Friday, August 30, 2019

30th August,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

How humans changed the face of Earth


Scientists across disciplines have been debating potential dates for the beginning of the Anthropocene—the period during which human activity has become a dominant influence on climate change and the global environment (12). Recorded history has provided information with which to chart Earth's environmental changes during recent centuries. But how can it be determined if and when human activities transformed Earth during the time before written records? This question is prompted in part by the hypothesis that prehistoric deforestation and rice farming might explain the preindustrial upturn in atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide concentrations after 7000 years ago (3). On page 897 of this issue, Stephens et al. (4) describe efforts by the ArchaeoGLOBE Project to crowdsource information from the global archaeological community, synthesize the data, and generate semiquantitative estimates of how various types of land use have altered Earth during the past ten millennia.
This is an article distributed under the terms of the Science Journals Default License.

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Getting to the root of how plants tolerate too much iron

Scientists uncover a gene responsible for helping plants thrive in stressful environments

August 29, 2019
Salk Institute
Scientists have found a major genetic regulator of iron tolerance, a gene called GSNOR. The findings could lead to the development of crop species that produce higher yields in soils with excess iron.

Iron is essential for plant growth, but with heavy rainfall and poor aeration, many acidic soils become toxic with excess iron. In countries with dramatic flood seasons, such as in West Africa and tropical Asia, toxic iron levels can have dire consequences on the availability of staple foods, such as rice.
Despite dozens of attempts in the last two decades to uncover the genes responsible for iron tolerance, these remained elusive until recently. Now, Salk scientists have found a major genetic regulator of iron tolerance, a gene called GSNOR. The findings, published in Nature Communications on August 29, 2019, could lead to the development of crop species that produce higher yields in soils with excess iron.
"This is the first time that a gene and its natural variants have been identified for iron tolerance," says Associate Professor Wolfgang Busch, senior author on the paper and a member of Salk's Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory as well as its Integrative Biology Laboratory. "This work is exciting because we now understand how plants can grow in stressful conditions, such as high levels of iron, which could help us make more stress-resistant crops."
In plants such as rice, elevated soil iron levels cause direct cellular damage by harming fats and proteins, decreasing roots' ability to grow. Yet, some plants appear to have inherent tolerance to high iron levels; scientists wanted to understand why.
"We believed there were genetic mechanisms that underlie this resistance, but it was unclear which genes were responsible," says first author Baohai Li, a postdoctoral fellow in the Busch lab. "To examine this question, we used the power of natural variation of hundreds of different strains of plants to study genetic adaption to high levels of iron."
The scientists first tested a number of strains of a small mustard plant (Arabidopsis thaliana), to observe if there was natural variation in iron resistance. Some of the plants did exhibit tolerance to iron toxicity, so the researchers used an approach called genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to locate the responsible gene. Their analyses pinpointed the gene GSNOR as the key to enabling plants and roots to grow in iron-heavy environments.
The researchers also found that the iron-tolerance mechanism is, to their surprise, related to the activities of nitric oxide, a gaseous molecule with a variety of roles in plants including responding to stress. High levels of nitric oxide induced cellular stress and impaired the plant roots' tolerance for elevated iron levels. This occurred when plants did not have a functional GSNOR gene. GSNOR likely plays a central role in nitric oxide metabolism and regulates the plants' ability to respond to cellular stress and damage. This nitric oxide mechanism and the GSNOR gene also affected iron tolerance in other species of plants, such as rice (Oryza sativa) and a legume (Lotus japonicus), suggesting that this gene and its activities are likely critical in many, if not all, species of plants.
"By identifying this gene and its genetic variants that confer iron tolerance, we hope to help plants, such as rice, become more resistant to iron in regions with toxic iron levels," says Busch. "Since we found that this gene and pathway was conserved in multiple species of plants, we suspect they may be important for iron resistance in all higher plants. Additionally, this gene and pathway may also play a role in humans, and could lead to new treatments for conditions associated with iron overload."
Next, Li will be starting his own laboratory at Zhejiang University, in China. He plans to identify the relevant genetic variants in rice and observe if iron-tolerance variants could increase crop yields in flooded Chinese fields.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Salk InstituteNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
1.     Baohai Li, Li Sun, Jianyan Huang, Christian Göschl, Weiming Shi, Joanne Chory, Wolfgang Busch. GSNOR provides plant tolerance to iron toxicity via preventing iron-dependent nitrosative and oxidative cytotoxicityNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11892-5

Cite This Page:
Salk Institute. "Getting to the root of how plants tolerate too much iron: Scientists uncover a gene responsible for helping plants thrive in stressful environments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2019. <>.

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AfDB Spends $2bn To Train 6m African Scientists

By  The Tide
The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it has committed $2 billion to the education and training of six million science students in Africa from 2005 to date.
A statement by the bank’s Communication and External Relations Department yesterday in Abuja, said the AfDB’s president, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, disclosed this at the Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD) in Japan.
Adesina said the bank was strongly supporting Africa to train and develop the next generation of scientists.
“Since 2005, we have provided financing of over two billion dollars to support education; this has provided education opportunities for six million students.
“We are proud of our investment in supporting the establishment of the Regional Center of Excellence in Kigali, in conjunction with the Carnegie Mellon University, which is providing world class Masters degree training in ICT.
“I am delighted that all the students that have graduated from the university have 100 per cent employment, including setting up their own businesses.
“The bank has supported the establishment of ICT digital parks in Senegal and Cape Verde.
“We are working with the Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn and Safaricom to establish coding centers in several countries” he said.
Adesina thanked the Government of Japan for its strategic partnership with the bank in promoting science and technology in Africa.
He said the bank supported the establishment of the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology in Egypt, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and the African University of Science and Technology in Nigeria.
According to him, in partnership with Japan, the Education for Sustainable Development in Africa (ESDA) has supported inter-university partnerships between eight African and four Japanese universities.
He added that the Japan Africa Dream Scholarship Programme between the AfDB and Japan had supported African students to study in diverse fields of specialisation, including energy, agriculture, health, environmental sciences and engineering.
He said the collaboration also promoted university-industry partnerships.
“We greatly appreciate the support of the Government of Japan for the Science, Technology and Innovation Forum.
“As we look toward the future, I would like to suggest seven key areas to prioritise on Africa’s drive in science and technology.
“Africa must establish more universities of science and technologies, especially regional centers of excellence and ensure they are very well funded.
“There’s an urgent need to increase the share of GDP that is devoted to science and technology to help Africa boost its competitiveness.

Group urges government to notify WTO of rice tariff process

Description: rice farmer walks on the field at the International Rice Research Institute in Laguna in this BusinessMirror file photo taken in January.
A FARMERS’ group scored the government for the delay in notifying the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the country’s final tariff-rate equivalent for rice imports after it removed the quantitative restriction (QR) on the staple.
The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) also pointed out that the government has not notified the WTO that it is designating rice as a product that is eligible for special safeguard duty (SSG).
The group said this deprived the government of the power to impose SSG duties on imports at a time when millions of tons of the staple have entered the domestic market and pulled down the farm-gate price of local rice.
In a study by FFF obtained by the BusinessMirror, the group said the Philippines should have been able to impose the SSG on rice from abroad due to the surge in import volume.
However, the government, particularly the Department of Agriculture (DA), could not do this because the Philippines had not notified the WTO of its tariffication process.
“This notification should have also included our designation of rice as an SSG-eligible product, since the SSG is normally available only to products whose quantitative import restrictions have been removed,” the study read.
“The delay has reportedly been due to the failure of the Tariff Commission [TC] and the Neda [National Economic and Development Authority] to come up with the official out-quota rate or tariff equivalent,” it added.
FFF said the TC and Neda are now way beyond the 45-day deadline mandated by Republic Act 11203, or the rice trade liberalization (RTL) law, to compute for the official tariff equivalent for rice imports.
Under the RTL law, the tariff equivalent should be calculated by the TC and approved by the Neda board 45 days upon the effectivity of the law or by April 19.


FFF said the Neda and TC should fast-track the release of the official tariff equivalent for the out-quota bound rate for rice imports to complete the country’s schedule of tariffs that would be notified to the WTO.
“The government must then immediately notify the WTO of our tariffication decision and tariff rates, MAV [minimum access volume] commitment, and the designation of rice as an SSG-eligible product,” it added.
FFF also urged the DA to monitor import volumes and immediately request the Bureau of Customs to impose applicable SSG once the volume trigger has been breached, in accordance with relevant laws.
Given the recent surge in import volume, the group said the government may now impose an SSG “to arrest the further inflow of imports and market displacement of local rice.”
Citing WTO rules, the Philippines could impose additional duties of up to one-third of the current tariff rate on the concerned products once trigger levels are breached.
SSG could be imposed if the volume of imports exceeds a volume trigger or when import prices are lower than price trigger levels.
FFF also said the Philippines could only invoke the SSG if the current rice import volume exceeds the country’s volume trigger level.
Based on FFF’s calculation, using the formula prescribed under the Safeguard Measures Act, the country’s estimated volume trigger for 2019 is around 1.8 million metric tons (MMT).
“If we consider imports from the start of the year up to July 2019 of 2.363 MMT, we have clearly breached this trigger level,” the group said.
“However, if our reference period starts only in March, or the month when the [RTL law] was enacted, imports total only 1.37 MMT, or about 427,000 metric tons below the volume trigger,” it added.
Should the Philippines impose SSG, the cost of rice imports would increase by approximately P2 per kg, FFF said.
“This SSG can be imposed on imports only up to the end of each year, except for imports already en route to the country when the SSG remedy was invoked, and for imports falling within the MAV,” FFF added.

Nigeria’s Surging Food Prices May Rise Even Faster on Dollar Ban

Ruth Olurounbi
August 30, 2019, 10:00 AM GMT+5
Move to restrict dollar access for imports to push up costs

Insurgency and clashes are disrupting domestic supply chains
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Nigeria’s plan to spend less on food by restricting access to dollars for importers could have the opposite effect by threatening food supplies and pushing up prices.
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Defend our rice farmers now

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:34 AM August 30, 2019
It’s a crisis when majority of our 2.4 million rice farmers are suffering from the low 35-percent tariff under the rice tariffication law.
At that tariff level, Philippine Rice Research Institute vice president Flordelis Bordey says that 53 (or 65 percent) of our rice producing provinces will not survive. This also translates to 40 percent of our farmers suffering.
Bordey has impressive statistics to show that to survive the 35-percent tariff, the play yield must be at least four tons per hectare. Unfortunately, too many farmers are not achieving this level of productivity. The reason: Lack of necessary support from the government.
What then is an equitable tariff today?  It is 70 percent. This will level the price of imported rice with that of the average domestic rice price.
The 35-percent tariff will have too many farmers suffering because they have not been “adequately prepared by the government, after 22 years and three postponements of this anticipated tariff approach.”
Still, we need to implement 35 percent because that is our government’s commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO). If we do not, worse things will happen.
Our  government is trying to help by legislating a P10-billion Rice Enhancement Competitiveness Fund (RCEF), but too little, too late. This initiative should have started years ago to prepare our farmers, not now when the tariff is already in place.
Government officials said the rice retail price would go down by P7 to P10. It has decreased only by P1-P2. They also said farmers would become more competitive. Yes, if they were given the time to prepare. They are now suffering.
A Senate report states that 200,000 rice farmers have stopped planting and that 4,000 rice mills have closed.
Farm-gate wet prices per kilo have decreased from last year’s prices by P4.50 (according to the Philippine Statistics Authority) and by at least P7 (according to the Department of Agriculture). But with harvest time nearing, prices have decreased by P10 (from P21.50 to P11.50) in many areas.
The traders are getting all the benefits, with the consumers practically getting nothing and the farmers losing their livelihood. Farm-gate prices are decreasing from P4 to P10 per kilo.  The RCEF is helpful, but miniscule compared to what the farmers are losing.
For every P1 decrease in farm-gate price and at 20 million tons a year, the farmers lose P20 billion.
At this rate, the most conservative P4 estimated price decrease, they lose P80 billion (and P140 billion,  if we assume the average P7-price decrease ).
What then must be done?  The DA must move quickly, lest dissidence and violence replace  disappointment.
The first move is to get a higher temporary tariff.Fortunately, the WTO has made arrangements for situations such as ours. Our Congress has wisely supported this with the Safeguard Measures Act (RA 8800). Article III of the law states that an agriculture special safeguard (SSG) may be initiated by a private person or the agriculture secretary.
A private sector leader of the Alyansa Agrikultura already wrote an official letter to the agriculture secretary on Aug. 13. He suggested that even without a private sector request, DA should act immediately. This is because the trigger import volume that would allow SSG has already been surpassed  (i.e, January to July imports are at 2.3 million tons). The response time in the law is five days. It is now 14 days, and we are still waiting.
The second DA duty is take immediate action to alleviate the plight of the farmers by providing them measures to cope with their lost income.  One option is to make arrangements for an entity to buy the palay at a higher price than what traders are dictating today.
The National Food Authority used to do this, but is unable to perform this function now. It is important to have responsible, creatively designed cash transfers so certain outcomes are achieved. If the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program can do it to help poor children, why not similarly help farmers who are suffering because of previous government inaction?
It is now up to the DA to find solutions to defend our rice farmers from this aberration that is causing so much suffering. We fully support Agriculture Secretary William Dar as he brings new life to a talented but underutilized bureaucracy. 

Is hybrid rice solution to Africa’s food shortage?

Dr. Sanni Kayode  30th Aug 2019 11:13:11 GMT +0300
Agriculture is viewed as the key cornerstone that drives Africa’s economies. It is a major contributor to total gross domestic product (GDP) for many countries, according to the Africa Agriculture Status Report 2018.
Over half of the African population is employed in the sector and the continent has large tracts of arable land including 60 per cent of the world's uncultivated arable land.
Every African government today is talking about food and nutrition security and employment for its people especially youth and women.
Yet, Africa is still producing too little food for its bourgeoning population to eat. Is the continent really doing everything needed to achieve its aspirations and visions in the agriculture sector?
As the population grows, it is not just food that will be needed but also services such as health and education. Jobs will be even more critical. Pressure on natural resources will also be felt. For Africa to ensure it is well prepared, it needs a thriving economy and agriculture is right at the center. In fact, Kenya’s government, for example, has singled out food and nutrition security in its Big Four Agenda, to propel the country’s development plan.
As with most development issues, it is not just a question of what needs to be done, it is how. For Africa to achieve desired growth in its agriculture sector and to create jobs for the youth and achieve food security, there is a need to put in place reforms necessary to unlock agriculture’s potential. These reforms include access to land, improvement of infrastructure, enhancement of extension services and farmer education, access to markets and finance and more critically, injection of new technologies. This means investment and commitment. It means building and committing to agricultural undertakings that will make a difference to economies. Other continents did it, why not Africa? For this to work, Africa needs to view agriculture differently – it needs to expand its view and not just focus on its contribution to food security - which is key but also really a basic expectation – but to look at agriculture holistically – as Africa’s route to economic freedom.
Food security and hunger are at a very basic level of human survival. Other continents are working towards goals that Africa can only imagine e.g use of agricultural robots and drones to monitor plant growth and the health of the crops to increase yields.  Africa’s agricultural concerns need to shift gears to go beyond hunger and food security to the sustainability of Africa as a community through growing and sustainable economies. That is what agriculture can do for Africa.
Done right, agriculture can deliver the economic goals, saving the continent billions of forex spent on food imports that could be availed to other efforts such as industrialization that would create more jobs. It will generate incomes at the individual and national levels that will improve people’s standards of living. 
The continent’s bill for importing rice only is currently estimated to stand at over $ 5 billion which is about 40 per cent of the continent’s rice requirements. Rice consumption in Africa is rising at about 8 per cent against a yield increase of less than 6 per cent per year creating a deficit of over 12 million metric tonnes. Among the 43 rice-producing countries in Africa, more than one-half are rice importers, with varying degrees ranging between 10 – 93 per cent, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Kenya, that produces a meagre 150 000 metric tonnes, consumes 600 000 metric tonnes annually. This means the importation of more than 70 per cent of rice that is consumed locally. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Nigeria’s rice import was slated to jump 13 per cent this year to 3.4 million metric tonnes, making the country Africa’s biggest rice importer. There is, therefore, an urgent need for Africa to increase its rice production otherwise the shortage is estimated to rise to more than 30 million metric tonnes by 2035.
This scenario can change. Africa can start its own agricultural revolution with low hanging fruits – embracing new agricultural technologies that can improve productivity. China, for example, that is doing a lot of business with the continent, revolutionized rice production in Asia through the use of hybrid rice technology. Currently, the share of hybrid rice in Asian markets is about 60 per cent. If Africa is going to bridge its rice deficit, then the rice hybrids offer an opportunity. For this to happen, we need to increase the land that farmers use for production to meet Africa’s rice demand and even export at competitive prices. Accordingly, this calls for the adoption of suitable technologies and best agronomic practices to revolutionize rice production in Africa to match the consumption rate while at the same time reducing the dramatic increase in total imports. This will not only boost the economies of African countries but also ensure food security among the bourgeoning Africa population and create employments.
The hybrid rice varieties offer higher yields currently giving farmers over 10 tonnes per hectare under irrigation compared to 4 tonnes that other producers are getting.  The rice, produced locally by Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Hybrid East Africa Ltd (HEAL), Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO), Tanzania’s Agricultural Research Institute and private seed companies in East Africa offers an opportunity to contribute to private sector growth through the involvement of seed companies. So far, five new rice hybrids have been released in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.  
For Africa to deliver on its economic goals including job creation for the youth and women and to develop a competitive agricultural sector to improve people’s standards of living, the continent needs to adopt the critical use of new technologies such as the hybrid technology to boost Africa’s rice productivity.  
The writer is the Rice Project Manager at the Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF)

Nigeria partially closes border with Benin to curb rice smuggling

Description: President Patrice Talon and his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari speak during a meeting on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) summit in Japan. COURTESY: TWITTER/Bashir Ahmad
Nigeria on Wednesday said that it partially closed its border with Benin in a bid to curb massive smuggling activities, especially of rice, occurring in that area.
Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari spoke to his Benin counterpart Patrice Talon about the measure on the sidelines of the seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) summit in Japan.
“Our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms and have saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expanded on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves. We cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue,” Buhari said according to a statement sent out by his spokesman.
Though no date of when the border was partially closed was given, Buhari indicated that it was restricted to allow security personnel to contain the situation and he would consider fully re-opening the border in the future.
Buhari added that Nigeria is due to hold a meeting with Benin and Niger to discuss ways to tame cross-border smuggling.
Nigeria imports nearly $4 billion of rice and wheat annually, according to the government due to an underdeveloped manufacturing industry.
Earlier this month, Buhari pledged to strengthen his administration’s focus on agriculture announcing policies that will support the cultivation and consumption of locally produced food items.
He also instructed the central bank to stop availing foreign exchange for food imports in an attempt to improve Nigeria’s agriculture sector. 
Additionally, Buhari encouraged more young Nigerians to take up agriculture seriously noting that the country had the potential to feed its entire population.

Nationwide round-up

BTr assures remaining P4B RCEP fund will be released within the year

THE BUREAU of Treasury (BTr) on Thursday assured that it will be able to determine the source for the remaining P4 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) as early as next month, and that it will be released within the year.
National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon told BusinessWorld the P4 billion remaining RCEF funds might be sourced from income in investments, interest, fees and charges and other excess money remitted back to the agency.
Republic Act No. 11203, the Rice Tarrification Law, mandates a P10 billion annual funding for RCEF in the next six years from tariffs collected on rice imports, to support farm mechanization, seed and fertilizer acquisition.
“We’re looking at if there would be excess income already that we can generate. We’ll see, next month or around October. Kasi (Because) by October, depending on our investments, usually du’n nagpapasok ng (that’s when the) coupon payments (come in), mag-ge-generate namin (we can generate our) interest income,” Ms. De Leon said in an ambush interview after the Senate hearing on the 2020 budget.
At the hearing on Wednesday, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Assistant Secretary Rolando U. Toledo also said they will release the remaining P4 billion to complete the P10 billion RCEF funding for this year. Mr. Toledo said the release will depend on BTr, which will have to look at ”excess” government money.
Meanwhile, DBM Undersecretary Janet B. Abuel said they will continue to monitor the utilization rate of RCEF before releasing more. ”Let’s see with the agencies like PhilMech (Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization) anong(what is the) status na before we add more release,” Ms. Abuel said. She noted that sometimes the challenge is agencies get “choked” by too much funds. — Beatrice M. Laforga

KAPA founder’s wife slapped with tax evasion charge

Description: Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) logoTHE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) has filed a tax evasion case against Kapa Community Ministry International, Inc.’s (KAPA) corporate secretary, Reyna L. Apolinario, for undeclared income sources for taxable years 2017 and 2018. In a statement, BIR said the total income tax liability of Ms. Apolinario, wife of KAPA founder Joel Apolinario, for those two years is P168.2 million. This total includes surcharges and interests, broken down into: 2017 — ₱163.9 million; and 2018 — ₱4.3 million. BIR said Ms. Apolinario did not file an income tax return (ITR) from 2012-2015, but did so in 2016, declaring an income of ₱207 million. In 2017 and 2018, Ms. Apolinario declared incomes of ₱171.10 million and ₱12.06 million, respectively. By 2018, her declared beginning capital from audited financial statements climbed to P306.9m, pointing to undeclared sources of income of P307.7 million for taxable year 2017. This includes cash amounting to P140 million, luxury vehicles worth P27.60 million, heavy equipment totalling P65.7 million, real properties worth P45.1 million, and other assets paired with P9.18 million for taxable year 2018.
Called ‘Madam Reyna’ by followers of the supposedly religious group, Ms. Apolinario owned nine vehicles under the name of REYNA in 2017 and 2018 that were not declared in her financial statements, BIR investigators said. Moreover, information from the bureau’s Integrated Tax System (ITS) showed that REYNA owns 13 businesses under her name, including retail-construction materials/garments/metals, gasoline stations and convenience stores, computer and printing services, quarry, convention center, fishing boat, bakeshop & refreshment, media & marketing network, and hotel. Ms. Apolinario along with her husband and several other KAPA officials are facing separate complaints filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the National Bureau of Investigation over their alleged involvement in the investment scam operated under KAPA. SEC has revoked KAPA’s registration.
In another case, BIR also filed a criminal complaint against Binondo-based wholesaler Top Belagio Super Sales Corporation, along with its president, Stanley C. Kho, and treasurer, Sherrie Ann R. Dael. They are charged for attempting to evade their annual income tax and quarterly value-added tax (VAT) as well as for failure to pay improperly accumulated earnings tax for 2016, amounting to a liability of P555.4 million in total. The wholesaler is facing violation of Sections 254 and 255, in relation to Sections 253 and 256 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 as investigations found that the amounts declared in their Annual Income Tax Return and Quarterly Value-Added Tax Returns are lower than actual sales. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

Food imports gulped $14bn in five years — CBN

 August 30, 2019
’Femi Asu
Food product imports gobbled up $14.05bn of the foreign exchange supplied by the Central Bank of Nigeria in the last five years, according to data obtained from the apex bank on Thursday.
The CBN’s breakdown of sectoral utilisation of forex showed that food imports accounted for about 13.12 per cent of the $107bn utilised for imports in the country from 2014 to 2018.
The apex bank, in June 2015, excluded importers of 41 goods and services, including some food products, from accessing forex at the nation’s foreign exchange markets in a bid to conserve the foreign reserves as well as encourage local production of those items.
The slump in crude oil prices in mid-June 2014 hammered government finances and the naira, causing chronic dollar shortages.
Following the forex restriction, the amount of foreign currency used for imports in the country plunged to $24.718bn in 2015 from $34.202bn in 2014. It further fell to $17.154bn in 2016 and $15.161bn in 2017 but rose to $15.87bn last year.
Forex utilised for food imports also dropped to $3.42bn in 2015 from $5.03bn in 2014. It dipped further to $1.79bn in 2016 and $1.51bn in 2017 but increased to $2.31bn in 2018.
The CBN said a total of $14.73bn was supplied into the forex market last year, adding that the supply figure included forex sold to Bureaux de Change operators which started from April 2006.
According to the data, $589.7m was used for food imports in the first quarter; $469.8m in Q2; $553.8m in Q3, and $692.5m in Q4.
In December 2018, the CBN included fertiliser on the list of 41 items classified as ‘not valid for foreign exchange’ in the Nigerian forex market.
The items are rice, meat and processed meat products, chickens, eggs, tomatoes and tomatoes paste, and vegetables and processed vegetable products.
The central bank said in July that it had restricted the sale of forex on the importation of milk from the Nigerian forex market.
“Arising from the success of the restriction policy, we approached some milk importers, like we did for rice, tomato and starch and asked them to take advantage of the CBN’s low-interest loans to begin local milk production instead of relying endlessly on milk imports,” it added.
Two weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed that he had directed the CBN to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country, based on “the steady improvement in agricultural production, and attainment of full food security.”
The President said foreign reserves would be conserved and utilised strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.

Rice production in Ghana to reach 750,000

Source: BusinessGhana

Description: Pic
Rice production in Ghana is estimated to increase to 750,000 metric tonnes from 450,000 metric tonnes by 2020 according to Nana Kwabena Adjei Ayeh II as demand for the product continues to increase in Ghana. He made these remarks at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX), the Ghana Rice Inter Professional Body (GRIB) and the John Agyekum Kufuor   (JAK) Foundation in Accra.
Nana   Ayeh II said that the MoU is meant to improve rice production in Ghana at a time when farmers are not getting produce at the right time and storage at the rice prices.
He disclosed that rice production is currently 70 percent rain fed  which poses as a major problem and contributes to   post harvest losses in the country.
He noted that the move will not only address post harvest losses but also address the issue of ware housing and storage for farmers as well as provide funds to purchase rice products. "We will continue with farming mobilization and sensitization   of issues on production, standards and the GCX warehouse receipt system" he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX), Dr. Kadri Alfah said that the rice industry is currently plagued with problems such as cheap rice imports, poorly co-ordinated and promoted rice value chain, lack of well developed strategies to promote rice value chain among others.
He noted that in order for them to support government policies such as the Planting for Food and Jobs and the One district   One Factory as well as   help farmers export produce to improve revenue, the potential of rice has to be leveraged on.
Dr Alfah said that the GCX will offer farmers access to a structured market system through an electronic platform to other producers such as those in the maize and soya value chain to offer them services such as grain testing, grain aggregation, grading and certification, quality control , re-bagging services and opportunities to sell on diverse markets through their world class trading platform.
He announced that farmers will aso have access to low cost loans using their products as sole collateral while they wait for better market prices.
Dr Alfah emphasized that the GCX will ensure they bridge the gap between rice production, consumption and imports.
In line with His Excellency, Former President John Agyekum Kufuor's desire to improve agriculture in Ghana, Professor Baffuor Agyeman-Duah, Chief Executive Officer of the JAK Foundation was also a signatory   of the MoU.
He said that the foundation has been working on a Comprehensive Africa Rice Initiative with four other African countries including Nigeria with   support from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbei (GIZ)   and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The JAK foundation is again working closely with 15 other countries to promote rice production in the Sub-Saharan region.
Prof. Agyeman-Duah noted that the foundation will continue to create awareness among farmers to increase their yield.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which is also supporting the initiative assured farmers that as major beneficiaries of the MoU they will always have a ready market for their produce.
The signing of the MoU will provide an estimate of 2000 jobs in both skilled and unskilled labor

JUST IN: Processors peg bag of rice at N15,000

Description: Rice Processors Association of Nigeria

In order to show support for government’s decision to close the country’s border at Seme to rice smuggling, rice processors in Nigeria have pegged the retail price of rice at not more than N15,000. Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday on the development, national Chairman of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Alhaji Mohammed Abubarkar Maifata said the association will sanction any rice processor (Millers) who sells above the stipulated price.
The RIPAN Chairman stated that the ex-factory price of per-boiled rice, which Nigerians consume has been pegged at between N13,300 and N14,000 while the final retail price has been marked off at N15,000.
The association, he noted, has written to the federal government to express commitment to keeping the price of rice down to the barest minimum and vowed to support the government with intelligence by putting the reports of its surveillance team at the disposal of the government.
The RIPAN executives said Nigeria risks the losing over $400 million to rice smuggling if the over one million metric tonnes of the commodity is allowed to enter the country from Benin Republic.
Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata and his vice chairman, Mr Paul Eluhaiwe disclosed that they have carried out intensive border and port survey.
The RIPAN boss disclosed that about half a million metric tonnes of the commodity have already been booked in Thailand for onward journey to Nigeria preparatory to the Christmas season.
This, according to the chairman, would no doubt have a crippling effect on rice processors in the country as their activities would be hampered if this impending illegal importation is not checked with the attendant colossal loss of over $400 million.
According to him, the closure of the Nigerian Benin Republic border would go a long way to curb the menace of rice smuggling so that local producers would have a breather, adding that the association supports the current border closure by government.
The association assured Nigerians that they have tasked themselves to close the gap in rice supply in the market as a result of the border closure, stating that the nation’s demand for rice which is 4 million metric tonnes per annum can be surpassed with the over 5 million metric tonnes jointly supplied by members of the association and outgrowers.
Mohammed Abubarkar lamented that “from January to date over 1 million metric tonnes of rice have been brought into Benin Republic from Thailand and India most of which end up in Nigeria illegally.
He noted that almost all of the rice imported into Benin Republic end up in Nigeria because Benin Republic nationals eat white rice while Nigerians eat per-boiled rice which are imported into Benin Republic.
By closing the border, RIPAN members say “rice mills are now back in operation at almost 100% installed capacity and given the favourable rainfall this year, we expect improved paddy production.”
Mohammed Abubarkar said the association has been clamouring for the closure of the borders to smugglers for over two years and promised that they “will not hike the price of rice.”
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said President Buhari expressed great concern over the smuggling of rice when he met with President of Benin Republic in Japan.
The president said the activities of the smugglers threatened the self-sufficiency already attained due to his administration’s agricultural policies.
According to Buhari “now that our people in the rural areas are going back to their farms, and the country has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves. We cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue,” he said.
The Nigerian President said the limited closure of the country’s western border was to allow Nigeria’s security forces develop a strategy on how to stem the dangerous trend and its wider ramifications.
Earlier, President Talon of Benin Republic had said he called on the Nigerian President as a result of the severe impact the closure of the Nigerian border was having on his people.

Japan Pledges to Help Double Rice Output in Africa by 2030

Politics Aug 28, 2019
Yokohama, Aug. 28 (Jiji Press)--Japan will help double annual rice production in Africa to 56 million tons by 2030, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday, ahead of the start of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD 7.
At a symposium on the future of African agriculture, held in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Abe stressed that Japan's carefully managed and patiently continued assistance, as well as Japanese companies' advanced technical capabilities, will contribute to long-sustained growth of Africa.
The Japanese leader called for reform of the African agriculture industry so that it will be attractive to investors and young workers.
Meanwhile, Abe started a series of separate meetings with a total of about 50 leaders from African nations and international organizations on the sidelines of TICAD 7 in Yokohama.
Ahead of the opening of the three-day conference on Wednesday afternoon, Abe and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who currently serves as chairman of the African Union, affirmed their cooperation to achieve success at the conference.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.

Indian Food 101

We present a beginner’s guide to this spice-forward cuisine that ranks among the world’s best.

The Background
India is home to more than 1.3 billion people living across 29 states. This results in a plethora of regional cuisines that are primarily divided into two categories: north and south. Northern Indian food features a lot of influences from the Middle East, as seen in its favoring of flatbreads and spice-heavy, oft-creamy stews (curries). Southern Indian food is more tied to Hindu culinary traditions, with a heavier reliance on rice, legumes, and vegetables. Throughout the subcontinent, and across Indian menus, beef is not as prevalent as it is in America because cows are sacred to Hindus, and pork is also scant because Muslims do not eat it. The most common meats are chicken, goat, and lamb, in addition to fish.
Description: saag paneer curry in balti dish with cilantro garnish
The Dishes
For the sake of brevity, let’s focus on a few of the most common appetizers and entrees on Indian menus. Samosas—fried dumplings filled with veggies or meat—are universally beloved. Also fried, pakoras are vegetable fritters made with chickpea batter. Speaking of chickpeas, these legumes reach new heights of deliciousness in Indian cooking. You’ll see them labeled as chana on menus, and a great introductory delicacy is chana masala. Perhaps the most well-known Indian dish in the U.S. is chicken tikka masala, wherein marinated chicken is served in a creamy sauce that frequently features tomatoes. Tandoor-cooked meats are also prevalent, as well as vindaloo (a pepper-centric curry), rogan josh (typically lamb or goat braised in an aromatic gravy), and dosas (rice and lentil crepes packed with spiced veggies or meat).
The Veggies
Vegetarians will find a lot to love about Indian food, given its array of veg-centric entrees, apps, and sides. For those who eat dairy, paneer—a mild, soft cheese—is the star of many preparations, including enveloped in a tomato-based gravy, known as mattar, and stewed in spinach, known as saag. For a completely vegan option, go with aloo gobi, a turmeric-laded, hearty combination of cauliflower and potatoes. Another common vegetarian option across the subcontinent is dal. Literally meaning “dried legume,” dal is often the name used to refer to the thick stew made from legumes, such as lentils or peas.

Description: Sides
Regardless of what you order, you’ll most likely receive basmati rice. Native to India and Pakistan, this long-grain rice boasts nutty, floral undertones, making it the perfect accompaniment to Indian food. If you enjoy rice as an entree, then try biryani, which is spiced with mixes like garam masala, dotted with meat or fish, and topped with nuts, onions, and maybe fresh fruits or herbs, depending on the regional influence. Breads are also key to the experience. Baked in a clay oven (or tandoor), naan is by far the most common flatbread. You’re also likely to come across roti, which is unleavened; paratha, which is basically a layered roti often stuffed with a sweet or savory filling; and fried variations such as poori.
The Condiments
Indian chutneys are endlessly versatile and abundant. Some favorites are hari, a cilantro condiment often served with fried bites like samosas, and tamarind, which lends a sweet-and-sour flavor. There’s also an onion relish that pairs well with papadums, crispy wafers made from lentil or chickpea flour. A yogurt sauce known as raita is another mainstay; be sure to request this if you accidently order a spice level that leaves you hot and bothered.
Description: spicy sauce raita with herbs and cucumber
The Drinks
Need something to wash it all down? Tea is ubiquitous in India, and masala chai is a delicious, spice-forward rendition to try. For something tamer, sample lassi, a drink made of yogurt, water, and spices. Fruit, such as mango, also pops up in lassi, and it can turn the drink into the dessert of your dreams.
The Desserts
While India is not known for its sweets, there are a few options to choose from. The most common offerings you’re likely to see at Indian restaurants are rice pudding—made with basmati rice, often spiced with cardamom and saffron, and topped with nuts and raisins—and gulab jamun, a sticky sweet most akin to a doughnut.
The Eating
Feel ready to give Indian food a go? The best way to test the water is by visiting a lunch buffet. Aroma Indian Cuisine in West Palm Beach serves a vast and comprehensive smorgasbord daily.

Founder Group makes clean sweep in REAP MC elections


·      AUG 29TH, 2019

·      LAHORE
The Founder Group made a clean sweep by securing all the Corporate and Associate class seats in elections 2019-20 for the Management Committee of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP). According to details, Wednesday was the last date for receipt of nomination papers on vacant seats of Corporate and Associate class in North and South Zones for annual elections of the Associations. As no one else filed their nomination papers except candidates of the founders' group, all were declared elected unopposed for a term of two years i.e., 2019-21.

Those elected in Corporate class (North Zone) are Shahjahan Malik, Khalid Mahmood, Ahsan Saeed and Fahad Jahangir. Ashfaq Ali Khan was declared elected unopposed in Associate class under the leadership of Shahzad Ali Malik, Group leader of North Zone. Similarly, Mohammad Asif Polani, Subhan Khalil Malik, Faisal Masood Chaudhry, Gurmukh Das (Corporate Class) and Sheeraz Ahmad Sheikh (Associate class) were elected unopposed from the South Zone under the leadership of Abdur Rahim Janoo, group leader South Zone.

Sitting REAP Chairman Safder Hussain Mehkri, Senior Vice Chairman Ali Hussam Asghar, Shahzad Ali Malik and Pir Nazim Hussain Shah congratulated all the elected Managing Committee members and expressed the hope that they would continue serving for the strengthening of the national economy through enhanced rice exports.

Elections for the post of Chairman, Senior Vice Chairman and Vice-Chairman are due next month. The group also nominated Shahjahan Malik as the new chairman for the next year.

In a ceremony at the REAP headquarter, nominated chairman Shahjahan Malik said that no stone will be left unturned to take the rice exports from the current level of US 2 billion dollars to US 5 billion dollars in next five years.

For this purpose, he said that he along with his other colleagues will make efforts for upgrading the rice value chain in the country.

Outgoing Senior Vice Chairman Ali Hussam Asghar threw light on the efforts done by the current body for increasing rice exports and resolving the issues being faced by the rice exporters.

Committee to recommend steps to govt for boost in agri production: Asad Qaiser

August 29, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser Wednesday said the Special Committee on Agricultural Products would send its recommendations to the federal government for boost in agriculture production and exports and for incentives to farmers.
The Speaker was addressing a press conference at the Parliament House after the 3rd meeting of the sub-committee of the Special Committee on Agricultural Products.
He said the provinces were responsible for implementing the policies on agriculture sector.
A main topic of discussion during the meeting of the sub-committee was about giving incentives to cotton growers especially those in Sindh and Punjab, he added.
He said policy experts would be included in committees of Parliament to strengthen their role in policy implementation.
He told that a working group comprising chairmen of National Assembly committees of finance and commerce was being formed to tackle the economic challenges by suggesting policy guidelines for different sectors.
He said the recommendations of the committee on agriculture comprising experts and researchers would be taken up and pursued in provinces.
The Speaker said that the problem of increasing fuel charges for farmers would be resolved in consultation with the stakeholders.
The Convener of the Sub Committee of the Special Committee on Agriculture Products Syed Fakhar Imam said the special committee was formed to work for promotion of agriculture and to resolve basic problems of farmers.
Agriculture was the backbone of Pakistan and its five main crops were wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane and corn.
Cotton was a commercial crop and 60 percent of the country’s exports were based on cotton and products made from it. Seventy percent of the cooking oil was produced from cotton seed and the cotton seed cake was an important input in the dairy sector, he added.
He expressed concern over the reduction in the acreage for cotton crop and falling of production from 14.7 million bales to 10.7 million bales.
He said the committee looked into ways to revive the production of cotton whose four big producers in the world were China, India, Brazil and Pakistan.
The local demand for cotton was 15-16 million bales and Pakistan was importing 4-5 million bales to meet its domestic needs.
He underlined the need to rectify policies to increase cotton production and introduce indicative price as was set for crops of wheat and sugarcane.
It was recommended by the committee to set indicative price of cotton to Rs 4000 per 40 kg. Minimum support price for cotton would encourage farmers and boost their production, he added.
Fakhar Imam said the committee on agriculture products had engaged foreign experts, academia and researchers to get their input for increase in cotton production. He mentioned that Bangladesh had increased its exports to $ 38 billion by selling its garments and cotton based products.
Pakistan could do the same and take its exports to $ 40 billion from $ 23 billion through value addition. Pakistan was earning $ three billion from export of rice and could further boost its exports of this crop.
He said wrong policies of the past had plummeted agricultural production. Fakhar Imam said the right policies will attract investors to Pakistan and boost exports to regions of Europe, North America and countries in Africa and South America.
He said the federal government had allocated Rs 12 billion for agriculture sector, adding an additional one billion would be given every year for research in the agri sector.
To a question, he said 800 seed companies were registered and a regulatory body oversees their affairs.
Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza said agriculture was a devolved subject and according to last economic survey the agriculture sector growth was in negative.
She pointed out that the cotton growers were suffering losses and the price of cotton needed to be increased.
The stakeholders of industry and agriculture should sit together to recommend steps to increase exports, she added.

REAP's South Zone Group Candidates Elected Un-opposed For 2019-20

Description: REAP's South Zone Group candidates elected un-opposed for 2019-20

Five Managing Committee members of Rice Export Corporation of Pakistan's South Zone Group have been elected un-apposed for the year 2019-20

KARACHI, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 28th Aug, 2019 ) :Five Managing Committee members of Rice Export Corporation of Pakistan's South Zone Group have been elected un-apposed for the year 2019-20.
Four members including Muhammad Asif Polani, Subhan Khalil Malik, Gurmukh Dasand Faisal Masood Choudhry are from Corporate sector and Sheeraz Shaikh is from Associate Class, said a REAP press release on Wednesday.
Chairman, Abdul Rehman Janoo has congratulated all the winning candidates and hoped that the new team of office-bearers and MC would work for benefit of REAP members. The new body would continue momentum geared up by the present Chairman Safdar Mekhri and his team.

Russia is vying for control of Arctic seaways and has built some 40 icebreakers. China, which is not a polar country, has launched aggressive Arctic diplomacy. | Vladimir Isachenkov/AP Photo


How Russia and China are preparing to exploit a warming planet

POLITICO’s latest Global Translations podcast explores how climate change is reshaping power dynamics among America’s adversaries.

08/29/2019 05:11 AM EDT
Hurricanes, floods, and wildfires aside, climate change is delivering another threat: a remaking of geopolitics that stands to empower some of America’s adversaries and rivals.
As Arctic ice melts, Russia stands to gain access to oil and gas fields historically locked beneath northern ice — and is building up capability to launch cruise missiles from newly navigable waters to threaten America's coastlines. Description: Arctic
As polar seaways open up, China is eyeing a new “Polar Silk Road” — shorter shipping routes that could cut weeks off of shipping times from Asia to Europe.
And as drought drives more farmers and herders off their lands, extremist groups in Africa and the Middle East are finding fresh recruits.
These are just some of the ways climate change stands to reshape the power dynamics between nations that emerged from interviews for POLITICO’s Global Translations podcast.
Climate change is “making all of our challenges — whether it's terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, violent extremism or great power competition between China and Russia — that much more challenging,” said Sherri Goodman, a former deputy undersecretary of defense who led studies of climate impacts on national security for the Center for Naval Analyses.
Some of the biggest power shifts are around the Arctic, which Goodman called “ground zero for the nexus of national security and climate change. In our lifetime, a whole new ocean has opened up because with climate change the sea ice is retreating, the oceans are warming and the permafrost is collapsing.”
A global quest for resources is already underway in the Arctic, said Goodman, now a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center Polar Institute. “There are thought to be vast stores of fossil fuels, oil and gas and minerals across the Arctic that have not yet been tapped. Russia is doing so today across its vast Arctic coastline with the help of China,” she said.
Russia is vying for control of Arctic seaways and has built some 40 icebreakers — ships that can channel through ice. “Russia envisions under Putin a northern sea route that is essentially a toll road that requires Russian Arctic escorts in the form of icebreakers or other patrol boats, escorting not only the Chinese but others who want to ship across the Arctic,” she said. By contrast, the U.S. has only two icebreakers, she said.
Meanwhile, China, which is not a polar country, has launched aggressive Arctic diplomacy and gained non-voting observer status for itself at the Arctic Council, the international forum that addresses policy in the Arctic. Last year, China issued its first arctic policy.

Global Translations

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“It envisions a Polar Silk Road that stretches from Shanghai across potentially to Hamburg and Reykjavik and parts of Europe across Russia's vast northern sea route hugging the Russian coastline and both exploiting the energy resources there, potential transport opportunities, shipping, research,” Goodman said.
President Donald Trump’s interest in buying Greenland was driven in part by resources newly available because of melting ice. The Danish government quickly rebuffed the idea, but the incident could be seen as an acknowledgment of climate change from a leader who has derided global warming as a hoax.
Climate change poses additional security consequences. U.S. military bases at home and abroad have already been strained by destructive hurricanes and flooding that have cost billions of dollars to repair — and extreme weather has stretched thin the disaster response capabilities of the military. When hurricanes hit Florida and Puerto Rico and the East Coast of the United States in 2017 and 2018, the military had to slow the flow of forces to Afghanistan in order to be able to provide relief at home. Meanwhile, troops have to operate in higher temperatures across Asia and the Middle East, where temperatures now regularly are over 100 degrees and face a broader array of infectious diseases.
Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base incurred billions of dollars in damage from Hurricane Michael in 2018 when winds tore through the roofs of hangars and destroyed buildings. Congress has in recent years directed the Department of Defense to address the climate resilience of military bases and climate risks to operating forces.
“The Department of Defense is beginning to integrate these risks into its strategy plans and plans,” Goodman said.
Another geopolitical threat is migration — whether from low-lying island states that stand to lose fresh water drinking supply or coastal areas susceptible to typhoons. Prolonged drought is believed to contribute to conflicts in the Middle East.
“We know that in Syria the prolonged drought that preceded the civil unrest there was a contributing factor to that unrest, which became instability, which led to the violent extremism, which has become the deadliest civil war in modern times,” she said.
Elsewhere, drought-prone countries are buying up land to grow water-intensive crops in what is called the “virtual water” trade. For example, China has been buying agricultural land in the U.S. and Europe to harvest water-intensive crops such as alfalfa.
Simon Dalby, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, told the podcast that the geopolitical consequences can be difficult to predict. He cited the impacts of a 2010 drought in Russia which led the Kremlin to limit wheat exports, setting off a chain reaction.
“International markets panicked. The price went up quickly — and it is indeed suggested that in fact part of the Arab Spring was partly a response to those price fluctuations. So political disturbances across the Middle East might indeed have been related to the drought in Russia, which was probably at least partly caused by climate fluctuations. So this is where we see how dramatically the global economy and the ecology is interconnected,” he said.
The world will need emergency stockpiles of food and disaster relief aid, he said.
And, he noted, while warming may open up certain regions to new agriculture, unpredictable rainfall and flooding can wreak havoc on crops. “This is much trickier than simply saying, ‘Oh because it's warmer, Russia will do better.’ It's not that simple,” he said.
Climate change is transforming agriculture itself.
Increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ramps up photosynthesis and makes crops grow more quickly. But the phenomenon has been shown to reduce nutrient density in some crops, like rice. Researchers have begun studying how many people might be at risk for iron or zinc deficiency as a result.
Like governments, businesses are studying how to address long-term risks to their business models, said Gary Litman, vice president for global initiatives at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“We definitely need to prepare, to adjust, to adapt to climate change to mitigate the impact of the industry on climate,” he said. But he added that it’s part of a broader pressure on companies to address long-term environmental sustainability and compete for increasingly scarce resources. “We're dealing with finite resources. There's not going to be more cobalt on this planet. There is not going to be new soil on this planet. There is not going to be a new oxygen on this planet,” he said.
He noted that advanced technologies, such as batteries, require rare metals. “You cannot address the climate issue — you cannot prepare, for example, for the rise of the oceans — if you don't invest in new construction materials. How do you build the dam? If you use the current resources, you'll run out of gravel before you build anything. If you don't have access to reliable supply of cobalt, you won't be able to switch to e-mobility,” he said.

What makes rice an essential for Ganesh Chaturthi

Created: Aug 29, 2019, 21:00 IST

It’s that time of the year, when every nook and corner boasts of the festive spirit. Right from the lit up streets to the loud cheers of Ganpati Bappa Morya! It’s time for the most grand celebration of the year.

Ganesh Chatutrthi is around the corner and preparations are in full swing, from decorations to preparations, this festival is all about celebrations. And you simply cannot think of celebrations without the mere mention of good food, but did you know some ingredients are not only meant for eating but are an inseparable part of our culture and rituals. Well one such ingredient is rice, which plays an essential part in this festival, the 10-day long festival is no less than a celebration of a lifetime for the devotees. Right from community celebrations to bringing the idol home, Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India.

This year, Ganesh Chaturthi will start from 2nd of September 2019. Interestingly, rice plays an important role in establishment of the idol. As per the puja vidhi, rice is an essential in the puja. Rice also known as akshat is spread with kumkum or turmeric on the idol of Ganpati. It is believed that following this ritual helps in bringing happiness and prosperity.

While bringing home the idol, rice is mixed with kumkum and is showered as a welcome gesture. Also the tradition of drawing a swastika is also made with a mixture of rice and kumkum. Apart from that, there are a few essentials required for Ganesh puja and rice happens to be one of them. Some of the things needed for this puja are betel leaves, rice, haldi,roli or gulal, bukka and a kalash with a coconut placed on it.

Another popular tradition around this festival is that there should not be any darkness around the idol and this is the reason why there’s always a diya lit up around Lord Ganesha. Moving onto the significance of rice, it is believed that rice is attracts positive energy and this why it is used in most festivals. According to the mythology, rice is believed to bring positivity and energy from all Gods and Goddesses. And mixing akshat or rice with kumkum simply adds on to the positivity and makes it subh as they say in Hindi.

Amarava Rice Mill To Double Capacity, Targets 500MT Production DailyBUSINESS NEWS

 On Aug 29, 2019
amarava rice
Description: amarava riceAs the efforts towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice production in Nigeria thickens, one of Nigeria’s indigenous rice milling company based in Kano, Amarava Rice Mill, has said it is targeting to double its production capacity by September 2019.
The Rice Mill which was commissioned in 2017 by President Muhammadu Buhari, is set to receive a major boost to its production capacity by over 100 percent to the tune of 500 metric tonnes daily even as it is heavily investing in the expansion of its millers.
The Chairman, Fullmark Group (parent company of Amarava Agro Processors Limited), Sriram Venkateswaran, who revealed this while speaking with journalists, stated that the drive to boost capacity is geared towards promoting government diversification effort, reduce independence on the importation of rice and improve food security.

EG gets ready to supply fine quality rice to Srikakulam Hans News Service   |
  30 Aug 2019 2:17 AM IST Joint Collector Dr G Lakshmisha HIGHLIGHTS Officials of Civil Supplies department in East Godavari district have taken the task of supplying 14, 0000 tonnes of fine quality rice from the district to Srikakulam. Kakinada: Officials of Civil Supplies department in East Godavari district have taken the task of supplying 14, 0000 tonnes of fine quality rice from the district to Srikakulam. The scheme will be implemented as a pilot project in Srikakulam district from September 1. It may be noted that the YSRC government has assured supply of fine quality rice (sortex variety) from September in Srikakulam and the system will be implemented in other districts in phased manner. Advertise With Us As part of this implementation, rice packed in 5, 10, 15 and 20 kgs with the image of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Description: EG gets ready to supply fine quality rice to SrikakulamReddy on the bags are being supplied for PDS distribution. The process of packing has been entrusted to East Godavari Rice Millers. According to Joint Collector of EG Dr G Lakshmisha, the package system will prevent the allegations of weight loss. Unlike the earlier system of supplying loose rice, under the modified system, the PDS card holder gets fine quality rice in packed form and there will be no weight loss. Advertise With Us Already we supplied more than 4, 0000 tonnes of rice in packed form and arrangements have been made for the supply of balance quantity of rice in next two days, JC said. On the question of spending hefty amount on packing of rice in packs in different quantities with CM's photo for Re1-a-kilo-rice supplies, Lakshmisha clarified that there will not be any extra cost for this .

India Grain: Spot wheat, maize prices down on fall in bulk purchases

Thursday, Aug 29

By Sampad Nandy

NEW DELHI – Prices of mill-quality wheat fell today due to a further decline in demand from bulk consumers and stockists, traders said. The decline in prices was restricted due to low arrivals, they said.

"Bulk demand softened further today as mills have reduced their purchases due to high spot prices and are unlikely to increase their buys in the coming few days," Kota-based trader Aniket Mehta said.

Wheat futures on National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange also fell in line with the trend in the spot markets. The most-active September contract closed at 2,060 rupees per 100 kg, down 0.5%.

Demand is seen weak in the coming days, as most bulk buyers are likely to move to government auctions as supply in spot markets have declined, Indore-based trader N.K. Agarwal said. 

In case of maize, prices remained weak today across spot markets due to low purchases from bulk buyers at high prices, traders said. Decline in supply, however, limited the fall in prices, they said.

"Demand remained weak as most purchasers avoided picking up stocks in bulk due to very high spot prices," Purnea-based trader Sehdev Jaiswal said. 

Maize futures on NCDEX, however, ended flat today on expectations of a rise in prices over the coming days. The most-active September contract ended at 2,173 rupees per 100 kg.

Most bulk buyers are now awaiting the fresh kharif crop in late September as they anticipate prices to decline due to a supply pressure, Nizamabad-based trader Amrutlal Kataria said. 
In the case of basmati paddy, prices of the Pusa 1121 variety fell due to a decline in demand from rice millers and exporters, traders said.   

Pusa 1121 basmati paddy futures on Indian Commodity Exchange, however, ended higher as traders anticipate a rise in demand from millers during the festive season in October. The September contract closed at 3,525 rupees per 100 kg, up 0.4% from the previous close.

Following are today's prices for wheat, maize, and paddy, in rupees per 100 kg, in key wholesale markets, and the change from the previous day:

Pusa 1121 basmati


Edited by Mainak Moitra

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When the rain doesn’t come: Thailand in grip of severe drought as monsoon season fails to deliver

There has been no significant rain in this province for several months. (Photo: Jack Board)

29 Aug 2019 06:36AM (Updated: 29 Aug 2019 12:05PM)
NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand: Suthin Noramas cannot stop his tears as he surveys the parched land around him. 
His plot is about 2.25 hectares in size and has been carefully cultivated for some crops he thought would prove to be valuable to sell, such as durians, pepper and lemongrass. 
All of them are dying or dead. 
The ochre ground is cracked from dryness. Even the sections that look green and thriving belie the lack of rain that has hit hard over the past few months. “I have been doing agriculture my whole life,” the 43-year-old said, eyes wet with despondency. “This drought is the worst.
“You can clearly see that they've died. I have lost all courage to work. It’s all gone. Dry.”
Ask any local in this part of Thailand and their answer will be similar: This drought is as bad as they can remember.
Rice paddies normally green at this time of year are dry and barren. (Photo: Jack Board)

So far this year, the entire country has endured the least rainfall in the past decade and a significant 25 per cent less than in the same time in 2018, according to Thailand’s Department of Water Resources. In Issan, which covers 20 provinces across a large swathe of the northeast of Thailand, the drop has been more dramatic - down 30 per cent on 2018 figures, where rainfall was close to normal. 
The state of the Mekong River this wet season - where it fell to its lowest water level in 100 years - has been symbolic of the bigger problems facing the region. 
The lack of rain has left a visible mark on the land and raised uncertainty among people.

Suthin works his land with his elderly father. Their only source of water for their agriculture project is a nearby reservoir. Recently, the duo purchased an electric pump to help them extract the precious resource. On this day, and in recent memory, there is nothing but a dirty trickle. 
“I don’t know why it is like this. I don’t know why the gods, sky and soil are punishing me like this. What is going on this year and why is there no rain?”
Suthin Noramas has watched his farm crops grow dry and die due to a lack of recent rain. (Photo: Jack Board)

Just a few kilometres away in Khonburi, other locals ponder that same question on the edge of another dried up reservoir. Its capacity is about 12,000 cubic metres, or about six Olympic-sized swimming pools. But it is empty now. 
Local flower grower Karawake Korbsungnern says he has lost 50 per cent of this year’s harvest, costing him about US$6,500. He thinks he is lucky to have managed to salvage anything at all in the absence of rain.
“There are so many dark clouds coming this way but the rain doesn’t come. It rains somewhere else. It’s so windy here, too, but no rain. I have been watching weather forecasts and they always say there will be rain. I have yet to see any,” he said. 
“If rain and water don’t come by October. I don’t know what will we do next year.“
Water has become rare and precious across Issan in northeast Thailand

In July, Thailand’s meteorological department issued a warning about the severity of the drought. Around the same time, the government told farmers to hold off planting rice. It came months too late for many producers, who typically plant their main crop in May.
Unlike in previous bad drought years - 2015 being a recent example - it meant farmers had fully committed to their fields, leaving them horribly exposed when the monsoon failed to form as usually expected in May and June.
Prapas Khunsarong, a rice grower in Non Thai district has watched his fields fail after investing huge sums of money. He is mostly a subsistence farmer, growing rice for his own family’s needs. 
Around Baan Wang village, the sight of dry paddies and scorched earth are the evidence of the struggle of Prapas and many like him. They say there has not been any significant rainfall in months.
The heavily cracked surface of a dried reservoir in Nakhon Ratchasima province. (Photo: Jack Board)

“At the beginning of this year there was some rain and the rice was sprouting. After that for about three months, there’s been no rain. They are all dead,” he said.
“Next year, we are facing the problem of no rice to eat and no grains to grow. These are the problems. We do lose hope. The whole sub-district feel the same way.”
Rice production in Thailand is a critically important industry, which accounts for about a quarter of the world’s global trade of the crop. Yet, the country has food security issues due to climate change vulnerability, according to Dr Seree Supratid, director of the Climate Change and Disaster Center at Rangsit University.
This year’s drought is being blamed on a low pressure trough, bringing monsoonal rain shifting to the north, inundating parts of India and southern China instead of Thailand. But on top of climate conditions, Dr Seree, the former governor of the country's Provincial Waterworks Authority and author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says water mismanagement can further explain the damaging impact.
Prapas Khunsarong has lost thousands of baht and has been unable to harvest his rice. (Photo: Jack Board)

“At the beginning of this year we had quite a lot of water for the farmers. We released so much water. Why release so much? Because we didn’t tell the farmers and all the stakeholders before the beginning of the year that we will face some period of prolonged drought,” he said, referring to stored water that can be freely accessed by farmers during the normal dry months.
“We have to improve. We have to change our way of management.” 
Already this year, a study by the Department of Agricultural Extension estimated that 1,331 square kilometres of land has been damaged by the drought at a cost of US$320 million. The numbers are expected to dramatically increase as the drought continues. 
Dr Seree blames a lack of proper forecasting, information spreading and risk mitigation for Thailand’s lack of climate resilience. A lack of investment in agricultural technology or the encouragement of adoption of high-value crops that use less water has further contributed, he says.
These are challenges that are only going to become more pressing in the years to come. Dr Seree says a hot and dry climate is a new reality for Thailand and severe droughts are now being forecast every two to three years, instead of every 10 to 15 years in the past. Likewise, the magnitude and regularity of damaging floods is also increasing.
“We see that in the long term, Thailand will be a very vulnerable country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government is taking action to deal with the current situation.
The cabinet on Tuesday (Aug 28) approved an additional drought relief package worth US$515 million to reach 76 hard-hit provinces.  Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also proposed waiving water bills for the public in central Surin during a visit this month.
"People are beset by grievances. They turn on their tap only to have air come out of the pipe. Why should they be paying for water that isn't there?" he said, as reported by local media.
A small camp fire built by locals in the dried out reservoir that normally provides agricultural water. (Photo: Jack Board)

As the Lam Chae Dam has slowly receded, it has left boats lying on cracked mud and waterside restaurants high up and away from their intended idyllic locations. The water level has dropped so much, motorcycles can traverse a path right across the large reservoir. 
The dam is a critical piece of water infrastructure serving Nakhon Ratchasima province with a capacity of 275 million cubic metres. Currently, it is only 17 per cent full. Its operators have closed access to water collection for agricultural purposes, allowing people only to take enough need for personal needs.
“We want to reserve some water for next year’s dry season and we will keep water from rainfall. We closely monitor the situation,” said Somsak Thaploka, the director of Lam Chae Water Transmission and Maintenance Project.
A makeshift road has been made possible through the Lam Chae Dam. (Photo: Jack Board)
Just nearby, the concerns for villagers in Kok Kra Chai relate to drinking water. Their small reservoir will run dry within two weeks if there is no rain. Many locals typically use ceramic water pots to collect rainwater to drink and wash with - those are also sitting empty.
“The water is at its lowest we have seen. If there’s no water then villagers have to buy water,” said village head, Prajuab Thokratoke. 
The Thai government will provide some compensation for affected farmers during this drought period but it is likely to not even come close to covering their costs. For provinces declared disaster relief zones, rice farmers could receive a maximum of US$36 per rai of land (0.16 hectares). Farmers say the cost of planting one rai is about triple that sum. 
“They will give compensation but it won’t be enough. It will only be enough to prolong us for a while, to buy food because we don’t grow rice here so we have to buy rice. I have to help myself first,” said fruit farmer Suthin.
A boat left sitting in dry grass, far away from the shore of Lam Chae Dam. (Photo: Jack Board)

He is torn between holding out, absorbing his losses and the grief it brings or packing his bags for Bangkok and finding a construction job with a regular pay packet.
“If I really cannot cope with this, I have to find a job in town. As for the crops, I will leave them here for my father to look after on his own. But he’s old,” he said, before seeming to change his mind, drawing on the grit farmers often do to survive tough times like these.
“We have to fight. It’s true. We have to fight. We just have to wait for rain.”

AUGUST 28, 2019 / 11:32 PM / 2 DAYS AGO

Nigeria closes part of border with Benin to check rice smuggling

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria has partially closed its western border with Benin to curb rice smuggling that is threatening the country’s attempt to boost local production, the government said on Wednesday.
FILE PHOTO: A vendor arranges bags of rice at the Wuse market in Abuja, Nigeria May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo
The government wants Nigeria to be self-sufficient in rice and has imposed import controls but these have kept prices high and led to smuggling from Benin into Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari has introduced policies since taking office in 2015 that are aimed at curbing imports to boost local production and conserve foreign exchange reserves.
He said rice smuggling across the western border threatened his policy of self-sufficiency.
“The country has saved huge sums of money which would otherwise have been expended on importing rice using our scarce foreign reserves,” Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his spokesman. “We cannot allow smuggling of the product at such alarming proportions to continue.”
The statement did not say when the border was partially closed.
Buhari also said there would be a meeting with Benin and Niger, Nigeria’s northern neighbors, to determine measures to check smuggling across the borders.
He said the border closure was limited to allow security forces stem the trend and that he would consider fully re-opening the border in the future.
The government has said Nigeria’s imports of rice and wheat together cost almost $4 billion a year but its 190 million people rely on imports for most of what they consume due to limited manufacturing capacity.
The country has considered developing agriculture for export to earn more hard currency and to increase revenues from outside its dominant oil industry.
Earlier this month, Buhari told the central bank to stop providing foreign exchange for food imports as part of his drive to bolster the country’s agriculture sector.

Sell imported rice, DA orders NFA

AUGUST 30, 2019
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to immediately sell the millions of bags of rice that have been sitting in its warehouses for months.
Description: Sell imported rice, DA orders NFA 1A worker carries a sack of rice at the NFA warehouse in Quezon City. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ
DA spokesman Noel Reyes told The Manila Times that Agriculture Secretary William Dar directed NFA Administrator Judy Dansal to unload the imported rice so the agency would have funds to purchase more palay (unmilled rice) from local farmers.
“They should be moving and not holding their stocks for a long time. What are they waiting for when they can actually unload their stocks to the market? That is the directive of the secretary, to unload as fast as they can, so they (can) roll over the money and buy more palay from local farmers,” Reyes told The Times.
Dansal admitted during a Senate hearing by the Committee on Agriculture and Food on Wednesday that 290,000 metric tons (mt) of imported rice, or 4 million bags containing 50 kilograms each are yet to be sold.
On Thursday, the NFA chief clarified that the agency’s rice stocks kept in its warehouses nationwide were maintained in “good condition at all times.”
“We abide by what is dictated by our mandate. We store and handle our stocks, following good warehouse-keeping protocols in all our warehouses across the country so that we can immediately respond to any need for rice supply during calamities and emergencies,” she explained.
The NFA purchased 1.2 million mt of rice last year to boost its buffer stock.
Reyes said the “suki trading system” of the NFA, wherein the agency purchases palay from big traders instead of farmers also alarmed Dar and he asked Dansal to fix this right away.
“The secretary wanted NFA to go deeper, meaning they should go to small farmers and not to suki traders,” Reyes told The Manila Times.
He said the DA would keep an eye on the NFA, particularly its procurement of local palay and the selling of low-priced rice in the local market.
Reyes said the NFA’s plan to buy palay at P17 per kilo would be discussed during a meeting of the NFA Council next week.
This means the P3-incentive given by the agency starting October 2018 amid the rice crisis will be discontinued. The P3-buffer stocking incentive allowed the NFA to buy palay at P20.70 per kilo from farmer cooperatives and P20.40 per kilo from individual farmers.
“The rationale there is for the NFA to be able to purchase more palay,” Reyes said. The price of palay has plunged to as low as P12 per kilo in some provinces.
Dansal said the NFA continues to buy palay from local farmers to provide them a ready market for their produce at reasonable price.
“We conduct procurement operations on a year-round basis. We have more than 300 buying stations across the country that are open daily where farmers can deliver their produce and avail of our support price and incentives,” she said.
Under Republic Act 11203, or the “Rice Tariffication Law” passed in February this year, the NFA is mandated to maintain a buffer stock good for 15 to 30 days of daily consumption requirement (DCR) to meet contingencies during calamities and emergencies anywhere in the country.
The NFA currently holds about 4.5 million bags of rice and 6.4 million bags of palay or a total rice equivalent of 8.5 million bags of rice good for 13 days based on national DCR of 651,860 bags

Strong demand lifts Indian rice rates, Thai prices buoyant
Karthika Suresh Namboothiri
AUGUST 29, 2019 / 5:30 PM
BENGALURU (Reuters) - Prices of Indian export rice rose this week on good export demand and concerns over production of the summer-sown crop because of erratic rainfall, while fluctuations in Thailand’s currency supported Thai export rates.

A farmer carries saplings to plant in a rice field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $374-$378 a tonne this week, up slightly from $372-$375 a week ago.

“Rice production could fall in key states like West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh due to lower rainfall,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

India received 14% less rainfall than the 50-year average in the week to Aug. 28, data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) showed.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque said the government is considering providing cash incentives to encourage rice exports.

Dhaka has been unable to clinch overseas deals since a long-standing export ban was lifted in May, with its rice more expensive than supplies from India or Thailand despite a recent fall in local prices.

Thailand’s benchmark 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $410-$430 a tonne, a slightly narrower range from last week’s $415-$430, traders said.

A firmer baht, Asia’s best-performing currency this year, has kept prices high while supply shortages because of a continuing drought - the worst in a decade - has also played a major role in supporting prices.

The Thai government this week announced 21 billion baht ($682 million) of subsidies to help farmers affected by the drought and the strong baht.

Elsewhere, tepid demand kept rates for Vietnam’s 5% broken rice unchanged from last week at $335-$340 a tonne amid slow trading activity.

“It’s been quiet this week, with no major export deals, due to weak demand,” said one trader based in Ho Chi Minh City.

Preliminary data showed only 29,600 tonnes of rice is scheduled to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City ports over Sept. 1-10, with 23,000 tonnes bound for West Africa and the rest for the Philippines, traders said.

Government data released on Thursday showed Vietnam exported 4.53 million tonnes of rice in the first eight months of this year, little changed from the same period last year.

August rice exports are estimated at 580,000 tonnes, compared with 598,619 tonnes in July.

Reporting by Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by David Goodman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Rice exporters propose barter trade treaty with Iran

August 29, 2019
LAHORE: Exporters of local agricultural products have proposed a barter trade agreement between Islamabad and Tehran to bypass US-trade sanctions imposed against Iran.
“The government may soon enter into a barter trade agreement with Iran for importing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) against export of Pakistani rice,” claims Shahzad Ali Malik, chief executive of a local agriculture research and services company.
He tells Dawn here on Wednesday that Iran is the biggest market of Basmati rice after Saudi Arabia that needs to be protected for the sake of local farming community and exporters.
He says as Islamabad and Tehran do not have any currency swap treaty, the rice exporters have proposed barter trade between the two neighbouring countries for importing LPG against Basmati rice exports to bypass the US-imposed sanctions on trade with Iran in dollars.
Mr Malik claims the federal commerce authorities have promised a positive outcome soon in this respect.
Responding to a query, he says there is a need for more production and supplies to explore new markets for achieving the target of $5 billion rice exports in the next five years and that hybrid seed can offer the enhanced yield opportunity in the face of water shortage and climate change problems.
He claims that his research company, Guard, has reached close to the target of developing a hybrid Basmati rice variety with average grain length of 8mm, as per demand of the international market, which will give on an average 80 maunds (3,200kgs) per acre yield.
The Basmati variety, he says, will be heat and drought tolerant to counter the challenge of climatic change, adding that it will be commercialised within a couple of years.
The company has already developed hybrid coarse (Irri) varieties for Sindh where these are giving up to 120 maunds per acre yield.
Meanwhile, the Founder Group led by Shahzad Malik swept the Corporate and Associate class seats of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan managing committee elections for 2019-20.
Shahjahan Malik, Khalid Mahmood, Ahsan Saeed and Fahad Jahangir were elected unopposed in Corporate Class and Ishfaq Ali Khan in Associate Class from the north zone.
Incumbent REAP office-bearers Safder Mehkri, Ali Hussam Asghar and Pir Nazim Shah have congratulated the newly-elected leaders.
Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2019
Harvest Times in Arkansas Sync Up with Mother Nature 
By Emily Woodall
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Harvest is on the horizon for many Arkansas producers if the sun will stick around!  Harvest for some was set to begin last week but was postponed due to another rainy spell.
In northeast Arkansas, rice farmer Dean Wall has received more than five inches of rain since last Thursday.  "We drained our early fields last week but with the front that came through, we'll have to drain the fields again.  If the weather cooperates, we're hoping to start harvesting in the next week or two." 

The latest rice Wall planted was in mid to late May.  Weather permitting, they're hoping it will be ready to harvest in mid to late September.  "If we can get a week to 10 days of good weather, then we should have a lot of combines out in the field," said Wall.

David Gairhan, another producer from northeast Arkansas, is also waiting on some sunshine to dry out the fields so he can start harvesting.  "Some folks may be able to start harvesting on Labor Day but I think the majority will start in a couple of weeks.  This crop is looking pretty fair except for all of the barnyard grass.  This is one of the worst years I can remember as far as grass goes."

South Arkansas producers are in the same boat.  Sidney Robnett from Stuttgart had plans to start harvesting last Friday but couldn't because of the weather.  However, combines should be out in the field later this week as long as the sun comes out.  Planting was spread out until June this year so the harvest is expected to be spread out as well. 

"More than likely we'll harvest our early rice, harvest some corn, then harvest our late rice.  While it's not ideal, it's how things are," said Robnett.  "There's a lot of speculation on yields this year and estimates are all over the place but I'm feeling pretty optimistic."

As always, Mother Nature dictates this year's harvest schedule, and producers are hoping for a good one.

How humans changed the face of Earth
1.         Neil Roberts1,2
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Science  30 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6456, pp. 865-866
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay4627

hapatis, dal & rice and a lot of TV — how J&K leaders are spending time in detention

Top J&K politicians including Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti & others, were taken into custody on 5 August, after govt scrapped Article 370. They have been kept at Centaur Hotel.

 Updated: 30 August, 2019 5:50 pm IST

Centaur Hotel in SKICC compound in Srinagar
Centaur Hotel in SKICC compound in Srinagar |
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Srinagar: Mainstream politicians in the Valley, currently detained at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Center (SKICC) in Srinagar, spend most of their days in their hotel rooms and are only able to interact with each other during meals served in the common dining hall.
The politicians, who include the first and second rung leadership of the National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Peoples Conference, and Shah Faesal, have been detained at the Centaur Hotel, which is located in the SKICC compound.
Their families told ThePrint that the leaders are mainly confined to their rooms where they mostly watch the news and movies at times. “They don’t have any technology — no laptops and no iPads,” said the son of a PDP politician. “They watch the news all day and maybe a movie at times on television. They ask us about what is happening outside. That is perhaps the highlight of their day.”
According to the family of a former National Conference MLA, the politicians initially ate their meals in their rooms but are now allowed into the common dining hall. “The timings are fixed for all the meals but it gives them a chance to talk to each other,” said the son of the former MLA. “Otherwise they spend all of their days watching TV.”
The lunch and dinner menu, he said, included vegetables and dal. “Chicken is served once or twice a week but is rationed. They get only one piece,” he said. “They get chapatis during the day and rice for dinner.”
Another family friend accompanying him said, “Kashmiris don’t eat chapatis. I guess they are making them familiar with eating chapatis now that Article 370 is removed”.

Prolonged detention

The politicians were all taken into custody on 5 August, after the Modi government scrapped Article 370 for the state.
They were herded into the luxury Centaur Hotel located on the banks of the Dal Lake. The hotel once hosted national and international events but the entire compound was given the status of a sub-jail by a state government order in the first week of August, a senior government official said.
Though it is widely believed that nearly 40 politicians were lodged in SKICC in the first week of August, the number has grown. Officials refuse to release the exact number of politicians detained there but one government source, however, said 107 politicians are currently lodged in the SKICC.
The politicians have a room of their own and entry into other floors is strictly restricted. Initially, movement in the floor lobby was also restricted, according to one relative, but now the politicians are allowed to take walks in their floor. The hotel park is not out of bounds, and so is the main lobby.
“The frisking at the main SKICC gate is rigorous. Not even our car keys are allowed,” said the daughter of one politician. “The food and clothes that we get are checked but all of it has to be brought in transparent polythene and utensils. Once in, an official sends a message to bring out the family member who is then accompanied by officials to the hotel main lobby where we are allowed to speak.”
She added that the administration has eased restrictions on time spent with family members. “Initially the time allotted to speak was less and officials would remind us that we were running out of time but now it is a little relaxed,” she said. “We can speak as much as we want but between 11 am and 4 pm.”
An advocate, who is also a relative of a detained NC politician, said the rooms were stripped of any objects, especially sharp ones that could be used as weapons to inflict self-harm.
“Nail cutters, hangers, blades and other sharp objects were taken out,” he said. “We were told we can give them trimmers to shave or trim beards. In-house barbers are being arranged from time to time.”

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IMM’s Marketing the Future Conferencespeakers announced

Marketing 155

The IMM Graduate School has partnered with Nedbank for its second annual Marketing the Future Conference. IMM has introduced a line-up of world-class speakers and is extending its reach from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

IMM’s <i>Marketing the Future Conference</i> speakers announced
"As Nedbank, we recognise how technology is changing the world and how we do things," says Sandrine Prinsloo, head of marketing for business banking and retail relationship banking at Nedbank.

"The marketing industry is changing rapidly due to technology and making it easier to create products that are best suited for customers. That's why we have partnered with IMM to use our money expertise to do good and create opportunities that make a real difference in South Africa," Prinsloo adds.

This year's conference is themed 'Unlocking the human element in a digital world' and will explore the technological forces that are transforming the role of marketers.

The IMM's Marketing the Future conference will take place in Cape Town on Thursday, 5 September and in Johannesburg on Thursday, 3 October.

The speakers for the conference include: 

Sean McCoy

The conference will be MC’d by Sean McCoy in Cape Town. McCoy is a writer, speaker and marketing stalwart of more than 30 years, including being the MD of Enterprise IG Africa Middle East and Specialised Exhibitions.

Andy Rice
Keynote speaker Andy Rice, a well-known brand strategist, public speaker and advertising commentator, will present a talk titled 'Even a Ferrari has a rear-view mirror'. Rice will draw on his experience as a brand manager, strategist and co-founder of Yellowwood Brand Architects.

Anne Thistleton 

Consumer marketing veteran and mind science practitioner, Anne Thisleton, will present 'We are of Two Minds (and you are listening and talking to the wrong one)'. The talk aims to present her findings working with some of the world's leading cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists and behavioural economists around how our mental-operating system processes the communications that we are constantly encountering.

Shavani Naidoo 

Shavani Naidoo is a machine-learning expert who focuses on client development, with respect to harnessing the benefits of Big data and artificial intelligence. She is passionate about innovation and creative problem solving through the use of technology and talk on 'How the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change the way we work'.

To book a seat for the conference, visit

For more information, visit You can also follow IMM Graduate School on FacebookTwitter or on Instagram.