Wednesday, December 04, 2019

4th December,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter


Scientists search the wild for food plant genes
PARIS: Scientists have been on a global search for the wild relatives of our food crops, hoping to bolster their defences against disease and climate change, a study showed on Tuesday.
Humans have domesticated wild plants for some 10,000 years to provide food but in doing so they have bred out many of their natural defences, leaving them -- and us -- potentially exposed.
"We live in an interdependent world. No single country or region harbors all of the diversity that we need," said Chris Cockel, coordinator of the Crop Wild Relatives project at the Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank.
"A wild relative of one of these crops, in the Americas, Africa or Asia, cold be the source of say, pest resistance, which can benefit all of us in the future," Cockel said in the report.
The high yields sought by humans have come at the cost of less genetic diversity which typically makes plants more susceptible to pests, diseases and the sort of extreme climatic conditions brought about by global warming and development.
By going back to the original source plants of some 28 foods -- for example, of rice, potatos, oats, groundnuts -- researchers collected as wide a variety of seeds as possible in 25 countries to fill in the gaps in existing gene banks.
"We are looking to capture as much diversity as possible... populations separated by even a few kilometres may be genetically quite different," said Luigi Guarino, Director of Science with the Crop Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting crop diversity.
The MSB at Kew Gardens, home to the Royal Botanic Society, has so far distributed nearly 3,300 samples of 165 species as a result of the project.
"Many countries have now realised how important crop wild relatives are -- and what an invaluable source they are for breeders," Cockel said.
The most well known seed storage project is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault where nearly a million samples are now stored deep within the ice some 1,300-km from the North Pole.
It aims to house a collection of as many seeds as possible as an insurance against the loss of other seed banks around the world.

Rice to feed world given a funding boost
Research led by Oxford University into revolutionising global rice production has been given a $15 million funding boost by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The next phase of what is known as the C4 Rice Project has been given the green light for a further five years during which time scientists believe they will develop a prototype for a strain of rice which would give higher yields and endure harsher environmental conditions.
Put simply, it could help to feed a world which is already struggling to provide for its expanding population, particularly in South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently over 3 billion people in Asia depend on rice for survival, and, owing to predicted population increases and a general trend towards urbanisation, the same area of land that provided enough rice to feed 27 people in 2010 will need to support 43 by 2050.
Professor Jane Langdale, from the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, who leads the consortium, said: ‘This is an extremely challenging long-term project and we are grateful to the foundation for backing the team for a further five years. This new award will get us closer to delivering rice lines that will have real impact for smallholder farmers’.
Rice uses the C3 photosynthetic pathway, which in hot dry environments is much less efficient than the C4 pathway used in other plants such as maize and sorghum. The C4 Rice project aims to ‘switch’ rice to use C4 photosynthesis, with transformational potential.
The C4 photosynthetic pathway, which has evolved over 60 times independently, accounts for around a quarter of terrestrial primary productivity on the planet despite being used by only 3% of species. In most C4 plants, photosynthetic reactions happen in two types of cell arranged in ‘wreaths’ around closely spaced veins – an arrangement referred to as Kranz anatomy. One of the major challenges of the C4 Rice Project is to convert rice leaf anatomy to this form. Working out which genes need to be modified to achieve this switch will be a major focus of the team’s research over the next five years.
The most recent phase of the project has seen a leap in progress by harnessing a synthetic approach towards engineering the photosynthetic pathway. The highly promising direction of this research is confirmed in today’s announcement, and this funding boost now makes the C4 Rice project one of the longest running projects in the foundation’s agriculture portfolio.
Professor Julian Hibberd from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, who is a member of the C4 consortium, said: ‘We are excited to be able to build on the significant progress to date, and move closer to our ultimate goal of generating a higher yielding rice’.
Professor Steve Long, who runs the Gates Foundation-funded RIPE Project from the University of Illinois, and was a Visiting Professor at Oxford’s Department of Plant Sciences, said: ‘This is wonderful news. The C4 rice team have made outstanding progress toward cracking the code as to how to make a C4 crop. This will bring the world one step closer to obtaining C4 rice, and to gaining extra productivity without needing more water or nitrogen.”
By the end of the next phase of research in 2024 scientists hope to have experimental field plots up and running in Taiwan.
The scale and reach of the project means that this is a trans-generational project.
Professor Langdale said: ‘This is about being custodians of something that’s bigger than our individual scientific interests’
A condition of Gates Foundation funding for the project is a Global Access Commitment to ensure that the knowledge and advancements made will be made available and accessible at an affordable price to people most in need in developing countries.
The C4 Rice Project consortium comprises the University of Oxford (lead), Academia Sinica, Australian National University, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Leibniz Institute of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge and Washington State University.
/University Release. View in full here.


CPFTA Phase II: Pakistani traders can now export 313 new products to Chinese markets


12:31 PM | 2 Dec, 2019
ISLAMABAD/BEIJING – The second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) came into the effect from Sunday, allowing the Pakistani manufacturers and traders to export around 313 new products on zero duty to the Chinese market.
Both Pakistan and China signed a protocol for the implementation of the agreement during the last visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China , under which, Pakistan has got the export concession on 313 new items.
Pakistan is already enjoying zero duty on export of 724 products to China under the first FTA signed between the two countries in 2006. After the implementation of the second FTA, Pakistan has been allowed to export a total of 1047 products to China on zero duty.
The new facility will particularly benefit the textile sector to enhance its export to China as textile exports to China will virtually be duty-free. There are a number of other items particularly leather and agriculture products as well as confectionery and biscuits etc which Pakistani manufacturers can export to China .A
After the implementation, Pakistan can now increase its export around US$ 1 billion in the short term while the export of these items are likely to touch US$ 4-5 billion in the medium term after setting up a new industry in the special economic zones being constructed in Pakistan under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) flagship project.
After this agreement, Pakistan can enhance its exports to China up to US$ 10 billion in the next few years as the volume of the Chinese import market is around US$ 64 billion.
The per capita income in China is around US$ 10,000 while buying capacity of the people is increasing gradually.
China has organized import expos as it wants to import quality products from different countries including Pakistan. If our traders actively participate in different trade fairs in China to market their goods, they can get import orders with good price.
Now not only Pakistani manufacturers can enhance exports of different goods to China but the Chinese manufacturers who are interested to shift industry to Pakistan owing to cheaper labour and other resources, can export goods to China and other countries in the world.
Pakistan has already signed FTA with Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Indonesia under its trade liberalization policy to enhance its exports.
There are active discussions to sign FTA with South Korea in a bid to provide more and more access to Pakistani manufacturers to the new markets. China has already become the second-largest export destination of Pakistani traders after the US.
The present government has resolved export rebate issue and started the disbursement to traders for which the finance ministry is allocating funds while it is giving subsidy to exporters on electricity and gas.
The State Bank of Pakistan has also increased funds limits for the traders and manufacturers under export refinance scheme which will help increase the exports.
China has imposed a strict quality control system on food-related items. Chinese experts inspect and qualify the manufacturing facility before allowing imports. China also imposed quota and Pakistani traders can benefit from it if they achieve all the standards.
A quota of 350k tons yarn, 300k tons sugar and 200 tons rice respectively was given by China under US$ 1 billion zero percent import tariff facility and exporters are actively availing this opportunity.
Pakistani traders want to complete the quarantine procedures of wheat and tobacco to be able to export these products to China .
Currently, cotton yarn, copper, rice, chromites nephrite, seafood, and ethylene alcohol are main products being exported to China 
Line losses controlled: Lesco chief
Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) Chief Executive Officer Mujahid Pervaiz Chattha has said that situation of electricity supply and line losses are far better than the past and getting better with every passing day.
He expressed these view while talking to a delegation of industrialists that met him under the leadership of Senior Vice President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Ali Hussam Asghar here Monday. To bring improvement in the distribution system is the prime task of the LESCO which is committed to delivering uninterrupted, safe and secure supply of electricity to the consumers, he added.
On the occasion, the delegation comprising Chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Pir Nazim Hussain Shah, Chairman Pakistan Steel Melters Association Rehman Aziz Chan, Convener LCCI Standing Committee on Energy Asim Siddiq and other office-bearers discussed various issues faced by the industrial sector.

Villar says P3 billion realignment in 2020 national budget to assist local rice farmers

Published December 3, 2019, 12:09 AM
By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Cynthia Villar clarified on Monday that the transfer of the P3-billion fund from the National Food Authority’s (NFA) proposed 2020 budget to the Land Bank of the Philippines will also be used to assist local rice farmers affected by the Rice Tariffication Law (Republic Act 11203).
Description: Sen. Cynthia Villar (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Cynthia Villar
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Villar defended her suggested amendment to the P4.1-trillion proposed 2020 national budget after Albay Representative Joey Salceda questioned it as among the Senate’s supposed “dagdag-bawas” or realignments in the government’s spending plan.
In a phone interview with the Manila Bulletin, the senator said her proposed P3 billion fund transfer was adopted by the Upper Chamber to make sure that local rice farmers will benefit from the funds appropriated for them.
“That P3 billion was given from the DA (Department of Agriculture) to the Land Bank as cash assistance to farmers because we don’t want the funds to be with the NFA because it might end up not being used to buy palay from farmers,” Villar explained in mixed English and Filipino.
“At least there is a provision [in] the budget that they will give something to the farmers to cover for the low price of unmilled rice,” she added.
If approved by the President, the P3 billion, she said, would be distributed to farmers owning at least one hectare of land at a rate of P5,000 each.
This would be on top of the assistance offered to farmers in the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under RA 11203.
Villar said she already discussed her proposed amendment with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and members of the bicameral conference committee tackling the 2020 budget, who agreed to the realignment.
“Cong. Salceda is just not aware,” she said.
Salceda is a member of the House bicameral panel.
Despite this, Villar said she would wait for Congress’ final copy of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
Aside from the P3-billion realignment, Villar said she also proposed the inclusion of a provision in the Senate’s version of the 202 GAB mandating the Department of Social Welfare and Development to use its rice subsidy fund under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to buy from local farmers and give beneficiaries actual rice instead of cash.
Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and is an author of the Rice Tariffication Law, has repeatedly chided the NFA for failing in its mandate to purchase palay from Filipino farmers for its buffer stocking, which was blamed for the shortage in the supply of affordable rice last year.
Because of this, lawmakers stripped NFA of its authority to regulate rice importation in the country, allowing the unimpeded entry of rice imports in exchange of tariffs.
Under RA 11203, “The NFA shall, in accordance with the rules, regulations and procedures to be promulgated, maintain sufficient rice buffer stock to be sourced solely from local farmers.”
House to restore P10 billion palay-buying fund
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will work for the restoration of next year’s P10-billion palay-buying fund, which the Senate inexplicably cut by P3 billion.
“We will propose the return of the P3 billion to the budget of the National Food Authority (NFA). We are trying to give the agency more money so it can buy more palay and, in the process, force prices for the rice farmers’ produce to go up,” Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. said yesterday.
He said he would submit his proposal to the House panel in the bicameral conference on the budget, of which he is a member.
Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City, who heads the appropriations committee, and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Sonny Angara, co-chair the conference.
The Ungab panel held a closed-door meeting yesterday to tackle the P3-billion palay procurement fund reduction and billions in other realignments made by the Senate in its version of the 2020 budget.
Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga, another House budget conferee, said there is no basis to reduce the palay-buying fund.
“We should even increase it if we can to allow the NFA to buy more palay. It is important that the government should be able to increase palay prices beyond the production cost of P12-P13 per kilo so that farmers will recover their losses in the last cropping season,” he said.
He said the 6,000 farmers in his district lost P4 per kilo, since they sold their produce only at P9, when their cost was P13.
At an average yield of 70 50-kilo bags per hectare, Gonzales added that his farmers lost at least P84 million.
The P3 billion the Senate took away from the palay procurement fund could buy 150 million kilos, or three million 50-kilo bags, at P20 per kilo, NFA’s price for dry palay. The agency offers a much lower price for wet palay.
This means that the NFA, using P3 billion, could buy the produce of almost 43,000 farmers owning one hectare each and individually harvesting 70 cavans.
The original P10-billion fund would allow the agency to buy 10 million cavans from nearly 143,000 farmers at an average of 70 cavans each.
It was learned from the House contingent in the budget conference that the Senate shaved P3 billion from the palay-buying fund upon the initiative of Sen. Cynthia Villar, who chairs the committee on agriculture.
In a text message to The STAR, Angara’s office said Villar diverted the P3 billion to the Land Bank, which would make the funds available to the NFA as a loan.
Members of the Ungab contingent wondered why the P3 billion was moved from the NFA to Land Bank.
They said Land Bank is not authorized to buy palay from farmers, since such authority belongs to the NFA.
“If the intention is for Land Bank to eventually give the P3 billion to the NFA as a loan, then why transfer it in the first place? Why give it to NFA as an interest-bearing loan when the House wanted it as a no-interest allocation for palay procurement?” they asked.
Raising level of help to farmers
At an event in Rosales, Pangasinan on Sunday, Agriculture Secretary Wiliam Dar told local reporters that President Duterte has given them directives to help raise the level of assistance to farmers and fishermen, and said the Rice Tariffication law provides a six-year investment for rice farmers.
He added that this year, P5 billion was for a grant for farm machineries, P3 billion for seed distribution of inbred rice, P1 billion for additional credit and P1 billion for extension services.
“This is continuing,” Dar said.
He said on top of these, there are many programs that the Department of Agriculture has for farmers in partnership with local government units (LGUs) and other stakeholders.
Dar also said that there are LGUs that also buy palay from farmers but since harvest is over, the NFA is taking up the cudgels in most of the provinces.
The agriculture secretary added that there is a sizable volume of imported rice, approved by the Bureau of Plant Industry, that has been ordered but is yet to arrive.
“Many are still pending,” he said, adding that he cannot say the exact volume.
Dar said the President’s directive is to tighten the guidelines .
“The importer has to meet all these guidelines before we issue import clearance of rice,” he added. – With Eva Visperas

Iloilo farmers to benefit from DA cash transfer


ILOILO City – To help small rice farmers affected by the falling prices of palay and the deluge of imported rice, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has allocated P3 billion for unconditional cash transfers.
The targets are some 600,000 rice farmers from Iloilo and 32 other provinces.
According to Engineer Roy Abaya of DA’s Agriculture Field Programs Operational Planning Division, rice farmers with half a hectare to two hectares of rice land will receive P5,000 each.
Abaya was here recently for the National Rice Industry Stakeholders Conference.
Qualified farmers have to register with their respective local government units. The Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) is currently being updated.
Aside from the P3 billion for this unconditional cash transfer, the DA also has P10 billion for its Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
According to DA assistant secretary Andrew Villacorta, there is P2.5 billion, too, for the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE Aid) program, extending a P15,000 zero-interest loan payable in eight years to farmers tilling one hectare or less of farm lot planted to rice. Around 166,000 farmers are the target beneficiaries.
“We hope to release the fund before the end of the year,” said Villacorta.
Meanwhile, the National Food Authority (NFA) has a P7-billion budget to procure palay directly from farmers. Of this, it has already bought 10.25 million bags as of the second week of November./PN

CBN: N1.3tr spent to import rice, wheat, others in 12 months


Description: CBN’s PMI report shows rise in employment

 Our Reporters


NOT less than N1.3 trillion was spent by the Federal Government on the importation of rice, fish, sugar and wheat in the last 12 months, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said on Tuesday.
The bank’s Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Edward Lametek, spoke at a seminar organised for Finance reporters in Owerri, Imo State.
Speaking on the theme: “Galvanising development finance and monetary policy for growth”, the bank chief restated the bank’s commitment to local production of the commodities, saying that they put a lot of pressure on the country’s import bill.
He said economic diversification remained a sustainable way to grow the economy.
Lametek noted the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), which was launched in November 2015, was designed to build partnerships between small holder farmers and reliable large-scale agro-processors, with a view to increasing agricultural output, while improving access to credit for farmers.
He said: “Our targeted focus on the agricultural and manufacturing sectors was driven by the vast opportunities for growth in these sectors given our high population.
“These sectors have the ability to absorb the growing pool of eligible workers in our effort to meet local demand and save critical foreign reserves. For many countries, the objectives of monetary policy are explicitly stated in the laws establishing the Central Bank, while for others, they are not. The objectives of monetary policy may vary from country to country.”
He said the apex bank’s approach to stimulating economic development is centered on Agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Infrastructure development.
“You are no doubt aware that the Central Bank of Nigeria has transcended its core mandate of maintaining monetary, price and financial system stability, to undertake developmental initiatives with a view to spurring economic growth and job creation.”
Lametek said efforts at these development finance initiatives have helped to accelerate the attainment of government’s economic diversification programme, adding that diversifying the economic base presents a more sustainable and stable option.
He said: “Given the foregoing, it is our conviction that focusing our developmental efforts on sectors with inherent potential for growth, employment and accretion to foreign reserves, would enhance the fortune of the Nigerian economy.
“The CBN increased its lending to the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, through targeted intervention schemes such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme and the Real Sector Support Facility.”
He said Nigeria’s recent experience with recession attests to the value of effective implementation of monetary policy.
Lametek said: “Though we adopted unconventional or heterodox monetary policies, they were however, well thought through and have been yielding significant gains for the economy.
“Noticeably, the GDP recovery in the third quarter of 2017 has been sustained for nine successive quarters after five consecutive quarters of negative growth.
“These unconventional monetary policy initiatives have been premised on ensuring credit delivery to critical sectors of the economy. This has informed the directive to Deposit Money Banks to maintain a minimum Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 65 per cent by the end of this year. The bank is also creating the necessary eco-system to inculcate a better credit culture among Nigerians.”
He said CBN’s policies have helped the country to achieve significant reductions in its annual imports bill, and increased non-oil exports.
Lametek said: “Our development finance interventions have helped to bolster agricultural production by removing obstacles faced by small holder farmers. We have also improved access to markets for farmers by facilitating greater partnership with agro-processors and industrial firms in the sourcing of raw materials. So far, the programme has supported more than 1.5m farmers across all the 36 states of Nigeria, in cultivating 16 different commodities over 1.4 million hectares of farmland. It has also supported the creation of over 2.5m jobs across the agricultural value chain.”
He said the CBN intervention in the rice value chain in Kebbi and other rice-producing states raised local rice production from 2.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017.
The cotton intervention, with the flag-off of input distribution to 150,000 cotton farmers, encouraged them to cultivate 150,000 hectares in 23 states.
According to them, “the cotton planted by these farm



GhanaWeb Polls: 80% of respondents prefer locally produced rice
There is a nationwide campaign to get Ghanaians to consume more locally produced rice
80% of repsondents in a poll conducted by GhanaWeb.com say they prefer locally produced rice over imported rice.Asked whether they prefer locally produced rice or imported rice on Facebook and Twitter, 80% of the over four thousand people who participated in the polls said they prefer locally produced rice over imported ones.

In recent days there has been a widespread campaign across the country aimed at pushing for the consumption of locally produced rice. 2018 figures released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry indicate the country spent over $1.1 billion on the importation of rice alone, a figure which represented 82% of the country’s total imports.

Some people have attributed the situation to the high level of Ghanaian preference for imported rice brands.

The statistics and its effects, especially on the local rice production industry has caused industry players and private Ghanaians including the Managing Director of Citi FM, Samuel Attah-Mensah, to champion the campaign for the consumption of locally produced rice.

At the back of the above GhanaWeb.com conducted the polls on social media to find out what Ghanaians really prefer when it comes to locally produced rice and imported rice.

The data from the polls indicate the majority of Ghanaians have preference for locally produced rice.

Aside the locally produced rice having good taste and being more nutritious, those who said their preference lies with it said, their decision is also informed by the need to help grow the local industry and the economy.
However, comments made by some of the participants in the polls show there are lapses in the local rice production system that impedes their quest to satisfy their preference.
Description: There is a nationwide campaign to get Ghanaians to consume more locally produced rice
They highlighted the cost of the locally produced brands, the quality in production and their availability in the market as some of the lapses.Some relayed on the government to step in order to eliminate the lapses in the local rice production system. They called on government to make soft loans available to rice farmers.

CRF: $200M in emergency loans needed for rice sector

Thou Vireak | Publication date 03 December 2019 | 22:53 ICT

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) has asked the state-owned Rural Development Bank (RDB) to provide $200 million in emergency loans to buy paddy from farmers. Heng Chivoan
The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) has asked the state-owned Rural Development Bank (RDB) to provide $200 million in emergency loans to buy paddy from farmers during the ongoing post-monsoon harvest season as falling prices threaten their livelihoods.
CRF vice-president Chan Sokheang told The Post on Tuesday that it had submitted a letter to the RDB last week proposing that it forward the letter to Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth.
He said paddy exports from markets such as China and Europe, and fewer commercial bank loans to the agricultural sector have contributed to a decrease in working capital for rice millers and exporters.
The price of paddy has dropped to between 980 and 1,030 riel ($0.24 and $0.26) per kilogramme – depending on the area. However, the quality of the paddy remains high, Sokheang said.
“During this month last year, large countries in Europe and China ordered milled rice from us, but they have not placed any orders to date.
“Some commercial banks have reduced their agricultural loans by 50 per cent, and up to 60 per cent, since the EU decided to impose tariffs on rice imports from Cambodia. We need to supplement this capital shortfall,” he said.
RDB CEO Kao Thach told The Post on Tuesday that capital shortage in the rice sector is between $200 million and $250 million. To help remedy the issue, he has called on commercial banks to lend more to the sector.
“I am trying to mobilise more capital investment from other partners, and have already submitted a number of proposals to the government asking for more capital investment to help the sector,” he said.
Thach said an RDB study said rice millers and exporters have disbursed about $350 million from bank loans and direct capital to purchase paddy.
“The [sector] has been facing a capital shortfall since October, and will continue to do so until January next year because the payment for orders will not circulate on time.”
CRF secretary-general Lun Yeng told The Post last week that total capital investment in the Kingdom’s rice sector is between $300 million and $400 million.
“Normally, in the early harvest season, rice exporters and millers buy paddy for stockpiles, leaving them with a lack of funds by the end of the season,” he said.
Heng Pheng, the CEO of Thmor Korl Rice Import Export Co Ltd, a Battambang-based rice exporter, said prices in Battambang province appeared to have dropped slightly compared to the beginning of last year’s post-monsoon harvest season.
He said the price of paddy he bought from the farmers was worth around 1.17 million riel per tonne, compared to 1.28 million riel last year for the same quantity.
Contact author: Thou Vireak

Palayan City holds answers for farmers’ woes amid deluge of imports

INQUIRER.net / 03:27 PM December 04, 2019
Description: Palayan City Mayor Adrianne May Cuevas
HANDS ON. Palayan City Mayor Adrianne May Cuevas (second from right) discusses ways to help farmers skirt middlemen with agriculture technicians at a crop storage facility built by the city government for farmers. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Officials seeking solutions to the impact of falling prices of palay, or unhusked rice, on farmers’ incomes amid a deluge of imports may find answers in a city in Nueva Ecija that has been helping improve farmers’ lives by making agriculture work for people instead of the other way around.
Relief for farmers reeling from the impact of open importation of rice is emerging from Palayan City, which has recently received a P152 million grant from the World Bank, through the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), which is being overseen by the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The grant was part of more than P25 billion that the World Bank allotted in loans and grants for the PDRP and is now seeing results in Palayan, which is now constructing the city’s first onion cold-storage facility worth P190 million after putting in an equity of more than P19 million and getting another P19 million from the national government.
While the programs and campaign being carried out by the city government would directly benefit only farmers in Palayan, what the city is doing may well serve as a national template for a government in search of a way to keep the balance between low rice prices for consumers and sufficient income for Philippine farmers.
For city officials, led by Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas, the answer lies not in wave after wave of financial or material aid but where answers could provide lifetime solutions—in the minds of farmers.
Mindsets are the fields on which these solutions are going to bear fruit. First, to make farmers believe they can do better not only with their most basic tasks in the farm but also with their lives. Second, to give these farmers the invisible tool of knowledge to perform tasks not only in their paddies but also out in the market where their produce need to have value.
“We tell farmers not to belittle themselves,” said the mayor in an online chat with INQUIRER.net. “They’re not just farmers,” she said.
The cold-storage facility, to be operational next year, would free onion farmers from being forced to sell all their produce at depressed prices for fear of spoilage.
With more than 80 percent of funds coming in the form of grants, all the city government has to worry about are funds to maintain the facility once it is completed.
Farmers in Palayan also plant rice and corn but they’re learning now that their paddies are good not only for those traditional crops.
At the fifth Palayan City Farmers’ Congress held at the Farmers’ Plaza at Singalat village in Palayan recently, officials of different government agencies joined the city government in offering farmers two ways to achieve long-term financial stability.
One is to learn how technology could help in farming. While the national government thrust is to equip farmers with implements and mechanize farms, the Palayan City government is adding new knowledge about other crops and the technology to plant and nurture these.
Farmers in Palayan plant rice, corn and onions and are idle in between harvests of these crops. During that pause, the mayor said the farmers could plant other high-value crops that would bring them additional income.
The idea is to make the farms productive all-year round.
It is doing so with the help of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), which was a prominent presence at the fifth farmers’ congress in Palayan.
In a report from Philippine News Agency (PNA) Orlando Anselmo, director of DOST in Pampanga, said his office has been giving scientific support to Palayan farmers giving them access to technology that they can apply to farming.
One is access to solar-powered water pumps for irrigation.
Backyard growers of chicken, pigs, ducks and other commercial animals that produce manure now have the knowhow in turning these animal wastes into energy, according to Anselmo.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), according to the PNA report, was also at the farmers’ congress, offering lessons on entrepreneurship to farmers, not to turn them into sellers of used clothes, or ukay-ukay, or other items but for them to be the direct sellers of their produce to end users.
The cold storage facility under construction with World Bank funding would be central to that objective.
The biggest headache of farmers now are falling prices of their rice harvests. Although it could be considered a band-aid solution, the Palayan City government started buying palay from farmers at prices higher than standard market rates. This would force traders wanting to buy the farmers’ rice harvest to compete for supply by offering higher prices, the mayor said. This measure, however, is only a short-term solution. Mayor Cuevas knows that for farmers’ lives to improve not only from harvest to harvest but for good, they have to learn new things.
It’s not to wean them away from farming, but to make farming technology-driven and not dependent on guesswork.
Brigida Pili, head of the DTI office in Nueva Ecija, said in a PNA report that Go Negosyo Centers had been established on the ground floor of the Palayan City Hall to provide information and training to farmers, and anyone interested, on starting and running a business.
Pili said that in Palayan, several farmers had already improved their lives by becoming entrepreneurs.
While the number of farmers that can undergo training on the application of technology to agriculture may be limited, the mayor said that over time, their ranks would grow and turn farming not only as a source of daily income but also a career and enterprise for farmers.
“If 40 farmers train now and acquire this new knowledge, that’s a good start,” said the mayor in the online chat. “Forty now, forty next year, forty in the succeeding year and so on, and you’ll have an army of tech-savvy farmers,” the mayor said.
The idea is contained in the theme chosen by the mayor for the fifth farmers’ congress in the city, originally in Filipino—“Sa Makabagong Agrikultura, Agripreneur Linangin at Palakasin Now Na” which roughly translates to “For A Modern Agriculture, Agripreneur Strengthen Now”, agripreneur being the shortcut for agriculture enterpreneur.
At the fifth farmers’ congress were other agencies of government like the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist.
State learning institutions, such as the Central Luzon State University and Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology, also shared studies on agriculture development.
Cows, a carabao, farm equipment and machinery and appliances were raffled off to farmer participants.
City agriculturist Esmonia Lulu said the annual congress was a brainchild of Cuevas to advance the agriculture sector in the city. But while just concerning farmers of Palayan, the city government’s agriculture improvement programs offer the elusive solution to declining farmers’ income and their inability to compete with cheaper imports—a paradigm shift in mindsets.
https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1197977/palayan-city-holds-answers-for-farmers-woes-amid-deluge-of-imports#ixzz6786TEa8A

Ghana to ban rice imports by 2022


The government of Ghana aims to make the local production of rice sufficient for all by 2022, a Deputy Minister of Agriculture has announced.
This will result in a ban on the importation of the commodity, the deputy minister, Kennedy Osei Nyarko, said.
Description: http://medafricatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Ghana-rice-production-300x134.jpgThe move comes a week after the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) recommended a complete ban on the importation of rice into the country to secure the local rice industry.According to the PFAG, there was enough local capacity to meet the country’s rice demand. The association asked all government institutions to patronize local rice.
While praising the government for the move to secure the local rice industry, PFAG recommended low interest on loans for agricultural businesses to curtail the challenges confronting the sector.
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 tons. We are inching this year to about 900,000 tons and we have given ourselves up to 2022 to meet the average per capita consumption rate of rice in the country to about 1,135 tons,” he said.

Palay prices inch up in November

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:06 AM December 04, 2019
Prices of palay finally inched up in November, although the increase was still not enough to offset the losses incurred by farmers during 11 months of decline.
Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) latest price monitoring report, the average farm-gate price of palay rose consecutively for the first three weeks of November to P15.52 a kilo from P15.44 a kilo—an 8-centavo increase.
The lowest quotation was recorded in Negros Occidental at P10.71 a kilo while the highest was in Surigao del Sur at P20.40 a kilo.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said planters have already lost P61.77 billion due to the continuous drop in the farm-gate price, which hastened in recent months after rice imports ballooned to a record of 1.9 million metric tons.
Stakeholders have blamed the surge in rice imports as the culprit behind the double-digit decline in palay prices, brought by the enactment of the rice import liberalization law.
PhilRice noted that the losses could even skyrocket to P130 billion if the average buying price for the crop continued to fall below the current production costs.
Groups were expecting palay rates to dip further as the harvest season begins amid the continuous influx of imported rice. As a temporary solution, the Department of Agriculture has started imposing stricter measures before issuing import permits. INQ
Ghana Promotion Goes Big for  Small Foodservice Operators  

ACCRA, GHANA -- Late last month, USA Rice organized a foodservice seminar for artisanal commercial rice cookers and vendors in Ghana's capital city as part of the newly launched promotional program here utilizing Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) funding.  The ATP program is one of three programs that President Trump authorized in 2018 to assist agricultural producers who have been affected by retaliatory tariffs in many overseas markets, and USA Rice received more than $5.5 million to promote U.S. rice internationally over the next three years.

"Ghana used to be an important market for U.S. rice sales in West Africa," said Eszter Somogyi, USA Rice director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  "Sales averaged more than 90,000 MT per year and USA Rice had a strong promotional program until 2013 when lower-priced Vietnamese and Thai fragrant jasmine rice captured a majority of the market and U.S. rice sales declined substantially.  Fortunately, U.S. rice maintained its positive image, especially among foodservice professionals who appreciate the superior cooking characteristics, enabling U.S. rice to re-enter the market."

To increase consumption in the foodservice segment, more than three hundred participants drawn from eight suburbs in Accra were invited to take part in the recent seminar, which also brought together the two leading importers of U.S. rice to Ghana, Crown Commodities and Tradepass Ghana Limited.

Auntie Ajara, a rice vendor for 18 years, echoed other food vendors like her in attendance when she said, "I can depend on the high quality of U.S. rice, even when cooked and kept overnight without refrigeration."

Some of the challenges these vendors face have been inconsistent supply and availability on the market along with price hikes that are directly linked to the dollar versus the cedi (local currency) parity.

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U.S. rice takes center stage
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"The two importers of U.S. rice in Ghana talked about their local brands, Riceland and Texas Star, and took questions from the audience following each presentation," said Somogyi.  "Both companies donated rice samples to the participating foodservice associations and for a taste-testing for attendees following the seminar where everyone got a chance to examine the grains close up."

The day-long seminar included a comprehensive presentation on the planting, handling, and processing of U.S.-origin rice and a discussion of U.S. rice types that highlighted their unique attributes important to this market segment

"Organizing this type of event is a cost effective way to reach a high number of small foodservice vendors who appreciate U.S. rice cooking characteristics," said Somogyi.  "These small shops depend on word of mouth reputation in their neighborhoods, and as rice is the most important element in many Ghanaian dishes, it is crucial for them to have consistent high quality, exactly what U.S. rice offers.  Price remains the limiting factor on the market, as many small businesses find it difficult to pay for higher quality but more expensive food products like U.S. rice."

Over the next two months, USA Rice will organize additional foodservice seminars in Ghana's "Golden Triangle," targeting foodservice associations in the major cities of Kumasi and Takoradi.
USA Rice Daily

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We’re turning to offbeat foods to survive a harsher climate

Bambara groundnuts and weeds may not be at the top of most menus, but scientists hunting for wild cousins of modern crops may have found a solution for our future food needs.

BY ANITA MAKRI
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 3, 2019
THE BAMBARA GROUNDNUT might not have a familiar ring outside West Africa. But this protein-rich cousin of the peanut, which grows well in harsh climates and poor soils, was on the priority list of a global search for food crop seeds that could be life savers in a warming world.
Wading through wilderness and dodging conflict, floods, and poisonous snakes, over 100 scientists spent the past six years tracking down long-lost wild relatives of 28 food and forage crops that are important for world food security.
They worked across 25 countries, from the mountains of Peru to the fields of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, scouting scraggy and neglected plants strong enough to survive in the wild. Their discoveries, published today, fill gaps in a global gene database that can be tapped to buffer global food supplies from the harsh realities of climate change’s erratic effects on the weather.
It’s an urgent mission. A food crisis is looming, says the International Panel for Climate Change, with floods and droughts linked to climate change already affecting the supply and price of food. A recent report warns that the amount of crops produced globally is set to drop by as much as 30 percent in the next 30 years. Water shortages add stress to the system, threatening supplies of wheat, maize, and rice—which are included in about half of all the calories we consume.
Those three staples were on the target list of the expedition, which also sought wild versions of crops like the Bambara groundnut, grasspea, pearl or finger millet—far from household names outside of their native regions. The rest are foods like barley, eggplant, carrot, and plantain.
Replacing what we eat now isn’t the goal, says Hannes Dempewolf, senior scientist and the head of global initiatives at the Crop Trust, the international organization that managed the 10-year project.
 “We're all very attached to our own foods and, [because of] the cultural workings of different crops, it is difficult to completely replace something,” Dempewolf says.
The idea is to help crops become stronger and more adaptable through a breeding process that tweaks domesticated varieties with genes borrowed from those untamed cousins that survive drought, salinity, or disease.
Including so many crops in the search could also lead to a wider range of foods we can rely on in the face of catastrophic climate change. Some are important only in parts of the developing world, others worldwide.
“Quite frankly, and quite dramatically speaking, the reason that we may all be able to enjoy bread in 10-20 years, it may very well be because this project has helped secure crop wild relatives of wheat that hadn't been conserved before,” says Dempewolf.

Topping up gene banks

Saving or manipulating seeds is nothing new. But domestication has made cultivated plants less genetically diverse over time, leaving crops we rely on more prone to disease and climate extremes. Faced with an uncertain future, and to re-inject resilience into the food system, scientists are now looking back to the genetic riches of nature.
This search-and-rescue mission is part of a wider effort. A global network of some 1,750 banks already holds a vast collection of seeds and other plant material. Most famously, the Svalbard Vault in Norway is the ultimate back-up plan for the world’s seed diversity, both domesticated and wild.
Work to preserve seeds has ramped up in recent years, and an organized system of 11 international banks is now in place, each with a specialty: for example potatoes in Peru, rice in the Philippines, dryland cereals in Syria.
But the stockpiles aren’t complete. The plan to launch a search-and-rescue operation began with the team painstakingly checking existing collections to pin down which species were underrepresented or missing, and where to find them.
After six years and more than 3,000 days on the road, the mission bagged 4,644 samples of 371 different species or subspecies, about 80 percent of what they set out to collect.

Hits and misses

The Bambara groundnut was a success story. The wild relative of an important species was missing altogether from gene banks, and the search unearthed 17 samples of it from Nigerian soil, “including some of the very hard-to-find ones,” says Dempewolf.
Grown mainly by small farmers in West Africa, the hardy nut can withstand high temperatures and drought, and it does well in poor soils. It can be eaten raw as a snack, roasted, or processed into other foods. Could it be one of those obscure crops that becomes a food of the future?
“I know Bambara groundnut well,” says Joe DeVries, who heads the non-profit Seed Systems Group and has worked in Africa’s seed sector for years. “It is a very important crop in many countries, including Congo, Madagascar, Chad, and Benin.”
The problem, he says, is that modern breeding efforts have bypassed it. So yields are still low.
The grasspea, popular in South Asia and parts of East Africa, tolerates drought well and provides food in times of need. But eat too much of it, and the risk is paralysis below the knees for adults, or brain damage for children. A search in Pakistan secured wild relatives with lower toxin levels, raising hopes of creating safer varieties.
Alongside other regional foods on the list—finger millet in East Africa, pigeon pea in the Indian subcontinent—are more familiar crops. The team found three wild species of potato in Peru and Ecuador that were missing from the well-stocked international gene bank in Lima. There was a wild version of the carrot, tracked down in Portugal, that grows well in salty, drier soils and is being developed for use in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Wild oats resistant to powdery mildew, which devastates domesticated crops, were found in the region stretching from Armenia to Cyprus and Lebanon. And in Kenya, scientists spotted four wild relatives of eggplant that were missing from gene banks.
But it wasn’t all good news. At times, the team arrived too late for rescue. Dempewolf saw wild rice plants in Nepal that had fallen victim to human-caused habitat change. “That probably for me was one of the starkest and most urgent reminders of how important the work is,” he says.
It was adventurous too. In Nigeria, the collectors had to get around floods and an insurgency by the jihadist group Boko Haram. Finding an elusive variety of wild rice in Ecuador took shin-high boots with metal tips to dodge snake bites. And in Italy, hopes of finding a pea with edible tubers were fading—until a local researcher happened to spot it out of a train window (he got off at the next stop).
Along with precious samples, local scientists also found a new appreciation for weedy plants they would normally dismiss, says Chris Cockel, coordinator for the project at the Millennium Seed Bank in the U.K.’s Kew Gardens. “The very reason they're interesting is that they've been surviving on the margins, without any human influence,” he says.

A long road to hardier crops

For each batch of rescued seeds, one-third was kept in the country that collected them. The rest were whisked off to the safety of the bank at Kew Gardens, which retains original copies but distributes samples on request. Cockel has already sent shipments to gene banks in nine countries, with three more ready to go.
Breeders at the gene banks use the seeds to start developing varieties that taste and look like foods we know but have a survival edge, courtesy of lives spent in the wild. This starts with “pre-breeding,” a laborious process of crossing the wild relative with a domesticated variety to transfer useful traits and filter out those that aren’t needed. It’s underway for 19 of the crops for which wild relatives were found. But there’s a long wait—anywhere from 10 to 20 years or more—before a certified variety that farmers can use is created.
This method of conserving and breeding seeds outside their natural habitat isn’t without its critics. Some argue it won’t cover everything that needs to be saved. Others say that by keeping seeds away from their natural habitats, banks favor the needs of researchers over small farmers who can also preserve diversity in the field. The Crop Trust points out that its work doesn’t just enrich gene banks. It shares what’s collected under the UN’s International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
Left: 
Colorized scan of a wild carrot seed. Researchers on the expedition found a wild carrot in Portugal that was resistant to salty soils and is being developed as a crop to be grown in Bangladesh.
LEFT) AND PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY CROP WILD RELATIVES (RIGHT)
DeVries says crossing wild relatives with domesticated crops has quietly shaped those we grow and eat for a long time. “If we don’t have living accessions of the wild relatives, we can’t make the crosses. It is hugely important work, and as a crop geneticist, I’m thrilled to know that it is going on,” he says.
The seed-gathering part of the project is accomplished and the entire thing wraps up next year. Negotiations for more funding are underway with the Norwegian government, which bankrolled it.
“We've really only just scratched the surface in terms of what's out there,” says Cockel.
Wild relatives are still missing, and what’s been collected doesn’t paint a complete picture.
Meanwhile, the seeds that have been rescued stay available to breeders and researchers. And there’s a sense of urgency in the team. They called in farmers to help before pre-breeding concludes, an unconventional move that could shorten the pipeline between conserving and coming up with a climate-proof crop, says Dempewolf. “That’s something we’re quite excited about.”

Raising plants to withstand climate change

Proof of concept for changing mitochondrial respiration

IMAGE: FLINDERS UNIVERSITY PLANT BIOLOGY RESEARCHERS CHRISTOPHER WATERMAN AND DR CRYSTAL SWEETMAN WITH SAMPLES OF TEST PLANT ARABIDOPSIS. view more 
CREDIT: FLINDERS UNIVERSITY
Success with improving a model plant's response to harsh conditions is leading plant molecular researchers to move to food crops including wheat, barley, rice and chickpeas.
Flinders and La Trobe University researchers in Australia are focusing on genes that encode antioxidant enzymes to minimise harmful oxidative responses in leaf cells to environmental stress. Experiments showed the plant with enhanced enzyme levels becoming more hardy and recovering more readily from exposure to drought and 'high light'.
"With heatwaves, drought and salinity becoming more and more of an issue, plant biologists around the world are increasingly looking for ways to equip plants to be tolerant to multiple environmental stressors," says Strategic Professor in Plant Biology David Day.
"Our research is proof of concept using the test plant Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) that manipulating mitochondrial respiration is an important way to manage a plant's response to abiotic stresses."
The researchers focused on two enzymes, which act together to moderate oxidative damage in the leaves of the model plant.
"These proteins act on the cellular energy core or mitochondria to minimise damage caused by drought or other stressors," says Dr Crystal Sweetman, one of the lead authors on the new paper in Plant Physiology.
"Therefore, plants bred to make more of these enzymes might be able to survive extreme heat or prolonged dry weather and have a better chance at producing food during bad seasons," she says.
Flinders Professor Kathleen Soole, who is also president of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists, says the methodology has shown its value and can now be adapted for more complex grain and legume food staples.
"The research has shown that by affecting the metabolism of plant cells with two novel antioxidant enzymes allows them to recover better after exposure to drought," Professor Soole says.
Flinders Associate Professor Colin Jenkins is keen for this work to be move to food crops like cereals. "This paves the way the selection of existing crop varieties with higher activities of these enzymes and for similar genetic manipulation of crop plants such as wheat and barley," says plant molecular researcher Associate Professor Jenkins.
###
The paper, 'AtNDB2 is the main external NADH dehydrogenase in mitochondria and is important for tolerance to environmental stress' (2019) by C Sweetman, CD Waterman, BM Rainbird, PMC Smith, CD Jenkins, DA Day and KL Soole, has been published in Plant Physiology (American Society of Plant Biologists). DOI: 10.1104/pp.19.00877

Rice to feed world given a funding boost

Research led by Oxford University into revolutionising global rice production has been given a $15 million funding boost by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.The next phase of what is known as the C4 Rice Project has been given the green light for a further five years during which time scientists believe they will develop a prototype for a strain of rice which would give higher yields and endure harsher environmental conditions.
Put simply, it could help to feed a world which is already struggling to provide for its expanding population, particularly in South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently over 3 billion people in Asia depend on rice for survival, and, owing to predicted population increases and a general trend towards urbanisation, the same area of land that provided enough rice to feed 27 people in 2010 will need to support 43 by 2050.
Professor Jane Langdale, from the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, who leads the consortium, said: ‘This is an extremely challenging long-term project and we are grateful to the foundation for backing the team for a further five years. This new award will get us closer to delivering rice lines that will have real impact for smallholder farmers’.
Rice uses the C3 photosynthetic pathway, which in hot dry environments is much less efficient than the C4 pathway used in other plants such as maize and sorghum. The C4 Rice project aims to ‘switch’ rice to use C4 photosynthesis, with transformational potential.
The C4 photosynthetic pathway, which has evolved over 60 times independently, accounts for around a quarter of terrestrial primary productivity on the planet despite being used by only 3% of species. In most C4 plants, photosynthetic reactions happen in two types of cell arranged in ‘wreaths’ around closely spaced veins – an arrangement referred to as Kranz anatomy. One of the major challenges of the C4 Rice Project is to convert rice leaf anatomy to this form. Working out which genes need to be modified to achieve this switch will be a major focus of the team’s research over the next five years.
The most recent phase of the project has seen a leap in progress by harnessing a synthetic approach towards engineering the photosynthetic pathway. The highly promising direction of this research is confirmed in today’s announcement, and this funding boost now makes the C4 Rice project one of the longest running projects in the foundation’s agriculture portfolio.
Professor Julian Hibberd from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, who is a member of the C4 consortium, said: ‘We are excited to be able to build on the significant progress to date, and move closer to our ultimate goal of generating a higher yielding rice’.
Professor Steve Long, who runs the Gates Foundation-funded RIPE Project from the University of Illinois, and was a Visiting Professor at Oxford’s Department of Plant Sciences, said: ‘This is wonderful news. The C4 rice team have made outstanding progress toward cracking the code as to how to make a C4 crop. This will bring the world one step closer to obtaining C4 rice, and to gaining extra productivity without needing more water or nitrogen.”
By the end of the next phase of research in 2024 scientists hope to have experimental field plots up and running in Taiwan.
The scale and reach of the project means that this is a trans-generational project.
Professor Langdale said: ‘This is about being custodians of something that’s bigger than our individual scientific interests’
A condition of Gates Foundation funding for the project is a Global Access Commitment to ensure that the knowledge and advancements made will be made available and accessible at an affordable price to people most in need in developing countries.
The C4 Rice Project consortium comprises the University of Oxford (lead), Academia Sinica, Australian National University, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Leibniz Institute of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge and Washington State University.



Medical News Today: Rice and obesity: Is there a link?

A study that used data from more than 130 countries concludes that eating more rice might protect against obesity. After controlling for a wide range of factors, the team found that the results remained significant. Despite this, big questions remain.
Is there a link between eating more rice and obesity?
in the Western world and beyond is on the rise. However, some countries are not facing the same challenge.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of people in the United States now have obesity.
In Japan, however, the figure is just , say the World Health Organization (WHO).
The array of factors that could be involved in differences such as this are dizzying — so where would one begin?
According to one group of researchers, a good place to start might be rice.
The average food intake of someone in the United States is very different to that of someone in any country outside of the Western world. However, diets in some of the countries with low obesity rates share a common staple: rice.
Researchers from Doshisha Women‘s College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto, Japan, decided to take a closer look. They recently presented their findings at the European Congress on Obesity () in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

A global look at rice consumption

To investigate, the scientists took data from 136 countries. They found that countries where people ate an average of at least 150 grams (g) of rice per day had significantly lower rates of obesity than countries where people ate less than the global average amount of rice, around 14 g per day.
The researchers attempted to take into account as many confounding variables as they could, including average education level, smoking rates, total consumed, money spent on healthcare, percentage of the population over 65, and gross domestic product per capita.
All of these variables were significantly lower in the countries whose residents ate the most rice; however, even after accounting for this in their analysis, the researchers found that the positive influence of rice over obesity persisted.
From their data, they estimate that an increase of just one-quarter of a cup of rice per day (50 g per person) could reduce global obesity by 1%. That equates to a change from 650 million to 643.5 million adults.
“The observed associations suggest that the obesity rate is low in countries that eat rice as a staple food. Therefore, a Japanese food or an Asian-food-style diet based on rice may help prevent obesity.”
Lead researcher Prof. Tomoko Imai
When considering exactly why rice might influence obesity rates, Prof. Imai says: “Eating rice seems to protect against weight gain. It‘s possible that the fiber, nutrients, and plant compounds found in whole grains may increase feelings of fullness and prevent overeating.”
Prof. Imai adds, “Rice is also low in fat and has a relatively low postprandial blood glucose level, which suppresses secretion.”

Significant limitations

The researchers know that distinguishing between cause and effect is incredibly challenging when looking at diet — especially on such a large scale.
Though they accounted for as many confounding variables as possible, it is still likely that they did not consider many other important factors in the analysis.
They also explain that they used country-level data, rather than person-level data. This has several drawbacks; for instance, certain regions of some countries might eat substantially more rice than others. Also, obesity rates can vary within a country from region to region.
Another concern is the use of body mass index (); although it is a standard measure that researchers use widely, it is not a measure of overall health. The scientists did not ascertain how many people have, for instance, an unhealthily low BMI, which would skew the data by bringing the country‘s average BMI down.
It is also worth pointing out that the researchers have not published these findings in a journal and, therefore, they have not been through a peer-review process.

Rice types

Another potential issue is that the team‘s analysis does not take into account the type of rice that a population tends to consume, which could be important. For example, white rice is much lower in fiber than less processed types. How much fiber someone may in obesity risk.
Also, a meta-analysis published in the in 2012 looked at the relationship between white rice and the risk of . Its authors concluded that:
“Higher consumption of white rice is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations.”
Another that involved more than 10,000 Korean adults found that a diet centered on white rice was associated with obesity.
Doubts remain, so scientists should continue to study the impact of rice on obesity. If such a cheap, readily available food as rice could play even a small part in the fight against obesity, it is worth pursuing. However, for now, the jury is out.
Ghana government told to adopt proactive measures for rice sector
The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called on government to adopt proactive measures to secure the Ghana rice industry and ensure a complete ban on the importation of rice to boost sales.
It said there was enough Ghanaian rice to meet the demands of the country and called on all government institutions to patronise it.
While commending the Government for the move to secure the Ghanaian  rice industry, the Association recommended low interest on loans for agricultural businesses to curtail the challenges confronting the sector.
Other recommendations included increased budget allocation and subsidies for combined harvesters, rice millers and packaging materials, new technology to address aflatoxins and other post-harvest challenge, storages facilities and increased budget on mitigating problems in the rice value chain.
Mr Abdul Rahman Mohammed, the Board Chairman of the PFAG, during the 2019 Annual General Meeting of the Association, said the directive by the Government to the National Buffer Stock Company to mop-up the excess rice and importers to buy local rice had come in handy.
“We hope the directive will be enforced immediately without any further delay to bring hope to our farmers,” he added.
Meanwhile, a Research on; “Assessment of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Programme: Perspectives from beneficiary farmers,” revealed that farmers had received improved certified variety of seeds.
Professor Awetori Yaro from the University of Ghana, who presented the Findings, said the research was commissioned to analyse access to certified seeds, fertilizer, extension services, marketing and post-harvest handling.
It established that much progress had been made with the PFJ and that the project could stimulate the commercialisation of small scale agriculture in Ghana.
The study, however, recommended increased surveillance, extension services, and early delivery of seeds and fertilizers.
Other recommendations included a deliberate government policy to direct banks to lower their interest rates on agricultural businesses.
Mr Kobena Okyere Darko-Mensah, the Western Regional Minister, urged farmers to work effectively towards improving household nutrition of women and children.
He called for the development of a comprehensive value-chain approach to agriculture and focus on market oriented extension services to build the capacity of farmers through training.
Source: GNA
https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2019/12/03/ghana-government-told-to-adopt-proactive-measures-for-rice-sector/

Syria issues tender to buy 45,000 tonnes of white rice - trade

|03 DECEMBER, 2019

The tender from Syria's General Foreign Trade Organisation closes on January 6, 2020
Description: A driver unloads wheat grains from a truck at a mill in Qamishli, Syria June 3, 2019.
A driver unloads wheat grains from a truck at a mill in Qamishli, Syria June 3, 2019.
REUTERS/Rodi Said
By Michael Hogan, Reuters News
HAMBURG - A Syrian state purchasing agency has issued an international tender to purchase 45,000 tonnes of white rice, European traders said on Tuesday.
The tender from Syria's General Foreign Trade Organisation closes on Jan. 6, 2020, they said.
Short grain white rice of third or fourth class was sought. No specific country of origin was specified in the tender, traders said.
Some 25,000 tonnes was sought for supply 90 days after confirmation of the order and 20,000 tonnes 180 days after supply of the first consignment.
The rice was sought packed in bags and offers should be submitted in euros.
A previous tender from the agency for 45,000 tonnes of rice with similar conditions had closed on Nov. 13.
(Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Louise Heavens) ((michael.j.hogan@thomsonreuters.com; +49 172 671 36 54; Reuters Messaging: michael.hogan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- December 03, 2019
* * * * * *
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-December 3, 2019 Nagpur, Dec 3 (Reuters) – Gram and tuar prices firmed up again in Nagpur Agriculture Produce and Marketing Company (APMC) here on increased demand from local millers amid tight supply from producing regions. Healthy hike on NCDEX in gram, good recovery in Madhya Pradesh pulses and reported demand from South-based millers also helped to push up prices. About 150 bags of gram and 100 bags of tuar reported for auction, according to sources.

GRAM
* Gram varieties ruled steady in open market here but demand was poor.

TUAR * Tuar gavarani showed weak tendency in open market here on lack of demand

from local millers.

* Moong chamki declined in open market here on poor demand from local

traders amid good supply from producing regions.

* 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) 8,600-9,500, Gram – 4,350-4,400, 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 thin trading activity.

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

FOODGRAINS Available prices Previous close

Gram Auction 3,550-4,060 3,600-4,100

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

Tuar Auction 4,750-5,200 4,700-5,200

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 2,000-2,125 2,000-2,120

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

Gram Super Best Bold 5,900-6,100 5,900-6,100

Gram Super Best n.a. n.a.

Gram Medium Best 5,600-5,800 5,600-5,800

Gram Dal Medium n.a. n.a

Gram Mill Quality 4,350-4,400 4,350-4,400

Desi gram Raw 4,300-4,350 4,300-4,350

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

Tuar Fataka Best-New 8,400-8,600 8,400-8,600

Tuar Fataka Medium-New 8,000-8,200 8,000-8,200

Tuar Dal Best Phod-New 7,600-7,800 7,600-7,800

Tuar Dal Medium phod-New 7,000-7,400 7,000-7,400

Tuar Gavarani New 5,500-5,600 5,550-5,600

Tuar Karnataka 6,000-6,100 6,000-6,100

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) 9,000-9,800 9,000-10,000

Moong Mogar Medium 8,000-8,500 8,000-8,700

Moong dal Chilka New 7,500-8,500 7,600-8,500

Moong Mill quality n.a. n.a.

Moong Chamki best 8,500-9,500 8,800-9,800

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 6,400-7,500

Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg) 4,800-5,000 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. 31.2 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 15.8 degree Celsius Rainfall : Nil FORECAST: Partly cloudy 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)

Officials pumping water into drought-affected rice fields

Khorn Savi | Publication date 02 December 2019 | 23:08 ICT

Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post
More than 10,000ha of rice fields in Battambang province are affected by drought. Hong Menea
Provincial authorities and agriculture officials are working together to pump water into rice fields as thousands of hectares in eight provinces are affected by drought. Concern over possible water shortage for daily use also remains.
National Committee for Disaster Management spokesman Keo Vy told The Post on Monday that the drought is taking its toll on more than 10,000ha of rice fields in Battambang and more than 1,000ha in Kampong Cham.
He said Prey Veng, Kandal, Takeo, Banteay Meanchey, Tbong Khmum, and Kampong Chhnang provinces have also been affected, although he had not received any report on damage to rice crops.
However, Vy assured that water sources such as lakes, canals, creeks, and big and small irrigation systems, still contained water and were not dry.
The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology had decided to release the water for citizens and the authorities had pumped it into the rice fields.
“We released water from the Kamping Puoy Reservoir to save more than 10,000ha of rice crops in Thma Koul district, in Battambang province.
“According to the weather forecast, there may be no early rains. If there are none, it will cause more challenges. We will [use] water from the reservoirs for daily consumption and to grow crops.
“[But] we will use it economically to prepare for the upcoming dry season and to ensure the water shortage of 2016 doesn’t happen again,” he said.
That year, more than two million people across the country experienced water shortages due to El Nino. At the time, authorities were forced to transport water from other places to supply the water-deprived areas.
Vy recalled that this year, rice fields had been thrice affected by drought where soaring temperatures had been experienced due to the delayed arrival and early departure of the monsoon rains, along with insufficient rainfall.
He said if El Nino ends next year, the country may see early rains from mid-January to February that could help ease the effects of the drought.
Battambang provincial Department of Agriculture director Chhim Vichara said on Monday that 11,400ha of wet-season rice crops in Thma Koul district had been affected by the drought, but officials from the provincial administration and the district, along with agricultural department officials, had gradually addressed it late last week.
The officials reportedly exported water from the Kamping Puoy Reservoir in Banan district and the river in Bavel district.
Vy said this normally happened every year at the end of the rainy season. Water from rivers, lakes, and irrigation systems, he said, had been stored to prepare for the shortage.
If the drought worsens, the water would be used by December. However, if no rainfall occurs in January, the country could experience a water crisis, he stressed.
House to restore P10 billion palay-buying fund
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will work for the restoration of next year’s P10-billion palay-buying fund, which the Senate inexplicably cut by P3 billion.
“We will propose the return of the P3 billion to the budget of the National Food Authority (NFA). We are trying to give the agency more money so it can buy more palay and, in the process, force prices for the rice farmers’ produce to go up,” Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. said yesterday.
He said he would submit his proposal to the House panel in the bicameral conference on the budget, of which he is a member.
Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City, who heads the appropriations committee, and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Sonny Angara, co-chair the conference.
The Ungab panel held a closed-door meeting yesterday to tackle the P3-billion palay procurement fund reduction and billions in other realignments made by the Senate in its version of the 2020 budget.
Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga, another House budget conferee, said there is no basis to reduce the palay-buying fund.
“We should even increase it if we can to allow the NFA to buy more palay. It is important that the government should be able to increase palay prices beyond the production cost of P12-P13 per kilo so that farmers will recover their losses in the last cropping season,” he said.
He said the 6,000 farmers in his district lost P4 per kilo, since they sold their produce only at P9, when their cost was P13.
At an average yield of 70 50-kilo bags per hectare, Gonzales added that his farmers lost at least P84 million.
The P3 billion the Senate took away from the palay procurement fund could buy 150 million kilos, or three million 50-kilo bags, at P20 per kilo, NFA’s price for dry palay. The agency offers a much lower price for wet palay.
This means that the NFA, using P3 billion, could buy the produce of almost 43,000 farmers owning one hectare each and individually harvesting 70 cavans.
The original P10-billion fund would allow the agency to buy 10 million cavans from nearly 143,000 farmers at an average of 70 cavans each.
It was learned from the House contingent in the budget conference that the Senate shaved P3 billion from the palay-buying fund upon the initiative of Sen. Cynthia Villar, who chairs the committee on agriculture.
In a text message to The STAR, Angara’s office said Villar diverted the P3 billion to the Land Bank, which would make the funds available to the NFA as a loan.
Members of the Ungab contingent wondered why the P3 billion was moved from the NFA to Land Bank.
They said Land Bank is not authorized to buy palay from farmers, since such authority belongs to the NFA.
“If the intention is for Land Bank to eventually give the P3 billion to the NFA as a loan, then why transfer it in the first place? Why give it to NFA as an interest-bearing loan when the House wanted it as a no-interest allocation for palay procurement?” they asked.
Raising level of help to farmers
At an event in Rosales, Pangasinan on Sunday, Agriculture Secretary Wiliam Dar told local reporters that President Duterte has given them directives to help raise the level of assistance to farmers and fishermen, and said the Rice Tariffication law provides a six-year investment for rice farmers.
He added that this year, P5 billion was for a grant for farm machineries, P3 billion for seed distribution of inbred rice, P1 billion for additional credit and P1 billion for extension services.
“This is continuing,” Dar said.
He said on top of these, there are many programs that the Department of Agriculture has for farmers in partnership with local government units (LGUs) and other stakeholders.
Dar also said that there are LGUs that also buy palay from farmers but since harvest is over, the NFA is taking up the cudgels in most of the provinces.
The agriculture secretary added that there is a sizable volume of imported rice, approved by the Bureau of Plant Industry, that has been ordered but is yet to arrive.
“Many are still pending,” he said, adding that he cannot say the exact volume.
Dar said the President’s directive is to tighten the guidelines .
“The importer has to meet all these guidelines before we issue import clearance of rice,” he added. – With Eva Visperas

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/12/03/1973804/house-restore-p10-billion-palay-buying-fund#JlRR8R2JZx3TUf20.99

Low yield this year in N. Korea’s main grain-producing region

Sources blame adverse weather and international sanctions for low yield in South Pyongan Province
The yield from this year’s rice grain harvest in South Pyongan Province, North Korea’s main grain-producing region, turned out lower than in the previous year.
“In flat regions like Pyongwon, Sukchon, Mundok and Anju, as well as in grain-producing regions, this year’s harvest was less bountiful than last year,” a source from South Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Monday. Though, he said, “the total yield can only be confirmed after the final thrashing, first projections suggest this year’s yield is considerably lower than last year.”
Daily NK has been able to access the harvest predictions for the Pyongwon region in South Pyongan Province. While a good season brings an average yield of four to five tons, estimates for this year assumes a revenue of only two tons of rice and corn per jongbo (one jongbo equals approximately one hectare) of farm land in Pyongwon County.
In Taepung, Yongsan, Maejon, Samdong and other large farms close to the west coast, the rice and corn harvests did not even amount to two tons, according to Daily NK sources. 
ADVERSE WEATHER AND SANCTIONS TO BLAME
Sources have blamed a typhoon in early fall as well as the generally rainy season for the meager harvests. “The typhoon and heavy rainfalls toppled both rice and corn while they were maturing,” he explained.
According to him, farms near the coast were also particularly affected by saltwater damage. He spoke of fields which were “only filled with empty grain heads.”
However, the source also pointed out that “the situation hadn’t been great from the outset.” He talked to a government official working in North Korean agriculture who allegedly told him about a “reduced supply of vinyl covers, fertilizer and pesticides” – a direct consequence of the economic sanctions imposed by the international community.
ANXIETIES ABOUT NEXT YEAR’S HARVEST
A bad harvest year naturally affects the working season of farmers. According to sources, the harvest season in North Korea this year was thus shorter than usual.
Rice harvests and the removal of rice sheaves in South Pyongan Province ended in early November instead of the end of the month or even later, they recalled. 
Daily NK previously learned from sources in North Hamgyong Province that many North Korean agriculturists are concerned that – given the poor harvest – next year’s food supply won’t be enough to feed the country’s population. Yet, “the survival and general quality of life of North Koreans depend on their food supply,” a defector told Daily NK.
That’s why “agriculture and farms have to be in the hands of the farmers who need to be able to act autonomously [instead of working on collective farms under state control],” the defector concluded.
*Translated by Violet Kim and edited by Laura Geigenberger
Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
Haiti - Humanitarian : Donation of Japan of $3.6M for the purchase of rice
03/12/2019 10:01:49

Description: Haiti - Humanitarian : Donation of Japan of $3.6M for the purchase of rice
Description: https://www.haitilibre.com/images/tr.gif
On Friday, November 29, a Grant Agreement for the Food Assistance Project (KR) 2019 was signed between the Haitian State represented by Bocchit Edmond, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Japan represented Mizuno Mitsuaki, Ambassador accredited in Haiti.

Under this Project, the Government of Japan will make available to the Government of Haiti a total of 400 million Japanese Yen, or approximately US $3.6 million (US $ 3,652,400), for the purchase of rice, which will be sold at preferential prices by the Office of Monetization of Development Assistance Programs (BMPAD) in order to stabilize the local market and contribute to the food security of the Haitian people. The funds generated by the sale of this rice will be used to finance bilateral cooperation projects.

Today, 3.67 million people face major socio-economic challenges and acute food insecurity, and need food assistance. Given this situation and in response to the request of the Government of Haiti, the Japanese Government has decided through this grant to support the strengthening of food security in Haiti while accompanying the Haitian Government in its efforts to increase agricultural products through the training of technicians and the supply of agricultural equipment.

Recall that in the context of food security, Japanese cooperation is upstream and downstream :

Upstream, this Assistance Project allows in the short term to temporarily but necessarily mitigate the dangerous effects of food insecurity on the most vulnerable.

Downstream and with longer-term results, agricultural equipment such as agricultural tractors arriving at the earliest in September 2020 as part of the "Program for Economic and Social Development", signed between the two governments in October 2018, and also with technical assistance provided through the project of capacity building of planters "PROAMOH I and II", set up since 2010 and still in progress.

Weekly inflation falls 0.72 percent

ISLAMABAD: The Sensitive price indicator (SPI) for the week ended November 28 fell 0.72 percent over the previous week, but rose a whopping 18.96 percent as compared to weekly inflation in the corresponding period last year, official data showed on Monday.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data showed that weekly inflation for the combined income group went down to 131.87 points from 132.82 points recorded in the week ended on November 21.
The weekly SPI with base 2015-16=100 covered 17 urban centres and 51 essential items for all expenditure groups. SPI for the lowest consumption group earning up to Rs17,732 witnessed 0.90 percent decrease and went up from 130.04 points in last week to 136.80 points during the week under review.
Meanwhile, the SPI for the consumption groups from Rs17,733-Rs22,888, from Rs22,889-Rs29,517; Rs29,518-Rs44,175, and above Rs44,175 per month, decreased by 0.88 percent, 0.80 percent, 0.77 percent and 0.61 percent, respectively.
During the week under review, average prices of 10 item registered decrease, 16 items increased, while prices of 25 items remained unchanged.
The prices of the commodities that recorded decrease in their prices during the week under review included chicken, tomatoes, onions, gur, refined sugar, eggs, wheat flour bags, garlic, pulses and LPG cylinder.
The items, which recorded increase in their average prices included bananas, potatoes, masoor pulse, energy saver, broken basmati rice, rice lrri-6, firewood whole, soap, mash pulse, mutton, mustard oil , cooked beef, beef with bone, vegetable ghee, cigarettes, and moong pulse.
Similarly, the prices of the commodities that observed no change in their price during the week under review included bread, fresh and powdered milk, curd, mustard oil, vegetable ghee, salt, chillies, prepared tea, cooked pulse, packaged tea, long cloth, shirting, lawn, georgette, gents sandal, gents chappal, ladies sandal, electricity charges, gas charges, washing soap, petrol, diesel, telephone call, and bath soap.

Gov Bagudu pledges 10 mini rice mills to farmers

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 4:02 pm | News
Description: https://i1.wp.com/www.pmnewsnigeria.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Kebbi-at-28-e1575385222892.jpg?zoom=1.5&resize=500%2C334&ssl=1
Kebbi State Gov. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.
The Kebbi Government, says it will provide 10 mini rice mills to women rice processing groups to facilitate the processing of paddy rice into finished products in the state.
Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, made this pledge while inspecting a pilot scheme of mini rice mills installation in Takalau area of Birnin Kebbi on Tuesday after an interaction with women local rice millers in the area.
He urged women rice vendors to utilise well the new mini rice mills provided by the Federal and State Governments in order to hasten the processing of paddy rice.
“We are going to distribute 10 mini rice mills to women groups in order to boost the production of more rice commodities in the state.
“The mills will minimise the long processing of spreading the rice to dry.
“This will also ensure the production of quality rice similar to what is being produced in Wacot and Labana rice mills,” Bagudu said.
In a related development, the governor has provided undisclosed financial support to some young girls hawking a delicacy leaf known as “RAMA” to enable them improve on their petty trade in the area.
In appreciation, a cross-section of women in the area expressed gratitude to the governor for his kindness during the inspection tour.

Border Closure: Customs Revenue Hits N8bn Per Day
Description: Alhaji Lai MohammedMinister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
POSTED BY: SAMED OLUKOYA DECEMBER 3, 2019
  • Border Closure: Customs Revenue Hits N8bn Per Day
The ongoing border closure is aiding revenue generation as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) now generates at least N8 billion per day, according to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Mohammed made the statement during an assessment tour of the Nigerian border with the Niger Republic in Magama Jibia, Katsina State.
The minister said prior to the closure, the Customs were only generating N4.5 billion daily. He said this translates to over 30 percent increase in revenue since the borders were closed in August.
“Smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria has been greatly reduced. The closure of filling stations along the border is a huge success. There are hundreds of filling stations along the borders. We counted many as we drove to the border this morning. They were set up purposely for smuggling. They don’t sell the fuel consignment they receive to the public. About 50 percent of them are owned by foreigners. Now that they are closed, we have recorded over 30 per cent reduction in domestic fuel consumption,” Mohammed said.
He said the land borders were closed to protect the local market and improve local production.
“As a matter of fact, since the exercise commenced over three months ago, local businesses across the country have continued to thrive, as farmers and rice millers in particular are now having turnover on investments.
“The border closure, has curbed the smuggling of foreign rice into the country, in addition to other prohibited items; increased the monthly import revenue by over 15 per cent; led to significant seizures with estimated monetary value of over N3,500,000,000; reduced local fuel consumption by 30 per cent as well as reduced the importation of arms, ammunition and drugs,” he explained.

CRF: $200M in emergency loans needed for rice sector

Thou Vireak | Publication date 03 December 2019 | 22:53 ICT

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) has asked the state-owned Rural Development Bank (RDB) to provide $200 million in emergency loans to buy paddy from farmers. Heng Chivoan
The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) has asked the state-owned Rural Development Bank (RDB) to provide $200 million in emergency loans to buy paddy from farmers during the ongoing post-monsoon harvest season as falling prices threaten their livelihoods.
CRF vice-president Chan Sokheang told The Post on Tuesday that it had submitted a letter to the RDB last week proposing that it forward the letter to Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth.
He said paddy exports from markets such as China and Europe, and fewer commercial bank loans to the agricultural sector have contributed to a decrease in working capital for rice millers and exporters.
The price of paddy has dropped to between 980 and 1,030 riel ($0.24 and $0.26) per kilogramme – depending on the area. However, the quality of the paddy remains high, Sokheang said.
“During this month last year, large countries in Europe and China ordered milled rice from us, but they have not placed any orders to date.
“Some commercial banks have reduced their agricultural loans by 50 per cent, and up to 60 per cent, since the EU decided to impose tariffs on rice imports from Cambodia. We need to supplement this capital shortfall,” he said.
RDB CEO Kao Thach told The Post on Tuesday that capital shortage in the rice sector is between $200 million and $250 million. To help remedy the issue, he has called on commercial banks to lend more to the sector.
“I am trying to mobilise more capital investment from other partners, and have already submitted a number of proposals to the government asking for more capital investment to help the sector,” he said.
Thach said an RDB study said rice millers and exporters have disbursed about $350 million from bank loans and direct capital to purchase paddy.
“The [sector] has been facing a capital shortfall since October, and will continue to do so until January next year because the payment for orders will not circulate on time.”
CRF secretary-general Lun Yeng told The Post last week that total capital investment in the Kingdom’s rice sector is between $300 million and $400 million.
“Normally, in the early harvest season, rice exporters and millers buy paddy for stockpiles, leaving them with a lack of funds by the end of the season,” he said.
Heng Pheng, the CEO of Thmor Korl Rice Import Export Co Ltd, a Battambang-based rice exporter, said prices in Battambang province appeared to have dropped slightly compared to the beginning of last year’s post-monsoon harvest season.
He said the price of paddy he bought from the farmers was worth around 1.17 million riel per tonne, compared to 1.28 million riel last year for the same quantity.

Purchase food grains without restrictions: MLC Jeevan Reddy in Karimnagar Hans News Service
   |  3 Dec 2019 10:35 PM IST HIGHLIGHTS Purchase food grains from farmers without delay and conditions, demanded Congress senior leader and MLC T Jeevan Reddy at a press meet at R&B guest... Karimnagar: Purchase food grains from farmers without delay and conditions, demanded Congress senior leader and MLC T Jeevan Reddy at a press meet at R&B guest house in Karimnagar on Tuesday.
The MLC alleged that there are many issues regarding the purchase of food grains from farmers, who produced after facing lot of hardships, investing money by borrowing from others as the government didn't sanctioned Rythu Bandhu to many of them. Stating that due to the recent rains, several farmers lost the standing crops, he demanded that the government must estimate the crop damage and help the farmers, who incurred loss. The rice millers must come forward to purchase the food grains from farmers without restrictions, he asked. The government must fix minimum support price (MSP) at Rs 5,450 per quintal for cotton and should take steps not to reject cotton that was brought to purchasing centres. MLC Jeevan Reddy also demanded that the government must waive off farm loans and the bankers must not pressurise the farmers to repay the loan. Moreover, the government did not sanction Rythu Bandhu to many farmers, which should be sanctioned immediately related to Kharif and Rabi seasons to all the farmers, he demanded. TPCC official spokesperson Komatireddy Narender Reddy, Medipalli Satyam, TPCC secretaries Anjan Kumar, Samad Nawab, U Ravi, Md Taj, Vilas Reddy, Bobbili Victor and Sunkari Ganapathi were present along with others. More On


Guruvayur Kesavan comes alive on a field in Kerala

KALPETTA, December 03, 2019 05:33 IST
Updated: December 02, 2019 22:16 IST
Description: An aerial view of a field with the 3D art of Guruvayur Kesavan in Wayanad district. Photo: Special Arrangement
An aerial view of a field with the 3D art of Guruvayur Kesavan in Wayanad district. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Farmer uses rice paddy art to replicate image.

A 3D replica of the legendary elephant, Guruvayur Kesavan, is taking shape on a farmland in Kerala’s Wayanad district.
Praseed Kumar, a progressive farmer at Thayyil in Sulthan Bathery, is using rice paddy art, a 3D art form, to depict the celebrated Guruvayur temple elephant that died in 1976.

Four varieties used

Mr. Kumar has used the violet-coloured Krishna Kamod, a Basmati rice variety, and Karuvachi, an indigenous rice variety of Wayanad, to give shape to the image. He also used Gandhakasala and Jeerakasala, two rice varieties of the district known for their aroma, for setting the border of the art work.
This is the third consecutive year that Mr. Kumar is creating eye-catching shapes in his rice field at Nambikkolly under the Nenmeni Krishi Bhavan. “The farmers of Inakadate village in Japan started using paddy art, a landscape design, to beautify their fields three decades ago. They drew huge replicas of famous paintings, including Mona Lisa, by growing rice crops with fronds of different colours. This art form is called Tanbo Art or rice paddy art,” Mr. Kumar said.
“Today, Inakadate art forms draw over 2,00,000 visitors a year to the small village, which has a population of only 7,985,” Mr. Kumar said.
“Farm tourism is gradually flourishing in the district too and the art form will help farmers get a share of the tourism industry’s profits,” Mr. Kumar said.
“If the Japanese farmers can attract the attention of a huge crowd, we can also replicate it here with the support of governments,” the young farmer said. It would also encourage local youth to take up agriculture seriously, in turn ensuring food security, he said.

5,000 spent on artwork

Mr. Kumar has spent nearly ₹5,000 for the art work on 20 cents of farmland. A. Prasad, an artist of A1 Art at Sulthan Bathery, drew the outline.
Mr. Kumar has also cultivated 51 rare varieties of rice seeds on his 6 acres of land and has a website to market the seeds.

Researchers study how crops compare to rice in flooding

The researchers explained how rice was domesticated from wild species that grew in tropical regions, where it then adapted to endure flooding and submersion in water.
Description: Researchers study how crops compare to rice in flooding
Of the major food crops, rice is considered to be the only one able to survive flooding. In a bid to find a solution to changing weather conditions, research by several American universities has studied how other crops compare to rice when submerged in water.
The research allegedly found that the plants – a wild-growing tomato, a tomato used for farming and a plant similar to alfalfa – share at least 68 families of genes that are ‘activated’ in response to flooding.
The researchers explained how rice evolved to its tropical regions, where it then adapted to be able to survive being submerged in water. Some of these adapted genes are said to exist in other plants, but have not yet evolved to switch on when the roots experience flooding.
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In the study, the team reportedly examined cells that reside at the tips of roots of the plant, because this is where a plant’s prime growing potential resides are said to be. The researchers said that these regions contain cells that can help a plant become more resilient to flooding. The team then examined the genes in these root tip cells to understand whether and how their genes were activated when deprived of oxygen or submerged in water.
The genes involved in flooding adaptations are reportedly called submergence up-regulated families (SURFs). The researchers reported that the plants had 68 SURFS in common with rice, even after the 180 million years of rice evolution.
While University of California, Riverside researchers conducted flooding experiments and analysis of rice plant genomes, scientists at Davis reportedly did the same with the tomato species while the alfalfa-type plant work was carried out at Emory University.
Though the SURFs were activated in all the plants during the flooding experiments, their genetic responses were not reported to be as effective as in rice. The wild tomato species that grows in desert soil withered and died when flooded.
The group is now allegedly planning additional studies to improve the survival rates of the plants that currently die and rot from excess water.
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Palay prices inch up in November

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:06 AM December 04, 2019
Prices of palay finally inched up in November, although the increase was still not enough to offset the losses incurred by farmers during 11 months of decline.
Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) latest price monitoring report, the average farm-gate price of palay rose consecutively for the first three weeks of November to P15.52 a kilo from P15.44 a kilo—an 8-centavo increase.
The lowest quotation was recorded in Negros Occidental at P10.71 a kilo while the highest was in Surigao del Sur at P20.40 a kilo.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said planters have already lost P61.77 billion due to the continuous drop in the farm-gate price, which hastened in recent months after rice imports ballooned to a record of 1.9 million metric tons.
Stakeholders have blamed the surge in rice imports as the culprit behind the double-digit decline in palay prices, brought by the enactment of the rice import liberalization law.
PhilRice noted that the losses could even skyrocket to P130 billion if the average buying price for the crop continued to fall below the current production costs.
Groups were expecting palay rates to dip further as the harvest season begins amid the continuous influx of imported rice. As a temporary solution, the Department of Agriculture has started imposing stricter measures before issuing import permits. INQ

Agricultural Education Day celebrated

UPDATED: DECEMBER 03, 2019 21:47 IST

 ‘Wheat, paddy from Punjab, Haryana vital to India’s food security’

TNN | Updated: Dec 4, 2019, 7:17 IST

Chandigarh: With food grains in surplus in the country, there are calls for asking Punjab and Haryana, the biggest contributors to the central pool, to move away from wheat and paddy cultivation to other crops.
However, data for past five years shows both states have been the mainstay of the country’s granaries and asking farmers to diversify may not be viable in the short term as it can impact food security of the country.
Of the 341.33 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of wheat procured for the central pool in the 2019-20 rabi marketing season (RMS), share of Punjab and Haryana was 129.1LMT and 93.2LMT, respectively. In the 2018-19 marketing season, Punjab and Haryana contributed 113.3LMT and 39.4LMT of rice to the central pool, respectively, of the total 443.3LMT.
Noted economist Sucha Singh Gill, who is working as a professor with the Chandigarh-based research institution the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), said wheat was ideally suited for cultivation in Punjab and Haryana and other sub-mountainous areas of north India. “Production and quality of wheat in other areas of India can’t match that of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh as the agro-climatic conditions for this crop are best in this region. Both Punjab and Haryana have been the biggest contributors of wheat to the central pool, so if the area under the crop is brought down here, other states can’t produce enough to meet the requirements of the country,” he said.
Prof Gill, who is vice-president of the Indian Association of Social Science Research Institutions (IASSI), said there was a debate over paddy cultivation in Punjab and Haryana, but not wheat. “Paddy has strained the availability of water in both states, so many experts and farm scientists have advised shifting to other crops like maize. However, the system for marketing other crops has not evolved in the absence of state support, so diversification has not worked yet in both states,” he said.
An economist who didn’t wish to be named, said India was headed for becoming a grain-deficient country by 2050, given changing climate and rising population. “Wheat and paddy grown in Punjab and Haryana made India self-sufficient in food grains, so diversification added significantly to the income of farmers in both states. It will be ill-advised to change the cropping pattern in these states,” he observed.
Rice procured for the central pool (in lakh metric tonnes)
STATE
2015-16
2016-17
2017-18
2018-19
2019-20*
Punjab
93.50
110.5
118.3
113.3
108.73
Andhra Pradesh
43.36
37.24
40
48.09
0.52
Odisha
33.69
36.30
32.87
43.83
0
Chhattisgarh
34.42
40.22
32.55
39.71
0
Haryana
28.61
35.83
39.92
39.42
42.93
Uttar Pradesh
29.10
23.54
28.75
32.33
11.71
All India total
342.18
381.06
381.85
443.31
171.51
*Till December 2
Wheat procured for the central pool (in lakh metric tonnes)
STATE
2015-16
2016-17
2017-18
2018-19
2019-20
Punjab
103.44
106.49
117.06
126.92
129.12
Haryana
67.78
67.52
74.32
87.84
93.20
Madhya Pradesh
73.09
39.92
67.25
73.13
67.25
Uttar Pradesh
22.67
7.97
36.99
52.94
37
Rajasthan
13
7.62
12.45
15.32
14.11
All India total
280.88
229.62
308.25
357.95
341.33