Tuesday, June 25, 2019

25th June,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Supermarket RD Partnerships Make Millions of Impressions   

ARLINGTON, VA -- Earlier this year, USA Rice partnered with retail dietitians at Big Y and Redner's supermarket chains to promote U.S.-grown rice across more than 134 grocery stores in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  Big Y rice promotions were part of their Living Well Eating Smart® nutrition program and Redner's promotions were part of their HealthCents program.  Both programs included sales promotions, in-store signage, social media posts, newsletter articles, in-store sampling, and more.

Big Y's promotion launched with a weekly ad feature for a sale on U.S.-grown brown long grain rice that included "Think Rice" messaging, followed by an article in Big Y's Living Well Eating Smart blog and newsletter highlighting the USA Rice recipe for Sweet Cherry Almond Breakfast Risotto.  More than thirty-six thousand copies of the newsletter were distributed in stores, and the article was also added to Big Y's website and promoted throughout the month of March on social media.  The promotion garnered close to two million consumer impressions and resulted in an increase of 8 percent in sales of Big Y brown long grain rice over the two-week promotion period.

Redner's promotion kicked off with a featured section in their weekly circular highlighting the USA Rice Arugula and Rice Salad recipe and "Think Rice" messaging, followed by a two-page article titled "The Power of Rice," which highlighted the nutritional importance of rice and the importance of choosing U.S.-grown.  Redner's also hosted twenty-five in-store sampling events at multiple locations, offering consumers the chance to try USA Rice's Tropical Wild Rice Medley Salad.  More than one thousand consumers took part in the taste test and took home recipe cards and USA Rice promotional materials.  Overall, the Redner's promotion yielded more than one million consumer impressions and resulted in a 39 percent increase in unit sales of white long grain, white medium grain, white parboiled, and brown long grain throughout the promotion period. 

"These numbers are impressive," said Cameron Jacobs, USA Rice domestic promotion manager.  "These partnerships garnered more than three million consumer impressions across multiple states and regions, not to mention the double digit increases in sales.  These promotions that feature retail dietitians are a proven formula allowing USA Rice to have a presence on the ground level with consumers, getting our message out there and making connections, and helping increase sales of U.S.-grown rice."
USA Rice
According to an Engineer at Nissan, the Future of Rice Farming Is a Robotic Duck
This cute robot might help Japanese farmers maintain flooded rice fields and keep weeds out.
Farmers in Japan have used ducks to help them grow rice in their paddy fields for centuries. The friendly farm animals paddle around in flooded fields eating insects and oxygenating the water that helps stops weeds from taking hold.
Their manure even helps to fertilize the fields. As the commercialization of rice production took hold, ducks were replaced by pesticides and other chemicals.
But an engineer at Nissan wants to return ducks to the fields; though in a very futuristic way.
Meet the Aigamo robot, a floating moving robot that is designed to help farmers keep their paddy fields insect free and weed free without chemicals.
Named after the breed of ducks who formerly had the job, the cute self-propelled robot might be the future of rice farming. Weighing 1.5 kilograms the robot has two rotating rubber brushes instead of duck feet to stir up the water and stop weeds growing.
Check out this video to see Aigamo in action.Rice production is under threat in Japan as demand for the staple food has dropped and farming knowledge is not being passed through the generations, due to a rapidly aging population.
For now, this seems to be a passion project by one engineer, but it is a fascinating look at how small robots could become ubiquitous technology in the farming industry of the future

Heat-resistant rice varieties in Japan becoming more common | #AsiaNewsNetwork
Description: https://elevenmyanmar.com/sites/news-eleven.com/files/styles/news_detail_image/public/news-images/rice01.jpg?itok=egyvh1pB (Japan News/ANN) - Concerns over crop damage due to global warming have spurred the development of heat-resistant rice varieties around the country. While these varieties are grown in less than 10 percent of the total area cultivated for rice used as a staple food, the hectarage has increased by about 2.5 times since 2010. Several of these varieties have received high taste assessments and many believe they will only become more widespread going forward. More common, more tasty In late May, an agricultural corporation was planting a paddy in Satte, Saitama Prefecture, with the heat-resistant variety Sainokizuna.
“It withstands hot weather and tastes good,” company president Yoshitaka Funakawa, 68, said. Sainokizuna is a Saitama variety that was registered in 2014. Its brown rice tends to maintain high quality and harvest levels even in high temperatures. The Japan Grain Inspection Association gave it the highest grade — toku-A — in its 2017 taste ranking, the same grade as given to Koshihikari from Niigata Prefecture. About 19,480 tons of Sainokizuna was harvested in 2018, about 13 percent of the about 150,000 tons of rice that was harvested in Saitama Prefecture that year. Summers recently have been brutally hot. Taking Koshihikari, a common, good-tasting variety that is grown nationwide, as an example, if temperatures are high during the time when the ears of rice emerge, the quality of brown rice decreases. Sainokizuna, however, has greater capacity in terms of moisture evaporation from pores in the surfaces of the leaves, which lowers the temperature from the heat of vaporization.
In 2018, which saw “disaster-level heat,” the percentage of grade-one rice, which refers to the ratio of rice in the harvest that is of the highest quality, for Saitama Koshihikari was 21 percent, compared to 84 percent for Sainokizuna. Tochiginohoshi, a Tochigi Prefecture variety that was registered in 2015, has received the toku-A grade three times, in 2015, 2017 and 2018. The percentage of grade-one rice in 2018’s 22,500-ton harvest was 98 percent. It was grown on 8 percent of the total hectarage in the prefecture, the third-biggest variety by area.
“The quality is good and harvests are big, so more farmers are growing it,” an official at the Tochigi Prefectural Agricultural Experiment Station said. Natsukirari, an Aichi Prefecture variety that is said to taste similar to Koshihikari, was registered as a variety in 2017 and is undergoing test cultivation. According to a February 2018 report by the Environment Ministry and others, average temperatures in Japan have risen by about 1.2 C in the last 100 years and are predicted to rise by as much as 5.4 C in the 21st century. Rice harvests in the plains of the Kanto region and in the Hokuriku region and westward are expected to drop, which is behind the push to develop heat-resistant varieties. Heat-resistant varieties were grown on about 37,700 hectares nationwide in 2010, and on about 93,800 hectares in 2017, according to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry. This equals about 7 percent of the 1.37 million hectares cultivated for rice as a staple food in 2017. “It is believed that warming will continue, which will make it necessary to switch from conventional varieties to resistant varieties,” said Hiroyuki Sato, 50, a Senior Program Officer at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Council.

Govt to modernise rice farming
Description: PHOTO: APPSIALKOT:  The Punjab government has evolved a national programme with a cost of Rs9 billion for enhancing rice yield across the province. An official of the agriculture department said on Sunday that under the plan, strenuous efforts will be made for creating awareness among paddy growers on balanced use of pesticides, fertilizers and seeding for obtaining maximum output. He said, “The first phase of farmers training has completed while the next phase would soon be carried later.” The programme also aims to promote balanced use of fertilizers at recommended timing and weed control across the province.

The official added, “The comprehensive campaign is expected to create awareness among the farming community and promote modern production practices for productivity enhancement and safe use of pesticides, fungicides and weedicides.”

Climate change threatens India’s crop production, rice yields may be hit hard
  • Situation has worsened due to the sluggish pace of the southwest monsoon
  • The study shows that yields from India’s main crop, rice witnessed larger declines during extreme weather conditions
  • New Delhi: More reliance on a single crop – Rice, could render India’s food supply more vulnerable to rising threats of climate change, says a new study, urging farmers to selectively expand areas planted with alternative grains to counter the loss. The findings published in journal Environmental Research Letters have come at a time, when large parts of India, covering Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jharkhand are reeling under drought conditions. The situation has worsened due to the sluggish pace of the southwest monsoon which is solely responsible for irrigating over 50% of the agricultural land. As on Tuesday, many as 30 out of total 36 sub-divisions of the country are facing rain deficit of over 20%, with four subdivisions under a deficit of more than 60%. Researchers studied the effects of changing climatic conditions on yields of five monsoon (kharif) crops: finger millet (ragi), maize, pearl millet, sorghum (jowar) and rice over a period of last 46 years. The yields were compared with corresponding data on temperature and rainfall from IMD for 593 districts across India.

India’s monsoon region has been on decline in terms of the the total rainfall received over the last 50 years. While the extreme rainfall events have become frequent and more variable, the severity and frequency of droughts has also increased since 1970s. The study shows that yields from India’s main crop, rice witnessed larger declines during extreme weather conditions, compared to millet, sorghum and maize which showed better resilience to extreme weather and inter-annual changes in climate and also witnessed smaller declines during droughts. “By relying more and more on a single crop-rice, India's food supply is potentially vulnerable to the effects of varying climate," said lead author Kyle Frankel Davis, an environmental data scientist. At present, rice accounts for 44% of annual grain production and 73% of grain production during the monsoon season (kharif), while alternative grains -Maize (15%), pearl millet (8%), sorghum (2.5%), and finger millet (1.5%) contribute to the remaining portions and are regionally important for rural livelihoods and diets.

The study highlighted the need to expand the area planted with other four alternative grains can reduce variations in Indian grain production caused by extreme climate. “Doing so will mean that the food supply for the country's massive population is less in jeopardy during times of drought," said Davis. However, he added, that the social, cultural, economic, and food security implications of and obstacles to doing so would, likely be numerous as maize is not a widely consumed traditional grain in India and is increasingly used for feed. Researchers highlight that the weather situation may get worse in coming years, with more uneven distributions of precipitation during the monsoon season compounded by rising temperatures which would adversely impact the yields of major crops. 
"Diversifying the crops is an effective way to adapt its food-production systems to the growing influence of climate change, improve nutrition, reduce agricultural water demand and at the same time reduce energy demand," said Davis.
Date: 25-Jun-2019

Indian rice prices up; demand lulls in top hubs
Export prices for Indian rice edged up this week on the back of an appreciation in the rupee even as demand was lacklustre in most exporting centres, while Bangladeshi traders looked for an export deal with the Philippines. For top rice exporter India, prices for the 5% broken parboiled variety were quoted around $367-$370 per tonne this week, up from last week's $365-$367. Export demand is weak and unlikely to revive in the next few weeks unless prices correct, said one exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. In neighbouring Bangladesh, traders are in talks with the Philippines to strike a deal for rice exports, the country's agriculture minister Abdur Razzak said earlier this week.
The South Asian country could export 200,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines, he added. Bangladesh, which usually produces parboiled rice, has lifted its long-standing ban on rice exports, hoping to sell as much as 1.5 million tonnes to support farmers after a sharp drop in prices. However, it still finds it difficult to export rice even after a fall in domestic prices, given the produce is more expensive than in India and Thailand. In Thailand, the world's second largest rice exporter, prices widened to $390-$407 a tonne on Thursday, free on board Bangkok (FOB), from $393-$404 a tonne last week. Traders say the increase in prices can be attributed to a seasonal decline in rice supply.
"It is normal that the price increases during the rainy season, there is less supply and the logistic cost is higher," a Bangkok-based rice trader said. Thailand's baht, which hit its highest in nearly six years against the US dollar on Thursday, is also boosting prices for the staple, which continue to dampen demand for Thai rice.
"Demand has been flat since the start of the year and exporters are only selling to their usual customers," another Bangkok-based rice trader said. "Supply will continue to decline through the rainy season until at least August, when a new batch of rice will enter the market." Demand was uninspiring in Vietnam as well, where rates for the 5% broken rice variety fell to $340-$345 a tonne on Thursday from $345-$350 last week, traders said. "Trading activities are quiet this week on lacklustre demand, though supplies from the ongoing summer-autumn harvest are abundant," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said. Traders said the harvest will end in two to three weeks.

Rice Cultivation Should Be Completed By July 31 In Faisalabad `
Description: Rice cultivation should be completed by July 31 in Faisalabad `

The agriculture department advised farmers to start cultivation of rice immediately and would complete by the end of July to get bumper yield

FAISALABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - APP - 24th Jun, 2019 ) : The agriculture department advised farmers to start cultivation of rice immediately and would complete by the end of July to get bumper yield. Spokesman of Agriculture Extension Department said Monday that best time for the cultivation of rice varieties AARI-6, KS-282, KSK-133 and NIAB AARI-9 was up to July 07 whereas Super Basmati can be cultivated up to July 20. He said that from July 01 to 20 was the best time for cultivation of Basmati-370, Basmati-385, Basmati Pak, Basmati-2000 and Basmati-515.
Similarly, Basmati-198 can be cultivated in the areas of Sahiwal and Okara from July 01 to 15 while the suitable time for cultivation of Shaheen Basmati was July 15 to 30, the spokesman added. He advised the farmers to use latest technology for cultivation and harvesting crops in addition to apply balanced fertilizers and in-time watering. He also advised the growers to get soil tests of their lands before cultivating crops. It would help in selecting accurate fertilizer for the crops in addition to save precious money which the growers waste in unbalanced fertilization. He said that all fertilizers having phosphorous and potassium should be applied before planting saplings of rice in the field whereas zinc sulphate should be applied after 12-14 days of planting saplings. Similarly, nitrogen (urea) fertilizers should be applied before water after 30-35 days of planting rice saplings in the field, he added.

Rice exports face tough time amid huge global supply

Update: June, 25/2019 - 08:25
Description: http://image.vietnamnews.vn/uploadvnnews/Article/2019/6/25/20635_HP2.jpg
Farmers harvesting rice in the Mekong Delta. Photo english.vietnamnet.vn
HCM CITY — With an abundant global supply and high inventory in major exporting countries, Việt Nam is expected to struggle to secure exports of rice in the second half of the year, speakers said at a conference held in HCM City on Monday.
Trần Quốc Khánh, deputy minister of Industry and Trade, said that Việt Nam’s rice exports in the first half of the year experienced great challenges due to a drop in demand from major importers. 
Except for the Philippines, the country’s three major traditional rice importing countries such as China, Indonesia and Bangladesh all imported much less in the first half of the year. 
image: http://image.vietnamnews.vn/uploadvnnews/Article/2019/6/25/20634_HP1.jpg
Description: http://image.vietnamnews.vn/uploadvnnews/Article/2019/6/25/20634_HP1.jpg
Speakers at a conference held yesterday in HCM City discuss the status of Viet Nam's rice exports in the first half of the year. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

The trend is expected to continue for the rest of the year because of the high inventory in China, an election year in Indonesia, and Bangladesh’s ongoing recovery from flooding, Khánh said.
The decline in imports from these markets has also affected two other leading rice exporters, India and Thailand.
In the first five months, Việt Nam exported a combined 239,000 tonnes of rice to China, Indonesia and Bangladesh, compared with 1.44 million tonnes over the same period last year, according to the Export and Import Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
In recent years, many rice importing countries have imposed rice tariffs and allowed other rice suppliers to participate in the G2P (government-to-private) tenders in order to buy rice of higher quality at more competitive prices.
Meanwhile, countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, and Pakistan are trying to increase their rice export output. 
In addition, China is not only the largest rice importer, but also one of the world’s major rice exporters. 
The Ministry of Industry and Trade is working with agencies such as Việt Nam Food Association and rice exporters to implement solutions, such as reviewing policies of foreign markets, according to Deputy Minister Khánh.  
While negotiating bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, the ministry has discussed with foreign partners about tax reductions and removal of trade and technical barriers for Vietnamese rice products.
The ministry has also updated information for local enterprises and associations about regulations on food hygiene and safety, quality control and traceability.
Many programmes on trade promotion and brand development have been luanched, including trade fairs in mainland China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as France, the Netherlands, Ghana, Ivory Coast and the US.
To assist businesses in studying customer demand and promoting exports, the ministry has worked with localities that produce high outputs of rice, such as An Giang, Long An, and Kiên Giang provinces, Cần Thơ City, and HCM City.
Experts have recommended that Vietnamese exporters diversify export and import markets and avoid dependence on only certain markets.
New decree
Taking effect in October last year, Decree 107/2018/ND-CP, which replaced an older decree, aims to remove legal barriers for rice businesses to expand to foreign markets. 
According to the new decree, rice-exporting businesses will no longer be required to own rice storage or paddy milling and grinding facilities with processing capacities of 5,000 tonnes of rice and 10 tonnes of paddy per hour, respectively.
Instead, they now can rent such facilities from other agencies and organisations. The capacity volume requirements have also been removed. 
Trần Văn Công, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Agro Processing and Market Development Authority, said the new decree would help rice traders cut costs significantly.
Khánh said the decree was a breakthrough in institutional policy regarding rice export activities, removing difficulties for rice firms.
The decree also stipulates additional regulations on the responsibilities of ministries, sectors and localities in rice export management. 
According to the General Department of Customs, Việt Nam’s rice exports reached 2.76 million tonnes in the first five months, down 6.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. The country earned US$1.18 billion worth of exports in the period, a decline of 20.4 per cent over the same period last year. 
The country’s rice products are exported to 150 countries and territories, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, mainland China, Cuba, Hong Kong, Singapore, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Mozambique. — VNS

Scientists develop climate-ready wheat that can survive drought conditions

JUNE 24, 2019
Description: wheat
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Wheat plants engineered to have fewer microscopic pores—called stomata—on their leaves are better able to survive drought conditions associated with climate breakdown, according to a new study.
Scientists at the University of Sheffield's Institute for Sustainable Food found that engineering bread wheat to have fewer stomata helps the crop to use water more efficiently, while maintaining yields.

Agriculture accounts for 80-90 percent of freshwater use around the world, and on average it takes more than 1,800 litres of water to produce a single kilogram of wheat. Yet as water supplies become scarce and more variable in the face of climate breakdown, farmers will need to produce more food than ever to feed a growing population.
Like most plants, wheat uses stomata to regulate its intake of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, as well as the release of water vapour. When water is plentiful, stomatal opening helps plants to regulate temperature by evaporative cooling—similar to sweating.
In drought conditionswheat plants normally close their stomata to slow down water loss—but wheat with fewer stomata has been found to conserve water even better, and can use that water to cool itself.
During the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Botany, the scientists grew wheat in conditions similar to those expected under climate breakdown—with higher levels of carbon dioxide and less water. Compared to conventional wheat, the engineered plants used less water while maintaining photosynthesis and yield.
The research builds on the Institute for Sustainable Food's work to develop climate-ready rice, which found that rice with fewer stomata used 40 percent less water than conventional breeds and was able to survive drought and temperatures of 40C.
Julie Gray, Professor of Plant Molecular Biology at the Institute for Sustainable Food, said: "Wheat is a staple food for millions of people around the world—but as extreme droughts become more frequent, farmers face the prospect of dwindling yields.
"Developing wheat that uses water more efficiently will help us to feed our growing population while using fewer natural resources—making our food systems more resilient in the face of climate breakdown."
In a separate study published in Plant, Cell and Environment, scientists at the Institute also found that plants engineered to have fewer stomata are less susceptible to diseases. They hope to be able to replicate these findings in crops such as wheat and rice.
The Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield brings together multidisciplinary expertise and world-class research facilities to help achieve food security and protect the natural resources we all depend on.

More information: Jessica Dunn et al. Reduced stomatal density in bread wheat leads to increased water-use efficiency, Journal of Experimental Botany (2019). DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erz248
Christian Dutton et al. Bacterial infection systemically suppresses stomatal density, Plant, Cell & Environment (2019). DOI: 10.1111/pce.13570

Agriculture Department buries studies showing dangers of climate change

The Trump administration has stopped promoting government-funded research into how higher temperatures can damage crops and pose health risks.

The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists.
The studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important for raising cattle.
Story Continued Below
All of these studies were peer-reviewed by scientists and cleared through the non-partisan Agricultural Research Service, one of the world’s leading sources of scientific information for farmers and consumers.
None of the studies were focused on the causes of global warming – an often politically charged issue. Rather, the research examined the wide-ranging effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures and volatile weather.

TOP: Rice is tossed in a pot by a woman in Ganta, Liberia. BOTTOM: Villagers work at Longji Rice Terrace at Longsheng Various Nationalities Autonomous County on June 2, 2018, in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China. | AP and Getty Images
The administration, researchers said, appears to be trying to limit the circulation of evidence of climate change and avoid press coverage that may raise questions about the administration’s stance on the issue.
“The intent is to try to suppress a message — in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “Who loses out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires and heat waves.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who has expressed skepticism about climate science in the past and allegedly retaliated against in-house economists whose findings contradicted administration policies, declined to comment. A spokesperson for USDA said there have been no directives within the department that discouraged the dissemination of climate-related science.
“Research continues on these subjects and we promote the research once researchers are ready to announce the findings, after going through the appropriate reviews and clearances,” the spokesperson said in an email.
“USDA has several thousand scientists and over 100,000 employees who work on myriad topics and issues; not every single finding or piece of work solicits a government press release,” the spokesperson added.
However, a POLITICO investigation revealed a persistent pattern in which the Trump administration refused to draw attention to findings that show the potential dangers and consequences of climate change, covering dozens of separate studies. The administration’s moves flout decades of department practice of promoting its research in the spirit of educating farmers and consumers around the world, according to an analysis of USDA communications under previous administrations.
The lack of promotion means research from scores of government scientists receives less public attention. Climate-related studies are still being published without fanfare in scientific journals, but they can be very difficult to find. The USDA doesn’t post all its studies in one place.
Since Trump took office in January 2017, the Agricultural Research Service has issued releases for just two climate-related studies, both of which had findings that were favorable to the politically powerful meat industry. One found that beef production makes a relatively small contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and another that removing animal products from the diet for environmental reasons would likely cause widespread nutritional problems. The agency issued a third press release about soy processing that briefly mentioned greenhouse gas emissions, noting that reducing fossil fuel use or emissions was “a personal consideration” for farmers.
By contrast, POLITICO found that in the case of the groundbreaking rice study USDA officials not only withheld their own prepared release, but actively sought to prevent dissemination of the findings by the agency’s research partners.
Researchers at the University of Washington had collaborated with scientists at USDA, as well as others in Japan, China and Australia, for more than two years to study how rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could affect rice — humanity’s most important crop. They found that it not only loses protein and minerals, but is also likely to lose key vitamins as plants adapt to a changing environment.
The study had undergone intensive review, addressing questions from academic peers and within USDA itself. But after having prepared an announcement of the findings, the department abruptly decided not to publicize the study and urged the University of Washington to hold back its own release on the findings, which two of their researchers had co-authored.
In an email to staffers dated May 7, 2018, an incredulous Jeff Hodson, a UW communications director, advised his colleagues that the USDA communications office was “adamant that there was not enough data to be able to say what the paper is saying, and that others may question the science.”
"It was so unusual to have an agency basically say: ‘Don't do a press release,’ " Hodson recalled in an interview. "We stand for spreading the word about the science we do, especially when it has a potential impact on millions and millions of people."

Recalibration from rice mono-cropping to relay cropping and crop diversification


Dr. Emil Q. Javier
Description: Dr. Emil Q. JavierOur farmers, rice farmers included, are not productive and remain poor because of their small fragmented landholdings. The previous columns elaborated on ways of overcoming this constraint by consolidating the small farms into larger management units by: 1) contract growing, 2) through cooperatives and irrigators associations, and 3) by lifting the limits to farm land ownership imposed by agrarian reform. The third way unfortunately is not forthcoming anytime soon because of the adverse political implications.
Another approach, complementary to the above, is by effectively multiplying the physical land area by relay cropping i.e. growing two or more crops in succession on the same piece of land within the year.
In the temperate zones, crops cannot be grown during winter but in the tropics we can raise crops all-year round provided there is enough water. Thus with irrigation, short-maturing crops, zero tillage and transplanting of pre-grown seedlings, we can grow as many as 3-4 crops a year on the same piece of land. Therefore, instead of just 10 million physical hectares of farm land, we can harvest as much as 30-40 million hectares of crops every year.
In order to compensate for the loss of income of rice farmers with the lifting of limits to cheap imported rice, the rice tariffication act (RTA) provided free farm machines, seeds, subsidized credit, more farmers training and extension support.
Yes they are all important but the law glossed over what to train the farmers for and what the main thrust of extension ought to be beyond raising the productivity of the rice crop.
The incomes from a 30-day crop of pechay or mustard; a 75-day crop of sweet or glutinous corn, and a full-season of tomato, chili pepper, eggplant, melons, onions or garlic most often far exceed the margins from rice.
Therefore, far more potentially impactful beyond raising the yield and reducing the cost of producing palay are the higher incomes, additional jobs, and value-adding from a second, third or even a fourth crop after rice.
Agronomic requirements
of relay cropping
Key is the availability of water in the volume and timing required by plants. The large irrigation systems (the national (NIS) and communal irrigation systems [CIS]) under the supervision of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) provide relatively cheap water which can be stored in the rice fields through the system of paddies. However, this water impounding technique while ideal for palay whose roots thrive under anaerobic conditions is ill-suited for all other crops which cannot tolerate water-logging.
Thus our recommendation is to embed small irrigation units like farm reservoirs and shallow tube wells into the large NIS and CIS systems to enable the rice farmers to have full control over the volume and timing of water delivery with which to profitably grow the non-rice relay crops. This realignment of mandate of NIA will enable us to realize the full potential of the P800 billion we have invested so far in irrigation.
The second requirement is for seeds of improved varieties of short maturing crops. Fortunately, we have plenty of these. Palay takes 110-120 days to mature. Many fruit vegetables like tomato, eggplant, chili pepper and okra start fruiting in 60-70 days. Fresh, green corn (sweet or glutinous) must be harvested in 70-75 days. Pechay and mustard need only 30 days.
The third requirement is the abbreviation of the crop cycle from one crop to the next by sowing the seeds directly into the stubble of the previous crop (zero tillage). Plowing or harrowing is normally necessary to set back the weeds from the previous crops. The turnaround for land preparation results in the “loss” of easily 3-4 weeks of growing period. However with selective herbicides, disturbing the soil to control weeds is no longer necessary.
Fourth, high value crops like tomato, eggplant, chili pepper and melons can be grown in small recyclable plastic bags or trays in the nursery and transplanted as seedlings. Transplanting of seedlings saves another 2-3 weeks of growing period and gives the crop a headstart over the weeds.
Planting for the market
These high value crops after rice have a common liability – they are highly perishable. It is imperative that the crops are assured of market even before they are planted. Whether as fresh produce or for processing, great attention must be devoted to post-harvest handling, storage, and transport to maintain quality and minimize post-harvest losses.
Not just rice productivity
but also crop diversification
The RTA by narrowly focusing its remedial measures on rice competitiveness unfortunately misses the bigger picture of a more productive countryside with crops other than rice.
The Rice Competiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) appropriates P1 billion per year for more farmers training and enhanced extension support. It is not too late to interpret this to mean equal if not increased, attention for farmers training and extension support for relay cropping and crop diversification after rice.
Since Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which gets the lion share for extension does not have agronomic nor market expertise, additional resources must be sourced to support the Bureau of Plant Industry, the Agricultural Training Institute and the Department of Agriculture Marketing unit to promote relay cropping and crop diversification.
Dr. Emil Q. Javier is a Member of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and also Chair of the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP).
For any feedback, email eqjavier@yahoo.com

NFA exceeds palay procurement targets, prepares for lean months

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:15 AM June 24, 2019
The National Food Authority (NFA) has already surpassed its palay procurement target for the first half of 2019 with more than five million bags bought since January, its newly installed administrator Judy Carol Dansal said.
As of June 19, the agency has procured 5.18 million bags or 258,519 metric tons (MT) of palay, 11 percent higher than its target for the six-month period.
“We expect this to go even higher,” Dansal said in a statement. “This is a sign that we will be able to meet our buffer stocking requirement by yearend.”
The bulk of NFA’s purchases still mostly came from the country’s rice-producing provinces such as Mindoro, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Bulacan, Cagayan, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
NFA Occidental Mindoro provincial manager Osmundo R.Guinto Jr., who leads the top procuring branch this year, said they were able to buy more produce from farmers compared to previous years because of the agency’s increased buying price at P20.70 a kilo coupled with the continuous downtrend in the rates offered by private traders, which were between P14 and P18 a kilo.
Even with the summer cropping season already winding up, NFA was able to buy a total of 401,847 bags of palay in the first two weeks of June, surpassing its target of procuring 261,000 bags for the month by 54 percent.
Dansal said the NFA had been preparing for the lean months of July to September when harvest was sporadic.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the arrival of typhoons in the country traditionally spikes during those months, with August being the most active month for tropical cyclones.
“Without government rice importation, it is very timely that we are able to beef up our stocks. We will have sufficient supply of good-quality rice for the requirements of government relief agencies and local government units in any emergency or calamity that traditionally hit the country during lean months,” Dansal said.
“Hopefully, we will meet our buffer stocking requirement of 15 to 30 million bags,” she added.

Vietnam still faces rice export difficulties

Vietnam's rice export industry is trying to find new customers as exports to China, the country’s biggest customer, dropped.
Description: Vietnam still faces rice export difficulties
Illustrative photo. Vietnam still faces rice export difficulties
The problem was discussed at the review conference about rice export in the first half of 2019 held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh said many unfavourable international developments for the local rice export industry had occurred. In the first five months, Vietnam only exported 239,000 tonnes of rice to three major markets including China, Indonesia and Bangladesh, a decrease of 83% compared to the same period last year.
The exports firms had to find other customers and successfully exported 2.76 million tonnes of rice. However, it is forecasted that the industry will have to face many difficulties in the next 16 months.
Statistics from the Export and Import Department showed that in the first five months, Vietnam only exported 223,078 to China which worth USD111.3m, a decrease of 74% on last year, due to high inventory and stricter standards. China was once Vietnam's biggest customer, accounting for 40% of Vietnam's total rice export. However, it has dropped to third place.
China's rice import quota for 2019 was set at 5.32 million tonnes but it is said that only 3.5 million tonnes would be imported, one million tonnes lower than in 2018. In the first four months, China imported 850,000 tonnes, a decrease of 24.4% on last year. China is exporting more rice in the meantime. The total exported rice in the first four months was 829,900 tonnes, an increase of 112.4%.
Bui Thi Thanh Tam, vice head of Vietnam Food Association, said other rice exporters like Thailand and India also considered China a new competitor. After releasing the rice inventory, China may become the world's fifth-biggest rice exporter.
According to Khanh, nine months after a new resolution about rice export was applied, 41 new firms had been granted the certificate of eligibility for rice export business, making it a total 177 rice export firms. However, only 76 firms submitted export activities reports to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and those who failed to comply may have their certificates revoked.
At the conference, the attendees agreed that Vietnam must aim for more diverse customers and improve rice quality. The Ministry of Industry and Trade and related agencies must boost promotional programmes and help firms in developing a brand for Vietnamese rice. Dtinews

BRRI develops 3 new HYV rice varieties

Mohammad Ali Zheelon . Gazipur | Published: 01:02, Jun 23,2019
The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute has developed three new high-yielding varieties of rice named BRRI Dhan 90, BRRI Dhan 91 and BRRI Dhan 92 and has already got the approval for their cultivation across the country.
Of the three rice varieties, premium quality BRRI Dhan 90 and BRRI Dhan 91 are cultivable in unfavourable semi-deep water areas in Aman season and water-saving variety BRRI Dhan 92 can be grown in Boro season.
BRRI technical editor and publications and public relations division head MA Kashem told New Age that the National Seed Board in its meeting on Wednesday approved the cultivation of the varieties in the country.
He disclosed that the average yield of BRRI Dhan 90 was five tonnes per hectare, which was 1 to 1.4 tonnes higher than BRRI Dhan 34, another popular Aman variety.
The average yield of BRRI Dhan 91 is 2.37 tonnes per hectare, 1.5 tonnes higher than local variety Fhulkori, which is cultivated in unfavourable areas having semi-deep water, he said.
On the other hand, the average yield of BRRI Dhan 92 is 8.3 tonnes per hectare but it can produce up to 9.3 tonnes per hectare under appropriate agronomic management, he added.
‘BRRI Dhan 90 possesses all the good characteristics of modern high-yielding rice varieties in addition to a special light aroma,’ BRRI officials said, adding that it was rich in protein and could be a substituted for locally popular Chinigura and Chini-atap varieties.
The average plant height of this variety is 110 centimetres and potentially it can produce up to 5.5 tonnnes per hectare, they said. ‘Its average life cycle completes within 117 days, which is 21 days less than BRRI Dhan 34, another popular Aman variety.’
Other better characteristics of this variety, they said, are that it requires a little less urea fertiliser than other similar varieties and its grain contains 23 per cent amylose and 10.3 per cent protein,adding that  BRRI Dhan 90 was not susceptible to lodging and its leaves remained green even after the grains ripened.
‘Its flag leaf stands upright and flowering happens equally at a time and thus it looks very nice in the field condition.’
‘The distinguishing characteristics of BRRI Dhan 91 include deep green leaves with erect flag leaf and average height of this rice plant is 180 centimetres and is not susceptible to lodging.
‘This variety, having medium-level elongation capacity, can be cultivated in unfavourable semi-deep water areas of Manikganj, Cumilla and Faridpur.
‘In these areas, BRRI Dhan 91produces one tonne higher than some local rice varities such as Digha, Dudbaoila, Jhingashail, Khoiamotor, Fulkori and Kaitabagdar,’ BRRI officials continued, adding that it was expected that if this variety can be cultivated in 5 lakh hectares of semi-deep water areas in the country, the total production of the country will increase by up to 5 lakh tonnes. 
They further said that BRRI Dhan 92 could be cultivated using less water than the similar other Boro varieties but  it would give equal yield to the mega variety of Boro season BRRI Dhan 29 having a similar life cycle of 156-160 days.
This water-saving Boro variety, which is not susceptible to attack by insects and pests, can be suitable for Barind areas and its grain contains 26 per cent amylose, they said.  

Water shortage could cut India's food exports, minister warns

JUNE 24, 2019 / 5:08 PM /

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A water shortage could cut food exports from India, which has emerged as a leading supplier of a number of food products to the world, the water resources minister warned on Monday.
From being a food-deficit country, India has achieved the distinction of being a top exporter of food but to retain that edge it needs to revive its reservoirs, lakes and other traditional water bodies, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said in a statement.
“Judicious use of water can save India from future calamities,” Shekhawat said.
India, a leading producer of an array of food commodities, is sitting on large stockpiles of rice, wheat and sugar.
It emerged as the world’s biggest rice exporter in 2012, selling nearly 12 million tonnes of the staple annually on the world market, including 4 million tonnes of the aromatic basmati variety, exclusively grown in India and Pakistan.
But rice is a water intensive crop.
Government research bodies and experts say Indian farmers need 4,500 to 5,000 liters of water to grow one kg of rice.
FILE PHOTO: A man walks through the dried-up Puzhal reservoir, on the outskirts in Chennai, India, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/P. Ravikumar
Water is typically scarce in the summer months, but the situation has been particularly grim this year in western and southern states that received below average rainfall in the 2018 monsoon season.
This year, the monsoon has delivered 38% lower-than normal, or average, rainfall since the start of the season on June 1, according to data compiled by the state-run India Meteorological Department.
After a weak start, monsoon rains, that water half of the country’s farmlands lacking irrigation, have covered nearly half of the country and conditions are favorable for further advances into the central and western parts this week, a weather department official told Reuters on Monday.
India’s water demand is projected to be double its supply by 2030, the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog said in a report last year.
Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Martin Howell

Monsoon covers half of India, to accelerate crop sowing
JUNE 24, 2019
MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s annual monsoon rains have covered nearly half of the country and conditions are favorable for further advancement into the central and western parts this week, a weather department official said on Monday.
The monsoon’s progress will help farmers to accelerate sowing of summer-sown crops, which has been lagging due to a delay in the arrival of monsoon rains.
“In the last three days, monsoon has gained momentum. It has covered the entire southern and eastern India,” said an official at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), who declined to be named.
Conditions are favorable for further advancement of monsoon rains into the central state of Madhya Pradesh and the western state of Gujarat, the official said.
The monsoon arrived in southern state of Kerala on June 8 versus the usual June 1. However, Cyclone Vayu developed in the Arabian Sea drew moisture from the monsoon and weakened its progress. The monsoon typically covers half of India by mid-June.
The monsoon has delivered 38% lower-than-normal rainfall since the start of the season on June 1, due to a delay in the onset of monsoon rains, according to data compiled by IMD.
“The rainfall deficit has come down to 38% from last week’s 44%. By the end of the month, it would be much lower,” the official said.
Monsoons deliver about 70% of India’s annual rainfall and are the lifeblood of its $2.5 trillion economy, spurring farm output and boosting rural spending on items ranging from gold to cars, motorcycles and refrigerators.
Sowing of summer-sown crops such as cotton, rice, soybean, corn and pulses has been delayed by a fortnight, but could accelerate in coming weeks due to the recent spell of rainfall, said Harish Galipelli, head of commodities and currencies at Inditrade Derivatives & Commodities in Mumbai.
Farmers have planted summer-sown crops on 9.1 million hectares as on June 21, down 12.5% compared with the same period a year ago, according to provisional data from the Ministry of Agriculture. Cotton sowing was down 12%, while soybean planting has lagged by 57% during the period.
“The sowing delay wont impact on yields if we get good rainfall in the next two months,” Galipelli said.
India is the world’s biggest exporter of rice and top importer of edible oils. A drop in oilseeds and rice production due to poor monsoon could lead to lower rice exports and lift the country’s imports of edible oil such as palm oil, soyoil and sunflower oil, dealers said.
Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Gopakumar 
Rice producers target reduction in price to curb smuggling
Published 9
Okechukwu Nnodim
Indigenous rice producers in Nigeria are gearing up to cut down the cost of the commodity by at least N3,000 in a bid to further curb the negative effect which the smuggling of foreign rice into Nigeria has been having on the production of local rice.
On June 5, 2019, The PUNCH exclusively reported that the activities of some corrupt customs officers, other security agents and smugglers were gradually killing the Federal Government’s target to achieve self-sufficiency in local rice production by 2020.
The immediate past Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had at a press conference in Lagos in April 2018, said the country would achieve self-sufficiency in rice production in 2020, as he noted that 60 per cent of rice consumed across the country was produced locally.
But investigations at some border communities in the country revealed how some customs officers, other security officials and smugglers were conniving to thwart the Federal Government’s aim at increasing local production of rice.
To help address this concern, local rice producers stated that plans were being perfected and had reached advanced stage to crash the price of the commodity produced locally in order to render the business of smuggling unprofitable.
The National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Aminu Goronyo, told our correspondent in Abuja on Friday that rice farmers were collaborating with millers and other operators in the value chain to cut down the price of the commodity.
He said, “There is that plan jointly between the rice producers and the processors. We are working collaboratively to see that there is enough rice, both paddy and milled rice in Nigeria. And because the farmers have produced a lot, the cost of paddy has reduced from about N11,000 that we used to sell to between N7,500 and N8,000.
“So you can see that obviously the cost of milled rice is coming down. And aside from that, you will agree that the cost of milled rice has been reducing over the years,in 2014/2015, the cost of a 50kg bag of milled rice was about N18,000. But now it is sold at between N13,000 and N13,500. So to further curb smuggling, local rice price will come down further, it is a gradual process.”
Goronyo noted that the cost reduction in paddy production would definitely warrant a decrease in the price of milled rice, adding that the aim of farmers and other producers of the commodity was to see that a 50kg bag of milled rice is sold at N10,000.
“That is what we are aiming at because it will lead to a situation where the final consumer will find it affordable and, of course, when rice is affordable, people will be able to buy more and more of the product,” the RIFAN president stated.
He added, “This will make rice sellers to make more money and by extension, the producers as well will make money. The more people buy the product, the more dealers make profit. The more dealers make profit, the more farmers make profit as well. That is the target and we hope to achieve it very soon.”
The PUNCH’s report had stated that the smuggling of imported rice, which had been banned in Nigeria, usually came into the country through Niger and the Republic of Benin.
In Ogun and Lagos states, it was gathered that the traders bought a bag of rice at between N5,000 and N6,000 in the Republic of Benin, as the contraband was usually transported to Nigeria through the Seme and Idi-Iroko borders.
While findings showed that the smugglers usually bribe customs officers while bringing the smuggled foreign rice from the Republic of Benin. However, the National Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah,expressed disbelief in the claims of the rice farmers.
Attah had in the June 5 report stated that “They (farmers) were part of the CGC Task Force meeting constituted to fight rice smuggling just three weeks ago and at that meeting, they were full of commendation for the customs’ fight against smuggling.
“They also pledged their readiness to support the fight and provide intelligence to the strike force. The strike force is just settling down to do its job. So the same people cannot praise customs in one breadth and in another breadth they are accusing the Customs of aiding smugglers.”
Contact: theeditor@punchng.com