Monday, July 08, 2019

8th July,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Rice exports stagnant as traders unable to meet SPS conditions

Published: July 8, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Agriculture serves as the backbone of Pakistan’s economy as it contributes 19.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), provides employment to 42.3% of the labour force and provide raw material for several value-added industrial goods.
Therefore, agriculture plays a major role in strengthening the national economy, ensuring food security and poverty reduction. Increase in population and rapid urbanisation have further pushed up the demand for high-value perishable and packed products such as fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, dairy, meat and other processed food items.
Major crops like wheat, rice, sugarcane, maize and cotton account for 23.85% of value addition in the overall agriculture and 4.66% of GDP. Other crops (also called minor crops) account for 11.03% of value addition and 2.15% of GDP.
Livestock contributes 58.33% to agricultural value addition and 11.39% to GDP. Forestry contributes 2.33% to agricultural value addition and 0.46% to GDP. Fishing contributes 2.12% to agricultural value addition and 0.41% to GDP. Pakistan is self-sufficient in primary food security needs but still it imports agricultural commodities as well as processed foodstuff. Oilseeds, mostly soybean, are at the top of the import list, which are primarily imported for oil extraction but the meal is also used for poultry feed.
Previously, Pakistan tried to produce its own oilseeds such as mustard, canola, sunflower and even soybean but lack of interest and support from the quarters concerned, and an unfavourable market mechanism never attracted growers’ interest.
Consequently, Pakistan is spending not only a huge amount of foreign exchange but local production is also discouraged.
In addition to oil extraction, Pakistan is also increasing reliance on imported oilseed meal for poultry and livestock, thereby discouraging the use of locally produced oilseeds like cottonseed, mustard and canola seeds as a cheap alternative.Major imports of other foodstuff can easily be curtailed through coordinated efforts by national and provincial government agencies and devising smart policies besides involving the business community.
The promotion of domestic agriculture will require smart policies which favour farmers, traders and satisfy the needs of citizens by providing essential food items at affordable prices. This is a major challenge now as agriculture has been devolved to provinces, therefore, the federal government and all the four provinces as well as Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) must be on the same page.
Provinces are empowered to make their own policies for the promotion of agriculture as per their socio-economic and ecological conditions. Exports, imports and national food security research are handled by the federal government, making it very difficult for the central and provincial governments to frame harmonised policies. Post-devolution institutional re-organisation has mostly left behind a very weak institutional structure at the federal level whereas at the provincial level the capacity is low which is insufficient to cater for increased professional and technical demand.
The Department of Plant Protection (DPP), an attached department of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, is responsible for managing the export and import of all agricultural commodities. This is the most important organisation for monitoring and controlling the import and export by applying international Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) regulations, which have already been ratified by Pakistan under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).
Rice is a major export commodity of Pakistan, besides cotton, citrus, mango, dates, vegetables, potato and other raw and processed foodstuff. Rice export has been stagnant not because Pakistan’s paddy production has decreased but because the country has failed to gear up and increase its technical capacity in line with the SPS requirements.
Rice export could be enhanced immediately but the DPP is facing a host of institutional capacity issues, which can be managed through aggressive capacity development.
The DPP is working with the lowest professional strength and is struggling to hire permanent quarantine professionals through a lengthy recruitment process. Similarly, other issues like legal reforms, state-of-the-art laboratory tools and techniques, and information and communication technologies (ICT) including online registration for import and export are badly affecting the performance of this important organisation responsible for enhancing Pakistan’s exports.
Rice is a major export commodity not only in terms of quantity but also quality. Data of the past five years shows total exports of 16.34 million tons and in the just ended fiscal year 2018-19 exports were the highest at 4.89 million tons in 11 months, followed by 2015-16 when exports reached 4.54 million tons.
Pakistan’s rice export potential is much higher provided adequate facilities are given and SPS conditions are met.
Traditionally, Pakistan’s rice export was meant for the Middle East and Africa, where most of the countries still have very low SPS requirements and thus most exports do not face any SPS-related problems. Therefore, Pakistan takes it for granted in rice export to other markets in Europe, America, Russia, China, Canada, Australia and Japan and faced hardships in meeting their SPS conditions.
Consequently, Pakistan lost the Mexico market due to infestation of the crop by Khapra beetle, also called cabinet beetle. The Rice Export Association of Pakistan (REAP) has identified four major issues in terms of SPS requirements.
First, farmers reuse the wheat gunny bags for transporting and storing rice, which are mostly infested with beetle and thus rice quality is also affected. Second, farmers tend to mix unripe or inferior quality rice with the superior quality paddy for maximising profit. Third, there is no effort on the part of provincial agriculture departments to educate and encourage farmers for the production and processing of quality rice for export. Fourth, there is a lack of rice processing units, technological support and awareness among farmers and exporters of promoting quality rice for export.
All these issues can be tackled through well-coordinated efforts by the stakeholders including national and provincial agricultural departments. There appear to be no serious effort so far by the stakeholders for improving the post-harvest processing and value addition to ensure export of quality rice as per SPS requirements.
Way forward
Relevant national and provincial agricultural departments, farmer associations and REAP must join hands for devising a strategy aimed at bridging the existing gaps that hamper the export of quality rice to the world. This will involve capacity-building of farmers, traders and the DPP staff, besides awareness-raising, enhanced coordination and support from relevant national and provincial departments.
This will greatly help in not only increasing rice export from Pakistan but will also help enforce relevant SPS-related provisions of the IPPC and ensure Pakistan comply with the international convention.
Like in the case of rice, similar measures may also be taken for other agricultural commodities to increase Pakistan’s exports. Pakistan has the potential to produce quality products for export as per SPS requirements, which can improve the trade parity in favour of Pakistan and bring more foreign exchange.
The writer is a PhD in natural resources management and is a civil servant
Published in The Express Tribune, July 08th, 2019.

Belarus intends to increase agricultural supplies to Pakistan Economy

08.07.2019 | 14:31


 MINSK, 8 July (BelTA) - Belarus and Pakistan have agreed to increase trade in agricultural products. This theme was high on the agenda of a meeting between Belarusian Ambassador to Pakistan Andrei Yermolovich and Pakistan Minister of National Food Security & Research Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan, BelTA learned from the Belarusian diplomatic mission. The parties welcomed the steady growth of trade in agricultural products between Belarus and Pakistan.

“However, they stressed that the volume of trade is not consistent with the agreements to increase trade reached between the two countries at the highest level. In this regard, the parties expressed a mutual interest in expanding the range of supplied products,” the embassy informed. Belarus is ready to supply powdered dairy products (whole and skimmed milk powder, dry whey), cheese, condensed and concentrated milk, butter, offal and canned poultry and beef to the Pakistani market. Pakistan expressed an interest in increasing direct supplies of rice, potatoes, mangoes and citrus to Belarus.

 “The parties agreed to provide mutual assistance in finding trading partners who would like to supply agricultural products to the markets of Pakistan and Belarus,” the embassy added. In addition, the countries confirmed their intention to establish direct contacts between their business communities to set up joint enterprises to process milk in Pakistan, to produce dairy products (ice cream, drinking yoghurts, cheeses, yoghurts) and dry baby food using Belarusian dry milk and technology. Another topic on the agenda of the meeting was the preparations for the fifth meeting of the bilateral working group on agriculture due in Minsk in autumn this year and a Belarusian-Pakistani agro-business forum on the margins of this event.
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Iran, Pakistan Keen on Promoting Trade Ties

Iran, Pakistan Keen on Promoting Trade Ties
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday stressed the need for Pakistan and Iran to take concrete measures against smuggling and ensure more business opportunities for the people residing along the border.
In a meeting with Iran’s Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Reza Rahmani in Islamabad, the Pakistani prime minister reaffirmed his country’s commitment to strengthen relations with Iran in diverse fields, including people-to-people exchanges, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Khan said geographical proximity and close brotherly ties rooted in historical, cultural and religious commonalities offered huge potentials to enhance mutual trade and economic cooperation for the benefit of the two countries.
The Iranian minister conveyed the Iranian leadership’s greetings to Khan, whose visit to Iran had provided momentum to efforts aimed at cementing bilateral relations, especially trade and economic ties.
Rahmani expressed great satisfaction over the progress made by Iran-Pakistan Trade Committee in removing obstacles to mutual trade development.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Yazdan Saif, MP Ramezanali Sobhani, Chairman of Sistan-Baluchistan Chamber of Commerce Abdullah Rigi Mirjaveh and Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost accompanied the Iranian minister.
Pakistan's Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi, PM’s Adviser for Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood, Chairman of the Board of Investment Zubair Gillani and Commerce Secretary Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera also attended the meeting.
  Agreement to Promote Barter Trade
Pakistan and Iran on Friday agreed to create a committee to identify goods for promoting barter trade.
The decision was reached at the concluding session of the Eighth Iran-Pakistan Trade Committee. The Pakistani delegation was led by Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood while the Iranian side was led by Industries Minister Reza Rahmani, Dawn reported.
It was suggested that for barter trade to begin, the two countries should select commodities having competitive advantage. In this regard, Pakistan can enhance the export of wheat, sugar, rice and fruit to Iran.
The Iranian side acknowledged the fact that bilateral trade relations did not match the real potential, particularly in agriculture, food and pharmaceutical sectors.
Iran showed interest in importing 500,000 tons of rice from Pakistan and urged that a mechanism for early shipment must be devised.
The Iranian delegation extended its full support to work on the removal of potential bottlenecks to increase trade and jointly develop a way forward. 
The Iranian side also requested the Pakistani government to open more border checkpoints, mainly at Ramadan, Pishin and Korak, which will further enhance bilateral trade.
Dawood suggested the removal of various taxation measures such as road and freight taxes on vehicles/trucks crossing the borders to facilitate trade.
He promised to establish an exclusive desk at the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan in Islamabad to address related issues.
The two sides agreed to resolve issues, including removing barriers that have made Iran-Pakistan Preferential Trade Agreement (signed in 2006) ineffective.
The Federation of Pakistan’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry also advocates the promotion of barter trade between Pakistan and Iran, as the preferential trade agreement between the two countries has not been fully utilized due to sanctions on Iran.
At present, Pakistan and Iran enjoy a PTA that gives concessions on 18% of items, but the PTA is not being utilized fully due to Iran sanctions. 
“Pakistan is losing its market of mangoes, rice, citrus fruit and other agriculture items,” FPCCI President Daroo Khan Achakzai recently said.
He called for the promotion of barter trade between the two countries, as Pakistan has huge potential in exporting agriculture products and edible fruit and vegetables, while in return Iran has the potential to export crude oil and petroleum products.
Achakzai said annual trade between Pakistan and Iran stands at $398.5 million, wherein the volume of Pakistan’s export to Iran stands at $21 million and import from Iran is at $377.4 million.

PM aide says tariff structure being rationalised

July 7, 2019
Abdul Razzak Dawood PHOTO:FILE
LAHORE: The tariff structure of the country is being rationalised and streamlined to ensure competitiveness of Pakistan’s industrial products in the global market and ease of doing business, said Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Textile Abdul Razak Dawood.
In a meeting with Punjab industrialists and officials of related departments on Saturday, Dawood emphasised that the government had managed to resolve the business community’s major problem of lack of access to the international market.
“Now, efforts are being initiated to ensure competitiveness of Pakistani products,” he said and pointed out that to achieve that, the government reduced and eliminated various duties on the import of industrial raw material.
He revealed that other ways and means were also under consideration to enhance the competitiveness of Pakistani products in the international market. However, he was of the view that Pakistan needed consistency in its policies.
The adviser said China’s global imports currently hovered around $2.1 trillion and Pakistan should take maximum benefit of the opportunity, which was made possible through the promotion of industrial sector and establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and industrial estates.
“China has agreed to import $1 billion worth of Pakistani goods and for the purpose, sugar and rice export targets have been met,” he said. “China has also promised to import additional consignments of $1 billion after completion of shipments in the first phase.”
However, “Pakistan is targeting to carve out a $200-billion share in Chinese imports,” he remarked.
Dawood highlighted that China was relocating its industrial units to Pakistan and the government was focused on improving the industrial structure as well as full facilitation of businessmen in a bid to enhance export-oriented industrial production.
He was of the opinion that such a decision would definitely increase the country’s overall export volume and revenues. He mentioned that the Japanese government was ready to provide a technology fund for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) but “we need to understand that the provincial government has to decide, who wants it and who should get it.”
Speaking at the meeting, Punjab Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal said the Punjab government was working on import substitution to reduce the import bill.
 “Initially, we are focusing on the top 20 import items and how to produce these locally,” he shared. “We will soon be able to ensure local manufacturing of export-quality porcelain tiles and oilseed production.”
He reaffirmed that the Punjab government was fully committed to attracting maximum foreign direct investment and industrial promotion, which would not only help create employment opportunities but would also enhance export revenues.
Iqbal pointed out that the provincial government was devising effective measures for industrial revolution through investment facilitation and advisory, strategic initiatives, setting up of SEZs and industrial estates, and bringing together industrial sectors having potential for joint ventures.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2019.

Magic In A Grain Of Rice

The ubiquitous puffed rice could be worth much more, if fortified with nutrients. The world is moving in that direction. Will India sit up and take note?

Damayanti Datta 06 July 2019
“Everybody Loves Jhalmuri Express.” Angus Denoon has set Twitter ablaze with exotic graffiti on his trolley of Kolkata street food, jhal muri, right outside the Oval in London, as the 2019 Cricket World Cup gets going. He picked it up from the City of Joy, and is now making a quick buck, as the paper cones fly off his counter. Cheap, simple, vegan, wheat-free, calorie-free, fat-free, sodium-free, chemical-free—Denoon could write an ode to the good old puffed rice, India’s staple snack.
Danoon may not know, but the magic of a rice grain is now resonating with the gods of nutrition. Imagine each grain of puffed rice coated with layers of iron, folic acid, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and a host of vitamins. The iron would make sure you don’t get anaemia; folic acid would help your body produce new cells and reduce risk of cancer; zinc would boost your immunity; magnesium and calcium would reduce your chances of bone damage; retinoids would make you look young; thiamine would keep your nerve, muscles and heart healthy; niacin would improve your cholesterol levels; pyridoxine would keep your brain sharp; cobalamin would boost your energy and mood, while helping with weight loss. The ten-rupee fare on Kolkata streets, or Danoon’s £3.50 snack, could actually be worth much more.
Food scientists are experimenting: a new method for making puffed rice, that retains nutrients and allows producers to fortify cereals with vitamins and proteins, has come from Cornell University, US. Researchers at the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, are probing fortification of puffed rice with calcium salts. The World Health Organization (WHO) has brought out its first evidence-informed recommendations, “Fortification of rice with vitamins and minerals as a public health strategy,” in 2018.
Iron-fortified rice is being offered as mid-day meal in Odisha and Karnataka. Two research trials in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are also distributing fortified rice. Since 2016, the Food Safety Standards Authority of India is exploring opportunities of fortifying rice grains with iron and vitamin A. The Geneva-based non-profit, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), has published a Rice Fortification Toolkit in 2015. Global non-profit, Food Fortification Initiative is advocating fortification of industrially-milled commonly consumed grains.
Spicy or not, Indians have known for thousands of years, puffed and popped rice is a smart thing to have whenever you are hungry. In ancient Sanskrit texts, it is called the “laja” and used not just as food, but also a fire offering during auspicious occasions, including weddings. Variously called muri, mudhi, murmura, pori, borugulu, mamra, puffed rice today continues to be a staple in millions of households. In village India, they are munched anytime, as a snack, with a cup of tea, mixed with jaggery, as breakfast, for children coming back after play, and for men returning home after a hard day’s work. The rising demand for the puffed rice has made it a cottage industry, providing livelihood to scores of people.
A fistful of fortified puffed rice, or any rice for that matter, can be the answer to the vulnerability of the country’s poor: preventable deaths, diseases and defects. The point is: 24 Indian states report anaemia prevalence, between 26 to 65 per cent, among married women—high enough to be called a “severe” public health concern, by WHO yardsticks. Not just, 45 in every 10,000 births in the country have a defect of the brain or spine every year. The major reason for both anaemia and birth-defects is considered to be nutritional deficiencies. Folic acid fortification can prevent more than 100,000 deaths among children under five every year.
A cup of puffed rice has 56 calories and just 0.1 g of fat, 12.29 gram carbohydrates, 0.98 gram protein, along with some dietary fibre and iron. If fortified, it will turn out to be a happy panacea for the aam janta— something they are familiar with and enjoy

Emiquon, Rice Lake to benefit from $5 million grant

A turtle crawls through the grass Friday, July 5, 2019 at Emiquon Nature Preserve near Havana. [MATT DAYHOFF/JOURNAL STAR]
A family of swans swim in single file Friday, July 5, 2019 at Emiquon Nature Preserve near Havana. [MATT DAYHOFF/JOURNAL STAR]
Giant clouds are reflected in the waters of Emiquon Nature Preserve on Friday, July 5, 2019 near Havana. [MATT DAYHOFF/JOURNAL STAR]
A turtle crawls through the grass Friday, July 5, 2019 at Emiquon Nature Preserve near Havana. [MATT DAYHOFF/JOURNAL STAR]
Areas along the Illinois River Valley stand to benefit ecologically and economically from a $5 million award for conservation efforts.
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood announced last week that the Conserving the Illinois River Legacy project received more than $5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Ducks Unlimited and several other conservation organizations. The funding will go toward protection and restoration of about 13,000 acres of wetlands on public and private land near the Illinois River.
“Preserving wetlands along the Illinois River is essential to restoring wildlife habitats in the Illinois River Valley and will conserve resources along the River,” the Peoria Republican said in a prepared statement. ” ... This will ensure the Illinois River remains a habitable environment for wildlife and can be enjoyed by future generations for years to come.”
Some $1 million will come from a Department of the Interior wetlands conservation grant, and another $4.1 million from Ducks Unlimited and other groups. Those other groups include: Wetlands America Trust, The Nature Conservancy, The Wetlands Initiative, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Peoria Park District, Friends of Sanganois, Illinois River Valley Conservation Group and U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program.
The project will protect 1,522 acres of wetlands, restore water to more than 18 acres of drained wetlands and revitalize 11,461 acres of existing degraded water, according to proposed plans.
According to Ducks Unlimited, specific areas for work include parts of Donnelley-DePue State Fish and Wildlife Area in Hennepin, Emiquon Nature Preserve near Havana, Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area near Canton and Sanganois State Fish and Wildlife Area near Beardstown. Anderson Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area between Astoria and Bath is also on the list. Those sites are among a total of 11 locations. The locations stretch across 19 counties and include large backwater lakes, expansive marshes and bottomland hardwood forests.
According to Ducks Unlimited, the Illinois River Valley wetlands are “critical for birds, creation and water quality.” The national conservation organization stated in a prepared release that it is leading the $5 million conservation effort to “safeguard (wetlands) from further human development and climate change.”
“It’s a major corridor for birds funneling between northern breeding grounds and southern wintering grounds,” said Michael Sertle, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist. “The Illinois River Valley provides critical habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds for the food and rest they need to safely continue their journeys.”
DU will provide engineering assistance to Emiquon Preserve, enabling water level management of 5,289 acres of wetlands to benefit waterfowl, shorebirds and rare species.
Improvements will improve current and future wetland and waterfowl research. Improvements at Rice Lake will enhance 2,623 acres within the Goose Lake and Copperas Creek units to benefit waterfowl and shorebird habitat.
“Working in concert with partners like Ducks Unlimited and The Wetlands Initiative allows us to maximize the return on our investment in nature. Our combined efforts, which involve a host of partners, volunteers and donors, have yielded incredible restoration and protection results in this region while providing an enhanced experience for both people and nature,” said Michelle Carr, The Nature Conservancy Illinois state director. “We eagerly anticipate the infrastructure upgrades that will protect the Conservancy’s 5,500-acre wetland at Emiquon as well as our neighboring landowners.”

Despite being one of its birthplaces, India has forgotten many varieties of rice
The story of rice in India is complex, influenced as much by geography as by taste, faith, politics and contemporary nutrition science. But, after years of getting panned for being unhealthy, it is finally making its way back to the centre of the table.
Written by Pooja Pillai |
Updated: July 7, 2019 2:56:45 pm

As Motley turns 40, Ratna Pathak Shah and Naseeruddin Shah take a trip down memory lane
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All that rice: A generous helping: Some of the many indigenous rice varieties conserved at the OOO Farms seed bank. (Photo courtesy: OOO Farms)
Is Basmati rice, with its pristinely white grain, the only variety that lends itself to making a biryani? It seems a rather silly question to ask in a country where almost all biryani — whether at home or in a restaurant — is made with the long, fragrant grains of Basmati, never mind the origin or brand. But the question, posed by food historian Pushpesh Pant, is worth exploring. Pant proceeds to explain, “When you make biryani, you use spices like cardamom and cloves, which have a strong enough aroma that they mask the fragrance of the rice itself. So tell me, why would you use Basmati?” According to him, the rice that was originally used to make biryani was the non-aromatic, long-grained Tilak Chandan, grown in Uttar Pradesh’s Terai region. “But there’s been a tyranny of Basmati for so long that we’ve forgotten all the other varieties — especially the short-grained rice — that have been cultivated and used in different parts of our country for so many centuries,” he says.

For a land that is widely recognised as one of the birthplaces of rice, and, which has, according to the late Dr RH Richharia, pioneering rice conservationist and director of the Central Rice Research Institute in Cuttack, developed about 200,000 varieties of rice, India is far too enamoured of Basmati. And yet, while this “tyranny” of Basmati, as Pant puts it, persists, a small movement by a handful of Indian chefs and seed conservationists is putting the spotlight on many of India’s neglected — and vanishing — rice varieties. In the last few years, menus have featured rice as diverse as Karnataka’s Rajamudi, which was once grown especially for the Wodeyars of Mysore, Maharashtra’s short-cooked Ambemohar, which is named after the mango blossoms that its fragrance evokes; and Manipur’s Chak Hao Poreiton, a black grain that is used to prepare a rich, sweet and deep purple kheer.
How much rice does it take to satisfy one person’s hunger? Pazhankanji (fermented rice gruel from Kerala) made with fat-grained, earthy Palakkadan Matta rice is said to be so nourishing and filling that, once upon a time, one bowlful was usually enough to keep farmers going for an entire day in the fields. On the other hand, a few spoons of rich, sweet payesh made with Gobindobhog, Bengal’s prized short-grained, aromatic rice, will suffice even for those with a pronounced sweet tooth.

According to a well-known story from the Mahabharata, it took just one grain of rice — or five, depending on the version — to satisfy a god. The Pandavas, while in exile in the forest, were visited by Durvasa and his entourage. As was customary, the sage expected his hosts to feed him and his accompanying disciples, and, so, he instructed Draupadi to get the meal ready while he and his disciples bathed in the river. The Pandavas were accustomed to feeding large numbers of itinerant sages thanks to the miraculous akshaya patra, given to them by Surya, the sun god. This cooking pot ensured that each time it was used, there was an endless supply of food.

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Pakhala bhaat at The Bombay Canteen. (Photo: Sanjay Ramachandran)
On the day of Durvasa’s visit, however, the Pandavas and Draupadi had already eaten and there was nothing left with which to cook a meal in the akshaya patra. Afraid that the sage — known for his quick temper — would curse her family if she failed to serve them a meal, a desperate Draupadi prayed to Lord Krishna. When he turned up on hearing her prayer, he also demanded to be fed. When Draupadi told him that there was no food left, Krishna asked to see the vessel. He peered into the vessel and discovered a single grain of rice that he popped into his mouth and declared feeling satiated by it — a feeling that was also experienced by Durvasa and his students simultaneously. Thus were a sage and his entourage fed, thanks to a single grain of rice consumed by a god.

The popular reading of this story is that what fills the stomach of god fills the stomach of his devotees. But another reading, which places the grain of rice itself at the centre of the story, could be that rice is the one food that can feed everyone, from gods to wise men and sages, to kings and queens and farmers toiling in their fields.
And yet, where there is diversity, the politics of difference — in India’s case, caste and class — comes into play. This is, after all, a land where certain types of rice, such as Rajamudi, were cultivated for the exclusive consumption of royalty. Pant, in fact, attributes the dominance of Basmati and the marginalisation of the so-called “coarse”, short-grained native varieties to the “rich man’s preference for long grains”. The consumption of polished white rice, once unaffordable, became aspirational with the steady migration from villages to cities. Pant adds, “We have developed a very narrow way of looking at rice, such as only in terms of the north-south divide, wherein we say that north India has always eaten wheat and south and east India have always eaten rice. But that’s not true. We are, as a whole, a nation of rice-eaters.”

Like with most foods, the story of rice in India is complex, influenced as much by local and regional preferences and conditions, as by faith, politics, nutrition science, top-down ideas about development and agriculture technology, and caste and class hierarchies.

Explained: What does it mean for India to become a $5-trillion economy
One of the biggest factors that led to modern India’s increasing distance from the bulk of its indigenous rice varieties was the emphasis on cultivating new dwarf varieties, such as the high-yielding IR8, which were introduced in the 1960s during the Green Revolution. This was a time when the largely subsistence agriculture practised across the country was seen as insufficient to feed a growing population as well as boost the nation’s economic sovereignty. The native tall varieties simply could not match the output of the dwarf varieties. On the other hand, the former had evolved — over centuries — to suit the specific conditions of the regions they grew in. The use of the newer varieties frequently required more water than the local conditions could tolerate, and extensive use of chemicals in the form of fertilisers and chemicals, which in turn affected the soil quality and impacted the biodiversity of the region. Vandana Shiva, environmental activist and founder of the NGO Navdanya, which works towards seed saving, biodiversity conservation and farmers’ rights, says, “The water crisis was also generated by the depletion of the water table.”

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Black rice payasam.
The marginalisation of traditional varieties and the rising water crisis have led to a small, but determined seed conservation movement in India, driven by the likes of Debal Deb, who has cultivated over 900 varieties of rice in Odisha’s Niyamgiri Hills, and “Seed Mother” Rahibai Soma Popere, who has travelled all across Maharashtra to find and save the seeds of all kinds of native crop varieties. These conditions are also what prompted Abhay Bhatia, Shailesh Sakharam Awate, Pranav Khandelwal and Karan Khandelwal to found the Mumbai-based OOO Farms and promote the cultivation of native rice varieties using traditional techniques. “We used to go trekking in the Harishchandragad area in Maharashtra, where the major crop is paddy, and one farmer, who would guide us on the treks, told us about the problems he was facing. So, we started off on a small scale, really as a way of helping this one farmer that we knew, but it became a movement that right now includes 70 farms in the region and 12 villages,” says Bhatia. Advised by seed conservationist Sanjay Patil, the OOO Farms team began by scouring the region for the hardy and climatically-suitable native rice varieties. “We visited small scale and tribal farmers, asked them about native varieties and if they could spare three seeds for us. With the three seeds we would get, we then grew more and built a seed bank that today has some 150-200 varieties, out of which we sell 34 varieties,” he says.

When it comes to reputation, rice had a good run in India for centuries, until it collided with a combination of modern nutrition science and a preference for polished grains. This led to the deeply persistent myth that because rice is a “simple carbohydrate” it is an unhealthy choice for a people prone to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases. “There is no logic behind this belief that rice is especially ‘fattening’. Any food, if you have too much of it, is bound to create health issues. To completely stop eating rice and eat only wheat, as so many people still think they should do, is extreme,” says Kavita Devgan. The Delhi-based nutritionist and writer of Ultimate Grandmother Hacks (2018) says that among the many benefits of rice is that it is one of the most easily digestible grains, and highly recommended for those with sensitive stomachs. “This is necessary because today, thanks to our lifestyles, many of us do end up with digestive disorders. Rice is known to calm the stomach, particularly when it’s consumed as khichdi. This is something that our ancestors understood,” she says.

This classification of rice as a “bad” food is especially baffling given how essential the grain has always been to Indian life. “Our ancestors weren’t stupid to have evolved 200,000 varieties of rice. It is the grain of this land. Rice is the symbol of a sophisticated ecological civilisation,” says Shiva. According to her, over the centuries, Indians bred rice for maximum taste, fragrance and nutritional quality. “They have found a rice in Chhattisgarh that has medicinal qualities. Many varieties such as Bengal’s Kobiraj Sal, which was given to lactating mothers, have played a therapeutic role in diet. Eating different varieties of rice gave a diverse quality of nutrition. Quality was killed to create the paradigm of mass (production) in the dwarf varieties of rice introduced in India after the Green Revolution,” says Shiva.
What to look for in the Union Budget 2019
Visitors to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) 2018-19 who strolled over from Aspinwall House to Cabral Yard next door would have witnessed a remarkable project that marries a vision of food as art with a conservationist and revivalist approach. At a stall run by the Edible Archives Project, the curious and the hungry would have had the opportunity to partake of meals — cooked by chefs Anumitra Ghosh Dastidar, Prima Kurien, Kiran Bhushi and Priya Bala — that brought together various native Indian ingredients, recipes and techniques. The hero of each meal, the core around which it was conceptualised, was always an indigenous rice variety, or a combination of varieties. So, if one day, you had a meal of moru curry and fish in mustard sauce with a combination of Hetumari and Kala Bhaat rices (both from West Bengal), another day you would be able to sample a raw mango dal, aloo posto and fish curry with Seeraga Samba and Kaatuyaanam rices (from Tamil Nadu). “There is a profusion of short-grained, fat rice varieties, which are usually completely dismissed, but are generally very good, highly nutritious, and tasty, even if unscented. But they have to be the indigenous ones, not the more commonly available hybrid varieties,” says editor Shalini Krishan, who, as part of the Edible Archives team has been documenting their work. “As the most highly-rated and often used variety, Basmati, feels overrated to us; in part, because…we are aware of the havoc it wreaks on the water table of the regions where it’s being grown. Unlike many rain-fed indigenous rice, or even commonly available hybrid rice that rely on irrigation, Basmati takes up groundwater,” she says.
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One of the paddy fields converted to indigenous rice varieties by OOO Farms in Harishchandragad, Maharashtra. (Photo courtesy: OOO Farms)
While the Indian fondness for rice remains despite all the negative, nutrition-related associations, it is tempered to a large extent by an ignorance about the grain. This is something that the Edible Archives team discovered while manning their stall at KMB. “We had set it up in such a way that conversations about biodiversity and environmental practices were common. We did have to fight against certain assumptions, for example, that all small-grained rice are the same, or that there is some variety called brown rice. We had to educate people about rice, and show them the diversity that exists within the major types. For example, there can be 20 different types of red rice, grown in different parts of the country. Also, two varieties that look identical can be very different when cooked and have different nutritive profiles and tastes,” says Krishan.
Last year, on March 20, The Bombay Canteen restaurant in Mumbai’s Lower Parel celebrated Universal Pakhala Dibasa (a day to celebrate the rice-based Odia dish) by serving the traditional fermented rice dish with five forms of pumpkin. The pumpkin flower pakhala bhat, as it was christened, brought together two classic Odia dishes — pakhala and kakharu phula bhaja — for a modern creation that, nonetheless, paid tribute to the centuries of traditional wisdom that shape so much of Indian cuisine. “In the last five years, all the travelling that I have done across India has brought me so many epiphanies about all the ways in which people use rice. Every part of the country has its own varieties of rice which are used in specific ways. For example, as part of our Chettinad menu, we served a black rice payasam. People may think that this is a modern way of using rice, but actually, it’s very much a part of Chettinad’s culture,” says Thomas Zacharias, partner and executive chef at the award-winning restaurant, and an advocate of indigenous produce.
This is what Pant means when he says that when we think about rice, we need to think outside the paradigm of the dal-chawal-subzi meal. “The story of rice in India is fascinating, and it’s been used in so many creative ways. So when you talk about rice, talk about how it’s handpounded and made into chivda in Bihar. Talk about how it’s used to make idli and panta bhat. It’s made into khichuri, which is served as bhog during Durga Puja, and kheer, which is what the Buddha broke his fast with,” he says.
Still, experiments such as Zacharias’s are limited only to the urban elite and the question remains: how much of a difference does it really make to the future of these grains? Shiva sounds a sceptical note. While agreeing that the “rediscovery” of indigenous varieties by chefs is something to appreciate, she says, “Chefs suddenly waking up to biodiversity is important as a voice, not as an economy. If I, as a chef, use black rice to make one dish on my menu, how many farmers do I have the capacity to support? Every citizen must become conscious of what they are eating. This will protect the farmer, the land, and, their health,” she says.
Comfort Bowl
Kashmir’s Mushk Budij: Perfect for the region’s cold climate, this is a short-grained rice with a distinctly sweet aroma and taste.
Uttar Pradesh’s Kala Namak: A long-grained, fragrant variety that gets its name from its black husk.

West Bengal’s Tulaipanji: A medium-grained aromatic rice that is highly resistant to pests.

Manipur’s Chak-hao Poireiton: A non-glutinous rice with a nutty, sweet flavour which is believed to be rich with anti-oxidants.Assam’s Komal Saul: This “instant” rice is ready to eat after being soaked in warm water for a few minutes.
Odisha’s Kalabati: A nutritionally dense black variety which was brought back from the brink of extinction.
Goa’s Korgut: A salt-resistant red rice which grows well on inter-tidal mudflats and khazan (reclaimed) land.
Kerala’s Mullan Kazhama: A short-grained, plump, aromatic variety, this rice is used to make Malabar biryani.
Tamil Nadu’s Kaatuyaanam: With its light red grains, this rice grows tall enough to hide elephants, hence the name, which translates to “wild elephant”.This article appeared in the print edition with the headline ‘Written on the Grain’
Cambodia's EU rice exports fall sharply after tariffs; China sales up
JULY 8, 2019 / 10:47 AM

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia’s rice exports to the European Union fell sharply in the first half of the year following the imposition of tariffs, official data showed on Monday, but the loss was offset by increased sales to China.
The EU in January imposed tariffs for three years on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar, aiming to protect EU producers such as Italy following a surge in imports from the two Asian countries.
For the first six months, rice exports to the EU fell 32 percent from the same period last year to 93,503 tonnes, according to data from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality, a joint private-government working group.
However, rice exports to China rose 66 percent over the same period to 118,401 tonnes, while total rice exports rose 3.7 percent to 281,538 tonnes, with Australia emerging as a new market.
Kann Kunthy, vice president, of Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd, which exports the grain to foreign countries, said that the EU tariffs meant Cambodian long grain white rice was no longer competitive.
“Exports to the EU have declined after the safeguard measure so China and other new markets, especially Australia, are picking up,” Kunthy told Reuters.
“Losing a market is never good, but the good thing is that we find other markets,” he added.
Kunthy said Amru had concluded a deal with an Australian rice importer and anticipated annual exports of about 20,000 tonnes. Sales to Australia reached 8,035 tonnes in the first half of this year.
Under a trade program known as Everything But Arms (EBA), all Cambodian exports to the EU are duty free except arms. The block accounts for more than a third of Cambodia’s exports, including garments, footwear and bicycles.
However, in February the EU started an 18-month process that could lead to a suspension of Cambodia’s EBA status over its record on human rights and democracy.
In April, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said China will help Cambodia if the EU withdraws the EBA. China had also agreed to import 400,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice, according to Hun Sen’s Facebook page.

Is rice tariffication working?

July to September of any year is when we have the lowest local supply of rice. In the past, the National Food Authority (NFA) would have been ready with at least 30 days-worth of rice stock by July 1, most of which would be imported. The remaining 60 days of rice stock to be consumed by the population were expectedly held by households and the private commercial sector. That had been how we managed the seasonality of rice production to ensure our access to our food staple.
This year is special since this government did what several governments in the past did not dare do: liberalized rice imports and exports.
To recall, Congress passed the Rice Tariffication Law (RA 11203) in the last few days of 2018, and President Duterte signed it into law on Feb. 14, 2019. Among other provisions, it ended the import monopoly of the NFA and allowed the private sector to import rice at quantities they want subject to a 35% tariff on rice if imported from the rest of the ASEAN. Since about half of world’s rice exports come from Southeast Asia, it is likely that the Philippines would continue to source most of its rice imports from the ASEAN.
The timing of the law was precarious. In about two quarters after its enactment, the country would have gone through its leanest quarter in rice supply. Its implementing rules and regulations came out in March, relatively fast, but still it put to question whether, given that the NFA was no longer allowed to import rice, the country’s private sector would have enough time to import enough rice and avert a shortage.
If the response of the private sector was slow, there would not be enough imported rice for the country to reach the 90-day rice stock needed at the start of July. With inadequate stocks, the country would go through another round of rice price inflation, as in 2018.
So how did the country fare so far under the rice tariffication law? Has the private sector imported adequate quantities of rice? Can we avert another bout of rice price inflation this year?
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III answered that for us: yes, rice tariffication is working. Rice prices declined because total rice supply is adequate as the private sector imported 1.4 million metric tons in the first four months of the year, and is still importing. The projected quantity of rice imports this year could reach about 2.5 million metric tons.
The level of stocks relative to use is an important determinant of rice prices. In any year, the demand for rice in the country is made up of the use of rice as food, seeds, feeds and waste, inputs for processing, exports, and ending year rice stocks. Rice supply on the other hand is comprised of beginning year rice stocks, local output, and imported rice.
Rice use or demand is somewhat more predictable than supply. Food use is, on average from 2000 to 2015, about 72.5% of the total. From time to time, the ratio varies but not by much. Food use of rice is a relatively stable quantity. And that goes as well for our use of rice for seeds, feeds and waste, and processing, which is about 9.3% of total use. The remaining 17.5% is the end of year rice stocks.
Rice supply is the more volatile side. Of total supply, local rice output is about 73.6%, while imported rice comprises about 8.8%. Start of year rice stocks, 17.6% of total supply, simply mirrors the level of the ending year rice socks in the preceding year.
Rice supply is more unstable than demand because of output fluctuations and the volatility of the quantity of imported rice. Outputs go up and down depending on the weather and natural calamities including pest incidence. Extreme weather situations, such as what we are going through now with the El Niño dry spell, and pest problems reduce harvests.
Import volatility contributes more to supply instability than the former. The problem reflects the variations of policy decisions on whether the country should import rice, and if so, when and how much should we import. That volatility is linked to the country having had only one importer of rice, the NFA. In 2018, the NFA was late in importing rice, depleting the rice stock, and rice prices spiked.
The country faces a risk that imported rice will not be enough to ensure adequate stocks as the country goes through the lean quarter in the year, causing stocks-to-use (STU) ratio to fall.
From 2000 to 2017, stocks-to-use (STU) ratios as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) are good predictors of rice prices, as the chart here depicts. In the period just before the rice crisis in 2008, the country’s STU ratio was at its lowest level, discounting 2013. The price went up in 2008 by about 27% from its level in 2007. The price spike just about plateaued from 2009 to 2012, with the recovery of the STU ratio to its long-term average of 18%.
However, in 2013 the ratio fell once again to its lowest level, reflecting the actions of former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to keep rice imports down to show he succeeded in attaining rice self-sufficiency in 2013. He did not, but he succeeded in bringing down the STU ratio to about 14%, and the price went up by 15% in 2014.
The STU ratio recovered in 2014 to 2015, which may be traced to former President Benigno Aquino’s taking food security and the NFA away from Secretary Alcala and appointing former Senator Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Adviser for Food Security.
In 2017, the STU ratio fell once again to a low of 14% and rice prices went up. At the time, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. chaired the NFA Council, having been appointed by President Duterte. However, problems resurfaced. He and the other NFA Council disagreed with the NFA Administrator on the timing and manner of rice imports, delaying rice imports, pulling down the STU ratio and pushing rice prices up.
That was repeated in 2018. And we all know what transpired then.
The PSA does not have an estimate yet of the STU ratio for 2018 and 2019. I attempt to estimate that in order to see how comfortable we should be in 2019.
The ratios for 2018 and 2019 were projected based on the following actual and projected data.
• The output and import statistics in 2018 for rice were obtained from other publications of PSA. In assembling the data for 2019, the rice output and food and non-food uses (other than ending stocks) of rice is maintained for 2019.
• I had obtained a copy of the rice import data in the first few months of 2019 from the Department of Finance. It indicates that in roughly the first five months of the year, rice imports reached 1.7 million metric tons — an expansion by 243.9% over the same period in 2018. Apparently the NFA was still able to import rice, and this must be orders made by the NFA last year which just came in the first quarter of 2019. Sixty-five percent of the volume was brought in by the private sector, indicating a good response by the sector to the new policy regime. In fact, some forecasters placed the projected imports of the country in 2019 to reach 2.4 million tons.
Based on the projected data for 2018 and 2019, the STU ratio in 2018 might have plunged to 12.98%, which is 8% lower than its level in 2017. The low estimate may explain why rice prices went up sharply in that year.
In 2019, the STU ratio is estimated to climb up to 16.05%, which approaches its average level of 18%. The country is thus moving towards a stable rice price regime.
Apparently due to the recovery of the STU ratio, monthly prices of well milled rice have been falling. At their peak in September 2018, the average monthly price of well milled rice was P44.17 a kilogram. By April 2019, PSA reported the monthly rice price at P34.76.
It would seem therefore that this part of the rice tariffication law on food security seems working. Indeed, the revenues from rice imports is approaching P6 billion in the first five months. The government may well collect more than P10 billion in tariff revenues from rice imports this year, which the government could use for the rice competitiveness enhancement fund to modernize our agricultural sector.

Farm-gate price of rice at 2-yr low

The average farm-gate price of unhusked rice fell to P17.85 per kilogram in end-June, the lowest in two-and-a-half years, as rice imports surged past 1.3 million metric tons (MMT), data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
The average buying price of palay as of the fourth week of June declined by 16.51 percent, from last year’s P21.38 per kg, according to preliminary data from the PSA.
PSA data compiled by the BusinessMirror showed that the latest figure is the lowest since the third week of December 2016, when average quotations reached P17.84 per kg.
Figures from the PSA also indicated that the average farm-gate price of palay has fallen for the seventh consecutive week. The lowest was reported in Caraga at P15.05 per kg.
The average farm-gate price of palay usually picks up in June as the country prepares for the lean season, which starts in July, when rice harvest is usually minimal.

Higher imports

Rice farmers and other industry stakeholders attributed the drop in palay prices to higher rice imports this year following the implementation of the rice trade liberalization law.
PSA data obtained by the BusinessMirror showed that rice imports from January to April more than doubled to 1.317 MMT, from last year’s 468,949.86 metric tons.
The volume is comprised of rice imports brought into the country by the government and the private sector, according to the PSA.
The National Food Authority (NFA) allowed the out-quota importation of rice in the latter part of 2018 to pull down retail prices and temper inflation.
NFA data showed that as of March 5 at least 357,816.45 MT of rice arrived this year under the out-quota importation program.
The food agency monitored rice imports until March 5, when the rice trade liberalization law took effect and limited its role to buffer stocking.
NFA data showed the arrivals of rice it imported reached 532,775.285 MT, which it bought last year via the government-to-government scheme and open tender transactions.
The Bureau of Customs said it has collected P5.9 billion in tariffs from some 1.43 MMT of rice imported by traders following the implementation of Republic Act 11203 in March.

Retail prices

The average retail price of regular-milled rice (RMR) as of the fourth week of June fell to a 17-month low of P38.56 per kg, PSA data showed. The latest average quotation was 5.23 percent lower than last year’s P40.69 per kg and slightly lower than P38.68 per kg recorded last week.
This was the lowest retail price of RMR since the third week of January 2018, when the average quotation reached P38.45 per kg.
PSA data also showed that the average retail price of well-milled rice declined by 2.11 percent year-on-year to P43.10 per kg.
However, the average retail prices of RMR and WMR were still higher than the average quotations in the same period of 2015 to 2017.
United States makes first rice sale to China
July 8, 2019 | 12:04 am
CHICAGO — A private importer in China last week bought US 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 tons, 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 US grain.
The US rice was milled and packaged into bags for consumer and food service use, Klein said.
China was a major buyer of US soybeans and pork before the trade war started by the Trump administration. US President Donald Trump said on Monday that China had agreed to make unspecified new purchases of US 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 tons of US soybeans to China confirmed last week by the US Department of Agriculture, the largest such sale since March.
China is the world’s largest rice grower and consumer, producing 148.5 million tons of the grain in the 2018/19 marketing year and importing 3.5 million tons.

The United States produced 7.1 million tons of rice in 2018/19 and exported less than 3 million tons.
Chinese officials agreed to allow imports of US 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 US 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. 

Slowing inflation boosts gov’t growth optimism

 7, 2019, 10:00 PM
By Chino S. Leyco
The government economic managers have expressed optimism that the slowing rate of increase in consumer prices last month would help propel the country’s economy this year.
While the upside risks to inflation remain, both the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Finance (DOF) assured the government continues to put in place “preemptive measures” to mitigate the impact of weather-related shocks on food prices and uncertainties in the international oil market.
For Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the government is streamlining programs aimed at improving the food supply that would drive down inflation.
NEDA said the government will implement several measures to prevent the spread of the African swine fever — a major threat to food supply — while moderating its effects on inflation.
In June, the headline inflation eased to its slowest level in nearly two-years at 2.7 percent from 3.2 percent in the previous month mainly due to softer price adjustments in some commodity groups, especially food and non-alcoholic beverages.
“The implementation of the rice tariffication law allowed the entry of ample imported rice into the country that helped bring rice prices down,” NEDA said.
Since the effectivity of the law, private traders have applied for import clearances of 1.26 million metric tons of rice imports from the Bureau of Plant and Industry. Of these, 576,000 metric tons have already arrived in the Philippines as of June 7 this year.

Meat processors ask govt to stop imposing 40% tariff on MDM

By Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas & Rea Cu
The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) is asking the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to stop collecting the 40-percent tariff on mechanically-deboned meat (MDM) of chicken, saying the rice trade liberalization law did not authorize the reversion to a higher rate.
Industry sources also told the BusinessMirror that they are more concerned about the BOC’s decision to collect the 35-percent tariff difference on earlier chicken MDM shipments than the ban imposed by Manila on German meat imports.
In a letter sent to Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero last June 21, Pampi’s legal counsel Ma. Luz S. Azraga-Mendoza complained about the “unwarranted imposition of excessive duty rate of 40 percent on MDM.”
Mendoza said the right tariff should be 5 percent since the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 11203 did not automatically mean a reversion to the higher duty rate of 40 percent for MDMs.
“We are respectfully requesting your good office to issue a directive immediately stopping the further imposition of the 40-percent duty rate on MDM and order for the refund of the excessive payments advanced by the aggrieved importers,” she said in the letter obtained by the BusinessMirror.
Chicken MDM is a key component for processed meat products, such as hot dogs and canned luncheon meat.
“Though it cannot be gainsaid that RA 11203 already lifted the quantitative imports restriction on rice, said law however did not authorize any reversion to the higher duty rate of 40 percent insofar as MDM is concerned,” she added.
Arzaga-Mendoza said
even President Duterte “never gave his imprimatur to the honorable commission to unilaterally order the impo-
sition and collection of the aforementioned rate.”
The President issued Executive Order (EO) 82 on June 14, which retained the 5-percent import tariff on MDM until 2020.
Pampi said the decision of the BOC to collect a 40-percent tariff on MDM and the collection of the tariff difference had significantly affected the meat processing industry.
“By reason of the sudden upsurge, our meat importers are being constrained to incur staggering amount of costs. Not to mention the serious threat to their viability, especially those new players who cannot afford the additional burden,”
Mendoza said.
Pampi’s counsel said Atty. Erastus Sandino B. Austria, District Collector of BOC at Manila International Container Port (MICP), earlier issued letters to MDM importers demanding the payment of the 40-percent duty rate and threatening to impose the corresponding surcharges and interests starting March 5, when RA 11203 or the rice trade liberalization law took effect.
The BOC insisted that the adjustment of the rate to 40 percent was in accordance with what was discussed during a meeting involving the BOC, Tariff Commission (TC), DOF and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) on April 12 in line with the implementation of the rice tariffication law.
The TC called the meeting after Pampi requested the BOC to reinstate the 5-percent tariff on imported chicken MDM. The BOC sent the letter of Pampi to the commission on April 3.

Impact on prices

The increase in the prices of some processed meat products can be averted if the BOC will no longer retroactively collect the 35-percent tariff difference on imported MDM from March 5 to May 16, according to industry sources.
The BOC earlier said it expects the Manila International Container Port (MICP) to net an additional P400 million from the collection of the 35-percent tariff difference from importers and processors.
However, meat industry sources said the figure could go as high as P1 billion given the volume of chicken MDM that local processors import monthly.  “If the BOC would not collect those P1-billion back taxes then the meat processors could just easily absorb whatever price increases in raw materials due to limited supply, such as the banning of German imports,” the source said.
Manila banned all meat products from Germany—the second top source of Philippine meat imports—after the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) discovered a major breach of quarantine protocol for African swine fever (ASF).
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol issued a memorandum order authorizing the suspension of the system accreditation of German foreign meat establishments to ship meat products to the Philippines. The order takes effect immediately.
Piñol said BAI’s investigation found that the confiscated meat shipments from Germany last June 27 in Cebu contained 250 kilograms of pork from Poland, a country struck by ASF. Poland was banned from exporting meat to the Philippines due to the outbreak of the fatal pig disease.

Rice price falls more

Procurement policy benefits millers: experts

Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan | Published: 00:00, Jul 08,2019 | Updated: 00:19, Jul 08,2019
The market price of boro rice, the largest cereal crop of Bangladesh, has fallen further across the country, making farmers incur more losses.
Both farmers and millers said that the price of coarse un-husked rice had already fallen by Tk 50 to 60 per 40 kgs of rice over a week.
Despite the government’s declared steps to push up the price to protect farmers from further losses, the current procurement mechanism has totally failed to benefit the growers, said agriculture experts.
Such procurement policy rather creates scopes for the millers to make high profit from the throw-away rice price that always hits hard the cultivators, they said.
Farmers are now selling 40 kgs of un-husked rice or paddy at around Tk 600-Tk 650 against the production cost of around Tk 900, the experts said. 
A network of syndicates of the rice hoarders might be involved in the process of causing the rice price to continue to fall, they said.
Sher- e- Bangla Agricultural University’s agronomy professor Md Abdullahil Baqui told New Age that the government should take immediate steps to protect the farmers by ensuring them fair rice price.
‘Otherwise, rice farming will fall in danger in coming days,’ he cautioned.
The role of the syndicates in the procurement of rice, therefore, must be eliminated, he emphasised.
Food department officials, however, said that they continued to procure rice and paddy from the local markets and that they had already raised the target of paddy procurement in order to benefit the farmers.
According to the food ministry, as of July 3, the government has procured 7.35 lakh tonnes of rice from the local markets, of which 85,501 tonnes are unhusked rice, 6.17 lakh tonnes boiled husked rice and 41,000 tonnes atop or unboiled husked rice.
Rafiqul Islam Talukder, a rice wholesaler at Pathbazar in Gouripur under Mymensingh, told New Age that the current market price of 40kgs of BR 28 unhusked rice was Tk 680 and of BR 29 Tk 620, which were much lower than the government procurement price.
The food ministry has set the procurement price for 40kgs of un-husked rice at Tk 1,040.
Rafiqul, who claimed that he also had farming, said that the growers continued to incur losses and were gradually losing their interest in producing the rice crop.
As the government is procuring husked rice from millers the farmers are not getting the government-fixed price, he said.
‘Actually the listed rice millers are benefiting from the government procurement,’ he added.
Rice trader Mohammad Roki of Sarar Char Bazar in Bajitpur under Kishoreganj told New Age that rice price had fallen further by another Tk 50 per 40 kgs over the past week.
Due to low supply of husked rice to the wholesale market, the price of un-husked rice might have fallen, he said.
When asked about the falling price of rice, food department director general  Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum told New Age that the price was falling due to the weather condition or for other reasons.
She said that her department was trying to ensure fair prices to the growers by procuring un-husked rice directly from the farmers.
Against the target of procuring a total of four lakh tonnes of un-husked rice, she said, they were able to buy only 87,000 tonnes of un-husked as of July 7.
Nazmanara also said that the government undertook a project to build 200 paddy silos for procuring paddy directly from the farmers, probably from the next year.
Meanwhile, officials said, the government has increased the import duty on rice to 55 per cent in June last year from the previous 28 per cent to discourage rice import.

Rs 5.10 cr worth paddy, rice seized

Monday, 08 July 2019 | Staff Reporter | RAIPUR
The team of Food Controller, Raipur and assistant food officer conducted inspection of rice millers’ not lifting paddy for custom milling leading to seizure of paddy and rice estimated worth Rs 5.10 crore.
According to Food Controller, the inspection was conducted at Champaran based Prabhu Enterprises, Navapara.
The team found the mill is not maintaining stock register and as per agreement has not carried out the lifting of paddy from procurement centres. Based on findings, 460 quintal paddy, 285 quintal rice, 900 quintal broken rice, 135 quintal extremely broken rice were seized. Taking all on record, the team kept the seized material in custody of the rice miller for further action.
Similarly, at Shri Shyamji Rice Mill, Navapara, the miller based on his milling capacity has not carried out the custom milling and lifted the paddy. Team from spot seized 28000 quintal paddy and 3344 quintal rice. Both the seizures estimated price is around Rs 5.10 crore. Under different sections of Chhattisgarh Paddy Produce Rules, and Essential Commodities Act section 3/7, legal process has been initiated.

Gov’t to reduce reliance on hydro

Thou Vireak | Publication date 08 July 2019 | 09:28 ICT

The government will prioritise renewable energy development rather than hydroelectric power construction, according to Electricite duCambodge (EdC) director-general Keo Rattanak. PUBLIC DOMAIN
The government will prioritise renewable energy development rather than hydroelectric power, Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) director-general Keo Rattanak has said.
Private sector insiders have hailed the decision, saying investment in solar power would make the Kingdom’s manufacturing sector more competitive due to lower prices.
Speaking at a presentation on Cambodia’s 2020 energy vision, Rattanak said Cambodia will expand its solar energy investment by 12 per cent by the end of next year and increase it up to 20 per cent over the next three years.
He said that solar power would be used to meet the increasing electricity demands in the industrial and commercial sectors.
“We want to set up solar power plants in many locations. We believe solar power will provide lower prices. As EdC’s director, I do not want to see the Mekong River as part of the hydropower generation,” he said.
Rattanak said Cambodia will produce 70MW of solar energy next year – 10MW from a solar farm in Svay Rieng province and 60MW from solar power plants in Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district.
Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) secretary-general Moul Sarith said expanding solar power plants would help reduce electricity costs and boost the Kingdom’s exports.
“I think it is good for the rice industry as production costs will be lower and this will provide us with greater potential to compete with other countries,” he said.
Electricity prices for the industrial and commercial sectors currently range between 600 and 800 riel ($0.15 and $0.20) per kWh.
Sarith said the private sector has called for prices to be reduced to between 400 and 500 riel per kWh. CRF member rice millers pay on average between $50,000 and $150,000 per month for electricity.
The government recently approved two solar power projects which can produce 120MW of power in Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provinces, which are due to be online by the end of next year and in 2021 respectively.
The government also approved a 20MW expansion to a 60MW solar power plant which is currently under construction in Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district and scheduled to launch in December.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said EdC expanding solar power would attract foreign investors.
“I think that it’s a good thing, the cheaper the cost of electricity, the better the production levels we can achieve."
“If electricity is cheaper, it will encourage more investors to come. It’ll help the industrial sector a lot as it will help to lower production costs,” he said.

Wheat that can withstand the heat

 Published at 12:12 am July 7th, 2019
Photo: Bigstock
Bangladeshi scientists develop heat tolerant wheat variety at a time when wheat output is dwindling largely due to shorter winters, higher temperatures
With the gradual rise in temperatures and shorter winters in Bangladesh, growing wheat in warmer weather appears to be increasingly challenging.  Bangladesh’s dependence on imported wheat, the second most important food crop after rice, is increasing year on year.  
Only the development of a heat tolerant variety can come to the rescue. And the breakthrough has just been achieved!
Scientists at the Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) have developed a high yielding wheat variety – WMRI Gom 01 – which can withstand warmer weather and mature early. 
The National Seed Board recently approved the release of the heat tolerant and early maturing variety of wheat, that also a high yield potential of upto 5 tons a hectare compared to a national average wheat yield of 3 tons per hectare.  
This is a welcome development given the fact that Bangladesh currently grows a little over one million tons of wheat on 0.35 million hectares of land a year, compelling public and private importers to buy  six million tons of wheat internationally to meet increasing domestic demand. Bangladesh spends upto USD 1.5 billion a year to foot the wheat import bill.  
Domestic wheat production hit a record high of 1.9 million tons in fiscal 1998-99. But thanks to shorter winters as a fallout of climate change, and farmers switching over to more high value crops such as maize, potatoes, and vegetables, the production of wheat has dwindled over the years.
Bangladesh is a subtropical country where only spring wheat is grown in short winters. The spring wheat grown in this region is exposed to chronic heat stress at certain growth stages. Thanks to land scarcity and high cropping intensity, up to 80 percent of wheat in Bangladesh is grown after monsoon rice is harvested, and hence wheat seeding is often delayed. 
Late planting exposes the wheat to higher temperatures in its grain filling phase, causing significant yield loss. 
And as Bangladesh has a cropping intensity of nearly 300% (meaning, on average, crop land is harvested thrice a year) , one of the highest in the world, wheat has to compete with winter rice, maize, potato, and other crops, for farmland.  
The new heat tolerant variety would come to the rescue of thousands of wheat growers. They would be able to plant late and harvest the grain long after winter is gone. The WMRI Gom 01 wheat strain would be able to tolerate high March temperatures, explained one of the country’s preeminent wheat scientists, Dr. Naresh Chandra Deb Barma.
Dr Barma, who oversaw the Wheat Research Centre’s transformation into an institute, the Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI), as its first director general, told Dhaka Tribune that the WMRI Gom 01 is a hybrid of two popular wheat varieties, Shatabdi and Prodip. 
“It was initially named BAW 1194, selected from various wheat strains in diverse environments. This breeding line produced a 20-25% higher yield than the trial varieties in different nurseries and yield trials. This variety has been proven high yielding and heat tolerant,  successively for three years in research trials and farm fields,” said Dr Barma.
Back in 1983 the Wheat Research Centre developed and released a highly productive semi-dwarf wheat variety called Kanchan. In subsequent years varieties like – Kanchan, Shatabdi, Prodip – became hugely popular with wheat farmers. But eventually some of the earlier varieties degenerated and became susceptible to various diseases.
National Seed Board officials say the newly released variety is not only early maturing and heat tolerant, but also resistant to leaf blight and leaf rust diseases. 
Wheat scientists say heat stress is becoming an issue in the Rabi season of Bangladesh due to global warming and shorter winters. They say the newly released wheat variety, WMRI Gom 01, needs rapid expansion to boost wheat yields and farmer incomes. 
They said where many traditional wheat varieties take up to 120-125 days to mature, WMRI Gom 01 can be harvested in 105 to 110 days,  and farmers can plant till as late as mid-December and can withstand the hotter March temperatures.   
About its features BWMRI scientists said, the variety is 90 to 100cm tall with 4 to 5 tillers in each plant having broad and dark green leaves. The spike is long, with 45-50 grains in each spike.  The grains are white, shiny, and bold, with a thousand kernels weighing 52-60 grams.

Lend farmers a helping hand

Jul 8, 2019, 7:16 AM; last updated: Jul 8, 2019, 7:29 AM (IST)AGRICULTURE: CROP RESIDUE MANAGEMENT
Stubble fires can be doused if farmers are guided and incentivised to use eco-friendly technology, writes Balwinder Singh Sidhu

The burning of crop residue not only contributes to global warming but is also a major health hazard. The poor commercial value of the residue, coupled with the high cost of collection and storage, reduces its value for farmers.
INDIA, the second largest agro-based economy in the world with round-the-year crop cultivation, generates a large amount of crop residue, which is burnt in the absence of adequate sustainable management practices. As per the Global Burden of Disease Study-2017, about 12.5 per cent of the total deaths in India were caused by air pollution. Of these, 51.4 per cent persons were less than 70 years of age. Around 76.8 per cent Indians breathe air that is worse than the levels recommended by the National Ambient Air Quality Standard. Apart from contributing to global warming, crop residue burning (CRB) has become a major environmental problem causing health issues. 
The main adverse effects of CRB include the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, increased levels of particulate matter and smog in winter that reduces visibility and causes health hazards, loss of biodiversity of agricultural land and the deterioration of soil fertility. CRB significantly increases the quantity of air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, which results in the aggravation of eye, skin and respiratory diseases. According to an Indian Agricultural Research Institute study (2008-09), Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh accounted for about 53 per cent of the country’s total crop residue burnt. The intensification of agriculture and the economics of burning are major contributors to the spread of the CRB menace to central, eastern and southern parts of the country, as captured in the satellite images after the harvest of crops.
Why residue is burnt
The burning of one tonne of paddy straw results in the loss of nutrients — about 5.5- kg nitrogen, 2.3-kg phosphorus (P2O5), 25-kg potash (K2O), 1.2 kg sulphur, 50-70 per cent of micro-nutrients present in the straw and 400 kg of carbon. Valuing these nutrients at the current market prices means a loss of about Rs 1,500 per hectare due to four major nutrients alone. Farmers continue to burn paddy residue due to its zero cost as well as the narrow window of time available to prepare the fields for sowing of wheat after paddy (which is being further shortened due to delay in transplanting of paddy). Further, the farmers also have the mindset to plant the crop in a well-prepared seed bed on account of the belief that “better the tilth, better the crop”. Further, they normally own the machinery required for tillage and sowing in clean fields, whereas they have to invest to purchase new machinery for Crop Residue Management (CRM), which is costly. Since these machines are used only for 15-20 days in a year, the farmers do not consider these worth investing. Wheat straw is collected and used as fodder and the left-over volume in the field is very small, yet the farmers resort to burning. 
The farming sector is facing a severe economic distress and farmers prefer to continue with paddy due to almost negligible marketing risk; the increasing area under this crop is increasing the volume of residue. The poor economic and commercial value of crop residue, coupled with high cost of collection and storage, reduces its value for farmers. The commercial supply chain and an ecosystem for alternative use are almost non-existent at present. The enforcement of a ban on burning is also a challenge due to the extent of its incidence. In Punjab, the number of fire incidents captured has been 81,093, 45,410 and 50,590 after rice harvesting (October-November) and 14,857, 11,510 and 11,698 after wheat harvest (April-May) in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively, though these events are not a true quantification of the ‘volume and acreage’ burnt.
The options
Many solutions have been proposed from time to time to utilise the huge quantity of crop residue generated every year. The collection of straw for ex situ use in biomass-based energy generation facilities, co-burning in some coal-fired energy units, production of briquettes and pellets for domestic energy use and ethanol production is being done, but for large-scale use, collection, transportation to central facilities and storage of millions of tonnes of residue must occur in only 20-25 days. To store rice straw of one million hectares requires about 2,500 hectares. Further, the removal of residue from the field is not a good proposition because it entails the removal of huge amounts of essential plant nutrients and soil organic matter.
Only on-farm i.e. in situ management of residue largely has the potential to address all three criteria of sustainability, profit and practicality. As the incorporation of residue into the soil requires two to three extra tillage operations along with extra irrigation, in addition to the use of chopper to reduce their size to hasten its decomposition, the retention of residue as mulch is the best option. The combine harvester fitted with super straw management system (Super-SMS) chops and spreads loose rice residue as mulch and wheat can be planted into mulched fields using an innovative agricultural technology called the Happy Seeder. In situ management of crop residue through conservation agriculture (CA) is a viable, practical and scalable solution and needs to be propagated.
The new initiative
Smog in 2016 and 2017 brought this menace into serious focus and attempts were made to find an appropriate solution. As remarked by Milton Friedman, “Change only happens in a crisis and then the actions that are undertaken depend upon the ideas that are just lying around.” The Union Government launched a scheme with an allocation of Rs 1,150 crore for in situ CRM through the promotion of agricultural mechanisation and thereby retention of residue as mulch or its incorporation into the soil through the use of appropriate machinery. Financial assistance is being provided to purchase the machinery for own use or establish farm machinery banks for custom hiring. The government also made it mandatory for all combine harvesters to be equipped with the SMS. The scheme was aggressively implemented during 2018-19 and 28,616 machines have been provided to the individual farmers, cooperative societies and entrepreneurs for setting up custom hiring centres (CHCs). To provide access to a large number of farmers, emphasis was laid on involving primary agricultural cooperative societies to purchase the machines for use by their members and also on the organisation of farmers into groups for joint ownership of machinery. As many as 3,119 cooperative societies and 1,147 farmer groups were provided with machinery for CRM. In addition, a campaign was launched to create awareness through print and electronic media as well as village-level training camps, demonstrations, field days and exposure visits for farmers. The programme resulted in the reduction of quantity of straw burnt, which was monitored in terms of active fire incidents, but these are not a true indicator of the area under fire and the quantity burnt. 
The delay in starting the programme and consequently the delay in the supply of requisite machinery, lack of capacity-building of the machine operators and shortage of trained staff to provide requisite extension services and their will to work together with the private sector suppliers, contributed to less than optimal utilisation of machinery. Demand-driven mechanisation is viable and profitable only when based on a sound business model and risk management strategies.
The way forward
Though significant progress has been made in advancing conservation agriculture-based technologies (CA-Happy Seeder) during the past year, based on the feedback from stakeholders, there were some gaps in implementation. The programme has been designed and implemented in a top-down approach, whereas such an approach has not always been successful in the past. Keeping in view the social, economic and cultural aspects at the local level, the technology needs to be adapted to farmers’ requirements for the delivery of right equipment in the right environment.  Accordingly, it is suggested that:
(i) Building technical capacity of stakeholders is a pre-requisite for propagation of new technologies, so a major emphasis needs to be laid on their training for proper operation and maintenance of the equipment and its profitable use. 
(ii) The service from a well-equipped and well-trained service provider is necessary to improve access of small holders to relevant machinery. So, the selected entrepreneurs should be nurtured and trained in business skills — market appraisal, costing and fixing of rate, cash flow control, partial budgeting and record-keeping — as well as technical skills such as operation, calibration of equipment, maintenance and servicing.  
(iii) The private sector should also be encouraged to participate through demonstrations, technical support, machinery fairs and formation and consolidation of farmers’ mutual support groups along with the public sector.
(iv)  For the cooperative societies, providing CRM machinery on rent must be viable as a business. Demand aspects need to be addressed by ensuring that farmers have access to information about availability and suitability of machinery in order to make informed choices. The secretary of the society should be accountable to ensure the optimal use of machines.  
(v) The present programme does not incentivise the farmers to cover the additional cost of hiring of machinery. Initially, an incentive of Rs 2,500 per hectare, limited to two hectares, may be provided to enable the small holders to cover the increase in the rentals of SMS-equipped harvester combines and the seeding machinery to improve adoption on a large scale.
(vi)  Efforts for propagation and adoption of climate-smart and environment-friendly machinery should be an ongoing programme instead of limiting it to two years. For coverage of two-thirds of the area under paddy-wheat rotation under in situ CRM, about 40,000 zero-till drills/Happy Seeders are required. 
(vii)  The seeding of wheat in standing rice stubble provides an additional window of about two weeks for advancing the sowing of the wheat crop. As a medium-term strategy, the selection and breeding of wheat varieties suitable for conservation agriculture so as to utilise this window to increase the duration and saving from terminal heat for improving productivity may be taken up. It will offset a major cost in ownership and use of CA machinery.
(viii) There were some sporadic incidents of attack of ‘army worm’ on the wheat crop at some locations during the past season. Accordingly, research for fine-tuning agronomic practices for conservation agriculture — pest control, weed control, timing of first irrigation and fertiliser application — may also be taken up.
(ix) In the long term, there is a need to develop a range of alternatives. Reduction in area under rice-wheat cropping system is a must to reduce the straw load. Though wheat is an ecologically benign crop, diversification from paddy should be the top priority. For this, a package of incentives and disincentives has to be put in place for discouraging rice cultivation and encouraging other crops’ cultivation. Agricultural research on alternatives to paddy requires continuous investment in terms of time and resources to make these economically competitive.
(x) The Punjab State Farmers’and Farm Workers’ Commission set up a Paddy Straw Challenge Fund with an award money of $1 million for developing innovative technologies for solving the problem of paddy straw-burning. The Union Government should make a matching contribution towards the award money to attract international research organisations to participate.
To enable the country to feed itself sustainably in the scenario of rising population, growing rural-to-urban migration, degradation of natural resources and increasing negative impact of climate change, emphasis will have to be put more firmly on conservation agriculture production systems.  For this purpose, farmers need to be guided, motivated and incentivised for embracing the paradigm shift to this new way of farming. As CS Lewis put it, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” We have to make a new beginning before it is too late. 

Biofortified staples may hold the key to India’s rural malnutrition

by Smriti Verma and Anjani Kumar | International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Monday, 8 July 2019 08:18 GMT
We explore the challenges of ending hunger and malnutrition as food production adjusts to a warming world
* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Indian diets involve copious consumption of staples and not enough nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables
Smriti Verma is a research analyst and Anjani Kumar is a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in New Delhi.
The National elections in India may well be over, but the persistent issue of malnutrition still holds the nation in its tight grip. And yet, of the myriads of topical issues that comprised political propaganda, including caste, religion, employment, farmer upliftment, and even social transfers, none of the political parties raised this critical issue. The twin problems of malnutrition and nutritional insecurity are particularly severe in rural India.
According to the latest estimates available from the Indian government’s 2015-16 National Health and Family Survey, nearly 27 percent of women and 23 percent of men in rural India are malnourished. Economic growth and development cease to be inclusive if vast swathes of India’s young remain malnourished: 38 percent of children under five years of age are  stunted (low height-for-age) and 36 percent  underweight (low weight-for-age).
“Hidden hunger”, or micronutrient deficiency, that inhibits proper growth and development of the human mind and body, affects a large section of the Indian population, as it does in many developing countries. It has no visible signs but can seriously impair the cognitive abilities of individuals, cause fatigue, reduce immunity, and result in diminished physical capabilities.
Indian diets largely involve copious consumption of staples such as rice and wheat, with limited dietary diversification toward micronutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and animal products. Introduction of biofortified staples, are bred to have higher micronutrient contents, in the food system can help improve diets considerably. In fact, biofortification can be a key food-based approach to tackle malnourishment and micronutrient deficiency, especially among the poor who cannot afford high-value foods.
In an ongoing study at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), we explore the scope for introducing biofortified rice and wheat through the public distribution system (PDS) – a state-funded program targeting provision of staples and other essential commodities at discounted prices to the poor – in the eastern Indian states of Bihar and Odisha.
Both the states have among the highest incidences of malnutrition and anaemia (iron deficiency) in the country: incidence of anaemia among children aged 6-59 months and women aged 15-49 years is over 60 percent in Bihar and close to 50 percent in Odisha. In rural Bihar, over 70 percent of all iron and zinc intake comes from cereals whereas in rural Odisha, a third is  contributed by cereals.
PDS accounts for a significant share – between 20 and 40 percent – of the iron and zinc consumed through cereals (mainly rice and wheat) in rural Bihar and Odisha. If the amount of ordinary rice consumed from PDS in these states is replaced by biofortified varieties, zinc intake from rice could increase by over 60 percent. Similarly, replacement of PDS wheat with a biofortified variety could increase iron and zinc intake from wheat by over 30 percent. Replacing staples provisioned through the PDS with biofortified varieties could result in substantial gains in ensuring nutritional security for India’s poorest and most vulnerable.
Bihar and Odisha undertook intensive reforms in the PDS to address some of its most obstinate problems, simplifying entitlements, expanding coverage, enhancing transparency, and plugging leakages, soon after India passed the mammoth National Food Security Act in 2013.
Almost a third of all wheat and rice consumed by the poor in these states now comes from the PDS, signaling its wider reach, and highlighting the critical role it can play in any policy initiative to improve nutritional outcomes among the poorest. However, simply introducing biofortified staples through the PDS without first setting up the stage in terms of a robust physical and institutional infrastructure for its production, procurement, and distribution might prove to be a myopic policy move.
To encourage wider uptake of these varieties for cultivation, farmers can be incentivised through a price differentiation procurement mechanism. Sophisticated systems for sampling, testing, grading, and marking will be essential to maintain traceability of produce.
India needs to urgently streamline its efforts toward institutionalizing production, procurement, and distribution of biofortified staples through the existing PDS network. Their introduction into the food system will be a major stride for the nutritional security push in India. Later, India could also explore similar possibilities for biofortified pulses and oilseeds.
Research ends with doctoral honor
Aaron Lee Kasey Sampson, son of Kenneth Sampson of Chickasha and Zora Lobaugh Sampson of Pauls Valley and grandson of Imogene Gay Garland Lobaugh, completed his doctoral research and successfully defended his PhD thesis on May 13.
He has earned the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Neurosciences from the University of California San Diego.
His research under Professor Terrence J. Sejnowski focused on analyzing brain states using advanced signal processing techniques and resulted in several published papers.
During his graduate studies, Aaron also served as the chair of the American Indian Graduate Student Association at UC San Diego.
Aaron will be moving to Johns Hopkins University as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Ernst Niebur.
Aaron completed his undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Physics, with a minor in Spanish, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known by most simply as MIT.
He then worked as a research technician at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
In 2018 he was awarded the National Institutes of Health Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience Award.
The UCSD Intertribal Council Resource Center hosted Aaron and other graduates to a dinner and presented him with a UCSD Triton beaded medallion and a graduation stole that read “2019 Native Grad, Aaron Sampson, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.”
Aaron was born in Norman, Okla., and graduated from Rice Lake High School in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

Fall in palay prices now on its sixth month

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:13 AM July 08, 2019
The downtrend in palay prices has entered its sixth month, reinforcing the need for more government interventions as struggling farmers await a much-needed buffer fund.Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s weekly price monitoring report, the average farm-gate price of palay has declined anew to P17.85 a kilogram as of the fourth week of June, down 16.51 percent from year-ago prices.
During this period, a kilo of regular milled and well-milled rice was sold at P38.56 and P42.92, respectively, from P40.69 and P44.37 in the same period last year.
According to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, farmers, especially from Nueva Ecija and Isabela, have complained farm-gate prices have dropped to P13 a kilo. The group said current rates were barely enough to cover production cost, currently at P12 a kilo.
The continuous decline in rice prices is due to the arrival of more affordable imported rice following the passage of the rice tariffication bill.
According to the Department of Finance, the government had already generated P5.9 billion in additional revenue from the imposition of tariff on rice imports, and this was expected to swell as the country entered lean months.
While a joint study by the National Economic and Development Authority and the International Food Policy Research Institute bore a rosy outlook for the country following the deregulation of rice trade, it also recommended the provision of cash transfers to local rice producers to help them cope with a more competitive rice regime.

Agriculture required government policies in GDP

  Agriculture required government policies in GDP2019-07-08T17:08:54+05:00

Muhammad Adnan

I am Muhammad Adnan from College Of Agriculture University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan and currently student of M.Sc(hons) Agronomy.
First of all, that what is agriculture, Agriculture means the cultivation of land and rearing or rising of animals for the production purposes. Like all other fields which play very important role in the government GDP of Pakistan.
Agriculture is also play very important role in the GDP of Pakistan. Agriculture contributes about 25% in the GDP of Pakistan which is higher than all other sectors. According to a survey about 70% of the people of the Pakistan directly or indirectly links with this sector, about 40% labor is directly link with this sector.
All these above factors collectively play very important role in the GDP of Pakistan. Similarly, by the government of Pakistan implementation of agriculture policy except for centrally sponsored schemes is by and large in the hands of the state government, basically the policy is plans of five years which have great importance in all the fields of Pakistan.
There are some main points which have great importance in the economy of Pakistan.

Source of employment

Consistency of employment in any sector espically in agriculture sector has great importance in GDP of Pakistan.  As employment also affect the GSP of economy as well as the per capita income.
As per capita increase the living style of the people also increase and similarly facilities of the people also increase also the education off the people also increase. These all are above factors affect the economic development. Since in this way agriculture have great importance in the development of Pakistan economy by providing the employment.

Food requirement

Pakistan population is increasing day by day; According to survey of UNDP Pakistan population is increasing 2% per year. As this rate if the population increase then the food requirement also increase.

Agriculture is the major field that fulfills the requirement of the population. It also reduces the import of food from other economies. By providing the food agriculture sector play very important role and support the economy growth.

Contribution in exports

Wheat, rice and cotton are the major exports of Pakistan. According to a study about 9.8 billion bales of cotton produced per year , similarly rice crop is produced 4.3 million tons is produced per year. These agriculture products are exported to the other countries against foreign exchange.
This foreign exchange is used to import the industrial or auto mobile machineries and other products. This foreign exchange is utilized to improve the development of economy to improve the other sectors like education, health and investment.

Raw material for industries

In Pakistan industries play very important role in development of economy. Raw material is used to produce to finish product. As agriculture also provide raw material to these industries. Cotton is major export of Pakistan whose raw material is used in textile industries and from these textile industries, the products is exported to other countries. In agriculture sector, livestock has also very important.
Their raw material likes sports product, leather from industries are used to export to other countries which help in the development of economy against foreign exchange. So in this way, agriculture helps to Pakistan economy and its development.

Infrastructural development

Like all above factor, infrastructure has also very importance. It acts as a fuel for the growth of economy. Agricultural products mean of transportation and communication is a key for the distribution of agricultural products.

Quick means of transportation, communication are required to improve the infrastructure. For the distribution of agricultural products, development of transportation is very important

Increase in GDP level:

Agriculture contributes about 25% in the total GDP of Pakistan which is higher than all other sectors of Pakistan. As the GDP increase the economy of Pakistan also increase. Since independence agriculture plays important role of GDP. Now agriculture has third largest contribution in GDP.
IN THE AGRICULTURE, fisheries livestock and other major crops like wheat rice cotton have huge sector in order to providing the employment. As employment contributes in GDP, increase in employment will increase the per capita income as a result the GDP rate of economy also increase.

Government policies

Policies are the plans to regulate any system. It is made by the every new government for their next 5 years era which are directly controlled by the prime minister. Implementation of agricultural policies is very important because agriculture has great importance in the growth of GDP. The following are the major problems in the agriculture sector which highly need government policies
1- Yield collection problem:
In marketing the collection of yield from the small farmers is very difficult and expensive.
2-Storage problem:
In Pakistan the storage facilities are not enough. In this way the farmers cannot their products and wait for the higher price of products.
3-Rough grading products:
In market the products which are graded have high price. As in Pakistan most of the farmers are poor so the grading problems must reduce.

4-Market advisory committee:
For the advice and information’s to the farmers MAC at district and tehsil level should be setup in the market. The agriculture and the other related departments should be the member of this committee.
5-Market reforms:
Market system should be improved by the government. For the improvement of this system government should introduced strict rules and laws. This system checked agricultural products prices daily by the inspector.
6-Pricing policy:
Market economy is determined at large level.
7-Access policy:
Access to agriculture technology input and output is very important for the rural financial policy.
8-Recourse policy:
This policy is for the land tenure and for the management of resources like land, water, forests and fisheries.
Authors: Muhammad Adnan, Dr. Mubashar Nadeem, Akash Munawar, Mubashir Hussain, Mohsin Amin and Hassan Noorani
Department of agronomy, college of agriculture, university of Sargodha

These seed bankers are saving India’s native crops

Shobita Dhar| TNN | Jul 7, 2019, 01:00 IST
Farmers, agri scientists and even former techies are pitching in to stop hardier and healthier indigenous varieties from disappearing

It was in 2001 that Sangita Sharma set up Annadana, a seed bank with 20 varieties of indigenous seeds on her five-acre farm in Bengaluru. Eighteen years later, her bank is richer by 800 varieties of desi seeds that are cheaper and more nutritious than hybrid varieties. The history of Indian agriculture goes back 10,000 years. Over centuries, nature picked the most resilient seeds that thrived in Indian conditions without help of chemicals and fertilisers. Our native seeds. However, they lost out to high-yielding hybrid seeds introduced in the 1960s as part of the green revolution. Dr Debal Deb, a plant scientist and rice conservationist in Odisha, says that India was home to 1,10,000 varieties of rice till 1970. Of these only 6,000 survive today.

Today, individuals like Sharma are reviving the food diversity of India by preserving desi seeds from all over India. “I love food. And I wanted to know where it comes from,” says the former communications professional who now farms and preserves seeds for a living. At Dr Prabhakar Rao’s farm near Bengaluru, visitors can see a number of desi vegetables in bloom. Red bhindi, red corn, violet peppers and tomatoes in at least four different colours including blue and yellow. Varieties that we never get to see in the market. “India has lost 99% of biodiversity in vegetables,” says Dr Rao, an agricultural scientist who started collecting native seeds seven years ago, and today has 540 in his bank called Hariyalee.

To reintroduce these varieties to people, Rao holds farming workshops that attract urban farmers, terrace gardeners, students and scientists. “Most people don’t know a crucial fact about native seeds: they cannot be grown using chemicals. If I add urea to a native wheat variety, it will grow tall but easily snap in the wind. In contrast, GMO and hybrid seeds cannot grow without the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Also, they are designed to not reproduce. This ensures that the farmer has to go back to the seed corporation every sowing season to buy seeds,” says Rao, who started his career during the green revolution but had a change of heart when he realised the long-term unsustainability of chemical agriculture.

A software engineer by profession, Babita Bhatt left a corporate career in Gurugram three years ago, and moved to Dehradun along with her husband Alok to preserve heirloom seeds. She also set up an e-store, Himalaya2home, to sell these seeds and other products like native dals, oils and flours. “There’s so much pesticide in our food. Cancer cases are increasing. What is happening to our food chain is obviously affecting our health,” says Bhatt, who sources seeds from all over Uttarakhand.

She introduced a desi variety of black rice, indigenous to Imphal valley, to some local farmers. “I figured that the climate conditions in Doon and Imphal are similar and decided to experiment. The rice has taken very well to Dehradun,” she adds. However, the local Type 3 Dehradun basmati, famous for its fragrance and long grains, is no longer the same. “Paddy here was grown with water fed from mountain streams. Now, the streams have little water left in them or it’s contaminated. So, while the desi variety is around, it has lost its aroma,” says Bhatt.

On her e-store, she sells 15 varieties of rajma sourced from valleys across the state, like Henval, Bhagirathi, Johar, Alaknanda and Doon.

One of her suppliers is Vijay Jardhari from Jardhar village in Henval valley, Tehri-Garhwal. Jardhari, 67, runs Beej Bachao Andolan, a social initiative to preserve seeds native to Uttarakhand. A key figure in the Chipko movement, Jardhari started collecting native seeds in 1985-86, and today has around 150 varieties of rice and 200 varieties of rajma, in addition to desi vegetables. Of the rice varieties, some like tapachini and jhamcha, yield 70 quintals/hectare. In comparison, Pusa RH 10, a hybrid basmati, yields 65 quintals/hectare. “Native varieties act like vaccines,” says Jardhari.

“You have them in the season and you are recharged for the rest of the year. If you eat kulath dal (horse gram) two to three times in winter, it will prevent stone formation. If you have stones, then drinking its water will help dissolve them,” says Jardhari, who is invited to many sustainable farming conventions both in India and abroad. Though Jardhari’s claims stem from traditional knowledge of farmers and don’t necessarily have scientific backing, there are many converts. Cancer survivor Amit Vaidya is one of those. “Hybrid tomatoes can’t be stewed the same way as desi tomatoes. Their skin comes off differently. Native beetroot varieties are softer, sweeter and darker in colour indicating a higher concentration of antioxidants. I know where my food comes from and it makes all the difference,” says Vaidya, who lives on Vypin island, near Kochi.

Sharma of Annadana says it’s time the government steps in to preserve native seeds. “State horticulture farms can start using them,” says Sharma, who’s looking for collaborations to create more community seed banks.