Wednesday, July 24, 2019

24th July,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

1420 Varieties, 25 Years: Meet the Man Rescuing India’s Rice Diversity From Extinction

Deb, though no agriculturist by training, was bothered with the apathy of the then agri-scientists who found it of no consequence that the native rice was dying out. They, in fact, promoted high yielding and hybrid varieties instead.
by Jovita AranhaJuly 23, 2019, 3:46 pm
In the 1990s when Debal Deb was working with India’s largest conservation NGO in Kolkata, he recalled how the country boasted of more than 1,10,000 folk or native varieties of rice until the advent of the Green Revolution in the late 1960s. In the two decades that followed, this number dropped to less than 7,000.
Why? The Green Revolution witnessed policy makers, agri-scientists and Indian farmers abandon landraces and chase high yielding varieties so much so that at some point, more than 75 per cent of India’s rice production was coming from less than 10 varieties.
As an ecologist, Deb was rattled by this culling of rice varieties native to India.

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 “Every time a tiger or a rhino or any charismatic big animal was killed, millions of dollars poured in to support conservation efforts. But nobody batted an eyelash witnessing a massive genocide of our traditional rice varieties,” Deb says in an interview with The Better India (TBI).
Deb, though no agriculturist by training, was bothered with the apathy of the then agri-scientists who found it of no consequence that the native rice varieties were dying and were, in fact, actively promoting high yielding and hybrid varieties instead.
Thus, in the early 1990s, Deb set out on the field to document the varieties that were left in Bengal. Though 5,500 native varieties were officially documented from West Bengal, over his journey spanning three years, he was able to collect only 350.
Sometimes on foot and mostly on the rooftops of buses, Deb travelled to remote, unirrigated villages, untouched by the perils of the Green revolution, and populated with marginal farmers.
Most of the farmers couldn’t afford chemical fertilisers, pesticides or pump sets for irrigation. So they cultivated the native varieties of rice that required none of these ‘inputs’.
Every time he reached a village and asked for a fistful of grains, he pleaded them to never stop cultivating the indigenous rice. Description:
Over the past 25 years, this rice warrior has collected more than 1,420 native rice varieties from 12 states across India. He also collected a few varieties from countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Thailand, Korea, the Philippines and Italy.
Apart from starting a one-of-its-kind open-access seed bank—Vrihi, for farmers, he also cultivates each of the 1,420 rice varieties on a 1.7 acre model farm, Basudha, that he set up at the foothills of Niyamgiri in Odisha.
The Beginning
Conserving seeds. Source: Facebook/Debal Deb/Photographed by Zoe Savitz
When he started his conservation journey, Deb distributed these varieties at the doorsteps of Bengali farmers hit by the drought in 1998, flash floods and later cyclone Aila in 2009 which swept 20,000 hectare of land out of production in the Sunderbans.
But he was shocked at what the farmers did when farming activities resumed.
“All modern hybrid varieties had perished and these native varieties were the only ones that not only survived but also furnished substantial grain yield. But what was heartbreaking was, once the drought or cyclone had passed, the same farmers who were saved from hunger by these native varieties abandoned them to go back to modern varieties. They had no value for the native seeds, because they were getting it for free.”
When Deb travelled to the Chinsurah Rice Research Station to donate some of these varieties, they rejected his offer. He then approached the Director of Agriculture at the station who ridiculed him,
“Being a scientist yourself, why are you trying to get the old seeds back? Do you want to push our farmers to the caveman’s age?”
Despite reiterating that these traditional varieties could yield in marginal land and climatic conditions, where no modern varieties could survive, the Director told him, they would work on transgenic varieties to tackle this.
This is one of the prime reasons that, till date, Deb has never reached out to any government or private institute to fund his work.
Transplanting. Source: Website/
Jaded by the lack of support, Deb quit his extremely well paying senior position in Kolkata as a Senior Project Officer in 1996 with the World Wilde Fund for Nature (WWF) Eastern Region.
He then started Basudha, to conserve, grow, multiply and distribute these seeds himself. His work is mostly funded by good samaritans who believe in his vision.
While he initially spent almost two decades working in Bengal, he shifted base to Odisha a decade ago.
“There were only very few exceptions among farmers in Bengal who understood and accepted the intrinsic value of the native varieties. Majority of them were victims to the ‘develop-mentality’ where all they thought about was immediate gains and profits. After shifting to Odisha, we saw a good response. Apart from Odisha, farmers from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka also appreciated the intrinsic value of the native seeds and gave preference to its aroma, nutritional properties, heritage and flavour, over its yield and market price.”
Deb, who is an Indian Institute of Science alumnus and a former Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, US, adds how money was a big challenge in the beginning because he was new to the field and had no regular income flowing in. Yet he doesn’t charge the farmers a penny for the seeds.
“On principle, I do not charge anything for the seeds that I give to farmers, because those seeds are not my invention. I am only a custodian of the seeds. I share them freely because I want to reinstate the traditional system of sharing seeds as opposed to the market system of selling them at exorbitant prices.”
To ensure this, he created a living seed bank, Vrihi.
Source: Facebook/Debal Deb/Photographed by Zoe Savitz
“At national and international gene banks, many varieties are dried to reduce their moisture content below 14 per cent and then stored at -20 degree Celsius, to increase their shelf life. Considering the period during which these gene banks were set up, most of these seeds have surpassed their shelf life. They are dead because they were never cultivated on a field and allowed to germinate. I have visited these gene banks and firsthand witnessed thousands of packets of these dead seeds. It is more of a gene morgue than a gene bank,” says Deb.
According to Deb, about 20 per cent of the varieties in these seed banks are still alive and even those are inaccessible to the ordinary farmers as big seed corporations have easy access to them.
Vrihi was a protest against this injustice to the ordinary farmer.
While these native varieties are distributed free of cost in half kg packets, the rules are very clear. Farmers who take these packets from Vrihi, have to cultivate them, return one kg next year as proof of cultivation, and later pass the seeds on to other farmers. The rice grown from these seeds can be a commercial product. But the seeds can never be sold. They have to be shared for free only with farmers, not with government institutions or seed corporations.
Most heirloom varieties if not cultivated, lose their germination ability after one year. So you have to plant them and ensure their growth is monitored. This not only helps keep the variety alive but also helps it evolve and develop resistance to the changing climate, strains of pests and pathogens.
And so, Deb cultivates each of them, every year at the Basudha farm.
Purity Maintenance
Source: Facebook/Debal Deb/Photographed by Zoe Savitz
After six years of field-testing he has devised a method that allows him to plant each of these varieties within the 1.7 acres of Basudha while ensuring that the genetic purity of each of these heirloom varieties is maintained and no cross-pollination occurs between two varieties, planted next to each other.
He spends 12 days and nights each year to merely design and map the manner in which the varieties would be planted. Deb published his methodology in the open-access Current Science journal in July 2006, and in his book to make the information accessible to farmers.
Basudha is the only farm in India which prides itself over the genetic purity it maintains in the seeds distributed to farmers.
We assess 56 morphological characters of the plant of each variety, from the leaf length and width, leaf colour, node colour, grain colour and weight, kernel colour and so on, to ensure it matches the original variety. We go the extra mile so that the farmer who takes these seeds from Basudha is taking home the same variety that I conserved 25 years ago. Basudha is the only place in India, that is maintaining this level of genetic purity.
A Treasure Trove
Imparting teachings. Source:Website/
When asked to shed light on some of the most iconic varieties he has preserved, Deb says, “To me, every single variety has a unique property. We are the last repository for many of these varieties.” For example, the Sateen that has three kernels in most of the spikelets.
“The farmer who gave this to me passed away after which, his son did not cultivate it. Monsanto, the seed corporation, tried to acquire the variety grown in my farm, but I refused to let them do so.”
Another example is Jugal, the double-grain rice variety. Ramigali from Chhattisgarh has sterile lemmas elongated as wing-like appendages. Kharah from Odisha is another unique landrace with purple stems and leaves.
Another variety includes grains which have natural silver content. Effective in killing gut microbes, it is considered to have properties to cure gastrointestinal diseases. There are 86 varieties which are very rich in iron. A single meal of any of these can be beneficial to pregnant women and new mothers who face iron-deficiency and may suffer from anemia.
Similarly, there are varieties rich in zinc, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids too.
Vrihi also has 16 native varieties that can out-yield modern hybrids without any agro-chemical inputs!
Hundreds of farmers visit Deb every year with the purpose of exchanging and borrowing seeds. Last year, Basudha saw more than 1,900 farmer footfalls. The year before, this number was 2,000. This year too, a group of 30 highly motivated farmers from Tamil Nadu will be visiting Deb to take 1,000 native varieties of rice.
Deb also imparts the training to grow these varieties to maintain their genetic purity. While success for the multiplication of each variety seems like an uphill task, he hopes this exchange will help carry forward the tradition of preserving at least 500 of these varieties.
Let’s hope Deb continues to create these little pockets of hope and inspire many more warriors to join in the battle to preserve our wealth of native crop varieties!
If this story inspired you, get in touch with Deb on
Or visit to know more about his work.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)

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Written by Jovita Aranha
A lover of people, cats, food, music, books & films. In that order. Binge-watcher of The Office & several other shows. A storyteller on her journey to document extraordinary stories of ordinary people.

FBI Director: China Main Culprit in Intellectual Property Theft Probes
By Masood Farivar
July 23, 2019 01:12 PM
Report updated at 7:45 p.m., July 23, 2019.
The FBI has more than 1,000 active investigations into attempted theft of U.S. intellectual property, with nearly all involving China, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday, underscoring a previous designation of China as the No. 1 counterintelligence threat to the United States.
"I would say that there is no country that poses a more severe counterintelligence threat to this country right now than China," Wray told members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. 
Wray, who has warned about the Chinese threat in similarly stark terms during past congressional testimony, described it as "deep and diverse and wide and vexing" in terms of Beijing's use of operatives, techniques and targets.  The warning comes as the Trump administration is waging a trade war with China in part over complaints China engages in rampant intellectual property theft both in the United States and abroad.  
"And so, we're working extremely hard with all of our partners to combat it," he said. "But make no mistake, this is a high priority for all of us."
U.S. businesses targeted by China run the gamut both in size and industry type, ranging from small high-tech startups to agriculture companies, Wray said.
Last year, two Chinese rice researchers were charged in a conspiracy to steal highly proprietary rice seeds developed by Colorado-based Ventria Bioscience.
U.S. intelligence officials have long sounded the alarm about China's stepped-up espionage activities as part of an effort to solidify its global economic dominance. In its latest worldwide threat assessment, the U.S. intelligence community said in January that China "remains the most active strategic competitor responsible for cyber espionage against the U.S. government, corporations, and allies." 
Increasingly, China uses what the FBI calls "nontraditional collectors" such as businessmen, scientists, academics and graduate students to gather intelligence, Wray said. With the Communist Party of China spreading its tentacles throughout Chinese society, the traditional lines between public and private sector actors have been blurred, if not eliminated, complicating counterespionage efforts. 
"The difference between the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, not really a difference," the FBI director said. "The difference between the Chinese government and its private sector is not really a difference." 

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 23, 2019.
To combat Chinese espionage, the Justice Department unveiled an initiative last November that would "identify priority Chinese trade theft cases" and ensure they're investigated and prosecuted. 
The China initiative is led by John Demers, who leads the Justice Department's national security division. In recent months, the department has announced a number of indictments of Chinese nationals as part of the effort. 
Wray, as well as several committee members, expressed concern that U.S. universities remain vulnerable to Chinese economic espionage. The Chinese have "created pipelines" at U.S. universities that allow them to steal and funnel to China key intellectual property "for the advancement of its various strategic plans." 
"The irony is that the U.S. is essentially funding that economic resurgence through grants," Wray said. 
Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, said universities aren't doing enough to protect their sensitive research against Chinese sleuthing. 
"If we're relying on a university to do it, my guess is a lot of them don't know how, and frankly, some of them probably don't care, as long as they're getting the tuition," Kennedy said.
Wray said that he and other FBI officials have met with various universities and research labs around the country to help them "understand the nature of the threat (and) what to be on the lookout for."

Secretive and colorful dryas monkey isn’t as rare as once thought


by Nina Finley on 23 July 2019
  • In 2014, biologists discovered a population of critically endangered dryas monkeys (Cercopithecus dryas) living 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of their only known range in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Multi-level camera traps revealed that these stealthy monkeys are more common — and a lot weirder — than previously thought. They digest young leaves, snuggle up in impenetrable vine thickets, and sometimes boast an outrageous blue behind.
  • In 2019, the IUCN downgraded their conservation status to endangered, and scientists are predicting a potentially positive future for the dryas.
On a July day in 2014, biologists Henri Silegowa and Jean Pierre Kapale were buying rice in Bafundo, a village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when they noticed a dead monkey about to be cooked as bushmeat. In seven years of surveying the region’s primates, neither they nor their colleagues at the Lukuru Foundation’s TL2 Project had laid eyes on a monkey like this.
“We were inside the fenced compound of a local woman, buying rice for our patrol teams, when I saw this tiny monkey hanging off the side of the kitchen. I’d never seen anything like it, and the woman said she did not know its name,” Silegowa recalls.
The specimen was a small female, the size of a housecat. Her black face was cushioned in lushrusset fur and haloed by a white diadem. She had a pale blue rump. The hunter, when Silegowa tracked him down, called the monkey inoko. He’d traded the carcass for a few measures of rice.
John Hart, scientific director of the TL2 Project, described her as “beautiful,” a “miniscule little animal.”
Description: Silegowa and Jean Pierre Kapale noticed this mysterious monkey hanging in Bafundo, a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In seven years of studying the region’s primates, they’d never seen anything like it. Image courtesy of Henri Silegowa.
At first, Silegowa and Hart thought the monkey might be new to science.
“I checked our field guides, and couldn’t find anything that matched the photo we had of the inoko,” Silegowa says.  “There was not a single monkey in the field guide with that black face rimmed by orange, and with blue buttocks.”
Hoping for more information, the TL2 Project posted a photo of the mystery monkey on its blog. Comments trickled in from researchers as far away as Japan and the U.S., identifying it as the dryas monkey (Cercopithecus dryas), the smallest member of the genus of monkeys known as guenons. The species was first described in 1932 by a German zoologist, Ernst Schwarz, but it was only known from a tiny patch of forest in the Wamba-Kokolopori region, nearly 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the northwest. Not surprisingly, at the time, the IUCN classified the species as critically endangered.
The revelation struck Silegowa as a “big surprise.”
“We knew we had found something special,” he says.
So how did this little dryas monkey end up hanging as bushmeat in Bafundo?
Bafundo sits in the Congo Basin, the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest, on the border of Lomami National Park. The region is a sparsely populated wilderness known as TL2 for the three rivers — Tshuapa, Lomami and Lualaba — that drain it toward Africa’s center.
The TL2 Project, founded in 2007, has discovered biological riches here including bonobos (Pan paniscus), the striped giraffe-like animal known as the okapi (Okapia johnstoni), and around 700 African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis). In 2012, the team even stumbled upon a species of monkey unknown to science, which they named lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis).
Description: mysterious monkey’s black face was encircled by a white diadem and wrapped in lush russet fur. Image courtesy of Henri Silegowa.
When the bushmeat dryas appeared, the researchers had trouble believing this forest held yet another surprise for them.
“At seven years in, they get this animal showing up dead in a village that they had no idea was there!” says Daniel Alempijevic, a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University who works with the TL2 Project. “The big surprise was, how has this [monkey species] been going under the radar for so long now?”
Camera trap mission
Alempijevic came in to tackle that question by setting updozens of “multi-strata” camera traps in Lomami National Park and its buffer zone. Nobody knew where to look for the dryas, so he and his mentor, Kate Detwiler, an anthropologist at Florida Atlantic University, decided to place cameras on the ground, in the understory, and up in the canopy, sometimes at a dizzying 30 meters (100 feet) high.
In the first month, not one of his cameras caught a dryas, but in the second round his persistence was rewarded with a few tantalizing seconds of video.
“That first time we got one on a camera, I was just thrilled,” Alempijevic says. “After that, they just started trickling in. Now, it’s actually not an irregular sighting in the understory. It’s one of the more common monkeys we’re getting in that stratum.”
An innovative strategy of placing camera traps at multiple levels in the forest has earned researchers an hour-and-a-half of footage of the elusive dryas monkey. This video collage includes the highlights. Video courtesy of Daniel Alempijevic/Primatology Lab/Florida Atlantic University, Ephrem Mpaka and Koko Bisimwa/TL2 Inoko Project/Frankfurt Zoological Society.
Camera trap results show that dryas monkeys rarely venture up to the canopy, and the cameras have yet to catch them on the ground. Their preferred habitats are dense, swampy vine thickets in the understory, especially gaps where an old tree has fallen and dragged its tangle of woody lianas and skin-ripping rattans down with it.
“It is a really difficult environment to penetrate,” Alempijevic says. “Total bushwhacking to get in. Lots of spines. I’m still pulling rattan spines out of my skin from a year ago!”
This might explain how dryas monkeys have evaded human notice for so long. But now, thanks to the cameras, scientists have accumulated a total of an hour-and-a-half of footage.
“We’re seeing so much more on the cameras than we could ever see with our eyes,” Alempijevic says.
Portrait of a monkey
Researchers are piecing together a portrait of the dryas monkey as a master of stealth with a taste for leaves and an outrageous blue butt. Unlike other guenons, which make exuberant leaps and booming calls, dryas move silently. They whisper, murmur, chuckle and chirp.
“In all our camera trap videos of this thing, we don’t have them making any calls we could use to locate them. That adds to their cryptic nature,” Hart says.
Think of the dryas as that annoying little sister who wins every game of hide-and-seek by contorting herself into a nook where nobody would think to look, then stays hidden for hours after the game has ended to make sure she’s won.
Hart describes the most recent encounter with this “hunker-down monkey,” in March 2019. The TL2 Project patrol came upon a single monkey on the forest floor. It vanished in a blur, then “snuggled right up into the vine thicket,” becoming an invisible furball. No running away. No alarm calls.
“We spent over half an hour there, but the monkey would not move,” recalls Aimedo Onale, a member of the patrol. “We knew where it was, but we could not see it. Finally, I asked the machete man to climb nearby and shake the lianas to get the monkey to move, so we could get a photo.”
Description: 30 minutes of searching a vine thicket, Onale and his patrol team finally earned this snapshot of a dryas monkey in their March 2019 encounter. Image courtesy of Terese Hart via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
The patrollers had never seen this kind of monkey before. They were deep in Lomami National Park, far from any previous sightings, but photos confirmed it was an adult male dryas, once again popping up in an unexpected place.
That night, Onale sent a satellite message out to the TL2 Project team. It said simply, “Inoko ino” — dryas is here.
The dryas monkey is a master of avoiding human notice, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it has a drab fashion sense.
“When you get it in front of you, the coloration is just unbelievable. There’s no monkey that’s so vividly colored,” Hart says.
The backside of a mature male dazzles like Fourth of July fireworks. A large patch of bare skin gleams aquamarine under the tail, extending to the testicles. Above that, a smaller patch of cherry-red skin highlights the anus. This colorful display is encircled by a ring of bright white fur, contrasting nicely with the monkey’s black limbs.
Hart recalls the first male dryas he saw.
“It was breathtaking. There was nothing like it in the field guides. The field guides remind me of those renaissance statues that someone subsequently had to come and put the fig leaf over. This thing is just — you can’t miss it!”
Description: Daniel Alempijevic started researching dryas monkeys in 2016, he needed to ask local communities to report sightings of the species, but he had no photos of it alive, and he didn’t want people getting the idea that he wanted dead specimens. So he sketched this image of a dryas based on bushmeat. Image courtesy of Daniel Alempijevic.
Not all males have the brilliant blue backside and testes. It might be age-related, hormonally induced, or a signal of health or status within the group.
The monkey’s diet was another surprise for researchers. Alempijevic calls it “really strange.” Dryas eat insects, terrestrial mushrooms, and the green inner bark of lianas, but their favorite food appears to be young leaves, an infamously difficult food to digest.
“They’re eating a lot of herbaceous material, which is unusual for a small monkey,” Alempijevic says.
Some animals have evolved adaptations for digesting leaves, such as the goat’s four stomachs or the leafcutter ant’s fungus gardens. Some large primates, like colobus and proboscis monkeys, eat leaves too, but small monkeys usually rely on energy-dense foods like fruits and insects. Just how the dryas extracts energy from its leafy diet remains a mystery.
A positive future?
In January 2019, the IUCN downgraded the dryas monkey’s conservation status from critically endangered to endangered. Theworldwide population is still extremely small, totaling 100 to 250 adults by IUCN estimates, but Hart predicts the number will rise. Neither habitat loss nor hunting poses an existential threat at this time.
“[The dryas monkey] can’t make it in an oil palm plantation as far as we know, but it’s able to sneak around and do pretty well in vine thickets on the edges of little towns,” Hart says.
Description: first male dryas monkey found by the TL2 Project was killed by a hunter and laid out on a mongongo leaf, showing off its bright blue behind. Image courtesy of Daniel Alempijevic.
Dryas prefer forest disturbed by wind storms, floods and elephants. That evolutionary preference is now working to their advantage, as humans dot the landscape with abandoned gardens and fallow fields.
“We’re actually finding more dryas monkeys around the edges of these abandoned gardens than we are within the national park in protected sites,” Alempijevic says.
As for hunting, dryas avoid snares by staying off the ground, and they evade hunters’ notice with their small size and cryptic behavior.
“They don’t seem to be a target for hunters. If a hunter opportunistically has a chance, they will kill one, but they’re not seeking them out like the larger-bodied primates,” Alempijevic says.
Hart says he hopes more scientists will search for dryas, now that they know how to look for it with camera traps, and work to conservethe pockets of forest where it lives. The goal, he says, is to protect the habitat of these quiet, colorful monkeys, “so they can continue to hunker down and do their thing.”
Description: rare photo of two dryas monkeys “hunkering down” outside Bafundo village in 2016. The IUCN downgraded the species’ conservation status from critically endangered to endangered after a population was discovered in Lomami National Park. Image courtesy of Pablo Ayali.

Article published by Erik Hoffner Newsfeed

UPDATE 2-Thai rice exporters cut 2019 target for annual exports
Patpicha Tanakasempipat
JULY 24, 2019 / 9:20
* Thai rice exports set to fall further in 2019

* Exporters cite strong baht, ample global stockpiles

* Thailand faces cheaper rice from Vietnam, China

* Fears for next year’s supply due to drought (Adds details, quotes, prices)

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat

BANGKOK, July 24 (Reuters) - Thailand’s rice exporters on Wednesday lowered their target for annual exports to 9 million tonnes from 9.5 million, after a sharp fall in first-half shipments due to a strong baht and ample global stockpiles.

Thailand’s rice exports from January to June fell 19.6% compared with the same period last year, the Thai Rice Exporters Association said.

“With volumes of shipments consistently declining from January, our best performance would be 9 million tonnes,” Charoen Laothamatas, president of the exporters group, told reporters.

The new target is about 20% less than the 11.23 million tonnes that Thailand - the world’s second-largest rice exporter after India - shipped out in 2018. This year’s volume is expected to be worth about $4.7 billion, down 17% from 2018.

Thailand has been losing market share to major rival Vietnam due to a rise in the Thai baht, Asia’s best performing currency, which earlier this month reached its strongest levels in more than six years.

Thailand’s benchmark 5% broken white rice RI-THBKN5-P1 was quoted last week at around $401-$402 a tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis, well above a similar grade from Vietnam, which was quoted at $350 per tonne. RI-VNBKN5-P1

India’s benchmark 5% broken parboiled variety RI-INBKN5-P1 was trading at around $374-$377 per tonne.

Thailand has also been facing competition from China, the world’s biggest rice importer and Thailand’s No. 3 buyer last year, which nearly doubled its rice exports in the first half of 2019 from a year ago, said Chookiat Ophaswongse, the group’s honorary president.

Flush with large state reserves, China has been selling stockpiles of “old rice”, which have gone to African markets previously dominated by Thailand, he said.

A government-to-government deal that Thailand struck with Chinese state-owned food trader COFCO in 2015 has also stalled due to China’s ample rice supplies.

As of end-2018, Thailand had supplied 700,000 tonnes of rice to China as part of the deal for 1 million tonnes of the grain. Since then, there have been no new orders, Chookiat said.

Rice exporters are also concerned that low rainfall could cripple the next harvest after the Thai government this week urged farmers to delay planting rice.

Drought has been declared in more than a dozen provinces in Thailand’s main rice-growing northern and northeastern regions, where rainfall was the lowest in 10 years.

“If rain doesn’t come by August, it’s a dire situation,” Charoen told reporters.

Thailand’s main rice-growing season begins in May, the start of the rainy season, for harvest between August and October.

Can we eliminate technical smuggling?

The Philippines is dependent on foreign sources for oil and many food products. We import huge quantities of food items such as rice, pork and chicken because local output is not sufficient to meet demand.
On the other hand, the purchase of imported food items required by manufacturers and consumers has allowed the government to generate income via the tariffs slapped on these products. Tariffs and other charges imposed on imports form part of the government’s revenue, which funds its operations and programs.
Rice has become one of the most expensive food imports because traders now have to pay a steep tariff rate. Meat products are also expensive, but the landed price will depend on the source because the government now allows the purchase of these items from Southeast Asia at lower tariffs. Those sourced from outside Asean are slapped steeper rates of 35 percent for pork and 40 percent for chicken.
Ideally, the government should be able to collect all the tariffs imposed on imported food items. This is possible if both the importer and the origin of the food items declared the correct dutiable value. Problems arise, however, when the right amount is not declared because of collusion between the trader and the source of goods. Dubbed technical smuggling, this is a practice that allows importers to pay lower duties and taxes for their undervalued imports.
Nongovernment organizations and other groups fighting smuggling claimed that the practice has been going on for many years. Dr. Jesus Lim Arranza said the government loses an estimated P200 billion a year due to smuggling. Despite this, no one has been apprehended or jailed for engaging in technical smuggling. More often than not, what the public sees is the destruction of smuggled goods. We hardly hear about smugglers getting punished for their misdeeds.
Technical smuggling is a serious problem, particularly at this time when funds that should bankroll initiatives aimed at improving the competitiveness of farmers depend on the collection of tariffs from rice imports. If government can’t stop this practice in its fight against smuggling, then it should consider abolishing tariffs on the staple and other food items that the country imports in huge quantities. There’s no point in continuing to impose tariffs on these food items if the government can’t collect the right amount and traders and corrupt officials are the ones becoming richer, at the expense of local producers.
Allowing duty-free imports will make food items cheaper and will altogether eliminate smuggling because there is no reason anymore to resort to such criminal activity. To offset revenues lost from the removal of tariffs, government can raise the cost of securing import permits (sanitary and phytosanitary), and also increase the rate of value-added tax. This will make it less tedious for the Bureau of Customs to monitor shipments, as they will just document incoming and outgoing cargoes.
If our economic managers reject these ideas, they must find ways to vigorously implement the necessary reforms that will eliminate technical smuggling. In this day and age, when data is readily available and technology makes it possible to easily communicate with foreign governments, our officials have no reason why they can’t validate the value of incoming shipments.
The President has taken the first step by firing scores of corrupt government employees, particularly at the Bureau of Customs. It is every Filipino’s duty to help the President in his fight against the scourge of corruption.


Cambodia’s Export Sector Is Booming, Thanks To Travel Products

Jul 24, 2019 02:59 PM
Description: Prime Minister Hun SenPresident of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Prime Minister Hun Sen attends a ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of the establishment of the party in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 28, 2019.(Photo: REUTERS/Samrang Pring/File Photo)
It turns out many people trust Cambodia's reputation for manufacturing various travel goods as the latest data revealed that exports within the January to May period surged by over 15 percent. A large portion of the hike is attributed to travel goods orders.
According to the Khmer Times, the Ministry of Economy and Finance revealed that Cambodian exports reached $5.3 billion. Imports also hiked by 21.5 to reach $8.2 billion. The U.S. is known for importing woven apparel and footwear from the Asian country.
The ministry's report noted that the boom in Cambodian exports was propelled by solid travel goods demand from the United States. While U.S. demand helped bolster exports in the sector, diversification also helped in the change that Cambodian companies are experiencing.
"Accelerating business models, economic diversification, and the expansion of target markets are enabling Cambodia to generate growth and alleviate pressure," the report pointed out.
It appears that Cambodian providers are starting to transition to diversified options in terms of exporting. Just recently, the ministry lodged a petition to the White House to allow for a more extensive scheme on footwear and fabrics.
Vice President of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, Lim Heng, stressed that diversifying the country's products is the key towards gaining a stronger foothold in the global stage.
Lim further explained that diversification will help strengthen Cambodia's economy despite global headwinds such as the China-U.S. trade war and rising tensions between Japan and South Korea.
While the travel goods department seems to be doing great, the rice export sector is still testing the waters after the European Union (EU) imposed tariffs on Cambodian rice products.
As part of the government's efforts in curbing the impact of reduced EU rice exports, Cambodia increased its exports to China. In the first half of this year, rice exports to its co-Asian trading partner saw a hike of 66 percent, the latest data revealed.
China was Cambodia's top rice buyer during the said period, as confirmed by the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export. But, it's not just Chinese buyers who have been helping the Cambodian rice sector.
Cambodian Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said over the weekend that to mark the two countries' six decades of diplomatic relations, Indonesia is set to import ricefrom its Asian counterpart sometime soon.
Local industry experts believe that Indonesian rice markets pose a massive opportunity for Cambodian farmers to grab. The two sides are currently discussing the amount of rice to be shipped. Most analysts are expecting shipments to kick off before the year ends

BSP: Inflation could slow to below 2% this quarter
July 24, 2019 | 12:33 am

INFLATION could settle below the official full-year target this quarter as food and oil prices ease, BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno told reporters on Tuesday, citing “base effects” due to multi-year-high rates last year.
“Third quarter na tayo, so baka below two pa nga ‘yan because of the base effects (We’re in the third quarter, so it might settle below two percent because of the base effects),” Mr. Diokno said at sidelines of a forum, also citing a “significant” drop in oil prices as well as the cost of rice.
The central bank reported that inflation settled at the midpoint of its 2-4% target band in the second quarter at three percent, coming from the 3.8% recorded in January-March, helped by improved domestic food supply conditions.
BSP Deputy Governor Francisco G. Dakila, Jr. had said in a briefing last Friday that “rice prices declined with the ongoing harvest season and the continued arrival of imports.”
President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed on Feb. 14 the law that liberalized rice importation by removing the National Food Authority’s import function and replaced quantitative restrictions on the staple with tariffs: five percent for rice from within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); 40% for imports within the 350,000 metric-ton minimum access volume (MAV), regardless of country; and 180% for above-MAV imports from non-ASEAN countries.

“Unless magkaroon ng (there is) severe El Niño, I don’t think magi-increase ‘yung (there will be an increase in the) price of food,” Mr. Diokno said yesterday.
Central bank officials on Friday said it expects inflation to “decelerate close to the low end of the target range” this quarter before settling close to the midpoint of the target over the medium term.
Dennis D. Lapid, BSP Monetary Policy Sub-Sector officer-in-charge, downplayed the effects of the “mild” dry spell on food supply, saying the disturbance will not pose a “huge” risk. “It (El Niño) might be a little better now because we’ve liberalized the trade regime for rice. So you’ll now see response from the private sector if there will be a shortage in domestic supply,” Mr. Lapid had said on Friday.
In its June 20 monetary policy meeting, the central bank revised its inflation forecast for this year to 2.7% from the 2.9% penciled in May and to three percent from 3.1% for 2020, on expectations of lower global oil prices and the peso’s appreciation.
Also on Tuesday, Mr. Diokno said the BSP awaits second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth data to be reported in the morning of Aug. 8, hours before monetary authorities conduct their fifth policy review for this year. “We are going to look at the second-quarter GDP and look at the sources of growth… such as strong investment growth,” he said. “Consumption is a given but we want it to be investment led.”
The central bank chief has estimated that the economy grew by “at least six percent” in the second quarter on the back of improved government spending after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law the P3.662-trillion 2019 national budget and household consumption fueled by slowing inflation. If realized, this estimate will be faster than the 5.6% growth posted in January-March that was the economy’s worst quarterly performance in four years.
The government said the economy will need to expand by an average of 6.1% over the next three quarters to reach the floor of the full-year growth target of 6-7%.
The Development Budget Coordination Committee has maintained its gross domestic growth target at 6-7% for this year, 6.5-7.5% in 2020 and 7-8% in 2021 and 2022. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal

Duterte’s SONA and the failing PH agriculture

Jul. 23, 2019 LEO XL Y. FUENTES, JR.
President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa complex earlier this week. Out of the more than nine thousand word speech of Duterte he only mentioned the word ‘agriculture’ once.
Duterte’s priority was clearly reflected on his speech, paying less attention to vital sectors such as the Philippine agriculture. For the record he mentioned the words ‘girlfriend’ thrice and cursed words were noted twenty three times on that speech.
Though he highlighted two important industries in Philippine Agriculture: palay or rice and the other one is the coconut, yet fell short on the solutions. Both of these agricultural industries are in poor state as the past and present administrations’ programs and policies were unsustainable, corrupt-ridden and outright moronic.
Let us start with Duterte taking pride that he ratified RA 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, which is best fitting to be called “Rice Liberalization Law” for it is not just about tariffs but a policy on liberalizing our rice industry.
Prior to the ratification of RA 11203, we already predicted its harshest impacts to Filipino farmers. Our prediction was quite accurate, prices of Palay dropped after Rice Liberalization Law was enacted. Farmers are suffering very-low prices of palay that is around P12-14/kilo, while production cost in December 2018 data of Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) was pegged at P12.42/kg. Simple math can solve how our rice farmers are.
The Duterte administration is claiming that it is difficult for us to compete with Vietnam, since our production cost is high. While it is true, yet the administration failed to look into the details the reason for this high production cost.
According to data from UP Los Baños which Department of Agriculture pushed in 2009, the income distribution in the rice economy are as follows: Land Rental 22%, Traders 30%, Dryer and Miller 20%, Chemical Input and Land Preparation 18% and only 10% is the farmer’s share.
Now if we are going to compare it with Vietnam who implemented a land reform, the supposed land rental is automatically subtracted to the overall cost of production yielding 22% less in the production cost. In terms of government subsidies the suppose Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) or the money being collected from tariffs of rice imports that is around P10 billion pesos or around USD 90 million a year is dismal as compared to government subsidies given by Vietnamese government that is around USD 1 billion a year, much less than that of Thailand that is around USD 7 billion a year.
With such failed and moronic agriculture programs, it is unsuprising to see Duterte on his SONA paying less attention to agriculture, as you cannot talk something that you are not familiar with or you failed to do.
The past three years of Duterte is already a failure in providing land to the farmers and sufficient food to the Filipino people. If the policies of the Duterte regime will continue for his remaining three years this will further the bankrupt state of Philippine agriculture.

Malnutrition costs Pakistan $7.5b annually

Description: Malnutrition costs Pakistan $7.5b annually

ISLAMABAD    -   Lack of food security and malnutrition in the country has strong economic implications as malnutrition among children under 5, costs around US$ 7.5 billion or three percent of GDP every year, a report of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said. The high child mortality rates, prevalence of zinc and iodine deficiencies, stunting, and anemia, lead to deficits in physical and mental development that weakens labor productivity and loss of future labor force in the country. According to the report, US $2.24 billion is estimated as the loss of future labour force resulting from under-5 mortality, US $ 1 billion is the estimated healthcare expense, which the families incur to address diarrhea and respiratory infection among children, US $ 3.7 billion is the estimated cost of low labor productivity emanating from stunting, anemia or iodine deficiencies in childhood, and US $ 657 million is the estimated cost of prevalence of chronic weakness and fatigue among 10 million working adults with anemia experience. The report further stated that ensuring food security within the country may entail large fiscal costs as governments incentivized farm sector to ensure food self-sufficiency, and also resort to social safety net programs (including direct transfers) to keep purchasing powers of poor population intact. However, it warned that in case the food self-sufficiency is not achieved, the country has to bear balance of payments cost to ensure food availability.
Pakistan is presently self-sufficient in major staples ranked at 8th in producing wheat, 10th in rice, 5th in sugarcane, and 4th in milk production, despite that, only 63.1 percent of the country’s households are “food secure”, the report quoted. The survey incorporates the Food Insecurity Experience Scale developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Rice valuing US$2.96bn exported, grew by 1.6pc in FY2018-19

  Last Updated On 21 July,2019 08:41 pm
Exports of rice other then basmati reduced by 1.61% and about 3.346 million metric tons
ISLAMABAD (APP) – Rice exports from the county during preceding financial year witnessed about1.6% growth as compared the exports of the corresponding period of last year.
During the period from July-June, 2018-19 bout 4,104,983 metric tons of rice worth US$2.096 billion exported as compared the exports of 4,096,446 metric tons valuing US$ 2.035 billion of same period of last year, according the data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
Meanwhile, during the period under review the exports of Basmati rice also grew by 9.87 percent.
During financial year ended on June 30, 2019, about 668,763metric tons of Basmati rice worth of US$ 639.250 million exported as against the exports of 560,995 metric tons valuing US$581.847 million of same period of last year.
However, the exports of rice other then basmati reduced by 1.61% and about 3.346 million metric tons rice valuing US$1.430 billion exported as compared the exports of 3.535 million metric tons worth of US$1.453 billion of same period of last year.
On month on month basis, rice exports in month of June, 2019 was recorded at 284,670 metric tons as compared the exports of 253, 731 metric tons of corresponding month of last year.
In June, 2019 country earned US$142.364 million as against US$145.734 million of same month of last year. It may be recalled that food group exports from the country recorded about 3.93% reduction in FY 2018-19.


Customs Intercepts Rotten ‘Ponmo’, 9 Trucks Of Rice In Lagos

The Seme area command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it has intercepted a truck load of rotten hide and skin popularly known as ‘Ponmo’.
This is even as the command said it also seized 5,204 bags of 50kg foreign rice, which equivalent to nine trailers and 146 parcel of Indian Hemp smuggled into the country.
Addressing newsmen yesterday, the controller of the command, Compt. Mohammed Uba, said the command also generated the sum of N4.4billion from January till date, representing 65 per cent of the total allotted target revenue of the command and as well seized textiles worth N419,396 million.
According to the CAC, the intensified operation of the enforcement unit of the command has drastically reduced smuggling activities to the barest minimum. He said the duty paid value (DPV) for the seized rice is over N70 million, while the street DPV for the 146 parcel of cannabis was worth over N1.682 million.
According to him, other seizures made include; 13x50kg bags of sugar with DPV of N301,965, 1,078 cartons of poultry products worth N15,727,70, 55 cartons of spaghetti with DPV of N212,924, 97 cartons of  soap worth N619,820, 59 cartons of insecticides with DPV of N761,365, 65×6 yards of textiles worth N419,396.
He said others are 17 sacks of used clothes/shoes worth N435,897, 4 cartons of tin tomatoes with DPV of N29,179, 36 bales of used clothes N1,942,920, 60 pieces of used tyres with total DPV N774,270, 669 packs of PVC carpet/foot mats worth N11,844,768, 2 cartons of cream with DPV of N18,066.
He added that nine trucks placed on detention due to short payment, adding that a total five vehicles had also been seized with duty paid value of N7,549,132, while the total DPV for the whole seizures within the three weeks under review is N112,486,270.


High cost of healthy food linked to stunting, new study finds

By Teresa Welsh // 23 July 2019
Description:,f_auto,q_auto,w_720/https:/ food market in Malawi. Photo by: IFPRI / CC BY-NC-ND
WASHINGTON — High prices of nutritious foods in low- and middle-income countries partly explain high rates of undernutrition, according to new research from the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Explore Devex’s dedicated news section with regular, editorially independent coverage of the challenges, solutions, and innovations in nutrition, with financial support from our partner DSM.
While prior research has been conducted on the link between nutritious food prices and obesity, a study conducted by IFPRI and published in the Journal of Nutrition on Tuesday is the first to examine a link between food prices and undernutrition.
Researchers broke down caloric prices using World Bank income levels to examine associations with dietary indicators for women and children, including under-5 stunting and adult overweight.
The richer a country gets, the cheaper healthier and nutrient-dense foods get, said Derek Headey, a senior fellow at IFPRI. But unhealthy foods get cheaper, too.
“That finding is of importance because it has implications both for what we should be doing in developing countries in terms of undernutrition, and that’s trying to improve the food system so that it delivers healthy foods more cheaply,” Headey said.
“People in developing countries don’t just have poor income, they also live in poor food systems.”
— Derek Headey, senior fellow, IFPRI
Researchers used food prices from the World Bank’s International Comparison Program, a statistical database used to measure cost of living around the world. The standardization of this system allowed them to compare different varieties of the same food, like basmati rice versus jasmine rice. Each of those would qualify as a separate food product among the 657 food products examined in the study. Those foods were then put into 21 specific food groups that could be measured against one another.
The study found that most noncereal foods were relatively cheap in high-income countries, but in lower-income countries healthy foods were generally expensive, including animal-sourced foods and fortified infant cereals. In seven of nine food groups, children were less likely to eat foods with higher relative caloric prices. Higher milk prices were associated with a 2.8 percentage point increase in stunting, while higher soft drink prices saw obesity rates drop by 3.6 percentage points.
As countries develop, processed foods become cheaper, which plays a role in the choices people make about what to eat, Headey said. Sugary foods decrease in price as large international food companies expand distribution to LMICs countries. Access to nutritious food isn’t just a matter of someone’s income, but the availability of such items in their local market when often the healthiest foods are the most perishable.
“People in developing countries don’t just have poor income, they also live in poor food systems,” Headey said. “Their dollar or their rupee or whatever doesn’t go as far because the foods that we really want them to eat, especially young children, are really expensive.”
While it’s not surprising that different foods would cost different amounts in different places throughout the world, Headey said it’s the depth of the disparities that are particularly striking, such as in Africa, where milk and eggs are relatively expensive.
This is one reason that nutrition-sensitive agriculture is so important, Headey explained. Managing costs across the food system allows people access to nutritious foods at more affordable prices, and more emphasis must be put into agricultural investment in nutrient-dense foods rather than staple foods, as well as bringing down the cost of fortified foods.
“We have a significant problem in that most of the history of investment in agricultural research and development in poor countries has been focused on staple foods. And there’s been good rationale for that, poor people grow a lot of staple foods and they spend a lot of money of their household budget on staple foods,” Headey said, noting that many approaches have been focused on food security and poverty reduction.
“But the problem is that those staple foods are really not what young kids need to be fed. They need to be fed nutrient-dense foods. Their mothers need to be eating these nutrient-dense foods.”
High-income countries have been debating the merits and future of animal-based diets, but animal proteins are often the best way for children to be eating this diversity of nutrients they need, Headley said. He’d like to see his research inform sensible nutrition interventions by incorporating price considerations into program design so practitioners are taking into account relative caloric prices.
“It’s not going to be feasible for a woman to feed her child eggs if eggs are 10 or more times expensive than rice. That’s really important, to change the mindset of the role of prices, or you might say the food system, in constraining nutritious behaviors,” Headey said. “When we’re doing interventions [we need] to think about the consequences: Are we doing things that are really going to make healthy foods more affordable?”
This focus area, powered by DSM, is exploring innovative solutions to improve nutrition, tackle malnutrition, and influence policies and funding. Visit the Focus on: Improving Nutrition page for more.

Description: Teresa%2520welsh%2520headshotTeresa Welsh

Teresa Welsh is a Reporter with Devex based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining Devex, Teresa wrote about Latin America from McClatchy's Washington Bureau and covered foreign affairs for U.S. News and World Report. She worked as a reporter in Colombia, where she previously lived teaching English. Teresa earned bachelor of arts degrees in journalism and Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin.

'Centre should procure more from FCI to aid farmers' Team
MP23 July 2019 10:47 PM
 Kolkata: Pradip Majumdar, Advisor to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Agriculture & Allied Sectors, said on Tuesday that the Central procurement system should procure more from the state through Food Corporation of India (FCI), for farmers to get optimum benefit. "Policy-wise Bengal remains adept in maximising welfare for farmers, through crop diversification, Bangla Shashya Bima Yojana (fully borne by the state government) and Bangla Sech Yojana for micro irrigation practices. However, the Central procurement system should procure more from the state through FCI for farmers to get the optimum benefit," Majumdar said at the Bengal Rice Conclave, organised by Indian Chamber of Description: Centre should procure more from FCI to aid farmersCommerce. According to Majumdar, land usage is very high in Bengal and the state contributes to around 5 percent of global rice production, higher than the U.S, Latin America and Africa taken together. "In a surplus situation like this, it is important to look at commercially gainful disposal methods of rice, so as to maximise the benefits for paddy growers," he added. He further said that the state encourages crop diversification, which is the cultivation of crops other than paddy such as oilseeds, pulses, maize etc. in those lands which are less conducive to rice production, to ultimately cater to the greater good of the farmers. The focused deliberations in the conference primarily centered around the rice production of the state, procurement process of paddy across the state, mandi and market linkage in paddy sector in Bengal at district and village levels, marketing, branding, storage and supply of the rice to processors, rice millers, traders, retailers and exporters across the value chain. Experts opined that water efficient varieties of rice should be cultivated with use of technology for better cultivation amid water shortage.

A Lot to Learn at NELA Row Rice Field Day 

MER ROUGE, LA -- Last week, growers in Louisiana's northeast rice country gathered here at Jason Waller's farm for the Northeast Louisiana (NELA) Row Rice Field Day.  Along with updates from Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter personnel, Dr. Dustin Harrell kicked off the event with an impromptu demonstration of the AgCenter's new spray drone. 

Dr. Harrell and his team were working on field trial locations while attending the field day, and took time to demonstrate the versatility of the drone, and talk about future applications that may be beneficial to researchers and growers with drone usage.
Waller, a rice farmer from Mer Rouge and Keith Collins, county agent with the LSU AgCenter, discussed the details of this year's row rice field trial, and answered questions about the practices used.  Waller also thanked growers in attendance for supporting the Louisiana Rice Research Board through their generosity of the rice check off programs, and reminded everyone, "This is your research trial.  Anytime you want to stop by these plots and look at the different varieties and their progress, you are welcome.  Give me a call, and I'll try to answer any questions on what we're seeing in these trials over the season." 
Collins said there is still much to learn about the various aspects of row rice production.  "We've learned a lot about what practices work, and certainly what practices don't, but as the popularity of row rice in our region continues to grow, we learn more with each passing day."
Following the field tour, the group reassembled in Mer Rouge for lunch and the remainder of the program.  Scott Franklin, president of the NELA Rice Growers Association, opened the forum indoors by welcoming everyone and recognizing three area students as recipients of this year's scholarships that are awarded annually by the group.
Next, researchers Dr. Adam Famoso, Dr. Boyd Padgett, Dr. Trey Price, and Dr. Sebe Brown, provided reports on rice varieties and soybean updates for the region.  

USA Rice staff gave an update on the organization's activities including status of the state's rice crop following Hurricane Barry, highlights of the U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report, and what's on tap at the USA Rice Outlook Conference this December in Little Rock, Arkansas.  
Franklin summed up the importance of the Row Rice Field Day and the investment in research by the Louisiana Rice Research Board for NELA growers:  "Today's huge crowd shows us how interested producers are in furrow irrigated rice production.  It is still not a perfect science, but from experience I can tell you that it has a very bright future in northeast Louisiana.  We can grow anything in this part of the world and I am thrilled that more people have found a way to grow rice."

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- JULY 24, 2019

JULY 24, 2019 / 2:23 PM

* * * * * *

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-July 24, 2018 Nagpur, July 24 (Reuters) – Gram and tuar prices reported higher in Nagpur Agriculture Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) on good demand from local millers amid weak supply from producing regions. Upward trend on NCDEX in gram and fresh hike in Madhya Pradesh pulses prices and reported demand from South-based millers also boosted prices. About 400 bags of gram and 250 bags of tuar reported for auction, according to sources.


* Desi gram raw recovered in open market here on increased demand from local traders.


* Tuar Karnataka firmed up again in open market here on good buying support from
local traders.
* Moong Chamki showed upward tendency in open market here on increased demand from
local traders amid thin supply from producing belts.
* In Akola, Tuar New – 5,600-6,000, Tuar dal (clean) – 8,300-8,500, Udid Mogar (clean)
– 6,800-7,500, Moong Mogar (clean) 7,500-8,500, Gram – 4,400-4,500, Gram Super best
– 6,200-6,400 * Wheat, rice and other foodgrain items moved in a narrow range in
scattered deals and settled at last levels in thin trading activity.
Nagpur foodgrains APMC auction/open-market prices in rupees for 100 kg
FOODGRAINS Available prices Previous close
Gram Auction 3,900-4,190 3,900-4,130
Gram Pink Auction n.a. 2,100-2,600
Tuar Auction 4,900-5,780 4,900-5,725
Moong Auction n.a. 3,950-4,200
Udid Auction n.a. 4,300-4,500
Masoor Auction n.a. 2,200-2,500
Wheat Lokwan Auction 1,980-2,110 1,930-2,110
Wheat Sharbati Auction n.a. 2,900-3,000
Gram Super Best Bold 6,300-6,500 6,300-6,500
Gram Super Best n.a. n.a.
Gram Medium Best 5,900-6,100 5,900-6,100
Gram Dal Medium n.a. n.a
Gram Mill Quality 4,500-4,600 4,500-4,600
Desi gram Raw 4,450-4,550 4,400-4,500
Gram Kabuli 8,300-10,000 8,300-10,000
Tuar Fataka Best-New 8,600-8,800 8,600-8,800
Tuar Fataka Medium-New 8,200-8,400 8,200-8,400
Tuar Dal Best Phod-New 7,900-8,200 7,900-8,200
Tuar Dal Medium phod-New 7,200-7,700 7,200-7,700
Tuar Gavarani New 5,950-6,150 5,950-6,150
Tuar Karnataka 6,250-6,450 6,200-6,600
Masoor dal best 5,500-5,600 5,400-5,500
Masoor dal medium 5,200-5,400 5,100-5,300
Masoor n.a. n.a.
Moong Mogar bold (New) 8,200-9,000 8,200-9,000
Moong Mogar Medium 6,000-7,000 6,000-7,000
Moong dal Chilka New 6,800-7,800 6,800-7,800
Moong Mill quality n.a. n.a.
Moong Chamki best 8,300-8,800 8,200-8,700
Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 7,000-8,500 7,000-8,500
Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG) 5,800-6,500 5,800-6,500
Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG) 4,200-4,500 4,200-4,500
Mot (100 INR/KG) 5,200-6,500 5,200-6,500
Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg) 4,800-4,900 4,800-4,900
Watana Dal (100 INR/KG) 5,600-5,700 5,600-5,700
Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG) 6,800-7,200 6,800-7,200
Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG) 2,100-2,200 2,100-2,200
Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG) 2,000-2,100 2,000-2,100
Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG) 2,500-2,600 2,500-2,600
Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG) 2,400-2,600 2,400-2,600
Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG) 2,200-2,300 2,200-2,300
Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG) n.a. n.a.
MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG) 3,200-3,800 3,200-3,800
MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG) 2,700-3,000 2,700-3,000
Rice Parmal (100 INR/KG) 2,200-2,300 2,200-2,300
Rice BPT best (100 INR/KG) 3,000-3,600 3,000-3,500
Rice BPT medium (100 INR/KG) 2,500-3,000 2,500-3,000
Rice Luchai (100 INR/KG) 2,900-3,000 2,900-3,000
Rice Swarna best (100 INR/KG) 2,600-2,750 2,600-2,750
Rice Swarna medium (100 INR/KG) 2,200-2,500 2,200-2,500
Rice HMT best (100 INR/KG) 3,800-4,400 3,800-4,400
Rice HMT medium (100 INR/KG) 3,400-3,600 3,400-3,600
Rice Shriram best(100 INR/KG) 5,500-5,800 5,500-5,800
Rice Shriram med (100 INR/KG) 4,500-4,800 4,500-4,800
Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG) 8,500-13,500 8,500-13,500
Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG) 5,000-7,000 5,000-7,000
Rice Chinnor best 100 INR/KG) 6,500-7,200 6,500-7,200
Rice Chinnor medium (100 INR/KG) 6,200-6,400 6,200-6,400
Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG) 2,350-2,550 2,350-2,550
Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG) 2,050-2,250 2,050-2,250 WEATHER (NAGPUR) Maximum temp. 35.8 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 26.3 degree Celsius Rainfall : Nil FORECAST: Generally cloudy sky with light rains. Maximum and minimum temperature likely to be around 37 degree Celsius and 26 degree Celsius respectively. Note: n.a.—not available (For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, but included in market prices)

Thai farmers asked to delay rice planting as drought bites
JULY 22, 2019 / 4:57 PM

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The Thai government has asked farmers to delay planting rice because of drought and the pumping of water from reservoirs for irrigation threatens household supplies, an agriculture ministry official said on Monday.
FILE PHOTO: A farmer plants rice in a paddy field in Thailand's Nakhonsawan province, August 16, 2015. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
Farmers in the world’s second-biggest rice exporter usually plant their main crop in May, the beginning of the rainy season, for harvest between August and October.
But this year, the rain has been sparse and drought has been declared in more than a dozen provinces in northern and northeastern rice regions.
The government is considering measures such as cloud seeding to try to bring rain but in the meantime, farmers have been asked to hold off.
“We would like to ask farmers not to grow new crops of rice because there may not be enough water,” Irrigation Department official Sanya Sangpumpong told Reuters.
The pumping of water to keep crops alive had led to a serious depletion of reservoirs, he said.
“Human consumption must be prioritized first,” he said.
The biggest impact would be on jasmine rice, which is planted in August for harvest by the end of the year. It is grown largely in the northeast.
Rainfall in the main rice-growing regions was the lowest in 10 years, at 12% below average, the Meteorological Department said. Rain in August and November was expected to be 5% to 10% below average.
A rice farmer in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen said it was the worst dry spell he had seen in years and he had been pumping water from a reservoir to keep his first crop alive.
“If it does not rain then I won’t plant a new crop,” Pradit Sirithammajak, 48, told Reuters.
“It’s not worth the cost.”
At the same time, the level of water in the Mekong River, which passes northern and northeastern Thailand, had fallen below a historic low seen in 1992, according to the inter-governmental Mekong River Commission.
This was partly due to the low rain but also because China was holding back more of the river’s water in a hydroelectric dam on its upper reaches.
Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Robert Birsel

Rice cultivation shows uncertainties

SGGPTuesday, July 23, 2019 14:04
Farmers in provinces in the Mekong Delta are entering the harvest time of the summer-autumn rice crop; however, as the rice price is not high this year while consumption faces difficulties, farmers do not earn much. Therefore, replacing crops to increase income for farmers has become an urgent matter.
Description: Growing vegetables is more effective than growing rice. (Photo: SGGP)
Growing vegetables is more effective than growing rice. (Photo: SGGP)
Mr. Doan Ngoc Anh, a farmer in Tan Thanh A Commune in Tan Hong District of Dong Thap Province, sadly said that after three months of hard work, his 1.7-hectare paddy field did not bring much profit. Currently, traders buy regular fresh paddy at VND4,300-VND5,300 per kilogram, depending on variety. Although the price is a little higher than in the previous month, it is still at low level. In addition, the weather is not favorable for this crop so rice productivity is poor. As a result, farmers do not have high profits.

Ms. Trinh My Le, another farmer in Tan Thanh A Commune, also felt depressed as rice production became more difficult.

‘The price of rice last winter-spring rice crop was not high, merely at VND4,600-VND5,200 per kilogram, depending on rice variety so farmers earned small profits. Many households hoped that the situation would be better this summer-autumn rice crop but the price is worse,’ she said.

In An Giang Province, several farmers and even local authority also concerned about the uncertainty of paddy. The People’s Committee of An Phu District said that, there was around 13,000 hectares of summer-autumn rice in the district and farmers have harvested about 50 percent of total area. It is expected that harvesting will be finished by the beginning of August this year. Preliminary statistics of communes showed that, since the beginning of this year, after farmers paid money for materials and labor costs, there was not much money left. Meanwhile, there are lot of daily and monthly expenses. As a result, many households have had to ‘buy first, pay later’.

According to the Department of Crop Production, provinces in the Mekong Delta grew more than 1.56 hectares of rice in the summer-autumn rice crop this year, down 42,000 hectares over the same period last year. Rice productivity is estimated at 5.6 tons per hectare and production at more than 8.7 million tons, down 20,000 tons compared to last summer-autumn rice crop. Statistics by the Vietnam Food Association, rice export volume in the first six months of this year reached 3.39 million tons, down 2.8 percent over the same period last year. Rice export turnover touched US$1.46 billion, down 19 percent over the same period last year. Average export price was at $429 per ton, down 15 percent over the same period last year. Export of rice faced difficulties and low prices causing the prices of paddy to decline in tandem and farming to be not as effective as expected. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that it will work with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Vietnam Food Association to draw solutions to resolve the current situation of rice consumption in the Mekong Delta. As for the autumn-winter rice crop, the ministry puts forward two solutions. In the first solution, Mekong Delta provinces will grow 750,000 hectares of rice, up 9,380 hectares over the same period last year, with estimated production at above 4 million tons of rice, an increase of 129,000 tons. In the second one, the area of rice will be adjusted to 700,000 hectares with expected production at more than 3.8 million tons, a decrease of 137,000 tons compared to last autumn-winter rice crop. 

Between these two solutions, many provinces advocated the second one because of low efficiency and high risks. Especially the lesson from the autumn-winter rice crop last year when the flood came early, submerging thousands hectares of rice, causing losses to more than 2,000 hectares in the riverhead region. The ministry said that the autumn-winter rice crop should be produced in protected areas with completely built dyke system. The latest cultivation of rice must be from August 20 to 30 so as not to affect the winter-spring rice crop.

Mr. Le Minh Thuan, vice chairman of the People’s Committee of An Phu District in An Giang Province, said that although it is forecasted that the possibility of flooding is low this year, the district warns farmers not to increase production in the autumn-winter rice crop. Last year, the district had an area of more than 7,400 hectares of autumn-winter rice. This year, the area is asked to reduce as much as possible due to low economic efficiency of rice. The district has ordered local agricultural department to give farmers technical support and help them to convert their paddy fields into land for vegetable cultivation and land for aquaculture during flood season in order to increase income for them.

In the summer-autumn rice crop, Mekong Delta provinces had converted more than 66,800 hectares of paddy fields into land for vegetable, fruit tree cultivation and aquaculture, yielding higher economic value than rice. At many places, farmers earned profits of VND80 million per hectare for growing corns, VND50 million per hectare for growing chilies, VND70 million per hectare for growing watermelons, and VND88 million per hectare for growing vegetables whereas they only earned a profit of about VND5.5 million per hectare for growing rice. Swapping crops is more effective than rice from 8 to 14.7 times. In addition, it also diversified farm produce, save water, improve soil and reduce pests and diseases.

However, it is difficult as irrigation system has not been synchronously invested. Some crops have weak competitiveness due to small scale production, difficulties in mechanization and high cost prices. In addition, policies to encourage farmers to swap crops have not been strong enough. Especially, it lacks of connection with enterprises to ensure consumption. Large-scale production has not been established so output has not been stable. These are shortcomings that need resolving for farmers to switch production effectively and sustainably.

Parched Mekong affects Thai rice farmers

Thailand is experiencing a severe drought at a time of year that is usually rainy season. Farmers plant the country's most important crop -- rice -- in this season. But they are being urged by the government to wait due to the water shortage.
In the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom, agriculture depends heavily on the Mekong River, which is at a critically-low level.
The river is normally 8 meters deep. But this year it has fallen to just 1.5 meters. Reservoirs are at less than 20 percent their capacity.
Thai National Water Resources Office Secretary General Somkiat Prajamwong said: "Demand for water is growing in Thailand, which is downstream in the Mekong River.
But China, which is upstream, stores large amounts of water. Thailand needs water for agriculture, so we need to cooperate with China on sharing water."
The official also says Laos has been testing a hydro-electric 

Go-Jek teams up with Astra, Mitsubishi

Asia News Network | Publication date 23 July 2019 | 09:20 ICT
Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Parched Mekong affects Thai rice farmers

Diversified conglomerate Astra International president director Prijono Sugiarto (second left) and ride-hailing app giant Go-Jek president and co-founder Andre Soelistyo (second right) sign an agreement in Jakarta recently, as Go-Jek CEO and co-founder Nadiem Makarim (right) and Astra International director Bambang Widjanarko Santoso look on. THE JAKARTA POST
Indonesian ride-hailing decacorn Go-Jek is expanding its operations by forging partnerships with Astra International and Mitsubishi Motors, respectively the first and second largest automotive companies in the country.
Go-Jek and Astra inaugurated on Thursday their joint venture company Go-Fleet at an auto show in Tangerang, Banten. At the same event, Mitsubishi chairman Osamu Masuko told reporters the automaker would “explore mobility solutions” with the ride-hailing company.
The moves come shortly after Mitsubishi announced on July 8 an investment into Go-Jek at an undisclosed amount, while Astra announced in March an investment of $250 million. Both sets of funds went to Go-Jek’s Series F funding round.
In two separate statements, Go-Jek described its partnership with Astra as a means of consolidating its presence in Indonesia, while with Mitsubishi, which has factories in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, it is strengthening its presence in Southeast Asia.
Go-Jek cofounder Nadiem Makarim said the joint venture was “a collaboration and combination between two leading homegrown companies that will push Indonesia’s digital economy”.
Meanwhile, Go-Jek Group president Andre Soelistyo said Mitsubishi’s investment was “a testament to the strength of Go-Jek’s vision to use technology as a way to improve the everyday lives of people in Southeast Asia”.
Go-Fleet, a joint venture enterprise of which Astra owns the majority of shares, describes itself as a “mobility solution” as a car rental service for ride-hailing drivers registered with Go-Jek.
Go-Fleet president director Meliza M Rusli told reporters the company covered car instalments, vehicle insurance, health insurance and maintenance costs for drivers in exchange for a 1.18 million rupiah ($84.86) weekly rental fee.
The company also plasters the vehicles in its fleet, which comprises Daihatsu Xenia and Toyota Avanza multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), with advertisements to generate additional revenue.
Drivers still bear petrol costs and commission fees on orders in addition to bearing a recurring 1.5 million rupiah commitment fee every six months. The fee will likely be discounted for loyal drivers.
“The plan is we’ll have up to thousands [of cars] this year focused on Greater Jakarta. Going forward, we will look into opening operations in other cities outside Greater Jakarta,” said Meliza.
The average Go-Jek car driver in Greater Jakarta earns around 1.5 million rupiah each week, according to a University of Indonesia survey. Under the Go-Fleet scheme, such drivers would earn a profit of 320,000 rupiah each week, excluding petrol costs. The figure falls well short of the city’s minimum wage of 3.9 million rupiah each month.
However, Meliza added the company “hopes, in the near future, to share advertising revenue with the drivers” but did not state the proportion of revenue for drivers.
Meanwhile, Mitsubishi declined to reveal details of its partnership with Go-Jek, saying only that it would leverage the partnership to expand its presence not only in Indonesia but also in Southeast Asia.
Go-Jek, which currently operates in four Southeast Asian markets, is the region’s second largest ride-hailing company after Singapore-based Grab, which operates in eight markets.
“Regarding Go-Jek, we are still in the area where Mitsubishi is investing in the company. How this will turn out, we’ve just begun looking into it. There’s nothing concrete yet but, of course, there are many possibilities,” said Mitsubishi Indonesia director of sales and marketing Irwan Kuncoro.
Mitsubishi, having sold 80,929 vehicles, gained a 16.8 per cent market share of domestic car sales in this year’s first half, according to the latest Association of Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers (Gabungan Industri Kendaraan Bermotor Indonesia, Gaikindo) data.
Mitsubishi was only outpaced by Astra, which holds the immensely popular Toyota and Daihatsu brands, with a 53 per cent market share of domestic car sales in the first half.
However, Mitsubishi’s successful Xpander MPVs have been eating at Astra’s market share since the car’s introduction two years ago. The Japanese automaker’s sales increased 60 per cent from 121,395 cars sold in 2017 to 194,331 cars last year, largely due to the Xpander. THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Contact author: Asia News Network

Gov’t asked to address high rice prices, low palay farmgate rates


Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:06 AM July 23, 2019
Despite the influx of imported rice and the steady decline in farmgate prices of palay, prices of the staple in the market remain high, according to the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF).
Citing government data, the FFF said the decline in rice prices compared to year-ago levels was minimal, showing that the liberalization of the rice industry was not working.
Data compiled by the group from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that while the average buying price of regular milled and well-milled rice had gone down by P7.54 and P6 a kilogram from their peak in September last year, these were still higher than the prices in 2016 and 2017.
Rates in 2018 were not used given the artificial increases in prices brought about by the shortage in the supply of subsidized rice and the delayed arrival of imported rice during the period. Officials from the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Finance said rates last year should not be used as the basis in comparing rice prices.
For the years 2015 to 2017, the average buying price of palay was at P18.53 a kilo. This is higher by 3.51 percent than the prevailing rate this year of P17.88 a kilo.
However, regular milled and well-milled rice are currently sold at the average prices of P38.60 and P42.91 a kilo, respectively, higher than the 2016 and 2017 prices of P37.68 and P41.66 a kilo.
The rule of thumb in setting the retail price of rice is double the buying price of palay. Hence, ideally, prices of rice in the market should be an average of P36 a kilo.

“It is interesting to note that the present retail prices of rice are still higher than in 2016 and 2017, when the quantitative restrictions on rice imports were still in effect and the new rice law has not yet been passed,” said Raul Montemayor, national manager of the FFF, which represents farmers nationwide.
“What is most painful to the farmers is the fact that their sacrifices are apparently going to waste because consumers are not getting the benefits arising from the decline in palay prices and the entry of supposedly cheaper imports,” he added.
“The PSA data, in fact, appears to show that both consumers and farmers were better off when the quantitative restrictions were still in place, if we exclude the abnormal price movements in 2018,” said Montemayor.
The FFF official added that the government must focus on addressing the problems of small-holder palay producers especially now that the harvest season was about to begin.
“They (government) did not prepare for the impact [of the measure] on farmers. What has happened is that there’s a supply glut from both imported and local produce. How do you address it? What is the game plan?” Montemayor said.
Until now, farmers are waiting for the benefits of the law, which was supposed to give them an annual subsidy of P10 billion to modernize their operations. The fund will be used to provide equipment and machinery, seeds, credit, and training.

Some rice and soybean growers face latest twist in a difficult year

Arkansas may have escaped the worst of Hurricane Barry, but crops in many areas are struggling to move past the effects.
Ryan McGeeney | Jul 23, 2019
While most of Arkansas may have escaped the worst of what Hurricane Barry augured in potential wind and rain, crops in many areas are struggling to move past the primary and secondary effects of the latest twist in an already difficult year.
Chad Norton, soybean and wheat verification coordinator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture at the Southeast Research and Extension Center in Monticello, said several fields that he oversees received at least 9 inches of rain between July 15-16, when remnants of Barry pushed through portions of the state.
Many soybean plots throughout the southern portion of Arkansas were already five to six weeks behind the normal crop schedule, due to late planting in the spring. The deluge, he said, will simply delay or further stunt soybean progress even further.
“Any soil-applied herbicides I had out there are just washed out — they’re gone,” Norton said. “I’m worried about pigweeds — the soil’s so wet, I don’t think I can get back in there and control them. That’s what’s on my mind right now.
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“There were several fields going underwater, especially in Jefferson, Arkansas and other counties, where the heavy rain fell. What lives through that is going to be stunted and hurt for a little while longer,” he said.
The delayed planting and torrential rains are also compounded by the fact that much of the soybean seed growers began with this year was also of lower quality, as the 2018 harvest was also impacted by heavy rainfall that began in September.
“We had such a terrible fall last year that the seed quality we were working with this year was also terrible,” Norton said. “I know of several fields that had to be replanted three or four times — not from weather, just from poor seed quality. One field, for example, planted 340,000 seeds, and they got 65,000-75,000 plants come up.
“It’s a perfect storm — we were late because of the weather, and we had terrible seed quality,” he said. “It bit some people, it really did. I struggled in my program to get the stands I got. I normally get 125,000-130,000 plants per acre; I’ve got several fields with 85,000-90,000 plants per acre. That’s just how this year’s been.”
Norton said that at this point in the year, he found it unlikely that growers could get their money’s worth out of another round of replanting soybeans, given the natural reductions in yield inherent in such late planting.
“Driving around the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen beans that are just now coming out of the ground,” he said. “So people did do some July planting, but I don’t think you could ever get your money back if you planted today. We’ve lost too much relative yield, day-to-day, by this date.”


Isolated rice fields in the state also bore some of Barry’s brunt throughout the week. Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said some rice fields between Pine Bluff and Stuttgart received 6-8 inches of rain, with reports of blown levees in narrow bands in the southern half of the state.
“But most of the eastern Delta region got 3-4 inches of rain,” Hardke said. “Certainly enough to pop a levee here and there. But a lot of that water was spread out over several days, which certainly helped with managing it, because it didn’t all come in a single deluge, like we were anticipating.
“Some of the heavier rain submerged some of the more mature rice in the state,” he said. “We were hoping we could get that water off those fields rapidly — older rice does not withstand being flooded for very long. We need to get that water off within seven days, if at all possible. Usually, if it stays under for 10 days, it’s done. When the water comes off, it’s going to fall down and rot at that point. Those are still isolated incidents, but they are out there.”
Hardke said that despite the many setbacks that have already faced Arkansas rice growers in 2019, the overall crop looks good at this point — and that there may, in fact, be silver linings ahead.
“There’s a precedent — even when we’re in delayed planting — if we get to follow that with a mild summer and avoid extreme, excessive heat during the reproductive growth stages, we can still make some very good yields,” Hardke said. “And this is across commodities.
“It certainly hasn’t been made yet, on any of those fronts, but we have to try to remain a little optimistic that we still have some very good yields left in us,” he said.
While forecasts from the National Weather Service put much of Arkansas under a heat advisory Friday and Saturday, temperatures are predicted to drop into the 80s next week, during what is often the first of the two hottest weeks of the year for the state.
“That might be a shock to the system,” Hardke said. “The biggest problem with it is just a general slow-down of the crop progression. It won’t hurt anything, but it will cost us a little bit of time, in terms of getting this crop to the finish line, and getting it out of there.
“I guess that’ll be the next oddity that 2019 will throw at us: a strange, late cool-down in July,” he said. “And then we’ll have to wait and see what’s next.”

Community farming in Goa emerges as a tool against land conversion
by Pamela D'Mello on 24 July 2019
·       Many villagers in Goa have banded together to revive rice cultivation through collective mechanised sowing and transplanting. The success in several villages has now become a catalyst for others, particularly for those who want to resist real estate development.
·       The acreage under paddy cultivation has fallen significantly over the years in Goa. The fallow fields have become prime targets of land sharks for building construction. Local communities are resisting this.
·       For the grassroots co-operative rice farming movement to take root in the state, Goa needs many more service providers for mechanised seeding and transplanting.
Father George Quadros hit upon the idea of collective farming almost by accident. As an amateur farmer, he has been dabbling in various cultivation methods since 1986 at southern Goa’s Don Bosco Loutolim Society (DBLS). A votary of farm mechanisation, Quadros realised that although the use of machines reduced costs and boosted yields, the cost of machinery was too high for smallholder farmers.
“The collective farming concept started because the machinery is costly, but is economical over large areas,” said the 63-year-old Catholic Salesian priest. “Farmers have to come together if it has to work.”
There was a breakthrough in November 2015, when Quadros deployed Japanese-made rice nursery and transplanting machines on 3,000 sq. metres of paddy fields in Velsao village through an initiative of DBLS called Goa Paddy. The trial saw costs shrinking, and the harvest was plentiful.
Enthused by the success, Quadros convinced farmers in several villages in the vicinity to try out co-operative paddy cultivation. During the 2016 Kharif (summer) cultivation season, collective mechanised farming was put into practice in Loutolim (15,000 sq. m), Curtorim-Maina (20,000 sq. m), Cavelossim (20,000 sq. m), and Carmona (40,000 sq. m) villages.
The success of Velsao in the previous winter cropping season was repeated in these villages. Since then, Goa Paddy has been working as a service provider to collective paddy farming efforts in many other villages in south Goa. “We move in clusters,” said Quadros. “We appoint one person in each village to speak to farmers and get them together. Bookings are taken in February-March.”
By 2018, Velsao had 80,000 sq. m, Loutolim 250,000 sq. m, Curtorim-Maina 300,000 sq. m, and Carmona 200,000 sq. m under collective paddy farming. Today, with two machines, DBLS’s nursery is capable of providing seed nursery preparation and transplanting services for 150 hectares every season.
Description: George Quadros on a paddy-transplanting machine. Photo courtesy
Decline in paddy cultivation
Goa has seen a decline in paddy cultivation in recent years because farmers and landowners have been reluctant to practice the conventional, labour-intensive method of raising nurseries and transplantation. The fall has been exacerbated in the past 10 years due to prohibitively high labour costs and manpower shortages.
Rice production in Goa has risen to 113,227 tonnes in 2016-17 from 71,070 tonnes in 1987-88, according to the state’s Directorate of Planning, Statistics and Evaluation. However, land under paddy cultivation has reduced significantly to 31,000 ha today from 50,302 ha in 1961, official data from Goa’s Directorate of Agriculture show.
This has led to large parcels of arable land lying fallow, which have in recent years become prime targets of real estate developers. Building activity on farmland is seen as a danger to biodiversity in a state where an aware citizenry has been protesting environmentally destructive activities such as mining, coastal development and irresponsible building construction. Co-operative farming is being seen as a way to stymie the rapid conversion of farmland.
Description: transplanting underway in Cansaulim village in south Goa. Photo courtesy
The state government has woken up to the problem as well. In a recent address, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has underscored his government’s shift towards reviving the state’s agriculture sector. “During the Portuguese era, Goa’s economy was entirely dependent on agriculture, which was later replaced with other activities,” he said in the month of May this year. “Now, the youth should take up agriculture using all the incentives available with the state government.”
Sawant has exhorted the youth to take advantage of subsidies for community farming and revive primary sector occupations like farming, pisciculture and dairying. These are options, at a time of rising unemployment and disenchantment, due to the grounding of mining activity and the downswing in tourism, the two key sectors of Goa’s economy.
The state’s agriculture department in October 2018 floated a scheme that promised 90% subsidies for community farming, where more than 10 farmers pooled their land. In the current Kharif season, four farming clubs have registered for the scheme.
However, before the government subsidies, a collective farming movement has been building up from the ground, leaving the agricultural bureaucracy to follow the lead given by citizens. The government’s 2017-18 Economic Survey Report acknowledges this.
“The tendency to keep fertile paddy fields fallow needs to be vigorously fought. The Sao Paulo Farmers Club, Nachinola, Bardez Goa has shown the way by getting even disinterested landowners involved,” the report stated. “It has taken up land preparation, mechanized paddy transplanting, mechanized weeding and combine harvesting collectively for the entire block of 4.00 ha in the possession of 31 members. Half of this area was under organic cultivation. A small beginning to market paddy after milling by direct sale has been made. It may be difficult to replicate this mode of farming everywhere. Hence, the concept of ‘Community Farming’ is being promoted.”
Experiments to revive Goa’s rice fields
In 2018, threatened by plans for a coal transportation carriageway and the hunger for real estate development, the northern Goa island village of St. Estevem adapted the DBLS experiment to their village’s fallow fields. In a show of unity and community spirit, the Ilha Verde Farmers Club pooled some 450,000 (4.5 lakh) sq. m of fallow rice fields, utilised machines of DBLS, and harvested a bumper 75,000 kg of rice in the Kharif season. This was despite losing 30 percent of the crop due to natural causes and beginner’s mistakes.
This year, riding on its spectacular success and considerable media spotlight, the Ilha Verde Farmers Club has doubled its target area, and has plans to grow rice on 1 million sq. m of land. “The St. Estevam experiment has given the entire agricultural sector in Goa hope that mechanisation, land pooling, community farming and social marketing can work and make Goa’s rice fields a working reality once again,” said former agricultural officer Miguel Braganza.
“St. Estevam succeeded because the people were united. They saw their village, land and way of life threatened by a coal corridor and encroaching builder interests, and decided that it was better to utilise fallow fields than be sitting ducks for a takeover,” said Club President Nestor Rangel (51), an electrical engineer-turned-farmer. “That was the impetus.”
Description: nursery mats await transplantation at St Estevam Island, Goa, in 2019. Photo by Pamela D’Mello.
The St. Estevam community decided to follow organic methods to cultivate and then husk the paddy into brown rice, which has seen a revival in demand in the state and has a robust overseas market. The club’s social marketing is a huge success, and the brown rice has found many takers across the globe, said Club member Ansyl Gonsalves (23).
Despite the successes, spreading community farming is not without its hurdles. “I held a few meetings with farmers in Santa Cruz village, where I reside,” said Rangel. “But I wasn’t able to succeed there.” The value of land in Santa Cruz, which adjoins state capital Panjim, is so high that it is far more lucrative for tenant farmers to let fields lie fallow, which are then surreptitiously swallowed by land sharks. “People want to sell their fields,” said Rangel. “Everyday, you will find people dumping mud and debris to fill up their fields and convert them.”
“Under Section 36 of the Agricultural Land Tenancy Act, the government is supposed to survey and take over management of fields not cultivated for three years. But that is never done,” said Tulio de Souza, President of the Guirim Comunidade. “If we want to revive the rice planting fields, the government has to use both a carrot and stick approach. Provide subsidies, but hold out a threat that fallow fields will not be permitted.”
The Comunidades of Goa are a form of land association where ownership was held collectively. Comunidades like Guirim owned vast swathes of fields, cashew hillside plantations and pasture land, but lost 70% of the land to tenants when the Tenancy Act came into force in 1965. Quite a few tenant tillers gave up farming once they got a stake in the land. This year, de Souza is making attempts to bring tenanted fields in Guirim under community cultivation.
Description: rice cultivation revival in Verna village in south Goa. Photo courtest
A major challenge co-operative farming faces in Goa is that there is not enough farming machinery. The Don Bosco nursery runs two, and two of it’s former trainees now run a machine each with a capacity of 60 ha a season each. “Other southern India states have 50-100 machines up and running. They are way ahead. Goa needs at least 70 such service providers for the sector to completely revive,” said Quadros. “The sooner this happens, the happier I will be to retire.”
There is also a shortage of service providers for transplanting and seeding. Some communities are hiring service providers from the neighbouring state of Karnataka but that’s not a long-term solution. The St. Estevam community has hired Karnataka-based Surya Agri Solution this year. The village council of Bastora in northern Goa had hired a service provider from Karnataka in 2018. “Initially, 20 farmers banded together, with fields ranging from 1000-3000 sq. m,” said Bhiva Bagkar, a village resident. “We did well, so this year more have joined us.”
Retired corporate employee Andrew D’Souza brought his family fields under cultivation this June after a gap of six years. “Mechanisation brings the cost down by a third,” he said. However, mechanisation has progressed sporadically in the state, with success localised to few farming clubs and areas. This needs to change for mechanised community farming to take firmer root in Goa.

Training course on farm mechanisation held
Posted at: Jul 24, 2019, 8:00 AM; last updated: Jul 24, 2019, 8:00 AM (IST)

Ludhiana: A one-week training course on ‘advance technologies in farm mechanisation’ kicked off at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).
The course has been jointly organised by the department of farm machinery and power engineering and the skill development centre of PAU, for the faculty of the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU), Hyderabad, Telangana.
Ashok Kumar, dean of the College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, said the department of farm machinery and power engineering was a front-runner in the development of technologies in the area of farm mechanisation. He said about 45 per cent mechanisation-related technologies have been developed and popularised by PAU in India.
Manjeet Singh, head of the department, said the trainees will be trained in advance machinery for tillage, sowing, transplanting, plant protection and harvesting/ threshing of various crops such as rice, cotton, maize, sugarcane grown in Telangana. They will also be imparted training in testing, ergonomics and safety aspects of agricultural machinery, he added.
Mahesh Kumar Narang, coordinator of the course, said the experts will also demonstrate various machines in the field, in addition to conduct a visit to local industries, cooperative societies and custom hiring centres.
Students felicitated
Three students of PAU have brought laurels to the university by bagging the best postgraduate and PhD thesis awards.
Fatehjeet Singh Sekhon, former student of the department of agronomy, PAU, has been conferred with the Best PhD Thesis Award 2017 by the Dr Ram Avtar Shiskha Samiti (DRASS). Thakar Singh, mentor of Sekhon, said Fatehjeet worked on ‘productivity of pigeonpea-based intercropping systems as influenced by different planting patterns and nutrients levels’.
Sharon Nagpal, student of MSc, and Kailash Chand Kumawat, PhD student, both from the department of microbiology, have been awarded the Best PG Thesis Award 2017 and the Best PhD Thesis Award 2018, respectively, by the DRASS at the Scientist Award Ceremony, held at Lucknow University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Nagpal worked on the ‘role of plant growth promoting microbial consortium as bioprotectant for controlling fusarium wilt in chickpea’ for her Master’s degree. She is currently pursuing her PhD in the same department.
Kumawat worked on the ‘development of consortium biofertiliser in summer mungbean under salt stressed conditions’ during his PhD research. A recipient of the ICAR fellowships during his undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, Kumawat has nine research publications in reputed peer-reviewed journals to his credit. TNS

Aug. 2 Rice Field Day features updates on weeds, drones, furrow irrigation
By Mary Hightower, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

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Weed management, furrow irrigation and drone use in agriculture are all on the agenda Aug. 2 for the annual Rice Field Day being hosted by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture at the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart.
“We are packing a lot of tech and research updates into our two, two-hour tours this year,” said Bob Scott, director of the rice station. “In addition to updates on production techniques, we’ll also be giving attendees a peek into the future rice and soybean varieties now in the works at the station.”
There is no cost to attend and registration opens at 7 a.m. at the station’s Foundation Seed Center. The first tour leaves at 7:30 a.m. The Rice Research and Extension Center is located at 2900 Arkansas Highway 130.
This year’s field day presenters are all with the U of A System Division of Agriculture. The tours may be subject to change.
Tour 1:
Stop 1—Soil Fertility
Trent Roberts—associate professor-soil fertility
Stop 2—Rice Weed Management
Jason Norsworthy—professor-weed science
Tommy Butts—Extension weed scientist
Stop 3—Drones in Agriculture
Larry Purcell—professor, soybean physiologist
Tour 2:
Stop 1—Multiple Inlet Irrigation
Chris Henry—irrigation engineer
Stop 2—Soybean Breeding Program
Leo Mozzoni—assistant professor, soybean breeding
Stop 3—Furrow-Irrigated Rice
Jarrod Hardke—extension rice agronomist
Justin Chlapecka—graduate assistant
Stop 4—Observation Bay
Karen Moldenhauer—professor, rice breeding
Xueyan Sha—professor, rice breeding
Ehsan Shakiba—assistant professor, hybrid rice breeding
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website:

Purdue professor appointed to the Council of Economic Advisers in Washington, D.C.

Description: joseph-balagtasJoseph Balagtas, associate professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University (Purdue University photo/Kim Cook). 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Joseph Balagtas, associate professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, has been selected to serve as a senior economist, with a focus on agricultural and food policy, to the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) in Washington, D.C.
The CEA provides the president objective economic advice on economic policy and evaluates economic literature and data to determine the consequences of alternative policies. While in Washington, Balagtas, whose appointment will begin on Aug. 1, will also have a partial appointment working with the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist conducting economic analysis on similar policies.
“As an academic agricultural economist, I spend a lot of my time thinking about food and agricultural policies in a way that is abstract and sometimes removed from the details of specific policies and policy process,” Balagtas said. “This opportunity at the CEA and USDA will allow me to be ‘in the room where it happens,’ so to speak. It is a chance to use my economic toolkit and knowledge of agricultural institutions to inform policymakers in a way that we do not normally get to do from our university offices. I see it as a great opportunity to learn about the policy process and contribute to the making of sound policy.”
In regard to Balagtas’ appointment, Jayson Lusk distinguished professor and department head of agricultural economics, said: “We are excited and honored that Joe was selected for these prestigious appointments. This is a great opportunity for him and the department to be on the front lines of food and agricultural policy making.”
Joseph Balagtas holds a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of California, Davis; an M.S. in agricultural economics from Iowa State University; and a B.A. in economics from Miami University. Previously, he was a Fulbright senior scholar and visiting scientist at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.
Writer: Kami Goodwin, 765-494-6999,
Agricultural Communications: 765-494-8415;
Maureen Manier, Department Head,  

High prices of nutritious foods contribute to global malnutrition, research shows


Poor diets are the now the leading risk factor for the global burden of disease, accounting for one-fifth of all deaths worldwide. While the causes of poor diets are complex, new research finds the affordability of more nutritious foods is an important factor.
A new study by researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is the first to document that the affordability of both healthy and unhealthy foods varies significantly and systematically around the world. The study also suggests that these relative price differences help explain international differences in dietary patterns, child stunting and overweight prevalence among adults.
Past research has only studied relative price differences in specific countries, mostly in the context of the relative cheapness of calorie-dense processed foods as a risk factor for obesity in upper- and middle-income countries. But until now, no studies have examined the structure of relative price differences globally, or how these price structures might contribute to undernutrition and obesity outcomes.
Our research shows that most healthy foods are substantially more expensive in poorer countries. But while healthier foods become cheaper over the course of development, so too do unhealthy processed foods, like soft drinks."
Study co-author Derek Headey, Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
The study, "The relative caloric prices of healthy and unhealthy foods differ systematically across income levels and continents," co-authored by IFPRI's Headey and Harold Alderman, was published in The Journal of Nutrition. Using national price data for 657 standardized food products in 176 countries collected under The International Comparison Program (ICP), the authors develop a novel measure of how costly it is to diversify diets away from traditional calorie-dense staple foods such as bread, corn or rice. The study shows that higher caloric prices of a food predict lower consumption of that food and explores how those price differences might explain international differences in child stunting and adult obesity.
The study finds marked variations in the affordability of both healthy and unhealthy foods across different regions of the world, and at differing levels of development. In the world's poorest countries, healthy foods were often extremely expensive, especially nutrient-dense animal sourced foods, which are widely known to be effective in reducing stunting. Eggs and fresh milk, for example, are often 10 times as expensive as starchy staples. Another ultra-healthy food for kids - specialized infant cereals fortified with a wide range of extra nutrients - are sometimes 30 times as expensive as the nutrient-sparse traditional cereals more commonly fed to infants.

"Prior to this study, we already knew that the poorest children in the world weren't consuming enough of the really nutrient-dense foods that promote healthy growth and brain development", said Headey. "But now we have a better idea why: poor people also live in poor food systems. That combination of low incomes and high prices means they're simply not going to buy enough and eat enough of these nutrient-dense foods."
While poor child feeding practices are often attributed to limited nutritional knowledge in low income settings, the authors found that the high prices of nutrient-dense foods offered an alternative explanation of their low consumption. Even more strikingly, they find that higher prices of milk, eggs and fortified infant cereals predict higher rates of stunting. "The link between milk prices and stunting is especially strong", said Alderman, "which is entirely consistent with a whole body of evidence on the strong linkages between dairy consumption and child growth."
Although the study found that economic development tends to make healthy foods more affordable, that process also tends to make unhealthy foods cheaper. Sugar-rich soft drinks are relatively expensive in many low-income countries but have become inexpensive and widely consumed in middle- and upper-income settings.
Indeed, Headey and Alderman find that lower prices of soft drinks and sugar-rich snacks predict significant increases in overweight prevalence among adult populations. "Public health agencies in upper income countries have been concerned with the high consumption of sugar-rich foods for some time," said Alderman, "but our study shows that these products often become very affordable in middle income countries, and sometimes even in relatively poor countries where obesity rates are really on the rise."
The researchers noted that policymakers have several tools available to help make nutrient-rich foods relatively more affordable, including nutrition-sensitive agricultural investments that could make healthy foods cheaper, and taxation and regulation efforts - such as food labeling - to curb consumption of unhealthy foods.
"These findings raise an important agenda for future research: understanding why food prices vary across countries, and sometimes within them, and how best to change food prices in a way that leads to better diets and nutrition outcomes in rich and poor countries alike," Headey said.
Journal reference:
Headey, D.D  & Alderman,H.H. (2019) The Relative Caloric Prices of Healthy and Unhealthy Foods Differ Systematically across Income Levels and Continents. The Journal of

Louisiana sugarcane crop poised for good harvest despite Hurricane Barry

Posted: Jul 19, 2019 / 09:24 PM CDT Updated: Jul 19, 2019 / 09:24 PM CDT
LSU AgCenter sugarcane breeder Michael Pontif speaks about L 12-201, one of two new sugarcane varieties released in 2019, during the 37th annual field day at the AgCenter Sugar Research Station in St. Gabriel on July 17, 2019.
ST. GABRIEL, La. (LSU AgCenter Press Release) – After escaping Hurricane Barry with minimal damage, the Louisiana sugarcane crop seems to be on track for another successful harvest.
Barry, a Category 1 hurricane that made landfall July 13 near Vermilion Bay, delivered anywhere from 3 to 14 inches of rain across the sugarcane belt in south Louisiana.
“We were pretty dry, so actually, people were looking for a little bit of rain,” said LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist Kenneth Gravois.
While some cane in coastal areas remains under water that was pushed in by tidal surge, that water does not appear to be salty, and “we are hopeful that the problem is localized and not industry-wide,” he said. And because this year’s crop is a little shorter than usual, lodging and top breakage from storm winds were limited.

Field day features row rice research

Jul 23, 2019 / 07:59 PM CDT Updated: Jul 23, 2019 / 07:59 PM CDT
MER ROUGE, La. (LSU AgCenter Press Release) – An LSU AgCenter research project at the Mer Rouge farm of Jason Waller was the setting for the northeast Louisiana row rice field day on July 18.
The practice of row rice is gaining new converts because of its potential water savings and flexibility.
The project being conducted by AgCenter agent Keith Collins includes conventional varieties, such as Jupiter, as well as hybrids.
Waller said he started using the row rice method four years ago, growing it on 40 acres next to a continuously flooded field with levees. He said the row rice field irrigated with poly pipe used 26% less water.
“This year, I’m 100% row rice,” Waller said.
Doing away with levees gives Waller options of deciding in the spring what he will plant on different fields.
The row height should be kept to a minimum with a furrow deep enough to channel water, he said.\

Poor rain won’t hit paddy output: P K Majumdar

TNN | Updated: Jul 24, 2019, 8:14 IST
Bengal’s paddy harvest is around 23.46 million tonnes while 15.6 million tonnes of rice were procured during 2...Read More
KOLKATA: The delay in arrival of monsoon in Bengal will not spell doom for paddy cultivation across the state and the government is ready to tackle any situation owing to scanty/sporadic rainfall, P K Majumdar, adviser to CM Mamata Banerjee on agriculture and allied sectors, said here on Tuesday.
Majumdar, who spoke at Bengal Rice Conclave organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce, told TOI: “Rain is likely to hit the state on July 25. This will facilitate paddy harvest in south Bengal. Nevertheless, water preservation and irrigation practices in the state have been combating rain shortage this year. In north Bengal, preparation for paddy cultivation is in full swing after a heavy downpour. I don’t think the paddy harvest will be affected by weather-related factors and is likely to be around 25 million tonnes.”
Bengal’s paddy harvest is around 23.46 million tonnes while 15.6 million tonnes of rice were procured during 2017-18. “The real challenge for agriculture is to ensure adequate demand for any particular variety of crop. Farmers should not be treated as guinea pigs and encouraged to yield crops having no or poor demand…Bengal contributes around 5% of global rice production, higher than the US, Latin America and Africa taken together,” said Majumdar.
However, rice millers say uncertainty looms over their business due to the out-turn ratio fixed by Centre for conversion of paddy into rice. “The Centre has fixed the ratio at 68% without any preliminary research. Besides, principal market yards (mandi) across the state don’t have proper infrastructure. Moisture content is high in Bengal’s paddy that is sent for milling without proper cleaning,” Asok Santra, chief adviser to Bengal Rice Mills Association, told TOI.

“Bengal Rice Mills Association has urged the Centre to hold talks with Bangladesh to boost export of non-basmati rice,” added Santra.
ICC director Madhuparna Bhowmick said Tuesday’s conclave focussed exclusively on rice production in Bengal. The event was held earlier in Odisha, Vijayawada and Bihar.

Rice exports down on strong baht
Shipments down 19.6% in first 6 months
published : 24 Jul 2019 at 12:06
writer: Reuters
Rice exporters on Wednesday lowered their target for the year from 9.5 million tonnes to 9 million, after a sharp fall in first-half shipments due to the strong baht and ample global stockpiles.
Thailand's rice exports from January to June this year fell 19.6% compared with the same period last year, the Thai Rice Exporters Association said.
"With volumes of shipments constantly declining from January, our best performance would be 9 million tonnes," Charoen Laothamatas, president of the exporters group, told reporters.
The new target is about 20% less than the 11.23 million tonnes that Thailand - the world's second-largest rice exporter after India - shipped out in 2018.
The country has been struggling to export rice at a time when the Thai baht, Asia's best performing currency, is trading near its strongest in more than six years.
It has also faced competition from China, the world's biggest rice importer and Thailand's No.3 buyer last year, which has been offloading its own stockpiles.
China nearly doubled its rice exports in the first half of 2019, compared to last year, said Somkiat Makcayathorn, the association's secretary-general.
"China's rice imports are decreasing due to their huge stockples. Now they're exporting more as well," he said.

Training for ‘Plant Doctors’ at IIT-G

Guwahati, Jul 23 (UNI) Centre for Rural Technology (CRT) of Indian Institute of Guwahati (IIT-G), in collaboration with MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), New Delhi, had organized a week-long capacity building programme on ‘Becoming a Plant Doctor’, which concluded on July 19 last.
The workshop was attended by subject-matter specialists from various Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) of Assam and Odisha, researchers from MSSRF, Assam Agricultural University (AAU), National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) and IIT Guwahati, a press release said here today.
The core themes of the workshop included Knowledge Management and Capacity Building which would augment the capacity building of the small farmers and associated stakeholders in addressing the issues in enhancing the resilience capacity in the context of climate change.