Saturday, June 29, 2019

29th June,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Deputy Governor, County Secretary Summoned To Appear In Court Over Contempt
Meru Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu and County Secretary Rufus Miriti have been summoned by the Meru High Court for the second time to explain why the county government has been in contempt of court.
The two respondents were supposed to appear before Justice Alfred Mabeya Thursday to explain why the county government has failed to pay Sh144million to the Nice Rice Millers Company in damages but they sent a representative but the court held that in a contempt of court case, subjects have to present themselves in person.
The Director of the Company Charles Njiru sued the Meru county government for confiscating his rice wagons and destroying the merchandise in 2015.
In his ruling, Justice Mabeya said the contempt case was legitimate and he would have issued an arrest warrant but instead gave the two county officials a second chance to appear before the court to respond to the contempt charges.
Their lawyer, Munga Kibanga said his clients would not appear before the court because of commitments.
He said the Deputy Governor who is also the county Finance executive was on an official commitments whereas the County Secretary was having a medical appointment.
However Justice Mabeya in his ruling said the document presented showing that the County Secretary was having an appointment raised so many doubts since it was dated July 27, 2019.
“Despite all that this court would have issued an arrest warrant but since the people involved are of civility I give them another chance to appear on July 2, 2019,”  stated the ruling.
Njiru on his part said he is eagerly waiting for the county government to oblige with the court’s ruling which ruled that he be paid for the loss he incurred.
He said he is willing to agree with the county on the terms, including payment by instalments.
“I am still counting loses incurred therefore I wish the county pays me the money so that my business can stabilize for me to employ more young people,” stated the Director.

USDA Planted Acres Released; Rice Higher than Anticipated  

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Statistical Service has released a new report of planted acres for most crops, and while overall rice acres are down, they are not down as much as many had anticipated.  According to the report, area planted to rice in 2019 is estimated at 2.76 million acres, down six percent from 2018. Area for harvest is forecast at 2.71 million acres, down seven percent from last year. 

Long grain rice planted area decreased six percent from last year, with decreases estimated in all States, except Mississippi and Texas. Arkansas, the largest long grain rice-producing state, estimates a nine percent decrease in planted acreage compared with last year. Medium grain acres decreased by seven percent from 2018. California, the largest medium grain-producing state, decreased medium grain acres by two percent in 2019.  Short grain area, estimated at 41,000 acres, is equal to what was planted in 2018. As of June 23, sixty-six percent of the rice acreage was rated in good to excellent condition, compared with 70 percent rated in these two categories at the same time last year.

The full report can be found 
Rice Industry Reps Reappointed to Critical Trade Advisory Committees  

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer reappointed Arkansas rice farmer Dow Brantley to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC), and USA Rice COO Bob Cummings to the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee (ATAC) for Trade in Grains, Feed, Oilseeds and Planting Seeds.

The APAC is a select group of trade experts that provides advice and information to the government on the administration of trade policy, including enforcement of existing trade agreements and negotiating objectives for new trade agreements.

"It's great news for USA Rice to have our committee veterans invited back to represent the U.S. industry," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.

Brantley, a rice producer from England, Arkansas, said, "I feel like my reappointment to APAC will ensure that the U.S. rice industry is at the forefront on trade policy.  Trade is always a top priority and I am happy to provide advice or guidance that will benefit U.S. rice."  

The six different ATACs offer technical advice and information about specific commodities and products.

"The Grains ATAC is a front-line, formal opportunity for USA Rice to provide detailed guidance to U.S. trade officials and negotiators on our market access issues in face-to-face meetings and in follow-up conversations," said Cummings. 

This group of committee members will serve until June 15, 2023. 

Raised in Rice Fields
California’s Chinook salmon have been losing habitat to agriculture for decades. Now, they’re getting a much-needed boost from strategically flooded fields.
Story by Robin Meadows
Photographs and video by Jak Wonderly
Snow geese erupt against a blue sky trimmed with fresh, white clouds. The air is so clear you can see for miles, east to the distant peaks of the Sierra Nevada and west to the gentle slopes of the Coast Ranges. But Carson Jeffres and Jacob Katz are less interested in the view above them than the one at their feet. Standing knee-deep in a flooded field at Knaggs Ranch, a rice farm near Sacramento, they peer into a floating cage made of PVC pipe and mesh and prepare to check on its unusual inhabitants.

Jeffres opens the top of the cage and dips in a small net. When he pulls it out, a pair of plump fish, each the size of a pinky finger, wriggle inside. These are young Chinook salmon—a species imperiled in California. He holds up his catch for Katz to admire.

The two men are fish ecologists—Jeffres at the University of California, Davis, and Katz at the conservation-based non-profit California Trout—and they are testing a wild idea. To help save the Chinook, they are using rice fields as winter nurseries for young salmon migrating from their natal streams to the ocean.

Over the last century, water agencies have built levees along most of the state's rivers to control floods and supply water to communities and farmers alike. But these levees also bar young Chinook from the floodplains that historically provided safe, food-rich places to grow on their journey to the Pacific. Today, more than half a million acres of these former floodplains in California's immense interior valley are occupied by rice farms. Repurposing them as surrogate floodplains during the months they would otherwise lie fallow could be key to restoring endangered populations of wild-spawning Chinook.
"We can't restore those floodplains,” says Rene Henery, California science director for the conservation non-profit Trout Unlimited, “but we can recover the functionality that the fish evolved with."

California’s Central Valley is a flat expanse, flanked on either side by mountain ranges, that extends 400 miles down the middle of the state. Salmon once flourished in the streams and rivers that course through it. "One or two million came back every year," says Peter Moyle, a fish ecologist at UC Davis. "They were up to 60 pounds and close to a meter long."

For millennia, adult Chinook in California returned to spawn in the upper reaches of waterways that flow down from mountains surrounding the valley. Then, when the winter rainy season caused their natal streams to swell, the next generation of young fish would all swim downstream toward the sea, taking advantage of the many floodplains along the way.

The final stretch of their long journey would begin when the fish hit the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, where the water slows, twisting and turning around the Delta's many islands. Migrating young salmon have to navigate these braided waterways before making their way across the San Francisco Bay and through the Golden Gate Strait, the iconic narrow opening spanned by the Golden Gate Bridge that leads to the ocean.
Fish out of Water
Dams now block Chinook salmon from reaching more than 90 percent of their spawning habitat in California's Central Valley. Additionally, water diversions and other perturbations have rendered some of their accessible habitat unusable.

Map data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association; January 2013.

Today, few Central Valley salmon spawn in the wild. The region's waterways have been completely remade into a system that includes 20 major dams and more than 1,600 miles of riverbank levees. While this engineered set-up tames flooding and supplies drinking and irrigation water, these benefits to people come at a cost to salmon. Dams block entry to the mountain streams where the fish once spawned, and levees block access to the valley-floor floodplains where young salmon once found plentiful food and shelter.

Across their range, Central Valley Chinook are all classified as a single species, but for management purposes the fish are divided into four runs according to the season when adults return from the Pacific Ocean to spawn. Two of those runs are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, while the other two are considered federal populations of concern.

Engineered rivers are almost completely to blame. "Just as we've lost almost all the floodplain habitat, we've also lost pretty much all of the spawning habitat," says Brian Ellrott, the Central Valley salmon recovery coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which leads the efforts to restore populations of these fish.
"They're just straggling along right now," Jeffres says. "They're propped up by hatcheries." State hatcheries release more than 32 million young salmon annually, and these fish dominate all four runs of Central Valley Chinook.

The best way to restore Chinook salmon, fish biologists say, is to give them back some of what they've lost. To provide more spawning grounds, NOAA plans to start transporting migrating adults past Central Valley dams―from the downstream side to the upstream reaches―as is done by wildlife agencies in the states of Washington and Oregon.

Restoration of degraded spawning grounds below dams will also be critical to their recovery. While most salmon return to their natal waters to spawn, a few stray in search of new homes. This penchant for exploration allows them to revisit waterways where they had previously been extinct for decades. Recent restoration efforts are starting to pay off: After an absence of 70 years, Chinook now return by the hundreds to spawn in Putah Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River. Likewise, for the first time in more than half a century, a couple dozen Chinook have found their way back to historical spawning grounds in the San Joaquin River, which flows from the Sierra Nevada to the Delta.
Restoring floodplain nurseries is a harder problem to solve, since this habitat has been more dramatically altered and requires changes on a much larger scale. Repurposing rice fields in the off-season may be a big part of the answer, and NOAA is supportive of the effort. "We're pushing to make that happen,” Ellrott says. “Salmon are really resilient―I'm optimistic that if we give them the right nudge, we can restore them in the valley."
Restorationists have good reason to think that prime nursery grounds are vital to the long-term survival of the region’s salmon. The most robust population of spring-run Chinook originates in Butte Creek, which runs along a wildlife refuge that contains some of the valley's few remaining floodplains. The Butte Creek salmon population is wild-spawning and self-sustaining. "It's the one successful population of spring-run salmon," Jeffres says. Young salmon here are more likely to make it out to sea, and the adults more likely to return and spawn.

A probable reason for Butte Creek’s success is that it gives Chinook a place to grow and thrive. The creek’s young fish are larger than those elsewhere in the valley, and being bigger presumably boosts survival. "It makes the salmon more resilient," Katz says, just like packing lunch before a long trip. 
“Fish abundance equals water security. It doesn't have to be fish versus farms―it can be fishand farms.”
— Jacob Katz, fish ecologist
Before researchers understood the value of floodplains, they considered them risky for fish. "Wildlife biologists thought floodplains were bad for salmon because they stranded them, and that levees were good for salmon because they kept them in the river," Moyle says. "It was pretty much unquestioned."

It’s only in the last two decades that this conventional wisdom has been overturned. The first evidence came from scientists looking at the fate of young salmon in the Yolo Bypass. Built to contain a floodplain of the Sacramento River, the Bypass is an enormous flood control structure—about 40 miles long and two miles wide—that shunts water from the Sacramento River around the City of Sacramento. It’s bounded on either side by colossal, earthen levees that are more than 20 feet high and wide enough to drive on. When the river runs high, it overtops a weir at the north end of the levees. Water spills down inside the bypass, flooding it, then rejoins the river at the south end of the levees.
The Yolo Bypass only fills during the winter, and, when it does, some of the young salmon migrating downstream come along for the ride. During particularly wet winters, the bypass is so full it looks like an inland sea. "The floodplains are still there," Katz says. "They're just used differently, as bypasses." A 1998 study concluded that salmon swept into the bypass grew faster than those that remained in the river.

Jeffres got similar results when he looked at fish in the Cosumnes, one of the state's rare, free-flowing rivers that still has remnants of natural floodplains. In 2004, he found that young salmon in a floodplain grew faster than those in the Cosumnes River itself.
In 2009, the California Department of Water Resources decided to give salmon about 20,000 acres of floodplain habitat―one-third of the total acreage―in the Yolo Bypass. Most of the land there is privately owned and farmed for rice during the summer growing season. That decision caught the attention of rice farmer John Brennan, who wanted to keep fields in production in the Yolo Bypass.

Water is in short supply during the hot, dry Central Valley summers, especially during the state's periodic severe droughts. Historically, the fight over this constrained resource has pitted growers against environmental laws that require allocating water for endangered fish like Chinook. Rather than playing this zero-sum game, Brennan has been looking for ways to integrate conservation with agriculture. "If you're in the rice business, you're in the water business―and if you're in the water business, you're in the fish business," he says.

Katz puts it this way: "Fish abundance equals water security. It doesn't have to be fish versus farms―it can be fish and farms."
In 2010, Brennan joined forces with two environmentalists to see if rice fields in the bypass could be used as salmon nurseries during the winter, when the fields are dormant and fish are migrating downstream. After scouting the Yolo Bypass for available properties, Brennan and his partners settled on the rice fields of Knaggs Ranch as a chance to put their plan into practice. They bought the ranch and assembled a research team, starting with Jacob Katz since his father is one of Brennan's partners. Katz invited Jeffres to join him, and the pair has collaborated ever since.

In the winter of 2012, the researchers flooded a five-acre corner of the ranch and released 10,000 young hatchery salmon in the fallow field. "When we first started, lots of farmers laughed and said it was the stupidest thing they'd ever heard,'" Jeffres says. He and Katz had their doubts, too. "It didn't look like fish habitat," Jeffres says, pointing across the ranch to their original test site. Flat brown fields stretch in all directions, and tidy mud berms divide the land into a patchwork of close-packed rice paddies. "We thought it might be the dumbest thing we'd ever done."
They worried they’d end up with a field full of dead fish. They weren't concerned about residual pesticides, which are applied months earlier and break down relatively quickly in the environment, but they fretted about a host of other potential pitfalls. They thought the stagnant, shallow water in the field might get too warm for fish or make them easy prey for hungry birds. And they didn’t know whether the decomposition of rice stubble, which is left on the fields after the fall harvest, would deplete oxygen levels in the water.

At first the researchers couldn’t tell whether anything was happening. "Out in the fields in mid-winter it looks like a mud puddle. We couldn't see the fish," Katz says. "Then we ran a net through the water and caught fish with little potbellies. It was amazing."

Their rice-field test subjects did far more than survive. They thrived, growing five-fold―from 1 gram to more than 5―in just six weeks. "They grew at the highest rates recorded in the Central Valley," Jeffres says.

Ultimately, the scientists envision that the young salmon, instead of being introduced into rice fields by humans, will leave their natal waters and migrate downstream and into the bypass on their own. To make that journey possible even if the weir hasn’t overflowed, the California Department of Water Resources wants to add gates that can be opened to let salmon swim in and out of the rice fields on their way to the ocean.

While there are still some barriers left to remove, the possibility of wild-spawning, self-sustaining Chinook runs raised on rice farms is no longer just a pipe dream. In the years since they launched their pilot project, Jeffres and Katz have expanded their effort to encompass 20 acres and 50,000 fish, proving that it can work on a real-world scale. They have also found that, on average, salmon reared in these rice-field nurseries weigh 12 times more than those that grow up in the Sacramento River. The reason for this, Jeffres says, is that there's so much more for them to eat.
Back at Knaggs Ranch, Jeffres wants to know just how much more food the rice fields contain. He casts a long, white net across the shallow water of a rice field then draws it back carefully, keeping clear of the mud. Katz tips the contents into a plastic bag and lifts it high so they can both see.

"Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy moly!" Katz exclaims. "I am totally astonished."

Jeffres is equally jazzed. "That's insane!"

Inside the plastic bag, tiny freshwater crustaceans―or “bugs,” as the researchers call them―dart back and forth in constant motion. The water is so thick with them that it looks like a whirling cloud of pink.

These small crustaceans are the perfect food for young fish, and this haul is the best Katz and Jeffres have ever seen. Most of the bugs they netted belong to the genus Daphnia, often dubbed water fleas for the way they swim in short hops. They’re here in such abundance because they thrive in shallow, algae-rich waters, from puddles to flooded fields to floodplains. "It's magic when water slows down and spreads across a floodplain," Katz says. "It's liquid protein."

Pickings are far slimmer in rivers. Katz holds up another bag, this one netted about an hour earlier from the Sacramento River. Just a few crustaceans scoot around inside it. "There's basically nothing here," he says. "By building levees, we've created rivers that are essentially food deserts."
The Sacramento River has several flood control bypasses, and Katz estimates that, altogether, they contain up to 150,000 acres of rice fields that could be used as bug-rich salmon nurseries. Another 500,000 acres of rice farms lie along the Sacramento River but outside bypasses―and he thinks they may be able to help salmon, too.

One of these is River Garden Farms, which lies a short stretch upriver from Knaggs Ranch and is managed by Roger Cornwell. Like Brennan, Cornwell wondered if his fields could benefit salmon, despite the fact that the land is not in a bypass. "I met Jacob Katz and started talking to him about what we could do," he says. Katz proposed another wild idea, one that could solve the food-desert problem: bug farming.

They wanted to know, Jeffres says, "If we can't bring the fish to the floodplain, can we bring the floodplain to the fish?"

River Garden Farms is separated from the Sacramento River by a levee, atop which sits the Rough and Ready Pumping Plant, which was installed in 1915 to irrigate fields. The plant houses five glossy, black, massive pumps—each about six feet tall—which fill the pump house with a low roar. This past winter, the team took advantage of the setup and flooded a fallow rice field to raise bugs, then pumped the food-rich water into the Sacramento River to feed young fish as they swam through.

To test whether the bugs would reach their intended recipients, the researchers placed cages of young salmon at intervals along a mile or so of the river. The Rough and Ready pumps delivered bugs starting in late February, and Jacob Montgomery and Jennifer Kronk of California Trout took weekly measurements of the caged fish. By late March, when we visit, all the bugs have been pumped off the field. The field crew pulls on their waders and heads out to the river to see if the experiment worked.
They start at a site upstream of the pumping plant, where the caged fish didn't get any field-raised bugs. Montgomery and Kronk wrestle a cage to the river's muddy bank. Montgomery hefts the cage above the water, revealing young salmon that flash silver as they flip back and forth in distress. The team works fast so as to get the fish back to the river as soon as possible. Montgomery places each fish in a tray with a ruler, splashing it with water to keep it calm and still, and calls out the length for Kronk to record. Then he passes it to her for weighing. When the measuring is done, he estimates that the upstream fish averaged about 55 millimeters long and weighed around 2 grams.

Moving downstream to the next site, Kronk scoops up a fish collected right by the pump outfall. This site got the most bugs delivered from the rice field―if the experiment works, they'll see it here.

"Oh, he's fat," Kronk says.

She lays it in the measuring tray. It’s 65 millimeters and 2.5 grams, considerably bigger than the upstream average. The next fish is even fatter, at 66 mm and just over 3 g, and the one after that is fatter still, at 71 mm and 4 g.

"Wow, look at these guys. They're doing great," Montgomery says.

Although supplying bugs to fish in a free-flowing river doesn’t guarantee delivery, a system that monitors migrating salmon is already in place―so the researchers will know when to expect the fish and can serve them food from the fields at just the right time. "We can pump bugs into the river when fish are passing by," Katz says. By spring, the salmon will have completed their journey, and the rice fields will be drained and ready for planting.
Fish biologists have long assumed that the larger young salmon are when they navigate the Delta, the faster they can swim and the better their chances of survival. "It's a really dangerous place," Trout Unlimited's Rene Henery says. "There are lots of introduced predatory fish." To date, however, there is no direct evidence that size is important to survival.

"In the fish world, we say bigger fish are more likely to make it to the ocean. But no one has actually looked at survival," says Rachelle Tallman, a graduate student in fish ecology at UC Davis. Tallman is now heading up a project to do just that.

The project is part of an effort by the California Rice Commission to incentivize farmers to manage their rice fields in a way that benefits local wildlife. Paul Buttner, who manages environmental affairs for the commission, currently pays farmers to flood their fields for water birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. He hopes to launch a similar program for salmon that would compensate farmers for creating floodplain nurseries for young, migrating fish. But first he needs solid proof that it works.

"How many salmon from fields survive and go out the Golden Gate?" Buttner asks. "More than those that grow up in the river?"

While the Rough and Ready plant was pumping bugs into the Sacramento River, Tallman was setting up a different experiment to assess how size affects a salmon’s success. She reared two sets of young salmon: some in a laboratory tank and others in rice fields in the Yolo Bypass. Now, on a warm April day near the edge of the bypass, she’s pulling fish from the rice fields and equipping them with acoustic tags so she can compare survival rates as they swim out to, and beyond, the Golden Gate.
Tallman stands at a fish-surgery station sheltered by a white tent. As she slips a young salmon into a bucket of anesthetic, she alerts her team that a surgery is in progress. “Dope!” she calls out. A minute later the fish has stopped wriggling and Tallman springs into action. In rapid succession, she weighs it, measures it, and places it on a foam block. Cool water streams across the fish, which lies motionless apart from flapping gills.

Surgical scissors in hand, Tallman cuts a small opening in its belly and pushes a centimeter-long tag inside. She closes the wound with a single stitch and knots both ends. "Fish out of surgery," she calls. A crew member collects the salmon and puts it in a recovery bucket. The whole operation, including anesthesia, takes just two minutes. Then Tallman picks up another fish and starts the process anew. “Dope!” she says. 
Back at the lab, another crew tags tank-reared fish. Collectively, the team tags more than 750 salmon.

A day after the surgeries, Tallman releases her tagged salmon into the wild, sending some into the Sacramento River and some into the Yolo Bypass, which drains into the Sacramento. About 200 underwater acoustic receivers will track their progress.

By early May, the first tagged fish have navigated the perils of the Delta. Now, they must traverse the San Francisco Bay—a huge body of water that covers more than 500 square miles. But this part of their journey is less risky. Once they've gotten this far, most young salmon readily find their way across the Bay and swim through its narrow opening beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, out into the Pacific Ocean. It will likely be December before Tallman can crunch all the data and tell Buttner whether—and how much—the rice field nurseries boost survival rates for the salmon. While the final verdict is still out, Buttner says they're all hoping for a nice Christmas present.

The fish in Tallman’s study that do make it to the Pacific and survive in the open ocean will eventually attempt to return as adults to spawn in the Central Valley's extensive but highly altered river system. It’s a journey the scientists hope will become at least slightly less challenging in the years to come. "We're not going to get back what we once had,” Jeffres says. “But we can mimic it." He and Katz envision waterways that are managed for flood control and farming but also for Chinook survival, ones with rice-field nurseries and bug farms to help restore self-sustaining salmon populations.

"It's about welcoming the wild back into human landscapes in a way that makes sense," Katz says. "We're reimagining the system to work with nature." 

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Robin Meadows is a science journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recent stories have taken her to former commercial salt ponds in the San Francisco Bay, homeless encampments along creeks, and a Superfund Site on tribal land. She is the water reporter for the Bay Area Monitor, and her work has also appeared in Audubon, Conservation, High Country News, Nature, and others.

Exports up 22.92pc to Rs2.86 trillion in 11 months

Updated On 27 June,2019 04:38 pm
Exports during May 2019 increased by 3.64 percent when compared to exports of Rs295,541m in April 19
ISLAMABAD (APP) – Exports from Pakistan in rupee term increased by 22.92 percent during July-May (2018-2019) compared to the corresponding period of last year.
The exports from Pakistan during the period under review were recorded at Rs2,865,543 million compared to the exports of Rs2,331,258 million during the first eleven months of the last fiscal year (2017-18), according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
On Year-on-year basis, the exports from Pakistan during May, 2019 increased by 24.06 per cent when compared to the exports of the same month of last fiscal year. The exports during May 2019 amounted to Rs306,303 million Rs246,907 million during May, 2018.
On month-on-month basis, the exports during May 2019 increased by 3.64 percent when compared to the exports of Rs295,541 million in April, 2019, the data revealed.
The main commodities of exports during May,2019 were Knitwear (Rs39,914 million), readymade garments (Rs36,862 million), bed wear (Rs27,440 million), cotton cloth (Rs24,376 million), rice others (Rs20,495 million), cotton yarn (Rs15,552 million), rice Basmati (Rs.12,021 million), towels (Rs.10,570 million), fish & fish preparations (Rs.8,462million) and made-up articles (excl. towels & bed wear) (Rs.8,459 million).
On the other hand, Imports during July-May, 2018 - 2019 totaled Rs. 6,776,616 million as against Rs6,022,785 million during the corresponding period of last year, showing an increase of 12.52%.
The imports into Pakistan during May, 2019 amounted to Rs734,578 million as against Rs670,895 million in April, 2019 and Rs667,562 million during May, 2018 showing an increase of 9.49% over April, 2019 and by 10.04% over May,2018.
The main commodities of imports during May,2019 were petroleum products (Rs.73,301 million), aircrafts, ships and boats (Rs64,499 million), petroleum crude (Rs55,264 million), natural gas, liquified (Rs49,003 million), plastic materials(Rs31,362 million), iron & steel (Rs28,819 million), palm oil (Rs24,287 million), electrical machinery and apparatus (Rs21,726 million), power generating machinery (Rs21,025 million) and iron and steel scrap (Rs17,489 million).
Exports surge 22.9pc to Rs2.86tr in 11 months
June 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Exports from Pakistan, in terms of rupees, increased by 22.92 per cent during July-May 2018-2019, compared with the corresponding period of last year.
The exports from Pakistan during the period under review were recorded at Rs2.86 trillion as compared to the exports of Rs2.33 trillion during the first eleven months of the last fiscal year (2017-18), according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
On a year-on-year basis, the exports from Pakistan during May 2019 increased by 24.06 per cent when compared to the exports of the same month of last fiscal year. The exports during May 2019 amounted to Rs306,303 million as against Rs246,907 million in May 2018.
On a month-on-month basis, the exports during May 2019 increased by 3.64pc when compared to the exports of Rs295,541 million in April 2019.
The main commodities of exports during the month under review were knitwear (Rs39,914 million), readymade garments (Rs36,862 million), bedwear (Rs27,440 million), cotton cloth (Rs24,376 million), rice (Rs20,495 million), cotton yarn (Rs15,552 million), basmati rice (Rs12,021 million), towels (Rs10,570 million), fish & fish preparations (Rs8,462 million) and made-up articles (Rs8,459 million).
China, Africa sign rice industry initiative
By Yang Kunyi and Feng Qingyin in Changsha Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/28 22:42:37Description:

Photo taken on April 4, 2018 shows the Wanbao rice farm project located in southern Mozambique's Xai-Xai district. (Xinhua/Nie Zuguo)

African countries are willing to learn more Chinese agricultural technologies, especially in rice industry, to tackle food security issue in the continent.

Salifou Ouedraogo, Burkina Faso minister for Agriculture and Hydro-Agricultural Developments, told the Global Times on Friday that China has been a great support in providing technology and preferential trade policies in the agricultural sector.

"We are especially keen on learning from China's high-end technologies to help our agriculture," Ouedarogo said. "With the help of drones and other monitoring technologies, our farmers can get to know exactly when and how much water is needed for their crops."

In 2018, China also signed a tariff agreement with Burkina Faso, which exempts tariffs on 97 percent of the country's exports to China.

"We are very grateful for the preferential policy," Quedraogo said. "Our farmers and manufacturers are very motivated and excited to know their products will have a market of over 1.4 billion people."

Ouedraogo, along with some 10,000 guests and traders, including those from 53 African countries, is attending the three-day first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province.

During the expo, the Joint Initiative on Strengthening South-South and Triangular Cooperation in China-Africa Rice Value Chain, proposed by seven organizations, including the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center and the African Union, was released on Thursday.

According to the joint initiative, African countries and China, along with partners of the initiative, will review China's technologies in the rice industry, and carry out experimental plants to localize China's aided agricultural technology.

Nick Austin, Director of Agriculture Development of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is also a partner of the joint initiative, told the Global Times that China has been contributing in many ways to help Africa solve its food security problem.

"We are not just looking to move the technology to Africa and expect it to solve the problem," Austin said, "we are trying to find new varieties of crops and technology that can adjust to the local conditions and environment."

Food security has long been a challenge faced by the continent. A UN report said that by 2050, 70 percent more food is needed to feed the global population. The Food and Agriculture Organization said out of the 86 countries that are food deficient, 43 are in Africa.

China has been working to provide new varieties and technology in agriculture to African countries since 2006, and, so far, the efforts have started to bear fruit. In Madagascar, a hybrid crop variety developed by Chinese scientists has a yield of 10.8 tons per hectare, far exceeding the yield of local crops by an average of 3 tons, China Central Television reported on Friday.

Chinese experts and technicians have carried out more than 300 small-scale projects in nine African countries, promoted 450 agricultural technologies, and trained nearly 30,000 local farmers and technicians, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Crop planting slows in India on weak monsoon rains
JUNE 28, 2019 / 8:35 PM
A man rows his boat in the tributary waters of Vembanad Lake against the backdrop of pre-monsoon clouds on the outskirts of Kochi, India, June 7, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian farmers have planted 14.7 million hectares with summer-sown crops, down almost 10% from the previous year, the farm ministry’s data showed on Friday, as weak monsoon rains delayed sowing in most parts of the country.
The area planted with cotton was at 2.7 million hectares versus 3.2 million hectares the prior year.Planting of rice, the key summer crop, was little changed at 2.7 million hectares. Corn planting was 1.1 million hectares against 1.2 million hectares.Other crop plantings such as pulses, sugar cane and oilseeds like soybean were also down versus last year.
Farmers start planting their summer-sown crops from June 1, when monsoon rains are expected to reach India, where nearly half of farmlands lack irrigation.The figures are provisional and subject to revision as updates arrive with the progress of the June-September monsoon season.
Monsoon rains were below average for the fourth straight week, with rainfall scanty over central and western parts of the country, raising concerns about major crop production and the impact on the nation’s economy.Water levels in India’s main reservoirs were at 16% of their storage capacity in the week to June 27 against 18% a year earlier, according to the latest government data.Latest reservoir levels are lower than the last 10 years’ average of 19%.
Vietnam's H1 coffee exports fall 10.6%, rice down 2.9%
JUNE 28, 2019 / 7:48 AM
HANOI, June 28 (Reuters) - Vietnam’s coffee exports in the first half of this year are expected to fall 10.6% from a year earlier to 928,000 tonnes, while rice exports will likely decline 2.9%, government data released on Friday showed.

Coffee exports from Vietnam will likely fall an estimated 10.6% in the first half of this year from a year earlier to 928,000 tonnes, equal to 15.47 million 60-kg bags, the General Statistics Office said in a report on Friday.

Coffee export revenue for Vietnam, the world’s biggest producer of the robusta bean, will likely decline 21.1% to $1.58 billion in the six-month period, the report said.

The country’s coffee shipments in June are estimated at 150,000 tonnes valued at $250 million, it said.

Rice exports in the first half of this year from Vietnam were forecast to fall 2.9% from a year earlier to 3.38 million tonnes.

Revenue from rice exports in the period was expected to drop 17.6% to $1.46 billion.

June rice exports from Vietnam, the world’s third-largest shipper of the grain, totalled 620,000 tonnes, worth $272 million

Vietnam’s first-half crude oil exports were seen rising 6.4% from the same period last year to an estimated 2 million tonnes.

Crude oil export revenue in January to June is expected to fall 1.7% to $1.03 billion.

Oil product imports in the first half were estimated at 4.56 million tonnes, falling 35.4% from the same period last year, while the value of product imports fell 39.7% to $2.82 billion .

Vietnam’s January-June liquefied petroleum gas imports were seen rising 9.4% from a year earlier to 805,000 tonnes. (Reporting by Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen; editing by Richard Pullin)

Cheaper rice, fuel to cap June inflation, says BSP
By: Daxim L. Lucas - Reporter / @daxinq
Inquirer Business / 05:01 PM June 28, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — Prices of consumer goods and services are expected to have risen between 2.2-3 percent in June – lower than the previous month’s faster pace – due to the combined effects of lower rice and petroleum prices, central bank economists said Friday.
The Department of Economic Research of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said in a statement that the June inflation rate, which follows the 3.2-percent pace of price increases in May, could also be restrained by a downward adjustment in electricity rates.
At the same time, domestic prices of basic goods and services are also expected to feel the benefits of a strong peso, which makes imported raw materials denominated in foreign currencies cheaper to buy, the central bank’s economists said.
The expected June inflation range is lower than BSP’s forecast of 2.8-3.6 for May, which preceded the government’s official announcement of a slightly faster inflation rate a few days later.
If confirmed, the benign price regime being expected for this month will allow BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno to resume the monetary easing that was put on hold last week after the surprise uptick in the inflation rate.
This latest forecast jibes with an earlier statement made by outgoing Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo who said the monetary regulator was expecting inflation rate for 2019 to come in at an average of 2.7 percent, revising the 2.9 percent forecast set just last month.
The forecast for the range of increase of prices of basic goods and services for 2020 was also cut slightly to 3 percent, from the previous expectation of a 3.1-percent average.
Meanwhile, banks’ reserve requirement ratio – currently the highest level in the region – is in the middle of a staggered process of being lowered from May to July to 16 percent from 18 percent.
BSP’s overnight borrowing rate, which influences the prices that banks charge on their retail and wholesale loans, was cut in early May by 25 basis points to 4.5 percent. The country’s monetary policy direction was reversed that month after being tightened by 175 basis points last year to fight off inflation.
“Going forward, the BSP will remain watchful of the evolving inflation environment to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with the [central bank’s] price stability mandate,” the economists said.
The Philippine Statistics Authority is scheduled to release the inflation data for June on July 5, Friday.

S. Korea completes administrative procedures for planned food aid to N.K.
All Headlines 11:32 June 28, 2019
By Koh Byung-joon
SEOUL, June 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea completed administrative procedures necessary to carry out its decision to send 50,000 tons of rice in aid to North Korea via a U.N. agency, the unification ministry said Friday.
Last week, the ministry unveiled the food aid plan, saying it will deliver domestically harvested rice to the North through the World Food Programme (WFP) to help the impoverished state address its worsening food shortages.
After a weeklong review, a government-civilian panel endorsed the plan, the ministry said.
By law, all important government decisions on inter-Korean exchanges are supposed to be reviewed and approved by the panel, the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council, before implementation.
The approval allows the ministry to tap into a state fund and spend about 27.3 billion won (US$23.6 million) to mostly secure rice. Some $12 million will also be set aside to help the WFP's delivery and distribution of the rice in the North.
Separately, the government needs 99.2 billion won more to help cover expenses from purchasing, processing and packaging the rice, a necessary process before the aid is handed over to the WFP, the ministry said.
Details such as how and when the rice will be delivered to the North need to be worked out through discussions with the WFP, the ministry said. Many expect that it will be delivered by ship given the amount of rice and the ministry said that it is aiming to send the aid to the North before the end of September.
It marks the first time for South Korea to provide rice to North Korea since 2010, when it sent 5,000 tons to support its efforts to recover from flood damage. It will also be the first time Seoul has sent locally harvested rice to the North through an international agency.
North Korea is reportedly facing worsening food shortages apparently caused by crushing global sanctions and years of unfavorable weather conditions. Observers say that an ongoing drought in many parts of North Korea could make things worse for its already strained food supply conditions.
Earlier this month, Seoul donated $8 million to the WFP and the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) for their projects in North Korea to support the nutrition of children and pregnant women, and address their health problems. The ministry is considering making an additional donation to such global agencies.
Critics objected to Seoul's push for food assistance to North Korea, citing the communist state's short-range missile tests in May.
The South Korean government said politics should not play a role in dealing with such humanitarian issues and expects such food assistance could boost the cross-border reconciliatory mood and help advance inter-Korean relations, which have been in limbo apparently affected by a lack of progress in denuclearization talks.
A total of 5,000 tons of rice is shipped in the South Korean port of Gunsan on Oct. 22, 2010, for delivery to the North Korean city of Sinuiju, hit hard by downpours in August. (Yonhap)
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Japan, U.S. agree to accelerate trade talks from July
Tetsushi Kajimoto
JUNE 28, 2019
OSAKA (Reuters) - Japan and the United States agreed on Friday to hold working-level meetings intensively from early next month to accelerate progress towards a two-way trade agreement, Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said.

Japan's Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during the signing agreement ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, in Santiago, Chile March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido.

The agreement between Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer comes after a meeting of the world’s largest and third biggest economies on the sidelines of a G20 summit of world leaders in Osaka, with trade issues high on the agenda.The two leaders agreed to accelerate trade talks and had agreed the alliance was stronger than ever, a Japanese government official told reporters.

The prospects for a two-way deal raise fears that Japan may cave into pressure from the United States to open up its highly protected agriculture markets, such as beef and rice.“We share understanding of each other’s thinking and stance and where our gap lies. Based on that, we are discussing ways to narrow our differences,” Motegi told reporters, without elaborating.

The two sides confirmed the outcome of working-level meetings during the last two weeks focusing on agriculture and industrial goods. They did not discuss the timing for conclusion of a deal, Motegi added.

Analysts widely expect the two sides will be unlikely to strike a deal at least until after Japan’s upper house election next month, since farmers are a key pillar of support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to resolve what he calls unfair trade imbalances with trading partners, under his “America First” protectionism agenda.

To achieve this, Trump has also threatened to slap higher tariffs on car imports, including those from Japan, which he said could threaten the U.S. national security.China and the United States are locked in a trade dispute and expectations have dimmed that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping can ease tension when they meet on Saturday in the western Japanese city.