Wednesday, May 22, 2019

22nd May,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

20
MAY
Description: http://i1.wp.com/www.arkansas-crops.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Rachel-Trego-photo.jpg?resize=257%2C1932019
Author: Bobby Coats, Professor of Economics
By Bobby Coats, Agricultural Economist
Description: http://i2.wp.com/www.arkansas-crops.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/webinarheader.png?resize=1024%2C324
Join us for the next Food and Agribusiness Webinar at 12 noon CST on Thursday, May 23rd as we host Rachel Trego. She will present the new 2019/20 forecasts that USDA published on May 10 for the major grains, oilseeds, and cotton. The presentation will include U.S. production, use, and exports, as well as global trends and developments with key competitors and markets. In addition, Ms. Trego will highlight data and analysis resources available from USDA and accessible on the FAS website.
Rachel Trego
Rachel Trego is an international economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service.  She is the team leader for food grains analysis within the Office of Global Analysis, responsible for analyzing the global wheat and rice markets and reporting on supply and demand and price information.  She contributes to the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report and to USDA baseline and outlook forecasting activities.  Previously, she served as an oilseed commodity analyst.  She has worked with USDA since 2009 and has conducted agricultural market research in China, India, Vietnam, Nigeria, Egypt, Haiti, and other foreign markets.  Rachel has a Masters in International Relations with a concentration on international economics.

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MAY RAINSTORM INTERRUPTS RICE PLANTING 

Many farmers are left with acres of rice fields still too wet to plant on time.
Posted: May. 20, 2019 3:33 PM
Updated: May. 20, 2019 4:58 PM
Posted By: Hayley Watts 
BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - "You can see how wet it is - there's just no way you're going to get in there with a tractor anytime soon. This is what's causing all the problems right now in the rice world" said Andrew Sohnrey.
Rice farmers are in a crunch. The wet winter forced planting to start late this year.
The seeds need to be in the soil before June if farmers want crop insurance.
But if they want a crop - they say it's already too late to plant.
"We're in a lot better position than a lot of farmers in the area, we were working about 24 hours a day to get as much done as we could," Sohnrey said. 
Sohnrey said his family is lucky. They got most of their 3,000 acres planted before the storms hit.
"A lot of rice farmers are maybe 50% done with their groundwork. With this rain, it's just going to be nearly impossible for the farm to get the ground worked up before June 1st," Sohnrey said. 
Rice farmers made about $146 million in 2017.
The Butte County Farm Bureau said that means 2-4 times as much goes into our local economy through jobs and distribution.
So, a 50% loss would have major impacts.
"It could be a week, week and a half before you can even think about getting back out here. You still have to get fertilizer on, flood it, seed it, it's going to be a lot of farmers pushing really hard to get stuff done," Sohnrey said. 
While many farmers may have to pay that higher insurance premium and plant after June 1st, the Sohnrey family says they may just let their 150 unplanted acres sit this year out.
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New study reveals how rice blast fungus spreads

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-21 15:10:23|Editor: ZX
BEIJING, May 21 (Xinhua) -- An international study has found how rice blast fungus spreads, providing insights on the control of rice blast, the most devastating rice disease in the world.
Rice blast fungus can infect rice plants at any growth stage and cause lesions on most parts of the plant. Rice blast may reduce both grain yield and quality. Under certain conditions, the disease can lead to total crop failure.
To fend off rice blast, farmers plant disease-resistant varieties of rice plants and spray fungicides. But rice blast fungus can adapt to overcome resistance and develop tolerance to the fungicides.
Scientists have been trying to understand the cellular functions used by the fungus to infect rice plants to better prevent and control the rice disease.
In the new study, researchers from China's Nanjing Agricultural University and Louisiana State University in the United States revealed how a type of protein named MoAbp1 plays a crucial role in the fungus' potential capacity to cause the disease.
They found that rice blast fungus forms a special infection structure that applies mechanical force to rupture the rice leaf cuticle and the protective, waxy layer covering the leaf. Once inside the host, the fungus can live off the rice plant's nutrients to spread the infection.
The researchers reported that the two processes which are necessary for the growth of the fungus are enabled by the protein MoAbp1.
The findings have been published in the journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.
The study is expected to help develop new approaches for the control of rice blast fungus infection and also shed light on the study on the virulence mechanism of plant fungi.

PhilMech launches RCEF backed rice modernization

PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARVCAS
THE Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) said it formally launched a rice industry mechanization program backed by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
“With the formal launch of the projects and programs under RCEF, we at PHilMech welcome the opportunity to spearhead the modernization of the country’s rice industry through mechanization,” Dr. Baldwin G. Jallorina, director IV of PHilMech was quoted as saying in a statement on Tuesday.
“PHilMech also welcomes its collaboration with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines in undertaking the different major components under RCEF,” he added.
The government is required to support the modernization of the rice industry through tariffs collected from more liberal imports of foreign rice, which go into RCEF. The support will come in the form of mechanization, rice planting know-how, seed and financing.
PhilRice will be providing high-yielding inbred rice seed to farmers. ATI and TESDA will be conducting training for farmers and extension workers with the assistance of PHilMech which will provide training modules.
Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines will take on the credit component of the RCEF.



PHilMech expects to decrease the cost of producing palay in the country by P2-P3 per kilo.
“Based on studies by the Department of Agriculture, the cost of producing one kilo of palay (unmilled rice) in the Philippines is P12.72 per kilo while it is P6.22 in Vietnam and P8.86 in Thailand,” PHilMech said in the statement.
“PHilMech believes with the successful implementation of the different components under RCEF, the cost of producing palay in the Philippines can be reduced by P2 to P3 per kilo,” it added. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang


JS body for stopping rice import

Staff Correspondent
12:00 AM, May 21, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:45 AM, May 21, 2019
Amid widespread protests over the steep fall in paddy prices, the parliamentary standing committee on the food ministry yesterday recommended stopping import of rice.
The committee at a meeting at the parliament complex said import of rice under public and private initiatives would have to be stopped and the volume of paddy procurement from farmers would have to be hiked for the sake of growers’ interest, meeting sources told The Daily Star.
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder, Dhirendro Debnath Shambhu, Ayan Uddin and Ataur Rahman Khan, among the committee members, were present at the meeting, chaired by Mohammed Nasim.
The food ministry informed the meeting that it has decided to procure around 1.5 lakh tonnes of paddy at Tk 26 per kg directly from farmers this year.
The committee requested the ministry to consider buying more paddy from the farmers directly. It also discussed the situation that emerged following the fall in paddy prices and stressed the need for procuring paddy directly from farmers in a transparent way.
Farmers in different districts took to the streets in the last two weeks, demanding higher prices for their produce.
They formed human chains, held press conferences and blocked roads to press home their demand.

Bulgaria to import rice, cotton

The Newspaper's Staff ReporterUpdated May 21, 2019
Description: Bulgarian ambassador to Pakistan offered cooperation in animal’s medicines of which Bulgaria is quite famous for. — Dawn/File
Bulgarian ambassador to Pakistan offered cooperation in animal’s medicines of which Bulgaria is quite famous for. — Dawn/File
ISLAMABAD: Bulgarian Minister for Economy Liliya Ivanove on Monday expressed her country’s keen desire to import rice and cotton from Pakistan.
During the second meeting of Pakistan-Bulgaria Inter-Ministerial Commission, Ivanove stated that Bulgaria is looking forward to extensive cooperation in the field of agriculture including sustainable imports of cotton and rice from Pakistan.
Bulgarian ambassador to Pakistan, who accompanied the minister for economy, offered cooperation in the field animal’s medicines of which Bulgaria is quite famous for.
Islamabad exports cotton fabrics, synthetic fabric, chemical materials and products, sports goods and toys to Bulgaria.
Pakistan-Bulgaria cooperation in the areas of agriculture covers livestock and buffalo breeding, food processing, food safety and phytosanitary measures, and this is included in the agenda of the inter-ministerial commission meeting which will conclude on Tuesday.
Minister for National Food Security and Research Mehboob Sultan said that the two sides will follow up cooperation in the areas being identified.
The minister said that Pakistan is world’s 5th largest milk producing country and since Bulgaria has developed its strength in various areas of agriculture including livestock and animal breeding and both countries could mutually benefit in this sector.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2019

Rice prices: A curious comparison - The answer is right next door

·       Published at 11:31 pm May 20th, 2019
Description: Web-Rice-Info
Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

When the government in Bangladesh is well aware of the crisis and is also saying that it shares the concerns of rice farmers counting losses, it would not be a bad idea to compare how rice price issues are well tackled in a neighbouring country
At a time when rice farmers in Bangladesh are crying foul at the extremely low prices they are being offered for their produce in the current Boro season, it is all quiet in the Indian state of West Bengal as farmers there are content with a government-provided support price.
When the government in Bangladesh is well aware of the crisis and is also saying that it shares the concerns of rice farmers counting losses, it would not be a bad idea to compare how rice price issues are well tackled in a neighbouring country.
If the answer is there right next door, there’s no point clamouring for a solution or reinventing a remedy.
In the current fiscal year (2018-19), farmers in West Bengal are projected to produce 25 million tons of rice and the state government decided to procure over a fifth of it (5.2 million tons) under a public grain procurement scheme, thereby providing farmers with a minimum support price (MSP).
Earlier this year, when market prices were steady at 1,500 Indian Rupees (for each quintal/100 kg) of rice, the West Bengal government offered the MSP to farmers, fixed at 1,750 Indian Rupees by the Indian central government. 
One has to keep in mind that fixing MSP rates are not arbitrary. There is a long well-established institutional mechanism in India to derive MSP rates for various farm commodities in different growing and harvesting seasons.  
In India there has been a Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) since 1965. Under the Indian agriculture ministry, CACP works as a price commission with a mandate to recommend minimum support prices (MSPs) for 23 agricultural commodities. 
CACP is not an all-bureaucrat body. Rather, it is comprised of one official member and two non-official members drawn from the farming community. 
The commodities for which it recommends MSPs include, among others, rice, wheat, maize, sorghum, millet, barley, gram, lentil, soybean, sunflower oil, sugarcane, cotton, and jute. 
Farmers in West Bengal grow up to 25 million tons of rice annually, 10 million less than what their counterparts in Bangladesh grow in three rice seasons – Aus, Aman and Boro – a year.
Now in Bangladesh’s case, the government has planned to buy only 1.85 million tons of rice from farmers, who as projections go, would grow over 35 million tons of rice in 2018-19. Here the public procurement volume roughly amounts to 1/19th of the total rice output.
Simply speaking, by procuring rice directly from farmers, West Bengal can dictate the market price of the staple. But in Bangladesh’s case with such a small scale market intervention government can’t dictate price terms for private rice traders and millers, thereby leaving impoverished rice farmers largely at the whim and mercy of millers and traders, who ultimately determine the market price, often to the disadvantage of small and marginal farmers.     
In India’s case, a price commission (CACP) is in place that determines the support price and that body has farmer representation in it. But in the case of Bangladesh, an inter-ministerial body – Food Planning and Monitoring Committee (FPMC) – with no farmer representation whatsoever,   decides all, that is, how much paddy or rice will be purchased and at what price, and so on. 
Then again, in Bangladesh the food department often shies away from buying the promised volume of paddy or rice from farmers. For instance, in the last Boro season, the government planned to procure over one lakh tons of paddy directly from farmers, but in reality it bought less than a fourth of the amount. 
This year too , the government’s paddy and rice procurement drive was supposed to begin April 25, but eventually the drive began in mid-May and till yesterday, the food department had bought only 28 tons of paddy.
Experts note that the government is leaving much room open in Bangladesh’s rice market for private traders and millers to rule, and often these two groups dictate price terms, much to the misery of poor rice farmers.   
Taking the farmers' woes into consideration, the government is now mulling over import restrictions but market sources say the government should have put in place a restriction much earlier on cheap rice imports from India. Over 2 million tons of rice entered Bangladesh in 2017- 2018 and still more rice is in the import pipeline. This is all happening at a time when Bangladeshi farmers have harvested back to back bumper crops of rice in the last Aman and Boro seasons. 
Market sources consider giving subsidies in rice exports to be a poor proposition as the benefits, they fear, will not trickle down to the rice farmers. Rather, hoarders and millers will reap the benefits. Farmers can only benefit if the government increases its procurement target and buys grain directly from farmers.

Kenya to embrace technology to boost rice production

Description: Rice
Kenya’s Agriculture Ministry on Monday said it would collaborate with researchers and technologists in Africa to increase rice production and thus ensure food security in the country.
Hamadi Boga, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, said Africa’s solution to rice deficit relied on adopting innovative technology in rice production.
“Hybrid rice seed in increasing productivity and improving farm incomes is critical in Kenya.
“It is notable that rice development in Asia has been achieved through the use of quality seeds, especially hybrids.
“The replication of this technology in Africa is a welcome intervention,’’ Mr Boga said in Nairobi during the launch of the Alliance for Hybrid Rice in Africa.
He said the introduction of hybrid seeds would address rice productivity gap in Kenya and Africa at large.
“Our annual production is about 150,000 metric tonnes (MT) which is far much below the average demand of 570,000 MT.
“The deficit is met through imports which on average cost the country 13 billion shillings (130 million dollars) annually,’’ he added.
Mr Boga said the government targeted to increase annual rice production to 406,486 MT by 2022.
He, however, highlighted modern technologies in irrigation, mechanisation, and adoption of high yielding seed varieties among the interventions to reduce the import bill.

GIEWS Country Brief: Ghana 20-May-2019

REPORT
Published on 20 May 2019 View Original

Description: previewFOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
·       Favourable moisture conditions allowed planting activities of 2019 main season crops across the country
·       Above-average cereal production estimated in 2018
·       Increasing maize prices following high institutional demand
·       Strong economic growth and high food inflation
·       Food assistance needed for vulnerable people
Sufficient cumulative rainfall since February/March favours planting activities in 2019
Following a timely onset of seasonal rains, planting of the 2019 main season maize crop was completed in April and harvesting operations are expected to start in August. Weeding activities are normally progressing in most cropped areas. Planting operations for millet, sorghum and rice, to be harvested from October, are underway.
Pastures and availability of water for livestock have improved in May compared to previous months in the main grazing areas of the north and centre of the country. The animal health situation is overall stable.
Above-average 2018 cereal crop harvested
The 2018 agricultural season (main and second cropping seasons) was characterized by timely and well-distributed rainfall. In addition, the Governmental programme “Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ)” provided inputs (seeds and fertilizers) at subsidized prices and extension services to about 500 000 farmers, boosting production. As a result, the 2018 cereal output is estimated at 3.4 million tonnes, about 9 percent higher than the 2017 output and 21 percent above the five-year average.
Despite the above-average 2018 cereal production, import requirements for the 2018/19 (November/October) marketing year (mainly imported rice and wheat flour) are set at a slightly above-average level of 1.4 million tonnes. This is explained by the higher demand by traders to replenish their stocks.
Increasing maize prices following high institutional demand
Markets are generally well supplied since the beginning of 2019 due to stocks of the 2018 cropping season's harvests and good harvests in major seasons across the country. However, despite the good availabilities, prices of maize increased in April due to strong demand from traders and institutions for restocking, households for consumption and industries for animal feed production. Prices of mostly imported rice remained relatively stable in April. Strong economic growth projected, high food inflation
According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), the economic growth is forecast to remain strong at about 6.5 percent in 2019, similar to 2018 due to increasing national oil production. The year on year inflation rate in 2019 is forecast to remain high at about 11 percent as a result of increasing consumer prices.
Food assistance needed for vulnerable people
Despite the overall favourable food security conditions, most vulnerable households still need external food assistance. According to the March 2019 “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, about 42 000 people were estimated to be in need of food assistance from March to May 2019, with a significant decrease from the 99 000 food insecure people in March-May 2018. This number is expected to increase to 123 000 during the June to August 2019, if no mitigation actions are taken.

GIEWS Country Brief: Côte d'Ivoire, 21-May-2019

REPORT
Published on 21 May 2019 View Original

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Cropping season in 2019 underway with favourable moisture conditions
Above-average cereal harvest gathered in 2018
Decreasing economic growth and inflation rate in 2019
Overall food supply and access generally satisfactory
Favourable rainfall conditions benefitting 2019 first cropping season
Description: previewFollowing a timely onset of seasonal rains, planting of the 2019 main season maize was completed in April and harvesting operations are expected to start in August. Weeding activities for maize are normally progressing in most cropped areas. Planting of rice, for harvest in September, started in April and operations are still ongoing. Planting operations for millet and sorghum, for harvest from October, are also underway.
Grazing conditions and availability of water for livestock have improved in the main natural reserves of the north and centre of the country. The animal health situation is generally good and stable, with just some localized outbreaks of seasonal diseases.
Above-average cereal production harvested in 2018
The 2018 agricultural season (main and second cropping seasons) was characterized by timely and well-distributed rainfall as well as continued Government support to farmers through free/subsidized delivery of seeds and tools. Consequently, the country’s aggregate cereal output in 2018 was estimated at 3.2 million tonnes, about 7 percent above the five-year average and slightly below the 2017 record level.
Cereal import requirements in 2019 are estimated at 2.1 million tonnes, similar to last year and slightly below the five-year average due to higher demand for human and industrial use, mainly in the poultry and beverage sectors.
Decreasing economic growth and inflation rate
According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), the economic growth will remain strong at 6.9 percent in 2019, but it will slow down from the 7.3 percent averaged in 2018. This slow pace of growth is explained by the decline in global cocoa prices in 2019 due to the effects of Swollen Shoot on cocoa trees, that have impacted cocoa production and quality. Inflation in 2019 is expected to slightly decrease from an average of 0.4 percent in 2018 to 0.3 percent in 2019 due to strong economic growth and relatively stable domestic food prices. Inflation will overall remain well below the UEMOA (Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine) convergence rate of 3 percent.
Satisfactory availability and access to food due to good 2018 harvests
Food security conditions are overall favourable following the good harvest obtained in 2018. However, according to the March 2019 “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, about 23 000 people (0.3 percent of the population in the analysed areas) are estimated to be in need of food assistance during the lean season, from June to August 2019.

Mexico Opens Rice Market to Brazil 

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- Earlier this month, the governments of Mexico and Brazil announced the opening of Mexico's rice market to Brazil and Brazil reciprocated by opening their market for dry beans to Mexico.  The opening in Mexico is for milled rice only.  Brazilian paddy rice is permitted, however, the presence of the fungus phona sorghina in Brazilian production fields, which is a restricted fungus in Mexico, has impeded actual exports.

The opening for Brazil is consistent with Mexico's policy to diversify its market, especially for grains, for nearly every major origin as a means to lower prices and ensure food security for its population.

The impact for U.S. rice exports to Mexico is considered negligible by many in the local import trade.  "We can already source duty-free milled rice from every major origin, including the U.S., Uruguay, Argentina, Thailand, Vietnam, and India," said one major Mexican importer.  "Brazil does give us another option, but logistically it's a bit more difficult.  The biggest competition for U.S. milled rice sales in Mexico continues to be Uruguay for quality, and paddy rice milled at Mexican mills for price."

Mexico imports about 85 percent of its rice consumption and nearly 75 percent of those exports are rough rice, the majority of which comes from the U.S.  On the milled side, Uruguay has established itself as the quality leader making up about 60 percent of the milled market.  U.S. milled rice makes up close to 30 percent of the market, with Argentina, Thailand, and others covering the rest.  The trade reports that while Uruguayan rice is a bit more costly, it sells quicker and at greater profit margins than imported U.S. milled rice. 

In an effort to recapture this market share for milled rice, USA Rice visited Mexican rice importers in January showcasing high quality U.S. rice varieties.  Cheneire, Presidio, and CL163 were most favored among the participants.  USA Rice will continue to showcase varieties that meet Mexico's definition of high quality and is scheduled to conduct more than 200 consumer-focused events there to promote U.S.-origin rice.

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Rice Webinar:  Thursday May 23  

Tune in Thursday, May 23, at 12:00 p.m. Central Time, for a new rice webinar hosted by Dr. Bobby Coats, with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Arkansas.  Rachel Trego, an international economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service who is the team leader for food grains analysis, will present the new USDA 2019/20 forecasts, as well as global trends and developments with key competitors and markets.

Go 
here to register for the webinar.

GIEWS Country Brief: Liberia 20-May-2019

REPORT
Published on 20 May 2019 View Original

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
·       Favourable moisture conditions allowed timely planting of 2019 rice crop
·       Average rice production harvested in 2018
·       Decreasing economic growth and food price inflation
·       Pockets of poverty remain in the country
Favourable moisture conditions allowed timely start of 2019 planting season
Description: previewThe onset of the rains in late February and early March 2019 allowed a timely start of the cropping season. Planting of the paddy crop, to be harvested from September to December, started in April 2019. Rainfed paddy is the only cereal grown in the country. Adequate rainfall amounts are supporting soil moisture conditions for crop growth and development and contributed to the recovery of pasture conditions across the country. Weeding activities are underway in most cropping areas.
Average rice production harvested in 2018
Despite localized flooding in some parts of the South-Western Region, the 2018 national rice production was estimated at 280 000 tonnes, similar to the previous year and the five-year-average.
Imports account for more than half of country’s total cereal requirements. Rice for human consumption accounts for over 80 percent of imports, while wheat and maize account for about 13 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Cereal import requirements for the 2019 marketing year (January-December) are forecast at 500 000 tonnes, about 2 percent above the previous year and 16 percent above the average due to higher demand for human consumption. Decreasing economic growth and food price inflation
According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), the economic growth will slow down from 2.9 percent in 2018 to 1.6 percent in 2019 as a result of unfavourable prospects for international prices of some of the country's exports, including iron ore, gold and diamonds. Moreover, the local currency is expected to weaken from around LRD 130 per USD in 2018 to LRD 166 per USD in 2019 as a result of a greater exchange rate liberalization and a large current account deficit, which put downward pressure on the Liberian Dollar.
Despite the depreciation of the Liberian Dollar, the year-on-year food inflation is expected to decline from 23.6 percent in 2018 to 13.9 percent in 2019 as a result of the lower prices of staple food, including rice, as well as oil for consumption.
Pockets of poverty remain in the country
Despite the overall satisfactory food security conditions, some vulnerable households still need external food assistance. According to the March 2019 “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, about 29 500 people are estimated to be in need of food assistance from March to May 2019. This number is expected to increase to 41 500 during the June to August 2019 period, if no mitigation actions are taken. According to UNHCR, the number of registered refugees in the country is around 9 000 as of March 2019, down from about 11 000 in April 2018

NEDA pushes for speedy release of rice fund


By Leslie Gatpolintan/Philippine News Agency
MANILA — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is urging the administration’s leadership to immediately release the PHP10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) that aims to help modernize and boost the productivity of rice farmers.
“It should be released hopefully early third quarter or earlier so needed certified seeds and machinery can be provided in time for the wet season or if not this season, the dry season,” NEDA Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla said in a mobile phone message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday.
NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said the RCEF needs to be released “fast” to make support readily available to farmers since it is part of the mitigating measures of Republic Act (RA) 11203.
“Also, to catch the next planning season,” Edillon said in a separate message.
RA 11203, or the rice tariffication law, mandates the establishment of an RCEF that guarantees the rice sector a PHP10-billion financial support annually for the next six years beginning 2019.
Edillon said PHP1 billion for credit is already available.
The NEDA official further said the specific implementing guidelines and work program of all concerned agencies are being finalized.
“There is a tech budget hearing of DA (Department of Agriculture) at DBM (Department of Budget and Management) today and probably it will be tackled,” she added.
Based on the law’s implementing rules and regulations signed by NEDA, the DBM, and the DA, half of the rice fund amounting to PHP5 billion annually will be used to procure rice farm equipment by the government through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).
Equipment such as tillers, tractors, seeders, threshers, rice planters, harvesters, and irrigation pumps will be given as a grant-in-kind primarily for eligible farmers, rice farm associations, and registered rice cooperatives.
Under the rice tariffication law, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in his Facebook post Monday, said PHP3 billion of the RCEF is allocated for inbred seeds to be handled by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and PHP1 billion for credit.
The remaining PHP1 billion is earmarked for technical skills development and training to be handled by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (PHP700 million); PhilRice (PHP100 million); PhilMech (PHP100 million); and Agricultural Training Institute (PHP100 million), he said.

Nigeria To Produce Agricultural Machinery Soon ― FG

 On May 20, 2019
machinery
Description: https://www.tribuneonlineng.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/machinery.pngTHE Federal Government will soon commission Agricultural Machinery and Development Institute (AMEDI) in Mbotu, Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo state.
Speaking when he visited the Institute at the weekend, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu disclosed that the institute would design and produce agricultural machinery for farming, planting, processing, and harvesting of agricultural produce.
In a statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations Unit of the ministry, AbdulGaniyu Aminu, a copy of which was made available to the Nigerian Tribune in Abuja, on Monday, Dr Onu further said the institute was established in order to ensure food security in Nigeria.
According to him, my visit to the institute is to enable me to assess the level of work in preparation for the commissioning.
“The institute is not for actual production, our interest is for them to do the design and do the necessary research so that the commercialization will be done by the organized private Sector.
“If we involve our businessmen and women all over the world, the level of commercialization will be much higher. We would not only be in a position to produce this machine to be used locally in Nigeria but also for our export.” He added.
He described the past situation in which Nigeria was the highest importer of rice as unacceptable, adding that “today we are doing very well, we are importing very little and producing rice in abundance though we still need to produce more”.
Dr. Onu stressed need to mechanize our agriculture and introduce lot technology and innovation that will make agricultural processes to be very stress-free and competitive.
“We need to train our people, boost agricultural capacity if we have enough people who have this capability to design of machines, we would be in a position to start exporting some of these machines,” he added.
Dr, Onu further disclosed that the workshop of the institute is 80% completed while the administrative block is at an advanced stage, adding that the equipment is available in Mbutu and will be installed as the building is nearing completion.
Earlier, the Director-General, the National Agency for Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Professor Muhammed Haruna, who was represented by a director in the agency, Mrs. Nonye Onyiyechi said that institute was established to boost agricultural production through mechanization.
She expressed hope that with the visit of the minister, the project would be concluded before the end of the year
New Study Reveals How Rice Blast Fungus Spreads
Fahad Shabbir (@FahadShabbir)  
Description: New study reveals how rice blast fungus spreads

An international study has found how rice blast fungus spreads, providing insights on the control of rice blast, the most devastating rice disease in the world

BEIJING, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - APP - 21st May, 2019 ) :An international study has found how rice blast fungus spreads, providing insights on the control of rice blast, the most devastating rice disease in the world.
Rice blast fungus can infect rice plants at any growth stage and cause lesions on most parts of the plant. Rice blast may reduce both grain yield and quality. Under certain conditions, the disease can lead to total crop failure.
To fend off rice blast, farmers plant disease-resistant varieties of rice plants and spray fungicides. But rice blast fungus can adapt to overcome resistance and develop tolerance to the fungicides.
Scientists have been trying to understand the cellular functions used by the fungus to infect rice plants to better prevent and control the rice disease.
In the new study, researchers from China's Nanjing Agricultural University and Louisiana State University in the United States revealed how a type of protein named MoAbp1 plays a crucial role in the fungus' potential capacity to cause the disease.
They found that rice blast fungus forms a special infection structure that applies mechanical force to rupture the rice leaf cuticle and the protective, waxy layer covering the leaf. Once inside the host, the fungus can live off the rice plant's nutrients to spread the infection.
The researchers reported that the two processes which are necessary for the growth of the fungus are enabled by the protein MoAbp1.
The findings have been published in the journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.
The study is expected to help develop new approaches for the control of rice blast fungus infection and also shed light on the study on the virulence mechanism of plant fungi.

Bulgaria says looking to source more cotton, rice from Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Bulgaria is looking forward to extensive cooperation in the field of agriculture with Pakistan including sustainable export of cotton and rice from the South Asian country.
It was stated by Liliya Ivanove, Deputy Minister of Economy Republic of Bulgaria, during a meeting Mehboob Sultan, Minister of National Food Security & Research, at his office in the federal capital.
The federal minister said Pakistan was world’s fifth largest milk producing country in the world and since Bulgaria had developed its strength in various areas of agriculture including livestock and animal breeding, both countries could mutually benefit in this sector.
“Our government is focusing on this sector and in collaboration with our provincial governments, it is planning to focus areas including enhancing production of crops, livestock, and fisheries and also improving water management,” Sultan said.
An official statement said the agricultural cooperation was included in the agenda of the second meeting of Pak-Bulgaria Inter-Ministerial Commission (IGC) being hosted by Pakistan on 20-21 May, 2019 at Islamabad.
Major areas of cooperation include livestock and buffalo breeding, food processing, food safety and Phyto-sanitary measures, it added.
The federal food security minister further said it was a pleasure to learn agriculture was also included in the agenda of the IGC Session and,” We are hopeful that our technical experts would come up with agreed points for our joint endeavors in the field of agriculture”.
Sultan added that two sides would follow up cooperation in the areas being identified during the IGC session.
On the occasion, Bulgarian Ambassador Roumen Pirontchev offered his country’s cooperation in the field of vetrinary medicines for which Bulgaria was quite famous.
Pakistan exports cotton fabrics, synthetic fabric, chemical materials & products, sports goods and toys to Bulgaria.
Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe; it is a founding state of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and has taken a seat on the UN Security Council three times.

Bulgaria lauds Pakistan’s business friendly policies

Web Desk On May 21, 2019
Description: https://arynews.tv/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Feature-Image-1-750x369.jpg
ISLAMABAD: Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood has said the Pakistani government was taking all the possible measures to facilitate investors in various sectors of economy and to attract more investments in the country, Radio Pakistan reported.
Talking to Bulgarian delegation led by the Deputy Minister of Economy Liliya Ivanova in Islamabad, he said ease of doing business reforms was the top most priority of the government and this was the right time to invest in various sectors of economy in Pakistan.
The advisor extended invitation to the Bulgarian investors to come and invest in Pakistan especially in the areas of automobiles, engineering and agriculture.
He stressed on the need to enhance Pakistan’s exports of citrus fruits, mango, rice and raw cotton, surgical equipment and handicrafts to the Bulgarian market.
The Bulgarian official appreciated the current government’s efforts to introduce business friendly policies in Pakistan which will facilitate the investors.

Govt taking all possible measures to attract FDI: Dawood

ByAPP
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Description: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/26-3-696x522.jpg
ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said on Monday that the current government is taking all the possible measures to facilitate investors so that maximum foreign direct investment (FDI) could be attracted.
Welcoming the Bulgarian trade and investment delegation at the Ministry of Commerce, Dawood said the government is fully committed to introducing more business-friendly reforms in the country to facilitate foreign investors.
The Bulgarian delegation, led by the Deputy Minister of Economy Liliya Ivanova, is in Pakistan to hold the second session of the Inter-Governmental Commission with an aim to enhance trade and economic relations between the two countries.
Both sides agreed that the current trade volume between the two countries is far below the actual potential.
The adviser said that the introduction of business reforms is among the topmost priorities of the government, adding that this is the right time to invest in Pakistan.
Dawood also invited the Bulgarian investors to come and invest in Pakistan, especially in the areas of automobiles, engineering and agriculture.
The adviser stressed on the need to enhance Pakistan’s export of citrus fruits, mangoes, rice and raw cotton, surgical equipment and handicrafts to the Bulgarian market.
The Bulgarian deputy minister of economy on the occasion appreciated the incumbent government’s efforts to introduce business-friendly policies in Pakistan, as it would increase the confidence of foreign investors.
She said in the agriculture sector, it is important to establish linkages between relevant institutions of both countries for livestock breeding. She also called for joint ventures in food processing, research and development.
“Cooperation in tourism, information technology, education, maritime and aviation sectors will also be explored during the session of Inter-Governmental Commission,” she added.
The adviser thanked the delegation and extended the government’s full cooperation and support in the facilitation of Bulgarian investors and enhancement of bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries.

Chinese Team Hands Over Hybrid Rice Seed To PU

Mohammad Ali (@ChaudhryMAli88)  
Description: Chinese team hands over hybrid rice seed to PU

A team of China's Wuhan University has handed over hybrid rice seed to Punjab University for hybrid rice breeding in Pakistan, which would bring revolution in agriculture sector

LAHORE (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / Online - 21st May, 2019) A team of China's Wuhan University has handed over hybrid rice seed to Punjab University for hybrid rice breeding in Pakistan, which would bring revolution in agriculture sector.
In this regard, a ceremony was held at PU Vice Chancellor's office here on Tuesday. PU VC Prof Niaz Ahmad Akhter, Mr Zhiyong XU and Mr Airu Zhu from Wuhan University, China, External Linkages Director Prof.
Dr. Kanwal Ameen, Institute of Agricultural Sciences Director Prof. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Haider, Assistant Professor Dr Muhammad Ali and others were present. PU VC Prof Niaz Ahmad said that Punjab University would play its role for betterment of society as well country.
He said that PU was promoting such research projects which would leave positive impact on society and country. IAGS Prof Dr Saleem Haider said that PU would experiment the hybrid breeding of rice at local level and its adaptation.
He said that this hybrid breeding of rice in Pakistan would bring revolution in agriculture sector and strengthen academia-industry linkages. Later, the Chinese delegation visited the labs and experimental area of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences for hybrid rice production and appreciated the efforts of Prof. Dr. M. Saleem Haider and his team.

Shortage of commodities at utility stores
GUJRANWALA: Despite government’s tall claims, the utility stores have failed in providing daily use items to the consumers due to shortage of the commodities.

The Utility Stores Corporation before the start of the Ramazan had announced that 19 items, including rice, pulses, cooking oil, grams, sugar, dates and juices would be available on subsidised rates at its outlets during the month of the Ramazan.

However, mostly utility stores in Gujranwala are facing shortage of flour,

ghee, oil, sugar etc, which caused a tension for the people visiting these stores for getting edibles on subsidised rates.

There are 75 utility stores in Gujranwala but citizens are unable to get flour, ghee and edible oil from their nearest store as these items are available only on some branches.

Protesting over the situation, the consumers said that the people had welcomed the PTI government’s decision to provide food items to the consumers on subsidised rates, but they were disappointed as the utility stores were facing shortage of essential items. They demanded the high ups take notice of the situation.

TWO DACOITS INJURED IN ENCOUNTER: Two alleged dacoits were injured during a police encounter at Ladhewala Warraich on Monday.

Four armed men were busy looting the citizens on a road when the police rushed to the spot and tried to arrest the dacoits.

On seeing the police, the dacoits opened fire at the police party, which was retaliated. As a result, two dacoits, later identified as Aftab and Shaukat, were injured. The other two dacoits fled.

Role of precision agriculture in food security

Agriculture sector is a voguish sector in which our life and business enterprises are combine together. Agriculture is considered to be backbone of Pakistan with a share of 23.4% in economy of our country.
Now a days, food security is a big challenge and focus of agriculture sector is to maximize production for growing population. Pakistan must pay attention on priority bases to enhance the productivity of agriculture sector.
The important role of agriculture sector is to minimizing poverty, provide employment opportunity for work force.  Approximately, 70% of total population of Pakistan lives in rural areas, 45% of labor force is engaged with agriculture sector.
Wheat, Rice, Maize, Sugarcane and Cotton are major crops in Pakistan. According to the economic survey of Pakistan, contribution of major crops in agriculture sector are 25.6% while 5.4% in gross domestic product (GDP).
Besides major crops, contribution of minor crops in agriculture sector are 11.6%. Livestock is a sub-sector of Pakistan agriculture which contributes 56% value addition in agriculture and 11% in GDP.
Unfortunately, agriculture productivity is very low in Pakistan so profit margin for farmer is very low that’s why farmers are not able to purchase advance technology, high quality seeds, and other inputs as well.

Role of Precision Agriculture
Precision Agriculture is defined as information and technology based farm management within the field for optimum profitability, sustainability and conserve the land resources. Precision Agriculture techniques involve doing more with less inputs and reducing harmful applications to the soil or crop.
This means optimizing the use of water, fuel, fertilizers, pesticides and maximizing farm profitability. Precision agriculture focus on distribution of inputs on site specific basis to maximize cost/benefit ratio. For better farming, information technology enhances the crop production by efficient utilization of farm inputs.
Now a days, farmers are also looking for new way to increase farm productivity and decrease cost of farm inputs which is possible by precision farming. For precision farming, spatial information technology is used such as Global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system(GIS) to make precision in different cropping system.
The emerging challenges for agriculture are climate change and water shortage. Precision farming can face these challenges because precision technology distributes farm inputs on site specific area of crop.
Precision technology is considered as advanced technique to protect the environment from environmental pollution. Global positioning system (GPS) increase the efficiency of farm inputs with their optimum use.

Precision farming provide useful information to the farmer for optimum use of inputs likes irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides and seed as well. Precision farming also maintain water table in the soil.
Precision farming are now being practiced in different vegetables, fruits and crops like barley, maize, wheat, soybean, tomato, onion, potato, sugarcane, grape, forages and citrus. Crop-input determination, variable-rate application, yield monitoring and parallel swath navigation are the important garb of precision farming.
Precision agriculture based on three things
  • Crops cultivation according to need of the crop
  • Increasingly economics challenges through more efficient practices (e.g. improved management of fertilizer usage and other inputs.
  • Minimizing environmental risks due to farming practices (e.g. limiting leaching of nitrogen)
Components of Precision Agriculture
There are four components of precision Agriculture.
  1. GPS (Global Positioning System)
  2. GIS (Geographical Information System)
  3. Variable Rate Technologies
  4. Remote Sensing
Applications of GPS
GPS-based applications in precision farming are being used for
  • field mapping
  • soil sampling
  • farm planning
  • crop scouting
  • yield mapping
  • tractor guidance
Applications of GIS
GPS-based applications in precision farming are being used for
  • to measure layers of boundaries
  • to take aerial photos
  • to take different measurements
  • to take data from various sources for analysis.
Applications of Remote Sensing
Remote sensing applications in precision farming are being used for
  • Crop Height Monitoring
  • Chlorophyll Measurement
  • Electrical Conductivity (EC)
  • Aerial Photography
  • Satellite Imagery
Need of precision Agriculture
In future precision agriculture
  • Increase yield of different crops
  • Reduce investment for crop production
  • Reduce pest and disease problems in different crops
  • Increasing the use of sustainable farming practices
  • Ensure food security for 9 billion people
Authors: Rashid Rafique*1, Arslan Ali1, Akhtar Abbas 2, Muhammad Asad1
1 Department of Agronomy, 2Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Kenya Embraces Technology To Boost Rice Production

Mohammad Ali (@ChaudhryMAli88)  
Description: Kenya embraces technology to boost rice production

Kenya's agriculture ministry said on Monday it will collaborate with researchers and technologists in Africa to increase rice production and thus boost food security

NAIROBI, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - APP - 20th May, 2019 ) :Kenya's agriculture ministry said on Monday it will collaborate with researchers and technologists in Africa to increase rice production and thus boost food security.
Hamadi Boga, principle secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation said Africa's solution to rice deficit relied on adopting innovative technology in rice production.
"The importance of hybrid rice seed in increasing productivity and improving farm incomes is critical in Kenya, it is notable that rice development in Asia has been achieved through the use of quality seed especially hybrids, replication of this technology in Africa is a welcome intervention," Boga said in Nairobi during the launch of the Alliance for Hybrid Rice in Africa.
He said the introduction of hybrid seeds will address rice productivity gap in Kenya and Africa at large.
"Our annual production is about 150,000 metric tons (MT) which is far much below the average demand of 570,000 MT, the deficit is met through imports which on average cost the country 13 billion shillings (130 million U.S Dollars) annually," he added.
Boga said that the government targets to increase annual rice production to 406,486 MT by 2022, highlighting modern technologies in irrigation, mechanization, and adoption of high yielding seed varieties among the interventions to reduce the import bill.

Modern farmers work harder than cavemen did: study

Description: a farmer walking through a field

Italy may be forced to import olive oil after wild winter

Most would consider themselves lucky to have been born in the modern age — unthreatened by food scarcity and saber-toothed tigers.
But a new anthropological study based in the Philippines suggests that hunter-gatherers get about 10 hours more leisure time per week than their farming counterparts — a shift which also disproportionately affects women.
Experts say that prehistoric man began growing plants as far back as 23,000 years ago and surpassed hunting and gathering as the primary means of food cultivation some 5,000 years ago.
“For a long time, the transition from foraging to farming was assumed to represent progress, allowing people to escape an arduous and precarious way of life,” says Mark Dyble of University of Cambridge, first author of the study now appearing in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. “But as soon as anthropologists started working with hunter-gatherers they began questioning this narrative, finding that foragers actually enjoy quite a lot of leisure time. Our data provides some of the clearest support for this idea yet.”
For the past two years, Dyble and his team of anthropologists have lived with the Agta, an indigenous, mountain-dwelling people who still engage in ancient foraging and rice farming practices. Researchers observed and recorded the daily activity of 359 individuals, noting how and when they scheduled free time, child care, domestic chores and either cultivating or hunting for food.
They found that the Agta communities that engage in agriculture ended up working harder and losing leisure time compared to their hunter-gatherer relatives. It was revealed that farmers spend on average 30 hours per week tending their crops, while foragers spent just 20 hours searching for food in the wild. Women in agricultural communities, who also manage the largest share of child rearing and domestic work, had half as much free time as women in hunter-gatherer groups.
“This might be because agricultural work is more easily shared between the sexes than hunting or fishing,” Dyble says. “Or there may be other reasons why men aren’t prepared or able to spend more time working out-of-camp. This needs further examination.”
Research co-author Abigail Page says this study can’t prove that cavemen had it easy, but it does raise the question: “Why did humans adopt agriculture?”
“The amount of leisure time that Agta enjoy is testament to the effectiveness of the hunter-gatherer way of life,” Page says. “This leisure time also helps to explain how these communities manage to share so many skills and so much knowledge within lifetimes and across generations.”
Questions as the new rice regime begins
37SHARES20
image: https://www.philstar.com/images/authors/1805279.jpg
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - May 21, 2019 - 12:00am
The price of rice at retail outlets is dropping, which is making consumers happy — and which perhaps helped the current administration get the landslide votes to support its slate.
On the other hand, rice farmers are bewildered as farm gate prices for palay keep dropping week after week, now already close to 10 percent lower than its price a year ago.
Speculation is largely to blame as ramifications of the Rice Tariffication Law signed last February have started sinking in not just among the ranks of traders and other industry stakeholders, but also among rice farmers too.
It is not surprising to hear news of more rice farmers seeking part time jobs in other sectors. After all, when there is little or no money left from selling palay to feed their family until the next harvest and to buy seeds for the next planting season, leaving the land is a no-brainer.
While this may seem to be a temporary measure to survive, the threat of more rice farmers abandoning their fields for good is real with the absence of a clear and palpable plan to stave actual and feared losses from a new regime brought about by import liberalization.
The vaunted savior that is the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) is as nebulous as all the legalese found in the Rice Tariffication Law and its implementing rules and regulations, and this is not comforting at all to our four million affected rice farmers.

Questions abound

How exactly is the initial P5 billion allocated by law going to help our rice farmers? More importantly, will the P10 billion that would come from tariffs earned when importing rice really be able to help our rice farmers earn more than they currently make, or even make them competitive with their Thai or Vietnam counterparts?
Is mechanization really the big answer? Fifty percent of the RCEF is allotted to the distribution of rice farming machineries like tractors, mechanical transplanters, combine harvesters, dryers, seed cleaners, and single-pass rice mills through the Philippine Center for Post-Harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).
All these gizmos are supposed to be received by farmer associations, registered rice cooperatives, and local government units over the next six years that the RCEF is in place. Are the policies for distribution in place so that machineries will truly boost farm productivity?
How transparent will procedures be in choosing recipients, and more importantly, in reporting progress in the use of such machineries? At this time, with the first P5 billion ready for appropriation, we should already have a list of the chosen 1,100 rice farm community beneficiaries.
Philippine Rice Research Institution (PhilRice) will spend P3 billion yearly for developing, propagating, and promoting inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and organizations. Shouldn’t we have a clear idea now of the exact details of how PhilRice will be spending this money?
Finally, how will LandBank and the Development Bank of the Philippines with P1 billion each teach farmers modern methods of farming, seed production, and farm mechanization?

Rice self-sufficient is goal

We’re not even going into the wisdom of the 50-30-10-10 allocation set by law for the RCEF disbursement. We are putting our trust in the wisdom of Senator Cynthia Villar who had worked hard to polish and consolidate all the bills filed in Congress to come up with this new tariff regime.
The Department of Agriculture must rise up to the challenge of this new order, and make things work. Our farmers must be made to stay in the rice fields with the clear hope that the new law and RCEF will be able to provide for better yields and improved incomes.
More importantly, the new law must be able to bring the country to rice self-sufficiency, and away from a world market that is prone to upsets from a variety of factors.
Because only a small volume of rice produced by a handful of countries is available for global trade, crises are inevitable that immediately affect our own food security. Rice is a major food staple of half of the world’s population, and the Philippines is but one of the countries in the world that relies on importations on a regular basis.

Letting tariffs work

While the government is eyeing a reduction of P7 per kilo of rice at the retail level this year with the Rice Tariffication Law, lower prices in the long term should come from a truly revitalized rice farming sector.
Understandably, with farmgate prices plunging to as low as P14 per kilo from P18 last year, this year’s harvest should make its way to the market stalls at equally lower retail prices too, and not in the pockets of traders and middlemen.
As the new planting season begins, and the money from the RCEF being put to good use, the next harvest should bring in better prices for our farmers as well as increased yields.
Meanwhile, a currently tight global market for rice trading should enable local production to keep up with imports that should be priced higher with the addition of tariffs. Right now, the price of imported Thai rice is not so different from local wholesale prices.
Still, it is comforting that the new rice law’s IRR carries powers for the president, in times when a sudden rise or drop in domestic prices of rice occurs, specifically to “increase, reduce, revise or adjust existing rates of import duty.”
The burden of making the Rice Tariffication Law and the RCEF is now in the hands of the bureaucrats, specifically the agriculture department. All doubts and cynicism must be taken as challenges, and workarounds will be necessary to make things work.

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Climate extremes are slashing rice & maize yields, threatening global food supply: Study

Australian researchers find that adverse weather causes nearly 50% of global yield losses for maize and spring wheat, 25% for rice and 20% for soybeans.

PUSHP BAJAJ Updated: 21 May, 2019 1:10 pm IST
Description: Corn grows in a field of a farm outside of Phulambri in Maharashtra (representational image) | Karen Dias/BloombergCorn grows in a field of a farm outside of Phulambri in Maharashtra (representational image) | Karen Dias/Bloomberg
Bengaluru: Extreme weather — such as unusually high temperatures and heavy or abnormally low rainfall — during the growing season is leading to considerable crop yield losses in maize, wheat, rice and soybean across the world, Australian researchers have found.
In a first-of-its-kind study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters(ERL) this month, scientists have concluded that fluctuations in climate indicators during growing seasons explain nearly half of global yield losses for maize and spring wheat, about one-quarter of losses for rice and one-fifth for soybeans.
The results suggest that maize and spring wheat are especially vulnerable to climatic conditions.
Importantly, more than half of this correlation was found to be only due to extreme (exceptionally high or low) temperature and precipitation conditions; near-average conditions were found to have very little impact. Between temperature and precipitation, temperature extremes were found to be more relevant in explaining crop yield losses than precipitation.
The findings suggest that extreme weather could affect food supplies across the globe as maize, corn, wheat, rice and soybeans are some of the most widely produced crops. A vast majority of the global population relies on these crops for their regular diet. The crops, in turn, rely heavily on stable temperatures and rainfall distribution during growing for maximum output.
But recent studies have shown that the current climate crisis is causing an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like heatwaves, droughts, and heavy rainfall leading to flash-floods. Such events take a heavy toll on agricultural crops and consequently on the livelihoods of farmers, and food security for populations.

The study

The study has relied on crop yield data from over 13,000 locations worldwide between the years 1961 and 2008. It also obtained temperature and precipitation data from various regional and global organisations over the same time period. The study examines plausible correlations between the two datasets.
“We used a global agricultural database that provides (year-to-year) yield data at high spatial resolution, for example, for different states or regions within a country,” wrote Elisabeth Vogel, a researcher from the Australian-German Climate & Energy College in University of Melbourne and lead author of this study, in an email to The Print.
“(Unlike previous studies) we had more local information that allowed us to gain a clearer picture of climate impacts on crop yields,” she added. These are officially reported numbers from public sources, statistical bureaus and agricultural agencies and contain a chronological record of production, yields and area harvested for each crop type and set-up (irrigated, unirrigated, local, industrial etc).
The authors used a well-established machine learning approach to disentangle the relationships between climate factors and crop output.
“The effects of climate extremes on agricultural yields are challenging to analyse because their effects can be highly complex,” Vogel said. “The algorithm we used can identify patterns in the data and this way, helps us to better understand the links between climate extremes and crop yields.”

Strong correlation for crops in North America, Asia

The correlation between extreme conditions and agricultural output was particularly strong for maize production in North America and Asia, rice production in Asia, and soy production in North and South America, the study found.
North America and Asia were responsible for more than 70 per cent of global maize production (based on yield data from 1990-2008). More than 90 per cent of the global rice supply comes from Asia and more than 80 per cent of global soy supply comes from North and South America. Even small losses in agricultural yields in these regions could have major repercussions for global food supply.
While developed countries like the US in North America are relatively better equipped to deal with extreme events owing to advanced machinery and irrigation facilities, developing countries like India, where the majority of the agriculture is still rain-fed, are at the mercy of natural cycles.
Reported in the 2018 Indian economic survey, Indian Meteorological Department data indicates that the average annual temperature over India has been steadily rising since 1970, as a direct consequence of climate change. This is accompanied by a steady decline in average annual rainfall.
As the planet is heating up, the entire temperature and rainfall distributions are shifting. What used to be extreme conditions just a few decades ago, are now becoming more common. And the very-low probability events that almost never occurred before are now showing up in the distribution.

The Indian factor

There are many common conclusions between the Indian economic survey report and the Australian study. Two of the most important ones are that extreme weather events are responsible for the loss in crop yields while minor fluctuations around average conditions have little to no effect.
The other conclusion is that unirrigated or rain-fed areas are significantly more vulnerable than irrigated areas.
These two graphs, from the 2018 economic survey, clearly show that when temperature and rainfall are in the extreme ends of the distribution, they are associated with considerable loss in agricultural yields. The graphs also show the diverging effects of irrigated (green lines) and unirrigated (red lines) areas.
Description: https://cdn-live.theprint.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/effects-of-rain-2-1024x500.jpg
Description: https://cdn-live.theprint.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/effects-of-temperature-1-1024x497.jpg
According to the survey report, “close to 52 per cent (73.2 million hectares area of 141.4 million hectares net sown area) of (agriculture in India) is still un-irrigated and rain-fed”. It also projects that “climate change could reduce annual agricultural incomes in the range of 15 per cent to 18 per cent on average, and up to 20 per cent to 25 per cent for unirrigated areas”.
In the long term, extreme weather events and limited irrigation facilities, combined with land degradation and water scarcity, will present huge challenges to Indian agriculture.
This study adds to the mounting scientific evidence suggesting that global food supply is under serious threat from climate change. Particularly from increasingly frequent extreme heat and rainfall events.
“Our results highlight the importance of climate extremes for understanding and predicting year-to-year fluctuations in crop yields,” Vogel said. “Adapting to these changes will be crucial to ensure sustainable crop production in the future and to protect the livelihoods of farmers and communities who depend on agriculture for their living.”
The author is a freelancer and has a keen interest in climate change and science.


Get the PrintEssential to make sense of the day's key developments

A glacial lake in PoK is threatening people, and could mean the Indus river basin is drying

Shishpar Glacier in the geologically-volatile Karakoram mountains has surged, blocking another glacier nearby and creating a lake that could spell disaster.

COL. VINAYAK BHAT (RETD) Updated: 21 May, 2019 12:29 pm IST
Description: https://cdn-live.theprint.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Featured-SHISHPAR.001-696x392.jpgSatellite images showing the surging Shishpar Glacier | Source: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.)
New Delhi: Since February, worrying news has been coming out of the Disaster Management Authority in the Gilgit-Baltistan territory of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The movement of the Shishpar Glacier, also known as the Hasanabad Glacier, in the Karakoram mountain ranges has created a lake that is threatening human settlements.
The Karakoram mountains see a lot of geological volatility due to the anomalous surface rock structure in the area. The people in this region bear the brunt of this volatility, losing family and friends, property and livestock.
A prime example of this was the landslide in Hunza district in January 2010, which wiped out the upper reaches of Attabad village, created the Attabad Lake, displaced thousands of villagers and submerged the Karakoram Highway for over 30 kilometres. The highway was realigned and opened nearly six years later after massive efforts and tunnel-digging with Chinese help.
Recent studies of glaciers in the Karakoram ranges indicated that about 500 are retreating and more than 200 are surging. The studies suspect a possible drying of the Indus river basin due to these receding glaciers, which is another cause of worry for glaciologists.
ThePrint takes a wider look at the situation through satellite imagery to understand the phenomenon and the danger associated with it.

Glacial trends

The Shishpar Glacier has been surging since 1975, and most of the time, it converged with the Muchuhar Glacier emanating from Batura Sar, west of Sangemarmar Sar, separating the two glaciers.
Satellite imagery from 2006 indicates that the two glaciers were conjoined and flowing towards Hasanabad.


Muchuhar Glacier

The Muchuhar Glacier has retreated almost 4 km between 2006 and 2017. The cause of such a quick retreat seems to be kinematics of loose surface rock, illegally exploited by local miners.
Description: https://cdn-live.theprint.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SHISHPAR.003.jpgSource: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.)
The glacier was broken into three parts by rocks falling from heights along the gorges and ridges. It is likely that local miners are using explosives during mining, affecting glacial movements in this area.
There are many tracks in the Muchuhar valley ending at mined areas. The rockfalls from these areas onto the glacier are clearly identified on the satellite imagery.
Description: https://cdn-live.theprint.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SHISHPAR.002.jpgSource: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.)

Shishpar Glacier

The Shishpar Glacier is formed with eight tributary glaciers joining the main glacier. Its width was reducing in the last decade, possibly due to the glacial dynamics and geological movements creating rockfalls on sides of the glacier.
Satellite images indicate that the glacier has been turning from white to grey to almost black. The increasing darkness of the colour can be attributed to the regular minor and major earthquakes in this area since 2010, which have caused rockfall and avalanche debris to form on these glaciers.
After 2016, the Shishpar Glacier has seen a sudden surge, which seems to be a classic case of a supra-glacial debris glacier moving over the main glacier. The width of the glacier has increased from 50-70 m, measured at various places on various time lapse satellite images from 2010 onwards.
Description: https://cdn-live.theprint.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SHISHPAR.004.jpgSource: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.)
The movement of this supra-glacial surge has accelerated since June 2016. A NASA EOstudy indicates the speed of Shishpar Glacier surge to be about 13-18 m per day, which is very high.
The surge in the Shishpar Glacier has blocked the stream water from the Muchuhar Glacier since November 2018, which has slowly formed a lake in the Muchuhar valley.
Description: https://cdn-live.theprint.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SHISHPAR.001.jpgSource: Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd.)
By March 2019, the lake created has become quite large, creating fears of sudden floods downstream due to possible breaking of the glacier.
The Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority and the Pakistan Army, which are supposed to be monitoring the situation, claim that the “Shishper Glacier lake has been shrink [sic]”, and that “chances of GLOF (glacial lake outburst flood) has been almost minimum”.
The latest satellite imagery from 16 May 2019 indicates that the statement is not

Chhattisgarh mulls plan to become first Indian state make biofuel from rice

Chief Minister Baghel says farming activity in the state was conducive to making fuel from rice, even sugarcane was in surplus and there would be no raw material crisis

R Krishna Das  |  Raipur 
Description: biofuel, planet, earth, petrol
Chhattisgarh is planning to produce biofuel from rice and other agriculture products.
If the project succeeds, the state, once known as the rice-bowl of the country, would be the first state to make biofuel from the grain, state government officials claimed.
“Agriculture scientists, researchers and industry have been asked to prepare a strategy to produce biofuel from rice and other agriculture produce,” Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said. The project of biofuel from rice would be an innovation not in the state but also in the country, he added.
The Chief Minister exhorted that a coordinated efforts were inevitable for making biofuel production and farming viable. Baghel said farming activity in the state was conducive to making fuel from rice crop and even sugarcane was in surplus. He asserted that feeding biofuel plants would not give rise to a raw material crisis in Chhattisgarh.
The state government and the Indian Institute of Technology (Bhilai) had inked a deal to explore the possibilities of designing the project.
The move to use rice for biofuel is seen as a major strategic decision of the Bhupesh Baghel government that came to power six months ago. It would ensure the consumption of rice as the flow would be increasing over the years given that the Chhattisgarh government had hiked minimum support price (MSP) for rice to Rs 2,500 a quintal as part of Congress’ pre-poll promises for state elections.
Baghel claimed rice stock would be surplus in Chhattisgarh. “The states to which Chhattisgarh was selling rice have become self sufficient,” he added.
The state government had procured eight million tonnes of rice at MSP in the kharif marketing season 2018-19. The production in the state is however much higher.
First Published: Tue, May 21 2019. 16:36 IST

PhilMech launches rice mechanization component of RCEF

By Lilybeth Ison  May 21, 2019, 6:54 pm
MANILA -- The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) formally launched on Tuesday its Rice Mechanization Component, under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), to improve rice production in the country.
The launching was held during the agency's 41st anniversary held at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) Compound in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.
Rice mechanization is one of the components of Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law. It stipulates the creation of the RCEF that would be funded from rice tariffs collections, with PHP10 billion allocated annually from 2019 to 2024 or a period of six years.
Of the total amount, PHP5 billion was allocated for mechanization of rice farms, PHP3 billion for provision of high-yielding in-bred rice seeds, PHP1 billion for credit support, and PHP1 billion for extension support and education of rice farmers.
“With the formal launching of the projects and programs under RCEF, we at PHilMech welcome the opportunity to spearhead the modernization of the country’s rice industry through mechanization,” said PHilMech Director 4 Dr. Baldwin G. Jallorina.
Equipment such as tillers, tractors, seeders, threshers, rice planters, harvesters, and irrigation pumps will be given as a grant-in-kind primarily for eligible farmers, rice farm associations, and registered rice cooperatives.
“PHilMech also welcomes its collaboration with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) , the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in undertaking the different major components under RCEF,” he said.
PhilRice will take the lead in providing high-yielding in-bred rice seeds to farmers while ATI and TESDA will undertake the training of farmers and extension workers. PHilMech will also develop and provide the modules for the training of rice farmers.
Meanwhile, LBP and DBP will support the credit component of RCEF.
RA 11203 removes the quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice imports in place of tariffs, or 35 percent for those coming from Southeast Asia, and 50 percent for outside the region.
Based on studies by the Department of Agriculture DA), the cost of producing one kilo of palay (unmilled rice) in the Philippines is PHP12.72 per kilo while it is PHP6.22 in Vietnam and PHP8.86 in Thailand.
With the successful implementation of the different components under RCEF, Jallorina said the cost of producing palay in the Philippines can be reduced by PHP2 to PHP3 per kilo.
Former Agriculture Secretary Dr. William Dar earlier said that even if the country can source cheaper rice from abroad, it should maintain at least a 95-percent self-sufficiency level for the staple. He explained that there will come a time when even the leading exporters of rice worldwide will experience production shortfalls from the extreme weather events.
Only five percent of worldwide rice supply is traded internationally.
The country’s rice self-sufficiency level hovers between 93 to 95 percent.
“We should be aware that we really need to modernize the country’s rice industry as we cannot rely forever on imported rice to help feed our country’s growing population," Jallorina said.
"That fact also underscores the importance of the different components under RCEF that will make the rice farmers competitive,” he added. (PNA)

PhilMech launches RCEF backed rice modernization

Description: https://www.bworldonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/rice-farmer-052219.jpg
PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARVCAS
THE Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) said it formally launched a rice industry mechanization program backed by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
“With the formal launch of the projects and programs under RCEF, we at PHilMech welcome the opportunity to spearhead the modernization of the country’s rice industry through mechanization,” Dr. Baldwin G. Jallorina, director IV of PHilMech was quoted as saying in a statement on Tuesday.
“PHilMech also welcomes its collaboration with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines in undertaking the different major components under RCEF,” he added.
The government is required to support the modernization of the rice industry through tariffs collected from more liberal imports of foreign rice, which go into RCEF. The support will come in the form of mechanization, rice planting know-how, seed and financing.
PhilRice will be providing high-yielding inbred rice seed to farmers. ATI and TESDA will be conducting training for farmers and extension workers with the assistance of PHilMech which will provide training modules.
Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines will take on the credit component of the RCEF.



PHilMech expects to decrease the cost of producing palay in the country by P2-P3 per kilo.
“Based on studies by the Department of Agriculture, the cost of producing one kilo of palay (unmilled rice) in the Philippines is P12.72 per kilo while it is P6.22 in Vietnam and P8.86 in Thailand,” PHilMech said in the statement.
“PHilMech believes with the successful implementation of the different components under RCEF, the cost of producing palay in the Philippines can be reduced by P2 to P3 per kilo,” it added. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

NFA restructuring to eliminate at least 839 jobs; new cuts possible

Description: https://www.bworldonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Rice-philstar-082718.jpgPHILSTAR
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it expects at least 839 employees to be affected on the restructuring of the National Food Authority (NFA).
“There would be a reduction of about 839 employees mainly (in) regulatory and enforcement (functions),” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Tuesday.
He said that the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GCG) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will decide the details of the severance package.
“The (NFA) Council recommended two options to be decided by the GCG and DBM because… the workers would only receive about 1.5 month of payment for every year of service. But the employees actually pointed out that there is a law which covered the compensation package for BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) and former ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) employees in the creation of the BARMM Law na nagbibigay ng [which gives] 2 months for every year of service,” he said.
APPROVED BUT WITH RESERVATIONS
Mr. Piñol said the restructuring plan was approved in an NFA Council meeting on Tuesday, but the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have said further restructuring may be needed.
Natanggal ‘yung [Positions removed were] regulatory positions and enforcement positions and there was the clustering of provincial offices. In almost all cases, it would be three provinces to a provincial manager. There was a suggestion from NEDA and DTI to further trim down the number of regions,” he said.



He said the Council also agreed to wait for the results of an independent study before taking further actions.
The NFA lost a number of its importing and regulatory functions under the Rice Tariffication Law, which leaves much of the rice importing function to the private sector. It is now tasked mainly with procuring domestic rice to maintain a buffer stock.
Meanwhile, the NFA has assured that it is fully cooperating with the implementation of the tarification law.
In a statement, Tomas R. Escarez, officer-in-charge administrator of NFA said that even before the signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law, the agency implemented some self-executing provisions.
The agency has stopped processing documents for rice importation and issuance of rice import permits of private importers, and bids for government-to-government import deals.
On the domestic front, it has stopped licensing and registering grains businesses, monitoring and inspecting rice facilities, and enforcing grains trading rules and regulations, among others.
“Under Rule 3.4 of the IRR, a transition period of ‘at most 60 days’ is allotted to implement NFA’s reorganization to suit its new functions. NFA has 30 days to submit its Restructuring and Reorganization Plan to the Governance Commission for GOCCs for review and approval,” NFA noted in the statement. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

Farmers have less leisure time than hunter-gatherers, study

By
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Agta family relaxing in the late afternoon Credit: Mark Dyble
Hunter-gatherers in the Philippines who convert to farming work around ten hours a week longer than their forager neighbors, a new study suggests, complicating the idea that agriculture represents progress. The research also shows that the adoption of agriculture impacts most on the lives of women.
For two years, a team including University of Cambridge anthropologist Dr. Mark Dyble lived with the Agta, a population of small scale hunter-gatherers from the northern Philippines who are increasingly engaging in agriculture.
Every day, at regular intervals between 6 am and 6 pm, the researchers recorded what their hosts were doing and by repeating this in ten different communities, they calculated how 359 people divided their time between leisure, childcare, domestic chores, and out-of-camp work. While some Agta communities engage exclusively in hunting and gathering, others divide their time between foraging and rice farming.
The study, published today in Nature Human Behaviour, reveals that increased engagement in farming and other non-foraging work resulted in the Agta working harder and losing leisure time. On average, the team estimates that Agta engaged primarily in farming work around 30 hours per week while foragers only do so for 20 hours.
They found that this dramatic difference was largely due to women being drawn away from domestic activities to working in the fields. The study found that women living in the communities most involved in farming had half as much leisure time as those in communities which only foraged.
Dr. Dyble, a first author of the study, says: “For a long time, the transition from foraging to farming was assumed to represent progress, allowing people to escape an arduous and precarious way of life. But as soon as anthropologists started working with hunter-gatherers they began questioning this narrative, finding that foragers actually enjoy quite a lot of leisure time. Our data provide some of the clearest support for this idea yet.”
The study found that on average, Agta adults spent around 24 hours each week engaged in out-of-camp work, around 20 hours each week doing domestic chores and around 30 hours of daylight leisure time. But the researchers found that time allocation differed significantly between adults.
For both men and women leisure, time was lowest at around 30 years of age, steadily increasing in later life. There was also a sexual division of labor with women spending less time working out-of-camp, and more time engaged in domestic chores and childcare than men, even though men and women had a similar amount of leisure time. However, the study found that the adoption of farming had a disproportionate impact on women’s lives.
Dr. Dyble says “This might be because agricultural work is more easily shared between the sexes than hunting or fishing. Or there may be other reasons why men aren’t prepared or able to spend more time working out-of-camp. This needs further examination.”
Agriculture emerged independently in multiple locations worldwide around 12,500 years ago and had replaced hunting and gathering as the dominant mode of human subsistence around 5,000 years ago.
Co-author, Dr. Abigail Page, an anthropologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, adds: “We have to be really cautious when extrapolating from contemporary hunter-gatherers to different societies in pre-history. But if the first farmers really did work harder than foragers then this begs an important question – why did humans adopt agriculture?”
Previous studies, including one on the Agta, have variously linked the adoption of farming to increases in fertility, population growth, and productivity, as well as the emergence of increasingly hierarchical political structures.

Chhattisgarh mulls plan to become first Indian state make biofuel from rice

Chief Minister Baghel says farming activity in the state was conducive to making fuel from rice, even sugarcane was in surplus and there would be no raw material crisis

R Krishna Das  |  Raipur 
Description: biofuel, planet, earth, petrol
Chhattisgarh is planning to produce biofuel from rice and other agriculture products.
If the project succeeds, the state, once known as the rice-bowl of the country, would be the first state to make biofuel from the grain, state government officials claimed.
“Agriculture scientists, researchers and industry have been asked to prepare a strategy to produce biofuel from rice and other agriculture produce,” Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said. The project of biofuel from rice would be an innovation not in the state but also in the country, he added.
The Chief Minister exhorted that a coordinated efforts were inevitable for making biofuel production and farming viable. Baghel said farming activity in the state was conducive to making fuel from rice crop and even sugarcane was in surplus. He asserted that feeding biofuel plants would not give rise to a raw material crisis in Chhattisgarh.
The state government and the Indian Institute of Technology (Bhilai) had inked a deal to explore the possibilities of designing the project.
The move to use rice for biofuel is seen as a major strategic decision of the Bhupesh Baghel government that came to power six months ago. It would ensure the consumption of rice as the flow would be increasing over the years given that the Chhattisgarh government had hiked minimum support price (MSP) for rice to Rs 2,500 a quintal as part of Congress’ pre-poll promises for state elections.
Baghel claimed rice stock would be surplus in Chhattisgarh. “The states to which Chhattisgarh was selling rice have become self sufficient,” he added.
The state government had procured eight million tonnes of rice at MSP in the kharif marketing season 2018-19. The production in the state is however much higher

Good News! FCI Agrees to Buy Raw Rice from Telangana Rice Millers

 
Description: https://j9v6u8t3.stackpathcdn.com/media/17272/fci-rice.jpg
Here comes the good news for rice millers of Telangana. Now, The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has agreed to buy 3.44 lakh tonnes of raw rice from Telangana rice millers. Last week, an FCI delegation has met the officials of the Telangana State Civil Supplies Department.
Here various discussions related to procurement and storage was held. Adding to it, the officials also explained to the FCI team about issues which are faced by the State in procurement and storage of the crop last year.
Telangana Civil Supplies Department official said, “We have procured 68 lakh tonnes of paddy in the kharif and rabi seasons last year. We require space to store 23 lakh tonnes of rice in the FCI godowns.”
About FCI:
The Food Corporation of India, popularly known as FCI was established under the Food Corporation's Act 1964.
Its aim was to fulfill following objectives of the Food Policy:
Effective price support operations for safeguarding the interests of the farmers.
Distribution of foodgrains throughout the country for public distribution system (PDS).
To maintain satisfactory level of operational and buffer stocks of foodgrains to ensure National Food Security.
Since its inception, FCI has played a crucial role in India's success in transforming the crisis management oriented food security into a stable security system


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