Saturday, July 27, 2019

27th July,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Indian farmers shocked as 'fireball-like' object crashes into rice field

Police security camera footage captures the moment a green fireball streaks across the sky.A suspected meteorite crashed into a rice field in India on Monday.According to The Guardian, the football-sized object landed with a thud and sent up smoke in the Madhubani district in Bihar state, to the surprise of local farmers.Kapil Ashok told the Times of India that people reported seeing a "fireball-like object coming down from the sky."
Residents later dug up the mysterious object from a 5-foot deep hole.
A villager holds the suspected meteorite. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The probable meteorite was brownish in color and weighed about 33 pounds, the Times reports.Ashok told the Press Trust of India it looked like a rock “but its glitter is much more than that of an unpolished stone.”The object will be kept at the Bihar Museum at first, before it gets transferred to the Shrikrishna science center in Patna, where scientists will study it.
The mysterious object was seen by local residents and then excavated from this hole. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Meteorites, which are meteors that survive a fall to Earth, can offer a wide range of clues about the history of the solar system

Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner visits Rice Research center

Dan Berkovitz of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, talks about what his commission does during a visit to the Rice Research and Extension Center. Special to The Commercial/Mary Hightower, U of A System Division of Agriculture
Dan Berkovitz, a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, asks questions of Division of Agriculture Rice Breeder Xueyan Sha during a July 25 trip to the Rice Research and Extension Center. From left, Matt King, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, Mike Hamilton, extension irrigation educator; Scott Stiles, extension economist; Bob Scott, center director, Nathan Slaton, assistant director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station; and Lucy Hynes, special counsel, CFTC; Berkovitz, Sha. Special to The Commercial/Mary Hightower, U of A System Division of Agriculture
Dan Berkovitz of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, talks about what his commission does during a visit to the Rice Research and Extension Center. Special to The Commercial/Mary Hightower, U of A System Division of Agriculture
Dan Berkovitz, a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, asks questions of Division of Agriculture Rice Breeder Xueyan Sha during a July 25 trip to the Rice Research and Extension Center. From left, Matt King, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, Mike Hamilton, extension irrigation educator; Scott Stiles, extension economist; Bob Scott, center director, Nathan Slaton, assistant director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station; and Lucy Hynes, special counsel, CFTC; Berkovitz, Sha. Special to The Commercial/Mary Hightower, U of A System Division of Agriculture
Dan Berkovitz of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, talks about what his commission does during a visit to the Rice Research and Extension Center. Special to The Commercial/Mary Hightower, U of A System Division of Agriculture
STUTTGART – July 25 wasn’t a typical day in the office for Dan Berkovitz, a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who traded a desk in Washington for a morning among green rows and blue skies at the Rice Research and Extension Center.
Berkovitz was in Arkansas as part of a multiweek tour around the country to learn about agricultural commodities. Arkansas is the nation’s No. 1 rice producer, growing about half of the rice in the United States. Rice production in Arkansas in 2016 was valued a just under $1 billion, according to a news release.
His visit to the rice station was coordinated by Matt King, director of public affairs and government relations with Arkansas Farm Bureau.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s mission is to foster open, transparent, competitive, and financially sound markets while protecting market users and their funds, from fraud and abusive practices in protects subject to the Commodity Exchange Act. In the universe of commodities the commission covers, Berkovitz wanted to know more about ag commodities.
At Stuttgart, he met with various faculty and staff from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, each with information on an aspect of rice production from breeding to harvest.
“A real backbone of our country is agriculture,” Berkovitz said. “It’s really fantastic to learn about all the exciting things going on here in Arkansas and elsewhere.”
“I learned all about the research that’s going on here and the challenges and how you’re trying to address those,” he said. It’s “fascinating all the things I didn’t know by just eating rice – what goes into it and the science behind a lot of it.”
His two-hour visit to Stuttgart included getting a rice production overview from Bob Scott, center director. Professor Xueyan Sha offered an introduction into the long- and medium grains, hybrids and in what products rice is used, such as beer and cereals. Sha also gave a comprehensive look at the varieties being bred at the station.
Nathan Slaton, assistant director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, discussed challenges and advances in fertility and soil science and the high efficiencies that have been achieved through research in rice production.
Scott Stiles, extension economist, talked about some of the quality issues faced by producers in 2018 and what actions were taken to address sampling.
Mike Hamilton, extension irrigation instructor, discussed the water resource challenges faced by Arkansas farmers and how multiple inlet rice irrigation and row rice are being used to achieve more efficient water use.
“We’re pleased to be part of the commissioner’s agricultural learning road trip,” said Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System and head of the Division of Agriculture. “The work being done at this center is important to improving the value and marketability of domestically produced rice. We are proud of the world class scientists that we have working in rice research.”
To learn more about rice research and breeding, visit The Rice Research and Extension Center is part of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.
— Mary Hightower is director of Communication Services at the U of A System Division of Agriculture.

Arceo: Pinoys still backing Duterte

Inside Talk
July 26, 2019
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is proud and happy that the Filipinos still trust him. During the recent State of the Nation Address (Sona), the President bragged about his stable popularity, saying that only three percent of Filipinos disapprove of him. He was referring to the Pulse Asia survey last month wherein he garnered an 85 percent trust and approval rating.

This only means that the Juan dela Cruzes still support him despite the recent Recto Bank incident where a Filipino fishing vessel was rammed by a Chinese boat. Filipinos still love him even as he went “soft” on China.

Earlier, he even asked the military not to elevate the incident if only to prevent agitating the Chinese government. He insinuated in his Sona that it is not wise to go to war with China simply because we cannot match their military power. He also explained that the Chinese government is “in possession” of the disputed territories.

“I cannot go there even to bring the Coast Guard to drive them away. China also claims the property and is in possession. ‘Yan ang problema. Sila ‘yung in possession and claiming all the resources there as an owner,” the President said.

He partly blames the past administration for allowing this to happen. Quite true, he is now in a very disadvantaged position as far as the territorial disputes with China are concerned.

As I have said earlier, no matter how I dislike his persona, he could be doing something right since 85 percent of Filipinos are still backing him up. In all fairness, in less than three years, the free college education was passed into law. The salaries of law enforcers increased and now the teachers and nurses' pay are in the pipeline. The government mass transportation systems like MRT and LRT are ordered to provide free rides to students. There is no more reason for Filipino families not to send their children to school. The parents' equity on their children's education has been cut into more than half.

On the issue of poverty and tax reforms: the President said there was a decrease in the poverty incidence rate from 27.6 percent during the first half of 2015 to 21 percent in the 1st half of 2018. The Duterte administration continuously strengthens its tax collection efforts to provide more funds for poverty alleviation. I just hope that common folks are indeed feeling the “change” and such statistics are consistent to the reality on the grassroots.

He asked Congress to support and pass the package 2 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program. This is also known as the Trabaho Bill. He insists on raising excise tax on tobacco and alcohol as well.

Good for us. The President is pushing for more taxes and helping the nation rid itself of unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol. If his anti-corruption campaign becomes more consistent and effective, then the extra taxes will definitely be useful in fighting poverty and might truly alleviate the lives of many Pinoys.

On the issue of rice and the entry of more imported rice in the country, the President said he will fully implement the Rice Tariffication Law which he signed early this year.

The law, which was sponsored by Senator Cynthia Villar in the Senate, intends to liberalize the importation of rice to fight cartels and to provide affordable and wide variety of rice in the country. Instead of limiting the quantity of rice imports, the government will just impose tariffs to countries supplying rice such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and others.

The law also created a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. This trust fund will be used for programs aimed at increasing the income of Filipino farmers. The fund shall amount to P10 billion annually for the next six years, reports said. The fund will be equally distributed to rice-producing areas in the country while the government will maximize allocations for farm implements, supplies, inputs and other needs of the farmers.

Should everything be in place, we can say that the country is sailing smoothly towards genuine change. Get rid of the corruption, get rid of the criminals. Make it easy for everyone to live productively and peacefully. This is the goal of the President. He said he wants all Filipinos to live comfortably. That was his word.


The President’s remaining term is just three years. I hope the Congress will help him realize these programs in the soonest possible time. Let us pray.
locos farmers happy with Duterte’s compromise on rice imports
By Leilanie Adriano  July 26, 2019, 5:12 pm
File photo of farmers in Ilocos region. 
LAOAG CITY -- President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday has assured rice farmers in Ilocos region to protect their best interest with the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTW).
“We are not against the government on trade liberalization. But small farmers like us must be well-informed and ensure that government programs have measures to increase our competitiveness,” said Crisner Lagazo, president of a young farmers organization in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte.
While in Candon, Ilocos Sur for the inauguration of a more than seven-kilometer bypass road, Duterte has allayed worries of farmers saying he wants local rice produced to be prioritized over importation.
“You can be sure that during your harvest, no importation will be allowed. Ayaw ko ( I don't want). That’s what I said. Ubusin mo muna bilhin, kung mahal magpalugi na lang tayo kaysa magbili tayo (Let us first patronize (local rice), if it is expensive, then let us lose money, instead of buying (imported rice),” Duterte told Ilocos farmers, noting no one should be left behind amid the implementation of the RTL.
Last February, the President signed into law the Rice Tariffication Act, replacing limiting rice imports with levying tariffs based on Philippine commitments to the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (Atiga) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The law aims to provide an affordable and sufficient food supply and a sustainable, productive, and competitive rice industry. (PNA)

Duterte dangles ‘happy compromise’ to rice farmers

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 06:15 AM July 27, 2019
SUSPEND RICE IMPORTS To help local rice farmers boost their incomes, President Duterte says he will suspend rice imports during the harvest seasons and the government has to buy their produce. But Raul Montemayor of the Federation of Free Farmers says that cannot be done under the Rice Tariffication Act unless it is amended. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
President Duterte said suspending the importation of rice during the harvest seasons would be a “happy compromise” between helping boost farmers’ income and making sure the staple would be available year-round.
It was unclear, however, how the government could hold back imports under the rice tariffication law that Mr. Duterte recently signed to impose tariffs on imported rice in lieu of volume restrictions.
Speaking at the inauguration of a bypass road in Candon City, Ilocos Sur province, on Thursday, Mr. Duterte said the priority should be given to purchasing local rice, even if it would mean possible financial losses for the government.
“I can assure you, I will create a happy compromise between the farmers and the importation. You can be sure that during your harvest, no importation will be allowed. I don’t want it,” the President said.
He said he wanted to protect local farmers during the harvest seasons from competition from imported rice.
“Buy all the stocks, even if it’s expensive, before importing,” Mr. Duterte said. If that is not done, the farmers around the country “will feel bad,” he added.

Price of palay continues to fall, now 17.4% down

Farmers want safeguard measure implemented

Published July 26, 2019, 10:00 PM
By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The price of palay in the country continues to drop, falling by more than 17 percent year on year as of this month, while the average cost of regular and well milled rice recorded only a single digit drop in percentage.
PSA logo (Photo courtsey of
Latest data from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that during the first week of July, the farmgate price of palay or unhusked rice declined by 17.3 percent to P17.78 per kilogram (/kg) from P21/50/kg in the same period last year.
From the previous week’s level of P17.88/kg, the price only went down by 0.6 percent.
Meanwhile, at the wholesale trade, the average price of well milled rice slightly went down to P39.26/kg or by 0.1 percent during the period from its previous week’s level of P39.28/kg. Annually, it also moved downward at a rate of 6.4 percent from its level of P41.93/kg a year ago.
At the retail trade, the average price of well milled rice slightly fell to P42.81/kg or by 0.1 percent compared with its level of P42.86/kg in the previous week. This is a drop of 4.2 percent from the previous year’s level of P44.69/kg.
Both prices of at the wholesale and retail trades of regular milled rice are a bit lower, too.
For instance, the wholesale average price of regular milled rice dropped to P35.40/kg or by 0.1 percent this week compared with its week ago level of P35.45/kg. Similarly, it decreased at an annual rate of 8.5 percent from its level in the same week of the previous year of P38.69/kg.
On the average, the retail price of regular milled rice went down to P38.51/kg or by 0.2 percent this week relative to its previous week’s level of P38.60/kg. It is a 6.2 percent drop from its level of P41.07/kg in the same week of the previous year.
To protect the farmers from declining palay prices, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture & Food, Inc. (PCAFI) President Danilo Fausto said the government should now implement the safeguard measure under the Rice Tariffication Law, which is to increase the tariff imposed on imported rice.
Based on the Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203, importers are allowed to bring in any volume of rice in the Philippines at any time provided they pay a 35 percent tariff based on the declared value of their imports if it’s coming from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) like Thailand and Vietnam. Outside ASEAN, the tariff rate will be higher at 180 percent.
Under the Section 10 of RA 11203, in order to protect the Philippine rice industry from sudden or extreme price fluctuations, a special safeguard duty on rice shall be imposed in accordance with Safeguard Measures Act.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said earlier a supply glut could push the tariff rate as high as 180 percent. That, or if the local farmers are already suffering from the oversupply of the staple.
“When you increase the tariff to 180 percent, who else will import? That is technically an import ban,” Piñol said previously.
Since the enforcement of RA 11203, palay prices have fallen non-stop. It had so far dropped by 43 percent from P21.00 per kilogram (/kg) in September 2018 to only P12/kg in June 2019.
This, while the farmers have to spend more on production due to higher fuel cost. From an average of P49,745 per hectare in December last year, farmers’ production cost now stands at P50,000 per hectare in May.

 Happy compromise’ vowed on rice imports

(The Philippine Star) - July 27, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte is working on a “happy compromise” between rice importers and farmers to prevent the latter from getting displaced by a flood  of imports that could result from the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.
“This I can assure you, I will create a happy compromise between the farmers and importation,” Duterte said at the inauguration of the Candon City Bypass Road in Ilocos Sur last Thursday.
Duterte has ordered the Department of Agriculture and concerned agencies not to allow rice importation
during harvest season. This way, Duterte said, local farmers would be able to sell their produce at higher prices.
“You can be sure that during your harvest no importation will be allowed. Ayaw ko. That’s what I said. Ubusin mo muna bilhin, kung mahal magpalugi na lang tayo kaysa magbili tayo (Let’s buy first, if it’s expensive we can lose money, rather than import),” he said.
The Rice Tariffication Law sets tariff rates at 35 percent if rice is imported from countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); 40 percent if the import is within minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons and from outside ASEAN, and 180 percent if import is above the MAV and from a non-ASEAN country.
“Ang tradeoff niyan, ang drawback is magsama ang loob ng mga farmers (farmers will feel bad),” Duterte said.
The Rice Tariffication Law removes the quantitative restrictions designed to protect local farmers from possible import oversupply.
“Hindi lang dito, both Visayas and Mindanao. So there has to be a compromise there that during the harvest season or the coming of the harvest season, your reserve will be used then you start to buy,” he said.
In his speech, Duterte also took a jab at outgoing Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol for bragging in his first months in office that he would bring the agriculture sector to rice sufficiency.
Duterte urged agricultural officials to be more understanding and sensitive to the needs of local farmers. “Pagka mahal, bilhin mo na (If it costs much just buy it),” he said, referring to local farmers’ produce.
He said discontented farmers might only get brainwashed by communist rebels and cause the government bigger headache.
Under the new law, the President can enforce safeguard measures when rice prices start to fluctuate in the market.  The measure also removed the commercial functions and regulatory powers of the National Food Authority but retains its powers to maintain buffer stocks. – With  Christina Mendez
Colombia Chef Competition:  Where U.S. Rice Meets Tradition and Innovation 

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- The week-long, fifth annual professional chefs' competition, Maestros del Sabor, Dueños del Sazón (Masters of Flavor, Owners of Spice), has begun with events taking place here, in Cartagena, and in Barranquilla.  Co-sponsored by USA Rice, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, and the Kansas Soybean Commission, the competition attracts top chefs from all over the country who submit their best dishes to earn a coveted trip to the America's Food and Beverage Expo this September in Miami, Florida. 

Each chef has one hour to create a dish using ingredients represented by the event sponsors which includes several varieties of U.S.-grown rice.  The competition is judged by a panel of decorated celebrity chefs with more than 75 years of combined culinary experience.  

The judges observe the cooking process of each participant and evaluate them on several factors including flavor, plating, technique, use of ingredients, and time management.  One chef from each city is awarded a trip to Miami to show off his or her winning dish and rice cooking prowess.  

"Colombia is a growing export market with immense economic potential due to its rich culinary history and tradition in gastronomic innovation," said Asiha Grigsby, USA Rice manager of international promotions who attended the competition.  "The professional chefs' competition is an incredible opportunity to collaborate with other U.S. commodities and highlight the versatility of U.S.-grown rice."

Crispy Rice Is an Art at Clay Pot in the East Village

Alfredo Chiarappa for The New York Times
By Mahira Rivers
·       July 25, 2019If you listen carefully, you can hear crackling inside the scorching-hot glazed casserole. It’s the sound of fan jiu, crispy rice, forming at the bottom of the clay pot, the vessel that this subterranean Cantonese restaurant in the East Village has taken as its name.
When the pot arrives in front of you, straight from the stovetop, a server lifts the lid, releasing a poof of rousing steam. The surface of the rice is crowded with toppings: maybe a shower of scallion rings over curls of shrimp and succulent chicken, which the server paints with sugar-thickened soy sauce. Now is the time to fluff the grains — gently, to avoid disturbing the transformation happening at the bottom.
Alexander Yip, who opened Clay Pot on St. Marks Place in February 2018, said he felt compelled to open a restaurant dedicated to the dish, which dominates his small menu. Bo zai fan, as it’s called in Cantonese, is an economical comfort food eaten throughout Hong Kong. But as restaurants like Yummy Noodles and A-Wah have closed in New York City, the dish is becoming less common here.

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“For me, opening the restaurant was a way to preserve the memory of getting a clay pot on East Broadway,” said Mr. Yip, whose parents moved to Manhattan’s Chinatown from Hong Kong in 1976.
At the bottom of the pot, the rice will have formed a hardened shell. It can be loosened with the edge of a spoon and some leverage, releasing nutty, toasted chips.CreditAlfredo Chiarappa for The New York Times
Mr. Yip, 24, opened Clay Pot with the help of Julian Yu, a family friend and chef from Guangdong Province, China. The two spent several months testing the rice, merging methods from Mr. Yip’s family recipe and Mr. Yu’s professional one. “It really is an art,” Mr. Yip said.
The restaurant is barely wider than its double-door entrance, and if you sit at the counter seats you can watch the choreographed process. A pot of water and washed jasmine rice is set over a burner until it bubbles voraciously. The flame is reduced, and the pot is tilted to one side and then the other, redirecting the heat and preventing the rice from burning.
When the grains of rice are plump, but not quite finished, a medley of precooked toppings is added. After a few more steamy minutes, the dish is done.
The finished product is proof that this humble ingredient can be nuanced, walking the line that separates sticky from distinct, tender from glutinous. Alone, the rice is modestly flavored; potent cured meats are traditionally used to season each bite.

Editors’ Picks

At the restaurant, there are seven toppings for your clay pot — you can choose two, three or all of them. Each one is as flavorful and texturally pleasing as the last, like velvety strips of beef and creamy fillets of glazed eel. But if it were up to me, slivers of glistening lap cheong, cured pork sausage, would be a requisite for those who can eat pork. The jerky-like sausage sweats into the dish as it steams, coating each grain with savory sweetness.
If you need more flavor, there are condiments: another version of the sweetened soy sauce (thinner and made with less sugar) and an otherworldly mince of ginger and sweet scallions tempered with lots of oil.
Clay pot rice casseroles are an economical comfort food eaten throughout Hong Kong, and the specialty at this East Village restaurant, which opened in February 2018.CreditAlfredo Chiarappa for The New York Times
By the time you make it to the bottom, the rice will have formed a hardened shell. It can be loosened with the edge of a spoon and some leverage, releasing nutty, toasted chips.
The clay pot rice is finished cooking in roughly 18 minutes, but it rarely takes that long because there is always a cluster of pots on the burners. Snacks make the wait feel even shorter. Sliced, seared pork belly topped with soy and salted chopped chiles is as good as it sounds.
A second location of Clay Pot opened in the West Village in March. It is roomier, with a bigger kitchen and different small plates, like crisp salt-and-pepper chicken wings.
The quick success of the restaurant surprised Mr. Yip, but to anyone familiar with nurungji, tahdig or any kind of bottom-of-the-pot crispy rice, fan jiu is an equally evocative pleasure.
For Mr. Yip, it’s nostalgic: “It reminds me of my childhood.”
58 St. Marks Place (Second Avenue), East Village; 646-434-6449,
270 Bleecker Street (Morton Street), West Village; 917-775-6159

UPDATE 2-Thai rice exporters cut 2019 target for annual exports

·       JULY 24, 2019
* 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.
Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; editing by Richard Pullin

How to Grow Sustainable Cannabis? Look to Beer, Wine, and Rice Industries

July 25, 2019
Many of California’s small, organic, sun grown cannabis cultivators find themselves buried under the financial realities of taxes and agricultural rules that, in effect, incentivize indoor growers over outdoor operations in the state.
While outdoor-grown cannabis has the potential to have a much smaller environmental impact than indoor-grown cannabis, only 12 municipalities in California currently allow for outdoor cultivation of the plant. According to Kristin Nevedal, a pioneering voice in the cannabis industry and founder of the International Cannabis Farmers Association (ICFA), this low number is likely due to the remaining stigma and fear that open-air cannabis will offend the public, mixed with misguided fears of crop theft.
“I think a lot of the desire to have cultivation be enclosed is the elected officials in jurisdictions are nervous they are going to have opposition to cannabis programs because someone’s going to be concerned about seeing it, about the smell of it when it’s ripe,” she said.
Outdoor-only growers face hurdles indoor growers do not. They pay the highest licencing costs, are subject to the strictest regulations, and owe the largest percentage of revenues paid into a flat base tax on cannabis produced.
Some of the movers and shakers at the forefront of the cannabis industry are pushing for a rethink of the current structures and rules that disincentivize outdoor, sun grown cultivation, and they’re pointing to successful breakthroughs in the craft beer, wine, and rice industries to help legislators and lawmakers look toward a more sustainable future for cannabis.
The ICFA has been working on educating and advising the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on regulations, as well as the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which is the licencing agency in California for cannabis cultivators.

Looking at the California Rice Commission

Today, California’s $5 billion rice industry provides most of the nation’s sushi rice. However, in the 1980s, California’s rice industry was in jeopardy—because of overuse of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, the state’s rice farms had developed into a toxic environment, forcing the state’s regulators to step in and mitigate it by increasing regulatory rules for rice farmers. But, as Nevedal, says, “Rice farms were going belly up under the cost of regulations.”

In response, California’s various rice cultivators joined together to form the California Rice Commission. As a commission, the rice farmers were better able to navigate new regulations and comply with state requirements.
“Today, rice farmers pay an assessment to the commission,” Nevedal says. “The commission manages quality testing for air, water, and all of the required programs for each of those farms, which has reduced the cost to individual farmers tremendously because it spreads that expense out.”
That regulatory situation and its impact on rice farmers is similar to what’s currently happening for existing cannabis cultivators in California, explains Nevedal. Farmers are left to navigate a complex and relatively expensive set of regulatory requirements when compared with those imposed on indoor cultivators.
“We’re looking at classic agricultural models that have helped farmers work together to manage their issues ... and this led us to ag commissions.”
Kristen Nevedal, Founder, ICFA
She and ICFA are now working with cultivators—particularly in the Mendicino, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties—on the formation of regional cannabis agricultural commissions to help long-existing farmers navigate the web of California’s new cannabis rules and regulations.
“We’re looking at classic agricultural models that have helped farmers work together to manage their issues, whether regulatory, or in research-based consumer direct education, and this led us to ag commissions,” says Nevedal.

Models from Microbreweries and Craft Wine

We see microbreweries all over the country today, and they have raised the standards for beer on a mass scale, including the quality of the product and the sustainable practices used to produce it. But these wouldn’t be viable today without the tax incentives in place in that industry, which lower taxes on small-scale operations that qualify for a particular tier of production.
California’s cannabis licensing is tiered but currently lacks tax incentives for small-scale producers. The outdoor, sun-powered farms of generally 40 acres-or-so that dot Humboldt, Mendicino, and Trinity counties, for example, don’t use synthetic fertilizers or industrial lighting to grow their crops. Thus, by default, their annual crop yields are smaller than mass-scale, indoor grows that employ chemical additives and high-intensity industrial lighting to grow year-round.

The ICFA is working on production-based tax incentives for the cannabis industry. The idea is that small-scale, seasonal cultivators—who can’t farm year-round due to the nature of the cannabis cultivation process—will receive a tax break similar to those used in the craft beer industry for small-scale producers.
“This is what we’re looking at in trying to move forward with cannabis. Regulators and legislators like examples that have worked. We’re trying to point out these examples and say these have not only the ability to preserve small businesses, but they also create naturally incentivized tax structures.”

Educating Cannabis Consumers

As any wine connoisseur will tell you, the soil and surrounding ecosystem play a significant role in the flavor and impact of the wine you drink. Cannabis is similarly sensitive and reactive to its growing conditions. From soil, to sunlight, to nearby crops, cannabis as a product will be noticeably different in quality based on its growing environment.
“In wine, we might say we can actually taste that soil or the place where that grape was grown,” Nevedal says. “Cannabis actually has the same kind of expression. The challenge, she says, is helping cannabis consumers understand and demand high-quality herb.Since cannabis remains federally illegal, cannabis farms aren’t able to apply for national organic certifications or exemptions. So there is a growing push to empower small-scale, organic, sun grown cannabis farmers by way of a Sun and Earth Certification program. This certification is designed to fill that gap and go “beyond organic” with its standards and requirements.
The certification requires applicants to demonstrate earth care and regenerative cultivation practices down to the soil, as well as a high standard of worker’s rights and community engagement.
“[Sun and Earth certification is] a seal which aims to empower family farmers who are both dedicated to fair labor practices and protecting the environment through regenerative organic farming,” said Michael Steinmetz, CEO of Flow Kanna, California’s largest distributor of sun grown organic cannabis from craft farmers.
The idea, Steimetz says, is that the certification will give people the ability to enter a dispensary and choose sustainably grown cannabis of the finest quality that is well-sourced.
Sun and Earth is backed by David Bronner, CEO of the renowned soap company Dr. Bronners—along with a coalition of companies and organizations. David Bronner’s new not-for-profit cannabis line, Brother David’s, will source all of its products solely from Sun and Earth Certified farms and donate all profits to increasing public awareness of sustainable cannabis practices.
“The goal here is basically to create the consumer basic standard for the really high level, regenerative, organic cultivation of cannabis,” said Bronner. “The standard is basically taking the best of soil health, fair labor, and animal welfare movements and putting them together into a single standard.

Sunderland Airshow food and drink prices as annual event gets going

Sunderland International Airshow is back this weekend and there is an array of food and drink to tuck into
·       13:58, 26 JUL 2019
·       UPDATED15:34, 26 JUL 2019
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It's always one of the largest events in the region and Sunderland Airshow has lift off again for 2019.
Hundreds of thousands of people flock to the coast every year for the Sunderland Airshow and while the forecast is looking slightly questionable, there is expected to be a large turnout once again in Roker and Seaburn.Check out or guide the planes at Sunderland Airshow - including RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Fireflies display team, and if you are planning on heading to Seaburn to get a closer look, you'll want to be Airshow parking and how to get there by Metro and bus.
The Airshow has got its most impressive lineup to date on the ground this year, with the music set to get going at 4pm on Friday and then continue throughout the weekend.
The Airshow stage lineup includes headliners Scouting for Girls and Sophie Ellis-Bextor and if you're watching their performances in Cliffe Park, you might want some refreshment while you do.

Sunderland Airshow food & drink prices

Main bar
Pint of Fosters - £4.50
Pint of Cider - £4.50
Strongbow Dark Fruits - £4.50
Spirit & Mixer (vodka, gin, Jack Daniels, Spiced Rum, Jamesons) - £4.50 single, £5.50 double
Bottle of Prosecco - £20
Bottle of Wine (Pino Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Pino Rose, Merlot) - £18
Bottle of Water - £1.50
Cans of Coke, Diet Coke and Lemonade - £1.50
Can of Energy Drink - £2READ MORE
Burger Grill
Burgers - £3.50
Hot Dogs - £3.50
Sausage - £2.50
Chips - £2.50
Chips & Gravy - £3.50
Chips & Curry - £3.50
Cheesy Chips - £3.50
Cheese Burger - £4
Chicken Burger - £3.50

Duterte bans importation of rice during harvest time

posted July 26, 2019 at 11:10 pm by Manila Standard
There will be no importation of rice during harvest time.
BYPASS ROAD. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte drives through the Candon City Bypass Road in Ilocos Sur during its inauguration on July 25. With the President are Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar. Inset photo  shows a portion of the seven-kilometer Candon City Bypass Road, which is expected to decongest traffic along the northern part of Manila, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, and Abra. Presidential Photo
This was the explicit order issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in seeking a ‘happy’ compromise with the farmers amid concerns that the influx of imported rice will hurt the local industry.
The president issued the statement during a road inauguration in Candon City, Ilocos Sur on Thursday.
Ayaw ko. That’s what I said. Ubusin mo muna bilhin, kung mahal magpalugi na lang tayo kaysa magbili tayo.Then ang tradeoff niyan, ang drawback, is magsama ang loob ng mga farmers,” he said.
Hindi lang dito, both Visayas and Mindanao. So there has to be a compromise there that during the harvest season or the coming of the harvest season, your reserve will be used then you start to buy. Pagka mahal, bilhin mo na.”
President Duterte has signed the Rice Tarrification Law last February which allows unlimited importation of rice as long as private sector traders secure a phytosanitary permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry and pay the 35 percent tariff for shipments from neighbors in Southeast Asia.
At the same time, the government put up safety nets in the law, including a comprehensive assistance program for farmers worth P10 billion a year for the next six years.
At the same time, a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) would be used to provide key interventions to support farmers and enhance their competitiveness and profitability, including providing them with farm machinery and equipment to improve farm operations, rice seed development, propagation, and promotion, expanded rice credit, and extension services.
The law also mandates that a portion of the rice tariff revenues in excess of P10 billion would be used to provide direct financial assistance to rice farmers affected by the removal of the quantitative restriction and for diversification to high-value crops.
The implementation of the law have contributed to the continuing slower inflation which aims to make market rice prices affordable.
In June for instance, the inflation rate posted its slowest in 21 months at 2.7 percent.
GIEWS Country Brief: Lao People's Democratic Republic 26-July-2019
Published on 26 Jul 2019 View Original

·       Near-average rains in southern and most central parts benefitted planting and germination of 2019 main crop
·       In northern and some central rice producing areas, poor early season rains delayed sowing and affected early crop development
·       Maize exports forecast at high level in 2019/20 marketing year
Mixed performance of 2019 rainy season
Planting of the 2019 main (wet) season paddy crop, representing almost 90 percent of the annual paddy output, is nearing completion. So far, the May to September rainy season has been characterized by near-average precipitations in southern and most of central parts of the country (locally referred to as Mekong River Corridor and Central and Southern Highland areas), benefitting planting and germination of crops. By contrast, in northern rice producing areas, poor rains delayed planting operations and affected early crop development. In particular, in the provinces of Bokeo, Oudomxai, Luannamtha, Xayabouri and parts of Vientiane, which account for about 25 percent of the main season’s output, the moisture deficits resulted in below-average vegetation conditions (see VHI map). The performance of seasonal rains in the next weeks will be crucial for the final outcome of the cropping season. The 2019 secondary (dry) season crops will be planted next year.
Planting of the 2019 main maize crop, for harvest at the end of the year, is progressing at a normal pace in the main southern producing areas. Some delays were reported in northern and parts of central areas due to below-average rains. Strong demand from the local feed industry and export markets are expected to keep the planted area above the five-year average.
Maize exports forecast at above-average level in 2019/20 marketing year Maize exports in the 2019/20 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at an above-average level of 380 000 tonnes, based on expectations of a bumper output as well as due to the strong import demand from China (Mainland).
Thai rice exporters cut target to 9 million tons

 July 26, 2019 By

BANGKOK, 25th July 2019 (NNT) – The problem of the baht’s appreciation by five percent since the beginning of the year has affected the export of Thai products especially the price of rice which is higher than that of the country’s rivals. In the first half of this year, Thailand exported 4.36 million tons of rice, down by 19 percent year-on-year.
Thai Rice Exporters Association President, Police Lieutenant Charoen Laothammathas, has reported on the situation of Thai rice exports in the first half of the year.
It was found that the Thai rice exports are still affected by the value of the baht which is higher than the currency of a major rival like India.
The Indian rupee has depreciated while the Vietnamese dong remains stable causing the prices of white rice produced by Thailand to be higher than those of competing countries especially Thai Jasmine rice with an export price as high as 1,050 US dollars per ton while the average price of Vietnamese jasmine rice is only 550 US dollars per ton.
Meanwhile, Thai white rice is from 395 – 400 US dollars per ton but Vietnamese white rice is only 345 US dollars per ton.
China has a large amount of rice in stock, causing the demand for rice to decrease. Soft rice is popular among rice importers but Thailand still lacks this type of rice. In June, Thailand could only export 570,000 tons of rice, down by 37.7 percent or the lowest since 2011.
In the first half of this year, Thailand exported 4.36 million tons of rice, down by 19.6 percent year-on-year, worth 2.28 billion US dollars, down 17.5 percent.
However, the second half of the year is still causing concern because certain factors are still affecting Thai rice exports, causing the market to slow down. The baht appreciation and drought problems may cause the volume of rice to decrease and rice prices to increase further. Major rice importing countries have also reduced the volume of their rice imports. Therefore, Thai rice exporters lowered the target for the year from 9.5 million tons to 9 million, worth about 4.7 billion US dollars.
The private sector still believes that the work of the new government especially the Minister of Commerce and the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives who are from the same party, will be in a consistent direction.

Bangladesh flood, Thailand drought stoke concern of drop in Asia rice supply

Reuters . Bengaluru | Published: 00:00, Jul 26,2019
A file photo shows a farmer showing paddy saplings on the field inundated by floodwater at Char Chunduni of Bhuapur union in Tangail on Tuesday. Drought conditions in Thailand stoked concerns of a drop in supply even as a strong baht kept export prices for the Thai variety higher than Asian competitors this week, while floods wreaked havoc on crops in Bangladesh. — New Age photo
Drought conditions in Thailand stoked concerns of a drop in supply even as a strong baht kept export prices for the Thai variety higher than Asian competitors this week, while floods wreaked havoc on crops in Bangladesh.
While prices for Thailand’s 5 per cent broken rice RI-THBKN5-P1 eased to $390-$395 a tonne free-on-board Bangkok on Thursday from last week’s $401-$402, they were still more expensive than rates in other hubs.
Demand for Thai rice remained flat, traders said.
Meanwhile, a drought in more than a dozen provinces has stoked worries over supply, with the Meteorological Department reporting rainfall in the main rice-growing regions was the lowest in 10 years.
‘The drought situation is raising market concern over supply,’ a Bangkok-based trader said, adding: ‘but there is not yet a shortage in actual supply so far.’
The Thai government asked farmers in drought-hit areas to delay rice planting as pumping of water from reservoirs for irrigation threatens household supplies.
Thailand’s rice exporters lowered their target for annual exports to 9 million tonnes from 9.5 million, after a sharp fall in the first half.
In Bangladesh, floods have submerged more than 50,000 hectares of paddy fields, as per a preliminary assessment by the agriculture ministry.
‘We will get a clear picture of the extent of the damage once the water recedes,’ a senior official said.
This could be a major blow to the country at a time when farmers are unable to secure fair prices for produce, with no fresh overseas deals in sight.
In top exporter India, 5 per cent broken parboiled variety RI-INBKN5-P1 rose to $381-$384 per tonne from last week’s $374-$377 as paddy prices jumped even though demand from buyers in Asia and Africa was muted.
Exports of white rice have almost stopped, while shipments of the parboiled variety have dropped sharply due to higher paddy prices, said an exporter based in Kakinada in the southern state of  Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, below average monsoon rains have raised concerns over output of summer-sown crops.
In Vietnam, 5 per cent broken rice rates RI-VNBKN5-P1 were unchanged at $350 per tonne.
‘Demand for Vietnamese rice remains moderate with most of the new orders coming from Philippines and Malaysia,’ a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Traders said shipments from Vietnam in July could fall significantly. Preliminary data showed 194,400 tonnes will be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City ports in July, versus 311,700 tonnes in June.
‘While prices of the regular 5 per cent broken rice stayed flat, prices of jasmine rice have climbed to $500-$505 per tonne from $490 last week due to tight supplies,’ another trader said.
India's summer crop planting lags as monsoon rains remain patchy
JULY 26, 2019 / 9:00 PM
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian farmers have planted summer-sown crops on 68.9 million hectares, down 6.3% year on year, agriculture ministry data showed on Friday, marginally narrowing the sowing gap estimate from the previous week.
Farmers typically start planting rice, corn, cotton, soybeans, sugarcane and peanuts, among other crops, from June 1, when monsoon rains are expected to enter India. Sowing usually lasts until July.Summer rains are crucial as nearly half of India’s farmland lacks irrigation.
The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare will keep updating the provisional sowing figures as it gathers more information from state governments. The planting figures are also subject to revision depending on progress of the June-September monsoon season.
Planting of rice, the key summer crop, was at 18.5 million hectares on Friday, against 19.8 million hectares at the same time last year, the ministry said. Corn planting was at 6.3 million hectares, almost unchanged from the same period last year.The area planted with cotton was at 10.9 million hectares, up from 10.2 million hectares a year ago.Sowing of soybeans, the main summer oilseed crop, was at 9.7 million hectares, compared with 10.1 million hectares at the same time in 2018.Other crop plantings, such as pulses and sugar cane, were also down year on year.
India’s monsoon rains were 35% below average in the week ending on Wednesday, with little rainfall over the central, western and northern parts of the country.

Overall, India has received 16% less rain than average since the monsoon season began on June 1.
Monsoon typically brings rainfall between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 89 cm (35 inches) during the four-month season, according to India’s weather office.

Water levels in India’s main reservoirs were at 25% of their storage capacity, against 40% at the same time last year, the latest government data shows. The average for the past 10 years is 35%.
Rice Straw-Based MDF Project Enters Homestretch
CalPlant I, a $315-million rice straw-based MDF plant currently under construction in Willows, Ca., is scheduled to begin production this fall.
CalPlant I, a $315-million rice straw-based MDF plant currently under construction in Willows, Ca., is scheduled to begin production this fall.
An inventory of more than 200,000 tons of rice straw is already in storage at the site for the first run of panels, which should roll off the line this November.
“This facility is the first of its kind in the world in so many ways,” said CEO Jerry Uhland. “Not only will it have a production capacity to supply 30% of California’s MDF demand, it will significantly reduce the use of water to flood rice fields in the Sacramento Valley, thereby cutting the production of greenhouse gases.”
CalPlant will be the world’s first commercial-scale producer of no-added-formaldehyde, rice straw-based MDF, and at design capacity, the plant will produce more than 140 million sq. ft. (¾” basis) annually. Rice straw is an annually renewable raw material, with all of the material for the plant being procured each year from Sacramento Valley rice growers within a 15- to 25-mile radius of the plant site.
Employing a 115-ft.-long Generation 9 Siempelkamp ContiRoll continuous press, CalPlant will be staffed by 115 full-time employees with 450 part-time jobs created during the annual straw-collection period. The mill will be able to produce MDF thicknesses of 2.0 mm to 30 mm.
Columbia Forest Products, which is CalPlant’s exclusive sales agent, is an investor in the project.
In addition to its formaldehyde-free adhesive system, which will guarantee compliance with new Federal TSCA Title VI regulations on formaldehyde emissions from composite panels, CalPlant’s operations will produce significantly less volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions due to its feedstock and is expected to be a minor source of emissions under EPA rules. Its reclamation of approximately 20% of the Sacramento Valley’s rice straw waste will also result in significant savings of the water now used to flood fields to decompose straw after the annual harvest.

India rice exports could hit 7-year low on weak demand, higher prices

Nitin Gupta, vice president for Olam India's rice business said "A lot of Indian demand has been diverted to Myanmar and China as Indian prices are out of parity."

Jul 26, 2019, 01.50 PM IST
Shipments of white rice from India have nearly stopped altogether as Vietnam and Myanmar are offering more than $30 per tonne discount over Indian prices.India's rice exports are likely to fall to their lowest level in seven years, industry officials say, as weak demand from African countries weighs and shippers absorb the absence of government incentives that supported previous sales. Lower shipments from India will help rivals such as Vietnam and Myanmar in raising their exports, according to Indian exporters, but could also force Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to increase buying from farmers, even as it struggles to liquidate last year's stocks.

"Inventories have been piled up in Africa," said Nitin Gupta, vice president for Olam India's rice business. "A lot of Indian demand has been diverted to Myanmar and China as Indian prices are out of parity." The south Asian country could export 10 to 11 million tonnes of rice in the fiscal year 2019/20 that started on April 1, Gupta said.

India exported 11.95 million tonnes of rice in 2018/19 through March 31, down 7.2% from the previous 12 months, even though the country provided incentives for exports of non-basmati rice for four months. The country exports non-basmati rice to mainly Bangladesh, Nepal, Benin and Senegal, and premier basmati rice to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. In basmati rice exports, India competes with Pakistan, while in non-basmati rice exports rivals are Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

The government incentives for exports were temporary and discontinued on March 25, said B V Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association (REA). "The incentive needs to be restored quickly," he said, "otherwise there could be huge drop in the exports this year."

India's rice exports in April-May fell 30% from a year ago to 1.58 million tonnes as shipments of non-basmati rice fell more than 50% to 711,837 tonnes, according to data compiled by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.

Shipments of white rice from India have nearly stopped altogether as Vietnam and Myanmar are offering more than $30 per tonne discount over Indian prices, said Gupta. In parboiled rice, India has been trying to compete with Thailand but couldn't reduce export prices due to higher paddy, or unhusked rice, prices, said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India's biggest rice exporter.
Paddy buying by central and state governments have lifted prices in the open market, making it difficult for exporters to compete profitably in the world market, said Agarwal. The central state of Chhattisgarh, a leading rice producer, raised the minimum paddy buying price to 2,500 rupees ($36.20) per 100 kg in 2018, from 1,750 rupees - a 43% jump.

Indian exporters said the aggressive liquidation of old stocks by China, the world's biggest rice producer, has also hit Indian exports. "China is exporting a huge amount of old rice to African markets. Africa being a major client, volumes have significantly dropped from India," said Agarwal.