Friday, April 26, 2019

26th April,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Your Coffee Choice Can Save a Songbird

By Joyce Newman, Environmental Reporter | 
Is there such a thing as bird-friendly coffee? Choosing which coffee to drink  can impact many migratory bird species, about one-third of which are in steep decline, according to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
The center created the “Bird Friendly® certified”coffee program, which “aims to protect the most quality habitat from the threat of deforestation.”  You can find the center’s list of many certified Bird Friendly roasters here. 
In our area, Barrie House ( based in Yonkers), Peet’s, and Whole Food’s Allegro are on the list.
Coffee grown under this certification not only protects bird habitat but also allows for the shade trees to sequester carbon and fight climate change, according to the center.
For many decades, some South American countries have used chemicals in agricultural management, reducing or removing shade trees from their coffee farms. By removing the of shade trees, the coffee farms also removed bird habitats.
Research in Peru, for example, shows that coffee grown in the sun with very few or no shade trees provides habitat for only about 60 different bird species, compared to the more than 1,800 species that spend at least some of their lives there, according to estimates by Field Guides.
Just a small amount of shade trees on coffee farms increases the number of bird species present to 170, according to Robert Rice, a researcher at the Smithsonian Center. But it’s when you put in a great number of diverse trees that you start finding a lot of birds.
“When you put in a diverse system that would qualify as bird friendly you get upwards of 240 species of birds,” Rice said.
Conserving bird habitat at home is just as important as doing it in South America. One way homeowners can provide habitat for birds is by planting native plants. Many migratory bird species prefer to eat berries from native plants, or insects on the plants.
On May 4, to help support scientific research on bird conservation, you can provide data to scientists by putting your observations on  eBird, where the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is sponsoring the Global Big Day. Last year 7,026 species were reported worldwide by users of the site in one day. In the U.S., 718 species were counted, of which 265 were in New York State.

Salt Tolerant Rice Variety Developed by Indian Scientists

25 April, 2019 2:22 PM IST By: Dr. Sangeeta Soi
A group of Indian scientists at the Division of Plant Biology at Bose Institute supported by funds from the Department of Biotechnology has developed a new salt-tolerant transgenic rice plant by over-expressing a gene from a wild rice called Porteresia coarctata into the commonly used IR 64 indica rice variety. Porteresia coarctata is a native of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar and is grown mainly in saline estuaries. 
In a report published in journal Scientific Reports, scientists led by Prof Arun Lahiri Majumder of the Kolkata-based Bose Institute, said the new crop can withstand salt concentration of up to 200 micromole per litre or about half as saline as sea water without affecting normal growth and grain yield under greenhouse conditions. 
There are several plants called halophytes that are rich sources of salt stress tolerance genes and Porteresia coarctata is one of them. One of the genes isolated earlier by Prof Majumder’s group from this plant, PcINO1 , codes for a salt tolerant enzyme which synthesizes inositol even in presence of salt while the second gene isolated by the group , PcIMT1 from the same plant converts inositol to another compound called pinitol. The researchers over-expressed these two genes into IR64 indica rice. They generated three types of transgenic lines: one with introgression of PcINO1 only, the second with PcIMT1 only and the third with combinations of both. 

Besides Prof Majumder, the research team consisted of Rajeswari Mukherjee, Abhishek Mukherjee, Subhendu Bandyopadhyay, Sritama Mukherjee, Sonali Sengupta and Sudipta Ray. 

The study has also indicated that inositol, a vitamin like substance found in all plants and animals including human being, acts as a stress-ameliorator and as a switch for a number of other pathways important for imparting salt-tolerance. 

The rice lines created with PcINO1 gene exhibited significantly higher tolerance, with a salt concentration of upto 200 micromole per litre or higher in pots, with little compromise in growth or other physiological parameters. The two other transgenic lines, one with PcIMT1 gene alone and the second with both PcINO1 and PcIMT1 genes were less efficient. 
The scientists then compared the quantities of inositol/pinitol in the three set of transgenic lines. They found that under saline conditions inositol production remained uninterrupted only in the transgenic plant created with PcINO1. 
Speaking to India Science Wire, Prof Majumder said, “the new finding indicates that such manipulation of the inositol metabolic pathway may be one of the ways to combat salt stress in plants. Use of plant-derived genes to generate transgenic plants is certainly an advantage . However, we need to do more work to assess performance of these transgenic plants in saline field.” 
The new finding is important particularly in the context of the growing concerns over the global climate change. There is a particular need to develop new rice varieties that are salt and drought resistant. Conventional breeding programmes have led to the development of some salt and drought-tolerant rice varieties and they are in use in India and other countries like Philippines and Bangladesh. However, conventional breeding has not been able to meet the requirements fully. There is a need for efforts to develop new varieties through genetic manipulation also. 

Parboiling method reduces inorganic arsenic, increases calcium content of rice

By Editor
26 April 2019   |   3:47 am

Contamination of rice with arsenic is a major problem in some regions of the world with high rice consumption.
Now, researchers reporting in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology have found a way to reduce inorganic arsenic in rice by modifying processing methods at traditional, small-scale parboiling plants in Bangladesh.
The new method has the added benefit of increasing the calcium content of rice, the researchers say.
People in Bangladesh eat about a pound of rice per person per day, according to statistics from the International Rice Research Institute.
This consumption is among the highest in the world, placing Bangladeshis at risk for elevated exposure to inorganic arsenic, a toxic substance and carcinogen that can enter rice from the soil of flooded paddies.
After harvest, most rice in the country is parboiled, a process that involves soaking the rough rice (with husk intact) in water and then boiling it, followed by other steps to produce polished white rice.
Andrew Meharg from the Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast, and colleagues wondered if parboiling wholegrain rice (with the husk removed) would reduce the levels of different forms of arsenic compared with parboiling rough rice. That’s because the husk can have high levels of inorganic arsenic, and it could also act as a barrier, preventing arsenic species from leaving the rest of the grain during parboiling.
The researchers tested their new processing method in 13 traditional, small-scale parboiling plants throughout Bangladesh.
The team used ion chromatography interfaced with inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry to analyze arsenic species in rice. They found that in untreated rough rice, inorganic arsenic is highly elevated in the bran compared with the husk.
Parboiling wholegrain rice instead of parboiling rough rice reduced levels of inorganic arsenic by about 25 percent in the final polished grain, while increasing calcium by 213 percent.
However, the new method reduced potassium by 40 percent. The researchers say that the potassium loss must be balanced with the advantages of reduced arsenic and increased calcium.

Navy seizes 470 bags of contraband rice, arrests seven suspects

 April 26, 2019
Patrick Odey, Uyo
Operatives of the Nigerian Navy, have arrested seven suspected smugglers and seized 470 bags of contraband rice in the Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State,
The suspects were arrested in two different operations.
It was gathered that the operatives of the navy were on routine patrol along the Nigerian waterways  when five of the suspects and their wooden boat were intercepted with 308 bags of 50kg rice, while the two other suspects were intercepted and found with 162 bags of 50kg rice, said to be brought in from the Republic of Cameroon.
Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Toritseju Vincent, while handing over the suspects to the Nigeria Customs Service in Ibaka, on Tuesday, said that navy was committed in its fight against illegal activities on the country’s waterways.
“On behalf of the Commanding Officer of Eastern Naval Command, I hand over these five suspects, who were arrested on April 22, 2019 with 308 bags of smuggled rice, which were smuggled into the country from Cameroon, to you.
“I also hand over a medium-sized wooden boat laden with 162 bags of rice impounded near Mbo River by Oron, Calabar channel to the Nigeria Customs Service. The wooden boat and its two crews were apprehended around 7.30am on Sunday, April 21, 2019, during a routine patrol by the navy gunboats,” he said.
Deputy Superintendent of the Nigeria Customs Service, Kabir Ogah, who spoke on behalf of the Zonal Commander and the Assistant Comptroller, thanked the navy for the support and collaboration while receiving the suspects and the items.
He said, “On behalf of the Zonal Commander, Assistant Comptroller and the Nigeria Customs Service in general, we wish to commend all your efforts in combating smuggling in our waterways.
“Your actions have demonstrated your commitment to the nation and the security of our waterways.”
Emmanuel Bassey, one of the suspects, said he was compelled to go into the business to survive the hard time.
Bassey said he felled timbers in Cameroon for two years but had to return home because he was harassed by hoodlums while plying his trade in Cameroon.
He said, “I went to Cameroon to bring rice back to Nigeria but on my way back, I was arrested by the navy. I used to fell timber before now; this is my first time in this trade. I was promised N5,000 but now, I regret my involvement in smuggling and promise not to do it again.”
Epic Rice Sustainability Report Goes Live 

Report highlights:  First in a nine-part series.

ARLINGTON, VA -- The wait is over.  After much hard work and many drafts, the U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report is now available to the public on the USA Rice website.  It's an historic document that spans three decades of rice's commitment to sustainability across six states, and encompasses a vast amount of information and data, centralized for the first time in one place. 

Because rice has done so much for sustainability and conservation over the years, it can be a lot to take in all at once; that's why we're running a weekly series that focuses on some of the specific accomplishments outlined in the report. 

"The great deal of time and effort put into this report by all involved was well worth it," said Dr. Steve Linscombe, director of The Rice Foundation, who spearheaded the project.  "I knew that the rice industry had made great strides in sustainability, but I did not realize the magnitude of those improvements until we began amassing data." 

While the report itself is a study of rice's past-compiling data from 1980 to 2015-it's also a look into rice's future, a call to action to be ever self-improving.  In the section titled "Investing in Long-Term Sustainability," the report showcases how the rice industry has formed strong, lasting partnerships, applying lessons learned over the last 30 years to the continuing mission of sustainability for generations to come-because the very term "sustainable" means that these practices and innovations are not just for today, but for tomorrow as well.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plays an important role in making sure rice is sustainable in the long run.  By investing funds in programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), the NRCS ensures that more farmers have the means, the access, and the support to implement and maintain sustainability practices every year.  CSP provides financial incentives to farmers already using sustainable methods to expand and improve their practices, and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps farmers with large infrastructure projects that will increase the sustainability of their operation.  RCPP allows NRCS to partner with regional organizations and institutions to address critical conservation needs in focused areas. 

The Rice Stewardship Partnership (RSP) between USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited is another crucial collaboration that secures the future of sustainability in the rice industry.  Since 2013, the DU partnership has used grants from the RCPP to accelerate the adoption of conservation practices and help farmers calculate environmental benefits.  The partnership is now implementing a total of eight rice-focused regional RCPP projects to last through 2023, bringing more than $80 million to U.S. rice farmers. 

The benefit of these partnerships reach far beyond funding.  The RSP sets its sights on the future-literally-by focusing on increasing youth participation.  As young farmers get into the business, RSP ensures that they have the resources, knowledge, and support to make sustainability a priority for a new generation. 

The report also provides something rice farmers have never had before:  a comprehensive benchmark to compare future sustainability goals and accomplishments against.  One of the tools available to track resource inputs and savings is the Fieldprint Platform designed by Field to Market.  Through an online application, Fieldprint allows producers to compare their farm's performance against eight sustainability indicators, such as land use and greenhouse gas emissions.  Farmers can enter their own data and receive analyzed feedback from Fieldprint in return. 

But the report isn't just raw data.  It's full of accounts from real farmers who have taken part in these programs to make their farms more sustainable.  Take Timothy and Daniel Gertson, fifth-generation farmers who reduced water usage by up to 40 percent with the help of an EQIP contract by laying irrigation pipeline and precision leveling their land. 

"While the research focuses on the most recent 30 years, the story begins much earlier as the report introduces you to the families of these multi-generational farming operations," said Kevin Norton, acting associate chief of the NRCS.  "This, in my mind, is a true test of sustainability.  One generation passes along their land, equipment, and values to the next.  It's really a story about the future."

Including these personal accounts in the report was important to its creators, because while sustainability is our story, it's really hundreds of stories from farmers, millers, and researchers across the country who are all doing their part to contribute to the larger narrative.

"This report verifies that the U.S. rice industry is a leader among agricultural commodities in sustainability across all sectors," said Linscombe.  "It will make it easier to tell that story." 

Sustainability is a moving target.  Technology will advance.  Populations will rise.  Markets will fluctuate.  Politics will be political.  As the world evolves, rice's sustainability tactics must evolve alongside it, and the U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report makes it clear that we're up for the challenge.

148 MT foodgrain output expected in Kharif 2019-20

These targets are higher when compared to the actual kharif output for 2018-19, which is 142.24 MT, as per the second advance estimates.

Description: 148 MT foodgrain output expected in Kharif 2019-20
NEW DELHI: With the Indian Meteorological Department forecasting “near normal” monsoon this year, the Agriculture Ministry on Thursday set its target for foodgrain production during kharif season 2019-20 at 147.9 million tonnes (MT), with rice output pegged at 102 MT.
These targets are higher when compared to the actual kharif output for 2018-19, which is 142.24 MT, as per the second advance estimates.
The ministry also expects the production during the 2019-20 rabi season to be tentatively around 143.2 MT.
At the National Conference on Agriculture (Kharif campaign – 2019), officials said rice production would touch the 102 MT-mark this kharif season, while maize production would be around 21.3 MT.
The production of coarse cereals will be about 35.8 MT, while that of pulses would be around 10.1 MT.
The output of jowar, bajra and ragi will be 2.1 MT, 9.5 MT and 2.3 MT, respectively.
Also, total oil seeds production is likely to be 25.84 MT and the sugarcane output is expected to be 385.50 MT, the ministry said.
Cotton output is estimated to be 35.75 million bales (each of 170 kg).

Modern techniques in rice-wheat cropping system

  Modern techniques in rice-wheat cropping system2019-04-24T09:24:36+05:00
Wheat and Rice are the two major staple food crops in Pakistan cultivated on the largest acreages. Wheat 1st staple food crop covers 8.7mha of Pakistan with 25.49 million tonnes annual production.
According to Economic Survey (2017-18) of Pakistan wheat share in GDP is 1.7%  while 9.1% value added in Agriculture by wheat. 43 countries of the world are producing wheat and Pakistan ranked at 8th position in wheat production in terms of yield/ha.
Worldwide wheat accounts for 30% of all cereal food crops followed by rice 27% and maize 25%. Rice as 2nd food crop is cultivated on 2899-thousand-hectare area with 7442 thousand tonnes production in Pakistan. Rice share in GDP is 1.1% and provides 42.3% labor force. 114 countries around the world cultivated rice and Pakistan ranked at 9th position in terms of Rice yield/ha.
Rice-Wheat Cropping System in Asia:
In Asia rice-wheat cropping system has been practiced for more than 1000 years by farmer community. Since currently it has expanded and estimated on an area of 23.5mha. In South Asia, the rice-wheat cropping system covers 13.5mha: India (10.0), Pakistan (2.2), Bangladesh (0.8) and Nepal (0.5) million hectares. It represents in these countries’ wheat covers 42% and rice 32% total area.
In the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP), which extends to these four (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal) countries, generally rice is cultivated from May/June to October/November (wet summer) and wheat from November/December to Feb/March (dry winter). Most of the area in Indo-Gangetic Plains is irrigated; however, it also receives 425-800 mm annual rainfall.
  • Rice-Wheat Cropping System in Punjab:
A cropping system is an opportunity for the farmers to help them in decision making in an ever-changing environmental condition in agriculture to remain sustainable. In the rice-wheat tract of the Punjab, wheat and rice cropping system account for over 80% of the total cropped area. In Pakistan, the rice-wheat cropping system is the major one which account for total 2.2mha of area.
In Pakistan, the rice-wheat cropping areas are mainly located in central Punjab (main districts include Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Narrowal, Hafizabad, Lahore, Okara, Jhang, Mandi Bahaudin) followed by Sindh. In these areas, wheat is usually grown by broadcast method and rice by transplanting 25-35 days old nursery seedlings in well-Puddled and flooded field conditions.

This major one cropping system in South Asia and parts of East Asia requires particular management practices as both crops require contrast growing conditions. Rice grows well on puddle compacted soil with standing water conditions as compare to wheat crop which performs best on well-drained soils.
There could be two possible ways to reduce cost of production either we decrease our input cost while making efficient use of available resources and decreasing input losses or we improve our average economic yield through adopting innovation and adding more inputs in an intelligent way.
Issues of Rice-Wheat Cropping System
  • Late sowing of wheat:
Delay in the sowing of wheat after rice directly or indirectly decrease input use efficiency of the system. Late sowing results in a smaller number of growing degree days, less plant population and less tiller per hectare etc. Sowing of wheat after puddled rice crop cannot meet optimum sowing time recommendations because your rice crop is still in the field even at the end of November.
There are so many reasons for the late harvesting, including excessive tillage, too wet or too dry soil moisture conditions, lack of mechanical power for plowing, and the biasness in priority farmers turn on threshing and handling the rice before preparing sed bed for wheat. Major cause of late wheat planting is the long turnaround time between rice harvest and wheat planting.
  • Structural Clash:
Structural clashes are always found between crops similarly as in  rice and wheat crop, because both crops require different field conditions for growing as in case of rice, it requires hard pan below rootzone therefore frequent puddling practice is performed while for better growth of wheat well drained soil is required and hard pan can inhibit root growth for wheat.
To break hard pan created through rice cultivation and for making soil well drained, deep tillage is performed before sowing of wheat. It consumes more time and fuel which increases production cost of the system.
  • Fertility Issue:
Rice and Wheat both are exhaustive crops that absorbed bulk of nutrients from soil and give nothing in return to the soil which is one of the main reason in the decline of soil fertility of rice wheat cropping system.It results in the decline of yield per acre year by year.

To alleviate this issue, efficient management of soil fertility must be ensured by minimizing the over mining of Primary nutrients, balanced fertilizer application in sufficient amount on the basis of soil test value or real time/site specific nutrient management.
Increasing Pest Population:
Pest population is increasing in soil bank as both are cereal crops with C3 cycle. Most of the weeds and pest are becoming adopted to the rice-wheat Cropping System.
After some years it makes difficult to control weeds and pest with the same formulation because they got resistance to most of applied chemicals in previous years therefore it is necessary to use alternative chemicals and pest control methods each year. Cost of managing pests will  increase the cost production.
  • Labor Issue:
Availability of labor for transplanting is also a problem due to increased industrialization in the recent years. Labor wages are also too high to about 6000 per acres in some areas of the country which increase cost of production.
Usually inexperienced labor is hired for the work, it ultimately results in poor plant population and injured nursery plants during uprooting and at transplanting time.
  • Residue management:
Management of previous crop residues after harvesting is also a laborious work for the farming community. Most of the farmers used to burn their crop residues, which is one of the causes of global warming.
Although it is right of soil that biomass of crops should get incorporated into it except economic components which is not performed due to high cropping intensity now-a-days. Also, one of the main reasons behind continuous decline in soil fertility.
Modern concepts in Rice-Wheat Cropping System
  • Direct Seeded Rice (DSR):
Rice is seeded at 9 inches spacing with the help of drill. Seeds are directly sown on beds in rows. Moisture stress is avoided at tillering, panicle initiation and grain filling stages of growth.Weed control is done manually and with herbicides. Puddling is skipped which saves water up to 30 percent. Less labor is required because nursery transplanting is not practiced. Its cost of production is less than transplanted rice.
  • Bed Sowing:

Crop is sown on raised leveled surface mostly in lines. Bed size and furrow depth varies from crop to crop. Bed planter is used for making beds and sowing practices. Application of irrigation in furrows saves water up to 45%. Less seed rate (10%) than conventional sowing and more production up to 20% is achieved. Weed control is also feasible.
  • Permanent Beds:
Beds are sometimes converted into permanent beds. Limited tillage practices are only for cleaning and reshaping of furrows. Residues of previous crop are left on surface acts as mulch and prevents erosion. Soil organic matter is also increased with the passage of time. Less irrigation water (25%) less operational cost (25%) and (8%) higher yields is achieved.
  • Zero Tillage Sowing:
In zero tillage system crops are planted with minimum soil disturbance. Seeds are placed with the help of drills of inverted T or double disc openers. It improves soil heath, timely sowing of crops is possible, production cost is also minimized due to least number of tillage operations. It is best suited for partially reclaimed soils. Turbo seeder is a best option as compared to zone disc tiller in Zero tillage system.
It is a practice of turning succulent green plant tissue into the soil.The purpose of green manuring is to add organic matter in the form of undecomposed biomass. Green manuring with Jantar (Sesbania) can overcome the problem of continuous decline in fertility and an organic way of managing soil fertility. Lucerne can be used as an alternative to sesbania as it gives additional benefit of one cutting for animal feed as well as improving fertility of soil.
Authors: Muhammad Hamza Latif, Zarina Batool and Zeeshan Arif
Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.

Rice growers urged to avoid overuse of chemicals


·      APR 24TH, 2019

·      LAHORE
Speakers at a seminar called upon the rice growers to avoid over-use of chemicals especially tricyclazole and buprofezin to ensure safe and healthy basmati rice from farm to fork. The seminar was entitled as 'Khushal Kissan' organized by the Pakistan Basmati Heritage Association (PBHA). A large number of basmati growers from Narang Mandi Distt Sheikhupura and members of the Association attended the meeting. Former Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Chairman Samiullah Naeem, Shahzad Chaudhry & Raja Arsallan attended the event. Pakistan Basmati Heritage Association (PBHA) has been formed for promotion and preservation of basmati rice heritage of Pakistan.

While moderating the seminar Imran Sheikh Coordinator PBHA highlighted the mission of PBHA and stressed the basmati rice farmers for avoiding overuse of chemicals especially tricyclazole and buprofezin in Basmati rice to ensure the safe and healthy basmati rice from farm to fork.

Shahid Tarer Convener PBHA shared the vision of Pakistan Basmati Heritage Association (PBHA) regarding working to resolve the challenges being faced in Basmati rice production and export. He said our country is lagging behind not only in productivity of Basmati rice but the rising cost of production making us less competitive from other rice-producing countries.

Sheikh Adnan Director PBHA shares the expectations of PBHA from Basmati rice farmers and assured to provide healthy and certified seed on subsidized rate during this season.

Chief Guest of the seminar Zafar Yab Haider Naqvi DG Pest Warning and Quality Control threw light on strategies of the Punjab Agriculture Department for controlling insects and pests of rice. He appreciated the mission and efforts of PBHA and assured his full cooperation on the behalf of Punjab Government. Asif Hayat Khan Niazi Zonal Manager Fuji Fertilizer Company shared his views about fertilizer application and importance of using potash, zinc and boron. Aftab Naseem Regional Manager FFC emphasized a balanced use of fertilizers especially Urea and its impact in boosting rice productivity, quality and profitability.

Dr Muhammad Sabir Director Rice research Institute KSK briefed the audience about research updates and development projects of Basmati rice. He elaborated the work on new varietals development of Basmati rice especially BLB resistant varieties. Dr Tahir Hussain Awan Rice Research Institute KSK shared his experience about Direct Seeding Rice and shared the set of new technology for weed management in DSR. Dr Riaz Deputy Director Agriculture, Pest Warning & Quality Control Sheikhupura advised the farmers for responsible use of pesticides and ensuring the quality of Basmati rice. Khalid Khan Kakar Assistant Director Agriculture Muridke District Sheikhupura discussed the key factors for boosting the rice yield and quality.

TCP plan to set up ‘Rice City’ in Karachi


·      APR 25TH, 2019

·      LAHORE
The Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) is planning to set up a 'Rice City' in Karachi in order to facilitate exporters and help enhance export of the commodity to strengthen national economy.

"We are going to put the plan before the TCP Board of Directors in next meeting for approval," said TCP Chairman Riaz Ahmad Memon while talking to Business Recorder at the sidelines of launching ceremony of digital process of TCP authenticity certificate for export of rice.

Senior Vice Chairman REAP Ali Hussam Asghar, former chairman Sami-ullah-Naeem, Pir Nazim Shah, REAP General Secretary Kashif-ur-Rehman and a large number of brown rice exporters were present at the event.

He said although we have sufficient storage capacity but the proposed new facility will be reserved specifically for rice exporters. He said storage will help save the consignment from aflatoxin.

Memon further said that the TCP is going to introduce a website to help exporters of different sectors to search buyers for their goods. He said it will be sort of online commodity market where exporters of surgical instruments, rice, cement or any other exportable items can place their query for buyers. He said that this online facility will have data of importers from different countries. "Idea is that exporters will place their commodity and it will be displaying full profile of the exporters and all the details about the company and the goods on sale including quantity.

The system will generate an email which will go to all the buyers registered on this system thus trying to create a B2B link between Pakistan exporters and foreign importers," he added.

Earlier, addressing the launching ceremony of digital inspection and certificate service, Riaz Ahmad Memon also threw light on this proposal and said they are at present in procurement process of this new software and local talented software engineer is in negotiation with the Corporation. He said that it will provide publicity and fast access to exporters to importers.

Responding to a demand of the rice exporters, he announced to increase the slots of rice analyzers and deputing most of them in Punjab as this province is hub of rice exports, especially brown rice. He said that at present there are two analyzers and 10 more will be added after imparting them necessary training.

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Senior Vice Chairman Ali Hussam speaking on this occasion said that 90-95 percent of brown rice is exported from Punjab so the TCP should bring its command and control system to this province to make issuance of certificate and inspection fast and quick.

He also demanded to increase analyzers in Punjab and deputing them region wise. He also asked for speeding up the inspection process and accounts process. He lauded the launch of digital process for inspection and certification and assured to promote it.

Earlier, TCP officials briefed the participants about IT-based digital process of rice inspection and issuance of authenticity certificate launched to facilitate the rice exporters. They said the exporters have to create account on portal, file online application/request to carry out inspection and submit detail documents and bank challan fee.               

Pakistan to China, Arunachal Pradesh’s Pasighat checks all the poll boxes
Written by Abhishek Saha |Pasighat |Published: April 24, 2019 9:35:01 am

Experts across Pasighat say that while nationalism and Citizenship Bill may be the two main talking points in Pasighat, there is much more to any election in Arunachal — the call of tribes and clans, a concoction of money and inter-personal community ties.
At a BJP rally in Pasighat. Express Photo by Abhishek Saha

Description: Lok Sabha elections 2019, Decision 2019,
On February 16, two days after the Pulwama terror attack, hundreds of people — political leaders, students and the migrant business community — held a candle-light march to “honour the martyrs” in Pasighat, a town on India’s eastern tip along the banks of the meandering Siang river, bordered by the Abor hills of the Himalayan ranges.
Among those leading the march were Pasighat East constituency’s BJP MLA, Kaling Moyong, and the man he had
defeated in the 2014 assembly elections by a mere 50 votes, Congress’s Bosiram Siram. Both are on either side of the political divide again — for the assembly elections alongside the Lok Sabha polls. But on that day, they marched together on that “patriotic walk” from the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the local market to that of the late Daying Ering, a former Parliamentarian from this town.
“The feeling of nationalism is very strong across Arunachal Pradesh. We love India and hate China,” says Kanggong Tayeng, a 25-year-old B.Ed student at the Daying Ering College of Teacher Education, who took part in that march.
On April 11, Pasighat decided which way it wants the country to go — and now, it’s the wait for May 23.
So is this election all about nationalism?
After casting his vote in Sibut village, 11 km from Pasighat, where he was also a polling agent for the BJP, Tayeng says, “(Narendra) Modiji should return as Prime Minister and continue with the bold steps against terrorism. There should be no appeasement of terrorists.”
Air India Plane Catches Fire
But what he says next frames the major debate in these parts for Elections 2019. “Also, as someone from the NorthEast, I feel that if and when the BJP government brings back the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), this region should be left out of it. The NorthEast is not a dumping ground for illegal migrants,” he says.
However, experts and political leaders across town say that while those may be the two main talking points here, there is much more to any election in Arunachal — the call of tribes and clans, a concoction of money and inter-personal community ties.
of Kento Rina (70), MLA of Nari-Koyu
assembly constituency, which is a 90-minute drive away. In the make-shift kitchen set up for everyday gatherings, Rina’s relatives prepare litres of “apong”, the traditional rice beer, and fry kilos of beef and pork, while overseeing the preparation of “rice-dal-sabji”.
“We do not buy anything other than spices and oil. Rice, vegetables, chicken, cows and even wood… everything is donated by supporters. People come here to be with him and have a good time… we look after around 500 people through the day,” says Leena Rina, 49, one of Rina’s sisters-in-law and the unofficial boss of the kitchen.
Meanwhile, two young women walk into the living room and ask for Rs 30,000 to buy a laptop. One of them is a final-year B.Com student at the town’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru College (JNC), which was established in 1964 and is the oldest in the state — the other is her younger sister. The money does not materialise and the two leave disappointed. “Many of them want money all the time. The dominance of money culture in elections is the worst thing to have happened in this state,” says Rina, the MLA.

 “Candidates do not represent a party or ideology, but their clans or communities. They will seek support from their clan members by displaying their material resources. The monetary factor comes first, followed by clan affiliation and personal charisma. Once candidates get clan support, they go all out to get official nomination from the party in power,” says Nani Bath, who teaches at the department of political science at the Rajiv Gandhi University near Itanagar.
For instance, Chief Minister Pema Khandu won on a Congress ticket in 2014 before defecting to the regional party PPA and then to the BJP.

‘Youth want jobs, businessmen contracts’
Around 2 km from Rina’s house, in the town’s market, Tobom Dai, general secretary of the powerful All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU), says that “when the electorate is so small, everyone has an expectation from the leader”. “The youth want jobs while businessmen want contracts. Unemployment is an issue across the state. Every youngster wants a government job. The system is such that the MLA will try to fulfil their demands and that increases the probability of corruption,” says Dai, who was born in Pasighat and lives in Itanagar.
According to the 2011 Census, Arunachal’s population is 1,383,727 with a density of 17 persons per sq-km (lowest in the country) — the Delhi/NCR region’s is 11,297 persons per sq-km. Pasighat comes under the Arunachal East Lok Sabha seat for which state BJP chief Tapir Gao and Congress’s James L Wanglat are the main candidates this time.
The town itself was established in 1911 by the British as an administrative headquarters — a first in what is today Arunachal Pradesh. Since then, it has seen a steady stream of migrants, mostly working as labourers, government employees and businessmen. Today, Pasighat is home to around 25,000 people, with a majority comprising non-tribals.
Early this year, there were intense protests in the NorthEast against the now lapsed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (CAB), which proposes to make non-Muslim minority immigrants from three neighbouring countries, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, eligible for Indian citizenship through comparatively relaxed norms.
But Arunachal has a sense of “nationalism” that is unique, say analysts, more so after the India-China war of 1962 — “Jai Hind” is a common greeting and Hindi is a common language. “The indigenous people of the state, unlike the rest of the states in the Northeast, are oriented to be nationalists because of successive policies of the government, keeping in view the geostrategic location of the state,” says Bath, the academic.
Pasighat also has an airport, a general hospital, and prominent educational institutes — temples for Hanuman and Kali, an Assamese naamghor, and a gurdwara stand next to each other in the town’s central market area.
Road to Delhi
This year, the town’s journey to Delhi has hit the national headlines for more than one reason.
On April 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a gathering of over 4,000 people at the General Stadium. The night before, poll officials seized Rs 1.8 crore from two vehicles that were part of the entourage accompanying Chief Minister Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and state BJP chief Gao outside the government guest house.
At the rally, Modi spoke mainly about the “false promises” of the Congress. And after the EC action, the state BJP distanced itself from the seizure.  On the ground, however, the buzz in a local WhatsApp group, which B.Ed student Tayeng is a part of, is mostly about whether the local MLA has been able to develop infrastructure in their village and why a bridge has not been completed yet.
“But irrespective of these debates, there is an overwhelming support base for Modiji. People here speak Hindi and watch a lot of Hindi news channels. Arunachalis are patriotic and we understand how Modiji is talking about national interest,” says Tayeng.
Follow the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 real-time on Check the Lok Sabha election schedule, your Lok Sabha constituency details as well as where Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are campaigning in the Lok Sabha Election. On Twitter, follow @Decision2019 for the latest news and analysis.

Pak-Iran financial channels to reduce cost of doing business: FPCCI


·      APR 24TH, 2019

·      KARACHI
President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Engr Daroo Khan Achakzai has proposed opening of financial channels between Pakistan and Iran because transactions through third country increase the cost of doing business and affect competitiveness of both countries.

FPCCI president appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to Iran. He laid emphasis on holding of commercial activities between the private sectors of the two countries for business to business relations and enhancement of trade.

He said the visit would open opportunities for enhancement of bilateral trade and economic relations between both nations.

"Presently, Pakistan and Iran enjoy Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) wherein the concessions on 18 percent of items are given but this PTA too has not yet been fully materialised due to international sanctions on Iran while Pakistan lost its market of mangoes, rice, citrus fruit and other agricultural items," he noted.

Daroo Khan called for promotion of barter trade between Pakistan and Iran citing the huge potential of Pakistan in exporting agricultural products, edible items such as fruits and vegetables while in return Iran has potential to export crude oil and petroleum products.

Quoting the statistics, the FPCCI president indicated that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Iran stood at US$ 398.5 million; wherein the volume of Pakistan's export to Iran is US$ 21 million and import from Iran is US$ 377.4 million.

"Iran plays a leading role in international organisations such as OIC, D-8, ECO, G-24 and G-77 where Pakistan is also an active member," he said, adding that stronger trade and business ties with Iran would not only help Pakistan's economic situation, but would also lead to greater stability and economic prosperity in the region.

He suggested that both countries should promote trade through land borders by opening new trade routes like Gabd-Reemdan and Mand-Pashin, which, he said, would help improve economy of Balochistan, in particular.

Internationally, it has been proved that opening of new trade border among neighbouring countries boost bilateral trade which can be seen in case of India that open its borders with Bangladesh and Nepal.

"Iran is the first nation that recognised Pakistan as a sovereign country in 1947 and since then Iran has unique and good relations with Pakistan," he said.

FPCCI president called for early completion of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project.

He also praised Iran for starting exports of electricity to Balochistan which would help in resolving the energy crisis. He lauded the development of Chahbahar port as it would serve as a sister port of Gwadar for developing connectivity by establishing the North-South and East-West corridors.

Daroo Khan also welcomed initiation of the process for release of a number of Pakistani prisoners by the government of Iran and for making arrangements for their expeditious repatriation to Pakistan.

Sri Lanka’s Muslims face angry backlash after Easter Sunday attacks

BY NEWS DESK , (Description:
Aurangzeb Zabi was cooking rice at a friend’s house on Wednesday when he heard angry shouting outside, looked out the window and saw a mob of Sri Lankan men carrying iron bars.
A day after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for suicide bombings that killed more than 350 people, Muslims in some areas of Sri Lanka were facing a rising backlash, NYTimes reported.
The mob surrounded the house. Mr. Zabi, a Pakistani refugee who has lived in Sri Lanka for two years, said he grabbed his two children, dashed into the yard and scampered over two walls before reaching an army checkpoint.
There the mob caught up with him, he said, and delivered a harsh beating, begging the soldiers to let them kill him. Hours later, Mr. Zabi still looked terrified.
“When you face 100 people,” he said, and then his voice slipped and he couldn’t finish the sentence. His eyes hardened.
“They even beat my kids,” he said.
In the town of Negombo, where an attack on a church during Easter services killed more than 100 people, gangs of Christian men moved from house to house, smashing windows, breaking down doors, dragging people into the streets, punching them in the face and then threatening to kill them, dozens of residents said. No deaths were reported, but many Muslims fear it is only a matter of time.
If one of the bombers’ goals in slaughtering hundreds of innocent men, women and children at hotels and churches on Easter Sunday was to stir new religious hatred in Sri Lanka, that may now be happening in some areas.
Despite pleas for calm from religious leaders of all faiths, tensions are rising and fear is traveling across this island nation like a fast-moving shadow. Many Muslims in different parts of the country say they are lying low and avoiding public places.
Until this week, Sri Lanka didn’t have much history of Christian-Muslim violence. The two faiths are small minorities: The country is about 7 percent Christian, 10 percent Muslim, 13 percent Hindu and 70 percent Buddhist.
Religion was not a driving factor in Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war, in which ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils nearly tore the country apart.
During the war years, many Muslim men rose up the ranks of the government’s intelligence services because they were known for their fluency in Sri Lanka’s three major languages — Sinhala, Tamil and English.
But after the civil war ended in 2009, militant Buddhism began to surge. Some observers have said it was as if powerful forces in Sri Lankan politics were looking for a new enemy to fight. Hard-line Buddhist monks targeted churches and mosques, priests and imams, often with the tacit support of the security services.
While Muslims bore the brunt of these attacks, Christians suffered, too, and the two communities were essentially on the same side. But that informal alliance was seriously challenged by Sunday’s attacks, which the authorities say were carried out by Muslim extremists, primarily against Christians.
In an instant, everything changed again, said Malik Farhan, another Pakistani refugee.
“We don’t feel safe anymore in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Many Muslims have tried to help grieving Christians, offering food and friendship, but the outreach has been complicated. Feelings are so raw that one priest told members of a mosque to stay away from the funerals.
On Wednesday, as Christian gangs roved their neighbourhood, hundreds of Pakistani Muslims including Mr. Farhan and Mr. Zabi, rushed for protection first to a police station and then to a mosque. Soldiers and police officers guarded the mosque gates and checked the identification of any visitors. Still, elders felt uneasy about the location.
By late afternoon a string of buses chugged out of the mosque with every seat filled and people packed in the aisles, instantly relocating an entire community of Muslims to a small town miles away from where none had ever lived.
Pakistani refugees are easy targets. They look different, speak a different language and were already on unsure footing, living in Sri Lanka as guests of the government while refugee agencies sorted out longer-term resettlement plans.
But they are hardly the only Muslims who are frightened.
About two hours away, in the town of Bandaragama, Mohamed Iqbal, a Muslim man as Sri Lankan as anyone else, winced as he looked at his shoe shop.
He had run Shoe Fashion for 15 years and the few hundred dollars it generated each month supported his wife, his three adult sons and two grandchildren. But Shoe Fashion is no more.
It was gutted by fire the night of the suicide bombings — “obviously revenge,” a neighbouring shopkeeper said. A rock lay on the ground that had been used to smash the lock and open the roll-top shutter. Inside, it still smelled like char.
“Our religious beliefs could not be more different from the Islamic State’s,” said Mr. Iqbal’s son Ifaz. “But now everyone is looking at us as if we were the ones who bombed the churches.”
Sri Lanka is a complicated tapestry of ethnicities and religions. Many Muslims said they have gotten used to discrimination operating in the background, even during peaceful times.
“Say you walk into a bank and someone sees your beard,’’ Mr. Ifaz said. “They might make you wait, even when they don’t have to.’’
In June 2014, after years of dehumanizing speech by hard-line Buddhist monks, religious bigotry exploded. Mobs of young Buddhist men attacked a Muslim neighbourhood in a southern town, burning down houses, killing at least three Muslims and sending fear into just about every Muslim household in Sri Lanka.
Police officers were accused of standing by and sometimes even helping the Buddhist mobs. The Iqbal family wonders if the same is happening again.
On Wednesday, officials played down reports of violence, saying no one had been seriously hurt. The police said they were beefing up security around mosques and in Muslim neighbourhoods, and trying to tamp down tensions.
“But you know,” Mr. Ifaz said, “there was a curfew the night our shop was burned. Maybe the police were there.”

‘Govt to present next budget by end of May’

·       Finance secretary says assets declaration scheme will be finalised by next week with amendments directed by Dr Hafeez Shaikh
ISLAMABAD: The government will be presenting the Federal Budget 2018-19 by the end of next month, a government official revealed on Wednesday.
Talking to media after the meeting of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Finance Secretary Younus Dagha said that his ministry has expedited its work with regard to the next fiscal budget as well as the amnesty scheme.
“The assets declaration scheme, which has already been discussed in the cabinet, will be finalized by the next week with the amendments directed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh,” he stated.
Talking about the bailout negotiations with International Monetary Fund (IMF), the secretary said that the IMF mission was likely to visit Pakistan between April 27 and April 30 for final talks.
According to sources, Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to meet IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on April 26th in China. The meeting between both parties was finalised in a high level contact between the federal government and the IMF, sources said.
Meanwhile, as Pakistan is facing another challenge of meeting the conditions of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the committee was given an in-camera briefing on matters pertaining to FATF.
The committee was briefed in this regard by the finance secretary, Federal Board of Revenue chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) commissioner and officials of the State Bank of Pakistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Counter Terrorism Authority Pakistan.
During the meeting, chaired by MNA Faizullah, the finance secretary informed that there was an increase of 23pc in financing by banks to the agriculture sector during the ongoing fiscal year.
“The banks during July 2018 to February 2019 had released Rs702 billion in loans to the agriculture sector against Rs570 billion loans recorded during the same period of last financial year,” he added.
Discussing the work plan assigned by the Special Committee on Agriculture Products to uplift agriculture development, the committee was briefed by the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council chairman that PARC has already proposed three research and development projects in the budget 2019-20 in this regard.
The Ministry of National Food Security & Research additional secretary apprised the committee that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2018 conducted a knowledge creation exercise on ‘Punjab Basmati Rice Value Chain Analysis’ and currently, ADB was working on ‘Punjab Sustained Agriculture Growth through Enhanced Agriculture Management by means of a Technical Assistance’.
“The TA would result in a loan of up to $100 million in the coming years,” he said, adding that the World Bank was funding various agriculture projects in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The committee recommended the ministry and PARC to prepare a comprehensive presentation along with their recommendations for improvement of research and development in the agriculture sector. It further recommended the Ministry of National Food Security & Research to prepare working papers in line with the given agenda by the Special Committee on Agriculture Products.
Earlier, the committee considered ‘The Microfinance Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2019, moved by Sajida Begum. The SBP executive director informed the committee that necessary measures have been taken by the central bank to address the salient features of said bill.

Pakistan exports sugar, rice to China under $1b package

 April 24, 2019
Description: PHOTO: REUTERS
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has so far exported 150,000 tons of sugar to China while export of 200,000 tons of rice will be completed by June under the $1-billion duty-free incentive package offered by Beijing, revealed Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile and Industry Abdul Razak Dawood.
Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce on Tuesday, the adviser said China had extended the duty-free package for the export of rice, sugar and 350,000 tons of cotton yarn.
Committee Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi was of the view that the domestic textile industry would be hurt by the export of yarn as its prices would surge in Pakistan’s market.
However, Dawood said Pakistan produced a huge quantity of cotton yarn so no such issue would arise. He added that textile-related industries were now giving good results as even closed factories had resumed production and there were hopes that textile exports would go up in coming days.
He informed meeting participants that he would be accompanying Prime Minister Imran Khan during the upcoming visit to China, where second phase of the free trade agreement (FTA) would be signed.
Under the agreement, Pakistan will get duty-free market access equivalent to that already enjoyed by member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) from China. “Although it took a long time to finalise the second phase of FTA, I would like to appreciate the Chinese government’s support in this regard.”
Senator Nauman Wazir pointed out that the government should get assurance from the Chinese side that it would not impose non-tariff barriers on imports from Pakistan.
Dawood pointed out that all such matters had already been discussed with China and he would further talk to Chinese authorities to get such assurances.
Talking about the performance of textile sector, Senator Shibli Faraz said the sector had become a ‘spoilt child’ by getting unnecessary subsidies. The productivity, efficiency and quality of the textile sector was not up to the mark despite getting huge subsidies and average monthly textile exports never exceeded $1.2 billion in the past 20 years.
Endorsing the senator’s stance, the adviser said the textile industry needed assistance around 15-20 years ago but now there was no need to offer any subsidy to the sector. However, he was of the view that the garment industry needed support owing to high prices of land, therefore, the government was mulling over extending long-term financing to garment manufacturers for the purchase of land and buildings to establish their industrial units.
Dawood told the committee that the government was engaged with Japan for the purchase of modern textile machinery and expressed hope that in the next six months an agreement would be finalised.
Senator Wazir suggested that the government should conduct a value chain analysis in the textile sector to find out the reasons behind the decrease in textile exports. He said commercial counsellors in Pakistani embassies abroad should also be bound to give feedback from their respective countries in order to find out potential markets in various parts of the world.
“If we want to boost our exports beyond $50 billion, we must have a look at areas other than textile,” Dawood remarked.
He pointed out that the engineering sector had a market share of over $4 trillion across the globe and it could help increase Pakistan’s exports to the desired level.

3 regions post high rice yields despite El Niño

Central Luzon, Ilocos, and Cagayan Valley survive the onslaught of El Niño due to proper irrigation, according to their agriculture regional directors
Anna Gabriela A. Mogato
Published 9:25 PM, April 25, 2019
Updated 9:25 PM, April 25, 2019
BOUNTIFUL HARVEST. Three regions reaped more rice despite the dry spell, according to the Department of Agriculture. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Three rice-producing regions posted high yields during the dry season despite the El Niño affecting 276,568 metric tons (MT) of the crop, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Among the 3 top rice-producing regions, Central Luzon's rice harvest increased the highest by 20% from 1.8 million metric tons (MMT) to 2.16 MMT, followed by Ilocos, which saw its production go up by 14.4% to 560,896 MT.
Cagayan Valley came in third with a 2.16% increase to 1.51 MMT.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, April 25, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said these strengthen the DA's projection of achieving 20 MMT in 2019, higher than the record harvest of 19.28 MMT in 2017.
Piñol said the agriculture regional directors from the 3 areas pointed to proper irrigation as the reason behind the high yields, fending off El Niño. These 3 regions will also start planting for the wet season in early May. (READ: El Niño's crop damage has no 'adverse impact' on national production – DA)
The DA has been pushing for irrigation, aside from providing interventions such as free seeds, mechanization, and fertilizers to boost rice production. (READ: Business as usual for rice industry after Duterte signs rice tariffication law–

El Niño damage to agriculture now at P7.96 billion – DA

The Department of Agriculture says 247,610 farmers and fisherfolk are affected by El Niño as of April 25
Anna Gabriela A. Mogato
Published 3:49 PM, April 26, 2019
Updated 3:49 PM, April 26, 2019
INCREASING DAMAGE. Agricultural damage is nearly breaching P8 billion, but the government isn't too concerned. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Production losses in the agriculture sector due to El Niño rose to P7.96 billion in late April, the Department of Agriculture's Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center said on Friday, April 26.
The amount is nearly P3 billion higher than production losses recorded on April 2, when it stood at P5.05 billion.
The overall volume loss reached 447,889 metric tons (MT), covering 277,889 hectares. The DA office als said that rice was still the most affected crop, and that some247,610 farmers and fisherfolk were affected by El Niño
Damage to rice crops reached P4.04 billion covering 191,761 metric tons and 144,202 hectares of rice land.
Production losses in terms of corn reached P2.89 billion, covering 254,766 MT. Some 133,007 hectares of corn fields were affected by the drought.
The DA office also reported that high-value crops and fisheries were affected across all regions.
Agiculture Secretary Manny Piñol said that the Agricultural Credit Policy Council had set aside P95.88 million under its Survival and Recovery Assistance program for 3,835 farmers.
The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp has also released P264.52 million for insurance to 24,119 farmers. –

FALSE: Aquino admin officials 'stole, deposited' 3,500 metric tons of gold in Thailand

The value of gold allegedly stolen and shipped is more than the value of the total gold reserves in the country
Published 11:31 PM, April 25, 2019
Updated 11:31 PM, April 25, 2019
Claim: Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III and some members of his Cabinet allegedly stole 3,500 metric tons of gold worth $141 billion, and illegally deposited it in Thailand in 2014.
Aquino was supposedly in cahoots with former justice secretary Leila de Lima, former interior secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, former Senate president Franklin Drilon, former finance secretary Cesar Purisima, former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Amando Tetangco Jr, and former BSP Treasury Department chief dealer Lorelei Fernandez.
Facebook user Dcoene Mar publicly posted on March 6 a meme which said plunder and graft complaints were filed before the Ombudsman against these 7 public officials. The original post was made by Facebook page Bonafide Ledfians way back February 27, 2018.
According to the post, the 7 public officials orchestrated the illegal shipment to Thailand in December 2014.
As of writing, Dcoene Mar's post has already reached more than 11,000 shares and 407 reactions on Facebook.
Rating: FALSE
The facts: A complaint against the mentioned public officials for the alleged gold shipment to Thailand was indeed made before the Ombudsman by a certain Rogelio Cantoria and Fernando Perito in January 2017, but the document they filed had already been debunked and deemed questionable by several news agencies including RapplerABS-CBNGMA NewsBusinessWorld, and Manila Bulletin.
The reports pointed out that the complainants based the case on a nonexistent BSP circular and cited wrong information, including the titles of the accused, dates, Republic Acts, and signatories.
Gold reserves can wipe out poverty in Philippines - NSCB

Moreover, the claimed size and value of the alleged stolen gold are way too large compared to the total gold reserves of the country.
Official data from the BSP and the World Gold Council (WGC), a nonprofit association of the world's leading gold producers based in the United Kingdom, show that the gold reserves of the Philippines hasn't reached the levels stated by the claim.
Since 2000, the earliest available data from the WGC, the gold reserves in the Philippines has only reached a highest level of 274.4 tons in the first quarter of 2003. This makes up just a mere 7.84% of the allegedly stolen 3,500 metric tons.
Total gold in the country even increased after the alleged shipment in December 2014, albeit very minimally. The Philippines had 194.9 tons of gold in the third quarter of 2014. In the first quarter of 2015, it jumped to 195.3 tons.
The purported value of the shipped gold is also way off the official gold reserves value reported by the BSP. Based on data from the central bank, the highest value of gold recorded in the Philippines since 2000 was $10.4 billion in 2012. This is just 7.34% of the alleged stolen value of $141 billion.
The value of the country's total gold reserves did drop from end-2014 to end-2015, but the difference was only $780.7 million. The country's gold was only valued at $7.5 billion in 2014, and it decreased to $6.7 billion in 2015.
There was also a claim that the gold bars shipped to Thailand were part of the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth, which may explain why the figures don't match the official data from the central bank. But that has also been previously debunked. (Read: HOAX: Marcos gold bars, jewelry ‘taken by Aquinos,’ opposition) –
Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.
China to increase Myanmar’s rice export quota to 400,000 tonnes: MOC
Description: A worker packs rice at a warehouse in Yangon. Aung Htay Hlaing/The Myanmar Times
A worker packs rice at a warehouse in Yangon. Aung Htay Hlaing/The Myanmar Times
China has agreed to import 400,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar via sea, increasing its import quota for Myanmar rice from 100,000 tonnes currently, U Khin Maung Lwin, assistant secretary from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), told The Myanmar Times. “Rice can be shipped to China soon,” he said.
 The development comes after the two countries discussed increasing the rice export quota for Myanmar to 400,000 tonnes at the 2nd China-Myanmar Economic Corridor Forum held in February in Yunnan Province, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).
During the forum, officials from Myanmar urged the Chinese to ink a formal trade agreement between the two countries for the export of rice and broken rice to China. 
“Broken rice is not included in this quota of 400,000 tonnes. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation is working on an MOU for General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China (AQSIQ) registration for agricultural, livestock, marine and industrial products exported to China, after which broken rice can be exported to China via sea very soon,” said U Khin Maung Lwin.
In 2016, Myanmar was allowed export a quota of 100,000 tonnes of rice to China. The Chinese also said that while it encourages official exports of rice and broken rice at the border, it would take strict action against illegal exports, the MRF said.
China is the main rice export market for Myanmar and most exports are conducted at the border. Other export markets are Europe, Africa and Asia..
According to statistics released by the MRF, Myanmar exported about 2 million tonnes of rice worth about US$650 million from the start of April 2018 to the end of March 2019. The country earned up to US$130 million from exporting over 450,000 tonnes of broken rice over the same period.
More than 52pc of the exports was conducted by sea, while the remaining was traded at the border. 
Asia Rice: Vietnam rates gain on fears Mekong water woes may hurt crops
APRIL 25, 2019 / 6:51 PM /
BENGALURU (Reuters) - Rice export prices in Vietnam rose for the first time in six weeks as domestic buying picked up and fears of water scarcity in the country’s rice bowl grew, while weaker local currencies weighed on rates in other top Asian exporting hubs.

A farmer harvests rice on a rice paddy field outside Hanoi, Vietnam, June 7, 2018. REUTERS/KhamÊ
In Vietnam, rates for 5 percent broken rice rose to $360-$370 a tonne on Thursday from $360 last week.

“Demand is higher and exporters are rushing to buy rice from farmers to fulfil the orders signed earlier this year,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Prices also rose because the Mekong Delta provinces are facing water shortages as farmers start sowing for the summer-autumn crop, another trader said.In India, the world’s leading exporter, the 5 percent broken parboiled variety fell to around $375-$378 per tonne this week from last week’s $377-$380 range.
“Demand is weak from African, as well as Asian buyers, even after reducing prices,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The aggressive selling of old inventories by China to African buyers was also weighing on prices, exporters said. A dip in the rupee, which fell to a seven-week low on Thursday, was another factor prompting exporters to cut prices.India’s rice exports for April-February dropped 9.4 percent from a year earlier to 10.57 million tonnes, as leading buyer Bangladesh trimmed its purchases due to a bumper local harvest, a government body said.Meanwhile, faced with falling prices, officials in Bangladesh reiterated that the country was considering a review of its long-standing ban on rice exports.“We need to protect farmers’ interests, at the same time we can’t let the prices rise,” a senior official at the country’s food ministry said.

Bangladesh, traditionally the world’s fourth biggest rice producer, banned overseas shipments of some common rice varieties in May 2008 after a spike in domestic prices. It banned all rice exports a year later.
Thailand’s benchmark 5-percent broken rice prices were quoted at $385-$388 a tonnes, free on board Bangkok, from $393-$411 last week, mainly due to the weakening of the baht against the U.S. dollar.
“Despite the drop in prices, Thai rice remains less competitive compared with other exporters like India and Vietnam,” a Bangkok-based trader said.With the potential for a drought this year, supply remains a concern for Thai rice traders.Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka; editing by Arpan Varghese and Kirsten Donovan
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- April 26, 2019
APRIL 26, 2019 / 12:52 PM
* * * * * *
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-April 25, 2018 Nagpur, April 25 (Reuters) – Gram and tuar prices reported higher in Nagpur Agriculture Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) on good demand from local millers amid weak supply from producing regions. Fresh hike in Madhya Pradesh gram prices and enquiries from South-based millers also helped to push up prices here. About 2,800 bags of gram and 1,300 bags of tuar reported for auction, according to sources.

* Desi gram raw recovered in open market here on increased buying support from local


* Tuar varieties ruled steady in open market here on subdued demand from local

traders amid ample stock in ready position.

* Moong Chamki firmed up in open market on good buying support

from local traders amid weak arrival from producing belts.

* In Akola, Tuar New – 5,300-5,450, Tuar dal (clean) – 7,800-8,100, Udid Mogar (clean)

– 6,500-7,500, Moong Mogar (clean) 8,000-8,600, Gram – 4,400-4,550, Gram Super best

– 5,600-5,900 * Wheat, rice and other foodgrain items moved in a narrow range in

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

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

FOODGRAINS Available prices Previous close

Gram Auction 3,820-4,280 3,800-4,240

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

Tuar Auction 4,400-5,460 4,400-5,400

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

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

Masoor Auction n.a. 2,200-2,500

Wheat Lokwan Auction 1,750-1,876 1,700-1,870

Wheat Sharbati Auction n.a. 2,900-3,000

Gram Super Best Bold 5,800-6,200 5,800-6,200

Gram Super Best n.a. n.a.

Gram Medium Best 5,500-5,700 5,500-5,700

Gram Dal Medium n.a. n.a

Gram Mill Quality 4,500-4,600 4,500-4,600

Desi gram Raw 4,500-4,600 4,450-4,550

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

Tuar Fataka Best-New 8,100-8,200 8,100-8,200

Tuar Fataka Medium-New 7,700-7,900 7,700-7,900

Tuar Dal Best Phod-New 7,500-7,700 7,500-7,700

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

Tuar Gavarani New 5,700-5,800 5,700-5,800

Tuar Karnataka 5,800-5,950 5,800-5,950

Masoor dal best 5,500-5,600 5,500-5,600

Masoor dal medium 5,100-5,300 5,100-5,300

Masoor n.a. n.a.

Moong Mogar bold (New) 8,000-8,800 8,000-8,800

Moong Mogar Medium 6,800-7,500 6,800-7,500

Moong dal Chilka New 6,900-7,800 6,900-7,800

Moong Mill quality n.a. n.a.

Moong Chamki best 8,100-9,000 8,000-9,000

Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 7,500-8,500 7,500-8,500

Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG) 6,000-7,000 6,000-7,000

Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG) 4,300-4,500 4,300-4,500

Mot (100 INR/KG) 5,550-7,050 5,550-7,050

Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg) 4,800-5,000 4,800-5,000

Watana Dal (100 INR/KG) 5,600-5,800 5,600-5,800

Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG) 6,700-6,900 6,700-6,900

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

Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG) 1,900-2,000 1,900-2,000

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

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

Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG) 2,200-2,400 2,200-2,400

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

MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG) 3,400-4,000 3,400-4,000

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

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

Rice BPT best (100 INR/KG) 3,300-3,800 3,300-3,800

Rice BPT medium (100 INR/KG) 2,700-3,100 2,700-3,100

Rice BPT new (100 INR/KG) 3,000-3,300 3,000-3,300

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

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

Rice Swarna medium (100 INR/KG) 2,400-2,500 2,400-2,500

Rice HMT best (100 INR/KG) 4,300-4,800 4,300-4,800

Rice HMT medium (100 INR/KG) 3,800-4,100 3,800-4,100

Rice HMT New (100 INR/KG) 3,600-3,800 3,600-3,800

Rice Shriram best(100 INR/KG) 5,500-5,800 5,500-5,800

Rice Shriram med (100 INR/KG) 4,800-5,200 4,800-5,200

Rice Shriram New (100 INR/KG) 4,400-4,600 4,400-4,600

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

Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG) 5,000-7,500 5,000-7,500

Rice Chinnor best 100 INR/KG) 6,600-7,500 6,500-7,200

Rice Chinnor medium (100 INR/KG) 6,400-6,600 6,200-6,400

Rice Chinnor New (100 INR/KG) 4,800-5,000 4,700-5,000

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

Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG) 2,050-2,250 2,050-2,250 WEATHER (NAGPUR) Maximum temp. 44.3 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 28.5 degree Celsius Rainfall : Nil FORECAST: Partly cloudy sky. Maximum and minimum temperature likely to be around 45 degree Celsius and 29 degree Celsius. Note: n.a.—not available (For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, but included in market prices)

Iran oil sanctions may hit India’s basmati rice industry

Given the scale of basmati rice exports to Iran, a disruption in sales to this market can have a severe adverse impact on the basmati rice industry.

, ET Bureau|
Apr 25, 2019, 05.59 PM IST
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Kolkata: The recent announcement of withdrawal of waiver, which allowed India to continue to import crude oil from Iran despite imposition of trade sanctions on Iran, by the US government in the first week of May has led to uncertainty over India importing crude oil from Iran. This can in turn skittle the exports of commodities including basmati rice. Given the scale of basmati rice exports to Iran, a disruption in sales to this market can have a severe adverse impact on the basmati rice industry, observed ICRA on Thursday.

Deepak Jotwani, Assistant Vice President, ICRA said: “Iran has remained a major export destination for Indian Basmati rice and the industry’s concentration on Iran has only magnified in FY2019. Discontinuation of crude oil imports from Iran can lead to issues on recovery of outstanding dues for the Basmati rice shipments already made, hampering the financial position of such exporters. Moreover, this issue can impact the industry as a whole and even the players who do not export to Iran. Given the share of Basmati rice exports to Iran, any moderation in sales to this market can have a depressing impact on the Basmati rice prices globally. This can severely impact the industry performance, especially considering that prices of the raw material i.e. Basmati paddy have firmed up in recent times, resulting in industry participants carrying high cost inventory. Additionally, the government’s policy stance on trade with Iran, post withdrawal of the waiver, will have a strong bearing on the prospects of the Basmati rice industry in the current fiscal.”

Iran has remained the largest importer of basmati rice from India in recent years, accounting for 32% of the total basmati rice exports from India in 11 month of FY19. During this period, Iran has imported basmati rice worth Rs. 9,204 crore (12.7 lakh MT), significantly higher than Rs. 5,830 crore (8.8 lakh MT) during FY2019. This surge in demand from Iran is explained, to some extent, by pre-emptive buying by Iran due to the uncertainty over its global trade in light of the imposition of trade sanctions by United States in November 2018.

The US government had parallelly granted waivers to eight countries including India, allowing them to continue to import crude oil from Iran. The Indian government, in order to comply with the condition that forbids direct fund transfers to Iran, introduced the rupee payment mechanism and identified two banks – IDBI Bank and UCO Bank for the same. Under this mechanism Indian refiners who import crude oil from Iran, deposit the payment for the same in rupee terms in escrow accounts held with these banks. The banks use these funds to release payments to Indian exporters, which are exporting essential commodities such as agro products, pharmaceuticals, etc. As a result, uncertainty (specially related to payments) regarding trade between India and Iran eased to some extent, leading to a surge in Basmati rice exports to Iran from December 2018 onwards - Rs. 3,680 crore in three-month period (December-February) as against Rs. 5,528 crore for eight-month period (April-November) in FY2019.

However, the US government has recently announced that the waiver extended earlier will be withdrawn in the first week of May. India is trying to push for an extension of the waiver; however, in case the same does not materialize, it may discontinue import of crude oil from Iran. In absence of sufficient imports from Iran, payment recovery for exports of commodities like Basmati rice, faces high uncertainty. It may be noted that Indian crude oil imports from Iran were to the tune of Rs. 70,000 crore in FY2018 against which total exports were around Rs. 17,000 crore.