Tuesday, November 12, 2019

12th November,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice Digital Newsletter


 NOV 11 2019  Description: https://www.newsweekpakistan.com/daisnews/wp-content/themes/hades/images/author.png BY NEWSWEEK PAKISTAN
Description: https://www.newsweekpakistan.com/daisnews/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/JUIF-AzadiMarch.jpg
The joint opposition will devise the future strategy of the Azadi March dharna in the coming days, said Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUIF) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday.
Addressing tens of thousands of supporters who have been camped out in the federal capital for 10 days, Rehman said the struggle to oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf from power would continue. “There is a belief that the ‘powers’ support this government,” said Rehman. “Our ongoing protest has negated those views and put them to shame.”
The JUI-F chief said there could be no retreat at this point. “The war will continue. We cannot retreat. All political parties are in touch with us,” he said, adding that the next steps would be taken only after deliberations between all opposition forces.
During his daily speech, Rehman reiterated his criticism of the incumbent government’s handling of Pakistan’s economy. “They have made a mockery of it,” he said. “Wheat production has gone down by 30 percent in the past year; Rice production has declined by 30-40 percent; we only achieved 8 percent of the expected 15 million bales of cotton,” he said, stressing that these were our export crops and were being ignored by the PTI government.
The JUIF chief also lamented the slow pace of FATA’s merger into Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. “This government promised to give FATA Rs. 100 billion every year for 10 years, and not a single paisa has been issued yet,” he said, noting that no province was willing to divert from its share of the National Finance Commission award. He said that the PTI had a government in all but Sindh so it was particularly confusing that this had not happened already. “Why are they then not willing to give their fair share?” he asked.
Earlier, Rehman also slammed the Indian Supreme Court’s decision to allow Hindu groups to construct a temple at the former site of the Babri Masjid. “The decision reflects a narrow-mindedness,” said the JUIF chief, adding that New Delhi had failed to protect the rights of minorities.
Separately, Awami National Party leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain alleged to the participants of the Azadi March that P.M. Khan had come into power through rigging. He said the opposition parties were united in demanding Khan’s resignation and fresh elections nationwide.

Rice farmers to get P3 billion cash subsidy next month
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Thousands of rice farmers affected by low palay prices will receive a total of P3 billion in cash subsidy before Christmas next month, leaders of the House of Representatives said yesterday.
The P5,000 financial aid for each farmer will come from billions in revenues from higher tariffs Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law, has imposed on rice importation, Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur said.
He said as of October, the government has collected more than P11 billion in rice importation taxes.
Some P10 billion of the collections was allocated to the rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF) set up under the law for specific programs, while the excess may be used as additional aid to farmers, he said.            
Another deputy speaker, Mikee Romero of party-list group 1-Pacman, said aside from cash subsidy, rice farmers “will also receive other forms of assistance like free seeds and farm implements to reduce their production cost and increase their yield.”
He recalled that agriculture officials led by Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan told congressmen two months ago that the Department of Budget and Management had released a total of P5 billion out of the RCEF.
Quoting these officials, he said P2 billion was given to the Philippine Rice Research Institute and another P2 billion to the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization for the production or procurement of seeds and farm machineries.
“The seeds and tools should be available by now, if not soon, so farmers could use them for the next planting season,” he said.
He said the remaining P1 billion was released to government banks for lending to farmers “so they would not go to loan sharks for production money.”
Romero, an economist, pointed out that increased spending in the agriculture sector would help the economy sustain its growth above six percent, which could “even go up to 6.5 percent by this time next year.”
“Low inflation, strong consumer confidence, continued strong remittances from overseas Filipino workers, especially from seafarers, professionals and cruise ship personnel, and robust countryside growth boosted by government spending are the key growth drivers,” he stressed.
Villafuerte also said Joint Resolution No. 19, which allows the use of up to P10 billion for palay buying, would soon become law.
“This is a pre-Christmas gift of the Congress to rice farmers now reeling from the steady softening of farmgate prices of palay this harvest season,” Villafuerte, co-author of the resolution, said.
He said the House and the Senate have already approved their respective versions of the measure, which will have the effect of a law once President Duterte signs it.
The measure mandates the transfer to the National Food Authority (NFA) from the Department of Social Welfare and Development of P7 billion in rice subsidy for beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.
Additionally, some P2.9 billion in similar funds for soldiers, policemen, jail guards and other uniformed personnel will be turned over to the NFA by the concerned agencies.
The NFA will use the money to buy palay, which it will mill and then distribute to 4Ps beneficiaries and uniformed personnel at 20 kilos each a month.
Lawmakers hope the scheme would prop up palay prices, which farmers claim have fallen to P8-P10 per kilo below their production cost of P12.

Indonesia needs more research to boost agricultural productivity

Eisya A. Eloksari
  Mon, November 11, 2019   /  04:45 pm
Description: The Jakarta Post Image
Farmers harvest rice in Tegalgondo village, Malang, East Java. Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said Indonesia needed to increase agricultural research to improve rice productivity in the country.(JP/Aman Rochman)
Indonesia has been known for centuries as an agricultural hub with an abundant crop potential, but it must improve its agricultural research to boost productivity and food security for its large and growing population. According to a study conducted by the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS), rice consumption in Indonesia will increase to 99.55 kg per capita by 2045 from 97.6 kg per capita in 2017. The figure assumes that the population will grow to about 300 million in 2045. However, challenges persist as Agriculture Ministry data shows that rice productivity was only 51.92 percent, and Indonesia only ranked 65 out of 113 in the overall Global Food Security Index (GSFI) last year. “The key to improving our productivity is research and development,” Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said during a keynote speech at the Ind...

Vegan: Five High-protein Food Items Easily Available In The Market


Check out this list of high-protein vegan food items. Listed here are some healthy, protein-rich food items to add in a vegan diet. Read for more details.

Written By Nikhil Pandey | Mumbai | Updated On: November 10, 2019 16:45 IST
Description: vegan

With each passing day, the world is striving towards building a sustainable ecosystem. A better way to build a sustainable eco-system is by maintaining an ecological balance. An easy way to build a sustainable and ecological world is by adopting a vegan diet and reducing the use of animal products. A shift from consuming animal products is becoming easier due to the availability of nutritious and plant-based foods. Here are a few vegan food items one can try to get an adequate amount of protein. 

Five vegan foods rich in protein

·       Quinoa 

Quinoa is easily available at the brim of one's hand. There are different kinds of Quinoa available in the market. A media report claims that having 100 gm of quinoa can provide about 4 g of protein. Many health portals claim that quinoa has twice the protein content of rice or barley. Quinoa also has an equal amount of calcium, magnesium, and manganese, which helps in maintaining proper health.  

·       Nuts and Seeds 

Nuts and seeds are often recommended by the doctors as a nutritious mid-day snack. According to a health portal, a moderate among of nut and seed can provide about 3 g of protein. Nuts and seeds are also a great source to maintain an adequate amount of energy throughout the day. 
Also Read | Vegan Diet: The Health Advantages Of Following A Plant-based Diet

·       Oats

A report published by Harvard University revealed that a person who has oats and other whole grains every day is likely to live longer and be better protected from adverse heart diseases than someone who doesn't. According to a research report, oats are an excellent source of protein. The report also revealed that they can provide every 10 g per 100 gm of protein in the human body. 

·       Brown rice

While vegans can have all types of rice, many research reports suggest that having brown rice has its advantages. According to a study, it has 4 g of protein per 100 g of rice. Brown rice is also considered to be a great source of fibre and carbohydrates. 
Also Read | Vegan Diet: Top Protein Rich Vegan Foods To Include In Your Diet

·       Vegetables 

Many green leafy and exotic vegetables are considered to be a great source of protein for vegans. Eaten alone, these vegetables can also be a healthy snack option. Vegetables like asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and sweetcorn are a major source of protein.

Making rice resistant to weeds

Plant biologists Ronald Pierik and Rashmi Sasidharan are conducting research into rice in the Botanic Gardens to study whether they can optimise the architecture of the plant in order to compete against weeds by overshadowing them. “Did you know rice is grown under water in rice paddies because most weeds won't survive flooding? But more and more weeds are evolving resistance to flooding. Rice plants are traditionally planted one-by-one, but that is extremely time-consuming. Farmers would rather sow rice seeds, but that would not give the plants a head start against weeds, and the crop would quickly become overgrown”, explains photobiologist Ronald Pierik from Utrecht University. 
Description: Rijst
Together with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philipines, the scientists at the Botanic Gardens are studying the ideal growing conditions for rice by experimenting with light, water, density, and different rice varieties. “For example, you can cross several strains of rice, and combine it with a different water regime. By flooding the rice paddies early, then draining them briefly before flooding them again, you might be able to kill off the weeds.” At the moment, the scientists are studying the weeds’ tolerance to flooding, and they are ‘fiddling with the knobs’ to control the plants’ reaction to shade.
Description: Rijst


Plants naturally try to catch the optimal amount of sunlight, and use information about neighbouring plants to control that process. One well-known system is the registration of the ratio of red light to infra-red light. Pierik: “Plants use red light for photosynthesis, and they reflect infra-red light. Before plants begin to overshadow one another, they can observe their neighbours by registering the proportion of red light to infra-red light. They then react by speeding up the growth of stems and leaves.” The scientists are currently studying how this architecture in rice is regulated at the molecular level.
Description: Rijst

Shade alarm

The model plant Arabidopsis uses a different shade alarm system, however. “Arabidopsis grows like a rosette, without a vertical structure. These plants have a very early shade alarm that reacts to touch instead of light: the leaves adapt their direction of growth when the tips of the leaves of two plants touch.” So the plant researchers are now examining which of the regulators used by Arabidopsis can be implemented in rice in order to activate an architecture to suppress weeds at an earlier phase of growth.
The rice study is conducted by the Plant Ecophysiology research group.

Agribusiness gets boost as government secures US$183 million for machinery

Business News of Monday, 11 November 2019
Description: Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister for Food and Agriculture

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister for Food and Agriculture
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister for Food and Agriculture has announced a big boost for agribusiness as his Ministry secures financial support from India and Brazil through government to purchase machinery to enhance agro-processing in the country.

The loan facilities, comprising US$150 million and US$33 million - coming from India and Brazil respectively, form part of government's agricultural transformational strategies to ensure value addition to farmer produce, increase storage span of farm produce and create jobs for citizens to earn foreign exchange.

According to the Minister, "This will help to manage food surpluses produced in the country, especially during high yielding seasons, for storage and export to promote food security".

Dr Akoto made this known during a three-day working visit to the Northern Regions, where he met stakeholders and engaged them to assess the activities and impact of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme in the area.

Dr Akoto said last year, the country had a bumper harvest through PFJ, however, it was only able to export small quantities of the food surpluses, about 130,000 metric tons to neighboring countries, especially Nigeria.

He estimated that the exported food items could be quantified and valued to earn about US$ 100 million on the face of market pricing.

Dr Akoto indicated that the country was likely to generate about twice or three times more, food surpluses this year, and said measures such as the provision of agro-processing machinery including; tractors, rice milling machines, combined harvesters among others, could address increased productivity better.

He said the machines, which would be imported into the country early next year, would be given to farmers and farmer groups on subsidy of about 40 per cent of the cost of a machine purchased to enhance farmers yields and productivity.

He said government was expanding the construction of more buffer stock warehouses to help farmers store their produce and commended the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP) for providing resources to supplement government's budget for the PFJ such as the supply of seeds, fertilizers, among others to farmers in the northern region.

Hajia Musah Hawa, Acting Northern Regional Director of Agriculture, said the PFJ led to increasing farmer's food yielding and job creations in the region.

She said farmers were trained on good agricultural practices, supplied insecticides on fall armyworm, facilitated linkages between farmers, input dealers and other value chain actors among others.

Hajia Hawa said from 2017 to 2019 farmers were supported with subidised fertilizers, large quantities of seedlings including; maize, rice, soybeans, sorghum, vegetable seeds among others.

She said in 2019, the PFJ benefitted 133,571 males and 28,169 female farmers and also created employment for 161,494 people in the Northern Region.

Mr Mohammed Adam Nashiru, Chairman of the Northern Farmers Association, said farmers benefited from the PFJ in terms of subsidised fertilizers, seedlings, insecticides, among others and said it brought hope and improvement on their livelihoods in the region.

He called on citizens especially farmers to embrace the PFJ and support the Ministry to enjoy food sufficiency and security.

Mr Salifu Saeed, the Northern Regional Minister acknowledged that the region was peaceful and the impact of the PFJ initiatives in the socio-economic transformation attracted some investors into the area.

The Minister for Food and Agriculture and his entourage visited some of the PFJ initiatives in the Tamale Metropolis, Tolon District and Savelugu Municipality, including; the Tamale Implement Factory, a large scale rice production farmland at Golinga in Tolon among others.

Pak-Iran Parliamentary Friendship Group expresses desire to promote trade relations

Description: https://tns.world/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/pak-iran.jpg
Islamabad, Nov 11 (TNS): Pakistan-Iran Parliamentary Friendship Group has urged the need for improving bilateral trade relations and impediments to this end may be removed with mutual consensus.
The desire was expressed at a delegation level talks in Tehran on Saturday between members of the two countries.
The Iranian Group was led by Ahmad Amirabadi as well as Trade Minister of Iran Reza Rehmani while Pakistan Group was headed by Syed Naveed Qamar.
They were of the view that being neighboring countries, both countries have larger opportunities for trade and commerce which would benefit two countries and Pakistani can export rice, fruits, vegetables and meat to Iran.
Talking on the occasion, Chairman, Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Syed Fakhar Imam apprised Iranian side regarding ongoing situation in occupied Kashmir especially after 5th August.
He expressed great gratitude to Iranian side for standing and supporting principles of justice in case of Kashmiris
Philippines beats China as world’s biggest rice importer
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has topped China in terms of buying rice in the global market, making it the world’s biggest rice importer for 2019.
The Philippines is set to reach its record-high rice imports at three million metric tons (MT) this year, beating China’s requirements after Manila opened the floodgates to rice importation.
This year, China is importing 2.5 million MT, lower from the earlier projection of 3.15 million MT amid abundant domestic supply.
In the latest report of the United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), the Philippines has emerged as the top global importer of rice. Last month, the Philippines and China just nearly tied at 3.1 million MT.
Rice imports of the country have nearly quadrupled, from just 800,000 MT three years ago to three million MT anticipated for 2019, representing seven percent of total global rice imports.
In comparison, China’s share of global rice imports has almost reduced by half, to just five to six percent.
This is despite China’s population now at 1.4 billion compared with the 110 million population of the Philippines.
This year’s importation for the Philippines is 58 percent higher than the 1.9 million MT imports in 2018.
In March 2019, the Philippines implemented the Rice Tariffication Act, which led to a considerable increase in imports and, consequently, decline in domestic prices.
Rice is a staple food in the country and the law is intended, in part, to spur imports in order to quell domestic unrest caused by inflation. While this helped lower inflation, USDA said the adjustment to rice liberalization remains a challenge for the Philippines.
Next year, however, the Philippines will tone down its rice importation amid excessive supply coupled with improvements in local production. But this will still remain above the five-year average.
By 2020, the country is seen importing some 2.5 million MT of rice, exactly the same volume as China this year.
“Decreased imports from original projection reflect the preliminary investigation into import safeguards,” USDA said.
Other large importers next year are Nigeria at 1.8 million MT, Cote d’Ivoire at 1.5 million MT, Indonesia at 1.4 million MT, Senegal at 1.2 million MT, and Cuba at 600,000 MT.
Production of milled rice this year is the same with the 12 million MT from last year. Rice consumption has been raised to 14.2 million MT from 14.1 million MT in 2018.
USDA said there is a slight decrease in area planted, as rice areas in 2019 will be at 4.7 million hectares, 0.8 percent lower than the 4.74 million hectares last year.
Yield, on the other hand, is expected to improve to 4.05 MT per hectare per harvest, from the earlier 3.93 MT.
With the continued importation, the country’s rice inventory has maintained its upward trend as it inched up 14 percent in September, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
Latest data from the PSA showed that total rice inventory as of September stood at 1.84 million MT, 13.7 percent higher than last year’s volume stock of 1.16 million MT.
Based on the average daily consumption of Filipinos of 32,000 MT, the current inventory is sufficient for 58 days.

PH poised to become world’s top rice importer

November 11, 2019, 10:23 AM
By Madelaine Miraflor
If the forecast of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is right, the Philippines is poised to become the world’s largest rice importer this year, beating China, the world’s most populous country with a population of around 1.4 billion.
In the latest report of USDA, it looked like the Philippines, home to 105 million people, is on track to import 3 million metric tons (MT) this year, while China is expected to import only 2.5 million MT.
This, as the world’s second largest economy continues to boost its local supply.
“The Philippines’ rice imports have nearly quadrupled, from 800,000 metric tons in 2016 to 3.1 million anticipated for 2019, representing 7 percent of total global rice imports. In comparison, China’s share of global rice imports has almost reduced by half, to just over 7 percent,” USDA said in a previous report.
“While China rice imports continue to shrink, Philippine purchases provide much appreciated reprieve from nearby exporters in Southeast Asia,” it added.
In the report, USDA pointed out that the Rice Tariffication Act, passed in March, indeed “led to a considerable increase in imports and, consequently, decline in domestic prices”.
“While this helped lower inflation, the Philippines adjustment to rice liberalization remains a challenge,” the state-run agency said.
Right now, the Philippine government wants to control the importation of rice by restricting the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPS-IC) to traders.
In order to import rice, the Rice Tariffication Act, RA 11203, only requires local traders to obtain an SPS-IC from the Department of Agriculture (DA). An SPS certifies that rice imports that will enter the country are free from pests and diseases.
“We will try to lessen the importation and limit it to 1 million metric tons because that’s what we need. We will help the rice farmers,” Senator Cynthia Villar, author of RA 11203, said earlier.
While the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) welcomed this, it noted that Villar’s suggestion runs counter both to the spirit and letter of the Rice Liberalization Law that she herself sponsored.
Raul Montemayor, FFF National Manager, noted that RA 11203 was designed to remove all forms of quantitative limits on rice imports and replace these restrictions with tariffs.
“Imposing a limit of one million tons is equivalent to reintroducing a quantitative restriction, which RA 11203 specifically prohibits. The only way you can change that is to repeal or amend the law, which Senator Villar has stubbornly opposed,” Montemayor said

Weighting reasons, gains of border closure

By Chijioke Nelson, Asst. Editor, Finance/Economy
11 November 2019   |   4:17 am
Description: https://guardian.ng/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/border-.jpg
Closure of border at SEME post. PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN
No nation across the world has left its borders open for inflow of goods and services. Even in the so-called free economy, mostly practiced in theories and textbooks, there is always a record of inflow and outflow. This means that the goods and services must follow the proper channel within the bounds of a sovereignty.
Financial experts have also agreed that properly checked borders have not ensured whatever enters the territory are taxed, thereby boosting the income of the country, but mostly essential in ensuring the safety of lives and property. It is worth noting that safety of lives and investments are prerequisites to investment decisions.
In recent years, Nigeria has recorded a cocktail of such crisis, which has been blamed on cross-border activities. But it is also understandable that lapses, which still remain, has been tolerated due to low productive capacity to firmly effect import substitution policy.
An economist and financial market analyst with FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, Ayodele Akinwunmi, agreed that the border has to be regulated so that some sanity can come into the free movement of goods and persons because of the adverse economic and security implications on the economy.
“Besides, there is a subsisting policy concerning the importation of items that can be produced locally, which majority of them are smuggled through the border. No sovereign state will allow free movement of goods and persons that can cause havoc to its economy.
“Whatever diplomatic agreements were signed, they are within a set of guidelines that should be mutually beneficial to all the states within the economic regions. Any deviation would not only be tantamount to breach, but would create diplomatic friction and distortion of economic cooperation,” he said.
While issues of timing and short term effects have been raised by some, Emma Wagbo, an economist pointed out that country specifics are acceptable in policy decisions, especially when time lags create an opportunity to evade well thought-out plans.
“Irrespective of the immediate pains as reflected in the form of escalating food prices, Nigeria has recorded some gains in the process. Nigeria should have built structures within the economy that will stimulate local production and manufacturing of goods at competitive costs, but until we get there, let us start with what is on ground now. I think it is the only way to deal with policy riggers here,” he said.
The closure of Nigeria’s land borders, which came without warning ‪on August 21, has opened up neighboring countries exploitation of liberalism to the detriment of the economy. Now they are angry with Nigeria, yet there own borders remain tight.
According to a BBC report, the action of the government is affecting trade across the sub-region. The report further disclosed that that the bustling borders have come to a standstill, with goods rotting and queues of lorries waiting at checkpoints in the hope the crossings will reopen, adding that Nigeria’s neighbours are angry, saying the smuggling of rice mainly prompted the action .
Smuggling in numbers
Nigeria, with a population estimated at about 196 million, has a huge demand for rices. So, it’s mainly rice, among other commodities, that are more smuggled. The notorious route for such illegality is Cotonou, Benin’s commercial hub, targeting Nigeria’s economic capital, Lagos.
The World Bank report showed that Benin’s economy is heavily reliant on the informal transit trade with Nigeria, which accounts for about 20% of its GDP and national income. About 80 per cent of Benin’s imports are not for their consumptions, but onward movement to Nigeria, with the majority finding their way in the country illegally. While bans have stopped the illegal trade over the years, it was time to experiment with total closure of the land borders.
This same border is also a major corridor for second-hand cars to Nigeria, where there is a ban on importing cars that are more than 15 years old. A report claimed that Luxembourg-based shipping company, BIM e-solutions, Sid that an average of 10,000 cars arrive at the Cotonou port from Europe monthly.
But sources from the Nigeria Customs Service, agreed that many of these cars are smuggled across the border to Nigeria. This year, former Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, said petrol smugglers were taking about 10 million litres out of the country each day. It’s indeed, high time drastic measures were introduced.
CBN interventions
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since 2015, has raised its bar in the pursuit of import substitution policy, particularly targeting food production and other commodities that can be produced locally. While the country, since 2013, has been allowing rice importation through the ports, it is with a 70 per cent tax. The huge tax was to discourage its import and attract investment in its production locally, as well as protect the fledgling local farmers.
Clearly, the monetary policy transmission mechanism in Nigeria is inhibited due to numerous factors, especially the menace of smugglers. For example, despite efforts by the apex bank through its development finance activities to raise domestic production, especially in rice production, the menace of smuggling has continued to affect local production.
A Nigerian maritime site- Ships and Ports, noted that in 2014, Benin lowered its tariffs on rice imports from 35 per cent to seven per cent, while Cameroon erased it completely. These were to counter Nigeria’s 70 per cent tax and flood the market with rice at cheaper rate.
But CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, stated that since the border closure, Nigerian rice, as well as poultry farmers have been benefitting, as they have been able to market their accumulated produce, which sales were hampered by illegal importation and smuggling.
The CBN Governor said the development had negatively affected Nigeria’s economy, adding that the government was  determined to keep the borders closed until all engagements in connection with the issues were concluded with the neighbouring countries to have them halt the use of their ports as lunch-pads for smuggling items into Nigeria.
“Between 2015 and now, we have seen an astronomical rise in the number of companies, corporates and individuals that are setting up mills, integrated mills and even small mills in the various areas.
“The Central Bank and agriculture ministry have been at the centre of not just encouraging the production of rice in Nigeria, but also funding these farmers to buy seedlings, fertilizers or some of the herbicides that they need for their rice production.
“We have embarked on programmes, warning those who involved in the business of smuggling or dumping of rice in the country to desist or we will close their account in the banking industry. And that is coming very effectively.
“The Chairman of the Rice Processors Association and owner of Umza Rice in Kano State, called me and said that all the rice millers and processors are carrying in their warehouses nothing less than 25,000 metric tons of milled rice.
“Secondly, we also have members of the Poultry Association of Nigeria who also complained that they have thousands of crates of eggs that they could not sell, even some processed chickens that they could not sell, due to smuggling and dumping of poultry products into Nigeria.
“A week after the borders were closed, the same rice millers association called to tell us that all the rice that they had in their warehouses have all been sold. Indeed, a lot of people have been depositing money in their accounts and they have even been telling them to ‘please hold on don’t even pay money yet until we finish processing your rice.’
“The Poultry Associations have also come to say that they have sold all their eggs, they have sold all their processed chickens and that demand is rising.
“So, when you ask, what is the benefit of the border closure on the economy of Nigeria, the outcome on the two products- poultry and rice, is the answer. The benefit is that it has helped to create jobs for our people, it has helped to bring our integrated rice milling that we have in the country back into business again and they are making money.
“Our rural communities are bubbling because there are activities, as rice farmers are able to sell their paddy. The poultry business is also doing well, and also maize farmers who produce maize from which feeds are produced are also doing business. These are the benefits,” he said.
The Director of Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Isaac Okorafor, reiterating the importance of producing goods locally, said that jobs will be created and the value of the Naira will appreciate, while the domestic economy will become vibrant.
He said explained that these importers should come and establish in the country, as the nation cannot continue to consume other countries’ goods, noting that no country has ever developed that way.
“We have to emulate the Chinese economy. When China began manufacturing, people referred to their products as inferior. Today, China is leading in the manufacturing of most products in the world.
Nigeria can become another China. What our people are doing in Aba, in Abia State is an encouraging example. CBN has directed commercial banks to give loans to medium and small scale industries to encourage local production,” he said.
Already, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), has said that tax revenue profile had gone up, as cargoes destined for Benin now arrive at the Nigerian ports.
Ali was quoted as saying that “one day in September, a record N9.2 billion was collected, which had never happened before. After the closure of the border and since then, we have maintained an average of about N4.7 billion to N5.8 billion on a daily basis, which is far more than we used to collect.”
Border closures in retrospect
United States President, Donald Trump, during his campaign, said he was going to pay attention to the country’s borders and inflow of goods and services. He favored investments and productions in the country, otherwise everything would be subject to negotiations. Today, he has built walls against Mexico to check movement in persons. He is also going tough with China and its products.
Reports also show that the former Gold Coast, currently Ghana, once placed embargo on Nigerian immigrants and sent some that are already in the country away. Years later, the administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari; of blessed memory, Nigeria retaliated, which saw the forming of the popular cliche “Ghana-Must-Go.”
President Olusegun Obasanjo, also ordered the closure of this same Benin land borders, as the country’s citizen, Ahmadu Tidjani, carried out a criminal exploit in Nigeria. It was only when the country’s authorities arrested and handed him over to the Nigeria that the border was reopened.
Why has the country failed to stop its territory from being a lunch-pad for smugglers against Nigeria?
Already, the Federal Government has said that the nation’s land borders would remain shut until the country’s neighbours agree to implement mutual anti-smuggling policies. By January 2020, it would be seen whether the countries have agreed to the terms of the border reopening.

Ghana now imports flowers from SA – Osafo Maafo laments high importation rate

Date: Nov 11 , 2019 , 06:36
BY: graphic.com.gh

Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, has raised concerns about the high levels of importation of goods into the country.

In 2018, a total of USD1.35 billion was spent on the importation of rice into Ghana.
Currently, flowers are being imported into the country thrice a week, a situation the Senior Minister described as absurd and unacceptable.
Addressing a gathering on behalf of President Nana Akufo-Addo at the opening of the National Festival of Arts and Culture in Koforidua, Mr. Osafo Maafo called on Ghanaians to support government to end the trend.
“When I was the Minister of Finance, Ghana spent USD300 million on rice and we were complaining, the late Major Courage Quashigah was the Minister of Agriculture and he promised to reduce it to zero after 4 years but it was never achieved. Indeed, after 4 years, our rice import bill went from USD300 million to USD700 million”.
“Last year, 2018, Ghana spent USD1.35 billion on the importation of rice, can you imagine– with the type of land we have, even in the forest areas the lowlands can grow rice to feed ourselves. As you go up to the north and fly over to Tamale you will see greenery flatlands that can produce rice for West Africa and we spent USD1.35 billion of our scarce foreign exchange resources to import rice”.
“I have not added the importation of chicken and even fruits and flowers, Ghana is now airlifting flowers from South Africa to Kotoka about 3 times a week. Is it right, can we continue this way? Certainly not, because we have all the gifts of riches and we need the leadership that will take us from this dependency that, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is providing and we should have all hands on deck to go on the Ghana Beyond Aid mindset”.

DPM Jurin holds talks with rice traders from United States

Description: DPM Jurin holds talks with US rice traders.DPM Jurin holds talks with US rice traders.
UNITED STATES – Deputy Prime Minister/Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has held talks with major Thai rice traders from the United States on the rice quality standards and plans to increase the volume of the premium export rice.
The commerce minister and executive officials of the Ministry of Commerce discussed market obstacles to the planned increase in the rice export volume. Mr Jurin said some 500,000 tons of Thai rice is exported to the United States per a year. Notably, the volume of Home Mali rice exported to the U.S. market has increased 4.92% over the last five years.
Trade fairs have been held by rice importers and leading U.S. supermarkets to promote Hom Mali rice from Thailand. The Thai rice has been publicized by culinary institutes and Thai restaurants and has had access to consumer groups in the United States. The publicity for the Thai rice has been carried out on social media.
’’The Thai government has addressed all levels of traders, particularly those who have imported rice and food from Thailand for a long time. The Ministry of Commerce remains prepared to work closely with every rice trader and hopes to welcome them. We will focus on the marketing and proactive publicity to promote the consumption of premium quality rice from Thailand,’’ Mr Jurin said.

Bumper rice output to reduce imports

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2019 10:02Description: Mwea Irrigation schemeA woman threshes rice on a rock during harvesting time at Mwea Irrigation scheme in Kirinyaga county.
Kenya will this year cut rice imports by 36 percent following above average production in major irrigation schemes.Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary Joseph Irungu said the country anticipates production of 240,000 tonnes of rice, which is almost double the output in the previous year.
Kenya mainly relies on imports to bridge the local deficit, bringing in up to 250,000 tonnes annually to meet the demand.
“We are expecting a good crop this year and this will play a major role in cutting down on imports, hence benefiting our farmers,” said Mr Irungu.
National Irrigation Board (NIB) general manager Gitonga Mugambi said the production has resulted from good crop husbandry and expansion of the crop to regions.

PH is world’s biggest rice importer for 2019

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:06 AM November 12, 2019
The Philippines was on its way to become the world’s biggest importer of rice this year following the government’s decision to allow the unimpeded importation of the staple as a way to bring down prices, international data showed.
A report by the United States’ Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA-FAS) has projected the country’s rice imports to reach a record three million metric tons (MT) by year-end—the highest in the world and the highest for the country.
This tops the current biggest importer of rice, China. The Asian nation, with a population of 1.4 billion, is expected to import 2.5 million MT of rice this year.
Last month, the two countries were tied at the top spot with a projection of 3.1 million MT of rice imports.
Based on USDA-FAS’ estimates, the country’s imports would increase by 58 percent to three million MT from 1.9 million MT last year, and by 275 percent against the 2017 record.
The spike in the country’s imports was due to the enactment of the rice tariffication law in March, which opened the country’s doors to unlimited rice imports. With the new policy, traders are now allowed to import rice regardless of the volume so long as they would be able to secure the necessary permits and pay a tariff of 35 percent.
The volume of rice imports since March has yet to slow down despite data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing that the country only needed to import about 1.9 million MT of rice to fill local demand.
Economic managers said the policy shift would bring down the prices of rice in the market. As of October, PSA data showed that the average retail price for regular milled and well-milled rice had already gone down to P37.22 and P41.89 a kilo, respectively. While these were lower by 14.3 percent and 18.6 percent from rates in the same period last year, these fell short of the National Economic and Development Authority’s projection that the cost of rice would go down to as low as P25 a kilo—lower by P2 against the NFA rice in the market.
The average farm gate price of palay, meanwhile, has plummeted to an eight-year low for being unable to compete with more affordable imported rice.
As of October, the Bureau of Customs said some 1.9 million MT of rice already entered the country, bringing the country’s national inventory to 2.28 million MT during that month. This was higher by 43.4 percent than the previous year’s record of 1.59 million MT, and higher from the previous month’s level.
Based on the country’s daily average rice requirement of 32,000 MT, the latest inventory is sufficient for 71 days.
Nonetheless, the USDA-FAS is expecting the country’s rice imports to slow down next year amid excessive supply and improved local production.

Protecting farmers urgent with PH as biggest rice importer – Pangilinan

By: Krissy Aguilar - Reporter / @KAguilarINQ
INQUIRER.net / 05:45 PM November 11, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan wants measures put in place to protect farmers as doing so would ensure food security, especially now that the Philippines has reportedly surpassed China as the biggest rice importer in the world.
“We should all be deeply worried by the news that the Philippines has surpassed China as the world’s biggest importer of rice,” Pangilinan said in a statement issued on Monday.
“This means that our country has become perilously dependent on other nations for our everyday food — for out everyday rice,” he added, partly in Filipino.
According to Pangilinan, the Philippines is set to reach a record-high 3 million metric tons of rice imports this year, while China is only importing 2.5 million metric tons.
“Urgent action is demanded. Provide cash assistance to help our farmers through these lean times. Raise the tariff for rice imports,” Pangilinan said.
“Immediate and proper use of RCEF [Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund] for mechanization and increased productivity. Correctly implement the Sagip Saka Act to increase the incomes of our farmers ASAP,” he added. “Let’s not wait for our number of farmers to decrease and let ourselves eventually depend on other countries for our food. Let us protect our farmers now to protect our food security.”

PH’s rice stocks surge by 43% in October

 November 11, 2019, 10:00 PM
By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Philippines’ rice inventory surged by 43 percent in October, with higher stocks at both households and commercial warehouses.
A data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that as of October 1, total rice stocks of the country stood at 2.27 million metric tons (MT).
This was higher by 43.4 percent than the previous year’s record of 1.58 million MT and by 23.7 percent than the preceding month’s inventory level of 1.84 million MT.
Rice stocks in all sectors grew compared with their levels in the previous year, PSA said.
To be specific, Stocks in the households and commercial warehouses increased by 22.5 percent and 38.2 percent, respectively.
Continuous upsurge was also recorded in National Food Authority (NFA) depositories at 207.3 percent.
Of this month’s rice stocks inventory, 46.2 percent were in the households, 36.5 percent were in commercial warehouses, and 17.3 percent in NFA depositories.
The latest PSA report came as the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reiterated its earlier forecast that the Philippines may end up becoming the world’s largest rice importer this year, beating China, the world’s most populous country with a population of around 1.4 billion.
In the latest report, it looked like the Philippines, home to 105 million people, is on track to import 3 million metric tons (MT) this year, while China is expected to import only 2.5 million MT.
This, as the world’s second largest economy continuous to boost its local rice production.
“The Philippines rice imports have nearly quadrupled, from 800,000 metric tons in 2016 to 3.1 million anticipated for 2019, representing 7 percent of total global rice imports. In comparison, China’s share of global rice imports has almost reduced by half, to just over 7 percent,” USDA said in a previous report.
“While China rice imports continue to shrink, Philippine purchases provide much appreciated reprieve from nearby exporters in Southeast Asia,” it added.
In that report, USDA pointed out that the Rice Tariffication Act, passed in March, indeed “led to a considerable increase in imports and, consequently, decline in domestic prices”.
“While this helped lower inflation, the Philippines adjustment to rice liberalization remains a challenge,” the state-run agency said.
Right now, the Philippine government wants to control the importation of rice by restricting the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPS-IC) to traders.
In order to import rice, Rice Tariffication Act or RA 11203 only requires local traders to obtain an SPS-IC from the Department of Agriculture (DA). An SPS certifies that rice imports that will enter the country are free from pests and diseases.
“We will try to lessen the importation and limit it to 1 million metric tons because that’s what we need. We will help the rice farmers,” Senator Cynthia Villar, the author of RA 11203, said earlier.
While Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) welcomed this, it noted that Villar’s suggestion runs counter both to the spirit and letter of the Rice Liberalization Law that she herself sponsored.
Raul Montemayor, FFF National Manager, noted that RA 11203 was designed to remove all forms of quantitative limits on rice imports and replace these restrictions with tariffs.
“Imposing a limit of one million tons is equivalent to reintroducing a quantitative restriction, which RA 11203 specifically prohibits. The only way you can change that is to repeal or amend the law, which Senator Villar has stubbornly opposed,” Montemayor said.

Palace ‘concerned’ PH is world’s top rice importer

By: Nestor Corrales - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
INQUIRER.net / 06:24 PM November 12, 2019
Description: Unloading rice from a ship
This photo, taken on July 05, 2007, show workers unloading sacks of rice from the Vietnam cargo ship in the port of Tabaco, Albay. The National Food Authority (NFA) was then importing 10,800 metric tons of rice from Vietnam due to a supply shortage. (File photo by Edwin Bacasmas / Philippine Daily Inquirer)
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is “concerned” that the Philippines has become the world’s biggest importer of rice this 2019.
But presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government was on top of the situation.
“We are concerned precisely that’s why [Agriculture] Secretary [William] Dar is there,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing. “Dar is doing his own ways to solve whatever problems confronting the farmers.”
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Dar last August to head the Department of Agriculture to Emmanuel Piñol.
Dar is a former director-general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and was acting agriculture secretary during the administration of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
“Secretary Dar has been appointed there precisely because he used to head that department and he was successful during his stint. So, he would be knowledgeable on how to curb whatever problems that are existing today,” Panelo said.
The country’s rice imports have been projected to reach a record 3 million metric tons (MT) by year-end, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA-FAS)
“Secretary Dar has been placed there precisely to undertake measures, to solve the problems hounding the industry,” Panelo said.
He said the government recognized that the county had as rice sufficiency problems but said Dar was “on top of that.”
“I’m sure Secretary Dar knows the problem and he will introduce measures to solve the same,” he said. “We expect Secretary Dar to implement measures that will make our rice produce increase.”
Ghana now imports flowers from South Africa - Senior Minister laments
Source: Ghana| Myjoyonline.com | Jessie Ola-Morris | Intern
Date: 11-11-2019 Time: 10:11:05:am
Description: http://photos.myjoyonline.com/photos/news/201701/9866314489239_750972148134.jpg
Senior minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo
Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Marfo is worried about the alarming rate of the country’s importation of goods. He said the country currently importing flowers thrice in a week from South Africa is an absurd situation which is unacceptable.
Speaking at a gathering on behalf of President Akufo-Addo at the opening of the National Festival of Arts and Culture in Koforidua, the former Finance Minister called on Ghanaians to support the Akufo-Addo government to end the trend.
In 2018, Ghana spent $1.35 billion to import rice.
According to him, “When I was the Minister of Finance, Ghana spent ¢300 million on rice and we were complaining.
“The late Major Courage Quashigah was the Minister of Agriculture and he promised to reduce it to zero after 4 years but it was never achieved. Indeed, after four years, our rice import bill went from $300 million to $700 million”.
Mr Osafo Marfo bemoaned such a development saying it is not right and the country cannot continue.
“….with the type of land we have, even in the forest areas the lowlands can grow rice to feed ourselves. As you go up to the north and fly over to Tamale you will see greenery flatlands that can produce rice for West Africa and we spent $1.35 billion of our scarce foreign exchange resources to import rice”.
“I have not added the importation of chicken and even fruits and flowers, Ghana is now airlifting flowers from South Africa to Kotoka about 3 times a week. Is it right, can we continue this way? Certainly not, because we have all the gifts of riches and we need the leadership that will take us from this dependency that, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is providing and we should have all hands on deck to go on the Ghana Beyond Aid mindset”.
Ghana imports mostly industrial supplies, foodstuffs, capital and consumer goods. Its main imports partners are China, United States, Belgium, United Kingdom and France.
Imports averaged $951.45 million from 2004 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of $1707 million in October of 2013 and a record low of $65.23 million in October of 2004.
Although the country engages in export activities, imports into the country supersede exports.
The senior minister said if the country will experience the development it seeks to achieve, then Ghanaians should help move the economy from an import-dependent one to an export-driven one.
Mr Osafo Marfo urged Ghanaians to help move from an import-dependent one to export-driven so the citizens can feed themselves and not depend on others.
“Let us at least feed ourselves, let’s export enough, earn enough to put our roads right. Everybody is complaining about bad roads network and it is a fact but how do you repair your roads, should we be going out asking for loans to do all our roads or we should be earning revenue from our resources to repair our roads”.

“The second is the alternative, we must out of our own resources earn enough to put our roads right, fix our road network, to create employment for ourselves and even our culture when properly mounted we can earn enough to fix our roads,” he added.

Senate objects to ‘disastrous’ proposal to ease sugar imports

Published Nov 11, 2019 7:13:44 PM
Description: https://www.cnnphilippines.com/.imaging/mte/demo-cnn-new/750x450/dam/cnn/2019/04/18/Sugar_CNNPH.jpg/jcr:content/Sugar_CNNPH.jpg
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 11) — The Senate is asking the executive department to withhold its plan to ease taxes on sugar imports as this would adversely impact around five million people.
“The deregulated entry of subsidized sugar into the Philippine market will be disastrous to our sugar industry … particularly to 84,000 farmers — mostly small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries,” senators said in Senate Resolution 213 adopted Monday.
Senators also said the plan contradicts President Rodrigo Duterte’s aim to achieve food security and will “severely affect” the agriculture sector.
They added that the proposal is “untimely” as the Sugar Industry Development Act, which seeks to promote competitiveness in the sugar industry, has only been in effect for four years and projects under it “are not yet fully realized.”
The lawmakers also noted that liberalizing sugar imports would not affect the competitiveness of food with sugar, as the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) already allows food exporters to import sugar without taxes as long as the end-product is exported and not sold locally.
The SRA allowed in August the importation of 250,000 metric tons of sugar to balance demand and curb inflation.
Economic managers have long been pushing to further ease sugar imports to lower prices and force the local industry to compete globally.
This proposal follows the liberalization of rice imports, which brought down the retail price of rice, but also hit rice farmers as the price of palay (unhusked rice) also plummeted.
CNN Philippines Correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.

Researchers use drones to pilot a new tool to fight malaria

 1d ago    |    Source: reuters.com

Scientists seeking a breakthrough in the fight against malaria have used drones to spray rice fields in Zanzibar - not with traditional pesticides but with a thin, non-toxic film.
The fields are typical breeding grounds for the anopheles mosquito - the type that transmits malaria, which the United Nations says kills a young child every minute and causes 75 percent of all under five deaths.
Ninety percent of all cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
The researchers, led by Bart Knols from Radboud University in The Netherlands, plan to sample the larvae and the mosquitoes in the fields before, during and after spraying it with the silicone-based liquid, Aquatain AMF, to test its impact.
Malawi has used drones to map mosquito breeding sites but the researchers in Zanzibar say preventing pupae and larvae from attaching themselves to the surface of the water takes the malaria fight to the next level.
“By controlling them right at the source we hope to have an impact ultimately on the transmission of malaria,” Knols said.
He and fellow researchers chose Tanzania’s Zanzibar archipelago for the pilot partly due to its progressive laws on the use of drones for research.
“It is very difficult to just walk through the paddies and apply the chemicals, so you want to have something that can just spray it on the water surface. It spreads, does the job and that’s it,” said Wolfgang Richard Mukabana from the University of Nairobi, one of the researchers.
After the trial in Zanzibar, they aim to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals, they said, and hope to expand the approach across the continent.
The liquid is made by Australian company Aquatain Products Pty Ltd, which says it is highly permeable to gases so does not prevent the water from being oxygenated.

Millers delay procurement plan

Uncertainty looms over kharif paddy procurement in Kalahandi district with custom millers yet to sign agreement and deposit security.
Published: 11th November 2019 09:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th November 2019 09:54
By Express News Service
BHAWANIPATNA: Uncertainty looms over kharif paddy procurement in Kalahandi district with custom millers yet to sign agreement and deposit security. In the last rabi season, purchase of paddy was delayed by a month as millers expressed reluctance to sign agreement over their demands like enhancement of transportation charges, storage commission and gunny bag depreciation charges.
The district administration had planned to start kharif paddy procurement on November 1 to check distress sale. As many as 72 rice millers were selected to participate in the procurement process. However, the millers are yet to sign the agreement for their participation.The Civil Supplies department had issued letters to the rice millers to sign the agreement and deposit security a fortnight back. However, there has been no response from the millers so far.
The Agriculture department has assessed paddy production in the district at 81 lakh quintal in the current kharif season on the basis of which marketable paddy surplus will be procured. As many as 72,843 farmers in the district have registered their names online within the deadline of September 22.
In the first phase, the State Government has fixed the procurement target at 26 lakh quintal paddy. The target will be enhanced in the subsequent phases. Paddy will be procured through 74 Primary Agriculture Cooperative societies (PACS) and 17 women SHGs at 178 mandis.
Local farmers expressed concern over the delay by custom millers. “The hold-up will lead to distress sale by small and marginal farmers,” they said.
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Rice inventory up more than 43% at start of October amid harvest season

Description: https://www.bworldonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/NFA-rice-warehouse-071219.jpgPHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAELVARCAS
THE national rice inventory was estimated at 2.279 million metric tons (MMT) as of October 1, up 43.4% from a year earlier, and up 23.7% month-on-month, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
The estimate was contained in the PSA’s Rice and Corn Stocks Inventory report. Rice inventory levels are sufficient for about 71 days’ consumption based on a daily average assumption of 32,000 MT.
Some 46.12% of the rice inventory was held by households, 36.5% by commercial warehouses, and 17.3% by the National Food Authority (NFA). The PSA gave no breakdown of domestically grown against imported rice.
All categories reported increases compared with a year earlier. Household inventory increased 22.5%, commercial warehouses rose 38.2%, and NFA stocks was up 207.3%.
On a month-on-month basis, rice stocks held by households increased 56.4%, those in commercial warehouses rose increased 9.6%, while NFA inventory was down 3.6%.
The high inventory levels reflect fresh rice from the harvest, which ran from September to October, as well as increased import volumes.

Corn inventory was 1.095 million MT, up 93.3% year-on-year and up 42.6% from a month earlier.
Corn held in commercial warehouses accounted for 72.1% of the total, while households held 27.9% and the NFA zero.
Compared with a year earlier, warehouses and households increased their holdings. Household inventory rose 101.5%, while commercial warehouse inventory increased 90.4%.
Month-on-month, household inventory increased 43%, while holdings of commercial warehouses rose 42.4%. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

Thailand asks farmers not to grow off-season rice on drought worries
NOVEMBER 11, 2019 /
FILE PHOTO: A woman shows collected rice seeds during the annual royal ploughing ceremony in central Bangkok, Thailand, May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The Thai government has asked farmers in 22 provinces to not grow off-season rice, as the country braced for a dry spell amid low water levels in main reservoirs.

Thailand, the world’s second-largest rice exporter after India, will not have enough water to grow the crop in some 960,000 hectares of rice fields around the Chao Phraya River basin in the coming months, authorities said on Monday.

Water in the country’s four main reservoirs covering the 22 provinces currently stood at 5.4 billion cubic meter, a level lower than 12 billion a year earlier, said Thaweesak Thanadachophol, deputy director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department.

“That’s enough for consumption but not for off-reason rice growing,” Thaweesak said.

“So we’ve asked farmers not to grow rice.”

Off-season rice growing usually starts in November and harvest begins in February. Thailand entered a dry season on Nov. 1, which is expected to last through to April 30 next year.

Last month, the cabinet approved a series of drought management measures, including drilling groundwater wells and making artificial rain.

Rerporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Rashmi Aich

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Rice Prices

as on : 12-11-2019 02:51:48 PM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
 November 12, 2019

Ghana on course to achieving self-sufficiency in rice production soon – Agric Ministry

  Chief Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Robert Patrick Ankobeah
Description: Chief Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Robert Patrick AnkobeahGhana is on course to achieving self-sufficiency in rice production soon, Chief Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Robert Patrick Ankobeah has said.

He says government is prioritizing providing support to rice farmers and other agricultural producers because “if there is any sector where Ghana can easily achieve self-sufficiency, it is in the agricultural sector.”

“Ghana rice is just amazing. Ghana has great potential and the vision of the president for Ghana beyond aid is attainable. We are targeting self-sufficiency in rice by 2020.

“From the way things are going, we could even achieve it earlier,” Mr Ankobeah said. He was speaking at the 2019 Ghana Rice Festival at the Efua Sutherlands Park in Accra.

The festival organized by the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) and the John A. Kufuor Foundation had the objective of celebrating Ghana’s burgeoning local rice industry.

It was used to showcase the various high quality, produced-in-Ghana rice brands. The occasion was also used to encourage Ghanaians to consume more Ghana rice brands.

MOFA under the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme announced in 2017 it is working to ensure the nation increases local rice production within 3 years and achieve 100% self-sufficiency by 2023.

Chief Executive Officer of the John A. Kufuor Foundation Prof. Baffour Agyeman – Duah told the ceremony that vision is on course.

“We are all looking forward to 2023 when Ghana can start exporting rice. Ghana rice is more nutritious than a lot of the rice we import... We hope that in the near future, the government will make sure that Ghana rice is what feeds all Ghanaians.”

“We believe that very soon, with the right support and direction, Ghana will no longer import rice. All of us should cooperate. It is important for government to give attention to the needs of rice farmers which they are doing now but should do more,” he said.

“The vision is simple. Ghana has good land and good water bodies. If we decide to produce rice, we can be a major exporter of rice. It doesn’t make sense to continue importing rice into the country and spending hugely.

“So, the former president J. A Kufuor is urging us all to support government to help make the country self-sufficient in food production,” Prof. Agyeman – Duah added.

President of the GRIB Nana Adjei Ayeh expressed gratitude to government and other agencies for their support to the local rice sector.

“Government wants us to help ensure that Ghana gets a formidable advocacy platform in the rice sector. It is great for the sector… Our Ghana rice is the best…,” he said.

Lack of water in Sado river threatens Alentejo rice production

By  Natasha Donn 
Lack of water in the Sado river is threatening the production of rice in the Alentejo – one of Portugal’s oldest rice-producing areas.
Farmers are caught between a rock and a hard place.
They aren’t receiving the amount of water they need – and to make use of water diverted from the Alqueva dam will cost them ‘too much’: rice cannot be ‘cost effective’ if it sells for more than 60 cents a kilo.
The quandary was aired by national media throughout the weekend.
This latest ‘crisis’ in rice production comes because two local dams – Vale de Gaio and Pego e Alter are critically low. The former is running at just over 18% capacity, the latter at less than 11%.
The ‘solution’ offered growers is to pay for ‘discharges’ of water into Vale de Gaio from Alqueva. There is even the plan to create a direct link between Pego do Altar and Alqueva.
But the problem is the cost of each cubic metre.
Say reports, charges are 12-13 cents more than growers currently pay for water from the local dams, and cumulatively, this would make all their efforts in producing rice pointless as it would need to be sold at a price that consumers further down the line are unlikely to accept.
Stresses Joaquim Manuel Lopes of the association of Setúbal district growers, “the State should be distributing water liberally and equally to all farmers for the same price, whether they are in Viana do Castelo or the Algarve”.
Water supply specialists see the situation differently, suggesting some areas (particularly Alcácer do Sal) may have to change ‘crops’ and start growing foodstuffs that can survive on limited water.
As all the articles agree, this situation isn’t new, and it is unlikely to improve long-term.
Other rivers too are suffering from lack of water – particularly the Tejo which gets its supplies ‘rationed’ by Spain which controls discharges.
Nélson Carriço, lecturer in hydraulics and water resources at Setúbal polytechnic, says Spain is actually breaking the terms of the Albufeira Convention which establishes rules for the management of the Iberian Peninsula’s international river basins.
“We are a downstream country”, he told reporters. “That is, the water comes from Spain – and Spain controls the flow that comes into Portugal.
“The Albufeira Convention provides for minimum flows, but often in summer these minimum flows are not checked. In other words there is a clear violation of the agreements.
“The Portuguese Government can always intervene with the Spanish Government, draw its attention to the situation, but what has happened repeatedly in the Tejo is the violation of the [minimum] flow rates”.
Minister for the environment and energy transition João Pedro Matos Fernandes has been pressured over this issue for months. Last weekend he pledged to renegotiate with Spain over minimum flows into the Tejo, while the government’s plan is also to construct a new dam on the river.

Too much sugar doesn't put the brakes on turbocharged crops

Description: IMAGE
Plants make sugars to form leaves to grow and produce grains and fruits through the process of photosynthesis, but sugar accumulation can also slow down photosynthesis. Researching how sugars in plants control photosynthesis is therefore an important part of finding new ways of improving crop production.
Recent research into highly productive turbocharged crops such as maize and sorghum, show the secret to their productivity could lie in their sugar sensing responses which regulate photosynthesis inside their leaves.
"By comparing rice and millet we found that crops that use the C4 photosynthesis path, such as maize, sorghum and millet, regulate photosynthesis using different sugar signal mechanisms than C3 crops, such as wheat and rice. This may be part of the reason why they are more productive," said lead researcher Dr Clemence Henry from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis (CoETP).
"Plants can detect how much sugar is being produced and used through a complex set of sugar sensing mechanisms. These mechanisms can shut photosynthesis down if sugar accumulation is too high. However, to our surprise, we found out that unlike previously shown in some C3 plants, C4 plants are not so sensitive to high levels of sugars, which shows us that the feedback mechanism is not as simple as we previously thought" Dr Henry says.
"We are trying to understand how photosynthesis is regulated in C4 plants, which are some of the most important cereals in global food production. The regulation mechanisms have been well studied in C3 plants, but until now, we didn't know what happens in C4 crops and how this is related to their ability to produce more sugars," says Dr Oula Ghannoum, CoETP Chief investigator at Western Sydney University.
"One of the most exciting outcomes of this research is that if we understand how sugar signalling works in C4 crops, in the future when we transfer turbocharged photosynthesis mechanisms to crops like wheat and rice we will ensure we improve their yield," says Dr Ghannoum.
Improving photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight, water and CO2 into organic matter, is recognised as one of the best ways to increase crop production.
"The tricky part is to translate the results found at the molecular level to the crop level. For improved photosynthesis to give more yield we need to "take the brakes off" the crop. This is an essential piece of the puzzle to achieve improved yield through increased photosynthesis," says CoETP Director Professor Robert Furbank, one of the authors of this study.
During the study, published recently in the Journal of Experimental Botany, the scientists used light intensity as a means to increase sugar production and identify the genes responsible for photosynthesis regulation. This is one of the few studies that are focusing on the source of sugar production where photosynthesis happens, rather than in the sinks where sugars are used by the plant. This is one of the few studies that are focusing on the source (leaves) where sugar production and photosynthesis take place, rather than in the sinks (grains, fruits) where sugars are used.
"We still have a lot of unanswered questions about how these sugar sensors work. Our next steps are to manipulate these sensors, which will help us to gather essential information we need to transfer them to C3 crops in the future," Dr Ghannoum says.
This research has been funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis, which aims to improve photosynthesis to increase crop production and is a collaboration with Rothamsted Research in the UK.

Experts to tackle PH Rice Tariffication Law policy implications

 November 12, 2019, 1:41 pm
Description: https://files.pna.gov.ph/category-list/2019/11/12/searca-fb-profile-pix.png
(photo taken from SEARCA FB profile)
LOS BAŇOS, Laguna - The Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research and Agriculture (SEARCA) will hold a session on the regional implications of the Philippine Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) during the Inaugural Rice Research Symposium on Wednesday (Nov. 13) at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.
The research symposium is part of the 11th World Rice Conference organized by The Rice Trader (TRT).
Republic Act 11203 or the RTL has recently been passed in the Philippines with the purpose of lifting existing quantitative import restrictions on rice.
With the current influx of imported rice and the consequent plunge in domestic farm gate prices, the RTL has amassed mixed reactions from various stakeholders of the local rice industry, raising the question as to whether it is indeed beneficial for the Philippine rice industry.
Meanwhile, the current push for the establishment of an Asean common market has steered regional strategies toward promoting and strengthening intra-Asean trade and market integration.
Whether the new law will help the Philippines reap the gains from international trade and make Filipino farmers more competitive in the local and international markets is the question the session aims to answer.
The SEARCA session will assess the policy implications on regional trade, rice reserves, food security, agriculture and rural development, and rice farmers' income and competitiveness in relation to the implementation of the RTL.
Session technical coordinator, Dr. Roehlano M. Briones, Senior Research Fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), will be joined in by representatives from relevant sectors who will provide a multi-stakeholder perspective on the issue.
The panelists are Dr. Ramon L. Clarete of the UP School of Economics (UPSE); Jerry E. Pacturan of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Asia Pacific Division; Cresente C. Paez of the Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA); Jansinee Kankaew of the Asean Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) Secretariat; and Jose Ma. Luis P. Montesclaros of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore. (PR)

Golden rice, long an anti-GMO target, may finally get a chance to help children

Description: Plant scientists Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer, the inventors of golden rice, at the time of the first field trials in 2004 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. (Golden Rice Humanitarian Board) Plant scientists Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer, the inventors of golden rice, at the time of the first field trials in 2004 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. (Golden Rice Humanitarian Board)
By Ed Regis 
November 12, 2019 at 3:46 a.m. GMT+5
Ed Regis is a science writer and the author, most recently, of “Golden Rice: The Imperiled Birth of a GMO Superfood.”
By the end of this week, Bangladesh’s agriculture minister is expected to announce the approval of “golden rice" for sale and use, making the country the world’s first to embrace a food that could save hundreds of thousands of children in developing nations from blindness and death. Golden rice has faced a years-long battle to overcome misguided hostility from critics of genetically modified foods and from overcautious bureaucrats. Its introduction in Bangladesh could be a monumental breakthrough for its acceptance worldwide.
For more than two decades, researchers have worked to develop a rice that contained higher levels of beta carotene, which the human body converts into vitamin A. The goal was to reduce the incidence of vitamin A deficiency — a health problem that is virtually unknown in rich Western countries but is a leading cause of childhood blindness and death in the developing world where rice is a staple, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia. According to the World Health Organization, “An estimated 250,000 to 500,000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.” Also according to WHO, millions of pregnant women worldwide are at risk of night blindness and other health problems from vitamin A deficiency, which can harm fetal development, too.
Golden rice’s efficacy as a source of vitamin A has been shown in experiments going back to 2009 with human volunteers. But despite its promise, the rice has been attacked by critics of genetically modified foods ever since it was announced in the pages of the journal Science in 2000. Indian anti-GMO crusader Vandana Shiva called golden rice “a hoax.” As I found in researching a book on golden rice and the struggles to get it to those who need it, Greenpeace has variously derided the potentially lifesaving food as “Fools Gold,” “All glitter, no gold,” “More hype than substance,” “Propaganda for the genetic engineering industry” and a “Golden Illusion.”
Defenders of golden rice, including the more than 100 Nobel laureates who in 2016 signed a letter urging Greenpeace to stop bashing GMOs, and in particular golden rice, tend to blame activist opposition for preventing the approval and release of this superfood. But that is only one cause. The greatest impediment to the release and use of golden rice has been the regulatory apparatus of the health departments and agriculture ministries in the countries where the research was being done as well as in the nations where the biofortified rice was most needed.
In short, the very government agencies that were supposed to protect human lives and health have instead been inadvertently responsible for years of mass blindness and death.
The main source of the problem is the 2003 so-called Cartagena Protocol, a United Nations-sponsored resolution on “biosafety” governing the handling, transport and use of GMOs. A key component of the protocol was its embrace of a precautionary principle stating that “lack of scientific certainty due to insufficient relevant scientific information and knowledge regarding the extent of the potential adverse effects” of a GMO on the environment or human health “shall not prevent” governments from taking action against the importation of the GMO in question.
That sounds like a simple “better safe than sorry” proposition, but in practice it became a bureaucratic doctrine of “guilty until proven innocent.” The worst of it was that the statement allowed the imposition of restrictions on a given GMO in the absence of any actual proof that it would cause harm, or even sufficient reason to believe that it would.
Governments responded by being not only cautious, but also zealously overcautious, when it came to GMOs. What this meant in real-world GMO science is illustrated by the set of rules created by the European Parliament in 2003, based on a directive regarding “the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms.”
The landmark legislation was legally binding on all member states of the European Union, and it governed virtually all aspects of GMO research, development and field testing. It provided, for example, that anyone wishing to conduct a field trial of a given GMO had to compile a technical dossier that furnished a virtually complete set of data about the plant at the molecular level, how it had been modified, with what genetic sequences and their origin — all of it in minute detail.
Ingo Potrykus, the co-inventor of golden rice, with Peter Beyer, has estimated that adherence to government regulations on GMOs resulting from the Cartagena Protocol and the precautionary principle caused a delay of up to 10 years in the development of the final product. During that decade, countless children in developing countries continued to go blind and die, and the health of pregnant women was also harmed. It was a potent illustration of the way erring on the side of caution can sometimes have fatal consequences.
If Bangladesh does indeed approve golden rice for release, and if the rice is consumed by vitamin A-deficient children and ends up saving their sight and lives, then many regulatory authorities — and GMO critics — will have a lot of explaining to do.

Golden Rice undergoing trials in Isabela, Nueva Ecija

Description: https://www.bworldonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Golden-Rice-111219.jpgIRRI
GOLDEN RICE, developed by biotechnologists to address Vitamin A deficiency, is still in the process of completing field trials before it applies for permission to be commercially propagated, officials said, amid the risk that it could get caught up in a broader debate about the safety of genetically-modified foods.
The Department of Agriculture’s Biotechnology Program Office (BPO) said the typical testing regime will take two years.
“For rice, kailangan i-validate mo yan sa iba’t-ibang locations, iba’t-ibang season. Yung ang tinitignan natin para makita natin yung stability nung variety (We need to validate the variety’s performance in various locations and seasons, to determine its stability),” BPO Director Dionisio G. Alvindia told reporters on Monday, without discussing when the field trials are expected to end.
Trials are being performed in Isabela and Nueva Ecija provinces.
“Usually ang testing nyan sa rice, a minimum of four trials… dalawang dry season, dalawang wet season, bale two years (The usual testing program for rice is a minimum of four trials, two in the wet season and two in the dry, or about two years),” he added.
The trials are being performed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in partnership with the DA.
According to the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, which helped develop Golden Rice, the variety is designed to address the “serious public health problem affecting millions of children and pregnant women globally,” and cited positive results from food safety evaluations conducted by regulators in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.
The Stop Golden Rice Network Philippines (SGRNP), a group of 30 organizations and individuals, cited the risks from the lack of a long-term understanding of how the variety performs.
“We are alarmed that Golden Rice will be made available to children, pregnant women and other vulnerable sectors without being subjected to any long-term and credible studies to assure us of its safety,” Melvin Palmero a member of the SGRNP from SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns said.
It cited a study from India indicating that Golden Rice’s beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A by the body, degrades rapidly after harvesting, processing and cooking.
“The Indian government research shows that 84% of the beta-carotene can be lost from Golden Rice after six months, unless it has been vacuum-packed and refrigerated. High temperature and humidity greatly contributes to the beta-carotene degradation, and cooking the rice will cause the further loss of 25% of the beta-carotene,” it said.
He said degraded beta-carotene is a cancer risk.
Mr. Alvindia said that these claims are not true and assured that Golden Rice is safe for humans.
Ito namang mga technology na ito, hindi naman basta ire-release sa public without verifying… Yung claim nila ay hindi totooYung stability, pine-perfect yan ng PhilRice (This technology will not be released to the public without safeguards. Their claims are not true. The stability is being perfected by PhilRice)” he said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

Growers urge government to plan paddy straw management
Growers have urged the government to come up with a comprehensive plan for disposal of paddy straw rather than just banning the burning of rice stubbles under section 144 in the bid to tackle the menace of environment pollution, especially smog.
They termed such steps as cosmetics unless the farmers are provided with incentives to obtain specific machinery which could help in management of paddy straw.
Problem with farmers is that managing the rice stubble is not an easy task, especially the harvested crop through the regular combine harvesters. Already decimated due to the higher production costs and the less return of investment, farmers cannot afford residue management and go for burning instead.
Modern machinery like rotavators and disc harrows are available in the market but they are very expensive for small-to-medium farmers and cannot mix the rice stubble in the soil until it is decomposed after watering and using fertilizer which not only increases the production cost of the next crop but also delays sowing of the next crop, resulting in low yields and poor quality, observed Aamir Hayat Bhandara, a progressive farmer and environmentalist while talking to Business Recorder here on Monday.
Aamir lamented that the government slept for nine months and woke up just before October and imposed section 144 on stubble burning and brick kilns. This is a fact that brick kilns (which are among the major contributors of pollution) have always been given relaxation till November mid. Due to this; it always looks like farmers are being made the victims by the government.
He said imposing section 144 is not the solution to tackle issues like smog or air pollution. It is rightly viewed as a threat but the government should work on future policies after taking farmers on board.
At the moment the government should offer incentives and subsidies to farmers for stubble collection to maintain their production cost of the next crop, provide machinery and latest harvester like Kubota at the village level introducing rental models, identify the industry like bio-fuels, paper, packaging and energy using crop residue