Thursday, July 04, 2019

4th July,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

First Sale of U.S. Rice to China 

GUANGZHOU, CHINA - After decades chasing the enormous China market, a sale of U.S. rice was confirmed here last week.
"This sale marks a turning point for the U.S. rice industry and its relationship with China as the it is the first ever of U.S. rice to a private importer and is truly historic as it sets the stage for continued regular trade with China for U.S. grown rice." said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  

The deal occurred on the margins of the first U.S. rice trade seminar in China that was conducted with funds from the new U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program.  Five U.S. companies had the opportunity to meet with 15 of China's top rice importers who expressed a great deal of interest in U.S. rice.

"Fifteen years of patience and hard work have paid off," said Ken LaGrande, founder of LaGrande Family Foods Group and CEO of Sun Valley Rice, the company that made the sale.  "It is truly an honor and a privilege to blaze this trail of trading history - American rice in China.  Our team has worked with incredible tenacity and diligence to reach this point." 

"It has been a long journey," agreed Steve Vargas, senior vice president of global rice trading for Sun Valley Rice and vice chair of the USA Rice International Promotion Committee.  "It has taken a great deal of effort on the part of Sun Valley Rice, as well as the USA Rice Federation, to gain access to the Chinese market." 

Making the pitch
During the seminar, USA Rice was formally introduced by USDA's Minister-Counselor Bobby Richey, and Jim Guinn, USA Rice director of Asia promotion programs, and the five USA Rice members discussed their capabilities to service the Chinese market.  This was followed by a "speed dating" event, where importers met one-on-one for 15 minutes with each of the represented exporters before attending a closing dinner with nearly 50 Chinese importers.  

USA Rice conducted this seminar during the World Rice Summit trade show where a booth showcased cooked samples of five different types of U.S. rice:  long grain, Koshihikari, Calhikari, Calrose, and sweet rice.  Additionally, each of the five U.S. exporters had their own station to meet with interested importers. 

USA Rice will hold two additional trade seminars this year, on August 2 and August 5, in Shanghai and Shenzhen, respectively, and interested exporters are encouraged to contact Guinn about participating. 

Samples of U.S. rice entice prospective importers

Neem chemical can disable cotton pest in multiple ways: Study
Research on cotton bollworm reveals that the phytotoxin acts in multiple ways to suppress growth of the pest

Last Updated: Tuesday 02 July 2019
The neem plant, Azadirachta indica, is known to contain a potent phytochemical Azadirachtin-A (Aza-A) that can ward off several pests. Scientists from India and Germany have now deciphered the mechanism by which Aza-A does this. Their research on cotton bollworm reveals that the phytotoxin acts in multiple ways to suppress growth of the pest.
Cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera) is a dreaded pest attacking several crops of economic value and has become resistant to most insecticides in use.
Unlike synthetic pesticides which target a single protein, Aza-A aims several proteins in pests. This, in turn, triggers actions that change their feeding habits and metabolism, thereby arresting their growth.
Two sets of the insect larvae were reared — one fed on a diet with Aza-A and the other without it. Aza-A was extracted from neem fruits. By using a technique called MALDI-TOF Imaging, researchers examined the distribution of Aza-A in the larvae of the pest. 
“It revealed that the neem extract vigorously attacked the worm’s key enzyme JHE (Juvenile Hormone Esterase), which is involved in metabolism and its growth. The presence of the phytotoxin made worms engage in the detoxification process, changing the way they used their energy, which, in turn, affects their metabolism, feeding habits and growth,” explained Vishal Dawkar, lead researcher, while speaking to India Science Wire.
Even a small amount of Aza-A could alter primary metabolism in the insect. Metabolomics analysis performed on the larvae showed that the worms underwent various changes in response to the toxin. In some, the moulting phase was arrested, while in others, there was stunted growth. The whole larvae burst upon ingesting Aza-A diet in some cases.
This suggested that Aza-A could have several targets for its toxic mode of action. Aza-A metabolites produced in H. armigera could also inhibit the activity of vital enzymes. In all, over 35 such metabolites have been identified. “Aza-A has a complex structure, and it has taken several years to understand it. Owing to this complexity, it cannot be synthesised in the laboratory. However, the metabolites can be. By exploiting this, we can develop broad-spectrum bioinsecticides,” said the scientist.
The team included Vishal V Dawkar, Ranjit S Barbole, Vidya S Gupta, Saikat Haldar, Hirekodathakallu V. Thulasiram and Ashok P Giri (National Chemical Laboratory, Pune);  Sagar H Barage (Savitribai Phule Pune University); Amol Fatangare, Susana Grimalt and Aleš Svatoš (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology). The study results are published in the journal  ACS Omega(India Science Wire)

The future for food

 Published at 12:04 am July 4th, 2019
Description: Food, vegetables, lentils

Is a crisis of greens and proteins imminent?
According to estimates, the world’s population will hit 10 billion by the year 2050. Along with the challenges of housing, sanitation, and social services comes the all-important one of food for hungry mouths. 
Tucked away in little laboratories, scientists are already at work trying to figure out not just what food can be made available but also where these can be grown. 
Growing industrialization, clearing forests for accommodation, and the devastating impact of climate change are coming in the way. 
By now the war on organic food is all but lost and genetically modified food with all of its risks looms large. Genetically modified (GM) food has already been proven to be short on natural nutrients and long on harmful additives, and it is this that foxes scientists. 
The other battle being lost to lifestyle choices is the fast diminishing rainforests, much of which create the basic order of nature’s sustainability.
Heatwaves, seasonal forest fires, and unseasonal storms and typhoons are indicative of the harm that we are committing to nature.
The demands for natural protein are creating pressure on artificial insemination of cattle and poultry so much so that there’s further pressure on natural greenery.
This has given rise to the previously unheard of consumption of insects as forms of protein instead of cattle.
It will take time for palates to develop before such insects become part of a healthy diet but are already in vogue in parts of Asia and Africa. This is gradually moving to the West in fried form topped up with sauces and cream.
With multiple cropping already pressurizing the ability of soil to refresh itself till the monsoon rain and floods create natural rejuvenation, it has become a must to prevent urban residential areas from being developed in an unplanned manner thereby reducing natural cropland. 
The prime minister has already sounded a warning on this score, but until concrete steps are taken, cropland will continue to recede in the face of more homes that are required. 
The worrying aspect is that building construction is extending to rural areas as hapless farmers don’t find decent prices for their crops. One example has been the bumper production of rice at ridiculous prices that caused protests through the burning of crops. 
The government responded by slapping import tariffs on rice, except that it was on the superior quality product rather than the usually consumed mid and lower quality rice. 
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has done some sterling work in coming up with hybrid varieties, but these are of lower quality variety. Even the government found it hard to sell course rice at Tk10 per kg, way below production cost, through its open market sale.
It’s time we had our own laboratories incorporated with the IRRI to experiment with green produce and protein varieties before the world starts selling us varieties at a premium.
At the end of the day, it’s business after all. 
Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.

The IT and biological technology link

WEDNESDAY, JULY 3, 2019 18:47Description: We need capacity to engage with respect toWe need capacity to engage with respect to policy and regulatory mechanisms. FILE PHOTO | NMG 
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How do nations create an adaptive management of benefits and risks in the face of rapid technological changes? I had the privilege of being one of the keynote speakers at The Gordon Institute of Business Science and the Georgia Institute of Technology on The Emerging to Converging Technologies Conference in Johannesburg last week. The two-day conference sought to address the above question.
Among the speakers were Kenneth Oye, professor of Political Science and Data Systems & Director Programme on Emerging Technologies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prof Oye dedicated his speech to the late Prof. Calestous Juma, the renowned Kenyan biotechnology expert who they closely worked with in Boston.
His speech, although revealing a wide rift between the scientific needs of the developed world and that of the developing world, had many solutions that could bring great benefit to the southern hemisphere.
While acknowledging that the field of biotechnology is changing fast, he emphasized that DNA sequencing has made it possible to redesign crops and livestock; make new materials; improve health and edit the environment. All these discoveries are possible due to exponential decline in cost of information technology data, growth in data analytics, advances in efficiency and development of gene editing tools.
For example, the editing of genes in goat embryos led to an increased number of second hair follicles and enhanced fiber length necessitating greater productivity of cashmere (Kashmir) wool, a fiber obtained from cashmere goats. The technique can practically be applicable to any other types of goat. NDEMO: We are firmly in 4th Industrial Revolution
Genetic engineering is improving food production especially in salmon that grows to market size within a shorter period (half the time) as conventional Atlantic salmon.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved genetically engineered Salmon for human consumption in 2015.
In crop science, it is now possible to grow salt tolerant crops without losing productivity. What this means is that it is possible to use saline water for irrigation purposes. Some of the arid and semi-arid areas could benefit from this.
In essence it is a major disruption that will make millions of people productive in lands that were basically useless. India has successfully developed a salt tolerant transgenic rice plant rice similar to their IR 64 variety that is commonly used by over-expressing a gene from wild rice.
In healthcare, scientists have managed to genetically modify mosquitos that carry malaria parasites which they transmit through bites, infecting close to a billion people and killing at least 10 percent of the infected annually. Genetic modification of especially crops is expanding especially now when crop productivity is declining while populations rise. Many countries, whether they like it or not, will eventually consume genetically modified foods.
These advances in science are not without risk. There have been cases that have gone wrong especially with rogue researchers. There have been cases where scientists attempted to create a gene-edited baby. In other cases, a gene-edited animal led to the destruction of its immunity. Many researchers, however, are acting responsibly but this is not sufficient.
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) beckons, genetic modification will intensify. Africa’s safeguards will largely depend on the scientific capacities we build.
Even if we don’t close the scientific research gap between the developed and developing countries, we need capacity to engage with respect to policy and regulatory mechanisms.
Some of the discoveries will mean well while others may be damaging. Either way, we need to create a well-informed and adaptive management system of innovations for our benefit as well as the risks ahead of us.
Although Africa holds more than 60 percent of arable land globally, it is a net food importer, thus posing a great risk of importing foods that we have no clue under what conditions they were grown in.

To boost exports, state to tag basmati growers
Jul 3, 2019, 6:51 AM; last updated: Jul 3, 2019, 6:51 AM (IST)
Description: To boost exports, state to tag basmati growers
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, July 2
In its bid to boost quality Basmati exports to the European Union (EU), Western countries and Iraq by making the crop “pesticide free”, the Agriculture Department has initiated an ambitious project to register and tag each of over six lakh Basmati growers of Punjab.
A unique ID would be allotted to every farmer in a phased manner so as to ascertain the origin of pesticide laden Basmati from a particular area or region. The end objective of the mammoth exercise was to not only to enhance the Basmati quality but also to ensure better crop remuneration for the growers.
Basmati growers of the state had earned handsome profits from the non-MSP crop last year when they were able to sell their crop between Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,200 per quintal. The good remuneration had inspired more farmers to go for basmati and as a result, the area under the crop was expected to increase from 5.11 lakh hectares last year to around 7 lakh hectares. Basmati transplantation in Punjab will start from July 15.
Punjab accounted for 50-60 per cent share in basmati exports to the EU, Iraq and a number of Western countries. However, several lots of exports are increasingly being rejected by these countries.
The sole factor was that at times the pesticide residue had surpassed the permissible limit of .01 mg per kilogram.
To curb the phenomenon, the Punjab Rice Millers’ Export Association and the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) have joined hands to deal with the matter.
Ambitious project  
A unique ID would be allotted to every farmer in a phased manner so as to ascertain the origin of pesticide-laden basmati from a particular area or region. The main aim of the exercise is not only to enhance the quality of the rice but also to ensure better crop remuneration for growers.

Trader to get Sh130m as Meru officials escape court's wrath

Description: Meru County Secretary Rufus Miriti (left) with
Meru County Secretary Rufus Miriti (left) with Meru Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu when they appeared before Justice Alfred Mabeya after being summoned for contempt of court charges on July 2, 2019. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

In Summary

·       The judge saved the two from the embarrassment of standing in the dock and allowed them to give explanations just next to where the lawyers sit.
·       The two had been summoned to explain why the govt failed to pay Sh144m to Nice Rice Millers company whose director was beaten up by county officials and his goods destroyed in 2015.
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The High Court on Tuesday dropped contempt of court charges against Meru Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu and County Secretary Rufus Miriti after they explained circumstances that led then to twice skip court proceedings.
Meru Resident Judge Alfred Mabeya, however, warned the officials that the consequences for contempt of court were severe and apply equally everyone.
The judge saved the two from the embarrassment of standing in the dock and allowed them to give explanations just next to where the lawyers sit.
Mr Ntuchiu, who is also the county Finance minister said his failure to attend was not disrespectful but that he was caught up in the budget-making process and had sent the Finance chief officer, who is the accounting officer to represent him.
On the other hand, Mr Miriti said he skipped court because he was indisposed and had an appointment with his doctor.
“The court accepts the explanation and the apology offered. I believe there was no intention to treat the court in contempt. However, I would warn you. You know you are not only senior citizens but also senior officials of this government. You are supposed to lead by example by obeying court process if you want others to obey,” he said.
The two had been summoned to explain why the government had failed to pay Sh144 million compensation to Nice Rice Millers company, whose director Charles Njiru was beaten up by county officials and his goods destroyed in 2015.
On Tuesday, Mr Ntuchiu and Mr Njiru said they had entered a consent where Mr Njiru had agreed to take Sh130 million by end of the year and spare the government any accruing interest.
However, Mr Ntuchiu said they would have to request the county assembly for a supplementary budget in order to offset the debt.

At the mercy of smugglers

 by Editorial

Description: ‘Nigeria overtakes Egypt as largest rice producer in Africa’

•Sad, bad. Local rice producers take their destiny in their hands; plan price cut
The cost of 50kg of locally produced rice which currently sells at N13,500 to N15,000 is about to go further down to N10,000 if the plan of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RFAN) and Rice Producers Association of Nigeria (RPAN) becomes a reality before Christmas. According to the leaders of RIFAN and RIPAN, the plan derives from a decision by rice producers to confront smuggling of foreign rice into the country, despite government’s total ban on importation of rice.
The resolution of the rice farmers and millers to get into a price war with distributors of imported rice has several implications. One, the policy will make the price of local rice competitive with that of rice smuggled from India and Thailand through Niger Republic and Republic of Benin. Another likely implication is that rise in the sale of local rice may encourage farmers and millers to produce more and make rice affordable to the average consumer of the product. Production of more rice will not only bring the price of rice down for consumers, it may also stimulate processing of secondary products from raw local rice while adding to jobs in the manufacturing sector as well.
But if the efforts of rice producers to bring price of the produce down is to achieve its goals, governments and their agencies ought to buy into saving the budding agricultural revolution started only four years ago and whose benefits citizens have been seeing in the last two years, especially noticeable fall in the price of rice since the end of 2017.  First, the government should study the policy proposal of RIFAN/RIPAN in respect of giving additional support to rice producers to make their produce competitive through improved technology in the farming and milling of rice.
More important is the need for the Federal Government to fight smuggling with as much energy as it has promised to devote to fighting other political and bureaucratic corruption. It is sad and embarrassing that smuggling of rice into the country, even about two years after the ban on its importation seems to be as efficient as it was before 2015. It is not economically logical that India and Thailand, the two sources of smuggled rice, would be in a position to sell smuggled rice for 40% less than the price of local rice, given higher minimum wage in Thailand and the cost of transporting rice, not to talk of cost of smuggling the commodity into Nigeria.
One form of corruption that the Federal Government must fight with vigour is smuggling. For one reason, an act that has not already taken place can be prevented, and without necessarily getting stuck in court processes. It is a shame on the country’s customs service if enough rice is still being smuggled through the coast and the Sahel. Apart from the urgency to reform the service through deployment of proper technology before smuggled rice reaches Nigeria, it is not only vital for the government to change the culture of the customs as an organisation; it is also crucial for government to improve the character of the men and women admitted to this agency that is vital not only to the country’s economy but also to its security.
Smuggling of rice via two neighbouring countries with historical and cultural ties with Nigeria is an indictment on our customs, which seems unable to check illegal flow of  rice into the country. If Benin and Niger republics are feeding fat on Nigeria through criminal acts, it is a no brainer that this is happening because of the failure of our system of controlling Nigeria’s borders.
Leaving local rice producers at the mercy of smugglers could be a major disincentive to local farmers, because the farmers and millers may find it more difficult to repay their loans or meet other obligations that can sustain local production of more nourishing rice than imported brands not subjected to Nigeria’s quality control. Allowing smuggled rice into the country also threatens the jobs of millions of citizens already engaged in rice production.
We hope the government will rise to the occasion to make our rice farmers reap the fruits of their labour. Failure to make the customs do its part would make a mess of government’s agricultural dreams.

Capacity building programme on scientific cultivation of rice held

A capacity building and input distribution programme on “Scientific cultivation of High yielding varieties of rice, rice bean, blackgram under rainfed condition for doubling farmers’ income under NEH component" was conducted today at KVK Chandel.
The programme was sponsored by ICAR-Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, Ranchi (Jharkhand) and implemented in collaboration with KVK Chandel. The programme was attended by Krishna Kumar, Deputy Commissioner Chandel, Dr Tilak R Sharma, Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, Ranchi (Jharkhand), Dr Vijai Pal Bhadana, Nodal Officer & Pr Scientist (Genetics & Plant Breeding), ICAR-Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, Ranchi (Jharkhand) and Dr IM Singh, Joint Director, ICAR-RC for NEH Region, Manipur Centre as presidium members, said a statement of KVK Chandel.
DC Chandel Krishna Kumar in his speech acknowledged the role of scientists of KVK Chandel and line departments in successful implementation of programmes in the Aspirational District. He encouraged all concerned including the farmers to cooperate in development of the district.
Dr Tilak R Sharma, Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, Ranchi (Jharkhand) highlighted that the programme is being implemented in five hill districts of Manipur, said KVK Chandel.
Dr I M Singh, Joint Director, ICAR-RC for NEH Region, Manipur Centre in his presidential speech shared his gratitude in achieving a milestone during the Krishi Kalyan Abhiyan in the district. Being aspirational district, he requested the farmers to involve keenly in their agricultural activities to uplift their livelihood and the district as a whole.
Dr Vijai Pal Bhadana, Nodal Officer & Pr Scientist (Genetics & Plant Breeding), ICAR-Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, Ranchi (Jharkhand) gave keynote address. Dr Deepak Singh, Sr Scientist & Head, KVK Chandel expressed gratitude to ICAR-IIAB, Ranchi for sponsoring the programme.
In the technical session, S Gunamani Singh, SMS (Plant Breeding), KVK Imphal West spoke on package and practices of rice seed production while Dr N Johnson Singh, SMS (Plant Protection), KVK Churachandpur spoke on Insect pest management on rice, rice bean and rajma. The programme was also attended by Ts Gladney Monsang, District Agriculture Officer, staff of KVK Chandel and farmers from various blocks of the district. Various inputs were also distributed to the farmers, said KVK Chandel.

Uttar Pradesh Scientists Develop Rice Paddy That Survives Vagaries of Weather
·       IANS

·       Jul 2, 2019
Farmers plant paddy saplings. (IANS file photo)
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AYODHYA (IANS) — The Narendra Dev University of Agriculture and Technology in Masaudha in Ayodhya district is bringing good news for farmers in eastern Uttar Pradesh: scientists there have developed varieties of paddy that can be grown in times of floods as well as drought.
This has been done on the initiative of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who has given a special package ‘Centre of Excellence for Rice' to NDUAT.
The Chief Minister has been particularly concerned about the plight of farmers in eastern Uttar Pradesh since most of them suffer huge losses due to unexpected weather conditions.
The scientists are developing new varieties of paddy that can withstand the vagaries of weather and multi-location trials are on. Some paddy varieties are already being cultivated by farmers with good results.
A.K. Singh, assistant professor in the Crop Physiology Department in NDUAT, said that varieties like Suvarna and Samba Masuri can remain submerged in water for up to 12 days. "These varieties will regenerate once the water is drained off," he said.
If an area is facing drought conditions, the new variety NDR 97 is apt for cultivation.
"We have latest varieties like Barani, Susamrat and Saubhagi that rate high on moisture conservation. These varieties ripen within 100 to 120 days, compared to the normal variety that takes about 150 days. Saubhagi is most popular with farmers now," said Singh.
He said that the varieties being developed in NDUAT are also being connected with other locations in the country's rice belt that have different ecosystems.
The Barani deep variety of rice was well suited for rain-fed upland condition of Uttar Pradesh. This rice variety has long cylindrical grains with a good cooking quality. It is also fertilizer responsive as well as resistant to brown spot, bacterial leaf blight and rot.
The scientist said that the NDUAT had been working in close coordination with the International Rice Research Institute in Philippines that has provided the germ plasma for the new varieties.
IIRI in Philippines is the world's biggest rice research center and is located in Laguna.

Scientists discover tiny spider species

A jumping spider Jotus fortiniae is among five new species discovered by scientists in Australia. (AAP)
A Queensland Museum arachnologist has helped identify five new species of tiny Brushed Jumping Spiders the size of a grain of rice.
Description: A new species of jumping spider named Jotus fortiniaeDeep in Germany's Black Forest, arachnologist Barbara Baehr first discovered the fascination with spiders that led her to Australia.
Not so much the big hairy ones, but the tiny little spiders, like five new species of brushed jumping spiders she's found.
Little spiders have more interesting features and characteristics, Dr Baehr told AAP on Tuesday.
With most of Europe's arachnids already identified, she moved to Australia where scientists estimate more than 70 per cent of spiders remain unclassified.
Some 3500 species of Australian spiders have been classified but scientists believe that number will eventually soar past 10,000 species.
Dr Baehr has classified dozens of spiders with the latest being tiny Australian jumping spiders - barely the size of a grain of rice.
Along with colleagues Dr Joseph Schubert from Monash University and Dr Danilo Harms from the University of Hamburg, Dr Baehr has discovered five new species.
"Jumping spiders are among some of the most beautiful spiders in Australia, yet almost nothing is known about their diversity and taxonomic identity," Dr Baehr said.
"These tiny spiders are quick to capture the hearts of the public and naturalists."
Four of the five new species are from Queensland and one is from New South Wales. At only a few millimetres, they can be difficult to spot.
The male brushed jumping spider is known for an elaborate mating dance involving a brush of long and often colourful setae on their legs (like butterflies).
The five are close relatives of the Australian peacock spiders which also perform courtship dances for females.
One spider in particular with its large black eyes like sunglasses and its black and white front legs lead to it being named after late fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld.
The new species are:
* Jotus albimanus - White-handed Brushed Jumping Spider, Found: New England National Park, New South Wales
* Jotus fortiniae , Found: Cape York Peninsula, Quinkan Country, Queensland
* Jotus karllagerfeldi - Karl Lagerfeld's Jumping Spider, Found: Lake Broadwater via Dalby, Queensland
* Jotus moonensis - Mount Moon Brushed Jumping Spider, Found: Mount Moon, Queensland
* Jotus newtoni - Mark Newton's Brushed Jumping Spider, Found: Lake Broadwater via Dalby, Queensland

NARI Trains Scientists On Plant Breeding

Abdoulai G. Dibba
The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), with funding from the EU funded Agriculture project being implemented by FAO in the Gambia, on Monday June 24thcommenced a five-day training for young Gambian scientists on groundnut breeding.
The event which was held at the NARI conference hall, brought together twenty-six participants from NARI, The Gambia College School of Agriculture, the National Seed Secretariat, and the National Coordinating Organization of Farmer Associations in the Gambia (NACOFAG).
The training aims to develop the next generation of home-grown crop and plant breeders to adapt to modern tools for enhancing the precision and efficiency of their breeding programs.
According to the organizers, the objective of the training is to provide participants with the theoretical knowledge on modern plant breeding methods and techniques; that after the course, participants will be able to adopt good principles of breeding methodologies and will improve the quality of their research and enhance their knowledge.
In his statement at the opening, the Director General of NARI Ansumana Jarju, reminded the young research scientists that the training was just the beginning; that they do not have to become professors to be breeders. He said the course will provide a theoretical background on modern breeding methods and techniques including the use of biotechnology, experimental techniques, planning, information management tools and software, to be able to adopt good principles of breeding methodologies and to improve the quality of their research.
The FAO Consultant Moussa Sie, said the course became a requirement because there is no breeder at NARI and the University of the Gambia is not providing such a breeding program.
Sie said the course will combine both theory and practice and will provide opportunity for participants to share experiences with other crop breeders, to enable them have latest updates in areas of relevance in rice breeding and the worldwide exchange of rice genetic resources. Professor Sie said Gambia is a net importer of food and produces only half of its national requirement of staple foods.
“The government’s effort to address the deficit in the agriculture sector has resulted in designing a project which aims to create sustainable production and productivity of crops and livestock, reduce food insecurity and malnutrition, and create the enabling environment for an improved national economy,” he concluded.
NARI’s Crop Research Director Kebba Drammeh, said the institute has been handicapped in the area of research for some time now and the training will assist in the creation of the next generation of researchers. Drammeh continued that for nearly thirty years or more, NARI has been depending on outside expertise for crop plant breeding; that the training is expected to lift the burden of relying on outside breeders when the need arises.
“Our gene bank is dysfunctional. We therefore hope that this training and the continuous support from FAO, will go a long way in assisting us build our Gene Bank once again,” he concludes.
Crop breeding is the art and science of improving important agricultural plants for the benefit of humankind.

Description: Profile ImageHow Plants' Breathing Mechanism Can Help Create Water-Efficient Crops

Researchers at Lancaster University use genetic manipulation techniques to explore plants' stomata further and create water-efficient crops.

Description: Image Credit: Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay
Thanks to a better understanding of the breathing mechanism in plants, researchers can now breed water-efficient crops.
Back in the 19th century, botanists discovered that leaves have pores called stomata. They also noted that these pores contain a complex internal network of air channels.
At the time, the scientists didn’t understand how the air channel functioned to deliver the right amount of carbon dioxide to all the cells in the plant. Now, they do.
Speaking on the project, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Lancaster University, Dr. Marjorie Lundgren said:
“Scientists have suspected for a long time that the development of stomata and the development of air spaces within a leaf are coordinated. However, we weren’t sure which drove the other. So this started as a ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’ question.”
They answered the question. Using genetic manipulation techniques, the researchers at the University of Sheffield were able to explore the nature of stomata further.
The findings in Nature Communications revealed that the more stomata a leaf has, the more airspace it forms. Also, they noted that the movement of CO2 primarily determines the shape and scale of the air channel network through the pores.
This is huge!
The discovery is a massive leap in our understanding of the internal structure of a leaf. Alongside explaining how the stomata work, the study also describes how tissue functions influence the plant’s development.
Dr. Lundgren noted:
“While we show that the development of stomata initiates the expansion of air spaces, we took it one step further to show that the stomata need to be exchanging gases for the air spaces to expand. This paints a much more interesting story, linked to physiology.”
The ramification of this study extends beyond botany into other fields such as evolutionary biology.

Creating Water-Efficient Crops

Findings from the study also revealed that the leaves of wheat plants have fewer air channels and pores. This explains why the plant has densely packed leaves to enable them to grow with less water.
With this new insight, scientists can now alter the internal structure of leaves to breed water-efficient crops like wheat. Other scientists at the Institute of Sustainable Food are already exploring this approach in creating climate-ready rice and wheat.
According to a researcher from the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield, professor Andrew Fleming:
“The fact that humans have already inadvertently influenced the way plants to breathe by breeding wheat that uses less water suggests we could target these air channel networks to develop crops that can survive the more extreme droughts we expect to see with climate breakdown.”

Innovative Way To Monitor Ocean Micro Plastics

July 3, 2019 | 8:39 pm
A Newfoundland-based invention will help to better monitor the amount of micro plastics on the surface of the ocean.
“BabyLegs” is the creation of Dr. Max Liboiron, the Director of Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research at MUN.
It uses baby’s tights, soda pop bottles and other inexpensive materials to trawl for floating micro plastics.
Most marine plastics are smaller than a grain of rice and are ingested by all sorts of marine life, including fish consumed by humans.
Dr. Liboiron is partnering with the Public Lab for Open Technology, which will help to produce BabyLegs kits for distribution to the public.
It will also host sessions on how to use the contraption to collect data that can be shared with scientists.
A scientific research trawl could cost as much as $3500 dollars, while BabyLegs costs around $20 and can be built and used by people without scientific knowledge, but produces similar data.
For more information on the crowdfunded science project:

How USDA climate change denial threatens the South
By Camille GoldmonJuly 3, 2019

The USDA under President Trump and Secretary Sonny Perdue, in photo, is trying to suppress the department's research into global warming's impacts on agriculture. (USDA Photo by Lance Cheung via Wikimedia Commons.)
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has withheld from the public dozens of climate-change related studies conducted by the department's principal research agency, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
That's the finding of a recent Politico investigation, which documented "a persistent pattern in which the Trump administration refused to draw attention to findings that show the potential dangers and consequences of climate change." Though the ARS has reportedly completed at least 45 climate-related studies since Trump took office in 2017, only two have been publicized, Politico found. Both contained findings favorable to the meat industry, which in 2018 alone at the federal level spent over $4 million on lobbying and donated nearly twice as much to Republican candidates as Democratic ones. Reports that conflict with the administration's agenda, such as those pointing to climate change as an agricultural emergency or to industrial agriculture as a high-emissions sector, have been relegated to the sidelines. 
Several of the reports that the administration buried are particularly relevant to the agricultural industry in Southern states, which are especially vulnerable to the higher temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and more frequent and extreme natural disasters wrought by climate change. They include 2017 findings that climate change would increase agricultural pollution and nutrient runoff in the Lower Mississippi River Delta, and 2018 research showing that the Southern Plains area that includes Texas is increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Burying reports that contain inconvenient facts is just one way the Trump administration has made it harder for the South's agricultural sector to grapple with the climate crisis.
ARS spokespeople have maintained that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has never explicitly interfered with the agency or its research partners, but the department's leadership has set a clear agenda. Just days after President Trump took office, USDA employees began receiving emails discouraging the use of the term "climate change" at all. Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, has a history of making statements hostile to climate science. In 2014, for example, he had an essay published in the conservative National Review in which he criticized "liberals" for connecting extreme weather events to climate change — a connection scientists say is real. As recently as last month, Perdue dismissed climate change in a CNN interview, attributing its effects to "weather patterns." 
The USDA appears to have punished its own employees for refusing to toe the party line on climate. The department's Economic Research Service (ERS) has acknowledged that the Earth's temperature is rising as a result of increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. "Climate change will affect crop and livestock yields worldwide," the ERS website states, "which will lead to changes in food and fiber consumption, prices of agricultural commodities, and farm incomes."
In May, Perdue announced that ERS headquarters, along with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), would be relocated from Washington, D.C., to the Kansas City area, a move that some saw as retaliation for the agency's scientific stance. After the move was announced, the National Farmers Union released a statementexpressing concerns that the USDA was attempting to undermine the integrity of the ERS and NIFA, as well as "diminish the role of science in policymaking." Indeed, many ERS and NIFA employees have already unionized in an effort to resist relocation, and many are planning to decline the move, which could cripple the agencies' intellectual strength. 
Meanwhile, climate change is already taking a financial toll on the South's farmers and ranchers, and it's expected to get worse. For example, a 2013 ERS report found temperatures in the region are already close to optimal for corn production, meaning temperature increases will reduce yields. Warming will have the same effect on soybeans and cotton, also major commodity crops in the region. Livestock are also vulnerable to heat stress, so rising temperatures demand adaptive strategies for their care. And climate change-driven disasters are costing farmers as well; in 2018, for example, Hurricane Michael resulted in crop losses of over $2.5 billion in the state of Georgia alone. 
Climate change is also expected to affected rice production in the United States, the world's fourth-largest rice exporter with production centered in the Mississippi Delta. For two years, USDA worked with University of Washington researchers and other scientists to study the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels on rice, concluding they can result in lower nutrient levels. Days before the University of Washington was slated to announce the findings, the communications director received a call from an ARS staffer stating the agency had decided against a press release and suggested the university do the same. Though the rice article had already gone through a peer-review process, as well as the agency's own technical and policy review, the staffer claimed senior leaders were concerned "there was not enough data" to support the study's claims and that other scholars may "question the science." If current climate change patterns continue, the U.S. rice industry will struggle to remain competitive. 
It has long been established that climate change, much like any other global health crisis, will disproportionately affect poor and rural communities. That has important implications for the South, which has eight of the 10 poorest states and where over 56 percent of land is categorized as "rural." Withholding critical information puts these communities at even greater risk of failing to make the necessary adaptations to withstand weather disasters, sustain industries, or protect vulnerable populations from extreme heat and polluted air and water.
Reduced agricultural yield and increased production costs will also result in higher food costs in the South, the region of the country that already suffers from the highest rates of food insecurity. And it's not just consumers and farm owners who will be adversely affected. The fourth annual National Climate Assessment determined that the Southeast employs the second highest number of farmworkers per year compared to other regions.
Simply put, the South cannot afford for the USDA to ignore climate change. 

US makes first-ever rice sale to China

·       Thursday, 4 Jul 2019
The Chinese importer bought two containers, about 40 tonnes, of medium-grain rice from California-based Sun Valley Rice, said Michael Klein, a spokesman for USA Rice, a trade group that promotes the sale of the U.S. grain. The U.S. rice was milled and packaged into bags for consumer and food service use, Klein said.
CHICAGO: A private importer in China last week bought U.S. rice for the first time ever, in the midst of a trade war between the two nations, a rice industry group said on Wednesday.

The Chinese importer bought two containers, about 40 tonnes, of medium-grain rice from California-based Sun Valley Rice, said Michael Klein, a spokesman for USA Rice, a trade group that promotes the sale of the U.S. grain.

The U.S. rice was milled and packaged into bags for consumer and food service use, Klein said.

China was a major buyer of U.S. soybeans and pork before the trade war started by the Trump administration. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that China had agreed to make unspecified new purchases of U.S. farm products after he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but purchases of major export crops have so far been elusive.

It was not immediately clear whether the rice purchase was a goodwill gesture following the Trump-Xi meeting. The rice deal follows a sale of 544,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China confirmed last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the largest such sale since March.

China is the world's largest rice grower and consumer, producing 148.5 million tonnes of the grain in the 2018/19 marketing year and importing 3.5 million tonnes.

The United States produced 7.1 million tonnes of rice in 2018/19 and exported less than 3 million tonnes.

Chinese officials agreed to allow imports of U.S. rice in July 2017, following years of negotiations. But a nearly year-long trade dispute between the two countries threatened the first sale.

"It looked dicey for us for a while, with the hostility going back and forth ... We were about to have a market, and saw it snatched away, or so we thought," Klein said.

Sun Valley Rice hopes the deal lays the groundwork for more sales of U.S. rice to China in the future, representatives said.

"Sun Valley has been a leader when it comes to agriculture trade with China, we have been taking the first steps," said Karen Leland, Sun Valley's chief marketing officer. - Reuters
TAGS / KEYWORDS:Corporate News
P5.9-B taxes collected from liberalized rice imports
 July 4, 2019, 2:54 pm
(File photo courtesy of National Food Authority)
MANILA -- Preliminary data show that the government has so far collected PHP5.9 billion in tariffs from some 1.43 million metric tons (MT) of rice stocks imported by private traders, following the enactment of a law in March that liberalized the importation of the grain, the Department of Finance (DOF) disclosed in a statement on Thursday.
A report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero revealed that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) collected the highest amount of rice import tariffs from the Subic Bay port at PHP1.37 billion.
The Port of Manila collected PHP978.51 million in tariffs, followed by the Manila International Container Port with PHP942.76 million, Guerrero said during a recent DOF Executive Committee meeting.
The Port of Cagayan de Oro collected PHP754.13 million in tariffs from rice imports, while the Port of Davao collected PHP703.93 million, the data showed.
Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Act was signed and approved by President Rodrigo Duterte last February 14.
Dominguez has described the rice liberalization law on the shift from quantitative restrictions (QRs) to tariffs on rice imports as a “proud” accomplishment of the Duterte presidency and the DOF, given that it took more than 30 years under various administrations to get the Congress to approve this game-changing reform.
Liberalizing rice imports, he said, will not only make quality rice more affordable and accessible to Filipino families, but will also lower the country’s inflation rate, revolutionize the agriculture sector and help farmers become more productive and competitive in the global economy.
Dominguez said rice tariffication has proved to be challenging because it was “a politically difficult reform to pass."
Liberalizing rice imports has made the staple food more affordable to Filipinos, making retail prices this summer cheaper by PHP10 per kilo.
RA 11203 created the PHP10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to help palay growers and their farmers' cooperatives transition to a new rice regime.
The RCEF will be used to provide farmers tools and equipment, assistance in the production, promotion, and distribution of certified rice seeds, upgrading of post-harvest storage facilities, credit assistance, irrigation support, and research and development (R&D) support. (PR)

EU-Mercosur deal: Is the agreement a threat to European agriculture?

 last updated: 
Description: EU-Mercosur deal: Is the agreement a threat to European agriculture?
Twenty years after negotiations began, the European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur reached a free-trade agreement on Friday. Deemed "historic" by European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker, both sides currently trade over €88 billion in goods and €34 billion in services each year.

Not everyone is on board

However, the treaty has not satisfied all member states. While French President Emmanuel Macron said it was a "good agreement" that met key French demands, other factions in France did not agree.
France is the EU's largest farming power. French farmers' groups and environmentalists have regularly raised concerns about the risk of a surge in South American agricultural exports to Europe. In addition, critics argue there are lower standards for produce in the Mercosur countries and insist that they would oppose the deal unless they see proper traceability and good livestock practices in the beef sector.
"We won't have an accord at any price. The story isn't finished," agriculture minister Didier Guillaume told lawmakers on Tuesday.
"We are going to wait and see what exactly is in this text but, I would like to tell you that the whole government and I will be vigilant. I will not be the minister who sacrifices French agriculture at the altar of an international agreement."
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian echoed his colleague, saying that while the draft trade deal provided opportunities for European exporters, it remained to be seen whether it met France's demands.
"The red lines we have drawn for the agreement are firm," he told parliament, adding it "remained to be seen" whether Paris would support it, when it examined the details of the agreement.
France's main farmers' union, the FNSEA, said on Tuesday that it had requested a meeting with Macron and was also planning protests over the accord.
Unió de Llauradors, a Spanish agrarian organization based in Valencia, has also criticized the "obscurantism" with which the treaty has been negotiated.
Día histórico, ya es oficial: el #Mercosur y la UE alcanzaron un acuerdo después de 20 años de negociaciones. Un enorme paso para el bloque y su apertura comercial #AcuerdoMercosurUE

What is Mercosur?

Mercosur is a trade bloc of South American countries with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay as full members. Venezuela, too, is a full member but has been suspended since 2016. Officially known as the Southern Common Market, the bloc was established by the Treaty of Asunción in 1991 and Protocol of Ouro Preto in 1994.
The European Union is already Mercosur's biggest trade and investment partner and its second largest for goods trade. With this trade pact, the EU is now also the first major partner, potentially giving EU firms a head start.
Although finer points are still to be discussed and understood, the EU stands to benefit greatly from tariff reductions on goods such as cars and wine. The bloc has its eye on increasing access for its companies making industrial products.
Meanwhile, Mercosur aims to increase exports of farm products. Phased over years, it will get a new 99,000-tonne quota of beef at a 7.5% tariff.

Which agricultural products will be affected?

European orange juice, mainly produced in Spain and accounting for 14% to 20% of the annual production of oranges, would compete with Brazil, the largest producer, and exporter of orange juice in the world.
As for lemons, Argentina is the world's leading producer. In previous years, lemon imports from Argentina have led to an oversupply in the European market, and the scenario is likely to continue.
Recent rice imports from Myanmar and Cambodia have already weakened the European rice sector. Now, Uruguay could be an additional threat. In fact, rice from Mercosur countries is round grain, the same kind that is produced in the Spanish Levant. This would likely put Spanish farmers at a disadvantage given that the Mercosur rice would probably come at lower prices.
French cattle ranchers have already said that they would be unable to compete with large, South American livestock farms, mainly in Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil.
With 20% of its current wine tariffs eliminated, Argentina is likely to be a big player in wine production, with estimates saying current exports will be multiplied by twelve. This would put it in competition with France, Spain and Italy — the largest producers of wine in Europe.

What about European pesticide legislation?

Mercosur uses about 240 active substances prohibited by the EU in its crops. Brazil and the United States use the most pesticides in the world.
According to Carles Peris, president of Unió de Llauradors, an organisation of farmers and ranchers in the Valencian countryside, the agreement is not the best idea given the "unsustainable" production methods in Latin American countries, violating strict regulations imposed by the EU on its own producers.
The Unió de Llauradors recently compiled and submitted a dossier on high-risk pesticides used by the Mercosur countries, urging them to be banned.
Critics have drawn comparisons to an agreement with South African countries, which allowed for the introduction of oranges in European markets that contain up to three materials classified as "extremely dangerous" by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Is there a danger of new pests?

One fear that some are voicing is that the imports could cause the introduction of new pests and diseases into Europe.
The citrus sector especially is pushing to introduce the obligatory "cold treatment" on Mercosur imports, since lemons and oranges can contain pests that do not exist in Europe.
What about working conditions?
According to Carlos Baixauli, an agronomist, or expert in the science of soil management and crop production, European producers must pass a series of controls when they sell to supermarkets, showing that workers were receiving a salary in accordance with national legislation and their working conditions are adequate. But he said these regulations would be absent on Mercosur imports.
"The big exporters will continue to work, the danger is that the small subsistence agriculture, which is widespread on our continent, will end up disappearing," Baixauli explained.

CBN hasn’t allocated forex to rice importers since 2015
RIFAN By Chris Agabi 
| Published Date Jul 4, 2019 6:38 AM
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has said since 2015, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not allocated any money to fund rice import even as it said at least N1.2bn worth of rice is consumed daily in Nigeria. RIFAN also debunked claims from some quarters that CBN owed RIFAN contractors who supplied farm inputs in the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) being implemented by the bank. ADVERTISEMENT The National President of RIFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, said this in Abuja in a chat with newsmen while reacting to an advertorial by “concerned RIFAN contractors” claiming the CBN owed them billions of naira. ADVERTISEMENT OVER 5,000 NIGERIAN MEN HAVE OVERCOME POOR BEDROOM PERFORMANCE SYNDROME DUE TO THIS BRILLIANT DISCOVERY. CLICK HERE TO KNOW MORE The advertorial, titled ‘Rice Farmers Association contractors cry out: An open letter to President Buhari’ and signed by one Mr. Christopher Gajere, said “the contractors are being forced out of business because of the billions of naira the CBN owed them for months.” ADVERTISEMENT But in a swift reaction, RIFAN claimed the group was faceless and the name of the person that signed the open letter cannot be traced as an input supplier to the farmers under the ABP. It said there was no such thing as “RIFAN Contractors” but “RIFAN Suppliers” adding that “among our 25 inputs suppliers and five services providers, making 30 in number, we don’t have such a name among those who have given RIFAN service or supplied RIFAN any inputs.” Alh. Goronyo also stated that RIFAN discovered that a name of an individual was used to countersign the advertorial, and explained that RIFAN didn’t deal with individuals but corporate organisations. “That alone has clearly shown to us that the open letter has nothing to do with RIFAN,” he stated. According to him, it appeared the individual or group were out to discredit the landmark achievements recorded in rice sufficiency through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme.

Rice tariffication to boost GDP growth by 0.44 percentage point —NEDA

Published July 4, 2019 11:26am 
The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to gain and additional 0.44 percentage point from Rice Tariffication Law, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Thursday.
Policy simulations conducted by NEDA and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) showed that the Rice Tariffication Law would boost the economy. The GDP is a measure of the value of goods and service a country produces in a specific period.
“The preliminary results of the policy simulations done by NEDA and IFPRI show that, at the macro level, rice liberalization generates positive impacts on GDP across all sectors,” NEDA said in a statement.
“Under 35% tariff rate, GDP would improve by 0.44 percentage points. The agriculture sector would expand as there would be more crop diversification—as uncompetitive rice areas shift to other high-value crops with relatively higher net returns,” according to the NEDA.
NEDA Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rosemarie Edillon said the new measure will free up the flow of funds going to private sector, which was previously restricted.
“Before the rice tariffication law was passed, the government had been monopolizing the rice trade. This set-up had been restricting the flow of private funds going to the sector,” she said.
For local farmers, the law earmarks P10 billion for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, of which P5 billion will be allotted to farm mechanization and P3 billion to seedlings.
The fund intends to ensure that rice imports won’t drown out the agriculture sector and rob farmers of their livelihood.
“The agriculture sector, particularly the rice sector, is vulnerable to climate shocks, which have been increasing in frequency and intensity. So we want to be prepared and provide interventions ahead of time,” said Edillon.

ASU's Burcham to Lead Rice Research Center

Wednesday, Jul. 3, 2019 3:27 pm  

Description: ASU's Burcham to Lead Rice Research CenterTim Burcham (UA System Division of Agriculture)
In his new position as director of the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center in Poinsett County, Tim Burcham wants to help improve production of Arkansas' top crop.
He also gets to play in the dirt.
On Monday Burcham was named director of the center, to be built on Highway 1 near Harrisburg, in the heart of Arkansas rice country. He was formerly dean of the Agriculture College at Arkansas State University with a joint appointment with the University of Arkansas System of Division of Agriculture.
"Certainly the facility that we're constructing there would allow us to implement a wide range of production practices," said Burcham, who will assume his new job Aug. 1 and came to ASU from the University of Tennessee-Martin in 2013.
The center will be built on 641 acres in Poinsett County and be financed by gifts that include $4 million from the Arkansas Rice Promotion Board for the land. The division is working on two more gifts to fund operation, equipment and construction and an endowment to pay for base operation costs.
Burcham will oversee construction of the center and is tasked with developing its master plan, which will include researching the area's unique soils and an education component.
The Division of Agriculture currently conducts research at the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart and at the Northeast Research and Extension Center in Keiser, where the mixed and clay soils differ from the lighter mixed soils in Poinsett County. 
"This would give us a great opportunity to test those varieties that are being developed in different soil types that are predominant in that particular region, which is a highly productive rice production region there," Burcham said of the Delta.
More than 60 percent of Arkansas rice production is in northeast Arkansas and the state is the nation's leading rice grower, producing more than 50 percent of the crop. In 2016, Arkansas harvested 1.52 million acres of rice with a state average yield of 6,920 pounds an acre. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the farm value of production for rice in Arkansas was $995.2 million.
Burcham sees the research center as a nexus of research, technology and education. He envisions educational outreach for all ages; application of technology that could include drones, automation systems and robotics; big data set analytics and production practices that include row rice and alternate wetting and drying.
Water management is critical to rice production. The research center will have a surface water irrigation system and Burcham discussed using surface and groundwater in testing trials.
"My vision — I haven't even started the job yet — but certainly my vision here is for us to complement the other activities that we already have going on now within the division, particularly in the Delta as it relates to rice," Burcham said.
Burcham earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in agricultural engineering from Mississippi State University and his Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from Clemson University. Before his appointment at ASU, he held teaching, research or extension positions at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Mississippi State University and UT-Martin.
A registered professional engineer in Arkansas and Mississippi, Burcham has been involved in a number of consulting roles within the agriculture industry as well as well as several leadership positions. 
He said he and his wife Joan have developed an affinity for the northeast Arkansas region and its farmers in his six years at ASU, and he touted the potential economic benefit of having researchers, staff and other employees manning the new research center.
"When I'm around people that have a similar passion I really get excited about that," he said. "So when you look at this opportunity you think about the impact that this is going to have for northeast Arkansas. We're talking a multimillion-dollar investment in this community."
With the University of Arkansas System of Division of Agriculture, Arkansas State with its College of Agriculture and Biosciences Institute and now the planned research center in Poinsett County, the region has a "trifecta" of cooperation in the study of rice, Burcham said.
"It can't get any better than that," he said.
The coordination, research and the hard work of the farmers, scientists and innovators underscore a commitment to keep Arkansas among the world's top rice producers Burcham said. 
He didn't specifically discuss the ongoing trade wars with China and other nations, some of whom have placed retaliatory tariffs on rice, but Burcham said the collaboration and innovation within the Arkansas rice industry will help it persevere through downturns and economic uncertainty.
Burcham said facilities like the new research center are "proof of their commitment to the fact that we're going to remain competitive in the worldwide market of rice production."

Rice parks in Thrissur and Palakkad districts


Chelakkara, Kanjikode areas

The integrated rice technology park announced for Alappuzha district will be established in Mulakkuzha in Chengannur taluk.
Construction will begin in two months, the government said on Monday.
The decision was taken at a meeting convened here by Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan.
Kinfra has been entrusted with the job of acquiring the land for the project. Kitco will prepare a detailed project report.

Special officer

The department has also appointed a special officer for project implementation. Once the rice park is commissioned, the paddy harvested in Kuttanad can be processed there.
At present, the harvest is transported to other districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu for milling.
In January, foundation stones were laid in Thrissur and Palakkad districts for rice parks.
In Palakkad, the project is envisaged at Kingra’s mega food park at Kanjikode. In Thrissur, it is coming up at a 15-acre district panchayat farm at Chelakkara.
The government has earmarked 20 crore in the 2019-20 budget for establishing food parks.
Rice and value-added products from the rice parks would be marketed under the Kerala brand, the government said.

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India raises 2019/2020 common rice purchase price by 3.7%: minister
JULY 3, 2019 / 4:06 PM
Labourers spread harvested rice crop for drying at a wholesale grain market in Chandigarh, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Ajay Verma/Files
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has raised the price at which it will buy new-season common rice varieties from local farmers by 3.7 percent, the agriculture minister said on Wednesday.

For common grades of rice, the government has fixed the support price at 1,815 rupees ($26.34) per 100 kg, Narendra Singh Tomar told a news conference.

The government announces the so-called minimum support prices (MSPs) for 22 crops to set a benchmark. But state agencies buy limited quantities of staples such as rice and wheat at those prices, restricting benefits of guaranteed prices to only around 7 percent of the country’s 263 million farmers, according to various studies.

($1 = 68.91 rupees)

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Long An seeks rapid adoption of advanced rice farming techniques

Update: June, 29/2019 - 08:52
A combine harvester harvests rice in Long An Province’s Kiến Tường Town. – Photo
LONG AN – The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An hopes to ensure 20,000ha of paddies are farmed using advanced techniques by the end of this year.
Nguyễn Chí Thiện, deputy director of its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said these lands would be in Vĩnh Hưng, Tân Hưng, Thạnh Hóa, Mộc Hóa, and Tân Thạnh districts and Kiến Tường Town.
These localities now have 62 different models that use advanced techniques on an area of 13,400ha.
Farmers adopting these models use certified high-quality rice seeds and machinery in all stages, organic fertilisers, and biocides, and grow flowers around rice fields to attract insects that are natural enemies of brown plant hoppers. 
Rice produced under these models has guaranteed outlets.
They have reduced production costs by VNĐ2 – 2.5 million (US$86 - 107) per hectare and increased yields by VNĐ300 – 500 kilogrammes, according to the department.
Participating farmers earn VNĐ4 – 6 million ($171 - 258) per hectare more than from normal farming methods, it said.  
Nguyễn Thị Diệu Ngân, director of the Vĩnh Thuận Agriculture Co-operative in Vĩnh Hưng District, said her co-operative was selected to implement an advanced rice farming model on 50ha in 2016.
It received assistance with building a warehouse and rice-drying facility and buying machinery like laser-operated land levellers, ploughing machines and combined harvesters, she said.
For this summer – autumn crop, it is growing 50ha to Vietnamese good agricultural practice (VietGAP) standards.
It signed contracts with a company for selling its paddy at VNĐ500 – 1,000 a kilogramme higher than market prices.
In Kiến Tường Town, the application of advanced farming techniques on nearly 3,400ha has increased rice yields and farmers’ incomes.
Hà Văn Nứa, who has a 2.5ha rice field in Tuyên Thạnh Commune, said he followed all the instructions carefully, including using low seedling transplant density.  
“[The low density] offers many benefits and is more effective than high density transplantation.”
Võ Thanh Tòng, deputy head of the town Economic Bureau, said advanced techniques were used under three rice farming models on a total of 149ha in the summer – autumn crop.
It involved 56 households, and most of them used certified rice seeds and techniques like ‘one must and six reductions’, he said.  
Under this method, farmers use certified seeds and reduce seeding, plant protection chemicals, nitrogen fertilisers, irrigation, greenhouse gas emissions, and post-harvest losses.
Thiện said to increase the area under advanced farming techniques, the department would strengthen advocacy to raise awareness among farmers, co-operative teams, co-operatives, and rice companies about their benefits.
It would continue to provide training to farmers in advanced techniques and encourage them to grow rice to VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards, he said.
The province would promote trading and urge more rice companies to sign contracts with farmers, he added. – VNS

Ships carrying S. Korean rice to deliver food aid to North Korea this month
Posted on : Jul.3,2019 17:47 KST Modified on : Jul.3,2019 17:47 KST
Rice to be loaded onto WFP vessels at S. Korean ports
WFP Workers stockpile rice at a World Food Programme (WFP) storage facility in Pyongyang in 2016. (provided by the WFP)
Ships carrying South Korean rice for humanitarian aid purposes will set sail for North Korea this month. Fifty thousand tons of rice is to be provided to the North in 10 deliveries through the “spring austerity” period in September. It is the South Korean government’s first conveyance of rice through the World Food Programme (WFP) in 12 years.
“We’re currently looking for vessels [to transport the rice], so I can’t say for certain, but we’re shooting for delivery within July,” a Ministry of Unification official said while meeting with reporters on July 2.
“The rice is to be loaded [onto vessels prepared by WFP] at South Korean ports, at which point the WFP takes over responsibility for transport to North Korea,” the official explained, adding that WFP was “locating vessels and preparing contracts.”
The 50,000 tons of rice are to be provided in 1.25 million 40kg bags, with 10 deliveries of 5,000 to 6,000 tons at a time. With a short shelf life of three to six months for the polished rice to be provided as aid, the South Korean government determined that its resistance to stockpiling means it is unlikely to be diverted to other uses. The polishing of rice is to begin as soon as the vessel is prepared.
Once the 50,000 tons of rice have been loaded into its vessels at South Korean ports including Ulsan, Mokpo, and Gunsan, the WFP plans to use North Korean ports to deliver it to vulnerable segments of the local population. The delivery of rice as humanitarian aid is not itself in violation of US or UN Security Council sanctions against the North, but a vessel used to transport it may be subject to US sanctions.
“The WFP is in discussions [on the sanctions issue], and the South Korean government is cooperating,” said a Ministry of Unification senior official.
The ministry official also said, “There are around 50 people working at the WFP’s Pyongyang office, and they have announced plans to double that and increase the number of regional offices.”
“We believe the monitoring plan [to confirm that the food is properly distributed to beneficiaries] is sound and highly capable,” the official added.
By Noh Ji-won, staff reporter
Please direct comments or questions to [

Basmati rice exports rise to USD 4.71 bn in 2018-19
Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  Last Updated at July 3, 2019 16:45 IST
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The country's basmati rice exports increased to USD 4.71 billion in 2018-19 as compared with USD 3.20 billion in 2016-17, Parliament was informed Wednesday.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in a written reply to the Lok Sabha said promotion of agricultural products such as basmati rice is a continuous process.
In volume terms, the exports increased to 44,14,605 tonne in 2018-19 from 39,85,210 tonne.
Similarly, exports of non-basmati rice also rose to USD 3 billion in the last financial year from USD 2.52 billion in 2016-17.
Replying to a separate question, the minister said the top-10 destinations for the country's agricultural exports include the US, Vietnam, Iran, China, the UAE, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.
The main countries from where India mainly imports include Indonesia, Ukraine, Argentina, the US, Malaysia and Brazil.
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Basmati rice exports rise to USD 4.71 bn in 2018-19

Similarly, exports of non-basmati rice also rose to USD 3 billion in the last financial year from USD 2.52 billion in 2016-17.

Jul 03, 2019, 05.06 PM IST
Description: Untitled-4The top-10 destinations for the country's agricultural exports include the US, Vietnam, Iran, China, the UAE, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.
The country's basmati rice exports increased to USD 4.71 billion in 2018-19 as compared with USD 3.20 billion in 2016-17, Parliament was informed Wednesday. Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in a written reply to the Lok Sabha said promotion of agricultural products such as basmati rice is a continuous process.

In volume terms, the exports increased to 44,14,605 tonne in 2018-19 from 39,85,210 tonne.

Similarly, exports of non-basmati rice also rose to USD 3 billion in the last financial year from USD 2.52 billion in 2016-17.

Replying to a separate question, the minister said the top-10 destinations for the country's agricultural exports include the US, Vietnam, Iran, China, the UAE, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.

The main countries from where India mainly imports include Indonesia, Ukraine, Argentina, the US, Malaysia and Brazil.