Tuesday, May 07, 2019

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

Rice husks can remove microcystin toxins from water

UToledo research identifies another potential -- and renewable -- tool to fight harmful algal blooms
Scientists at The University of Toledo have discovered that rice husks can effectively remove microcystin from water, a finding that could have far-reaching implications for communities along the Great Lakes and across the developing world.
An abundant and inexpensive agricultural byproduct, rice husks have been investigated as a water purification solution in the past. However, this is the first time they have been shown to remove microcystin, the toxin released by harmful algal blooms.
The results of the study were recently published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
"Delivering safe water is critical, and finding an economically viable solution to deliver safe water to people all over the world is going to be really important. The ability of this simple material to be powerful enough to address this issue is impressive," said Dr. Jon Kirchhoff, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department.
The research, led by Kirchhoff and Dr. Dragan Isailovic, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, used organic rice husks that were treated with hydrochloric acid and heated to 250 degrees Celsius.
The rice husks were then dispersed in a series of water samples collected from Lake Erie during the 2017 harmful algal bloom to measure how much of the toxin they could absorb.
Researchers found the rice husks removed more than 95 percent of microcystin MC-LR -- the most common type found in Lake Erie -- in concentrations of up to 596 parts-per-billion (ppb). Even in concentrations approaching 3,000 ppb, more than 70 percent of the MC-LR was removed, and other types of MCs were removed as well.
"We looked at the removal of microcystins from real environmental samples and the material has performed really well," Isailovic said. "We are talking about extremely high concentrations of microcystins originating from cyanobacterial cells. Normally during summer, we have much, much lower concentrations in Lake Erie."
The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends a 10-day drinking water guideline that young children not drink water containing more than a total of 0.3 ppb of microcystin and school-age children and adults not drink water containing more than a total of 1.6 ppb of microcystin.
Beyond their effectiveness, rice husks have a number of other appealing attributes. They're cheap -- researchers paid $14.50 for half a cubic foot and buying in bulk would bring that price down significantly -- and they're able to be repurposed.
Heating microcystin-laden rice husks to 560 degrees Celsius destroys the toxins and produces silica particles, which can be used in other applications.
The researchers are hopeful their discovery could be scaled up beyond the lab to develop a more environmentally friendly method for treating water that has been contaminated by harmful algal blooms or cheap but effective filtration systems for the developing world.
"We could potentially use this readily available material to purify water before it even gets into Lake Erie," Isailovic said. "There are engineering solutions that need to be done, but one of our dreams is to apply what we develop in our labs to provide safe drinking water."
Other authors of the study were doctoral students Dr. Dilrukshika Palagama and Dr. Amila Devasurendra, who first proposed looking at rice husks as a way to remove microcystin and have since graduated from UToledo, and current doctoral student David Baliu-Rodriguez.

Ancient Chinese Buildings Are Held Together With Rice, Sugar, and Blood

Edible additives in mortar served both practical and philosophical purposes.

MAY 06, 2019
Ancient Chinese Buildings Are Held Together With Rice, Sugar, and Blood
A section of the Great Wall, in Yanqing County, contains mortar made with blood. OLEKSANDR RUPETA/NURPHOTO/GETTY IMAGES
THE CITY WALL OF NANJING, built 600 years ago, was the first line of defense for the founding capital of the Ming dynasty. Originally 22 miles long, it was built with 350 million bricks, most of which have survived centuries of weathering. In 2010, intrigued by the wall’s sturdy composition, a team of Chinese researchers analyzed mortar samples from one section. The secret ingredient turned out to be humble sticky rice, a staple of Chinese cuisine.
This use of gummy grains as an adhesive is not entirely surprising. For thousands of years, Chinese builders mixed sticky rice, or glutinous rice, with lime mortar to assemble structures across the country, including city walls, pagodas, bridges, and tombs. Cooked rice was first boiled into a paste, then blended with sand and lime, a substance produced by heating limestone. According to researchers Yan-Bing Luo and Yu-Jie Zhang of Sichuan University, this starchy concoction “holds important status and value in Chinese architectural history.” Because of its strength and low porosity, they refer to it as “Chinese concrete.”
Scientists have long been fascinated with this unusual formula, and in recent years, different teams have conducted studies to better understand it. Researchers Jiajia Li and Bingjian Zhang spent six years collecting 378 samples of ancient mortar from 159 sites throughout China, dating from the Taosi phase (2300-1900 BC) all the way to the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Their numerous chemical tests found that 219 mortars from 96 locations had “organic components”—that is, small traces of starch, protein, brown sugar, blood, and oil. These mixtures have helped preserve much of China’s built landscape. As the researchers write, “the quality of mortar used in construction has played an important role in determining monument durability.”
Parts of Nanjing’s city wall are held together with sticky rice mortar. ZHANG PENG/LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES
One notable sample, from a 2000-year-old tomb in Jiangsu province, turned up what the researchers say is the oldest known trace of sticky rice mortar. (A separate study identified an earlier use, dating to three thousand years ago.) While the researchers don’t know the recipe’s origin story, they determined that by the Tang dynasty (816-907), rice was often used to improve construction. By the Song and Ming dynasties, both periods of extensive architectural activity, this unique mortar was prevalent, especially in the foundations of important buildings.
Sticky rice is sweet, and augments savory dishes such as zongzi, pyramids of rice and fillings neatly wrapped in leaves, or tang yuan, a sweet soup with rice dumplings. It is also waxy—a texture that comes from the polysaccharide amylopectin, which gives the rice a denser microstructure. Mixed with lime mortar, the grains boost compressive strength, helping walls bear loads without fracturing. They are also highly water resistant, which protects buildings against erosion.

Types and varieties of rice: How to choose the right rice?

May 06 2019 05:02 PM
Description: Types and varieties of rice: How to choose the right rice?
           Rice is one of the most popular cereals in the world, which is used by professionals in preparing countless dishes for their excellent appearance and neutral taste. In the East, rice grains are the basis of national cuisines.
Rice is sold in two varieties: white (polished) and brown (unpeeled) rice. It is believed that brown rice is more useful due to minerals and trace elements that are contained in the shell. But scientists have proven that white rice is not worse, and the exaltation of brown is just a marketing ploy of producers. The choice is yours: what to believe, and what - no!
Whatever rice you choose, you will get food that is good for digestion. Rice is rich in vitamins of group B - thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and B6. Vitamins of this group are necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system, as well as for the conversion of food nutrients into energy. Also, rice cereals contain carotene, vitamins E and PP, a sufficient amount of minerals: phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iodine, iron, zinc and selenium.
also read: 9 harmful combinations: what foods cannot be used together?
Rice grass consists of complex carbohydrates (78%), proteins (7-8%) and fiber (3-4%). Complex carbohydrates are useful in that they are able to accumulate in muscle tissue and, if necessary, provide the body with an inexhaustible flow of energy. They also reduce fats and sugars without losing energy.
As for proteins in rice cereals, they are represented by several essential amino acids involved in the processes of the birth of new cells. Unlike other cereals, rice grains do not contain gluten, a protein that is often a food allergen.
An important useful property of rice is that it contains almost no salt, so it is recommended for people who are trying to lose weight. It does not excite gastric secretion but contains a lot of ballast substances that stimulate digestion. The lack of salts and a high content of potassium (potassium neutralizes the effects of salts coming from other foods) make rice an excellent food product for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
How to choose a rice variety
Choosing rice, we must first know about what dish we buy it. Between the shape of the grains and culinary properties, there is a clear relationship: the shorter and whiter the grains, the more water they absorb and the more sticky and soft and more swell. Long grains, respectively, are more transparent and harder, absorb less water and increase mainly in length.
It should also be borne in mind that one variety of rice, but processed by different technologies, has an unequal composition, culinary properties, and taste.
Brown (unpolished) rice
This species is considered the most useful for the body, which is very logical. Such rice is highly valued by supporters of healthy eating. The main thing is not to make a mistake with the manufacturer. It is minimally processed rice, without an outer casing and husk.
Long grain rice
Grains have a length of 6-8 mm, they absorb little water, so in a dish, it is always crumbly and rice cakes do not stick together. Long grain rice is suitable for cooking side dishes for meat and fish dishes, pilau, as an additive in salads and toppings in cakes. This is the most versatile type of rice.
Medium Rice
Grains of this variety has a more rounded shape and are shorter (5-6 mm) in length than the long grain. This kind of grain absorbs more water, contains more starch and the welding becomes soft. This type of rice is appreciated by cooks for their ability to absorb the tastes and aromas of other ingredients of the dish.
It is used to make soups, salads, risotto, and paella.
Round rice
It has a rounded shape and a length of 4-5 mm. It contains the most starches and therefore absorbs a lot of water. It is used for many dishes, the quality of which depends on the skill of the chef to cook this particular type of rice. Great for cooking casseroles, desserts, puddings, cereals, and sushi.
When choosing a variety, also look at the humidity. The rice should be dry while shaking the bag, the pictures should slide easily and not stick to each other. Brown furrows do not speak about the poor quality, but only about insufficient polishing. Such rice is more often tastier than the absolutely white.
If you observe a lot of grain fragments and not whole grains, then these fragments will boil out faster than whole grains and the rice in the dish will look heterogeneous. This rice is more suitable for soups and casseroles.
If the rice is opaque and white, then this suggests that it is immature and in taste is inferior to ripen. Light brown grains among whites say that rice was stored at high humidity and there may be various fungi in it.
And the last thing I would like to remind you about. Do not buy rice cereal in an opaque package - you never know what's inside until you unpack it!
How to store rice
Rice are stored in a dry room, in a glass or ceramic dish. Inside you can put a pair of garlic cloves, so as not to attract the food moth to the product.
also read: Homemade Lush Pizza for kids

High resolution rice maps for NE may help boost production
Dr Sanghamitra Deobhanj  Cuttack | Updated on May 06, 2019  Published onMay 06, 2019
Description: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/incoming/5ye1sq/article27048387.ece/alternates/WIDE_435/Chinese-academyjpg
Jinwei Dong, Nanshan You, Yingli, Jiadi (Leftt to right) at the Campus of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Mrinal Singha at Institue of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Reserach (IGSNRR), CAS Laboratory, Haidian, Beijing.
Mapping and monitoring of paddy cultivation areas is essential for making effective targeting strategies for the spread of new technologies, sustainable crop management and diversification options among rice growing farmers.
Recently scientists have developed high resolution seasonal maps for Northeast India and Bangladesh to study cloud-prone rice paddy cultivation regions in South Asia. Large scale paddy mapping at medium or high spatial resolution is rare, primarily due to limited availability of cloud-free optical imagery. The rice paddy maps, which are freely distributed by International Rice Research Institute, Philippines are of coarse spatial resolution and more than nearly seven years old.
Scientists from China have now developed high resolution maps with crucial information, by using cloud-free Synthetic Aperture Radar images from Sentinel-1 satellite, the Random Forest classifier, and the Google Earth Engine cloud computing platform. The Sentinel-1 satellite was launched by European Space Agency and its data is available for free.
“We mapped rice growing areas accurately in India and Bangladesh using microwave satellite images. The knowledge of spatial extent and rice cropping intensity is an asset to the government and other agencies for efficient land and water resources management along with environment sustainable growth to ensure food security for all the people in the world,” said Dr Mrinal Singha of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing.
The team studied three distinct rice cultivation seasons - Boro, Aus and Aman in Northeast India and entire Bangladesh. Boro rice is sown in winter and harvested in summer, while Aus rice is sown in summer along with pre monsoonal rains and harvested in autumn. And Aman rice is sown in rainy season and harvested in winter.
The study area was divided into several levels like paddy rice, natural vegetation, water, built-up land, and others. Then random points were generated in each level and further categorised as circle buffers in the maps.
Researchers used backscatter signals from Synthetic Aperture Radar of Sentinel-1 as an indicator for tracking rice paddy growth. These backscatter values change with varying conditions of the three paddy rice stages - transplanting, vegetative and after-harvest. These stages provided distinct backscatter values that were utilised for remote sensing analysis.
“To meet the growing global as well as local demand for rice, production needs to be monitored and increased. These high resolution rice maps would be very useful for assessment of rice paddy cultivation under clouded environment particularly in Northeast India where paddy cultivation usually starts in rainy season,” commented Dr Upendra Kumar, Scientist (Microbiology), National Institute of Rice Research, Cuttack, while speaking to India Science Wire. He was not associated with the study.
For this study, scientists selected computationally efficient random forest machine learning algorithm particularly to handle large satellite data for entire Bangladesh and Northeast India. Rice paddy maps were evaluated against independent validation samples, and compared with existing products from the International Rice Research Institute and the analysis of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. The resultant maps were validated using ground truth samples from multiple sources including field survey data and field photographs, visual interpretation with very high resolution images and of Sentinel-2 visual images.
It was found that the Synthetic Aperture Radar-based mapping had three benefits - reduction of data acquiring and pre-processing time, significant decrease in computational time, and the method could be quickly extended to larger regions.
It is proposed to extend the dataset to cover more countries in tropical Asia involving more detailed information. New versions would be periodically updated and uploaded to the repository upon the availability of new datasets.
Threat to paddy rice cultivation is increasing these days. The reasons are changing patterns of rainfall, global temperature rise along with rapid urbanization and industrialization. In this context, high resolution rice paddy maps could be useful to researchers and findings beneficial to rice farmers. These maps can also be used to study regional food security, freshwater use, climate change, and transmission of avian influenza virus.
“In future, the maps produced in our study will help to assess or identify the flood-prone region particularly in the Brahmaputra basin areas to prevent production loss and minimize damage,” commented Jinwei Dong, another member of the research team.
The research team included Mrinal Singha and Jinwei Dong (Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences), Geli Zhang (China Agricultural University), Xiangming Xiao (Center for Spatial Analysis, University of Oklahoma). The research finding has been published in the journal Scientific Data.
(India Science Wire)
Twitter handle: @CtcSangham

‘NFA buys rice from legitimate farmers, not fake co-ops’

Description: https://39byfk2z09ab1y1bzj1l5r82-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/agri01-050619-696x392.jpgA farmer starts plowing his rice field in Pampanga after a brief rainfall. The National Food Authority denied claims that it purchases unhusked rice from fake farmers’ cooperatives.
The National Food Authority (NFA) said it buys unhusked rice only from legitimate farmers and not from fake farmers’ cooperatives that serve as front for unscrupulous traders who want to take advantage of the food agency’s higher buying price.
The NFA made the statement after Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol ordered NFA OIC Administrator Tomas R. Escarez to weed out fake cooperatives and to prosecute erring government workers.
Piñol gave the directive after he saw social-media posts of farmer leaders in Central Luzon who claimed that “inactive” cooperatives are being used by traders to sell palay to the NFA to take advantage of its P20.70 per kilogram buying price.
Escarez said he would meet with NFA Region 3 officials to look into allegations of fake cooperatives selling palay.
He has also directed the NFA Regional Office in Central Luzon to conduct an immediate revalidation of individual farmers and master passbooks of cooperatives selling palay to the food agency.
“We will not allow any nefarious activities by fake farmer groups or cooperatives to muddle our procurement operations,” Escarez said in a statement.
He said the NFA monitors the legitimacy of farmers selling their produce to the passbooks given to them. For one, farmer
organizations need to secure a master passbook prior to selling palay to the NFA.
“Walk-in” farmers could still sell palay to NFA but they would be required to fill-up a farmer’s information sheet to properly record and monitor future transactions with the NFA.
“First of all, farmers need to secure a passbook from the NFA before they can sell to the agency,” Escarez said.
“Requirements for securing this passbook include a filled out Farmer’s Information Sheet with identification picture, and certification from the Barangay Captain, Municipal Agriculturist, Municipal Agrarian Officer or National Irrigation Administration where his farm is located,” he added.


The average farm-gate price of unhusked rice in the third week of April has declined by 10.85 percent year-on-year to P18.48 per kilogram (kg), the lowest since the last week of December 2018, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The PSA reported that the latest average quotation for palay was P2.25 lower than the P20.73 per kg recorded in the same period last year.
The PSA also noted that the average farm-gate price was 1.12 percent lower than the P18.48 per kg recorded in the second week of April.
Results of the PSA survey indicated that the lowest farm-gate price during April 17 to 23 was recorded in Caraga region at P16.33 per kg. The highest average palay quotation was observed in Central Visayas region at P21.96per kilogram, PSA data showed

87% of rice crops in Iloilo damaged by El Niño

By Gail Momblan/Philippine News Agency
ILOILO CITY — El Niño or the prolonged dry spell has damaged at least 87 percent of rice crops in Iloilo province, an official of the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) reported on Friday.
“We created a validation team to confirm the damage. The team went and included the standing crops in the province,” PAO chief Ildefonso Toledo said.
From October 2018 to March 2019, Iloilo province has a standing crop of rice of 32,181 hectares which cover 38,618 farmers.
“Based on their April (validation team) report to the Municipal Agriculture Office, the area affected is around 28,000 hectares,” he said.
The number of totally damaged area is estimated at 7,000 hectares while the remaining of the total 28,000 affected areas are partially damaged.
Meanwhile, Toledo said a total of 27,245 rice farmers were affected which translates to 71 percent affected farmers.
“The total cost of these affected rice crops reached PHP1.3 billion,” he said, adding that the consolidated report is already submitted to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).
The cost of damage on corn is lower than that of rice crops, Toledo noted.
Damages on standing corn crop from October 2018 to January 2019 reached PHP160,000, covering 4,502 hectares.
Toledo also assured that the report is in sync with the data of the Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas.
Five towns in Iloilo province– of Bingawan, Lambunao, Maasin, Janiuay, and Santa Barbara– has been put under the state of calamity because of El Niño’s damage to agriculture and lack of water supply.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. reiterated on Thursday that the concerned agencies have to make sure that its El Niño reports are validated before the entire province could be placed under a state of calamity.
For the latest updates about this story, visit the Philippine News Agency website
Chinese rice importers visit Vietnam

Rice is packaged for export (Photo: VNA) Hanoi (VNA) – A delegation of some 20 Chinese rice importers is visiting Vietnam for trade connection and promotion activities between May 6 and 10. The delegation, led by representatives of the China Food Industry Association (CNFIA), is scheduled to make field trips to a number of rice processing facilities in An Giang, Long An, and Dong Thap provinces in Vietnam’s rice granary Mekong Delta region. They will attend a trade connection workshop in An Giang on May 9. Their visit, made at the invitation of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), is part of a programme co-organised by the MoIT’s Export-Import Agency and Department of Asian and African Markets; Vietnam’s trade promotion office in Beijing; the industry and trade departments of the three delta provinces; the Vietnam Food Association; and CNFIA. Previously, the MoIT had invited four similar delegations to make trips to Vietnamese rice hubs. They gathered representatives from Chinese provinces that have high demand for rice imports such as Anhui, Guangdong, Yunnan, and Fujian. These programmes are opportunities to introduce Vietnam’s facilities, capacity, and trademark in the industry. In 2018, Vietnam’s total rice exports reached 6.15 million tonnes, with the export turnover of 3.15 billion USD. The industry saw 5.7 percent and 19.6 percent increases in volume and value compared to 2017, respectively. China was the biggest rice importer of Vietnam last year, but was surpassed by the Philippines in the first quarter of 2019. –VNA  
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Cambodian rice exports to China surge following EU tariffs

MAY 6, 2019 / 12:22 PM

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian rice exports to China have surged after the European Union imposed duties on imports of the grain from the Southeast Asian nation, the World Bank said on Monday.
FILE PHOTO: A man works in a rice field just outside Phnom Penh August 6, 2014. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
The EU in January imposed tariffs for three years on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar to curb an increase in imports from those two countries and to protect EU producers such as Italy.
Cambodia has filed a challenge with the European Court of Justice against the duties, saying the so-called “safeguard” measure did not relate to any unfair behavior and was based on broad generalizations and a flawed use of data.
After the tariffs were imposed, Cambodia’s milled rice exports to the EU in February reached only 10,080 tons, a 57.8 percent decline from the previous month, the bank said in its country economic update.
Cambodia exported 270,000 tones or 43 percent of its total milled rice exports to the EU in 2018, the World Bank said.
“Overall, the decline of Cambodia’s rice exports to the EU was more than offset by the increase in the country’s rice exports to the Chinese market,” the bank said in its report.
Cambodia’s rice exports to China grew by 45.6 percent, the bank said, and it managed to increase its overall exports of rice by 2 percent during the first two months of the year.
Cambodia at present gets a trade preference from the EU known as Everything But Arms (EBA), making all Cambodian exports duty free except arms.
The EU accounts for more than one-third of Cambodia’s exports, including garments, footwear and bicycles.
In February, the EU started an 18-month process that could lead to a suspension of Cambodia’s EBA status over its record on human rights and democracy.
The World Bank said if the EBA is suspended, Cambodia would see a maximum decline in exports to the EU of $654 million.
Cambodia's rice exports to China increase: World Bank
Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-06 19:04:03|Editor: ZX
PHNOM PENH, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's rice exports to China had increased after the European Union (EU) imposed tariffs on rice from the kingdom, said a World Bank report released on Monday.
In January, the EU imposed duties for three years on rice importing from Cambodia in a bid to curb a surge in rice imports from the kingdom and protect European producers.
The EU reinstated the normal customs duties of 175 euros per ton in year one, progressively reducing it to 150 euros per ton in year two and 125 euros per ton in year three.
"As a result, in February 2019, Cambodia's milled rice exports to the EU reached only 10,080 tons or a 57.8-percent month-on-month decline," the World Bank said in its Cambodia Economic Update, adding that Cambodia exported 270,000 tons, or 43 percent of total milled rice exports, to the EU market in 2018.
"Overall, the decline of Cambodia's rice exports to the EU was more than offset by the increase in the country's rice exports to the Chinese market," the report said.
Cambodia's rice exports to the Chinese market grew 45.6 percent, the report said, adding that as a result, Cambodia's milled rice exports managed to increase 2 percent during the first two months of 2019.
The report said in 2018, Cambodia's milled rice exports to China reached 170,154 tons, or 27 percent of total milled rice exports.
It added that official data show that Cambodia earned 413.5 million U.S. dollars from its milled rice exports last year.

Rice-mad Myanmar eyes diversification of crops

Source:Reuters Published: 2019/5/5 17:38:39 Description: http://www.globaltimes.cn/Portals/0/attachment/2019/2019-05-05/b99539e5-7c19-45d2-8ab1-30fbe7aacfbf.jpeg
A Myanmar woman works to maintain a rice crop in a paddy field on the outskirts of Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on Wednesday. Photo: IC

Opening the lid of her rice cooker, a luxury bought when power finally came to their village in central Myanmar three years ago, Tin Aye scooped out two fat ladles for breakfast.

"I cannot go without eating rice. Since the start of the day, all my stomach asks for is rice," said the 52-year-old mother of three, laughing.

Myanmar is a nation obsessed with rice.

Its people eat an average of 155 kilograms a year, according to a 2016 survey by the country's rice federation and Yezin Agricultural University, ensuring Myanmar has one of the world's highest rates of rice consumption.

For half a century, successive leaders anchored agriculture policies on rice. The government used loans, infrastructure, and services to push farmers to grow it and people to eat it, so rice is now woven into the fabric of daily life.

In place of "Hello," people greet each other by asking, "Have you had rice?"

It wasn't always this way in Myanmar, where diets were once seasonal, diverse - and much more healthy.

But a rice-centric policy that began in the 1960s during the socialist era led people to grow and consume more, said Tin Htut Oo, who has worked in the agricultural ministry and chaired an advisory body to the government.

"Our diets, especially in urban areas, are becoming like Western diets. It has become more monotonous," he said.

Rice - a starchy, high-calorie grain - accounted for at least one-third of cultivated land in 2017-18 and nearly two-thirds of diets, government data shows.

But faced with malnutrition and worsening obesity and dietary-related diseases, the Southeast Asian nation of 54 million people is trying to diversify what it grows and eats.

Smart future

The problem is not Myanmar's alone. Experts say if the world is to fight a growing malnutrition crisis, agriculture must shift from producing calories, through staples such as rice, to growing nutrients, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables and pulses.

Poor diet has overtaken smoking as the world's biggest killer, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease study, causing 20 percent of deaths globally in 2017.

Myanmar has embarked on a five-year nutrition plan to alter the nation's eating habits, which includes the need to diversify the nation's agriculture so consumers can access a varied food basket and farmers can increase their income.

This includes growing pulses, vegetables and fruits, using better fertilizer and improving livestock production, said Kyaw Swe Lin, director-general at the agricultural ministry's planning department.

It would also increase incomes in a country where two-thirds of households work in agriculture.

Decades of economic sanctions have affected food quality, safety, and nutrition - and reversing this requires outside help, said Kyaw Swe Lin.

In February, Myanmar's government signed an agreement with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with agricultural diversification as a major goal.

Myanmar observers - from aid workers to economists - said poor infrastructure, resistance to change, laws that encourage rice production, and insecure land tenure all pose challenges.

But Kyaw Swe Lin said there was no other choice.

"If we don't tackle this now, the impact is going to be very big and very negative."

Government support

Myanmar's emergence from nearly half a century of military rule less than a decade ago brought glitzy malls, smart phones, fast food, and Western hotel chains.

Yet for the country's women and children, particularly in ethnic and border areas, malnutrition persists.

One in four children under 5 and one in four adolescent girls are stunted due to chronic malnutrition, according to a government survey.

One in three adolescent girls are anemic, mainly due to iron deficiency, while more than one in five women are overweight, said the report published in February.

All of this "poses severe risks to diabetes, hypertension, and overall health," said Anna-Lisa Noack, FAO's food security and nutrition policy specialist in Myanmar.

A lack of diversified diets is a significant factor.

Emerging evidence suggests more than half of the population cannot afford nutrient-rich foods, while consumption of oil, sugar, and processed foods is increasing, she said.

In Myanmar, many of the 18,000 plant species so far recorded could be highly nutritious but are neglected, said Min San Thein, deputy director at the agricultural ministry.

One of them is zee phyu thee - Burmese gooseberry - which grows wild in the forests and is rich in Vitamin C but is not cultivated, he said.

"Nowadays, if you go to villages, you won't see these trees anymore," said Min San Thein, who heads the Myanmar Seed Bank.

There are now plans to breed and distribute them in villages, but much more needs to be done to conserve, use, and raise awareness of such species to fight malnutrition, he said.

The Seed Bank is also working to expand its conservation work to reflect Myanmar's rich biodiversity, he added. Currently, more than half of the 13,000 seeds stored are rice.

Education and innovation, including new ways of consuming protein-laden beans and pulses, are key, said Tin Htut Oo, who now heads the agriculture group in Myanmar's Singapore-listed conglomerate Yoma Strategic Holdings.

Farmers, however, have voiced reluctance to grow other crops, citing government support for rice.

"We get loans of 150,000 kyats ($99) per acre for rice. We don't get it for other crops," said Kyaw Lin, Tin Aye's husband.

Another barrier to growing nutrient-rich but perishable fruits and vegetables is the lack of infrastructure such as refrigeration and transport networks, said Debbie Aung Din, whose company Proximity Designs make low-cost farm products.

Tin Aye, the farmer in Thar Yar Su, has no intention of cutting her rice intake but said many villagers, herself included, have started to eat more vegetables after reading warnings about bad diets on social media on their smart phones.

"There is more knowledge and awareness now," she said.
Newspaper headline: Healthier diet

Growing rice with less water

Muhammad Abbas ZiaUpdated May 06, 2019
Description: https://i.dawn.com/primary/2019/05/5ccf49f8612cb.jpg
After wheat, rice is the second most important staple of Pakistan. Through exports, it contributes significantly to the country’s exchequer. This is especially true for basmati rice which is known for its aroma and quality, and is a specialty of the country. Rice is grown in all provinces on an area of 7,164 thousand acres. However, it is a water guzzler.
Transplanted puddled rice (TPR) is the preferred mode for growing the crop in Pakistan. A puddled field is one where the soil is ploughed under 10-12 inches of standing water. In TPR, rice seedlings are raised in nurseries till they are 4-6 weeks old, before being transplanted to puddled fields.
Rice is a water loving cereal. It takes about 3,000 to 5,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of rice. 93.6 per cent of fresh water in Pakistan is consumed by agriculture of which rice accounts for 35pc.
Due to declining water resources and high water requirement of TPR, it is the need of the hour to enhance water-use efficiency and water productivity. Among various technologies, dry direct seeded rice (DSR) is the best option for water conservation.
It takes about 3,000 to 5,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of rice
In the DSR sowing method, paddy seed is sown directly in well prepared fields through DSR drill, removing the need for seedlings to be raised in a nursery. Through this method, 25-30pc of the water consumed can be saved while using 30pc less fuel. Furthermore, less labour and time is required and optimum plant population can be obtained easily.
In Pakistan, especially in Punjab, DSR sowing method in rice crop is getting popular day by day, with area under DSR gradually increasing. Last year, estimated area under DSR was 114 thousand acres, out of which 104 thousand acres were in Punjab alone.
Factors such as severe water shortage and expensive labour due to industrialisation and urbanisation, has led the rice farming community of Pakistan to want to shift from TPR to DSR sowing technology. But they are unable to do so effectively because of the menace of weeds infestation in DSR.
Weeds are undesirable plants whose removal is essential because they compete with the crop for sunlight, water and nutrients. Weed infestation adversely impacts rice by 15-20pc and can go up to 50pc.
A DSR crop badly infested with weeds can fail entirely. Weeds in rice crop can be categorised into three classes: broad leaved, sedges and grasses weeds.
In the TPR sowing system, weed control is easy as the puddled soil inhibits weeds germination. Whereas, in DSR sowing technology, weed control is very difficult. Since weeds germinate at the same time as rice seedlings, they compete for light and nutrients. Weed competition in DSR is at its peak during the first three weeks.
No doubt, DSR technology is the future of rice in Pakistan. But this future depends on proper weed management, especially from noxious weeds like ghora, madhanas and kallar or bansi grass.
Integrated weed management is a systematic approach in which the control of weeds is achieved by keeps its infestation below economic injury level. This can be done by combining any two or more preventive, cultural and herbicidal weeds management methods.
Crop rotation, mulching of sesbania (jantar) and stale seed bed or double rouni (creating a seedbed weeks before it is due to be sown) are the best methods of cultural control of weeds in DSR system.
However, use of herbicide, such as application of glyphosate, is indispensable. Without herbicidal weed management, appropriate control can’t be achieved.
The writer is an agri services officer at Fauji Fertiliser Company
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, May 6th, 2019

Inside Tanzania’s 12-year plan to boost rice output

Description: rice paddy
A farmer replants seedlings in her rice paddy. The demand for rice in Tanzania reached 2.05 million tonnes in 2018 and it is projected to increase by 2.9 per cent during the next five years to 2.27 million tonnes. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NMG 

In Summary

·       The programme is looking to raise annual rice production from 2.2 million tonnes to 4.5 million tonnes.
·       Maize and rice are the most important staple foodcrops grown in most parts of the country.
·       Tanzania’s main food crops are maize, rice, sorghum, millet, legumes, roots and tubers, horticultural crops and coconuts.
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Tanzania has launched a 12-year plan to boost rice production and forestall a food crisis in the region.The National Rice Development Strategy programme launched last month is part of the Coalition for African Rice Development, which is aimed at feeding East Africa.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mathew Mtingumwe said they are looking to raise annual rice production from 2.2 million tonnes to 4.5 million tonnes.
The strategy will be implemented between the government, with funding from the World Bank, Japan International Co-operation Agency and the Africa Development Bank.
Tanzania’s main food crops are maize, rice, sorghum, millet, legumes, roots and tubers, horticultural crops and coconuts, all largely produced by smallholder farmers.
Maize and rice are the most important staple foodcrops grown in most parts of the country. About two million farmers grow rice.
Mr Mtingumwe said his ministry has prioritised rice cultivation for local consumption and export to neighbouring countries.
Rice production is among the major sources of employment and income for many farming households, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a recent report.
The demand for rice in Tanzania reached 2.05 million tonnes in 2018 and it is projected to increase by 2.9 per cent during the next five years to 2.27 million tonnes.
The Ministry of Agriculture is now wooing new rice growers through technical and training support from the Food and Agricultural Organisation.
Over the years crop production in Tanzania has been dropping partly due to low or non-adoption of recommended agricultural production practices and lack of fertilisers.
Counting below average rains and drought, Tanzania stands among African countries south of the Sahara facing a food crisis with a sharp rise in prices for cereals mostly in its northern, western and southern agricultural regions.
Looking to develop and boost agricultural production, Tanzania has sought Israel’s support in training in modern farming technology and agribusiness investments.
Israel has offered over 100 scholarships to Tanzanians studying agricultural production and agro-business studies.
USA Rice Continues Dialog with Fecarroz  

MIAMI, FLORIDA -- Last week, USA Rice met with the Central America Rice Federation (Fecarroz) for the third time to discuss the Central America-Dominican Republic-USA free trade agreement (CAFTA-DR).  The mechanisms for how quotas are currently allocated under CAFTA-DR and the process for reallocating unused quotas were at the top of the meeting's agenda.  

Last year, the quotas allowed 556,850 MT of U.S. rice to enter duty free; the U.S. exported 480,000 MT.  This year, the quotas allow nearly 570,000 MT of U.S. rice to enter duty-free.  

Because CAFTA-DR is the second largest export destination for U.S. rice and the U.S. is the only country to benefit from a free trade agreement that includes rice with Central American countries, these discussions are very important for both sides.  Fecarroz members are pressing for a change in the rice terms of the agreement as the United States and the Central American countries that are parties to CAFTA-DR conduct a review later this year.    

"As the trade agreement currently stands, the U.S. rice industry would enjoy tariff-free trade with the CAFTA-DR countries in either 2023 or 2025, depending on the country," said Bob Cummings, USA Rice COO, who attended the meeting.  "We want to make sure our trading partnership remains strong and that the U.S. rice industry is poised to expand export markets."

USA Rice conducts promotional activities in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and is looking to expand activities to additional CAFTA-DR countries, working in conjunction with local rice importers in those countries.

Bureau Of Supply And Prices Sets Up 11 Complaint Centers In Hyderabad

Description: Bureau of Supply and Prices sets up 11 complaint centers in Hyderabad

The Bureau of Supply and Prices and Market Committee Hyderabad have set up 11 complaint centers in different parts of Hyderabad to implement the government fixed rates of the edible commodities

HYDERABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - APP - 6th May, 2019 ) :The Bureau of Supply and Prices and Market Committee Hyderabad have set up 11 complaint centers in different parts of Hyderabad to implement the government fixed rates of the edible commodities.
The Bureau's Deputy Director Sajid Jokhio told APP here Monday that the centers would take action against the wholesalers and retailers who charge higher than the rates fixed by the Deputy Commissioner Hyderabad.
He said that DC month fixed the prices of 70 edible items including pulses, rice, milk, oil, spices, flour and rice, among others, at a meeting also attended by representatives of the traders.

FCT Fadama has contributed to local rice production –
Coordinator By Abubakar Sadiq Isah |
Published Date May 6, 2019 0:20 AM TwitterFacebookWhatsAppTelegram The acting Coordinator of the FCT Fadama III Additional Finance (AD) Mr. Rotimi Ajayi, has said the programme has so far contributed in no small measure to the domestic production of rice in the territory. Mr. Ajayi stated this at the 2019 dry season rice production farmers green field day organised by Noma Tushin Arziki Rice Production Group in Yaba, Abaji Area Council last Friday. ADVERTISEMENT He said the contribution was made through training and funding support of rice farmers in the area of rice seed multiplication, adoption of proven rice production technology like the SAWH eco technology for rice farming, among others. According to him, the transfer of such technologies and their adoption had resulted to production of over 84MT of Faro seed by 20 members of the Fogbe rice production cluster. ADVERTISEMENT He said the Fadama III Additional Finance (AD) project supported cluster of farmers in communities across the FCT, which he said had comparative advantage and high potential to increase production of cassava, rice and sorghum value chains. In his keynote address, the FCT Secretary for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Stanley Izekwe Ifeanyi, represented by the Head of Monitoring and Evaluation of Agricultural Development Project (ADP), Tijjani Lamidi, noted that the Fadama III project was aimed at scaling up the impact and effectiveness of Fadama Development Project. He said providing Description: https://cdn.dailytrust.com.ng/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2017_12large_FADAMA_III-300x192.jpgtechnical assistance to clusters of farmers for seed multiplication and acquisition of appropriate agriculture machinery was paramount to the project. “We at ARDS are equally impressed with the effort made so far by the project in the implementation of Fadama III Additional Finance project in the areas of mobilisation and formation of potential groups, “ he said. On his part, the Etsu of Yaba, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, urged his subjects to be more committed to farming, saying he had lodged a complaint before the agric secretariat to provide all the graded chiefs with tractors.

DOST-ITDI researchers cited at Asian Scientist 100
Published May 6, 2019, 3:16 PM
Description: Dr. Rosalinda C. Torres of the DOST-ITDI studies mostly on applications of chemistry on natural products, drug discovery as well as medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry. (Photo from dostv.ph)
Dr. Rosalinda C. Torres of the DOST-ITDI studies mostly on applications of chemistry on natural products, drug discovery as well as medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry. (Photo from dostv.ph)
Dr. Rosalinda C. Torres and Dr. Marissa A. Paglicawan were two of eight Filipino scientists who were featured in the 2019 edition of Asian Scientist 100. Dr. Torres is from Standards and Testing Division while Dr. Paglicawan is from Materials Science Division, both under the Department of Science and Technology-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI)
Dr. Torres was recognized for her research on larvicidal potential of Philippine medicinal plants like avocado, guyabano, and pomelo. These plants, based on her studies, have extracts that are toxic for pests like mosquito while in their larva stage.
Dr. Paglicawan’s research efforts to use Manila hemp or abaca in engineering materials led to her citation. In their previous project, “Tryk ni Juan”, Dr. Paglicawan developed a composite material made of resin and abaca fiber as roofing for tricycles. This innovation makes tricycles more appealing and lighter as well. Abaca or Manila hemp is Philippine endemic.
The Asian Scientist Magazine aims to highlight most outstanding Asian researchers for their achievements in respective disciplines. Accordingly, the citation reads, “the honoree must have received a national or international prize in 2018 for his or her research. Alternatively, he or she must have made a significant scientific discovery or provided leadership in academia or industry.” Some categories include environmental science and geology, astronomy, leadership, chemistry, among others.
Other Filipino scientists who also made it to this year’s Asian Scientist 100 are:
·       Artemio M. Salazar from the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Banos for pioneering the rice:corn blend, a high-protein meal alternate for rice;
·       Ricardo S. Balog from the University of Santo Tomas for developing low-cost medical devices;
·       Elmer P. Dadios from the De La Salle University for his works on swarm robotics and artificial intelligence;
·       Charissa Marcaida Ferrera from UP Diliman for her researches on improving water quality in marine environments;
·       Gay Jane P. Perez from UP Diliman for her studies using satellite data to improve agriculture for precision farming; and
·       Rody G. Sy from UP Manila for his efforts in cardiology in the country.
The listing began in 2016 and at most ten Filipinos each year were already featured. (David Matthew C. Gopilan, DOST-STII)

Ban on rice importation’ll boost local production – FCT Fadama

The Acting Project Coordinator of FCT FADAMA III Additional Funding Project, Rotimi Ajayi says the Presidential initiative on decreasing rice importation and increase domestic production is a decisive step that calls for proactive measures from all stakeholders in the rice subsector.  
Ajayi disclosed this on Friday in his welcome address at the 2019 Dry Season Rice Production Farmers Green Field Day organised by Noma Tushin Arziki Rice Group in Yaba, Kwali Area Council of FCT Abuja. 
Ajayi stated that FCT FADAMA has so far contributed a lot to the domestic production of rice in the Nation’s capital through training and funding support of rice farmers in the area of Rice Seed multiplication, adoption of proven rice production technology such as SAWAH Eco Technology for Rice Farming (SERIF) and other agronomic practices.
Ajayi, however said, the transfer of the Technologies and its  adoption has resulted to the production of 84mt of Faro-44 Rice Seed by 20 members of Fogbe Rice Production Cluster in Kwali Area Council at an average of 4.2mt per hectare as against the initial 0.8mt/ha  in 2017/2018 dry season farming.

“The adoption of proven agronomic practices like nursery practices, use of improved rice seed variety (Faro 44), correct spacing, good water management through proper land preparation, the uses of organic fertilizer among others are areas that require attention in rice production which Noma Tushin Arziki Rice Production Group is showcasing to other farmers in this Farmer Green Field Day today,” he reiterated. 
On his part, the Director, Admin and Finance, FCTA Agriculture And Rural Development Secretariat, Ayo Femi Folarin in his keynote address said FADAMA lll is aimed at scaling up the impact and effectiveness of the Third National FADAMA development project through investing in technical assistance to support cluster of farmers for seed multiplication, acquisition of appropriate agriculture, machinery and enhancing demand driven adaptive as applied agricultural research on farm demonstration and extension service among others.
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Why is Pakistan unable to develop a competitive-export focused industrial sector?
Description: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/1200.jpgExport-based industry could cure Pakistan’s chronic economic woes. But is the opportunity cost of giving up on domestic-focused business lines too high for individual companies?
May 6, 2019
Pakistan can come out of its intermittent economic crisis by embarking on export-based industry that would help improve the country’s current account balances, experts believe. But getting there would involve individual businesses to decide to pursue export-oriented businesses over their domestic-focused companies, which is easier said than done.
According to the latest Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data, Pakistan’s trade deficit stands at $21.5 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal year. Exports have amounted to $15.1 billion while imports stood at $36.6 billion from July-February period. Workers’ remittances of $14.35 billion has squeezed current account deficit to $8.84 billion.
Simple math would suggest that if Pakistan can increase its exports by $9 billion, it could eliminate the current account deficit, which would go a long way towards stabilizing the Pakistani macroeconomy. In the best-case scenario, the country’s export receipts would surpass Pakistan’s massive import bills, or at least doing it after incorporating our economically important remittances, which is highly unlikely to happen in near future. But it is easier said than done.
The fact that improvement in export-based industry, and subsequently higher exports, is important for the country’s economy is well understood. The government has been trying to incentivize export-based industry one way or another for decades.
However, the government cannot do much when it comes to doing business and exports to international markets. It can help in increasing ‘ease of doing business’ and reduce to some extent the ‘cost of doing business’.
But the government cannot do business operations for the businesspersons like marketing their products in international markets. The government of Pakistan cannot hire a shelf at Walmart for Pakistan’s rice products for instance. It is the rice exporter who has to establish their brand of rice in international markets.
Business leaders have to take their own business decisions as they are the ones who would directly be making gains and, in some cases, losses.
But the question is why would a Pakistani business leader invest in developing an export-oriented product? It is back to basics: he or she will conduct a cost and benefit analysis and assess the strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Unfortunately for the government, once a business leader is done with that basic analysis, they will likely end up determining that setting up an export-oriented product is simply not worth the cost of capital.
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More specifically, the opportunity cost of tying up capital in an export-oriented company is too high. International markets tend to be highly competitive, which means there is significant pricing pressure for companies that operate in the traditional sectors that Pakistan operates products in, which tend to be highly commoditized products such as textiles and agricultural commodities.
Meanwhile, those same product lines have significantly more profitable avenues of commercial growth in the local market. Any businessperson who assess whether to go for the export-oriented business or the domestic consumer-oriented business will immediately come to one conclusion: they would be better off investing in the domestic consumer-oriented business line.
In words of some business pundits, Pakistan is the last ‘hidden jewel’ for investors in the world because Pakistan has immense potential for consumption. Investors would want to invest here to cater local consumption.
Former Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) President Irfan Wahab Khan, who is also the CEO of Telenor Pakistan and Head of Emerging Asia Cluster, in an interview with a group of journalists, said that the rising demand pulled by Pakistan’s huge consumption potential and the country’s strategic and geographic location makes it ‘last hidden jewel’ for investors.
Take the case of the auto industry. Pakistan’s motorization rate – how many people have a car for every 1,000 persons – is only 18. Many countries have a motorization rate well over 500, meaning over half the population owns a car in those economies. That makes Pakistan – a nation of over 200 million people – a huge potential market for cars, assuming that Pakistan’s motorization rate will eventually converge towards that of more developed economies.
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That factor alone helps explain why over half a dozen global car companies – including giants such as Japan’s Nissan, France’s Renault, Germany’s Volkswagen, and South Korea’s Kia – have all signed up to enter the Pakistani market. The country’s per capita income alone would not predict that there would be so much interest in manufacturing cars in Pakistan.
What is interesting is that many of the foreign companies are coming into the Pakistani market with Pakistani joint venture partners who currently own both export-oriented and domestic consumer-focused companies. Yet their partnerships with these foreign companies suggests that they will be deploying the capital generated from their profits not towards export-oriented projects, but domestic consumer-focused companies instead.
For instance, Kia is partnering with the Yunus Brothers Group, which owns the export-focused Lucky Cement as well as the more domestic industrial ICI Pakistan. Nissan is partnering with the Bibojee Group, which owns several textile companies in addition to an insurance company and construction company. Renault is partnering with the UAE-based Al-Futtaim Group, which operates a telecom equipment company in Pakistan in addition to owning a majority shareholding in Al-Ghazi Tractors, which sells tractors to Pakistani farmers.
In each of these cases, the groups in question had the choice of either setting up a plant to serve the domestic consumer market of Pakistan or setting up an export-oriented company. And in each case, they chose the former over the latter.
This is not confined to the automobile sector alone. Most other industries in Pakistan also face similar misalignment of incentives between what is best for an individual business versus what is best for the economy as a whole.
Even businesses that are currently engaged in exports and not setting up new businesses will often end up using their profits from their export businesses to invest in real estate. Some exporters allegedly use the rebates paid to them by the government as incentive to remain in export-oriented businesses to buy domestic real estate. The government’s recent crackdown has reduced the incentive to do that, but it remains a relatively attractive investment option for many business owners to buy real estate.
So, it begs the question: why would a businessperson in Pakistan want to come out of their comfort zone to embark on an export-oriented business when they could easily unload their loads of products here within Pakistan, with little quality checks, and earn even more than in the export market?
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There are certainly areas where exporting is favorable. The textiles industry comes on top of that chart. But the international competition is giving Pakistan textile players tough time. The industry is unique in the sense that Pakistan has two important inputs for the industry – raw material (cotton) and labor – in abundant supply.
“Export is a tough challenge where you have to compete with the rest of the world on two fronts – quality and cost. In Pakistan, the cost is the most difficult part as every input is expensive – water, energy and even labor,” said Jawed Bilwani, owner of the Karachi-based JB Industries, a hosiery manufacturer, and chairman of the Pakistan Apparel Forum, in an interview with Profit.
“According to our assessment, sometimes our labor is even more expensive when compared to some of our European counterparts – notwithstanding the fact that the minimum wage is higher there. The reason is their labor is more efficient. (According to our understanding) the labor struggles in their day to day life here in Pakistan due to unavailability of basic necessities of life like water and electricity. So, when they come to the factory, they are unable to put their personal best at work,” he explained.
Bilwani belongs to textiles industry, which roughly generate 60% of the total export revenue for the country. The government has been encouraging textile industry in its own bureaucratic manner. However, there are now other industries, who also needs attention.  
Information technology (IT) expert Parvez Iftikhar says Pakistan’s IT exports has great potential as the recent exports surged 19% as compared to the previous year.
“Pakistan’s IT industry has great potential. Although the scale is low at the moment but the improvement of 19% is big. The industry is labor intensive as there’s no automation. Pakistan comes third or fourth in the biggest free-lancers in IT industry. I believe it should be encouraged in the country to diversify in the export-based industry from traditional industries like textile,” he said.
He further said that Pakistan’s IT industry is the new ‘cottage industry’ where there are several small players present – the free-lancers. It also needs little investment but the labor is not conventional as they need to be little educated.
Iftikhar added that the government must encourage and support the industry.
He said that the government could help the industry by making quality broadband internet ubiquitous at an affordable price. Moreover, the government should also remove duties on IT equipment like wireless routers, PCs etc.
He further said that the payment system is also very cumbersome due to the lack of global electronic payment platforms like PayPal in the country. Receiving payments through banking channels is difficult while the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) regulations are stringent, in part due to increased scrutiny of the country’s banking system from the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Iftikhar suggested that SBP may get liberal regarding micropayments like $1,000 or $1,500 in order to help small-scale freelancers flourish. He added that bank dollar rates are also lower compared to when a freelancer receives payments through Hawala or Hundi, the informal payment systems that the government is trying to crack down on.
“The government should incentivize receipts of freelance work by giving them proper prevalent market rates of dollar than reduced bank rates,” he said.                     
He added that work has been done on vocational training for the sector but more needs to be done so that this sector also contributes to the country.
Zaki Industries Corporation owner Abdullah Zaki, whose line of business ranges from yarn to toiletries, all sold to local B2B customers, said that his company wants to keep its scope to local market because exports are “a big-time headache” for Pakistani business leaders.
The perennial depreciation of the Pakistani rupee against the US dollar keeps export-based industries on tenterhooks and volatile government policies add to the exporters misery.
Zaki, who is also a vendor to textile companies like Gul Ahmed and Sana Safinaz, added that government never keeps on board direct stakeholders – the business persons – when drafting policies and therefore policies are one-sided.
The inconsistent policies also play their role in keeping business persons away from export-based industry.
“Politics and decisions related to economy need to be kept apart. Economic decisions shouldn’t change with the change in governments. Stability in government policies will also entice businesses to take interest in export based industry,” he said.         
There are those, however, who disagree with an export-oriented approach. One of Pakistan’s renowned economists, Nadeemul Haque, says there should not be any favorite industry for the government. There should be a uniform policy and domestic consumption – that is consumption people of the country – must also be at least equally treated.
When government gives subsidies to any industry – in Pakistan’s case export-based industry – it is doing an injustice to Pakistani consumers, Haque believes. The biggest beneficiary of subsidizing export-based industries is the foreign consumer who eventually buys the product.
Haque, a former International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist, says that exports are only good when brands are sold outside Pakistan, specifically citing the example of the textile company Khaadi, which sells its own brand of products both within and outside Pakistan and does not behave as a contract manufacturer for any other brand, foreign or domestic.
However, with just a few exceptions, what Pakistan’s textile industry is mostly doing is exporting commodities like cotton yarn while importing branded finished textiles from companies like Marks and Spencer.
He said the government’s present love-affair with exports was analogous with medieval mercantilism – where governments wanted to increase exports in order to increase their gold reserves.
“It triggered the infamous French Revolution where the government wanted to increase exports while people were dying with hunger,” said Haque, also a former head of the Planning Commission of Pakistan.             
Haque has also previously written a research paper on the subject – Awake the sleeper within: Releasing the energy of stifled domestic commerce.
The paper stresses that the government should adopt a holistic policy, with no favourites and allows all sectors to grow, which would lead to better long-term economic results. A vibrant domestic commerce sector is the core of the economy facilitating intermediation between supply and demand, entrepreneurial development, risk-taking, innovation and competitive markets.
According to Haque, such an economy moves beyond commodity exports to brand name, process, and capital exports, all of which command a higher rate of return. Pakistan could therefore achieve a higher and a more sustainable growth rate by adopting a more balanced growth strategy.

his return to jail

  Last Updated On 06 May,2019 06:36 pm
Description: https://img.dunyanews.tv/news/2019/May/05-06-19/news_big_images/490239_28574841.jpg
She further asked that why the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) was ousted overnight.
LAHORE (Dunya News) – As former premier and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to return to his prison barracks on May 7, the party members have decided to set up 10 camps to express solidarity with him.
In this regard, the Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly (PA) Hamza Shahbaz will today chair a consultation meeting at the PML-N Secretariat in Model Town, Lahore.
Responding to the recent hike in petroleum prices, the party has also decided to put up hoardings, banners, posters and flexes at public places across the city as a protest against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government.
Besides, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb took to Twitter for condemning the hike in petroleum prices by asking Prime Minister Imran Khan to “instead of giving an-hour long speech, pay a visit to the parliament for a minute to explain the rice in prices ahead of the month of Ramazan” has also been decided.
She further asked that why the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) was ousted overnight.
The PML-N supreme leader was sentenced to seven years in prison and was fined Rs1.5 billion in the Al-Azizia reference by an accountability court on December 24, 2018. However, he was acquitted in another reference related to Flagship Investments.
He was imprisoned in Adiyala Jail and shifted to Kot Lakhpat Jail on his request.
He was granted bail for six weeks by the Supreme Court to afford him an opportunity to get treatment of his choice in the country for his complicated heart and kidney disease.
The bail expires on May 7 as the apex court rejected his review petition seeking permission to go abroad for the treatment.
Nawaz Sharif had filed a petition in the Supreme Court on April 30 which stated that a review petition had been filed in the Supreme Court on its March 26 decision. The petition sought an extension in Nawaz’s bail until a decision on the review petition.

PM Khan approves Rs2bn Ramazan relief package: Firdous Ashiq Awan

May 6 , 2019
Description: https://www.samaa.tv/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Firdous-Ashiq-Awan-Pc-Isb-30-04-640x441.jpg
PM Imran Khan has approved a Rs2 billion Ramazan relief package, said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan on Monday.
She said 19 essential commodities will be provided at subsidised rates at around 2,000 utility stores across Pakistan.
The government will provide a subsidy of Rs95 on wheat flour, Rs5 on sugar, Rs15 on ghee, Rs10 on cooking oil, Rs20 on chana dal (lentils), Rs15 on moong dal, Rs30 on dates, Rs15 on rice, Rs50 on black tea and Rs10 on milk.
The managing director of the Utility Stores Corporation advised people not to buy more than a week’s grocery as it creates a shortage of supplies.
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19 subsidised items to be available at utility stores from today

The Newspaper's Staff ReporterUpdated May 05, 2019
Description: The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet had approved the Rs2 billion Ramazan relief package on Friday. ─ File photo
The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet had approved the Rs2 billion Ramazan relief package on Friday. ─ File photo
ISLAMABAD: The Utility Stores Corporation (USC) announced on Saturday that 19 edible items — including rice, pulses, cooking oil, grams, gram flour (besan), sugar, dates and juices — will be available at its outlets from Sunday (today) at discounted rates.
The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet had approved the Rs2 billion Ramazan relief package on Friday.
The government will provide a subsidy of Rs4 per kg on wheat flour, Rs5 on sugar, Rs15 on ghee, Rs10 on cooking oil, Rs20 on gram pulse, Rs15 on moong, Rs10 on mash pulse, Rs10 on masoor, Rs25 on white gram, Rs20 on gram flour, Rs30 on dates, Rs15 on basmati rice, Rs15 on sela rice and Rs15 on broken rice, Rs15 on squashes and syrups (1,500 ml), Rs10 on squashes and syrups (800 ml), Rs50 on black tea, Rs15 per litre on Milk Pack and 10 per cent relief on spices.
Relief being provided under a Rs2bn Ramazan package
A spokesman of the USC said that some items had been delivered at the utility stores and the remaining would be supplied very soon.
Smooth supply of all commodities across the country would be ensured during Ramazan, he added.
Meanwhile, employees of the USC, who had set up a protest camp outside its head office in Blue Area, had been assured by its management that their demands would be met.
Addressing the employees, senior USC officers said that the management was committed to providing relief to the general public during Ramazan by playing its role as a price moderator and deterrent to profiteering, hoarding and black-marketing.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2019