Tuesday, December 17, 2019

17th December,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

314 paddy purchase centers opened to ensure MSP to farmers: EG Collector

Kakinada, Dec 16 (UNI) East Godavari Collector D Muralidhara Reddy on Monday said that as many as 314 paddy purchase centers were opened all over the district and so far 2.25 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was purchased from the farmers at minimum support price.
Addressing the rice millers at a meeting held at Collectorate here, Reddy advised the millers to cooperate with the government in purchasing of paddy from the farmers at minimum support price .
Stating that during Khariff season paddy was raised in 2.5 lakh hectares and the crop yield was 14 lakh tonnes ,Collector sought the millers cooperation in paddy procurement at minimum support price and save the farmers from distress sales.

Ghana's rice sector needs more support - Kufuor
Source: Myjoyonline.com | Abubakar Ibrahim
Date: 16-12-2019 Time: 12:12:16:pm
Description: http://photos.myjoyonline.com/photos/news/201912/4026144674461_6448024627493.jpg
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor is urging government to come up with an executive policy to improve the production and marketing of local rice across the globe.
He wants government to re-energise its political will for the transformation of agriculture and the local rice sector which he says has developed rapidly over the years.  
“Some years ago, we always thought Ghana rice had stones, packaging also wasn’t very nice. So, there is this perception in people’s minds that Ghana rice is not nice. It is not aromatic and it has issues but 10 years down the line, things have changed. It is meeting the international standard,” the former president, who is chairman of the John A. Kufuor Foundation noted.
He was speaking when representatives of various rice value chain actors paid a courtesy call on him at his residence in Accra to present to him some new brands of Ghana Rice.
It will be recalled that the former President about 15 years ago started the campaign to promote produced-in-Ghana rice under a project which aimed to ensure “sustainable intensification of local rice.”
Description: John Agyekum Kufuor
Ghana spends about $600 million annually importing rice. Images of unsold Ghana rice produced in the north went viral on social media last month sparking a national campaign to encourage the consumption of Ghana rice.
The John A. Kufuor Foundation recently organised the Ghana Rice Festival in collaboration with the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) at the Efua Sutherlands Park in Accra to showcase Ghanaian rice brands and promote their consumption.
Mr Kufuor noted that apart from saving millions of cedis in foreign exchange, increased patronage of locally grown rice would strengthen production efforts, lead to increased investments, impact positively on the local economies of rice-growing areas and help government achieve its objective of ending the importation of rice by 2024.
He said Ghana must adopt proactive measures to secure the local rice industry and ensure a complete ban on the importation of rice to boost sales of local brands.
The former president urged “everybody to eat grown in Ghana rice.”
“So for this Christmas, as you go out to buy your rice, please make sure you are buying rice which is grown in Ghana. Let’s buy and eat made in Ghana rice,” he said.
Nana Ama Oppong Duah, who is Policy Advisor at the Foundation, thanked the former president for helping strengthen partnerships among rice value chain actors across the country.
Description: Rice Festival
Executives of the rice value chain actors including farmers, millers, marketers/aggregators, input dealers, service providers, among others praised the Foundation for helping strengthen partnerships among themselves.

GRIB President Nana Adjei-Ayeh revealed that some years ago, the body was almost dormant. But with the support of John A. Kufuor Foundation, “we have gotten the necessary funds to get it revived and right now it’s becoming one of the most vibrant organisations promoting rice consumption in the country.”
He called for a change in public attitudes towards Ghana rice.

Rice Fraud: Custom Rice Millers Procuring Basmati at MSP

The procurement agencies raided custom rice millers procuring basmati at MSP in Haryana. With paddy procurement targets surpassing new records in India, many rice millers are faking Basmati as PR variety. Same situation was witnessed in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
As on November end, paddy procurement in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh stood at 23.50 Million Metric Tons. The current surplus stock of rice at FCI warehouses stands at 10 million tons. With paddy procurement at all time high this year it will further add to the problem of overstocking of rice. In Haryana alone paddy procurement reached 64 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) this year as against 58 LMT in 2018. However, officials confirmed the geographical area under paddy cultivation was way lower than the paddy procurement done by the state. This led to confirmation that many authorities feared about faking basmati as parmal variety.
Description: https://www.grainmart.in/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/FCI-1024x576.jpgFCI Warehouse with Stock of Procured Rice
The Scam to Procure Basmati at MSP
The government only procures Non-Basmati variety at MSP rate of Rs 1815 per quintal. Basmati paddy prices stood at Rs 2600-Rs 3000 this year as compared to Rs 3500-Rs 4000 in 2018. Many rice millers found this as an opportunity to earn huge profits by fictitiously issuing gate passes for basmati declaring it as ‘parmal’ variety. This led to increase in the quantity of paddy procurement as basmati paddy costed more. So they had to adjust and increase the quantity in order procure basmati at MSP. This way rice millers don’t need to invest any money and use FCI’s investment instead.
This is illegal as per agreement with FCI and procurement agencies rice millers are supposed to mill and supply the same paddy procured under contract. Rice millers earn huge profits by selling the basmati paddy in the open market after prices increase and that too without their own investment.
Involvement of State Officials
Sources confirm the involvement of state officials, farmers, and agents in the scam. On the contrary, Hakikat Kadiyan, secretary, Market Committee, Karnal turned down the charges and claims of no such activities in the grain market. The arrival of PR variety has more than doubled in Karnal. It stood at 8,33,050 quintal last year as against 18,23,181 quintal this year.
Already aware of the rice millers tactics, the council of ministers ordered authorities to inspect and record daily procurement. Though the government has launched an online portal ‘Meri Fasal, Mera Byora’ for buying and selling of crops, it allowed the procurement of paddy without registration fearing the protest of traders and rice millers. A farmer in Haryana confirmed that a gate pass for Parmal variety was issued to him even though he came to sell 1509 basmati variety and was even paid less.
Description: https://www.grainmart.in/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Meri-Fasal-Mera-Boyra-1024x821.jpgProcuring Basmati at MSP couldn’t be curtailed by “Meri Fasal, Mera Byora” Scheme
The state government has taken measures to curb the practice. Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram, Vinay Pratap Singh said that he would ask the District Revenue Officer to examine the records and look into the matter.
In all the government needs to strengthen their procurement methods to avoid such malpractices. MSP rates should only be applicable to small and poor farmers and this would discourage paddy growing. This would solve the problem of depleting water table and surplus rice.

Investors from Nigeria look to import Pursat rice

Thou Vireak | Publication date 16 December 2019 | 22:37 ICT

Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post
In the first 11 months of this year, rice exports to the international market totalled 514,149 tonnes, an official report stated. This was a 3.4 per cent increase on the same period last year, which stood at 497,240 tonnes. Hong Menea
A Nigerian investor is looking to directly export rice from Pursat province to the west African country, citing the quality of Cambodia’s milled rice.
The investor’s representative, Mustapha Sammy Yaacob, the chief operating officer of SNZ Engineering Sdn Bhd, raised the subject at a meeting with Pursat provincial governor Mao Thonin on Sunday.
Nhong Chhay, the chairman of the board of directors at NC Construction and Development Co Ltd, who accompanied Yaacob, told The Post on Monday that Nigerian investors are currently visiting rice millers in Pursat with a view to buying rice for export.
He said that after the meeting, Yaacob is due to speak with other Nigerian investors on holding more detailed discussions with the rice millers.
“We will invite investors from Nigeria to visit Pursat province and talk with rice millers there. We have not yet set up a time for this, but we are sure it will happen,” Chhay said.
Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) secretary-general Lun Yeng said that while Cambodia had exported milled rice to African countries in smaller volumes, Nigeria had yet to be a destination.
“It is good news for our rice sector as it will lead to a new market,” Yeng said.
Early this month, the visiting Sierra Leone ambassador to China, Ernest M Ndomahina, said his country was conducting studies into the possibility of importing Cambodian milled rice into Sierra Leone.
In the first 11 months of this year, Cambodia exported some 30,000 tonnes of rice to African countries such as Ghana, Gabon, Togo and Kenya, a CRF report said.
In the first 11 months of this year, rice exports to the international market totalled 514,149 tonnes, an official report stated. This was a 3.4 per cent increase on the same period last year, which stood at 497,240 tonnes.
China was the Kingdom’s leading export market in the first 11 months of this year, with 195,242 tonnes, while the EU imported 174,397 tonnes.

Supply Ghana rice to schools or face sanctions – NAFCO warns
Source: GNA
Date: 16-12-2019 Time: 11:12:10:pm

Description: http://photos.myjoyonline.com/photos/news/201310/6567660878774_1618991988555.jpgThe National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) has asked suppliers under the Free Senior High School programme to supply Ghana rice to schools starting next year or face sanctions.
It gave a signal that licensed suppliers’ failure to do so would attract sanctions, which include non-payment for services rendered and revocation of licenses.  
The Chief Executive Officer of NAFCO, Hanan Abdul-Wahab gave the caution when he addressed a press conference in Accra on Monday on the status of Ghana rice patronage and consumption and paddy rice purchases.
He said the directive forms part of efforts to encourage locally produced rice patronage and consumption and ensure that there was 100 percent supply of its supply to all schools, especially those under the Free SHS.
Mr Abdul-Wahab said already second cycle schools in the Ashanti and the five regions of the north are covered, adding that it hoped to cover the remaining 10 regions soon.
“As a collaborative gesture, we continue to refer our licensed suppliers to local rice millers and marketers including Avnash Industries Ghana Limited for the sales and patronage of Ghana rice.”
“We have also issued two licenses to Avnash Industries Ghana Limited for the purchase and supply of Ghana rice to our schools under the Free SHS Programme and also to our Warehouses under our ECOWAS Stocks Mutualisation Programme,” he said.
He explained that it had, through its Post-Harvest Committee, increased a kilogramme of paddy rice by 0.19 percent from the current amount of ¢1.11 to ¢1.30.
“This, therefore, means that a 180kg of paddy rice currently selling at ¢200.00 will now be sold for ¢234.00,” Mr Abdul-Wahab said.
He said NAFCO was also in negotiations with a mobile van company to ensure produced rice reached the final consumer.
Mr Emmanuel Asante Krobea, the Chairman of the Rice Marketing Technical Committee, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), said the Ministry hoped to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2022.
He said currently the distribution of Ghana rice was being looked at critically in order to ensure consumers had easy access to it.
Mr Krobea explained that the Committee was putting in place measures to ensure that importers of rice purchased the locally-produced ones and distributed them through their existing channels.
He said currently the Ministry was also in discussions with five financial institutions and had signed tripartite agreements with them to provide financial support for rice millers to boost production and facilitate national development.
Responding to the demands of farmers in the Builsa South District of the Upper East Region for a market and storage facilitates, Daniel Gariba, the District Chief Executive, expressed satisfaction over measures taken by the MoFA to address the challenge.

“I am happy to report that farmers are happy because Avnash Industries have come in to take the excess paddy rice that was stored by them and as at yesterday. I can confidently confirm that Avnash have started buying rice from our farmers and this is largely due to the intervention by the Minister of Agriculture and the CEO of NAFCO,” he stated.
He said with the construction of two factories by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and MoFA in the District, he was optimistic that the challenge would be resolved.
Description: https://cdn.ghanaweb.com/design/logo_desktop.png 

Major Rice importer, Sucryza Distributors to mill and package Ghana rice

Business News of Monday, 16 December 2019
Source: www.citibusinessnews.com
The company says it will in the next few weeks outdoor it’s version of Ghana rice milled & packaged
Description: The company says it will in the next few weeks outdoor it’s version of Ghana rice milled & packagedAs the campaign for the consumption of local rice intensifies, some rice importers are now getting involved although others are against it because of its implications for imported or foreign rice.

The latest to join the campaign is Sucryza Distributors Limited, one of the biggest importers of rice and sugar in Ghana.

The company says it will in the next few weeks outdoor it’s version of Ghana rice milled and packaged locally.

Citi FM, as part of its 15th Anniversary announced yet another development driven initiative known as Operation Feed Yourself to whip up interest in Agric and agribusiness for wealth creation and for the purposes of ensuring food security.

It is also to generally encourage Ghanaians to eat what is grown or produced locally.

Shortly after the launch of the project, the station started paying closer attention to the consumption of local rice in particular.

This was after the CEO of Citi FM and Citi TV, Samuel Attah-Mensah, visited some rice farms in Northern Ghana and found out that locally produced rice were stuck at farm gates due to the lack of buyers.

He subsequently appointed himself Ambassador for the promotion of Ghana Rice.

This campaign has caught on with many Ghanaians and received widespread endorsements.
Government and financial institutions have stepped in and made commitments to assist those in the local rice production value chain.

Government has also announced a plan to ban rice importation by 2022.

For this reason, the Food and Agriculture Ministry met with 20 major rice importers and urged them to consider sourcing locally produced rice.

Recently, President Akufo-Addo during an encounter with the media at the Jubilee house called on Ghanaians to consume local rice.

He also announced that all government institutions have been directed to start using local rice for all public programmes and initiatives from January 2020.

With some rice importers ready to source locally produced rice, Sucryza Distributors Limited, says they are ready to support the agenda.

“Very soon, we’re going to introduce our own brands; that is the Ghana rice. That is the Happy Family Ghana Rice; it’s going to be launched in the last week of December 2019. All the artworks and everything have been processed and we have done a lot of hard work on this. We really appreciate a lot of the noises ongoing about Ghana Rice; we have been at the forefront for the promotion of Ghana Rice. We have been doing it” Country Director of the company, Nabin Pandey said.

As the quality of locally produced rice remains a major concern for consumers and to importers, the Country Director for Sucryza Distributors Limited, Nabin Pandey, says the techniques of experts in rice production in Vietnam, will be made useful.

“To be very honest with you, there’s a big gap between the imported rice and the Ghana Rice. There’s a huge difference, but the difference is going to be minimized. My management team from Vietnam was in the country last week of November. They have visited the factories, the rice Mills, and we’ve had a discussion with them. Unlike in Vietnam which produces rice three times a year, Ghana hardly produces even once in a year. That technology, not now, but may be in the future it’s going to come so that it will help the millers as well as the farmers” he noted.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is hoping that by 2022, rice importation into Ghana will be banned.

India Grain: Spot maize up on firm demand; low arrivals lift wheat

Monday, Dec 16

By Sampad Nandy

NEW DELHI – Prices of maize across key spot markets rose today due to firm demand from bulk buyers such as poultry feed manufacturers and starch manufacturers, traders said. A fall in arrivals also supported prices, they said. 

In Sangli, arrivals were pegged at 820 bags (1 bag = 100 kg), compared with 970 bags on Saturday, traders said. In Nizamabad, arrivals were seen at 750 bags (1 bag = 100 bags) against 850 bags on Saturday, traders said.

Demand from bulk buyers are likely to remain robust as they are picking up the crop in bulk in anticipation of a smaller crop in the kharif season, Nizamabad-based trader Amrutlal Kataria said. Market participants see the kharif maize crop at 16.1 mln tn against the government's estimate of 19.9 mln tn.

However, prices fell on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange as investors squared off their positions. The most-active December contract ended 1.2% lower at 2,030 rupees per 100 kg. 

Prices of mill-quality wheat rose today across major spot markets due to a sharp fall in arrivals amid steady demand from flour millers, traders said.

Demand at spot markets is seen weakening in the coming days as millers have shifted to the government's weekly auctions under the open market sale scheme to procure the grain in bulk, Kota-based trader Ankit Mehta said.

Prices are likely to rise in early January when the base price at the government auction will be hiked by 55 rupees to 2,245 rupees per 100 kg.

Price of Pusa 1121 basmati paddy fell today due to subdued demand from rice millers, traders said.

Demand from mills remained weak due to sluggish export orders and weak demand at domestic markets, Amritsar-based trader Ashok Sethi said. 

The January contract of Pusa 1121 basmati paddy fell on the Indian Commodity Exchange tracking weak cues from spot markets, traders said. The contract closed at 3,274 rupees per 100 kg, down 0.6%. 

Following are today's prices of wheat, maize, and paddy, in rupees per 100 kg, in key wholesale markets, and the change from the previous day:

Pusa 1121 basmati paddy


Edited by Maheswaran Parameswaran

Cogencis Tel +91 (11) 4220-1000

Sri Lanka businesses urged to lower prices after tax cut by President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s businesses should cut retail prices, after taxes were slashed, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said, as prices of some products went up.
“The prices of everything from food, construction material to soap and toothpaste should have come down But we found that prices of some commodities have actually risen,”
“We removed a complex tax structure and brought in a simple one,” President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told reporters, RepublicNext a new service report.
“The prices of everything from food, construction material to soap and toothpaste should have come down. But we found that prices of some commodities have actually risen.”
He had met rice millers after prices were hiked sharply after elections.
The government cut taxes on wheat flour to break a milling monopoly and also reduce the grip of rice millers.
The tax cuts were done to spur investments and future jobs.
“With more investments, there will be more economic activity and employment opportunities,” he said.
Consistent taxes would also bring more foreign investments.
The new administration was also working to turn around loss-making State-Owned Enterprises.
“We will bring in businessmen, entrepreneurs to run these organizations so that we can make them profitable, he said.
“It will be hard to turn around some of them, but we will do it.”
Economic analysts who have closely studied Sri Lanka’s economic cycles have said that the 2019 downturn came from the currency collapse in 2018, much in the same lines as the East Asian currency crisis.
Sri Lanka’s previous episodes of monetary instability have also shown similar trends.
Prices also tend to rise as the economy and the credit system recovers from the effects of liquidity shortages.
When a currency collapses, the entire price structure rises, but weak demand may prevent firms from raising prices, leading to lower profits.
However as demand recovers prices are raised. A stimulus which is accommodated by the central bank with rate cuts may lead to higher levels of inflation. (Colombo/Dec17/2019)

Gluten-free diets have larger ranges of arsenic

Think your gluten-free diet is healthy? You‘re exposed to twice as much arsenic and mercury, study finds
Gluten-free diets have taken off rapidly in the past few years.
But new research suggests those choosing to follow the trend are exposed to high levels of two toxic metals.
Those going gluten-free have double the amount of arsenic – a known cause of cancer – in their body, scientists found.  
While traces of mercury – another deadly chemical – are almost 70 per cent greater, expert claim.
There may be no need for anyone that isn‘t suffering from celiac disease to choose such products, researchers warn.
Sufferers of the agonising digestive disorder often restrict themselves from eating the protein as it can make them severely ill.
However, it is believed that around 13 per cent of the UK population have started to avoid the protein by choosing such products instead. And the figure is even higher in the US, with a quarter saying they had consumed such foods in 2015 – a 67 per cent increase in two years.
Gluten-free versions of bread, spaghetti and cereals often contain rice flour as a substitute for wheat.
But rice is known to contain up to ten times more arsenic than other foods due to the way it was grown.
Generally, brown rice has higher levels because the arsenic is found in the outer coating or bran, which is removed in the milling process to produce white rice. 
Industrial contaminants and pesticides used to grow the food in the past can remain in the polluted paddy fields for decades – meaning the rice in supermarket shelves often contains higher levels.  


You may not think there‘s anything wrong with how you cook rice – but there probably is.
If you‘re not using enough water then you‘re at risk of heart disease and cancer, a scientist warned last week.
Cooking the grains in excess water helps to flush out arsenic, preventing any possible chemical poisoning.
While soaking rice overnight slashes levels of the industrial toxin by around 80 per cent, a contamination expert claimed. 
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago assessed the urine of 73 participants from a previous nutrition survey they conducted.
They ranged from between six and 80 years old and had all reported eating gluten-free food over a period of five years.
However, those who consumed the most had higher concentrations of arsenic in their urine, they found.
Their levels of the toxic metals were almost twice as high, according to the study published in the journal Epidemiology.
While traces of mercury was almost 70 per cent greater in those restricted to a gluten-free diet.
Study author Dr Maria Argos said: ‘These results indicate that there could be unintended consequences of eating a gluten-free diet.‘
However, she added that further research is needed to determine the health effects of consuming both metals. 

Customs reportedly seizes foreign rice from ‘Buhari’s storekeeper’

By  Wale Odunsi 
Description: https://dailypost.ng/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/custom.jpeg
Operatives of the Border Drill Operations of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have reportedly seized 140 bags of foreign rice at a warehouse in Daura.
The warehouse allegedly belongs to Alhaji Habu Sarkin-Fulani.
Daily Nigerian reports that the owner is a confidant of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Customs operatives, acting on a tip-off, stormed Fegi quarters in Daura, the hometown of the president, and seized the rice.
The bags were allegedly given to the president through Sarkin-Fulani before ban on importation of foreign rice was imposed.
“Alhaji Sarkin-Fulani is a trusted ally of President Muhammadu Buhari. Alhaji Sarkin-Fulani will never touch what does not belong to him, even at the risk of rotting away.
“He keeps everything meant for the president in his warehouse at Fegi area of Daura. Even the president’s farm and cows, Alhaji Sarkin-Fulani is in charge.
“Whenever the president visits Daura, he gives the president account of what is in store for him, and he (Buhari) would direct how the gift items could be utilised or distributed,” a source in Daura told the newspaper.
Nigeria Customs have been raiding warehouses and markets since Nigeria banned importation of foreign rice last year.

“l am pleased to note that the consumption of local rice has now gone beyond our imagination”, he said.
“In the Southern part of this country, people do not eat foreign rice anymore. In Ebonyi and Bayelsa States, you can hardly see somebody selling foreign rice.
“Even before the closure of border, when the government changed policy from continuous importation of rice to restriction, the Nigerian farmers have showed that they can produce rice to feed this nation.
“In fact, you can perceive the local rice’s good aroma in the mill, as opposed to the one being imported into the country which does not even add value to our health and which is not even nutritious. So, why should we even bother ourselves about this?
“We have reached a level where in the next two years we will start exporting rice, based on what I saw when I visited the cluster of rice millers at Kura in Kano State, which is about a one-kilometre stretch,” Nanono added.

Customs seizes 28,180 bags of rice in 11 months

Monday, December 16, 2019 10:15 pm | News
Description: https://i0.wp.com/www.pmnewsnigeria.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Customs-seized-goods.jpg?resize=640%2C449&ssl=1
Customs-seized-smuggled rice
The Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it has intercepted 62 fairly-used vehicles, 28,180 bags of imported rice and others valued at over N1.5 billion in 11 months.
The Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Mohammed Garba, said on Monday that the seized items were smuggled into the country from January to November.
Garba said in a statement by the Seme Command Spokesman, Abdullahi Hussaini, that the seizure was part of the tremendous achievements recorded by the command in its anti-smuggling operations.
He said that the command’s anti-smuggling operations yielded a total of 1,302 seizures with the duty paid value (DPV) of N1.6 billion.
“These seizures include: 180×50kg bags of foreign rice, an equivalent of 47 trailers load with DPV levy of N777.7 million; used vehicles with DPV of N220 million and 140×50kg of sugar with DPV of N588,000.
“Others include 1100 bales of used clothing and 101 sacks of used clothing with DPV of N70 million; 185 sacks of shoes, bags, belts, slippers new and used with DPV of N27 million,” he said.
Garba attributed the harvest of seizures to the “strategic policy measures put in place to tackle the menace of smuggling, irregular migrations and other trans-border crimes”.
He said that his commitment was to ensure that smuggling business became unattractive through vigorous community and public enlightenment, sensitisation on the dangers of smuggling and its impact on the economy and national security.
The comptroller urged economic saboteurs to take the advantage of various Federal Government programmes on agriculture such as anchored borrowers for rice farming, Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) and many others and key into legitimate earnings.
Garba said the command generated the sum of N4.9 billion into the federation account from January till date, representing 76 per cent of its annual allotted target.
He said the grand total for both seizures and revenue stood at N6.5 billion.
The comptroller said that a total of 1,992 parcels of hard drugs and narcotics had been successfully handed over to the NDLEA during the period under review.
He said: “47 suspects were arrested in connection with different kinds of crimes committed, and were handed over to all sister agencies saddled with the responsibility of investigating and subsequent prosecution.
“From the feedback received, some suspects were released on administrative bails, while other cases were still undergoing various stages of trial in courts.
“It may delight you to note that four of the 47 suspects arrested have been convicted, having pleaded guilty to the charges levelled against them by the Federal High Court, Ikoyi in Lagos State.
“We appreciate complaints from stakeholders and border communities for their supports to the command during this period,” he said.
Garba thanked the Comptroller-General of Customs and the management team for their continuous supports and guidance, adding that without them, the command could not have achieved this feat.

Hydrogels control inflammation to help healing

Scientists model how synthetic gels can tune body's inflammatory response

December 16, 2019
Rice University
Researchers test a sampling of synthetic, biocompatible hydrogels to see how tuning them influences the body's inflammatory response. The hydrogels are being developed to help heal wounds, deliver drugs and treat cancer.

Hydrogels for healing, synthesized from the molecules up by Rice University bioengineers, are a few steps closer to the clinic.
Rice researchers and collaborators at Texas Heart Institute (THI) have established a baseline set of injectable hydrogels that promise to help heal wounds, deliver drugs and treat cancer. Critically, they've analyzed how the chemically distinct hydrogels provoke the body's inflammatory response -- or not.
Hydrogels developed at Rice are designed to be injectable and create a mimic of cellular scaffolds in a desired location. They serve as placeholders while the body naturally feeds new blood vessels and cells into the scaffold, which degrades over time to leave natural tissue in its place. Hydrogels can also carry chemical or biological prompts that determine the scaffold's structure or affinity to the surrounding tissue.
The study led by chemist and bioengineer Jeffrey Hartgerink and graduate student Tania Lopez-Silva at Rice and Darren Woodside, vice president for research and director of the flow cytometry and imaging core at THI, demonstrates it should be possible to tune multidomain peptide hydrogels to produce appropriate inflammatory response for what they're treating.
The research appears in Biomaterials.
"We've been working on peptide-based hydrogels for a number of years and have produced about 100 different types," Hartgerink said. "In this paper, we wanted to back up a bit and understand some of the fundamental ways in which they modify biological environments."
The researchers wanted to know specifically how synthetic hydrogels influence the environment's inflammatory response. The two-year study offered the first opportunity to test a variety of biocompatible hydrogels for the levels of inflammatory response they trigger.
"Usually, we think of inflammation as bad," Hartgerink said. "That's because inflammation is sometimes associated with pain, and nobody likes pain. But the inflammatory response is also extremely important for wound healing and in clearing infection.
"We don't want zero inflammation; we want appropriate inflammation," he said. "If we want to heal wounds, inflammation is good because it starts the process of rebuilding vasculature. It recruits all kinds of cells that are regenerative to that site."
The labs tested four basic hydrogel types -- two with positive charge and two negative -- to see what kind of inflammation they would trigger. They discovered that positively charged hydrogels triggered a much stronger inflammatory response than negatively charged ones.
"Among the positive materials, depending on the chemistry generating that charge, we can either generate a strong or a moderate inflammatory response," Hartgerink said. "If you're going for wound-healing, you really want a moderate response, and we saw that in one of the four materials.
"But if you want to go for a cancer treatment, the higher inflammatory response might be more effective," he said. "For something like drug delivery, where inflammation is not helpful, one of the negatively charged materials might be better.
"Basically, we're laying the groundwork to understand how to develop materials around the inflammatory responses these materials provoke. That will give us our best chance of success."
The THI team helped analyze the cellular response to the hydrogels through multidimensional flow cytometry.
"The results of this work lay the groundwork for specifically tailoring delivery of a therapeutic by a delivery vehicle that is functionally relevant and predictable," Woodside said. "Aside from delivering drugs, these hydrogels are also compatible with a variety of cell types.
"One of the problems with stem cell therapies at present is that adoptively transferred cells don't necessarily stay in high numbers at the site of injection," he said. "Mixing these relatively inert, negatively charged hydrogels with stem cells before injection may overcome this limitation."
Hartgerink said the work is foundational, rather than geared toward a specific application, but is important to the long-term goal of bringing synthetic hydrogels to the clinic. "We have been speculating about a lot of the things we think are good and true about this material, and we now have more of a sound mechanistic understanding of why they are, in fact, true," Hartgerink said.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Rice UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
1.     Tania L. Lopez-Silva, David G. Leach, Alon Azares, I-Che Li, Darren G. Woodside, Jeffrey D. Hartgerink. Chemical functionality of multidomain peptide hydrogels governs early host immune responseBiomaterials, 2020; 231: 119667 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2019.119667

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Rice University. "Hydrogels control inflammation to help healing: Scientists model how synthetic gels can tune body's inflammatory response." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191216122411.htm>.

Japanese Government Checks-In on Rice Purchasing Progress   

ARLINGTON, VA -- Last Friday, USA Rice welcomed Yasuyuki Kobayashi, director of the Rice Trade Policy Office at Japan's Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), to the Arlington office.  Kobayashi was joined by representation from the Embassy of Japan and several MAFF analysts, and discussed Japan's 2019 crop production and consumption estimates.

MAFF preliminary figures show that production in Japan is slightly down from 2018 and that their domestic rice quality is significantly down this year, the lowest it's been since 2010, largely due to extreme heat.  MAFF also shared that table rice consumption in Japan continues to decrease by nearly 100,000 MT annually, resulting from dietary changes and an aging population.  However, MAFF said decreased table rice consumption does not take into account the growth in the food service industry or processing industries (bento boxes, rice crackers, heat-and-eat, etc.).

Kobayashi also provided updates on Japanese tenders to date, and USA Rice expressed the continued desire for more U.S. rice purchases that have the ability to reach the Japanese consumer.

The two sides also discussed the recently signed U.S.-Japan partial trade agreement.

"With the limited U.S.-Japan trade agreement expected to be implemented on January 1, USA Rice will be pushing hard to encourage the comprehensive negotiations to begin, and for rice to be an integral part of those negotiations," said Peter Bachmann, USA Rice vice president of international trade policy.

Negotiations could begin as early as next spring but face a difficult road with both sides seeking concessions on sensitive products such as rice and automobiles.

The rice race has changed, and Vietnam's not in the running

By Vu Kim Hanh   December 17, 2019 | 01:49 pm GMT+7

The current consumption trend heavily favoring food quality, safety and clear origins is putting Vietnamese rice on the back foot.

Vu Kim Hanh
I received an email from a Thai friend who works in the rice import-export industry several weeks ago, informing that one million tons of high-quality Thai rice was likely to go to China.
On November 25, their agriculture minister has sent to China the second list of companies that will export rice to China, and the Chinese government has promised to complete the procedures to take in the Thai rice as soon as possible, the email said.
Rice imported from Thailand has become more and more popular in China.
This has happened after the Thai government sent the Chinese General Administration of Customs a batch of rice for quality and safety assessment. Following that first batch, 49 big and small rice firms in Thailand have already been approved to sell rice to China.
The fact that China is considering the second list of Thai rice exporters is a positive sign that could open the door for one million more tons of rice worth 27 billion baht ($893 million) to enter the Chinese market.
What's more important is that the Chinese customs has pledged to make arrangements soon for deals that could facilitate agricultural trade between the two countries.
The two sides have agreed that after rice, Chinese would consider importing fruits, frozen pork, live cattle and bird nest from Thailand. They have also discussed the possibility of sending fruits from Thailand to China via the control station that has just been put into service right in the area of Mong Cai-Dongxing international border gate in Vietnam's northern province of Quang Ninh and China's southwest Guangzi Zhuang Autonomous Region. That station lies just 150 meters away from Vietnam's Mong Cai agricultural product market.
And my Thai friend did not stop there. He continued by saying that once exports increase, it will create more pressure to ensuring product quality, and fraudulent activities will merge in issuing standard certificates.
To deal with this threat, Thailand plans to extend application of the blockchain technology. This involves a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography, and each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. This is the way Thailand would ensure that all related parties can feel secure about the authenticity of the supply chain.
A farmer transports freshly-harvested rice in bags at a field in An Giang Province in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, June 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Van Thai.
Reading his email, I could feel a fresh breeze blowing in cross border trade between China and Thailand. Whether it has already been there and is now being reinforced or it is making a new start, this is completely different from what Vietnam's agriculture industry has been doing for export.
First of all, the focus of Thai agricultural exports is to ensure  that the products are organic or high-quality ones with application of advanced technology to ensure their authenticity. Secondly, it is the Thai government that is being proactive in promoting bilateral trade, taking care of the quality checks, and supporting exporters with needed procedures.
Following up on that email, I began to look for information on how Thailand has applied technology in its export activities. What I found is that the Thailand's Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) has announced it would use the blockchain technology to track the origins of exported products. It will start doing this first for organic rice before expanding the process to other types of agricultural products.
Using blockchain to track organic rice is a project that Thailand will officially start from mid next year in order to gain the trust of importers.
The TPSO also said it is speeding up discussions with experts, relevant agencies and financial institutions to boost the development of the blockchain system to serve the export industry to the maximum. The office has also talked with paddy famers and invited up to 5,000 farmers from Surin, a northeastern province of Thailand, to take part in the project.
The blockchain system will track the entire cultivation process, starting from cameras installed at the paddy fields, allowing one to verify if the paddy is truly organic or not. The entire production and packaging process is also closely monitored to help buyers check the origin of the rice. In case they find out that the rice is not "organic" enough, they can refuse to buy.
According to the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the blockchain project is being implemented at a crucial juncture. It will build customer confidence for Thai organic rice, reduce buyers' rejections, avoid fraud in which unqualified products find ways to stand alongside legitimate ones, raise the value of Thai rice and create more opportunities to expand export markets.
And even when Vietnam passed Thailand to win first place at the 11th annual World's Best Rice Contest earlier this month with the ST25 variety, Thailand remains firmly in the driver's seat in the rice race.
The work Thailand has done so far includes boosting exports of organic rice, applying new technology to gain buyers' trust and taking steps to ensure product quality remains consistent.
More importantly, the Thai government has continuously promoted high-quality organic products for which origins can be easily tracked, particularly for the Chinese market, where there is a consumption trend favoring such products.
What about us?
Our rice export has not showed any progress even after years of Vietnam being one of the top rice exporters in the world in terms of volume, currently standing behind India and Thailand.
Recent results have painted a picture that is not so bright. Vietnam’s rice exports value fell 9.8 percent year-on-year to $2.24 billion in the first 9 months of this year as demand from China and other major markets dwindled. The reason mentioned is that Vietnamese exporters have failed to meet China's tightened import standards that seek to ensure safety and quality.
The World's Best Rice Contest should work as a wakeup call for us. It is time we looked again at the strategy of selling rice at low cost to lure customers. Vietnam's agriculture ministry should switch to following the current consumption trends on the global markets, which focus on quality, safety and clear origin.
The going will be tough, but we have no option but to get tough and get going.
*Vu Kim Hanh is chair of the Business Association of High-Quality Vietnamese Products. The opinions expressed are her own.

Factbox: Beijing statements on trade deal differ from those of U.S. on imports, timing

DECEMBER 17, 2019 / 12:38 AM /
(Reuters) - The U.S.-China trade deal announced here on Friday will be signed in early January, U.S. trade negotiators say.
FILE PHOTO: Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China, February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
However, subtle but important differences between what U.S. and Chinese officials say has been agreed upon have arisen in recent days, including about timing.
The White House and Beijing have been locked in a 17-month trade war punctuated by an agreements-in-principal that fell over specific details in May.
Here are the official statements from Beijing so far:


U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told here reporters on Friday that the deal includes promises by Beijing to buy $200 billion more in U.S. goods and services over the next two years, a huge jump in China's imports of $186 billion in 2017.
Officials in China have not confirmed any dollar figure.
"Chinese enterprises will import more high-quality and competitive goods and services from countries including the United States under the WTO rules as well as market rules and business principles," Chinese officials told reporters during a press conference on Friday in Beijing, reading from a prepared statement later published here by Xinhua.
In response to reporters' questions here Chinese officials emphasized market conditions, not specifics.
“As long as the U.S. products and services are marketable and can meet the needs of Chinese people, expanding imports from the United States is something we would like to see,” said Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.
China could “expand the scale of imports” from the United States in “energy, manufactured products, and services as needed,” he said.


Asked specifically about U.S. President Donald Trump's Dec. 13 claim here that China would buy $50 billion in farm products, Ning said there is "no doubt that China will increase the procurement of high-quality and market-competitive U.S. agricultural products," but said specifics were still being determined.
The implementation of the agreement will “greatly increase the agricultural products we import from the United States,” vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs Han Jun said, adding that imports of pork and poultry were “urgently needed” to stabilize the domestic market.
China “will import some wheat, corn, and rice from the United States,” Han said. But he added that China will continue to emphasize self-sufficiency in grains, rather than relying on imports. “We will firmly hold the rice bowl in our own hands,” he said, and will keep national food security the bottom line.


Both sides suspended tariffs due to go into effect Dec. 15. The United States cut tariffs on some $120 billion in Chinese goods by 50%, to 7.5%, while leaving in place 25% tariffs on $250 billion in goods, USTR said.
Beijing statements suggest more tariff rollbacks to come.
“Both sides have reached consensus that the U.S. side will fulfill its commitments to phase out its additional tariffs on Chinese products, so as to achieve a switch from hiking to cutting additional tariffs,” Chinese officials said on Friday.
“The United States has promised to cancel part of the tariffs that it intends to impose on China and the tariffs that have already been levied,” Liao Min, the vice director of the office of financial and economic affairs, said in response to a question on tariffs.
“The second is to increase the tariff exemption for Chinese exports to the United States,” he said, but did not elaborate.


The United States and China will sign a deal the first week in January, Lighthizer said here on Friday.
Beijing would not confirm that timing on Monday.
"Our two sides still need to go through necessary procedures including legal reviewing and translation proofreading," Geng Shuang, the foreign ministry spokesman, said during a Monday press briefing here when asked.
“After that, we will decide when, where and how we will sign it. Working-level discussions are still going on between China and the U.S.,” he said.
Reporting by Echo Wang in New York and Vincent Lee in Beijing; Writing by Heather Timmons; Editing by Matthew Lewis

Border closure, window for increased rice production–Rice farmer

A Rice farm.

A Lagos-based rice farmer, Mrs Bosun Solarin, has commended the Federal Government for closing land borders and ensuring a window for local farmers to work hard to meet increasing rice demand in the country. Description: https://guardian.ng/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/RICE-farm.jpg
Solarin, also a member of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), made the commendation during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.
She said even though farmers might not meet the huge demand for rice by the public, as yuletide season fast approached,very soon, local rice would flood the markets.
“Nigerians should not expect any miracle in three months but before 2020 Christmas, the prices of rice would have crashed and there will be so much local rice in the market,” she said.
Solarin, who also lauded the government for supporting rice farmers, noted that stones posing impediment in the consumption of local rice had become a thing of the past.
She said there had been machines designed to remove stones content in the rice.
“There was an exhibition of rice processing machine recently brought in by Nigerians in the diaspora.It is a modular machine that can process 101kgs of rice in one hour.
“Individual farmers can easily afford this machine for rice processing; it comes with its own de-stoner and can be powered by generator when there is no electricity power supply.
“With the influx of rice processing machines into the country at affordable prices to the local farmers, we will be able to overcome the challenges of stones in our local rice.
“With these machines, we can remove the rice husk that the farmers can resell to poultry farmers and the bran can also be sold to pharmaceutical companies.
“We thank God for what the Federal government is doing to support local rice farmers since the land borders were closure. The government is now paying more attention to rice farmers,” Solarin said.
Solarin, however, called on investors to take advantage of the border closure to invest in local rice cultivation, to further boost local production and create more jobs to ensure social security.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Aminu Goroyo, President, Rice Farmers` Association, however, noted that rice consumption had risen tremendously due to changes in consumer preferences from imported rice to local rice.
He said it was in the past that most Nigerians preferred to consume imported rice brands, compared to local rice varieties.
Goroyo traced the development, then, to the fact that most Nigerian rice processors lacked adequate technology of rice processing to meet international standard.
Goronyo said this was because rice processing involved several steps ranging from removal of the husks, milling the shelled rice to removal of the bran layer and whitening step to de-stoners to remove stone content.
According to him, there is also an improvement in rice processing in Nigeria whereby the mechanical and solar dryer for drying rice paddy had replaced traditional sun drying of the commodity.
He said Nigeria had become the highest rice producer country in West Africa, adding that the production soared due to increase in population growth and increase in consumption trend of rice in the country.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government policy on the total ban of rice imports would sustain steady and healthy production of rice in the country.
“Increased production and the recent zeal for local consumption could be attributed to the ban imposed on rice import by President Mohammadu Buhari’s government.
“Nigerian rice farmers have risen to the challenge of meeting the domestic demand for the commodity and for rice production to be boosted.
The Federal government is continuing with the Anchor Borrowers Programme and RIFAN introduced institutions to monitor production, all with the hope of boosting rice production’’ he said.
Goronyo said Nigeria had a good climate for rice production, adding that its favourable market to absorb the production and the quality of indigenous rice had improved tremendously.
This he said would enable the country to compete with foreign rice through selection and adaptation of modern rice technologies to ease labour in production and enhance nutritional qualities in rice processing and production.
“The comparative advantage of Nigeria in rice production is a great opportunity for investors to leverage on and government has played a strong role with the recent policies.
“These policies include ban on rice importation, release of funds and boarder closure that favoured production of local rice,” he said. RIFAN President also said that the association had signed Memorandum of Understanding with Federal Ministry of Water Resources for proper utilisation of the irrigation channels of the 12 River Basin Authorities (RBDAs) to boost rice production.Goronyo said the innovation was one of the moves to ensure that more rice flood the market, to force down prices.

Rice exports from India witnesses a downward trend owing to elections

by Denton Staff Contributor  December 15, 2019
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Belying expectations of upswing, the rice exports from India have witnessed a downward trend owing to elections that took place in some states and upcoming general elections apart from global geopolitical factors in the ongoing season.
While global factors pertain to recessionary trends in key export markets and persisting payments issue with Iran, the domestic factors include among others, big traders avoiding taking long positions due to impending Lok Sabha election in the early months of 2019, as a caution before the results could reflect in amended export terms with any change in political equations.
India is the world’s largest rice exporter and in 2017, it had accounted for 25% of the global rice trade valued at US$ 7.73 billion, primarily due to its competitive cost advantage. India’s net rice exports touched 12.7 million tonnes (MT) last year. Basmati exports had stood at about 4 MT with almost 80% of the consignment going to the Gulf countries, including
The decline started from August this year ahead of state elections. Although arrival of new season crop was also awaited. And during april-November 2018, exports of basmati and non-basmati are down 6 per cent to $4.67 bn. All the fall has been attributed to lower exports of non-basmati rice.
Devendra Vora of Friendship Traders, New Bombay based rice exporter, told Business Standard that the state elections that ended and coming 2019 Lok Sabha poll has been a major reason for the “big players” shying away from holding long positions in domestic market for export related procurements since a change in political equations could bring radical changes in export policies.
Owing to basmati crop loss coupled with higher purchase price, the net availability of the crop for exports was on the lower side but realised value has improved while non-basmati exports have fallen in quantity and even realisation was lower. Vpora said that, “the recessionary trend in export markets, including and Europe contributed to weaker sentiments. Environment in market has been comparatively subdued than last year due to several factors, including low international demand and higher purchase price in India resulting lower viability, which dented the cost competitiveness to some extent,” Vora added.
In the past, the change of government brought about export ban on staple food grains, which caused economic loss to exporters holding large inventories meant for exports. “At the same time, the banks have become jittery about extending credit to exporters due to stricter norms. This has resulted in complex paper works and delays, which has also affected trade,” a north India based exporter said.
Drip Capital, a US-based trade finance company, in its research report ‘Rice Commodity Insights’ outlining the evolving dynamics in the Indian market in 2018, forecast the current decline in rice exports was part of a regular annual cycle.
“There is little need for panic, as demand and export volumes should rise into 2019,” the report said.
The lingering process of payment terms with has played its part in pulling down rice exports. Iran’s annual basmati import market is pegged at almost a MT.
“The Iran market is still to open to potential, since their payment norms are not clear yet and are in the process of being finalised,” Kohinoor Foods joint managing director Gurnam Arora said. Iran, which had been facing wide ranging US sanctions, was allowed barter deals and trade valued in Rupee terms.
Commenting on the China market, Arora said exporters were getting enquiries from China, mainly for long grain rice and that the country would take some more time to become a major export destination.
“We need to explore the China market with roadshows and exhibitions before it attains scale in the next 1-2 years,” he added. A few months back, a buyer-seller meet was organised in China, where some Indian rice exporters had participated, while the Dragon has approved about two dozen domestic rice millers for the purpose.

Surplus Stocks of Wheat and Rice Biggest Problems for Agriculture and Environment

The surplus stocks of wheat and rice have become the biggest problem for agriculture in India and the environment. The continuous wheat-rice crop pattern, especially in North India, resulted in dead and excess stock lying at FCI warehouses. Wheat and Paddy crop cycle also has a long term impact on underground water depletion and soil deterioration. Further, added problems of excessive cultivation of paddy includes the air pollution caused by stubble burning.
Storage Problem
Concerning the surplus, the central government has asked the governments of Punjab and Haryana to increase their storage capacity for rice under the ‘Cover and Plinth’ category. The FCI has about 60.48 million tonnes of wheat which is 22% higher than the previous year. Hence it has become necessary to move out wheat to these states to create space for rice. As both these states are already short on space, thus it needs to create space under cover and plinth.
Politicians Say
In a recent interview on industrial development, Punjab CM emphasized the need to provide the right incentives to encourage the farmers to adopt crop diversification as they did in the ’60s for paddy and wheat. This will save the state from the surplus of grains that the FCI is unable to lift.
Description: https://www.grainmart.in/news/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/amarinder-singh.pngSurplus Stocks of Wheat and Rice: Punjab CM
Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road transport and highways said at an event that agriculture is also adding to air and water pollution of the country and has become one of the biggest problems. He further stated that despite an increase in prices of fertilizers, electricity and crude oil, the prices of grains are falling. The agriculture economy is on the downward slope due to the excess production of crops like wheat, rice and sugar. For the solution, he said that the government needs to focus on diversification in agriculture. An alternative for fuel, ethanol, must be derived from agriculture and crop diversification plays a major role in this.
Mismanaged Surplus
The reasons accounting for mismanaged surplus are many. Small and marginal farmers do not have access to proper procurement facilities. Despite the National Commission for Farmers’ regulation to make regulated markets available to farmers within a radius of five km, some states do not have the facility of APMC markets. Poor infrastructural facilities at APMC markets further add to the problem. Owing to the massive surplus, the FCI’s procurement ability has decreased in 14 years as it was unable to 73% of wheat and rice produced in the country.
In all, the bumper harvest of wheat and rice has become an intractable problem that needs an immediate solution. Climate change and increasing population calls for call for emergency steps on crop diversification.

Factbox: A lot of soy, a little rice - China's historical U.S. agricultural purchases

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 Singh, Mark Weinraub; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Leslie Adler

DA cash transfers to rice farmers to start Dec. 23

Description: https://www.bworldonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/rice-farmers-121719.jpg
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) and government banks have agreed on the mechanisms for disbursing P5,000 worth of cash assistance to rice farmers most affected by the decline in the price of palay, or unmilled rice, due to the Rice Tariffication Law, with payouts to start Dec. 23.
The DA, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) signed a memorandum of agreement on Monday, which sets aside P3 billion for the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RFFA) program, an unconditional cash transfer targeted at 600,000 rice farmers. The eligible farmers till between one and a half to two hectares.
The Rice Tariffication Law liberalized the entry of cheap imported rice with a 35% tariff imposed on Southeast Asian grain.
The option to sell imported rice has led private traders to offer softer prices to domestic farmers, with palay currently at P15.52 per kilo, down 22.6% year-on-year. The prices paid by traders are well below the support price offered by the National Food Authority (NFA), which is P19.
As a result, President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the immediate implementation of the cash assistance program.
Funding for the program initially came from excess government revenue. Next year, another P3 billion will be allocated to the program, to be divided equally between LANDBANK and DBP to disburse to 300,000 rice farmers each. Funding for next year will be sourced from tariff collections in excess of the P10 billion required to finance the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). — Vincent Mariel P. Galang
“The roll out will start Dec. 23, and we will do it morning of the 23rd in Pangasinan, and afternoon roll out, as well, in Nueva Ecija. We will have to consider a roll out there because these are the most affected (by) falling rice prices,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said during the signing ceremony in Manila Monday.
The government has selected 33 provinces where rice farmers were deemed most severely affected by the price drop.
“We did a comparative price analysis and considered the average marketable surplus, and gains and losses in those provinces, so hindi lahat ng mga probinsya na nakaranas (not all provinces were affected). There are big impacts and small impacts, so talagang doon lang sa mga probinsya na mas mataas yung pagbagsak ng palay prices (we will really focus on provinces where the fall in palay prices was really high),” he said.
He said distributions will be completed in a month’s time, and will come in the form of cash cards from LANDBANK or over-the-counter withdrawals from LANDBANK and DBP conduits and accredited payout centers. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

Rice import rules vs dummies, WTO told

MANILA has formally notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its amended rules on rice importation that seeks to limit the entry of the staple by weeding out unscrupulous and dummy players through stringent registration requirements.
The Philippines submitted a notification to the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures on December 11, informing the body that it has implemented revised requirements for registration and renewal of importers of rice.
In its notification, the Philippines submitted Department of Agriculture (DA) Memorandum Order 28 which institutionalizes additional requirements for interested rice importers in a bid to remove unscrupulous players.
The order also requires importers to ship out their rice consignments from the country of origin within the prescribed date in their approved sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPS-IC).
The rice imports should also arrive not later than 60 days from the indicated “must ship out” date in their SPS-IC. The DA’s order last November 11 strengthened the current registration procedures for importers of rice and also prescribed a validity period for SPS-IC issued to eligible traders.
“There is a need to strengthen registration procedures for importers of planting materials and plant products, and specify the validity of the sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance, to safeguard from entry, establishment and spread of exotic plant pests and comply with food safety requirements,” the DA said in the MO.
The MO clarified certain provisions of Republic Act 11203, or the rice trade liberalization law, pertaining to the deadline on the arrival of imported rice in the country.
Phil gov’t thru DA to give P5K to 600,000 rice farmers

Description: http://www.da.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/IMG_5020-scaled.jpg
Author: DA Communications Group | 16 December 2019
The Duterte Administration, through the Department of Agriculture (DA) — in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) — will give P5,000 cash assistance to small rice farmers most affected by the initial impact the rice tarrification law (RTL).
The DA forged an agreement with the LandBank and DBP on December 16, 2019 that will disburse the P3-billion Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RFFA) or unconditional cash transfer to 600,000 rice farmers, whose farm size ranges from one-half hectare to two hectares.
“We understand the plight of our rice farmers, particularly the marginal ones who are experiencing the challenge of a liberalized rice trade. The RFFA is one way to help them cope with the tough competition they are facing in the market today,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
In November, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a directive calling for an urgent implementation of the RFFA this year to cater to most- affected small rice farmers.
The DA is tasked to lead the implementation of the RFFA in partnership with LBP and DBP that will each disburse P1.5 billion to 300,000 farmers nationwide.
“To ensure that we efficiently do it, we meticulously crafted a guideline in selecting the first 33 rice-producing provinces and qualified farmers as beneficiaries. We conducted a comparative price analysis and considered the average marketable surplus and profit gains/losses in those provinces,” Dar added.
Under the program, farmers may receive the payment through a LandBank-issued cash card, or over-the-counter withdrawal from LBP and DBP conduits and accredited payout outlets.
RFFA forms part of the immediate interventions set up to cushion rice farmers from the birth pains of the RTL or R.A. 11203. The law provides for financial assistance for rice farmers to be sourced from the tariff collection of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
The initial fund for RFFA, however, comes from the 2019 excess revenue of the national government. Another P3 billion will be allocated next year from the excess collection under RCEF. ### (DA Communications Group)

Cambodia sees 34 pct rise in rice export to China in 11 months

Source: Xinhua| 2019-12-15 17:11:44|Editor: mingmei
PHNOM PENH, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia exported 205,358 tons of milled rice to China during the first 11 months of 2019, up 34 percent over the same period last year, said an official report Sunday.
China is still the top buyer of Cambodian rice during the January-November period this year, said the report of the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export.
Export to China accounted for 40 percent of Cambodia's total rice export, it said.
Song Saran, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, said China is a key market for Cambodian rice and the kingdom is expected to export a total of 250,000 tons to China this year.
Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian nation shipped 174,397 tons of rice to the European market during the period, down 26 percent, the report said.
The drop in the export to the European market came after the European Union imposed earlier this year duties on rice importing from Cambodia in a bid to curb a surge in rice imports from the country and to protect European producers.
According to the report, Cambodia exported a total of 514,149 tons of rice to 59 countries and regions during the first 11 months of this year, up 3.4 percent over the same period last year.

Bangladeshis are losing jobs as farmers choose mangoes over rice

Description: A farmer sprays pesticide containing monocrotophos on a paddy field at Mohanpur village, about 45 km (28 miles) west of Agartala, capital of India's northeastern state of Tripura July 25, 2013. Nearly a decade ago, the Indian government ruled out a ban on the production and use of monocrotophos, the highly toxic pesticide that killed 23 children this month in a village school providing free lunches under a government-sponsored programme. Despite being labelled highly hazardous by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a panel of government experts was persuaded by manufacturers that monocrotophos was cheaper than alternatives and more effective in controlling pests that decimate crop output. Picture taken July 25, 2013. To match Insight  INDIA-PESTICIDES/    REUTERS/Jayanta Dey (INDIA - Tags: AGRICULTURE FOOD SOCIETY POLITICS BUSINESS) - GM1E97S115001
A farmer sprays pesticide containing monocrotophos on a paddy field.
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Here’s how we’re ensuring there’ll be enough sustainable and nutritious food for 9.8 billion people by 2050
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Climate Change
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  • In northwestern Bangladesh, rice has long been the sole source of income for the landless Oraon, who make a living as farm labourers or sharecroppers
  • But frequent droughts and little rain in the region have made growing rice tougher - because it needs more water to grow
  • Farmers have been switching to mango trees, because they use less water
Kalamoti Kujur used to make good money as a labourer in the paddy fields near her home in northwest Bangladesh. But five years ago, in response to drought, landowners started growing mangoes instead, which need less water and attention than rice.
Kujur, a member of the Oraon ethnic minority in Naogaon district, lost her job and now struggles to support her family.
Many local people like her who do not own land used to earn 200 taka ($2.36) a day labouring in the rice fields.
"But, in recent years, the landlords are transforming their paddy fields into mango gardens, making us workless," she said.
In the Barind region of northwestern Bangladesh, rice has long been the sole source of income for the landless Oraon, who traditionally make a living as farm labourers or sharecroppers.
But frequent droughts, poor precipitation and increasing temperatures in the region - which environmental experts link to climate change - have made growing the thirsty crop tougher.
Mango trees can be cultivated with fewer people, they say, and use up to 80% less water than growing rice.
As rice harvesting season approaches, there are no longer enough jobs for all the Oraon living in Naogaon, Kujur said.
Like many others in the area, her eldest son has left their village for six months to find work in another district.
"The male members of our families are compelled to migrate for work, so we have to stay home alone, which makes our lives difficult," said the 45-year-old mother of three.
Description: Oraon minority woman Kalamoti Kujur sits at home after losing her job as landowners turn rice fields into mango orchards in Naogaon district, Bangladesh, on September 21, 2019.
Oraon minority woman Kalamoti Kujur sits at home after losing her job.
Image: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rafiqul Islam
Tajul Islam, a farm owner in Porsha sub-district, has replaced his 5 hectares (12 acres) of rice with four mango orchards.
Amid drier weather and higher temperatures, rice farming was losing him too much money, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"We know shifting to mango farming from paddy (rice) cuts off work for ethnic people, but we prefer mango farming as it requires less labour," Islam said.
'No rain, no crop'
The Oraon people were brought from India to Bangladesh by the British colonial government to construct railways in Bengal.
They and other ethnic minority groups in Naogaon make up about 7% of the district's more than 2.5 million residents, official data shows, although local charities and minority rights groups say the real figure is higher.
Water scarcity is a common problem for ethnic minorities in Barind, known as "plain-land people", a moniker distinguishing them from other groups in Bangladesh's hilly areas.
The region is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, according to a February study by environmental engineers at Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University in Dinajpur and Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology.
Temperature extremes in the region have increased, while annual rainfall has decreased, leading to a reduction in water availability, they found.
Description: Mango-grower Tajul Islam explains why he has turned his paddy fields into more protitable orchards in Porsha sub-district, Bangladesh, on September 21, 2019.
Mango-grower Tajul Islam has turned his paddy fields into more protitable orchards.
Image: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rafiqul Islam
In Naogaon's Porsha sub-district, the entire ethnic minority population of about 15,000 is affected by water shortages, according to local non-profit Barendrabhumi Samaj Unnayan Sangstha (BSDO), which works with those communities.
Barind's ponds, lakes and canals are severely depleted, while groundwater is also disappearing rapidly, noted BSDO programme coordinator Ataur Rahman.
In the dry season, groundwater levels drop so low that even tube wells as deep as 200 feet (60 metres) do not reach water, he noted.
The monsoon used to bring enough rain to sustain the area's paddy fields until harvest, but that is no longer the case, say locals and environmental experts.
A study last year from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) showed average rainfall in July 2014 - the middle of the monsoon season - in the three driest Barind districts, including Naogaon, had dropped to just over 220 mm (8 inches), about a third of its level in July 2005.
Sukur Oraon, a 50-year-old ethnic minority sharecropper in Naogaon, said last year his rice harvest was only a quarter of usual levels as his paddy fields dried up due to lack of rain - and half his crop goes to the owners of the land he works.
"We have planted it this year too, but I do not know whether we will be able to harvest it," he lamented. "No rain, no crop."
Description: Two ethnic women collect grass to feed their cattle as they struggle with a lack of work in drying-up rice fields in Naogaon district, Bangladesh, on September 21, 2019.
Two women collect grass to feed cattle as they struggle with a lack of work.
Image: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rafiqul Islam
Water and health
The authorities and development groups are working to combat water shortages in Naogaon district.
In 2014, the Department of Public Health Engineering installed 400 deep tube wells, each providing an average of 50 households with safe drinking water.
And two years ago, UNDP set up five water-harvesting plants under a pilot project, serving 25 households in total.
But those measures are not enough to meet water demand in drought-prone areas and often do not benefit ethnic communities with less education and fewer resources, said BSDO's Rahman.
While struggling with water shortages and job losses, the Oraon also face health problems due to a changing climate.
Locals say the aquatic animals that make up the bulk of their diet are dying off as the area's lakes and canals dry up.
"In the past, we (ate) eels, fish, crabs, turtles and snails, which were abundant here, to meet our nutritional demand. But those have disappeared for lack of rainfall," said Parbati Akkata, a 35-year-old Oraon woman living in Naogaon.
As a result, about 80% of Oraon women and children suffer form malnutrition, noted UNDP climate-change specialist Mamunur Rashid.
He believes authorities should help ethnic people find alternative incomes, such as selling fertiliser or handicrafts.
The government could also set up mango-processing plants in Barind to create job opportunities, he added.
"If they could be educated and trained properly, the ethnic people would be able to enter the national job market," he said.
Sirajul Islam, deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension for Naogaon, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation his department was still seeking solutions to the lack of work for ethnic communities in Barind.
Landowners, meanwhile, continue to give up rice for mangoes.
In fiscal year 2013-2014, mango was cultivated on about 9,150 hectares (22,600 acres) in Naogaon - by 2018-2019, that figure had more than doubled, Islam said.
As she waits for work, Kujur can only lament how water scarcity has made her life harder.
"From our livelihoods to our food habits, even our tradition and culture - nowadays poor rainfall takes a heavy toll on us," she said.

Rice Prices

as on : 16-12-2019 02:31:53 PM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Bankura Sadar(WB)
Indus(Bankura Sadar)(WB)
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Published on December 16, 2019


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Govt, RIFAN collaborate to boost rice production

Juliana Agbo, Abuja 

The Federal Government and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), at the weekend signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for proper utilization of irrigation channels of the 12 River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA) to boost rice production across the country.
The River Basin Authorities include Anambra-Imo, Benin- Owena, Chad Basin, Cross River, Hadejia-Jama’are, Lower Benue and Lower Niger. Others are Niger Delta; Ogun – Osun; Sokoto – Rima; Upper Benue and Upper Niger Basin Authorities.
The President, RIFAN Mr. Aminu Goronyo, while briefing newsmen in Abuja, said that the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu gave the approval.
He said the approval would reposition and strengthen rice farmers to produce more and make Nigeria to become major economic nerve-centre in rice production line with government’s economic diversification policy.
He added that the Minister described the move as his contribution towards the Presidential initiative to make Nigeria rice hub in Africa and ensure food security.
He said the move has become imperative as food demand rises due to growing populations and with the closure of borders increased agricultural output is crucial.
Goronyo added that while irrigation is essential for rice production improvement there is a need for complementary services, infrastructure, and institutions for greater impacts on production and wellbeing.
He averred that since agriculture across the country is currently rain-fed, increased availability of irrigation use by farmers  are very essential and in high demand.

Strict measures to reduce and control rice prices

Description: http://suratha.lk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/parboiled-rice-1296x728-feature-768x431.jpg
District Secretaries have been directed to give priority to releasing paddy stocks to small and medium scale millers and keep watch on large scale millers who may manipulate markets, thus preventing a reduction of rice prices.The directive was given this week at a meeting presided over by Agriculture Minister Chamal Rajapaksa with District Secretaries and Treasury officials. They discussed measures to keep the rice prices low.
“Instructions were given to ensure that large scale paddy millers do not manipulate rice prices and if such attempts are made measure would be taken to import rice,” Development Banks and Loan schemes State Minister, Shehan Semasinghe said. The government hopes to release 40,000 Metric Tons of Paddy to the market.
The move came as the government was planning to issue another gazette notification on controlled rice prices. Plans were underway to issue a fresh gazette notification to have the maximum retail price of a kilo gram of Nadu at Rs 98.This was after rice prices increased by about Rs 20 to Rs.30 in the past three weeks. Mr Semasinghe said that the rice milled by small and medium scale millers would be distributed through the co-operative shops and CWE.

Saudi households set to curb food wastage with innovative rice plate design

By: AFP | 
Riyadh | Published: December 16, 2019 3:13:32 PM

Saudi households typically serve large oval-shaped platters piled high with rice, a daily staple, but a lot goes to waste as many just nibble on the sides and rarely even reach the middle.

Description: Saudi Arabia, saudi food waste, food wastage issue, saudi arabia new technology, rice plate design
In a traditional society where social interactions often revolve around food, enormous displays of it connote affluence. (Representational Image: Reuters)
The plate is designed to make a meal look bigger — a gastronomic illusion and an innovative way to tame Saudi Arabia’s pervasive throwaway culture which results in colossal food waste. Across much of the Gulf lavish displays of food are seen as a cultural totem of generosity and hospitality. But much of it ends up in the trash. Saudi households typically serve large oval-shaped platters piled high with rice, a daily staple, but a lot goes to waste as many just nibble on the sides and rarely even reach the middle. Entrepreneur Mashal Alkharashi is fighting back — with a rice plate that makes the portion of food appear bigger.
With a mound in the centre, the plate minimises the middle area, prompting people to serve less and save more. “The innovative design, elevated from the middle, reduces waste by 30 percent,” Alkharashi told AFP, adding that the plate, adopted in recent years by multiple Saudi restaurants, has saved more than 3,000 tons of rice. “This way we preserve the generosity part while cutting waste.” The desert kingdom — which because of its limited arable land and scarce water resources is heavily reliant on imports to meet its growing food demand — has the highest rate of waste globally. The average Saudi wastes up to 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of food annually, compared to a global average of 115 kg, according to the ministry of environment, water and agriculture.
The ministry estimates the waste costs Saudi Arabia, which is scrambling to boost state coffers amid low oil prices, around $13 billion annually. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the consumption is far higher than the official estimate: it says the average Saudi wastes as much as 427 kg every year, underscoring what observers call a throwaway consumer culture that undervalues food. “Since food items and groceries are abundantly available to all living in (Saudi Arabia) and they are highly subsidised, the residents take food for granted,” academics from Riyadh’s King Saud University wrote in a research report last year.
“Food waste in restaurants, celebrations, social events is enormous … (as) the custom is to provide more food than required.” The Saudi Food Bank, or Etaam, a charity which collects surplus food from hotels and wedding halls and distributes it to the needy, has called on the government to penalise waste. In Saudi Arabia, where vast oil reserves reaped enormous wealth in a few dizzying decades, food is not simply a source of nutrition but also an expression of cultural identity.
In a traditional society where social interactions often revolve around food, enormous displays of it connote affluence. “In just one generation Saudi Arabia went from conditions of scarcity to plenty and, for some, immense wealth,” Kristin Diwan, from the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told AFP. “It’s easy to see then how this rather austere culture would project its wealth into the socially acceptable area of hospitality and food.” Many Saudis are shrugging off stereotypes of being gluttons in a country where local media says more than 40 percent of the population is obese.
A recent newspaper cartoon portrayed a single man hunched over a sumptuous spread of steaming food and asking a woman donning a kitchen apron: “Is this all?” “The only real freedom we have in an absolute monarchy is the freedom to eat,” a Saudi academic told AFP, declining to be named. “For a long time, the only entertainment for Saudis was restaurants and food.” “Shop, eat and pray” was long the motto for many Saudis in an age of high oil prices which long supported the government’s cradle-to-grave subsidies. But many are rethinking their lifestyles amid rising economic pressures as the conservative kingdom pares back subsidies but also opens up once-unthinkable outlets for entertainment such as cinemas and concerts.
Environmentalists say Saudi Arabia’s high demand for meat fuels wildfires in the Amazon rainforests, which make way for livestock. The kingdom is one of the biggest importers of Brazilian beef. Many young Saudis are shunning a culture of excess to promote minimalism and meatless diets, among them the chef Almaha Aldossari, well known on social media as “The Bedouin Vegan”. Waste, however, is a relic of the oil boom era, limited not just to food. It is common to see car engines idling for hours, a habit that stems from an era when oil was cheaper than water.
Water, too, is wasted even as the arid kingdom faces declining resources. Saudi Arabia consumes 263 litres of water per capita per day, double the daily world average, and the government aims to reduce it to 150 litres by 2030. “Cultural change is hard but concerns about environmentalism, sustainability, and more healthy living amongst a certain class of Saudis will have some impact,” said Diwan. “These are the seeds of change.”
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Suriname eyes Cuba, Barbados rice markets

 in BusinessCommerceEconomyNewsTrade 
December 15, 2019 
Description: https://demerarawaves.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/parmessar-suriname-rice-300x145.jpg
Earlier this month, Minister Rabin Parmessar conducted follow-up talks about exports to Barbados. (Photo: LVV)
Suriname’s Agriculture Minister, Rabin Parmessar is in Cuba to secure rice exports for next year. 
That country’s ministry says it will do everything to make urea fertiliser and other inputs available at attractive prices and as soon as possible.
Starnieuws reports Mr. Parmessar as saying Suriname — representatives of the rice sector and government — has been searching for new rice markets for some time now.
Cuba currently buys a large quantity of rice from Guyana, and well-known Guyanese rice producer, Nan Persaud, has invested in a rice mill in that Spanish-speaking Caribbean nation.
Suriname’s Agriculture Ministry says that country’s ambassadors have visited several countries and the French Department of French Guiana to acquire new rice markets.
Authorities in Suriname say Barbados is interested in buying rice from Paramaribo. Discussions are ongoing with Canada, Guadeloupe and Martinique to secure markets for the grain.

RCEF distributes inbred seeds in 46 provinces

Published December 16, 2019, 10:00 PM
By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which is where all the tariff collected from imported rice should go, has bankrolled the distribution of inbred rice seeds across 46 provinces.
A data from Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) showed that 46 out of the 57 target provinces have already received 341,203 bags of inbred rice seeds under the RCEF’s seed program. Each bag contains 20 kilogram of rice seeds.
The 46 provinces, which make up 81 percent of the program’s target, include 282 municipalities and cities with high-potential for competitiveness in rice production.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the provinces have been identified based on the size of area harvested, yield level, cost of production, and share of irrigated area.
These municipalities and cities have an annual area planted of more than 500 hectares for dry season 2019 to 2020.
Seed distribution is ongoing to cover the remaining 11 provinces including 703 municipalities and cities, while the remaining 1.76 million bags of seeds are scheduled for distribution this 2019 to 2020 dry season.
Among the rice seed varieties distributed include NSIC Rc 160, Rc 216, Rc 222, and two location-specific inbred varieties.
As part of the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, RCEF is supposed to be injected with ₱10 billion annually from 2019 to 2024 or a period of six years.
Aside from PhilRice, the funds are being utilized by implementing agencies that include the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech).
Right now, RCEF is also funding the training for farmers through the Rice Extension Services Program (RESP).
Gov’t to scale up rice consumption to 100% in second cycle institutions
Source: Fred Duhoe | JoyBusiness | fkmduhoe.gh@gmail.com
Date: 17-12-2019 Time: 07:12:56:am
Description: http://photos.myjoyonline.com/photos/news/201911/3803576932547_5145834808393.jpeg
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) have disclosed plans to rope in all senior high schools in the country into a 100 per cent consumption of locally produced rice by the next academic year.
Addressing the media in Accra, the CEO of NAFCO, Hanan Andul-Wahab stated that government will feed all students in the over 400 schools under governments Free SHS program with locally produced rice. 
He said currently, only the Northern and Greater Accra region schools are consuming Ghana rice but this will change from next academic year.
The CEO indicated that a technical committee has been put in place and it is currently in talks with some five commercial banks, rice millers and stakeholders within the value chain to find a lasting solution to the rice glut experienced in Northern Ghana.
As part of measures, Avnash Industries Ghana Ltd is buying produce from farm gates in the Northern Region where there have been reports of excess stock of paddy rice in the past months due to lack of market.
The CEO of NAFCO indicated that eight strategic agreements have been reached by the Technical Committee on rice importation, financing and marketing in a conclusion to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. 
As part of financing the value chain, some commercial banks also want the government to introduce a stimulus package as being implemented under the 1D1F model.
NAFCO has decided to refer licensed suppliers to local millers and marketers while issuing a license to Avnash Industries Ghana Ltd to purchase and supply Ghana rice to the over 400 schools under the Free Senior High School program. 
In the coming days, NAFCO and allied agencies will roll out campaigns and media advertisements to encourage the consumption of local rice. 
According to the DCE of Builsa South, Daniel Gariba plans are far advanced to build two rice processing factories in the district to cater for the next production season.
The factory according to the DCE is being built by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade. 
A first factory, Mr Gariba stated will cost $200,000 including the installation of machinery while the cost for the second factory is yet to be determined.

Gov’t releases 73,000 bags of seeds

SEEDS. According to the law, the national government assigns 30 percent or P3 billion out of the P10 billion RCEF for rice seed development, propagation, and promotion. (SunStar file photo)
December 16, 2019
Rice farmers in Davao Region have received a total of about 72,000 bags of seeds since November this year as part of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) mandated by Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

Based on the data from the Department of Agriculture in Davao Region (DA-Davao), 24,264 bags of seeds were given to the farmers of Davao del Norte, 18,579 bags for Davao de Oro, 16,008 bags for Davao del Sur, 11,859 bags for Davao Oriental, and 1,448 bags for Davao City.

DA-Davao regional agriculture information chief Noel Provido said the seeds were distributed through irrigators association, rice farmers association, and cooperatives such as the Davao Multi-Purpose Seed Producers Cooperative (Damsepco), Davao Oriental Seed Producers Cooperative (Dosepco), Seed to Rice Producers Cooperatives (S2R).

In a phone interview with DA regional seed coordinator Evelyn Basa, she said the bags of rice seeds, which were allocated for the first semester or dry cropping season of 2019-2020, amounted to about P55 million and the distribution of seeds is still ongoing.

She also added for the second semester or the wet cropping season in 2020, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philtrice), the implementing agency for the seed distribution under RCEF, allocated roughly P69 million or 91,290 bags of seeds weighing 20 kilos each.

According to the law, the national government assigns 30 percent or P3 billion out of the P10 billion RCEF for rice seed development, propagation, and promotion.

Fifty percent of the RCEF or P5 billion is intended for the provision of rice farm production and postharvest machinery, equipment, and facilities.

Provido said although the beneficiaries for the farm facilities have already been identified. The agency still has to undergo the bidding process.

“We need to follow the bidding process and it would take a while,” he said in a text message to SunStar Davao.

He also said no farmers have availed loans from the Landbank of the Philippines (LandBank).

Ten percent of the RCEF is allocated for the credit facility with minimum interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives to be managed equally by Landbank and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

“[The amount t

hey can loan] depends on the amount of machinery or the project,” Provido said.

However, farmers have availed the allocations on the regular programs of the DA.

“[Through this], we want to bring down the production cost [of the rice farmers] to more than 50 percent,” he said.

He said some of the factors that spiked up the production cost are the expensive labor and the farm inputs.

Human events from 20k years ago still impacting mammals

PTI, Washington,
  • Dec 17 2019, 11:19am ist
  • updated: Dec 17 2019, 13:32pm ist
Events from 20,000 years ago, or more -such as ancient climate and human events -are still impacting the diversity and distribution of mammals worldwide, according to a first-of-its-kind study that offers insights into how similar factors may impact species in the remainder of this century.
The study, published in the journal PNAS, noted that modern-day mammal biodiversity in the tropical and subtropical regions is still being shaped by these ancient factors in a way that is more important than present-day human and climate events.
The researchers, including those from Rice University in the US, spent more than five years compiling and analysing data about the diets, body sizes, and variety of species in 515 mammal communities - each with multiple species - in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
They separately conducted statistical analyses for each community to determine how well recent and ancient events -- both climatic and human -- could account for the present-day diets, body sizes, and species variation in these animals.
"If the current climate is what's most important for where you see species, then as climate changes, we might expect species to track climate to the best of their abilities," said study co-author Lydia Beaudrot of Rice University.
According to the researchers, these ancient factors have "legacy effects" which span for millennia after they came into existence.
They said historic climate does a better job than the current climate of explaining the mammal communities that are present today.
"This study suggests things are more complex, and that we will need to take legacy effects into consideration when making predictions about how climate change will affect species distributions," Beaudrot said.
The findings of the study also revealed that ancient human events were still reflected in mammal biodiversity patterns.
Citing an example, the researchers said, the most large-bodied mammals in South America went extinct when humans first appeared on the continent about 12,000 years ago.
"When you're looking at what explains mammal communities today in the Neotropics, these historical human impacts are a better predictor than current or past climate," Beaudrot said.
To conduct the study, the researchers had to create a database that would allow them to make comparisons across mammal communities worldwide.
Using this database, they profiled mammal communities that are in national parks - places where conservationists have worked for years observing mammals.
"Going forward there is so much that can be done to add to what we already have. For example, the mammal communities that are most affected by climate change today are near the poles. We started in the tropics and subtropics because that's where you find most national parks, but we want to continue adding to this, for as many communities in as many places as we can," Beaudrot said.
The researchers said the data they have gathered can give scientists a clearer idea of what happened in the past, and how it affected the present.
However, they said it doesn't paint a clear picture of the future.
"Predicting how species will respond to climate change is very hard. We already knew that, and this work suggests that it's perhaps even more complex than we thought," Beaudrot added.
According to Beaudrot, the current study demonstrates the importance of interdisciplinary research for advancing science.

"When ecologists, paleoecologists, and anthropologists combine forces, we can generate and test more complex and interesting questions that generate surprising new findings," she said. 

Biologist develops a new framework for the in vivo study of photosynthesis

Published On 16 Dec 2019 03:06 PM


Description: C:\Users\Mujahid\Downloads\Biologist develops a new framework for the in vivo study of photosynthesis-Industry Global News24_files\biologist-develops-a-new-framework-for-the-in-vivo-study-of-photosynthesis.jpeg

A biologist at the RUDN University has developed a model for in vivo photosynthesis research. This approach measures the chlorophyll light absorption coefficient on the basis of its reflectivity. Light absorption analysis is important for evaluating the productivity of the ecosystem, which affects the biosphere's state and global climate. The article will be published in the Environment's Remote Sensing journal.
Measurements of photosynthesis efficiency in living systems are necessary because they allow scientists to estimate the carbon cycle and thus the climate impact. Researchers use the vegetation absorption coefficient to study photosynthesis in vivo, a value that shows how deeply the radiation incident penetrates the canopy. It depends on biochemical, structural and external factors, so it is very difficult to evaluate it. Alexei Solovchenko, a RUDN University employee, and his U.S. and Israeli colleagues have found a new way of evaluating this indicator.
Next, for individual leaves and canopy in general, biologists measured the ratio of absorption and transmission coefficients. It is difficult to measure these coefficients for the canopy "in aggregate," but it is easy for a single leaf, and scientists can quantify the absorption and propagation of the canopy from the coefficients for a single leaf by understanding the relationship between them. RUDN University researchers then obtained a formula that relates the absorption coefficient of the canopy to the absorption coefficient of pigments in leaves— primarily that of chlorophyll. It turned out that the canopy could absorb light in the infrared array, unlike a single leaf. And that the pigment absorption coefficients for plants with different canopy densities may vary. The biologists, therefore, had to make appropriate improvements to the final model.
The researchers tested this mathematical model describing the absorption coefficient of the canopy on crops with different types of photosynthesis — corn (C4 photosynthesis), soybeans and rice (C3 photosynthesis), measuring the absorbed and reflected the spectrum of solar radiation.
The model showed that the rice canopy represents more than the canopy of other crops in the blue spectral zone. Scientists think it's because rice is rising in rain. Due to biochemical differences, the absorption curves for plants with C3-type photosynthesis (soybeans and rice) obtained with the model differed from those for plants with C4-type photosynthesis (corn).
The model created by biologists can thus forecast the absorption of light in the leaf by different plant species with different photosynthesis modes, different canopy structures, and different pigment content.

Supply Ghana rice to schools or face sanctions – NAFCO warns
Source: GNA
Date: 16-12-2019 Time: 11:12:10:pm
Description: http://photos.myjoyonline.com/photos/news/201310/6567660878774_1618991988555.jpg
The National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) has asked suppliers under the Free Senior High School programme to supply Ghana rice to schools starting next year or face sanctions.
It gave a signal that licensed suppliers’ failure to do so would attract sanctions, which include non-payment for services rendered and revocation of licenses.  
The Chief Executive Officer of NAFCO, Hanan Abdul-Wahab gave the caution when he addressed a press conference in Accra on Monday on the status of Ghana rice patronage and consumption and paddy rice purchases.
He said the directive forms part of efforts to encourage locally produced rice patronage and consumption and ensure that there was 100 percent supply of its supply to all schools, especially those under the Free SHS.
Mr Abdul-Wahab said already second cycle schools in the Ashanti and the five regions of the north are covered, adding that it hoped to cover the remaining 10 regions soon.
“As a collaborative gesture, we continue to refer our licensed suppliers to local rice millers and marketers including Avnash Industries Ghana Limited for the sales and patronage of Ghana rice.”
“We have also issued two licenses to Avnash Industries Ghana Limited for the purchase and supply of Ghana rice to our schools under the Free SHS Programme and also to our Warehouses under our ECOWAS Stocks Mutualisation Programme,” he said.
He explained that it had, through its Post-Harvest Committee, increased a kilogramme of paddy rice by 0.19 percent from the current amount of ¢1.11 to ¢1.30.
“This, therefore, means that a 180kg of paddy rice currently selling at ¢200.00 will now be sold for ¢234.00,” Mr Abdul-Wahab said.
He said NAFCO was also in negotiations with a mobile van company to ensure produced rice reached the final consumer.
Mr Emmanuel Asante Krobea, the Chairman of the Rice Marketing Technical Committee, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), said the Ministry hoped to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2022.
He said currently the distribution of Ghana rice was being looked at critically in order to ensure consumers had easy access to it.
Mr Krobea explained that the Committee was putting in place measures to ensure that importers of rice purchased the locally-produced ones and distributed them through their existing channels.
He said currently the Ministry was also in discussions with five financial institutions and had signed tripartite agreements with them to provide financial support for rice millers to boost production and facilitate national development.
Responding to the demands of farmers in the Builsa South District of the Upper East Region for a market and storage facilitates, Daniel Gariba, the District Chief Executive, expressed satisfaction over measures taken by the MoFA to address the challenge.

“I am happy to report that farmers are happy because Avnash Industries have come in to take the excess paddy rice that was stored by them and as at yesterday. I can confidently confirm that Avnash have started buying rice from our farmers and this is largely due to the intervention by the Minister of Agriculture and the CEO of NAFCO,” he stated.

He said with the construction of two factories by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and MoFA in the District, he was optimistic that the challenge would be resolved.