Monday, August 26, 2019

26th August,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Weekly SPI inches down

KARACHI: The Sensitive price indicator (SPI) for the week ended August 22 decreased 0.08 percent over the previous week; however, the poorest quintile that earns only up to Rs8,000/month registered an increase of 0.04 percent in SPI inflation, official data showed on Friday.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data showed that weekly inflation for the combined income group declined to 271.83 points against 272.05 points recorded in the week ended on August 16. But it increased a whopping 18.91 percent as compared to weekly inflation in the corresponding period last year.
SPI for income group of up to Rs8,000 increased 0.04 percent during the week under review as compared to the preceding week, while registering 15.63 percent increase compared to weekly inflation in the corresponding period last year.
Weekly inflation for the group earning Rs8,001 to Rs12,000 decreased 0.02 percent. The SPI for the people earning between Rs12,001 and Rs18,000 declined 0.02; and for those making Rs18,001 and Rs35,000 it fell 0.10 percent.
The income group earning above Rs35,000 recorded the most decline in inflation at 0.12 percent; however, the weekly SPI increased a whopping 21.81 percent for this quintile compared to the weekly inflation in the corresponding period last year. PBS computes weekly price trend of 53 essential items from 17 urban centres. Average prices of only seven commodities declined during the week ended on August 22 over the previous week.
Items that recorded the highest decrease in prices were tomatoes, down 8.85 percent to Rs52.04/kg, and chicken, down 7.93 percent to Rs193.62/kg. Other items were garlic, LPG cylinder, potatoes, and red and yellow lentils. During the week, prices of 24 goods increased, including onions, soap, plain bread, vegetable ghee and oil, gur, sugar, pulse gram and mash, eggs, wheat and wheat flour, red chilli powder, mutton and beef, mustard oil, basmati rice, milk and curd, kerosene oil, and firewood.
Average prices of 22 items remained unchanged during the week under review, which included cloth, shoes, utility charges, salt, tea, rice irri-6, powdered milk, petrol, high speed diesel, and telephone charges

Vietnam steps up work to help longan enter Australian market

Description: image (Photo: VNA)

Sydney (VNA) – The Vietnam Trade Office in Australia is working to help Vietnamese longan exporters to obtain an import licence from the Australian Government as soon as possible.

The information was released at a Vietnam - Australia business connection conference held in Sydney last weekend, which gathered leaders of 7 Vietnamese localities – Tuyen Quang, Hai Duong, Quang Binh, Khanh Hoa, Dak Lak, Dong Thap, and Can Tho – and representatives from over 40 Australian firms, investment funds, and business associations.

Nguyen Phu Hoa, head of the office, said following the Australian Department of Agriculture’s recent announcement of import requirements for fresh longan from Vietnam, his office has held discussions with Vietnamese localities that grow the fruit and businesses from both sides.

Vietnam has so far exported lychee, mango, and dragon fruit to the Australian market.

According to Hoa, the office will support exporters of Vietnamese farm produce in completing related paperwork and liaison between agencies and businesses of the two countries, while carrying out a series of activities to promote Vietnamese longan in the Oceania country.

The official unveiled that the office has built new plans to provide practical aid for Vietnam’s export, which include the establishment of a customer support hotline for consumers of Vietnamese products in Australia and a Vietnamese club that offers information to Australian firms.

He also informed the conference that the SunRice Australia, which consumes 5 percent of Vietnam’s total rice exports, has completed its assistance plan for Vietnam under a sustainable rice production programme. The plan aims to help Vietnamese rice meet international standards, thus allowing the group to purchase more Japonica and Indica rice from Vietnam in the next 10 years. 

At the conference, Tom Robb, CEO of The Robb Group, an Australian company that specialises in corporate and capital advisory services, said better-than-ever cooperation opportunities are opening up for Vietnamese and Australian enterprises.

Graham Kinder, Vice President of the Australia Vietnam Business Council, said strong collaboration has been recorded between localities of both nations across all fields from trade to culture and education.-VNA

Cheap glutinous rice planned to battle high prices
The government has banned hoarding of glutinous rice and will sell discounted packs as prices soar amid shortages. Government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said on Monday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had ordered the Commerce Ministry to prevent hoarding and to launch discounted packs in the wake of the all-time high price of glutinous rice. Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit ordered the Internal Trade Department to impose the ban immediately since the grain is on the ministry's price control list, Mrs Narumon said.
"There will be discussions with millers, traders and cooperatives so they can quickly produce packed glutinous rice at a special price to relieve people's trouble," she said. Mrs Narumon attributed the expensive glutinous rice to drought that caused its low yield. The situation should improve when the new yield comes out in October, she said.

Glutinous rice now sells for 50,000 baht a tonne while Hom Mali fragrant rice costs 35,000 baht.
Local retail prices were nearly 50 baht per kilogramme and a smallest bag of steamed glutinous rice is now 10 baht, double recent prices.

Exporters seek Iraq deal
Rice exporters have urged the government to revive government-to-government (G2G) rice deals with Iraq, which suspended its rice purchases from Thailand on concerns about quality in 2016. Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said the government should speed up its efforts to regain the confidence of Iraq concerning Thai rice. A deal with the Iraqi government would pave the way for other purchases by Iraqi buyers, he said. Iraq used to buy 700,000-800,000 tonnes a year during 2011-13, dropping to 111,500 in 2014 and 83,350 in 2015.

Iraq has not bought any Thai rice since 2016, as the country was concerned after finding that the 100% white rice delivered from Thailand during the Yingluck Shinawatra government was of poor quality. In 2018, the Iraq Grain Board of the Trade Ministry imported 735,516 tonnes of rice, mainly from Vietnam, Uruguay, the US, Argentina and Paraguay. Last year Iraq imported 320,235 tonnes from Vietnam, followed by 185,707 tonnes from Uruguay, 126,131 tonnes from the US, 63,081 tonnes from Argentina and 30,362 tonnes from Paraguay.

"A G2G deal with certified quality will help restore Iraq's trust, and the private sector can follow up to secure purchase orders later," Mr Charoen said. He urged the commerce minister to visit Japan and the Philippines to boost rice exports. Mr Charoen also suggested the government focus more on development of rice seeds to increase the country's competitiveness and exports. The government should promote more soft-textured rice seeds rather than the hard-textured ones pushed now, he said. The association is maintaining its rice export forecast at 9 million tonnes this year. "With shipments constantly declining since January, our best performance would be 9 million tonnes this year," Mr Charoen said. The target is about 20% less than the 11.2 million tonnes in 2018.

Ambassador hopes Cambodia listens to EU’s concerns to avoid EBA cancellation
 Outgoing European Union Ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar on Friday said he hopes the Cambodian government will address the concerns raised by the EU regarding compliance with conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations.

For in depth analysis of Cambodian Business, visit Capital Cambodia .
Speaking to reporters in Phnom Penh on Friday, Mr Edgar said he expects positive results for Cambodia if the EU’s concerns are taken seriously, adding that he doesn’t want to see Cambodia lose the trade preferences it enjoys under the Everything-but-arms (EBA) scheme. “The EU takes about 50 percent of all Cambodian exports, so the EU is the biggest export market for Cambodia,” the ambassador said. “We hope that something will continue to develop.

“Everybody knows that a procedure has been launched that could potentially lead to the suspension of Cambodia’s trade preferences. We have underlined repeatedly that [the suspension of the EBA] is not the necessary outcome of the procedure and it is not the outcome the European Union wants to see. “The procedure has been launched because of concerns about a number of developments in Cambodia that have raised questions regarding Cambodia’s compliance with international conventions, particularly the ILO and the UN conventions which are required to access EBA preferences,” Mr Edgar said. “Our sincere hope is that the Cambodian authorities will address the issue in an effective way and that there is no need for Cambodia’s access to EBA to be called into question,” the outgoing ambassador said, adding that he hopes the relation between Cambodia and the EU will be “very good” and that it will benefit the people. In February, the European Union started a six-month process of intense monitoring and engagement that could lead to the temporary suspension of Cambodia’s preferential access to the bloc’s market under the EBA trade scheme. With duty-free access under the EBA, EU is Cambodia’s biggest market for textile and garment products, bicycles and agricultural products. The Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) on Thursday asked the European Union to save the livelihoods of half a million families by halting the process to withdraw the Everything-but-arms scheme.

In a statement issued yesterday, CRF said cancelling the trade scheme would be a “painful” addition to the duties that the bloc imposed on Cambodia rice earlier this year to protect European producers. As a result of the new levies, during the first half of 2019, Cambodia’s milled rice exports to the EU fell by almost 50 percent compared to the first half of 2018, CRF pointed out. “This year the EU imposed duties on Cambodian rice in order to protect domestic producers. This has been acutely felt by most of the 500,000 families in Cambodia who eke out a living farming jasmine and fragrant long-grain rice, even though these varieties are geographically specific and do not compete directly with products grown in the EU,” CRF said in the statement. “Without the EBA, these efforts will come to naught. The CRF appeals to the EU to save the livelihoods of half a million families and to save the work that we have done to earn your respect, that of consumers and that of those we serve.” The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has also joined calls to halt the EBA removal process. In a recent statement, it said the livelihood of 750,000 workers and the welfare of some 3 million Cambodians are at stake. “GMAC again wishes to stress to EU legislators, officials and all interested stakeholders that a suspension of EBA benefits for our sector will result in significant job losses in the garment, footwear and travel goods industries and would not serve the EBA programme objectives of poverty eradication and sustainable development.

“It would prove to be a sad and regrettable outcome for GMAC and its workforce which have done so much to cooperate with the ILO and in effect to promote its role in monitoring workers’ rights in Cambodia, as well as in other nations,” GMAC said.

EU tariffs on Cambodian rice damage 500,000 farmers


To protect its producers, the EU has imposed tariffs for three years on Cambodian and Myanmar rice. In just six months, exports to Europe have been halved. For Cambodia, the measure penalises producers of “jasmine and fragrant long grain rice” who “do not compete directly with products grown in the EU”. China is ready to support Cambodia’s economy and agriculture.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Some 500,000 farming families face serious economic disruption because of tariffs imposed by the European Union (EU) on Cambodian rice, this according to the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF). European tariffs and the consequent decline in exports weigh heavily on Cambodian agriculture, already penalised by a severe drought in the first months of the year. EU-Cambodian economic relations could also be affected by changes to Cambodia’s privileged trading status. The EU in January imposed tariffs for three years on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar, in order to protect EU producers following a surge in imports from the two Asian countries. For the first six months of this year, Cambodian rice exports to the EU fell by half compared with the same period last year, to 93,000 tonnes, the CRF reports. “This has been acutely felt by most of the 500,000 families who eke out a living farming jasmine and fragrant long grain rice, in spite of the fact that these varieties are geographically specific and do not compete directly with products grown in the EU,” the CRF said in a statement. The EU in February also started an 18-month process that could lead to the suspension of Cambodia’s special Everything but Arms (EBA) access, which gives almost developing 50 countries duty free access for all exports to the EU, except arms. That process is separate from the rice tariffs and is due to European concerns over Cambodia’s human rights record. The EU takes more than a third of Cambodia’s exports, including garments, footwear and bicycles. In April, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that China, his closest ally, would help Cambodia if the EU withdrew the EBA. China had also agreed to import 400,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice, according to a Hun Sen’s posting online. Meanwhile, according to data from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality, a joint private-government working group, rice exports to China have already risen 66 per cent in the first half of 2019 to 118,401 tonnes.

Villar says rice tarrification law meant to comply with WTO deal obligations

 August 25, 2019, 3:19 PM
By Hannah Torregoza 
Senator Cynthia Villar on Sunday clarified misconceptions on the Rice Tariffication Law, saying it was passed due to the Philippines’ failure to meet with its obligations with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Description: Senator Cynthia Villar (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Cynthia Villar
(Senate of the Philippines / File Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)
Villar, one of the senators who pushed for the law, said this amid concerns that the law has dealt a huge blow on farmers affected by the influx of cheaper rice imports.
The law, which removed the quantitative restrictions on rice while imposing a 35-percent tariff on imports from neighboring Southeast Asian nations, was actually a result of the country’s failure to meet its obligations under a 1995 agreement with the WTO to make the country’s rice farmers more competitive.
“We (lawmakers) did not decide on the importation of rice. We signed an agreement in 1995 with WTO, they will allow us to control the importation of rice for 22 years to prepare our farmers to become competitive to the imported rice, and this expired in 2017,” Villar said.
“Of course, this is an agreement with the WTO. Our President can’t do anything but conform to the agreement, that’s why he sent a rice tariffication bill to Congress that he certified as urgent because he doesn’t want to import rice without tariff so that our small rice farmers will not be affected,” she pointed out.
Had the government succeeded in making Filipino farmers competitive while the WTO agreement was in effect, there would have been no need for the government to impose the liberalization of rice.
“We should have, since 1995, have helped our rice farmers to compete with those imported rice. There are mechanisms for them to be competitive with imported rice,” she said.
“We cannot do anything about it because that is part of our agreement with the WTO. We can’t disregard it. We had our shortcomings, so now we are trying to correct our mistakes,” she added.
But she said the Rice Tariffication Law can help farmers improve their livelihood by providing them funds to mechanize through the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
As such, Villar reiterated that the price of palay would not go down to as low as P7 per kilo due to the effects of the Rice Tariffication law.
“How can that drop to P7, when in Vietnam, it’s P6? Then you add tariff, that would be P9. So how can that drop so low?,” she pointed out.
“If rice from Vietnam enters into the market that would be P20 per kilo of rice, so how will it go down to P7? That’s already false information,” she stressed.

Plants Absolutely Love Listening to Music, Here Are Some Interesting Findings

August 24, 2019 Updated: August 24, 2019 Description: (Illustration - Shutterstock)
Plants love music, but not just any music. They have a taste for classical. Not only have researchers proven that crop yields increase, but growth is enhanced when plants are exposed to classical music.
You may need a little convincing, so here are some interesting findings to broaden your horizons. After you’re done with this article, you may opt for some more Mozart while at home.
Italian winemaker says his vines are “more robust” thanks to Mozart
Winemaker Giancarlo Cignozzi plays Mozart to his grape vines because he knows they like it.
When he first treated them to “Il Paradiso di Frassina,” he found the grapes growing closest to the speaker not only grew toward the speaker—but grew bigger too.
“The plants seem more robust. The grapes closer to the speaker have the higher sugar content, so we believe in this idea,” Ulisse, Giancarlo’s son, who makes wine with pops, told CBS News.
Description: – Shutterstock | Lukasz Szwaj
Interestingly, whilst his vines spend their days leisurely soaking up the sun on the hills of Montalcino in Tuscany and listening to classical pieces, they have become less susceptible to insect attacks, which is why Giancarlo does not use pesticide anymore.
Plants love classical music and seemingly detest rock music
In 1973, Dorothy Retallack, who authored The Sound of Music and Plants, tested groups of plants by exposing one group to rock music and another group to classical music.
The group of plants exposed to Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven, and Hayden grew towards the speaker, and even intertwined around the speaker. They obviously couldn’t get enough it.
The group exposed to rock music, however, grew away from the speaker and up the glass enclosure wall in what is believed to be an attempt to escape the sound. Even by turning the plants around, they continued to grow away from the speaker emanating rock music.
Moreover, the group of plants exposed to rock music grew abnormally and produced smaller leaves. This group died in two weeks.
Enhanced growth and increased yield for a field of crops
Dr. T. C. Singh, head of the Botany Department at India’s Annamalai University, found that the growth rate of balsam plants accelerated by 20 percent in height and 72 percent in biomass after being exposed to classical music performed by flute, violin, harmonium, and a “reena,” an Indian instrument.
Description: – Shutterstock | CHALERMPHON SRISANG
Moreover, seeds that were exposed to classical music and later germinated produced a healthier plant of greater size and with more leaves.
In another experiment, he used loudspeakers to play classical Indian music to a rice paddy. These crops ended up growing 25–60 percent larger than India’s regional average.
He did the same for peanuts and musically provoked them to yield 50 percent more.
Dr. Singh also noted that in the experiments he conducted, plants were most receptive to violin sounds.
Beethoven aids rice crop growth
In an experiment conducted by Mi-Jeong Jeong of the National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology in Suwon, South Korea, and his colleagues, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” was played to a few lucky rice fields.
The researchers monitored the gene expression of the crop and determined that not only Beethoven but classical music in general stimulates the crops’ growth. They played 14 different classical pieces, which all produced similar positive results.
The same effect can also encourage buds to flower, producing more fruit, or a greater harvest.
Jeong’s research is backed up by Canadian engineer Eugene Canby, who exposed wheat to J.S. Bach’s violin sonata. His findings show that the wheat crop yield increased by 66 percent thanks to Bach.
Description: – Shutterstock | Jozef Klopacka
Perhaps you may wonder how plants “hear” the music. Well, one needs to think more in terms of vibrations and frequencies from harmonious sound waves, which is what’s understood to stimulate plant growth.
The above few experiments are only a teeny tiny portion of what has been discovered. It’s interesting to say the least.
Yeah, maybe you should get back to Bach… Your plants will thank you for it. Your own body may too!

One-third killed by elephants in north Bengal were drunk: Study
KOLKATA , AUGUST 24, 2019 22:57 IST
Description: Jumbo woes: Experts emphasise that the increasing human settlements should also be regulated.
Jumbo woes: Experts emphasise that the increasing human settlements should also be regulated.   | Photo Credit: Dipanjan Naha

Survey confined to north Bengal, 476 died between 2006-16

One-third of the people killed by elephants in north Bengal between 2006 and 2016 happened to be drunk and chasing the animal, a study has found.
During this period, a total of 476 persons died and 1646 injured in elephant attacks in the four districts of the region: Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, and Cooch Behar.
The study was published earlier this year in science journal Plos One. It analysed the age, profession and identity of the victims and found that 36% were drunk (on local rice beer called handia) and were chasing away elephants from their fields or the vicinity of their homes.
The study also suggested that awareness campaigns about the dangers of alcohol and basic behaviour of elephants should be organised regularly to educate marginalised farmers and tea estate workers.
Titled Assessment and prediction of spatial patterns of human-elephant conflicts in changing land cover scenarios of a human-dominated landscape in north Bengal, the paper looks at seasonal and temporal variation of elephant attacks, major land uses, hotspots of conflicts and age, profession and activity/behaviour of victims.
“74% of the elephant attack victims were males. 30% were farmers, 19% were daily labours and 17% were tea workers. Among the victims, 20% were returning home in dark, 7% had gone to collect firewood and 8% were defecating in the open,” said Dipanjan Naha and S. Sathyakumar, the lead authors of the publication who are associated with the Wildlife Institute of India. Only in 8% of the cases were the victims sleeping inside their homes, their study found.
A high seasonal variation has been observed in terms of attacks, according to the study, which is based on field visits to conflict sites. As many as 54 % of elephant attacks occurred between May and July and 30 % between August and October. The frequency of the conflict increases during the rainy season, which also coincides with the harvest of major agricultural crops such as wheat, maize and paddy.
The study also found major changes in land-use pattern in the region: forest cover increased by 446 sq km, the area under agriculture reduced by 128 sq km, while tea gardens declined by 307 sq km. The area under human settlement increased by 61 sq km in the past 10 years.
The researchers also pointed out that elephants need access to water and thus encroachment of riverine patches should be regulated immediately. The experts emphasised that the increase in area of human settlements should also be regulated, particularly along major elephant corridors such as Jaldapara, Buxa, Gorumara and Mahananda sanctuaries.
The study also pointed that the estimated elephant population in north Bengal is 488, which is only 1.8 % of the elephant population of India, but the number of human deaths due to elephant attacks stood at 12 % of all such deaths in the country.
Suggestions from the researchers include discouraging of paddy cultivation in areas adjacent to protected areas, where the risk of human-elephant conflict is the highest. Unpalatable crops such as ginger, chillis, tamarind, etc. should be grown to discourage visitation by elephants, they said.


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Hybrid seeds key to achieving rice self-sufficiency

August 24, 2019 at 07:30 pm by Manila Standard Business

Despite the World Bank’s estimate that the Philippines has 18.2-percent arable land, well above the global average of 10.6 percent and more than adequate annual rainfall, the country remains dependent on rice imports. 
Like most Asian countries, 90 percent of domestic rice comes from smallholder farmers. The good news is that through the efforts of the government, in partnership with companies such as Bayer Philippines, Filipino farmers are gradually shifting to hybrid seeds and adopting the modern methods needed to maximize their potential.
One success story is that of Myrna Perez-Villa.  Using hybrid seeds and techniques she learned by attending various training courses on updated farming methods, Perez-Villa, a rice farmer from Bago City, Negros Occidental, has consistently been able to get yields of 180 eighty cavans of rice per hectare.
Description: Hybrid seeds key to achieving rice self-sufficiency Myrna Perez-Villa beams with pride at her Arize Bigante Plus and mechanized farm in Barangay Taloc, Bago City, Negros Occidental
In 2004, using Bayer’s hybrid variety Arize Bigante Plus, Perez-Villa instructed her farmers to ground this seed on one hectare of land through broadcast or direct seeding.  She also received technical support from field technicians.
“People in our community laughed at me. They said this method would never work because of the huge planting distance; they were skeptical that this would produce a good plant,” recalled Perez-Villa.
Going against the status quo, Perez-Villa pressed on with crop protection products and nutrients. Come harvest time, her one-hectare hybrid rice farm produced 180 cavans, far more than the typical 80 cavans that inbred seeds and traditional methods yield on the average: “People were suddenly taking pictures in my rice farm. They could not believe it. I couldn’t too, but I am happy with the results,” expressed Perez-Villa.
Following her success, in March 2009, Perez-Villa founded the Newton-Camingawan-Para Farmers’ Association.  NECAPA gave farmers the platform to reach out to the government by seeking support on seeds, farm inputs and most importantly, mechanization. 
Starting with only 30 members, she said: “It was very difficult to convince farmers initially, I had to really take time to talk to them and give motivation. I told them they need to unite to have a solid voice to speak as one to the government”. 
Membership grew and to date, they have 145 active member-farmers. Through NECAPA, Barangay Taloc was selected as the pilot beneficiary of the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Mechanization Program that aims to increase farmer’s productivity and efficiency through machines.
The program is a step towards attaining rice self-sufficiency within the province. On the 200 hectares of rice model farms, 80 percent grounded Arize Bigante-Plus hybrid seeds.  Combined with the use of a mechanical transplanter and combine harvester, each hectare produced a consistent average yield of more than 180 cavans. 
In the coming season, NECAPA will not only be a recipient of seeds, inputs and mechanization support but will also expand to become a service provider to nearby farm communities with their experience from the previous season.

Paddy conundrum farmer loses out in Odisha government’s data crunching

Despite widespread distress sale, crop-loss caused by truant weather triggering farmer suicide, he State has been reporting bumper harvest of paddy which is followed by rising procurement.
Published: 25th August 2019 07:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th August 2019 07:13 AM   |  
Paddy farmers in Odisha
Express News Service
BHUBANESWAR: In Odisha, paddy comes with a problem of plenty. Come drought or flood, the State has been reporting bumper harvest of paddy which is followed by rising procurement by the Government.
Yet, there is widespread distress sale, crop-loss caused by truant weather triggering farmer suicide induced by rising cost of production and agricultural indebtedness. In fact, there is too much paddy everywhere - with farmers, millers and even with the Government which procures it. Paradoxical as it may seem, paddy production of the State is on the rise but the area under cultivation is gradually declining because farmers are shying away as it increasingly becomes non-remunerative.
Numbers don’t lie. The declining interest of farmers from agriculture is evident from the fact that the area under cultivation is progressively shrinking. The net sown area of the State for all the crops was 58.29 lakh hectare in 2000-01 which reduced to 53.56 lakh hectare in 2017-18.
 There is a progressive shrinkage of area under paddy cultivation too, the most favourite crop among the farmers. From 41.80 lakh hectare in 2013-14 to 37.06 lakh hectare in 2018-19, a net decline of 4.74 lakh hectare has been recorded in the last five years.
A recipient of Krishi Karman Award four times - including three consecutive years from 2012-13 to 2014-15 for being the best State in overall food grains production - not a single year has passed without political parties raising the bogey of distress sale despite the fact that the State has been procuring paddy much more than what the farmers produce. So, where is so ‘much’ paddy coming from in Odisha?
Bumper story
Sample this. The State had a bumper harvest of paddy of 149.16 lakh tonne (rice equivalent of 101 lakh tonne) in 2014-15, according to Agriculture Department estimates. The Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department put the total rice production at 98.45 lakh tonne with a marketable surplus of 33.97 lakh tonne after meeting the requirement towards feed and seed.
When the Food and Procurement Policy for kharif marketing season (KMS) 2014-15 was announced, the Government targeted to procure 30 lakh tonne of rice keeping the option open for District Collectors to revise the numbers if they felt necessary. The actual procurement of rice that year was 35.46 lakh tonne which is nearly 1.5 lakh tonne more than the marketable surplus.
The next year, keeping in view possible crop damage due to scanty rainfall in the State, the Government fixed a procurement target of 30 lakh tonne of rice for 2015-16 kharif season. The target was subsequently reduced by around 5.5 lakh tonne basing on Agriculture Department’s forecast of less production due to rainfall deficit.
As expected, rice production dropped to 58.75 lakh tonne, a steep fall of around 40 lakh tonne from 2014-15 as 23 out of 30 districts experienced a drought like situation. A concerned State Government pitched in for a demand for special Central assistance of Rs 3,000 crore to mitigate the dry-spell situation that resulted in crop loss in about 5.23 lakh hectare.
Baffling as it may sound, in a drought year having rice deficit of about 6.58 lakh tonne after meeting its requirement (see graphics), the State could procure 34.43 lakh tonne rice. As political leaders across party lines made a hue and cry over crop loss, the Government released an interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore before raising its demand for a special package for the drought-hit State.
The big question is, where did all the rice come from? Was it grown by the farmers? Or was it produced on paper only? A politically sensitive issue, no one dares question where did the marketing surplus paddy come amidst huge crop loss that led to increasing number of farmers’ suicides.Though the Central Government questioned the duplicity of the State Government by ignoring the special package demand at first, it subsequently reimbursed the rice procurement bill of the State under the decentralised procurement system ostensibly under political consideration.

Farmer Suicides
The year 2015 was a ‘black year’ for farming community in the State as it reported maximum number of farmer suicides. On October 29, 2015, Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner informed that the Government had received 41 reports of farmer suicides but refused to recognise crop failure as trigger for these extreme steps taken by the hapless farmers.An inquiry into the suicides blamed it on “mainly family disputes” and even “excessive liquor consumption” behind the deaths and the Government even refused to see its own failure.
By mid-March 2016, the official number of farmer suicides since the kharif season of 2015 had gone past 170. However, the Government continued to insist that none of the suicide was linked to crop-loss and attributed them to illness, heart attack, mental disturbance, drug addiction and family quarrel.
As farmers’ suicides continued unabated, the State recorded yet another bumper crop in 2016-17 kharif season with a rice production of 97.94 lakh tonne. The 2017-18 kharif marketing season witnessed a situation similar to 2015-16 reporting huge crop loss due to combination of natural calamities, including drought, unseasonal rains and pest attack. The extent of crop damage could be gauged from the crop loss claims of Rs1,625 crore settled by insurance companies to 18.99 lakh farmers under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
Even after recording a deficit production of about 1.55 lakh tonne (total rice production 65.51 lakh tonne against the total requirement 67.06 lakh tonne), the State Government procured 49 lakh tonnes of paddy (rice equivalent of 33.32 lakh tonne). Well, who produced all this paddy again? There is no answer to it.
The 2018-19 kharif season has been no different either. As per advance estimates of the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department, marketable surplus of rice will be stand at 5.13 lakh tonne after meeting the consumption and seeds requirement of 67.98 lakh tonne. And, defying logic, the State Government’s paddy procurement by June 2019 end crossed 65 lakh tonne (rice equivalent of 44 lakh tonne) against the annual target of 55 lakh tonne. The farmers, clearly, are not impressed. In Kalahandi, farmers took to streets staging blockades on National Highways urging the Government to purchase their surplus paddy stocks.
Faced with a ballooning expenditure (Rs 11,375 crore at the rate of Rs 1,750 per quintal) on paddy procurement and acute shortage of storage capacity, the Government had to backtrack from its pronouncement of purchasing all surplus paddy coming to the mandis (paddy procurement centres).
In the Budget Session of the Assembly, when the matter came in for heated debate by Opposition BJP and Congress, Agriculture Minister Arun Sahoo had a tough time defending the Government when he said 10 lakh tonne paddy above the target fixed had been procured and there is no surplus paddy with the farmers.
Production, Productivity and Procurement
It gets intriguing if one gets into the details. As it is, there is a complete mismatch between the official figures produced by Government departments on production and productivity basing on which the food procurement policy is decided. As per the advance estimate for 2018-19 KMS, the average yield per hectare was 29.88 quintal. The Government decided to procure 19 quintal per acre (which comes to 47 quintal per hectare) from irrigated land and 12 quintal per acre (30 quintal per hectare) from non-irrigated land.
How can the State procure 47 quintal when the average paddy production is about 30 quintals? This makes little sense. Barring a few farmers from Western Odisha districts of Kalahandi and Bargarh - considered to be the rice bowl of the State, average paddy production (per acre) in irrigated area stands at about 18 quintal and less than 10 quintal in non-irrigated land.
Biswanth Panda, a farmer of Kalahandi district with 10 acre of land says he produced about 250 quintal paddy during last kharif. The rabi production was, however, 30 quintal per acre. That is primarily because productivity goes to 28-30 quintal under Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) system under which transplantation is made in lines. However, the cost of production jumps under SRI method.
Senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra differs with the Government estimate on yield per acre on the ground that production has gone up with farm mechanisation, increasing rate of seed replacement with the use of more and more high yielding variety of seeds and better soil management.
Claiming that rice production has increased to over 40 quintal in irrigated areas and 30 quintal in non-irrigated areas using SRI method, he says, the per acre limit for procurement set by the Government is too small. “This is the prime reason of distress sale of paddy,” the Congress veteran says.
Mishra, who headed the departmentally-related standing committee on Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare and Cooperation Department, had recommended the Government to do away with the limit imposed for procurement to enable farmers sell their harvest to enhance their economic strength.
Paper Transaction
People familiar with the paddy procurement business say actual procurement is very less compared to what is revealed on records. The age-old practice of ‘paper transaction’ is very much in the trade and it is an open secret.“With big money involved in the trade, it is very difficult to break the nexus between officials of the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department, Food Corporation of India and rice millers,” asserts senior BJP leader and former MLA from Padmpur Pradip Purohit.
Purohit, who belongs to a district which produces maximum paddy in the State, points to Palsada Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society under Pikamal block of Bargarh district which is under investigation for procuring 10,000 quintal of rabi paddy from farmers who are either non-existent or have not transacted any business at all.
This is only the tip of an iceberg. A thorough investigation can only reveal the real picture about actual transaction taken place. Despite Paddy Procurement Automation System (P-PAS), a IT initiative to bring transparency in paddy procurement, the BJP leader says there exists a ‘nexus’ which the entire administration is aware of since everyone has a share in the pie.
Modus Operandi
The actual production of paddy in a particular KMS is much less than average production projected by Agriculture Department. The gap in the projected and actual production is adjusted by pumping paddy into the system by a section of rice millers who already have huge stock at their disposal. Since the number of small and marginal farmers is large and they have hardly any surplus paddy to sell, their accounts in the cooperative banks are used under P-PAS system for the illicit transaction of funds.
As paddy is procured only from farmers who have registered with PACS and the cost of paddy sold is directly sent to their accounts, these gullible farmers offer assistance to officials and rice millers involved in the illegal trade by allowing them to transact through their accounts with a cost. 
Sources say, the prevailing rate for using the account of a farmer is Rs 10 per quintal. Once proceeds of the paddy sold are transferred to accounts these farmers, they withdraw the money and share it with rice millers who are willing to be a part. Officials who are hand-in-glove get their share from these millers, said an insider of the trade.
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Americans have a whole grain problem. Here's how to fix it

Written By: Jenna Birch / Special to The Washington Post | Aug 26th 2019 - 12am.
The government has been promoting whole grains as part of a healthy diet since the 2000 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests we aren't following that advice. In fact, we're consuming less than half of the recommended amount of whole grains, which can be found in foods such as brown rice, whole wheat bread and even popcorn.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services' Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020, adults should consume six servings of grains daily, at least 50 percent of which should be made up of whole grains. The recent CDC report reveals, however, that whole grains are just 15.8 percent of total grain intake for the average American adult. So what are whole grains, and how can Americans get more of them?
Grains include oat, wheat, rice, barley, rye, bulgur, buckwheat, amaranth, farro, quinoa, millet, sorghum, teff, triticale, farro and spelt. In their whole form, they contain three parts: The bran, the endosperm and the germ.
Most of the products on grocery store shelves, however - think bread, pasta, white rice, bagels, cookies and pastries - are made of refined grains rather than whole grains. "Refined grains are grains in which the bran and germ have been removed to help extend shelf life and vary texture and flavor," says Kelly Hogan, a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition and wellness manager of Mount Sinai's Dubin Breast Center of the Tisch Cancer Institute.
The downside is that by removing the bran and germ, processing also removes most of the fiber and nutrients found in a grain. The bran, for example, is rich in fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants. The germ is loaded with vitamins, minerals, proteins and phytochemicals, or plant-based nutrients such as phenolic and flavonoids. The endosperm contains starchy carbs, with only a little bit of nutrient content.
Consuming whole grains is a good way to ensure you're getting fiber and important nutrients that support "countless body processes that regulate our day-to-day function," says Jessica Cording, a registered dietitian and integrative nutrition coach. Fiber keeps you fuller for longer so you don't overeat. Fiber also lowers the risk of long-term health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. "Fiber found in whole grains, especially soluble fiber, has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels by increasing excretion of cholesterol from the body," Hogan says. "It also slows down digestion to help keep blood sugar steady and helps keep bowels moving regularly."
The B vitamins in whole grains, including thiamine, niacin and riboflavin, are crucial metabolism aids. They help the body use the energy found in protein, fat and carbs. Folate, another B vitamin, assists the body in building new red blood cells. This nutrient is especially important for pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant, reducing the risk of some birth defects.
The phytochemicals - many of which are antioxidants - that are abundant in whole grains fight inflammation. Research has shown that whole grain intake can reduce the risk of death from inflammatory diseases (not including heart disease or cancer).
But when it comes to heart disease and cancer, whole grains are no slouches. A 2016 BMJ meta-analysis claimed there's evidence that eating whole grains can lead to "a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and total cancer, and mortality from all causes, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes."

It's usually best to try to get the vitamins and minerals you need by eating whole grains, rather than taking supplements or consuming products fortified with these nutrients. "In general, getting your nutrients as they naturally occur, and in less processed foods, helps ensure that you get all the nutrients you need on a daily basis," says Melina Jampolis, a physician nutritionist specialist in California. "Many whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, as well as low in sugar and saturated fat; they are a very good choice as part of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet."
It's not always easy to differentiate between whole grain products and refined grain products, so it's best to check labels. Even the most rustic-looking bread might be made with refined flour.
According to the Whole Grain Council, you should look for words such as, "100 percent whole [grain]," "whole [grain]," "whole wheat," "oats," "stoneground whole [grain]," and "brown rice." You should skip packages that say "enriched," "degerminated," "wheat flour," "bran" or "wheat germ" on the label; these are not whole grains.
Wheat: As you look for whole-wheat bread, pastas and crackers (cracked wheat, which you see on some labels, is whole wheat that's simply been split open), compare items. "Generally speaking, you want to make sure that a whole grain is the first ingredient listed," Cording says. "Then, ideally, I recommend choosing a product with at least three grams of fiber per serving."
If you're in a bakery without product labels, ask employees how they make the bread and which type of flour they use, Hogan says. "Notice the content of other grains like rye, oats and seed, as well, which are great and can also add fiber," she says.

Rice: Skip white rice, which is the rice grain without its hull, bran or germ. Though brown is the typical color of whole grain rice, including varieties such as basmati and jasmine, whole grain versions can also be black, red and purple. "The arsenic in brown rice is a concern, especially for young children - but as long as you have a variety of whole grains in your diet, this should not be an issue" for healthy adults, Jampolis says.
Corn: Hogan says corn is "technically both" a vegetable and a grain. The vegetable is the fresh corn you would find on a cob; the grain is the dried kernel (making popcorn a whole grain). When purchasing cornmeal, grits, corn cakes and tortillas look for made "made with 'whole grain corn' or 'whole grain cornmeal' " on the label.
Oats: Steel cut and rolled oats are healthy whole grain options. In the case of instant oats, which are still whole grain, make sure there's no added sugar - or skip altogether. "Being much more processed to allow for much faster cooking, instant oats raise blood sugar more quickly and have a higher glycemic index, so they're not as healthy as the former two," Jampolis says. "If you really want to choose the healthiest option, choose plain steel cut or rolled oats and add your own flavor and sweetness like cinnamon or Stevia."
Other options: Other grains include barley, rye, quinoa and buckwheat. Jampolis loves barley and quinoa for their nutrient profile "in side dishes and salads" you can whip up at home. Sorghum, freekeh, amaranth, millet and wheat berries are also whole grains to look up if you're feeling adventurous.
The Agriculture Department recommends that adults have six one-ounce servings of grains a day, and Jampolis says it isn't difficult to achieve the goal of getting half those servings from whole grains. "A serving size is about a slice of bread or half-cup of grains, so if you aim for three servings of whole grains daily and limit the refined grains like white bread, regular pasta, baked goods, and so on, to three servings a day or less, you will be fine," she says. "I think it is critical to note that many of [nutritional] studies are observational, and the key message is to replace refined grains with whole grains, not add whole grains into the diet on top of the grains you are already eating."
Consuming more home-cooked meals can help you balance your grain intake, Hogan says. She also suggests following more of a plant-based diet. "This, by the way, can absolutely include animal products, just more plants than anything else," she says. "Start slow by opting for whole grain versions of crackers; high-fiber, whole grain cereal; and whole-wheat breads and pastas. Then, as you get used to it, you can branch out and cook with a new grain like quinoa or farro." You can also use these grains in different ways. "They are delicious in salads, stir fries and more."
Shining a light on food
Sun, 25/08/2019 - 14:22  |  Izabelanair 
Claire Pizzey of Diamond Light Source describes the potential benefits of using the UK national synchrotron facility to undertake characterisation of foods and food ingredients to enhance understanding of their properties and behaviour.
With rising raw material costs around the world and increasing pressure for local food supplies, sustainability and waste reduction are key drivers for the food industry, particularly for global supply chains. Following food scares, consumers are demanding higher levels of quality control and traceability for food security; this is of vital importance in a very competitive market with new products frequently introduced. Consumer trends, particularly the focus on health and nutrition, also represent research and development challenges for the food industry and meeting these diverse requirements is key to long term business success. Innovation in these areas requires a fresh approach, a good understanding of the science behind the product or process and access to the widest possible variety of research and development tools. Diamond Light Source’s advanced characterisation facilities are actively supporting this innovation.
What is Diamond Light Source?
Diamond Light Source is the UK national synchrotron facility, producing X-ray, infra-red and ultraviolet beams of exceptional brightness for research purposes. This brilliant light, combined with state of the art technological platforms, is extensively used by the scientific community to undertake structural, chemical and imaging investigations of a broad range of materials on very fast timescales and under industrially relevant conditions. Diamond’s capabilities are very well suited to a wide variety of materials research applications ranging from aircraft fan blades to catalysts, hydrogen storage materials and batteries to high performance coatings and fuel additives and complex formulations for the pharmaceutical, food and consumer products industries respectively. 
Located near Didcot in south Oxfordshire, the research facility is used by approximately 8,000 scientists from the UK and overseas every year. These scientists (called ‘users’) are predominantly from academia (90%) and publish over 1,000 high impact journal articles each year as a result of their experiments, which are free at the point of access and awarded via a peer review competition. Commercial activity plays a very important role at the Diamond Light Source and 10% of the facility operational time is dedicated to proprietary use by industrial clients. Clients range from the large multi-national household names through to SMEs and start-ups with 150+ companies worldwide making use of Diamond’s facilities in their R&D programmes by 2018.
Diamond is a not-for-profit limited company funded as a joint venture by the UK Government through the Science & Technology Facilities Council (part of UK Research and Innovation, UKRI) in partnership with the Wellcome Trust. Diamond’s Industrial Science Committee provides guidance on opportunities for a wide range of industries to be engaged in research at the Diamond facility and identifies industrial research priorities that help to shape Diamond’s operational strategy. Companies currently and previously represented on the committee include Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Johnson Matthey, Infineum, Rolls-Royce, Evotec, Shell and National Nuclear Laboratory.
In order to facilitate the use of the Diamond facility by researchers working in industry, an Industrial Liaison team has been established, comprising highly qualified scientists experienced in a range of techniques, enabling the translation of diverse research problems into meaningful analytical solutions. Diamond offers a range of services including full experimental design, data collection and analysis service, ideal for those with limited time or no prior knowledge of the techniques. Working with initiatives, such as the STFC Food Network+, enables Diamond to gain a greater understanding of the pressures facing the agri-food sector and to tailor its offering to suit the needs of the food industry.
Aerial view of Diamond Light Source
©Diamond Light Source
How is Diamond’s facility used by the agri-food industry?
Diamond provides specialist ‘Formula 1’ analytical techniques for the atomic to microscale characterisation of materials ranging from food ingredients and formulations, packaging and food processing components through to agriculture. They are typically used by scientists who have exhausted the capabilities of lab-based techniques and are searching for characterisation tools that are higher resolution, faster, more chemically specific and more sensitive than are achievable in the laboratory. 
Broadly speaking, the materials characterisation facilities at Diamond fall into three main technique classes:
·       diffraction for structural analysis of materials from the atomic to macro scale,
·       spectroscopy for chemical analysis of local atomic structure in materials,
·       imaging with a wide variety of imaging techniques including high resolution and high speed tomography and phase contrast imaging.
A key benefit of synchrotron facilities is the ability to perform in situ and in operando experiments, closely mimicking the conditions experienced by the sample during processing and monitoring changes in real time (for example baking or freezing).
Measuring the mineral content of grains using X-ray spectroscopy
Understanding the local structure of materials with chemical specificity is of importance in answering central questions in many scientific disciplines. A key advantage of the use of synchrotron facilities is the ability to perform element-specific investigations of materials with high sensitivity. The unique capability of X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is its ability to investigate the local electronic and geometric information around a particular element irrespective of its state or environment. This powerful technique is suitable for studying solids, liquids and even gases and can cover the vast majority of the periodic table.
Case study: Measuring the mineral content of wheat
This element-specific sensitivity has played a key role in a project by Dr Andrew Neal and his colleagues from Rothamsted Research, in collaboration with scientists from Diamond and Aarhus University[1]. Diets with little or no meat, fruit and vegetables can lead to deficiencies in micronutrients, such as iron and zinc, due to low intake or bioavailability of minerals. The problem is affecting an increasing number of people worldwide and is particularly acute in Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and south-east Asia, where it can lead to serious health problems, such as anaemia.
The Health Grain Programme is focused on improving nutritional value of diets by breeding mineral enriched wheat to increase the mineral content of flour. Understanding the mineral type and content in the wheat is essential for subsequent studies of the digestibility of the wheat. In order to facilitate this, the scientists performed measurements using cross sections of individual wheat grains. They used Diamond’s beamline I18, to perform high resolution X-ray fluorescence (XRF) mapping and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) experiments. The combined techniques allowed the team to generate high resolution chemical maps of the wheat grain cross-sections (using XRF) and then select regions of interest within the maps, focusing on areas of high metal distribution to perform XAS measurements to obtain information about the local structure, oxidation state and complexation of the elements. The elements investigated were iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu) and nickel (Ni) (Figure 1).
Mineral contents of grains has important applications for other reasons. A team of scientists, led by Dr Manoj Menon at the University of Sheffield, has used Diamond to investigate rice plants to further the understanding of dietary sources of arsenic contamination[2]. Rice is one of the most widely-consumed cereals in the world – but if it is grown in regions where soil and water are naturally rich in arsenic, the poison can enter into the food chain with significant adverse effects on human and animal health when rice is eaten in large enough quantities. It is estimated that arsenic contamination in food and water affects nearly 140 million people across 70 countries with South Asia most acutely affected as rice is consumed as a staple food. Rice husk and straw are used for animal feed which could provide an alternative dietary pathway for arsenic consumption through contaminated meat and dairy products.
Different types of rice vary in the uptake and accumulation of arsenic, although this is not well understood and less still is known about where the arsenic accumulates within the rice plant which may have a significant effect on the bioavailability of the arsenic.
The project focused on mapping arsenic in different parts of rice grains using X-ray fluorescence. The high intensity X-rays can be tuned and focused to a very small spot to enable arsenic to be detected at very low concentration in particular regions of the grain. Elemental mapping with this level of specificity for arsenic at low concentration with high resolution is only possible using a synchrotron facility. The next steps in the project seek to focus on rice cultivars that accumulate less arsenic and to inform the development of cultivation practices that reduce arsenic accumulation in rice.
Structural studies on food materials
A wide variety of techniques are available, mainly based around diffraction, that can provide information about the structure of materials on the atomic and nanometre length scales. This level of detail can be extremely important in understanding variations in product or process performance. These experiments can be used to investigate the behaviour of food additives in product formulations by:
·       examining phase behaviour in emulsions, suspensions and gels to assess performance of new ingredients,
·       investigating the behaviour of emulsifiers and complex structures for reducing fat content in products,
·       examining the crystalline and solution structure of food proteins.
Case study: Investigating the purity of lactose crystals
One example is a recent study of the crystallisation of lactose by Dr Elena Simone and colleagues at the University of Leeds[3]. Lactose, the main carbohydrate constituent of milk, is extracted from whey, a by-product of cheese and yoghurt production, mainly for environmental reasons, but it holds significant value in its own right. Purified lactose exists in two main crystalline forms (called anomers), α-lactose and β-lactose, and is commonly used as a food supplement or a pharmaceutical excipient. Both anomers are present during the nucleation and growth of a specific crystal structure which can affect the purity of the precipitated crystals and in particular the α-lactose monohydrate is formed very slowly. It is therefore difficult and time consuming for the dairy industry to achieve a high yield of recovery and to obtain crystals of sufficient size, shape and purity. The team made use of two different, highly controlled crystallisation techniques and focused on determining the effect of crystallisation process parameters on the characteristic properties of lactose crystals including morphology, size distribution, level of agglomeration, crystal structure, purity and overall recovery yield. The study provided a greater understanding of the process parameters that are most effective in obtaining a high purity product in a significant yield.
X-ray imaging of food products
X-ray imaging is a non-destructive technique that has a very large range of applications in fields as broad as bio-medicine, materials science, engineering, environmental science and food technology. X-ray imaging techniques allow high speed visualisation of a sample or retrieval of three dimensional (3D) information to view and measure the internal structure of a sample (tomography).
Figure 2 X-ray imaging studies on some example snack food products showing porosity and microstructure in high resolution.
Advantages of synchrotron X-ray imaging include:
·       much faster measurement times compared with laboratory based instruments,
·       small beam sizes and special optics to produce images with a resolution of less than 1μm,
·       enhanced contrast available by tuning the X-rays themselves.
The techniques can be used to monitor structural changes with thermal, mechanical and ageing treatments and investigate microstructural changes with varying processing conditions to optimise product behaviour (Figure 2). It is particularly helpful for detecting cracks, voids and bubbles and so can be used for a wide range of food products, such as foams, porous solids and complex structures e.g. confectionery or meat.
Case study: Investigating the 3D structure of ice-cream using X-ray imaging
X-ray imaging at Diamond has been used extensively by Unilever to explore the microstructure of ice cream[4]. The quality of ice cream is considered to depend on the size of constituent air cells and ice crystals - the smaller and rounder the better. Product quality and shelf life can be strongly affected by the temperature variations that can commonly occur during storage and distribution, including by the end consumer, where a significant number of the overall freeze-thaw ‘abuse’ cycles take place. Ice cream is a complex multi-phase soft solid material that consists of ice, air, fat and sugar, containing three states of matter: gas, liquid and solid. An understanding of how the freeze-thaw cycle can influence ice formation is important in controlling ice cream microstructure. The crystal size is small, the material is opaque and the structure is easily disturbed by the modification required by most analytical methods, all creating challenges for detailed microstructural analysis.
A team from The University of Manchester and Unilever performed X-ray tomography of ice cream microstructure over temperature cycles from -20°C to -7°C using instrument Diamond’s I13-2. This instrument provides high flux X-rays tuned to provide both high temporal and spatial resolution to allow 4D in-line phase contrast imaging to be performed. These non-invasive experiments allowed Unilever scientists to investigate the 3D microstructure while largely maintaining the natural product environment and provided a greater understanding of the mechanism of ice formation. The results aided the determination of the influence of processing conditions during manufacture and informed the development of formulations.   
Using the Diamond synchrotron facility
There are two main routes to working with Diamond through our proprietary and peer-reviewed access modes.
Up to 10% of the available experimental time at Diamond is set aside for proprietary access, the most popular choice for our industrial clients. The Industrial Liaison team acts as the main point of contact for our industrial partners and can offer a range of services including a mail-in data collection and full experimental design, data collection and analysis service. Some of our partners prefer to perform their own experiments and simply obtain access to the instruments with some technical support. Some prefer to send their samples for a full analysis service while others participate in the experiments to varying degrees. Our flexible approach means that we can prepare a tailored package depending on the project needs and we charge only for the time and services used. We are able to offer support with as much or as little of the project as necessary. Government funding streams may also prove helpful; previous industrial partners have attracted Innovate UK funding for their projects with Diamond and we are currently partners in the Bridging for Innovators (B4I) scheme, which provides funding for UK based companies to access Diamond and other facilities to overcome product, process or manufacturing challenges.
Dr Claire Pizzey Deputy Head of Industrial Liaison, Diamond Light Source
Claire works closely with the Industrial Liaison team and industrial partners providing a multi-disciplinary approach to solving real-world problems. To find out more about Agri- Food research & development activities at Diamond please get in touch.
Telephone 01235 778797
Twitter @DiamondILO also on LinkedIn
1. Neal et al, “Iron and zinc complexation in wild-type and ferritin–expressing wheat grain: implications for mineral transport into developing grain”, J. Biol. Inorg. Chem. (2013) 18, 557-570.
3. Simone et al, “Optimal Design of Crystallization Processes for the Recovery of a Slow-Nucleating Sugar with a Complex Chemical Equilibrium in Aqueous Solution: The Case of Lactose”, Org. Process Res. Dev. (2019) 23, 2, 220-233.
4. Guo et al, “Revealing the microstructural stability of a three-phase soft solid (ice cream) by 4D synchrotron X-ray tomography”, J. Food. Eng. (2018) 237, 204-214.

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Dedicate time for research - Michelle Rice urges local filmmakers

Description: Michelle Rice, President Of TV OneMichelle Rice, President of TV One speaking to the audienceA Year of Return Master Class has been organized for stakeholders in the movie industry with a call on them to research and know the interests of international distributors before submitting contents for consideration.

While responding to a concern that contents from Ghana are mostly not featured on international channels, Michelle Rice, President of TV One mentioned that every channel has got their respective requirements hence, it was prudent for producers to spend time researching these requirements so their works are not rejected.

She said: “The most successful people who are getting their project made actually do the research or actually talk to the place: ‘I want my project on TV One or BET or HBO….Actually, what do they want?’’’

“A lot of people are trying to sell me stuff that I don’t want… You did a project but I don’t want it… It is also about trying to sell something to someone that they want,” she further stated.

On her part, Hollywood actress AJ Johnson underscored the need for networking.

Organised by The Year of Return Office, Ghana Tourism Authority, and Creative Arts Council, ‘The Year of Return Master Class’ was held on Thursday at the Accra Tourists Information Centre.

The topic was ‘Master the Business of Showbiz, America and Ghana Creative Industries Collaboration’.


The two-hour event saw many film producers, scriptwriters, actors, actresses, directors and media personalities in attendance. Notable among them were Martha Ankomah, Michael Ola, Prince David Osei, Yvonne Nelson, Efia Odo, Andy Dosty, Gordon Nambo, Zynnel Zuh, Kojo Delong, Executives of Film Producers Association of Ghana (FIPAG) as well as Executives of the Creative Arts Council.

Prior to this, one had been held in Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi on Wednesday where industry stakeholders were engaged on among other things, the importance of consistency and networking.

5 booked for manhandling cop
OKARA: Police booked five people on charges of beating a police constable on Saturday. A local court ordered police to produce a 9-month old child after taking the baby from Muhammad Yasin of village Amar Singh. When police reached the village, Yasin and his accomplices attacked the police party and injured constable Sajid Ali and also tore his uniform. The cop was removed to hospital. Hujra Shah Moqeem police registered a case against the accused and his accomplices.
Labourer dies in mill: A worker of a rice mill died working at a rice mill on Saturday. Lal of Bahawalpur was working at a local rice mill when an iron rod fell on him. As a result, he sustained head injuries and died on the way to hospital.
BLIND MURDER CASE TRACED: Police traced a blind murder case of village Rajowal after two years. Police using scientific methods, traced and arrested the wife of a murdered man and her paramour. The woman and her paramour killed the man and threw his body in the Balluki-Head Sulemanki link canal.
DIES IN ROAD ACCIDENT: A motorcyclist died in a road accident near Al-Waheed Farm on Depalpur-Pakpattan Highway on Saturday. The bus hit the motorcyclist, leaving him dead on the spot and injuring a child. The child was rushed to the THQ Hospital.

Supermarket special offers could cost shoppers more - despite promising simpler deals

A new investigation found some items were half the price before being bundled up in multiple buy deals.
Description: found that some supermarkets are still running “questionable special offers”(Image: Getty)
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Special offers in supermarkets still risk leaving shoppers worse off, a probe has found.
Britain’s biggest supermarket chains had promised to simplify deals to avoid luring customers into multi-buys that work out more expensive.
But investigators from consumer watchdog Which? have found shops are still running “questionable special offers”.
They found Uncle Ben’s Classic Basmati Rice at Tesco on a “3 for £4” deal – but the offer replaced a half-price special of 74p a pack, when you could have got three for just £2.22.
At Iceland, the Which? team found a 500g box of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut on offer at “2 for £4”.
Yet the pre-offer price a week earlier had been only £1.42 per pack – meaning shoppers paid £1.16 more for the “deal”.
Which? also highlighted “discounted” items that were still the same price. They found Cathedral City cheddar at Morrisons sold at “£2, was £3.50”. It had cost £2 before the offer, says Which?
Two years ago supermarkets promised to review promotional practices after Which? prompted a review by competition watchdogs.

Rice farmers having a torrid time

Dear Editor,
I visited rice farmers in Regions 2, 5 and 6 over the last couple of weeks. Rice farmers, small and large, are experiencing a torrid time, the livelihoods of their families are in jeopardy, and throughout it all the Ministry of Agriculture and the GRDB are no way in sight. As trouble escalates in the rice industry, as farmers fight to stay afloat, struggle to make ends meet, the GRDB, the Ministry of Agriculture and the caretaker Ministers of Agriculture are lost in “lala” land. The President is comfortably ensconced in State House, the PM avoids farmers like a plague, the other Ministers, including the AFC-designated PM Candidate, behave like all is dandy with rice. This government is so clueless they cannot comprehend rice has been helping them to keep the economy afloat.
Dismissing the challenges and the problems rice farmers face, insisting rice is a private sector activity is dangerous and repulsive. Rice is too important a part of the economy for the government to be at arms-length, too large to fail, employing a large number of people, directly sustaining the livelihoods of almost 60,000, one of the more important foreign currency earners. The truth is, with rice farmers and millers investing easily more than $50B annually in the economy, the rice industry is a public-private partnership. Certain inputs necessary for a successful rice industry are a public good. The fight against the paddy bug and red-rice are not the exclusive role for the farmers; the government has a mandate to be involved, to invest and to lead the fight.
As of right now the paddy bug problem has led to the loss of almost 20% of the rice crop in Region 6 and even worse in Region 2. In Region 5, the red-rice problem is equally devastating to farmers, even as they, too, struggle against paddy bug. For Region 6 alone, this loss translates into 500,000 bags of paddy, equating to the loss of $1.4B in revenue for farmers. In Region 2, the farmers have lost more than 500,000 bags of paddy because of the paddy bug. In Region 5, they have lost more than 600,000 bags of paddy with the combined onslaught from the paddy bug and red rice.  Overall, Guyanese rice farmers will lose about $9B this year, having already lost more than $8B in 2018. Most of these are poor farmers and it is unconscionable that the GRDB and the Ministry of Agriculture are largely missing in action.
The paddy bug and red rice problems are not the only obstacles rice farmers face. Farmers in all rice-producing regions face alternating struggles with floods and dry conditions, with clogged canals, pumps not working, etc. Neither, the NDIA nor the Ministry of Agriculture has provided any support as farmers try to desperately battle against flooding and try to irrigate their fields. These are times when the government must be not just an active partner, these are times when the government must carry out its mandate, providing public-good services.
Even as they fail the farmers, even as they refuse to carry out their mandated functions in the rice industry, they have gone out of their way to make life more difficult for rice farmers. Land lease rates were increased. In the MMA, lease rates have increased from $1,000 per acre to $7,000 per acre. This unconscionable increase is even steeper in Black Bush Polder. At the same time, Drainage and Irrigation fees have increased across the country. Supplies such as pesticides have increased in cost and subsidies for equipment in the rice industry have been removed. When farmers protest the unconscionable rate increases, the Minister of Agriculture rebuked them for objecting to a “measly one beer per day” increase.
In spite of the grave difficulties farmers face, they tightened their belts and have kept production high, without which the economy would have tanked further. In 2014, Guyana produced more than 637,000 tons of rice. In the first crop of 2015, production reached almost 400,000 tons, far ahead of the pace to meet the 2015 target of 700,000 tons. But Guyana failed to reach the 2015 target because of a significant drop in production for the second 2015 crop, reaching only 697,000 tons. Guyana failed again in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and now Guyana will fall far short of the 700,000 target in 2019. But the failure to attain the 700,000 tons target must not detract from the achievement of sustained high production, above 600,000 tons, helping to keep GDP positive. Yet, our Government is ungrateful and irresponsible, failing to keep their commitment, failing to carry out their function. While rice is in trouble, APNU+AFC is fiddling.

Whose Knowledge Counts?

India as a Reluctant Leader in Agroecological Research
C Shambu Prasad ( is a professor at the Institute of Rural Management Anand.
Beyond the obvious claims of evidence-based research policy is the lesser-questioned claim of what qualifies as evidence. This requires an understanding of the politics of knowledge and examining knowledge claims made both for and against any particular innovation. Through the case of a specific agroecological innovation, the System of Rice Intensification in India, the barriers to a sustainable transition from a green revolution to an agroecological paradigm that reveals path dependence on certain agricultural futures—such as the New Plant Type or genetic transformation in rice—are highlighted.
Some of the research for this paper was carried out as part of a Fulbright–Nehru fellowship in 2013–14 at Cornell University. I thank Lucy Fisher and Norman Uphoff, and the SRI Rice family for their hospitality, conversations, arguments and access to SRI Rice archives that made this possible. Some of the ideas in the paper were presented both at Cornell and in conferences since and I thank participants for their useful feedback.
The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in India has an unusual and complex journey involving collaboration and co-creation of knowledge with Indian scientists interacting with a broader set of actors, including farmers, and civil society organisations (CSOs). The paper argues that beyond the international scientific controversy on SRI there is indeed a case for opening up the politics of knowledge in research pathways to enable newer agricultural futures. Surprisingly, despite the absence of any official research policy supporting agroecological approaches, India has become a world leader in research on SRI.
The Indian scientific establishment has been involved in exercises to articulate future visions through technology foresight or scenario planning in recent times. Grand vision statements in documents such as the “India Technology Vision 2035” (see Sekhsaria and Thayyil in this issue) reveal technological optimism that make a case for the inevitability in the development of particular technologies. The future of science and technology (S&T), following traditions of evolutionary economics, is seen as the result of a linear or naturally-evolving process (Nelson and Winter 2002). In contrast, scholars from the discipline of science, technology and society studies (STS) see the future as always uncertain and plural. Futures are actively created in the present and occupy a contested terrain through claims and counterclaims. There is a distinction between “looking into” the future, as represented by technology vision statements, and “looking at” the future as a temporal abstraction that is constructed and managed under specific conditions (Brown et al 2000: 5). This paper extends this consideration of “contested futures” to discussions on agriculture in India (Brown and Webster 2000;
Visvanathan 2002).
Whose knowledge counts? Why do some futures prevail over others? Why do once seemingly certain futures happen to fail? Why are some futures marginalised as a consequence of dominant metaphors and motifs used in everyday life? These are important questions that need to be examined when deciding on research goals and priorities. Contrasting visions of agrarian futures continue to be played out in India by different groups. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2016 envisioned a particular future of agriculture through the popular slogan “Doubling Farmers Income.” This represented a supposed break from the past by suggesting a need for India to look beyond a primarily production-centred agronomic paradigm for increasing food supplies, to a more explicit recognition of economic factors, increasing and even doubling farmers’ incomes (Chand 2017).
While the possibility of such doubling of farm income has been contested in some academic circles (Chandrasekhar and Mehrotra 2016), widespread farmers’ protests across India due to falling prices, reduced cash in the economy, and political pressures for farm loan waivers have raised a different narrative.1 These contrasting visions, of future promise and future despair, highlight the contending interests and show how the projection of the futures for India and its people are seen quite differently by policymakers and scientific and technological experts on the one hand, and citizens and civil society groups, on the other.
In this paper, I review the particular case of a certain agroecological innovation, the SRI, and seek to understand what is considered as evidence and whose knowledge counts when deciding agricultural research policy in India. I suggest that Indian research policymakers would be better advised to examine international technological “lock-ins” that prevent wider research choices. Technological path dependence often arises out of the commitment of significant material and mental resources in certain directions (such as the “C3”/“C4” genetic transformation, or the New Plant Type [NPT] in the case of rice). I suggest, through a closer examination of the scientific controversies around SRI, that controversies do not find closure easily and cannot be settled through experiments alone. Controversies reveal the “uncertain side of science” (Pinch and Leuenberger 2006), with scientists commonly using scientific findings with “interpretative flexibility” (Pinch and Bijker 1984). While there have been studies by scholars in Western or developed nations on scientific and public controversies (Martin 2014), they have been less sufficiently researched in developing countries (Pinch and Leuenberger 2006). This study on SRI from India presents an opportunity to revisit controversy studies from an Indian or knowledge futures perspective.
The SRI has presented a radical, and in many ways counter-intuitive, alternative to the green revolution paradigm for farmers and policymakers. Potential yield increases through the SRI principles present an agricultural future without requiring the development of highly improved genotypes, and without requiring farmers to use ever-increasing inputs like fertilisers, pesticides and irrigation water. The SRI works on an alternate paradigm, wherein farmers are advised to modify the ways they manage their rice plants, soil, water and nutrients to improve plants’ growth environments. By following the SRI principles, farmers can get higher-yielding, more vigorous and more resilient plants. Reports of SRI yields that exceeded what some prominent scientists considered as the maximum biological potential of rice led to a scientific controversy, termed the “rice wars” around 2004, the International Year of Rice (Prasad 2006).
Critics of the SRI, predominantly researchers associated with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) based in the Philippines, insisted that there was an absence of scientific evidence supporting the SRI and even dismissed the SRI as based on unconfirmed field observations (UFOs). Thinking and evaluating based on evidence is seen as a critical element in truth-making and seeking confidence in knowledge. This was the theme of the fourth Law and Social Sciences Network (LASSNET) conference held in Delhi in 2016.2 I show, through an examination of scientific articles in well-respected journals, that evidence is not always, or merely, an objective phenomenon of data or facts, but is often created to privilege certain scientific trajectories over others. The question of evidence has been central to the formation of disciplines and to the claims that they make upon knowledge. Scientific evidence cannot be divorced from the politics of knowledge—that is, not just in the dissemination of scientific knowledge or in who gets the benefits or costs—but equally from the production of knowledge as well.
In the second part of the paper, I extend this analysis beyond journal publications by looking at how alternate knowledge was created, and continues to be created, in the case of the SRI, through informal but highly effective national and international networks. These networks have a valuable role to play, not just in building evidence to counter the dominant narrative. They open up scientific knowledge to new insights and democratise S&T by connecting scientists to farmers, CSOs and policymakers.
This has significant implications for research policy. Knowledge in the Indian context and especially in agriculture is plural and diverse, and choices of the future hinge critically on “whose knowledge counts” and on why and how certain pathways of investigation and experimentation are privileged over others. I conclude the analysis by exploring these implications for agricultural research policy in India by providing alternate interpretations of the knowledge on agroecology. The Indian agricultural establishment is probably better served by looking more closely at the evidence of its scientists who are actually leading the world in research on SRI. This is in contrast to the present research policy and strategy which consigns India to an also-ran in a domain like genetic engineering, and yet monopolises most of agricultural research funding in India today (Raina 2015). By changing the framing of the discourse and by engaging in broader knowledge dialogues that examine different kinds of evidence from a wide range of sources, one can see an opportunity for Indian agricultural research to pursue some directions that appear better suited to dealing with a complex and uncertain future.
Revisiting the Scientific Controversies on SRI
Agriculture in India is beset with paradoxes. India leads world production of milk and buffalo meat and is second in wheat, sugar, fruits, and vegetables. Tragically, India also leads the world in the number of farmer suicides as part of a long-standing agrarian crisis (Mishra 2014). While crop yields have increased over time, farm incomes have stagnated or declined. High dependence on purchased external inputs—seeds, fertilisers, and irrigation water—is coupled with increased indebtedness, which means that Indian farmers are experiencing a loss of agency and deskilling (Vasavi 2012; Stone 2007). The conventional approach to the farming crisis has been to seek productivity enhancement by introducing more modern genotypes through breeding higher-yielding varieties and hybrids of selected crops.
Social movements for agroecology have articulated an alternative paradigm beyond the green revolution-based technologies and food systems. Agroecology—defined as “the application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems”—is supported by ongoing food sovereignty and ecology movements and presents an alternative strategy for change in agriculture (Silici 2014). Agroecological methods seek to provide greater environmental sustainability and enhance the resilience of farmers in the face of climate change. The SRI is one such agroecological innovation. It intensifies knowledge, skill and management, rather than material and capital inputs, and depends on the farmer’s skill and local conditions. Through changes in the management of rice plants, soil, water, and nutrients, with reduced use of material inputs, SRI practices promote the emergence of more productive and more robust plant phenotypes. These practices differ from conventional rice cultivation techniques by transplanting young seedlings, singly and widely spaced, in unflooded but moist soil conditions, with greater provision of organic matter in the soil, and use of a hand or motorised weeders for weed control which also aerates the soil’s surface. The SRI was constructed through persistent observation and experimentation with farmers by Father Henri de Laulanié, (Society of Jesus), in Madagascar during the 1970s and 1980s, and later through the Association Tefy Saina, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) he founded in 1990 together with Malagasy colleagues (Prasad 2007).
The SRI was unknown outside of Madagascar until 1999. Since then, largely through the institutional entrepreneurship of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD) and its then director, Norman Uphoff, the SRI has spread across 50 countries. From the outset, the SRI was treated as an “open source” innovation, thereby ensuring free access by farmers and researchers to the new ideas and opportunities. Because the SRI practices involved no “miracle” seeds or external inputs for improving productivity, resource-poor farmers, first in Madagascar and later in other parts of the world, were encouraged to draw on their own potential for experimentation, to make adaptations and appropriate applications. The rapid growth of the internet, the prodigious use of email and websites, and more recently of social media, have helped spread the knowledge of the SRI across the world with continuous adaptation.3
SRI and Rice Wars
By 2004, which the United Nations General Assembly declared as “the International Year of Rice” (IYR), SRI experiments and evaluations had been carried out in at least 19 countries. The declaration to focus attention on a single crop, rice, was unprecedented, and it resulted from the successful advocacy and lobbying by the IRRI. The IRRI was then investing heavily in developing a NPT meant to raise yields by 25%. Modest results did not lead to abandonment, but more investment on genetically modifying rice to have a C4 photosynthetic pathway instead of its evolved C3 pathway. Those who already had experience with SRI suggested that most of the aims of the IYR agenda could easily be met quickly and with considerably lower costs by following the SRI principles (Prasad and Basu 2015).
The major international scientific journal Nature carried an article on the SRI which was captioned “Proponents call it a miracle. Detractors call it smoke and mirrors. Will the SRI feed the hungry or needlessly divert farmers from tried and true techniques?” (Surridge 2004). Since its appearance on the world stage, the SRI has been a scientific controversy. That some of the high yields reported from the SRI fields exceeded what established rice scientists considered as the biological maximum led to the “rice wars,” and fuelled this controversy further (Prasad and Basu 2005; Glover 2014). Established rice scientists, largely from the IRRI, dismissed the SRI as anecdotal, technically flawed, and lacking scientific evidence with no peer-reviewed articles in top scientific journals. A smaller set of scientists, on the other hand, suggested that the SRI needs to be researched and experimented with, as it offers more choices for farmers.
The article in Nature received a response from India. Alapati Satyanarayana, the then Director of Extension of undivided Andhra Pradesh’s state agricultural university, had conducted 200 SRI trials, on-farm, across all 22 districts of the state in the kharif season of 2003. In his letter to Nature, he argued that farmers’ experiences with the SRI methods increased paddy yields with less water requirements and lower costs (Prasad 2007). The IRRI’s journal, Rice Today, furthered the debate by publishing views and counterviews by Uphoff from CIIFAD and Thomas Sinclair of the United States Department of Agriculture. Uphoff suggested that the SRI was best situated to answer the needs of farmers in the 21st century. Sinclair upped the rhetoric by stating: “Discussion of SRI is unfortunate because it implies SRI merits serious consideration.”4
Discussion on the merits of a particular technological option usually assumes that claims and counterclaims can and will be verified objectively through field trials and experiments. User groups, however, often give diverse and even non-quantifiable assessments that bear on the evaluation of technological choices as was the case with the SRI in India. Since the rice wars, there has been a burgeoning body of scientific publications on the SRI, estimated to include over 1,000 published journal articles, theses, and detailed reports. The echoes and reverberations of the controversy have continued and shaped research policy. While there has been some research on the text and claims of the controversy (Berkhout and Glover 2011), there has been little attention given to the context of the debate and the power interests involved.
A closer look at an earlier Nature article “The Rice Squad” (Surridge 2002) indicates the kinds of investments that shaped a possible lock-in towards the IRRI’s research policy:
Feeding the world in the twenty-first century could require a second green revolution. But that may involve the most audacious feat of genetic engineering yet attempted … Could a simple genetic switch make rice capable of meeting the world’s food needs?
This genetically modified pathway for rice research, through a C4 pathway, meant an investment of millions of dollars and was part of the IYR campaign by the IRRI to legitimate and mobilise research and donor funds (Sheehy et al 2007). The SRI, an upstart innovation from outside of established scientific circles, was thus a threat to such intentions as its proponents reported that yield improvements could be achieved with just a fraction of the funds and investments needed for a C3/C4 transformation.
Politics of Knowledge in Scientific Journals
The potential for knowledge dissemination and sharing of ideas has multiplied in recent years through the greater use of the internet. Researchers use blogs, presentations, working papers, policy briefs, and monographs to share ideas and receive feedback and rework ideas accordingly. Yet, the scientific journal is often seen as the source of knowledge that counts most. From being one of the many channels for distribution of new knowledge, the scientific journal today has assumed a central role and primacy in knowledge production. There is now an established ranking system for journals according to an “impact factor” metric. The criticism of SRI on the absence of peer-reviewed publications led to attempts by the SRI proponents to address the issue. The second phase of the scientific controversy continued a short but intense period of discussions in some of the leading scientific journals on agronomy like Field Crops Research (FCR) between 2004 and 2008. A close look at the articles—not just at their content, but also the asymmetry in the way that papers for and against SRI went through the review process—reveals interesting insights into the politics of knowledge. Table 1 highlights features of this debate featuring 10 articles in two high-impact factor journals: FCR and Agricultural Systems.

The debate began with the SRI proponents, Norman Uphoff, Willem Stoop and Amir Kassam, outlining the possibilities that the SRI offers, on the basis of experiments and farmer experiences in Madagascar. They suggest realisation of yields of up to 15 tonnes of paddy per hectare. These were higher than the biological maximum of rice according to the published rice science literature and, understandably, raised doubts amongst rice scientists. From a socio-economic standpoint a study by agricultural economists Moser and Barrett (2003) emphasised the additional labour required in SRI methods compared to traditional labour-extensive rice cultivation in Madagascar.
While there seemed to be a healthy debate in Agricultural Systems in 2002–04 on the merits of the SRI, the articles in FCR were hostile to conducting SRI research. Interestingly, while Agricultural Systems presented an opportunity for SRI proponents with normal review processes (that took close to six months), the tone of the SRI discussions in FCR were high on rhetoric from the beginning. The discussion paper by Sinclair and Cassman (2004) characterised the SRI as being a UFO, urged funders not to waste resources on it, and extolled the virtues of their scientific approach.
This was followed by another article that added to the debate by suggesting that the SRI is a curiosity, and that proponents of SRI are “advocates of nonsense” and practitioners of “non-science.” While a discussion on science vs non-science is germane to many social science journals, especially those concerned about the relations between science and society, a closer reading reveals the politics of knowledge in its use in an agronomic journal. For a scientific journal with a high impact factor, it is surprising to see such polemical language and use of phrases as “non-science,” “curiosity,” and “UFOs.” A scrutiny of the articles’ review histories reveals that those which were critical of the SRI had an unusually short time from receipt of an article to its acceptance for publication (as few as seven or 11 days). Responses by SRI proponents, however, took much longer to process (88 days at a minimum, see Table 1).
FCR has had only two articles on the SRI since 2009, and none since 2012. The asymmetric nature of knowledge management by the journal seems to reveal a certain gatekeeping politics that ensured that those who wanted the science of SRI to be discussed and explained were out of bounds for FCR. SRI researchers chose other peer-reviewed journals such as Paddy and Water EnvironmentExperimental Agriculture, Journal of Crop and Soil SciencesAdvances in Agronomy, and Plant and Soil. Those who were “anti-SRI” ceased to engage with the debate scientifically. This knowledge politics had an impact on the small but growing Indian research on SRI. Understanding what goes on “inside the black-box” is key to much research in the field of STS. As has been pointed out by Vanloqueren and Baret (2009) research strategies favouring one paradigm is largely shaped by institutional choices and scientists choose to work in one field such as genetic engineering more than another such as agroecology. Understanding the politics of knowledge is thus important for explaining the reasons for why Indian scientists have been shying from formal research on the SRI, particularly if Indian farmers are experimenting with it.
India and International Research Networks on SRI
Beyond the journals, from its early days when it was introduced beyond Madagascar, the SRI has been presented as a methodological innovation rather than as a technology. There has been a conscious attempt to characterise SRI as work in progress— inviting scientists, farmers and other stakeholders to join in improving, modifying and sharing the SRI knowledge. This approach has also helped to distinguish between the “adoption” of the SRI (its set of principles or practices), and the recommendation that its ideas need to be “adapted” to local conditions and even that the SRI can be modified locally through experiments and reflections with other actors. This is particularly evident in India.
The SRI’s entry into India and its growth since 1999 exemplifies the multi-institutional character of the innovation and reflects the emergence of the SRI as a social movement. The simultaneous, though independent, experimentation of the SRI by researchers and CSOs in Tamil Nadu had modest results. Reputed scientists Satyanarayana from Andhra Pradesh, and T M Thiyagarajan of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University or O P Rupela, a soil-biologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Amod Thakur from an Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) centre on water management in Bhubaneswar played important roles as “creative dissenters” (Prasad et al 2012), opening up possibilities for the SRI research to the large Indian rice research community. Indian researchers had countered the concept of SRI being just a “niche” innovation specific to Madagascar or certain soil types, and added newer dimensions to the science of the SRI. The complex evolution of the SRI in India involved many actors beyond agricultural researchers with many twists and turns. Table 2 summarises the phases within India, indicating key actors within the system that have led to a complex SRI innovation pathway.
Civil society groups in Andhra Pradesh, led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) India based at the ICRISAT expanded the reach and scope of the SRI through collaborative workshops and experiments on weeders. The WWF funded various initiatives for the SRI research and extension in different parts of the country, but it also amplified and changed the discourse by hosting a national symposium in 2006 that opened the research agenda to various farmers. Progressive farmers from South India, small and marginal farmers from central and eastern India, scientists and administrators of CSOs came together in assemblies more diverse than is common in this country. The ability of these multiple actors to extend SRI principles, even to other crops, has been a feature of the spread of SRI in India (Prasad 2016).
Changing the venue for the national SRI symposia from the centre of rice research Hyderabad) to the margins of Tripura in North East India in 2007 nudged the emergence of the SRI as a widespread movement with small and marginal farmers shaping the innovation differently. Newer institutional arrangements like the learning alliance in Odisha and state-level workshops in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh democratised the innovation with different discourses that were more locally rooted. The SRI movement then faced challenges in institutionalising these diverse activities through research programmes. Departments of Rural Development in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, and Madhya Pradesh took up the SRI through rural women’s self-help groups and brought in a livelihood focus to the innovation even as departments of agriculture in most states took little or no initiative on SRI, awaiting instructions from their agricultural research centres to endorse the innovation.
An informal alliance known as the National Consortium on SRI (NCS) continued to push the agenda forward by bringing newer information and data onto the table, continually seeking to engage policymakers and pointing out opportunities for India to be an international leader in this area. Close to 40% of all journal articles published on SRI currently are from Indian researchers (Prasad 2016). While there was some traction with a few policymakers leading to dialogues with Planning Commission members and to the formation of a sub-group to formulate ideas for upscaling of SRI, national research centres continued to be sceptical and pushed back recommendations of the subgroup on investments in community-based extension for the spread of the SRI.
In the absence of a clear policy or guidelines by the Government of India for the SRI uptake, national and international networks have played important roles in reframing discussions and encouraging research simultaneously. Networks have had a silent, often invisible empowering role for individuals working within established and hierarchical organisations. The connectivity that networks have provided—ideas, critical feedback, personal friendships—have encouraged agricultural researchers to think outside prevailing “boxes” providing space for conversations across the boundaries of their own disciplines. Changes in settled thinking often require dissonant voices within the scientific establishment that interact with and listen to non-research actors, in the process reconciling diverse experience and translating ideas for a paradigm change. Innovation needs the expression of heterodoxy. Social and intellectual networks have provided opportunities for getting new ideas considered and for the “ventilation” of musty institutions.
The spread and application of SRI owes a lot to the energy and passion of innovation champions like Uphoff, a political scientist at Cornell University who took the innovation from Madagascar, the country of its origin, to the rest of the world, working through networks of CSOs, policymakers, and emerging alliances. While funding from the CIIFAD played an important role in supporting the spread in the early stages, the spread of the innovation to over 50 countries has largely been possible through the entrepreneurial energies of a small team at Cornell University, known since 2010 as SRI–Rice.5 This has been supported by key actors in the agroecology and other agricultural research networks around the world.
Led by Uphoff and Lucy Fisher, SRI–Rice has provided useful support to young researchers by connecting them into informal transnational networks. SRI–Rice sustains an informal worldwide peer group, building research capacities and visibility among researchers in developing countries through pro bono editorial support and advice. Researchers have also benefited from the specialised documentation service on the SRI-Rice website, which provides access to all available SRI articles in a single location.6 The database draws upon networks such as the ncs, capturing local research that often escapes international databases. The open-source collaborative architecture of the SRI movement has facilitated the emergence of a new “knowledge commons” for agriculture, countervailing the currently dominant trend towards proprietarisation of agricultural technology. This has taken diverse forms such as e-groups and regional networks; joint participation in panels at mainstream professional and subject conferences; wide sharing of manuals, videos, and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations made in different forums; and specialised Facebook pages on equipment. The diversity of these networks induces transformation in knowledge systems and can avoid the kind of domination by researchers in innovation platforms manifested elsewhere (Prasad 2016).
Shrum (2005) has suggested that the advent of the internet offers the possibility of a change in the structure of science, with the inclusion of researchers in distant lands as full participants in global scientific communities. The internet, Shrum suggests, could “reagentise” science in less-developed areas more effectively than prior initiatives because of a shift in collaborative patterns that have very little to do with the ideology of participation and much to do with the maintenance of relationships online. While most Western researchers dismissed SRI, SRI found a more hospitable home with scientists from “developing” areas who were able to overcome their constraint of isolation from international scientific networks through facilitated exchanges.
The SRI researchers started exploring journals other than FCRwith a broader disciplinary orientation such as ExperimentalAgricultureCAB ReviewsJournal of Crop and Soil Sciences,Advances in Agronomy, and Plant and Soil. A special issue of “Paddy and Water Environment” was published on SRI in 2011, with detailed evidence of SRI and its science in different parts of the world. Research and publication have not died down, the location changing from mainstream scientific journals to ones that were more heterodox and multidisciplinary. More research on SRI emerged from China and India.
Can India Lead in Agroecological Innovation?
A significant contribution of SRI–Rice has been the maintenance of a research network and database that sources articles, thesis and reports on SRI and places all of these online. Much agricultural research in India appears in Indian journals that are often not indexed in Scopus and other searches. Similarly, Chinese scholars rarely publish in English, but often share their work in their own journals.
Figure 1 shows the distribution of SRI publications in different journals from 2002–17, and the share of Indian and Chinese researchers’ contribution to the same. Research by Indians on SRI began slowly and late, but has been the most prominent in global publications since 2008.
This evidence could potentially have implications for reorienting research policy in India towards greater investment and leadership in agroecology. India has been arguably the most active site for contestations, controversies, dialogues, alliances, and experimentation on the SRI. Through some efforts by CSOs, some institutional innovations have emerged where researchers find value in working and experimenting with farmers and CSOs. A good example is evaluation research done on the System of Wheat Intensification (SWI, extending SRI ideas to wheat-growing) at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) done in collaboration with the NGO PRADAN (Professional Assistance for Development Action) in 2011–13. The IARI scientists and PRADAN brought to Delhi a farmer from Bihar who had practised the SWI. Together, they agreed upon research protocols for comparing the SWI with the IARI’s recommended best practices. The farmer then managed the SWI plots accordingly so that the new methods were used properly and the SWI yield advantage was increased to 46% (Dhar et al 2015). Such innovations in co-creating knowledge are rare in Indian agriculture, but offer a counterpoint and solution to the often-voiced criticisms of an ossified agricultural research system in India, where “nothing of significance has emerged from this system to galvanise farming in recent decades” (Jishnu and Sood 2015). However, as research on paradigms and funding patterns has shown how existing institutional arrangements and the overall organisation of our research systems favour the dominant genetic-engineering research strategy rather than explore and validate agroecological methods (Vanloqueren and Baret 2009). In an international review of agriculture, Feldman and Biggs (2011) have argued that despite support from broad-based social movements, CSOs, and policymakers within various countries, there has been little shift in international thinking about agricultural futures. India is no exception to this trend.
One of the popular images used for SRI extension is that of two uprooted rice plants of the same variety, showing profuse growth of tillers and root systems on the plant that was grown with SRI practices compared to a conventionally-grown plant of the same age (Uphoff 2016a). When farmers find it difficult to believe that their fields with fewer seedlings can actually yield more, extension workers have found creative ways to explain the phenomenon by encouraging farmers to uproot rice plants and compare an SRI rice plant of the same age and variety with another that did not follow SRI principles of crop management.
This practice from the SRI is in some ways an apt metaphor for envisioning agricultural futures. The SRI has contested settled visions of our agricultural future by “uprooting” rice science and suggesting that farmers and government agencies do not have to invest in developing and planting new genotypes if they want to improve rice yields. Newer futures can be envisioned by unravelling some of the power relations and technological lock-ins that favour certain choices over others.
The SRI case is not a panacea for all that does not work with Indian agriculture. There are cases where the SRI has not worked as well as usually reported, and farmers have reasons for preferring some principles of the SRI more than others (Sen 2015). But the SRI case shows that a sustainable transition in agriculture research would require more than simply increased funding and expenditure to continue research along its current trajectory. It also directs attention to the larger framework and power that influences S&T choices.
Ten years after the “rice wars” we notice evidence of power manifesting itself in the everyday practice of science. At the 2014 International Rice Congress (IRC) a new controversy emerged. This was the first time that there had been fewer proposed papers on SRI accepted for presentation despite increasing research. An open letter was sent from the SRI rice community to the conference organisers urging a more open attitude to scientific knowledge. Pointing to the over 600 publications on the SRI, the letter reiterated the research community’s interest to work with the IRRI and the rest of rice science community. It further urged the IRC to see farmers not only as producers but as innovators. It ended with a call:
We want the global rice community to … collaborate with farmers organisations … [to] give more attention to issues of concern to farmers … and to involve farmers and their organisations in the design of research, and work with the SRI community on a wide range of disciplines and occupations. (Minh and Styger 2014)
Despite the absence of a direct or open confrontation at the conference, events such as the 2014 IRC indicate that futures are indeed contested. There is not just one future to be anticipated and supported and mere technology-foresight exercises are unlikely to reveal the range of possibilities that need to be explored for a country as diverse as India unless they actively seek out and welcome alternative visions. As the SRI case shows, looking at alternate evidence and supporting more diverse research choices should help the Indian research community to envision newer and better futures, where India could lead in agroecological innovations rather than be another participant in an unequal rat race of genetic engineering.
1 Farmer protests in India have spiked in the last two years. Large numbers of farmers under the banner of the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), representing 184 farmer groups from across many states, converged in New Delhi in November 2017 and again in 2018 to protest against policies that they believe are reducing farmers’ incomes and increasing agrarian distress.
2 For more details on LASSNET and the theme, visit
3 The capacity of SRI methods to improve rice crop productivity and resilience has been experimented in 60 countries, and an estimated 10 million farmers are now using most or all of the recommended practices on probably more than 8 million hectares (Uphoff 2016b).
4 The debate between Uphoff (2004) and Sinclair (2004) was featured in IRRI’s magazine Rice Today(
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Updated On : 23rd Aug, 2019