Saturday, August 17, 2019

17th August,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Pakistan, Malaysia trade bodies vow to increase trade volume


·      AUG 17TH, 2019

·      KARACHI
A meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur of Pak-Malaysia Business Council of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) and Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council of Malaysia on 31st July, 2019 in Hotel Mandarin, Kuala Lumpur. Dato' Sri Mohammed Nazir Meraslam, Chairman, Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council welcomed M. Bashir Janmohammed, Chairman, Pak-Malaysia Business Council of FPCCI and Muhammad Usman, Vice Chairman Pak-Malaysia Business Council. Meeting was also attended by Directors and Members of the Council, Muhammad Iqbal, Dato' Sri Mohammedali, Farhan Iqbal, M. Aslam, Haji Essa, Muhammad Saleem Khan and others.

The Meeting noted with concern that trade between Malaysia and Pakistan has declined in last few years mainly because of imports of Palm Oil by Pakistan from Indonesia. Malaysian share has shrunk to about 25%. No significant increase in export from Pakistan to Malaysia in last 2 years. Pakistan is able to export big quantity of Rice. Malaysia purchases from Pakistan about 100,000 tons per annum. Pakistan has capacity to export One Million tons of Rice. It was decided that both the Councils would approach Malaysian Government for increase in quota for import of Rice from Pakistan.

Members pointed out that the reason for decrease in Palm Oil import is mainly because of levy of Export Duty on Crude Palm Oil by Malaysian Government when its price go above RM 2,250 in KLCC. Pak-Malaysia Business Council has requested Malaysian Government to waive off this condition which will considerably increase import of Palm Oil by Pakistan.

Regarding export from Pakistan, it was pointed out that for every export consignment, a Permit has to be obtained by Exporters and there is Import Duty on Mangoes and Mandarin in Malaysia. The exporters have to get permit or quality certification in Malaysia for each consignment.

M. Bashir Janmohammed Chairman pointed out that many countries have agreed to appoint pre-shipment Surveyors and their certification is accepted by the buyers. He urged Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council to assist in this regard.

Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council proposed to hold Investment Conference in November, 2019 in Kuala Lumpur to achieve the following purpose:- To look for opportunities to narrow trade imbalances between two countries; To provide brief on potential opportunities available in Pakistan and Malaysia for investment on trade; To brief the potential investors from Malaysia about viable projects in Pakistan in the field of Plantation of Oil Palm, Energy, Infrastructure etc.; To bring in keen Pakistani investors for B2B meetings with Malaysian business entities. To introduce the culture of Pakistan through a cultural shows and holding a Food Festival; To introduce the haute couture of Pakistan by holding a Fashion Show that will be featured by some of the big names in the fashion industry.

M Bashir Janmohammed, Chairman, PMBC fully supported the idea and assured that PMBC will play its role in promoting and assisting the Conference and will ask Pakistani businessmen to join Conference and also participate in Food Festival and Fashion Show.

It was decided that both the Councils will invite Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad and Ministers from Malaysia and Pakistan to attend this event. High Commission of Pakistan in Malaysia assured of their full co-operation in this respect. Bashir Janmohammed met His Majesty the King of Malaysia, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al-Nahyan in Kuala Lumpur after His Majesty was sworn in on 30th July, 2019 as new King of Malaysia. M Bashir Janmohammed presenting Crest to Dato' Sri Mohamed Nazir Meraslam, Chairman, Malaysia-Pakistan Business Council on 31st July, 2019 in Kuala Lumpur.-PR

Weekly SPI inflation increases 1.23pc

ISLAMABAD: The weekly inflation for the week ended on August 8 witnessed an increase of 1.23pc for the combined income group, as compared to the previous week.
The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) in the combined group was recorded at 270.31 points, as against 267.02 points registered in the previous week, according to the latest data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The inflation for the lowest income group also increased from 245.50 points last week to 249.01 points, showing an increase of 1.43pc.
As compared to the corresponding week of last year, the SPI for the combined group in the week under review witnessed an increase of 17.76pc, while that of the lowest income group increased by 14.46pc.
The weekly SPI has been computed with base 2007-08=100, covering 17 urban centres and 53 essential items for all income groups and combined.
The SPI for the income groups from Rs8001-12,000, Rs12,001-18,000, 18,001-35,000 and above Rs35,000 per month increased by 1.35pc, 1.33pc, 1.27pc and 1.1pc respectively.
During the week under review, average prices of three items registered a decrease, while that of 25 items increased with prices of 25 items remaining unchanged. The items that witnessed a decrease in their prices included bananas, red chilli and wheat.
The items that recorded an increase in their average prices included onions, chicken, tomatoes, potatoes, vegetable ghee, garlic, sugar, eggs, cooking oil (tin), cooked daal, vegetable ghee, bath soap, gram (pulse), gur, cooked beef, masoor (pulse), wheat flour, maash (pulse), mustard oil, rice (irri-6), moong (pulse), LPG cylinder, beef, curd and fresh milk.
Similarly, the items which recorded no change in their prices included rice (basmati broken), bread, mutton, milk (powdered), salt, tea (packet), tea (prepared), cigarettes, long cloth, shirting, lawn, georgette, gents sandal, gents chappal, ladies sandal, electricity charges, kerosene oil, firewood, electric bulb, washing soap, matchbox, petrol, diesel and local telephone call.

Security Scare In New York, Empty Rice Cookers Found

New York, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - APP - 17th Aug, 2019 ) :New York went on alert for two hours Friday during the morning rush hour because of three suspicious objects that turned out to be empty rice cookers.
Police said the alarm was first sounded in Manhattan around 7:00 am (1100 GMT) when a passenger saw a cooker abandoned at the Fulton Street subway station near the World Trade Center -- a neighborhood rebuilt after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
A second rice cooker was found in an another part of the same station.
The station was quickly evacuated, service on two subway lines was suspended and trains on other lines serving Fulton Street bypassed the station.
As police announced the objects turned out to be harmless, a third suspicious object was detected on 16th Street in the Chelsea district further to the north.
It, too, turned out to be a rice cooker, said John Miller, the New York Police Department's deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism.
It was in Chelsea that a pressure cooker containing a homemade explosive device detonated in September 2016, injuring 31 people and triggering panic in a city that had not endured an attack since 9/11.
Ahmad Rahimi, an Afghan-born man who sympathized with jihadist causes, was sentenced to life in prison over that incident. He had actually placed multiple bombs across New Jersey and Manhattan, but only one caused any damage.
Surveillance camera footage showed the two rice cookers found at the Fulton Street station were placed there by the same man, who took them out of a shopping cart, said Miller.
Authorities are now looking for that man.
Miller said he did not know if the third cooker was linked to the first two, although they were all the same model.
Since the attack by Rahimi, the US financial capital has been hit by two other attacks.
In October 2017, an Uzbek man named Sayfullo Saipov used a truck to run over bikers and pedestrians on a bike path in Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring 12.

Why Nigeria has restricted food imports

17 August 2019
Description: Nigerian rice farmers 
Nigeria has invested a lot in boosting rice production in recent years
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to block food importers' requests for foreign currency in a bid to boost local agriculture in Africa's most populous country.
It is a continuation of a policy that the president began after coming to office in 2015, when he banned the use of foreign exchange to import dozens of items including the staple food, rice.
Since then, domestic rice production has increased, but the policy has been criticised for not taking the low capacity of local farmers into consideration. The policy has also coincided with a rise in food prices, which has been blamed on insecurity in some of the country's main food producing areas.

How much is Nigeria spending on importing food?

According to data from Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the amount of money the country has been spending on importing food and drink increased from 2015 to 2017, dipped in 2018 and if the trend from the first quarter of this year continues, the bill will go up again for this year.
In 2015, Nigeria spent nearly $2.9bn (£2.4bn) and by 2017 that had risen to $4.1bn, the NBS says.
Description: Graph of food imports
But the data picture is confusing as leading figures have quoted other figures.
Last December, central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said the annual food import bill was $1.9bn and had fallen from $7.9bn in 2015, the Punch newspaper reported.
But in September 2018, the agriculture minister at the time, Audu Ogbeh, said Nigeria spent $22bn importing food every year.

Which foods are imported?

Nigeria does produce the basic food commodities such as sugar, wheat flour, fish, milk, palm oil, pork, beef and poultry but up to now domestic farmers have not been able to satisfy demand of the country's 200 million people, hence the need for imports. With the foreign exchange ban Nigerian farmers will now have to increase production.
Official figures show that domestic rice production has gone up since 2015.
Description: Rice brought to a market in Nigeria for sale 
Rice production has increased but farmers cannot meet all the demand
According to figures from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, rice production has increased from an annual average of 7.1 million tonnes between 2013 and 2017 to 8.9 million tonnes in 2018.
However, there are also reports that rice smuggling has increased - as customs officials continue to seize large quantities of the grain at the borders. This suggests that Nigerian rice farmers are still not producing enough.

Would restricting food imports boost local production?

Many experts believe that the policy of restricting food imports does have some merits, but the policy cannot be introduced in isolation.
Agricultural economist Idris Ayinde argues that restricting food imports should be a gradual process since the country cannot yet meet domestic demand for most food commodities, and the policy risks increasing food price inflation further.
Local rice production has increased, but the foreign exchange ban was coupled with policies aimed at supporting farmers through subsidies and loans.
For instance, last November, the government spent $165m subsidising rice production. Despite this, people continue to buy rice that has been smuggled into the country.
Description: Farmer looking at crop Some farmers are investing in innovative methods while others lack the capacity to boost capacity
Attempts to boost local production of palm oil have also been hit by smuggling. Foreign exchange to import palm oil was also restricted in 2015, but local producers have not been able to fill the gap.
The government now hopes that investing up to $500m in the industry can boost production from 600,000 tonnes a year to five million tonnes.
In addition to questions over local capacity, there is also a concern that the government's policy threatens the independence of the central bank. Former deputy governor of the bank Kingsley Moghalu said the president's directive contradicts the law, adding that the central bank's economic policy should not be "imposed by a political authority".

Could prices go up?

Economic theory suggests that reducing the supply of something will increase the price. There is a general belief therefore that if domestic supply cannot immediately replace what was once imported, Nigerians will end up paying more for their food.
Between 2015, when the foreign exchange restrictions for rice came into effect, and early 2017, the price of a 50kg bag of rice went from $24 to $82. It later fell in mid-2017 to $34.
But in June this year, the price stood at $49.

Why doesn't Nigeria produce more food?

The agricultural sector, which remains a major employer, has suffered years of neglect as Nigeria has spent decades relying on oil to provide much-needed foreign exchange and government revenue.
Media caption'We're farming in a shipping container', says Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja
There may be lots of people working on farms but a lack of investment has led to low productivity. In addition, not all available agricultural land is being used. It is estimated that just over a third of available land is being cultivated.
But following a big drop in the oil price five years ago, the country has renewed its interest in agriculture. If this enthusiasm can be converted into greater investment then the country should be able to produce more food.
Seed Piracy Hurts All of the Seed Industry

August 16, 2019
In 2014, the seed industry was stunned by the news of theft of corn germplasm from production fields in Iowa and Illinois, by Chinese nationals trying to transport the seeds back to China. In 2018, the industry was shocked a second time by the theft of rice germplasm from a private research facility in Kansas, with those responsible having similar plans to send seed back to China.  
The seed industry is continuously working to develop new innovations, but these innovations come at a cost, both in time and money. For many crops, it can be a 7- to 10-year period to develop and commercialize a new variety, costing upwards of $1 million per year. For new seed technologies, it can cost upwards of $100 million to $150 million to bring a new seed technology to market. While this investment in innovation may seem daunting, it is necessary for our future crop production.
Unfortunately, seed piracy, like the thefts that took place in Iowa and Kansas, can have a huge impact on the ability to invest in new innovations. It is estimated that the theft of corn germplasm in Iowa cost researchers five to eight years of research and in the range of $30 million to $40 million, while the rice germplasm theft was estimated to have cost the owners $3 to $18 million in research investment. These are significant amounts of time and money. It is obvious that organizations are looking at ways to get their hands on new innovations.
The seed industry is a small, tight-knit group and has a strong tradition of watching out for each other. Only by working together can we prevent seed piracy and ensure that we can continue to have the innovations to meet our future needs. 
So how can you can help? If you see or suspect seed piracy contact the SIPA Tip Line.
Description: trademarksJames Weatherly serves as the Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance executive director.
Calls to the SIPA Tip Line are anonymous and confidential. Since 2015, the SIPA Tip Line has received a steady increase in tips on potential seed piracy issues ranging from soybeans, leafy greens, pulses and carrots to potential infringement of seed coating technologies. All reports are reviewed and tips are passed along to the appropriate organization.   
Yet, seed piracy is not limited to just foreign nationals. Seed piracy also includes unauthorized saving of seed and brown bagging, which also have a serious impact on the industry and our ability to produce new innovations.  
SIPA estimates that approximately 5% of soybean production in the United States is saved or brown bagged seed and costs the industry approximately $1.72 billion annually in lost profits. When you consider that approximately 20% of soybean seed revenue is invested back into research, that is an estimated $340 million that could be used for new innovations (based on 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics). 
For wheat, the story is even harsher. An estimated $451 million to $677 million in seed costs are lost in the U.S. to saved seed or brown bagging (please note that some of this saved seed may be legal under U.S. law). It is estimated that 10% of seed costs are reinvested back into new wheat innovations, meaning that an estimated $45 million to $68 million is lost every year that could have been put into research for new innovations. 
From 2000 to 2008, the United States farm cash receipts from the sale of vegetables and pulses (including potatoes) averaged $17.4 billion. If you estimate that seed value represents on average 6% of total cost of production and if you estimate that between 2% and 4% of seed value is lost to piracy, approximately $20.8 million to $41.8 million is potentially lost annually that could be used for research and development.
These days, commodity prices are low, making farm profitability difficult. Farmers are constantly looking to find ways to save on costs; however, seed piracy is a choice that, in the end, hurts all of the industry.  And you can help! If you see or suspect seed piracy, contact the SIPA Tip Line at 1-844-SEED TIP.  
Together we can ensure that the needs of future generations are met through our innovations!

New way to relieve photosynthesis bottleneck in plants could boost crop yields
Researchers conducted experiments using the plant Setaria viridis, a close relative of maize and sorghum. Photo by Natalia Bateman/CoETP
Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a way to ease a bottleneck in the photosynthesis process. The breakthrough could allow plants to turn the sun's rays into food more efficiently, boosting crop yields.
In lab tests, scientists found they could accelerate a plant's conversion of sunlight into food by encouraging the production of a protein that controls the rate in which electrons flow during photosynthesis.
"We tested the effect of increasing the production of the Rieske FeS protein, and found it increases photosynthesis by 10 percent," lead researcher Maria Ermakova, a scientist at the ARC Center of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis in Australia, said in a news release. "The Rieske FeS protein belongs to a complex which is like a hose through which electrons flow, so the energy can be used by the carbon engine of the plant."
When scientists triggered the over-expression of Rieske FeS proteins, more electrons flowed during the photosynthesis process.
Plants use one of three metabolic pathways for carbon fixation during the photosynthesis. Most research into accelerating photosynthesis has focused on the C3 pathway, which is utilized by wheat and rice. The latest research focused on accelerating the C4 pathway, which is used by crops like maize and sorghum.
"These results demonstrate that changing the rate of electron transport enhances photosynthesis in the C4 model species, Setaria viridis, a close relative of maize and sorghum. It is an important proof of concept that helps us enormously to understand more about how C4 photosynthesis works," said study co-author Susanne von Caemmerer, deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.
Researchers detailed their breakthrough this week in the journal Communications Biology.
Several studies have recently highlighted the need for changes in diet and land use patterns if climate change is to be slowed and global warming limited to 2 degrees Celsius. Breakthroughs that boost photosynthesis could allow farmers to grow more food with less land, a necessity if the agricultural sector is to feed the world's growing population while aiding the fight against climate change.
"It is really exciting, as we are now ready to transform this into sorghum and test the effect it has on biomass in a food crop," von Caemmerer said.

AUGUST 16, 2019
When Chelsea Rochman at the University of Toronto and colleagues began their study on medakas (small Japanese rice paddy fish), they did not expect to find what they did.
They first soaked ground-up polyethylene in San Diego Bay for three months and then fed it to these fish along with a laboratory diet.  They also fed the same diet to a comparison group of medakas but along with virgin polyethylene also ground-up.  The medakas eating the plastic immersed in the Bay suffered greater liver damage.  How much of a danger then is our seafood?
Defined as less than 5mm in size,  microplastics have been found in 114 types of aquatic life, over half of which are consumed by humans.   Oysters exposed to food-container plastic (polystyrene) have fewer eggs and impaired less-motile sperm.  Does eating them do the same to us?  Nobody knows.  A comprehensive study of plastics in seafood and its implications for human health points to the gaps in our knowledge.  It calls for more research into the toxicity of various plastics and in identifying lower risk seafood.
There is some evidence for the quantity of microplastic pieces per cubic meter of water — from the surface to a depth of 1000 meters in one study.  The numbers range from four pieces at the surface increasing to about a dozen at 200 meters down then declining to three or so at a 1000 meters down.  It is certainly not super dense.  At the same time, little fish ingesting it and bigger fish eating smaller ones, and one can see a problem developing, particularly for us the final consumer.
The copious plastic debris flowing into the ocean estimated at 8 million tons annually continues to add to the 100 million tons already there.  Engineering experts at Stanford University have discussed “the potential for meaningful change” in the status quo.  They have some interesting observations:  Microplastics are now in “about a quarter of the sea foods in our markets and even in table salt.”  They are also in “94 percent of tap water samples in the US and in nearly every brand of bottled water.”  At this we checked tap water and some bottled water and did not notice any.  Insidious, if these are microscopic.
Research in other parts of the world exemplify the global extent of the microplastics menace.  In a study of commercial fish caught off the Portuguese coast, microplastics were found in 19.8 percent of the 26 species of fish tested.  Plastic polymers, polyethylene and polypropylene as well as fibers like polyester, rayon and nylon had been ingested.  As might be expected, the fish taken off Lisbon and its environs were worst affected.
In another study, fish and bivalves taken from markets in California and Makassar, Indonesia were  examined for anthropogenic debris.  Plastic was again confirmed in seafood sold for human consumption.  Debris was found in about a quarter of individual fish and a third of shellfish raising concerns about human health.
North Sea fish have been studied for plastic ingestion also.  Foekema and his fellow researchers found particles up to 4.8 mm in five of seven common North Sea fish species.  Usually only one particle was found and in only 2.6 percent of the 1204 individual specimens tested.  Cod showed the highest frequency with one third involved.  In another study of 400 individual fish from four species, only two particles were found, both in one individual, a sprat, confirming the relative low incidence of plastics in North Sea fish.  The particles in the sprat were microbeads.
Then there is the ubiquitous cigarette butt.  Is there something prophetic about dropping and stubbing it as the final act of a habit statistically known to shorten the lives of smokers?  Discarding butts may be socially acceptable but when 6.5 trillion cigarettes are smoked each year around the world, and an estimated two-thirds of the ends flicked away carelessly, butts become the most littered plastic item.  Made of cellulose acetate they degrade slowly, and then into tiny microplastic pieces finding their way often into waterways and oceans.
The thrown-away butt, a lethal parcel of absorbed nicotine, heavy metals and chemicals, appears to marine life as food floating on the surface.  It has been found to be deadly to fish, and to inhibit plant growth.  A new addition, e-cigarettes are growing in popularity, their discarded pods posing a similar problem  — not to mention the e-cigarette itself, a package of plastic, electric circuitry and battery.
Another disturbing trend is for manufacturers to add plastic microbeads as cheap fillers in household products like toothpaste, shampoo and cosmetics.  Washed down the drain, and small enough to bypass the water filters at reclamation plants, these eventually find their way into the ocean.  Of course some can be swallowed accidentally by product users.  A Mother Jones (May 28 , 2015) article pictures an array of products containing them.
Fish are fooled by microbeads which are a similar size and shape to fish eggs.  Add all the other plastics and the chemicals adhering to them and they become a meal with long-term consequences for other predators as well.  The Guardian newspaper reports on five species affected by ocean plastics.  Fish-eating birds, whales with plastic-clogged stomachs, turtles snagged by plastic six-pack holders, crabs ingesting microplastics that also enter through their gills, even vital oxygen producing ocean bacteria are being harmed.
Birds eating plastic had stunted growth and kidney problems noted a University of Tasmania study with particular reference to the near-threatened flesh-footed shearwaters (long-winged oceanic birds).  They have estimated a million seabirds dying annually from plastic ingestion, and other researchers have tagged balloons as the “no.1 marine debris risk of mortality for seabirds.”  A high-risk item, ingesting a balloon fragment is 32 times more likely to cause death than a hard plastic item.
A map of the US showing the interest levels in plastic pollution for the different states as measured by the numbers of tweets about the subject might be appropriate in our new world of politics by tweet led by the president.  None of it helps the individual dying of kidney, liver or pancreatic cancer.  Infertility clinics abound as sperm counts decline in the west and specially in the US … joining the oysters mentioned earlier.
If we reflect on the issues, a logical answer emerges; that is, to reduce plastics, ban single-use items, increase recycling, and dispose of the rest safely.  Above all, educating us remains key.  Who knew cigarette butts are not just an unsightly nuisance but deadly?
Meena Miriam Yust is an attorney based in Chicago, IL with a special interest in the environment. Arshad M. Khan is a former professor who has, over many years, written occasionally for the print and often for online media outlets.

This parasitic worm might hold the key to sustainable pesticides

Description: This parasitic worm might hold the key to sustainable pesticidesA parasitic worm that causes billions of dollars of crop damage annually, could actually make plants more resilient in the face of disease, a new study finds. Using chemical compounds secreted by this parasite, the researchers on the new paper think they might be able to develop a sustainable pesticide for some of the world’s biggest crops, such as soybeans, rice, and wheat.
The parasites in question – nematodes also known as roundworms – produce a pheromone called ascaroside, which they use for communication between one another. The team of international researchers had carried out previous studies that showed that in the presence of this compound, plants increase their immune response – most likely as a hardwired defence mechanism against the parasites, which typically infest the soil around their roots. 
In their recent Journal of Phytopathology study, the researchers isolated the ascaroside compound, and applied it to test plants of four major crops: soybeans, rice, wheat, and maize. When they then infected those treated plants with a range of fungal, bacterial, and other plant diseases, they discovered that overall, these plants were more capable of fighting off threats.
In rice, for instance, the pheromone treatment reduced the effects of a particularly damaging bacteria, which has been known to kill up to 50% of rice crops in Asia. In soybean plants, ascaroside helped the plants ward off the damaging Mosaic Virus, as well as strains of bacterial blight. Treated wheat plants were more resistant to two prominent types of fungus that affect crops globally. 
When these results were combined with the researchers’ previous investigations on barley, potato, tomato, and thale cress plants, they found that the worm pheromone boosted plants’ resistance to an impressive 15 out of 16 major plant pathogens and pests, overall. 
It’s thought that the presence of the worm’s pheromone essentially primes the crops’ immune systems, making them more alert to incoming threats, and more capable of mounting a stronger defence. While the study found that ascaroside treatments couldn’t provide complete protection against every pathogen the crops faced, the researchers think that the partial protection it does offer could, however, significantly reduce the amount of pesticide applied to crops, overall. 
The discovery is part of a new trend in agricultural research to find ways of developing crops that have in-built resistance to pests – including, for instance, the breeding of genetically-resistant plants. The particular benefit that this new research has to offer is that the treatment that’s applied to the plants is completely natural. So, while it functions like a pesticide, it won’t unintentionally damage the wider environment, which is the major caveat of applying pesticides to crops.
The hope is that with further development, the ascaroside treatment could provide crops “with more environmentally friendly protection against pests and pathogens,” the scientists reason.
They’re well on their way to that goal. Some of the researchers on the paper have launched a startup company to commercialize their discoveries, and now they’re investigating whether seeds treated with the worm pheromone will grow into plants with stronger immune systems, from the get-go.
Source: Klessig, et. al. “Nematode ascaroside enhances resistance in a broad spectrum of plant–pathogen systems.” Journal of Phytopathology. 2019.

A CLOSER LOOK: Berry farming has a ‘sunny’ tradition in Booneville
Posted: Aug 16, 2019 / 05:58 PM CDT Updated: Aug 16, 2019 / 05:59 PM CDT
BOONEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Sunny Bradshaw wanted to grow blackberries, strawberries and blueberries when he came to Booneville, and he got to realize his dream when he and his wife Linda Rose opened Sunnyland Berry Farm.
The Bradshaws have been running Sunnyland since 1983, a time when Ronald Reagan was president and Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Since then, they have raised countless berries and many neighborhood children.
The Bradshaws came to Booneville from Stoneville, Miss., where Sunny worked in rice research. They came to Booneville so Bradshaw could take a job in the Dale Bumpers Research Farm’s small fruits division. Linda also took a job at the research farm, taking a job in the grasses division.
“I wanted to raise blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries before I came here,” Sunny said.
A Fouke man named Aubrey Enoch inspired Sunny to raise the berries.
“He and his wife were both [retired] school teachers. They had strawberries, blackberries and blueberries on their property. I just listened to him, and I went back home [to Mississippi], and for eight years I searched Arkansas for a place to work and a place to raise this fruit. I found the place, and we’ve been here for 36 years,” Sunny said.
Farming wasn’t much of a transition for Sunny. As a rice researcher, Sunny worked with horse tractors and Japanese harvesting equipment.
Sunny and Linda did some research before they started farming.
“We visited over eight farms in the area before we even planted. What you do, you see what the farmers in the local area are raising,” Sunny said.
The Bradshaws found that no other farmers in the area were raising blueberries, strawberries or blackberries.
Sunny read a book on how farmers can successfully tap into their customer base.
“What you do is you put a pinpoint [on your property] and then you draw a circle 30 miles out away from your property. From your pinpoint you go 30 miles, and then when you go all the way around and make the circle you’re doing 60 miles away from your property,” Bradshaw said. “You’re seeing where you’re going to draw your customers, you know, the small towns, how many people you’re going to draw from. I had five or six [towns] that were 4,000 people, and of course, we have Fort Smith, that’s 60,000 or more.”
At first, Sunny and Linda didn’t have competitors who farmed blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, but when a competitor came along, Sunny made sure to shake his hand.
“I would shake the man’s hand because I know how much work it involves; in order to do what I’m doing, it takes a lot of work,” he said.
The Bradshaws’ farm was 10 acres.
In 1990, the Sunnyland had one-and-a-third acre filled with four varieties of blackberries, two and a half acres of cardinal strawberries, two and a half acres worth of blueberries, 144 peach trees of eight different varieties, boysenberries, table grapes and 400 tomato plants.
“At one time, our 10 acres was the most diversified fruit farm in Northwest Arkansas with eight different kind of fruits on the property,” Sunny said.
Sunnyland also featured a pond that folks could come and catch catfish from.
“I would charge $1 per pole to go to the pond,” Sunny said.
In 1990, Sunny and Linda were named Farm Family of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce.
The Bradshaws raised something more special than berries at Sunnyland. They helped raise 15 children. With the exception of their son, all the kids were from around the neighborhood. The kids would help Sunny and Linda pick fruit and were paid .30 cents a quart. The girls picked faster than the boys, Sunny said.
Although Sunnyland has winded down a bit in berry output, Sunny and Linda are still plenty busy.
“The plants are still there. What I’m going to wait for is cold weather, and I’m gonna get out there and I’m gonna brush all of them down again, and then hopefully in March and April I will have small plants growing, and I will transplant them to the garden, and then in three years, if I’m still alive, we will have a massive harvest of blackberries,” Sunny said.
Hope rises Japan rice project  triples harvests

RICE development project that uses modern farming methods has helped farmers increase harvests from less than two tonnes per hector to six and even eight tonnes.
Description: C:\Users\Mujahid\Downloads\Hope rises as Japan rice project triples harvests_files\IMG-20190817-WA0001.jpg
Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania Shinichi Goto listens to Rukia Makeetta the Head of Crop Production department at KATC during a visit to Rice demonstrations farms at the centre earlier this week.
Supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Tanrice project implemented in the Lower Moshi Irrigation Scheme involves developing training packages on irrigated and upland rice cultivation.
Speaking during the press tour of Japanese funded projects, Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Center (KATC) principal, Nicodemus Shauritanga said through JICA the centre has been conducting a series of training sessions for extension officers and farmers on rice farming on irrigated land as well as in rain-fed conditions, covering 90 irrigation schemes and 77 rain-fed areas.
He said JICA’s support for the irrigation facility development and its operation and maintenance have contributed to boosting rice production in the country.
“Together with improvement of infrastructure, capacity building in irrigation management plays a significant role in promoting rice industry development in various regions,” he said.
Through the project farmers have learned things like irrigation scheme management, gender roles in agriculture and agro-processing, crop marketing and handling agricultural machinery.
These technologies and skills resulted in about 40percent increase in rice production for irrigated plots, 50-percent increase for rain fed lowland areas and 140percent increase under rain fed upland conditions, he elaborated.
The training programs are organized by KATC and Ministry of Agriculture Training Institutes (MATIs) at Igurusi, Ilonga, Mtwara, Tumbi, Ukiliguru and Kizimbani Agricultural Training Institute (KATI) in Zanzibar.
Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that rice production in Tanzania has increased about 13 times in 40 years, from 223,000 tonnes in 1974 to 2,871,963 tonnes in 2017.
Japan places emphasis on agriculture development in Africa through various initiatives, including the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), aiming at supporting efforts of African countries to double rice production in ten years.
JICA’s series of cooperation projects started with the Kilimanjaro Region Agricultural Development Project in 1974. It was followed by the development of Lower Moshi Irrigation Scheme and the Kilimanjaro Agricultural Development Center, currently the Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Center (KATC).

Consumer Campaign Yields Historic Results for USA Rice 
By Lesley Dixon
ARLINGTON, VA -- Last September, USA Rice partnered with The FeedFeed agency, the largest and most engaged digital cooking community, to conduct a year-long campaign with goals to drive mass awareness and celebrate U.S.-grown rice, develop engaging content, and educate audiences on the benefits of rice consumption.  This strategy used visual storytelling via Instagram, blog posts, and recipe videos to raise awareness throughout the year, which then was amplified across FeedFeed's and USA Rice's multiple social media accounts.

The FeedFeed selected four influencers with backgrounds that aligned with promoting U.S.-grown rice who were each responsible for creating four original and on-trend, rice-focused recipes accompanied by photography and video, a blog post, and an Instagram post.  These were then promoted across The FeedFeed's and USA Rice's multiple social media platforms. 

To further amplify USA Rice's messaging and increase exposure, the created recipes were included in The FeedFeed's weekly meal planners, featured on USA Rice's recipe feed on, and highlighted on IGTV through The FeedFeed's digital TV series.

By the time the campaign concluded last month, 16 U.S.-grown rice recipes had been posted and boosted by The FeedFeed and USA Rice.  Overall, the recipe posts, regrams, blogs, and videos generated a USA Rice record of more than 31.6 million consumer impressions and 430,000 engagements.

"The results from this campaign are tremendous," said Cameron Jacobs, USA Rice domestic promotion manager.  "We were able to finally have U.S.-grown rice be part of the social conversation, expose a brand-new audience to different varieties and uses of U.S.-grown rice, and achieve a Federation first of reaching more than 31 million people within the year."

The collection of recipe created were:  Braised Chicken with Arborio Rice, Black Rice Pudding, Brown Rice Jambalaya, Black Fried Rice, Crispy Sushi Rice Cakes, Congee with Spinach, Carottes Râpées, Veggie Brown Rice Burrito Bowl, Wild Rice Soup, Spicy Rice Bowl, Sweet Potato Brown Rice Sushi, Apple Cide Braised Chicken and Wild Rice, Spicy Chicken Soup with Brown Rice, Brown Rice Burger, and Roasted Vegetable & Rice Salad.

In addition to the immediate impact of the campaign, USA Rice retains the right to use and access all created recipes, videos, and photos.

"While we are pleased with this year's results, we still have a lot more to do in the domestic market, which, after all, is the largest market for U.S. rice," continued Jacobs.  "We have big things planned for Year Two of our partnership with The Feedfeed, so stay tuned.  You won't want to miss it!"

Just three of the U.S. rice recipes shared on social media by the multi-millions

From rice fields to trash fields: Indonesian farmers find profit in pollution

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019   •    150
Once home to rice farmers and their luscious green paddy fields, this Indonesian village is now a dump for truckloads of rubbish.
As Indonesia looks to tackle the country’s growing mountain of trash, the residents of East Java’s 200-hectare Bangun village have found a way to reel in profit from the problem — by opening their gates to garbage trucks and choosing to turn their fertile fields into rubbish sorting plots.
The health and environmental repercussions for Bangun village might be huge, said non-government organization, Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (ECOTON), which has been observing the issue in the area for the last five years.
Now, more than 60 percent of the village residents have opted to enter the rubbish sorting business, and for the time being, that looks unlikely to drop.
“If I’m farming, I need to wait three months to get results, but if I’m sorting rubbish, we can make money in a day, two days or even a week,” said one farmer, Siti Maimanah.
On average, a worker in Bangun can earn between $7-14 per week picking through the sea of paper and plastic, and that can rise to $35 if the piles are particularly high – a tempting proposition when the farming alternative would leave them waiting with nothing for weeks on weeks, said Maimanah.
Ecoton said it has obtained evidence that the garbage in the area is imported from at least 54 countries around the world, including Europe, the United States, Australia, and Asia, under the pretense it is ‘paper waste’. Reuters found plastic packaging amongst the piles, including from Canada and the United States.
That’s adding on top of the huge amount of garbage the world’s fourth-most populous country with 260 million people generates on its own.
Earlier this year, the city of Surabaya sent back more than 200 tonnes of trash to Australia and U.S. as part of efforts to push back ‘foreign trash’ amid a spike in imports from Western countries after China banned imports.
“Our country has been labeled a dirty country and now America is adding their rubbish on top. Sending this garbage is clearly a violation of the law,” said Ecoton’s protest coordinator, Prigi Arisandi, during a recent protest in front of the U.S. consulate in Indonesia’s second-biggest city, Surabaya.
The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands has been struggling to cope with the waste, with much of it going into landfill and often eventually seeping out to pollute rivers and oceans. According to a 2015 study published in the Science journal, Indonesia was the world’s second-biggest contributor of plastic pollutants in the oceans.
The mountain of trash in Bangun village is also not going to vanish overnight despite the government’s efforts and plan to set up waste-to-energy plants across the country.
And for now, Indonesians like Maimanah say their day-to-day survival is far more important than the environment. (REUTERS)
(Production: Prasto Wardoyo, Heru Asprihanto, Angie Teo, Natasha Howitt)

Chinese scientists complete high-resolution 3D genome map of rice


WUHAN, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) — Chinese scientists completed a high-resolution three-dimensional genome map of rice, which is a breakthrough in the crop’s genetic improvement, according to the research team.
The team from Huazhong Agricultural University in central China’s Hubei Province aimed to investigate the genome architecture and its effects on the growth of rice through the map.
The study will help reveal the genome architecture of rice and promote research on the genetic improvement of rice and other crops, according to the research team.The study has been published in the international academic journal Nature Communications.

The Trump administration tried to bury a climate study on … rice?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is supposed to use the “latest available science” to help the nation’s farmers avoid risk, according to its own mission. So it was more than a little surprising when, last year, the agency decided not to promote an alarming study (that two of its employees had contributed to) that showed climate change could lessen the nutritional value of rice — a crop the agency says the U.S. is a “major exporter” of.
Here’s the gist of the research: Rice may not be super flavorful by itself, but for millions of people, particularly in Southeast Asia, it’s an important source of both protein and calories. Rice also contains a suite of B vitamins, iron, and zinc. But those nutrients appear to decrease if rice is grown in high ambient concentrations of CO2 — the kind that climate models are predicting for the end of the century. Scientists say that could exacerbate the incidence of illnesses like malaria and diarrheal disease in places that rely on the staple crop.
At first, the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA’s in-house research arm, seemed open to promoting the study. When Jeff Hodson, the director of communications at the University of Washington’s school of public health (from where two of the paper’s contributors hailed), reached out to the ARS about coordinating efforts to get the word out to journalists about the research, he was told the department had begun drafting a press release. But a week later he was notified the USDA had killed its promotional efforts around the study.
In an email explaining the decision to Hodson, a USDA spokesperson wrote, “The narrative really isn’t supported by the data in the paper.” She added: “Please let me know how you will proceed with your own press release.”
Questions about the muffling of the rice research were also circling within the USDA. Lewis Ziska, a 25-year veteran of the department who worked on the study told Grist the decision to keep the paper quiet was a departure from protocol. The highly unusual manner in which the ARS abruptly canceled the press release and the excuse the agency gave for doing so, he said, “indicated that it wasn’t a question of the science anymore, it was a question of the ideology.” He began to wonder if the study was being buried due, at least in part, to the Trump administration’s apparent indifference toward climate change.
“This is the first time that we’ve been told that the data don’t support the findings for any climate paper; that’s never happened before,” Ziska said.
But despite the USDA’s non-promotion, the paper did not quietly fade into academic obscurity. After checking with the interim head of the School of Public Health — who said in an email that the research seemed “straightforward” — Hodson decided to press on with promoting the paper. The university issued a press release that included a quote from Ziska, and they helped connect reporters with him as well as the school’s own scientists. The research garnered coverage in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Seattle Times, among other outlets.
Ziska and his team’s findings that protein, iron, and zinc levels decreased in rice grown in higher carbon dioxide concentrations verified the work of Samuel Myers, a research scientist at Harvard’s Center for the Environment who works closely on the human health impacts of climate change. To Myers, who examined this incident against the backdrop of the Trump administration’s war on climate science, it seemed to be part of a pattern.
“The USDA is part of a federal administration that can only be described in legal terms as ‘exhibiting depraved indifference to climate change,’” he said. Suppressing a study that highlighted the negative effects of global warming on a major food staple is, Myers added, “completely consistent with the way the federal administration has been acting for the past two and a half years.”
The Trump administration’s combative position on all things climate and environment has had a significant and lasting impact on multiple federal agencies. Earlier this month, Ziska decided to abandon his tenure at the USDA after securing a job at Columbia University. At the Environmental Protection Agency, employees say morale has plummeted as the agency continues to roll back key environmental and health regulations. Mentions of climate change have disappeared from government websites.
Rather than try to increase retention rates, some critics say these agencies are happy to lose some of their more seasoned officials. The Bureau of Land Management is planning to move its headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Colorado, in what at least one representative and multiple environment groupshave called a scheme to shake its tenured policy officials. And in July, the USDAgave its D.C.-based employees a week to decide whether they would relocate to the department’s new headquarters in Kansas City. Administration officials said the move was aimed at cutting costs; critics said it was yet another attempt to bleed tenured talent.
In a statement to Grist, a USDA spokesperson pushed back on the idea that the agency is suppressing climate change research. “No one attempted to block the paper – it is freely available in the science literature,” the spokesperson wrote, adding that higher-ups at the agency disagreed with the paper’s conclusion that rising levels of CO2 would put 600 million people at risk of vitamin deficiency. “Issuing an ARS press release would have erroneously signified that ARS concurs with the nutrition-related claims,” the spokesperson noted.
“The notion that this is not of public health significance is just ridiculous,” said Harvard’s Myers, in response to the ARS’s position on the research. The controversial study just focused on rice, he added, but “every other food crop across the board is losing nutrients in response to CO2.”
A spokesperson for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science Advances, the journal where the rice article appeared, stood behind the research, saying that the study went through “rigorous peer review” before it was published.
For Ziska, the incident constituted an abdication of one of ARS’s responsibilities, which is working to solve climate change-related issues that farmers face. “It’s surreal to me,” he said.

Forrest Laws

Furrow rice growing in Arkansas, could grow more

While overall rice acreage is decreasing, furrow-irrigating rice is on the rise.
Forrest Laws | Aug 16, 2019
Arkansas farmers may have planted up to 150,000 acres of furrow-irrigated or row rice, as it’s also known, in 2019. That’s up from about 100,000 in 2018, according to the University of Arkansas’ Dr. Jarrod Hardke.
More farmers might have tried the practice if the weather had been more cooperative last spring, said Hardke, who spoke at one of the stops on the Mississippi County Rice Irrigation Field Day on the Mike and Ryan Sullivan Farm near Blytheville, Ark.
“Even with total rice acreage going down this practice is still going up,” said Hardke, Extension rice agronomist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “It could have obviously still gone up further had we not been reducing total acres given the year and the weather.”
Hardke was one of about a dozen speakers who participated in the field day, which was attended by more than 300 farmers and industry members. Furrow-irrigated rice was a prime topic of discussion, but speakers also discussed the impact of cover crops, no-till planting and irrigation timing.
The weather and the fact some farmers had not irrigated their soybeans until a few days before the field day at Florenden Farms near Burdette, Ark., 0n Aug. 5 also drew comments from Hardke and others.

‘’ Villagers upset over Jakarta crackdown on trash imports

AUG 17, 2019, 5:00 AM SGT
BANGUN (Indonesia) • Indonesia's crackdown on imported foreign waste has upset the village of Bangun, where residents say they earn more money sorting through piles of garbage than growing rice in once-lush padi fields.
Overwhelmed by a spike in waste imports after China closed its doors to foreign garbage, Indonesia has tightened import rules and Customs inspections, sending hundreds of tonnes of foreign waste back to their origin countries.
Green groups praised the crackdown, but Bangun residents say restricting trash from countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia will wipe out a key source of income.
"If they're going to forbid us from this, there must be a solution. The government hasn't provided us with jobs," said Mr Heri Masud as he took a break from sifting through rubbish piled high around the village of 3,600 people.
The front and backyards of homes in Bangun overflow with waste on land that once was used to grow rice. Villagers look for plastic and aluminium to sell to recycling firms. Tofu makers also buy waste to burn as fuel when making the soya-based food.
Mr Heri said the money from sorting trash is used to fund activities such as sending villagers on the haj pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Saudi Arabia. "Every year, 17 to 20 people from this village go on a haj. That's funded from this waste."
Mr Salam, 54, said recycled rubbish paid for his children's schooling and also helped him buy livestock and a house for his family.

Builsa South farmers to be supported to substantially increase rice production – President


Fumbisi (UE), Aug 15, GNA – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has underlined the government’s determination to support rice farmers in the Builsa South District to substantially increase production.
He said everything would be done to develop the vast fertile valleys of Fumbisi and Gbedembilisi to cut down on rice imports.
Ghana has been spending millions of dollars to import rice, but he noted that, the country could produce enough of the cereal grain for both local consumption and export, when the expansive land in the area was fully developed.
President Akufo-Addo was addressing chiefs and people of Fumbisi as part of his six-day working visit to the Upper East, Upper west and Northern Regions.
He said agriculture research findings showed that “when the necessary attention and investment is given to the Fumbisi and Gbedembilisi rice valleys, enough rice could be produced from those valleys to feed the nation”.
“It is against this background that government is interested in developing the fertile lands to realize the full agriculture potentials of the area, particularly in the area of rice production to boost food security in the region and Ghana as a whole”.
He added that they were eager to make Fumbisi, the hub of rice production in the whole of West Africa, and promised to establish an Agricultural College in the town to train students in various fields of agriculture to enhance productivity and growth.
“There can be no better place than Fumbisi to have an agricultural college that has the potential to develop the rice basket not just in Ghana but West Africa.”
He told the gathering that he was going to do everything within his power to make sure that this became a dream come true.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, said everybody who had studied agriculture in Ghana knew of the prospects of the Fumbisi rice valleys which “has about 5,000 hectares of farm land for development”.
Just about 900 hectares of this huge land is being used.
He said Fumbisi over the years, had been held back on its contribution to the development of agriculture in the country as over 4,000 hectares of good rice fields had been left to fallow.
Dr. Akoto spoke of plans to expand the Agriculture mechanization centre in the area and build mills there to enable farmers add value to their produce.
His ministry had been working hard to procure farm implements and equipment to increase rice production in the area.
Naab Clement Anyaturk Akanko II, applauded the government for implementing various social interventions in the area to fight poverty.
He appealed to the government to fix bad roads in the area including the Wiaga-Fumbisi-Wiesi, Kanjarga-Fumbisi-Uwasi and Fumbisi-Zamsa roads linking the various farms to the market centres to reduce cost of transport and post-harvest losses.
He also wants the Fumbisi Health Center to be upgraded to the status of a District Hospital and supplied with the needed equipment and facilities to deliver quality care – bring down infant and maternal mortality.
The President was accompanied by Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education, Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, Mr. Kwasi Amoako Atta, Minister of Roads and Highways, Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, the Minister of Special Development Initiative, Madam Tangoba Abayage, the Regional Minister and other high ranking public officials.

 Government to provide paddy driers to farmers to increase their earning potential
Sat, Aug 17, 2019, 09:47 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Description: 17, Colombo: The government has received the cabinet nod to provide paddy driers to farmers to enable them to earn more money for their harvests.After milling, the harvested paddy with high moisture content should be dried properly for safe storage since high moisture in the harvested paddy promotes the development of insects and molds. The delay in drying, incomplete drying or uneven drying will result in the loss of the anticipated standard of the rice.
Paddy drying is often a problem for the farmers and they have to sell their wet paddy stock at a lower price to the large scale rice mill owners due to lack of proper on-farm drying technologies at affordable cost.
As such, in accordance with the recommendations of the working committee appointed on the instructions given by the Cabinet Committee on Cost of Living, a proposal has been made to implement a pilot project among the paddy farmers in the Polonnaruwa District which has a higher production and grows paddy twice a year for popularizing the drying technology.
President Maithripala Sirisena at the request of the Non Cabinet Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Dr. Harsha de Silva has made a proposal to provide paddy driers to the paddy farmer associations in the Polonnaruwa district as a pilot project.
It has been proposed to provide a mobile drier with a capacity of 2 metric tons (MT) valued at Rs.3 million (without tax) and a fixed drier with a capacity of 6 MT valued at Rs. 6 million (without tax) for five farmer organizations each in the Polonnaruwa District adopting a mechanism for recovering the expenditure incurred by the Government,
The farmer associations will be selected by the Department of Agrarian Services, with the assistance of the all Island Rice Millers Association.
The cabinet has given its approval to the proposal put forward by the President.

TTD, SVBC conduct Lakshmi Puja Hans News Service  
|  16 Aug 2019 10:42 PM TTD, SVBC conduct Lakshmi Puja in Ongole HIGHLIGHTS The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) in association with SVBC organised Lakshmi Puja at Rice Millers Association in Ongole on Friday. Ongole: The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) in association with SVBC organised Lakshmi Puja at Rice Millers Association in Ongole on Friday. Priest K Srinivasacharyulu has conducted the vratham and puja in grandeur manner and explained the participating women about the importance of each step as they are performing it. A large number of women and devotees participated in the programme and received the theertham and prasadam after the puja. Tata Badrinath, Vemuri Bujji, Chakka Prasad, Annam Srinu, Nallamalli Balu, Gurram Badri, Biyyapu Vijay, Suresh and others coordinated for the grand success of the programme. Description: TTD, SVBC conduct Lakshmi Puja

Liberian president suspends tariffs on agricultural products


ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST – APRIL 04: Liberian President George Weah  (Photo by Cyrille Bah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Liberian President George Weah has issued an Executive Order suspending tariffs on 40 agricultural products in the country, a move aimed at fully maximizing farmers’ potentialities in contributing to the economy.
A statement by the Executive Mansion on Thursday said the new Executive Order, which took effect on Wednesday, would also enable key market players to overcome constraints in the agriculture sector.
“Accordingly, the Executive Order notes that tariffs associated with agriculture inputs are high, thus adversely affecting the agriculture sector and poor rural farmers who rely predominantly on agriculture for their livelihood,” the statement said.
The 40 affected agriculture products include live bovine animal breeding, all types of agriculture seeds of cereals including rice, animals or vegetable fertilizer, whether mixed together or chemically treated, fertilizer produced by mixed or chemical treatment, among others.
The statement said relevant authorities would immediately begin to establish the processes and procedures by administrative regulation for the granting of tax exemption to eligible beneficiaries within the agriculture sector.
“It is further projected that by reducing the tariff on agriculture inputs, local farmers would be able to access high-quality agriculture inputs at affordable prices, agricultural productivity would improve, agricultural activities would become commercially viable, product consistency would increase and local farmers would have sustained higher incomes,” the statement said.
The order synergizes with the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for prosperity and development which, among other things, places priority on food security and other agriculture productions, added the statement.

Japonica rice futures listed on Dalian Commodity Exchange

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-16 15:25:03|Editor: Li Xia
DALIAN, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Japonica rice futures were listed on the Dalian Commodity Exchange on Friday, with a benchmark price of 3,550 yuan (504 U.S. dollars) per tonne for each contract.
"Japonica rice, or polished round-grained rice, plays an important role in China's food security," said Li Zhengqiang, president of Dalian Commodity Exchange, based in the northeast China city of Dalian.
Japonica rice futures can provide open and transparent future price signals for growers and food processing firms to hedge price risks, said Li.
China's futures market reported robust growth in the first half of this year (H1) with launches of a slew of new options such as natural rubber, cotton and corn.
The total transaction of the futures markets across the country reached 128.6 trillion yuan in H1, up 33.79 percent year on year, data from the China Futures Association showed.
Jin Guowei, vice mayor of Dalian, said at the listing ceremony on Friday that the listing of the rice futures is timely, will effectively push for structural adjustments and transformation in the food industry, and will change the long-standing trend of "good harvest, weak prices."
Rice is one of the three main grain varieties in China with Japonica rice mainly cultivated in the north and Indica rice grown in the south.

Rice Prices

as on : 16-08-2019 11:14:00 AM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Published on August 16, 2019
Government to roll out P1.5-billion loan program for farmers affected by rice trade liberalization

August 16, 2019
INSTEAD of a cash transfer program, the government will roll out a P1.5-billion loan program with zero interest rate for rice farmers who incurred losses due to influx of cheaper imports that pulled down farm-gate prices.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar on Friday said the Department of Agriculture (DA) changed the initial conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to a loan facility due to lack of funding.

Dar explained that it would cost the government about P6 billion to provide P5,000 for some 1.1 million rice farmers tilling one hectare of land and below.

“We don’t have that kind of money,” he said in his speech during a forum in Manila on Friday. “Wala na iyong cash transfer. We need P6 billion,” he added. [The cash transfer is gone. We need P6 billion].

In a separate statement, Dar announced that the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Governing Council approved on Thursday the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers (SURE Aid).

Under the SURE Aid, rice farmers planting on land one hectare and below may apply for a one-time zero-interest loan amounting to P15,000, payable up to eight years.

Interested rice farmers may access the program starting September 1. The program will be implemented by the LandBank of the Philippines (LandBank) with its guidelines to be jointly crafted by the ACPC and LandBank.

“This loan assistance is a manifestation of the strong desire of the government to help Filipino rice farmers,” Dar said.

Nonetheless, Dar assured rice farmers that the DA would continue to look for other measures to help them adjust with low palay prices.

“We will continue to look at measures to improve the living conditions of our rural stakeholders. Rest assured that with RCEF [Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund], farmers will increase productivity and earn more,” Dar he added.

The ACPC Governing Council is chaired by the Agriculture Secretary with the Central Bank Governor sitting as vice-chairman.

Its members include the Secretaries of the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Alongside Dar, the meeting was attended by BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier, National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon, DBM Director Cristina B. Clasara, NEDA Assistant Director Diane Gail L. Maharjan, and ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Alma R. Badiola, according to DA.

Also in attendance were Monetary Board Member Dr. Bruce Tolentino, LBP First Vice President Emellie Tamayo and other key officials from DA and ACPC, it added.

Last week, Dar and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III agreed to implement a UCT program for rice farmers who were affected by the drop in the farm-gate price of palay. 
The Federation of Free Farmers said rice planters have lost some P40 billion in the first half as cheaper imports that entered the country following the effectivity of RA 11203 — the rice trade liberalilzation law — pulled down farm-gate prices. ### of interest in rice cooker subway scare in custody

The person of interest who sparked an evacuation in Lower Manhattan in the rice cooker subway scare has been apprehended, cops said Saturday.
The arrest unfolded around 1 a.m. in the Bronx, where police also took a shopping cart into evidence, cell phone video shows. 
The Friday morning incident sent the morning rush into a scramble when someone left two rice cookers in the Fulton Street subway station around 7 a.m., prompting NYPD to shut down the station and evacuate the area.
Police later determined the objects were not explosives, authorities said.
The NYPD had named Larry Griffin II, of West Virginia, as a person of interest in the case after he was allegedly caught on CCTV footage leaving the devices.
A cousin of Griffin said the man is known to pick up random objects and leave them in different spots.
“Little Larry’s a good person. He’s got issues, but he don’t ever mean no harm or anything,” Tara Brumfield told WSAZ in West Virginia. “Whether it’s tools or a fishing pole or something like that like he’ll pick up one thing and leave it there and then pick up another and then leave it there and I’ve watched him do stuff like that a bunch of times.”
During the investigation, cops tweeted photos of Griffin, who police sources described as emotionally disturbed and homeless.

Enlarge ImageThe scene of the arrest.
G.N.Miller/NY Post

“I don’t know what the deliberate act is, whether it was to breed fear and alarm the public, or whether he was discarding items he was no longer interested in,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller told reporters at a news conference after the incident.
According to West Virginia police, Griffin was charged in 2017 for sending bestiality videos involving a chicken to a minor.
But Griffin’s father told The Post he didn’t believe his son meant to cause harm.
“He’s a good kid,” he said. “I worry about him all the time but he’s not out to do nothing like that.”

Empty Rice Cookers Force NYC MTA To Shut Down

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Three suspicious packages forced one of New York City’s busiest transit hubs to shut down Friday morning, but authorities later discovered the packages were harmless.
The Fulton Street subway complex was shut down after two empty rice cookers were found, and another rice cooker was later discovered at at West 16th Street and 7th Avenue. Authorities do not yet know if the packages are related, according to NYPD Chief of Transit Edward Delatorre. (RELATED: Over 90,000 Sign Petition To Rename Street Outside Trump Tower After Obama)

UPDATE: @NYPDTransit, @NYPDDCT, and @MTA provide an update on the earlier incidents at Fulton St and 16th St & 7th Ave.

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A man was seen dropping two of the packages at the subway station Friday morning. Authorities are currently trying to get in touch with the man, and aren’t sure if his actions were deliberate or not. (RELATED: Man Who Planned To Blow Up New York City Subway Stations Could Be Released Soon)
“I don’t know what the deliberate act is,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said at a press conference. “Whether it was to create fear and alarm on the part of the public, or whether he was discarding items he was no longer interested in.”
Miller also praised local authorities for taking swift action to investigate the situation.
“I think what you see here is a system that works,” Miller said.