Tuesday, July 30, 2019

29th July,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter


Innovation rush aims to help farmers, rich and poor, beat climate change
JULY 29, 2019 / 12:06 PM

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In decades to come, African farmers may pool their money to buy small robot vehicles to weed their fields or drones that can hover to squirt a few drops of pesticide only where needed.
Smartphones already allow farmers in remote areas to snap photos of sick plants, upload them and get a quick diagnosis, plus advice on treatment.
Researchers also are trying to train crops like maize and wheat to produce their own nitrogen fertilizer from the air - a trick soybeans and other legumes use - and exploring how to make wheat and rice better at photosynthesis in very hot conditions.
As warmer, wilder weather linked to climate change brings growing challenges for farmers across the globe - and as they try to curb their own heat-trapping emissions - a rush of innovation aimed at helping both rich and poor farmers is now converging in ways that could benefit them all, scientists say.
In a hotter world, farmers share “the same problems, the same issues”, said Svend Christensen, head of plant and environmental sciences at the University of Copenhagen.
Agricultural researchers, who have teamed up to boost harvests and fight the major blight of wheat rust are now forming an international consortium in a bid to make wheat stand up to worsening heat and drought.
“There was a real shift in terms of the intensity of what we do together when we became aware of climate change,” said Hans-Joachim Braun, who heads the global wheat program for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), based in Mexico.
For each 1 degree Celsius global temperatures rise above pre-industrial times, wheat harvests drop 5-8%, he said.
That means the world will likely see a 10% drop in harvests even if governments hold global warming to “well below” 2C, as they have agreed, he said - and that drop would come even as the world’s population grows and demand for food rises.
Finding ways to breed wheat that can cope better with heat could help farmers from Australia to India and China, as well as the people who depend on their grain, he said.
“It doesn’t matter where you use this trait - it will have an impact,” Braun said.
DARE TO DREAM
One idea scientists are working on is to fundamentally reshape how crops such as wheat and rice carry out photosynthesis, to make them better able to continue producing in hot weather, especially if less water is available.
The process - like efforts to help wheat and maize start making their own fertilizer - is hugely complex and will likely require decades of work, scientists say.
“It would be a mega-breakthrough. Many people think it’s dreaming a little bit because it’s so difficult,” said Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
But early tests to improve photosynthesis in tobacco have shown a 40% boost in production - and the technique is now being tested with crops from cassava to maize, said Kathy Kahn, a crop research expert with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Nick Austin, who directs agricultural development for the foundation, said such changes “are going to benefit the poor and rich worlds together” - and could play a key role in keeping food prices affordable.
“These technologies... are going to be globally relevant,” he predicted.
Other efforts to help farmers - including the poorest - adapt to climate pressures have already taken root, Khan said.
Flood-tolerant rice that can withstand being submerged under water, for instance, is now being used by 6 million farmers in Asia to cope with more extreme weather, she said.
But Christensen, of the University of Copenhagen, thinks even more high-tech innovations - from weeding robots to drones - are likely to reach poorer farmers too.
With Africa expected to see rapid population growth and movement to cities in coming decades, its farmers will need to become more efficient at producing larger amounts of food, he said.
“If you want to increase efficiency, you need to use machinery to do some of the hard work,” he added.
He believes prices for drones and robots will fall rapidly in years to come, just as they once did for mobile phones.
“Maybe you will share this machinery with your neighbor,” Christensen said. “A village of smallholder farmers could think of buying one for all their fields.”
TWO-WAY FLOW
As consumers and companies demand to know more about the origin of what they buy, farmers in poorer nations could also adopt systems from blockchain to microchips tucked into cauliflower to help with tracking, said CCAFS principal scientist Philip Thornton.
Thornton is working on a “Wild Futures” report, due out later this year, that will dig into potential high-tech advances and predict how the food system might look in 15-20 years’ time, given the pace of technological change, he said.
There is still “quite a lot of uncertainty” about how much high-tech innovation will reach poorer small-scale farmers and especially around how quickly that could happen, he added.
But CCAFS director Campbell predicted there would be “many innovations, and the innovations are highly likely to be picked up elsewhere” beyond their source.
Christensen said ideas also are increasingly flowing from poorer countries to richer ones, not just in the other direction, particularly because the poorest are in some cases dealing with the strongest climate impacts first.
“There’s a lot of inspiration from the people in developing countries,” he said.
Reporting by Laurie Goering; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit news.trust.org/climate


Droughts hit Thailand and India, risking stress on food supplies

Rice producers see further export cut; Australia scrambles to import wheat
MASAYUKI YUDA, Nikkei staff writerJULY 29, 2019 13:10 JST
Description: https://www.ft.com/__origami/service/image/v2/images/raw/https%3A%2F%2Fs3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com%2Fpsh-ex-ftnikkei-3937bb4%2Fimages%2F1%2F1%2F8%2F3%2F21883811-3-eng-GB%2FCropped-15641799350891632.jpg?source=nar-cms
Women fetch water from an opening made by residents at a dried-up lake in Chennai, India on June 11.   © Reuters
BANGKOK -- Persistently dry weather in parts of Asia and Oceania has caused the most severe droughts in years, raising fears of economic and social impacts on the regions' communities. Thailand is now facing reduced production -- and therefore exports -- of rice, and Australia, usually an exporter of wheat, is rushing to import the commodity.
Somkiat Prajamwong, secretary-general at Thailand's office of national water resources, warned last week that 83 districts in 20 provinces in the country's north and northeast regions are "at critical risk of water shortages."
"This year, we have nearly 12 billion cubic meters less water than in 2018," he added. The country currently has about 38 billion cubic meters of water in its reservoirs, 24% less than the year before.
According to the Thai Meteorological Department, the drought has been caused by two major phenomenon. The first is less rainfall during the rainy season, which is a direct impact of the El Nino weather pattern that hit Thailand this year.
The second is the closure of dams in southern China, which have resulted in lower water levels in the Mekong River -- a major water supply for the lower Mekong basin, which covers Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The Thai water department said the country was set to experience its worst drought in a decade.
Description: https://www.ft.com/__origami/service/image/v2/images/raw/https%3A%2F%2Fs3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com%2Fpsh-ex-ftnikkei-3937bb4%2Fimages%2F_aliases%2Farticleimage%2F0%2F7%2F6%2F2%2F21872670-3-eng-GB%2FCropped-15641247600888618.jpg?source=nar-cmsA boat in River Yom during a drought season (now raining season) in Phichit province, north of Bangkok.   © Sipa via AP Images
The government, led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, has asked China, Laos, and Myanmar to release more water into rivers to help relieve the drought conditions downstream in Thailand. Prayuth said those countries were "cooperating."
Water levels at a dam in Lop Buri, about 150km north of Bangkok, have become so low that the ruins of a flooded temple at the bottom of the reservoir have been exposed. In Surin province in the northeast region, residents have complained about a lack of tap water and rice drying out in paddy fields. Rice is a staple of the Thai diet.
In another northeastern province, Nakhon Phanom, located at the border between Thailand and Laos, the water level of the Mekong River has fallen to what could be its lowest level in almost 100 years.
Droughts are expected to have a significant impact on Southeast Asia's second largest economy.
Thailand is one of the world's two biggest rice exporters.
Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters' Association, said the severe drought this year was expected to destroy a certain amount of the country's rice production and could lead to a cut in its rice export this year.
The organization has already lowered its export target for 2019 from 9.5 million tons to 9.0 million tons, due to intensified competition in the global rice trade and a stronger Thai baht. However, with the added pressure of the droughts, the prospect of achieving the revised target is fading.
India is Thailand's close competitor in the international rice market, but the highly populated country has also been struck by drought.
In India, the southern state of Tamil Nadu is suffering the most from the droughts. Chennai, the state's capital and the sixth largest city in India by population, has four main reservoirs to serve over 8 million residents, but these now hold less than 1 per cent of their total water capacity. The primary reason for the shortage is a lack of proper urban development, but a late and weak monsoon made the situation even worse.
Trucks with water tanks have been dispatched around the city to meet demand as taps have run dry, with people lining up with buckets. Tamil Nadu is home to many producers of vaccines and generic drugs that are used around the world. If the drought further affects the state, the global supply of pharmaceuticals could be impacted.
Description: https://www.ft.com/__origami/service/image/v2/images/raw/https%3A%2F%2Fs3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com%2Fpsh-ex-ftnikkei-3937bb4%2Fimages%2F_aliases%2Farticleimage%2F2%2F6%2F8%2F3%2F21883862-3-eng-GB%2FCropped-15641801840891650.jpg?source=nar-cmsResidents gather to fill empty containers with water from a municipal tanker in Chennai, India on June 25.   © Reuters
There has also been a severe prolonged drought in eastern Australia. About 97 percent of the country's most populous state, New South Wales, is in drought conditions. The city of Sydney imposed its first water restrictions in almost a decade in June to slow the rapid decline of water levels in the city's reservoirs.
The region has been recording lower-than-average rainfall for two years. This has led Australia, which has long been one of the world's biggest grain suppliers, to import wheat for the first time in 12 years. In the year ending June 2019, Australia has produced just over 1.7 million tons of wheat, about 20% less compared to the previous year.
Reserve Bank of Australia Deputy Governor Guy Debelle warned in March that the drought had already cut the country's total gross domestic product by 0.15 percent. He expected the damage to weigh on economic growth this year even if average rainfalls return.
Elsewhere, Europe has been experiencing yet another summer of extraordinary heat waves.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in April jointly released a report on drought risks. "There will be many more dry years ahead, and the area affected by drought is likely to shift and expand," it wrote.
It warned that droughts struck the poor the hardest and heightened inequality, as well as degrading land and increasing the prospect of violent conflict. "Increasing resilience to drought will require much better forecasting, and more efficient forms of response at both national regional levels," it suggested.
Nikkei staff writer Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat in Bangkok contributed to this article.





Paletwa IDPs Still Need Food Aid, Say Chin Students
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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Chin university students and youths who recently visited camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township say that villagers forced to flee fighting between the Burma Army and the insurgent Arakan Army (AA) still lack sufficient aid.
At a press conference held in Yangon on Tuesday, the students and youths discussed what they learned about the current needs of the IDPs when they went to the camps to deliver relief supplies earlier this month.
“What they need most at the moment is food assistance. They also need education and healthcare support for their children. And we are worried about their security because Burma Army and AA forces are still active in the area. Security is a real concern for them,” Salai Mang Hung, who is in charge of the Mindat Youth Group, said at the press conference.
While some aid has reached the IDPs, it is not nearly enough to meet their needs, he added. Restrictions on the transport of rice to the conflict-affected region are also adding to their hardships, he said.
“Local people use the river to buy rice in Kyauktaw [in Rakhine State], but there are now many checkpoints along the river, and there have also been clashes. Therefore, we want the [Chin] state government to provide security along the river for the transport of rice,” he said.
Soe Htet, the state’s minister of municipal affairs, electricity and industry, told Khonumthung News that the state government has negotiated with both the Union government and the Rakhine State government to buy rice for the IDPs and other residents of Paletwa Township.
“We have already told the Union government that we need at least 5,550 bags of rice per month for 127 villages in 30 village-tracts in Paletwa Township. We submitted our proposal to the Union government and sent a copy of it to the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Rakhine State government. They have not rejected our proposal. But we still have security concerns along the river,” Soe Htet said.
Earlier this month, Chin civil society organizations and student groups began collecting donations in the towns of Mindat, Tedim, Falam, Hakha and Kalay to support Chin IDPs in Paletwa.
According to the Chin Students’ Union (Kalay), the money was distributed between July 17 and July 21 to more than 600 IDPs who have taken refuge in Meezar village and 140 IDPs in Thae Chaungwa village in Paletwa Township.

Lee Sung-kyoung brings joy in her Manila press conference

By: Nikka G. Valenzuela 09:32 PM July 26, 2019
Only Lee Sung-kyoung could strut on a theater stage, strike a pose and say (not shout) “sweeg” and send fans into overdrive.
Fondly called by her fans as LSK, the Korean model and actor is holding her first ever fan meet in the Philippines tomorrow, July 27, in SM Skydome, Quezon City.
Description: https://lifestyle.inquirer.net/files/2019/07/IMG-3513-e1564143017719-620x827.jpgLee Sung-kyoung dazzles in her press conference.

Sung-kyoung won the hearts of K-drama addicts when she starred as barbecue-eating, fried rice-loving, naengmyeon-slurping Kim Bok-joo in “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo.” But not many people know that she could be more “comedic” than the campy college wrestler she portrayed.
Lee Sung-kyoung revealed this during the presser at Dolphy Theater in ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City.

Phenomenal voice

The 28-year-old actor also teased fans and the media when she sang the intro of “From Now On,” by Kim Min-seung, the theme song of “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.” She recently went viral when a video of her singing “A Whole New World” at the top of her lungs was uploaded online. Lea Salonga, who performed the song in the Disney animated film “Aladdin,” reposted the video with the caption “This is so adorable!”
And Sung-kyoung is nothing short of adorable. When asked which role she related to the most, she replied:
“Micha? Bok-joo?” she teased and the fans went wild.
“As Kim Bok-joo, I turned into (her) personality. But since Michaela is the first child, in real life I’m much more alike (her),” said LSK.
She played family breadwinner Michaela Choi in the 2018 fantasy drama “About Time.” She’s also known for her outrageous role as Baek In-ha in “Cheese in the Trap.”
Lee Sung-kyoung will meet more fans tomorrow at “Be Joyful” event, SM Skydome, Quezon City at 6 p.m. Ticket prices are at P8,500, P6,500 and P4,000. Visit smtickets.com.
Follow Super K on Facebook.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/entertainment.inquirer.net/338643/lee-sung-kyung-honored-to-receive-compliment-from-lea-salonga/amp

Rice exports could hit seven-year low on weak demand, higher prices

Lower shipments from India will help rivals such as Vietnam and Myanmar in raising their exports

Description: Reuters
Mumbai:July 26, 2019
UPDATED: July 26, 2019 14:50 IST
Description: Picture for representation
Picture for representation
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.
India 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 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.

Pakistan Mango & Biryani Festival **attracts Huge Gathering In Ankara

 (@imziishan)  

ANKARA (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / Online - 27th July, 2019) As part of its public diplomacy activities and tofurther popularize Pakistani mangoes in Turkey, the Embassy of Pakistanorganized "Pakistan Mango & Biryani Festival" in Ankara .A large number of guests attended the event and had a first-handexperience of the taste, juiciness and aroma of the famous Pakistanimangoes as well as Biryani made of famous Pakistani Basmiti rice.Key political figures, fruit importers, diplomats and media representativesattended.
The "Pakistan Mango & Biryani Festival" included fresh mango andmango cuts as well as wide-range of mango delicacies such as mangomilk-shake, mango lassi, mango ice cream, mango salad, mango souffl, mangomousse, mango pudding, and mango cake.
Biryani' made of famous PakistaniBasmati rice was also served at the festival while selected Pakistani musicadded further to the festive environment. A photographic display ofPakistan's natural beauty also formed part of the event.
Welcoming the guests, Pakistan Ambassador to Turkey M.
Syrus Sajjad Qazistated that Pakistan was the 5th largest producer and the 6th largestexporter of mangoes. "We Pakistanis call Mango the King of Fruits' and itis among the sweetest fruits on the face of the earth," the Ambassadorsaid.
"Chaunsa is the most popular variety - and we are serving the WhiteChaunsa today," the Ambassador said in his remarks. He hoped that with suchevents, Pakistani mangoes would be soon available to mango lovers inTurkey.Referring to the brotherly Pakistan-Turkey relations, Ambassador Qazi saidthat Pakistani mangos are as sweet and as special as the uniquePakistan-Turkey relations.
There could be no better way to celebrate thisfriendship than with the King of Fruits, the Pakistani Mango.Among those attending, five guests won a box of mangoes at a lucky draw.

Probe rice imports, Villar told


Description: https://39byfk2z09ab1y1bzj1l5r82-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/top01-071318-696x394.jpgIn File Photo: Workers at the NFA warehouse in Quezon City arrange sacks of rice after the delivery of imported stocks.
A FARMERS’ group urged Sen. Cynthia A. Villar to focus on the reported undervaluation of rice imports, which caused the decline in farm-gate prices and the closure of some mills.
Federation of Free Farmers Inc. (FFF) said Villar, who will again chair the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food in the 18th Congress, should not shrug off the issue of undervaluation due to its adverse impact on local farmers.
FFF made the statement after Villar was quoted in news reports saying that the issue of undervaluation of rice shipments is not her problem but that of the Bureau of Customs.
“We are very disappointed with Senator Villar’s reaction of washing her hands off the problem and passing the buck to other people,” FFF National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said in a recent statement.
“She was the main author of the rice tariffication law, so she should bear some responsibility for the flood of rice imports that is now wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of small rice farmers,” Montemayor added.
He said Villar should be “more proactive in addressing the urgent problems besetting the rice sector at the moment” since she chairs the Committee on Agriculture and Food.
The BOC earlier disclosed that it will look into rice imports that arrived in the country from January to June, to determine if the shipments were undervalued.
BOC Assistant Commissioner for the Post Clearance Audit Group Vincent Philip C. Maronilla told the BusinessMirror in an earlier interview that the values declared by traders were inconsistent.
Maronilla made the announcement after the BusinessMirror reported on July 9 that the FFF suspected the undervaluation of rice shipments by importers and traders.
Citing its computations, FFF earlier said rice importers could have shortchanged the government by up to P5 billion by misdeclaring the value of their shipments.
He said rice shipments from March 5 to June 30, which are covered by the rice trade liberalization law, reached 966,690 metric tons. Tariffs assessed on 966,690 MT of rice amounted to around P4 billion to P4.5 billion, according to Maronilla.

Rice tariffication law yields P6.5 B – DOF

July 29, 2019, 3:43 PM
By Chino Leyco
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has already collected P6.5 billion in duties from rice imports by private traders under Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Act, or an average of P1.4 billion a month since the law took effect in March this year, preliminary data show.
Description: MANILA BULLETIN FILE
MANILA BULLETIN FILE
Customs collections from rice imports of private traders since its enactment in March would benefit palay growers as the annual P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) come from these revenues.
The DOF said RCEF was set up under the law to finance the modernization of the agriculture sector and directly provide farmers with access to credit and training, and funds for mechanization, high-quality seeds, and fertilizers, among other forms of assistance.
As a result of the liberalized rice trade following President Duterte’s signing of RA 11203, the average retail cost of the staple has since its enactment fallen by at least P7 per kilo.
In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the Customs said it has collected a total of P6.479 billion from importer-traders as of July 15 under RA 11203, while another P3.103 billion was earned in duties from import permits issued by the National Food Authority (NFA) since January this year.
The bulk of the collections were from rice import duties under RA 11203 reported by the Port of Subic (POS), which collected P1.598 billion, followed by the Manila International Container Port (MICP) with P1.033 billion, and the Port of Manila (POM) with P998.77 million, the BOC said.
At an average of P1.4 billion a month, the BOC remains on course to collect the minimum of P10 billion needed for the RCEF per year.
Section 13(c) of the Rice Tariffication Law states that 10 percent of the P10-billion RCEF shall be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives.
The rest of the RCEF will be set aside for farm machinery and equipment; rice seed development, propagation and promotion; and rice extension services, as provided under the rice tariffication law.
On top of paying tariffs, rice importers are required under RA 11203 to secure sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSIC) from the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), which assumed the food safety regulation function of the NFA under the Rice Tariffication Law.
This requirement will ensure that rice imports are free from pests and diseases that could affect public health and local farm production.
Dominguez has described the rice liberalization law on the shift from quantitative restriction to tariffs on rice imports as a “proud” accomplishment of the Duterte presidency and the DOF, given that it took more than 30 years under various administrations to get Congress to approve this game-changing reform.
Liberalizing rice imports has made the staple food more affordable to Filipinos, making retail prices this summer cheaper by about 20 percent compared to last year’s peak rates.
President Duterte’s enactment of RA 11203 and his implementation of a slew of non-monetary measures to ease food supply bottlenecks in response to last year’s elevated inflation has resulted in a subsequent downward trend in the spike in commodity prices.
From a high of 6.7 percent in September and October 2018, the inflation rate has fallen to 2.7 percent last June, or below the state economic team’s target band of 2-4 percent for the year.

IRRI to support researchers in Bangladesh’s agri sector

·     UNB NEWS

·     PUBLISH DATE - JULY 29, 2019, 01:49 PM
·     UNB NEWS - UNB NEWS


·     UPDATE DATE - JULY 29, 2019, 01:53 PM
Description: IRRI to support researchers in Bangladesh’s agri sector
Dhaka, July 29 (UNB) - Representative of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Bangladesh Dr Humnath Bhandari has reiterated the organisation’s continued support for capacity building of the researchers working in Bangladesh’s agricultural sector.
He said IRRI is willing to strengthen its cooperation with Bangladesh especially in the areas of food security, nutrition, developing agricultural systems as well as realizing the challenges in agricultural sector for achieving inclusive agricultural development.
Dr Bhandari, who presented his credentials to Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday, also informed that IRRI had worked closely with Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) to develop ‘Sonali Rice’ which is fortified with vitamin A.
The Foreign Minister welcomed him to Bangladesh and wished him success in discharging his responsibilities and assured him of the support of the government.
Dr Momen briefed him about the actions taken by the government under the visionary leadership of  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to ensure food security in Bangladesh and informed him that Bangladesh had become the 4th largest producer of rice in the world attaining food self-sufficiency.
The Foreign Minister also highlighted the socio-economic development of Bangladesh since Independence in 1971 especially during the last decade under the present government, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.
Dr Bhandari, a national of Nepal, has more than 15 years of experience in agricultural research-for-development focusing on rural livelihood, food security, poverty reduction, natural resources management, rice-based cropping systems, climate smart agriculture, agricultural technology adoption and impact, food value chains, agribusiness, market system development, and policy analysis.
Before joining his new role, Dr Bhandari worked as a scientist (Applied Economist) of IRRI in Bangladesh since 2010.

MALAYSIA JUST MADE ITS FIRST GENE-MODIFIED RICE. WHY ARE FARMERS AGAINST IT?
Description: rice ft img2
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Upon reaching 2020, we’re seeing many new technologies and inventions such as…
Description: Malaysia's first humanoid robot, ADAM. Img from The Star
Malaysia’s first humanoid robot, ADAM. Img from The Star
…or…
Description: Or the flying car. Img from The Star
The flying car. Img from The Star
…or even…
Description: Img from Business Insider
Normal rice (left) vs gene-modified rice (right) Img from Business Insider
…RICE???
As it turns out, the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) recently made Malaysia’s very FIRST genetically-modified rice! And, at the time of writing, MARDI is proposing to test the seeds out on a smol test field in Perlis.
However, groups of farmers, consumers’ groups and NGOs including WWF Malaysia hasstaged a protest at the test field in Perlis. Malaysia Food Security and Sovereignty Forum coordinator, Nurfitri Amir Muhammad claimed that planting genetically-modified rice could harm the environment and the public’s health. They’re also planning to submit a memorandum of protest to the National Biosafety Board.
Chup, how is genetically-modified rice any different from the normal rice we eat tho? And why did MARDI genetically modify our rice?? Apparently…

MARDI is trying to make Nasi Kebal
If any of you here have green hands (no, not like the Hulk), your biggest enemies would probably be weeds and these guys:
Description: Img from Semantic Scholar
Yea, these buggers. Img from Semantic Scholar
And the only way to control them is by spraying pesticides and herbicides (poison for weed)… which can eventually kill your plants or crops. Actually, this is the exact problem that farmers have been facing when planting rice.So, MARDI has been doing a lot of research on how to increase the production of rice over the years by fixing those problems so that Malaysia doesn’t need to rely on imported rice anymore.
Back in 2001, MARDI used a more natural method called direct-seeding, which is by planting seeds on untouched soil, to come up with a rice variety called the MR219 (remember this for later) that can actually resist blast and bacterial leaf diseases!
Direct-seeding is very different from genetically modifying rice because the latter is a process where genes from another plant (or sometimes animal) are artificially inserted into them (not through their natural way which is pollination). Here’s a video that may help you understand better on the different types of reproduction of plants:
Although MR219 caused an increase in the production of rice in Malaysia because this rice variety has shorter maturity period, it had its weaknesses too. A researcher from Universiti Putra Malaysia found out that the performance of this rice variety decreased over the years because it couldn’t resist weed and disease infestation in storage. This is probably why MARDI has come up with different rice varieties over the years besides genetically modifying MR219. But what happens when rice are genetically modified anyway??
Rice or any other crops are genetically-modified to create monster plants prolong the shelf life of crops and increase their survival rate by resisting pesticides, herbicides, drought, virus infection and delay ripening.
Description: No, this is NOT how the gene-modified rice looks like. Unedited image from Time Magazine
No, this is NOT how gene-modified rice look like. Unedited image from Time Magazine
As of 2015, Malaysia does NOT have gene-modified crops at all! And according to Head of Centre for Plant Biotechnology, Institute of Systems Biology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Dr Hoe-Han Goh
“To date, only two applications were approved for confined field trials, namely the GM (gene-modified) papaya with a disease-resistant trait in 2013, and a GM rubber plant this year.” – Excerpt from NST, 14 November 2015.
Malaysia had also once genetically modified a group of mosquitoes in an effort to combat dengue. But since the project was a bit cost consuming, it was apparently called off shortlyafter it began.
So, if Malaysia has done several tests on gene-modified crops and insects, then why is it such a huge deal when MARDI wants to test out its gene-modified rice on test fields??


Actually… farmers are scared that gene-modified rice will ‘contaminate’ their own crops
As it turns out, the proposed test field is actually near several commercial and wild rice fields. And if MARDI were to test those gene-modified rice on that test field, there’s a high chance that the genes from this rice will be carried by birds, animals, machines or workers in the test fields, and eventually pollinate with those commercial and wild rice.
“According to the GM Contamination Register, up til 2014, rice has the highest incident of contamination through test fields although no GM rice have been commercially planted anywhere in the world at the moment.” Nurfitri and the President of Consumers Association of Penang, Mohideen Abdul Kader told Utusan. Translated from BM.
Description: Nurfitri (middle) with some of the farmers. Img from Utusan
Nurfitri (middle) with some of the farmers. Img from Utusan
When this happens, Nurfitri said it could pose a bigger threat to our health!
“Besides, glyphosate (herbicide) will be used in the tests. Humans exposed to the chemical ingredients might get cancerous diseases like non-hodgkin and lymphoma.” – Mohideen told Harakah Daily. Translated from BM.
He might not be wrong about the herbicides tho. Researchers from the World Health Organisation classified herbicides as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’, which means it can cause cancer.
The Academy of Environmen Medicine from the US actually found out that gene-modified crops can cause several other health diseases, although the organisation’s methodologies are sometimes questionable.
However, there is a counter-argument from the World Health Organisation, which generally views GMO foods as safe, and to some extent, that’s true because…

We’re all consumers of gene-modified crops although most of us don’t even realise it Description: ­čś«

Apparently, broccoli and cauliflowers are gene-modified crops and they didn’t even exist1,000 to 2,000 years back! Broccoli was reportedly created from the genes of kale and wild cabbages in the 1500s. Cauliflower, on the other hand, was developed from one of hundreds of broccoli varieties. #TIL
Don’t worry if you’ve just found this out today because most of us (about 88% of us actually) don’t even realise that we’ve been eating gene-modified products too!
What’s even more surprising is how, besides broccoli and cauliflowers, Malaysia also has been importing gene-modified products from the US, which apparently is the largest gene-modified producers! Former president of Consumers Association of Penang, SM Mohamed Idris claimed that Malaysia has approved eight gene-modified corn products and six gene-modified soybean products for food, feed and processing purposes.
Although some of these products are for human consumption, we also found out that almost all of the feed for animals in Malaysia are genetically modified! OMG, does that mean we’re exposed to the aforementioned diseases!?
According to the Department of Chemistry Malaysia, we’re not. That’s probably why Malaysia has guidelines and regulations on the import of gene-modified products under the the National Biosafety Act 2007. In fact, Malaysia is the pioneer among the ASEAN countries to impose such regulations.
So how can you tell if a product is made from gene-modified crops?? Well, Malaysia made it compulsory for manufacturers to label the products like this:

At the time of writing, there’s no update on MARDI’s application to run the test and what’s even worrying, according to Nurfitri and Mohideen, is how there is no assurance that the new gene-modified rice won’t give out unnecessary side effects to the environment and health. This is why they’re against the idea of gene-modified rice.
“If there is no evidence (side effects) as required in the Cartagena’s Biosafety Protocol that was signed by Malaysia in 2003, then the gene-modified rice shouldn’t be allowed to be tested in Malaysia.” – Nurfitri and Mohideen told Utusan. Translated from BM.


Author of rice tariff law gets farmers’ ire

JULY 29, 2019/
AUTHOR OF RICE TARIFF LAW GETS FARMERS’ IRE
The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) urged Sen. Cynthia Villar, main author of the Rice Tariffication Law, to be more proactive in addressing the problems besetting the rice sector.
In a statement over the weekend, FFF expressed disappointment over Villar’s recent statement that it is too early to review Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law at this time because the law had not yet been fully implemented.
Since the passage of the law in February this year, more than 1.5 million tons of imported rice have entered the country.
FFF said some rice millers have reportedly stopped operations because of the glut in the market and palay prices in turn have gone down drastically. Palay (unhusked rice) prices had dropped by 23 percent since their peak in September 2018, coinciding with the inflow of possibly undervalued rice imports, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.
“What is she waiting for before she acts? She cannot keep on experimenting with the lives of rice farmers. Does she want farmers to suffer even more before she deems it proper to review the law or at least call a Senate hearing to look into the reported undervaluation of rice imports?”, asked Raul Montemayor, FFF national manager.
Based on data from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Finance (DoF), the average landed cost of rice imports, inclusive of tariffs, was only $227 per metric ton compared to between $391 and $422 if based on internationally published prices.
“Since tariffs are based on the declared value of the imports, importers could have shortchanged the government by up to P5 billion already by undervaluing their imports,” Montemayor said.
The FFF has joined calls for critical amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law, including the reinstatement of the prerogative of the government to temporarily reimpose quantitative restrictions or QRs during crisis situations.
“She was the main author of the Rice Tariffication Law, so she should bear some responsibility for the flood of rice imports that is now wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of small rice farmers,” said Montemayor.
The FFF also belied Villar’s claims that the proposed National Single Window (NSW), which was incorporated in RA 11203 will address problems arising from smuggling and undervaluation of imports.
“The NSW is actually designed and intended to be a trade facilitation measure that will in fact make it easier for importers to bring in their cargoes. The NSW will enable them to submit all required documents electronically through a ‘single window’ instead of having to deal with multiple agencies. It is not specifically configured to detect smuggling or undervaluation,” Montemayor said.
“Besides, you do not need a complicated system to detect undervaluation. You simply compare the declared values with a reference rate. This can be easily automated so that any attempt to undervalue imports will immediately send warning signals to the proper authorities,” he added

First overland barter-trade agreement signed
CHAN MYA HTWE 29 JUL 2019
Description: Aung Htay Hlaing/The Myanmar Times
Aung Htay Hlaing/The Myanmar Times
An agreement for overland barter trade has been signed between Mandalay Rice Development Company (MRDC) and Kunming Green Color Trade CoLtd from China’s Yunnan province in which the former will trade 100,000 tonnes of rice to the latter for an equivalent in other trade goods starting next month.
The undertaking, which was signed on July 25, would be the first such agreement between private companies following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Myanmar and Chinese governments on the overland barter trade earlier this year.
MRDC managing director U Sai Kyaw said both companies would be the intermediaries for goods to be traded under the barter system. “Chemical fertilisers, construction material, electric appliances andagricultural machinery manufactured from Yunnan province can be imported with a 5 percent discount on the market price,” he said, adding that both sides were now awaiting the greenlight from their respective governments to start trading.
U Sai Kyaw said MRDC will be exporting the equivalent of up to 100,000 tonnes rice stored rice in Muse or newly harvested rice. “Myanmar long-grain rice, which is very hard to sell due to high tariffs in European countries, will be prioritised,” he said.
Rice traders that used to sell their rice in the overland border trade would now need to conform to the new system. “There are some challenges because it is now through barter trade, we’ll have to help solve the issues that arise from the farmers and rice millers,” U Sai Kyaw said.
He said interested companies can import goods from China in partnership with MRDC while any company interested in selling their rice produce can also partner it. “This is a win-win situation for both sides,” U Sai Kyaw said. 
The barter arrangement is expected to benefit local traders and balance trade. Due to volatile import tariffs imposed on Myanmar goods by the Chinese authorities, traders often resort to smuggling goods across the border. This, in turn, leads to frequent border checks and trade bans, which disrupts trade and results in losses. – Translated

Pakistani Mango and Biryani festival held in Turkey

Description: https://www.thenews.com.pk/assets/uploads/updates/2019-07-27/504491_9030866_ankara-fest_updates.jpg
ANKARA: As part of its public diplomacy activities and to further popularize Pakistani mangoes in Turkey, the Embassy of Pakistan organized “Pakistan Mango & Biryani Festival” in Ankara on Friday afternoon, according to a statement on Saturday.
 A large number of guests attended the event and had a first-hand experience of the taste, juiciness and aroma of the famous Pakistani mangoes as well as Biryani made of famous Pakistani Basmiti rice.
 Key political figures, fruit importers, diplomats and media representatives attended the event. 
The “Pakistan Mango & Biryani Festival” included fresh mango and mango cuts as well as wide-range of mango delicacies such as mango milk-shake, mango lassi, mango ice cream, mango salad, mango souffl├ę, mango mousse, mango pudding, and mango cake. 
‘Biryani’ made of famous Pakistani Basmati rice was also served at the festival while selected Pakistani music added further to the festive environment. 
A photographic display of Pakistan’s natural beauty also formed part of the event. 
Welcoming the guests, Pakistan Ambassador to Turkey M. Syrus Sajjad Qazi stated that Pakistan was the 5th largest producer and the 6th largest exporter of mangoes. 
“We Pakistanis call Mango the ‘King of Fruits’ and it is among the sweetest fruits on the face of the earth,” the Ambassador said. 
“Chaunsa is the most popular variety – and we are serving the White Chaunsa today,” the Ambassador said in his remarks. 
He hoped that with such events, Pakistani mangoes would be soon available to mango lovers in Turkey. 
Referring to the brotherly Pakistan-Turkey relations, Ambassador Qazi said that Pakistani mangos are as sweet and as special as the unique Pakistan-Turkey relations.
 There could be no better way to celebrate this friendship than with the King of Fruits, the Pakistani Mango. 
Among those attending, five guests won a box of mangoes at a lucky draw.

Bio-tech has enormous practical importance in Vietnam: conference

VNA SATURDAY, JULY 27, 2019 - 17:22:00 
Description: https://cdnimgen.vietnamplus.vn/t660/uploaded/wbxx/2019_07_27/biotech_has_enormous_practical_importance_in_vietnam_conference.jpgAt a conference held by Ho Chi Minh City Open University (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Bio-technology is increasingly used in agriculture, medicine, environment, and food, including Vietnam, according to Dr Dang Thanh Dung of the Ho Chi Minh City Open University’s bio-technology faculty.

He told Viet Nam News: “The country faces a challenge in solving the issue of waste, including the huge volume of plastic.”

Bio-technology could be used to produce alternative products to replace plastic and reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture, he said.

In medicine, it is widely used in diagnosis, he said.

“I am doing research into a new enzyme system for programmable RNA cleavage,” he said, adding that it would be useful in cancer treatment.

Ribonucleic acid, or RNA, is one of the three major biological macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life.

Dung presented his research yesterday at the International Conference on Biology organised by his university.

Several other scientists from Thailand, Malaysia, India, and Vietnam also presented their bio-technology applications.

Vandna Rai of the National Institute for Plant Biotechnology in New Delhi, India, shared her research on identification of genes for salt-tolerance rice.

Scientists from Thailand said their research could be applied to develop a new diagnostic test and species-specific anti-leishmaniasis drugs. It would also assist successful monitoring and control of this disease in their countries and neighbouring regions, they added.

Leishmaniasis is a sandfly-borne disease caused by the protozoan leishmania parasites in tropical and sub-tropical areas. – VNS/VNA

Let research output aid farmers: Governor

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 28, 2019 00:59 IST
UPDATED: JULY 28, 2019 00:59 IST
Description: Governor P. Sathasivam inaugurating the 56th foundation day celebrations of ICAR-CTCRI in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday. ICAR director general Trilochan Mohapatra, ICAR DDG Anand Kumar Singh, and CTCRI director Dr. Archana Mukherjee, look on.
Governor P. Sathasivam inaugurating the 56th foundation day celebrations of ICAR-CTCRI in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday. ICAR director general Trilochan Mohapatra, ICAR DDG Anand Kumar Singh, and CTCRI director Dr. Archana Mukherjee, look on.  

56th foundation day of ICAR-Central Tuber Crops Research Institute celebrated

Reduce the “distance’’ between policies, scientific research, and the farmer to ensure that the latter has better access to benefits and research output, Governor P. Sathasivam has said.
Inaugurating the 56th foundation day celebrations of the ICAR-Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) at Sreekaryam on Saturday, Mr. Sathasivam underscored the need for “credible technologies” for value-addition that encourage farmers to become ‘agri-preneurs’.
“We talk loudly about improving the ease of doing business, but how many of us are bothered about improving the ease of access to the benefits for the farmer?” he said.
Reminding the scientific community that their success ultimately depended on the acceptance received from farmers, the Governor urged CTCRI to encourage interaction between researchers and farmers to enhance the latters’ knowledge and confidence.
Malnutrition and poverty, which remain disturbing factors, could be addressed only by strengthening food security. “And, the key to food security is in strengthening the primary sector,” Mr. Sathasivam said.
From the solid foundation laid by the green revolution, India today has become the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and jute and the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, vegetables, fruits and cotton, he said.
“We are also one of the leading producers of spices, fish, poultry, livestock and plantation crops. At the same time, we are reeling under the pressures of reducing resources, climate change, emergence of new pests and diseases etc. It is here that research can offer significant solutions, which the farmers can bank upon,” he said.

Facilitation centre

Sathasivam also inaugurated a farmers’ facilitation centre and a solar roof-top project on the CTCRI campus. Trilochan Mohapatra, Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR); Anand Kumar Singh, Deputy Director General (Horticultural Science), ICAR, and CTCRI Director Archana Mukherjee spoke.

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S Civil Supplies dept transports 2,500 metric tonne of boiled rice to Kerala

Under a pilot project, 2,500 metric tonne of boiled rice was transported from Sangareddy district to FCI godowns, Kochi through 80 containers.

By AuthorTelanganaToday  |  Published: 27th Jul 2019  8:09 pm
Description: https://cdn.telanganatoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Civil-supplies-397x400.jpg
Hyderabad: In a first of its kind initiative, the Telangana State Civil Supplies department has transported 2,500 metric tonne of boiled rice to godowns of Food Corporation of India (FCI), Kerala through Container Corporation of India, to overcome storage issues.
On Saturday, under a pilot project, 2,500 metric tonne of boiled rice was transported from Sangareddy district to FCI godowns, Kochi through 80 containers.
This was mainly done to address the challenges being faced in storage of Custom Milling Rice (CMR) in the State. The TS Civil Supplies department in association with FCI took the decision to transport the milled rice to other States without storing in the godowns. This is being done for the first time in the country.
In tune with the increase of rice import in the State, the Civil Supplies department had made several requisitions to allot sufficient storage space to the FCI.
With FCI not allocating the required storage space, the department was facing a challenges especially storage of boiled rice. This was also leading to financial burden on the State government and the same was brought to the
notice of FCI.
This year, during Kharif and Rabi, the department had procured 77 lakh metric tonne of rice. Of the 37 lakh metric tonne procured in Rabi and 40 lakh metric tonne in Kharif, the department hands over the leftover rice to FCI as CMR after meeting the State’s requirement.
Though, the rice millers are prepared to hand over the CMR, the FCI was not allocating the required godowns. This was resulting in a delay, which eventually was causing financial burden on the State government.
To address these issues, the TS Civil Supplies Commissioner Akun Sabharwal, FCI General Manager Aswini Kumar and other officials convened a meeting. In view of the challenges being faced in storage by the department, the FCI has approved for wagon movement, said a press release from the department.
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Telangana State Civil Supplies tackles storage space woes, ferries rice to Kerala godown
Hans News Service   |  28 July 2019 3:22 AM HIGHLIGHTS
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Telangana Civil Supplies department have taken a joint decision to tackle the storage problems faced by the Custom Milled Rice (CMR) reserves in Telangana State. Hyderabad: The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Telangana Civil Supplies department have taken a joint deci
sion to tackle the storage problems faced by the Custom Milled Rice (CMR) reserves in Telangana State. For the first time in the country, it has been decided that the rice after milling would be shipped directly to the other States through the Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) without storing it in godowns. Advertise With Us On Saturday, 2,500 metric tonnes of boiled rice in a rake (80 containers) from Sangareddy district was shifted to FCI godown in Kochi, Kerala. The State Civil Supplies department has repeatedly appealed to the FCI to allocate the required godowns for rice storage in Telangana. Due to lack of storage space in the godowns, department faced finance and other problems, especially in the case of boiled rice. Advertise With Us The Civil Supplies department purchased 77 lakh metric tonnes of grains in Kharif and Rabi this year. Of the 37 lakh metric tonnes purchased in Rabi and 40 lakh metric tonnes purchased in Kharif, the State will hand over the surplus rice to the FCI. Though the rice millers are ready to hand over the rice, due to the delay of FCI, the Telangana government is financially burdened. State Civil Supplies Commissioner Akun Sabharwal has met with FCI General Manager Ashwini Kumar and other officials and conveyed the seriousness of the situation. The FCI officials agreed to the wagon movement directly to overcome the storage problem. 

https://www.thehansindia.com/telangana/telangana-state-civil-supplies-tackles-storage-space-woes-ferries-rice-to-kerala-godown-550147


Scientists try to cook up ways to grow plants in space stations

ET Bureau|
Updated: 28 Jul 2019, 12:32 PM IST
Description: Wheat on MIR, 1995
1/6

Wheat on MIR, 1995

Super-dwarf wheat variety was planted in a growth chamber called Svet on the space station MIR. US astronaut John Blaha later harvested the first crop of healthy plants grown on Mir, according to NASA. A NASA project officer said the harvest showed that an important agricultural crop had successfully completed an entire life cycle in space.
Agencies
Description: Red romaine lettuce, 2015
2/6

Red romaine lettuce, 2015

Crew members of Expedition 44 harvested — for the first time — space-grown red romaine lettuce heads, cleaned them with sanitising wipes and ate them raw before dressing the roughage with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and Italian balsamic vinegar. “Tastes good. Kinda like arugula,” said astronaut Scott Kelly.

International Space Station
The station uses two systems for cultivation: Vegetable Production System or Veggie and Advanced Plant Habitat.

Agencies
Description: Zucchini, 2012
3/6

Zucchini, 2012

Zucchini was officially grown in space in 2012 in a plastic bag and nutrient solution.
Agencies
Description: Flowering plant on Salyut 7, 1982
4/6

Flowering plant on Salyut 7, 1982

The first plant to flourish in space was an Arabidopsis thaliana, a spindly plant with white flowers. Though it is not a food source, the plant species has a fairly quick life cycle that allows for many analyses.
Agencies
Description: Rice on Skylab, 1973
5/6

Rice on Skylab, 1973

Donald Schlack and Joel Wordekemper, high-schoolers from US, studied rice seeds that were planted and grown on Skylab. The plants were seeded on the space station by astronaut Edward Gibson, making him “the first space farmer.” The rice grew pretty weirdly, first taking longer than usual to get started, and then the stems growing and stretching into odd directions — sometimes even away from the light.

Other plants grown on ISS include three types of lettuce, Chinese cabbage, mizuna mustard, red Russian kale and zinnia flowers. Some of the plants were harvested and eaten by the crew members.

(In pic: Astronaut Scott Kelly’s photo of zinnias taken onboard the ISS in 2016.)

Agencies
Description: Next up: Fruit
6/6

Next up: Fruit

Now, NASA wants to grow Espa├▒ola chili pepper plants (Capsicum annuum) on space. This would make it the first fruit to be grown in space by US astronauts. The pepper is rich in Vitamin C and will help astronauts fight cold.


Tax collection from rice importers reach P6.5-B in mid-July

Published July 29, 2019 4:24pm 
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) collected nearly P6.5 billion in duties from rice imports made by private traders under the Rice Liberalization Act, the agency announced on Monday.
In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the BOC said it had collected a total of P6.479 billion from importer-traders as of July 15, with most of the revenue from rice import duties collected from the Port of Subic (P1.598 billion), followed by the Manila International Container Port (P1.033 billion), and the Port of Manila (P998.77 million).
An average of P1.4 billion a month had been collected since the Rice Liberalization Act, or Republic Act (RA) No. 11203, took effect last March.
The duties collected made up over half the P10-billion needed for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
Ten percent of the fund would be used for loans, with minimal interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements, to rice farmers and cooperatives.
The rest of the RCEF would be set aside for farm machinery and equipment; rice seed development, propagation and promotion; and rice extension services, all of which was part of the effort to modernize the agriculture sector.
Meanwhile, the BOC pointed out that due to the liberalized rice trade, the average retail cost of the staple had fallen by at least P7 per kilo.
Additionally, the BOC added that from a high of 6.7 percent in September and October 2018, the Rice Liberalization law had contributed to last June's deceleration of the inflation rate to 2.7 percent, or the low-end of the state economic team’s target band of 2-4 percent for the year.
Another P3.103 billion was also earned in duties from import permits issued by the National Food Authority (NFA) since January this year. — Joviland Rita/DVM, GMA News