Saturday, December 14, 2019

14th December,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Factbox: A lot of soy, a little rice - China's historical U.S. agricultural purchases
DECEMBER 14, 2019 / 4:00 AM /CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Friday China would buy an additional $32 billion in U.S. farm goods over the next two years as part of an initial trade deal.FILE PHOTO: Soybeans in a field on Hodgen Farm in Roachdale, Indiana, U.S. November 8, 2019. Picture taken November 8, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
China gave no firm commitment on an amount of U.S. goods, but said it may buy more wheat, rice and corn — goods it has not traditionally bought. Soybeans made up more than half of China’s agriculture purchases from the United States in 2017, at about $12.2 billion.

Below are agricultural goods China has bought from the United States in the past:

China bought about 60% of all exports of U.S. soybeans, the main U.S. export crop by value, before the trade war. Since the current marketing year started on Sept. 1, China has purchased about 10 million tonnes of soybeans worth some $3.5 billion, according to government data.

China began buying U.S. sorghum, which it uses for production of baiju liquor and animal feed, in 2008. Its purchases peaked at $2.115 billion in 2015, but fell by more than half to $1.030 billion in 2016. So far this year, it has bought $117.149 million worth.

China has increased pork imports after a fatal pig disease, African swine fever, devastated its herd. U.S. pork exports to China and Hong Kong were up 34% in value at $974.8 million from January to October. The shipments top full-year 2018 exports to the region of $852.5 million. Full-year exports to China and Hong Kong set a record of $1.1 billion in 2017.

China officially resumed U.S. beef imports in 2017 after a 14-year ban, but maintains restrictions on shipments. Exports of U.S. beef to China and Hong Kong from January to October were down 20% from a year earlier at $657.9 million. China and Hong Kong imported a record $1 billion in U.S. beef in 2018.

China was a top five buyer of U.S. corn from 2011 to 2013 but has not been a major buyer since as domestic production increased. In 2017, it bought $142.036 million worth, and so far in 2019 it has bought $52.857 million.

China, the world’s largest rice producer, typically buys small amounts of U.S. rice. Purchases peaked at $5.311 million in 2010. In 2017, they totaled $759,000. So far this year, U.S. rice exports to China have been worth just $147,000.

China in November lifted a nearly five-year ban on U.S. poultry that had been imposed in January 2015 because of a U.S. outbreak of avian flu. The market bought $500 million worth of American poultry products in 2013.

China is the world’s No. 2 wheat producer after the European Union and holds roughly half of all global wheat inventories. In recent years it has been the No. 3 or 4 buyer of U.S. hard red spring wheat, a high-protein variety used to blend and improve the quality of lesser grades of wheat.

Some analysts had speculated that equipment might be counted in an agriculture component of an eventual trade deal. Farm machinery exports this year through October were a little over $200 million, according to data from U.S. Census Bureau. Beijing’s biggest purchase in the past two decades was in 2015 when it imported about $430 million of machines.
Reporting by Tom Polansek, Julie Ingwersen, Rajesh Kumar S

PH to import less rice in 2020; becomes world’s largest rice importer

Published December 13, 2019, 10:00 PM
By Madelaine B.Miraflor
The Philippines is seen to import less rice in 2020, but will still emerge as the world’s largest buyer of rice.
The Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report prepared by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service said that global trade for rice for next year will be “nearly unchanged with reduced imports for China partially offsetting higher imports for Ghana and the Philippines.”
This only means one thing: Philippines, for 2020, will still be the world’s biggest rice importer.
For 2020, USDA sees that Philippines importing as much as 2.7 million metric tons (MT) of rice, which is lower than the 2.4 million MT of rice that China may import.
Its earlier forecast for next year was that Philippines may import only as much as China did at 2.5 million MT. The gap only appeared when all outlook said the world’s second largest economy will be producing more rice locally.
As a result, Philippines will be outpacing all countries when it comes to rice imports starting this year.
USDA changed its earlier forecast and said that the country’s actual rice imports may end at a record 3.2 million MT instead of 3 million MT, still the highest amount of imported rice allowed to enter the country.
China, on the other hand, may end the year with only 2.4 million MT rice imports, officially giving up its status as the world’s biggest rice importer despite having nearly 1.5 billion population.
Sometime in October, Agriculture Secretary William Dar did acknowledge that Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203 already resulted to an overwhelming amount of rice imports to the detriment of Filipino rice farmers.
It is also for this reason why President Rodrigo Duterte said a couple of times last month that he will stop rice importation, which temporarily appeased the rice farmers.
The confusion whether the Philippine government will really stop or continue rice tariffication eventually came to an end when Duterte, together with his cabinet members, decided that RA 11203 must stay and will stay the same.
They ended up agreeing that they will leave the recently passed RA 11203 alone and will instead control the volume of imported rice that enters the country by restricting the issuance of permit to rice traders.
Passed in January and implemented in March, RA 11203 allowed the unimpeded entry of imported rice into the country, which resulted not only to lower retail cost of rice but also to the continuous decline of palay, forcing farmers to sell their yield at a loss.

Cameroon seeks investors for large rice-growing project in the Far-North

  -   Friday, 13 December 2019 12:46
 (Business in Cameroon) - On December 5, 2019, Cameroon, through the ministry of agriculture and rural development (Minader) issued a call for expression of interest for local and foreign investors wishing to exploit agricultural land developed for rice production in the department of Logone et Chari, in the Far North.
The project will be carried out on an area of more than 10,000 hectares, out of the 13,102 hectares developed for this purpose in the districts of Zina (6521 ha), Makary (411 ha), Logone Birni (970 ha). In the area of Mara, Goulfey, Moulouang, Hilél and Goulfey Gana, the project will cover 2,200 ha.
Through this project, the Cameroonian government wants to increase rice production in the northern part of the country, which rarely exceeds the 100,000 tonnes produced by the Société d'expansion et de modernisation de la riziculture de Yagoua (Semry).
This call for expression of interest comes amid Cameroon’s crusade against massive food imports that greatly affect the country’s trade balance.
One of the food products massively imported by the country is rice, which cost the country XAF508.5 billion between 2015 and 2017, according to figures published by the ministry of commerce.
By way of comparison, the value of rice imports during the period specified is 1/3 of Cameroon's 2020 public investment budget.
China Announces U.S.-grown Rice Included in Phase I Purchases
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Earlier today, President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Lighthizer announced that after months of negotiations and work, an agreement in principle has been reached between the U.S. and China on trade.

China held a press conference this morning and confirmed that it will increase agricultural purchases "by a notable margin," including purchases of U.S.-grown rice, wheat, and corn.

The deal will roll back some U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods and will not implement the additional round of tariffs on Chinese products that was scheduled to effect December 15. USTR indicated that June 2019 tariffs on Chinese products, including rice being imported to the U.S., would remain in effect. USTR shared that the deal also requires structural reforms and other changes to China's economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange.

"Today's announcement is positive news for U.S. farmers and ranchers, especially with a commitment by China to purchase U.S.-grown rice in addition to other commodities," said Dow Brantley, Arkansas rice farmer and USA Rice's representative on the federal Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, primarily responsible for providing feedback to USDA and USTR on trade agreements. "USA Rice is pleased to hear that rice will be part of China's purchases and we look forward to more closely reviewing the details once the written agreement is made public."

USTR anticipates an early January signing of the agreement once details are laid out in writing and formally cleared by both sides.
2019 USA Rice Outlook Conference Covers New Ground, Sets Stage for Continued Enhancements

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS - The 2019 USA Rice Outlook Conference wrapped here earlier this week with an unprecedented level of programming for the more than 850 attendees.

"Over the three days of the conference we had more than 30 hours of programming, 48 sessions, and almost 80 different presenters sharing insights and knowledge from our five stages," said USA Rice Chair and California rice farmer Charley Mathews, Jr. "I can't recall an Outlook Conference this densely packed with opportunities."

Navigating all that programming could have proved a challenge, but this year USA Rice unveiled a mobile app, sponsored by BASF, to help attendees get where they needed to be, connect with each other, post running comments on the sessions, and offer immediate feedback on speakers and programs.

The second General Session that closed the conference featured Outlook mainstays Nathan Childs and Jim Wiesemeyer and added Outlook newcomer A.B. Stoddard.

Childs, an agricultural economist with USDA's Economic Research Service, shared data from the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) released moments before he took the stage on Tuesday.

Wiesemeyer, policy analyst for Pro Farmer, described the lay of the political landscape as he sees it, offering insights into who will be influential in ag policy in 2020 and what the election season may hold.

A.B. Stoddard, associate editor and columnist with RealClearPolitics, provided in-depth political analysis of the current state of affairs, and predicted that the 2020 presidential election will, in the end, come down to Wisconsin, and shared the very real possibility of a truly brokered Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee next July.

The session also featured the long-awaited drawing for the Think Rice Road Trip Truck. Almost 700 hopefuls had cast their lot to leave with the tricked out 2019 F-150 that had spent the previous three months traversing the Mid-Atlantic promoting U.S.-grown rice and was parked prominently in the Exhibit Hall throughout the Conference. At the appointed hour, 80th International Rice Festival Queen AnnaLisa Meredith drew the lucky winner - Randy McNeil from Jonesboro, Arkansas.

It wasn't just the schedule that was packed, the Exhibit Hall itself was bursting at the seams with a record 87 exhibitors and the four program stages sponsored by FMC, Heritage Agriculture of Arkansas, Indigo Ag, and The Rice Foundation. Rice grading technology, mill equipment, and of course farm equipment were all on display, as were financial service companies, regulatory agencies, and more. There was even an opportunity for attendees to eat without leaving the hall with the Riceland Food Truck serving up delicious gumbo, jambalaya, and more, all featuring U.S.-grown rice.

"We took some risks in expanding certain areas of this Outlook Conference, but they really seemed to pay off, enhancing both the attendee and sponsor/exhibitor experience," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. "Planning is already underway for Outlook 2020 in Austin, Texas, and we're determined to outdo ourselves, though that's going to be a tall order for sure."

Attendees of the 2019 USA Rice Outlook Conference still have the opportunity to complete surveys on the sessions they attended and access presenter materials via in the mobile app, and feedback is always welcome and encouraged

This Zojirushi Rice Cooker Is an Utterly Perfect Machine

The Japanese rice cooker has withstood a decade of weekly use
Description: An open rice cooker filled with steaming rice and a wooden spoonful of rice hovers above itThe Zojirushi rice cooker makes rice and more. Jimmy Vong/Shutterstock

This story is part of a group of stories calledDescription: Buy This Thing

Welcome to Buy This Thing, a column dedicated to the kitchen products and home goods Eater writers and industry pros obsess over.
In 2009, I lived in a crowded Brooklyn apartment, and for Christmas I asked for a rice cooker to free up stovetop space I shared with my roommates. My mom, the most determinedly online Christmas shopper I know, skipped the $40 domestic options and imported a Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker from Japan. It offered something called “fuzzy logic” cooking, it could make five different kinds of rice plus porridge, and it sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” every time you turned it on. To be honest, I thought it was a bit much.
Ten years later, I still use this perfect machine at least once a week. The fuzzy logic system, which allows the cooker to make small adjustments based on moisture and other variables, makes extremely good white rice of all kinds, especially sushi rice. The brown rice setting makes rice a bit too wet for my preferences, but this Healthyish method of cooking brown rice on the white rice setting, which better suits American tastes, works great.
Description: Two rice cookers side by side Zojirushi’s Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker comes in two sizes. Zojirushi [Official]
What I really adore about this rice cooker, however, is the porridge setting. If I have an excess of chicken stock, I’ll make a golden, rich congee; if I’m making meatballs, I’ll make big batches of a cheater polenta. And most mornings in the winter start with a creamy oatmeal cooked on the porridge setting. The only downside is it’s not particularly fast — about an hour. If I really had my shit together, I’d put oatmeal in the night before and set a timer, because the rice cooker can do that, too. It’s relatively simple to make rice (or polenta) on a stovetop, but I find having a little machine I trust to make part of the meal frees up my brain and makes dinner more possible.
Over the past 10 years, home cooking culture in the US has become grain-obsessed, and the Neuro Fuzzy is now big in America. (I remember the disappointment in my mom’s voice when she saw it at Williams-Sonoma.) I love this rice cooker so much I thought about buying another Zojirushi rice cooker duty-free in the Tokyo airport, as if two would double my happiness. But there’s no need. After a decade of use, it might finally be time to get a new nonstick bowl; but everything else about it, from the buttons to the little nubby rice paddle, works just as well as the day it arrived.

A sizzling shrimp and rice crepe that captures the best flavors of Vietnamese cooking

December 9
(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Sizzling Rice Crepes

Rice has higher arsenic levels because of climate change, Seattle researchers find

The list of foods affected by climate change is growing. A new University of Washington study has found that rising temperatures will increase arsenic levels in rice.
Rice is good at absorbing arsenic. The plant’s system is like a straw that draws water. Rice is grown in flooded fields. Flooding also releases arsenic and other minerals into the soil.
“It’s a perfect storm for accumulation of arsenic in rice,” said Yasmine Farhat, a UW doctoral student and co-author of the study. She and her colleagues grew rice in different climate controlled chambers at varying temperatures. What they found was the warmer the temperature, the more arsenic was absorbed.
“We saw increase in arsenic in the water that is surrounding the plant roots,” said Farhat. “We saw it in the green leafy tissue of the plant, and finally, we can see it in the grain tissue as well.”
This doesn’t mean it’s time to give up rice.
Farhat says the good news is Americans in general don’t eat as much rice so we’re not exposed to dangerous levels of arsenic. For half of the world, though, rice is a major staple. Farhat says as the planet continues to warm, more work will be needed to find ways to reduce the risks

Arsenic in their chapatis putting Bihar’s rural population at increased cancer risk

Study by scientists shows chapatis, which are a part of the staple diet in Bihar, can pose greater risk to the arsenic-exposed populations of Bihar.

MOHANA BASU 13 December, 2019 6:33 pm IST

Description: Photo:
New Delhi: Scientists have found that chapatis in rural homes in Bihar contain higher amounts of arsenic than previously estimated, putting the population of areas exposed to the harmful chemical element at an increased risk of cancer.
The research, published in the journal Science of The Total Environment, shows that lifetime cancer risk of the arsenic-exposed population from Bihar was higher than the threshold values set by the US-based Environmental Protection Agency.
Wheat is one of the most important food grains in India, after rice. While arsenic exposure from rice is extensively studied, it is not well explored for wheat, researchers pointed out in the study.
Arsenic accumulation in food grains is usually due to high arsenic levels in the soil or water in the area.

19 villages in 10 arsenic-affected districts studied

“Whether the arsenic in the grains is due to accumulation from soil or other reason like pesticides which might have arsenic, needs to be studied further and we are initiating further studies on this regard,” Debapriay Mondal, from the University of Salford, told ThePrint in an email.
“Our study was based on household sample collection and wheat is procured from the Public Distribution System in many rural households of Bihar.
As a part of this study, we can say that people living in arsenic- exposed areas of Bihar have another potential route of exposure over rice and water, that is wheat,” Mondal said.
The team, including scientists from the Mahavir Cancer Sansthan and Research Center and Aryabhatta Knowledge University in Patna, collected data from 77 households across 19 villages in 10 arsenic-affected districts of Bihar.
Of the 154 participants who were surveyed, 78 per cent consumed rice every day, while chapati was consumed every day by 99.5 per cent of the participants.
According to the team, previous studies have demonstrated that arsenic concentration in wheat flour is lower than that in the grains, as bran is removed during the process of grinding. However, in the samples studied, researchers did not find an appreciable lowering of arsenic in the wheat flour. They suspect there is external arsenic contamination during processing and grinding.
“The estimated increased cancer risk due to arsenic exposure from wheat intake is around 1 in 10,000 in this studied arsenic exposed populations of Bihar,” Mondal said.

Larger study on food habits in arsenic-exposed areas of Bihar

The research is part of an ongoing larger study, “Nutri-SAM: Nature and nurture in arsenic-induced toxicity of Bihar, India”, which is looking at the diet and food habit of arsenic-exposed populations in Bihar. The objective is to determine if there is any food habit that can help reduce arsenic exposure or induced toxicity.
“To address this, we are also looking at arsenic exposure from the staple food. In Bihar the consumption of wheat is high and we found that almost every participant consume wheat in the form of chapati every day over rice,” Mondal said.
“Bihar is one of the most arsenic-affected states in India next to Bengal and Assam with distinct dietary habits compared to Bengal, prompting this study in Bihar,” he said, noting that the state was less explored compared to West Bengal in terms of arsenic exposure from food intake.
Whither syndicate in rice market 
 Abdul Bayes   | Published:  December 13, 2019 22:08:16

"One should hardly have to tell academicians that information is a valuable resource: knowledge is power. And yet it occupies a slum dwelling in the town of economics. Mostly it is ignored…" (J. Stigler 1961 )
In the Research Almanac 2019 of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) held recently, Nazneen Ahmed, Mainul Haque and Nahian Azad Shashi from the same institute presented a paper on rice market in Bangladesh.  We reckon it as a timely task since a lot of noise has been hovering around the past or present volatility in rice market along with the correlates. Rice is the staple food in Bangladesh occupying more than three-fourths of cultivated land,  accounting alone for more than one-third of household budget of the poor and both marketed and marketable surplus of rice have been increasing over time.  Research showed that over half of the paddy output is marketed compared to one-fifth in the 1980s. Admittedly, introduction of high yielding varieties (HYV) coupled with  the growth of  good communication system turned subsistence rice  farming into  a commercial one. Thus, for example, a rise in paddy or rice prices go to benefit not only the large and medium land holding group, as it did in the past, but also the small and marginal ones now. Mention may also be made of the tremendous spread of the tenancy market that enabled landless households in rural areas to become de facto land owning households.
The research carried out by Nazneen Ahmed et al. made an attempt to dig deep into the recent 'disarray' in rice market in Bangladesh. The researchers reached the conclusion, seemingly contrary to popular wisdom, that there is no syndicate in rice market; our rice market works competitively.
 One might recall that after many years of continuous fall in rice prices, the market turned out to be volatile in 2007-8 threatening food security in the country. The skyrocketing price of rice at that time owed  much to the world-wide oil crisis and supply shock in major rice growing areas. The situation worsened with export ban from India followed by other rice exporting countries. But within the last couple of years, rice prices in Bangladesh hardly witnessed a steep rise. Sadly, it continues to happen even at the behest of the government's claim of  supply outstripping demand, and  declining  per capita consumption of rice.
 The 'Syndicate' - defined as  a  combination of individuals or commercial firms to promote some common interest - is a common parlance in Bangladesh as far as prices of agricultural products are concerned.  Be it onion or rice, the syndicate seems to be the villain. However, vindication of this hypothesis is rare if not absent. It is in this context that the research paper intended to shed some light on  the role of the syndicate, as well as other correlates,  in influencing  the recent rise in rice prices.
As mentioned before, the research done is timely in the sense that  in popular parleys,  media and even in academic corners, the syndrome of syndicate dominates the mind-set while explaining the  swings in rice market. Let us pick up some of the pertinent points from the paper, albeit paraphrased: (a) there is no syndicate in the rice market but 50 large mills have the capacity to influence the supply and prices of the staple food; (b) there are very big auto rice mills and some of them have 400-500 tonnes of daily processing capacity; (c) the top 50 rice mills out of 949 auto rice mills have around 20 per cent of the total fortnightly rice milling capacity in the country; (d)  the dominance of millers  in procurement  is revealed by the information that they  procure paddy mostly during the harvesting season when prices remain low and store the grains to continue milling for several months until the next harvest takes place; (e)  analysing  the trend of wholesale and retail prices of fine, medium and coarse rice since 2006, they observed seasonality as one of the major factors for variation in rice prices; (f) the researchers found that the gap between wholesale and retail prices widens during the slack season, meaning prices go up prior to harvesting of paddy; (g) at that time, it is natural that prices would go up because of low supply. So, if prices increase at that time, apparently it would not be right to think there is anti-competitive behaviour or collusion in the market' (h) there is competitive behaviour among the actors in the market.
"Apparently there is no syndicate. We can't say strongly that there is anti-competitive behaviour…We don't know whether they are engaged in any syndication but what we are trying to say is that they are very big and they can store high quantity of rice legally…….It is not that they are doing syndication but if they retain  rice for two more days or up to 20 days instead of 15 days during any  crisis, they can naturally influence the price ….  rice and paddy could be retained by auto rice millers who are part of large corporates. They are the ones who have natural capacity to have some influence over the market."
Rice consumers could be in confusion with the finding that there is no syndication. In fact the paragraph above hints to a potential hidden collusion among the millers who manage a lion's share of rice and some of them having rice storage in excess of capacity; they have some influence by retaining rice for up to 20 days instead of 15 days in any crisis.
As mentioned in the paper, regular market monitoring, access to demand and supply data, of both home and abroad,  imports from different sources etc. at the beginning of the season should help avert unintended consequences faced by poor consumers of rice - the largest supplier of calorie.
Abdul Bayes is a former Professor of Economics at Jahangirnagar University and currently an Adjunct Faculty of East West University.

Can kitchen gardens combat climate change?

·       14 December 2019
Description: Woman gardening in BangladeshImage copyrightFAARM PROJECT
Growing fruit and veg in the garden is already seen as environmentally friendly, but it could also be a weapon in the fight against climate change.
That's been the experience of a community in Bangladesh, whose rice crop - the source of their food and income - was ruined when seasonal rains came early.
It was in April 2017 that the rain came to the north-eastern floodplain of Sylhet Division, ruining the rice crop. It should have come two months later.
Farmers lost most or all of their harvest, It meant no income - and not enough food - for their families.
Scientists warn that climate change is affecting the crops people can grow and the nutrients they get in their food.
Sabine Gabrysch, professor for climate change and health at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: "It's so unfair because these people have not contributed anything to climate change."
Speaking to the BBC at a conference of health and climate experts in Berlin, organised by the Nobel Foundation, Prof Gabrysch said: "They're very directly hit by climate change, because then they lose their livelihoods and they lose their nutrients. And their children are suffering most, because they're growing fast and they need many nutrients."
Even before the early rains, she said, a third of women were underweight and 40% of children chronically undernourished.
"People are already at the brink of existence where they suffer from many diseases and they don't have much to buffer," Prof Gabrysch added. "They have no insurance."
Description: Rice field in BangladeshImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
She is leading a study into the impact of the floods in Sylhet Division, and is working with more than 2,000 women in villages across the area,
Half said their families were significantly affected by the flood. The most common way they tried to cope was to borrow money, mainly from money lenders who were charging high interest rates, and families then fell into debt.
The team had already begun educating the community to grow their own food in their gardens, on higher ground, where they could grow a more nutritionally varied crop of fruit and vegetables, and keep chickens.
Prof Gabrysch said: "I don't think it can compensate for the loss of the rice crop honestly, because that's their livelihood, but at least it can help them to some degree."
But even when rice - and the other starchy foods that people in developing countries rely on - grows well, climate change can mean it is not as nutritious as it was.
Prof Kristie Ebi, from the department of Global Health at the University of Washington, has studied levels of nutrients.
She has found crops like rice, wheat, potatoes and barley now have higher concentrations of carbon dioxide. That means they need less water to grow, which is not as positive as it might sound, because it means they take up less micronutrients from the soil.

Diseases on the move

Research by Prof Ebi's team found rice crops they studied had, on average, a 30% reduction in B vitamins - including folic acid, crucial for pregnant women - compared to normal levels,
She said: "Even today in Bangladesh, as the country becomes wealthier, three out of four calories come from rice.
"In many countries, people eat a lot of the starches as a main component of their diet. So having less micronutrients could have very significant consequences."
And she warns that a warming world also means diseases are on the move.
"There are major risks from diseases that are carried by mosquitoes. And there's major risk from diarrheal diseases, and infectious diseases.
"As our planet warms, these diseases are changing their geographic range, their seasons becoming longer. There's more transmission of these diseases.
"And many of these primarily affect children. That's why we're so concerned about what this means for maternal and child health, because they're on the front line. They're the ones who are seeing the consequences."
Diseases traditionally seen as tropical are moving north.
This year, Germany saw the first cases of West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitoes.
Sabine Gabrysch said: "The infectious disease spread is something that makes people realise climate change is also coming to us."
Nobel Laureate Peter Agre warns that climate change means diseases are moving - with some not seen in the places they had been established, and others appearing in new places - in particular moving to higher altitudes as temperatures rise, something that has been seen South America and Africa.
That matters because people living in the tropics have traditionally lived at higher altitudes in order to avoid disease.
Prof Agre, who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in chemistry, warned there should be no complacency, and as temperatures warmed diseases would move.
"The famous phrase is 'it can't happen here'. Well, it can."
This content was created as a co-production between Nobel Media AB and the BBC.

This food could be what’s triggering your sleep problems according to new research
Are you finding it hard to sleep?
 Lucy Buglass13 December 2019 4:30 pm
Credit: Getty Images
If your diet contains lots of refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and rice, you might find it harder to drift off.
Scientists from Columbia University, New York, looked at the food diaries of over 50,000 post-menopausal women. They discovered that refined carbohydrates could be having an impact on sleep quality.
It turned out that those whose diets had a higher glycemic index (GI) were more likely to find it harder to get to sleep.
The reason for this is that carbohydrate-rich foods like white bread, pasta and rice produces a high amount of GI, and it causes sugar spikes.
Study author Dr James Gangwisch said, “When blood sugar is raised quickly, your body reacts by releasing insulin, and the resulting drop in blood sugar can lead to the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can interfere with sleep.”
According to Bupa, insomnia affects a third of people in the UK. This can be caused by environmental habits, lifestyle, temporary stress such as loss of a job or finances, and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
But diet could also have an impact on your sleep, according to this study. Other known dietary triggers are alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals.
Results published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that a higher consumption of refined carbohydrates with a high GI raises the risk of insomnia.
Added sugars and processed grains were also found to be particularly responsible, whereas vegetables and whole fruits (not juice) reduced the risk.
Dr Gangwisch added, “Whole fruits contain sugar, but the fibre in them slows the rate of absorption to help prevent spikes in blood sugar.
“This suggests the dietary culprit triggering the women’s insomnia was the highly-processed foods that contain larger amounts of refined sugars that aren’t found naturally in food.”

An initiative to make native rice, vegetable varieties available to urban consumers

At the Jawahar centre of BDRF, regional coordinator Sandeep Kakade talked about over 350 varieties of rice and millet which have been conserved by them.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune | Published: December 14, 2019 8:38:58 am
Some of the native varities saved at the Jawahar facility of BDRF. (Express photo)
For the last few decades, the Pune headquartered-BAIF Development and Research Foundation (BDRF) has undertaken the work of conserving and preserving various native and indigenous varieties of rice, millet and vegetables. Now, such rare but healthier varieties of rice and millet-based products will be available to urban consumers under the brand ‘Farming Monk’.
Under the Maharashtra Gene Bank Project, scientists of BDRF, in close collaboration with local communities, have undertaken the work to save various varieties of rice, pulses, vegetables and millets. which are not used much despite having numerous health benefits. Tribal communities have been at the forefront of cultivating such varieties in most parts of the state. But over the years, such varieties have become rare as improved seeds and hybrids have taken their place.
At the Jawahar centre of BDRF, regional coordinator Sandeep Kakade talked about over 350 varieties of rice and millet which have been conserved by them. These include some rare varieties like black rice and red rice. “We have finished registration of 34 varieties with the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resource,” he said.
The gene bank, meticulously build by the institute, has varieties of rice which, Kakade said, can also withstand very heavy rainfall. Varieties like Kamal Vath, Ashwini, Rajgude and Surtikollam had survived the very heavy rainfall which the commonly-cultivated Pusa had failed.
As part of the project, 800 farmers in Palghar and Jawahar talukas of the region undertook seed trials with these varieties. Twenty of the preserved varieties have been accepted by local farmers and local seed banks help them conserve the seed. Such varieties have formed the base for better-yielding hybrids, but have fallen out of favour for the majority of farmers.
The Farming Monk project aims to help such farmers get better prices for their produce by making it available to the greater public. Ravi Gajraj, a Buddha Fellow working with BDRF, said currently four different varieties of rice are being marketed under the brand. “Farmers grow these rices in various parts of the state and mill it there. Quality control, branding and sales is being managed centrally,” he said.
Currently, the brand is available at select outlets in Pune as well as some online platforms. Gajraj said there are plans to make the products available more widely in the days to come.

Tirumala: Millers asked to supply more rice to Annaprasadam Trust Hans News Service   |  13 Dec 2019 11:18 PM
IST HIGHLIGHTS Additional Executive Officer A V Dharma Reddy said that vegetable donors and Rice Millers’ Association play a vital role Annaprasadam wing of TTD. Tirumala: Additional Executive Officer A V Dharma Reddy said that vegetable donors and Rice Millers' Association play a vital role Annaprasadam wing of TTD. He requested the rice millers to increase their contributions to provide qualitative Annaprasadam (free food) to pilgrims. A review meeting with representatives of AP and TS Rice Millers association was held in Tirumala on Friday. ADVERTISEMENT He complimented the Rice Millers Association for providing Sona Masuri rice to TTD at Rs.37 per kg when the market rate is Rs.45 . He also thanked the Association for providing Rs.55 lakh worth rice free of cost in the last two months on his request. The Additional EO also asked them to consider contributing more rice to the TTD Annaprasadam. The Rice Millers also sought Additional EO to consider providing darshan to Rice Millers to encourage more donations to which Dharma Reddy assured them to place their representation in the upcoming Trust Board Meeting for approval. Procurement General Manager Jagadeeshwar Reddy, DyEO Annaprasadam Nagaraju, Dy EO Marketing Natesh Babu, Catering Officer GLN Shastry, AP Rice Millers Association president G Venkateswara Rao, association representatives from Khammam, Nizamabad, Guntur participated.

Nigeria: Inside Taraba Booming Local Rice Business

13 DECEMBER 2019

By Magaji Isa Hunkuyi
Jalingo — Local rice business is booming in Taraba State following the closure of Nigerian borders, which has drastically reduced foreign rice coming into the country.
North-East Trust's finding revealed that both farmers and local rice dealers are reaping from the booming market across farming communities in the state.
Hundreds of merchants from across the country including rice millers now source rice paddy and locally processed rice from the state.
Potential of the state in rice production was not fully exploit until recently when demands for both paddy and locally processed rice increased.
The state has vast fertile land suitable for rice production during wet and dry seasons and thousands of farmers engaged in rice farming, turning out thousands of tonnes of rice paddy annually.
Findings further revealed that the three major rivers in the state-River Benue, River Taraba and River Donga have fertile wet land stretching hundreds kilometers and is suitable for both wet and dry season rice farming.
It was further gathered that only about 25 percent of these lands are being utilized while the remaining lay fallow.
Major areas where rice farming is taking place include Tau,Yalwan Tau,Donada,Lau,and Didango.
Others are Sheka, Kambari,Amar, Gassol, MutumBiyu,Donga, Chinkai,Ibbi,Sansani,Ibbi sarkin Kudu,Bali and several other areas.
North East Trust's investigation also revealed that currently there are about seven major markets for paddy and locally processed rice in the state.
The markets are located in MutumBiyu, Bantaje, Didango, Lau, Donga, Jalingo and Tella.
It was further discovered that majority of rice milling companies in the country sourced paddy rice from MutumBiyu paddy market.
At Mutum-Biyu paddy rice, there are depots with pyramid of rice paddy purchased by major rice milling companies in the country.
Similarly, some millers also purchased locally processed rice from the state and package them for sale after reprocessing and packaging.
The booming rice market in the state also gave rise to increasing number of local rice milling business. There are over 14 local rice milling facilities across seven local government areas of the state.
A local rice miller, Mallam Habibu Jalingo, told North East Trust that every day over 3000 bags of 100kg bags of rice paddy is being processed locally in the state and there was a ready market.

Is your diet to blame for your insomnia? Scientists find worrying link: SLEEPY BREAD 
·       Lucy Jones
WE'VE all experienced them - those restless nights where we spend hours tossing and turning relentlessly trying to get some sleep.
In fact, as many as 16 million adults in the UK are plagued by insomnia.
Scientists believe your diet makes all the difference between a good night’s sleep and a bad oneCredit: Getty - Contributor
However, new research may finally give an insight into why so many people are struggling to get those much-needed zzzs.
Top scientists, from the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, have found that your diet may be party to blame for insomnia.
Postmenopausal women who consume a diet high in refined carbohydrates, particularly added sugars, are more likely to develop insomnia, they found.
This is because refined carbs such as white bread, white rice, added sugars and fizzy drinks have a higher glycemic index, the rating system for foods containing carbs, and cause a more rapid increase in blood sugar.

Increase in blood sugar

On the other hand, those who eat high amounts of vegetables, fibre, and whole fruit were less likely to develop problems with the condition.
The study's lead author Professor James Gangwisch said: "When blood sugar is raised quickly, your body reacts by releasing insulin, and the resulting drop in blood sugar can lead to the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can interfere with sleep.
"Whole fruits contain sugar, but the fiber in them slow the rate of absorption to help prevent spikes in blood sugar.
"This suggests that the dietary culprit triggering the women's insomnia was the highly processed foods that contain larger amounts of refined sugars that aren't found naturally in food."
The results came after the researchers gathered data from more than 50,000 participants in the Women's Health Initiative who had completed food diaries.

Refined carbohydrates

Since most people, not just postmenopausal women, experience a rapid rise in blood sugar after eating refined carbohydrates, the authors suspect that these findings may also hold true in a broader population.
Prof Gangwisch now says that by identifying the foods that trigger insomnia - people might be able to find a more straightforward way of curing the condition.
Writing in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, he said: "Insomnia is often treated with cognitive behavioural therapy or medications, but these can be expensive or carry side effects.
"By identifying other factors that lead to insomnia, we may find straightforward and low-cost interventions with fewer potential side effects."

What is insomnia?

Insomnia means you regularly have problems sleeping.
You have insomnia if you regularly:
·       Find it hard to go to sleep
·       Wake up several times during the night
·       Lie awake at night
·       Wake up early and cannot go back to sleep
·       Still feel tired after waking up
·       Find it hard to nap during the day even though you're tired
·       Feel tired and irritable during the day
·       Find it difficult to concentrate during the day because you're tired
You can have these symptoms for months, sometimes years.
The most common causes are:
·       Stress, anxiety or depression
·       Noise
·       A room that's too hot or cold
·       Uncomfortable beds
·       Alcohol, caffeine or nicotine
·       Recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy
·       Jet lag
·       Shift work
You probably do not get enough sleep if you're constantly tired during the day.
Insomnia usually gets better by changing your sleeping habits.
Previous studies have explored a possible link between refined carbohydrates and insomnia, but results have been inconsistent.
And because the studies didn't follow individuals over time, it's not clear if a diet that's high in refined carbs triggered the onset of insomnia, or if insomnia caused individuals to eat more sweets.
Prof Gangswich is now calling on further studies to be taken out to determine if increasing the amount of whole foods would prevent insomnia.

Thai rice farmers shun pesticides and fight climate change

  • DEC 12, 2019

Battling drought, debt and ailments blamed on pesticides, rice farmers in northern Thailand have turned to eco-friendly growing methods despite powerful agribusiness interests in a country that is one of the top exporters of the grain in the world.
Walking through a sea of green waist-high stalks, farmer Sunnan Somjak said his fields had been “exhausted” by chemicals, his family regularly felt ill and his profits were too low to make ends meet.
But that changed when he joined a pilot agricultural project for the SRI method, which aims to boost yields while shunning pesticides and using less water.
“Chemicals can destroy everything,” the 58-year-old said, adding that the harvest in his village in Chiang Mai province has jumped 40 percent since employing the new method.
There have been health benefits too: “It’s definitely better, we don’t get sick anymore,” he added.
SRI was invented in the 1980s in Madagascar by a French Jesuit priest, and the technique has spread globally.
It works by planting crops wider apart — thus drawing in more nutrients and light — and limiting the amount of water that gets into fields, which helps microorganisms flourish to act as natural fertilizers.
In a plus for debt-laden farmers, it also uses fewer seeds, and farmers are encouraged to use plants and ginger roots that naturally deter insects rather than using chemical alternatives — meaning fewer expenses.
Traditional Thai rice farmers earn around 3,000 baht a month ($100), but Sunnan was able to increase his income by 20 percent after adopting the SRI method.
“I’ve finally gotten rid of my debts,” he said.
Rice is a staple in the diet of around 3 billion people globally.
But agricultural workers are locked in a vicious cycle. Beset by drought and floods brought on by climate change, farmers contribute to the disruption as their fields release methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouse gases.
With SRI, paddy fields are not permanently flooded, which reduces methane emissions by 60 percent, according to Tristan Lecomte, founder of Pur Projet, a French company supporting the technique.
The project also helped Sunnan plant trees around his crops to reinforce the water table.
According to Lecomte, rice yields can jump from 20 percent to more than 100 percent compared to the traditional method.
Southeast Asia, where agriculture supports millions, is slowly embracing SRI.
The U.S.-based Cornell University created a center specializing in the technique in 2010; more than 2 million farmers in the region — especially from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos — have been trained.
In Bac Giang province in Vietnam, net profits for farmers were as much as 226 percent higher after adopting the SRI method than when using traditional ones, according to Abha Mishra, who led a large project on behalf of the Asian Institute of Technology.
The Philippines, which grows rice but is also one of the world’s leading importers, is also interested in this method, and the Ministry of Agriculture has started training farmers.
The method is also used in parts of India, China and Africa. But though there is support from NGOs, as well as some scientists and authorities, it has a long way to go before widespread adoption.
It faces resistance domestically from agribusiness because there is no new hybrid seed or fertilizer to sell.
Industry lobbies are very active in Southeast Asia — particularly in Thailand, one of the largest users of pesticides in the world.
And they recently won a big battle over chemical use in agriculture.
Thai authorities, who had committed to ban controversial glyphosate, backtracked at the end of November, deciding that “limited” use would eventually be allowed. The use of two other herbicides has also been extended.
Lecomte says the other challenges potentially affecting the rate of adoption are that the SRI method is quite complex to learn and that it is labor-intensive.
“You have to plant one by one and closely control the amount water,” he explained, adding that the extra manual effort required means some farmers don’t want to try the method, and others give up early on.

Asia Rice-India prices rebound, Vietnam sees uptick in demand

Karthika Suresh Namboothiri
December 12, 2019
7:04 AM EST
BENGALURU — Indian rice export prices rebounded this week from three-year lows as exporters increased rates to compensate for a rising rupee, while low supply and an uptick in demand from Cuba, Iraq and Philippines pushed up Vietnamese rates.
Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted around $358-$363 per tonne this week, up from last week’s $356-$361, which was the lowest since January 2017.
The appreciation in the rupee has been forcing traders to raise prices, but demand is still subdued, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The Indian rupee on Thursday rose to its highest level in more than a month, trimming exporters’ margin from overseas sales.
India’s rice exports in October fell 42% year-on-year to 485,898 tonnes, government data showed, due to weak demand from African countries for non-basmati rice.
In Vietnam, rates for 5% broken rice were quoted at $350 a tonne on Thursday, up slightly from $345 last week.
 “Supply has run very low now as the harvest has ended while demand from exporters to fulfill shipments to Cuba and Iraq is still high,” said a trader in Ho Chi Minh City, adding demand from Philippines had also been picking up in the past two weeks.
Another trader said local supplies would increase from late next month when the winter-spring harvest begins.
Meanwhile, prices of 5% broken Thai rice were little changed at $397-$411 a tonne on Thursday versus $397-$410 the week before.
“We were expecting the price to drop with new supply this month but prices have not changed much,” a Bangkok-based trader said.
Prices for the Thai variety have been high relative to competitors throughout the year, largely due to the strength of the local currency.
“I have not been able to sell any for more than two months now because of the high prices,” another trader in Bangkok said. “My usual customers say they have been buying from Vietnam and Myanmar. Rice from those countries are of similar quality to ours and more importantly, their rice is cheaper.”
Bangladesh, the world’s fourth largest rice producer, could face severe damage to its growth in agricultural output due to climate change and rising sea-levels, the World Bank said in a report this week.
The country produces around 35 million tonnes of rice annually. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; editing by Arpan Varghese and Jane Merriman)

PH to import less rice in 2020; becomes world’s largest rice importer

Published December 13, 2019, 10:00 PM
By Madelaine B.Miraflor
The Philippines is seen to import less rice in 2020, but will still emerge as the world’s largest buyer of rice.The Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report prepared by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service said that global trade for rice for next year will be “nearly unchanged with reduced imports for China partially offsetting higher imports for Ghana and the Philippines.”
This only means one thing: Philippines, for 2020, will still be the world’s biggest rice importer.
For 2020, USDA sees that Philippines importing as much as 2.7 million metric tons (MT) of rice, which is lower than the 2.4 million MT of rice that China may import.
Its earlier forecast for next year was that Philippines may import only as much as China did at 2.5 million MT. The gap only appeared when all outlook said the world’s second largest economy will be producing more rice locally.
As a result, Philippines will be outpacing all countries when it comes to rice imports starting this year.
USDA changed its earlier forecast and said that the country’s actual rice imports may end at a record 3.2 million MT instead of 3 million MT, still the highest amount of imported rice allowed to enter the country.
China, on the other hand, may end the year with only 2.4 million MT rice imports, officially giving up its status as the world’s biggest rice importer despite having nearly 1.5 billion population.
Sometime in October, Agriculture Secretary William Dar did acknowledge that Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203 already resulted to an overwhelming amount of rice imports to the detriment of Filipino rice farmers.
It is also for this reason why President Rodrigo Duterte said a couple of times last month that he will stop rice importation, which temporarily appeased the rice farmers.
The confusion whether the Philippine government will really stop or continue rice tariffication eventually came to an end when Duterte, together with his cabinet members, decided that RA 11203 must stay and will stay the same.
They ended up agreeing that they will leave the recently passed RA 11203 alone and will instead control the volume of imported rice that enters the country by restricting the issuance of permit to rice traders.
Passed in January and implemented in March, RA 11203 allowed the unimpeded entry of imported rice into the country, which resulted not only to lower retail cost of rice but also to the continuous decline of palay, forcing farmers to sell their yield at a loss.

Cabinet approves maximum retail price for rice

Import levy on wheat flour slashed:
Friday, December 13, 2019 - 01:09

Cabinet approval has been granted to set and maintain a maximum retail price of Rs. 98 per kilo of rice and as a parallel measure, the Cabinet of Ministers has also decided to reduce the import levy on wheat flour until the Maha season harvest is received, Cabinet Spokesman Plantations and Export Agriculture Minister Ramesh Pathirana said.
Addressing the weekly Cabinet media briefing held at the Government Information Department yesterday, Minister Pathirana said that a portion of the paddy stocks purchased under the government paddy purchasing programme for the 2018/2019 Maha Season, have been released to the market through the private sector small and medium rice mills.
The Minister of Finance, Economic and Policy development informed the Cabinet regarding the measures taken to issue rice produced from 42,000 MT of paddy remaining in the government stores. Considering the agreement with rice mill owners the Cabinet of Ministers decided to put a ceiling of Rs.98 and to supply rice to the market without any shortage.
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Feeding 1.4 billion: Smart farming with China's big grain silo
Sixty percent of people in China live on rice as their staple food, and most of this rice is produced in the "Rice Capital" that is northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. Here, the town of Jiansanjiang is one of the most important grain-producing bases in the country, with 15 state-owned farms.
In recent years the farms have shifted from manual planting to full mechanized production with the practice of China's smart agriculture technology. This involves remote satellite sensing maps, big data and 5G. It means that smart farms may one day be transformed into unmanned farms, using advanced technology to put more bowls of rice on Chinese tables.

How will new USMCA trade deal affect La. farmers?

How will new USMCA affect La. farmers?
By Lester Duhé | December 12, 2019 at 9:29 PM CST - Updated December 13 at 8:47 AM
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - On Tuesday, Dec. 10, House Democrats agreed to finally back the new United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was originally signed by President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto more than a year ago.
“These trade deals are significant because what they do is they provide an opportunity for the U.S. to be price competitive in international markets,” said Michael Deliberto, a professor of agricultural economics at the LSU AgCenter
He says more than 50% of rice in the United States is produced and exported to Mexico. Much of that rice comes from Louisiana farmers.
“Michael, you think this is not only a big win for U.S. farmers, but farmers right here in Louisiana as well?” questioned WAFB’s Lester Duhé.
“Yes,” Deliberto replied.
Rice and other products from the U.S. will now have duty free access to both the Mexican and Canadian markets without tariffs in those countries.
“Canada is a buyer of milled rice. Canada by volume is typically in our top five. Mexico is our largest export customer for rice by volume as by value, and it’s been like that for a considerable amount of time,” said Deliberto.
A farmer from Erwinville, Donald Schexnayder, the owner of R Schexnayder & Sons, believes the new deal will keep domestic markets steady, firm, and open.
“It’s just going to one thing, continue the market that we have in Mexico. It’s a big deal with agriculture in our end anyway because we sell a lot of corn and soybeans to Mexico,” said Schexnayder.
The deal should give international buyers the opportunity to receive high quality products from the United States and those grown in Louisiana.
“What it does is either lets us increase our market share and let’s us become price competitive in those export markets,” said Deliberto.
The deal will also strengthen labor and environmental standards.
The Trump administration says the USMCA will result in freer markets and fairer trade as a whole.

Govt trains more rice farmers under RCEF-backed program

Description: Department of Agriculture (DA) said 22 batches of rice planters are currently undergoing training on seed production and machine operation to improve their productivity and help them compete against their Southeast Asian counterparts.
The government is training farmers through the Rice Extension Services Program (RESP), a key component of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. Republic Act (RA) 11203 had mandated the set up of the P10-billion RCEF, which consists of tariffs from rice imports. 
Since the implementation of the RESP, the DA said 77 batches of rice planters have completed the training. Aside from farmers, the training program also covers regional focals, agricultural extension workers, farmers and farmworker, including members of cooperatives and associations.
Of the P10-billion RCEF, the DA said 10 percent or P1 billion was allotted to skills training in developing new education modules, and other related extension efforts. 
The money is being used by implementing agencies that include the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).
The DA said 70 percent of the extension funds go to Tesda, while PhilMech, PhilRice, and ATI get 10 percent each to carry out their tasks related to the rice fund program.
Among the topics covered for the training include high-quality inbred rice production, farm mechanization, high-quality rice seed production, seed certification and analysis, rice machinery operation and maintenance, and management of agri-machinery pool.
“We are conducting the training using a top-down approach, meaning we train the specialists first, these are experts who will then train the agricultural extension workers who will later become the ‘trainers’ who will teach the farmers and farmworkers on the ground,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement.
Also under RESP, communication campaigns, accreditation of farm schools, and granting of scholarships are being undertaken.
To date, 96,382 copies of information, education and communication materials have been reproduced and distributed including farmer’s guides and references. Technical briefings were also conducted for 154 batches of participant-beneficiaries.
Out of the 43 farm schools targeted for this year, 20 have already been accredited. Tesda is implementing the scholarship program for farmers and farmworkers listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture to enroll in a farmers’ field school which is being conducted by the accredited farm schools. To date, 8,945 scholarships have been granted.
“We see to it that training modules are harmonized to ensure the timely delivery of services intended for the rice farmers under RCEF,” said Dar.
Aside from rice extension service, the other three components of RCEF are rice seed development, propagation and promotion; rice farm machinery equipment; and expanded rice credit assistance.
The training program was rolled out after RA 11203, which removed the quantitative restriction on rice, took effect on March 5. The law also eased the rules on importing rice and limited government intervention in the domestic rice market.
The new grain on the block
DECEMBER 13, 2019 17:19 IST
UPDATED: DECEMBER 13, 2019 17:19 IST

Cookies, payasam, plum cake and halwa... bamboo rice lends itself to delicious dishes

Description: The new grain on the block
The creamy and golden brown payasam, served in a small paper cup, tasted like traditional wheat payasam, sticky and moderately sweet. But turns out, it is mulayari (bamboo rice) and not wheat. A crowd had formed around the stall serving mulayari payasam and people were relishing it. Food products made of mulayari were a huge draw at the Kerala Bamboo Fest 2019 that concluded in the city recently.

Promoting bamboo rice

Description: The new grain on the block
From halwa to neyyappam, cookies, biscuits and even plum cakes, bamboo rice was the flavour of the fair. The protein-rich rice with a low-glycemic index is popular among healthy eaters, says P P Daniel, managing partner of Baza Agro Food Products, based in Wayanad, which aims at promoting the rice in the State. The company had its formal launch at the fest, showcasing a range of goodies made of bamboo rice. “People are showing interest in bamboo rice mainly because they are aware of its health benefits. We are trying to diversify into more products that can make it more appealing. Christmas cake, for instance. Instead of maida, we have used bamboo rice and dried jackfruit powder for the flour,” he says.
Anything that is made using rice and wheat can be made using bamboo rice, says Baburaj M, trustee of Uravu, a non-profit organisation based in Wayanad that deals with bamboo processing, training and design. “The fact that it is completely organic makes it popular. When looking at alternative food choices, bamboo rice would be an ideal replacement for rice as it is safe for diabetics and is a store house of vitamins and is low on starch.”
Description: The new grain on the block
Bamboo rice in Kerala is usually obtained from the bambusa bambos, the Indian spiny bamboo (mullu mula), which is the most commonly found variety in the forests of Kerala. The rice is produced when a bamboo plant completes its lifecycle of 35 to 40 years. At the end of its life span, it flowers into rice seeds. A single bamboo grove can yield up to 500 kgs of bamboo rice.

The potential of bamboo

Description: The new grain on the block
Though in the North Eastern States of India and in China and Japan, bamboo rice and shoots are consumed in plenty, Kerala is only still waking up to the potential of bamboo as food, Baburaj says. In its lifetime, a bamboo stores starch and energy, which it transfers to the seeds at the end of its flowering. “It is said that a single grain of bamboo rice contains the strength of a whole bamboo. The Chinese call it the ultimate act of sacrifice by the bamboo tree, giving its life up for the next generation.”
Earlier, when the bamboo flowered in the forests of Wayanad, the tribes would collect the grain, store it and use it for consumption. Today, however it is an industry; along with the tribals, even those living on the fringes of the forest collect grain. Tarpaulin sheets are spread out at the base of the bamboo groves, so that the grain is easy to collect.
The rice that is available in the market today, including online stores, could be from other States as well, not just Kerala. It is also expensive—priced at around 500 a kilo.
Organisations such as Uravu are also looking at diversifying into cookies and biscuits made of bamboo shoots. “Even though bamboo shoots are easily available in Kerala, we have not yet understood its uses. It has an acidic flavour, which is perhaps why it was never used in traditional Kerala cuisine. We are working out ways in which the shoots can be used in food,” says Baburaj.

Iran’s payment default leaves rice traders apprehensive about further export

As per information, Iran owes about 1,200 crore to the state’s farmers

CITIES Updated: Dec 12, 2019 22:53 IST

Neeraj Mohan
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

With Iran failing to clear their pending dues for the last eight months, rice traders in Haryana are reluctant to export this season’s produce to the country, fearing more defaults. As per information, Iran owes about 1,200 crore to the state’s farmers. Adding to their apprehension is the fact that Basmati price have seen a steep fall this season.
This development is likely to affect rice traders of the country, especially Haryana, adversely as Iran is the biggest consumer Indian aromatic Basmati rice as it imports about 20-25% of India’s total rice exports of 4.5 million tonnes every year.
Haryana’s rice traders say that payment of about 1,200 crore was stuck in Iran since May this year when India stopped importing oil from the country due to US sanctions. Though the Iran government had started to clear pending payments, it stopped after clearing dues to the tune of 100 crore.
The traders say that the delay has caused them huge losses and the Indian government did not intervene to help them clear their dues.
As per members of the All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA), most of the affected traders belong to Haryana and Punjab. They further said the farmers had to sell their produce for around 2,500 per quintal, the lowest in the past five years.
“Since Iran is the largest basmati importing market for Indian traders and the annual the basmati exports to Iran in the past three years had increased to 14.83 lakh MT (10,790 crore) in 2018-19 from 7.16 lakh MT (3,778 crore) in 2016-17. But the delay in payments has left farmers not wanting to take any risks next year,” said Vijay Setia, former president of AIREA.
AIREA president Nathi Ram Gupta said, “The delay in payment has affected the big rice exporters of the country. They will now have to focus on the local market, which may lead to a fall in prices, affecting both traders and farmers.”
“The bad trade with Iran has also affected farmers during this harvesting season. Affected traders could not purchase paddy this year and farmers had to sell their produce at 2,000 to 2,800 per quintal this season against 3,000 to 4,500 per quintal last year,” said Gurdev Singh, a rice trader of Kurukshetra.


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Division of Agriculture releases Lynx, a high-yielding medium-grain rice variety

 Lynx, a new medium-grain rice variety from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, offers high yields and early maturity. (UA System Division of Agriculture photo by Xueyan Sha.)
Lynx, a new medium-grain rice variety from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, offers high yields and early maturity.
“Lynx consistently showed a yield advantage over both Jupiter and Titan in rice-growing areas north of I-40 and west of Crowley’s Ridge, where the majority of the state’s medium-grain rice is grown,” said Xueyan Sha, professor and rice breeder for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture.
“Lynx reaches 50 percent heading in an average of 86 days, the same as Jupiter,” Sha said, “but it matures three to four days earlier. It appears to have a better seedling vigor than Jupiter and a slightly better milling yield than Titan.
“Its plump kernel size is similar to that of Titan but much larger than Jupiter,” he said.
Lynx averaged 207 bushels per acre in 62 statewide and regional replicated trials from 2016 through 2019, Sha said. That’s compared to 202 bushels per acre for Jupiter and 201 bushels per acre for Titan.
Those tests also indicated Lynx has good grain and milling quality, and good lodging and blast resistance compared with Jupiter and Titan, Sha said.
Lynx had an average milling yield of 59 percent whole kernel and 68 percent total milled rice in 30 state and regional tests, Sha said.
In tests where the plants were inoculated with disease, Lynx showed moderately susceptible to leaf blast. Also, in inoculated tests and under natural infestation, it appeared susceptible to sheath blight and false smut, similar to Jupiter. It is more susceptible to bacterial panicle blight, false smut. Lynx is more susceptible than Jupiter to bacterial blight, but only because Jupiter is the only rice variety with a moderate level of resistance to the disease, Sha said.
Sha said 4.5 acres of Lynx foundation seed was grown this year and will be available to seed growers in 2020. Seed will be available to rice producers in 2021.
For more information, visit the Division of Agriculture’s Variety Testing Program website:, or contact Xueyan Sha at
To learn more about Division of Agriculture rice breeding and research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.

Bulacan farmers get certified in-bred palay seeds

Published December 13, 2019, 7:33 PM
By Philippine News Agency
PANDI, Bulacan — Farmers in this province have started receiving certified in-bred seeds from the Department of Agriculture (DA) through its Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
Description: AID TO FARMERS. Sacks of certified seeds are distributed to farmer-beneficiaries in Pandi, Bulacan on Thursday (Dec. 12, 2019). This is under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) program of the Department of Agriculture in an effort to help improve the competitiveness of the Filipino rice farmers. (Photo courtesy of the municipality of Pandi)
AID TO FARMERS. Sacks of certified seeds are distributed to farmer-beneficiaries in Pandi, Bulacan on Thursday (Dec. 12, 2019). This is under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) program of the Department of Agriculture in an effort to help improve the competitiveness of the Filipino rice farmers. (Photo courtesy of the municipality of Pandi)
Provincial agriculturist Maria Gloria Carillo told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday that Bulacan was allocated a total of 17,285 bags of certified seeds weighing 20 kilos each.
Of the total, Carillo said some 5,594 bags of certified seeds were already distributed to the farmers here as spearheaded by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
“Initially, farmers from the towns of Pandi, San Miguel, Plaridel, San Ildefonso, San Rafael, Baliwag and Calumpit were identified as beneficiaries of the in-bred seeds under the RCEF program,” she said.
Farmer leaders in the province are also asking the government for fertilizer and pesticide subsidies to help them recover losses due to low palay prices.
The RCEF, or Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, is created under Republic Act 11203, or the rice tariffication law.
It aims to help farmers through a PHP10-billion fund covering the seed, machine, credit, and extension support to improve the competitiveness of the Filipino rice farmers.
Of the figure, 50 percent will be allotted for rice farm machinery and equipment; 30 percent for rice seed development, propagation and promotion; 10 percent for expanded rice credit assistance; and 10 percent for rice extension services.
Under the program, farmers who are listed in the DA’s Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) can receive 20 to 80 kilograms of high-quality rice seeds for two consecutive seasons.After two seasons, farmers are still entitled to the program benefits if their municipality achieves the target yield.
 Congress cuts palay-buying fund by P3 billion

Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 14, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — There will be less money to buy the rice farmers’ palay produce next year.
The P3-billion reduction in the palay procurement fund of the National Food Authority (NFA), which the Senate initiated, was retained in the final version of the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget.
The 37 members of the Senate-House of Representatives budget conference committee signed their report containing the final version on Wednesday. Later that day, the two chambers ratified the report.
President Duterte had proposed P7 billion for the NFA palay procurement fund, which the House increased by P3 billion to P10 billion.
Using the P3 billion alone, the NFA could buy 150 million kilos, or three million 50-kilo bags, of dry palay at P20 per kilo. The NFA offers a much lower price for wet palay. The P10 billion is good for 500 million kilos.
The House had hoped that with NFA buying more of the rice farmers’ produce, prices, which have fallen to below production cost, would go up.
In their version of the budget, senators slashed the palay procurement fund back to P7 billion, giving the P3-billion House augmentation to the Land Bank for lending to local government units, also for palay buying, at an interest rate of two percent per year.
Land Bank stood to earn P60 million a year in interest income on funds belonging to taxpayers.
In the conference committee version, the P3 billion was allocated to the Department of Agriculture for distribution to farmers as cash aid, again through Land Bank.
It is not clear if the state-owned bank would charge an administrative cost, which it does in the case of tens of billions in cash transfers to poor households under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
According to Sen. Sonny Angara, who chairs the Senate finance committee, it was Sen. Cynthia Villar, head of the agriculture committee, who authored the P3-billion palay-buying fund reduction.
In the wake of Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s claim that the approved 2020 budget is laden with pork barrel funds, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, who is House appropriations committee chairman, insisted that there is no pork in the spending bill.
“In compliance with the express instructions of the President, the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) contains no pork, no last-minute insertions and no parked funds. The budget process was undertaken with utmost transparency,” he said.
Ungab said allegations that the outlay includes pork “is unfair and misleading.”
“The Supreme Court has already declared pork barrel funds as unconstitutional and clearly defined what constitutes pork. The 2020 budget is pork-free,” he said.
He added that all changes made in the proposed spending program “were aligned with the President’s priorities and were based on the recommendations of the Cabinet departments and other government agencies.”
“Both houses ratified the budget bill. The representatives of both the Senate and the House agreed on the amendments to, and final version of, the 2020 GAB in the conference committee,” Ungab stressed.
Despite the ratification of the budget program by the conference committee, some agencies are still batting for changes in their respective allocations.
The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) has sent President Duterte a letter requesting the latter to veto a special provision in the GAB that limits and prevents the use by PAO of maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) funds for its Forensic Laboratory Division.
Aside from the deletion of the P19.5 million allocated for the purchase of equipment of the PAO-Forensic Laboratory Division, PAO head Persida Acosta said “it has come to our attention that a provision in the General Appropriations Bill was inserted to the effect that no funds may be used for the meetings and other maintenance and operating expenses of the PAO Forensic Laboratory.”
The changes “have only one objective – to paralyze the PAO Forensic Laboratory and jeopardize its operations, depriving them of the opportunity to assist the clients of the PAO,” Acosta said.
The Commission on Population (PopCom), meanwhile, said Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s removal of some P195 million from the Department of Health (DOH)’s budget for the procurement of birth control implants would have dire consequences.
“The action of the Senate president is regrettable, since there is no scientific basis for the removal of progestin subdermal implants (PSI),” PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III said in a statement. “Likewise, there is no new evidence that PSIs are abortifacients.”
PopCom records showed that in 2018, the the government’s population control program required about 150,000 to 200,000 implants every six months.
Currently, the DOH has about 190,000 implants in stock and this will run out by the middle of 2020.
Perez said the reasons given by Sotto in cancelling the budget are based on the same arguments already rejected by the Food and Drug Administration in November 2017. – Rhodina Villanueva, Sheila Crisostomo