Wednesday, October 16, 2019

16th October,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Insect or virus? How plants know

OCTOBER 15, 2019
Description: Insect or virus? How plants knowA model organism like thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) is used in plant research because many of its properties are considered to be more or less representative. Credit: Shutterstock, NTB Scanpix
Most plants have plenty of enemies, from insects and other grazing creatures to various diseases, droughts and many other stressors.
As with humans, plants respond to injuries or illnesses by initiating various defense measures. But a viral infection requires a completely different response than desiccation, of course.
To know more about its attacker, the cell relies on mechanical and chemical signals, much in the same way that we use our senses to figure out what we might be willing to eat in an exotic restaurant. Smell and taste are chemical cues, the structure of food is a mechanical cue.
Humans respond appropriately to what their senses tell them because they have dedicated structures that allow both simple responses (reflexes) and more complex ones (fight or flight), both of which are controlled by a unifying and coordinating centers (the brain).
So how do brainless plants defend themselves appropriately?
Research valuable for food crops
The answers to this question may be especially important as scientists develop new varieties of food crops like rice and maize. The research has great potential value, both financially and in meeting the food needs of an ever-growing human population. Corn accounts for around 40 percent of the world's grain supply. Rice is the main food source for about half of the world's population.
A review article recently published in Nature Plants provides some of the answers to this question.
Description: Insect or virus? How plants knowCell walls are dynamic structures that provide mechanical support during growth and development and that help the plant adapt to environmental change. Credit: Vaahtera et al, Nature Plants
Thorsten Hamann is a professor at NTNU's Department of Biology and was the senior author of the publication. He and several colleagues are working with a plant called thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana). This small flowering plant is widely used in research as what is called a model organism.
model organism like thale cress is used in plant research because many of its properties are considered to be more or less representative of food and bioenergy crop plants, such as rice, brassica, poplar and maize. But thale cress is much faster and easier for researchers to work with.
Cell walls aren't just dead material
Decades ago, biologists regarded the plant's outer cell walls as little more than dead material that held up the rest of the plant's more important and exciting parts. But that belief no longer holds.
"Cell walls are dynamic structures that provide mechanical support during growth and development and that help the plant adapt to environmental change," says Hamann.
A plant's cell walls are much stronger than the thin structures surrounding human cells, which can also give rise to our skin. This is necessary because the pressure inside plant cells is roughly equivalent to the pressure in our car tires. The cell walls are largely made up of cellulose microfibers, a strong material that can handle this pressure.
"The plant walls make sure that the cells don't explode," Hamann notes.
But the abilities of the cell walls go significantly above and beyond preventing explosions.
Description: Insect or virus? How plants knowRice is the main food source for about half of the world’s population. Credit: Shutterstock, NTB Scanpix
The plasma membrane
If the cell walls are to respond to environmental changes in an adaptive manner, there must be a mechanism in place that allows them to do this. This mechanism must monitor the state of the cell wall and initiate changes in cell metabolism to allow it to adapt.
This mechanism has actually been previously described in yeast cells, the single-celled organisms that can be used to make beer, bread or wine. This suggests that the plant mechanism is derived from an ancient process that regulated interactions between single-celled organisms and their environment already a long time ago.
Professor Hamann's lab has been investigating how plant mechanisms act and has shown how these mechanisms help with plant defense and development.
Currently, postdoctoral fellow Lauri Vaahtera and Ph.D. candidate Julia Schulz are working on understanding the principles that regulate the mechanism and alter the plants' chemical composition.
"The outer part of the cell wall is rigid, but between the cell wall and the rest of the cell is a plasma membrane that is responsive to changes in the cell walls. A lot of the defense activity is coordinated in this transition area, called the apoplast, between the outer cell wall and the rest of the cell," Hamann says.
Short protein molecules called peptides are central to the process, because they can function as signaling agents. These signaling agents bind to different receptors to trigger specific defense responses depending on the type of stress.
Description: Insect or virus? How plants knowPlant cells are able to integrate different inputs and activate differential responses using tightly interwoven and complex mechanisms, where mechanical signals caused by mechanical stressors like locusts and chemical signals like PAMPs and peptides are combined to fine-tune responses. Credit: Vaahtera et al, Nature Plants
Regulating responses through changes in acidity
"One way that plants induce specific defense measures is by changing acidity (pH) in the apoplast when exposed to stress," says Hamann.
Take for example a plant that is exposed to a mechanical stressor, like a locust chewing on a leaf.
The chewing locust damages the cell wall and causes a loss of pressure in the containment. This triggers a reaction requiring the plasma membrane localized receptor THESEUS1, or THE1 for short. The reaction in turn activates defense measures designed to prevent further pressure loss by initiating repairs.
The defense measures also involve other receptors and are regulated by RALF peptides. One of them (RALF34) binds to THE1, in a pH dependent manner. For example, at pH 7.8, the peptide binds very strong to the plasma membrane localized receptor, while at the more acidic pH of 6.5, binding is not detectable.
The researchers say it is important to note that the pH is not regulated by mechanical stressors alone but also by other signaling agents, such as something called PAMPs, which are derived from pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Thus, changes in the pH can be caused by several inputs and can thus integrate these different inputs to activate responses suitable for either chewing locusts or bacteria.
This means that the pH functions almost like an on/off switch, although the NTNU researchers think it may actually work like a dimmer switch, where the extent of the acidity, and thus the response, can be regulated in a graduated manner.
Complex, interwoven mechanisms
In other words, plant cells are able to integrate different inputs and activate differential responses using tightly interwoven and complex mechanisms, where mechanical signals caused by mechanical stressors like locusts and chemical signals like PAMPs and peptides are combined to fine-tune responses.
What's most notable is that there is no central entity, like a brain, that drives the response. Instead, every single plant cell is theoretically capable of responding to the different inputs. It's almost as if the whole plant consists of a multitude of single cell-sized computing units.

TS showcases PDS reforms at national meet
UPDATED: OCTOBER 14, 2019 23:43 IST
Commissioner of Civil Supplies Akun Sabharwal has stated that Telangana government has curbed malpractices to a large extent in the public distribution system with the help of technology in every aspect linked to it.
Speaking at a two-day national conference of State/UT Food Secretaries on PDS Reforms & New Initiatives at Kevadiya in Gujarat on Monday, he said being the youngest State in the country Telangana had achieved good results with reforms and technology. He also made a power point presentation on the implementation of reforms, new technology and success achieved by Telangana Civil Supplies Department in the Public Distribution System.
Mr. Sabharwal said as per 2011 Census, population of Telangana was 3.51 crore and there were 87.72 lakh food security cards with 2.81 crore beneficiaries. Every eligible beneficiary was being given 6 kg of rice at 1 per kilo. In May 2018, Ration Portability was introduced for better service to beneficiaries to avail ration from anywhere in the State and about 13 lakh transactions were being done every month as part of it.
Besides PDS they had also introduced a mobile app for transparency and accountability in paddy procurement. Online Procurement Management System, Geo-Tagging of Paddy Procurement Centres (PPCs), Miller Acknowledgement, T-Ration and T-Wallet Apps were also made available for better services.


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Buhari's minister says there is no hunger in Nigeria

Today at 9:37 AM
Nanono said this at a news conference on Monday in Abuja as part of activities to mark the 2019 World Food Day being celebrated internationally on Oct. 16.
Description: Muhammad Sabo-Nanono, Minister of Agriculture [Twitter/@NanonoSabo]

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono says Nigeria is producing enough to feed itself, contrary to the narrative in some quarters that there is hunger in the land.

Nanono said this at a news conference on Monday in Abuja as part of activities to mark the 2019 World Food Day being celebrated internationally on Oct. 16.
He said it was wrong to promote the idea that there was hunger in Nigeria, adding that there were only inconveniences being addressed by the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders like the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
According to the minister, the world food day is set aside to discuss food production.
“From what I am seeing in this conference room, there is no sign of hunger but obesity. Only a few people like me are either trying to balance their diet or is it fasting that is responsible for the way some of us look?
“The policy of the present government for us to feed ourselves is key. In the process value chains are being created to empower people and give out some jobs.
“I think we are producing enough now to feed ourselves and I think there is no hunger but if you say inconveniences I would agree.
“When people talk about hunger I laugh because they do not know hunger. If you go to other countries you will see what hunger is.
“Food in Nigeria is fairly cheap compared to other countries. In kano for instance, you can eat N30 worth of food and be satisfied. So, we should be thankful that we can feed ourselves and we have relatively cheap food in this country,” he said.
On fears that insecurity and flood may lead to food shortage, the minister said while it was true that there were challenges in some states.
According to him, reports from Gombe and Bauchi states where I visited a few days ago, showed that there will be bumper harvest.
“Although, there has been flood and insurgency but I think the surplus that will be created in other parts of the country will balance up food shortage in other areas.
“In Nigeria, we are lucky that one of the food security spot is in Dawano market, Kano. But what we need is to reorganise our markets to solve the problem of malnutrition and other issues,” he said.
The minister noted the narrative of hunger was erroneous, noting that Nigeria was a buffer zone for migration for the the rest of West African sub regions.
He explained that there were lots of people from other African countries in Nigeria, who often blend into the system and were not easily identified except for their assent.
On border closure, Nanono said that the report from farmers and dealers in rice and other commodities was that of commendation.
He said although many people were not comfortable with the development when it happened, the testimonies that followed the closure were encouraging.
The minister said, “I think when the government came out with the rice policy, most people felt uneasy because they are used to imported rice, which sometimes are expired but we are now seeing the benefit.
“Some of our neighbouring countries are using Nigeria as dumping ground and efforts to let them know failed. So we closed the borders to sensitise them on the implications of that.
“One of the largest producers of Nigeria rice was in my office after the closure of the borders and they had about 600 tonnes of rice in the warehouse but that within the week the borders were closed 50 per cent was sold and farmers are smiling.
“So, as long as the countries will not respect the protocol, the border closure will remain.”
On rejection of Nigerian products in the international market, Nanono said efforts were being made to engage relevant inspection agencies to access and certify products for export.
On high cost of imported wheat, the minister said if Nigerians decide to stop consuming wheat bread the problem would be tackled.
According to him, bread is food for the elite and ordinary Nigerians eat more of local foods for breakfast than bread that can be done away with.
Nanono urged Nigerians, particularly the aged, to eat balanced diet, exercise regularly to shed weight, adding that there was a need for continued sensitisation on healthy living.
New USA Rice Trade Policy VP is a Familiar Face 

ARLINGTON, VA -- Peter Bachmann has rejoined USA Rice as vice president of international trade policy directing all of USA Rice's trade policy initiatives and programs.

Peter most recently served as senior advisor to Secretary Sonny Perdue at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), focusing on farm production, conservation, and trade issues.  Prior to joining USDA in April 2017, he worked at USA Rice, primarily on domestic farm policy, and prior to that, for the National Association of Conservation Districts.

Peter earned his bachelor's degree in dairy science at Virginia Tech, and grew up in the agriculture industry and exhibited livestock through the 4-H program in his home state of Maryland.

"Secretary Perdue gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to work with the dedicated career and political staff at USDA over the last two and a half years," said Peter.  "In that time we saw the 2018 Farm Bill drafted, passed, and mostly implemented, along with several other pieces of historic farm policy.  I look forward to bringing a fresh perspective back to USA Rice after my brief hiatus, and getting back on the ground working with the industry promoting exports and market access for U.S.-grown rice."


Sustainability powerhouse
Webinar Series on Sustainability Starts Tomorrow  

MEMPHIS, TN -- A new webinar series focused on the impressive sustainability record of the U.S. rice industry makes its debut tomorrow at 12:00 noon EDT.  The webinars are an extension of the work done around the U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report, and are open to anyone interested in learning about rice sustainability efforts and practices.

The first in the four-part series hosted by the American Society of Agronomy and sponsored by The Rice Foundation and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, is titled "U.S. Rice:  Sustainability Powerhouse."

"The U.S. rice industry's commitment to sustainability dates back generations, long before the word "sustainability" became a popular, if difficult to define, term," said Jennifer James, Arkansas rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Sustainability Committee.  "In the first webinar, you'll hear from U.S. rice farmers on why preserving resources and providing habitat is important to them, and why end users are making investments around the implementation of more sustainable practices."

Tomorrow's webinar speakers include James; Bill Jones, rice agronomy manager with Anheuser-Busch, Paul Buttner, manager of environmental affairs at the California Rice Commission; and George Dunklin, past president of Duck's Unlimited.

Continuing education units (CEUs) are available for this webinar although you do not have to be a certified crop advisor or professional agronomist to sign up.

Go here to register.
New USA Rice Trade Policy VP is a Familiar Face 

ARLINGTON, VA -- Peter Bachmann has rejoined USA Rice as vice president of international trade policy directing all of USA Rice's trade policy initiatives and programs.

Peter most recently served as senior advisor to Secretary Sonny Perdue at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), focusing on farm production, conservation, and trade issues.  Prior to joining USDA in April 2017, he worked at USA Rice, primarily on domestic farm policy, and prior to that, for the National Association of Conservation Districts.

Peter earned his bachelor's degree in dairy science at Virginia Tech, and grew up in the agriculture industry and exhibited livestock through the 4-H program in his home state of Maryland.

"Secretary Perdue gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to work with the dedicated career and political staff at USDA over the last two and a half years," said Peter.  "In that time we saw the 2018 Farm Bill drafted, passed, and mostly implemented, along with several other pieces of historic farm policy.  I look forward to bringing a fresh perspective back to USA Rice after my brief hiatus, and getting back on the ground working with the industry promoting exports and market access for U.S.-grown rice."

Natural infiltration helps water quality in rice

Rice has a good story to tell.
Forrest Laws | Oct 11, 2019
U.S. rice fields provide natural filtration systems that help farmers improve the quality of the water used to irrigate those crops.
That’s how Lydia Holmes, manager of industry affairs and sustainability for USA Rice, described one of the positive environmental impacts of the crop during a presentation at the Mississippi County Rice Irrigation Field Day near Blytheville, Ark.
“No-till, minimum-till – these are practices that are helping with water quality,” she said. “We don’t have specific metrics for this topic yet – all of the data we’re using are Field to Market, and they have recently implemented new water quality metrics.
“But rice has a good story here to tell, as well,” she noted, referring to a slide listing good management practices for improving water quality. “Rice is a natural filtration system, and anyone who pulls water in and uses it on rice can see the water you put in is dirtier than the water you get out.”
Those other practices include the use of grass filter strips and buffers, integrated pest management and the 4R Nutrient Management System, which is putting the right amount of fertilizer from the right sources at the right place and the right time.
“With IPM you try to stay within your pesticide budget, only putting out as much as you need when you need it,” she said. “These are things you’re already doing, but these are some of the buzzwords consumers really want to hear about.”
Rice farmers have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 41 percent since the 1980s. “That’s from using such practices as alternate wetting and drying or AWD, letting your soils dry out somewhat and reducing those emissions.”
Growers have also been switching their pumping systems to utilize more efficient fuel sources, a practice that has helped reduce rice energy consumption by 34 percent over the 36 years since the 1980s benchmark.
The creation of habitat for waterfowl is one of the rice industry’s best-known sustainability stories, she noted. Studies by USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited show that recreating that habitat if rice fields went away would cost upwards of $3.4 billion.

CL farmers see 3.6-m ton rice yield
October 15, 2019 at 07:10 pm
by Romeo Dizon
San Fernando, Pampanga—Central Luzon, the rice granary of the country, continues to have bountiful harvests despite markets being flooded by imported rice.
Benjamin Balthazar, operations officer of the Department of Agriculture in Central Luzon said about 200,000 farmers in the region have started harvesting their palay since last month.
“We are expecting to harvest about 3.6 million metric tons, especially this season,” Balthazar said.
The top palay producers in the region remain in Nueva Ecija, which is contributing 50 percent of the production, followed by Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Zambales and Bataan in order.
Despite the bountiful harvest, farmers continue to lose profits due to the low farmgate prices of rice, which is pegged at P11 to P 13 per kilo and P 19 for clean rice per kilo.
Farmers in the region are cultivating an estimated 400,000 hectares of land across six provinces.
According to Baltazar, farmers need to invest P12 to produce a kilo of rice.
To assist them, the DAR continues to organize the Rice Processing Complex, which aims to market their produce directly to customers instead of rice traders to minimize farmers’ losses.
At present, there are 18 rice complexes operating in the region, Baltazar said, as farmers also received equipment like dryers, seeds, and other farming aids.
He admitted that the region lacks rice dryers for the farmers to use.
In a related development, the provincial government of Pampanga distributed a total of 28 carabaos in the province to help farmers to augment their income.
Dr. Augusto Baluyut, provincial veterinary officer, said the carabaos were distributed in Candaba, Arayat, Mexico, Sta. Ana, Porac, Lubao, Sta. Rita, Magalang, and the city of San Fernando.
Baluyut said the carabao dispersal is a joint project of Gov. Dennis  Pineda and the Department of Agriculture Field Office 3.

China's low demand causes rice price to fall to 12-year low

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has attributed the lowest rice price in 12 years to low demand from China, as many Vietnamese exporters continue to fail to meet this market’s requirements.
Description: China's low demand causes rice price to fall to 12-year low
Rice is packaged for export at a plant owned by Trung An Hi-Tech Farming JSC in Can Tho City - PHOTO: VNA

At a press briefing of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on October 14, Nguyen Quoc Toan, head of the Farm Produce Processing and Market Development Department, under the ministry, noted that the ministry had predicted that the country would face difficulties in exporting rice this year, news site Vietnamplus reported.
Specifically, Vietnam’s major importers, such as China, Indonesia and Bangladesh, have reduced their rice imports.
As for China, Vietnamese rice exporters are facing increased competition as China has welcomed other countries, such as Myanmar and Cambodia, to supply rice to its market.
Tran Cong Thang, deputy head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, pointed out that in the past two months, Vietnam’s 5% broken rice prices have fallen to US$325 per ton, the lowest level since November 2007.
The main reason is that China has tightened control over the quality of rice imports and diversified its rice suppliers.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien, the slower global growth has also affected Vietnam’s rice export volume. Further, technical barriers on food safety and origin traceability have hindered the export of local farm produce, including rice.
Toan from the Farm Produce Processing and Market Development Department proposed removing obstacles to the export of rice to China and boosting rice shipments to the Philippines and Africa.
According to the department, Vietnam exported 5.2 million tons of rice worth US$2.24 billion in the January-September period this year, up 5.9% in volume but down 9.8% in value over the same period last year. The Philippines was Vietnam’s largest rice buyer in the period, accounting for over 36% of the country’s total rice export volume. SGT

Rosy forecast for rice in Q4

Hin Pisei | Publication date 14 October 2019 | 22:59 ICT

Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia’s rice exports to the European market are expected to grow in the fourth quarter. Heng Chivoan
After three consecutive quarters of decline, Cambodia’s rice exports to the European market are expected to grow in the fourth quarter following a Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) working group’s visit to the EU to promote the produce, CRF president Song Saran said.
The exports dropped sharply in the first nine months after the EU imposed tariffs on the Kingdom’s rice at the beginning of this year.
Saran led the working group to several European countries to meet with various parties and look into issues related to Cambodian rice.
Following the EU’s import duty on Cambodian rice, price competition with other countries led to a decline in exports to Europe, he said.
“Europe is still a potential market for Cambodian rice and we are currently looking for real demand. We have to diversify our markets according to the needs of the European market.
“I hope that rice exports to the European market will increase by the end of 2019,” said Saran.
A CRF report shows that the Kingdom’s rice exports reached 398,586 tonnes in the first nine months of this year – up 2.3 per cent from the same period last year, or 389,264 tonnes.
Rice shipments to the Chinese market stood at 157,793 tonnes during the period. This was up more than 44 per cent year-on-year. But exports to Europe fell to 135,471 tonnes, or down nearly 30 per cent.
The rest was exported to Asean markets, said the report.
Saran said he spoke with German Member of Parliament Martin Patzelt about concerns of the possible withdrawal of the EU’s ‘Everything But Arms’ agreement, which would strongly impact Cambodian farmers.
In France, he lobbied representatives of Ethiquable – a French cooperative specialising in organic products – to increase its orders of Cambodian rice, he said.
Last year, Ethiquable bought around 120 tonnes of rice from the Kingdom, while this year’s orders were a mere 100 tonnes, said Saran.
He expects that Cambodian rice exports to international markets this year will be between 650,000 and 750,000 tonnes, which is a slight increase on last year.
Bayon Cereal Co Ltd CEO Yon Sovann said exports will rebound by the end of the year, following the steady decline in Cambodian rice exports to the European market.
“The CRF’s efforts to explore additional markets for Cambodian rice will help boost exports to Europe by the end of the year,” he said.

Thailand’s Government Commences Rice Price Guarantee Scheme

 “Farmers who grow white rice will be paid 2,469.64 a tonne. While those growing fragrant Pathum Thani rice will get 783.45 baht a tonne,” he said.


Farmers who grow white rice will begin receiving cash handouts under the rice price-guarantee scheme, says Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.
The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will hand out money to registered farmers, Jurin said. However only if the prices of their rice crops fall below a predetermined market level.
Should rice prices drop below the cap that the difference in prices will be shouldered by the state-owned bank.
“Farmers who grow white rice will be paid 2,469.64 a tonne. While those growing fragrant Pathum Thani rice will get 783.45 baht a tonne,” he said.
Under the scheme, the price of white rice paddy is guaranteed at 10,000 baht a tonne for a maximum of 30 tonnes per household.

Guaranteed Price for Rice Paddy

Meanwhile, the guaranteed price for Pathum Thani rice paddy is set at 11,000 baht a tonne for a maximum of 25 tonnes per household.
Mr Jurin will officially launch the scheme — which will expire in October 2020 — in Ayutthaya’s Lat Bua Luang district.
“At present, three other types of white rice paddy in the price-guarantee program. Namely Thai Hom Mali, regional fragrant rice varieties and glutinous rice with 15% moisture content. They fetch high prices in the market, so we won’t pay the difference,” he said.
If the prices of Thai Hom Mali, regional fragrant white rice varieties and glutinous rice begins to decline, then the government will step in to guarantee their prices.
“Farmers who grow Thai Hom Mali white rice paddy will have their crop prices guaranteed; up to a maximum of 14 tonnes per household; while price guarantees for those growing regional fragrant rice varieties and glutinous rice will be limited to 16 tonnes per household,” he said.
Mr Jurin also said he will also ask the cabinet to approve another price-guarantee scheme for rubber.
“If the rubber price-guarantee scheme get the green light from the cabinet. Officials can start paying the difference to farmers as early as November,” he said.

Granaries Overflowing, Food Dept Suggests Export Of Wheat, Rice To Deserving Countries

The Logical Indian CrewIndia
October 15th, 2019 / 8:28 PM / Updated 17 hours ago
The government has decided to liquidate its grain stocks to prevent damage and cut down the transportation cost beyond the requirement as the granaries of Food Corporation of India are overflowing.
The Department of Food and Public Distribution has requested the Ministry of External Affairs to explore the possibility of export of wheat and rice from the surplus stock available with FCI, through G2G (government-to-government) basis in the form of humanitarian aid to deserving countries, The Indian Express reported.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had made similar requests to the MEA twice in the last two years. Over the years, procurement of wheat and rice in the central pool has increased, leading to the accumulation of surplus stock with FCI.  The situation in contrast with the World Hunger Index figures, which ranked India 102. The index placed India in the ‘serious’ category with children having “low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.”
As per stocking norms, the total requirement of food grain in the central pool as of July 1 was 411.20 lakh tonnes, and as of October 1 307.70 lakh tonnes. However, as of September 1, the stock available in the central pool was 669.15 lakh tonnes (254.25 lakh tonnes of rice and 414.90 lakh tonnes of wheat).
“The present procurement and lifting pattern of wheat and rice indicate that in the near future, FCI may have to carry huge and undisposed stocks, leading to not only blockage of borrowed funds but difficulty in accommodating new crop of wheat and rice due to occupation of space by the old stocks,” a note prepared by the Department of Food & Public Distribution stated.
“Therefore, for it would be in our interest to liquidate at least a part of the surplus stock of wheat and rice available with the FCI by offering the same as humanitarian aid to deserving foreign countries,” it further stated.

Phone Uthao, India Ko Padhao’ Initiative: What If You Could Just ‘Take A Call’ And Educate India?

Description: Free food





Free-Food Canteen With An Adjacent Organic Farm Opens In Kerala, State Finance Minister Serves Food On The First Day

Description: progress, it is believed comes when collective action is taken by the people. Many of us in a way want to do something to give back to the nation, to contribute in modest ways. But more often than not, we do not know what to do or where to begin. In such a scenario, what if someone told you that you can now do a lot just by taking a phone call and only for 10 minutes a week.
Nihar Shanti Amla in its nationally launched ‘Phone Uthao India Ko Padhao’ program aims to connect the educated urban adults to the underprivileged children through just a phone call- to teach them basic spoken English. The #PhoneUthaoIndiaKoPadhao or ‘Take a call’ campaign gives the under-resourced and underprivileged children the opportunity to talk to urban volunteers who speak fluent English in their day to day lives. 
“Phone Uthao India Ko Padhao” was born under the ‘Paathshala Funwala’ umbrella, a parent project of the brand when they realised that while the kids could learn English through their free of cost, IVR based modules, they couldn’t imbibe it comprehensively because they lacked an ecosystem where they could actually practise the language. But the question always remains, ‘Why English?’
Nihar Shanti Amla believes that English is widely considered to be a marker of progress and in most places, it also enhances employability. However knowing English and speaking the language are two very different things. They also believe that education is the core foundation of growth. In order to impart quality learning through a medium that connects well with children, they have been running multiple programmes under the ‘Paathshala Funwala’ that started five years ago and taught spoken English to kids in a fun manner free of cost. Over the past few years, ‘Paathshala Funwala’ has led massive rural outreach programmes that have positively impacted more than 7500 villages with call volumes nearing 8.5 lakh from 3 lakh unique children in these villages in the past 1 year.
Besides, Nihar Shanti Amla, as a progressive brand also works with Educate Girls (EG), an NGO which provides quality education for all underserved and marginalized girls by mobilizing public, private and community resources thus improving access to education, school quality and achieving behavioural, social and economic transformation for all girls in India’s gender gap districts thereby creating an India where all children have equal opportunities to access quality education. In the past year, the program has impacted over two lakh beneficiaries in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh and in Udaipur, Rajasthan.
The Logical Indian believes that the #PhoneUthaoIndiaKoPadhao initiative has given the power to every single individual to simply pick up a phone and change the face of education in India from their place of comfort. It is a simple, thoughtful and yet a very powerful endeavour carried out by the brand.
This International Literacy Day, all it takes is 10 minutes to make a difference to a child’s life. You can register as a volunteer and be a part of this movement.  

Dominicans eat 50,000 tons of rice monthly; demand met

Santo Domingo.- Dominicans consume about 50,000 tons of rice each month, or 33,333 quintals per day, according to National Rice Producers Federation (Fenarroz) president Mauricio María.
Although the drought impacted more than 3,000 hectares of rice fields in the Northwest, the production that is currently available is enough to meet the demand of consumers across the country.
“There is no fear in supplying the demand of the Dominicans. We have a projection that we don’t have to import rice, we have enough rice. Right now we have four million quintals stored ready to go to market,” the producer told Diario Libre.
According to the Agriculture Ministry, between January and August rice production reached 8,528,734 quintals. The institution also reported that the area harvested in the same period was 111,000 hectares.

9 Surprising Benefits of Rice Bran Oil

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Rice bran oil is extracted from rice bran, the outer layer of the rice grain.
It’s commonly used as a cooking oil in many Asian countries, including Japan, India, and China.
As a byproduct of rice milling, rice bran is usually used as animal feed or discarded as waste. Yet, it has recently gained attention for its potential health benefits as an oil.
Here are 9 impressive benefits of rice bran oil.
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1. Contains beneficial nutrients

Rice bran oil provides healthy fats and a variety of other nutrients.
One tablespoon (14 ml) packs 120 calories and 14 grams of fat (1).
Similarly to other nontropical vegetable oils like canola and olive oil, rice bran oil contains higher proportions of heart-healthy unsaturated fat than saturated fat.
It also boasts 29% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin involved in immune function and blood vessel health (12).
Other compounds in rice bran oil, such as tocotrienols, oryzanol, and plant sterols, have been studied for their health benefits (3Trusted Source).
Rice bran oil is a good source of unsaturated fats, vitamin E, and other important nutrients.

2. May support healthy blood sugar levels

Rice bran oil may support healthy blood sugar levels by improving insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes (4Trusted Source).
Insulin lowers blood sugar by transporting sugar into your cells. Yet, if you develop insulin resistance, your body stops responding to this hormone.
In a test-tube study in mouse cells, rice bran oil reduced insulin resistance by neutralizing free radicals, which are unstable molecules that may lead to oxidative stress (5Trusted Source).
In a 17-day study in mice with type 2 diabetes, rice bran oil significantly lowered blood sugar levels by increasing insulin levels, compared with the control group (6Trusted Source).
A human study found similar results. The morning after 19 healthy men ate a single meal containing 3.7 grams of rice bran mixed in oil, their blood sugar levels dropped 15%, compared with those who didn’t eat this ingredient (7Trusted Source).
Yet, no changes in insulin levels occurred, suggesting that rice bran oil may even support healthy blood sugar levels without affecting insulin (8Trusted Source).
As such, more research is needed.
Rice bran oil may help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance, though more human studies are necessary.

3. May promote heart health

Rice bran oil may promote heart health (9Trusted Source).
In fact, the Japanese government recognizes this oil as a health food because of its cholesterol-lowering effects (3Trusted Source).
Early studies in mice show that rice bran oil significantly lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol while boosting HDL (good) cholesterol (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source).
Human studies likewise note that this oil reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol (12Trusted Source).
A review of 11 randomized, controlled trials in 344 people linked rice bran oil intake to significantly lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels — an average drop of 6.91 mg/dL. Just a 1 mg/dL decrease in LDL can reduce heart disease risk by 1–2% (13Trusted Source).
Eight of the studies involved people with hyperlipidemia, or high concentrations of fat in the blood, while the remaining ones monitored people without this condition.
In a 4-week study in people with hyperlipidemia, following a low-calorie diet with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of rice bran oil per day led to significantly decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as reductions in other heart disease risk factors, such as body weight and hip circumference (14Trusted Source).
Researchers attributed the improvements in cholesterol levels to the oil’s plant sterols, which prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol.
Rice bran oil may reduce heart disease risk by improving cholesterol levels.

4. Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects

Several compounds in rice bran oil have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
One of these compounds is oryzanol, which has been shown to suppress several enzymes that promote inflammation (15Trusted Source).
In particular, it may target inflammation in your blood vessels and heart membrane. If untreated, this inflammation can trigger atherosclerosis — the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart disease (16Trusted Source).
Furthermore, test-tube studies in mouse cells reveal that other active compounds called tocotrienols inhibit inflammation (17Trusted Source).
In a 4-week study, 59 people with hyperlipidemia took either 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of rice bran oil or soybean oil. Compared with soybean oil, rice bran oil significantly increased people’s antioxidant capacity, which may help combat oxidative stress (18Trusted Source).
Several active compounds in rice bran oil, including oryzanol and tocotrienols, may provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

5. May have anticancer effects

Tocotrienols, a group of antioxidants in rice bran oil, may have anticancer effects.
Test-tube and animal studies indicate that tocotrienols suppress the growth of various cancer cells, including those of the breast, lung, ovary, liver, brain, and pancreas (19Trusted Source20Trusted Source).
In one test-tube study, tocotrienols from rice bran oil seemed to protect human and animal cells exposed to ionizing radiation, high levels of which may cause harmful effects like cancer (21Trusted Source).
Additional test-tube studies reveal that tocotrienols have strong anticancer effects when combined with other anticancer drugs or chemotherapy (22Trusted Source).
However, it’s controversial to supplement with antioxidants, such as tocotrienols, during chemotherapy. That’s because research is mixed on whether doing so boosts or impairs treatment (23)Trusted Source.
Thus, more studies are necessary. Keep in mind that rice bran oil should not be considered a treatment for cancer.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that compounds in rice bran oil may safeguard against cancer, but further research is needed.

6–8: Other promising benefits

Rice bran oil has several other emerging benefits.

6. May fight bad breath

Oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves swishing oil around in your mouth like mouthwash to improve oral health.
One study in 30 pregnant women found that oil pulling with rice bran oil reduced bad breath (24Trusted Source).
Researchers speculate that the oil’s rich antioxidant content may be responsible.

7. May enhance immune health

Rice bran oil may improve your immune response, which is your body’s first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing organisms.
For example, a test-tube study in mouse cells revealed that an oryzanol-rich extract from rice bran oil enhanced immune response (25Trusted Source).
However, it’s unclear whether this effect occurs in humans (26Trusted Source).

8. May boost skin health

The antioxidants in rice bran oil may support skin health.
In a 28-day study, people experienced improvements in forearm skin thickness, roughness, and elasticity after using a gel and cream containing rice bran extract twice daily (27Trusted Source).
Despite a lack of research, several moisturizers and other products marketed to those in search of younger-looking skin contain rice bran oil.
Studies indicate that rice bran oil may combat bad breath, enhance your immune system, and promote skin health. Still, more research is necessary.

9. Easy to add to your diet

Rice bran oil is quite versatile.
Unlike olive and canola oils, it’s ideal for frying and baking because its subtle taste won’t overpower a dish. It has a nutty, earthy flavor similar to that of peanut oil.
Its high smoke point means that it’s suitable for high-temperature cooking. Moreover, its beneficial compounds, such as oryzanol and tocotrienols, are well preserved when cooked (28Trusted Source).
Although few products specify production methods, rice bran oil processed using solvent extraction rather than cold pressing may boast more beneficial compounds (29Trusted Source).
You can use the oil for stir-fries, soups, dressings, and vinaigrettes. It’s also easy to add to hot cereals like oatmeal (30Trusted Source).
For a unique twist, you can blend rice bran oil with other oils, such as olive or canola oils (31Trusted Source).
Rice bran oil is versatile and easy to add to your diet. Its high smoke point and mild flavor make it ideal for stir-fries, soups, dressings, and vinaigrettes.

The bottom line

Rice bran oil is produced from rice bran, the outer layer of a rice kernel.
It’s rising in popularity due to its potential health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control and heart health. What’s more, it offers several antioxidants and may provide anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.
You can find rice bran oil in your local grocery store or online.

Paddy price stays low as aman harvest beckons

12:00 AM, October 15, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 15, 2019


Rice is grown on 70 percent of the total crop area of 1.54 crore hectares in Bangladesh. Photo: Star/file
Paddy prices are refusing to pick up, much to the anxiety of farmers who are set to kick off aman paddy harvesting next month.
In September, the prices of coarse and medium grains fell further from August as the market saw ample supply of the staple resulting from back-to-back good yields, including the principal rice crop boro harvested in the April-May period.
Last month, consumers could buy one kilogramme of coarse rice at Tk 32 in Dhaka, down from Tk 32.75 in August, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization, a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
Data from the UN agency also showed that residents in the city could buy medium-quality grain at lesser prices in September than they could in August.
And since the beginning of October, the prices of coarse grain declined in kitchen markets of Dhaka city, according to data from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
“There is no chance for the prices to go up as harvesting of new crop is just in front of us,” said Abul Kalam, a farmer in the northwest district of Rangpur.
Instead, the prices may decline for the arrival of the new crop.
“It seems nothing but losses are left for us,” said the 65-year-old grower, who planted fine variety of paddy so that he can get better prices by selling the surplus in the market.
Rice is the staple crop in Bangladesh and is grown on 70 percent of the total cropped area of 1.54 crore hectares.
As many as 77 percent of the marginal and small famers depend on rice for food security and their livelihoods, according to the Bangladesh Integrated Household Survey 2015.
Prices of the cereal started to decline in the middle of aman harvest in 2018 and the downturn continued even though imports dropped after the government hiked import tariffs, according to data from the food ministry.
On September 10, the stock of rice in public silos was 13.46 lakh tonnes.
The distribution of rice by the government social safety schemes also put a damper on the rice market, Kalam said.
“Traders are not interested to buy,” he told The Daily Star over telephone yesterday.
One maund of coarse variety paddy was Tk 550-Tk 570 in his locality, according to Kalam. The price was much below the government’s previous estimate of production cost.
There is almost no demand in the market because of distribution of rice by the government, said Chitta Majumder, managing director of Majumder Group of Industries, which owns several rice mills.
“We had expected that the market would be vibrant after Eid-ul-Azha in August and bought the fine-variety paddy. But, the prices fell below the rates we had paid.”
He said his firm and some millers tried to export rice but they could not as the prices they quoted were higher than what Indian exporters were offering.
“The current trend does not give confidence that the prices will remain unchanged. Rather, the prices will drop after the arrival of new aman crop,” he said, adding that the prices of coarse paddy might decline to as low as Tk 500 per maund.
Bestowed by monsoon rain, aman crop accounts for 38 percent of the annual rice output.
In the current season farmers planted paddy on 58.94 lakh hectares, which is much higher than the previous season.
Aman harvests look set to be bountiful, said Md Tareq Anam, national sales manager of Rashid Agro Food Products, one of the main rice millers.
“We expect a bumper crop if there is no natural disaster or bad weather,” said KM Layek Ali, general secretary of the Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mills Association.
If so, there will be 8-10 lakh tonnes of surplus, he said, while demanding cash incentive from the government to export rice.
“The government should buy more paddy from growers in the coming aman paddy harvesting season to prevent prices from falling,” said Nirod Boron Saha, president of the Naogaon Dhan O Chal Arathdar Babshayee Samity, an association of rice wholesalers and commission agents in the northwest district.
The rice milling charge should also be increased, he added.
Contacted, Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum, director general of the Directorate General of Food (DG Food), said her office has placed a proposal to buy aman grains equivalent to 7 lakh tonnes of rice this year with the Food Planning and Monitoring Committee (FPMC), a cabinet-level committee headed by the food minister.
The purchase plan is one lakh tonnes less than last year’s procurement during the aman season. The reason being the rice stock in public silos is high.
“Since we did not face any natural calamity during boro, we have procured full amount of our boro target this year. As a result, we have good stock now,” Khanum said.
Besides, the DG Food does not have any dedicated silo for paddy right now and paddy is more susceptible to insect infestation than rice.
The FPMC will decide on the amount of paddy and rice to be purchased in the coming aman harvesting season and at what prices at its meeting by the end of October, she said. 

Adani Wilmar forays into ready-to-cook food segment

The ready-to-cook segment in India has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 15-20% for the last several years, and is projected to maintain similar growth or achieve even higher growth in the coming years.

By Sutanuka Ghosal, ET Bureau | Oct 15, 2019, 06.17 PM IST
KOLKATA: Adani Wilmar, which markets a wide range of edible oils, pulses, and other consumer essentials under Fortune brand name, entered the ready-to-cook segment with the launch of Bengali Khichdi in Kolkata on Monday.

“Today marks our entry into the fast-growing ready-to-cook category. West Bengal is an important market for us, which is why we have chosen to launch Fortune Khichdi from here. We are confident that people of Kolkata and West Bengal will love our latest offering,” said Mr Ajay Motwani, head, marketing, Adani Wilmar.

To ensure the authentic taste of traditional Bengali khichdi, the recipe of Fortune Bengali bhog khichuri was developed by closely working with grandmothers who have been cooking the dish for many years.

“By ensuring the right mix of authentic ingredients such as rice and pulses, we have made sure that the Fortune Khichdi is very nutritious. It contains local rice- basmati rice for the Punjabi variant, Gobindo bhog for the Bengali variant, and jeerasar rice for the Gujarati variant, hence it also tastes very good, which is not the case with most available healthy food options. Also, it contains superfoods like ragi, flax, sesame, jowar, bajra, so it is superior to regular khichdi made at home. It is ideal for people looking for healthy and, at the same time, tasty food,” said Motwani.The Fortune Khichdi will also be available in two more flavours – Gujarati and Punjabi.

The ready-to-cook segment in India has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 15-20% for the last several years, and is projected to maintain similar growth or achieve even higher growth in the coming years.

An increase in the number of working women and their busy schedules is one of the main reasons for the growth of this segment. The presence of large retail chains and online channels is also contributing to increasing the demand for such products.

Scientists, entrepreneurs refute minister’s claim on food security

By Femi Ibirogba, Head, Agro-Economy
16 October 2019   |   3:40 am
Dried tubers of yam for yam flour PHOTO: Ayodele Adeniran

• Advocate shift to local foods, more investments in the sector
• Say research, technologies inevitable in agribusinesses

As Nigeria joins the world to celebrate Food Day today, scientists, farmers and entrepreneurs have refuted the Federal Government’s position that Nigeria is food-secure.
Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture, claimed while speaking to journalists on Monday that Nigerians are not hungry because food is abundant and cheap, but experts say data available in all major food crops prove that the country is food-insecure. Some scientists and farmers also called on Nigerians to adjust their taste to locally produced foods to deepen demand and encourage investments in the sector.
The Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Prof Kolawole Felix Salako urged Nigerians to develop taste for local foods.He said, “Food should be part of culture. Therefore, it is trite to admonish Nigerians to developed taste for Nigerian food. In any case, while some food types, like rice, may be seen as universal, food preferences differ from one cultural group to the other.
“Having said this, what we must tell our people is to promote cultural values related to local food types. Many of our local but cheap food items, e.g. vegetables, fruits, etc.  nourish us and make us healthy when taken as balanced diets.”
Prof. Bamidele Omitoyin, a former Dean of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Ibadan, said Nigeria is far from being food-secure from indices available on various commodities in Nigeria despite the abundant resources. Omitoyin said, “That is not correct. What are the indices? Data from all sub-sectors show that we are not sufficient.
“Over 160 million Africans are malnourished and Nigeria accounts for over 40 per cent. Daily, millions of people beg for food in Nigeria. We have the potential to produce enough food but it has not translated to realities.”He advocated massive investment in rural development to open up communities for modern farming, saying innovations through research and investments could break barriers and make Nigeria food-secure.
Omitoyin, an aquaculture specialist, said volume of fish produced in Nigeria has reduced from over 300,000 metric tonnes to about 296,000 tonnes between 2016 and now. Executive Director of the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, also admitted that Nigeria has not reached a point where it can claim food security.
“We have not reached the food security point, though this administration has been trying to rev up food production,” Olaniyan said.Executive Secretary of Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria (POFON), Mr Fatai Afolabi, although the country lacks credible statistics, evidences abound that Nigeria has made incredible and remarkable leap towards achieving self-sufficiency in food production.
“However,” he admitted, the value chains for the popular staples and industrial crops remain poorly developed. It is, therefore, ironical that despite the gains being recorded, Nigeria remains miles away from attaining food security. Our food supply matrix of quantity, wholesomeness and price provides a deplorable testimonial of our food security situation.”
He too advocated that Nigerians should embrace made-in-Nigeria foods, including rice.“Over the years, Nigerians have developed taste and patronage for imported foods, but we need a paradigm shift to address the food security problem of the country. “First will be to respect the preferences and the choices of the people and not force them to eat expensive and poor-quality food. “Then a renewed approach towards food security will be to encourage and mobilise the new generation food supply chain actors to leverage on technologies and innovations to deliver premium quality and cheap food to the populace,” he suggested.

Weighing the environmental impacts of a byproduct of biofuel combustion: plant skeletons

Tiny phytoliths provide strength and structure to plants, but School of Arts and Sciences researchers also want to know if they pose a health or environmental risk when burned.

Scanning electron microscope images of Miscanthus reveal strings of two-lobed phytoliths, each one just 18 micrometers in length. (Image: Ruggero Vigliaturo)
As a renewable resource, biomass presents an appealing alternative to fossil fuels for energy production. Burning plants, however, is not a completely clean process; it produces emissions that vary depending on the species used, the combustion conditions, and the air pollution controls.
To understand one component of these emissions, an international, multidisciplinary team led by University of Pennsylvania mineralogists used highly sensitive microscopy to study phytoliths, small deposits of minerals containing silicon or calcium present in certain plants. These chemical elements are absorbed from the soil along with other nutrients. The phytoliths lend plants strength and structure and are common in some plant families commonly used for biofuel, such as grasses. 
Reporting in Industrial Crops & Products, the researchers found that phytoliths remain after plants are burned in a biofuel combustion facility but in particle sizes large enough that they likely don’t pose a health risk. But because phytoliths can reduce the efficiency of energy conversion, power plants must factor them into their operations, the team notes. On the other hand, the phytolith-containing ash resulting from combustion could be sold for use in cement production or as fertilizer.
“This is an interesting topic because biomass burning can have a lot of benefits but also some unintended consequences,” says Reto Gieré, an environmental scientist at Penn and senior author on the study. “We need to think of such consequences when we want to apply these methods at a large scale.”
Chinese silver grass, Miscanthus sinensis, is a common source of biomass, burned to produce electricity or heat in power plants. Each piece is roughly 2-3 centimeters in length. (Image: Reto Gieré)
Known as the skeleton of plants, phytoliths are mostly studied in the field of archaeology; preserved phytoliths from ancient plants tell paleobotanists about prehistoric ecosystems and agricultural crops. But these residues are now proving interesting to engineers, geologists, and chemists who study the role of phytoliths during biomass combustion and their potential environmental impacts. 
Gieré and Ruggero Vigliaturo, a postdoctoral researcher in Gieré’s lab with expertise in electron microscopy who is the first author on the study, collaborated with engineers, chemists, and environmental scientists in France, Germany, and the United States to closely examine the phytoliths present in a fast-growing plant species commonly used in biofuel operations: Miscanthus sinensis, or Chinese silver grass. 
The scientists extracted phytoliths from dried-grass samples and from the material collected in a biomass power plant’s cyclone, an air pollution control device. Using both optical and scanning electron microscopy, the researchers observed phytoliths in the raw material as well as in the fly ash collected from the power plant’s cyclone. Fluorescence optical microscopy was particularly well suited to distinguish the structure of the phytoliths, they found. 
Chemical analyses revealed that the Miscanthus phytoliths were composed primarily of silica, which, when inhaled, has been linked to respiratory problems. 
“However, the phytoliths themselves are actually fairly large,” says Gieré, “and too big to go deep into our lungs.”
Because phytoliths themselves do not combust in power plants, they reduce the overall efficiency of the operations and could clog the flue-gas ducts with particulate matter, the researchers note. 
Yet phytoliths aren’t all bad. They provide needed minerals to plants, and thus the ash leftover from biomass burning can be used as fertilizer. And just as coal ash is used as a binder in cement production, the phytolith-containing ash could also find a second application in that industry, which is notorious for its contribution to global carbon emissions. The use of biomass ash would lower the carbon footprint of cement production.
A technique known as X-ray mapping helped researchers identify the distribution of elements, such as silicon (Si) and oxygen (O) in the phytoliths. (Image: Ruggero Vigliaturo)
In addition, Miscanthus sinensis appears to take up remarkable amounts of zinc and cadmium as it grows, the researchers found. If planted on land contaminated with these metals, the crop could remediate the land. 
“Then we could harvest the crop, burn it for energy, and if we find the right mechanism, recover the zinc and the cadmium from the ash, which then can be used as secondary raw material in the cement industry,” Gieré says. 
As a next step, the researchers are hoping to use transmission electron microscopy to get even finer-scale data on the composition and structure of phytoliths in a given sample of ash, information that could help biomass power plants tailor their air pollution control devices and fuel input accordingly.
And because every plant species has a different phytolith profile, each one must be studied independently. The researchers are embarking on a study of rice phytoliths, as the rice stalks left after harvesting could be a valuable source of biofuel.
“Most rice straw is currently burned in the field,” says Gieré. “Controlled combustion of rice straw, however, is a potential use for what is now a waste product. It would also eliminate a huge problem in Southeast Asia because the hazes from the uncontrolled rice field fires result in tremendous pollution that has a major impact on millions of people.”
Vigliaturo and Gieré’s coauthors on the study were Damaris Kehrli, Gwenaëlle Trouvé, Patxi Garra, and Alain Dieterlen of the Université de Haute-Alsace; Volker Dietze of the German Meteorological Service; and Jonathan P. Wilson of Haverford College.
The study was supported in part by the European Union’s Interreg IV Program (Project C35) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Grant P30-ES13508).

Experts: VN should improve rice quality in long-term strategy

Asia News Network | Publication date 15 October 2019 | 21:55 ICT

Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Sacks of rice are loaded for export in Vietnam. VNECONOMY.VN/VNS
Experts believe Vietnam needs a long-term strategy to increase the quality of its rice exports to create sustainable growth in the future.
To meet the changing demands of export markets, VinaFoods 1 Corporation director-general Bui Thi Thanh Tam said firms should invest in domestic production to increase the quality of rice.
To do that, the agriculture sector needed support from relevant ministries.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) focuses on developing markets and negotiating free trade agreements to create favourable conditions for rice exports. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is in charge of production, including improving rice quality.
Local authorities needed to guide and encourage farmers to produce organic rice so that Vietnam could offer clean materials to meet market demands. Businesses also needed to ensure the quality of the rice they were exporting. If those parts were linked, it would ensure the sustainable growth of rice exports, Tam said.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said the global rice market was at present about 36-40 million tonnes per year. Of this figure, Vietnam exported seven million tonnes of rice per year, but had failed to reach high export value due to its passive approach.
In the long-term strategy, the agriculture sector should look at reducing the total area of rice plantations to a level that ensured food security and partial exports.
Cuong said the domestic market needed to ensure supplies and the quality of rice and packaging. Regarding export markets, Vietnam should promote and expand markets, for examples, in Africa and the Middle East, as well as regional markets such as Indonesia and the Philippines.
New markets
Cuong said this year the winter-spring rice crop in the Mekong Delta had yielded up to 14 million tonnes. Despite a significant drop in exports to China, Vietnam had still gained growth in export volume.
“The government plans to put 200,000 tonnes of rice in reserve to maintain rice prices and develop the market. Vietnamese enterprises have expanded into the US market,” Cuong told the Kinh Te Nong Thon (Rural Economy) newspaper.
Vietnam’s major competitor, Thailand, was facing a severe drought, affecting the country’s rice production. Singapore, which regularly imported 30-40 per cent of its rice from Thailand, was considering a strategy to diversify imports from other sources, according to the MARD.
Opportunities to export rice to Singapore would arise for many other countries, especially Vietnam and Cambodia.
In addition, Japan, which regularly imported 50 per cent of its rice demand from the US, was also considering switching to importing rice from CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) members, including Vietnam.
The MARD said the rice export volume in the first nine months was estimated at 5.2 million tonnes, earning $2.24 billion, up 5.9 per cent in volume but down 9.8 per cent in value compared to the same period last year.
Of which, rice exports last month were estimated at 586,000 tonnes, earning $251 million.
Tran Thanh Hai, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Import and Export Department, said China had been Vietnam’s largest rice export market for many years, but this year exports had fallen by 65 per cent.
Last year, China tightened controls for rice from Vietnam including quality control and traceability. It has also set an import quota of about five million tonnes of rice this year, but in fact, it is only likely to import about 3.3 million tonnes.
Tam said China had adopted a plant quarantine policy. This had forced local firms to promote rice exports in other markets. For example, exports to the Philippines had doubled or even tripled against previous years. The Iraqi market had also imported up to 400,000 tonnes of Vietnamese rice.
Despite these difficulties, Tam said Vietnam would still reach its target of exporting more than 6.5 million tonnes of rice this year.
Bottom of Form
Shutting borders to save local rice

Description: Shutting borders to save local rice

As the days when bags of rice practically walk in from the country’s borders with the connivance of the Customs seems to be over for good, JULIANA AGBO, writes on how the shut borders can become the catalyst for local production

BEFORE the discovery of crude oil, agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy.
It accounted for 50 per cent of the nation’s Gross Development Product (GDP), and more than 75 per cent of her export earnings, Nigeria was a major producer of Cocoa and other cash crops such as groundnut, sesame, palm oil, and rubber.
All through the first decade of her nationhood, Nigeria could feed herself, but by the 70s, Nigeria began to move down the slope from self-sufficiency in basic foodstuffs to becoming import-dependent.
On average, Nigeria spends an average of US $22 billion (?7.92trn) each year on food imports. Its major food imports include wheat, sugar and fish.
Another big import, rice, accounts for about US$1.65 billion, or ?0.59trn. Most of the country’s rice is imported from Thailand and India.
Prior to now, rice was one of the country’s most imported cereals. This has led experts to predict Nigeria will be the world’s second-largest importer of rice after China in 2019.
In theory, Nigeria has the capacity to grow most or even all of its rice. There are 82 million hectares of arable land across the country; five million hectares are suitable for growing rice, but only about 3.2 million hectares are being used for growing rice. Collectively, these produce 3.7 metric tons per year and that rice meets about 50% of domestic rice demand.
Following the concern raised by President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders concerning the importation of rice into the country, on August 2019, the joint security operatives led by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria, as well as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), launched an intelligence-gathering operation by conducting a joint border security exercise, code-named “EX-SWIFT RESPONSE”.
The Comptroller General of NCS, Colonel Hameed Ali (retd), in response to the concerns raised over the closure of the border, said the borders will remain closed to stop the conduit of illicit drugs and the proliferation of small arms.
The Nation gathered that a bag of local rice now sells for N18, 000 and N24, 000 at the market following the border closure. The foreign rice sells for N25, 000.
Taking advantage of border closure
The National Coordinator, Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS), Mr Retson Tedheke, told The Nation during a team visit to the integrated farm in Gaate Village, Kokona Local Government Area of Nasarawa State that more borders need to be closed, from Benin to Cameroon and from Niger to Chad, for Nigeria to grow.
Tedheke said the ban on importation of rice is a catalyst capable of triggering a massive industrial revolution that is driven by agriculture and sustained by rice.
He said the country must get to that point where the border must be closed against the importation of rice, maize, and petroleum products heading out of the country.
The National Coordinator who explained that when he left the Niger-Delta for Abuja, he had no idea he was going to become a large scale farmer, said, in 2017, he, along with several others, and an entire community, formed a cooperative that enables them to work a huge chunk of land simply by putting their heads together.
He said the farm, which seeks to expand its operations is leveraging on the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Credit Risk Guarantee (CRG).
He added that the integrated farm is into rice production, oil processing, ranching, poultry farming and milk production that has over 10,000 members across the country with over 300 local employees during the farming season and over 500 at harvest time.
“We are also building a mini health care centre that can take care of about 300 to 500 people”, he said.
Production capacity
On the current production capacity, the Farm Manager, NFGCS, Peter Ogbeide said the farm cultivates about 150 hectares for the rice farm which they are hoping to increase by 2020.
Furthermore, Mr Tedheke said with the successful completion of the rice mill, the integrated farm is producing about a thousand bags in a month.
According to him, “By November 2019 the group’s output will be up to 25,000 bags, and 100,000 bags within the first quarter of 2020.
He said: “95 per cent of Nigerians eat rice every day. Look at what customs has done in the last couple of days, even if the Nigerian farmers are not benefiting and custom is bringing in revenue of N10 billion every day, do you know what that means? It means that every 10 days customs can be putting about 300 billion Naira on the table and every month, customs can be putting trillions of Naira on the ground and that will generate a lot for the country yearly.
“We are going to be a cooperative company that will be able to deliver 50,000 bags of rice into the Nigerian market every month. With the kind of training our staff has, they have no issues in computing their farm activities.

Why border closure policy is necessary
The Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kia Kia Bits Limited, Mr Olajide Abiola, noted that Nigeria for long has been a dumping ground for imported products, especially through neighbouring countries, adding that the country loses a lot of revenue in the form of taxes and import duties.
According to him, “Most of these duties are paid to the customs and as revenue through the ports of entry of the country which they came, and secondly, it also discourages local production and investments, because smugglers do not pay anything in bringing these things into the country, they have a natural competitive advantage over indigenous farmers and indigenous producers of these commodities that we have local capacity to actually produce and also significantly drive down the price through economy of scales.”
Abiola who said the border closure would help stimulate local production and empower Nigerian farmers in many ways said Kia-Kia Bits as a licensed lender empowered to lend would leverage on it to empower more farmers.
However, the farm manager, NFGCS, Peter Ogbeide while explaining that the border closure would leave most Nigerians with no choice than to go into rice farming, said the country might not have the quantity of rice to satisfy local demand immediately, but it will be an eye-opener for Nigerians to venture into rice business.
“So even if you are a rice farmer, and you cannot process, you can give it out to who can process it because is a value chain”, he said.

 Why Nigerians should boost local production capacity
On boosting local production capacity, Tedheke said the production of local rice needs more attention as it has no difference with foreign rice.
He said: “Local rice is more nutritious, safer and more body friendly. But, Nigerians are in love with foreign contents, Even when things come from one of the poorest countries in the world, they respect it, we need to understand as a people that our insatiable demand for foreign content is one of the reasons why unemployment is so high in this country. Our demand is the reason our people are suffering, and that is why people are not farming locally.’’
He continued: ” Now, we are importing Garri from Togo, We are a nation that always expects a miracle from things we can do because of religion. Americans love Nigerians because we always import things from them, all we do is to eat without developing the place that can get us food.
“The Lebanese are the ones coming to develop our agriculture for us, they take our raw materials, take ginger to China, refine it and bring it back for us to take as ginger tea, they also take our yam, process it and return it to us as Poundo yam. So what we have done is that our eating culture is now being monetized by the Chinese. The mistake we made in crude oil when Nigeria produced about two million barrels of crude a day, is the mistake that is already taking place in agriculture.‘’
He said the Chinese and Japanese are already here to take over our agriculture. Adding that if we are not careful and think about Nigeria first, we are going to get that point that the Chinese will come here and become our landlords and the next thing we will do is to begin to rant on social media which won’t take us anywhere.
‘’Every Nigerian must understand that change begins with him or her first and that the nation that prays, fails, and a nation that farms, succeed.
“Every single kobo that has been invested in this project has come from crowdfunding and loans from organizations like Kia Kia. The federal, state and local government have not contributed or supported this project financially. But the federal government has provided us with machines at subsidised rates. So, the federal government warehouse in Keffi has been open to this cooperative”, he averred.

The need for the government’s  investment  in rice farming
Tedheke further reiterated the need for the government to deploy resources to boost production capacity in the country.
According to him, “If Nigeria can cultivate 30 million hectares of rice, in a year, and with average five tons per hectare, we will have 30 million hectares multiplied by five, you have 150 million tons of paddy rice, if you such amount and discount those at about 50 per cent, you are going to be having 75 million tons of rice, the point is that we have the capacity of being food sufficient.
“I don’t think the whole of Nigeria has up to 200 thousand tractors, so we need to invest heavily in the deployment of machinery across the country for all of the rice beds for people to be interested in farming’’.
However, Mr Ogbeide also decried that research institutes are not doing enough to support agricultural growth in the nation.
“If you look at countries that are doing well is because their research institutes are doing well in producing hybrids seedlings that can give a good yield.
“Closing of the border is a good thing for Nigeria, is for a while, is because we are new to it that people are concerned, we will be pushed to improve because when we have so much demand, we have to push and increase our capacity of producing rice, between 2015 to now, rice production has increased, why is it that local farmers are crying, is because of importation, the cost of production of local rice caused the high cost of rice in the market. If farmers are provided with the amenities to produce rice, we will not be facing these challenges now.
“In China, 90% of what they need for their production, the government provides it for them, even if they need to get a loan for the implement, the government does that, but ours is different here in Nigeria,” he said.
On the challenges militating against rice production in the country, Mr Tedheke noted that the country must also fight against the external forces that are militating against its local farmers and producers, said there should be a synergy between the state, local and the federal government when it comes to harmonising relationships, the differences and the area of challenges that are being faced across these levels of government.
While reiterating the need for investments in machineries, infrastructure, agro-processing, research, and in every sector of the economy that is capable of supporting a massive revolution in agriculture, he said: “We have made progress but we are not there yet, we have the potential and the capacity to become food sufficient within the next decade. 84 million arable hectares of farmland is no joke. If you utilise 50 per cent of these arable farmlands, you will provide enough for your people, then you begin to preach free trade, why, because if as we speak, Nigeria is producing 10 tons of finished rice every month, then we will now begin to embrace free trade in rice, we will now say, when it comes to the rice industry Nigeria wants to become a liberal economy.”

Inflation surges after war against food smuggling

THE inflation rate went up to 11.2 per cent in September after falling to a 3 1/2-year low in the preceding month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.
The NBS blamed this on increase in food prices. Food prices went up after the partial closure of the country’s borders with the Benin Republic to curb rice smuggling.
Food-price growth accelerated for the first time in four months rising 1.3 per cent from August. The borders were closed in late August.
The President Muhammadu Buhari administration further tighten the screws on Monday by banning trade across all land borders to force neighbouring Benin and Niger to halt food smuggling into the country.
Food prices rose at the fastest pace in four month in September
“The key factor for prices has been the partial closure of the land border with our neighbors,” said Omotola Abimbola, an analyst with Chapel Hill Denham Securities Ltd. “We have stable fuel and energy prices, and we are in the harvest season. Inflation should be lower.”
With a population barely 5 per cent of Nigeria’s, Benin has turned into the world’s No. 2 exporter of rice while Nigeria is expected to be the biggest buyer of the grain this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“At some point, it has to be Nigeria first — we have to protect our own industries,” Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said on Monday.
The policy has hurt food sellers in the capital, Abuja, who say Nigerians prefer imported food items because they’re more affordable. Prices of imported products such as rice, palm oil and frozen chicken have gone up by more than 50%, they say.
“I can already see this border closing affecting us terribly, especially with December around the corner,” said Grace Auta, 45, who sells goods at a food stand in the bustling Wuse market in Abuja. An increase in wholesale prices forced her to more than double the price of a 50-kilogram (110-pound) bag of rice.
“Already we are seeing drop in sales; we don’t have enough money to take in products as we normally would,” said Auta.

Trade: Customs ban imports and exports via land borders

54 days after the initial partial closure of the Nigerian land borders, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) announced an indefinite total closure of the border to any form of import or export of goods in any category. The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) remains the coordinator of this directive while the NCS and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) implements the directive.
According to them, the aim of the exercise is to achieve 3 key objectives; improve security at Nigeria’s land borders, address trans-border security concerns and strengthen the economy. Furthermore, the customs explained that while all goods (both licit and illicit) have been banned from going through land borders, they could still go through the seaports. Thus, all importers and exporters have been directed to use the seaports across the country.
We recall the custom service closed the nations border in August to tackle smuggling of food & drugs and illegal weapons. The closure was temporarily reversed before yesterday’s directive. According to the official statement from the customs, much success was achieved in curbing smuggling, illegal diversion of petroleum products and arrest of importers of illegal weapons.
The NCS revealed that about 317 suspected smugglers have been arrested while goods (including rice, petrol, vegetable oil, fertilisers etc.) worth N1.4bn have been seized. Relatedly, Niger Republic, one of the destinations for illegal rice imports into Nigeria announced a total ban on the exportation of rice to Nigeria.
We note that the Buhari administration coupled with the current Central Bank regime have adopted policies to boost local industrial development particularly in Agriculture and Food Processing. This has been evident in the CBN’s forex management policies, record interventions in agriculture & food processing and more recently, restriction of imports into the country. We posit that the federal government’s decision to drive local industrial development is worth applauding given the enormous potential of the economy.

China prioritises grain output for next year, to remain reliant on soybean imports

China is to keep the priority of agricultural fertile land for grains production to ensure food security for its citizens with soybean...

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TT producing all the rice it needs makes no sense

Description: Rice farming in Orange Grove, Tacarigua. Local production of goods is still affected by the imports of machinery which are not manufactured in TT.  Rice farming in Orange Grove, Tacarigua. Local production of goods is still affected by the imports of machinery which are not manufactured in TT.
AGRICULTURE Minister Clarence Rambharat said it would make no sense for this country to locally produce all of the rice that is required.
He was contributing to budget debate in the House Monday.
"Agricultural production in this country, and food, is not keeping the imports out. If we had to produce rice in this country to dispel the imports, we would have to level every building in Trinidad, Tobago and down the islands and turn them into lagoons and plant rice. But there is no economic rationale for planting rice and producing rice."
He said the country has good rice farmers whom the Government wants to keep in production. He added, however, the price of local rice as paddy is three time the price of first-grade parboiled rice.
"That is the reality."
He announced the preferred bidder for Carlsen Field mill to talk to Government about a rice parboiling plant and, after several months, and yesterday morning he delivered the letter to Trinidad Parboil Ltd to establish a rice parboil plant in Couva South.
He said every agriculture minister had fallen into the "trap" of reducing the food import bill. Rambharat recalled in his first year the food import bill dropped by $1 billion, but he had very little to do with it, as foreign exchange was tight and weather conditions in the US led to a reduction in grain prices. He said the case for supporting local farmers and farmers markets was the health of consumers.
"The food import bill will always be with us."
Rambharat said the country has been "obsessed" with local rice and the term "food security" had stuck in our language despite the reality of modern trading.
 19 Hrs Ago
 Julien Neaves

RCEF funds not enough to cover farmers’ losses from Rice Tariffication law —NGO

Published October 16, 2019 12:23pm
Updated October 16, 2019 3:26pm
Non-government organization Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF) called on the government to earmark more funds for financial assistance to farmers who are bearing the brunt of the Rice Tariffication Act.
IRDF executive director Arze Glipo on Wednesday said the P10 billion allotted to the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF) is not enough.
“RCEF is not enough to offset the huge losses to farmers estimated at a high of P118 billion and a low of P60 billion,” Glipo said during a roundtable discussion in Quezon City.
Established in 1989, the IRDF was mandated to implement development programs that will contribute to social and economic empowerment of marginalized and vulnerable sectors such as farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, women, and youth.
The Rice Tariffication Law removed the quantitative restrictions on rice imports and imposed a 35% tariff on imports from Southeast Asia. It also mandated the creation of RCEF to help rice farmers in the face of unrestricted flow of imported rice into the country.
The P10-billion RCEF fund includes P5 billion allotted to farm mechanization, and P3 billion to procure seedlings.
The fund intends to ensure that rice imports won’t drown out the agriculture sector and rob farmers of their livelihood.
Should this be divided equally among local farmers, they will only receive a financial assistance of P4,000 each, Glipo noted.
“That’s P4,000. Ang losses ng ating farmer sa isang cropping is umaabot ng mga P25,000 to P30,000,” she said.
“May ibibigay na P15,000 na emergency loan, but that’s only for 100,000 farmers to 150,000 farmers. So where is the justice in this?” she emphasized.
Starting September, the National Food Authority (NFA) started to procure palay from local farmers at P19 per kilogram.
While the NFA’s buying price was set at P20.70, as the NFA Council decided to remove the P3.70 of incentives given to farmers.
The P3.70 incentive covers P3 buffer stocking fee, 20 centavos delivery fee, 20 centavos drying fee, and 30 centavos cooperative incentive fee.
NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal said the incentives were removed due to limited funds.
IRDF’s Glipo said the government must increase the budget for the NFA to procure more palay from local farmers at a higher price, and for the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide additional financial assistance.
“Ang panawagan ngayon, dapat dagdagan ‘yung pondo nila para mabili nila ‘yung mas maraming bilang, volume. Kailangan lakihan ang budget,” she told GMA News Online on the sidelines of the roundtable discussions.
“Nasa P20 dapat minimum ‘yung presyo ng palay, kaya ‘yung nakuha (ng farmers) nung nakaraan na P20, dahil andun din ‘yung NFA bumili ng P20, sinundan ng mga traders ‘yung presyo, doon may mga naitabi sila para sa mga pangangailangan nila, pambayad sa mga pangungutang nila, at meron din silang panggastos,” she added. —VDS, GMA News

Killing almost-dead agri sector

04:03 AM October 16, 2019
Despite being known as an agricultural country, the Philippines is now facing serious drawbacks in the agricultural sector, particularly the rice industry, with the implementation of the rice tariffication law.
The major staple food that Filipino farmers have cultivated from time immemorial and that serves as their main source of income is at risk due to the unimpeded importation of rice in the country. Considering the high cost of rice production and the backwardness of our local processes, the influx of low-priced imported rice places our local farmers in a much more disadvantaged situation.
Aside from the obvious displacement of rice farmers, we see the weakening of the agro-industry that is integrated with the rice production value chain. In the case of rice milling, an important postharvest operation in the rice industry, the Philippine Confederation of Grains Association (PhilConGrains) has lamented the closing of 40 percent of the 10,000 registered rice mills in the country.
This has ripple effects as well on agro-industry processing, such as the production of feeds for poultry and biomass for energy industry. It will cause a heavy impact on the poultry sector and the energy production in the country. Declining rice production will also be detrimental to the 110,000-strong manpower involved in postharvest facilities, and the 320,000 workers in ancillary activities.
The new policy in place will constrict the already dying local agriculture. The stakeholders of the local rice industry will be in peril as the country continues to lose from the flooding of rice imports into the local market. The future becomes bleak for those who want to pursue their livelihood in agriculture.
We call on all stakeholders of the rice industry — the government, industry, academe, and all the other key players — to take a stand and fight for the future of local agriculture. It is imperative that Filipinos come together to defend our rice industry, to secure the country’s food security and self-sufficiency.

Farmers’ advocates launch petition vs Rice Tariffication Law

Oct. 15, 2019 KEN E. CAGULA
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Food security advocates have launched a campaign petition for the repeal of Republic ACT 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).
The rice watch group Bantay Bigas, as well as other farmers’ groups, claim that RA 11203 has had detrimental impact on the rice industry, especially on the local farmers.
Imported rice have flooded local markets following the removal of quantitative restrictions on rice imports. Because of this, small farmers decry the dramatic drop in the prices of their harvested palay.
Farmers’ advocacy group Masipag Mindanao, in partnership with University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao School of Management Student Council and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) launched the said petition during a forum titled “Tarrification, Plantation and Plunder: Forum on Philippine Agriculture Crises” in Davao City on Monday.
“The government has abandoned its mandate to the Filipino farmers,” UMA chairperson Antonio Flores told reporters, in an interview. He noted that the current average farmgate price of palay is now only at Php7 to Php15 per kilo.
Flores added that the Php15,000 government loan assistance that will be given to affected farmers “only shows that RTL is a failure as a program.”
The group plan to bring the petition signing to other regions in Mindanao as well.
Flores said they aim to gather millions of signatures nationwide by the end of this year. The petition will be sent to different government agencies, and lawmakers “to show that the people reject such unjust law.”
On the other hand, another threat to the livelihood of Filipino farmers that Flores pointed out is the aggressive expansion of plantations of banana, pineapple, oil palm, and others crops for export.
He bared that the government plans to convert 1.7 million hectares of the country’s agricultural lands into plantations.
In South Cotabato, considered to be the “Mindanao’s rice granary”, farmers are now affected to the expansion of banana and palm oil plantations in the region, Flores said.
As the World Food Day is to be observed in October 16, the group strongly called for junking of RTL and instead implement a genuine agrarian reform program that would address the ‘food insecurity’ in the country.(

Border closure: CBN begs farmers not to increase price of rice
 by  Omotayo Yusuf - The Central Bank of Nigeria called on rice farmers not to increase the price of their product - Godwin Emefiele said increasing the price will only bring hardship for Nigerians - The CBN governor said the decision to close the border was in the interest of Nigerians The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has appealed to members of Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and other stakeholders in the rice value chain not to increase the price of rice over border closure. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, said this in a statement issued and made available to newsmen on Monday, October 14, in Abuja by Muhammed Tijani, media assistant to RIMAN’s chairman.
 Emefiele also called on them not to hoard rice as a result of the closure of the borders in order to increase price, adding that such acts were unpatriotic. The CBN governor said that the border closure was meant to promote the growth of the Nigerian economy and ensure that the country attained food self-sufficiency in the rice value chain. He said that this was for the benefit and well being of the citizenry. He said that imported rice into the country were chemicalised for preservation, therefore not good for the consumption. Emefiele said that there was need to increase rice production and discourage hoarding leading to price increase, while calling on rice millers to support government’s effort in the rice value chain sector. He said that hoarding rice with a view to increase the prices of rice would bring hardship to Nigerians. He said that the CBN under his leadership would support rice millers to stem off smuggling in the country and grow the rice sector for food self–sufficiency. Emefiele called on Nigerians to support the government action on closure of the border, adding that government took the decision in the best interest of Nigerians as it was meant to secure the country.
He said that this would also secure the health of the citizenry from heavily chemicalised products that were injurious to the health of the country. Peter Dama, the RIMAN chairman, assured the CBN of the support of its members on the federal government’s action on border closure. He said that its members would not succumb to pressure to reverse the policy on borders’ closure. He urged the CBN for financial support to build capacity and expand milling activities to stimulate further growth in the rice sector. PAY ATTENTION: Install our latest app for Android, read best news on Nigeria’s #1 news app Meanwhile, the Nigerian Customs Service earlier announced the complete border closure across the nation, which also means a total ban on all import and export goods through the land border. The comptroller-general of customs, Hameed Ali, on Monday, October 14, stated that the ban will remain in place until agreement is reached with neighbouring countries on the kind of goods allowed into the nation. He said the measure is for security purpose so as to scan all goods that enter and exit the nation.

Rice storage facilities to be built with ADB assistance

Chhut Bunthoeun / Khmer Times 

With $10 million in financial assistance provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), selected rice millers in Battambang, Kampong Thom, and Prey Veng provinces will soon build warehouses and silos to expand their storage capacity.
For in depth analysis of Cambodian Business, visit Capital Cambodia
Kao Thach, director of the state-own Rural Development Bank, told Khmer Times yesterday that a total of six rice millers will gain access to the money to build the storage facilities.
Mr Thach said five companies have already signed agreements with RDB to take out the loans. The last rice miller will soon be selected, Mr Thach said, adding that this sixth company will be based in Prey Veng province.
The first five agreements were signed between the companies, RDB, and the Climate Resilient Rice Commercialisation Sector Development Programme (Rice-SDP) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance last week.
“So far, we have signed deals with five rice millers: two in Battambang, two in Kampong Thom and one in Prey Veng province,” he said, adding that two storage facilities will be built in each of these provinces.
Mr Thach said the loans mature in 10 years but did not go into details regarding the interest rate.
“The goal of these loans by ADB is to boost rice millers’ exports,” he said, adding that when having access to enough storage room, these companies will buy more from farmers, helping stabilise the price of paddy rice.
According to the latest report from the Ministry of Agriculture, during the first nine months of the year, Cambodia’s exports of milled rice grew by a moderate 2.3 percent compared with the same period last year.
The same report notes that China was the largest buyer of Cambodian milled rice, importing 157,793 tonnes from January to September. This is equal to 40 percent of Cambodia’s milled rice exports. China is followed by France and Gabon, with 53,723 tonnes and 21,682 tonnes, respectively.
Earlier this year, the European Union imposed tariffs on imports of Cambodian rice to protect European producers.
As a result of the levies, during the first half of 2019, Cambodia’s milled rice exports to the EU fell by almost 50 percent compared with the first half of 2018, Lun Yeng, secretary-general of the Cambodian Rice Federation, told Khmer Times in August.
“Overall, exports to the EU are down, but, fortunately, exports to other markets are increasing,” he said.
He pointed out that the local rice sector continues to thrive, mostly due to a rise in shipments to China.
The Rice Federation recently reaffirmed its commitment to grow the country’s rice exports to 1 million tonnes a year by 2022. This goal was originally set for 2015 but was not achieved.

Capt reviews paddy procurement in Moga
·       Also in this section

Oct 16, 2019, 6:52 AM; last updated: Oct 16, 2019, 10:20 AM (IST)

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh - File photo
Tribune News Service
Moga, October 15
To ensure hassle-free, smooth and speedy procurement of paddy, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh reviewed procurement arrangements of paddy at Killi Chahal village on Tuesday.
The meeting was attended by local Congress MLA Dr Harjot Kamal, Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Hans and SSP Amarjit Singh Bajwa, besides other officials of the district administration.
While addressing the meeting, the Chief Minister reiterated government’s commitment to lift every single grain of farmers’ produce from the grain markets in a smooth, prompt and hassle-free manner, while adhering to the prescribed norms of timely payment.
He directed officials to ensure timely lifting of paddy from the grain markets. Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Hans apprised the CM that necessary arrangements for the smooth procurement of paddy had been made in all grain markets of the district. He also assured that the paddy crop arriving in the grain markets was being procured and lifted within the time period of 72 hours fixed by the state government.
Description: Capt reviews paddy procurement in Moga
The DC said till Monday evening, 15,397 MT of paddy crop had arrived in the grain markets of Moga district, out of which 13,378 MT had been purchased by agencies. He said of the total purchased crop, about 5,232 MT of crop had been lifted from markets by rice millers.
ADC Anita Darshi; ADC, Development, Subash Chandar; Sub-Divisional Magistrate Narinder Singh Dhaliwal and District Food and Supply Controller Major Gurpreet Singh Kang were present.

Rice Importation Ban: Customs officials ‘kill’ smugglers’ informant in Jigawa

A man suspected to be an informant of rice smugglers has been killed allegedly by officials of the Nigeria Customs Service in Jigawa State.
Tasiu Muhammad, 22, a resident of Babura Local Government Area, was shot dead at Unguwar Gawo, about five kilometres from Bubara town, the council headquarters.
The police commissioner in Jigawa, Bala Senchi, at a press conference on Tuesday confirmed the incident.
He said the police were not involved in the operation that led to the killing of Mr Muhammad.
Residents said the deceased had been on the wanted list of the NCS for allegedly running local routes for smugglers and informing them on the movement of security officials enforcing the ban of importation of contraband goods through Nigeria’s land borders.
The deceased was reportedly shot dead while attempting to escape arrest, even though he was not in possession of any incriminating evidence, a resident who requested not to be named for security reasons said.
The spokesperson of the NCS in Kano, Jigawa command, Dan-Baba, said he could not speak with the reporter because he was “in a meeting.”
Bubara Local Government Area shares border with Niger Republic. Rice smugglers use bush paths in the area to smuggle banned items into Nigeria.
The Customs boss, Hameed Ali, at a press conference on Monday in Abuja, said all Nigerian land borders will remain shut in continuation of a closure that began in August.
He said the measure is to improve Nigeria’s economic situation and reduce further exploits by neighbouring countries.

NSCDC warns grain dealers against hoarding of food items

He said that the call was imperative to check indiscriminate mopping up of grains in village markets to guard against artificial scarcity and price hike.
Description: warns grain dealers against hoarding of food items

Mr Ibrahim Abdullahi, the Commander, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Borno, has warned grain dealers against hoarding of food items in the state.

Abdullahi gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) on Tuesday in Maiduguri.
He said that the call was imperative to check indiscriminate mopping up of grains in village markets to guard against artificial scarcity and price hike.
Abdullahi said that some grain dealers resorted to mopping up of grain in the markets to hoard since the closure of the national borders.
He said that the development could lead to scarcity, price hike and negatively affect food security.
The commander said that officials of the command had stopped and prevented about 20 trucks loaded with paddy rice from being transported out of the state.
“Price of food items are increasing in the market, the hike in prices might not be unconnected with the massive mop up of grain by traders.
“Urgent steps are necessary to guard against hoarding and price hike.
“We invited them and sensitized them on dangers associated with hoarding and transporting food items to other parts of the country,” he said.
Abdullahi further advocated for establishment of a committee to regulate prices of food commodities in the country.
He reiterated the commitments of the command to protect farmers to enable them cultivate their farmlands and encourage agricultural activities in the state. 

China Focus: China's food security a boon for itself and the world

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-16 12:34:11|Editor: huaxia
BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- In his childhood, Zhao Guochun never expected that one day he would need to eat coarse grains to balance his diet because of overnutrition.
Zhao, a 68-year-old from northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, suffered from hunger in his early years. He later lived on a diet of coarse grains, and wheat-flour was a treat to be enjoyed only during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Zhao is just one of hundreds of millions of Chinese people whose fates have been changed by the country's great increases in food production over the past decades.
More high-quality farmland, irrigation facilities, technology support and government policies are among the factors behind bumper harvests over recent years.
Zhang Jinghui, who grew 23 hectares of rice at a Qixing farm in Heilongjiang this year, reaped a harvest despite a summer flood. "With flood control measures, we embraced a harvest with the yield reaching 7.5 tonnes a hectare," he said.
Zhang, who has worked on the farm for over 30 years, has seen the farmland turn into a high-yield field from a low-lying plot prone to flooding, with the annual yield more than doubling in peak harvest years.
Last year, the Qixing farm, with over 80,000 hectares of farmland, reaped 700,000 tonnes of grain, mostly rice, of which 98 percent went to the market.
Farmers in Heilongjiang, China's largest grain-producing region since 2011, now use more large machinery, including self-driving seeders and harvesters and unmanned pesticide-spraying aircraft, to increase efficiency.
Heilongjiang's grain output surged to 75 million tonnes last year from 5 million tonnes in the early years of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Between 1949 and 2018, China's annual grain output rose by nearly five times from 113 million tonnes to 658 million tonnes, while the per capita output more than doubled from 209 kg to 472 kg, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.
China's food supply has reached basic self-sufficiency from widespread shortages decades ago. With a population of 1.4 billion, the country has seen the self-sufficiency rates of its major grains of rice, wheat and corn remain above 95 percent.
In the PRC's early years, many Western countries were skeptical about China's ability to ensure food security, but the Chinese people have managed to firmly hold the "rice bowl" in their own hands, said Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
China now feeds around 20 percent of the world's population with less than 9 percent of the world's arable land.
China has long been a positive force in ensuring the world's food security, said Li. "China's eradication of hunger is a huge contribution to global food security," said Li.
China mainly relies on itself for food supply, but it has actively taken part in global cooperation by offering the world its own solutions and experiences to jointly guarantee food security, said Li.
"A great departure from a grain recipient in the PRC's early years, China has become a main provider of technological aid and other grain solutions for many countries in the Global South," said Li.
In May, the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center opened its African research branch in Madagascar to select hybrid rice varieties based on the island nation's diverse ecological environment, in a bid to find more productive crops for a continent long troubled by insufficient grain output.
Georges Ranaivomanana, a 55-year-old Madagascan farmer, has benefited from planting Chinese hybrid rice in his town of Mahitsy.
"We're no longer suffering from hunger," he told Xinhua, adding that he hoped all his compatriots would use these seeds to raise their living standards, and that his country might even be able to export rice someday.
Last year, China pledged to support Africa in achieving general food security by 2030, work with Africa on agricultural modernization, implement 50 agricultural assistance programs, provide 1 billion yuan (141 million U.S. dollars) emergency humanitarian food assistance to African countries affected by natural disasters, and train young researchers in agri-science and entrepreneurs in agri-business.
China aims to share its experience in agricultural development with Africa and transfer readily applicable technologies to African countries, said Peter Smerdon, spokesperson for the World Food Program Regional Bureau in Nairobi, Kenya.
China will continue to provide assistance to other developing countries to the best of its ability within the framework of South-South cooperation, and promote the sound development of the global food industry, said a white paper titled "Food Security in China," which was released by the State Council Information Office on Monday.
Meanwhile, China will explore new modes of international food cooperation and conduct multifaceted and advanced cooperation with other countries.
The world is still facing severe food security challenges, with over 800 million people suffering from hunger and food trade being disrupted by protectionism and unilateralism, according to the white paper.
"Observing WTO rules, China will do all it can to make the international food supply more secure, stable and rational in order to better safeguard the food security of our world," said the white paper.

How evolution builds genes from scratch
16 OCTOBER 2019
Scientists long assumed that new genes appear when evolution tinkers with old ones. It turns out that natural selection is much more creative.

Some cod species have a newly minted gene involved in preventing freezing.Credit: Paul Nicklen/NG Image Collection
In the depths of winter, water temperatures in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean can sink below zero. That’s cold enough to freeze many fish, but the conditions don’t trouble the cod. A protein in its blood and tissues binds to tiny ice crystals and stops them from growing.
Where codfish got this talent was a puzzle that evolutionary biologist Helle Tessand Baalsrud wanted to solve. She and her team at the University of Oslo searched the genomes of the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and several of its closest relatives, thinking they would track down the cousins of the antifreeze gene. None showed up. Baalsrud, who at the time was a new parent, worried that her lack of sleep was causing her to miss something obvious.
But then she stumbled on studies suggesting that genes do not always evolve from existing ones, as biologists long supposed. Instead, some are fashioned from desolate stretches of the genome that do not code for any functional molecules. When she looked back at the fish genomes, she saw hints this might be the case: the antifreeze protein — essential to the cod’s survival — had seemingly been built from scratch1.
The cod is in good company. In the past five years, researchers have found numerous signs of these newly minted ‘de novo’ genes in every lineage they have surveyed. These include model organisms such as fruit flies and mice, important crop plants and humans; some of the genes are expressed in brain and testicular tissue, others in various cancers.
De novo genes are even prompting a rethink of some portions of evolutionary theory. Conventional wisdom was that new genes tended to arise when existing ones are accidentally duplicated, blended with others or broken up, but some researchers now think that de novo genes could be quite common: some studies suggest at least one-tenth of genes could be made in this way; others estimate that more genes could emerge de novo than from gene duplication. Their existence blurs the boundaries of what constitutes a gene, revealing that the starting material for some new genes is non-coding DNA (see ‘Birth of a gene’).

The ability of organisms to acquire new genes in this way is testament to evolution’s “plasticity to make something seemingly impossible, possible”, says Yong Zhang, a geneticist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Zoology in Beijing, who has studied the role of de novo genes in the human brain.
But researchers have yet to work out how to definitively identify a gene as being de novo, and questions still remain over exactly how — and how often — they are born. Scientists also wonder why evolution would bother making genes from scratch when so much gene-ready material already exists. Such basic questions are a sign of how young the field is. “You don’t have to go back that many years before de novo gene evolution was dismissed,” Baalsrud says.
New arrivals
Back in the 1970s, geneticists saw evolution as a rather conservative process. When Susumu Ohno laid out the hypothesis that most genes evolved through duplication2, he wrote that “In a strict sense, nothing in evolution is created de novo. Each new gene must have arisen from an already existing gene.”
Gene duplication occurs when errors in the DNA-replication process produce multiple instances of a gene. Over generations, the versions accrue mutations and diverge, so that they eventually encode different molecules, each with their own function. Since the 1970s, researchers have found a raft of other examples of how evolution tinkers with genes — existing genes can be broken up or ‘laterally transferred’ between species. All these processes have something in common: their main ingredient is existing code from a well-oiled molecular machine.
Credit: Nik Spencer/Nature
But genomes contain much more than just genes: in fact, only a few per cent of the human genome, for example, actually encodes genes. Alongside are substantial stretches of DNA — often labelled ‘junk DNA’ — that seem to lack any function. Some of these stretches share features with protein-coding genes without actually being genes themselves: for instance, they are littered with three-letter codons that could, in theory, tell the cell to translate the code into a protein.
It wasn’t until the twenty-first century that scientists began to see hints that non-coding sections of DNA could lead to new functional codes for proteins. As genetic sequencing advanced to the point that researchers could compare entire genomes of close relatives, they began to find evidence that genes could disappear rather quickly during evolution. That made them wonder whether genes could just as quickly spring into being.
In 2006 and 2007, evolutionary geneticist David Begun at the University of California, Davis, published what many regard as the first papers to make the case for particular genes arising de novo in fruit flies3,4. The studies linked these genes to male reproduction: Begun found they were expressed in the testes and the seminal fluid gland, where it seemed the powerful evolutionary force of sexual selection was driving gene birth.
Shortly before that, evolutionary genomicist Mar Albà at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, had shown that the younger a gene is, evolutionarily speaking, the faster it tends to evolve5. She speculated that this might be because the molecules encoded by younger genes are less polished and need more tuning, and that this could be a consequence of the genes having arisen de novo — they were not tied to a previous function as tightly as those that had evolved from older genes. Both Albà and Begun recall that it was challenging to publish their early work on the topic. “There was a lot of scepticism,” says Albà. “It’s amazing how things have changed.”
Studies have also started to unpick what de novo genes do. One gene allows the thale cress plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) to produce starch, for instance, and another helps yeast cells to grow. Understanding what they are doing for their hosts should help to explain why they exist — why it is advantageous to create from scratch rather than evolve from existing material. “We’re not going to understand why these genes are evolving if we don’t understand what they’re doing,” says Begun.
Studying de novo genes turns out to be part genetics, part thought experiment. “Why is our field so difficult?” asks Anne-Ruxandra Carvunis at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. “It is because of philosophical issues.” At its heart is a question that Carvunis has been asking for a decade: what is a gene?
A gene is commonly defined as a DNA or RNA sequence that codes for a functional molecule. The yeast genome, however, has hundreds of thousands of sequences, known as open reading frames (ORFs), that could theoretically be translated into proteins, but that geneticists assumed were either too short or looked too different from those in closely related organisms to have a probable function.

When Carvunis studied yeast ORFs for her PhD, she began to suspect that not all of these sections were lying dormant. In a study6 published in 2012, she looked at whether these ORFs were being transcribed into RNA and translated into proteins — and, just like genes, many of them were — although it was unclear whether the proteins were useful to the yeast, or whether they were translated at high enough levels to serve a function. “So what is a gene? I don’t know,” Carvunis says. What she thinks she has found, though, is “raw material — a reservoir — for evolution”.
Some of these genes-in-waiting, or what Carvunis and her colleagues called proto-genes, were more gene-like than others, with longer sequences and more of the instructions necessary for turning the DNA into proteins. The proto-genes could provide a fertile testing ground for evolution to convert non-coding material into true genes. “It’s like a beta launch,” suggests Aoife McLysaght, who works on molecular evolution at Trinity College Dublin.
Some researchers have gone beyond observation to manipulate organisms into expressing non-coding material. Michael Knopp and his colleagues at Uppsala University, Sweden, showed that inserting and expressing randomly generated ORFs into Escherichia coli could enhance the bacterium’s resistance to antibiotics, with one sequence producing a peptide that increased resistance 48-fold7. Using a similar approach, Diethard Tautz and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, showed that half of the sequences slowed the bacterium’s growth, and one-quarter seemed to speed it up8 — although that result is debated. Such studies suggest that peptides from random sequences can be surprisingly functional.
Researchers studying the rice strain Oryza sativa japonica found 175 of its genes were created de novo.Credit: Jay Stocker
But random sequences of DNA could also code for peptides that are “reactive and nasty and have a tendency to aggregate and do bad things”, says evolutionary biologist Joanna Masel of the University of Arizona in Tucson. Expressing these sequences at low levels could help natural selection to weed out potentially dangerous portions — those that create messy or misfolded proteins — so that what remains in a species is relatively benign.
Creating genes from non-coding regions could have some benefits over other gene-making methods, says Albà. Gene duplication is a “very conservative mechanism” she says, producing well-adapted proteins cut from the same cloth as their ancestors; de novo genes, by contrast, are likely to produce markedly different molecules. That could make it difficult for them to fit into well-established networks of genes and proteins — but they could also be better suited to certain new tasks.
A newly minted gene could help an organism to respond to a change in its environment, for instance. This seems to have been the case for the cod, which acquired its antifreeze protein as the Northern Hemisphere cooled some 15 million years ago.
Birth rate
To trace which of an organism’s genes were made de novo, researchers need comprehensive sequences for the organism and its close relatives. One crop plant that fits the bill is rice. The sweltering heat of Hainan, a tropical island in southern China, is the perfect environment for growing the crop — although the working conditions can be trying. “It’s horrible,’’ says evolutionary geneticist Manyuan Long of the University of Chicago, Illinois. It’s so hot “you can cook your egg in the sand”.
Long’s team wanted to know how many genes had emerged de novo in the strain Oryza sativa japonica, and what proteins those genes might be making. So the team lined up its genome against those of its close relatives and used an algorithm to pick out regions that contained a gene in some species but lacked it in others. This allowed the researchers to identify the non-coding DNA that led to the gene in question, and track its journey to being a gene. They could also tot up the number of de novo genes that appeared in the strain: 175 genes over 3.4 million years of evolution9 (over the same period, the strain gained 8 times as many genes from duplication).

The study gets at one of the field’s biggest preoccupations: how to tell whether a gene is truly de novo. Answers vary wildly, and approaches are still evolving. For example, an early study found 15 de novo genes in the whole primate order10; a later attempt found 60 in humans alone11. One option for finding candidate de novo genes is to use an algorithm to search for similar genes in related species. If nothing shows up, then it’s possible that the gene arose de novo. But failing to find a relative doesn’t mean no relative is there: the gene could have been lost along the way, or might have shape-shifted far away from its kin. The rice study got around this by explicitly identifying the pieces of non-coding DNA that became de novo genes.
Over long evolutionary timescales — much longer than the few million years of rice evolution — it is hard to distinguish between a de novo gene and one that has simply diverged too far from its ancestors to be recognizable, so determining the absolute number of genes that have arisen de novo rather than from duplication “is an almost unanswerable question”, says Tautz.
To demonstrate how varied the results of different methods can be, evolutionary geneticist Claudio Casola at Texas A&M University in College Station used alternative approaches to reanalyse the results of previous studies, and failed to verify 40% of the de novo genes they had proposed12. To Casola, this points to the need to standardize tests. Currently, he says, “it seems to be very inconsistent”.
Counting de novo genes in the human genome comes with the same trail of caveats. But where de novo genes have been identified, researchers are beginning to explore their roles in health and disease. Zhang and his colleagues have found that one gene unique to humans is expressed at a greater level in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease13, and previous work14 had linked certain variants of the gene to nicotine dependence. For Zhang, research that links de novo genes to the human brain is tantalizing. “We know that what makes us human is our brains,” he says, “so there must be some genetic kit to push the evolution of our brain.” That suggests an avenue for future studies. Zhang suggests that researchers could investigate the genetic kit through experiments with human organoids — cultured cells that serve as a model organ.
De novo genes could have implications for understanding cancer, too. One such gene — unique to humans and chimpanzees — has been linked to cancer progression in mouse models of neuroblastoma15. And cancer-causing versions of human papillomavirus include a gene that is not present in non-cancer-causing forms16.
Many de novo genes remain uncharacterized, so the potential importance of the process to health and disease is unclear. “It will take some time before we fully understand to what extent it contributes to human health and to what extent it contributes to the origin of the human species,’’ says Carvunis.
Although de novo genes remain enigmatic, their existence makes one thing clear: evolution can readily make something from nothing. “One of the beauties of working with de novo genes,” says Casola, “is that it shows how dynamic genomes are.”
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PHL urges Asean+3 nations to develop new rice varieties

Description: shows NSIC Rc 222, one of the rice varieties developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). NSIC Rc 222 is known to have “moderate” resistance to pests. To come up with more varieties like Rc 222, the PhilRice is currently developing an analysis tool dubbed as “RIGby.”
Manila said it is supporting the proposal of the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) to involve Southeast Asian nations and their trade partners in the development of new rice varieties that are resilient to multiple environment stresses.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the new varieties will help increase rice production amid the challenges presented by climate change and the expansion in the population of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
“The Philippines, being the host country of Irri, will reiterate its strong support to the institute’s proposal to the 41st Asean Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (Amaf) Meeting, hoping that Korea, Japan and China can really come forward, and significantly push this initiative,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement.
Dar went to Brunei Darussalam to represent the Philippines in the 41st Amaf.
Irri’s proposal hopes to bring the Asean+3 (South Korea, Japan and China) to be involved in the selection and the development of new rice varieties that are resilient to multiple environmental stresses, pest and diseases, thereby elevating the production capacity in the region.
“We need to combine these strengths and to have the right rice varieties that can adapt to all potential scenarios and also meet the market readiness and expectation acknowledging that in Southeast Asia consumers have particular preferences,” Irri Director General Matthew Morell said in a statement.
Morell added that the Irri’s proposal is set to build a comprehensive testing and selection that is also backed up by training capacity for its national partners.
“We are not just transferring these new varieties but we are doing it with the national partners for them to conduct it themselves,” he added.
The Philippines is endorsing Irri’s proposal during the Amaf meeting and it hopes to secure the strong support of Japan, South Korea and China.
El Niño episodes in the Philippines usually wreak havoc on rice production. The destruction rice crops in 1998 and 2010 forced the country to import some 2 million metric tons (MMT) of rice. Output fell during those years as El Niño dried up farms and destroyed standing rice crops.
The rice sector also bore the brunt of the El Niño episode this year. The dry spell destroyed billions of worth of unhusked rice and caused farmers to incur losses.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said inadequate water supply/rainfall, and the dry spell caused the harvest of rice to decline in Mimaropa, Bicol region and Western Visayas.
Palay production in January to June fell by 5.1 percent to 8.269 MMT, from 8.713 MMT in the same period last year, according to data from the PSA.

Over 1 lakh acres of paddy infested

UPDATED: OCTOBER 15, 2019 23:52 IST
Description: Farmers have been able to treat the pestilence in 81,421 acres, say officials.
Farmers have been able to treat the pestilence in 81,421 acres, say officials.  

Groundnut, cotton, maize and sugarcane too affected

Paddy has been infested by five types of pests in over one lakh acres in four districts, according to the Agriculture Department.
Similarly, groundnut has been infested in 61,000 aces in Chittoor and Anantapur districts.

Types of pests

The department has received reports that paddy in Krishna, Vizianagaram, East Godavari and Prakasam districts has been infested in 1,00,485.4 acres by rice blast, BPH, sheath blight, stem borer and leaf folder.
Farmers are, however, able to treat the pestilence in 81,421 acres of paddy and stop the spread of the pests and diseases.
According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), rice blast, considered a major disease, is capable of causing very severe loss (up to 100%). While the data for India is old, the yield loss due to the disease in the Philippines is between 50% and 85%.
The yield loss caused by sheath blight is 6%, according to the IRRI studies.
The department has also received pest infestation reports on groundnut in Chittoor and Anantapur.
While the infestation of leaf-eating caterpillar, aphids and Spodoptera has been reported in 61,000 acres, farmers have been able to treat the crop in only 51,892 acres and check the spread of the pests and diseases. Pests have also infested cotton, maize and sugarcane in several districts. Aphids and pink boll worm have reportedly infested cotton crop in Krishna, Prakasam and Vizianagaram districts. Fall army worm and stem borer have infested maize crop in Anantapur, Krishna, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts. And, mealy bugs, stem borer, smut, aphids and red rot have infested sugarcane in East Godavari, Prakasam and Vizianagaram districts.

Humidity blamed

“Normally, pestilence is reported in traces, but this season the infestation is more because of the high humidity,” according to Y. Ramamurthy, a farmer from Gudivada.


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