Saturday, November 30, 2019

30 November,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

WFP Peru Country Brief, October 2019
Published on 31 Oct 2019

In Numbers
USD 31 M Total requirements
Operational Updates
Nutrition Stakeholder and Action Mapping
Description: previewThe Secretariat of the UN Network for SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) led a mission to Peru for the preparation of the national Nutrition Stakeholder and Action Mapping. The mission included workshops and training with multidisciplinary technical personnel from different sectors to identify the key criteria for the development of the mapping exercise, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Promotion of Food and Nutritional Security in Sechura – PROSAN
Since 2015, WFP and Fospibay (Social Fund for the Bayovar Project) implemented the Food and Nutritional Security Programme in Sechura – the PROSAN project. The project model improved the capacities of the most vulnerable people and their institutions to promote food security and prevent anaemia and chronic malnutrition in children in the province of Sechura, Piura. In October 2019, WFP Peru and Fospibay renewed their partnership for three additional years to transfer the project model over to the actors themselves through capacity strengthening locally, regionally and on a communal scale within the Province of Sechura to ensure its sustainability. The second phase will benefit 6,000 people (incl. pregnant and lactating women and school-age children) as well as 1,800 families with livelihoods training, 120 district and municipal government officials, and 100 community leaders.
Rice Fortification
With WFP support, the Regional Government of Lambayeque carried out a workshop with 45 local journalists on the role of the media in reducing malnutrition and on how rice fortification can prevent anaemia. Likewise, an informative roundtable with the private sector (millers, rice producers and suppliers) and regional government institutions was organized to disseminate information on the benefits of fortified rice and promote its production.

Border Closure: Nigeria short of N338 billion worth of rice
By Chidinma Nwagbara -November 29, 20191
Nigeria has recorded N338.6 billion shortage of rice at the Malaysian price of $421 per tonne. This follows the country’s land border closure and the government’s decision to stop FOREX on food imports.
Going by New Telegraph’s report, in general, Nigerians are challenged with 9.54 million tonnes of essential food items shortage. Note that the major food items are rice, wheat, sugar, and palm oil.
As a result of the deficit, the price of a bag of 50 kilogrammes of locally produced rice has gone up from N13,500 to N25,000 in the market within the last three months. Similarly, a carton of frozen fish has jumped from N10,000 to 25,000 or 60%, while turkey, which was N13,000 as at August 19, 2019, has increased by 38.4% to N18,000.

While production stands at 60,000 tonnes, Nigeria is in deficit of 5.1 million tonnes of wheat. More so, sugar deficit has reached 1.89 million tonnes, as production declined from 80,000 tonnes in 2018 to 75,000 tonnes this year (2019). Palm oil shortage attains 350,000 tonnes, as local production remains unchanged at 1.02 million tonnes.
Experts view on the matter: According to Adedayo Aregbesola, an economist, the FOREX ban on food items was expected to lead to shortage of food. Aregbesola noted that Nigeria still lacks the capacity to feed her population.
He maintained that in any given circumstance, inflation is imminent, should plenty of money be chasing few food items in the market.
Aregbesola added“Going by the law of demand and  supply, if there is plenty of food,  people will buy cheaper food and if there is scarcity of food they will be forced to spend more money  on few food items and this will further lead to crisis.”
Also, the Managing Director of Sceptre, Olatunde Jayeola, explained that the government should have pumped more money into the agricultural sector and subsidised food items in such a way that foreign parboiled rice being smuggled would be useless.
 Jayeola’s words: “If the local rice is sold at N5,000 per 50 kilogrammes bag in the market, no smuggler will go to neighbouring countries to bring rice at a landing price of N9,000 per 50 kilogrammes bag because it is not economically reasonable to do that in a competitive market.
 “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should also focus on bringing agricultural equipment into the country and distribute them to farmers. This will make the bank’s anchor borrower scheme more meaningful.”
As earlier reported on Nairametrics, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had in October 2019, closed the country’s land borders to imported goods.
According to the president, the closure of the borders was due to the smuggling activities of food items, particularly, that of rice.

Ban importation of rice now not 2022 – Peasant farmers

Members of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana have charged government to implement the ban on the importation of rice n and not wait till 2022.

President of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Abdul Rahman Mohammed, speaking at the 2019 annual general meeting of the association in Takoradi, said the local rice farmers have produced enough rice to meet the local demand and even surplus for export.

He therefore does not see the need for government to wait till 2022 before implementing the Ban.

Government has announced that it is planning to ban the importation of rice by 2022 to boost local rice production.

Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Kennedy Osei Nyarko who gave the hint, said the move is to reverse the significant quantity of foreign rice consumed by Ghanaians.

Mr. Rahman believes a ban will also address the challenge of post-harvest losses.

In the meantime, he has appealed to government to direct the National Food Buffer Stock Company to mop up the excess rice and encourage rice importers to buy Ghana rice.

Mr. Rahman, enumerating their other challenges mentioned access to funds from banks, lack of warehouses to store their products among several others.

The National Youth Representative of the Association, Mugiss Badigamsi Abdul bemoaned the fact that many of the youth are deserting agriculture due to factors such as fertilizer smuggling, lack of ready market to buy their produce, land availability and access to mechanization services which he wants government to address.

Western Regional Minister Kobina Okyere Darko Mensah in his address said government has initiated a lot of interventions for farmers and is putting up measures to construct more warehouses, silos and pack houses in all districts to control post-harvest losses.

The association which was formed in 2005 with a mission to advocate for pro poor agricultural and trade policies that would lift the small holder farmer out of poverty currently has a membership of over 1,527 and over 50,000 individual registered small-scale farmers in over 70 districts in the country.

Rice Prices

as on : 29-11-2019 12:23:21 PM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Bankura Sadar(WB)
Indus(Bankura Sadar)(WB)
Tamkuhi Road(UP)
Published on November 29, 2019



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Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- November 29, 2019
OVEMBER 29, 2019 /
* * * * * *
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-November 29, 2019 Nagpur, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Gram prices declined further in Nagpur Agriculture Produce and Marketing Company (APMC) here on lack of demand from local millers amid high moisture content arrival. Sharp fall on NCDEX and easy condition in Madhya Pradesh pulses also pulled down prices in weak trading activity, according to sources.

* Gram varieties ruled steady in open market here on subdued demand from local

traders amid ample stock in ready position.

TUAR * Tuar quoted static in open market here matching the demand and supply position.

* Mot prices firmed in open market here on increased demand from local traders.

* In Akola, Tuar New – 5,600-5,800, Tuar dal (clean) – 8,400-8,600, Udid Mogar (clean)

– 9,200-10,700, Moong Mogar (clean) 8,800-9,800, Gram – 4,350-4,550, Gram Super best

– 6,200-6,400 * Wheat, rice and other foodgrain items moved in a narrow range in

scattered deals and settled at last levels in weak trading activity.

Nagpur foodgrains APMC auction/open-market prices in rupees for 100 kg

FOODGRAINS Available prices Previous close

Gram Auction 3,500-4,000 3,600-4,050

Gram Pink Auction n.a. 2,100-2,600

Tuar Auction n.a. 5,000-5,400

Moong Auction n.a. 3,950-4,200

Udid Auction n.a. 4,300-4,500

Masoor Auction n.a. 2,200-2,500

Wheat Lokwan Auction 2,000-2,122 2,000-2,095

Wheat Sharbati Auction n.a. 2,900-3,000

Gram Super Best Bold 6,000-6,200 6,000-6,200

Gram Super Best n.a. n.a.

Gram Medium Best 5,700-5,900 5,700-5,900

Gram Dal Medium n.a. n.a

Gram Mill Quality 4,475-4,525 4,575-4,525

Desi gram Raw 4,400-4,500 4,400-4,500

Gram Kabuli 8,500-10,000 8,500-10,000

Tuar Fataka Best-New 8,700-8,900 8,700-8,900

Tuar Fataka Medium-New 8,200-8,500 8,200-8,500

Tuar Dal Best Phod-New 8,000-8,200 8,000-8,200

Tuar Dal Medium phod-New 7,200-7,600 7,200-7,600

Tuar Gavarani New 5,650-5,750 5,650-5,750

Tuar Karnataka 6,050-6,150 6,050-6,150

Masoor dal best 5,600-5,800 5,600-5,800

Masoor dal medium 5,300-5,400 5,300-5,400

Masoor n.a. n.a.

Moong Mogar bold (New) 9,000-10,000 9,000-10,000

Moong Mogar Medium 8,000-8,500 8,000-8,500

Moong dal Chilka New 7,700-8,500 7,500-8,500

Moong Mill quality n.a. n.a.

Moong Chamki best 9,200-10,000 9,200-10,000

Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 9,500-11,000 9,500-11,000

Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG) 8,500-9,200 8,500-9,200

Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG) 6,600-7,200 6,600-7,200

Mot (100 INR/KG) 6,400-7,500 6,000-7,500

Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg) 4,700-5,000 4,800-5,000

Watana Dal (100 INR/KG) 5,600-5,800 5,600-5,800

Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG) 8,800-10,000 8,800-10,000

Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG) 2,350-2,450 2,350-2,450

Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG) 2,250-2,350 2,250-2,350

Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG) 2,700-2,800 2,700-2,800

Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG) 2,700-2,850 2,700-2,850

Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG) 2,400-2,600 2,400-2,600

Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG) n.a. n.a.

MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG) 3,400-4,200 3,400-4,200

MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG) 2,800-3,200 2,800-3,200

Rice Parmal (100 INR/KG) 2,400-2,500 2,400-2,500

Rice BPT best new (100 INR/KG) 3,000-3,600 3,000-3,600

Rice BPT medium new(100 INR/KG) 2,700-3,000 2,700-3,000

Rice Luchai (100 INR/KG) 3,000-3,100 3,000-3,100

Rice Swarna best new (100 INR/KG) 2,700-2,850 2,600-2,800

Rice Swarna medium new (100 INR/KG)2,500-2,600 2,400-2,500

Rice HMT best new (100 INR/KG) 3,900-4,000 3,900-4,000

Rice HMT medium new (100 INR/KG) 3,600-3,800 3,600-3,800

Rice Shriram best new(100 INR/KG) 4,500-5,000 4,500-5,000

Rice Shriram med new (100 INR/KG) 4,200-4,400 4,200-4,400

Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG) 8,500-13,500 8,500-13,500

Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG) 5,000-7,500 5,000-7,500

Rice Chinnor best new 100 INR/KG) 5,300-5,500 5,300-5,500

Rice Chinnor medium new(100 INR/KG)5,000-5,200 5,000-5,200

Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG) 2,350-2,550 2,350-2,550

Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG) 2,050-2,250 2,050-2,250 WEATHER (NAGPUR) Maximum temp. 31.8 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 15.9 degree Celsius Rainfall : Nil FORECAST: Mainly clear sky. Maximum and minimum temperature likely to be around 31 degree Celsius and 16 degree Celsius respectively. Note: n.a.—not available (For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, but included in market prices)

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

India rice rates near three-year low, Bangladesh considers cutting duty
Arpan Varghese
NOVEMBER 28, 2019 / 3:23 PM
BENGALURU (Reuters) - Prices of rice from top exporter India held at its lowest in nearly three years this week on low demand as a harvest gathers pace, while neighbouring Bangladesh considered cutting import duty on the staple to rein in surging domestic rates.
FILE PHOTO: A worker spreads rice for drying at a rice mill on the outskirts of Kolkata, India, January 31, 2019. Picture taken January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Rates for India’s 5% broken parboiled variety were unchanged around $358-$362 per tonne, the lowest since January 2017.Summer-sown crop harvesting has been gathering pace, but export demand is not improving, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.Rising supplies have also started to push paddy prices below the government-set purchases rate of 1,835 rupees per 100 kg in many spot markets, exporters said.Bangladesh, meanwhile, was considering a reduction of import duties on the staple if local prices continue to rise, an official with the country’s commerce ministry said on Thursday.

“We’re yet to take any decision. But we’ll go for it (duty cut) if prices don’t stabilize,” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

In May, Bangladesh raised import duty to 55% from 28% to support farmers amid protests over a steep fall in domestic prices. However, prices have rebounded in the past few weeks, despite good crops and sufficient stocks, with the food minister attributing it to price manipulation by some traders.
A Dhaka-based trader said a duty cut was unlikely at this point.“I don’t think the government will take such a decision. It’ll be suicidal if they do when there is huge stock in the country,” the trader said.Vietnam’s 5% broken rice rates remained flat for a fourth week at $345-$350 a tonne, but demand picked up slightly after Philippines decided last week not to suspend imports.“Buyers in Philippines, one of Vietnam’s top buyers, have started to clinch new deals although the quantity is not large,” said a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader.
“But if this batch of shipment to Philippines is smooth, price will increase.” Another trader based in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta province of An Giang said trading was subdued.“A lot of Chinese buyers are shifting to Cambodia and Myanmar as prices there are lower,” he said.Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were also unchanged at $394-$410 a tonne, as demand was flat due to a strong baht and lower prices offered by competitors such as Vietnam and India. “I’ve not been able to sell a single tonne for the last two months, it’s unbelievable,” a Bangkok-based trader said.
Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thailand’s paddy output to decline in 2019-2020 season

Thailand's annual paddy production is forecast at 27-28 million tonnes in the 2019-2020 season, weighed down by a drop in production for the second crop because of flooding and drought.
VNA Friday, November 29, 2019 22:11 
Description: Thailand’s paddy output to decline in 2019-2020 season hinh anh 1A farmer harvests rice in Kalasin province. Flooding and drought have hampered the 2019-20 growing season (source:

Bangkok (VNA) - Thailand's annual paddy production is forecast at 27-28 million tonnes in the 2019-2020 season, weighed down by a drop in production for the second crop because of flooding and drought.

Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department under the Thai Ministry of Commerce, said the second crop is estimated at just 3.5 million tonnes of paddy, down 54 percent against the previous season, due to drought and inadequate water supply from dams.

Meanwhile, production from the main crop is forecast at 24 million tonnes of paddy, down 4-12.5 percent from the previous season.

Some 90 percent of production from the 2018-2019 season was harvested, he said.

Speaking at a meeting of the subcommittee handling reference prices for rice price guarantees, Whichai said from now until 2020, the rice prices are expected to rise, thanks to lower supply and the government's rice price guarantees.

The Thai government recently set aside an additional 70 billion baht to shore up paddy prices, as the annual harvest is scheduled to flood the market.

Thailand exported 11.09 million tonnes of rice in 2018, 58 million tonnes lower than that of 2017. The country’s rice export turnover in 2018 increased by 8.3 percent compared to 2017, hitting 5.61 billion USD./.

Explained: Can high-yield varieties of maize help in crop diversification in Punjab?
What is the total area under Maize cultivation in Punjab? To diversify from paddy, how much area should Punjab bring under maize? All your questions answered.
Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba |Updated: November 29, 2019 8:20:31 am

Punjab’s maize area is 1.62 per cent of the total area of maize in India, which is around 98 lakh hectares. Nearly 46 per cent maize area in India comes in the peninsular states.
In a meeting on Sunday, the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, decided to strengthen the most important alternative — maize crop — by narrowing down the gap in economic returns between maize and rice. The university said that diversification from rice is urgently required for water conservation. But can this move help in increasing area under maize in the state?
What is the total area under Maize cultivation in Punjab?
Around 42 lakh hectares area is under cultivation of various crops in Punjab out of which maize was cultivated on 1.60 lakh hectares this year which is around 3.82 per cent of the total cultivable area. Since 2000 onwards, the area under maize has remained between 1.09 lakh hectares to 1.63 lakh hectares only.
Also, Punjab’s maize area is 1.62 per cent of the total area of maize in India, which is around 98 lakh hectares. Nearly 46 per cent maize area in India comes in the peninsular states like Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and also states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra also contribute.
To diversify from paddy, how much area should Punjab bring under maize?
Experts say that at least 12 lakh hectares area must be reduced under paddy (non-basmati), which is currently grown on 23 to 26 lakh hectares, and this 12 lakh hectares must be diversified mainly under maize, basmati and cotton crops apart from increasing area under agro-forestry and vegetables. Further, at least 5.50 lakh hectares should be diversified under maize out of which nearly 1.60 lakh is under it and 4 lakh hectares more is needed to be diversified in maize. Also under the ‘new diversification policy’ launched in 2013 for Kharif season, the then SAD-BJP Punjab government had envisioned to bring around 5.50 lakh hectares under it (maize) by 2017-18 across state, but data sourced from Punjab Agriculture Department showed that Punjab was nowhere close to this figure because of fluctuate prices of maize crop every year. Rather the area under maize either remained static or went down in all these years. It was 1.30 lakh hectares in 2012 before launching the new diversification policy, which came down to 1.09 lakh hectares in 2018 and now this year after huge efforts it was increased to 1.60 lakh hectares.
Before Green revolution in Punjab in 1960s, the area under maize was around 5 lakh hectares. It was 5.77 lakh hectares in 1970s. In 1980s, the area came down to around 4 lakh hectares and in 1990s it further went down to 3 to 2.5 lakh hectares. Year 2000 onwards, it never touched even 1.70 lakh hectares.
When is maize grown in Punjab?
It can be grown in three seasons including spring (March to June), Rabi (December to April) and Kharif (June to October). In Punjab, Kharif season is counted as the main maize season. And there is need to increase area under Kharif maize only when paddy is sown in Punjab. In spring season also around 25,000 hectares comes under maize, but it is not promoted due to its long duration which consumes water during hot summer days.
Would strengthening of maize programme by PAU help?
Already, 16 PAU recommended high yield varieties are being sown in Punjab, which includes PAU developed varsities (both long and short duration) like PMH-1, PMH -2, PMH 11, Parkash-1. Long duration varieties takes 95 to 100 days and short duration varieties 80 to 85 days. Similarly Punjab farmers are growing several hybrid varieties of private companies like Pioneer, Monsanto, Adventa, Sygenta.
“All these varieties give high yield of around 25 quintals per acre during Kharif season, but better yield varsities cannot guarantee increase in area under maize unless government policy does not support the marketing of the crop,” said a senior scientist with the PAU. He added that higher yield won’t help till there is good assured price for the crop.
Scientists at Indian Institute of Maize Research, Ludhiana, said that farmers are unable to get out of vicious wheat-paddy cycle because of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) led by government procurement of both crops, while other crops are not the government’s responsibility for procurement despite the fact that government fixes MSP of 24 crops every year.
“The crop diversification will practically happen on the ground only if there is a similar incentive for forwards looking farmers who venture into maize cultivation as part of crop diversification,” he said.
What should be the government policy to promote maize cultivation?
Scientists are of the opinion that along with developing more high yield and good varieties, of maize, free power for paddy must be stopped and there should be a policy under which out of total MSP budget available with the state government for paddy, a portion of paddy MSP funds should be shifted for diversification in maize from paddy, so as to compensate maize growers from that fund in case maize is sold below the price fixed by the Centre.
“Making such policy is not big deal for government,” said scientists, adding that the total budget will remain same only shifting of some portion budget is needed as per the proportion of diversification to other crops like Maize.
How much maize is consumed in India?
Out of around 28 million tonnes of maize production in India, only 13 per cent is consumed for food, 7 per cent is used in processed food, 47 per cent is used in poultry feed, 13 per cent for other livestock feed, 14 per cent is used as starch in food textile, pharmaceutical and paper industry and 6 per cent is exported to South Asian countries including 33 per cent export to Indonesia.

Punjab groundwater crisis: What it will take to move from paddy to maize
At current rates of depletion, Punjab’s entire subsurface water resource could be exhausted in a little over two decades.
Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba |Jalandhar |Updated: November 28, 2019 10:47:49 am
As the discussion around Punjab’s massive groundwater crisis becomes more urgent, there is an increasingly stronger accent on diversification of crops, and a move away from water-guzzling paddy.
At a meeting over the weekend, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, decided to strengthen maize — the most important alternative to rice — by working towards narrowing the gap in economic returns between the two crops. The idea is to nudge farmers towards increasing the area under maize.
Over 70% of blocks in Punjab are in the dark zone on underground water stocks, according to central government estimates. At current rates of depletion, Punjab’s entire subsurface water resource could be exhausted in a little over two decades.
To conserve the resource, the Punjab government brought a law in 2009 to mandatorily delay transplantation of paddy beyond June 10, when the most severe phase of evapotranspiration is over. This law has been blamed for creating the bad air crisis of North India — especially Delhi — by delaying harvesting to end-October and early November, when atmospheric and wind conditions cause particulate matter and gases from burning paddy stubble to hang close to the surface.
So how area is under maize cultivation?
Of the 42-odd lakh hectares under cultivation in Punjab, maize was grown on 1.60 lakh hectares this year — just 3.8%. Since 2000, the area under maize has varied between 1.09 lakh and 1.63 lakh hectares every year.
The area under maize in Punjab is only 1.6% of the total area under the crop in India (98 lakh hectares). Nearly 46% of India’s maize area is in the pensinsular states of Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra too, have large areas under maize.
In Punjab, maize can be grown in three seasons — spring (March-June), rabi (December-April) and kharif (June-October). Kharif is the state’s main maize season. There is need to increase the area under kharif maize, which is also the paddy season. Spring maize is grown on around 25,000 hectares, but the crop is not promoted due to its long duration, and because it consumes water during the hot summer days.
And what is the minimum that must be brought under maize if Punjab wants to effectively diversify from paddy?
Experts say the area under non-basmati paddy must be cut by at least 12 lakh hectares, and maize, basmati, and cotton must be grown on this land — besides increasing the area under agro-forestry and vegetables. Non-basmati paddy is currently grown on 23-26 lakh hectares.
At least 5.50 lakh hectares should pass under maize, the experts say — an addition of about 4 lakh hectares. Under its New Diversification Policy launched in the 2013 kharif season, the SAD-BJP government had, in fact, aimed to bring around 5.50 lakh hectares under maize by 2017-18. However, data from the agriculture department show that the area under the crop has remained largely stagnant. Fluctuating prices of maize have been a disincentive for farmers.
Will the strengthening of PAU’s maize programme help in diversification?
Sixteen PAU-recommended high-yield varieties are already sown in Punjab. Long-duration varieties take 95-100 days, and short-duration ones 80-85 days. Farmers also grow several hybrid varieties developed by various companies.
“All these varieties give high yields of around 25 quintals per acre in the kharif season. More high-yield varieties can be developed, but that won’t guarantee an increase in area under maize unless government policy supports the marketing of the crop,” a senior PAU scientist said.
Unlike paddy and wheat, which are procured by the government, maize is sold in the open market and is subject to the actions of private players. Maize is one of 24 crops for which the government fixes a minimum support price, but procurement is not its responsibility; this is because maize is primarily a “feed” crop — of the 28 million tonnes produced in India, only 13% is consumed as food.
What can the government do in this situation?
Agricultural scientists strongly feel that along with developing more high-yield and good varieties of maize for which there is a demand in the market, the government must stop free power for paddy in order to disincentivise its cultivation and check the overexploitation of underground aquifers. A very large number of tubewells (more than 14 lakh in 2015-16) running on free power pump out virtually endless amounts of water across the state.
According to the scientists, the government could also earmark a portion of the MSP budget for maize, so that a fund is created from which farmers can be compensated in case the price of maize falls below what has been fixed by the centre government. “Making such a policy is not a big deal for the government,” a senior scientist said. “The budget will remain the same, it will only be apportioned better.”
Agricultural economist Sardara Singh Johl, however, argued for creating conditions for farmers to move voluntarily away from paddy rather than the government making policy. “The government does not need to make any policy for diversification if it gets a market for low water-consuming crops, and a good price for such crops. Farmers will themselves go for such crops without the government’s efforts,” Dr Johl said. Efforts to fix area for diversification have failed in the past, he said.CM Amarinder Singh looks at maize exhibits at PAU, Ludhiana. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Mystery still surrounds gene-edited babies and Rice connection

Nov. 27, 2019 Updated: Nov. 27, 2019 8 p.m.
In this Oct. 10, 2018, file photo, He Jiankui is reflected in a glass panel as he works at a computer at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province. A Chinese investigation says Chinese scientist He, behind the reported birth of two babies whose genes had been edited in hopes of making them resistant to the AIDS Photo: Mark Schiefelbein, STF / Associated Press
2of3FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, He Jiankui, a Chinese researcher, speaks during the Human Genome Editing Conference in Hong Kong. Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world by claiming he had helped make the first gene-edited babies. One year later, mystery surrounds his fate as well as theirs. He has not been seen publicly Photo: Kin Cheung, STF / Associated Press
3of3Michael Deem, seen in an undated press release image released by Rice University, is the John W. Cox Professor in Biochemical and Genetic Engineering and professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University.Photo: Jeff Fitlow / RICE UNIVERSITY
Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world by claiming he had helped make the first gene-edited babies. One year later, mystery surrounds his fate as well as theirs.
He has not been seen publicly since January, his work has not been published and nothing is known about the health of the babies.

Supplement-protector tackles malnutrition

28 November 2019
Using a new micropolymer called BMC, US scientists have figured out how to stabilise nutrients added to food...
Rickets, scurvy, beriberi… we’ve learnt the hard way that keeping our vitamin levels in check is essential for good health. But while these conditions are associated with bygone eras and now seem manageable, the developing world continues to struggle with the consequences of malnutrition.
Around 2 billion people suffer from vitamin deficiencies, with micronutrient deficiency known as “hidden hunger”. This can cause birth defects, anaemia, impaired growth and blindness and leads to 50% of deaths of children under 5 according to the WHO. This physical weakness can contribute to “the cycle of poverty” and severely impact the prospects of low-income families.
While a balanced diet is ideal, in countries with limited access to a wide variety of foods this isn’t possible. The solution: fortify cupboard staples, like rice, maize, even salt, and ensure people can get what their body needs. Although strides have been made to fortify foodstuffs, there are still technical challenges to be resolved. Though an effective way to introduce these nutrients into the diet, certain additions like iron can also make the food taste unpalatable. Furthermore, as senior author Ana Jacklenec explains, in countries with prevalent malnutrition, foods rich in micronutrients are often simmered in stews, and this heat can destroy their nutritional content.
In this new paper, researchers at MIT used a polymer to coat a combination of micronutrients. After testing 50 different polymers they settled on BMC, a microparticle already approved by the FDA that is only slightly larger in diameter than a single human hair. It was able to make the nutrients stable at different levels of heat, moisture and light. Eleven micronutrients were encapsulated in this particular experiment, including iron, niacin, zinc, folic acid, and an array of those all-important lettered vitamins.
They tested the intestinal absorption of these coated micronutrients in rodents, finding that the capsule acted as protection from various factors but still dissolved appropriately in gastric acid as intended. These results were also found in mini-organs, grown to replicate human intestines, which showed, for example, a 30-fold increase in iron absorption.
These effects were tested within a human trial of 44 people. The team also compared the taste of their new ‘super-bread’ with one unsupplemented, with little difference to the experience. Even Bill Gates, whose foundation funded the research, was unable to distinguish between the two.
By shielding key micronutrients with this polymer, scientists have found a way to preserve nutritional content and tackle the scourge of deficiencies in developing countries. Though it may cost more and be tricky to implement, helping a third of the world would prove more than worthwhile in the future, “not just on health, but on the economy, on education” alongside other indirect benefits.


New online payment system puts brakes on paddy milling

Nov 30, 2019, 6:43 AM; last updated: Nov 30, 2019, 6:43 AM (IST)
Description: New online payment system puts brakes on paddy milling
Farmers have filed two pleas in the HC against the FCI and the state for compelling them to register on the portal. They have also warned us of legal action if we share their bank account details with any purchase agency. We can’t compel them for registration. — RS Cheema, president, Arhtiya Assn. Punjab
Parvesh Sharma
Tribune News Service
Sangrur, November 29
The delay in the implementation of the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) allegedly by arhtiyas to make online payment to farmers for paddy purchase has applied brakes on milling of paddy in the state.
The authorities in the Department of Food and Civil Supplies said they had taken up the issue with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other Central government authorities.
“The dispute is between arhtiyas, who are not complying with the directions to upload details of farmers on PFMS portal, and the Central government. However, state rice millers are being troubled by the FCI without any reason. As many as 4,200 mills across the state are awaiting letters from the FCI to start milling of 1.60 lakh metric tonnes of paddy in the state,” said Gian Chand Bhardwaj, president, Rice Millers Association of Punjab.
He also met the senior authorities of the Department of Food and Civil Supplies and sought their help.
On November 19, the FCI wrote to the Principal Secretary, Department of Food and Civil Supplies, and sought information about the status of online procurement system.
“In every mill around 20-25 labourers and other staff are sitting idle. The rain may damage paddy stored in the open if milling is not started immediately. We fear huge losses in near future,” said Rajnish Kansal, a miller from Sunam in Sangrur.
“Farmers have filed two petitions in the High Court in September and October against the FCI and the state government for compelling them to register on the PFMS portal. Farmers have warned us of legal action if we share their bank account details with any purchase agency,” said Ravinder Singh Cheema, president of the Arhtiya Association Punjab.
Arshdeep Singh Thind, General Manager, FCI, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. “The state government has urged us to start milling. We have sent their request to our seniors,” said an official of the rank of Deputy General Manager.
Anindita Mitra, Director, Department of Food and Civil Supplies, said, “Our Principal Secretary has taken up the matter with the Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department of the Central government. We are hopeful that the problem will be sorted out in the next two days.”

100 Krishna rice millers jump on tech bandwagon

UPDATED: NOVEMBER 30, 2019 00:51 IST

Procurement quota fixed at 1.6 lakh tonnes: Minister

Nearly one hundred rice millers have shifted to the new method of milling paddy in Krishna district, installing the Startex machinery to process the fine rice targeted to be supplied through the Public Distribution System from April next.


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CRISPR used to edit rice DNA as defense against pathogen

November 30, 2019
Bacterial blight attacks rice crops in Southeast Asia and West Africa. It is a very well-studied crop disease, and it often serves as a model system to examine the interactions between microbes and their host plants. The pathogen is called Xoo, for Xanthomonas oryzae pathovar oryzae, and it makes its living by hijacking a number of rice genes that export sugars.
Now, researchers have figured out how to edit the rice‘s genome to block this hijacking.

A TALe of sugars

Xoo secretes TALes (transcription activator-like effector molecules) that bind to the DNA near the rice‘s SWEET genes, activating them. These SWEET genes (Sugars Will Eventually Be Exported Transporters) are ubiquitous in plants. As their name indicates, the SWEET proteins transport sucrose across the cell membrane. Their expression is required for susceptibility to Xoo.
Researchers thought that modifying the rice SWEET genes would confer resistance to Xoo, especially since natural-occurring resistance has arisen this way. But thus far, only a few Xoo strains have been characterized genetically, so it wasn‘t clear whether it had additional ways of attacking its host.
In order to see how to most efficiently render the rice resistant to Xoo—which of the rice‘s SWEET genes to change, and how—an international team of scientists first examined 63 strains of Xoo, 33 from Asia and 30 from Africa. All of them were found to use TALes to induce the expression of SWEET genes.
As a proof of concept, the scientists then used CRISPR to edit the DNA near three SWEET genes in Kitaake rice. This editing specifically targeted the DNA sequences that the TALe proteins stick to but left the surrounding DNA intact. It‘s far more specific than could be expected to occur simply by selecting for naturally occurring variants.
The engineered rice was resistant to all known Xoo strains. The Kitaake cultivar is a variety of japonica rice that is optimal for such studies since it has a quick flowering cycle and high regeneration. In the future, this new resistant line can serve as a diagnostic test to assess the virulence of any new Xoo strains that crop up.

Testing on crops

Since it is a variety of japonica, it can also be harnessed to breed the resistant trait into Japanese and Chinese rice. But it is not ideal for breeding with the indica varieties that are grown in most of Southeast Asia and Africa.
So next the team used CRISPR to modify two rice mega varieties—those grown over a million hectares. In paddy experiments, the edited rice grew normally and performed much like its unmodified parents in terms of plant height and other agriculturally relevant metrics. Critically, it was resistant to three representative strains of Xoo. Although encouraging, the researchers note that these results hardly provide a sound base for going out and planting fields of the stuff; much more extensive field trials are required, along with complete sequencing to ensure that CRISPR did not generate any off-target DNA edits.
Rice has over 20 SWEET genes, and only three are naturally targeted by Xoo. “Broad resistance to bacterial blight at the SWEET promoters will not prevent adaptation of the pathogen, and the durability of this approach will depend on the ability of Xoo populations to adapt to recessive resistance alleles,” the authors sagely note. They suggest that making large changes in the SWEET gene promoters might delay Xoo‘s ability to overcome the engineered resistance.
Nature Biotechnology, 2019. DOI: ().

Government to ban rice imports by 2022
Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Kennedy Osei Nyarko
A Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kennedy Osei Nyarko, says rice importers have welcomed the government’s intention to ban rice importation by 2022.

“When we communicated plans to ban the rice importation by 2022, the importers were happy. Their main challenge, however, is whether our current production capacity can meet demand to avoid going back,” he said.

Description: Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture,  Kennedy Osei NyarkoMr Nyarko made this known during a working visit to the rice processing unit of the Global Agricultural Development Company (GADCO), producers of Aduahene and Copa Jasmine brands of rice at Fievie, near Sogakope in the Volta Region.

The deputy minister visited last Tuesday to acquaint himself with the operations of the company.

The visit also took him to Wheta in the Anlo District in the Volta Region where he assured rice farmers of the government’s commitment to promote the production and marketing of Ghana rice.

Ban on importation of rice

After inspecting the facilities of GADCO, Mr Nyarko said the intention of the government to ban rice importation was to support local rice farmers to gain access to a market for their produce.

He said it would become a mirage if efforts were not made to scale up the production capacity of rice farmers in the country to meet the high demand for the commodity.

According to him, the country consumed about 940,000 tonnes of rice every month as against the country’s production capacity of about 400,000 tonnes.

Increase in paddy production

Mr Nyarko said the country had witnessed an increase in the production of paddy rice over the past two years.

“In 2018, we recorded a total rice production level of about 769,400 tonnes. We are inching this year to about 900,000 tonnes and we have given ourselves up to about 2022 to meet the average per capita consumption rate of rice in the country to about 1,135 tonnes,” he said.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture added that the rice consumption rate kept going high so “we should be able to produce enough to meet consumption before we can say we want to ban rice importation.”

Rice mill cottages

He disclosed that as part of efforts to increase rice production in the country, the government intended setting up rice mill cottages in rice growing areas where the farmers would mill their rice.

“When this is done, the farmer would not be worried about his paddy rice getting rotten,” he said.


After the deputy minister’s address to the Copa Connect Farmers in Wheta, the Chairman of the Ghana Rice Interprofessional Body (GRIB), Mr Anthony Yaw Anyidoho, appealed to the government to further lower subsidies on farming inputs.

According to him, the cost of production of rice in the country was higher than the cost of importing rice.

“It is a challenge to sell our produce at a competitive price compared to the price of imported rice. If we want to eat rice that we grow in our country, then we need subsidy that is lower than the normal farming subsidy,” he said.

Sustainability of agricultural ventures

For his part, the Commodities and Procurement Manager of Wienco and fertiliser dealer, Mr Abdul Razak Sania, reiterated the company’s commitment to ensure that agricultural ventures in the country were sustainable.
Diversifying Indian crops in the name of nutrition—and the planet
The Green Revolution ensured the dominance of rice in India. But new research reveals the potential benefits of changing that historic legacy.
November 29, 2019
If Indian farmers grew a greater variety of staple cereal crops, it would deliver substantial wins for citizens’ health and the environment, finds a new study
Published in PNAS, the research shows that if India replaced some of its predominant rice crop with other grains like sorghum, finger, and pearl millet, it would slash the energy use of national cereal production by up to 12%, water-use by almost a quarter, and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 13%. The greater diversity of grains would also boost protein availability by between one and 5% in people’s diets, and iron by up to 49%. 
On top of this, the hypothetical switch to more diversified crops would increase overall climate resilience of cereals by 13%, because the wider variety of grains would withstand drought better, and therefore incur fewer losses than the water-dependent rice crops that currently dominate India’s agricultural landscape. 
What’s more, all these changes could unfold without affecting the quantity of production in India’s cereal sector, and without increasing the area needed to farm it, the new study explains.
Why does India find itself in this rice-heavy predicament, in the first place? The country’s current agricultural make up is the legacy of the Green Revolution in the 1950s and 60s, a period that brought high-yielding crop varieties to developing countries, with the aim of dramatically boosting global production of staple foods like wheat and rice. In India, this led to an explosion in rice production: it now makes up 44% of the country’s cereal production. But this has come at the expense of other grains that are nutritionally more valuable. 
Decades on, there are high rates of under- and malnourishment in India: in particular, anemia rates are exceptionally high in women, linked to heavy consumption of rice which is low in iron. And, with high rates of water consumption, and relatively high greenhouse gas emissions, rice has not proved to be the most sustainable crop. Nor is it the most reliable, given that it’s so susceptible to drought.
So there’s a strong case to be made for a more diversified crop base, the researchers propose. 
They made their findings by calculating what it would take to deliver several agricultural objectives, among them ensuring a steady iron supply, reducing greenhouse gases, and boosting climate resilience. 
Then, using crop-specific data on production, energy-use, and emissions, they showed how replacing some of India’s rice crop with three other cereal crops besides rice – sorghum, pearl and finger millet – would change nutrition and environmental impact. (These three crops were chosen because the Indian government is actively seeking to increase their production across the country.) 
The analysis revealed that to deliver on these climate and nutrition goals, the share of these three crops in cereal agriculture would rise from the current 14%, to between 21 and 32% .
In reality, it’s not a simple fact of exchanging rice for other crops. There are economic drivers that determine a lot of agricultural choices: farmers are unlikely to make the switch to rice alternatives unless they know it’ll be as lucrative. Likewise, consumers need to be able to afford these other cereals, and also be willing to change their diets, for these changes to work.
Even so, the researchers emphasise the problematic historical legacy of Indian agriculture: “Many of the challenges resulting from the Green Revolution persist, and solutions tailored to local conditions are urgently needed,” they write. Recognising the flaws in a decades-old farming system – and pondering how different it could look – could be an important first step towards that goal.

Dartmouth Researchers Discover Gene Controlling Iron Uptake In Plants


Dartmouth College scientists have discovered a gene in plants that’s controls how much iron the plant takes in from the soil.
Mary Lou Guerinot, a professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth, was part of the team that discovered the gene. 
“What we’ve been studying is how plants take up iron from the soil with the goal of making food people eat more nutritious,” she said.
The gene Guerinot and other researchers discovered, Upstream Regulator of I-R-T-1, also known as URI, controls when genes should be expressed in the root of the plant to begin iron uptake.
Guerinot says crops like rice, wheat and cassava form the staple diets for half the world’s population.
But those foods don’t have a lot of iron. About two billion people around the world are iron-deficient.
“Can we improve the plants so they can take up and store more iron?” she said.
The researchers did find that under iron-poor conditions, the URI protein combines with a phosphate molecule, activating a sequence of genetic events to turn on the iron uptake system.
But, Guerinot says, plants are cautious about taking up iron, so they turn the pathway off too early. Too much or too little iron can kill it.
The end goal would be to modify URI so that it would be “on” for a longer period of time and take up more iron, making the crop plant more iron-rich.

Ban on rice imports by 2022 possible but strategic measures needed – FABAG

By CitiNewsRoom

Description: Ban on rice imports by 2022 possible but strategic measures needed – FABAG
The Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABAG), the national trade association of the food and beverage industry in Ghana, representing manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers believe Ghana can successfully ban the importation of rice products by 2022 however it needs to make some critical interventions in the sector.
The General Secretary of the Association, Samuel Aggrey in a Citi News interview said one of the critical areas that government must focus attention on is the provision of silos to promote mass storage of harvested rice.
He said without such a measure, Ghana may still need to depend on imported rice in the next 10 years since it will not be rice sufficient.
“[A ban] is possible but we need to put in place so many interventions. The issue of silos is most critical. If we don't have those once in place, I beg to say that even in 10 years we will not be rice sufficient. What we do is that, we produce to consume so in between the period that we consume the rice, and we are exhausted do we have to wait for the next harvest? We are supposed to have about three or four harvests stored. Once that is done, we will be releasing it as and when we need it. When we do it, then we know that we have intervened with the situation that we used to have in solving the problem,” he said.
He said other support programmes must be started to support local rice producers.
The government earlier this week announced that, it plans to ban the importation of rice  by 2022 to boost local rice production.
Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Kennedy Osei Nyarko who gave the hint said, the move is to reverse the significant amount of the foreign rice consumed by Ghanaians.
President of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Sampson Asaki Awingobit warned that although the ban on the importation may be helpful to the country in the near future, measures should adequately be put in place to ground its implementation in the long run.
“Government cannot use a short or medium term to solve this issue in the country looking at the amount of money that we are spending to bring rice in this country. The country can be looking at a long term solution. But from now, giving ourselves 2022 is not a solution if government bans the importation.”
The struggles of rice farmers  have been relayed by  Citi News reports and a subsequent campaign started by Citi FM's CEO, Samuel Attah-Mensah, urging Ghanaians to consume locally grown rice.
The development has seen huge quantities of rice at the risk of  going waste  at the Fumbisi and Gbedembilisi rice valleys in the Builsa South District of the Upper East Region.
As part of more immediate measures to tackle the problem, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been meeting with 20 major rice importers to solicit commitments to support rice production in the country.
In line with this, the Ghana National Buffer Stock Company also said it will make its licensed buying companies to purchase all rice produce going bad.