Monday, October 14, 2019

14th October,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

What research can do

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:00 AM October 13, 2019
Sen. Cynthia Villar minced no words castigating the Department of Agriculture (DA) last week during a hearing on the proposed budget of the department. The chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, food and agrarian reform was particularly bothered by what she felt was the excessive attention being paid by the DA to research, specifically the P150 million — or 12.5 percent — of its P1.2-billion proposed budget for the National Corn Program.
“Bakit lahat ng budget puro research? Baliw na baliw kayo sa research. Aanhin n’yo ba ’yung research? (Why is most of the budget for research? You are crazy over research. What will you do with research?)” Villar asked. “Ako matalino akong tao pero hindi ko maintindihan yung research n’yo, lalo na ’yung farmer. Gusto ba nung farmer ’yung research? Hindi ba gusto nila tulungan n’yo sila?” (I am a smart person but I do not understand your research, what more the farmer. Do farmers like research? Don’t they want help?)”
What’s the use of research? That was a bewildering question to ask.
Agriculture is, first of all, a science, and to be viable and sustainable, the practice of it must depend on facts, data, scientific observation.
Diwata-1 and 2, the homegrown Philippine microsatellites that were the product of dogged research and innovation by Filipino scientists, are now helping farmers and fishermen through their monitoring of weather and environmental conditions, among other benefits.
Likewise, not for nothing is there an International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the world’s premier research organization on rice science, which the Philippines hosts and which has been credited for major scientific breakthroughs in rice farming and food security.
The Los Baños, Laguna-based institute has helped train about 50,000 students, researchers, farmers and other agricultural professionals from around the world since it was established in 1960 — among them experts from India, Thailand and Vietnam, now the world’s Top 3 exporters of rice.
Alas, the Philippines, an agricultural country with about 30 million hectares, nearly half of which are agricultural lands, is now the second-largest global importer after China, with almost 3 MT of rice imports as of June — a far cry from being self-sufficient in rice despite IRRI’s presence in its midst.
How did this happen? While there are many factors behind this distressing development, it goes without saying that the country’s lack of sustained support for research and development (R&D), exemplified by the indifferent or hostile attitude of politicians and policymakers toward allocating resources for it unlike in other countries that invest billions of dollars in such programs, have contributed to the sorry state of science, technology and innovation in the country.
According to Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) senior research fellow Jose Ramon Albert in a statement in October last year, “We are spending 0.2 percent of the gross domestic product on R&D which is way below the suggested international standard of 1 percent.”
What can research do?
Filipino science-centric online news and features portal FlipScience answered Villar’s question with an illustrative story on Facebook: In 1961, a study coauthored by a Filipino scientist looked into how a disease called Southern corn leaf blight affected a number of crops in the corn fields of UP Los Baños. That scientist, Dr. Ricardo M. Lantican, and his team found out that the affected plants had something in common: the T-cytoplasm trait. But it was only almost a decade later, in 1970, that the value of the study was recognized when hybrid corn in the United States containing T-cytoplasm was infected with a fungus that laid to waste 15 percent of that country’s corn crop, resulting in almost $1 billion losses.
“It was at that moment when the US — and the world — realized that Dr. Lantican and his colleagues were already on to the problem way before it became a minidisaster,” wrote FlipScience. The happy ending: “Farmers’ livelihoods were saved and the world dodged a corn crisis, simply because Dr. Lantican and his colleagues were crazy about research.”
So, yes — research works, research is important, research is central to agriculture, food security and virtually all other fields that seek to generate benefits, productivity and cost-effectiveness from human activity by eliminating wasteful guesswork and conjecture. (That covers lawmaking and policymaking, by the way.) It is, in fact, one area the country needs to be more “baliw” (obsessed) about, not less.
spotlight on quality of food in our shops
·        Editorial  13th Oct 2019 00:00:00 GMT +0300
The incapacity of Kenyan leaders and policies to protect the interests of citizens can be unnerving. Reports published by our sister publication, Saturday Standard, indicating how crafty traders are selling blended rice, sometimes spiced with artificial perfumes, is an indicator of how our control systems have collapsed.
That traders can be allowed to exploit systemic weakness at the expense of the health of millions of Kenyans to maximise their profits, is sickening. The reports indicate that some traders who have imported rice from Pakistan and Thailand to bridge the 600,000 metric tons deficit have been using premium rice from Mwea to make a kill.
For a long time, these traders have been packaging their blended rice as genuine Mwea produce and sold it to unsuspecting Kenyans at exaggerated prices. This practice has spawned a new breed of traders only too eager to even use artificial perfumes to disguise their poor grade rice.
What is most disheartening is that rice farmers too have borne the brunt of this malpractice for the cheap imports are timed to coincide with the harvesting season. This floods the market and causes an artificial glut, forcing farmers to sell basmati rice at very low farm-gate prices. 
The government should take food security seriously instead of turning to the importation of even the most basic staple food.
Very little acreage has been added to the original 22,000 acres which was established in 1950s when rice growing in Mwea was introduced. This has made Kenya a net importer of rice as the population keeps growing. It is time the government invested in serious research programmes to come up with newer varieties of cereals which are high yielding.
Still, all laws governing food production and handling, including blending, should be strictly followed to protect consumers from profiteers. The Kenya Bureau of Standards should live up to its mandate.  Farmers too should be supported and insulated from unfair competition from imported produce. For a long time, Kenyan farmers have been heavily taxed and left to their own devices, where even the most dubious food items are allowed into the local market without thorough scrutiny.  

DOST, Chinese counterpart agency agree on science, technology agenda

October 13, 2019, 6:22 PM
By Dhel Nazario
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recently met with Chinese Vice Minister of Science and Technology Huang Wei and counterpart institutions in the 15th Protocol of the Joint Commission Meeting Science and Technology (JCMST) at the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) headquarters in Beijing, People’s Republic of China.
The 15th Protocol Meeting revolved around the areas agreed between DOST and MOST namely: Renewable Energy, Agriculture, specifically on green oil from cashew, rice research, and bamboo post-harvest and processing,Traditional Medicine; Remote Sensing Satellite Data Sharing and Application, and Technology Transfer.
Furthermore, agreement on the launching of a Joint Call for Proposal, as well as DOST’s participation to the Talented Young Scientist Program of MOST, was discussed. Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara led the delegation that met with the Chinese counterparts.
MOST representatives presented updates on the on-going negotiations on the following projects in the pipeline:
– Joint Program on Rice Technology between the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and the Jiangxi Agricultural Academy of Sciences (JxAAS)
– Joint Program on Bamboo Research between the Jiangxi Academy of Forestry (JAF) and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of DOST
– Joint Program between ITDI and Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS) on “Green Oil and Phytochemicals from Cashew”.
Together with Undersecretary Guevara were Assistant Secretary for International Cooperation Leah J. Buendia; Executive Directors of the DOST Sectoral Planning Councils, namely: Dr. Enrico Paringit of PCIEERD, Dr. Reynaldo Ebora of PCAARRD, and Dr. Jaime Montoya of PCHRD; Directors of the DOST Research and Development Institutes, namely: Dr. Annabelle Briones of ITDI, Dr. Carlo Arcilla of PNRI, Dr. Romulo Aggangan of FPRDI, and Engr. Edgar Garcia of TAPI. They have met with their counterparts from MOST, Jiangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Jiangxi Academy of Forestry, China-ASEAN Technology Transfer Center, Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Yunnan S&T Department, and China Center for Resources Satellite Data and Application.
The 15th Protocol for the JCMST was a follow-through activity of the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on S&T Cooperation between DOST and MOST last August. The MOU was part of the deliverables during the 5th working visit of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to China. Both President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed the exchange of the agreement signed between DOST and the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs during the said working visit.
Protocols for the JCMST are held biennially to discuss current status of S&T relationship between the Philippines and China. Likewise, the protocols also serve as an avenue to identify future programs and activities to be jointly implemented by both countries.
The next Protocol for the JCMST will be in 2021, to be hosted by DOST either in Cebu or Davao.

Dar bares measures to address palay prices

By: Leila B. Salaverria - Reporter / @LeilasINQ
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:35 AM October 13, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — The agriculture department has already been taking steps to address palay prices which have dramatically declined after the liberalization of rice importation.
At a meeting on Friday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar reported to the Cabinet the measures that have been undertaken regarding the rice problem, said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
Rice cartels probed
Dar said the National Food Authority (NFA) had increased its palay-buying stations to service more farmers and also issued them rice coupons.
He has also started an investigation into rice cartels and into rice hoarding and price manipulation activities.
Financial assistance was also made available to farmers through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Land Bank of the Philippines, he added.
Plant other crops
Earlier, Dar said 25 provincial governments had committed to buy palay from farmers.
President  Duterte also directed the NFA to buy up all the rice farmers’ produce in order to help farmers who have been suffering after palay prices dropped after the passage of the rice tariffication law.
Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Pangilinan sought a careful study of a proposal to make rice farmers in 23 provinces shift to planting other crops and said the influx of imported rice should actually prompt the government to help them boost their rice production.
Road map
According to the proposed Philippine Rice Industry Roadmap, the 23 provinces are more competitive when it comes to other agricultural products, and would thus be transitioned to various commodities and industries, such as abaca, banana, cassava, cattle, coconut, high-value vegetables, livestock, poultry and rubber.
The road map also proposes the rollout of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund in 57 out of 80 rice-producing provinces.
But Pangilinan, a former presidential adviser on food security, said the proposal should be studied carefully if they want to boost local production for food security and self-sufficiency.
Rice scientist honored for pioneering breeding research

Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio (fifth from left), Searca director, was awarded the 2019 Crop Science Society of the Philippines Honorary Fellow. With him are with Marissa V. Romero (left), chairman of the CSSP Awards and Recognition Committee; Edna A. Anit (right), CSSP president; his wife Myla Beatriz Audije (fourth from left) and two of their six children.
A scientist, research manager and teacher in national and international public and private institutions, Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio was recently awarded the Crop Science Society of the Philippines (CSSP) Honorary Fellow.
Currently the director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca), Gregorio was recognized for his significant contributions to crop science through his pioneering breeding research.
These include having led the development of at least 20 rice varieties with tolerance to abiotic stresses, while at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) as Senior Plant Breeder.
His studies on the genetics and molecular mapping for salinity tolerance, and his development of rapid screening techniques resulted in the first batches of salt-tolerant varieties in the Philippines, and other countries in Asia and Africa.
The iron-enhanced rice, he and his team developed was proven to significantly increase levels of total body iron in the blood of women.
A prolific author, he has 112 scientific publications to date. He has also mentored many undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in the Philippines, and other countries.
The award was presented during the recent 25th Federation of Crop Science Societies of the Philippines, and the first Federation of Plant Science Associations of the Philippines Scientific Conference in Davao City.
CSSP promotes human welfare through the discovery and dissemination of knowledge concerning nature, utilization, improvement, and interrelationships of plants and their environment and people.
The society holds an annual scientific conference and publishes the Philippine Journal of Crop Science.
In his acceptance speech, Gregorio said receiving such a prestigious award could dissuade one from making mistakes, and, thus ,making one hesitant to explore and trying new and different things more daunting. But he affirmed that it will not be so for him. He still wants to explore and take risks.
He also pushed young crop science professionals to “continue to explore and enjoy; to try and to be ready to fail and learn from it. We tried it; succeed or fail, we always learn. Explore, dare, be different and take risks for the sake of science. But, at the same time, be patient. Perseverance is the key.”
Gregorio added that “there are three types of people who are likely to be great or successful: those who are related to great people, those who are pioneers or the first in doing things, and those who are different. Most of us cannot be the first two, so be different.”

Higher rice tariffs now up to Cabinet Econ cluster

 October 12, 2019, 10:00 PM
By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Department of Agriculture (DA) will no longer come up with a decision on the study it supposedly did to identify whether the Rice Tariffication Law or RA 11203 has indeed caused injury to the local rice sector.
Description: Agriculture Secretary Dr. William D. Dar .  (KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU, MB Photo)
Agriculture Secretary Dr. William D. Dar . (KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU, MB Photo)
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the result of the study would have served as the basis of the DA to impose safeguard measures versus the increasing amount of imported rice entering the country.
If implemented, the safeguard measures would have also been the agency’s boldest move to address the declining price of palay.
“We studied the possibility to tap safeguard measures. The decision by the DA is to have this discussed first with the Economic Development Cluster [EDC],” Dar told reporters on Friday.
“We terminated the first process and we will actively discuss this with EDC on October 24. So this [first study] is terminated, that is the decision,” he added.
Dar was supposed to come up with the result of the study sometime this week.
Under the Section 10 of Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203, in order to protect the Philippine rice industry from sudden or extreme price fluctuations, a special safeguard duty on rice shall be imposed in accordance with Safeguard Measures Act.
Under RA 11203, importers are allowed to bring in any volume of rice at any time. If it’s coming from ASEAN countries, the tariff would only be 35 percent.
Former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said earlier a supply glut could push this tariff rate to as high as 180 percent if local farmers are already suffering from the oversupply of the staple.
In a previous interview, Dar did acknowledge that RA 11203 already resulted to an overwhelming amount of rice imports to the detriment of Filipino rice farmers.
“We believe we have imported enough rice and additional imports should be looked at differently. We have too much supply as we have already imported 2.4 million tons since March,” he said.
There is now a growing call from groups like Action for Economic Reforms (AER) and senators, led by Francis Pangilinan, for the DA to act on the declining price of palay as a result of RA 11203.
The average farmgate price of palay recently fell to its lowest level in eight years. Palay prices slipped by 30.1 percent from P22.84 per kilogram (/kg) during the third week of September last year to P15.96/kg in the same period this year.
Week-on-week, this was a 1.4 percent decline from previous week’s level of P16.18/kg.

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Beyond our land borders closure

Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali
Punch Editorial Board
Nigeria’s countless and unheeded calls to her neighours to stop aiding and abetting smuggling, which is damaging her economy, led to the closure of her land borders in August. The action, earlier meant to last for 28 days, has entered the third month with its end date still indeterminate.
At issue is the unremitting smuggling of diverse products across the country’s borders, including the smuggling of rice from Benin Republic. Benin imports 1.2 million metric tons of rice annually, against the backdrop of its population of about 11 million people. The country is not alone: Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon form the other members of the devious quartet in this sabotage. This is seriously threatening Nigeria’s domestic rice production, which has unprecedentedly spiked with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s rice Anchor Borrowers Programme. As one bright spot in the economic recovery effort, it has helped official rice import from Thailand to plummet from 644,131 metric tons to 20,000 MT annually, as of 2018, said the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.
Undoubtedly, the closure has opened Nigeria’s eyes to new economic realities; and enamoured of them, the authorities have vowed not to reopen the borders until the affected countries learn to conduct themselves responsibly and in line with the principles that undergird the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of goods and services.
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, at a recent meeting with the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning, lauded the initiative. He said, “There was a day in September that we collected N9.2 billion… It has never happened before.” Currently the country ratchets up between N4.7 billion and N5.8 billion daily revenue from imports. According to the Customs boss, with borders closed, cargoes that used to go to Benin Republic to berth en route to Nigeria “are now forced to bring their goods to either Apapa or Tin Can Island, and we have to collect duty on them.”
Equally revealing is the drop in fuel consumption by eight million litres a day, says statistics from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva. Smugglers ferret out this volume of fuel daily across the borders. Besides the halt in rice and fuel smuggling, the border closure has become a boost to the local chicken market, while car malls with suspected smuggled automobiles are being raided by Customs to compel payment of duties. So far, the operation has been successful, largely due to the joint nature of the taskforce; Customs, immigration, police and military personnel are involved, coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
President Muhammadu Buhari is excited about the revelations from the operation and has threatened not to end it as long as our neighbours do not play by the rules. He should not capitulate to diplomatic pressure or the misguided nudges of local mercantile operators to end it until he is satisfied that the border haemorrhage is under control.
However, since the closure is not a permanent solution to this unabashed bazaar, government should not lose sight of the original intention of the action: to allow security agencies formulate effective strategies to stem the scourge. That blueprint ought to have been designed by now. Nigeria has one of the most porous borders in the world, aggravated by corruption of Customs officials and other state actors. The deployment of hi-tech in Nigeria’s 84 land borders is critical to addressing this systemic breakdown of border controls, while the challenges from the over 1,400 rogue routes, according to the Immigration authorities, should be faced squarely too.
Ali was forthright to admit that compromised Customs officials and the police helped to promote trafficking in contraband at the borders. He warned such officials of dire consequences if caught. But such thunderous countenances have not been in short supply from him; what the situation needs is a deliberate measure, not happenstance, to weed out tainted officials from the system. Without it, sanity will never prevail.
Nigeria’s “big brother” posture towards her neighbours has become ruinous to its economy and corporate existence. Therefore, enough is enough! With its small population, it is difficult for Benin to justify why it is the world’s sixth largest rice importing country, according to statistics by Worldatlas, if not for its illicit border trading activities, with Nigeria as the target. Through these breached borders, illicit arms are also trafficked into the country – a fillip to the epidemic of banditry, armed robbery, cattle rustling and, above all, Boko Haram jihadists who have killed about 100,000 people in their 10-year-old campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate.
No serious country allows its economy to be sabotaged by neighouring countries. ECOWAS protocol is hinged on free movement of “legal” goods and “legitimate” services. Nothing more. As economically advanced as the United States is, it is still deeply concerned about how to effectively police her border with Mexico to ward off illegal immigrants and prevent smuggling of contraband. Now that Nigeria seems to have woken up from her slumber, the border mayhem cannot be eradicated without systemic ports reform. No question, Apapa and Tin Can ports are disincentives to business in their present state: scanners are scarcely available, physical contacts of persons govern daily operations in this digital age and cargoes are not evacuated through rail transportation, but by tankers and trailers that queue for months, mired in bad roads.  Many countries have corporatised or engaged the private sector in their operations for optimal efficiency and profit-taking. Massive technology deployment and decentralisation of tank farms are critical.
From the seaports of Antwerp, Belgium, Singapore, Amsterdam in Holland, Nigeria has a lot to learn in 21st Century port reforms to boost her economy. In the present circumstances, therefore, decongesting the Lagos ports by opening up the under-utilised Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar channels has become inevitable.

The Executive Branch Must Stop Suppressing Science

Just about everything we do in society depends in part on research by the federal government. Congress can and must protect scientific integrity with legislation
By Chuck Hagel on October 12, 2019
Credit: Getty Images
For much of my time in public service, there were some things government officials did just because they were the right things to do—and that included respecting the research done by government scientists. That respect has faded over recent presidencies. Sharpie-gate may have been its death knell. Our ability to keep the public safe and move the country forward economically rests, in large part, on government science and research. That foundational work is endangered by manipulation for political ends, and the ramifications are vast and should concern all Americans. Congress can protect scientific integrity with legislation, and it must do so.
During my years in the Senate and the Pentagon, the need to shore up the integrity of government science and research has been clear. Our military depends on reliable data from the government to keep our defenses at the ready. Those data include information about climate change. Altered weather patterns and the increasing severity of storms because of climate change have caused serious damage to our military bases and installations, in some cases decimating them. This is a real and present threat to our national security that will most likely get worse.
Military bases in storms’ paths might be rebuilt over time, but we will never regain the lost training and readiness. Earlier this year, General Robert Neller, then commandant of the Marine Corps, wrote to the Secretary of the Navy about the damage from storms: “The combat readiness of II Marine Expeditionary Force—1/3 the combat power of the Marine Corps—is degraded and will continue to degrade,” he asserted. We have to be better prepared for the impacts of climate change. But that goal will be impossible if political officials act in bad faith by distorting or suppressing government research on climate science.
To help rebuild ethics, integrity and trust in government—including trust in its research and data—I joined a nonpartisan task force of former government officials concerned about the executive branch’s growing disregard for norms and unwritten rules that had formerly kept its power in check. Recently,our group, the National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy—a project of the Brennan Center for Justice—published a report proposing legislation that would effectively respond to the numerous instances we catalogued of federal officials censoring scientific information, changing scientific findings to suit political agendas and retaliating against government scientists because their research was politically inconvenient.
We identified at least 60 instances over the past three presidential administrations of officials taking actions that threaten scientific integrity—including an episode during the Obama presidency when the NIH allowed alcohol industry representatives to give input on the design of a study to look at the benefits of moderate drinking.
Take climate science: In 2017 the ranking climate change policy expert  in the Department of the Interior was reassigned to an accounting job days after he spoke at the United Nations about dangers that such global alterations pose to Alaska Native communities. And this year the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not publicize a groundbreaking study showing that rice loses vitamins because of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people worldwide whose diets consist mostly of rice.
Congress should respond to these abuses to protect science. Our task force urges it to prohibit politically motivated manipulation and suppression of government research in the executive branch, as well as discrimination and retaliation against government researchers when their scientific conclusions are politically inconvenient. Further, we propose requiring federal agencies to create and implement scientific integrity policies, which would codify an executive branch policy created during the Obama administration. These policies would establish standards and procedures to uphold the principle that the scientific process at federal agencies should be free from politics, ideology and financial conflicts of interest.
We also recommend that Congress require agencies to articulate clear standards for how political officials may interact with career researchers during the technical stages of regulatory development, as well as during the preparation of scientific reports to Congress and the public. And Congress should require agencies to log these contacts and make them available to the legislature and to independent agency watchdogs to ensure accountability.
Additionally, Congress should pass legislation to ensure the proper functioning of science advisory committees, which provide a valuable source of expertise to government policy makers. The safeguards we propose would better ensure that advisory panels are created in good faith and consider the weight of scientific evidence. Such mechanisms would ensure that the National Security Council’s planned panel to review established science on climate change—now shelved—would recognize present-day realities and confirm what I and other national security leaders have found: climate change is a real and present threat to our national security that will most likely get worse.
Sunlight is also a good disinfectant. Congress should ensure the public has timely access to taxpayer-funded research, so political officials can’t hide the facts they find inconvenient. It should do so by requiring the disclosure of completed, peer-reviewed government research and data, and it should create safeguards to prevent delays in disclosure and removal from public access.
With these and the other narrowly tailored reforms we lay out in our report, Congress has a road map for bipartisan action. The need for protecting government science goes beyond climate science and national security. Just about everything we do in society depends in some way on research and data coming out of the federal government. We must rebuild scientific integrity in government. Inaction puts us all at risk.

Phagwara bypoll paralyses government offices

Sameer Kaura | October 13, 2019 05:07 PM
PHAGWARA: Phagwara By-Elections have badly paralysed the official works in the entire Sub Division as the entire official machinery seemed to be engaged in Elections in Phagwara.

Though Government Agencies have started purchase of Paddy through out the state since October 7, but by-election process in Phagwara have badly effected the lifting of the paddy in Phagwara. The Tribune has learnt that more than 1.30 lac bags of paddy could be seen lying in open in the Grain Market of Phagwara. When The Tribune correspondent visited the local grain market today, not even a single farmer was available in the mandi due to campaigning for byelection scheduled to be held on October 21. Few employees of the farmers were seen taking receipts of the paddy from the commission agents. Arrti Association Phagwara President Kulwant Pabbi told this correspondent that only one Rice Sheller Owner had purchased around 10,000 bags of paddy till now.

Govt Agencies were purchasing the paddy which could not be lifted by the agencies and heaps of paddy are lying  in open under the sky which could be damaged  in case of rainy days. Interestingly none of the officer of Civil Administration or belonging to Food & Supplies Department have visited the Grain Markets in Phagwara Sub Division. As most of the official machinery seemed to be busy in election process only.
The review of border closure
Description: The review of  border closure
14th October 2019
The recent closure of Nigerian borders aimed at checking smuggling may be counter-productive if it is not urgently reviewed.  Although the measure might have yielded much revenue to the government, it has also led to rise in the prices of staple food items. Government had on August 19, announced the closure of all land borders in an operation tagged “Ex-Swift Response.” The operation supervised by the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the Police and military personnel was coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser. In taking the decision, government had argued that the activities of smugglers were threatening the attainment of self-sufficiency in basic food items, especially rice production.
While we do not discountenance the importance of checking smuggling, the sharp rise in the prices of basic food items is unacceptable. Available statistics show that there are about 1,500 identified land borders in Nigeria out of which only 114, covering 4,000 square kilometers, are manned by security agencies.
Also, Nigeria has international land borders of about 4,470 (2,513 miles) with neighbouring countries and a coastline of 774km, which are largely unmanned. Data from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) indicate that over half of the rice that Benin Republic imports is sold in Nigerian markets despite the restriction placed on rice importation since 2016.
All the same, we believe that the indefinite closure of the borders should be quickly reviewed to stem the rising prices of essential food items. The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows that food prices across the country have risen by over 65 per cent. Prices of staple foods affected include rice, frozen chicken and others. The closure of the borders has pushed food prices above the reach of most Nigerians.
The situation has been worsened by the decline in the disposable income of many Nigerians. Without doubt, Nigerians are feeling the pangs of the border closure. A 50kg of rice formerly sold for N12, 000 now sells for between N20,000 and N22,000. A carton of frozen chicken that hitherto sold for N7, 500 now sells for N13,000. Unarguably, the drive for food security and the protection of local food production is a commendable effort. It is also a fact that Nigeria’s annual rice import bill of N356billion is outrageous. Rice smuggling is a threat to local rice production. Nonetheless, the policy of ensuring food sufficiency should be done in such a way that it will not adversely affect the citizenry.
Therefore, the Federal Government should have ensured self-sufficiency in rice production, before closing the borders. With the closure of the borders, the local rice is nowhere to be found. Government should have considered making the local rice available in sufficient quantities before shutting the borders. But it did not do so. The claim that we are sufficient in rice production has been proved wrong.
Government’s protectionist measures the world over achieve their objectives best when they align with broader objectives to uplift the people. We doubt if the government did a cost-benefit analysis as it affects the welfare of the people before shutting the borders. Local manufacturers are worried that they will continue to record huge losses as the borders remain closed. Many companies may also face imminent collapse as they rely on West African market for additional sales.
While self-sufficiency in food production is laudable, it needs strategic planning through sustained economic diversification. Considering Nigeria’s increasing population and declining purchasing power, government should put emphasis on agriculture with significant budget allocation. The N83billion voted for the sector in the 2020 budget is grossly inadequate. Greater attention should be paid to small-holder farmers, who constitute the highest percentage of those engaged in agriculture. This will increase the number of jobs available in the agricultural and industrial value-chain. It will also reduce rural poverty.  Although the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has, through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, done well in this regard, more should be done to boost local rice production.
Government should review the border closure policy in view of its negative consequences. It should not wait until rising food prices worsen the level of poverty in the land. We recall that a similar incident occurred in 2016 when President Muhammadu Buhari was forced to order the release of 10,000 tons of grains from the National Strategic Grain Reserve to mitigate the increase in the prices of food items. Let the government be sensitive to the plight of the people.

Maduka: Subsidy Should Be for Farmers, Not Fuel Importers

Coscharis Farms Limited recently unveiled its ultra-modern rice processing mill in Igbariam, Anambra State.  The President of Coscharis Group, Mr. Cosmas Maduka, in this interview, says the vision to establish the farm was conceived over three decades ago. He, however, notes that it was five years ago that he decided to key into the federal government’s agenda of de-emphasising importation. Maduka believes that no nation can grow without being able to feed its citizens. Obinna Chima provides the excerpts:
We have always known Coscharis to be a major player in the automobile industry, why the interest in the agricultural sector?
Well, unfortunately, a lot of people do think Coscharis derived its success from the auto industry. We have been around for 46 years and our experience in the auto industry is just about 20 years. Our core business can be regarded as the pharmaceutical of automobile. Anybody that drives a car in Nigeria is our customer and that is what is keeping us going. The automobile industry is good, but it is subjected to a lot of variables, such as government policies, etc. It would be a shock if I tell anybody that from January till now, I have not sold up to 30 Jaguar Land rover and I have not sold 30 units of BMW. But our principals can only testify because they ship the cars and they can tell you how many cars that they have shipped to Nigeria. That was why when we recently saw reports of Customs impounding smuggled vehicles, I said to myself that they were talking about another company, because I don’t see the benefit in me smuggling less than 30 cars and jeopardise the overall interest of our organisation. So, that was the joke of the century. But having said that, our investment in agriculture was not an accident. Coscharis as an organisation has been playing a major role in every sector of the economy. We are in pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, information technology, mobility services – we lease cars to corporate institutions such as the banks, oil companies and multinationals. There are so many things we do, including producing sachet water. We are involved in anything that is legitimate to earn money and what we would not do is anything that is illegal. So, the rice farm was not an accident. Coscharis as an organisation has never imported one grain of rice. So, we didn’t get into rice production by accident.
We planned this for the long-term. The piece of property where we are farming on now is about 32 years old. Late Commodore Emeka Omeruah was the Governor of Anambra State then, as a military administrator, when we purchased that property and when we got the Certificate of Occupancy. So, we have always known that this is what we are going to do. We always wait for opportunity to present itself and when it is ripe, we move into it. You don’t go into farming with borrowed capital all through, it would ground you. You may not be able to pay the interest and you may never come out of it. So, we had to make sure we built enough equity within our company and then we leveraged on borrowed funds. So, that was how we went into interested-agro industry; from mechanised farming to processing and packaging. We would grow seeds here and sell to other out-grower. We are going to be a fully integrated farm. To the glory of God, once you do something good and that is of international standard, it attracts the attention of the international community. We now have an international investor in the name of Sahel, who has brought in a lot of things into the board. In this company today, working with Sahel, we understand the need for compliance with how to run the plant, we have learnt about how to manage wastages and they brought in a lot of new ideas and how to ultimately make this business a success. Our ultimate desire is that in another five years, Coscharis Farms will be quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and people would see the performance and what is going to come out from the farm. Our idea is to get Nigerians to share from the wealth we are creating. 
But Anambra also has comparative advantage in the production of vegetable, why are you not looking at investing in that area as well?
I think we have more comparative advantage in producing rice. If you look at Anambra, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Delta States, are its surrounding states. If you understand that rice is a wheat that grows on the mud, all you need to do is to get a muddy area, which Anambra has generally – the state has a lot of riverine areas. The only thing is that we have tried to professionalise it by preparing the ground the way it should be. Rice grow well and better in Anambra State than anywhere else. You cut off the cost of transportation because you are milling the rice in Anambra and there is already a market for distribution. If you produce rice in Kano, to bring it to Anambra State, the cost of transporting it to Anambra State would be included. Rice is as heavy as cement and the cost of transportation play an important role in terms of its market price. So, in the future, we would do something around the South-west area to target that market. Once we perfect what we are doing in Anambra, then we can start talking about expansion. We have been given 20,000 hectares of land in Kogi State, but we would take it one step at a time. We would take the business to where value would be added. If you transport paddy from Sokoto or Kebbi to Anambra, the price of the paddy would affect the final price of the rice. So, our primary goal is to solve the food problem in Anambra State and its surrounding states. Once we do that, with our experience, we would replicate same thing in other parts of the country.
As a domestic rice producer, what is your opinion about the recent closure of the borders by the federal government?
Well, the government has reasons for whatever they do and it would be wrong for me to say it was a wrong decision if I wasn’t part of those that took the decision to close the borders. Until you hear their reasons behind it, then you will know whether   there are merits to it or not. But I think what we should do as Nigerians, is to work hard to foster the cooperation of West Africa Economic Cooperation, because Nigeria would benefit more from it, than any other country in the region. Germany and France were the forces behind the European Union and these were the strongest economies in Europe then and they galvanised other countries and encouraged free trade among each other. But like everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of it today is that rice smuggling has reduced. But that has not stopped people to smuggle rice using motorcycles. Of course the government has made it difficult for the smugglers. So, what we need to do is for the government to support indigenous farmers to grow capacity. As capacity grows, the price of rice drops and as it drops, it becomes uncompetitive for smugglers to continue with their business. So, like I said earlier, the government has a better reason why it took the decision to close the borders. 
Speaking about pricing, that has been a major problem with local production. How are you addressing it?
We are selling our rice to our distributors today at N14,500; the foreign smuggled rice is selling at N25,000. 
Cuts in ….but its because of the border closure?
Well, it could be part of it. The truth is that for Nigeria to record sustainable economic development, we need to look inwards. All other countries did that. For instance, in the automobile industry, South Africa closed its borders and banned out rightly, all forms of used cars. I hope our government one day would wake up and decide to start manufacturing cars. So, we must encourage local rice producers. I have made a demand of additional land in Anambra State, and the governor has committed to doing that. There are many things that we have done on our farm, which ordinary are infrastructure that ought to be provided by the government. For instance, we spent about N3 billion on irrigation here in our farm. Irrigation should be government project, to support the farm. We shouldn’t use our money that we borrowed from the Central Bank of Nigeria, to do things like irrigation. So, if the government will always provide the basic infrastructure, then as investors, we would be happy because with irrigation we can grow dry season crops. So, with the right infrastructure, we would improve our production capacity and as the capacity increases, the price would come down. We are planning to install as second rice mill on our farm that would be about 80,000 metric tonnes. We are doing that because we are smart. We could have install only one mill of 120,000 metric tonnes, but when it shuts down, there might be a problem and it might affect our production. But if we have two mills, if one shuts down, we would be working with the other one until we get it working again. Also, everything needs maintenance. There could be a time we might need to shut this mill down to maintain it. It is like automobile; it cannot run forever. But with two different mills, we would produce rice every day in the year and we would never be out of stock. 
But there are reports that you don’t easily find local rice available in the market. What is responsible for that?
We stopped two of our dealers from carrying out any transaction with us. They would carry our rice and re-bag them into a foreign bag and sell. So, you may not be seeing our brand in the market because of things like this. The other thing we heard is that there is something they use in piercing bags of rice to remove some bowls from each bag and still sell the rice that is not up to 50kg to a customer as 50kg. So, for our bags, if you pierce it, it would tear. So, because they can’t do such with our rice, they make sure they re-bag. But I am advising our customers to insist on buying only Coscharis rice. When you insist on that, then you can be confident that when you are buying 50kg, what you get would exactly be 50kg. About 90 per cent of what people are buying as 50kg rice are less than what they paid for. 
What type of reforms would you want to see the federal government come up with to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production?
There are policies that have been put in place by the government today that are working. The government has supported out-growers and has provided funds for serious investors like us. We have accessed about N6 billion loan from the Central Bank at single-digit of nine per cent. It is far better than borrowing today at 19 or 20 per cent to invest in agriculture. I think the government should not ask for more than five per cent interest. That would be a way to support agriculture and farmers to breakthrough. That would be like a subsidy. If we can spend the amount of money we spend today in subsidising petroleum, we should even give loans without interest to genuine farmers. That would be a way to counter competition from foreigners. When you know you are borrowing money to import rice and the local manufacturers are producing at zero interest rate, you won’t want to continue smuggling rice. That should be a subsidy to encourage food production. No nation grows without being able to feed its own people. Look at the trillions of naira we are spending on petroleum subsidy; does it make any sense? People who want to drive cars should pay for fuelling their cars and nobody would complain that you didn’t give them petrol, but people would complain that you didn’t give them food. The government should do more in the area of education, agriculture and realign its priorities. 
The federal government has been driving rice production through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP). In your assessment, how will you say the ABP has performed since it was introduced by the CBN in 2015?
I was made to understand that in some areas it is not working perfectly as it ought to be, but in Anambra State, it is working perfectly. It is all about the individuals involved. There are people you will give loan and they would go and marry a second wife; there are those that would get it and decide to go on vacation. But there are people with entrepreneurial skills that would want to invest the money into the business. So, the ABP in Anambra State, should be a model that other states would emulate. It is working. But, what we are trying to do now is to further partner with the people to sign contract before farming; whereby we give them high yield seeds. But we would off-take whatever they produce to support our rice mill. They would be our feeder. But we wouldn’t want to give them our seeds that would increase their yields and later they go and sell it to someone else. So, that is why they would need to sign the agreement with us. So, that is something we are working on. Our team here is on top of it and hopefully it would be a successful partnership. 
What are the other challenges you are facing in the sector?
We have suffered a great problem on this farm which I took up with the Governor and Minister of Agriculture. Last year, very unprecedented, we left work on Friday and came back on Monday and our farm was overtaken by flood. The Vice President came to assess the situation and flew in with helicopter, but he couldn’t land. He toured and saw the situation of things. Our crops were damaged; some of our equipment were damaged and suffered loss of over N2 billion. The Vice President made some promise and even said the federal government was going to intervene and support those affected. We later learnt and read in the newspaper that N7 billion was budgeted and approved by the Federal Executive Council, but Coscharis did not get anything out of that amount. So, we are still asking who got out of that money? When we were the major player in the sector, who in responding to the clarion call of the federal government decided to invest massively in rice production. Agricultural insurance only insures the inputs, that is the seeds, it doesn’t the fertiliser with which you plant; it doesn’t insure your yield and we burn 33,000 litres of diesel every seven days. All those went into the drain and we didn’t get anything from the federal government. That didn’t show partnership. And who got the money that was approved? Another challenge has to do with some few community issues. But in Anambra State, we are enjoying security more than any other state. Weather is also another challenge, but that is something beyond our control. That is why we are so excited that we are about starting dry season farming. That is because it is only the crops that you have during dry season that you have control over. You give the seed the amount of water it requires. So, it is within your control and the sun is always available to give it the energy needed to grow. But when you are farming during rainy season, a lot of things are under the control of nature. The area where our farm is situated is a flood-prone area and it is a very difficult terrain.   

Of rice and milk forex ban

By  Kalu Aja

In 2015, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released a list of 41 items prohibited from being imported into Nigeria with FOREX sourced from the CBN. The intent of the policy was simple – the CBN was seeking to utilize the FOREX (FX) market to support the import substitution policies of the FGN.
The 41 banned items included commodities such as rice, tomato paste, cement, meat, eggs and private jets. Milk has also been added to this list. If importers cannot access CBN FX, they will have to buy foreign exchange from the parallel market at a higher price. The CBN hopes the higher prices on imported food will make them too expensive for the Nigerian market. This will then incentivize the food importers to restrategize their operations and begin local production in Nigeria and avoid expensive FX for imports.
The President of Nigeria further “directed” the CBN to cease providing dollars to importers. In essence, Nigeria does not want to subsidize food imports.
There are three problems with this.
·       local food costs will rise;
·       local food supply is inadequate; and
·       monetary policies alone cannot fix this.
To be clear, imports for final consumption tend to be economically bad. Imports weaken the local currency. When a nation imports, she sells her currency and buys the currency of the exporter nation, thus the local currency loses value and falls. Imports also kill local jobs. The President and the CBN are not wrong in principle but they are attempting to cure an economy generating less than 5000mw for 190 million people with FX bans.
An FX ban works where the local market can meet local demand but cannot operate at maximum capacity because imports are cheaper and gain market share from local producers. A forex ban makes those imports more expensive, thus allowing local products to regain market share.
If local supply cannot meet local demand as in the case of rice and milk, then a forex ban simply raises food inflation because those imports of essential stable food items will still come in but at a higher price. A policy that simply increases the prices of local products is an incomplete policy.
Nigeria used to be a massive importer of cement until President Obansanjo banned the importation of bulk cement. This led to local cement companies like Ashaka and WAPCO and a new entrant called Dangote Cement to invest to expand local cement capacity in Nigeria. Today, Nigeria manufactures all the cement she needs locally.
Success? Not quite.
Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in cement has come as at literally a high price. A World Bank report titled “breaking down barriers” published in June 2016 found that African cement prices are 183% higher than global prices, on average, a bag costs $9.57 per 50kg bag compared with $3.25 globally. The question to ask is if a strategy that creates local jobs for cement and rice producers but increases costs in the entire economy is worth it. Food remains a major component of the inflation Consumer Price Index (CPI).
In 2015, Aliko Dangote set up a tomato processing plant in Kano to process approximately 900,000 tons of tomatoes produced locally in a bid to cut imports of about 300,000 tons imported yearly from China. The Dangote factory has not optimally operated continuously since inception, a key reason is that the local farmers could not meet the demand of the tomato factory, according to Abdulkareem Kaita, the Managing Director of Dangote Farms Ltd.
Hold on, we just read the total local production of tomatoes is more than local demand, Yes, but all those tomatoes have to be harvested, packed all over Northern Nigeria, and transported to Kano to the Dangote factory. In the absence of a functional cold chain or rails that can move bulk cargos, most tomatoes simply waste on account of bad rural roads. A ban on FX for tomato imports does not solve the problems Dangote Tomato factory is experiencing in Kano. Zero imports do not create local logistics or rural roads, the FX ban simply makes tomato import substitutes more expensive, raising food inflation.

What about Rice?

The US Department of Agriculture puts Nigeria’s demand as at 2018 at 7.3m metric tons, with local supply at 4.9m metric tonnes, clearly a deficit of 2.5m metric tonnes. With the FX ban and border closure, the price of locally-produced rice has moved from N13,500k to N16,500k, according to the Business Day newspapers. Basic economics says with higher demand, prices will rise, thus the CBN FX ban for rice importation has led to a rise in food inflation in Nigeria. Again, bans and tariffs only work when local supply can meet local demand.
Rather than forex bans, the CBN is better served by targeted subsidies to reduce local prices and eliminate food importation by making local food production cheaper in Nigeria.

So what can the FGN and the CBN do?

·       Subsidize local production.
·       Give the local food companies a 90% rebate on cost of generated power. According to the Nigerian Labor Congress, “Between 30% and 35% of manufacturing costs are energy-related expenses”.
·       Give food processors 0% interest loan from the CBN to build embedded power plants or pipelines to get gas to their factories.
·       Give manufacturers direct allocation of diesel from NNPC based on food prices falling.
·       Deploy gas flaring fees to fix rural roads.
·       Build solar powered storage warehouses.
·       If NNPC sells diesel to food processors in Nigeria at N20 a litre, it becomes harder for importers to bring in tomatoes grown in China, shipping, insurance paid & locally transport paid and beat local prices.
There are many other incentives that can be applied to drop the cost of production, that should be the priority.
Once costs fall, and productivity rises at Nigerian based food processors, local food will be more available and food inflation will reduce. The CBN is investing in direct lending to boost output, that is commendable, but it cannot do everything alone, this is a team play.

Delaying safeguard duty on rice imports to hurt farmers more’

THE delay in the imposition of safeguard duties on rice imports could further hurt farmers, as the inflow of the staple is expected to continue amid the harvest season, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) has warned.
FFF pointed out that this “runs counter to President Duterte’s public instructions not to allow imports during harvest time.”
The imposition of safeguard duties, which could effectively double tariffs on rice imports, is a measure seen by groups like FFF to deter further entry of imported rice.
Under the rules of the WTO and Republic Act 8800, general safeguard duties may be temporarily imposed on imports of rice, on top of regular tariffs, if there is evidence of a surge in rice imports and this surge has resulted in, or threatens to cause, serious injury to the rice farmers, FFF explained.
“There seems to be no sense of urgency and no appreciation of the serious difficulties that rice farmers are facing at present because of the surge of cheap rice imports,’ FFF National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said in a statement over the weekend.
“The rules on general safeguard duties were designed by the WTO precisely to allow governments to quickly and effectively address market emergencies brought about by trade liberalization. Delaying a decision defeats the purpose of the law, and may make the harm on farmers irreparable,” Montemayor added.

Safeguard probe terminated

Last Friday, the Department of Agriculture (DA) revealed that it terminated its safeguard investigation on rice imports pending a dialogue with the government’s economic managers.
“We started the study on the possibility of having to tap the general safeguards duty. The decision of the department is to have this discussed first with economic development managers,” said Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, in a five-minute press briefing on Friday.
“That’s our decision: we terminated the first study. We will now actively discuss with the economic development managers on October 24,” Dar added.
Dar’s disclosure came a day after the DA’s 30-day deadline to reveal the findings of its preliminary safeguard investigation.
“If the DA Secretary felt that the economic managers should be consulted on the matter, he should have done this in advance given the urgency of the situation. Now it appears he is simply tossing the problem to the EDC,” Montemayor said.
In a news statement on September 21, the DA said it initiated the preliminary investigation to “arrest” the influx of imports, “particularly this forthcoming main harvest season.”
The DA pointed out that the imposition of a safeguard duty on rice imports is one of the measures it is banking on to stabilize the supply and price of rice.
“We have to holistically and systematically protect the consuming public and much more, our small farmers,” Dar was quoted as saying in the statement.
“So, I have taken the necessary steps and the direction where we will enforce legal measures during these times when we have greatly exceeded the volume needed to fill up the slack in national rice supply, most particularly in Metro Manila and major urban rice consumption centers,” Dar added.
Dar said at least 2.4 million metric tons of rice have entered the country, which “has gone beyond what is needed by the country.”
“We will protect our small farmers by not allowing additional imports especially this main harvest season. We want them to benefit from the respectable farm-gate prices of palay set by the government through the National Food Authority (NFA),” he said

PHL could be 2nd top rice importer

THE Philippines’s rice imports this year could reach a record-high 3.1 million metric tons, nearly matching China’s, the world’s top buyer of the staple, with its purchase of 3.15 MMT, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.
In its monthly global grain situation report, the USDA pointed out that the Philippines would become the world’s second top rice buyer this year, accounting for 7 percent of total global imports.
“In just a few years, the Philippines has emerged as one of the top global importers of rice, nearly on a par with China,” it said in its report published recently.
“The Philippines’s rice imports have nearly quadrupled, from 800,000 metric tons in 2016 to 3.1 million anticipated for 2019, representing 7 percent of total global rice imports,” it added.
“In comparison, China’s share of global rice imports has almost reduced by half, to just over 7 percent,” the report added.
The country’s estimated rice imports this year is 24 percent higher than the 2.5 MMT recorded last year, following the opening up of the domestic rice market in March. This is the first time that the country’s rice imports breached the 3-MMT level.
“While China rice imports continue to shrink, Philippine purchases provide much-appreciated reprieve from nearby exporters in Southeast Asia,” the USDA said.
“Vietnam is its primary supplier with a market share of about 70 percent, followed by Thailand, Pakistan, and Burma,” it added.
The country’s rice imports next year is forecast to decline by 12.9 percent to 2.7 MMT due to higher ending stocks this year, USDA said.
“With a forecast for adequate production and large stocks, Philippine rice imports are expected to decline in 2020, but still remain above the five-year average,” it added.
Due to the opening up of the domestic rice market, the country’s demand for the staple is projected to increase next year to 14.6 MMT, 3.55 percent over the 14.1 MMT estimated consumption this year, USDA said.
Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) data showed that a total of 208 private entities, including big firms, imported more than 1.6 MMT of rice seven months after the government eased import restrictions on the staple.
Figures from the BPI, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), showed that cooperatives, traders and institutions imported 1.614 MMT of rice as of October 4 after the rice trade liberalization law took effect on March 5.
The BPI data indicated that importers bought rice from India, Italy, Myanmar, Pakistan, Spain, Thailand and Vietnam.
Topping the list of importers is Puregold Price Club Inc., the grocery-chain operator owned by businessman Lucio Co, which imported 52,021.850 metric tons during the seven-month period. Puregold accounted for 3.22 percent of the total rice volume that arrived in the country.

Farmers protest against rice millers, demand fair price for paddy in Badin
A CorrespondentUpdated October 14, 2019Facebook Count
BADIN: Paddy growers resumed their protest against rice millers in Kario Ghanwar town on Sunday, demanding the authorities concerned force the millers to pay them fair price for their crop.

The protesting farmers led by Hisam Nizamani, Mustafa Ayaz Mehri, Ghulam Mustafa and other who had set up a hunger strike camp along Hyderabad-Golarchi road in the town, told journalists that millers continued to fleece farmers by refusing to pay them Rs1,500 per 40kg and compelling them to sell their crop at Rs1,200 for 40 kg and that too with three to five kilos extra per 40 kilos on the pretext of moisture in the grains.

They deplored the fact that despite continuous protests in various areas of Shaheed Fazil Rahu taluka no elected member of the area had bothered to take notice of their problem and helped them get fair price for their chief crop. They threatened to widen the protest if their demands were not met.

They announced launching a peaceful movement by staging a march in Golarchi town today (Monday) against farmers’ exploitation by rice millers in Badin district.

Local leaders of different political parties including Ustad Mohammad Rahimmon, Mohammad Juman Nohani and others also visited the protesters’ camp and assured them of their support in the peaceful struggle.

Leaders of Save Badin Action Committee Mir Ghulam Rasool Talpur, Mir Noor Ahmed Talpur, Khalil Ahmed Bhurgari and others issued a joint statement, supporting the protest by rice farmers.

They asked Sindh Minister for Agriculture Mohammad Ismail Rahu and other lawmakers of the district to extend support to the farmers at a time when their crop was ready to be harvested and being brought to mills for sale.

Protest against Umerkot police continue
Members and supporters of Arbab group continued on Sunday their protest in Mithi, Kaloi, Diplo, Dahli, Naukot and other towns against Umerkot police’s excesses with villagers in Kuplore village.

The protesters’ leaders told journalists that Umerkot police had raided the village at the behest of PPP MPA Syed Ali Mardan Shah in the wake of a land dispute and tortured innocent villagers of Nohrio community.

The villagers were being subjected to torture and fake cases were being registered against them. A day earlier, complete shutdown was observed in Chhachhro town on a call for protest given by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Arbab Group against police, they said.

Arbab Zakaullah, former MNA and main leader of the group, described before local journalists how police raided the village and tortured men and women.

He said that police registered cases against their supporters on flimsy grounds to subject them to political victimisation at the behest of a PPP lawmaker from Umerkot.

He said the supporters of their group had been protesting peacefully against police brutalities for the past three days. He warned of widening the protest if the cases were not withdrawn and those who had been arrested were not released immediately.

He demanded judicial inquiry into the incident in which dozens of people including women and children were subjected to torture by policemen. There was a negligible dispute over land but PPP leaders were trying to make mountain out of molehill as a pretext to politically victimise their supporters, he said.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2019
DA defers additional rice tariff; farmers dismayed
By: Karl R. Ocampo - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 04:35 AM October 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has decided to defer the implementation of safeguard duties on rice imports this week, even as prices of palay (unmilled rice) sank to an eight-year low.
The move was announced by Agriculture Secretary William Dar at a press conference on Friday, which lasted about five minutes before he walked out as reporters began to press him for details.
“As you all know, we studied the possibility of having to tap the general safeguards duty. The decision by the department is to have this discussed first with the economic development managers (Economic Development Cluster, or the EDC), so we terminated the first study. We will now actively discuss with the EDC on Oct. 24,” Dar said.

He said there would be “no specific timeline” on when the DA, together with the EDC, would come up with a plan.
When asked to give additional details on other measures that the department could push for and if the decision to backtrack was his own, the agriculture chief said he could only say that matters would be discussed, and then walked out.
Below break-even
The enforcement of safeguards could have slapped additional duties on top of the existing tariffs on imports under the rice tariffication law. The policy aims to discourage traders from importing the staple and buy local rice instead.

As of the third week of September, the average buying price of palay hit its lowest in eight years at P15.96 a kilo. The lowest quotation was recorded in Bulacan at P10 a kilo which was already below the estimated break-even production cost at P12 a kilo.
Further price drop
Palay prices have yet to recover since the rice tariffication law took effect in March, and are even expected to dip further with the onset of the main harvest season this month.
As of September, the country’s total rice inventory already stood at 1.84 million metric tons, up 58 percent from last year’s record, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Rice stocks were higher in all sectors in comparison to last year. Stocks in households and commercial warehouses increased by 10.3 percent and 70.5 percent, respectively, while stocks in the National Food Authority’s (NFA) depositories declined by 268.6 percent.
About 41.2 percent of the country’s total rice inventory were in commercial warehouses, while 36.5 percent were in households and 22.2 percent with the NFA.

Dar said earlier this week that the DA would study placing safeguard duties on rice imports which, as farmer groups had warned, led to the plunge in the farm-gate price of palay.
Two weeks ago, Dar acknowledged that the volume of imported rice now exceeded demand, particularly in Metro Manila and also in major urban rice consumption centers.
‘Sense of urgency’

Dar’s announcement on Friday reaped strong criticism from farmer groups, who faulted him for not having “any sense of urgency” to remedy the worsening plight of the local rice industry.
“Why wait for the economic managers given the urgency of the situation? If he really needs to consult, he should have done it earlier. The meeting on Oct. 24 would already be too late for the farmers,” said Raul Montemayor, national manager of the Federation of Free Farmers.
“What will happen to the farmers when palay prices just keep on going down? They don’t have any sense of urgency,” Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said.

Call for higher tariffs

“This is going to be a tedious process,” Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura chair Rosendo So said. “They could instead hold out the issuance of SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) permits to stop the flooding of imported rice.”  In a statement, Sen. Francis Pangilinan called on the government to raise the tariff on imported rice from 35 to 47 percent.
Pangilinan, the country’s former food security czar, also cited the case of Bulacan province where he said farmers were selling palay at P10 a kilo, or P2 lower than the production cost of the staple.

‘In the red’

“Our farmers are already in the red. Our rice farmers tilled the lands, planted and were done harvesting, but they are losing money,” he said, adding that, “It has been more than two months since I first suggested to address this problem of our farmers.”

Even the World Trade Organization, Pangilinan pointed out, recognized the principles of regular safeguards and agriculture special safeguards for the local agriculture industry.
Direct-selling scheme eyed for rice farmers
 In efforts to stabilize market price of rice while ensuring higher income for farmers, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture are collaborating with industry partners to introduce a new business model that will allow farmers to sell directly to retailers. Farmers will be linked with participating millers who will offer a fix milling rate to farmers. This concept aims to allow farmers to distribute rice to retailers, increase their profits, reduce traders in between and ensure low rice prices for consumers. In photo (from left) are DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, Secretary Ramon Lopez, Pure Rice Milling and Processing Corp. president Jojo Soliman, DA Secretary William Dar and Undersecretary Rodolfo Vicerra.

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Agriculture (DA) are proposing a direct-selling scheme for rice in a bid to stabilize prices.
In a statement, the DTI said it is working with the DA and industry partners to introduce a new business model that will enable farmers to sell rice directly to retailers.
Under the proposed setup, farmers will be linked with participating millers and the milling rates for rice will be fixed.
“This concept aims to allow farmers to distribute rice to retailers, increase their profits, reduce traders in between, and ensure low rice prices for consumers,” the DTI said.
The proposal was discussed by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, Agriculture Undersecretary Rodolfo Vicerra and Pure Rice Milling and Processing Corp. president Jojo Soliman.
So far, three millers from Luzon have expressed commitment to take part in the program.
Dar earlier said the DA has terminated its study on the possibility of putting in place general safeguard duties on rice imports.
He said the DA would discuss the matter with the Economic Development Cluster, which is chaired by the Department of Finance.
The World Trade Organization as well as the Safeguard Measures Act allow the government to impose general safeguard duties on imports if such are found to cause threat to the domestic industry.
Imposition of safeguard duties on imports gives relief to farmers as palay prices have gone down due to the flooding of imported rice in the market.
Following the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law earlier this year, the country has so far imported more than two million metric tons of rice.
The Rice Tariffication Law has liberalized rice imports to ensure stable supply and price in the market.

Scientist bags Indo-US fellowship

Oct 12, 2019, 8:49 AM; last updated: Oct 12, 2019, 8:49 AM (IST)
Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, October 11
Dr Kumari Neelam, Assistant Biotechnologist, School of Agricultural Biotechnology, Punjab Agricultural University, has been selected for the prestigious Indo-US Fellowship for Women in STEMM (WISTEMM), supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, for conducting the research on multiplex genome editing for translational research aimed at designing novel resistance against bacterial blight in rice, for a duration of six months at the University of Maryland, USA.
She is working on wide hybridisation, genomics and molecular breeding aspects of rice. Her major emphasis is on utilisation of wild species of rice for improving productivity, insect-pest and disease resistance in elite cultivars. She fine-mapped a bacterial blight resistance gene from Oryza glaberrima derived introgression line and is aiming at cloning of a xa-45(t) utilising multiplex genome editing approach, at the University of Maryland in collaboration with Dr Nidhi Rawat. The expertise will be also utilised for cloning of other agriculturally important genes already mapped at School of Agricultural Biotechnology.
The scientist also received a congratulatory message from Parveen Chhuneja, Director, School of Agricultural Biotechnology, on being selected among top ten scientists from India in the stream of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine.

You could be consuming artificially perfumed rice thinking it's Mwea rice

Packets of rice in a supermarket. [Source/Air BNB]
It has emerged that some rogue businessmen have come up with a new way of duping Kenyans into buying common rice by masquerading it as scented basmatti rice.
Emerging details indicate that the group is using perfumes to give common rice an aroma, which is then sold off to Kenyans as either basmatti or Mwea aromatic rice.
However, according to farmers on the ground, the group of businessmen and cereal shop owners have made it a habit to import shiploads of rice from Pakistan and Thailand.
This is done shortly before harvest in Mwea rice fields and packed in stores and released immediately after harvesting in the fields.
According to the Standard, some groups mix the common rice with the two premium types to give them the desired aroma, before selling it off as Basmatti Mwea rice.
“They even use artificial perfumes to scent Pakistani rice. There is an imported variety, which is scented and sold as basmati rice," said Joseph Kinyajui, a worker at the Mwea Rice Mills.
The blending tact was confirmed by Mwea Rice Growers Cooperative Society Chief Executive Officer Joseph Ndungu, who noted that it has been negatively affecting farmers.
"This blending distorts the market and breaks the trust of the consumer who after consuming ‘fake’ pishori feels conned. This has been going on for a long time and it is time the government acts,” he said.
Although the farmers know the identities of the culprits, they can't name them for fear of victimization, given that the trade includes powerful and brutal businessmen.

Pakistan’s elephant in the room: unsustainable population growth
OCTOBER 12, 2019
As I had stated in my article “Pakistan in Economic Danger” published in the Daily Times of Pakistan on July 5, 2019, Pakistan is either bankrupt or will be bankrupt soon. The reason for the bankruptcy is Pakistan’s tremendous debt, to which the government is continually adding more by deficit spending. Further, the current government plans to pursue poverty programs, resulting in more spending that the government cannot afford. Despite the overspending, the government feels that it can spend any amount without consequences to the future of Pakistan. In one quarter (1st to 2nd quarter 2019), it has added $471,000,000 in external debt. The total debt is about Rs 35.09 trillion, which is 91.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Pakistan.
In addition to its continually increasing debt, Pakistan faces another concurrent danger: a large and increasing population showing no sign of decreasing. Obviously, the large population requires tremendous resources to support the basic necessities, such as food, health infrastructure, schools, and housing. That means more money, which the government does not have and will require more deficit spending, more borrowing, and more debt. Unfortunately, despite the reckless spending by the current government, no one in Pakistan is considering the serious implications and consequences of a large population. They act as if this problem does not exist. It is the elephant in the room (Pakistan) that no one sees or wants to admit is there. The question every Pakistani, politician, and bureaucrat must ask is “How much money does the country need to support the current large and future expanding population?”
As of July 2019, the population of Pakistan was estimated at 217,457,428. It has grown from 40,488,030 in 1955, which is a 437% increase or 6.72% a year for 65 years. The current yearly growth rate is estimated at 2.04% with a fertility rate of 3.73%. The current density per km is 281 compared to 53 in 1955. Pakistan ranks fifth in population in the world. World meter info projects the population to be 338,013,196 by 2050. However, I project 410,335,019 by 2050,which will mean a population density at 438 or 450. However, it will still rank fifth in population in the world. Regardless, the fertility rate will stand at 3.55 as it is now, which, on the average, will increase the population by approximately 4.4million a year with no end in sight.
For the education sector, this population growth will require 140,000 classes each year and hiring at least as many teachers. If an average teacher makes Rs 30,000 a month, the total cost of the teachers will be Rs. 4,200,000,000 per month or Rs. 50,400,000,000 a year to support the new crop of children every year. Obviously, this does not include the cost of buildings, books, furniture, and administration. And if we do not educate all children, then Pakistan must be ready for an expanding unschooled population who would not understand the consequences of having too many children and would have no appreciation of using birth control.
The question is whether Pakistan has the resources to produce the amount of food needed to support the current population of 217,457,428 or the projected population of 410,335,019 in 2050
In addition to basic schooling, consider how much it costs to feed these children. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) states that “Good nutrition is our first defense against disease and our source of energy to live and be active. Nutritional problems caused by an inadequate diet can be of many sorts, and when they affect a generation of youngsters, they can lower their learning capacities, thus compromising their futures, perpetuating a generational cycle of poverty and malnutrition, with severe consequences on both individuals and nations.” I do not expect that Pakistan can or will provide good nutrition due to its lack of resources and inept bureaucracy. However, I hope these children will get minimum nutrition to live on. According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the minimum calories needed per day for women is 1,000 calories and for men, 1,200 calories. A person can barely live on 800 calories a day. The staples of the Pakistani diet could include 1 cup of rice (242 calories), 1 cup of kidney beans(613 calories), 1 cup of beans(93 calories),and plain Naan (500 calories) or Peshawari Naan (750 calories) with 1 cup of whole milk (148 calories). Any combination of these ingredients will provide the required daily calories.
The question is whether Pakistan has the resources to produce the amount of food needed to support the current population of 217,457,428 or the projected population of 410,335,019 in 2050.The most recent data (2013-2014) show that Pakistan produced 25,980,000 tons of wheat and 6,798,000 tons of rice. The current population needs at least 17,716,956 tons of rice a year, a shortage of 10,918,956 tons a year and needs 99,650,924 tons of wheat a year, a surplus of 8,262,044 tons a year. Pakistan can barely feed its current population and will not be able to feed its future population. According to DAWN, the current import of “food caused the capital flight of $6.185 billion from the country during the last fiscal year of 2017/18, weighing down the fragile external account in the agriculture country.” This is further proof that Pakistan is already importing a tremendous amount of food to feed its population. Given the current tremendous trade deficit, Pakistan cannot afford to import more without incurring tremendous debt, which will put Pakistan’s economy in a more precarious situation. To prevent disastrous economic consequences, Pakistan must implement population control.
The writer is PhD. (USA) and Professor Emeritius (USA)

The Big Rice lie: How dealers use perfumes to spice up cheap imported rice
Amos Kareithi  12th Oct 2019 00:00:00 GMT +0300
Description: work in rice farms at Thiba H2 Mwea section. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]As the golden sun slowly sinks into the horizon, casting a mesmerising spell over the lush plains, swarms of weaver birds flap to their nests to await a brighter tomorrow.
But just before the last rays of the sun are swallowed by the fast approaching darkness, 70-year-old Samuel Kathioni resignedly slips into his battered gumboots.
He beats his frayed cap on his jembe and wades out of the black cotton mud to head home to an empty evening and a rumbling stomach yearning for food.
These are the last days of September. November is fast approaching and so are the end-year festivities. Kathioni hopes that water will ultimately flow into his dry canal and irrigate his four acres of yellowing crop of rice. 
Away from the fields and into the rust covered warehouses and stores in Ngurubani, Wanguru and Mwea, hundreds of human predators are also engrossed in special payers. Their prayers are that Kathioni and 7,000 other rice farmers will reap 200,000 tonnes of premium basmati (aromatic) rice.
These prayers are being whispered in different parts of the country where the much sought after Mwea rice drives an underworld trade, which rakes in billions of shillings for importers and cereal dealers.
For decades, millions of Kenyans have been eating what they thought was Mwea’s aromatic rice and have been forking out extra shillings to avoid feeding their families on cheap imports, some of which have been said to have plastic material.
After weeks of investigations, the Saturday Standard has established that the country has been feeding on a big fat lie perpetuated by merchants whose only goal is to maximise profits at the expense of consumers and farmers.
Near Kathioni’s farm, a group of farmers is keenly listening to the man in charge of water in their line, Cadino Mubea, who explains how the precious commodity will be rationed so that every farmer gets a little.
The neighbours are contemplating their immediate future in the face of the diminished water supply at Thiba’s H2 section where 67 farmers dread losing their crop owing to scarcity of water.
Ironically, as the farmers anxiously wait for the expiry of 120 days, the duration it takes for rice to mature, some shady cereal dealers in Mwea town too have started preparing for the harvesting period in a special way.
Imported rice
“We know the importers have placed their orders in Pakistan and Thailand for shiploads of rice. By November 2 when we harvest, their stores will be full of imported rice,” explains farmer Danson Muriuki.
According to a World Bank report published in 2014, it takes dealers between 24 and 37 days to import a shipment in Kenya.
At Kathioni’s farm, there is pregnant silence when one of the farmers promises to give the names of the dealers importing rice from Pakistan to Mwea.
“Please do not name names. Do you want to be tortured the way we were brutalised during the Mau Mau? These are very powerful and rich people who can deal with you ruthlessly,” pleads another farmer, Sospeter Mwaura, 70.
When probed further, Mwaura, just like other residents, says he has heard the names of powerful billionaires being whispered in connection to spicing up Pakistani rice in Mwea using the basmati variety.
The farmers however are in agreement that Mwea town has dozens of stores that exclusively deal with imported rice, which retails at a fraction of what the local produce costs.
Huge savings
In one of the stores, the owner coaxes us to seal a deal: “My rice is first class. It is better than Mwea’s. If you have a wedding or a function, I will give you a deal of Sh2,200 for 25 kilos. This translates to Sh88 per kilo. This is a huge saving.”
It is in some of these stores and stalls where crafty traders use the aromatic Mwea rice to spice up the cheap imports, which is then retailed at a higher price, which is however still considerably cheaper than the local pure pishori rice.
The rice is transported to Mwea under the cover of darkness in sealed containers into warehouses where it is mixed with locally produced aromatic rice.
It is repackaged and branded, given fancy names which must include Mwea and pure pishori rice to dupe consumers. Innocent Ariemba, Mwea Irrigation Scheme Manager explains why basmati from the area is used by dealers for blending.
“Getting quality rice depends on where you buy it. Some traders are out to maximise on profits. It is very natural for then to use basmati, which is premium rice. A kilo of unprocessed rice (paddy) goes for Sh75. This if mixed with a kilo of ordinary rice, which retails at Sh35 per kilo, at a ratio of 1:3 gives the trader a competitive edge," Ariemba says.
The blended rice, we established, is then sold at a wholesale price of Sh125 per kilo in Mwea to traders who then retail it at Sh135.
According to experts, it takes a farmer Sh28 to produce a kilo of paddy, rice which after being dried is then sold to brokers and millers at Sh50 per kilo.
There are about 20 big millers in Mwea with a capacity to mill 3.5 tonnes of rice per hour. The big millers share 800,000 bags of rice (80 million kilos) while Mwea Rice Growers Society commands 200,000 bags (20 million kilos). The millers charge Sh3 to mill a kilo of rice and the minimum they can accept from a farmer or trader is 10 bags.
The mills also offer the small-scale traders a place and space to sell and store their rice. The big dealers purchase the paddy from farmers soon after harvest, mill it and then ferry it to their secret stores in Mwea, Kerugoya, Thika Nairobi and at times Mombasa, where it is blended and branded.
Along Mwimbi Road off Kirinyaga Road in Nairobi, a cereal dealer adjusted her aprons, cast a dirty look in our direction when we asked her about perfumed basmati rice, then said:
Chased away
“I also hear there is perfumed rice. I do not know where exactly it is done but I know it is in Nyamakima. As you can see I am strictly dealing with genuine Mwea rice. If you do not want to buy, go away or else you will chase away my customers.”
We tactfully retreated to search for the elusive perfume. Joseph Kinyanjui who works at Mwea Rice Mills says, “they even use artificial perfumes to scent Pakistani rice. There is an imported variety, which is scented and sold as basmati rice.”
Rice traders in the areas we visited operate under the golden rule of silence, feigning ignorance of the existence of the blending dens. In some cases when customers complain after the fake aroma fades, they are told the fragrance disappeared  because they washed the rice too vigorously.
“This is another lie by the rice dealers. The aroma is supposed to linger even after washing and cooking. It can only fade if the rice is washed for a long time and then exposed to the sun,” Kinyanjui adds.
Rice importation, agriculture and food security experts explain, is a necessary evil in Kenya because the country produces about 200,000 tonnes while the annual consumption is 600,000 tonnes.
“We must as a country import rice every year. The question is why the government allows imports just when the farmers are harvesting their crop. Why can’t it wait for the locally produced rice to be sold out before we allow imports?” Ariemba posed.
Local brand
According to Joseph Ndungu, the Chief Executive Officer of Mwea Rice Growers Cooperative Society, the use of Mwea rice by cartels to blend their cheap imports has destroyed the local brand. “This blending distorts the market and breaks the trust of the consumer who after consuming ‘fake’ pishori feels conned.This has been going on for a long time and it is time the government acts,” Ndungu says
He says the government should demand that rice blenders indicate on their packaging the contents of their brand correctly, so that buyers know when they buy genuine and adulterated produce. 

Down To Earth impact: ICMR to send team to study cancer in Odisha's Bargarh

Indian Council of Medical Reasearch team to study cancer in Odisha's rice bowl after Down To Earth reportage
By Banjot Kaur
Last Updated: Monday 14 October 2019
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has taken note of Down To Earth’s reportage on the unusually high occurence of cancer in Bargarh district in western Odisha. It plans a study there to  understand the related epidemiological, clinical and bio-chemcial aspects.
DTE ran this correspondent’s story in its 1-15 October, 2019 edition, highlighting the plight of the citizens of the agriculture-intensive area and underscoring overuse of pesticides.
The reportage has been discussed and a team was scheduled to be sent on October 14, said Sanghamitra Pati, the director of ICMR’s Regional Medical Reseaerch Centre at Bhubaneshwar.
“First, we have to go study the pattern of the disease and whether there is clustering,” she told DTE.
A geospatial mapping is on the cards. An epidemiologist will check the distribution, the types of cancer and whether they are linked to chronic kidney disease – also prevalent in Bargarh – Pati said.
“There may be lot of linkages. The epidemiological study on time place and person distribution will form the background of an intensive study. We will tie up with either All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)-Bhubaneswar or the Regional Cancer Centre in Cuttack,” she added.
DTE has documented families with more than a single cancer patients. In some cases, the disease has transcended generations. The cases were spread over several villages in what is known as the ‘rice bowl of Odisha’. The indiscriminate use of pesticide was flagged by several, from local doctors to agricultural experts.
The government maintained that little could be done in the absence of concrete data. Locals, on the other hand, pointed towards a a vicious circle where the government would not initiate research and then blame the lack of any. The civil society’s demand for a cancer hospital hasn’t yielded result.
“Everybody knows it is related to pesticide but it needs to be empirically established,” said Apollo Hospital-Bhubaneswar’s Nitish Acharya. The hospital received a lot of cancer patients from Bargarh, he added: “The reportage is in consonance with what we find in our day to day experience – not only the scale but also the types of cancers.”
“We require an early detection centre and cancer awareness programme,” Acharya said and stressed on the need for a scientific study.
The local AIIMS, earlier, stressed on the necessity of such a study after DTE’s coverage. “We will strongly pitch for a an AIIMS-ICMR study. It has to be epidelomolgial. Then a massive clinical research is required. It is high time we study Bargarh to come out with a tangible solution. Else, the region can become another Bathinda,” Madhabanananda Kar, who heads Surgical Oncology at AIIMS-Bhubaneshwar, told DTE.
Bathinda in Punhab has been notorious for a high number of cancer cases.
Kar corroborated that the types of cancers occuring in Bargarh were typically tied to the use of pesticides and urged the government to promote sustainable organic farming.
Noted journalist Sarda Lahangir, who hails from Bargarh and whose husband survived cancer, had a sense of déjà vu. “I have seen the suffering of cancer patients closely. My husband Aswini was detected with the cervical gland (head and neck region) cancer in 2007. It took us time to come to terms with the reality and fight,” she said. The couple managed to beat the disease, but after exhausting all savings. “We were ruined mentally, physically and emotionally,” Lahangir said.
Arabind K Padhee, the country director if International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics took to the social media to alert policymakers: 


Very worrisome developments! Description: ☹️Awareness of people on proper/lessened usage of agri chemicals and groundswell of corrective actions (low external inputs sustainable agriculture) need of the hour. Wish to see a positive transformation during my lifetime. 

Bargarh: How Odisha's rice bowl turned cancer field

 The Opposition Congress also took note of the situation:
Agricultural community is the hardest hit because of BJD govt's incompetence in regulating toxic chemicals. The rice bowl of Odisha - Bargarh is facing increasing cases of cancer. (1/2)