Thursday, July 18, 2019

18th July,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Qatar Lifts Ban On Import Of Pakistani Rice

Description: Qatar lifts ban on import of Pakistani rice

Pakistan will export 50,000 tonnes of rice in the first stage.

Islamabad (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 18th July, 2019) Qatar has lifted the ban on the import of Pakistani rice.
Rice exporters patron-in-chief Abdur Rahim Janoo has said that Pakistan will export 50,000 tonnes of rice in the first stage.
He said that the rice export will be increased from $2 to $5 billion.
The patron-in-chief said that Pakistan used to export five lac tonnes of rice to Pakistan, adding that he will try to make the market again.
Qatar annually imports 200,000 tonnes of rice.
Qatar had recently agreed to include Pakistani rice in the tender documents of the Central Tendering Committee which falls directly under the purview of Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce.
The development had come during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Qatar on January 21-22.
The lifting of the ban on Pakistani rice was expected to provide an additional US $40-50 million of rice exports to Qatar if the quality is maintained.
But the foreign minister later revealed that Qatar never lifted this ban.
However, reports now suggest that Qatar is ready to import Pakistani rice.

Government to set SRP on rice
By Lilybeth Ison  July 17, 2019, 7:27 pm
MANILA -- As the farmgate price of palay continues to plummet in many parts of the country, the government is getting set to arrest this freefall by coming up with a Suggested Retail Price (SRP) on rice.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in a press briefing on Wednesday, said the need for this move became apparent during a meeting held on July 16 between the rice industry stakeholders and the Department of Agriculture (DA), and even the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which was called to determine the cause of the drop in the palay prices.
"During the meeting, a lot of inputs were contributed and we saw there are loopholes in the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) that needs to be addressed," he said.
"Masyadong ganadong mag-import yung mga traders right now kasi feeling nila wala ng magko-control sa presyo ng bentahan ng bigas sa palengke. So, napakalaki ng margin ng profit nila," he noted.
In fact, Piñol said the landed cost of rice from Thailand is about PHP23/kilo, Vietnam is PHP25, and Myanmar is about PHP18. "Pero ang bentahan sa palengke and this was what surprised us mataas pa rin -- nasa PHP40, PHP50."
"This alarmed us because this was not the intent of the Rice Tariffication Law. The intent of the RTL was to open the market to lower the price of rice and make it affordable to the consumers," he stressed.
Piñol said the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law will result in a switch from the previous quota system in importing rice to a tariff system, where rice can be imported more freely.
The law allows unlimited rice importation, but investors must first secure a phytosanitary permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry and pay the 35-percent tariff for shipments from Southeast Asia.
This is expected to result in a decline of as much as PHP7 per kg. in the domestic retail price of rice.
However, farmer leaders and rice industry stakeholders are now complaining as farm gate prices of paddy rice dropped to a record low of PHP12 to PHP14 per kilo in many parts of the country.
The prevailing farm gate prices showed a steep drop from an average of PHP20 per kilo of fresh palay earlier this year which would result in an estimated PHP114-billion in losses to Filipino rice farmers for the whole year.
In contrast, the market prices of rice, expected to drop by PHP7 per kilo with the RTL, have remained almost constant with some areas reporting a drop of only PHP1 to PHP2 per kilo, even with the deluge of imported rice, the rice industry stakeholders said.
As of March 5, the total number of registered rice importers was 480, and the total number of Sanitary and. Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPSIC) issued was 1,607,398.054 metric tons (MT).
As of July 12, the total volume of imported rice that arrived was 822,074.008 MT.
Under the RTL, a special safeguard duty on rice was put in place to protect the rice industry from sudden or extreme price fluctuations.
A safeguard duty is a temporary increase in import duty of an agricultural product to deal with import surges or price falls, under the World Trade Agreement (WTO) on Agriculture.
In a consultation Wednesday which was attended by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DOF), and DA, Piñol said they came up with a solution to use the Price Act as the basis in addressing the "uncontrolled" pricing of rice in the market with the purpose of coming up with a SRP.
"We are now drafting a Joint Memorandum Circular with DTI for the implementation of the Price Act," he said.
Under the provision of the law, the DA chief said, they can deputize or enlist the assistance of any government agency in the implementation of the provisions of the Price Act.
"The DA will also issue a Department Order setting the guidelines for the SRP. The intention of this move is to really make the consumers feel the effect of the Rice Tariffication Law," he said.
"We will set the SRP based on the landed cost of rice. DTI, NEDA and DOF will come up with the computation," he added.
Piñol said the SRP for rice might be between PHP35 to PHP38 per kilo for premium or 5 percent broken. (PNA)

ASEAN Morning Bytes

Stay up to date with all of ING’s latest economic and financial analysis.

EM Space: More Asian central banks joining in the global easing wave

  • General Asia:  Asian markets will likely move sideways with persistent downward bias from trading in the US market. The central banks in Korea and Indonesia are meeting to review their monetary policies today. We see both cutting the policy rates by 25bp.    
  • Thailand: As we argued last week’s move by the Bank of Thailand to tighten rules on capital inflows in its bid to rein in THB appreciation aren’t enough. Indeed, the central bank is considering more curbs. At his quarterly briefing yesterday Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob pointed to the reduction of bond supply among tools they could use for the purpose. Separately, Deputy Governor Mathee Supapongse hinted at easing rules on capital outflows. Any efforts to curb THB appreciation pressure are countered by the USD weakness as the Fed policy rate cuts loom, though a BoT policy rate cut may help to some extent.
  • Indonesia: Bank Indonesia's (BI) policy decision is expected by 2 pm local time today. We are part of the solid consensus in the Bloomberg survey forecasting  BI to slash policy rates by 25bp. The IDR has been performing better this year, while BI's aggressive tightening in 2018 has created room for more easier policy ahead to support growth as inflation continues to be well-behaved.     
  • Philippines: The government is looking to make adjustments to its recently implemented rice tariff law as the agricultural lobby groups decry the falling farmgate prices for the staple. The new law which allows unimpeded rice imports to help stabilize supply has forced rice prices lower, which in turn has helped push headline CPI inflation within the BSP's policy target. The government intends to study implementing a suggested retail price for imported rice, which could stall the recent precipitous drop in rice prices and temper headline inflation’s deceleration.     

What to look out for: regional central bank meetings

  • Hong Kong policy meeting (18 July)
  • South Korea policy meeting (18 July)
  • Fed Bostic speech (18 July)
  • Bank Indonesia policy meeting (18 July)
  • Japan inflation (19 July )
  • Fed Williams and Bullard speeches (19 July)

Odisha continues as consuming State

Members on Wednesday expressed concern in the State Assembly that Odisha is still dependent on other States for consumption of essential commodities mainly because of lack of cold storages for preservations of vegetables for offseason use.  
Putting questions during the Question Hour, Mohan Charan Majhi (BJP), Amar Prasad Satpathy and Sudhansu Sekhar Parida (BJD) and Congress Member Suresh Kumar Routray stressed that the Government must take all necessary measures for preservation of vegetables like potato, onion, tomato for offseason use by the people of the State.
Responding to a question of Majhi, Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari, on behalf of Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain, told the House that Odisha is a consuming State, which, excepting rice, imports all other commodities like wheat, edible oil, potato, onion and sugar to meet daily need of its people.
The State produces an average of 76.19 lakh metric tonne of rice every year against its annual need of 68.31 lakh metric tonne.
Thus, Odisha is a surplus State in rice production, said the Minister.
Pujari informed that Odisha produces 0.07 lakh metric tonne of wheat against the need of 5.26 lakh metric tonne. Balance wheat is imported from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar to meet the need of the people.
The State produces 8.01 lakh MT pules against its annual need of 2.83 lakh MT. Required dal and other pulses are imported from Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. The State produces 2.28 lakh MT of edible oil against annual need of 2.48 lakh MT and the balance is exported from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
An annual average of 2.94 lakh MT of potato is produced in the State every year while the annual need is 12.20 lakh metric tonne. Odisha meets its potato need by importing balance tuber from the neighbouring West Bengal.
Though the State produces onion more than its requirement, still the daily-consuming item does’t meet the people’s need during offseason due to lack of preservation. Odisha produces 3.74 lakh MT of onion against annual need of 2.41 l MT. Onion is imported from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, said the Minister.

Chin Villagers, IDPs Struggle to Meet Food Needs amid Rice Restrictions
Thursday, July 18, 2019

·       Khonumthung News
Remote areas of southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township are struggling to meet the basic food needs of local people, including internally displaced persons (IDPs), due to Burma Army restrictions aimed at cutting off vital supplies to the Arakan Army (AA).
The restrictions, which have been in place since early May, allow each village-tract in the township to bring in just 50 bags of rice at a time from Kyauktaw, in neighboring Rakhine State. Permits issued by local authorities, including the General Administration Department (GAD) in Paletwa, are also required.
“The army only allows 50 bags of rice per village-tract. We have to submit a population list to the office of the township administration department before we can buy rice in Kyauktaw, and we also need permission to transport the rice. We can only buy rice in Kyauktaw after we get permission from the GAD office. Some village-tracts have hundreds of people, so 50 bags is not enough,” said a local man living in Meezar, a village that is host to more than 600 IDPs.
The army imposed the restrictions as part of its infamous “four cuts” strategy, which aims to deprive insurgent armies of supplies and support from the local population. However, the strategy also creates hardships for people who are not involves in the conflict.
“It takes at least a week to arrange a single shipment of rice from Kyauktaw, and with the 50-bag limit, this means we have to make many trips. This also makes the cost of shipping rice more expensive, which results in shortages,” the Meezar resident told Khonumthung News.
In many cases, this forces local people to buy rice from a Burma Army battalion based in Tharon Ai, a village near Meezar. However, at 50,000 kyat (US$33) a bag, this is much more than many can afford.
Khonumthung News contacted Koe Aung, a GAD officer in Paletwa Township, for his comment on this issue.
“Well, we don’t restrict rice imports, but the army does, for security reasons. But we distribute enough for each village. There is plenty of rice in [the town of]Paletwa. It’s up to the customers where they want to buy rice. If you have enough money, you can buy it anywhere,” he said.
The four-cuts strategy, which the Burma Army has used since the 1970s, aims to sever ethnic armies’ access to food, funds, information and recruits.
It has been deployed in Paletwa and in eight townships in Rakhine State in an effort to weaken the AA. In addition to restricting access to rice, the Burma Army has cut off access to the Internet in these areas since last month.
While the Internet blackout has raised fears of human rights abuses among international observers, local aid groups say that the rice restrictions are having the most serious impact on the lives of vulnerable people in the area, including IDPs.


Review of rice tariff law pushed

Despite big volume of imports, critics note minimal drop in retail prices

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:14 AM July 18, 2019
Industry stakeholders are appealing to President Duterte to order a review of the rice import liberalization law after palay prices reached its breakeven point, leaving local rice producers without any profit.
At the same time, rice prices in the market have remained “almost constant” despite the assurance of economic managers that these would go down by P7 a kilo.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol relayed these concerns on his Facebook page on Wednesday after he engaged in a dialogue with farmers, assuring them that their concerns would be submitted to the President through a formal memorandum.
The rice law, passed barely four months ago, has already resulted in the continuous decline in the buying price of palay. Farmers in some provinces reported that it had plummeted to as low as P12 a kilo or the same as the average cost of producing rice.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the average farm-gate price as of June was P17.85 a kilo—the lowest in almost three years.
Piñol said stakeholders also decried the “massive profits enjoyed by rice importers and traders” who bought imported rice at low prices and yet sold them to retailers at jacked-up rates.
“The prevailing farm-gates prices showed a steep drop from an average of P20 a kilo of fresh palay earlier this year, which resulted in an estimated P114 billion in losses to Filipino rice farmers for the whole year,” he said.

Congress grants Duterte's wishes for tax reform, rice tariffication, tobacco tax hike


Heeding President Rodrigo Duterte's wishes during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2018, Congress passed several controversial measures following prolonged debates and negotiations.
The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, officially cited as Republic Act No. 10963, which was signed into law in December 2017, was the initial package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) .
In February 2019, Duterte signed the Rice Tariffication Act that allowing rice trade liberalization by lifting the limit to the volume of rice imports every year, but imposing higher tariffs on rice.
While the TRAIN law gave salaried workers higher take-home pay because of the lowered income tax of 25 percent, from the previous 32 percent, some said the extra pesos were eaten up by the increase in prices of fuels and commodities as a result of the new tax measure.
The package 2 or TRAIN 2 of the administration's tax reform program, which seeks to lower the corporate income tax  and rationalize tax perks currently being enjoyed by businesses in the country, is expected to be filed in the incoming 18th Congress. 
Another component of package 2 targets to increase the government’s share from mining operations, which Congress has yet to pass.
Also pending are package 3 to reform the property valuation system, and package 4 to rationalize capital income tax.
"Apart from TRAIN, rice tariffication, and package 2, they include the mining, alcohol, and tobacco tax increase, reform in property valuation, reform in capital income and financial taxes, and an amnesty program," Duterte had said.
"I urge Congress to take them seriously and pass them in succession, for there is no chance that we can deliver our promises without an equitable tax system," he added.
In February, Duterte signed into law the Rice Tariffication Act which removed the quantitative restrictions on rice and imposing a 35-percent tariff on imports from the country's neighbors in Southeast Asia. 
In his 2018 SONA, the President asked lawmakers to prioritize as urgent the reform in rice trade. 
"We need to switch from the current quota system in importing rice to a tariff system where rice can be imported more freely. This will give us additional resources for our farmers, reduce the price of rice by up to 7 pesos per kilo, and lower inflation significantly. I ask Congress to prioritize this crucial reform, which I have certified as urgent today," he had said.
Duterte made the call for rice trade liberalization amid spiking inflation rate last year brought by rising food prices, particularly rice amid a supply shortage of the government-subsidized commodity.
The continuing slower inflation environment was attributed to Rice Tariffication law. In June, inflation rate slowed to its slowest in 21 months at 2.7%.
Congress also passed last June the bill raising excise tax on tobacco and is now awaiting Duterte's signature.
The measure would hike excise tax on cigarettes to P60 per pack from P45 in the next four years.
The bill is seen to fill the funding gap for the implementation of the Universal Health Care law, which stands at P63 billion in 2020. —LDF, GMA News

Review law allowing rice imports? No!, says Dominguez

By: Ben O. de Vera - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 03:22 PM July 18, 2019
An emphatic “No.”
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III gave this reply when reporters asked him what he thought about a social media post by outgoing Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol relaying appeals made by farmers and farm cooperatives for the government to review the Rice Tariffication Act, which allowed the unrestricted importation of rice provided duties were paid in a move taken to ease rising prices.
The appeals for a review came supposedly after the measure failed to result in drastic declines in prices of the Filipino staple food.
Citing a report from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Francisco G. Dakila Jr., prices of well-milled rice already declined to P42.92 per kilogram as of June 2019 from P45.09 per kg in January of the same year and P49.06 per kg in September 2018.
The report also showed that regular milled rice prices dropped to P38.56 per kg in June 2019 from P41.41 per kg in January 2019 and P45.75 per kg in September 2018.
At the 2019 Pre-State of the Nation Address (Sona) Economic and Infrastructure Forum held early this month, Dominguez described Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Act as “among the monumental legislative achievements of this administration.”
“The liberalization of rice trading was finally achieved after more than thirty years of failed attempts under various administrations,” Dominguez said at that forum.

“This law has made quality rice more affordable and accessible to Filipino consumers, thereby bringing down inflation. In fact, rice retail prices are now cheaper by P5-10 per kilo compared to last year,” Dominguez added.
He said quantitative restrictions, or QR, which limited the volume of rice that are allowed to be imported to the Philippines, had been “abused by a select few.”
“The new law ensures that farmers benefit directly from import tariffs by providing at least P10 billion each year for mechanization, high quality seeds, access to credit and training,” Dominguez said.
The collection of tariff after import restrictions were eased had generated P5.9 billion in additional government revenue since March, data from the Department of Finance showed.
The new law sets a 35 percent tariff for rice imported from the Asean region, 40 percent for imported rice that don’t exceed the minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons from countries outside Asean and 180 percent if above the MAV and coming from non-Asean sources.
Opening up the importation of rice was President Rodrigo Duterte’s reaction to a period of shortage of affordable rice from the National Food Authority which led to a spike in prices./TSB
Rice output likely dipped 5.6% in Q2

Description: palay husks fly, farmers at a farm in Nueva Ecija work with threshers in this 2018 BusinessMirror file photo.
THE country’s production of unhusked rice likely fell by an annualized rate of 5.6 percent in April to June due to the contraction in harvest area, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said in its latest report.
Based on standing crop, the PSA said in its report, titled “Updated Palay and Corn Estimates,” that palay production in the second quarter of the year was slightly lower than its previous estimate of 3.86 million metric tons.
Harvest area in the April-to-June period shrank by some 18,000 hectares, from 932,790 hectares recorded a year ago, while yield per hectare likely fell by 3.7 percent from last year’s 4.38 metric tons.
Of the 914,460 hectares planted with rice, the PSA said 89.2 percent have been harvested.
“As to farmers’ planting intention, 314,890 hectares or 37.6 percent of perceived harvest area for July-September have been actually planted,” the report read.
Despite the onslaught of El Niño, the Department of Agriculture said it remains optimistic that Philippine rice production would reach a record high of 20 MMT this year.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the DA is banking on the increase in wet season harvest to offset palay damaged by the weather phenomenon.
The country’s unmilled rice output in 2018 declined by 1.09 percent to 19.066 MMT, from 19.276 MMT recorded in 2017.
The reduction in output was attributed to a series of weather disturbances, including a super typhoon, last year.
The PSA also adjusted downward its projection for corn production during the second quarter. Based on standing crop, the report indicated that corn production likely fell to 1.15 MMT, 10.2 percent lower than last year’s harvest and 1.5 percent lower than its previous estimate of 1.17 MMT.
“Also, harvest area may decrease to 374,840 hectares, from 392,360 hectares in 2018. Moreover, yield per hectare may decline to 3.08 MT, from 3.27 MT in 2018,” the report read.
Of the 374,840 hectares updated standing crop, the PSA noted that nearly 78 percent have been harvested. More than half (66.3 percent) or 569,610 hectares of the planting intentions of the farmers for April-June have been realized.
In its report on the performance of the farm sector, the PSA said palay and corn production in the first quarter fell by 4.46 percent and 2.07 percent, respectively, due to El Niño.
Rice output fell to a three-year low of 4.416 million metric tons from 4.622 MMT last year, while corn production declined to 2.425 MMT from 2.476 MMT in the first quarter of 2018, PSA said.

Concern Shifts From Rice To Soybeans Following Hurricane Barry

  JUL 16, 2019
Storms associated with Hurricane Barry are posing problems for Arkansas farmers. Agricultural officials had concerns that heavy rain and winds would damage rice crops, but are now more concerned about damage to soybean crops. Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, says weather over the weekend was not as damaging to rice crops as originally feared.
"We really thought we were going to get a lot of that rain in a shorter period of time along with some high winds. Instead, we really haven't had the winds so much and the rains have been spread out now over the course of about three days," Hardke said. "That's kind of allowing most of the rice fields to allow that water off." However, he said, there are still concerns related to sustained rain for rice farmers.
"A lot of this midday rain is problematic for flowering rice because that rainfall can disrupt pollination. A single day of it isn't always necessarily too devastating, but several days in a row can really cause some serious issues because plants do like to spread out their pollination over a few days," Hardke said.
With long sustained rains, more concern is being focused on soybean crops in the state. Hardke said that while rice fields can deal with flooding, the same is not true for soybean fields, especially since much of this year's crop was planted relatively late.
"Small soybeans do not like or tolerate flooded or saturated soil conditions very well for very long, and this slow, continuous, heavy rainfall has a lot of bottom ends of fields backed up at this point. Unfortunately, as it continues to rain, those areas are not going to drain very fast," he said. Hardke also said intense heat in the coming days could compound the problem and cause further damage to soybean crops.
Officials are also concerned that the storm could increase the number of insects threatening crops among other things. For now, according to Hardke, farmers will have to wait and see what happens in the coming days before they know the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Barry.

Philippine Farmers Seek Review of Rice Law as Prices Plunge

By Ditas B Lopez and Cecilia Yap
 Updated on July 17, 2019, 6:29 AM GMT+5

As rice prices plunge, farmers in the Philippines are asking President Rodrigo Duterte to review a 5-month-old law that paved the way for unlimited imports of the staple grain, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said.
Rice prices at the farm gate dropped to 12-14 pesos ($0.24-$0.27) a kilo from 20 pesos earlier this year, Pinol said on his Facebook account. That would result in an annual loss of about 114 billion pesos ($2.24 billion) for Filipino rice farmers, he said.
The law, signed in February, removed caps on rice imports and boosted supply of the stable grain. The measure was intended to help cool inflation, which in 2018 accelerated to the fastest pace in nine years and triggered one of the most aggressive monetary tightening responses in Asia.
Rough-rice output in the second quarter probably fell 5.6% from a year ago to 3.86 million metric tons, the statistics agency said in a report.

How can the world feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050 while also advancing economic development, protecting and restoring forests, and stabilizing the climate?
It won’t be easy and will require major new efforts, but it can be done. Our newWorld Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future — co-issued by the World BankUN Environment Programme and UN Development Programme— recommends a menu of 22 solutions served over five courses:
1.     Reduce growth in demand;
2.     Increase food production without expanding agricultural land;
3.     Increase fish supply;
4.     Reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from agricultural production;and
5.     Protect and restore natural ecosystems.
This menu enables the world to close the gap between the food available today and that needed by 2050, without clearing more land for farming and while reducing the food system’s GHGs to a level aligned with the Paris Agreement.
Some items on the menu require more farmers to implement best practices that already exist today. Others need consumers to change behavior, or governments and businesses to reform policies.
The challenge is sufficiently large, however, that many solutions will require technological innovations. Advancing them is a major theme of our report. Here are 10 important examples:
1.     Plant-based meat. Globally, per gram of edible protein, beef and lamb use around 20 times the land and generate around 20 times the GHGs of plant-based proteins. Affordable plant-based products that mimic the experience of eating beef could reduce growth in global beef consumption, while still satisfying meat-lovers. Fortunately, companies such asImpossible Foods and Beyond Meat are already making headlines by creating plant-based “beef” that looks, sizzles, tastes and even bleeds like the real thing.
2.     Extended shelf lives. About one-third of food is lost or wasted between the farm and the fork. Fruits and vegetables are a common food item wasted in more developed markets. One breakthrough to address this is the emergence of inexpensive methods that slow the ripening of produce; companies are already investigating a variety of natural compounds to do so. For example, Apeel Sciences has an array of extremely thin spray-on films that inhibit bacterial growth and retain water in fruit. Others include Nanology and Bluapple, whose technologies delay decomposition.
3.     Anti-gas for cows. About a third of all GHGs from agricultural production (excluding land-use change) come from “enteric” methane, released as cow “burps.” Several research groups and companies are working on feed compounds that suppress the formation of methane in cows’ stomachs.DSM has a product called 3-NOP that reduces these methane emissions by 30 percent in tests, and does not appear to have health or environmental side effects.
4.     Compounds to keep nitrogen in the soil. About 20 percent of GHGs from agricultural production are related to nitrogen from fertilizer and manure on crops and pastures. The majority of these emissions come from the formation of nitrous oxide, as microorganisms transfer nitrogen from one chemical form to another. Compounds that prevent these changes, including coatings on fertilizers and so-called “nitrification inhibitors,” can reduce nitrogen losses and increase the amount of nitrogen taken up by plants, leading to lower emissions and less water pollution from fertilizer runoff. Without a regulatory push, research into such technologies has stagnated, but great potential remains. Some new compounds have emerged in just the past year.
5.     Nitrogen-absorbing crops. Another way to chip away at nitrous oxide emissions is to develop crop varieties that absorb more nitrogen and/or inhibit nitrification. Researchers have identified traits to inhibit nitrification in some varieties of all major grain crops, which others can now build upon through crop breeding.
6.     Low-methane rice. Around 15 percent of emissions from agricultural production come from methane-producing microorganisms in rice paddies. Researchers have identified some common rice varieties that emit less methane than others, and they’ve bred one experimental strain that reduces methane emissions by 30 percent in the laboratory. Despite this promise, there is no consistent effort in any country to breed and encourage the uptake of low-methane rice varieties.
7.     Using CRISPR to boost yields. Two broad items on the menu for a sustainable food future involve boosting yields on existing cropland, and producing more milk and meat on existing grazing land. One way to boost crop yields sustainably (without over-application of fertilizers or over-extraction of irrigation water) is to unlock traits in crop genes that increase yields. CRISPR technology, which enables more precise turning on and off of genes, has the potential to be revolutionary in this regard.
8.     High-yield oil palm. Dramatic growth in demand for palm oil — an ingredient found in everything from shampoo to cookies — has beendriving deforestation in Southeast Asia for decades, and now threatens forests in Africa and Latin America. One way to reduce this threat is to breed and plant oil palm trees with 2-4 times the production per hectare of conventional trees. Potential for higher-yielding oil palm trees already exists: The company PT Smart, for instance, has a variety with triple the current average yield of Indonesia’s oil palm trees. These high-yield varieties need to be used in new plantations and when farmers restock current plantations with new trees (typically done every 20 or more years).
9.     Algae-based fish feeds. Another element of a sustainable food future is to reduce pressure on wild fish stocks. As the global fish catch has peaked,fish farming, or aquaculture, has grown to meet world fish demand. However, aquaculture can increase pressure on the small, wild fish species used as feed ingredients for larger, farmed fish. One technological innovation to circumvent this challenge is to create substitute feeds usingalgae or oilseeds that contain the omega-3 fatty acids found in wild fish-based oils. Some companies are moving to produce algae-based aquaculture feeds, and researchers have created a variety of canola that contains omega-3s.
10. Solar-powered fertilizers. The production of nitrogen-based fertilizers uses vast quantities of fossil fuels and generates significant emissions, roughly 85 percent of which result from the production of hydrogen to blend with nitrogen. Many have invested in solar energy to produce hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles, but similar technologies can also help produce low-carbon fertilizers. Pilot plants are under construction inAustralia.

Rapidly deploying technology for a sustainable food future

Despite their potential, none of these measures are moving forward at adequate speed and scale. Research funding for agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation is miniscule and needs to be increased, in part by making better use of the $600 billion in existing public support each year for agriculture globally.
In addition, although many of the technologies above have the potential to save money even in the near term, many cost more than their conventional counterparts today. Increasing their uptake will require not only more public research funds, but also flexible regulations that give private companies stronger incentives to innovate. For example, in areas where technologies are underdeveloped — such as compounds that reduce enteric methane — governments could commit to requiring the use of these compounds if a product achieves a certain level of cost-effectiveness in mitigation (such as $25 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent). As another example, governments could require fertilizer companies to increasingly blend in compounds that reduce nitrogen loss.
The good news is, for virtually every type of advancement needed in the food system, small groups of scientists with limited budgets have already identified promising opportunities. Today’s plant-based burgers that taste like real beef were developed and brought to market in fewer than 10 years.
Feeding a growing world population in the face of climate change and resource constraints is an enormous challenge. The technological innovations listed above aren’t the only ones the food system needs — and of course, we won’t solve the challenge through technology alone. However, just as in other sectors, such as energy and transport, technological innovation is an essential ingredient of a sustainable future.
Published Jul 17, 2019 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST

Wild rice project sows seeds for university, tribal collaboration

July 17, 2019 By Tom Ziemer 

A manoomin bed on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in northern Wisconsin. COURTESY OF SARAH DANCE
The Ojibwe people tell of a prophecy that spurred their journey from the Atlantic coast of North America to the Great Lakes region more than 1,000 years ago — revelations that told them to travel west to a land where food grew on the water.
That food? Wild rice, or “manoomin” to the Native American nations that, like the Ojibwe, comprise the broader group of Anishinaabe tribes in the Upper Midwest and Canada.
But manoomin is much more than just a crop to these tribes and others. It represents their connection to nature and holds profound spiritual significance as a gift from their creator. The Menominee Tribe’s name literally translates to “wild rice people.”
“It permeates all aspects of their cultures,” says Sarah Dance, a graduate student in the University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Engineering who’s working on a project to build connections between the university and Native American tribes around wild rice protection and restoration efforts.
Description: Photo: Portrait of Sarah standing in front of water
Sarah Dance
Dance, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and a doctoral student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received a Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Grant to support her project, which will span three growing seasons.
2011 study by researchers at UW–Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies showed the number of watersheds with wild rice in Wisconsin and neighboring Minnesota had declined 32 percent since 1900. Southern Wisconsin, in particular, has become barren.
Research from the University of Minnesota has illustrated the harmful role of sulfide in the soil beneath wild rice waterways — a key consideration given the prospect of several potential mines in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and state legislation in 2017 that eased Wisconsin’s sulfide mining restrictions.
By testing water quality, studying sediment and conducting bucket experiments that will simulate a range of environmental conditions, Dance hopes to develop site-specific recommendations in partnership with her collaborators from the Lac du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles tribes.
“I think Sarah’s project really is a good opportunity for the university to start building a better relationship, partnership with tribes.”
William “Joe” Graveen
“Native people already know the water quality issues in the area that are impacting manoomin survival and growth, and the university has this wealth of resources that can look at some of those conditions,” says Dance, who has worked on a wild rice outreach and education toolkit as part of a Wisconsin Sea Grant project. “We found that there are all of these really small efforts out there and they’re not well connected to one another. Our hope is that the research we’re doing can push the needle forward on creating some best practices and sharing those across all those different entities.”
Dance views building those connections between tribal and university researchers and instilling trust as paramount to the effort. The two sides will work together to identify the testing sites and design the experiments, and Dance hopes to hand off leadership of the project to the tribes. William “Joe” Graveen, a wild rice technician in the Lac du Flambeau Tribe’s wild rice cultural enhancement program, says he hopes the project will spur more research — at UW–Madison and other UW System schools — into the manoomin conditions in the state.
Description: Photo: Canoe on the water filled with wild rice
A canoe filled with wild rice—along with the knockers used to harvest it—after a ricing trip on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation. COURTESY OF SARAH DANCE
“I think Sarah’s project really is a good opportunity for the university to start building a better relationship, partnership with tribes,” he says. “I think that’s kind of the missing piece.”
Dance is also planning to hire Native American students as summer interns, giving them the sort of experience she had working on environmental research with her own tribe as an undergraduate at North Carolina State University. When she was weighing graduate schools, she looked for a place that would allow her to connect with Native American tribes on collaborative research. She’s found that in civil and environmental engineering Professor Matthew Ginder-Vogel’s lab.
“I’m hoping to spark an interest in pursuing science and to help improve Native American representation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) by creating this space for students to pursue research that aligns with their identity and what they want to do for their communities while also having the academic and rigorous aspects,” Dance says. “You don’t have to turn your back on your community or pursue something that doesn’t align with your ideals.”

Acclaimed NYC Chef Serves Up Perfect Rice Bowls At New FIELDTRIP Spot In Harlem

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Braised Beef with Texas Brown Rice ($10.99)

Our latest installment of Quick Bites brings us to Harlem for some of the best rice bowls in town.
One of the great restaurant trends of the past five years or so is that of accomplished chefs with fancy pedigrees putting their talent, energy, and love into an affordably-priced counter service restaurant so that we all can enjoy their creations on a regular basis. Brooks Headley's Superiority Burger remains the genre's gold standard, but other examples abound, including Alex Stupak's Al Pastor, Pierre Tham's Teranga, Daniel Humm's Made Nice, and, as of last week, JJ Johnson's FIELDTRIP, located on Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem.
Johnson made his name at The Cecil and, more recently, has been running the show at Henry at Life Hotel in Nomad. FIELDTRIP is a different sort of place, a rice-bowl spot where nothing on the tight but impressively varied menu costs more than twelve bucks. Johnson's aim here, beyond cooking people delicious food, is to showcase the diversity, in both flavor and texture, of the grain at the center of so many of the world's great cuisines. "Rice is Culture" is the motto here, and Johnson wants to take you exploring.
The space itself is spacious and comfortable, with seating for about twenty at tables in the back and communal standing tables up front, which opens out onto the busy avenue. There's a colorful map delineating where each type of rice comes from, and 1980s-era photographs of the neighborhood on the wall as well. You order at the cashier by the open kitchen, and you'll get a text when your food is ready. Napkins, utensils, and water are all self-serve, and please be polite and clean your own table when you leave.
I ate most of the FIELDTRIP menu over the weekend and, bottom line, everything is thoughtfully conceived, surprisingly complex, and the five different kinds of rice at the foundation of each of the main dishes were cooked to perfection. In other words, though I had my favorites, you can't really go wrong here, so order with confidence across the board.
The Braised Beef, with a generous portion of tender meat, features Texas brown rice and spicy black beans, with a turmeric yogurt sauce adding some additional texture. The Salmon bowl also packed some fire, seemingly emanating the wonderfully chewy China black rice. The roasted fish was a little dry, but the piri piri sauce was there to help. The Shrimp had a nice snap to them, served with Thai Sticky Rice, a bit of toasted coconut, and some lively green curry.
Fried Crispy Chicken comes covered in a BBQ sauce that's sweeter than I generally like, though the West African Carolina Gold rice in the bowl eats like a luxury item. Finally, the Veggie bowl, starring that Nigerian staple Jollof Basmati and a whole mess of charred broccoli, stood tall among all the animal proteins. A slab of buttery Nana's Bread stuck in there ensured that you would not leave hungry. The vegetarian Quinoa Bao Buns were less successful in that regard, but the Yucca Puffs that came with them were fun, and worthy of a solo side order if you want something with crunch. And while the Crab Pockets taste more like cream cheese than crustacean, the texture's good and, like everything else at FIELDTRIP, the price is low enough to warrant a try.
Skip the Soft Serve until the machine's ready; they'll just give you Sugar Hill Creamery "regular" ice cream in the interim, and you can walk up three blocks to the parlor for a complete menu of that.
If you live up here FIELDTRIP should definitely be added into your regular rotation. The food feels healthy, it's inexpensive, and it's made with a lot of skill and care. Expansion seems plausible.
FIELDTRIP is located at 109 Malcolm X Boulevard between 115th and 116th Streets, and is currently open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m (917-639-3919;

Rice Well-Represented at Dietary Guidelines Meeting  

WASHINGTON, DC -- Last week the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) held the second of five public meetings here with presentations by each of the DGAC subcommittees and public deliberation on presentations by the full DGAC.  This also was the first opportunity for the public to deliver oral comments to the committee. 

The subcommittees that presented were Data Analysis and Food Pattern Modeling Cross-Cutting, Dietary Patterns, Frequency of Eating, Pregnancy and Lactation, Birth to 24 Months, Beverages and Added Sugars, and Dietary Fats and Seafood.  During the allotted time for public comments, more than 75 people testified, including the Grain Chain, a coalition of stakeholders in the grain industry of which USA Rice is a member.

"The Grain Chain endorses maintaining the 2015 DGA's recommendation of carbohydrate intakes between 45-65 percent of calories and at a minimum, the recommended six servings daily of traditional grains with at least half as whole grains," said Kathy Wiemer, MS, RD, who works at General Mills and is a Grain Chain spokesperson.  "Given that Americans continue to underconsume whole grains, we support an increase in daily recommended whole grain servings, while maintaining at least three servings of enriched grains."  

Wiemer also highlighted key recommendations including the fact that both whole and enriched grains play a leading role in diet quality, and enrichment and fortification of grain foods have made lasting contributions to health.  She emphasized that grains are important to growth and development in infants and children, and that scientific evidence does not support a recommendation of low-carbohydrate dietary patterns to the U.S. population.

"We understand the role the Dietary Guidelines for Americans plays in shaping people's diets and eating habits which makes USA Rice's presence and voice vital during these advisory committee meetings," said Cameron Jacobs, USA Rice manager of domestic promotion.  "USA Rice is in complete support of the Grain Chain testimony and we look forward to delivering our individual oral testimony on behalf of rice at the fourth DGA meeting next January."

While this meeting primarily focused on the evaluation and systematic review of the science behind the recommendations, the majority of oral testimonies is scheduled to take place January 23-24 when the meeting moves to Houston, Texas. 

"USA Rice will continue to be fully involved in the Dietary Guidelines process by attendance at the remaining three meetings, submitting our scientific research and comments, and providing oral testimony to ensure the U.S. rice industry message is included in the 2020-25 guidelines," said Jacobs.  "We commend the USDA for its commitment to public engagement." 

The next meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee takes place here October 24-25. 

Palay prices falling; SRP on rice eyed

By Madelaine Miraflor and Argyll Geducos
A nationwide uproar among rice farmers in the country has forced the government to act on the falling palay prices – a trend that could rob farmers of potential income worth P114 billion for the entire 2019.
On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol sought a meeting with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla to discuss the implementation of the Suggested Retail Price (SRP) policy on commercial rice sold in the market based on the Price Act.
“The only way that we can help them [rice farmers] is to buy their harvest at a competitive price. Palugi talaga ang gobyerno (The government is at the losing end but it is) to save the farmers. So another working productive day for them,” President Duterte said in a separate interview.
“With the NFA [National Food Authority] stripped of its supervisory and regulatory powers over the rice industry, the Price Act is the only remaining instrument of government to rationalize the pricing of agricultural products in the market,” Piñol said.
During the meeting with Sombilla and Lopez, which was also attended by Finance Assistance Secretary Tony Lambino, they decided to put an SRP on the retail price of rice based on the landed cost of imported stocks, Piñol said.
A joint memorandum of agreement between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will be signed within this month to impose this.
This decision came a day after farmer leaders and rice industry stakeholders asked the DA during an impromptu consultation meeting to address the continuous decline in the prices of palay, which was possibly triggered by the loopholes in the Rice Tarrification Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203, which legalized in March the unlimited entry of cheaper, imported rice into the Philippines.
Piñol said the meeting took place amid the “nationwide uproar” among farmers who have been suffering since farm gate prices of paddy rice dropped to a record low of P12 per kilogram (/kg) to P14/kg in many parts of the country, a steep drop from an average of P20/kg price for fresh palay earlier this year.
During the fourth week of June alone, the average farmgate price of palay continued to decline, falling by 0.3 percent to P17.85 per kilogram (/kg) from previous week’s level of P17.90/kg. This was a huge drop of 16.5 percent from the previous year’s same week level of P21.38/kg.
What upsets the farmers is that while the price of palay remains to be on a downtrend, the retail price of rice or the price that consumers are paying for to buy a kilo of the staple has remained the same, Aldrin Cardenas, a leader of a farmers’ cooperative in Tarlac, pointed out.
Based on their computation, the market prices of rice – which was expected to drop by P7/kg with the entry of more imported rice – have remained relatively high, reporting a drop of only P1/kg to P2/kg four months since the passage of RA 11203.
“The drop in the price of rice in the market of P1 to P2 per kilo does not even come close to the financial sacrifices of the rice farmers,” said farmer leader Pedro Lim of Caraga Region.
The rice industry stakeholders also decried the massive profits being enjoyed by rice importers and traders, as the stocks they have imported are now being sold in the market at prices higher than their landed cost.
A data from Bureau of Customs (BOC) showed that the imported rice that entered the country so far had landed cost of only P18.22/kg for Myanmar’s 25 percent broken rice; P25.33/kg for Vietnam’s 5 percent broken rice; P23.06/kg for Thailand’s 5 percent broken rice.
These are being sold in the local market for P32/kg to a high of P70/kg, while the average selling price is at P42 per kilo, based on the validation conducted by the DA Regional Offices.
Premium or 5 percent broken rice imported from Vietnam and Thailand is sold from P50/kg to P60/kg for a whooping margin of P25/kg to P35/kg.
At the end of their meeting, Piñol assured the rice industry stakeholders that their concerns will be submitted in a formal memorandum to President Duterte.
President Duterte, in an interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, said the government has no choice but to import rice from other countries since the harvest of farmers are not enough for the entire country.
Duterte said he recognizes the plight of Filipino farmers who are selling palay for prices as low as P12/kilo, a figure below the production cost.
The President said the government is willing to buy the harvest of the farmers but said this will still not be enough since the country has run out of lands for planting crops.
“The Philippines cannot be a rice sufficient nation. We have run out of lands and most of the prime real estate went to big corporations now planting cash crop: banana, pineapple,” he said early Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a group of rice farmers sounded the alarm last week over a possible price manipulation among local rice traders, which may be declaring the wrong import price to reduce their tariff obligations to the Philippine government.
Based on its latest monitoring, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said it has noticed a huge gap between the value of imported rice declared by local traders and the landed cost of rice based on the data from international monitoring groups such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Under the Rice Tariffication Law, importers are allowed to bring in any volume of rice at any time provided they pay a 35 percent tariff based on the declared value of their imports.
The Department of Finance (DOF) recently reported that the BOC had collected P5.9 billion in tariffs from imports of 1.43 million metric tons (MT) of rice since the effectivity of RA 11203 in March.
FFF National Manager Raul Montemayor said that using DOF’s data and assuming a P52 per dollar exchange rate, it will come out that the average landed price of the rice imports before imposing tariffs was US$227 per MT.
Data from international monitoring groups such as the FAO, however, indicate that the real landed cost of these imports should have been around US$391 per ton if these were 25 percent broken rice.
“In effect, importers appear to have undervalued their shipments by 42 percent and paid P4.24 billion less than what was due from them,” Montemayor said.

Millions stranded in India as early monsoon downpours bring flood havoc

Wednesday, July 17, 2019 7:48 a.m. EDT
A man uses a makeshift raft to move his paddy to a safer place in a flooded area in Morigaon district in the northeastern state of Assam, In
By Zarir Hussain
GUWAHATI, INDIA (Reuters) - Millions of people are stranded by flooding in northeast India with concern growing about food and water supplies, and officials said on Wednesday that water levels of a major river were rising even further.
At least 5.8 million people have been displaced - a million more than on Monday - and some 30 have died in the past two weeks in the tea-growing state of Assam due to the monsoon rains, local government officials said.
"The water level of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries have started showing a rising trend since midday and flowing above the danger mark in at least 10 places," an Assam Disaster Management Authority official said.
Many thousands in the state are making do with only the most meagre food supplies and dirty water.
"We've just been surviving on boiled rice for almost seven days now," said Anamika Das, a mother at Amtola relief camp in Assam's Lakhimpur district.
She said she was having difficulty breastfeeding her baby boy.
Assam has been the worst-affected part of India. Floods have also hit neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh.
At least 153 people have been killed in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Parts of Pakistan have also seen flooding.
Subhas Bania, also sheltering at Amtola, said authorities had made no provision for the supply of drinking water.
"We've been forced to drink muddy water," he said.
The rains in north India usually last from early June to October, with the worst of the flooding usually later in the season.
Assam is frequently swamped by floods when the Brahmaputra river, which flows down from the Himalayas through northeast India and Bangladesh, sweeps over its banks.
Water levels on the river and its major tributaries were beginning to fall, although they were still above the danger mark, the government said.
"We're trying our best to reach out to the affected people in whatever way possible but yes, the situation is indeed very bad," said Assam's Social Welfare Minister Pramila Rani Brahma.
The government has yet to assess the impact of the floods that have battered thousands of settlements.
Bhabani Das, a village elder in Golaghat district, who has been living under a plastic sheet for four days, said the flood had swept away his home.
"Where do we go from here?"
In the state of Bihar, which has also been hit by severe flooding, beginning last week, officials said that flood waters were beginning to recede after killing 33 people.
"Things are gradually becoming normal, people are returning home," Bihar’s Disaster Management Minister Lakshmeshwar Roy said.
Water levels in four rivers in Bangladesh, including the Brahmaputra, were above the danger mark, with some northern parts of the low-lying country flooded.
Road and railway links between the capital city Dhaka and at least 16 northern and northwest districts had been severed, officials said.
(Reporting Zarir Hussain in GUWAHATI, Jatindra Dash in BHUBANESWAR, Serajul Quadir in DHAKA; Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel, Peter Graff)

Rice growers foresee huge losses as dryness takes over Badin
HYDERABAD: Two months ago, Muhammad Hanif, a farmer cultivated rice on his 30 acres land in Badin district, but he lost all the seedlings because of water scarcity. “I did not receive my water share in time to save my crop,” he shared his plight.

Hanif is not the only grower who lost his rice crop in the early stages. A large number of growers in the rice producing areas faced a similar ordeal in terms of water scarcity. Sensing the complex situation, some conscious growers avoided taking the risk to prepare a seedling nursery.

Badin was considered the richest among rice producing districts like Thatta, Dadu, Larkana, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Jacobabad, and Shikarpur. The situation has made growers uncertain about continuing agriculture practices, which they have been associated with for generations.

Each year, during the month of July, farmers in Badin district had plenty of water in canals, tributaries and watercourses, but this year the situation is the opposite. These empty water bodies seem to be also emptying the lives of the poor farmers residing and working in tail end areas, especially Badin, Thatta and Sujawal districts.

The farmers in Badin, depending solely on agriculture, have reportedly organised 40 sit-ins to protest against water shortage in the last nine months to seek the essential agricultural input. But all their protests seem to have been in vain.

The growers in coastal and tail-end areas, including Thatta, Sujawal, Umerkot and Mirpurkhas districts practice advanced cultivation. Normally rice producers cultivate in April to mid-June, because of favourable weather phenomenon. However, this year, they are late in rice cultivation due to water scarcity.

Haq Nawaz Rind, another grower and owner of 300 acres of land in Ghorabari taluka, Thatta district could not cultivate two major seasonal crops cotton and rice as he did not receive water share from the distributaries.

In Thatta district three talukas are known rice producing areas, including Sakro, Ghorabari and Thatta itself, which spare around 150,000 acre land for this major food crop. Out of which hardly 50 percent land has come under rice crop cultivation this year, but growers are now unsure about saving their crops due to acute water shortage.

Sindh Chamber of Agriculture President Qabool Muhammad Khatian said, “Sindh may lose three districts, including Badin, Thatta and Tando Muhammad Khan, which are facing drought-like situation.

There is no water in these districts for the last six months, leaving growers and common people to live an uncertain life without water and food.” He said Badin was the most affected district, which has not received water since 11 months. “There is a drought-like situation now, despite being a rich district in the past with fertile lands and agriculture productivity.”

About rice, Khatian said only 15 days were left to end rice planting. He asked how farmers could afford to prepare nurseries to plant seedlings. “It is the sign of destruction of agriculture in the province.”

On top, no rainfall has been reported in the province so it was futile to expect crops to survive. He accused lower-grade irrigation department officials of being involved in mismanagement and corruption in water distribution system, which has destroyed the agriculture economy.

He quoted that there was one engineer, who has designed a comprehensive plan at Nara canal, which was flowing at full capacity and providing water to all beneficiaries equally. While at all other canals, mismanagement was depriving growers of their water share.

As a result, growers were facing destruction and displacement. It shows the water shortage was artificial and those involved in this management should be punished accordingly to save the economy of the province.

Sindh Grower Alliance (SGA) President Nawab Zubair Talpur also called it mismanagement and corruption in the water distribution system. “There is no check and balance to assure equal distribution of water to save the agro economy,” he said.

“I have cultivated cotton, chilli and prepared the rice nursery, but due to water unavailability neither could I save the standing crops nor could I cultivate the next immediate crop,” he said while talking to The News.

He revealed that the standing crops of cotton and chilli were getting attacked by different viruses and diseases. “It is because there is no certified seed and authentic agriculture input available in the local market. We get impure seed and input, for which we pay a huge price, including loss of valuable crops,” he said while lamenting government negligence in this regard.

Agriculture Extension Larkana Deputy Director Ghulam Hussain Shaikh said they have set target of around 200,000 acres for rice cultivation, but this year he was not sure of achieving it because of water scarcity.

He claimed of there were efforts to regain indigenous varieties of rice which were replaced by a number of hybrid varieties. Shaikh said these original rice varieties were healthier and had a unique aroma and quality, but were disappearing due to changing priorities of growers.

Prof Ismail Kumbhar of Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam while talking about water status in tail-end areas said not only crops, now the people were compelled to migrate from their ancestral abodes to safer places in search of better livelihood.

He said three main canals starting from Kotri Barrage to irrigate 3.08 acres land in Badin, Thatta, Sujawal and Tando Muhammad Khan districts through tributaries now seemed to be shrinking.

On one hand there were suggestions to promote fish production in rice fields, while on the other hand rice crop itself was facing water shortage, he said. Prof Kumbhar observed that now the situation in terms of dryness and drought seemed common in arid zones as well as canal areas, because hundreds of farmers were unable to utilise their lands due to persistent water scarcity in their watercourses.

Citing a recent study conducted by Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam, Prof Kumbhar said during the year 2018 farmers in Badin, Thatta and Sujawal districts either failed to cultivate crops on 60 percent of their lands or got low productivity due to water scarcity. These areas usually came under cultivation of major cotton and rice crops and farmers lived a prosperous life.

The growers also criticised rupee-dollar parity, which has created problems in getting seed, agriculture input and machinery which was bought at dollar rates while the end product was sold in rupees.

They demanded the government authorities to look at the agriculture sector sympathetically and avoid colossal losses in terms of destruction and displacement of rural people, who had no option but to migrate.


Leyte just opened the most advanced rice processing complex in all of Southeast Asia

By  Yvette Tan  
Description: PRECIOUS GRAINS Patrick Francois Renucci with DA Sec. Manny Piñol
PRECIOUS GRAINS Patrick Francois Renucci with DA Sec. Manny Piñol
Rice is an integral part of the Filipino diet. It’s present in all meals, from breakfast to dinner, even snacks. And yet it seems more and more of a challenge to get enough rice to feed the entire country. A rice processing complex in Alangalang, Leyte, wants to lead the way in reversing this.
The Chen Yi Agriventures Rice Processing Center is a two-hectare complex that houses the most advanced rice processing machinery in Southeast Asia. It is also the largest of its kind in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Description: RENUCCI IT IS! President Rodrigo Duterte at the inauguration of the Chen Yi Agventures Rice Processing Center with Sec. Michael Dino and Sec. Manny Piñol with the owners of Chen Yi Agventures
RENUCCI IT IS! President Rodrigo Duterte at the inauguration of the Chen Yi Agventures Rice Processing Center with Sec. Michael Dino and Sec. Manny Piñol with the owners of Chen Yi Agventures
The inauguration of the Complex was graced by President Rodrigo Duterte and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol. “When they reached out to us, we partnered them with Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice),” Piñol said. “I would say that this is the best of its kind in the country.”
Description: Rachel Renucci-Tan; and the Chen Yi Agventures Rice Processing Center
Rachel Renucci-Tan and the Chen Yi Agventures Rice Processing Center
The desire to help
The company is run by Patrick Renucci and Rachel Renucci-Tan, a husband and wife team who, four years ago, packed up their life in Paris and moved to Leyte after Typhoon Yolanda with the intention of uplifting the lives of local farmers through agribusiness.
Rachel was an investment banker and fund manager while Patrick ran one of the largest printing companies in France. After seeing the devastation Yolanda wrought, they decided to come home.
“We said, ‘In order to find more meaning in our lives, we’d like to come back to the Philippines and give back to the country, to my country,” Rachel said. “I dragged along my husband and the first thing we wanted to do was lift the province of Leyte from the ravages of Typhoon Yolanda. Alangalang is the granary of Leyte, that’s why we decided to set up our rice processing complex (here).”
“We are not farmers. We came here to do sustainable business. We came here because nobody would come here,” Patrick said. “We came here to change the way people farm, to increase the income of the farmer, to increase the yield of the farmer, and to get them out of the cycle of poverty.”
Description: Patrick Francois Renucci shows off the rice from the paddy separator that sorts the brown rice from the palay; and the rice of Leyte, the Dalisay
Patrick Francois Renucci shows off the rice from the paddy separator that sorts the brown rice from the palay; and the rice of Leyte, the Dalisay
Delicious, nutritious rice
The facility, fully automated, costs R1.7 billion. “Since there’s no manual intervention, there’s much less room for error,” Rachel explained.
Once the rice is harvested, it is brought to the facility without ever touching the ground. The complex’s drying facilities have a continuous cleaning process that allows the grain to dry and kill pests before it is stored in temperature-controlled bins that allow it to stay in a freshly-harvested state. The rice is milled on demand. “We provide according to supply, not according to price. So when the consumers need our rice, that’s when we mill and process,” Rachel said.
The milling process uses Japanese technology so that the rice is processed less. “Our rice is very white because we work more on the polishing and therefore we manage to retain the essential nutrient. Our rice has the same fiber content as the brown rice and doubles the protein levels because of our industrial processes,” Rachel explained. “When you see Renucci Rice, it’s really white, it’s really clean, very light and we don’t spray chemicals, we don’t fumigate our rice. We use technology to keep out pests in our (packaging).”
Description: The Chen Yi Agventures Rice Processing Center
The Chen Yi Agventures Rice Processing Center
Helping farmers
Chen Yi works with about 5,000 farmers through the Renucci Partnership Program, providing them with high-quality seeds, fertilizers, and pest control, as well as giving them access to equipment and low-interest loans.
“The farmers that follow our protocol have achieved up to 200 kabans per hectare,” Rachel said. “Those who did not really follow are still able to double (their yield) from (the usual) 50 to 60 kabans to 80 to 100 kabans per hectare.”
The harvest is then bought through the Renucci Palay Procurement Program. “We go to the fields and buy the palay directly from the farmers in cash so that we avoid intermediaries so that all the benefits go directly to the farmers,” Rachel said.
Rejuvenating the industry
The Renuccis are optimistic about their endeavor. “(We’re) very excited that we have come to this stage. We started with just faith in God and faith in ourselves. We moved from Paris and Hong Kong and London to Alangalang, Leyte. We didn’t know anyone, we’re not from here, and we’re foreigners. We’ve had many challenges, many times we’ve wanted to give up but we said that we should prevail and we’re still here,” Rachel said.
“My deepest wish is for our model to be replicated across the country,” she added. “Then, there would be less (need) to rely on imports because food security is really important.”
The rice variety is called Dalisay and will be sold under the brand name Renucci Rice. “We know where the seed comes from, that’s why we call it ‘Dalisay,’” Rachel said. “We want that when you say ‘Dalisay,’ you’ll think ‘oh it’s from Leyte.’”
Renucci Rice will be available in leading supermarkets by August.
Description:  Patrick Francois Renucci shows off the rice from the paddy separator that sorts the brown rice from the palay; and the rice of Leyte, the Dalisay
The rice of Leyte, the Dalisay

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ARoma17 gives growers, foodies a domestic alternative for high-yielding fragrant rice


The Problem: 

As U.S. consumers continue to explore world cuisines, many have developed a taste for the fragrant jasmine-type rice used in many southern Asian dishes. However, Arkansas, the leading rice growing station in the nation, doesn’t have a climate that favors growth of Thai jasmine rice. Karen Moldenhauer and Debra Ahrent Wisdom, rice breeding team members with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, set out to breed an aromatic rice that could thrive in the Natural State.

The Research

ARoma17 was developed from a cross made in 2009 at the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart. Jazzman, a Louisiana aromatic variety, was crossed with PI 597046, which is a germplasm donated to the USDA Plant Introduction and Research Program by the International Rice Research Institute in 1994. The resulting cross was selected for advancement toward commercial release in 2012.
Over four years in the Arkansas Rice Performance Trials, ARoma17 averaged 163 bushels per acre and recorded 173 bushels per acre in the 2014 trials. Its four-year average yield in the multi-state Uniform Regional Rice Nursery was 172 bushels per acre.
ARoma17 is moderately susceptible to blast and sheath blight, moderately resistant to panicle blight and under high rates of nitrogen fertilization, is susceptible to false smut.
Breeder and foundation seed for ARoma17 is maintained by the Division of Agriculture’s Foundation Seed Program at the Rice Research and Extension Center.

The Bottom Line

ARoma17 fills a market niche for consumers who enjoy jasmine-type aromatic rice and Arkansas consumers can now enjoy one that’s grown in Arkansas.

The Researcher

Description: Karen Moldenhauer

Karen Moldenhauer

Professor and rice breeder
Department of crop soils and environmental science and Arkansas Rice Industry Chair in Variety Development.
Moldenhauer earned a B.S. in biology from Iowa State University; a master’s in plant breeding from North Carolina State University and returned to Iowa State to earn her Ph.D. in plant breeding.

Debra Ahrent Wisdom

Assistant aromatic rice breeder
Division of Agriculture
Debra earned her B.S. in agriculture business at Southeastern Missouri State and a master’s of science in plant breeding from the University of Arkansas.


Don Tyson Center
for Agricultural Sciences

1371 W. Altheimer Drive
Fayetteville, AR 72704