Thursday, August 22, 2019

22nd August,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Scientists share experience in fighting bacterial leaf blight of rice
VNA WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2019 - 15:55:00 PRINT
Description: Dr Nguyen Hong Son, director of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, speaks at the two-day International Conference on Bacterial Blight of Rice in Can Tho (Photo: VNA)

Can Tho (VNA) - The Mekong Delta should use technology to create rice varieties resistant to bacterial leaf blight, speakers told a two-day international conference which concluded in Can Tho city on August 20.

Prof. Dr. Nguyen Hong Son, Director of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told the sixth International Conference on Bacterial Blight of Rice and Bacterial Leaf Streak that the disease is one of the most serious production constraints world-wide, causing losses of up to 74 percent of production.

For bacterial diseases that show no initial symptoms and are difficult to detect, prevention by only using antibiotics is not very effective, he said, adding that the most effective solution in Vietnam and the world is to create disease-resistant rice varieties.

Many countries have been successful in creating resistant rice varieties, but bacteria mutate into new strains quickly, requiring more than one resistance gene in each rice variety, he added.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Phong Lan, head of the plant protection department at the Mekong Delta Rice Institute, said rice blight disease had worsened in the delta, and now affected 50,000-60,000ha each crop. There are no measures to control the disease completely, she said.

According to the International Rice Research Institute, bacterial blight could reduce rice yields by 30-70 percent depending on the stage of the infection, environmental conditions and which rice season it is.

Experts recommended that farmers should apply integrated measures to manage pests such as using rice varieties with good resistance, resilience and suitability to local conditions.

They should also apply appropriate rice cultivation techniques such as moderate density of sowing with balanced fertilisation and good drainage.

The institute is currently cooperating with Germany’s Bayer Company to test two transgenic hybrid rice varieties resistant to leaf blight. They have been tested for nearly two months and remain free of blight.

Dr. Tran Ngoc Thach, Director of the Mekong Delta Rice Institute, said Vietnam should “learn from Germany and the US” to research into this disease.

The conference acted as a forum for exchanging information and fostering collaboration between scientists from around the globe for the effective control and management of the disease, he said.

It helped make significant progress in understanding the disease through analyses of the interactions between the pathogen and rice at many levels, including studies focused on the epidemiology, population biology, physiology, cell biology, bio-chemistry, molecular genetics, and effectors involved in the interactions, he added.

According to experts, bacterial blight and bacterial leaf streak of rice are major diseases due to their high epidemic potential, especially when there is extreme climate variation, and its destructiveness on high-yielding but susceptible cultivars.

Despite attempts to control the diseases by incorporating genetic resistance into high-yielding cultivars, both remain a major constraint on production in both favourable and unfavourable rice environments throughout Asia.

The pathogen causes yellowing and drying of leaves, wilting of seedlings and blight lesions (in case of severe strains), which may also affect panicles. Various saprophytic fungi could invade the lesions, contributing to the damage.

The favourable factors for bacterial leaf blight are rain, high levels of fertiliser, high humidity, standing pools of water, and warm temperatures.-VNA

OPA awaits subsidy guidelines under rice tariff law

BACOLOD. Mayor Evelio Leonardia, assisted by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran and councilors Simple Distrito, Israel Salanga, and Bartolome Orola, distribute P1.64 million worth of financial assistance to 374 beneficiaries at the Bacolod City Government Center on Tuesday, August 20, that covers 80 burial assistance, 280 for medical, and aid for 14 fire victims. (Photo courtesy of City PIO)
August 21, 2019
THE Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) awaits the final guidelines on the subsidy to be given by the government to the Filipino farmers who will be affected by the Rice Tariffication Law.

Lawyer Japhet Masculino, provincial agriculturist, said that the subsidy for the farmers would be like the 4Ps project of the government.

He said that they are not certain yet as to identification of the beneficiaries as the government has conducted some surveys like the one done by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.

He said that farmers in Negros Occidental have been identified to receive the subsidy because the province is one of the top ten rice-producing provinces in the country.

Masculino said they expect that the P10-billion fund component of the Rice Tariffication would be given to the farmers affected by the incoming cheap and imported rice during the second cropping.

Even the machineries component has not been released yet, Masculino said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Agriculture Secretary William Dar have mutually agreed to implement the assistance program to help rice farmers adjust to low prices of palay (paddy rice) following the passage of Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

Under the program, an unconditional cash assistance would be allocated and distributed to affected farmers by expanding the ongoing Survival and Recovery (SURE) program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), an attached agency of the DA.

The expansion of Sure to assist rice farmers will also build on the good experience under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The expanded Sure program is in addition to the programs and projects mandated under the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF), the annual PHP10-billion fund established under RA 11203 to be sourced from the Bureau of Custom’ s (BOC) collection of tariffs on rice imports by private traders following the enactment of this law.

Under RA 11203, P10 billion of the tariff collections on rice imports shall be appropriated annually for rice farmers through various programs that would help increase their production.

Half of the fund shall be allocated to the Philippine Center for Post Harvest Development and Modernization (PhilMech) to provide farmers with rice farm machineries and equipment; 30 percent to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to be used for the development, propagation, and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers, and the organization of rice farmers into seed growers associations engaged in seed production and trade (30 percent); 10 percent for the credit facility that will be managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP); 10 percent for farmers’ training on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge or technology transfer.

The fund has become controversial after Senator Cynthia Villar pushed an investigation after she received reports that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released in December 2018 P5 billion for the RCEF but only P1 billion of the released amount has allegedly been disbursed. Villar questioned the release of the fund ahead of the signing of the law in February this year. (TDE)

Nigeria To Slash Funds For Essential Food Imports While Currency Crisis Looms
By The Charleston Chronicle | August 21, 2019 |  
Hard to imagine a steaming plate of Nigerian jollof rice without the rice. Or without fish. Or wheat. Rice, fish and wheat are Nigeria’s top three food imports but foreign exchange for these staple food imports is about to end by order of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said Tuesday the move to end imports of these essential foods is aimed at improving Nigeria’s agricultural production and attaining food security.
“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country,” Buhari was quoted by his spokesman Shehu to say. “The foreign reserve will be conserved and utilized strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills,” he added.
Imported milk and other dairy products will also be restricted from access to foreign exchange in an effort to boost local production and investment in ranches.
Some may have hoped these risky ideas would be forgotten in time. But a recently decided lawsuit in the UK may have prompted the government to advance the timetable.
The lawsuit, decided this month, gives a company called Process and Industrial Developments Ltd the right to pursue some $9 billion in assets from the Nigerian government over an aborted gas project.
Currently Nigeria spends US$22 billion on food imports annually. Rice, imported from Thailand and India, accounts for about US$1.65 billion which could make Nigeria the world’s second largest importer of rice after China in 2019.
Many obstacles stand in the way of Nigeria becoming self-sufficient in food, some experts say. These include climate change, weeds, pests and diseases, farmers’ limited access to credit, training, rudimentary and time consuming tools like hoes, slashers, sickles, axes and rakes.
Economic analyst Tokunbo Afikuyomi says making it harder for businesses to import food through official channels will push importers to find foreign exchange on the black market.
“Making it harder for businesses to import food through official channels is likely to lead to higher food prices as businesses use more expensive exchange rates or expensive domestic alternatives,” Afikuyomi told CNN.
He said Nigeria’s strategy should be to produce which foods it can grow cheaply and import others that are more expensive to make.
“Nigeria cannot produce all the food it eats — no country in the world is able to achieve this. Banning food imports to save foreign exchange is not the way to build a sustainable economy,” he added.
Source: Global Information Network

DITORIALBudget passage must be Congress’ first priority

AUGUST 22, 2019
NOW that the 2020 National Expenditure Program, the administration’s proposed P4.1-trillion budget for next year, has been handed over to the House of Representatives, it is timely to remind members of both houses of Congress that the country will have very little tolerance for a repeat of last year’s unnecessary impasse. To avoid another near-disastrous outcome, the blame for which will — again — fall squarely at the feet of the legislature, the 2020 budget bill must be passed on time, to the exclusion of other work, if necessary.
To recall, the 2019 budget was delayed due to what amounted to a turf war between the House and Senate over certain items that had been inserted in the budget during the course of deliberations over it. The P3.7-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2019 should have been passed before the year-end holiday in December, but instead was not finally approved and passed along for the President’s signature until mid-April this year.
Ordinary administrative and transmittal procedures along with the midterm elections further delayed the actual implementation of the budget until the latter part of May, meaning the government was forced to operate on 2018’s reenacted budget for five months, reducing planned government spending by nearly 90 percent. According to the Department of Finance, it has only been this month, August, that the pace of government spending has returned to normal, making it very unlikely that it will be able to spend quickly enough in the remainder of the year to make up for the lost time.
The slow pace of government spending is now acknowledged as the key cause of decelerating economic expansion through the first half of the year, and again, it was entirely due to Congress’ failure to pass the budget on time. This cannot be allowed to happen under any circumstances, but especially not with the 2020 budget, the largest in the nation’s history. It will fund several key programs that, if not begun on time and according to plan, might cause chaos beyond a mere economic slowdown.
The 2020 National Expenditure Program contains the first substantial budget for the Universal Health Care program, allocating P166.5 billion to be funded largely by excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol. The House just this week approved measures to increase those taxes.
Of the total budget, P108.8 billion has been proposed for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program, or 4Ps, which represents a significant increase and expansion of the conditional family subsidy scheme.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has been allocated P70.6 billion, which is considered vital to helping the new regional administration establish itself.
The 2020 budget also sets aside P10 billion for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. This program, which began this year with about half of the specified funds, is to be funded from customs duties on imported rice, and is intended to offset any harm to farmers caused by the liberalization of rice imports.
The proposed budget will also provide funding for an entirely new government agency, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, which is allotted P641.6 million. The new department is expected to help solve a number of chronic problems, including the critical shortage of affordable housing and the slow provision of housing relief for families displaced by calamities.
Congressional representatives have so far offered reassurances that they are aware of the implications of a delayed budget, and that they will act quickly to apply the proper deliberative process and pass the 2020 outlay. That of course is exactly what the legislators are expected to say, and is no basis for judgment; praise, if warranted, will only be earned by their actions toward passing a sound budget on time.

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- August 21, 2019

AUGUST 21, 2019 / 1:39 PM

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-August 21, 2019 Nagpur, Aug 21 (Reuters) – Gram and tuar prices reported higher in Nagpur Agriculture Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) on good festival season demand from local millers amid tight supply from producing belts. Healthy rise in Madhya Pradesh gram prices and reported demand from South-based millers also jacked up prices. About 1,150 bags of gram and 150 bags of tuar reported for auction, according to sources.
* Desi gram prices recovered in open market on increased buying support from local
* Tuar Karnataka firmed up in open market here on renewed demand from local traders.
* New rice varieties prices reported down in open market here on poor demand
from local traders.
* In Akola, Tuar New – 5,600-5,800, Tuar dal (clean) – 8,000-8,100, Udid Mogar (clean)
– 7,200-7,800, Moong Mogar (clean) 8,000-8,900, Gram – 4,200-4,300, Gram Super best
– 5,800-6,200 * Wheat, other varieties of rice and other foodgrain items moved in a narrow range in
scattered deals and settled at last levels in thin trading activity.
Nagpur foodgrains APMC auction/open-market prices in rupees for 100 kg
FOODGRAINS Available prices Previous close
Gram Auction 3,800-4,500 3,800-4,350
Gram Pink Auction n.a. 2,100-2,600
Tuar Auction 5,100-5,725 5,100-5,600
Moong Auction n.a. 3,950-4,200
Udid Auction n.a. 4,300-4,500
Masoor Auction n.a. 2,200-2,500
Wheat Lokwan Auction 2,000-2,106 2,000-2,115
Wheat Sharbati Auction n.a. 2,900-3,000
Gram Super Best Bold 6,200-6,500 6,200-6,500
Gram Super Best n.a. n.a.
Gram Medium Best 5,800-6,000 5,800-6,000
Gram Dal Medium n.a. n.a
Gram Mill Quality 4,500-4,600 4,500-4,600
Desi gram Raw 4,550-4,650 4,500-4,600
Gram Kabuli 8,300-10,000 8,300-10,000
Tuar Fataka Best-New 8,600-8,700 8,600-8,700
Tuar Fataka Medium-New 8,100-8,300 8,100-8,300
Tuar Dal Best Phod-New 7,800-8,000 7,800-8,000
Tuar Dal Medium phod-New 7,200-7,600 7,200-7,600
Tuar Gavarani New 6,100-6,200 5,100-6,200
Tuar Karnataka 6,450-6,650 6,400-6,600
Masoor dal best 5,600-5,700 5,600-5,700
Masoor dal medium 5,100-5,300 5,100-5,300
Masoor n.a. n.a.
Moong Mogar bold (New) 8,500-9,000 8,500-9,000
Moong Mogar Medium 7,200-7,800 7,200-7,800
Moong dal Chilka New 6,600-7,800 6,600-7,800
Moong Mill quality n.a. n.a.
Moong Chamki best 8,800-9,400 8,800-9,400
Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 7,000-7,800 7,000-7,800
Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG) 5,500-6,200 5,500-6,200
Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG) 4,300-4,700 4,300-4,700
Mot (100 INR/KG) 5,500-6,500 5,500-6,500
Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg) 4,800-5,000 4,800-5,000
Watana Dal (100 INR/KG) 5,700-5,900 5,700-5,900
Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG) 7,500-8,000 7,500-8,000
Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG) 2,200-2,300 2,200-2,300
Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG) 2,100-2,200 2,100-2,200
Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG) 2,600-2,700 2,600-2,700
Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG) 2,500-2,650 2,500-2,650
Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG) 2,300-2,400 2,300-2,400
Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG) n.a. n.a.
MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG) 3,200-4,000 3,200-4,000
MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG) 2,700-3,000 2,700-3,000
Rice Parmal (100 INR/KG) 2,200-2,300 2,200-2,300
Rice BPT best (100 INR/KG) 3,200-3,800 3,200-3,800
Rice BPT medium (100 INR/KG) 2,800-3,200 2,900-3,200
Rice Luchai (100 INR/KG) 2,900-3,000 2,900-3,000
Rice Swarna best (100 INR/KG) 2,600-2,750 2,600-2,750
Rice Swarna medium (100 INR/KG) 2,300-2,400 2,300-2,400
Rice Swarna new (100 INR/KG) 2,400-2,600 2,500-2,700
Rice HMT best (100 INR/KG) 3,800-4,400 3,800-4,400
Rice HMT medium (100 INR/KG) 3,400-3,600 3,400-3,600
Rice HMT new (100 INR/KG) 3,600-4,000 3,600-4,000
Rice Shriram best(100 INR/KG) 5,500-5,800 5,500-5,800
Rice Shriram med (100 INR/KG) 4,500-4,800 4,500-4,800
Rice Shriram new (100 INR/KG) 4,400-5,000 4,500-5,000
Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG) 8,500-13,500 8,500-13,500
Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG) 5,000-7,500 5,000-7,500
Rice Chinnor best 100 INR/KG) 6,500-7,200 6,500-7,200
Rice Chinnor medium (100 INR/KG) 6,200-6,400 6,200-6,400
Rice Chinnor new (100 INR/KG) 5,300-5,600 5,200-5,600
Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG) 2,350-2,550 2,350-2,550
Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG) 2,050-2,250 2,050-2,250 WEATHER (NAGPUR) Maximum temp. 32.5 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 24.3 degree Celsius Rainfall : Nil FORECAST: Generally cloudy sky with a few spells of rains or thunder-showers. Maximum and minimum temperature likely to be around 33 degree Celsius and 24 degree Celsius respectively. Note: n.a.—not available (For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, but included in market prices)

Trouble with Southwest governors

The state, we all agree is evil and tyrannical. Everyone therefore blames the state as represented by the centre for all our woes and crisis of nation-building, lack of vision, underdevelopment, insecurity, corruption, inability to feed ourselves and the collapse of the education and the health sectors.  Even our elected governors that preside over 42% of the nation’s annual budget when not pretending to seek solutions to their states problem from the centre join us to rail wail and throw stone at the devil forgetting the devil is in us.
Unfortunately unlike the first and second republics  marked with the giant strides in education, rural development, agriculture and infrastructural development  secured through the  versatility and brinkmanship of men of great vision such as Obafemi Awolowo, Samuel Akintola, Anthony Enahoro, Alfred Rewane as well as, Adekunle Ajasin, Bola Ige, Ambrose Ali, Bisi Onabanjo and Lateef Jakande, many of the fourth republic inheritors of power are regarded as unscrupulous, venal, egoistical with naked ambition, surviving only on intrigues.
Awolowo was in power for only seven years. He initiated the free education programme. The number of Western Region youths sent on scholarship to foreign universities during his second year in office was more than the total number of Nigerian youths that enjoyed scholarships under the colonial administration for three years. In the second republic, visionary southwest leaders established universities in Edo, Ondo, Ogun and Lagos. As a result of the efforts of these visionary leaders, the old Western Region was regarded as the most educated part of Africa before the birth of the fourth republic. Today the educational sector has virtually collapsed.
In a report titled Nigeria: WAEC Results as metaphor of collapsing education standards in Southwest, in The Guardian of September 14, 2017, Iyabo Lawal reported the dismal performance of the southwest in the last few years. According to the report, while Anambra, Imo, Edo and Rivers top the list for that year, the southwest states like Ekiti, Ogun, Osun and Oyo once synonymous with high education standards were at the 14th, 19th, 24th and 29th positions.
Anambra State according to the report earned the position because of the state’s investment in education. While the southwest governors who probably never bothered to study the educational revolution under the Obafemi Awolowo’s administration in the first republic or that of Lateef Jakande in Lagos State in the second republic, were neck-deep in the politics of take-over of schools from their initial owners , building of mega schools and self-induced crisis over uniformed uniform for all students, Governor Peter Obi,  quietly  “returned 1,040 primary schools to the missions that established them, awarded N6bn to the schools as grants, donated buses, laboratory equipment, transformers, generators, dispensary consumables, sports gears, computers and other tools to the schools.”
In 2015, Abia and Anambra took the first and second positions while Osun took the 29th position, Oyo the 26th; Ogun 19th; and Ondo 13th while Ekiti came 11th. In 2014, Anambra, topped the list with Abia coming second. “In terms of education, Nigeria’s Southwest states, the report concluded, “are fixated on the past, lost in the present and without vision for the future”.
In other departments, the southwest equally lives on its old glories. In the area of agriculture, the southwest also set the pace in the first republic. The region was self-sufficient in food production with farm settlements set up for products of primary schools that were prepared to work to raise money for their secondary school education. The region was popular for her Igbimo and Ofada rice. There were cattle ranches set up in about four locations in the region. Today, the same southwest under our new inheritors of power depends on the north for yam, pepper, tomato and about 8,000 cattle valued at about N1.6b consumed in Lagos daily. The N700m Ikun dairy farm set up by Adekunle Ajasin’s administration in the second republic after ex-Governor Oni’s initial efforts at rehabilitation was abandoned and allowed to rot away by his successors in office.
Since there is no vacuum in nature, other states have seized the initiative from the southwest. Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State started his rice production initiative with about N4b loan, an amount far less than the N5.4b Ayo Fayose spent on building 1.3km bridge over land in Ado Ekiti.  The governor recently disclosed that three giant rice millers, Wocat Rice Processing Mill, Dangote Rice Processing Mill and Dadangari Rice Processing Mill are working at full capacity with the state earning about  N150 billion from sale of rice last year alone. Currently about 200,000  farmers are cultivating about 400,000 hectares of land for rice production, many of them  under the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers programme. There is also the World Bank $15million assisted ‘Nigeria for Women Project’ in three local government areas of the state. The state which according to the governor is also the highest producer of rice, onions and pepper in the country has also entered into partnership arrangement with an indigenous company for an ultra-modern world class sugar processing plant with a total cost of about $330million when completed
With its Ebonyi State’s current 72,000 hectares of rice production, Eboyi rice is already available in every supermarket in Lagos. The Zero Hunger Forum, headed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has also now pledged to assist Ebonyi to generate N48.4bn from rice production annually through offer of technical support.
Road infrastructure has virtually collapsed in the south west with Intra-state and inter-state roads, all in state of disrepair. Governor Fayemi has just announced the award of an N8.5b contract to reconstruct the collapsed Ado Ekiti Itawure Osun boundary road. Travelling from Ondo to Ekiti, Ekiti to Osun or Abeokuta to Lagos is a nightmare.
Yet, of the N3.97tn domestic debt owed by the six geopolitical zones of the country, the southwest according to a Punch newspaper’s last Tuesday August 20 report, credited to  statistics from  the Debt Management Office, accounts for N1.04tn. Unfortunately instead of investment on power generation, road infrastructure and light rail to link the southwest states, all our new inheritors of power in the southwest  have to showcase are 1.3km bridge over land in Ekiti, abandoned stadia scattered around Osun towns, commissioned empty swamps in Ogun,  mega secondary school buildings in Osun and mega massive hospital buildings in Ondo.
The new inheritors of power seem to have learnt nothing from their illustrious forbears. The southwest  for instance has been in the forefront of the struggle for devolution of power and state policing .With President Buhari’s approval in principle provided states can fund state policing, one would have expect Fayemi and his southwest colleagues to seize the initiative. The zone seems to have lost that opportunity with the excuse of Governor Fayemi that state policing cannot take off until there is a consensus among the governors.
To many, such statement only underscores the dearth of vision among Southwest’s new inheritors of power. With good husbandry of their resources, many believe each of the southwest governors who collect between N300m and N600m monthly (N3.5b-N7b per annum) should have no problem funding state police.
The Last Straw, Made of Rice, May Be the Most Ecological 

ARLINGTON, VA -- More and more businesses, consumers, and governments are looking for ways to decrease their single-use plastic consumption, and disposable plastic straws have become a lightning rod in the worldwide effort to reduce plastic waste.  Recently, scientists and manufacturers have turned to a new revolutionary material that could make single-use plastics in the foodservice industry obsolete:  rice. 

Rice contains cellulose, a primary component of the cell walls of plants.  It's also a strong biopolymer with a range of properties that can be manipulated into a variety of textures, from rigid and brittle to soft and stretchy.  In 2014, scientists at the Italian Institute of Technology developed a new technique to create durable, plastic-like material from cocoa pod husks, spinach and parsley stems, and rice hulls.

While plastic straws can take up to 200 years to decompose, rice straws are 100 percent natural, biodegradable, compostable, affordable, and even edible; some rice straws can be cooked and consumed like a rice noodle.  And best of all, they last for up to 18 hours and don't disintegrate or affect taste like paper straws or other eco-friendly straw options. 

Right now, rice straws are only being manufactured in Asia, but Canada-based Rice Straw Technologies hopes to change that. 

"Currently, our straws are manufactured in Vietnam and Thailand, but our ultimate goal is to manufacture them in the U.S. within a couple of years," said Michelle Kim, president of Rice Straw Technologies.  "Using U.S.-grown rice will save us a lot of transportation and customs costs, and on top of that we can utilize our local farmers." 

Additionally, the hefty carbon footprint of shipping rice straws all the way to North America from Asia somewhat negates the environmental benefit of reducing plastic waste, so it is only a matter of time before the straws are widely produced in the U.S. for American consumers.  Contributing to sustainability and conservation is Rice Straw Technology's top priority. 

"Plastic straws may not seem like a big deal, but at the end of the day, it adds up to a lot of plastic in the landfill," said Kim.  "Our straws are made with rice, tapioca, and no other additives, so when they go out to the landfill, we're literally feeding the birds." 

The U.S. rice industry is already committed to feeding the birds, so biodegradable plastic alternatives made from U.S. rice that are safe for wildlife to consume would fit right into existing conservation and sustainability efforts. 

It doesn't end with straws.  Rice Straw Technologies already has prototypes for shopping bags and cutlery made with rice, and is working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get approved as an edible food product. 

"We're working on changing people's small habits.  Because even small changes can affect the environment in a big way," said Kim.
This Is How 2 Brothers Brought The Soul Of Persian Cuisine To Austin
Aug 20, 2019, 02:57pm

Description: Claudia Alarcón
Claudia AlarcónContributor 
Chef Amir Hajimaleki was eight years old when his family moved to the United States, leaving friends and family behind. It was a sad yet exciting time because he knew, even at a young age, that coming to the U.S. would open opportunities he never would have had in Iran.
At such an early age, the adjustment was manageable. “I loved growing up in Austin, people were nice and welcoming. Our schools and teachers were helpful in getting us adjusted to the culture, helping us learn English,” says Hajimaleki.  But the biggest change was the food. “We didn’t go to the market every day to get fresh vegetables and meat to make dinner, we instead ate fast food. We also didn’t play outside as much. In Iran we would play football (soccer) until it was dark outside.”
Amir Hajimaleki's lamb shank with creamy laurel-aged Charleston gold rice and fava beans is an example of how ties together traditional Persian and American dishes.
However, moving to the United States gave him the opportunity to turn a dream of owning a restaurant into a reality. Hajimaleki is the chef and owner of District Kitchen + Cocktails and Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar, two Austin neighborhood restaurants featuring seasonally inspired menus that push the boundaries of traditional American fare by incorporating flavors and traditions from their Persian heritage. Alongside his brother Ali, who oversees desserts and pastries, Hajimaleki knows that owning a restaurant is something he never could have achieved living in Iran, and he is grateful because here he has found success.
Brothers Ali and Amir Hajimaleki left Iran at an early age, and found their dream of owning a restaurant in Austin, Texas.
“I think the best way to understand any country's culture is through its food,” says Hajimaleki, whose laid-back demeanor and honest smile will win anyone over. “I express my Persian roots not only through food, but hospitality. What you don’t often see or hear is that Persian people are extremely friendly, generous, and hospitable. When I was a child living in Iran, my grandparents would buy butter, cheese, bread and eggs to donate to small villages or orphanages in need.”
Hospitality was instilled in the Hajimaleki brothers at a young age, teaching them to take care of others. “When you are a guest of an Iranian host, you will find that there is always a spread way bigger than the amount of people invited could ever eat. Growing up watching this culture has shaped who I am today because even during a time of war, the Persian community came together through hospitality. People would gather, eat and laugh and forget the daily struggles. This is the reason I wanted to become a chef and restaurateur.”
Hajimaleki created this deconstructed tahchin, a traditional Iranian rice cake consisting of chicken, rice, yogurt, saffron, eggs and zerishk (barberries). 
Hajimaleki enjoys sharing his Persian heritage through food by incorporating dishes from his childhood on the menus, or simply by using saffron, orange blossom water, cardamom, rose water and turmeric in his cooking to give his New American menus a twist. “I’ve modernized certain Persian dishes and hybridized others,” says the chef. “For example, I modernized traditional tahchin by deconstructing it using updated culinary techniques.” Tahchin is an Iranian rice cake consisting of chicken, rice, yogurt, saffron, eggs and zerishk (barberries). “I made a saffron yogurt sphere, which I place on a crispy tahdig with sous vide duck breast. I then use the barberries to make a beautiful barberry pomegranate sauce.” 
He also enjoys creating hybrid dishes that tie together traditional Persian and American dishes. His braised lamb shank with creamy laurel-aged Charleston gold rice and fava beans is a great example. “I like to use dorper lamb for taste and look for a mix breed of Dorset Horn and Blackhead Persian sheep,” he says. The lamb is braised with onions, garlic, turmeric, advieh (a spice blend consisting of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, rose buds, ginger, cumin) saffron, orange blossom water and lamb stock. He pairs this with a creamy rice enriched with goat cheese, garnished with pistachio-lemon gremolata and fresh dill.
Chef Amir Hajimaleki in his kitchen at Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar in North Austin.
“I use laurel-aged Charleston gold rice because it’s aged with red bay laurel leaves for three years, giving it similar aromatics as basmati rice.” This dish is typically served with a baghali polo, a fava bean rice made with basmati rice, dill and saffron. “This is a perfect example of “hybridizing” Persian and American to accommodate the American palate.”
Hajimaleki is currently developing and testing a third concept, Roya. Meaning “dream” in Farsi, this forthcoming concept is a chef-driven Persian restaurant with modern versions of traditional dishes, like Fesenjān, a Persian stew made with poultry, pomegranate and walnuts in a cast iron skillet. Hajimaleki recreated this dish into a “cast iron chicken” with braised chicken thighs, pomegranate and fresh pomegranate seeds, walnuts and white wine, served in a sizzling cast iron skillet over orange-scented basmati rice.
Hajimaleki's version of Fesenjān features braised chicken thighs, pomegranate and fresh pomegranate seeds, walnuts and white wine, served in a sizzling cast iron skillet over orange-scented basmati rice.
“I am excited to open Roya and really deliver a full Persian menu to showcase not only classics made with modern culinary techniques, but to share the heritage, culture and history of the cuisine and country,” he says. He is also eager to pay it forward by creating jobs and opportunities for others. “As a chef and restaurateur, it’s important to me to give back because the people I have worked with are mostly immigrants on the same journey. They are good people who work hard and take care of their families just like the rest of us. As far as I'm concerned, we are all on one team. Just like a kitchen, if you foster a culture of people who welcome, teach and embrace one another, you will inspire others to change their tune.”
Chef Amir Hajimaleki puts the final touches on a dish during a pop-up for Roya, his upcoming Persian cuisine concept.
The road has not been easy, but hard work and a true passion for sharing his gifts has landed Hajimaleki right where he wants to be. His immigrant cuisine is exciting and vibrant, and his endeavors continue to be successful despite the current socio-political climate. “There is no place for hate in this world, so you must handle it maturely,” he says. “I’ve dealt with it by trying to educate those who judge, by always staying respectful and taking the higher road. I treat every day as an opportunity because I know it’s an opportunity I wouldn’t have in Iran, which is why I love this country. I’ve always embraced this mentality and I think it’s helped to get me to where I am today.

Should We Eat Less Rice?
Digging into the statistics about rice farming and climate change

       By Evelyn Lamb on August 21, 2019
Your Bowl of Rice Is Hurting the Climate Too” reads a Bloomberg headline from June. “Rice cultivation could be as bad for global warming as 1,200 coal plants, so why aren’t consumers more bothered? Eco-conscious consumers are giving up meat and driving electric cars to do their part for the environment, but what about that bowl of rice?” I was irritated as soon as I read it. It was probably a combination of the whataboutism and the focus on a food that is eaten much more in Asia and Africa than the U.S. and Europe when overall Americans and Europeans have caused a lot more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than Africans and Asians. To top it off, what should I make of the 1200 coal plants number? How much of a climate impact “should” the staple food of billions of humans have?
The article is full of figures. They all sound impressive, but I didn’t really understand how to interpret them. Rice is “just as damaging over the long term as annual carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. combined.” (Do Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. all rely on fossil fuels for most of their energy? How do the populations of those four countries compare to the population that relies on rice for a significant proportion of their calories? How should I compare climate impact of the farming of one crop for the entire world to the climate impact from all causes in a few countries?) “Global production of milled rice has increased 230% since 1960.” (How much has the population increased since then?) Rice production emits “twice as much of the harmful gases as wheat.” (Is more rice or wheat consumed?) “Growing rice in flooded conditions causes up to 12% of global emissions of methane, a gas blamed for about one quarter of global warming caused by humans.” (What are the major sources of anthropogenic methane emissions? Methane from rice farming causes 3% of anthropogenic global warming. Is that a lot? Food is one of the least optional sources of greenhouse gas emissions, after all. Plenty of people live without cars, flights, or electricity, but calories are a must.)
I’m not writing this post solely because I wanted to complain about one article that bugged me, as fun as that is. It’s important to think about how we interpret headlines like this one. Many people have had traumatizing experiences with mathematics and don’t feel comfortable reasoning about numbers or statistics, but as a society we are also on the whole deferential to numbers. An article can get away with throwing statistics around without properly contextualizing them because people won’t question them, or don’t know the right questions to ask, or think an argument that refers to a lot of numbers must be a sound one.
Furthermore, humans’ perceptions about what to focus on when it comes to pollution and climate change can be skewed. Recently, some environmental activists have zeroed in on plastic straw waste, causing a reaction from disability activists, who say plastic straws are important accessibility items for some people. The fracas concerns less than a tenth of a percent of the plastic pollution in the ocean. A plastic straw ban is basically symbolic. (A 2018 study estimated that about half of the plastic pollution in the famous Great Pacific Garbage Patch consists of lost or discarded fishing nets.) With a limited mental bandwidth for caring about and taking action on various environmental issues, where should rice fall on that list?
But most of all, I finished reading the article honestly unsure how to understand the impact of rice farming on the environment. I wanted to find the numbers that would help me put the situation in context.
Back to rice.
Reading the article, my first question was what proportion of the world’s calories come from rice. That seems like an important basic fact that would help me understand the other numbers. Ricepedia, a rice information site run by CGIAR, an agriculture research organization, says 19% of “global human per capita energy” comes from rice. About 3.5 billion people get at least 20% of their calories from rice, and about half a billion get most of their calories from rice. Other sources I found had similar numbers, reporting 16–20% for the proportion of the world’s calories that come from rice.
A fifth of the total calories humanity consumes is a lot. Corn (maize) and wheat have similar numbers. Together, the three plants provide more than half of our calories. Of course growing something that sustains so many people will have an impact on the environment. I was somewhat surprised that rice, corn, and wheat were so similar in the proportion of calories they provide. It helped put the fact that rice farming causes twice as much greenhouse gas emission as wheat in perspective.
My next question was how rice’s impact stacks up against impacts from other foods and how that compares to its importance as a source of nutrition. The statistic that rice produces 12% of anthropogenic methane and that the methane produced by rice farming makes put about half of crop-related greenhouse gas emissions come from a white paper prepared by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). (The white paper isn’t actually about the methane emissions; it is about a study that shows that attempts to mitigate methane emissions may be increasing the emissions of nitrous oxide, another potent greenhouse gas.)
The EDF bases their estimates on the 5th Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (relevant chapter here). According to those numbers (specifically figure 6.8, if you’re following along at home), the main food-related contributors to anthropogenic methane emissions are rice paddies and cow farts. (They don’t quite use that terminology.) Together, those sources account for about 40% of anthropogenic methane emissions, with rice producing about 30% of that amount. If all foods emitted the same amount of methane, rice would only produce 20%, so it produces about 1.5 times as much as it “should” proportionally. But the real story is that the methane emissions of food are very disproportionate, with rice and ruminants almost completely responsible! When all greenhouse gas emissions from food are taken into account, rice emits more greenhouse gases per calorie than wheat or corn but less than fruits, vegetables, legumes, or any animal sources. See this working paper from the World Resources Institute for more granular data. If the EDF is correct that rice emits more nitrous oxide than previously understood, those numbers may underestimate rice’s impact, but it is still dwarfed by the impact of animal-based foods.
I haven’t answered all the questions the article left me with, but I actually feel a lot more equipped to understand the impact of rice on the environment. Some of the numbers from the article still perplex me. I don’t know what to make of the comparison to 1200 coal plants or the assertion about Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. Comparing the climate impact of fossil fuel use in all sectors in four countries to the impact of a food that is eaten all over the world just doesn’t make sense to me. The statistic about rice production increasing since 1960 is a little more meaningful. The world population today is about 2.5 times as much as it was in 1960 (so it has increased 150%). Rice production, though, is about 3.3 times as much, so rice production has grown more than the population by a moderate amount.
Personally, these statistics will probably not change my rice consumption. I don’t eat a lot of rice anyway. It’s a part of my diet, but I get a lot more of my calories from wheat, and I think decreasing my consumption of dairy products would probably be more effective in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of my diet than reducing the amount of rice I eat would be. More broadly, rice is an important source of nutrition and part of the cultural heritage for billions of people and can be grown in places other crops can’t, so I bristle at any implication that people who rely on rice as a staple should cut down on it or are making irresponsible choices by surviving, and throwing shade at consumers who reduce their meat consumption but not rice seems particularly unhelpful.
That said, the statistics I found about the environmental impact of rice farming did surprise me. I didn’t realize it was such an outlier from other grains in terms of its climate impact, and I am glad that research continues into how to grow rice in less damaging ways. My dive down the rice rabbit hole also highlighted to me how difficult it can be to obtain and interpret information about how our choices affect the environment. Figuring out the full context for the numbers is difficult, and I hope more climate change research organizations will continue to make it easier for everyone to get the information they need to make informed choices.

Rainy weather is slowing the rice harvest

Posted: 4:09 PM, Aug 20, 2019 
Updated: 4:55 AM, Aug 21, 2019

For the last year Acadiana has been in a relatively wet pattern pushing back the entire rice process in 2019.
Rice farmer Alan Lawson says "we weren't able to get the fall work done in the fields like we normally like to, it delayed the planting in the spring which is delayed the harvest until now, so it's a couple weeks later than we like to be."
To go along with all the rain Hurricane Barry made matters even worse.Lawson says "Barry came in right about the time rice was flowering and pollinating and high wind and rain at that time is just not good it caused a lot of disease."Now as farmers try to harvest their crop the daily showers are keeping them out of their fields.
The longer farmers have to wait to harvest the more the crop is losing value. Description:!/quality/90/?
Because of all these challenges profits are definitely taking a hit.Lawson says "it's not been a really good season because of that yields are less than where we would like to be."
Now farmers are hoping for sunshine and drier weather in the coming weeks to make up some of theirs loses.

West Memphis School District encouraging taxpayers to vote yes to millage tax increase

Posted:  Updated: 
WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. ( – The state of Arkansas is giving the West Memphis School District $22.5 million to fund two new junior high schools. However, the city has to match that to keep that funding by increasing the millage rate.
The millage rate would increase from 29 to 36.5. If voters approve the increased rate, it would fund the new West Junior High and the new Wonder Junior High. This would mean if someone lives in a $100,000 house they would pay $6 more per month on their property taxes. 
Pat Hull has nieces and nephews in the West Memphis Public School District and said it’s time for updated schools so the kids can have a brighter future.  
“As we look at our children right now as they are growing and more opportunities to get more education,” Hull said. 
She is supporting the increase in the millage rate so the new schools will hopefully be equipped with more technology. 
“It has changed so much since I was in school, and it’s going to continue to change so you have to be a part of the change,” Hull said. 
Jon Collins is the superintendent for the West Memphis School District and said the millage rate for schools has not increased since 1953. The new schools will be more energy efficient and equipped with better technology and safety.
“You can imagine in a 1948 and a 1963 structure that the electrical backbone of those buildings are completely maxed out currently,” Collins said.
Included in the new schools will be enlarged cafeterias and libraries. He said if the increase in the millage rate is not approved by taxpayers, then the $22.5 million from the state will have to be returned. 
However, the Crittenden County NAACP said on Facebook that this is not an issue about money, but about race. 
“If the West Memphis School District cared about our children they’d fight to get Marion School District out of West Memphis and recover all the money we’re losing to Marion, rather than place another tax on poor people,” the Crittenden County NAACP said in a post on Facebook. 
It argues that if Marion schools were taken out of West Memphis, then West Memphis would benefit from the money gained by losing those schools. It also argued that Marion is predominantly white, while West Memphis is predominantly African American. 
The vote to whether or not increase the millage rate is September 10.
Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten,

Thailand approves $682 million in new rice insurance scheme
AUGUST 21, 2019 / 11:43 AM

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s National Rice Policy Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, on Wednesday announced 21 billion baht ($682 million) in subsidies to help stabilize prices for rice farmers hurt by drought and a strong baht.

Under the new rice scheme, the government will agree to pay farmers a fixed price for a set amount of production if market prices fall below benchmark prices during the main harvest seasons.

Thailand is suffering its worst drought in a decade, which has hurt farmers and reduced supplies, lowering the country’s rice exports. A strong baht and ample global stockpiles have further curbed sales.

“Since the start of the year, Thailand has exported 5.29 million tonnes, a reduction of 22% compared to the same period last year,” government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat told Reuters.

“This generated $2.8 billion in revenue, a reduction of 17% compare to last year, and this is due to the strong baht and the drought,” she said.

Under the new scheme, jasmine rice will be insured at 15,000 baht ($487.49) per ton up to a maximum of 14 tonnes per household, jasmine rice grown outside of irrigated area will be insured at 14,000 baht ($454.99) for up to 16 tonnes per household, and Prathum Thani jasmine will be insured at 11,000 baht ($357.49) up to 25 tonnes per household.

Glutinous rice will be insured at 12,000 baht ($389.99) a ton up to 16 tonnes per household, while non-glutinous rice will be insured at 10,000 baht ($324.99) up to 30 tonnes per household.

Thailand’s main rice-growing season begins in May, at the start of the rainy season, for harvest between August and October, while jasmine rice is usually grow in August for harvest in December.

The government estimated that the scheme will cover almost four million farmers. It plans to introduce additional measures, including cash handouts to cover the cost of harvesting. These subsidies will be considered by the cabinet next week.

The baht is Asia’s best performing currency so far this year, gaining around 5.5% against dollar.

The country’s rice exporter association lowered its annual export target for 2019 to 9 million tonnes from 9.5 million tonnes after a sharp fall in first-half exports.

Drought crisis sees sticky rice price double amid widespread shortages
By webfact in Thailand News 

Description: 6pm.jpg
Thai Rath reported that the price of sticky rice to consumers has almost doubled year on year. 

There are dire shortages of the Thai staple as farmers hold onto supplies for their own use rather than sell it to mills and agents. 

This has been caused by 600,000 rai of land being unsuitable for sticky rice cultivation due to the drought crisis hitting Thailand. 

Domestic trade representatives have warned people not to engage in profiteering. 

In a widely shared article across Thai social media Thai Rath said that the price of sticky rice had increased from over 19,000 baht a ton in 2018 to around 38,000 baht a ton this August - a 98% rise. 

Sticky rice is a staple in Thailand particularly in the north east and north. But it is also popular as a compliment to many dishes in Bangkok. 

Mwea rice farmers say water shortage to affect supply

Description: Mwea Irrigation Scheme
Rice drying up at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kirinyaga County due to shortage of water as a result of a prolonged dry spell. Farmers have expressed fears that there will be low production of rice this season. PHOTO | GEORGE MUNENE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

·       Water supply has been greatly affected by the prolonged dry spell.
·       There are only six cubic metres of water flowing in which cannot sustain rice farming in the 26,000-acre Scheme.If the drought persists, the production will go down by 50 percent. An acute shortage of rice is looming in Kenya due to lack of sufficient water at the giant Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Kirinyaga County.
Water supply has been greatly affected by the prolonged dry spell and farmers have expressed fears that rice production will fall.
Water levels in major rivers which supply irrigation the Scheme have gone down, pointing to possible low rice harvests this season.
Currently, there are only six cubic metres of water flowing in which cannot sustain rice farming in the 26,000-acre Scheme.
According to the chairman of the scheme's water users association Maurice Mutugi, for rice to do well, water flowing in rivers should be at least 11.3 cubic metres.
"The situation is serious and low production will be experienced in the area," said Mr Mutugi.
The most hit areas are Wamumu, Karaba and Mutithi, Ndindiruku and Nguka where rice is grown in large scale.
A spot check by the Nation established that the already planted rice in some areas has started wilting due to lack of enough water for irrigation.
If the drought persists, the production will go down by 50 percent and Kenya will experience a shortage of the vital foodstuff.
When there is enough water and the climate is favourable, farmers produce one million bags of rice, which translates to Sh7 billion per season.
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Over 29,000 tons of rice exported via Myanmar-China trade camps in July

More than 29,000 tons of rice were exported to China through Myanmar-China border trade camps in July this year, exceeding over 3,000 tons compared to June, according to the Ministry of Commerce. 
From July 27 to August 2 again, over 8,000 tons of rice were exported—over 7,300 tons via Muse 105th trade zone, about 500 tons via Chinshwehaw trade camp and over 160 tons via Loijel trade camp. 
In the whole July, over 29,000 tons or rice were exported through those trade camps but the amount exceeded by over 3,000 tons when compared to June. 
Myanmar exported over 400,000 tons of broken rice worth over US$100 million to 36 countries over the past 10 months with 50 percent of the total tonnage going to Belgium, according to Myanmar Rice Federation. 
"We earned US$107.147 million from exporting 400,689 tons of broken rice to 36 countries from October 1 to August 2 in the current 2018-2019 fiscal year," said an official from the Ministry of Commerce.