Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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

Govt to buy more rice to offset price fall, says food minister
  Senior Correspondent,
Published: 11 Jun 2019 05:39 PM BdST Updated: 11 Jun 2019 06:21 PM BdST
The government has decided to buy an additional 250,000 tonnes of rice from farmers amid a public outcry over falling prices in the domestic market.
Falling rice prices are linked to two factors this time: the good harvest of the Boro crop and a glut of imported rice.
“We’ll buy more rice from the farmers as per the prime minister’s instruction,” Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said at a news briefing at the Secretariat on Tuesday.
If the latest measures fail to improve the situation, the quantity of rice procurement will be increased further to help ensure fair prices to the farmers, he said.
Bangladesh witnessed a surplus of Boro grain this season. At present, the total storage capacity of government warehouses and silos is around 1.96 million tonnes and there are 1.4 million tonnes of food grains in the warehouses, according to the minister.
The government has bought about 30,000 tonnes of Boro rice from the farmers as of now and the government is yet to buy 120,000 tonnes of rice, said the minister.
With the latest decision to buy another 250,000 tonnes of rice, the government will buy a total of 400,000 tonnes of Boro rice from the farmers, he added.
Earlier, the government had decided to procure 1 million tonnes of grains during the current Boro season, which started on Apr 25.
The harvest this season is much higher than the government’s purchase target and farmers alleged that the government was not buying paddy directly from them, but from millers and traders, who were forcing the farmers to sell at lower prices.
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque had earlier said the government planned to export around 1 million tonnes of surplus Boro rice after meeting the domestic demand.
To offset the fall in prices by limiting imports, the government raised total duty on rice import to 55 percent from 28 percent.
Bangladesh’s private traders imported 303,000 tonnes of rice in the first 10 months of this fiscal year, forcing local farmers to incur “huge losses”.

Grain production shortfalls call for overhaul of the entire sector

Description: maize
Dorcas Koli sows maize at her Wayani farm in Kitui County on April 6, 2019. Kenya can be self-sufficient in maize but, mostly, (in)formal imports top up domestic production. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

In Summary

·       The government and its parastatals, such as NCPB, are bywords of inefficiency and graft in the importation and storage of maize.
·       The Aegean stables of the NCPB must not only be cleaned up thoroughly, but its overall role must be drastically reduced.
More by this Author
Kenya is a major food importer. Despite its huge potential to improve production capacity, it will remain a major importer of grains for the foreseeable future.
For example, our wheat and rice consumption outstrip production by a 70:30 ratio. In the case of maize, it is 54:41. That means the bulk of wheat and rice is imported.
In a good year, when there is adequate rainfall and good growing conditions, Kenya can be self-sufficient in maize but, mostly, (in)formal imports top up domestic production.
We imported 1.1 million tonnes of maize in 2015 and around 900 million tonnes in 2017. We will need to import around 800 million tonnes this year.
If we could minimise post-harvest losses, which account for as much as 20 per cent of production, that ratio would reduce considerably.
But, we will continue to import large quantities of wheat and rice and smaller quantities of maize on an ‘as and when’ basis

Senegal’s imports slightly up in April 2019

Published on 11.06.2019 at 13h21 by APA News Description:
Senegal’s imports in April 2019 showed a slight increase of 3.9 percent, compared to the previous month, according to a note from the National Agency of Statistics and Population (ANSD) copied to APA on Tuesday.These imports are valued at 322.20 billion CFA francs, against 310.10 billion CFA francs in March 2019, representing an increase of 12.10 billion CFA francs (1 CFA franc equals $0.0017). “This increase is attributable to those of maize imports (4.8 billion CFA francs, against 1.4 billion CFA francs the previous month), rice (+ 36.7 percent) and base metals (+ 16.8 percent,” ANSD says.
Besides, according to ANSD, the absence of imports of crude oil in the previous month, against 21.8 billion CFA francs during the period under review has reinforced this upward trend.
However, the increase in imports was moderated by the decline in the external purchase of other machinery and equipment (- 36.4 percent) and finished petroleum products (- 22.3 percent).
Compared with April 2018, imports increased by 19.6 percent. Their cumulative volume at the end of April 2019 amounted to 1287.60 billion CFA francs, against 1212.10 billion CFA francs for the corresponding period in 2018, representing an increase of 6.2 percent.
The main products imported by Senegal during the period under review are finished petroleum products (32.2 billion CFA francs), other machinery and equipment (25.3 billion CFA francs), rice (22.6 billion CFA francs), crude oil (21.8 billion CFA francs) and base metals (17 billion CFA francs).
Senegal’s main suppliers are France (18.4 percent), China (9.1 percent), Nigeria (6.8 percent), Turkey (6.3 percent) and India (6.1 percent).

One-time cash incentive for farmers, form bank Commission, CPD suggested
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
CPD fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya speaking at a press briefing at the CIRDAP auditorium on next National budget on Tuesday.
Staff Reporter :
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has recommended a one-time cash incentive to the farmers who became victims of low paddy prices.
CPD, a private think tank, made the recommendation at the launching ceremony in its latest report titled, "The State of Bangladesh's Economy and Budget Challenges," at the CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka on Tuesday. 
It also claimed that farmers faced loss of Tk 300 for per maund of paddy in this Boro harvesting season due to price havoc.  "Each of the farmer should be given Tk 5,000 cash incentive to recoup their losses. Such a support will encourage the farmers to go for paddy production again," said Debapriya Bhattacharya, a distinguished fellow of CPD.
He said, a budgetary allocation of around Tk 9,100 crore may be required to provide cash incentives and it should be given to each of the 18.2 million farmers, who hold agricultural input assistance cards.
Analyzing the current state of macroeconomics, Debapriya Bhattacharya claimed that it is currently under pressure.
"Bangladesh's economy is now at its lowest ebb since the last 10 years," commented Debapriya adding that the shortfall of revenue, problems in the banking sector and pressure on the Taka-Dollar exchange rate are responsible for the current situation of the economy.
He cited that the pressure on macroeconomics will be eased if these problems are solved.
Debapriya Bhattacharya further noted that poor performance in revenue collection has hurt the government investment plan, compelling it to go for costly borrowing from savings tools. 
Highlighting the ongoing banking crisis, he said, interest rate cut alone cannot solve the banking sector's problems. The government needs to ensure good governance at banks to overcome the crisis.  
Debapriya Bhattacharya also renewed the call for a banking reform commission to address the prevailing vulnerable situation in the banking sector.
"The banking sector is passing a severe crisis moment due to large loan scandals and soaring non-performing loans. Even, the amount of defaulted loans increased by Tk 17,000 crore during the last one quarter, showing the real vulnerabilities of banking sector. So, the government should immediately form a banking commission to address the problem," he suggested.
Defaulted loans soared to Tk 110,874 crore as of March this year, according to a Bangladesh Bank data. 
Debapriya  Bhattacharya mentioned that next budget is 'very important' for Awami League Government for three reasons - implementation of Awami League's election manifesto, achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and the 7th five-year plan.
 He also opposed the budgetary measure to whiten the back money. 
Presenting the key note, Toufiqul Islam Khan, a senior research fellow at CPD said that this year's Boro harvest has not been a pleasant experience for the farmers due to unexpected low prices during the harvest season - against a high cost of production and shortage of buyers on the market. 
Given the situation, the government may consider providing a one-time cash incentive of Tk 5,000 to the farmers to sustain their production in the absence of crop insurance.
He opined that the low prices of paddy may be due to increased rice imports. 
"The authorities should have been more vigilant about the quantity of imported rice and its impact on the domestic market," said Toufiqul.

VN farm exports face China barriers

ASEAN+ June 12, 2019 01:00

MANY OF Vietnam’s agricultural products – especially rice, vegetables and cassava – have faced barriers preventing their export to China, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The ministry’s Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development Department said cassava is the latest export from Vietnam to China to face strict controls on labelling, packaging and information as well as a tightening of import procedures at border gates.
The department said cassava exports to China are expected to be reduced in the second quarter of this year due to lower demand.
Cassava is one of the agricultural products to have seen billions of US dollars of exports in recent years. But in the first five months of this year, the sector earned a revenue of about $414 million from shipping 1.08 million tonnes, down 11 per cent in value and 17.6 per cent in volume year-on-year, reported.
China continues to be the largest export market for Vietnamese cassava, but the first four months of this year saw exports of the product to the Chinese market fall by 16.4 per cent in volume and 3.5 per cent in value compared to the same period last year.
Previously, the most populous market in the world also strengthened barriers to Vietnamese rice exports.
From the beginning of last year, China increased import duties on sticky rice from 5 per cent to 50 per cent and added stricter controls on other rice imports.
Only 20 out of 150 rice export enterprises in Vietnam have received permission to bring their products to China.
Le Thanh Hoa, deputy director of the Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development Department, said the new fees and standards have made it hard to sell rice in the traditional export market.
Vietnam exported a total of 2.83 million tonnes of rice in the first five months of this year, earning $1.21 billion. These numbers were down 4 per cent in volume and 20.7 per cent in value year-on-year.
China dropped to Vietnam’s seventh largest rice export market in the first two months of this year, according to the General Department of Customs.
Although there are many trade barriers, Hoa still expects Vietnam’s high quality rice exports to China to increase after China announced that 22 Vietnamese enterprises will be permitted to export to this market. The Ministry of Industry and Trade will also negotiate rice export quotas to South Korea.
Vietnam expects to increase rice exports to the Indonesian market in the third and fourth quarters. It has also opened talks with the Philippines on contracts to import the product, according to the department.
China has promoted traceable origins and quality management and has asked fruit exporters to register codes showing where the fruits were planted. The changes have created disadvantages for Vietnamese fruit exporters, especially for those that sell fresh local fruits. For instance, exports of pineapples from Lao Cai province and bananas from Lai Chau province have slumped severely.
The vegetable and fruit sector promoted exports to highly demanding countries in the first four months of this year, including Australia (up 39.9 per cent), the Netherlands (up 29.22 per cent), South Korea (up 25.53 per cent) and France (up 24.81 per cent).
Recently, Vietnamese mangoes have begun to be exported to the US. Mangoes are Vietnam’s sixth fruit licensed for export to the US market after dragon fruit, rambutan, longan, lychee and star apple.
The export value of Vietnamese fruits and vegetables in the first five months of this year reached $1.83 billion, a year-on-year increase of 10.3 per cent.
Experts in the sector said the efforts to find alternative markets will help Vietnam’s agricultural sector reduce its dependence on the Chinese market and grow despite China’s new trade barriers.

Rice inventory rose to nearly 3 million tons in May–report
The country’s rice inventory reached nearly 3 million metric tons (MMT) a few weeks before farmers started planting for the wet season based on the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). In its latest report, the PSA said Philippine rice stocks reached 2.947 million metric tons as of May 1, 1.3 percent higher than the 2.909 MMT recorded in the same period last year. On a monthly basis, however, data from the PSA showed that rice inventory during the period was higher by 12.2 percent compared to the April level of 2.627 MMT. Rice harvest in the Philippines reached its peak in April. Farmers usually begin planting their wet- season crop in May. According to the PSA, stocks held by the National Food Authority (NFA) jumped the most as it surged by 15,952.4 percent year-on-year to 558,140 metric tons (MT) in May. The surge could be attributed to the implementation of the rice trade liberalization law, which limited the role of the NFA to buffer stocking. The food agency stepped up its purchases of rice from local farmers to beef up its inventory. Compared to the April 2019 level of 576,190 MT, however, NFA’s rice stocks were lower by 3.1 percent. On an annual basis, stocks held by households and commercial warehouses fell by 9 percent and 25.9 percent, respectively, data from the PSA showed. The rice inventory of households reached 1.265 MMT while commercial warehouses had stocks of 1.123 MMT. The PSA also reported that the country’s total corn stocks stood at 829,110 MT as of May 1. The figure is more than w double the 338,310 MT recorded a year ago. The latest figure was also 35 percent higher than the April inventory of 614,000 MT, according to the PSA. The corn inventory of households and commercial warehouses was higher by an annualized rate of 72.6 percent and 160.2 percent, respectively. The NFA, according to PSA data, did not have corn stocks during the period. On a monthly basis, corn stocks in households were lower by 30.1 percent. The inventory of commercial warehouses, however, was higher by 55.1 percent. Of the current corn inventory, households accounted for 12.2 percent while commercial warehouses held 87.8 percent.

NFA rice stocks as of end-May highest in five years

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:06 AM June 11, 2019
The National Food Authority (NFA) posted its biggest summer procurement in five years as it prepares for the onset of the lean months when palay harvest is almost nil.
The agency reported that from January to May, it was able to buy 238,427 metric tons (MT) of rice—a huge leap from the measly 3,571 MT it bought in the same period last year and the highest it has recorded in the last five years.
“With so much stockpile of palay, we have already given the green light for NFA field offices to start their milling operations,” Acting Administrator Tomas Escarez of the NFA said.
He added that this was to ensure that there would be enough rice to go around for government relief agencies and local government units once an emergency or calamity hit the country at a time when palay harvest is scarce.
According to the state weather bureau, the arrival of typhoons in the country traditionally spikes from July to September, with August being the most active month for tropical cyclones.
This explains why farmers do not plant during the period to avoid agricultural damage and losses.
“At the rate we are buying palay, we are optimistic the NFA will be able to effectively meet its buffer stocking requirements of rice supply good for 15 to 30 days or 15 to 30 million bags,” he added.
The grains agency has been ramping up its procurement operations following the passage of the new rice law. Its mandate has now been repurposed to solely procure from local palay farmers and maintain the country’s rice inventory at optimum levels.
As the buying price of palay continued to go down—dipping to as low as P13 a kilo in Nueva Ecija from a high of P25 last year—NFA has been attracting more farmers to sell their produce to the government.
NFA offers a buying price of between P20.40 and P20.70 a kilo for individual farmers and farmer cooperatives, including incentives for drying and delivery.
“We are happy that the more we buy, the more farmers gain higher incomes as farm-gate prices continue to dip. Our procurement operations are done on a year-round basis and we are ready to buy as long as farmers have palay to sell to us,” said Escarez.
Rice inventories higher after NFA stocks surge
June 11, 2019 | 10:32 pm
Description: rice farmersPHILSTAR
THE RICE inventory on May 1 was estimated at 2.95 million metric tons (MMT), up 1.3% from a year earlier, and up 12.2% year on year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
The inventory estimate by the PSA, which issued its Rice and Corn Stocks Inventory report Tuesday, is sufficient for about 92 days.
Some 42.9% of the rice stocks were held by households, 38.1% by commercial warehouses, and 18.9% by the National Food Authority (NFA).
Inventory held by households and commercial warehouses fell 9% and 25.9% year-on-year, respectively. Meanwhile NFA stocks surged 15,952.4% after year-earlier inventories were drawn down, helping trigger 2018’s inflation crisis.
On a month-on-month basis, inventory held by households grew 7.6% and commercial warehouse inventory rose 28.4%. NFA stocks declined 3.1%.
The NFA has shifted its focus to maintaining a buffer stock, its authorized role under the Rice Tariffication Law. It is currently purchasing clean and dry palay, or unmilled rice, at P20.70 per kilo, fulfilling its mandate of procuring rice only from domestic farmers. Year on year, depositories during the month was up 72.6% in households, and was up 160.2% in commercial warehouses. On the other hand, month-on-month, households’ stocks inventory was 30.1% lower, but commercial warehouses depositories were up 55.1%. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

Vietnam's Mekong Delta opts for smart rice farming

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-11 14:08:04|Editor: Shi Yinglun
HO CHI MINH CITY, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam's Mekong Delta, including 12 southern provinces and Can Tho city, are increasingly switching to smart rice farming to improve yields, cut costs and protect the environment, local media reported on Tuesday.
They use fewer seeds, pesticides and fertilizers compared to traditional farming methods without losing out on yield or quality, while utilizing advanced technologies like smart rice seeding and transplanting machines and other smart devices, daily newspaper Vietnam News reported.
In Dong Thap and Tra Vinh provinces, farmers have used smart rice farming to good effect. Their use of urea has declined by around 40 percent and the cost of labor for fertilizing their fields has fallen by 75 percent.
Fertilizer deep placement has helped reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent when used with alternate wetting and drying irrigation.
Smart farming reduces the amount of water required for irrigation by 30 percent and the labor cost and seed requirement by 50 percent.
It also reduces saltwater intrusion into rice fields as farmers can actively regulate freshwater through smart devices that monitor the quality of water.
The profit from this model is 20 percent higher than from traditional methods, according to farmers.
The delta, Vietnam's rice granary, has nearly 1.7 million hectares of rice fields, with 300,000-400,000 hectares affected by saltwater intrusion through rivers in the dry season.
Vietnam exported nearly 2.8 million tons of rice worth roughly 1.2 billion U.S. dollars in the first five months of this year, posting respective year-on-year decreases of 5.3 percent and 20 percent, according to its General Statistics Office.

Myanmar plans to export rice worth 500 million U.S. dollars to China

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-11 20:28:59|Editor: xuxin
A laborer works at a warehouse in Yangon, Myanmar, June 11, 2019. Myanmar has planned to export rice worth 500 million U.S. dollars to China through barter trading system later this year. U Aung Htoo, deputy minister for commerce, said on Monday that according to the report from China's Kunming, China will purchase rice worth 500 million U.S. dollars and Myanmar will buy machineries and equipment with the same value from China. (Xinhua/U Aung)
Myanmar gets additional rice export quota
Myanmar needs to export rice  to China before October as quickly as possible as Myanmar has got an additional rice export quota of 100,000 tons from China, said Aung Htoo, Deputy Minister for Commerce, at a coordination meeting on the export of rice to China via  sea, at the ministry of commerce in Nay Pyi Taw on June 10.
Both sides have agreed to export rice to China under a government-to-government agreement.
“We have a plan to change the rice export quota in coming October.
According to the MoU signed between the two countries which will take effect till 2020, only rice produced by 11 private rice mills which got inspected by China will be shipped to China. According to our experience, we have to take up to two years to meet the rice export first batch quota of 100,000 tons. As we have an excess supply, we are planning to export an additional rice quota of 100,000 tons, he added.
In April, 2019, China allowed Myanmar to ship an additional rice export quota of 100,000 tons. Efforts are being made to increase the number of rice mills which will get the green-light, he continued.
Ye Min Aung, the President of Myanmar Rice Federation said: “We will export 100,000 tons of rice to China as quickly as possible. We will continue to export an additional 400,000 to 500,000 tons of rice. We will sign a rice export contract with China in June. We will export rice to China in July, August and September. The government will make efforts to get additional rice export quotas from other countries in addition to China in order to control the price decline in the harvest season.”
Pyay farmers call on the gov’t to control steep decline in rice prices
Over 100 farmers staged a protest in Pyay Township, western Bago Region on the morning of June 10, calling on the government to control a sharp decline in rice prices.
Htay Naing, a farmer from Paukkhaung Township said: “I participated in the protest as the current buying price of rice is at Ks400,000 per basket. Farmers face a loss of nearly 100,000 Kyats per acre. The input costs are extremely high. Farmers face additional losses as they have to buy inputs taking loans. Farmers are not in a position to repay the government’s agricultural loans as the paddy prices are extremely low. Farmers take to the streets to reveal our plights.”
Aye Aye Khaing, a farmer from Pyay Township said: “Farmers are facing a lot of difficulties as the rice prices are declining. Farmers have to pay around Ks 70,000 per acre as the paddy price is about Ks 4,000 per basket. I would like to urge the government to buy the rice at a price of around Ks5000 per basket. We make a demand for all farmers nationwide.”
Due to some restrictions of summer paddy exports by China, the biggest rice buyer, the floor rice price is around Ks 410,000 per 100 baskets.
On May 24, farmers from Zeegone and Gyobinkauk Townships in Bago Region, farmers staged similar protests, calling on the government and the MRF to buy rice at a floor price of Ks500,000 per 100 baskets.
Govt to buy more rice to offset price fall, says food minister
  Senior Correspondent,
Published: 11 Jun 2019 05:39 PM BdST Updated: 11 Jun 2019 06:21 PM BdST
·       Description:
The government has decided to buy an additional 250,000 tonnes of rice from farmers amid a public outcry over falling prices in the domestic market.
Falling rice prices are linked to two factors this time: the good harvest of the Boro crop and a glut of imported rice.
“We’ll buy more rice from the farmers as per the prime minister’s instruction,” Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said at a news briefing at the Secretariat on Tuesday.
If the latest measures fail to improve the situation, the quantity of rice procurement will be increased further to help ensure fair prices to the farmers, he said.
Bangladesh witnessed a surplus of Boro grain this season. At present, the total storage capacity of government warehouses and silos is around 1.96 million tonnes and there are 1.4 million tonnes of food grains in the warehouses, according to the minister.
The government has bought about 30,000 tonnes of Boro rice from the farmers as of now and the government is yet to buy 120,000 tonnes of rice, said the minister.
With the latest decision to buy another 250,000 tonnes of rice, the government will buy a total of 400,000 tonnes of Boro rice from the farmers, he added.
Earlier, the government had decided to procure 1 million tonnes of grains during the current Boro season, which started on Apr 25.
The harvest this season is much higher than the government’s purchase target and farmers alleged that the government was not buying paddy directly from them, but from millers and traders, who were forcing the farmers to sell at lower prices.
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque had earlier said the government planned to export around 1 million tonnes of surplus Boro rice after meeting the domestic demand.
To offset the fall in prices by limiting imports, the government raised total duty on rice import to 55 percent from 28 percent.
Bangladesh’s private traders imported 303,000 tonnes of rice in the first 10 months of this fiscal year, forcing local farmers to incur “huge losses”.

SDA Estimates India Rice Procurement To Scale Record Levels
USDA Estimates India Rice Procurement To Scale Record Levels
June 11, 2019 7:51 IST | capital market 
As per the latest release by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), on the account of record harvest and relatively weak export offtake in the second half of the marketing year, Indian MY 2018/19 government rice procurement through May 27 has surged to a record 41.7 MMT, nearly 6.5 MMT higher than procurement during the corresponding period last year. Riding on a record harvest and relatively weak export offtake in the second half of the marketing year, MY 2018/19 government rice procurement through May 27 has surged to a record 41.7 MMT, nearly 6.5 MMT higher than procurement during the corresponding period last year.
All major rice-producing states have procured larger quantities compared to last year, except Haryana, supporting forecast record rice production across the country. With additional procurement of rabi and summer rice likely to continue in eastern and southern states, government rice procurement in MY 2018/19 is likely to reach at least a record 43 MMT. Government rice stocks as of May 1, 2019, were estimated at 38 MMT compared to 29.8 MMT during the same time last year, and nearly three time the GOIs target rice stocks of 13.58 MMT (11.58 buffer stocks and 2 MMT strategic reserves).

Research scientists commence plant breeding course

Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Senior and junior research scientists from National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) yesterday commenced a five-day training course on rice, maize and groundnut breeders in The Gambia on the concepts and principles of plant breeding and Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) at the agricultural research institute’s head office in Brikama.
Officials of The Gambia College School of Agriculture and the National Coordinating Organisation of Farmer Associations Gambia (NACOFAG) are also participating in the training course.
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations is providing both technical and financial assistance. The course targets to develop the next generation of young breeders to adapt modern tools for enhancing the precision and efficiency of their breeding programmes.  It will provide theoretical background on modern breeding methods and techniques including use of biotechnology, experimental techniques, planning, information management tools and software.
“This is a rare opportunity for us and any activity that will upgrade our skills and understanding of the agricultural development trend is welcome,” NARI director of Cropping System, Dr. Lamin Sonko said.
Gambia is a net importer of food and produces only half of its national requirements of staple foods. The government’s effort to address the deficit in the agriculture sector has resulted in designing a project aimed at creating sustainable production and productivity of crops and livestock; reduce food insecurity, malnutrition and create enabling environment for improved national economy.
Ansumana Jarju, director general of NARI said people’s interest matter in everything, appealing to the researchers to give all their best and attention to the training. “We count on you for agricultural researches.”
Author: Amadou Jallow

Sabah needs to reduce dependence on agriculture to raise exports – Sabah Ports chairman

By Jenne Lajiun on June 12, 2019, Wednesday at 7:38 AM Sabah
Description: C:\Users\Mujahid\Downloads\Sabah needs to reduce dependence on agriculture to raise exports - Sabah Ports chairman _ Borneo Post Online_files\394F4455-D9D1-4C09-ADF2-8C24278679D8.jpeg
PUTATAN: Sabah’s imports still exceeded her exports, which is far from ideal for the state’s economy, said Sabah Ports Authority chairman Datuk Karim Bujang.
He explained that Sabah must move towards the manufacturing sector and reduce her dependence on the agriculture sector to raise its exports.
“We will attain our comfort zone when our exports exceed our import … it is crucial (to achieve this) if we were to improve our economy,” he told reporters attending the Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at his residence near here.
He added that Sabah doesn’t have that many export products. They consist mainly of oil palm, sawn timber, processed wood, pisang Sabah and poultry.
The state’s export, however, consisted of building and construction materials, fabric, rice and many others, he said.
“We import from countries such as the US, China and Japan,” he said. Rice is imported from Thailand.
And ironically, Sabah even imports her mineral water from Sarawak.
He said that most countries in the world have more exports than imports, but this was not the case for Sabah.
“We have more imports because we are not into manufacturing,” he added.
Additionally, Sabah imports rice from Thailand because the State had yet to reach the sufficiency level in rice production, said Karim.
He stressed that to move forward, Sabah too must become export oriented and he commended the present government for its policy on timber, disallowing the export of whole logs outside of the state, and instead, encouraged downstream processing activities.
With regard to the state production of vegetables, he said that the Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry must play its role to ensure the vegetables produced pass the international requirements so that they too can be marketed outside of the state.
Karim also commented on the performance of the Sabah Ports in Sabah for the year 2017 and 2018.
He stated that ports in Sabah had attained RM324 million in gross income in 2017 andits 2018 gross income had increased to RM375 million.
“There is a noticeable increase … we are expecting better performance or at least, maintain the same performance for 2019,” he said.
He added that the ports operation is a profitable income source to the State government.
“The economy of Sabah is dependent on both exports and imports. As a maritime country, whether we like it or not, we have to depend on our ports and shipping. For Sabah, the bulk of our business comes from the export of palm oil and sawn wood, as well as some other products. Nevertheless, our imports exceed our exports. The future performance of Sabah Ports is dependent on the industrialisation programme being planned by the government.”
He added the volume of containers were 353,000 metric tonnes in 2017 and 386,000 metric tonnes in 2018.
The increase is related to the state’s imports, he said.
Meanwhile, Karim also commented on the open house tradition, stating that it is an expected event in Sabah.
He said that the open house has the capability to unite the people and strengthen family ties.
“As you can see now, at this open house, there are people from all racial background, and from various religion coming under one roof. This is already our norm,” he said.
Among those attending the open house were Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee and his wife, and Assistant Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Dr Daud Yusof.

Scientists Are Kind of Working on Real-Life Spider-Man Webbing
By ADAM BARNHARDT - June 10, 2019 06:50 pm EDT
Just in time for Spider-Man: Far From Home, scientists have made a big breakthrough in creating real-life Spider-Man webbing — well, kind of. Sarah Stellwagen and Rebecca Renberg of the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the Army Research Lab, respectively, recently co-authored a study in which they were able to replicate "spider glue," the sticky substance located in webbing.
According to a report on the UMBC website, scientists have long been trying to decipher out how to synthetically create spider-webbing because of its tensile strength and flexibility. Though they're still puzzled on how to replicate exact webbing, the ability to replicate the substance that makes the said webbing sticky is groundbreaking in its own right and the first step to being able to replicate the whole organic material.
“I’m super excited that I was able to finally figure out the puzzle, because it was just so hard,” Stellwagen says. “Ultimately we learned a lot, and I am happy to put that out there for the next person who is trying to solve some ridiculous gene.”
It's still far out from having a kid in Queens swing from building to building, of course, so Stellwagen says the uses are going to be much more practical. The scientist says she can see the glue being as a form of pest control more immediately, saying she could see farmers using it in their barns to prevent insects from attacking livestock.
While we might not get a real-life Spider-Man any time soon, luckily Peter Parkercan be seen in Spider-Man: Far From Home next month. Tom Holland, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, and Jacob Batalon all return reprising their roles from Spider-Man: Homecoming along with Marisa Tomei and Jon Favreau. Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders will reprise their roles as Nick Fury and Maria Hill from other MCU properties while Jake Gyllenhaal, JB Smoove, and Remy Hii are all-new additions to the cast and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jon Watts directs from a script by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers.

You Can Talk to Plants. Maybe You Should Listen.

An installation at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden ponders the sounds made by plants.
Visitors to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden can hear a version of the songs these corn plants have to sing.CreditMarcos Brindicci/Reuters
Visitors to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden can hear a version of the songs these corn plants have to sing.CreditCreditMarcos Brindicci/Reuters
Description: JoAnna Klein
·       June 11, 2019
What does a plant sound like?
This is the sound of corn growing.

The sound of corn growing

From the exhibit “Sonic Succulents: Plant Sounds and Vibrations” at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Listen 0:51
It’s also part of an art installation on display at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York through October. This veggie-lullaby plays from large, yellow horns planted with corn seeds in a plot of soil. As the seedlings grow, their sounds will also be recorded.
“They’re communicating to each other,” says Adrienne Adar, the artist who designed this installation, “Sonic Succulents: Plant Sounds and Vibrations,” on display until Oct. 27. “We are not their audience.”
But she asks us to listen to plants and reflect on how we feel: “How does it make us think about them differently? How does it change our minds and our relationship to them? Because they’re doing their thing, and what are we going to feel like if they’re not there anymore?”

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On a quiet night, farmers say they can hear corn grow. But for most others, the constant sounds plants make are inaudible without technology like Ms. Adar’s to bring them to life. By allowing visitors to interact with audible plants, she hopes to evoke a new perception of these photosynthesizing organisms: not as inanimate objects for humans to control, but as living co-inhabitants, just as important to this planet as we are.
Sound plays an important role in scientific discovery. Researchers found gravitational waves, mapped the seafloor and created pictures of babies in wombs — just by listening to vibrations bounce and shift when they struck otherwise invisible objects. Listening to plants, and understanding how they interact with sound, could lead to discoveries, too
·       You have 2 free articles remaining.
To make the invisible visible, Ms. Adar “audiolizes” plants. At the garden, she has also planted sensors with succulents and cactuses indoors. When visitors touch the plants, sensors pick up vibrations, normally inaudible to humans. For a one-on-one experience, these sounds travel through a wire into a machine for amplification and delivery through headphones. For others, a prerecorded track of these plant bodies plays through a large speaker mounted in the room.
“That way the plants can listen to each other,” Ms. Adar said.
Here’s the sound of flicked cactus spines, brushed trunks or rubbed leaves between fingers.
These vibrations are just physical reactions to touch. But in nature, quiet vibrations inside and outside plant bodies are daily soundtracks and important communication signals, scientists are starting to learn.
For instance, scientists have found that corn grows better when exposed to sounds at frequencies between 200 and 300 Hertz (like the ones layered in the recording above). Playing sounds for mustard plants enhanced survival in the face of simulated drought. Sound delayed tomato ripening. Mung beans, cucumbers and ricehave all sprouted more in response to certain sounds. Strawberries have grown bushierkiwi and rice roots, longer. Sound has guided roots to water.
Sound has also influenced interactions between plants and animals. For instance, only the vibrating buzz of a particular bee will trigger some plants to release pollen. Pitcher plants even create their own bat call to attract bats.
There’s much to learn from what plants communicate with sound — on a scientific and personal level.
Ms. Adar once placed a wired palm in the middle of an office walkway that emitted sounds through a speaker. Passers-by began apologizing when they bumped it. In her exhibits, she wants people to feel what plants feel.
“It adds a level of information they didn’t have before, and they think of the plant differently,” she added.
Throughout history, the general view of plants has varied between rock-life objects or humanlike friends. But with technology and greater knowledge about plant biology, Ms. Adar highlights an emerging alternative.
“People are more open to thinking about plants and how they exist on their terms,” said Ms. Adar. “Things don’t have to live like humans for us to understand them anymore.”

USA Rice Talks Trade in Louisiana 
By Ashia Grigsby

NEW ORLEANS, LA -- With Central America as the collective fourth largest export market for U.S. rice, USA Rice has been working for several years to strengthen the relationship with the industry throughout the region.  Last week USA Rice met with the Central American Rice Federation (FECARROZ) to discuss further analysis of the Central America-Dominican Republic-USA free trade agreement (CAFTA-DR) both organizations are undertaking.  USA Rice presented the results of an econometric study analyzing the impact of free trade for the U.S. in the Central American market and while well received, FECARROZ has requested additional analysis of the free trade agreement to account for a scenario in which the Central American countries and the Dominican Republic bring their Most Favored Nation (MFN) rates to zero.  In essence, this would nullify any preferential access for U.S. rice since all origins would receive zero duty access.

During the meetings USA Rice facilitated an opportunity for FECARROZ and USA Rice members to discuss joint promotional activities.  Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president international, and FECARROZ President Mario Solorzano both expressed gratitude that the two organizations have created a stronger bond and are working together to create more mutually beneficial trade opportunities going forward.

While in New Orleans, USA Rice also attended the annual Rice Marketing and Technology Convention and, along with Louisiana rice farmers John Owen and Christian Richard, helped staff the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board booth.  Dr. Steve Linscombe gave a presentation on "Sustainable Rice Production" and introduced attendees to the new U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report.

On the final day of the trip, USA Rice was invited to a meeting with Ted McKinney, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, to talk about issues facing the U.S. rice industry.  USA Rice discussed the vital importance of maintaining and expanding export markets which has been a challenge over the past year.

"Not only do we face retaliatory tariffs in several countries but many rice producing countries are unfairly subsidizing rice production and taking away our market share in some of our top export markets," said Moran.  "We discussed ways that we and other commodities facing an unlevel playing field could access additional resources provided for in the 2018 Farm Bill to investigate these bad actors."

WASDE Report Released  

WASHINGTON, DC -- The outlook for 2019/20 U.S. rice this month is for lower supplies, reduced domestic use and exports, and lower ending stocks.  Projected U.S. all rice production is lowered 20.1 million cwt or 9 percent to 198.1 million with all of the decrease in long grain, primarily on a reduction in planted area.  The excessive spring precipitation in the Delta is expected to result in lower rice area in this region compared to the NASS Prospective Plantings intended acreage, issued March 29.  Partially offsetting the smaller production are higher projected imports, which are raised by 1.2 million cwt to a record large 29.2 million with increases for both long grain and medium and short grain.  All rice projected domestic and residual use is lowered 7 million cwt to 133 million, mainly the result of reduced long grain supplies.  Projected all rice exports are reduced 1 million cwt to 100 million.  The reduction in long grain exports on higher projected prices is partially offset by increased medium and short grain exports as a portion of outstanding sales from the 2018/19 market year are expected to be shifted to 2019/20.  Projected 2019/20 all rice ending stocks are lowered 7.2 million cwt to 51.6 million with long grain accounting for all of the reduction.  The projected 2019/20 all rice season-average farm price (SAFP) is raised by $0.50 per cwt to $11.70 with increases in the projected SAFPs of all rice classes this month.

Global 2019/20 rice supplies are decreased by 500,000 tons to 667.8 million as higher carryin stocks are more than offset by lower production.  Global production is down as reductions for the United States, North Korea, and Thailand are not completely offset by higher projected production for Madagascar, Egypt, and the EU.  World 2019/20 consumption is lowered fractionally to 496 million tons on reduced expected use in China, North Korea, and the United States more than offsetting higher use in Madagascar, Bangladesh, Burma, and Egypt.  Global 2019/20 trade is lowered 400,000 tons to 47.2 million as reduced exports by India, Burma, and the United States are not completely offset by higher exports by China.  Projected world ending stocks are adjusted lower this month to 171.9 million tons but remain record large.

Go here to read the complete report.

As subsidies weigh, EAC eyes ways to boost rice farmers’ efficiency

Published 1 day ago on 11 June 2019
Dr Mahathir said despite subsidies of nearly RM2 billion annually, rice farmers remain inefficient and poor due to antiquated farming methods. — Reuters pic
PUTRAJAYA, June 11 — Poverty among the country’s 200,000 paddy farmers was a priority in the Economic Action Council’s third-ever meeting here today, with the government pledging to find ways to raise their standard of living.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the chairman of the EAC, said close to RM2 billion was spent annually on subsidies to aid rice growers, but to little effect, as most remain inefficient and poor due to antiquated farming methods that do not fully utilise their land.
“For example, we found that each land can produce up to eight tonnes but they only produce four tonnes,” he told a press conference here.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government pledged to improve the lives of farmers as part of the coalition's effort to beef up food security, amid mounting concerns over the rising cost of food imports.
Rice farmers, who are overwhelmingly of Bumiputera ethnicity, form a key voter base for both the government and Opposition.
In April, the Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) released a study that found the country’s rice industry to be severely deficient despite having received billions in federal subsidies, incentives and other forms of assistance.
The state-linked think tank in its report titled “Status of Paddy and Rice Industry” found the rice trade is beset with structural weaknesses, even if production has increased over the last 30 years to allow Malaysia to meet its safe self-sufficiency target of 60 to 70 per cent.
If left unaddressed, KRI said any supply shock risk hurting the most vulnerable groups such as the poor, rural residents or migrant workers, the most dependent on rice as a food source.
The study also noted the poor living conditions of small holding paddy farmers, the country's largest rice producers. KRI said the industry must reform if it is to address the quagmire belying the sector.
Dr Mahathir said today the government is trying to identify weaknesses and find solutions. The priority, he went on, would be to increase productivity.
“We must identify areas of weaknesses to address but at the same time make sure it does not affect consumers,” he said.
While the prime minister indicated that the production method is a key problem, he did not elaborate on how his administration plans to address this.
Putrajaya had recently stepped up its campaign to encourage farmers to diversify their revenue sources by planting several types of cash crops, instead of just rice or palm oil.
The prime minister said income diversification could be the best immediate solution to improve farmers' income. It is unclear if the government intends to subsidise the crops.

Scientist warns ocean warming depleting PNG’s tuna resource

 Article Views: 38
Global warming and climate change is threatening Papua New Guinea (PNG)’s agriculture production and marine resources. This was revealed at the NARI Policy Forum 2019 in Lae on May 29 and 30. The National’s senior writer MALUM NALU was there to collate the details.
DESPITE the politics in Port Moresby on May 29 and 30 that captured the attention of people nationwide, it was business as usual at the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI)’s 2019 Agriculture Innovations Show in Bubia outside Lae.
Hundreds of people, many of them students, converged to see NARI’s latest innovations, including rice grown by major sponsor Trukai Industries in the great Markham Valley rice bowl of Morobe.
It proved, on the day new Prime Minister James Marape was elected, that agriculture is the true backbone of the country.
It was two days of fun and learning for all.
A one-day NARI Policy Forum themed “Building Climate Resilient Agriculture and Food Systems in Papua New Guinea (PNG)” was held on May 29.
It was attended by experts, academics, Government officials, private sector, churches and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Kaluwin … check ocean warming in PNG or kiss goodbye to our tuna resource and industry
Ocean warming can deplete PNG’s tuna resource which is one of the largest in the world, says leading environmental scientist Prof Chalapan Kaluwin.
“The oceans in the South Pacific surrounding PNG are already heating up. That is why we are inflicted by El Nino every one or two years,” NARI chairman Kaluwin added.
He warned that the ocean warming could and may chase the tuna away from PNG’s waters.
Kaluwin sounded the warning at the forum held in conjunction with its annual agriculture innovations show.
“The last El Nino-induced drought was in 2015 when gardens nationwide dried up, many people died of starvation forcing the Government to declare a state-of-emergency.
“The effects of the El Nino, although an ocean phenomenon, gravely affected the Highlands provinces and remote Mougulu in Western where several people died.
“It (ocean warming) is already happening in the Pacific,” Kaluwin said, adding that this had been verified by international scientists he had worked with.
“The last five years had been massive and destructive (to the environment). It is severely affecting the Pacific surrounding PNG. Everyone talks about El Nino, including my old man, who comes from Manus.
“He tells me that the El Nino effect comes in every 10 years. Now, I tell him it is happening every one to two years,” he added.
Kaluwin said “This is where science is important in environmental policy plans to help people ease their suffering in future El Nino-induced droughts.
“The biggest tuna resource in the world is sitting in the Pacific Ocean and PNG is one of them. Climate change is destructive and a disaster to our tuna resource.
“If we don’t start implementing measures to curb climate change and warming, we can kiss goodbye to our tuna resource because the fish can migrate as far as South Korea or China.”
Bang … 30% of PNG’s population live under the poverty line
NARI director-general Dr Sergie Bang says PNG must strive to reduce, if not eradicate, deaths by climate change droughts and starvation.
“El Nino-induced droughts are happening once too often. We have seen it in 1997, 1998 and 2015.
“We saw deaths, including in Western’s Mougolu, where children died. In other provinces, a few children died eating unfamiliar food, because of the drought,” he added.
Bang stressed the importance of preparedness for droughts “so that lives are sustained”.
He reiterated what Kaluwin, who is also University of PNG Dean of Science, said about increase in ocean temperature in the Western Pacific Ocean.
“We are not only inflicted by drought caused by El Nino. The drought is followed by too much water, or excessive rain, which is referred to as La Nina,” Bang said.
“We witnessed these in 2014 to 2016 and 1997 to 1998. It was a time of hunger and difficult situations which Papua New Guineans managed to persevere and overcome,” he added.
Bang said drought-resistant crops were needed as well as water management systems.
“Food and nutrition strategies are important to be included in food bank efforts,” he added.
Bang lamented that nutrition levels in children remained very low with one child in 13 children under five dying from malnutrition.
“It’s a sad statistic. We also know that 30% of our population live under the poverty line.”
In his presentation at the forum, Bang outlined various drought strategies NARI had developed over the years, as well as what it was doing to help farmers in post-drought activities, including early-maturing seed projects.
Lutulule … 90% of fresh produce market dominated by informal sector
Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) executive manager for production and value chain Robert Lutulule says it is committed to help farmers be resilient in the face of climate change.
Lutulule said 74% of Papua New Guinea’s population, according to the 2011 Census, depended on fresh produce for their livelihood.
“Of this, 29% of urban households are involved in the sale of fresh produce, while 60% of rural households earn income through the sale of fresh produce.
“Altogether, 90% of the fresh produce market in PNG is dominated by the informal sector, targeting mainly the open markets. Almost 100% is dependent on rain-fed agriculture,” he added.
Lutulule said it was because of this that resilient systems must be built to survive the onslaught of climate change.
He spoke on the topic “Sustainable Food Value Chains in the Face of Uncertain Climate”.
Description: Tenakanai
Tenakanai … many people inflicted with psychosis in the Highlands
National Agriculture Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) biosecurity general-manager David Tenakanai says “prevention is better than cure” when it comes to tackling climate change-related pest and disease control.
He said bugs and weeds, a direct result of climate change, were now prevalent in PNG and threatening agriculture production.
“This includes the coconut bug which has devastated coconut palms in Madang,” he added.
Tenakanai said Japanese Encephalitis (JE), an inflammation of the brain spread by mosquitoes, “is now under the radar in PNG” and was spreading from pigs to humans.
“People are thinking that it is malaria, but it is causing a lot of psychosis (severe mental disorder) in PNG,” he added.
Tenakanai cited the case of Misima Island in Milne Bay where there were many people inflicted with psychosis.
“Our way of living will actually be impacted by these diseases when they spread up to the high altitude areas of PNG where there is close proximity of people with animals,” he warned those in the Highlands, where pigs live close to people. Tenakanai suggested ongoing surveillance and monitoring to protect the country’s food sources.
“Whatever is coming into PNG must be free from pests and diseases. Food security is a major challenge.
“Policy development on climate change is inevitable and we need to work on this to help our people. All stakeholders must work together to strengthen biosecurity,” he added.

Ear, ear, corn science advances

Wednesday, 12 June, 2019
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Description: Ear, ear, corn science advances
The ears of corn are the most crucial organ for determining the corn plant’s yield. A gene essential for forming the ears in corn has now been identified by a team of scientists led by University of Missouri maize geneticist Paula McSteen. This knowledge could be crucial for advancing the efforts to increase the crop yield of this vitally important crop, a mainstay of the global food supply.
“The information we glean from corn is also likely to be applicable to other cereals, including rice and wheat, because they also form grains on branches,” said McSteen, who is an associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Science and a principal investigator in Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center.
The research, which appears in the journal Molecular Plant, found that a gene called barren stalk2, or ba2, affects development of axillary meristems, which are special cells that give rise to the ears. As a corn plant grows, these cells are formed at nodes along the stalk. These nodes look like tiny grooves, or indentations, in the stem. When the plant is ready to make ears, these cells begin to divide and bud out from the stalk. These buds elongate to form the ear shoots and ultimately become the harvestable ears. The process is initiated by delivery of a hormone, called auxin, to the nodes that signal the cells to make ears.
To find the genes needed to produce organs like ears or anything else, geneticists look for plants that cannot make the organ properly.  Plants with mutations in the ba2 gene never make ears, hence the name “barren stalk”. The mutant plants do not have the grooves where the ears would form, which suggests that the gene functions early, before the ear bud forms. The ba2 mutant was discovered in a large genetic screen for corn plants unable to make ears, and the gene was identified by molecular mapping to chromosome 2.
A normal corn plant (left) and a barren stalk2 (ba2) plant (right). Plants with a mutation in the ba2 gene cannot grow ears, hence the name barren stalk. Image credit: University of Missouri.
Previous screens like this identified a mutation in a different gene, called barren stalk1 or ba1, that is also essential for making an ear. This other gene plays a key role in a molecular signalling pathway that controls ear development. To test whether the newly identified barren stalk plants have a different problem, the researchers performed genetic crosses, known as a complementation test, and concluded that the phenotype they observed in their plant was caused by a mutation in a totally different gene.
“Interestingly, this is actually a lost-and-found case,” McSteen said. “We found that our mutation had previously been identified and characterised back in 1930, but had been lost sometime in the intervening years. It’s exciting to have been able to rediscover it and add it back to the stock.”
Through a series of additional analyses, the scientists found that the ba2 gene interacts genetically with the ba1 gene and that the corresponding proteins form a complex. ba2 also interacts with other genes known to regulate ba1. Together, these findings demonstrate that ba2 is in the same molecular signalling pathway as ba1 and that the two genes work in concert to regulate the development of ears.
“The end goal is to identify all the genetic players involved in controlling how and when corn ears are made. By identifying this new gene and showing that it forms a complex with BA1 to control meristem development, we’ve been able to bring this important story further along than what had been known previously,” McSteen said.
Other researchers involved in the study included Andrea Skirpan with Penn State University; Brian Waddell and Simon Malcomber with California State University; and Hong Yao, Michaela S Matthes, Norman Best, Tyler McCubbin, Amanda Durbak and Taylor Smith with the University of Missouri.
In an accompanying review article in the same issue of the journal, McSteen and colleagues describe the current state of genetic research on auxin in corn, rice and Arabidopsis. The review focuses in particular on the genes known to be involved in ‘turning on’ the auxin hormone and getting it to the right place in the plant.
“Auxin is important to understand because it controls everything. Understanding the function of genes involved in the synthesis, transport and signalling of auxin has been difficult because of a redundancy in gene function and expression. But now with new gene editing tools, like CRISPR technology, everyone is excited about being able to do this,” McSteen said.
The research paper, titled ‘The barren stalk2 Gene Is Required for Axillary Meristem Development in Maize’, and review article, titled ‘Auxin EvoDevo: Conservation and Diversification of Genes Regulating Auxin Biosynthesis, Transport, and Signaling’, were published in the March issue of the journal Molecular Plant.
The research was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.
Image credit: ©

NARI Kick Starts Training On Rice Breeding

By Louise Jobe
The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), has commenced a five day training on Rice and PVS on Monday June 10th 2019, at their Conference Center at Brikama Campus. The objective of the training, according to the organisers, is to provide participants with theoretical knowledge on modern plant breeding methods and techniques.
In his statement, Professor Moussa Si, an expert in Agriculture and Seed Systems asserted that the Gambia is a net importer of food and produces only half of its national requirements of staples, due to some deficit in the Agriculture sector; that the Government’s effort in addressing the deficit in the Agriculture sector, has resulted in the design of a project with the aim of creating sustainable production and productivity of crops and livestock. The project he said aims to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition and create the enabling environment for an improved national economic development.
Si said it is against this backdrop that the FAO is providing the technical and financial assistances to train young breeders in the Gambia, on the concepts and principles of plant breeding. “This workshop will enable participants to identify appropriate breeding methodologies to be adopted at each step of the crop’s improvement program,” Professor Si said.
Prof. Si further indicated that the course aims to provide knowledge to participants to enable them to develop the next generation of breeders using modern tools for enhancing precision and efficiency of their breeding programs. This, he said, should provide them with a theoretical background on modern breeding methods and techniques including the use of biotechnology, planning and information management tools and experimental techniques and software. He added that the training will provide participants the opportunity to share experience with the other rice breeders on latest updates on areas relevant to breeding and the worldwide exchange of rice genetic resources. He said that the training module is for breeders and agronomists working on a variety of development or tests in the public and private sector, and called on the participants to take the training seriously.
Babucarr Gibba, a participant from NARI said in an interview that the training is an opportunity for them and will help them build their capacity in carrying out breeding procedures. He pointed out that the rationale behind training is to give the opportunity to NARI’s young researchers to have the skills and knowledge in breeding procedures and to prepare them to be professional rice breeders for the country.
The training commenced with an assessment test on general skills and ability and some basic knowledge on crop breeding, in order to assess the present status of participants.
According to the organisers, participants are expected to adopt good principles of breeding methodologies as well as improve the quality of their research and enhance their knowledge on plant breeding, after the course.

Govt to buy 2.5 lakh tonnes more rice from farmers

Staff Correspondent | Published: 19:30, Jun 11,2019 | Updated: 22:47, Jun 11,2019
 The government on Tuesday decided to procure 2.5 lakh tonnes more un-husked rice directly from the farmers during the current boro season.
The price of per kilogram un-husked rice would remain the same at Tk 26, said food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder while talking to reporters after a meeting at the ministry’s conference room.
The government’s fresh decision came in the face of countrywide protests by affected farmers and socio-political organisations against the low price of boro.
Earlier, the government decided to procure 11.50 lakh tonnes of husked rice from millers and 1.50 lakh tonnes of un-husked rice from farmers during the current boro season.
Although the procurement was supposed to start on April 1, finally it started on April 25, said food ministry officials.
They also said that procurement would continue until June 30 at the rate of Tk 26 for un-husked rice and Tk 36 for husked rice per kilogram.
In reality, the farmers could not get benefitted by the government procurement system due to small amount against massive production and delayed procurement.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday, the food minister said that bumper rice production caused the lower price of un-husked rice this year and the farmer incurred the losses.
To support the farmers, the government would purchase more 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice from farmers, he said.
He also said that un-husked rice would be procured directly from farmers and supplied to the millers for husking. ‘We are looking for permanent solution to the problems,’ he said.
The minister also said that the government would build paddy silos at 200 places across the country with a total capacity of 10 lakh tonnes.
Agriculture minister Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, who also attended the meeting, laid high importance on agriculture and said that Bangladesh had become self-resilient in food production due to increased crop production.
He said the prime minister asked them to increase price of rice by procuring more un-husked rice directly from farmers and turning them husked rice through millers.
As moisture was the main problem for buying un-husked rice from farmers, so the government issued order to collect 3,000 pieces of moisture measurement machines which would be distributed at union level.
Using those machines, the farmers themselves would be able to measure moisture in their un-husked rice at their villages, he said.
Food secretary Shahabuddin Ahmed and senior officials were present at the meeting.
Farmers were compelled to sell 40 kg of boro un-husked rice at Tk 500-600 though their production cost was Tk 900 while a farm labour per day wage was Tk 500 this season. The government’s procurement rate is Tk 1,040 a tonne.
Agriculture experts told New Age that massive import of rice caused the low price of boro rice.
At the same time, the delayed procurement of rice by the millers could not leave any positive impact on the rice market, they said.
An estimated 1.80 crore tonnes of rice was produced during boro season every year, said officials at Department of Agricultural Extension.

CPD wants Tk 5,000 subsidy for each rice grower

Says undisclosed money legalisation scope goes against AL pledges

Staff Correspondent | Published: 18:31, Jun 11,2019 | Updated: 00:09, Jun 12,2019

Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya speaks at a media briefing on ‘State of the Bangladesh Economy and Budget Challenges’ at CIRDAP Auditorium in Dhaka on Tuesday. — New Age photo
The Centre for Policy Dialogue on Tuesday demanded Tk 5,000 cash subsidy for each of the affected farmers and termed the opportunity to invest undisclosed money likely to be given in the upcoming budget a violation of ruling Awami League’s electoral pledges.
The country’s leading private think-tank demanded the subsidy at a briefing in the capital saying that around 1.8 crore farmers are facing difficulty against the backdrop of government failure in checking falling price of paddy and stopping the import of rice on time.
CPD distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya said the amount of proposed subsidy would require a budgetary allocation of Tk 9,400 crore.
The government has subsidised the agricultural sector by providing assistance to the agricultural inputs like seeds, fertiliser and irrigation, but it did not pay any direct cash assistance to the farmers.
Demand for financial assistance to the affected farmers as well as procuring paddy directly from farmers instead of rice millers has already been demanded by various socio political organisations during recent countrywide protests against paddy prices even lower than production costs causing huge losses to farmers in the current boro season.
Debapriya noted that the cash subsidy to be distributed to the farmers through banking channel was justified when the government is going to increase subsidy to the readymade garments exporter in the upcoming budget.
CPD also opposed the government initiative to continue the opportunity to legalise illegally earned or undisclosed money with a more flexible condition.
Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, who is going to announce his first budget in parliament Thursday, might offer a blanket opportunity to legalise undisclosed money by investing in manufacturing industries after payment of only 10 per cent tax.
Debapriya said such an opportunity would be contradictory to the electoral pledges made by the Awami League as the party promised to take stern measures against corruption, bribery, undisclosed income, untaxed money, extortion, defaulted bank loans and muscle power.
Awami League publicised the manifesto on December 18, twelve days before the general election marred by rigging, intimidation and stuffing of ballots, pledged zero tolerance against corruption.
Debapriya said undisclosed money holders and the practice of evading tax would be encouraged by the relaxed opportunity of legalising undisclosed money was approved in the budget.
Currently, undisclosed money holders can legalise such money by investing in income-generating activities like industrial enterprises, extension of an existing industry, buying or constructing buildings, flats, land, securities listed with stock exchanges, and in any trade, commercial and industrial ventures engaged in production of goods and services by paying 10 per cent penalty along with the regular tax at the rate of 30 per cent.
More about:
·       Bangladesh
·       CPD

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Ogun Customs seizes 7,000 bags of rice in May

• Generates N1.1bn

Description: VAT: Airlines count losses over  Customs implementation delay

Moshood Adebayo
Ogun State Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has generated N1.131 billion as revenue in May.
Area Comptroller, Michael Agbara, made the disclosure at the command headquarters, Idi-Iroko, Ipokia Local Government Area of the state, yesterday.
He said with the amount, the command had surpassed its monthly target of N643.4 million by N488.3 million.
Agbara also added that the command made 103 seizures, including 38 vehicles, 7,030 bags of foreign rice (50 kg each and 15 bags (25 kg each).
The command’s anti-smuggling activities during the period also led to confiscation of 411 kegs of Premium Motor Spirit  (PMS) otherwise known as  petrol, three motorcycles, five sacks, 1,835 pairs of new and 264 pairs of used foot wears. Other seizures were 372 kegs of vegetable oil (25 litres each)
Agbara described seizure of the over 7,000 bags of rice as the highest monthly haul of rice made by the command in the year.
He boasted that the command had suppressed smuggling activities and reduced number of checkpoints along the Idi-Iroko border.
Suspected Rice Smugglers Attack Customs Men In Kwara
By Biola Azeez - Ilorin On Jun 11, 2019
Description: Customs CG, Hameed AliCustoms CG, Hameed Ali
Two officers of the Nigeria Customs Service attached to Kwara/Niger/Kogi area Command were reportedly attacked during a clash with suspected rice smugglers on Tuesday in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The Nigerian Tribune gathered that the customs officers had impounded four buses loaded with imported rice along Ilorin/Offa/Kabba road in the early hours of Tuesday.
The clash with the suspected smugglers reportedly occurred at Offa Garage area of the Ilorin metropolis at about 10 am when the Customs men were trying to convey the four buses loaded with imported rice to their office.
Sources told our correspondent that the Customs men were conveying the four buses loaded with rice to their office in Ilorin when some hoodlums allegedly recruited by the smugglers, who were the rice owners, attacked them.
The two officials injured were the drivers who were driving two of the buses to the Customs office in Ilorin, one of the sources said.
“The Customs officers were conveying three of the buses which they seized with rice to their office when some people attacked them at Idi-Igba, Offa Garage area, started to beat them and dragged them out of the vehicle.
“Although, the four buses were being escorted by the Custom patrol van, the one that followed the patrol van had passed and branched to Asa dam road while the three buses that followed about 10 minutes later were the one attacked and driven off by the smugglers,” he said.
Speaking on the development, the Public Relations Officer of the Customs in Kwara state, Mrs. Stella Okpo, confirmed the attack on the Customs men, saying that the two officers were seriously injured during the attack.
Okpo said that the injured officers had been taken to hospital for treatment while one of the buses had been impounded and parked at the Ilorin office of the Customs.
She said that no arrest had been made on the incident.