Friday, November 22, 2019

22nd November,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter



Will shut down units if cops not withdrawn: Rice millers


Posted at: Nov 22, 2019, 7:50 AM; last updated: Nov 22, 2019, 7:50 AM (IST)
Kurukshetra, November 21
Rice millers on Thursday threatened to shut down their units if the police are not withdrawn. The police was deployed at rice mills across the state on Wednesday to ensure that not a single grain was taken out of the mills not brought inside following reports of “bogus” purchase of paddy. 
The rice millers have also threatened to hand over the keys of their mills to the government and stop the delivery of custom-milled rice if the cops were not withdrawn. This was decided at a meeting here.
Haryana Rice Millers and Dealers Association chairman Jewel Singla, who chaired the meeting, said it was impossible for the millers to work in “stifling” conditions. 
“We are ready to cooperate with the state government. We have no objection to the inspection of our units. Our only grouse is the way we are being treated. The method adopted by the authorities is wrong,” he said.
Karnal: Congress’ Assandh MLA Shamsher Singh Gogi has demanded that an independent agency must inquire into ‘bogus’ procurement of paddy by rice millers. “On paper, the quantity of paddy brought to grain markets of the district is more than the production. The stock of all rice mills should be checked and their record put in the public domain so that people know about the nexus among officials, rice millers and arhtiyas,” the Congress leader said. tns

We are ready to cooperate with the state government. Our only grouse is the way we are being treated. The method adopted by the authorities is wrong.

[ANALYSIS] Duterte’s ban on rice imports: Enough of these capricious policies

Was rice tariffication a miscalculation by Duterte? Did he not anticipate that rice prices would plummet? Was he ill-advised by the economic team?
JC Punongbayan
Published 1:31 PM, November 21, 2019
Updated 1:31 PM, November 21, 2019
You might call it policy-making by trial-and-error.
In a recent late night press conference, following days of speculation, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Agriculture Secretary William Dar to stop all importation of rice and buy more rice from our local farmers.
Said Duterte, “Kung gusto talaga nating walang problema, bilhin lahat ng produce ng farmers….Para ‘yung farmers, may resulta sa pawis nila.” (To avoid problems let’s buy all the produce of farmers. So their efforts will pay off.)
Some sectors are hailing these pronouncements, which they expect will aid rice farmers whose incomes have been wiped out by the recent Rice Tariffication Act.
But let’s not forget that Duterte himself signed the Rice Tariffication Act on Valentine’s Day this year, resulting in the massive wave of rice imports. Now, capriciously, Duterte wants to reverse his very own policy.
There are ways to help out our embattled rice farmers without banning rice imports altogether. In fact, such a ban might only backfire.
Not bad per se
Rice tariffication per se was not bad.
It ended the decades-long monopoly of the National Food Authority (NFA) in the importation of rice, which not only caused perennial shortages and surpluses but also strained our government’s coffers no end. (READ: Will rice tariffication live up to its promise?)
Before, the NFA used to set a quota on the total amount of rice our country can import. Now, just about anyone can import rice as long as they pay the necessary import taxes (also called tariffs).
Indeed, rice tariffication flooded the domestic market with foreign rice and depressed rice prices everywhere. The US Department of Agriculture estimates, in fact, that by end of 2019 the Philippines will likely become the world’s largest rice importer, beating China.
Wipeout
Government policymakers expected – indeed intended – for rice prices to go down with rice tariffication. What surprised them, though, was the extent that this happened.
Figure 1 below shows that by end of October farmgate prices of palay (unhusked rice) dropped by about 24% relative to last year. Meanwhile, retail prices of well-milled and regular-milled rice dropped by 13% and 17%, respectively.
Figure 1.
Although falling rice prices are a boon to rice consumers, they spell lower incomes for millions of rice farmers nationwide – although rice prices did fall at different rates across the regions, as shown in the graphs made by my friend AJ Montesa (Figure 2).
Some stuff on falling palay prices pic.twitter.com/cHtg8DFoT8
— AJ Montesa (@ajamontesa) November 18, 2019
Figure 2.
Proponents of rice tariffication anticipated such hardships on our farmers. That is why they earmarked P10-billion worth of tariff revenues – also called the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) – to help tide over our farmers.
But this may not be enough.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) recently came up with a study showing that rice farmers across the country have suffered about P61.8 billion in lost incomes.

PHL to curb rice imports via nontariff measures

Photo from http://irri.org
MANILA will maximize nontariff measures (NTM) to limit rice imports and disallow “dummy” cooperatives from participating in rice trade, instead of an outright suspension of shipments, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the government will only tighten the guidelines for importing rice. Dar said this was one of the directives given by President Duterte to him during their meeting last November 20 to thresh out the Chief Executive’s pronouncement of suspending rice imports during harvest.
The meeting was also attended by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.
Dar said the Bureau of Plant Industry, an attached agency of the DA, will continue to process sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSIC), but the agency will evaluate applications using more stringent guidelines.
Aside from this, the DA chief said the President has also ordered the increase in the National Food Authority’s (NFA) buffer stock volume to 30 days, from 15 days, and to extend the unconditional cash transfers for farmers to 2020.

Tougher rules

Dar said rice traders will now have to show proof that their shipments comply with the government’s more stringent measures covering heavy metal content, pesticide residue, filth contaminants and microbial presence.
He said the government will also deploy teams that will inspect shipments at the country of origin “to ensure rice quality and safety for consumers and at the same time prevent the spread of crop pests and diseases [in the country].”
In a news briefing on Thursday, Dar told reporters, “We will see to it that [import] rules are tight during the main harvest season. We have all the facts so we will be strict in implementing these rules.”
The BusinessMirror earlier reported that the stringent food safety measures are aimed at limiting rice imports.
Rice traders and importers would have to secure an SPSIC first from the BPI so they can bring the staple from other countries into the Philippines. This requirement was mandated by the rice trade liberalization law.
“All rice importers will have to comply with the guidelines as required in securing the SPSIC,” said Dar.

Probe under way

The DA chief also directed the BPI to investigate importers and traders who have not used their SPSICs despite securing the document. Some traders were issued SPSIC as early as March, when the law took effect.
The BPI reported that only about two-thirds of some 3,000 SPSIC issued to importers have been used to date, which means there are some 1,000 unused SPSICs covering 1 million metric tons of rice.
Latest BPI data showed that as of October 31, 2,105 SPSICs have been used to import 1.693 MMT of rice from India, Italy, Myanmar, Pakistan, Spain, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Using the data we have, we will continue to improve these guidelines based on our experience,” said Dar.
He said the government will look into the possibility of imposing a validity period on issued SPSICs, which do not have an expiration date.

Removing dummies

Dar also revealed that the stringent SPS measures will weed out farmers’ cooperatives and groups that are being used as dummies of unscrupulous businessmen.
The DA chief cited the BusinessMirror’s stories about “dummy” cooperatives edging out legitimate traders in rice imports as among the reasons for their decision to go after these groups (See “Farmer groups ‘top rice importers’—are they?” in the BusinessMirror, November 21, 2019, and “Pre- and post-rice trade liberalization law, big traders gaming farmer groups,”  in the BusinessMirror, October 31, 2019).
He said the DA is in “constant” communication with concerned agencies, such as the Cooperatives Development Authority (CDA), Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC).
Dar said the DA is now in the process of “appreciating” the data provided by the CDA regarding the financial capacities of cooperatives that are registered with the BPI.
“That is what’s happening right now, [cooperatives] are being used. That’s why we want to make the rules stringent because they are just being used,” he said.
Dar said the government will not hesitate to open the warehouses or even file charges against the importers, including cooperatives, if the results of the PCC’s current probe on rice industry players will find that they served as dummies.
While he encourages all farmers’ associations, cooperatives and groups to venture into agribusiness, including rice importation, Dar stressed they must follow the law.
Dar had issued a memorandum order that required traders to ship their consignments to the Philippines within a prescribed period of time.
The same order “strengthened” registration procedures for interested rice importers by requiring them to submit documents proving their financial and logistical capacity to import rice, such as annual income tax return with audited financial statement for the last three years.

Dar’s tack backed

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) welcomed Dar’s pronouncements and has thrown its support behind the DA’s move to weed out farmers’ cooperatives and groups acting as dummies.
“We have expressed our concern in the past about the use of small farmers’ cooperatives and organizations as virtual dummies of large financiers and importers who are apparently submitting fictitious financial records and evidence of warehouses to secure import clearances from the BPI,” the FFF said.
However, FFF noted that the use of SPS will only bring temporary relief against the influx of rice imports, as importers would eventually find a way to comply with the food safety measures.
Also, FFF said the use of NTMs could open the DA to lawsuits from importers and even from the country’s rice trade partners at the World Trade Organization.
“We, therefore, maintain that the best way to control the surge in imports is through the imposition of general safeguard duties on imports. The legal and factual basis for doing this now is readily available,” it added.



President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a press conference at the Malacañan Palace
on November 19, 2019. VALERIE ESCALERA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
President Duterte has ordered Agriculture Secretary William Dar to suspend the importation of rice until the end of the Filipino farmers’ harvest season and to buy palay from them. Description: Duterte Holds a Press Conference
He did not say, however, when the suspension would take effect, or how long it would last.
The President issued the directive as local farmers bewailed the sharp drop in palay prices, which they blamed on the rice tariffication law that lifted quantitative import restrictions.
They have been complaining of low farmgate prices for their palay since the rice tariffication law allowed the entry of cheap, imported rice.
In a hastily called press conference on Tuesday night, Duterte was asked if he would order Dar to suspend rice importation amid falling prices of palay. “Yes, because it is harvest time,” he replied.
Palay fund
He said he would ask Congress to allocate funds to buy palay from farmers, even if it meant  billions of pesos in losses for the government.
A national farmers’ group said Duterte’s suspension of rice imports would not enable farmers to recoup their losses.
The Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan) estimated the farmer’s total losses at P140 billion this year, equivalent to P30,000 per hectare.
“The implementation of RA (Republic Act) No. 11203 has dealt a severe blow to poor Filipino farmers,” Katarungan spokesperson Jansept Geronimo said in a phone interview.
Some farmers have reportedly stopped sending their children to school due to low income, while others have been forced to borrow from loan sharks to be able to provide for their basic needs.
On Wednesday, a farmers’ alliance held a “national day of protest” against the rice tariffication law in different parts of the country.
Geronimo and more than 70 farmers from Sariaya town in Quezon province blocked the section of Maharlika Highway in Barangay Concepcion Uno around 9 a.m.
“As expected, some affected motorists got angry, but most of them were sympathetic to us,” he said. “Some of them even encouraged us to go on with our protest.”
Duterte said the government was ready to incur P3 billion in losses from buying palay so the farmers would live.
“At whose expense? All of us. The producers and the eaters,” he said.
He said rice importation must continue soon after the harvest season ended because the produce of farmers was not enough to sustain the needs of 110 million Filipinos eating rice.
Safeguard vs corruption
But he said he could not stop the implementation of the rice tariffication law, which he considered a safeguard against corruption. He was apparently referring to corruption that attended the issuance of import permits by the National Food Authority to certain groups.
Signed in February, the law allows individuals and businesses to import additional volumes of rice but requires them to pay tariffs to fund mass irrigation, warehousing and rice research to help farmers.
It sought to boost the rice supply in the country following soaring prices of the staple in 2018. But the implementation of the law had the opposite effect as it led to plunging palay prices.
Hungry or angry
Duterte reiterated his warning that Filipinos might go hungry and resort to riots if there was not enough rice in the country. “So you choose if you are in my position: the people will go hungry or the farmers will get angry?”
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia  was optimistic that the President would seek the advice of his economic team on the plan to suspend rice imports.

On Tuesday, Pernia said the liberalized rice trade that resulted in lower prices had benefited the poor.
Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno expressed confidence that a suspension of rice imports would not raise inflation.
Limit import volume
Advocacy groups are calling for the imposition of special safeguard (SSG) duties to limit the volume of imported rice.
The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), Federation of Free Farmers and Alyansa Agrikultura said imposing the duties to curb the entry of imported rice was the “legal” way to deal with the glut.
To date, about 2.9 million metric tons of rice had been imported, which, according to Sen. Cynthia Villar, “has gone beyond what is needed by the country.”
The groups recommended a safeguard duty of 70 percent on top of the 35 percent tariff from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to make imports more expensive.
“The benefit of SSG … is it automatically puts a cap on imports as the price of imported rice becomes at parity with local prices, making the Filipino farmers’ rice competitive,” PCAFI said in a statement.
Bayan Muna lawmakers, meanwhile, are seeking an inquiry into the purchase and distribution by the Department of Agriculture (DA) of P88 million worth of “defective” and “inappropriate” farm equipment.
The grain dryers with biomass furnaces and power generators were supposedly bought by the DA in order to help Filipino farmers cushion the impact of the rice tariffication law.

Not about imports

 04:25 AM November 22, 2019
“Import lovers” is a misplaced tag branded on those of us who have long argued for opening our rice trade—the last country in the world to do it, after three postponements over 25 years. It’s as if we are completely callous and unsympathetic to the plight of Filipino rice farmers, favoring foreign farmers over them.
Those critics miss the point. It’s not about getting more imports—even as that would be the natural immediate effect of removing absolute government control on trade. Rather, it’s about attaining an inherently stronger, competitive, resilient and profitable farm sector over the long term, and with it, prosperous farmers, who would not have to languish in poverty for decades. We’ve always held that this game-changing reform of removing government control over rice importation is the bitter pill we’ve long needed, to finally transform and modernize our agricultural sector, well beyond rice.
Our traditional approach to rice policy— where government controlled and restricted rice imports in the name of pursuing full rice self-sufficiency—has proven over the years to be a formula for failure. That it has been a failure is rather clear, yet certain loud voices are still asking that we reverse our tracks, turn around and go right back to that policy regime.
How do we know it was a failure? For one, it brought us no closer to self-sufficiency in our main staple. Instead, it led to an ever-widening gap between our domestic rice prices and those overseas. Back in the 1970s, Filipinos actually paid rice prices lower than the import price. But the subsequent shielding of the domestic rice industry from imports, seemingly inspired by a brief episode of self-sufficiency then, abetted a widening gap between domestic and international prices. By 1980, local prices were 11 percent higher. By 1995, Filipino consumers were paying 25 percent more for rice than their counterparts in the region did. At the turn of the century, the gap had grown to 87 percent, and since then, we’ve paid up to 2-3 times what consumers in our neighbors did for the staple.
This all means that through four decades, we increasingly became more costly producers of the commodity. Government saw little impetus to be assiduous in helping domestic rice producers improve their productivity and cost competitiveness, from the farmers to the millers. They were, after all, shielded from competition. Higher prices through trade protection, rather than effective productivity-raising support, became government’s primary tool to help rice producers. The policy regime not only bred complacency, but it also bred corruption and smuggling, which became more and more rewarding as the gap between domestic and import prices grew wider.
Worse, this age-old policy regime kept our rice farmers persistently poor. Most were hampered by low productivity, with lack of access to credit being a primary barrier to applying productivity-raising inputs. At the same time, growing volumes of smuggling, the profitability of which rose over time as the domestic-international price gap widened, were hurting the farmers as well.
Meanwhile, we had made our staple so much more costly than it needed to be, crowding out nutrient-rich foods from the diets of our poor, whose limited food budgets were taken up almost entirely by rice. Our higher rates of severe malnutrition seen in stunting, with its lifelong damage to our poor children, ultimately trace to the failed rice policy regime, which inadvertently proved to be antipoor and rendered millions of Filipinos food-insecure.
There is now a clamor from certain quarters to return to all that, after we’ve taken the bitter pill that will push government and producers toward doing the right things to finally bring our rice farmers to greater competitiveness. What we need to do now is wrap sugar around that bitter pill, with outright cash assistance to aggrieved rice farmers as necessary, and have the patience to wait for the bitter pill to do its work.
Turning back will not help farmers—not now, not in the future. It will only condemn them to more of the same poverty they’ve endured for decades, and deprive them of this one chance for true change.
cielito.habito@gmail.com

86 pct rice tariff needed for farmers to survive - advocacy group

ABS-CBN News
Posted at Nov 21 2019 05:23 PM | Updated as of Nov 21 2019 10:20 PM
MANILA - (UPDATE) The government needs to raise tariffs on imported rice to 86 percent from 35 percent to help Filipino farmers compete and ensure the survival of the local rice industry, an advocacy group said on Thursday.
Following Agriculture Secretary William Dar's announcement that the government will continue to allow rice importation, Alyansa Agrikultura appealed to authorities to raise the tariff on imported grain.
Alyansa Agrikultura chairman Ernesto Ordoñez said that while the rules of the World Trade Organization prevent the Philippines from unilaterally stopping imports, the WTO also allows the country to use tariffs to protect local farmers from unfair competition.
"The rule states that anybody can import but you must follow the tariff. The problem is that the tariff is ridiculously and wrongly low," Ordoñez said in an interview on ANC's Market Edge.
Ordoñez, who served as Agriculture as well as Trade undersecretary during the term of former president Fidel Ramos, said the tariff needs to be raised to 86 percent to make the price of imported rice equal to local rice.
The duty can eventually be lowered to 35 percent once local farmers are ready to compete in terms of price with farmers from other countries.
An agriculture advocate earlier said that it would take up to 4 years to get local farmers competitive with farmers from other countries.
Ordoñez meanwhile agreed with the government's move to implement stricter sanitary guidelines for rice imports. He said this would help control the amount of rice being shipped to the country.

Farmers protest rice tariffication after suspension of imports


LEYTE. Leyte farmers stage a lightning protest against the Rice Tariffication Law on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. Farmers' group Katarungan said similar protests were staged in at least 30 provinces in the country. (Photo courtesy of Katarungan-Eastern Visayas)
November 21, 2019
LOURDES Cabelis, a 53-year-old mother of two, joined other farmers in a lightning rally in Barugo, Leyte as part of a nationwide protest against rice tariffication.

“If the government is sincere (in wanting) to help the farmers, (officials) should go down to the farms and see for themselves our real situation,” Cabelis, who hails from Barugo, Leyte, said.

Land reform advocacy group Katarungan launched the protest in behalf of the rice farmers, who have been reeling from the low farmgate prices of palay (unhusked rice) as a result of rice tariffication.

“We, the farmers and major stakeholders in the rice industry, launch this nationwide protest to help the public understand the hardships that we are suffering at present and to express our disenchantment and frustration over government’s failure to address the crisis at hand,” said Jansept Geronimo, national spokesperson of Katarungan.

The group is calling for the suspension of rice importations. It launched the protest action even after President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed Tuesday night, November 19, 2019, that he had ordered the suspension of rice importations.

Under the Rice Liberalization Act, or Republic Act (RA) 11203, quantitative restrictions on rice imports are removed and replaced with tariffs of 35 percent on rice coming from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members.

A manifesto signed by 36 farmers’ groups said the law “not only ‘tariffied’ rice at a rate that unfairly caused huge losses in farmers’ incomes, it also unilaterally liberalized the rice industry by removing almost all major government controls over rice imports and domestic trade”.

The government adopted rice tariffication in a bid to bring down prices of rice and tame inflation, which was elevated for most of 2018.

Following the implementation of rice tariffs in March 2019, farmgate prices of palay have decreased.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the average farmgate price of palay went down by 23.5 percent to P15.52 per kilogram as of the first week of November 2019 from P20.28 per kilogram in the same week in 2018.

“With annual palay production at 19 million tons, every peso decline in palay prices means taking away P19 billion from the pockets of small farmers. We estimate that total losses of farmers for 2019 alone could reach P 140 billion, or P 30,000 per hectare. This is more than 10 times the damage wrought by Typhoon Yolanda to the agriculture sector in 2013, and it is all man-made,” the farmers said in their manifesto.

They warned of a brewing socioeconomic and humanitarian crisis in poverty-stricken rural areas because of the low palay prices.

“Farmers will default on their debt payments and may fail to borrow again for the next season. They may have to stop their children’s schooling. They will find it difficult to feed their families or buy medicine for their sick children,” said Geronimo.

“Many of them may stop farming altogether. Ironically, farmers were better off when quantitative restrictions on imports were still in place. They are now barely surviving because of a law that was touted to be good for them,” he added.

Supporting the manifesto were the Federation of Free Farmers, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka, Kilusan Para Sa Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan, Butil Party List, Magsasaka Party List, Alyansa Agrikultura, Freedom from Debt Coaliton, Bantay Bigas, Paragos, Task Force Mapalad, National Movement for Food Sovereignty, National Food Coalition, Pambansang Koalition ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, Aniban ng Magsasaka sa Agrikultura, PKSK, and Centro Saka, Inc.

Also, Aniban ng mga Magsasaka, Mangingisda at Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Alab Katipunan-BPMP, Laban ng Masa, Kilusang Maralita sa Kanayunan, Kilusan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino, Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid, Rice Watch Action Network, Integrated Rural Development Foundation, Sanlakas, Rural Poor Institute for Land and Human Rights, Caret, People’s Development Institute, Rural Poor Institute for Land and Human Rights, National Food Authority Employees Association, Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees, National Trade Union Center, Episcopal Church in the Philippines, Philcongrains, and Dr. Ted Mendoza of the University of the Philippines- Los Banos and the Integrated Rural Development Foundation.

Fund assistance for farmers

Five days after the signing of the Rice Tariffication Law in February 14, 2019, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia declared that the law “ushers in a new rice policy that will set in motion big reforms in the agriculture sector and will ensure the availability of cheaper rice (closer to world prices) in the market.”

According to the socioeconomic chief, the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund will be used “to provide key interventions to support farmers and enhance their competitiveness and profitability, including farm machinery and equipment to improve farm operations, rice seed development, propagation, and promotion, expanded rice credit, and extension services.”

“A portion of the rice tariff revenues in excess of P10 billion will be used to provide direct financial assistance to rice farmers affected by the removal of the quantitative restrictions and for diversification to high-value crops,” Pernia said.

Farmer Dhon Daganasol of Carigara, Leyte, however, said farmers have difficulty accessing government financial help.

“When farmers sell their rice to some private buyers, the rate goes down from P15 per kilo to P14 and P12, depending on the rice moisture. If it rains, the lower it goes,” said Daganasol, president of Katarungan-Eastern Visayas.

“What we demand is that there should also be a government agency that will buy our palay, and not the private businessmen alone,” added Cabelis, who led a signature campaign for 10,000 farmers in Leyte and Samar against the said law.

Duterte, aside from ordering the suspension of rice importations, asked Congress and the Department of Agriculture to set aside P3 billion for the purchase of rice grown by Filipino farmers.

The President directed Agriculture Secretary William Dar to fill government warehouses with locally grown rice.

The farmers said they need more support for their seeds, fertilizer, and farm equipment.

“Unfortunately, the farmers don’t receive much,” said Daganasol, adding that that the lack of government assistance hindered their productivity.


Daily Trust Agric Conference begins Tuesday
By . | Published Date Nov 22, 2019 6:13 AM T
The third edition of the Daily Trust Agric Conference and Exhibition will commence on Tuesday, November 26, 2019, at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. The conference, with the theme “Repositioning Rice, Sugar and Dairy Production for Optimal Yield, is expected to be declared open by the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Muhammad Sabo Nanono.
 The conference is aimed at tackling critical issues along the rice, sugar and dairy value chains, with a view to increasing output.
Renowned businessman, Emmanuel Ijewere, who is a co-chairman of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group, will chair the event at which the Executive Secretary/CEO of the National Sugar Development Council, Dr Latif Busari and the Executive Director/CEO, National Animal Production Research Institute, Zaria, Prof. C.A.M Lokpini, will examine issues vital to the growth of the value chains highlighted. Notable among the financial institutions that have confirmed participation in the two-day conference are First Bank of Nigeria Ltd, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Jaiz Bank Plc as well as the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending Plc and the Bank of Agriculture.
Others are agricultural development programmes/projects; the National Quarantine Service; agricultural research councils and agricultural research institutes. Also expected are agro-allied industries such as the projects section of the Dangote Group, the Honeywell Group, Wamco, Olam Group, L & Z Integrated Dairy Farms Limited, Umza Rice Mill Limited, and Labana Rice Group Limited. In the agrochemical industries arm of the sector, Notore Chemical Industries Nigeria has also confirmed its participation. There are also development partners, rice millers’ association, paddy rice dealers, and other interested parties. The event will begin at 9:30am daily.



Duterte order to suspend rice importation won't push through, Dar says

Published Nov 21, 2019 11:55:39 AM
Description: https://cnnphilippines.com/.imaging/mte/demo-cnn-new/750x450/dam/cnn/2018/9/13/rice-import-(2).png/jcr:content/rice%20import%20(2).png
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 21) – Contrary to President Rodrigo Duterte's verbal order, Agriculture chief William Dar on Thursday said that rice importation will not be suspended, at least during the harvest season.
Dar, in a briefing Thursday, said that the Bureau of Plant Industry will just be much stricter in implementing the issuance of import clearances to traders to ascertain that only good quality would enter the country.
“The DA through the Bureau of Plant and Industry, will strictly implement the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC). For instance, the agency will conduct pre-inspection at the point of origin of imported rice stock to ensure rice quality and safety for consumers and at the same time protect the spread of crop pests and diseases.”
Asked if this means that rice imports would go on as long as importers comply with requirements, the Agriculture chief said, “Yun po ang ibig sabihin.”
[Translation: That is what that means.]
Dar made the statement a day after his meeting with Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Finance chief Carlos Dominguez III on Wednesday, regarding the President’s order to suspend the import policy in a bid to help farmers who are suffering from historic low prices of unhusked rice. 
The official added that the National Food Authority is also directed to buy more palay from farmers who are suffering from historic low prices of unhusked rice (palay).
"NFA will increase the country’s emergency buffer stock from 15 days to 30 days by buying more palay from the rice farmers," Dar said.
Around 600,000 affected farmers tilling less than a hectare of farmland will also each receive ₱5,000 in cash assistance from the government in 2020 and 2021, he said.
He added that the NFA is also ordered to sell regular well-milled rice at an average of 20,000 or more bags a day. One bag is equivalent to 50 kilos.
A farmers' group previously questioned the Duterte's recent directive, saying there is no legal basis to do so.
The rice trade liberalization law authorizes the President to change import duties as long as they are allowable under international agreements to which the Philippines is a signatory, but it does not state whether a chief executive could stop rice importation.

BSP sees no inflation impact from halt to rice importation
November 21, 2019 | 12:30 am
Description: https://www.bworldonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/rice-import-110419.jpgREUTERS
SUSPENSION of rice importation amid the ongoing harvest, as ordered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, should have no impact on inflation, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said on Wednesday.
“It will not [affect inflation]. Walang (There will be no) impact sa (on) inflation,” Mr. Diokno told reporters at the BSP headquarters in Manila City.
Mr. Duterte said in a late-night press conference on Tuesday that he had ordered the suspension of rice importation as farmers reeled from falling prices.
He clarified, however, that the suspension was only for the duration of the current harvest season that runs from late September to mid-December.
Mr. Duterte was to meet Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar on Wednesday to discuss specifics of his order.
Republic Act No. 11203 — which liberalized importation of the staple after it was enacted on Feb. 19 and came into effect early the following month — resulted in an estimated P8 per kilogram (/kg) drop in retail prices of the staple, as intended.



Average farmgate prices, however, have fallen by 16.26% to 17.17/kg as of September from P20.51/kg in 2018’s comparable nine months, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
A surge in prices of rice, which accounts for 9.6% of the theoretical basket of goods widely used by households that is the basis for computing year-on-year price changes, due to delayed importation caused headline inflation to hit successive multi-year peaks last year. Inflation has been on a general downtrend this year, falling back into the BSP’s 2-4% target range for 2019 at 2.6% in the 10 months to October after clocking in at a decade-high 5.2% in 2018.
On the flip side, however, farmers have been reeling from smaller incomes since the government was not able to adequately implement safeguards that came with RA 11203.
Di naman nakaka-apekto kasi marami namang mga imports na darating pa lang e. Tapos ang concern nga is harvest season so baka lalong bumaba ang presyo. So temporary lang naman ’yun (It won’t affect inflation because there are still a lot of imports that have yet to arrive. Also, the concern is that it’s harvest season so prices might continue to go down. This is temporary),” Mr. Diokno explained.
For one farmers group, however, safeguard measures have more legal basis under RA 11203, which is otherwise silent on suspension of rice importation.
Matagal na naming pinu-push ’yung (We have been pushing for the implementation of) general safeguard duties, kasi pag na-impose nga sana iyon (because if the higher rates were imposed), it becomes more expensive for importers to bring in more rice,” Federation of Free Farmers Chairman Leonardo Q. Montemayor said by phone.
Ang isang problema dito (One problem) is how will the suspension of importation be carried out kasi under the law, free importation na,” he added.
“You cannot just say bawal na yung (say stop) importation. It’s against the law,” he said.
The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. said imports could resume in January or February next year “to ensure that imports will not coincide with harvest by dry season in March-April 2020.”
Besides allowing a special safeguard duty to protect rice farmers sudden or extreme price fluctuations, RA 11203 also allows the president to increase, reduce, revise or adjust import duty rates when Congress is not in session.
If there is an expected shortage, or any event that may require intervention from the government, he is also authorized “for a limited period and/or a specified volume, to allow the importation at a lower applied tariff rate to address the situation.”
Mr. Duterte on Tuesday night also said he has ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to purchase all of farmers’ rice.
“NFA must procure them without condition and regardless of moisture content; especially in areas devastated by typhoons, monsoon floods and earthquakes — at P19/kg, just so our farmers will have something for their families this coming festive season,” Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura Chairman Rosendo O. So said in a statement. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang with LWTN

Agric Ministry in talks with top rice importers to prioritize local brands

 

Business News of Thursday, 21 November 2019


Description: Rice producers in Ghana continue to struggle to break even

Rice producers in Ghana continue to struggle to break even
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is in talks with 20 major importers of rice into Ghana to get them to rely on locally produced rice for both domestic consumption and export.

Rice producers in Ghana continue to struggle to break even as the country’s rice import increases annually.

In some parts of the Northern and Upper East Regions, local farmers are losing their investments due to the lack of a ready market for their produce.

Cost of production for local farmers is often very high with less support from the government.

Citi FM and Citi TV’s Cheif Executive Officer, Samuel Attah-Mensah has been at the forefront of a new campaign to draw attention to the local rice production sector.

Addressing the media, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the importation of rice will reduce drastically in about three years’ time as the government builds the capacity of local rice farmers.

At the moment, we are in communication with the 20 biggest importers of rice in this country. We have had three meetings with them and we are telling them that, time is going to come soon when they cannot do business and give rice farmers in Thailand, Vietnam and America an opportunity to overcome our own. Our farmers were asleep because of the lack of government’s support. Therefore, it means that if you want to import rice into this country, it means that you are taking away bread from the mouth Ghanaian farmers and giving it to those in Thailand. What we are now saying is that, in two or three years’ time, we will work out on an agreement for them to buy from local millers.”

Ghana’s voracious appetite for imported rice according to analyst have an apparent negative effect on the national economy.

Though it is one of the four main cereals produced and consumed in Ghana alongside maize, millet and sorghum, many believe that efforts made in the past to resolve the rice importation puzzle virtually failed to produce the desired results rendering it a seemingly intractable enterprise.

While rice farmers are asking the government to get them a ready market for their produce, some others are making a difference in food production despite the many challenges they face in their work
.

PHILIPPINES MAKES U-TURN ON RICE IMPORT SUSPENSION, BUT WILL TIGHTEN RULES

11/20/2019
MANILA, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The Philippines will not suspend rice imports but will tighten food safety measures to control the entry of cheap grain that is hurting incomes of local farmers, the agriculture chief said on Thursday.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar made the announcement after a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, who had ordered the suspension of rice imports after purchases surged, making the Philippines the world's top buyer this year.
Duterte had wanted the suspension implemented during local harvest season, but its legality is unclear because he signed a law in February lifting curbs on importation of the grain.
His economic team is also against reinstating rice import restrictions, the removal of which helped rein in inflation that last year had quickened to the highest in nearly a decade.
Dar said Duterte has instead issued a directive for the Department of Agriculture, through its Bureau of Plant Industry, to strictly implement the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance.
"The agency will conduct pre-inspection at the point of origin of imported rice stock to ensure rice quality and safety for consumers and at the same time protect the spread of crop pests and diseases," he told reporters.
The Philippines, which often buys rice from southeast Asian neighbours Vietnam and Thailand, has imported 2.9 million tonnes this year, more than double the annual average in recent years and dislodging China from the top spot among importers.
Rice imports surged after Manila lifted a two-decade-old cap on annual purchases to replace it with tariffs at levels critics called insufficient to protect farmers.
"He (Duterte) said that the Rice Tariffication Law will be pursued to provide affordable and quality rice to all Filipinos," Dar said.
Farmgate rice prices have fallen more than 20% over the last nine months as a result of increased domestic supply.
Dar said strict food safety requirements had, in fact, helped reduce the volume of rice imports to 85,000 tonnes in October from a monthly average of 254,000 tonnes in the first nine months.
To ensure Filipino farmers are able to sell and make a profit from their produce, Duterte has ordered state agency National Food Authority to double the country's emergency rice buffer stock to 30 days of supply by buying more from local producers, Dar said. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Switching back to coarse cereals can offer multiple benefits: Study

T V Jayan  New Delhi | Updated on November 21, 2019  Published on November 21, 2019

India can benefit substantially on mDescription: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/knoq8b/article30029440.ece/alternates/WIDE_435/BL21-BAJRAultiple fronts such as nutritional security, energy and water utilisation and even cut its greenhouse gas emissions if it promotes the cultivation of coarse cereals, showed a study by researchers from India, Austria and the US.
During the Green Revolution of the 1960s and the 1970s, the focus has mainly been on increasing rice and wheat output. As a result, a large number of farmers shifted away from more nutritious coarse cereals to high-yielding crops such as rice, leading to narrowing in the diversity of cultivated crops.

Rice focus

Between 1966 and 2011, the total cropped area for monsoon cereals remained nearly constant, but harvested areas dedicated to monsoon rice increased from 52 per cent to 67 per cent. Currently, rice accounts for 74 per cent of kharif cereals production, 80 per cent of energy and 81 per cent of water used for cereal production in the season. Besides, nearly 90 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from kharif cereals production comes from rice alone. In a study published in the prestigious journal, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, the scientists, led by Ruth DeFries and Kyle Davis of Columbia University in the US, on Tuesday, showed that there can be multiple benefits if farmers were encouraged to switch back to coarse cereals. They found that increasing combined calories supplied by coarse cereals such as finger millet, pearl millet and sorghum from the present 14 per cent to 21-32 per cent can help improve the nutritive value of food, apart from reducing irrigation demand, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Holistic analysis

“This is the first time that the various nutritional and environmental aspects, including water use, climate resilience, and greenhouse gas emissions, of coarse cereals have been analysed in a holistic manner,” DeFries of the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology at Columbia University told BusinessLine.
The authors found that planting more coarse cereals could on average increase available protein by 1-5 per cent, increase iron supply by between 5-49 per cent; increase climate resilience (1-13 per cent fewer calories would be lost during times of drought); and reduce GHG emissions by 2-13 per cent. The diversification of crops would also lower demand for irrigation water by 3-21 per cent and reduce energy use by 2-12 per cent, while maintaining calorie production and using the same amount of cropland.
“To make agriculture more sustainable, it's important that we think beyond just increasing food supply and also find solutions that can benefit nutrition, farmers, and the environment. This study shows that there are real opportunities to do just that. India can sustainably enhance its food supply if farmers plant less rice and more nutritious and environment-friendly crops such as finger millet, pearl millet, and sorghum,” said lead author Kyle Davis, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Data Science Institute at Columbia University, New York.
DeFries said some States in India are starting to include coarse cereals in their public distribution systems, which promotes cultivation, as would increased research attention on improving yields of coarse cereals. Davis said it was important for the governments to increase public awareness on the nutritional and environmental benefits of coarse cereals.
“One key insight from this study was that despite coarse grains having lower yields on average, there are enough regions where this is not the case. A non-trivial shift away from rice can therefore occur without reducing overall production,” said study co-author Narasimha Rao, a researcher at the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.
The authors point out that the Indian Government is currently promoting the increased production and consumption of these nutri-cereals — efforts that they say will be important to protect farmers’ livelihoods and increase the cultural acceptability of these grains.
With nearly 200 million undernourished people in India, alongside widespread groundwater depletion and the need to adapt to climate change, increasing the supply of nutricereals may be an important part of improving the country's food security, they said.
Among Indian authors of the study were Ashwini Chhatre and Nabin Pradhan of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and Suparna Ghosh-Jerath of New Delhi-based Public Health Foundation of India.

YOUR AD BLOCKER ISAFFECTING QUALITY BUSINESS REPORTING

Support The Hindu BusinessLine's new online ad-free experience by subscribing now.

Bangladesh GMO Golden Rice approval was expected in November, but regulatory hurdles remain

Erik Stokstad | Science | November 21, 2019
Description: golden rice
Soon. That has long been scientists’ answer when asked about the approval of Golden Rice, a genetically modified (GM) crop that could help prevent childhood blindness and deaths in the developing world.
The Golden Rice under review in Bangladesh was created at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Philippines. Researchers bred the beta-carotene genes into a rice variety named dhan 29 …. In tests of dhan 29 Golden Rice at multiple locations, researchers at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in Gazipur found no new farming challenges and no significant differences in quality—except for the presence of vitamin A.
BRRI submitted data to the Bangladeshi Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change in November 2017. The Biosafety Core Committee, a group of eight officials and scientists, has since been reviewing environmental risks, such as the plant’s potential to become a weed, as well as food safety. The review is nearing completion; on 28 October, the Dhaka Tribune reported that a decision would be made by 15 November.

That date has come and gone; the holdup appears to be due to the death of a committee member. But a source familiar with the committee’s deliberations says some members remain skeptical of Golden Rice ….

China reduces greenhouse gas emissions in rice production: study

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-21 17:05:05|Editor: Xiang Bo
BEIJING, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- The greenhouse gas emissions from China's rice fields have been reduced by 70 percent over the past five decades, according to a recent Chinese study.
China's rice agriculture, a primary source of greenhouse gas emissions, has experienced great changes in the last five decades due to changes in dominant varieties and farming practices. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences comprehensively assessed the impacts of these changes on greenhouse gas emissions.
Through large-scale variety comparison, field monitoring and historical data mining, researchers found that China's average yield of rice has increased by 130 percent over the past five decades. With rice planting area shifting northwards, the adoption of high-yielding varieties and innovation in irrigation systems, the greenhouse gas emissions from China's rice fields have been reduced by 70 percent, with the reduction of methane emissions most significant.
The findings illustrate that it is possible to enhance rice productivity at reduced environmental costs through screening for low emission varieties and agronomic techniques. Future innovations should ensure that rice farming progressively adapts to climate change, while continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the study.
The study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Golden rice finally on track for approval in Bangladesh, so what is the delay?


Bangladesh is set to become the first country to approve golden rice. But will the potentially life-saving transgenic crop face yet more regulatory hurdles?
Golden rice was developed almost two decades ago by biologists Prof Ingo Potrykus of the Institute of Plant Sciences in Switzerland and Prof Peter Beyer at Freiburg University in Germany as a way to prevent vitamin A deficiency in the developing world. Lack of vitamin A is a leading cause of childhood blindness and can also make children more susceptible to death from other illness like measles.
Vitamin A is made from beta-carotene, which is found in carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables. And although vitamin A deficiency is uncommon in the developed world, many children in low-income countries subsist on just a few bowls of rice a day, which does not provide essential nutrients and vitamins. The problem is particularly pressing in Bangladesh where vitamin A deficiency affects more than 20 per cent of children, as well as China, India, and other Asian countries.
To create golden rice, Potrykus and Beyer, in collaboration with the agrochemical behemoth Syngenta, modified rice plants with beta-carotene genes from maize. By doing this, rice plants started to produce the rich orange-coloured pigment. Then, the transgenic plants were donated to publicly funded research centres to develop their own versions of golden rice using local rice varieties.
Since the inception of golden rice in the late 1990s, debates have raged over the transgenic crop, considered a genetically modified organism (GM), and it has struggled to gain approval. Ed Regis, science journalist and author of the book Golden Rice: The Imperiled Birth of a GMO Superfood published last month, blames the delay on eco groups like Greenpeace and their general opposition to GMO crops. Whereas advocates tend to focus on its life-saving merits, opponents criticise the approach as risky and unnecessary.
Moreover, stringent international regulations such as the Cartagena Protocol have stymied approval of many GM crops. Precautionary regulations like Article 15 of the protocol stifle biotechnology based on potential risks to human health or the environment, i.e., guilty until proven innocent, explains Regus in his book — even if that crop has the potential to save millions of lives. Regus argues that “the effects of withholding, delaying or retarding Golden Rice development through overcautious regulation has imposed unconscionable costs in terms of years of sight and lives lost”.
In Bangladesh, the golden rice in question was developed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Philippines. This particular version is based on the dhan 29 rice variety widely grown in Bangladesh. Moreover, researchers at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in Gazipur found no new farming challenges and no significant differences in quality — apart from for the presence of vitamin A.
Now, after two years undergoing the regulatory approval process, dhan 29 golden rice seems to be on track to receive the final stamp of approval from the Bangladeshi Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. So, what’s the holdup?
Approval was expected on 15 November but has been delayed seemingly due to the death of a committee member. Others suggest some committee members remain unconvinced. Nevertheless, hopes remain high, especially since the committee previously approved another transgenic crop. If everything goes to plan, farmers might be planting golden rice seed by 2021. After that, the question will be how well the new crop is adopted.

Norm Borlaug Gave Us The Green Revolution: What's Next?
By Hank Campbell | November 20th 2019 02:31 AM | 
Dr. Norm Borlaug, the "father of the Green Revolution", is credited with saving a billion lives using agricultural science, and for the last 50 years he and his successors debunked the Malthusian claims of cynics like Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, and their modern-day acolytes like Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan, and Naomi Oreskes.

When Holdren and Ehrlich (and the other Ehrlich) were trying to drum up support for mandatory birth control and a world government to enforce it(1), Borlaug and the science community quietly made farming more efficient than ever. Today, even the poorest people in most of the world can afford to be fat, something never possible before, and that is thanks to the legacy of Dr. Borlaug.

But what's next? Can we do for everything what they did for cereals?

It certainly seems possible. With older techniques like organic-certified mutagenesis we may have hit caps on growing food under inhospitable conditions, but genetic engineering, RNAi, and now CRISPS-Cas9 there is reason for optimism that everyone will be able to have a variety of locally grown, affordable, diverse foods.

But first, baby steps.


Drs. Norman and Julie Borlaug (his granddaughter). Credit: AgriLife via Flickr. Go here to read Organic Industry A-Team stooge Tom Philpott attack her for supporting science. The reputation of Grist has gotten much better since he took his conspiracy theories to Mother Jones.

A recent paper in PNAS
 found that the next phase in the Green Revolution may be ready to begin. Whereas the first phase was to get people enough of anything, thanks to science and technology a country like India can now diversify beyond the “rice dominated monsoon cereal production ” that Borlaug had to optimize.

Their models basically turned knobs of pollution, resources, and output and found that replacing some rice crops with millets and sorghum would be better for the country without undermining calorie production or using more land. Part of their secret sauce for convergence was reducing impacts of climate change, which are basically impossible to model but seem to be mandatory to get published in 
PNAS.(2)

But it's reason for optimism, especially when environmental groups and their political allies at media corporations act more like a doomsday cult. Yet Dr. Borlaug faced the same cultural milieu and now has taken his place as one of the most important scientists of the 20th century.

There are challenges, sure. Opposed to science are $2 billion in activist groups engaged in a war of extinction on food and chemicals, but just like there are still vaccine deniers, a new generation will see through their scaremongering, even in Europe, and not want developing countries to be left behind.

Rice yields could plummet 40% by 2100 due to climate change: Stanford University

At least 2 billion people, especially in Asia, could be affected due to the scarcity

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Wednesday 20 November 2019
Global yields of rice, the world’s largest staple food crop, could plummet by as much as 40 per cent by 2100, affecting two billion people, a new study by Stanford University in the United States has said.
The plummeting of the yields would be caused by increasing temperatures. Moreover, changes in the chemistry of the soil due to increased temperatures would cause the rice grown to contain twice as much toxic arsenic than the rice that is consumed today, the study has added.
To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers grew a medium-sized rice variety in soil from California’s rice-growing region (Sacramento Valley). The experiment took place in greenhouses, the temperatures of which were based on a five degree Celsius temperature increase.
Carbon dioxide levels were increased to twice as much as what they are today. Both, the temperature of the greenhouse and the carbon dioxide level were based on estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The scientists found that because of the higher temperatures, the inherent arsenic in the soil was destabilised and taken up by the rice plants. The arsenic went on to inhibit the absorption of nutrients and decrease the plants’ growth and development, causing yields to plummet by 40 per cent.
The researchers said the development was worrying not just because rice is the food of half of the world’s population but also because the increased levels of arsenic could pose health threats to adults and infants alike.
Consistent exposure to arsenic causes skin lesions, cancers, exacerbation of lung disease and death. Since rice is also the first food that is given to infants in many cultures because it is low in allergens, infants are especially at risk.
However, the scientists expressed the hope that given the technology available today, rice varieties could be grown which would address these threats.
The research was published on November 1 in the journal Nature Communications.

China's top 10 advances in agricultural science help feed the nation

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-20 12:27:31|Editor: huaxia
NANJING, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Chinese experts have selected the 10 most significant advances in cutting-edge agricultural science and technology in fields that are making life better for farmers and helping to feed the world's most populous nation.
Research on rewiring of the fruit metabolome in tomato breeding helped restore the original good taste of tomatoes of former times and provided big data and innovative methods for the study of the molecular mechanism of plant metabolites.
Scientists found that a selfish genetic element confers non-Mendelian inheritance in rice, and this study challenges traditional genetic laws, and could help cultivate new high-yield rice varieties.
In another study, scientists discovered a single transcription factor that promotes both yield and immunity in rice.
The selected advances include studies in modulating plant growth-metabolism coordination for sustainable agriculture, genomic variation in more than 3,010 diverse accessions of Asian cultivated rice, and rapid evolution of H7N9 highly pathogenic viruses that emerged in China in 2017.
Chinese scientists have also achieved advances in genetic studies of cotton, bacterial resistance and a new mechanism of plant immune pathways.
The 10 advances by Chinese agricultural scientists last year were announced at the Forum 2019 on Science and Technology for Agricultural and Rural Development in China, which opened Wednesday in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province.

Potatoes take center stage on Chinese dining tables

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-21 09:30:32|Editor: Wang Yamei
NANJING, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- In Chinese cuisine, potatoes are usually cooked into a dish rather than being a staple food like wheat and rice. Now Chinese scientists have found ways to make more than 300 kinds of Chinese-style staples like steamed breads and noodles from potatoes.
China has the largest planting area and output of potatoes in the world. However, they don't suit Chinese dietary habits and tastes as a staple food, because potatoes contain no gluten protein, and have a poor formability and ductility.
Experts believe potatoes are rich in nutritional and functional components, and making potatoes into staple foods could help improve nutrition and health. It could also help optimize China's agricultural structure, relieving the pressure of resources and environment, guaranteeing food security and realizing sustainable development.
Scientists from the Institute of Food Science and Technology of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) have developed processing technologies to make potato staples like noodles, steamed breads and steamed stuffed buns.
The products have entered China's markets. CAAS researchers believe potato staples have broad market prospects in countries along the Belt and Road.
The technology was introduced during the Forum 2019 on Science and Technology for Agricultural and Rural Development in China, held in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province.

Climate change pushed Indus Valley migrants west to east: Study

The research found new evidence at two sites in the Great Rann of Kutch and Thar desert to come to this conclusion
By Akshit Sangomla
Last Updated: Thursday 21 November 2019
An illustrated map of the Indus Valley civilisation. Photo: Getty Images
A new study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IITKGP) has found new evidence for the popular hypothesis that climate change caused human migration during and after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC).
The researchers concluded this from the study of two previously unknown post-Harappan, Iron Age sites in the western part of the Great Rann of Kutch (GRK) and the lower fringes of the Thar desert.
The Iron Age (3100-2300 years before now) is often referred to as the ‘Dark Age’ because of scant historical and archaeological evidence from that period. These are the first Iron Age sites found in this particular region.
The evidence from the sites at Karim Shahi in the GRK and Vigakot in Thar proves that human habitation continued in the region up to the Early Medieval Period (900 years before now).
The study published in the journal Archaeological Research in Asia brought together evidence from archaeological remains like unearthed pottery, historical anecdotes and paleoclimatology to establish that the inhabitants of the IVC slowly moved from the Indus valley sites in the west into the Ghaggar-Hakra valley in the east.
“Our findings suggest that such human migration was far more expansive than thought before. We believe that the gradual southward shift of Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) over the last seven thousand years forced people to migrate for greener pastures,” Anindya Sarkar, lead author of the study and professor of geology and geophysics at IITKGP, said.
The shifting of the ITCZ decreased monsoon rains and led to the drying up of rivers which would have made agriculture rather difficult.
But the sites in Karim Shahi and Vigakot show evidence of continued existence of river systems and regular rainfall right until when the Persian traveller and scholar Al Biruni visited Kutch. He documented the river Mihran flowing into the sea at two places — the city of Loharani and a place called Sindhu Sagar.
This was backed up with evidence from the analysis of sediments, pollen and oxygen isotopes in fossil molluscan shells retrieved from the sites. The inhabitants of these sites were traders throughout the time and traded with far-off civilisations in Persia and China, according to Sarkar.
The human migration from the IVC is very similar to the one that will take place from regions impacted by the consequences of human-induced climate change, especially low-lying coastal regions and islands which often bear the brunt of the extreme weather events and sea level rise due to global warming.
Back in 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had noted that the single greatest impact of climate change will be on human migration. Experts believe that by 2050, more than 200 million people will be forced to leave their homes and become climate migrants or even climate refugees but this number is highly uncertain.
This is because people move their place of habitation because of a wide variety of social, political, economic and other environmental reasons which are all interconnected and it is difficult to delineate one from the other, according to the report Climate Change, Migration and Displacement published by Overseas Development Institute and United Nations Development Programme in November 2017.
It also stated that in 2016, about 24 million people were instantly displaced by the sudden onset of climate events like cyclones and floods but there is very little evidence to inform about the number of people migrating due to slow onset events like drought and desertification.
The evidence for such climate change-based migration is slowly surfacing.
For instance, between 2011-2015, climatic changes like severe drought-induced conditions led to armed conflict, which in turn, led to asylum seeking and migration, according to a research paper published in the journal Global Environmental Change in January 2019.
“The effect of climate on conflict occurrence is particularly relevant for countries in Western Asia in the period 2010–2012, when many countries were undergoing political transformation,” says the study.
“This finding suggests that the impact of climate on conflict and asylum seeking flows is limited to specific time period and contexts,” it further adds. Further work in this regard is required to identify climate migrants and refugees already living among us.


USA Rice Exhibits at the Food & Hospitality China (FHC) Trade Show  
 
SHANGHAI, CHINA -- Using Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS,) USA Rice recently exhibited here at one of the largest food shows in China focused on the hotel, restaurant, and institutional and hospitality sectors.

Three U.S. millers/exporters - Farmers' Rice Cooperative, American Commodity Company, and Sun Valley Rice - joined with USA Rice to showcase their companies and capabilities to this target audience.  Each company was provided with an interpreter to make contacts and trade discussions easier and more productive.

Visitors had the opportunity to taste test rice offered by the three exporters.  The freshly cooked rice was judged by the visitors to be very good.  

"Traffic at the booth was steady with a lot of visitors from the food trade, foodservice, and hospitality industries," said Jim Guinn, USA Rice director of Asia promotions.  "A surprising number of people we talked with displayed some knowledge of U.S. rice - a good sign that our messages are reaching the desired target audience."

Description: https://ci6.googleusercontent.com/proxy/hGrq11JG9KecB2nG0ztsJdIJsShd70PcMwlY7vDILI7Fc7SBVfbbc4wG_OUVaE6DKHnxEZLrHYsrLGiKl23tFIyxiTHqbeDSTQkpSvG9=s0-d-e1-ft#https://imgssl.constantcontact.com/letters/images/sys/S.gif
Face time in real time
Description: https://ci6.googleusercontent.com/proxy/hGrq11JG9KecB2nG0ztsJdIJsShd70PcMwlY7vDILI7Fc7SBVfbbc4wG_OUVaE6DKHnxEZLrHYsrLGiKl23tFIyxiTHqbeDSTQkpSvG9=s0-d-e1-ft#https://imgssl.constantcontact.com/letters/images/sys/S.gif
The FHC trade show attracted 3,500 exhibitors from 49 countries, with separate show halls for meats, fruits and vegetables, wine and alcoholic beverages, and dairy products.

Fewer U.S. companies and FAS cooperators attended this year's show due to ongoing trade tensions, and the punitive tariffs focused on U.S. agricultural products.  However, the interest by Chinese companies in U.S. rice has not waned although importers remain cautious until those trade tensions ease.

"To date, sales of U.S. rice to China have been challenging, but the potential is too great to withdraw from our commitment to the market here," said Guinn.  

USA Rice will host a trade mission for eight Chinese rice importers December 9-18, beginning with their first stop at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.




Rice Prices

as on : 21-11-2019 02:41:58 PM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Arrivals
Price
Current
%
change
Season
cumulative
Modal
Prev.
Modal
Prev.Yr
%change
Rice
Pilibhit(UP)
4000.00
-11.11
76212.50
2520
2520
10.53
Gadarpur(Utr)
2367.00
-34.47
91851.00
2790
2368
-
Bangalore(Kar)
1981.00
-28.97
106778.00
4650
4650
8.14
Shahjahanpur(UP)
300.00
25
3611.50
2750
2760
17.52
Roorkee(Utr)
220.00
86.44
2269.00
2500
2500
-
Puranpur(UP)
175.00
644.68
4207.00
2510
2650
7.26
Hardoi(UP)
160.00
NC
6940.00
2450
2430
-1.21
Barhaj(UP)
150.00
-28.57
9563.00
2400
2380
7.14
Muzzafarnagar(UP)
135.00
-32.5
4170.00
2650
2670
1.92
Bindki(UP)
100.00
42.86
7418.00
2340
2350
6.85
Agra(UP)
98.00
NC
4269.00
2580
2590
4.03
Bazpur(Utr)
90.50
50.58
4281.50
2200
2200
-10.20
Bareilly(UP)
84.00
82.61
1961.50
2500
2500
8.70
Naugarh(UP)
77.50
-16.22
3731.50
2500
2500
11.11
Gazipur(UP)
76.00
-6.17
5534.50
3200
3200
18.52
Aligarh(UP)
75.00
-6.25
4045.00
2540
2550
1.60
Sahiyapur(UP)
70.00
75
1421.50
2470
2470
9.53
Kalipur(WB)
70.00
12.9
2590.00
2400
2400
-
Saharanpur(UP)
67.00
3.08
1806.50
2610
2600
0.38
Jorhat(ASM)
65.00
-45.83
2440.50
3400
3400
6.25
Mathura(UP)
65.00
8.33
1675.50
2560
2560
-5.19
Kalna(WB)
62.50
-4.58
1505.50
2980
2950
-0.67
Azamgarh(UP)
60.00
20
3322.50
2470
2475
9.29
Dadri(UP)
50.00
66.67
1283.00
2850
2870
3.64
Gauripur(ASM)
45.00
12.5
2371.50
4500
4500
NC
Allahabad(UP)
45.00
-18.18
1745.50
2680
2650
16.52
Khalilabad(UP)
45.00
NC
875.00
2390
2385
9.89
Karimganj(ASM)
40.00
NC
900.00
2450
2450
-
Chintamani(Kar)
40.00
207.69
404.00
2700
2700
20.00
Kayamganj(UP)
40.00
14.29
1629.00
2730
2720
15.68
Jaunpur(UP)
39.00
95
939.20
2330
2380
2.64
Bankura Sadar(WB)
38.00
8.57
733.00
2500
2500
-3.85
Jangipura(UP)
36.00
12.5
1060.00
2350
2360
3.52
Pandua(WB)
35.00
-20.45
2168.00
3100
3100
-1.59
Kolar(Kar)
32.00
-50.77
212.00
5600
5414
28.62
Vishalpur(UP)
32.00
190.91
498.80
2690
2600
16.45
Jhargram(WB)
32.00
-8.57
968.00
2900
2900
-3.33
Muradabad(UP)
30.00
15.38
770.40
2570
2570
11.74
Lakhimpur(UP)
30.00
NC
2045.00
2380
2400
6.73
Chitwadagaon(UP)
30.00
20
309.00
2350
2430
11.90
Bahraich(UP)
29.80
6.43
2279.30
2440
2460
3.83
Islampur(WB)
29.00
7.41
548.00
3800
3800
-
Lalitpur(UP)
26.00
8.33
1444.00
2390
2385
-13.09
Raiganj(WB)
26.00
13.04
490.00
3700
3700
-
Safdarganj(UP)
25.00
-13.79
677.00
2430
2500
6.58
Farukhabad(UP)
24.00
41.18
824.50
2700
2760
14.41
Indus(Bankura Sadar)(WB)
24.00
9.09
1883.00
2800
2800
NC
Pratapgarh(UP)
22.50
12.5
157.00
2400
2400
5.73
Wansi(UP)
22.00
-4.35
978.00
2110
2110
NC
Akbarpur(UP)
20.50
36.67
956.20
2440
2430
10.41
Achalda(UP)
20.00
233.33
83.30
2600
2500
36.84
Falakata(WB)
20.00
NC
920.00
2600
2600
-7.14
Naanpara(UP)
19.00
6.74
915.80
2210
2220
36.00
Choubepur(UP)
18.10
-6.22
1640.40
2450
2460
4.26
Jayas(UP)
17.80
4.71
1120.00
2060
2050
6.46
Asansol(WB)
17.80
-1.11
2087.06
3000
3000
2.04
Durgapur(WB)
16.40
2.5
1489.40
2800
2800
-1.75
Jafarganj(UP)
16.00
-30.43
980.00
2400
2400
2.13
Devariya(UP)
15.00
-33.33
1144.00
2440
2480
8.20
Sirsaganj(UP)
15.00
-16.67
467.00
2650
2610
-3.64
Kannauj(UP)
12.00
NC
467.50
2700
2700
20.00
Champadanga(WB)
12.00
-29.41
579.00
3150
3150
3.28
Badayoun(UP)
11.00
NC
694.50
2675
2650
17.84
Shamli(UP)
11.00
-31.25
163.00
2645
2645
-5.54
Dibrugarh(ASM)
10.20
112.5
426.40
3100
3100
6.16
Nawabganj(UP)
10.00
17.65
460.25
2460
2450
13.89
Vilthararoad(UP)
10.00
NC
861.00
2150
2150
NC
Mohamadabad(UP)
8.50
-85.34
193.00
2760
2750
-
Jhansi(UP)
7.50
25
145.10
2270
2265
NC
Hailakandi(ASM)
7.00
NC
156.00
2450
2450
2.08
Ahirora(UP)
7.00
27.27
138.60
2300
2300
NC
Bishnupur(Bankura)(WB)
6.50
NC
505.00
2600
2600
-1.89
Atarra(UP)
6.00
50
314.00
2375
2360
7.95
Kasganj(UP)
6.00
20
242.00
2560
2580
1.19
Khurja(UP)
6.00
-7.69
452.30
2620
2575
NC
Buland Shahr(UP)
5.50
10
171.80
2661
2650
2.94
Tundla(UP)
5.50
22.22
239.70
2565
2565
3.22
Etah(UP)
5.00
-33.33
301.50
2580
2550
2.79
Shikohabad(UP)
5.00
25
129.50
2650
2750
-3.64
Jahangirabad(UP)
4.00
14.29
177.50
2550
2550
-0.78
Ranaghat(WB)
3.20
NC
94.40
3700
3700
4.23
Kosikalan(UP)
3.10
-35.42
229.50
2565
2530
-2.10
Baberu(UP)
2.60
44.44
64.10
2320
2345
-
Imphal(Man)
2.40
NC
50.00
4900
4900
-
Anandnagar(UP)
2.20
-12
232.20
2445
2450
6.30
Charra(UP)
2.00
66.67
58.20
2530
2540
1.20
Kishunpur(UP)
2.00
-33.33
212.00
1800
1800
NC
Balarampur(WB)
1.82
0.55
32.66
2600
2580
-2.62
Gadaura(UP)
1.80
80
587.10
2300
2300
15.00
Fatehpur Sikri(UP)
1.60
-11.11
53.20
2565
2545
-0.19
Khair(UP)
1.50
87.5
50.30
2570
2570
4.90
Doharighat(UP)
1.50
NC
55.50
2100
2100
5.00
Nandyal(AP)
1.00
NC
48.00
4250
4250
-
Jambusar(Kaavi)(Guj)
1.00
NC
103.00
3000
3200
11.11
Alibagh(Mah)
1.00
NC
116.00
4200
4200
-16.00
Murud(Mah)
1.00
NC
117.00
4200
4200
5.00
Lamlong Bazaar(Man)
1.00
NC
25.00
4800
4800
-
Gurusarai(UP)
0.70
16.67
16.60
2450
2500
6.52
Published on November 21, 2019
TOPICS

YOUR AD BLOCKER ISAFFECTING QUALITY BUSINESS REPORTING

Support The Hindu BusinessLine's new online ad-free experience by subscribing now.

PHILIPPINES MAKES U-TURN ON RICE IMPORT SUSPENSION, BUT WILL TIGHTEN RULES

11/20/2019
MANILA, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The Philippines will not suspend rice imports but will tighten food safety measures to control the entry of cheap grain that is hurting incomes of local farmers, the agriculture chief said on Thursday.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar made the announcement after a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, who had ordered the suspension of rice imports after purchases surged, making the Philippines the world's top buyer this year.
Duterte had wanted the suspension implemented during local harvest season, but its legality is unclear because he signed a law in February lifting curbs on importation of the grain.
His economic team is also against reinstating rice import restrictions, the removal of which helped rein in inflation that last year had quickened to the highest in nearly a decade.
Dar said Duterte has instead issued a directive for the Department of Agriculture, through its Bureau of Plant Industry, to strictly implement the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance.
"The agency will conduct pre-inspection at the point of origin of imported rice stock to ensure rice quality and safety for consumers and at the same time protect the spread of crop pests and diseases," he told reporters.
The Philippines, which often buys rice from southeast Asian neighbours Vietnam and Thailand, has imported 2.9 million tonnes this year, more than double the annual average in recent years and dislodging China from the top spot among importers.
Rice imports surged after Manila lifted a two-decade-old cap on annual purchases to replace it with tariffs at levels critics called insufficient to protect farmers.
"He (Duterte) said that the Rice Tariffication Law will be pursued to provide affordable and quality rice to all Filipinos," Dar said.
Farmgate rice prices have fallen more than 20% over the last nine months as a result of increased domestic supply.
Dar said strict food safety requirements had, in fact, helped reduce the volume of rice imports to 85,000 tonnes in October from a monthly average of 254,000 tonnes in the first nine months.
To ensure Filipino farmers are able to sell and make a profit from their produce, Duterte has ordered state agency National Food Authority to double the country's emergency rice buffer stock to 30 days of supply by buying more from local producers, Dar said. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Indonesia's Bulog aims to lower rice stock by new year
NOVEMBER 21, 2019 / 11:33 AM / A DAY AGO

JAKARTA, Nov 21 (Reuters) -
* Rice stock at Indonesia’s state food procurement agency (Bulog) is estimated to drop to 1.31 million tonnes by Jan. 1, 2020 from 2.25 million tonnes as of Nov. 18, its Chief Executive Officer Budi Waseso told parliament
* The agency aims to procure 1.6 million tonnes of rice from local farmers next year, Waseso said, adding that there is no plan yet to import rice
* “There is no import plan and hopefully there is no need for imports,” he said
* Bulog aims to have 1.35 million tonnes rice stock by the end of 2020
* So far this year the agency has bought 1.15 million tonnes of rice from local farmers (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

Indonesia's Bulog wants $1.42 bln government funding for rice procurement
NOVEMBER 21, 2019 / 4:33 PM
JAKARTA, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s state food procurement agency (Bulog) needs government funding of 20 trillion rupiah ($1.42 billion) in 2020 to finance purchases of rice needed as a buffer stock, its chief executive said on Thursday.

The agency typically takes up bank loans to purchase government rice reserves which Bulog stocks to stabilise prices and which can only be sold under the direction of the government.

But the agency is facing rising financial costs due to its large debt, Bulog’s chief executive Budi Waseso told reporters after attending a parliamentary hearing where he asked for the funding.

About 80% of Bulog’s revenue used to come from a social security programme which involved the government buying rice from Bulog, Waseso said, a programme which has since been changed.

“That’s why we propose that the rice reserves are being funded by the government,” he said.

He said Bulog currently has nearly 28 trillion rupiah in debt, a jump from 2017’s debt level after the agency was directed to import nearly 1 million tonnes of rice last year.

Bulog’s total short term debt stood at around 13 trillion rupiah at the end of 2017, according to its financial report.

“We are buying rice every day, which means our debt continues to increase, meanwhile there is no assignment to sell,” Waseso said.

Bulog expected to procure 1.6 million tonnes of rice from local farmers next year.

In the past three years, the government budgeted 2.5 trillion rupiah per year to help finance the rice purchase, he said, to subsidise price gaps.

The request for funding comes at a time when the government is struggling to raise revenue from tax and the budget deficit is seen widening to 2.2% of GDP from 1.84% this year.

$1 = 14,090 rupiah Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

DA issues tougher guidelines on acquiring rice import permits

Marje Pelayo   •   November 21, 2019   •    64
Description: https://www.untvweb.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/imported-rice.jpg
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintains it is not stopping the issuance of permits to import rice.
“Hindi namin pinapa-stop (We are not stopping the importation.) We are implementing the law properly,” Secretary William Dar said.
Instead, the Department made the guidelines stricter which include inspection of storage houses.
On Tuesday (November 19), President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of rice importation because it is currently harvest time in the country.
According to the Federation of Free Farmers, stricter guidelines of rice importation is similar to stopping the process.
But they argue that the measure is just temporary while rice exporters are completing their requirements.
“In the meantime, na hindi sila maka-comply tigil muna ang export nila sa atin (In the meantime that they cannot comply, they need to stop exporting to us),” explained the farmers’ group’s Chairman Leonardo Montemayor.
The DA, meanwhile, will investigate farmers’ cooperatives and organizations who are using dummies in order to proceed with their importations.
“We will now look at three years of their business engagements kung may financial capability ba (if they have the financial capability),” Dar said.
“Mayroon ba silang warehouses? So lahat po ng pag-i-igting na iyon (Do they have warehouses? So we will intensify everything),” he added.
Dar said the President also wants to increase the buffer stocks of the National Food Authority (NFA) from 15 days to 30 days.
This would require the agency to purchase more palay from local farmers.
The NFA was also ordered to sell not lower than 20,000 sacks of rice per day.
Likewise, the unconditional cash transfer for farmers affected by the decreasing price of rice brought about by the rice tariffication law will be also be expanded to three years. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte: No rice imports during harvest time

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:30 AM November 21, 2019
Description: Duterte Holds a Press Conference
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a press conference at the Malacañan Palace on November 19, 2019. VALERIE ESCALERA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
President Duterte has ordered Agriculture Secretary William Dar to suspend the importation of rice until the end of the Filipino farmers’ harvest season and to buy palay from them.
He did not say, however, when the suspension would take effect, or how long it would last.
The President issued the directive as local farmers bewailed the sharp drop in palay prices, which they blamed on the rice tariffication law that lifted quantitative import restrictions.
They have been complaining of low farmgate prices for their palay since the rice tariffication law allowed the entry of cheap, imported rice.
In a hastily called press conference on Tuesday night, Duterte was asked if he would order Dar to suspend rice importation amid falling prices of palay. “Yes, because it is harvest time,” he replied.
Palay fund
He said he would ask Congress to allocate funds to buy palay from farmers, even if it meant  billions of pesos in losses for the government.
A national farmers’ group said Duterte’s suspension of rice imports would not enable farmers to recoup their losses.
The Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan) estimated the farmer’s total losses at P140 billion this year, equivalent to P30,000 per hectare.
“The implementation of RA (Republic Act) No. 11203 has dealt a severe blow to poor Filipino farmers,” Katarungan spokesperson Jansept Geronimo said in a phone interview.
Some farmers have reportedly stopped sending their children to school due to low income, while others have been forced to borrow from loan sharks to be able to provide for their basic needs.
On Wednesday, a farmers’ alliance held a “national day of protest” against the rice tariffication law in different parts of the country.
Geronimo and more than 70 farmers from Sariaya town in Quezon province blocked the section of Maharlika Highway in Barangay Concepcion Uno around 9 a.m.
“As expected, some affected motorists got angry, but most of them were sympathetic to us,” he said. “Some of them even encouraged us to go on with our protest.”
Duterte said the government was ready to incur P3 billion in losses from buying palay so the farmers would live.
“At whose expense? All of us. The producers and the eaters,” he said.
He said rice importation must continue soon after the harvest season ended because the produce of farmers was not enough to sustain the needs of 110 million Filipinos eating rice.
Safeguard vs corruption
But he said he could not stop the implementation of the rice tariffication law, which he considered a safeguard against corruption. He was apparently referring to corruption that attended the issuance of import permits by the National Food Authority to certain groups.
Signed in February, the law allows individuals and businesses to import additional volumes of rice but requires them to pay tariffs to fund mass irrigation, warehousing and rice research to help farmers.
It sought to boost the rice supply in the country following soaring prices of the staple in 2018. 
But the implementation of the law had the opposite effect as it led to plunging palay prices.
Hungry or angry
Duterte reiterated his warning that Filipinos might go hungry and resort to riots if there was not enough rice in the country. “So you choose if you are in my position: the people will go hungry or the farmers will get angry?”
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia  was optimistic that the President would seek the advice of his economic team on the plan to suspend rice imports.
On Tuesday, Pernia said the liberalized rice trade that resulted in lower prices had benefited the poor.
Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno expressed confidence that a suspension of rice imports would not raise inflation.
Limit import volume
Advocacy groups are calling for the imposition of special safeguard (SSG) duties to limit the volume of imported rice.
The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), Federation of Free Farmers and Alyansa Agrikultura said imposing the duties to curb the entry of imported rice was the “legal” way to deal with the glut.
To date, about 2.9 million metric tons of rice had been imported, which, according to Sen. Cynthia Villar, “has gone beyond what is needed by the country.”
The groups recommended a safeguard duty of 70 percent on top of the 35 percent tariff from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to make imports more expensive.
“The benefit of SSG … is it automatically puts a cap on imports as the price of imported rice becomes at parity with local prices, making the Filipino farmers’ rice competitive,” PCAFI said in a statement.
Bayan Muna lawmakers, meanwhile, are seeking an inquiry into the purchase and distribution by the Department of Agriculture (DA) of P88 million worth of “defective” and “inappropriate” farm equipment.
The grain dryers with biomass furnaces and power generators were supposedly bought by the DA in order to help Filipino farmers cushion the impact of the rice tariffication law. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1192596/duterte-no-rice-imports-during-harvest-time

Government to build 80,000 capacity warehouses, vows to store surplus rice

 

General News of Thursday, 21 November 2019
Source: Dailyguidenetwork.com
Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto
Government is constructing 80 Warehouses to store surplus rice produced across Ghana.
Description: Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto
Each of the Warehouses has a capacity of 1,000 metric tons, giving a total of 80,000 metric tons capacity.

Aside that, Government is making efforts to attract foreign investors into the rice subsector to help deal with the issue of rice surpluses and its marketing to help improve the income of rice farmers nationwide.

Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto made this known in an address to the media after he met with the rice technical team and importers to lay out plans towards the ban on the importation of rice.

According to him, government believed that marketing can be a constrain so there was the need to put in place the needed infrastructure.

He said 50 of the warehouses were being built by the Ministry of Special Initiatives while 30 was being built by the Food and Agriculture Ministry.

The Minister pointed out several initiatives that the Akufo-Addo’s government has put in place to improve rice production in Ghana since 2017.

According to him, in 2017, a total of 350, 000 metric tons of high-yielding rice seeds were distributed to farmers in the forest belt of the country.

In 2018, he said, a total of 700 metric tons of rice seeds were distributed.

The number, he said, increased to over 1,000 metric tons in 2019.

According to him, government was working to set up small mills to cater for cluster of rice farmers.

The Minister stressed that there was the need to add value to the surpluses because its neighboring countries cannot absorb all the surpluses.

He noted that the Akufo-Addo’s government was working hard to improve the livelihoods of farmers.

He lamented that until the current government came to power in 2017, the living standards of Ghanaians farmers was nothing to write home about.

The Minister stated emphatically that “Ghanaian farmers are the poorest group of workers in the country.”

He said Government was of the view that smallholder farmers can deliver if they were supported by the state.

He accused the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) of scheming to frustrate Government’s agriculture programmes.

However, he stated that NDC has not been able to contest the immense economic and social impacts the Agriculture programmes of the Government have had on the lives of Ghanaian farmers over the last three years.

India rice export prices slide to multi-year low on supply influx


NOVEMBER 21, 2019 / 6:26 PM

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian rice export prices fell to their lowest in nearly three years this week as fresh supplies from the summer-sown crop loom large, with subdued global demand also crimping exports from other major centres.
A farmer carries saplings to plant in a rice field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted around $358-$362 a tonne this week, the lowest since January 2017 and down from $363-$368 the previous week.
“Export demand is negligible. New-season supplies have started in a few southern states and could rise next month,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
Paddy rice prices have been trading below the government-set purchase price of 1,835 rupees per 100kg in many spot markets because of weak export demand, he said.
Cyclone Bulbul soaked the eastern Indian states and major coastal areas of neighbouring Bangladesh this month, damaging paddy rice crop and delaying supplies.
“This won’t have a big impact on overall rice output,” said Mizanur Rahman, a senior official at the Department of Agriculture Extension.
Over the past few weeks domestic rice prices have risen in Bangladesh despite good crops and sufficient stocks. The country’s Food Minister attributed the price increase to unscrupulous traders and said that stern measures would be taken against those found to be manipulating prices.
In Vietnam, meanwhile, rates for 5% broken rice were steady at $345-$350 a tonne.
“Demand remained very weak,” said a trader in Ho Chi Minh City. “No fresh deals have been clinched so far.”

PHILIPPINES FEARS

While the Philippines has decided not suspend rice imports, it will instead tighten food safety measures to control the entry of cheap grain that the government says is hurting incomes of local farmers.
“We are still very concerned about the Philippines’ move given Philippines is the largest export market of Vietnam,” another Ho Chi Minh trader said.
Traders said that preliminary data showed that about 181,000 tonnes of rice was scheduled to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City ports over Nov. 1-15, with most of the shipments bound for West Africa.
Thailand’s benchmark 5% broken rice prices were around $394-$410 a tonne on Thursday, versus $395-$409 last week, amid muted demand as a strong baht continues to push up export prices.
The Thai government has stepped up efforts to open new markets for Thai rice, seeking deals with Iraq and Turkey, but traders say the prospect of sales remains slim because of the high prices and tougher competition.
“Overall export quantity has been reduced this year due to lack of global demand and high prices,” a Bangkok-based trader said.
“There is also more competition from the likes of Myanmar as their export capability has increased this year.”
Reporting by Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi, Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by David Goodman

Makabayan bloc: Duterte suspension order on rice importation only a ‘media stunt’

By: Daphne Galvez - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
INQUIRER.net / 05:04 PM November 21, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to suspend rice importation during harvest season is only a “media stunt” to “appease” the public, the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives said Thursday.
The President earlier ordered Agriculture Secretary William Dar to suspend the importation of rice until the end of the harvest season at least and to buy palay (unhusked rice) from local farmers.

However, Dar on Thursday said that rice importation will continue under the Rice Tariffication Law, clarifying that Duterte only wants to strictly enforce guidelines on importation.
“It’s just a media stunt, it’s damage control dahil galit na galit ang mamamayan (because people are angry already),” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a press conference.
“That’s the hallmark of this administration, it will issue statements just to appease the people and eventually babawiin niya (they will take it back),” he added.
The Makabayan lawmakers challenged Duterte to issue an executive order (EO) to formalize the suspension of rice importation and to “show his sincerity” in helping the disadvantaged Filipino farmers.
“Parang laway lang ito… Dapat bigyan ng pangil itong pagsasalita ni President Duterte sa pamamagitan ng EO,” ACT Teachers’ party-list Rep. France Castro said in the same press conference.
(It’s all talk for now. The President should issue an EO to enforce it.)
“President Duterte, kung sinsero ka, mag-issue ka ng EO at maglaan ng pondo para bilhin ang ani ngayon ng mga magsasaka,” she added.
(President Duterte, if you’re sincere, you should issue an EO and allocate funds to buy the harvest of local farmers.)
The lawmakers also challenged the Duterte administration to repeal the controversial Rice Tariffication law, which they claimed caused the price of palay (unhusked rice) to drop to the detriment of Filipino farmers.
The President should also certify as urgent proposed measures that seek to help local farmers, such as the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA), they added.
“Hinahamon namin ang Duterte administration na i-certify as urgent yung mga panukala dito sa kongreso katulad ng RIDA at i-repeal na ‘yung rice liberalization law,” Zarate said.
(We challenge the Duterte administration to certify as urgent the RIDA as well as other bills in Congress, and repeal the rice liberalization law.)
The rice tariffication law, which was signed in February, lifted the quotas on rice importation and imposed tax. The law was intended to stabilize the rice supply in the country by liberalizing the rice industry.

PHL to curb rice imports via nontariff measures


Description: https://businessmirror.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Rice-imports.jpgPhoto from http://irri.org
MANILA will maximize nontariff measures (NTM) to limit rice imports and disallow “dummy” cooperatives from participating in rice trade, instead of an outright suspension of shipments, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the government will only tighten the guidelines for importing rice. Dar said this was one of the directives given by President Duterte to him during their meeting last November 20 to thresh out the Chief Executive’s pronouncement of suspending rice imports during harvest.
The meeting was also attended by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.
Dar said the Bureau of Plant Industry, an attached agency of the DA, will continue to process sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSIC), but the agency will evaluate applications using more stringent guidelines.
Aside from this, the DA chief said the President has also ordered the increase in the National Food Authority’s (NFA) buffer stock volume to 30 days, from 15 days, and to extend the unconditional cash transfers for farmers to 2020.

Tougher rules

Dar said rice traders will now have to show proof that their shipments comply with the government’s more stringent measures covering heavy metal content, pesticide residue, filth contaminants and microbial presence.
He said the government will also deploy teams that will inspect shipments at the country of origin “to ensure rice quality and safety for consumers and at the same time prevent the spread of crop pests and diseases [in the country].”
In a news briefing on Thursday, Dar told reporters, “We will see to it that [import] rules are tight during the main harvest season. We have all the facts so we will be strict in implementing these rules.”
The BusinessMirror earlier reported that the stringent food safety measures are aimed at limiting rice imports.
Rice traders and importers would have to secure an SPSIC first from the BPI so they can bring the staple from other countries into the Philippines. This requirement was mandated by the rice trade liberalization law.
“All rice importers will have to comply with the guidelines as required in securing the SPSIC,” said Dar.

Probe under way

The DA chief also directed the BPI to investigate importers and traders who have not used their SPSICs despite securing the document. Some traders were issued SPSIC as early as March, when the law took effect.
The BPI reported that only about two-thirds of some 3,000 SPSIC issued to importers have been used to date, which means there are some 1,000 unused SPSICs covering 1 million metric tons of rice.
Latest BPI data showed that as of October 31, 2,105 SPSICs have been used to import 1.693 MMT of rice from India, Italy, Myanmar, Pakistan, Spain, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Using the data we have, we will continue to improve these guidelines based on our experience,” said Dar.
He said the government will look into the possibility of imposing a validity period on issued SPSICs, which do not have an expiration date.

Removing dummies

Dar also revealed that the stringent SPS measures will weed out farmers’ cooperatives and groups that are being used as dummies of unscrupulous businessmen.
The DA chief cited the BusinessMirror’s stories about “dummy” cooperatives edging out legitimate traders in rice imports as among the reasons for their decision to go after these groups (See “Farmer groups ‘top rice importers’—are they?” in the BusinessMirror, November 21, 2019, and “Pre- and post-rice trade liberalization law, big traders gaming farmer groups,”  in the BusinessMirror, October 31, 2019).
He said the DA is in “constant” communication with concerned agencies, such as the Cooperatives Development Authority (CDA), Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC).
Dar said the DA is now in the process of “appreciating” the data provided by the CDA regarding the financial capacities of cooperatives that are registered with the BPI.
“That is what’s happening right now, [cooperatives] are being used. That’s why we want to make the rules stringent because they are just being used,” he said.
Dar said the government will not hesitate to open the warehouses or even file charges against the importers, including cooperatives, if the results of the PCC’s current probe on rice industry players will find that they served as dummies.
While he encourages all farmers’ associations, cooperatives and groups to venture into agribusiness, including rice importation, Dar stressed they must follow the law.
Dar had issued a memorandum order that required traders to ship their consignments to the Philippines within a prescribed period of time.
The same order “strengthened” registration procedures for interested rice importers by requiring them to submit documents proving their financial and logistical capacity to import rice, such as annual income tax return with audited financial statement for the last three years.

Dar’s tack backed

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) welcomed Dar’s pronouncements and has thrown its support behind the DA’s move to weed out farmers’ cooperatives and groups acting as dummies.
“We have expressed our concern in the past about the use of small farmers’ cooperatives and organizations as virtual dummies of large financiers and importers who are apparently submitting fictitious financial records and evidence of warehouses to secure import clearances from the BPI,” the FFF said.
However, FFF noted that the use of SPS will only bring temporary relief against the influx of rice imports, as importers would eventually find a way to comply with the food safety measures.
Also, FFF said the use of NTMs could open the DA to lawsuits from importers and even from the country’s rice trade partners at the World Trade Organization.
“We, therefore, maintain that the best way to control the surge in imports is through the imposition of general safeguard duties on imports. The legal and factual basis for doing this now is readily available,” it added.

9 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:39 AM, November 21, 2019

Jacking up rice prices won’t be tolerated

Warns food minister saying rice stock sufficient; government starts procurement of Aman paddy

Description: https://assetsds.cdnedge.bluemix.net/sites/default/files/styles/big_2/public/feature/images/rice-1_1.jpg?itok=Er9Iaigp
Photo: Collected
Star Report
The government yesterday sounded a note of warning against unscrupulous traders and said rice price manipulation would not be tolerated as the country had no shortage of the staple.
“It will not be acceptable at any cost if anyone tries to manipulate rice prices … there is no reason to hike the price illegally,” Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder told reporters after a meeting with rice mill owners and traders at the Secretariat.
Meanwhile, the food office yesterday started procuring Aman paddy from farmers in some areas where the harvest began.
The government has decided to procure 6 lakh tonnes of paddy this Aman season, the highest for the season in the last 24 years, according to ministry data.
The minister said the paddy price did not increase, so there was no logic in increasing prices of rice, reports BSS.
“Farmers would rather have benefited had the paddy price been higher, but unfortunately it did not happen,” he said.
He also said a control room had already been opened under the food ministry and vigilance teams were monitoring the rice market at the field level.
Asked, Majumder said the ongoing nation-wide transport strike would not impact rice prices for the next 8-10 days as each market across the country has sufficient rice stock.
Moreover, the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection has already been asked to take necessary actions if any irregularities come to its notice, he added.
If required, the minister said, the food ministry would operate mobile courts to this end.
The country produces nearly 3.44 crore tonnes of rice annually against the demand of almost 2.16 crore tonnes, he said.
At present, the country’s food crops stock is about 14,52,707 tonnes at different warehouses of the government. Of the stock, 11,13,303 tonnes are rice.
Acting food secretary Omar Faruque, Director General of the Department of Food Nazmanara Khanum, Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mills Owners Association President Abdur Rashid, Bangladesh Auto Rice Mill Association President Khorshed Alam and representatives from the home, commerce and agriculture ministries, among others, attended the meeting.

DA: Rice Tariffication Law ‘will be pursued’ but stricter measures to be implemented
Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - November 21, 2019 - 12:54pm
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government will not stop the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, but tighter measures will be imposed amid outcry from farmers hurt by falling palay (paddy rice) farm-gate prices.
“The Rice Tariffication Law will be pursued to provide affordable and quality rice for all Filipinos,” President Rodrigo Duterte was quoted as saying by Agriculture Secretary William Dar during a press conference Thursday.
Duterte on Tuesday said he directed Dar to pause the purchase of rice from abroad during harvest season to help local farmers.
At Thursday’s media interview, Dar said the president gave three orders that seek to safeguard Filipino farmers’ business amid the influx of imported rice:
  • The National Food Authority should increase the country’s emergency buffer stock from 15 days to 30 days by buying more palay from farmers. The grains agency was also told to purchase more palay and sell more regular milled rice at an average of 20,000 bags or higher.
  • The unconditional cash transfer to rice farmers affected by low palay prices will be extended from one to two years with the budget of P3 billion a year.
  • The Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Plant Industry, will strictly implement the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance, especially during harvest season.
Last February, Duterte signed the Rice Tarrification Law which lifted the more than two-decade-old cap on rice imports in a bid to bring down prices of the staple grain.
Under the law, individuals and businesses can import additional volumes of the crop from Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam but will have to pay tariffs. The proceeds will be used to fund mass irrigation, warehousing and rice research to help local farmers compete.
But some groups said the influx of cheap rice from abroad has been hurting Filipino farmers. Government data shows prices of palay plunged 24.49% in the third quarter, as farmers were forced to sell their produce to traders at lower prices amid the presence of imported rice in the market.
The US Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service has reported that the Philippines is poised to dislodge China from the top and emerge as the world’s biggest rice importer.