22 million metric tons as of March 1, 2019, 3.75% higher than the tally in February. File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
BOUNTIFUL HARVEST. Rice stocks jump to 2.22 million metric tons as of March 1, 2019, 3.75% higher than the tally in February. File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Rice stocks grew by 30.87% year-on-year to 2.22 million metric tons (MMT) as of March 1, despite the ongoing weak El Niño, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The PSA, in its latest Rice and Corn Stocks Inventory report, said this is also 3.75% higher than the stocks recorded in February. (READ: Rice inventory up in February 2019 from a year ago)
The latest stocks would be sufficient for around 69 days.
Despite having the largest share of the total inventory, household stocks posted a year-on-year decline by 6.08% to 1.03 MMT. This is, however, slightly higher on a month-on-month basis by 0.12%.
Inventories for commercial warehouses and National Food Authority (NFA) depositories grew year-on-year by 25.75% to 695,840 metric tons (MT) and 1,030.17% to 491,940 MT, respectively. (READ: NFA buys more palay in Q1 2019)
Compared to February, stocks from commercial warehouses dropped by 14.22% while NFA stocks were still higher by 65.29%.
Corn stocks also grew by 42.68% year-on-year to 397,120 MT. From a monthly comparison, this is 49.19% lower than the February round. – Rappler.com

Rice prices continue downtrend in March

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:10 AM April 10, 2019
Rice prices in the market continued to be on the downtrend since the start of the year, according to government data, and economic managers are expecting prices to decline even further now that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the new rice law has been put in place.
As of the fourth week of March, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the average retail price for regular- and well-milled rice were at P40.02 and P44.33 a kilo, respectively.
These were lower by 3.77 percent and 1.84 percent from the levels in January. Prices have yet to stop easing since.
With the release of the Rice Import Liberalization Law’s IRR, the number of players participating in the rice trade is expected to rise and so is the volume of affordable rice in the market.
The IRR lays down the process by which would-be traders can import rice. The government is expecting about 2 million metric tons (MT) of rice to enter the country this year following the industry’s deregulation.
Economic managers said the law could cut retail rice prices in half—lower than the subsidized rice provided by the National Food Authority (NFA) at P27 a kilo—and ease inflation by 0.5 to 0.7 percentage point.
While industry groups are cynical that the policy would depress rice prices significantly, Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemary Edillon said market conditions dictated that the influx of rice in the market would bring prices down.
As to consumers who currently rely on subsidized rice, NFA Acting Administrator Tomas Escarez said those who relied on NFA rice have until August before the agency’s stocks run out.
The law’s IRR does not mandate the agency to continue selling the staple. In cases of emergencies, it may provide NFA rice to affected areas provided that it would be coursed through local government units or the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Rice inventory up 31% in March
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - April 11, 2019 - 12:00am
Latest data from the PSA showed that total rice inventory stood at 2.22 million metric tons (MT) as of the end of the first quarter, up from last year’s 1.69 million MT.
Michael VarcasMANILA, Philippines — The country’s rice inventory rose 31 percent in March, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
Latest data from the PSA showed that total rice inventory stood at 2.22 million metric tons (MT) as of the end of the first quarter, up from last year’s 1.69 million MT.
This also represents an increase of four percent from the 2.14 million MT recorded in February.
The PSA did not specify the number of days that the stock inventory of Filipinos’ main staple would be sufficient.
Based on the average daily consumption of Filipinos of 32,000 MT, the current inventory is sufficient for 69 days.
The National Food Authority, meanwhile, has already improved its inventory following the additional incentive in its buying price, allowing it to buy more palay last harvest season.
Households had almost half of total inventories at 47 percent while commercial warehouses held about 31 percent. Supplies from NFA depositories cornered 22 percent of the total.
On a monthly basis, stocks in the households and in NFA depositories increased by 0.12 percent and 65 percent, respectively but stocks in commercial warehouses fell 14 percent.
In terms of prices of Filipinos’ main staple, it continued to be on a downward trend following the ongoing arrival of imports and the recently concluded harvest season.
The average wholesale price of well-milled rice on a weekly basis dropped one percent to P40.61 per kilogram during the last week of March. Its weekly average retail price also decreased by one percent to P44.22 per kilo.
Meanwhile, the wholesale price of regular-milled rice was P36.87 per kilo, nearly one percent below year on year. Its average retail price also decreased by one percent to P40.02 per kilo as the average farm gate price of palay continued to drop to P18.87 per kilo.
On the other hand, corn stock inventory stood at 397,120 MT, 43 percent above its 2018 level of 278,340 MT.
Of the total, 72 percent was in commercial warehouses and the remaining 28 percent in households. NFA had no stocks during the period.
Month-on-month, stock level in household decreased 23 percent and stocks in commercial warehouses fell 55 percent.

Webinar: U.S. Rice Exports Free Trade – Fair Trade, April 11

April 10, 2019
Description: https://i1.wp.com/agfax.com/wp-content/uploads/DF-20160903-Drone-Rice-Harvest-029.jpg?fit=640%2C366&ssl=1
Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography
Join us Thursday, April 11 at 10:00 a.m. CST as we host Riceland Foods, Inc. Senior Vice President Terry Harris. He will draw on his 43-years of experience in the global rice industry and discuss the challenges the U.S. rice industry faces selling rice in a world increasingly focused on food security, protectionism, and nationalism.
Terry will take a deep dive into the factors constraining the U.S. rice global export market and provide webinar attendees with a real-world and real-time U.S. rice exporter view of marketing U.S. rice in a global economy where efficiencies are lacking, due to: An array of government support and protectionism programs by the world’s major rice export countries and fiscal, monetary and trade policy disputes.
Terry will provide an in-depth discussion on NAFTA 2.0, Chinese trade and policy disputes, European Union economic and trade challenges, Brexit, and other issues impacting today’s U.S. rice trade.

Rice inventory up 31% in March
While, the wholesale price of regular-milled rice was P36.87 per kilo, nearly one percent below year on year. Its average retail price also decreased by one percent to P40.02 per kilo as the average farm gate price of palay continued to drop to P18.87 per kilo.
On the other hand, corn stock inventory stood at 397,120 MT, 43 percent above its 2018 level of 278,340 MT.
Of the total, 72 percent was in commercial warehouses and the remaining 28 percent in households. NFA had no stocks during the period.
Month-on-month, stock level in household decreased 23 percent and stocks in commercial warehouses fell 55 percent.

Rice prices continue downtrend in March

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:10 AM April 10, 2019
Rice prices in the market continued to be on the downtrend since the start of the year, according to government data, and economic managers are expecting prices to decline even further now that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the new rice law has been put in place.
As of the fourth week of March, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the average retail price for regular- and well-milled rice were at P40.02 and P44.33 a kilo, respectively.
These were lower by 3.77 percent and 1.84 percent from the levels in January. Prices have yet to stop easing since.
With the release of the Rice Import Liberalization Law’s IRR, the number of players participating in the rice trade is expected to rise and so is the volume of affordable rice in the market.
The IRR lays down the process by which would-be traders can import rice. The government is expecting about 2 million metric tons (MT) of rice to enter the country this year following the industry’s deregulation.
Economic managers said the law could cut retail rice prices in half—lower than the subsidized rice provided by the National Food Authority (NFA) at P27 a kilo—and ease inflation by 0.5 to 0.7 percentage point.
While industry groups are cynical that the policy would depress rice prices significantly, Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemary Edillon said market conditions dictated that the influx of rice in the market would bring prices down.
As to consumers who currently rely on subsidized rice, NFA Acting Administrator Tomas Escarez said those who relied on NFA rice have until August before the agency’s stocks run out.
The law’s IRR does not mandate the agency to continue selling the staple. In cases of emergencies, it may provide NFA rice to affected areas provided that it would be coursed through local government units or the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Making efforts to boost rice exports

Wednesday, 2019-04-10 18:11:59


Description: http://en.nhandan.org.vn/cdn/en/media/k2/items/src/734/29a653e31247913f4e3886e3979e10f6.jpg
NDO – According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the first quarter of 2019, Vietnam's rice export volume was estimated at 1.43 million tonnes, worth US$ 593 million, down 3.5% in volume and 20.2% in value over the same period in 2018.
The average export price of rice in the first two months of the year only reached US$404 per tonne, down 17.8% compared to the same period in 2018. Difficulties in exporting rice in the first quarter have dragged down the price of rice in the Mekong Delta, especially in February, 2019, when entering the harvest of winter-spring rice.
Part of the reason for the decline in the volume of exported rice is due to the fact that the first few months of the year coincide with the Lunar New Year, plus domestic enterprises have not promoted delivery and traders who buy rice have not begun to trade yet. On the market side, in the early months of 2019, some countries still have surplus rice from 2018, so they have no demand for import which in turn makes the market less active.
In addition, China, one of Vietnam's major rice import markets for many years, has now reduced their rice purchases, which has had a relatively large impact. At the same time, measures to closely control food safety and hygiene for imported rice have been strengthened and there are more stringent regulations on the supervision and management of imported goods. Until now, only 21 Vietnamese enterprises are allowed to export rice to the Chinese market. The reduction of export indications has led to a sharp decline in rice export volume.
For other traditional markets such as the Philippines and Indonesia, Vietnam is also facing difficulties in boosting rice exports to these markets. Specifically, the Philippines is seeking to expand its rice supply by signing more memorandums of cooperation with Pakistan and Myanmar. Meanwhile, Indonesia has also restricted imports because the country's reserved rice is still sufficient until the end of the second quarter of 2019.
Facing the above situation, it is necessary to strengthen solutions to maintain traditional markets and penetrate new markets. Specially, it is necessary to pay attention to exporting high quality rice and specialty rice instead of white rice as before.
In addition, localities need to accelerate the effective implementation of the restructuring scheme of the rice industry, because the competition for rice quality is becoming a real "war" when the rice of some other countries in the region are constantly increasing competition for Vietnamese rice in terms of quality, value and ways of promoting their image. Therefore, in addition to improving quality, strengthening the promotion of rice trade in markets, and the promotion and image building for Vietnamese rice also are very important, therefore businesses and authorities should pay greater attention to these requirements. After building an image of high quality rice seeds with competitive prices, the export to fastidious markets will certainly become more open, creating new markets to stabilise the volume and turnover value.

Rice industry in dire straits despite billions in federal aid, says KRI study

10 April 2019
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Description: Lead author and Research Associate at Khazanah Research Institute Dr Sarena Che Omar, April 10, 2019. ― Picture by Choo Choy May Lead author and Research Associate at Khazanah Research Institute Dr Sarena Che Omar, April 10, 2019. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — The country’s rice industry remains severely deficient despite having received billions worth of federal subsidies, incentives and other forms of assistance, said a new study on food security by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) released today.
The think tank in its ‘Status of Paddy and Rice Industry’ report found the rice trade is beset with structural weaknesses, even if production has increased over the last 30 years to allow Malaysia to meet its safe self-sufficiency target (SSL) of 60 to 70 per cent.
If left unaddressed, KRI said any supply shock risk hurting the most vulnerable groups such as the poor, rural residents or migrant workers, the most dependent on rice as a food source.
“Households in the below 40 per cent group, rural areas and non-citizens spend a higher proportion of their monthly F&B expenditure on rice, compared to their respective counterparts,” it said in a fact sheet.
“For some consumers such as undocumented workers, their consumption is invisible and are therefore easily left behind making these communities more vulnerable.”
The study identified four key weaknesses that needed urgent remedies.
At the policy level, it found the government’s definition of food security too narrow and heavily-production driven with rice SSL used as a proxy for food security.
KRI said this definition only covers availability and exclude nutritional importance of other food, which pushes farmers to focus only on meeting production targets, neglect quality and resort to unsustainable methods like the overuse of dangerous but cheap pesticides.
Dr Sarena Che Omar, lead author of the report, said the government must expand and incorporate food quality factors in a broader definition of food security.
“We need to emphasise on nutritional values... it’s important because we need to design the right policies,” she said during her presentation of the report here.
Malaysia ranks among nations with the highest obesity rate, according to the World Health Organisation in 2018.
Poor policies are also behind what KRI called a “midstream squeeze”, in which rice millers are forced to buy low quality grains at a premium and sold at a controlled price despite a steadily increasing production cost.
The think tank said protectionist policies aimed at safeguarding farmers and consumers neglect the difficulties faced by midstream players.
Dealt with a thin profit margin, the study said most millers either diversify or resort to “malpractices”, which deepens the distrust between them and farmers that KRI said worsened after the government standardised the RM1,200 Guaranteed Minimum Price per tonne nationwide.
There are also numerous cases where millers were forced to close shop.
“This is what we call a midstream squeeze: they are forced to buy low quality grains from farmers and then they have to sell it at a controlled price,” Serena said, adding that millers need urgent federal support.
“In Kelantan, only one miller is still operating while the rest couldn’t operate anymore.”
Malaysia is predicted to remain a net rice importer for the next 20 years despite decades of production-oriented policies, KRI noted.
Some economists have called on the government to return its focus on agriculture for food security reasons.
Consumption goods imports totalled RM2 billion last year, down from RM6.5 billion the year before with food and beverages posting a RM440 million drop or 44 per cent year-on-year, official data showed.

Rice and broken rice exports expected to hit about 2.5 m tons
10 APRIL 2019
Due to low rice demands from China and the EU, Myanmar can export about 2.5 million tons of rice and broken rice, in 2019-2020 fiscal year, said Aung Than Oo, Vice-President of Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).
“We fix the fiscal year based on the crop harvest season. It is nothing to do with the government’s budget year. We fix the fiscal year from April 1 to March 31 next year,” he explained.
The rice export period will be from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. Thanks to the expansion of new markets, Myanmar exported nearly 3.6 million tons of rice, a record-breaking export during over 50 years.
Till early March of 2018-2018 FY, Myanmar exported over 2.2 million tons of rice and broken rice to 75 countries—rice to 50 countries and broken rice to 25 countries.
Rice merchants have called on the government to negotiate with the Yunnan government and Chinese buyers as about 50,000 bags of rice are stranded in Muse border.
“China accounts for about 46 per cent of the total rice export. China is the biggest rice export market. Low Chinese rice demand has big impacts on Myanmar’s rice export market,” Aung Than Oo added.
In the past, Myanmar enjoyed tax exemption for exports of all kinds of rice to the EU. Since January 8, the EU withdrew the GSP only for long-grain rice imported from Myanmar as the long-grain rice is similar to those in Italy and Spain.

CRI develops new rice varieties to increase local production

Source: GNA

The Crop Research Institute (CRI), of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), at Fumesua near Kumasi is using science and technology innovations to boost commercial production of local food crops, especially rice in the country.
This is part of CRI's move to execute its mandate as a research hub for crops, in a bid to position itself at the forefront of leveraging on scientific and technological innovations, that would ensure phenomenal increase in the cultivation of rice and other food staples in the country.   
CRI is doing this by increasing the accessibility and availability to farmers its newly-improved quality, high yielding and disease resistant crop seeds.
The goal is to support the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative and other major agricultural interventions, being pursued by the government to improve food security, as a catalyst for the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
To demonstrate this, crop scientists and breeders from the Institute have for the first time developed and released six new rice varieties to scale up the commercial production of quality rice.  
The development of the varieties, four of which were from local crosses of the CRI, is seen as an unprecedented and a major milestone for national crop research in Ghana.
 It is aimed at boosting food security and a resultant reduction in rice importation into the country.
 The 2017 annual scientific report made available to the Ghana News Agency in Kumasi indicated that the six new varieties were expected to respond to the industry challenges of low production, low average yield and poor grain quality and  to "satisfy the strong demand for high-yielding jasmine and conventional US long grain rice types, the most preferred rice choices in Ghana.
"The six new varieties, which have been accepted and approved by the National Varietal Release Committee, are CRI-Dartey, CRI-Kantinka, CRI-Emopa, CRI-Mpuntuo, CRI-Oboafo and CRI-Aunty Jane," the report indicated.   
Ghana's rice import bill is said to be about $600 million, regardless of the country's potential to produce to meet local and international demands and according to the report, besides maize, rice is the second most important cereal and major staple in Ghana.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) estimates that the annual per capita consumption of rice is about 40kg per person and is expected to increase to 63kg by the end of 2019.  
The Institute believes that all the six varieties, suitable for lowland and irrigated ecologies, with their potential for higher yields, tolerance to Rice Yellow Mottle Virus Disease and Iron toxicity, will boost acceptability by farmers as they have high raising, easy cooking and aromatic qualities.