Friday, December 27, 2019

27th December,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newseletter

Rice sector to focus on developing high quality varieties next year
Việt Nam is not expected to reach its rice export target at US$3 billion this year due to reduction in export prices. — Photo
HÀ NỘI — Rice producers need to be more creative and increase quality if they want to see export profits rise next year. That was the message from Đỗ Hà Nam, deputy chairman of the Việt Nam Food Association (VFA) who was speaking to the Công Thương (Industry and Trade) newspaper about the rice export this year and targets for 2020. “More consumers like high-value and reputable rice products in the market," Nam said.  "Therefore, we need to research and develop new rice varieties and produce fragrant rice with high value instead of growing ordinary white rice with low value.” According to rice enterprises, the thing that determines the success of a rice product on the market is good quality and reputation, not just high prices. The VFA representative said the rice production industry will focus more on markets in Africa and the Middle East, as well as meet standards under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Nam said trade counselors in rice export markets that Việt Nam has signed free trade agreements with should provide information about export procedures and standards required by importing countries. He also said that the State should have better policies for rice production and trading enterprises to access capital for increasing investment and technological innovation. This year, according to forecasts of the association, the rice export value will hardly reach the target of US$3 billion as set out earlier this year. This is due to a reduction of export price by nearly 13 per cent compared to 2018 to average $439.3 per tonne in 11 months of 2019. Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) showed that in the first 11 months of this year, Việt Nam’s rice exports reached 5.91 million tonnes, up 4.8 per cent in volume but the export value decreased 9.4 per cent year on year to $2.6 billion. However, there were some bright spots in the domestic rice export picture during the period, Nam said. Some markets in Southeast Asia also saw a high growth of 25.5 per cent in volume to 2.63 million tonnes and 12.2 per cent in value to $1.09 billion year on year. The Philippines was the largest export market, with almost two million tonnes heading there in 11 months, accounting for 33.6 per cent of the total export volume and 31.5 per cent of the total turnover. The exports increased by 155.4 per cent in volume and 133.6 per cent in value year on year. This year, the Philippines has opened a new mechanism so Việt Nam’s enterprises still had big contracts, making sharp increases in Việt Nam’s rice exports to this market against last year.  According to the MARD, Ivory Coast was the second largest export market for Việt Nam with a rice export volume of nearly 535,000 tonnes, earning $231.45 million. China was the third largest market with a total rice export volume of nearly half a million tonnes imported from Việt Nam. — VNS

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Thu, 12/26/2019 - 11:00am
Description: Article Image Alt TextThe LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station is collaborating with a Cornell University-based project aimed at studying the ...
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Lack of transparency over agricultural tax incentives

Sok Chan / Khmer Times  

When the government announced a series of tax incentives for the agriculture sector last year, there was applause from the private sector because it hoped to boost agricultural production. However, so far the implementation of the move remains murky and there are unresolved issues among taxpayers.
For in depth analysis of Cambodian Business, visit Capital Cambodia
One of the government’s stated tax incentives is the exemption of value-added tax (VAT) to  enterprises importing or supplying various fertilisers, crop seedlings, animal medicines, animal feed, agriculture equipment and machinery. It also applies to those supplying unprocessed agriculture products. This exemption has been absorbed by the government.
In addition, there was to be no VAT for enterprises engaged in producing, supplying or exporting unmilled (paddy) rice, processed rice, corn, beans, pepper, cashew nuts, cassava, or rubber from March 2019 until the end of 2023.
Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in April that dropping VAT charges on exports of agricultural products – including milled rice, corn, cassava, and pepper – would enhance the competitiveness of the agriculture and export sectors.
In addition to those enterprises engaged in producing, supplying or exporting paddy rice, milled rice, corn, beans, pepper, cashew nuts, cassava, or rubber were eligible for exemption of profit tax prepayments for five years, starting from January 2019 to the end of 2023.

Accounting standards

Another government tax incentive is the minimum tax. It applies to enterprises engaged in producing, supplying or exporting paddy rice, milled rice, corn, beans, pepper, cashew nuts, cassava or rubber. To be eligible, for the minimum tax, enterprises must have proper accounting standards and show full compliance with inspectors. Producers of the above are are exempted from this tax from 2019-2023.
What is known as the withholding tax service is also exempted for enterprises engaged in producing, supplying or exporting paddy rice, milled rice, corn, beans, pepper, cashew nuts, cassava, or rubber from March 2019 until the end of 2023.
However, to receive the withholding tax exemption, enterprises must fulfill three conditions.
First, they have to apply for a VAT certificate to state that it is the state’s burden from the general department of taxation (GDT) with a validity of one-year, attached with the monthly VAT declaration and a declaration that the proper accounting standards have been upheld.
The government also exempted tax on profits for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in what is regarded as the priority sector in agricultural products from October 2018. The concerned enterprises must use at least 60 percent of local raw materials, increase the number of employees by 20 per cent or be located in the SME Cluster zone. The exemption applies to  the monthly 1 per cent of pre-payment of tax on income and the annual minimum tax.
According to the General Department of Taxation (GDT), those applying for income tax, prepayment of income tax and minimum tax exemption must present their memorandum and articles of associations, business licences – including the certificate of commercial registration – certificate of tax registration and patent card, business plan and financial statements, goods and services contracts, employment contracts and employee training plan, as well as rental agreement and property title certificate.


The GDT says that firms who want to be eligible for tax deductions must submit the memorandum and articles of association, business licenses, business plan and financial statements, goods and services contracts and employee training plan.
Secretary-General of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) Lun Yeng,  says that the majority of the rice-exporting companies have applied for the tax incentives from the government and they have a proper accounting system. However, some small rice millers have yet to meet the proper accounting standards. Therefore, at present, the CRF is working with Banhji Fintech Co Ltd, a local company providing accounting solutions tailored to Cambodian SMEs, to help 20 small rice millers to prepare proper accounts, Lun adds. “All enterprises must apply to the GDT in the capital or provinces to receive the tax incentives and the CRF must also facilitate this task,” he says.
General Manager of Signatures of Asia Chan Pich, one of leading rice exporters in Cambodia, says that his firm has applied to the GDT to be eligible for the tax incentives from the government.
“For rice exports, the VAT is zero, and the withholding tax is zero. Before, the withholding tax was 1 per cent, but it is exempted now. For the rice milling sector, the VAT and withdrawing tax are huge for the milling sector,” he adds.

Competition tough

Chan says that the competition with neighbouring countries in the rice sector is challenging in terms of pricing and productivity. However, the government’s tax incentives – the withholding tax, VAT and tax on income – will help the rice millers, and encourage them to register legally as well as boosting their productivity and competitiveness.
Chan adds that the information on the tax incentives has spread to almost all the members of the rice sector.
However, Vice-President of Cambodia Chamber of Commerce Lim Heng says that until now, there is no clear guideline for the private sector on the income tax, prepayment of income tax and minimum tax exemption from the government.

He says that government offered the tax exemption to the private sector, particularly in the agriculture sector, to boost competitiveness. However, the government is asking companies to provide proper and clear accounting standards that are audited by independent qualified firms – which is a challenge for taxpayers, especially family-owned businesses.
Lim says that more than 90 per cent of enterprises will be punished if they are found to have no proper accounting system regarding the tax audit. “To be eligible for the tax incentive, enterprises must hold to the accounting standard, but the majority of them do not have the proper accounting systems and when the GDT (General Department of Taxations) is coming to audit, they could be punished afterwards,” Lim says. He adds that if they get punished they will not eligible to receive tax incentives.

Compliance requirements

“We are discussing with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmonirath to find a way out,” Lim adds. “After auditing, if it is discovered a company has not complied with tax requirements, they will not be eligible for the government’s tax incentives – the minimum tax, withholding taxes for exports and income tax,” Mr Lim said.
“We are not clear about this job. We cannot implement the tax incentive so far. The rice industry is also in discussion in this task to manage the financial report. Now, the tax authorities ask the private companies to pay the 1 per cent withholding taxes, while they have not yet done the auditing from the independent audit firm,” Lim pointed out. He says that when they have the auditing statement from an independent audit firm, the GDT will cut the cost. We are discussing this,” he added.
“Before we had the withholding tax of 1 per cent for exports, but since there was the directive issued for the exemption from the government, we have not paid it. However, GDT officials affirmed that if there is no authorised letter from the audit firm with the proper accounting system, the GDT will ask for payment of the withholding tax otherwise the relevant company is punished,” Lim says.
“We have yet implemented it fully because it is under discussion,” Mr Lim adds. “Mostly Cambodia has a lot of family-owned businesses and they have difficulties inviting an independent audit firm to carry out auditing for them every month, so if the GDT audits every two years, there is a problem,” he adds.

Situation unclear

Mr Lim adds that taxation officials say that if a company does not pay withholding tax and lacks proper accounting, when there is the audit from the GDT, they would be fined from the date they have not paid it. “Now we are not clear,” he adds.
“We want the GDT to audit yearly, but they do not have enough officials to do that because there are so many firms, yet they ask the company to submit the forms to the GDT to audit. However, if 1,000 companies apply, will they have the office space to work?” Lim asks.
“Now the GDT is working with the rice sector and will apply the same mechanism to the other six agricultural products,” he says. “If there is no audit, we are afraid that the 1 per cent is a punishable burden,” Lim added.
Chour Chheng, director of Ky Siv Chheng Protein Food Enterprise, a local producer of dried meat, fruits and jams, says that his enterprise has not obliged to pay the tax because his annual turnover is less than $60,000 per year. “I have never paid the tax because our profit is low by taxation law,” he adds.
Mr Chour says because the annual turnover is low, he cannot register his company fully to obtain a patent from the GDT. “I got the audit from GDT, but I am not asked to pay the tax because my company is small and turnover is low,” he adds.
“Without a patent, our products could not sell in malls – for example Aeon Mall – because it does not accept them. However, we can sell our products to other supermarkets, but we have to sell our products to big companies to sell in the mall, so my profit is going down,” Chour adds.
Chan says that government has put its effort toward help the rice sector from year to year. However, to make it better and increase competitiveness, the government should consider the electricity tariffs, transportation fees and interest rates to reduce costs to the rice millers, so that they can afford to collect and take the paddy to the warehouses,” Chan points out.
He adds that for indirect support the government should subsidise and offer financial support or attract other companies to invest in processing products besides rice, such as pericarp – the ripened ovary wall that surrounds the kernel – for animal feed. “If we can process or use these products, it can also boost competitiveness and add value to rice millers’ by-products,” he argues.
Rice prices skid in wholesale market as output surges
Description: Rice prices skid in whole
   Date :27-Dec-2019

Business Bureau :

The prices of rice in the market have skidded by 10 to 15 per cent as compared to the year ago period (YoY). Sources attributes the drop in the prices to the rise in 25 per cent production as compared to last year. The prices at the rice millers have descended by Rs 300 to Rs 400 per quintal. The new rice have just arrived in the market. Last year, the prices of rice at the mill were quoted at Rs 4500 per quintal which this year have tumbled to Rs 4100 per quintal.

Sources said that in the market there was rumour that State Government will give a subsidy of Rs 500 per quintal to the farmer. However, traders in the market are wondering how it would be possible for the State Government to give the subsidy when there is paucity of funds. There is cloudy weather. Taking cue of both these factors, farmers have increased the prices by Rs 100 to Rs 150 per quintal. Rice in grown in places like Mul, Gadchiroli, Gondia, Sakoli, Tiroda, Chimur, Chandrapur, Bramhapuri etc. Mills operating in this area are directly selling to places like Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Solapur, Satara and Sangli. When contacted, Pratap Motwani, Secretary of The Wholesale Grain and Seeds Merchants Association said, in 2018, rice was cultivated on 10.01 lakh hectares of land. In 2019, the area covering rice cultivation was 12.55 lakh hectares.

The production this year will increase by 20 to 25 per cent as compared to last year. He said, “The month of January is good for stocking rice in households as the prices will inflate after Mahashivratri when the marriage season will commence.” In the local wholesale market, the prices of rice per kg quoted as against the year-ago period were Chinnor- Rs 55 to Rs 56 per kg (Rs 60 to Rs 65 per kg), Jaishriram- Rs 26 to Rs 46/kg (Rs 45 to Rs 50/kg), Jaishriram old- Rs 50 to Rs 55/kg (Rs 55 to Rs 60), Basmati- Rs 50 to Rs 90/kg (Rs 60 to Rs 110), Basmati branded- Rs 70 to Rs 110/kg (Rs 90 to Rs 130), Suvarna - Rs 23 to Rs 25/kg (Rs 28), Suvarna old- Rs 27 to Rs 28/kg (Rs 29 to Rs 31).

Effective intervention needed to ensure fair paddy prices

Published: 00:00, Dec 27,2019

HEAVY losses stare in the face of aman growers as the government procurement programme, which began on November 20, has so far failed to afford them any relief because of irregularities in the process, controlled by middlemen and millers. The government has set the price of Tk 1,040 for 40 kilograms of paddy and will buy six lakh tonnes of paddy and four lakh tonnes of rice directly from farmers, but farmers complain that the government is not buying paddy or rice directly from them, which has forced them to sell 40 kilograms of paddy for Tk 700, Tk 300 below the production cost. The government has, moreover, plans to buy only 10 lakh tonnes, which is 6.5 per cent of the total harvest of 1.53 crore tonnes. The government, as the food ministry web site says, has already procured 22,667 tonnes of rice from millers in November 20–December 22 and has begun procuring paddy from farmers on 16 locations. A situation like this stands farmers where they would not even get their investment in production.
In the boro season of May–July, farmers faced a similar problem and had to sell paddy for prices between Tk 500 and Tk 600, much below the production cost, prompting wide protests among farmers, some of whom are reported to have burnt their produces before harvest. The government procurement programme that time proved to be futile and could not afford the farmers any relief although the government, later, procured paddy directly from farmers at a few places. Farmers and experts have for long blamed a syndicated hoarding by millers and middlemen for the decline in paddy prices in the absence of any regulating mechanism to protect farmer’s interest. Besides, the growing production cost because of a cumulative dependence on agro-industry leaves farmers in a vulnerable position, many of whom were reportedly disappointed about rice production and started opting for other crops. Any such happening might have an alarming consequence. The government’s intention, as the food minister said in July, to build 200 silos across the country and procure more rice directly from farmers to save them has so far remained in words only.
The government, under the circumstances, must intervene and look into whether there is any syndicated hoarding or manipulated procurement and take necessary steps. The government must also scale up its procurement programme to cover a significant amount of the total production and buy paddy and rice directly from farmers. Long-term initiatives such as building an adequate number of silos to increase the government’s storage capacity, which now stands at a worryingly low level, are a must too.

Festive season brings boom to local rice farmers, businessmen

• Stakeholders say govt policies boosting local production of Nigeria’s popular staple

Ngozi Nwoke
Without a doubt, rice is one of the most popular foods in Nigeria, with the people consuming as much as seven million tonnes each year. 
Virtually every part of the country is blessed with arable land suitable for the cultivation of rice. Indeed, from time immemorial, places like Abakaliki in Ebonyi State, several communities in Kebbi State, Ofada in Ogun State, Igbemo-Ekiti in Ekiti State and many others across the length and breadth of the country have been known as the home of rice.
In spite of these, however, the country, for many years, relied more on rice imported from other parts of the world. Many derided rice planted in the country as too local. Billions of dollars was expended on the importation of food, most of which could be cultivated in the country. In muffled tones, impoverished farmers bemoaned their fate.
But that culture began to change recently. To support local farmers, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration embarked on some policies that have been encouraging local cultivation, especially rice. Government also curbed imports of some food items, including rice. All that, coupled with the sudden closure of land borders in the country as well as the continued confiscation of bags of suspected foreign rice by operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service, has encouraged local farmers, rice millers and traders. And local rice has suddenly become the most popular commodity in the country.
Stakeholders said the Federal Government has been boosting agriculture by supporting local farmers in many ways. Some of the support offered to farmers includes grants by the government, loans offered to farmers at cheap interest rates, grants and technology given by non-profits and funding from foreign agencies, such as the World Bank.
One of the major policies was the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, which was launched by President Buhari on November 17, 2015. The programme is intended to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities.
The CBN set up a $130m initiative offering farmers who have at least one hectare of land loans at a nine per cent interest rate, which is below the benchmark interest rate of 14 per cent. The apex bank has announced that about a million farmers have benefitted from the programme.
Besides the CBN, the World Bank is also funding a number of schemes to encourage farming and help boost agriculture and food security in the country. There are centres now offering equipment and machines at greatly subsidised hire prices to farmers.
Most of the interventions seem to have favoured rice farmers. All of a sudden, there is a sudden boom in that sector. Rice grown and milled in Nigeria is now neatly packaged and consumed all over the country. And farmers, traders and even consumers are happy.
Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture, World Markets and Trade asserted that the reforms in Nigeria’s agriculture sector have begun to yield the desired fruits, noting that Nigeria now produces 3.7 million tonnes of rice annually. A rice farmer in one of the Northern states, Aminu Ndakogi, explained that one of the international development partners in the country, the non-profit organisation, International Forum for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has also been helping farmers in the area.
“I started farming with only one hectare, and the average yield was two to three tonnes. When I integrated with IFAD, I was able to increase my cultivation to three hectares with an average of eight tonnes. Now, I’m planning to increase my cultivation to five hectares,” he told the BBC.
There is also an ongoing partnership between the German government and the Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation to help boost rice farming in the country.
With support from the foundation, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany, it was gathered, provided two million Euros for implementation of the rice farming project tagged CARI-2. The project aims to help smallholder farmers to increase their income and provide their families and the country with high quality rice, according to the programme director, Jean-Bernard Lalannehe.
Lalannehe said the programme commenced in June 2018, and would last till June 2021. He informed that the project would be focused on business linkages in the rice sector to ensure that the producers were well connected with the markets, processors, rice millers, aggravators and input dealers.
Besides the various interventions that encourage local cultivation of rice, stakeholders have partly attributed the current popularity of local rice among consumers to the closure of land borders by the government.
In August, the Federal Government suddenly closed the country’s land borders, and they have remained closed till date. Many people were caught unawares by the unexpected move. But according to many rice farmers and traders, it has remained one of the best actions of the current administration.
In fact, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has urged the Federal Government to ensure that the borders remain closed for now. The body said the policy was helping to boost the nation’s economy.
Idris Abini, chairman of the association in Niger State, said the closure has increased rice production in the state due to increased demand by marketers and consumers.
“We have started the journey to produce more rice due to the closure of our borders because efforts will be made by both government and farmers to produce enough food.
“The border closure is a right step in the right direction because it is already increasing wealth among farmers as consumers are beginning to patronise our local rice. Those criticising the closure of the borders are not true Nigerians because it is one of the best decisions of this administration,” he said.
Abini expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for providing the enabling environment for agriculture to thrive by supporting farmers with inputs and implements.
“The Federal Government has demonstrated this through the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers Scheme by allowing farmers to access more loans even when previous ones have not been fully repaid,” he said.
Vice president of RIFAN in the South West, Mr. Victor Korede, was delighted that rice farming has been witnessing a boom across the country. He praised the Federal Government for closing the nation’s land borders and for introducing initiatives that encourage local farmers.
“I’m a farmer and a Nigerian and I know the good it will do for the country. It will ginger us because farmers will know they have a market and in that sector there will be progress owing to increased production. We know production now is slow but we know we have to rise to the occasion and develop our market. When you’re producing and there’s a market, you keep improving and expanding.”
To the chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kano State chapter, Alhaji Faruk Rabi’u, the Federal Government has boosted the confidence of farmers. He noted that the Federal Government had shown its readiness to boost agricultural production by insisting on the patronage of the home products.
“With this development, farmers will have more confidence that their products will be patronised. Therefore they can invest more on their farms because they know that after harvesting, their farm products will be sold. If we continue to import foreign rice, despite the fact that the locally produced one is the best for our health, people will continue to buy it,” he said.
The rejuvenation of the local rice industry has also increased the activities of businessmen, as more rice mills have sprung up in many parts of the country.
Alhaji Aminu Ahmed, managing director of Tiamin Rice Milling Plant in Kano, said the new rice mills are giving jobs to hundreds of hitherto unemployed individuals. His own mill, he noted, now employs over 300 permanent staff and 600 casual workers.
Another rice farmer, Alhaji Muhammadu Jega, said after achieving self-sufficiency in rice production, Nigerian farmers would be targeting exporting rice to other countries.
A rice consultant and general manager, project, Elephant Group, Dr. Oluwarotimi Fashola, told Daily Sun that the border closure was a great decision by the Federal Government, especially since the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the CBN was offering tremendous support to Nigerian farmers. He urged even tighter regulations at the borders to enhance the growth of Nigeria’s local rice industry.
In his words, for the demand-supply gap created by the ban on smuggled foreign rice to be bridged, and to bring down the cost of locally produced rice, increased investment and consistency on the part of farmers and patience on the part of consumers were needed.
Mr. Francis Toromade, the director-general of Premier Agribusiness Academy, said the closure of Nigeria’s land borders was a good development.
“If closing the borders will make our local production grow, it is better for us. When the borders are porous, some individuals are enriched and not the economy. Why must we continue to buy foreign rice when rice is produced in Kebbi, Ebonyi and other states?” he queried.
Traders in local rice are also in a happy mood in this festive season. Many of them said they had been making good money, noting that the ban placed on importation of foreign rice had boosted their business tremendously.
“Banning foreign rice and encouraging local rice farmers has been a blessing. Even if that is the only good thing by this Buhari administration, I fully support it. Those of us doing this business are happy. Suddenly, everyone is patronising local rice and we are making money. Business has been quite good,” Ndubuisi Okeke, who has a small rice distributing business in Lagos, noted.
Many consumers have also attested to the quality of the species of rice planted in Nigeria. Experts have insisted that the brown rice produced in Nigeria is far better and healthier than foreign rice. The local rice, they noted, has a carbohydrate content that is of high quality, and its rich fibre content aids in the body’s digestion processes. It also has fewer calories than the imported white rice, its protein is gluten-free, it protects the heart, reduces the risk of diabetes, and is good for the bones and heart. The local rice, experts insist, also fights cancer, helps in weight loss, reduces sleep disorder, has anti-aging properties and is rich in the mineral folate, a form of folic acid essential for pregnant women and women trying to conceive, among other health benefits.

PM urges farmers to diversify crops amid shortage of water

May Kunmakara | Publication date 26 December 2019 | 21:22 ICT
Farmers grow rice in a field in Kampong Speu province. Prime Minister Hun Sen urges farmers to switch to crops resilient to a shortage of water, such as sugar cane, to shield themselves from price drops and fluctuating yields during the dry season. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/afp
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday called for farmers to diversify beyond rice during the dry season, amid meteorologists’ warnings that a decline in water levels due to drought will adversely impact output and prices.
The prime minister urged farmers to switch to crops resilient to a shortage of water, such as sugarcane, to shield themselves from price drops and fluctuating yields during the dry season.
“According to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, we are approaching the harvests at the end of the rainy season. So far, we have harvested two million hectares of paddy fields out of a total of 2.7 million hectares.
“I hope that rice yields in the rainy season will not be affected by a shortage of water. However, paddy fields will face a shortage of water during the dry season – that’s why I issued a directive to farmers last week to grow rice only once during the dry season and then switch to another crop,” Hun Sen said.
In a statement released last week, the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) said the poor condition of paddy fields due to water shortages in some areas had affected prices.
It added that certain parts of Pursat province that produced phkma malis (jasmine) and somali rice had grown tough grains lacking aroma “that consumers cannot accept”.
Rice crops in Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces, the statement said, had also struggled due to poor quality paddies and disease.
However, some areas in Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampot and Kandal provinces yielded quality crops that demanded high prices.
CRF secretary-general Lun Yeng told The Post on Wednesday that the drop in quality was due to drought.
“The price of the good quality crops – phkma malis and phka romduol – is the same as last year, around 1,200 riel ($0.30) per kilogramme, while sen kra op rice costs 1,000 riel ($0.24).
“Rice millers did not want to lower the price of rice, but [they had no choice] because of the poor quality of the crop,” Yeng said.
Hun Sen said that while the government had called on millers not to lower the price of rice, it did not set prices as Cambodia is a free-market economy.
The prime minister advised farmers in areas suffering from water shortages to switch from rice to crops that would ensure better yields and bring higher prices.
A Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report showed that in the first 11 months of this year, rice exports to the international market totalled 514,149 tonnes – an increase of 3.4 per cent on the same period last year.
Rice exports up 39pc to 1.6mln tons in 5 months
ISLAMABAD: Rice exports increased 38.58 percent in the first five months of the current fiscal year compared to the corresponding period last fiscal, mainly owing to a strong demand for Pakistan’s high-quality grains, latest data showed.

Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) stats presented that over 1.601 million tons of rice ($835.686 million) were exported in July-November period of FY2020, as against 1.115 million tons ($603.149 million) in the same period a year ago.

Basmati rice exports increased 61.47 percent to 343,885 tons during the period under review compared to 190,997 tons ($193.855 million) in the July-November FY2019.

The country exported about 1.257 million tons ($522.846 million) of other varieties of rice, as against 964,539 tons ($409.294 million) in the same period last fiscal.

On a month-on-month basis, rice exports increased 24.49 percent in November 2019 to 440,488 tons ($202.069 million), compared to 355,488 tons ($162.321 million) sold overseas in the same month of 2018.
In November 2019, basmati rice exports also grew 24.49 percent as 58,421 metric tons ($54.522 million) were exported, against 29,185 tons ($28.504 million) in November last.The food group exports during first five months of this fiscal increased 16.20 percent over the corresponding period of the last year.

Food commodities worth $1.757 billion were exported in July-November FY2020 period as against $1.512 billion in the same period of FY2019.On the other hand, import of food commodities during the period under review decreased 15.36 percent to $2.088 billion, as compared to $2.467 billion in the same time last year.

Food group exports grew 16.30 percent month-on-month as products worth $397.708 million were exported in November this year against $341.975 million in the same month of 2018.
However, on a month-on-month basis, imports in November 2019 increased 5.14 percent to $505.503 million as against $480.775 million, same month last year.

From rubbish to rice: the cafe that gives food in exchange for plastic

The Garbage Cafe in Ambikapur, India, is helping to tackle the country’s plastic waste problem – and their novel idea is catching on

 India generates approximately 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, only about 14,000 tonnes of which are collected. Photograph: Divyakant Solanki/EPA
Description: India generates approximately 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, only about 14,000 tonnes of which are collected.On bad days, when his employer made some excuse for not paying him his paltry daily wage, Ram Yadav’s main meal used to be dry chapatis, with salt and raw onion for flavour. Sometimes he just went hungry. For a ragpicker like him, one of the thousands of Indians who make a living bringing in plastic waste for recycling, eating in a cafe or restaurant was the stuff of fairytales.
Description: The Garbage Cafe, opened by the Ambikapur Municipal Corporation in October, gives a meal to anyone who brings in plastic waste.But last week, Yadav was sitting at a table at the Garbage Cafe in Ambikapur, in the state of Chhattisgarh, over a piping hot meal of dal, aloo gobi, poppadoms and rice. He earned the food in exchange for bringing in 1kg of plastic waste. “The hot meal I get here lasts me all day. And it feels good to sit at a table like everyone else,” he said.
Opened in October by the Ambikapur municipal corporation, the cafe is designed both to encourage awareness about the need to collect and remove plastic waste and to give a meal to anyone – ragpicker, student or civic-minded individual – who does so. The tagline? “More the waste, better the taste.”
 The Garbage Cafe, opened by the Ambikapur Municipal Corporation in October, gives a meal to anyone who brings in plastic waste. Photograph: Amrit Dhillon
The launch was attended by the Chhattisgarh health minister, TS Singh Deo, who emphasised that the cafe was for everyone by bringing in half a kilo of plastic himself.
Description: Chhattisgarh health minister, TS Singh Deo, right, brought half a kilo of plastic to the launch of the Garbage Cafe to emphasise that the scheme was for everyone.“It’s become well known fast, because it’s located right by the main bus stand in the city,” said the city’s mayor, Ajay Tirkey. “We’re getting about a dozen people coming in every day. One day a whole family came in with huge sacks weighing seven kilos.”
Most Indian cities are struggling with huge amounts of unsegregated waste. There are few effective waste-management systems, and according to the country’s environment ministry the country generates approximately 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day – only about 14,000 tonnes of which are collected.

 Chhattisgarh health minister, TS Singh Deo, right, brought half a kilo of plastic to the launch of the Garbage Cafe to emphasise that the scheme was for everyone. Photograph: Amrit Dhillon
Description: modest effort to push back against single-use plastic received a boost in October, when the prime minster, Narendra Modi, used the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth to announce that India would phase out single-use plastic by 2022 (though he stopped short of a blanket ban). Later that month, during a visit to Tamil Nadu state, he went for a morning walk by the sea at Mamallapuram and ended up “plogging” on the beach.
Ambikapur is one of the cities at the front of the charge. It boasts 100% door-to-door waste collection and segregation, and was the second-cleanest in government rankings this year. It also generates about 1.2 million rupees (13,000 pounds sterling) a month selling plastic and recycled paper to private companies. The collected plastic from the Garbage Cafe will be used to construct roads – in 2015, the Ambikapur authorities built an entire road out of plastic. “It has lasted really well, even during the monsoon rains,” said Tirkey.
The cafe’s concept of bartering food for plastic waste is catching on elsewhere, too. In Siliguri, West Bengal, the alumni of a local school are distributing free food on Saturdays to anyone who deposits half a kilo of plastic waste. At the other end of the country in Mulugu in Telangana state, the town authorities give one kilo of rice in return for one kilo of plastic. Local school children also go around collecting plastic. The district collector of Mulugu has said he wants to make his district the first in India to be free of single use plastic. The enthusiasm is proving infections: one local couple sent out wedding invitations printed on reusable cloth grocery bags.
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi collects rubbish from a beach in Mamallapuram. Photograph: AP
It has now reached the capital, New Delhi, where municipal authorities plan to open several Garbage Cafes along the lines of the one in Ambikapur. About 70% of the city’s plastic waste is single use, and most of it ends up in landfills or clogging drains. It is a particular menace for hungry cows who end up rummaging through garbage bins and eating plastic. Last year, a vet in Delhi removed 70kg of plastic from a cow’s stomach.
Simar Malhotra, co-founder of Parvaah, a not-for-profit in New Delhi which campaigns against plastic, believes the Garbage Cafe is worth emulating across the country.
“How many schemes solve two problems in one go? The cafe tackles waste and also gives hungry people a hot meal which in turn motivates them to collect more plastic,” she said.
Tirkey stresses the importance of that loop. “What’s important is that our meals are nutritious and tasty. We didn’t want to give rubbish.”
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Rewind 2019: A Look Back at Significant Developments in Indian Science This Year

By Dinesh C Sharma | ISW

TWC India

Representational image: A young science enthusiast peering at the sky using a telescope
(Credits: Piyal Bhattacharjee/TOI, BCCL, Delhi)
Chandrayaan-2 may have dominated popular imagination during 2019 despite the Vikram Lander failing to soft-land on the lunar surface, but the year was marked by several significant developments by Indian scientists in fields ranging from nanotechnology to climate change.
The run-up to the lunar mission with planned landing of the lander-cum-rover, the launch campaign, the journey to the lunar orbit and the landing sequence all attracted national and international attention. The year ended in triumph for citizen science when Chennai-based software engineer, Shanmuga Subramanian, discovered debris of Vikram on the lunar surface using publicly available high-resolution images of the landing site. This development comes close to a rise in citizen science initiatives in the country.
Staying with space and astronomy, star of an exoplanet was named after Indian physicist, Bibha Chowdhury. During the year, Indian software engineers got readied software that will run the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which is slated to be the world’s largest ground-based telescope operating at optical and infrared wavelengths. Details about TMT and other international Big Science projects in which India is participating were on display in a roving exhibition called Vigyan Samagam which attracted huge crowds.
Climate change: Responding to climate change impacts being seen in the Himalayan region, Indian scientists developed a common framework for assessment of climate change vulnerability in all the states in the region, using an index based on socio-economic factors, demographic and health status, sensitivity of agricultural production, forest-dependent livelihoods, and access to information, services and infrastructure. This knowledge will now be applied to develop a countrywide map of climate vulnerability.
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) found a link between warming of the Indo-Pacific Ocean and changing rainfall patterns in many parts of the globe, including India. The warming pools of the Indo-Pacific Ocean are expanding, and this, in turn, is altering a major weather phenomenon known as the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO). The warming of Indo-Pacific Ocean is occurring due to man-made emissions. Another group from the Indian Institute of Science warned that as many as 55 percent of glaciers in the Satluj basin may disappear by 2050. and 97 percent by 2090, under extreme climate change scenario. Using ice thickness of glaciers as the basis, scientists also estimated that glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayas might contain 27% less ice than previously suggested.
Eco-friendly technologies: The year saw progress towards development of less polluting crackers, with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) releasing first set of ‘green crackers’. A national centre to pursue R&D in clean coal technologies was also opened in Bangalore. Eight teams of innovators from different parts of the world were selected for an international competition to develop more efficient and climate-friendly cooling solutions for residential buildings. The team will get seed money to translate their ideas into prototypes. The final winner of the Global Climate Prize will be announced in November 2020.
Representational image: Microscopic bacteria
(Credits: IANS)
Indian genomic data: In an important development, Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) completed whole genome sequencing of 1008 Indian individuals representing diverse ethnic groups in the country. The data will act as baseline information for developing various applications in predictive and preventive medicine.
Scientists from CCMB also found underlying genetic factors for infertility among Indian men. This knowledge could help in developing a genetic test for male infertility in near future. As part of genetic studies to trace the origins of population groups in the Indian sub-continent, it had been seen that sizeable population group of Mundas in central and northeast India shares genetic ancestry with Southeast Asian populations as well. A study revealed how and when this admixture between Mundas and Southeast Asian populations took place.
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) launched a new human atlas initiative called Manav to develop a unified database of molecular network of all the tissues in the human body, and to derive a holistic picture of the working of human body. This mega project will collate and integrate molecular information on human tissues and organs that currently lies hidden in research articles in an unstructured and disorganized form.
Developments in gene editing: Indian scientists developed a new variant of currently popular gene editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, and showed that it can increase precision in editing genome while avoiding unintended changes in DNA. The researchers showed that this type of gene editing can be used to correct sickle cell anemia, a genetic blood disorder. The experiments were done in human-derived cells from patients of sickle cell anemia, according to findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
New nano materials: Continuing their work in nano science and technology in 2019, scientists at the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) used gold nanoparticles, and by rearranging size and gaps between them, developed a new material with unique properties like capacity to absorb light and carbon dioxide. Gold does not have these properties, and therefore, the new material has been named ‘black gold’, dye to its black appearance.
Boosting rice productivity: Scientists at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) identified a gene involved in regulating the size of rice grain. The new development represents a new approach towards developing rice varieties that produce bigger and consequently heavier grains. Scientists from the Bose Institute came up with a new salt-tolerant transgenic rice plant by over-expressing a gene from a wild rice called Porteresia coarctata into the commonly used IR 64 indica rice variety.
Other important developments during the year included a new plan to establish a museum for marine archaeology at Lothal, a new satellite-based weather information service for deep sea fishers, grand challenge for cancer research to develop affordable cancer diagnostics and treatment, a white paper on e-cigarettes that led to its ban in India, and new initiative to boost malaria research in the country.
(This article was originally published on India Science Wire.)
Government urged to provide assistance to farmers
Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) - December 27, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The government should hasten the provision of assistance to rice farmers affected by the rice tariffication law as the brunt of losses will continue to be felt in the next five years, according to state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
Citing a recent study, PIDS senior research fellow Roehlano Briones said that despite the positive impact to consumers, palay farmers will experience significant loses in the next five up to 10 years.
The policy think tank’s study on the effects of the change in the rice trade regime showed that  imports over a decade will grow at about 29 percent, a 22-percent difference from the projected growth of 7.1 percent without tariffication. In the next five years, imports will grow by 52.8 percent.
On the production side, palay production is seen to decline by 1.8 percent, a reversal of the 2.5 percent projected growth if tariffication is not in place.
For the five year projection, palay production is expected to decline  by 5.7 percent, in contrast to a 2.8 percent growth without tariffication.
Harvest area for palay is also seen declining by 1.1 percent within 10 years versus a 0.9 percent growth without tariffication.
Within the next five years, a 3.3 percent decline in harvest area can be expected in contrast to a one percent growth without tariffication.
Farmgate prices of palay can be expected to grow by only 0.8 percent under the law in contrast to the projected 1.6 percent growth without tariffication.
In line with increased rice supply, retail prices will continue to plummet at a negative 1.7 percent rate by 2030 under the law in contrast to a 0.6 percent growth without tariffication.
Farmers’ income will grow by only 0.9 percent in 10 years’ time with the tariffication law in place in contrast with the 2.7 percent growth projection without it.
Within the next five years, farmers’ income growth will be flat compared with a 2.5 percent projected growth rate in the absence of the law.
Despite these results, Briones said the government should continue to implement the Rice Tariffication Law because of its long-term benefits to consumers who were paying for rice at 100 percent more than other Asian countries like Vietnam and India.
“If you want Philippine society to benefit in the long run, we should maintain the law,” said Briones.
At the same time, the government should hasten the provision of compensation for farmers affected by the reform.
“We do not deny the analysis that clearly points out the loss suffered by palay farmers. They actually have a point when they ask, ‘Why are we going to take a hit for the Filipino consumer?’” said Briones.
“If the consumers really benefit, maybe rice farmers can share in the benefit,” he added.
The Rice Tariffication Act amends the two-decade-old Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 and replaces the quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice imports with a 35 percent tariff.
Under the new import regime, legitimate rice traders can import rice from various sources without permit from the National Food Authority (NFA), provided they secure a sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance from the Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and pay the appropriate tariff to the Bureau of Customs.
The law, which had been languishing in the legislative mill for years, was hurriedly passed early this year to drive down rising inflation.
The law provides for a P10 billion Rice Fund to be used for productivity measures in affected rice farms.
Additional revenues from tariffs can be used for other purposes such as financial assistance, expanded crop insurance on rice, and crop diversification program for farmers who want to shift to other crops.

Hun Sen Says Gov’t Will Not Regulate Rice Prices As Farmers Decry Lowering Profits

26 December 2019
·       Kann Vicheika

Description: FILE: A Cambodian vendor cleans her rice as she prepares it to sell at a rice store in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, April 27, 2019. Cambodia's close friend China agreed to buy 400,000 tons of rice from Cambodia for this year and next year. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
FILE: A Cambodian vendor cleans her rice as she prepares it to sell at a rice store in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, April 27, 2019. Cambodia's close friend China agreed to buy 400,000 tons of rice from Cambodia for this year and next year. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
In 2016, the government also initiated a plan to nationalize almost all major markets across the country, on account of elections in 2017 and criticism for market vendors about past management. 
Prime Minister Hun Sen said his government will not intervene to prop up rice prices, saying Cambodia was not a “communist country” and that the open markets will determine rice prices.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said farmers growing high quality rice were getting the same prices as last year, and those farmers complaining of low prices were selling subpar quality paddy.
“The Ministry of Agriculture…has already explained why the price of rice is falling. It has its reasons,” Hun Sen said.
He added that Cambodia was not a “communist country” and could not regulate prices because it had adopted an open market system.
However, the government routinely regulates water and electricity prices, lowering the prices for certain kinds of workers and sections of the population. It also instituted a pricing mechanism for petroleum companies in 2016 and even capped interest rates for microfinance loans in 2017.
In 2016, the government also initiated a plan to nationalize almost all major markets across the country, on account of elections in 2017 and criticism for market vendors about past management.
“We could only make an appeal, but the market mechanism does not require the state to set the prices,” Hun Sen said on Thursday.
Farmers have complained that rice prices have fallen significantly this year, while millers, who buy the paddy for export, say they do not have the working capital to purchase the rice. The government has only been able to provide $50 million of the $200 million shortfall.
The sector was also hit with tariffs to the European Union for three years, after Italy triggered protectionist safeguards in the “Everything But Arms” trade preferences.
Choeun Socheat, a 41-year-old farmer in Battambang province’s Oral commune, who said that prices had dropped by almost half, from 1300 riel per kilogram for fragrant rice to 700 riel. Fragrant rice is high quality rice.
“The rice buyers say they won't buy [rice],” he said. “But, I am just selling it to the millers, even if it is cheap. I need to sell rice to pay the fertilizer and farmland.”
Agriculture expert Yang Saing Koma said the government needed to help under resourced farmers, whether it be pricing, access to new technology or irrigation facilities.
He added that countries intervened in critical agriculture sectors to prevent scarcity and food insecurity, pointing to Thailand, Japan and Malaysia.
“It is needed if we produce less food and there is a potential risk, such as serious natural disasters or to face economic or other sanctions, that makes it impossible for us to produce large quantities of rice,” he said.
Chan Sokheang, deputy director of Cambodia Rice Federation, claimed that climate change was affecting the quality of the rice, but that if millers had enough working capital they could buy the rice at reasonable prices.
While exports to the European Union have dropped this year, rice exports have been steady on account of China significantly increasing its imports of Cambodian rice.

Researcher from Ghana arrives in Pendleton during Round-Up week

Kofi Boateng left his home country of Ghana and arrived in town during Pendleton Round-Up week. The Ph.D. student is living in Pendleton and working at the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center until March.
PENDLETON — Kofi Boateng will never forget that he was born on a Friday.
It’s easy, he says, because boys in his native Ghana, who are born on a Friday, are traditionally named Kofi. Boys born on Saturday are called Kwame. And so it goes for every day of the week. Girls have different day-related names.
That’s just one of the differences between life in Ghana and his new world — Eastern Oregon.
In September, the 35-year-old Ph.D. student traveled 7,000 miles from Ghana to work at the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center near Pendleton. He arrived in town just as Pendleton Round-Up week revved up. Boateng, new to rodeo, rustled up a ticket and sat in utter fascination as he watched the wild, colorful competition of bull and bronc riders, ropers, steer wrestlers, barrel racers and his favorite event, Indian relay racing.
The foray into the Wild West was a prelude to his first day at the agricultural center where he would assist in studying crop production and greenhouse emissions. Boateng has a special interest in this research as it relates to his own Ph.D. studies regarding rice production and greenhouse gases.
“We want to produce more rice without damaging the environment,” he said, “but rice production comes with greenhouse emissions. We want more production without increased emissions.”
The Oregon research project focuses on wheat, but Boateng says the principles of emission research are the same.
When he isn’t analyzing gas and soil samples, he is exploring his temporary new home. The weather is colder in Eastern Oregon than in Ghana, where the temperature ranges from around 66 degrees to 104. Ghanan food also is hotter than American fare.
Think tank urges making compensation for rice farmers a priority
Franco Luna ( - December 26, 2019 - 8:53pm
MANILA, Philippines — Government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies said government efforts should be refocused on compensating farmers already adversely affected by the Rice Tariffication Law.
Roehlano Briones, PIDS senior research fellow and agricultural trade expert, said consumers would benefit more from the RTL in the long-term with an estimated P197 billion earned “every year for the first five years,” according to his analysis on 2019 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority. 
In ten years, the top income group would gain some P367 billion, a stark contrast to the P87 billion earned by the bottom income group of consumers. He also said that within that time frame, “if we value all of those benefits and convert them as if we got them today, the equivalent value is P 2.26 trillion.”
The PIDS study found it would be palay farmers who would absorb the worst of the losses within the next five years.
He said that using data from before the law was implemented was not a good basis for measuring its effects as 2018 did not provide a sufficient picture of a "normal rice market" to begin with due to the gap between the highest and lowest palay prices shooting up to "almost 90 percent" for that year. 

Economic sabotage 

Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Liberalization Law, replaces restrictions on rice importation with tarrifs and aims to use the revenues to fund rice storage and research initiative programs under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) worth P10 billion a year.
Briones also warned that “imports over the decade will grow at about 29 percent” and would remain on pace to reach 52.8 percent under the law. 
According to the US Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service, the Philippines is already currently the world's top importer of rice, beating out China despite its population of more than a billion.
Lawmakers have called for the departments of Finance and Agriculture to release funds to assist the farmers adversely affected by the law. Farmer groups, too, say that their situation has not improved since the passage of the law due to depressed farmgate prices of palay, which they said has been "economic sabotage of the rice sector."
As of November 2019, the listed farmgate price of palay, or the price of palay purchased directly from farms, was P15.52 per kilogram, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority. 
Farmers themselves say the actual costs, especially in far-flung areas, are as low as P7 per kilo, much lower than their production cost of around P12.
"[The law is] primarily triggering depressed farm gate prices as low as P7 per kilo this year, but the retail prices never dropped accordingly," Bantay Bigas spokesperson and Amihan Secretary-General Cathy Estavillo said in a December 9 statement. 
As early as August, Estavillo and similar groups have been saying that the RCEF has only existed "[t]o show that there is government support to affected rice farmers."

Negative production growth

Although defending the logic of the law itself, Ateneo economics professor Ser Pena-Reyes, PhD in an earlier phone interview with also acknowledged that there were lapses in the aid extended to farmers as originally promised in the law. 
"You’re going to gain revenues there which you should use to subsidize the farmers with. That needs to be implemented more forcefully [because] you also have to make sure that you support people who need it," Peña-Reyes said. 
"We generate revenues from tariffs, [so] why don’t you help the farmers?"
The study by PIDS also showed that the production side would not fare that much better, either. 
The think tank projected "-1.8-percent growth under the law versus a 2.5-percentage growth without tariffication" in ten years, while the five-year projection yielded a -5.7-percent growth rate with tariffication and a 2.8-percent growth without it.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros was also prompted in late December to urge the administration to include rice infrastructure initiatives in its Build, Build, Build program to ease strains and guarantee growth in the agriculture sector. 
Even with the overwhelmingly negative results, though, Briones said that this should still not prompt the repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law, despite what the affected farmers in question have long been calling for. 
“We do not deny the analysis [that] clearly points out the loss suffered by palay farmers. They actually have a point when they ask, ‘Why are we [going to] take a hit for the Filipino consumer?’ If the consumers really benefit, maybe they [rice farmers] can share in the benefit,” Briones said.
The researcher, though, urged that the government accelerate the rolling out of further RCEF funds.
Pena-Reyes, too, asserted that food security should be the broader goal rather than focusing on rice production and self-sufficiency. The professor echoed what economists have long been saying: that the lethal combination of low productivity and high production costs has always held the country's naturally-limited agriculture industry back.
"It’s not just rice that we should be focusing on," he said. “We’re not agronomically endowed to produce rice as much as Thailand and Vietnam do. They have the mighty Mekong River to serve as a natural source of irrigation. We do not have that."
By the year 2030, farmgate prices are seen to grow at only 0.8 percent under the law, in contrast to the projected 1.6 percent without it.
Retail prices, on the other hand, will shrink to the tune of a -1.7-percent growth by 2030 under the law, as opposed to 0.6 percent growth without tariffication.
For the farmers affected by this and who still remain without the substantial compensation recommended by the think tank, life is only getting harder
Think tank urges making compensation for rice farmers a priority

‘Take back golden rice approval’

December 27, 2019
ENVIRONMENTAL group Greenpeace has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to revoke its recent approval of the genetically modified golden rice for human and animal consumption, citing irregularities throughout the approval process.
The group formally submitted their appeal to the DA’s Office of the Secretary, with several other appeals from farmer, consumer and other public interest groups.
On December 10, the DA, through the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), gave golden rice a biosafety permit for its direct use in food, feed and for processing.
Greenpeace, however, claimed that the approval was unwarranted due to “the incomplete data submitted by the project proponents” and “the lack of transparency and adequate public participation throughout the approval process.”
“The BPI’s approval of so-called ‘golden rice’ is extremely irresponsible and completely misguided,” said Wilhelmina Pelegrina, senior campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“Greenpeace condemns the BPI’s systematic disregard of the precautionary principle and of robust data that clearly show that the safety assessments submitted by GR (golden rice) proponents are flawed. We also believe the application was not transparent and feel that the approval was railroaded, with no attempt to include any meaningful public consultation,” she said.
On October 24, Greenpeace submitted to the DA, the BPI and the Department of Health comments on the “Consolidated Report of PhilRice and IRRI’s GR2E rice application for direct use as food and feed or for processing.”
According to the group, the scientific critique showed that the supporting information and studies submitted by PhilRice and the International Rice Research Institute show deficiencies in the data provided for the risk assessment. These deficiencies, the group noted, cast major doubt on the assessment and the safety of “golden rice” or GR2E for food and feed.
Furthermore, Greenpeace said that the approval process for the golden rice failed to take into account the potential socio-economic impact to farmers and indigenous peoples, as well as to local culture, ethics and risks to social cohesion.
“[T]he assessment did not cover what the impact of golden rice will be on further loss of markets for farmers due to crop contamination from genetically modified species,” it said.
Greenpeace said that the approval process for genetically modified organisms in the Philippines should abide by the precautionary principle and provide standards for safety and security of the citizens.
“There are already proven solutions to Vitamin A deficiency which are cheaper, more practical, do not require the risky genetic modification of food crops, and which are not beholden to giant, foreign, agri-chemical companies,” said Pelegrina.
Golden rice is unnecessary, more so at a time of climate emergency when resilient food and farm systems are imperative. We believe the DA should be working with other government agencies to promote healthy eating and healthy diets rather than promote unproven quick fixes like ‘golden rice’ that have not been proven to contain any nutritional value,” she added.
Local farmers relying more on machinery due to labour constraints
YU WAI 27 DEC 2019
Description: Myanmar workers collect sesame to prepare it for drying at a field on the outskirts of Nay Pyi Taw. Photo - EPA
Myanmar workers collect sesame to prepare it for drying at a field on the outskirts of Nay Pyi Taw. Photo - EPA
Due to a shortage of manual labour, farms in two villages in upper Myanmar – Inn Kone in Natmauk township, Magwe and Si Thar in Kyaukpadaung township, Mandalay - have been appealing for donations from the public to keep their fields fertile for the past three years.
The number of young and able men to sow crop and gather the harvest in rural Myanmar has dwindled sharply over the years, as most have left home to seek better jobs in bigger cities and overseas. According to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, a total of 274,890 Myanmar nationals went abroad for work between January and October this year.
“Most available labourers are aged between 40 and 50 and they demand a lot of money, sometimes in advance,” said U Than Tun, a local farmer who abandoned his bean farm because he could not find enough labourers to work for an affordable wage. 
Due to the shortage of manpower, wages have risen to a level that is now on par with the cost of leasing agricultural machinery such as tractors and combine harvesters, farmers said. 
While mechanisation has helped bigger farms gain productivity and rely less on manual labour, smaller farms are mostly unable to afford the cost of leasing and have struggled to keep up. With wages now rising, many rural farmers are finding it harder to manage their fields and some, like U Than Tun, have given up farming altogether.
Mechanising farming
Myanmar began importing agricultural machinery in 2012. The mechanisation of farming became widespread three years later, government data shows. Currently, there are half a million ploughing machines, 40,000 tilling machines and 9000 harvesters in the country.  
“The reasons for transitioning to machineriesare lack of workers and to speed up the sowing and harvesting process,” said U Soe Hlaing, director general of the Agricultural Mechanisation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI).
“Twelve labourers are able to sow only an acre of paddy fields in one morning. If we use machines, we are able to finish six acres in a day. The work can be done much quicker using mechanised equipment and machinery,” said U Soe Hlaing.
Human talent needed
On the face of it, humans are at a disadvantage as machines get the work done much faster and for the same cost. But officials said there is still a need for farmers to man and maintain the machinery and train others to use them as well. 
“The labour shortage can be fixed by using machinery but human knowledge is necessary to support improvement and development of the agriculture sector over the long term,” said Myanmar Rice Federation adviser U Min Aung.
“Machinery cannot be used to grow all kinds of crops. We still need humans for crops that are sown and harvested on a smaller scale compared to paddy or maize,” said U Myo Tint Tun, deputy secretary of MOALI.
U Soe Hlaing said “many farmers are not familiar with operating the machines and maintaining them, resulting in less than optimal output.”
As such, nearly 5000 farmers have attended and completed training on the operation of agricultural machinery. Courses and workshops on how to operate and maintain the machinery have also been scheduled to take place in various townships across Myanmar. 
Quality lacking
There is also demand for trained talent to help Myanmar meet international standards like adhering to Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) and diversify into higher quality crops that will raise export revenues and draw foreign direct investments into the country. 
At a Yangon conference organised by EuroCham Myanmar recently, U Aung Thu, Union Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said Myanmar requires support in adhering to GAP and demonstrating that farmers can remain or become even more profitable by improving the quality of their crops.
The minister also made a commitment to furthering collaborations between the public and private sector in addressing issues and improving best practices in the industry.
Myanmar will need to lure talent to its shores to meet the needs of the agriculture sector though, and that will take time. “Currently, only the elderly and children remain in the villages. Most of the young people are now in China working in watermelon fields for K3000-K5000 a day,” said U Than Tun, the local farmer.
Ko Aung Shin, who left his hometown in Myaing township, Magway, 20 years ago andnow lives in Yangon, said he sees significant changes every time he visits home.“There are fewer farm workers than before, and people no longer take much care of their land. The farmers have great difficulties getting workers during the harvest season,” he said.
“Job opportunities are rare in Myanmar. In Yangon, we usually need a foreign language to get a job. But I got to know that one can work abroad while learning a foreign language. That’s why I’m preparing to go to work in Japan,” said Ma Thuzar Myint, a native of Palae township, Monywa District, Sagaing.
At first, Ma Thuzar Myint’s parents, who have been farmers all their lives, were hesitant about their daughter leaving the country. But now that it’s clear she’ll be better off working abroad than in the farm, they have changed their minds.
Rice exports up 39pc to 1.6mln tons in 5 months
ISLAMABAD: Rice exports increased 38.58 percent in the first five months of the current fiscal year compared to the corresponding period last fiscal, mainly owing to a strong demand for Pakistan’s high-quality grains, latest data showed.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) stats presented that over 1.601 million tons of rice ($835.686 million) were exported in July-November period of FY2020, as against 1.115 million tons ($603.149 million) in the same period a year ago.
Basmati rice exports increased 61.47 percent to 343,885 tons during the period under review compared to 190,997 tons ($193.855 million) in the July-November FY2019.
The country exported about 1.257 million tons ($522.846 million) of other varieties of rice, as against 964,539 tons ($409.294 million) in the same period last fiscal.
On a month-on-month basis, rice exports increased 24.49 percent in November 2019 to 440,488 tons ($202.069 million), compared to 355,488 tons ($162.321 million) sold overseas in the same month of 2018.
In November 2019, basmati rice exports also grew 24.49 percent as 58,421 metric tons ($54.522 million) were exported, against 29,185 tons ($28.504 million) in November last.
The food group exports during first five months of this fiscal increased 16.20 percent over the corresponding period of the last year.
Food commodities worth $1.757 billion were exported in July-November FY2020 period as against $1.512 billion in the same period of FY2019.
On the other hand, import of food commodities during the period under review decreased 15.36 percent to $2.088 billion, as compared to $2.467 billion in the same time last year.
Food group exports grew 16.30 percent month-on-month as products worth $397.708 million were exported in November this year against $341.975 million in the same month of 2018.
However, on a month-on-month basis, imports in November 2019 increased 5.14 percent to $505.503 million as against $480.775 million, same month last year.

Shipping Activity At Port Qasim

Description: Shipping activity at Port Qasim

Four ships Mol Globe, Diamand Sky, white Purl and bulk Carina carrying Conatiners, Rice, LPG Mix and Coal were arranged berthing at Qasim International Container Terminal, MW-2, EVTL and Pakistan International Bulk Terminal respectively during last 24 hours

KARACHI, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th Dec, 2019 ) :Four ships Mol Globe, Diamand Sky, white Purl and bulk Carina carrying Conatiners, Rice, LPG Mix and Coal were arranged berthing at Qasim International Container Terminal, MW-2, EVTL and Pakistan International Bulk Terminal respectively during last 24 hours.
Meanwhile Four more ships named Al Salam-II, African Tern, Almahboobah and Stanley Park with Gas Oil, Steel Coil, ETC and Phosphoric Acid also arrived at Outer anchorage of Port Qasim during the same period.
A total of Eleven ships were engaged at PQA berths to load/offload Containers, Coal Rice, Plam Kernel, LPG Mix, LNG and Palm oil respectively. Out of them, a container vessel Mol Globe sailed out to sea from QICT on Thursday morning, and Six more ships, SM Charleston, Maersk Chicago, Feronia, Umm Bab, Amber Sun and White Purl are expected to sail from QICT, PQEPT< EETL, FOTCO and EVTL on the same day in the aftrernoon.
Cargo throughput during last 24 hours stood at 180,630 tonnes, comprisng 103,487 tonnes imports cargo and 77,143 tonnes export cargo, inclusive of containerized cargo carried in 3,723 containers (TEUs), 926 TEUs imports and 2,797 TEUs exports) was handled at the Port.
Five ships named Hoegh Garnet. Nagoya Express, Maersk Benton, Song Wind, and Almehboobah scheduled to load/offlaod Containers, ETC, Palm oil and LNG are expected take berth at QICT, PGPCL, EVTL and LCTrespectively on December 26, 2019
Over 1.601 million tons rice worth $835.686 million exported


December 27, 2019
Description: Over 1.601 million tons rice worth $835.686 million exported
Rice exports from the country during first five months of current financial year increased by 38.58% as compared the exports of the corresponding period of last year.
Over 1.601 million tons of rice valuing $835.686 million was exported from July-November, 2019 as against the exports of 1.115 million tons worth of $ 603.149 million of same period of last year, according the trade data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
Meanwhile, country earned $313.017 million by exporting about 343,885 metric tons of basmati rice during the period under review as compared the exports of 190,997 metric tons valuing $193.855 million of same period of last year.
The exports of basmati rice from the country grew by 61.47% during last five months as compared to the exports of the same period of last year, the data revealed.
On month on month basis, the exports of rice form the country grew by 24.49% in November, 2019 as about 440,488 metric tons of rice worth $202.069 million tons rice exported as compared to exports of 355,488 metric tons valuing $162.321 million of same month of last year, it added.
In November, 2019 exports of basmati rice also grew by 24.49% as 58,421 metric tons of basmati rice worth of 54.522 million exported as against exports of 29,185 metric tons costing $ 28.504 million of same month of last year.
It may be recalled that food group exports from the country during first five months of current financial year increased by 16.20% as compared the exports of the corresponding period of last year. Food commodities worth $1.757 billion exported from July-November, 2019-20 as against the exports of $ 1.512 billion of same period of last year.
On the other hand, import of the food commodities into the country during the period under review decreased by 15.36% as it was recorded at $2.088 billion as compared to imports of $ 2.467 billion of same period of last year, it added.
Meanwhile, on month on month basis, the exports of food commodities registered growth of 16.30% as food products worth $397.708 million exported in November, this year which was stood at US $ 341.975 million of same month of last year.
However, the imports into the country during the month under review increased by 5.14% as it went up to $505.503 million in November this year as against US $ 480.775 million of same month of last year.

SEARCA experts share Rice Tariffication perspective

posted December 26, 2019 at 09:30 pm
by Brenda Jocson
Los Baños, Laguna―Diverse perspectives on the Rice Tariffication Law emerged at the session on regional implication of the Philippine RTL.
The session was convened by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture during the recently held Inaugural Rice Research Symposium of the World Rice Conference organized by The Rice Trader.
Republic Act 11203 or RTL was recently passed with the purpose of lifting existing quantitative import restrictions on rice. It has amassed mixed reactions from various stakeholders of the local rice industry, raising the question as to whether it is indeed beneficial for the Philippine rice industry. 
According to Searca, this is so because of the current influx of imported rice and the consequent plunge in domestic farmgate prices, nonetheless, the current push for the establishment of an ASEAN common market has steered regional strategies toward promoting and strengthening intra-ASEAN trade and market integration.
The SEARCA forum sought to assess the policy implications on regional trade, rice reserves, food security, agriculture and rural development, and rice farmers’ income and competitiveness in relation to the implementation of the RTL.
Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA director,  said that the medium by which people are informed about the RTL is also of crucial importance to ensure that stakeholders are given the proper information about the law.
“[Thus] there is that need to discuss and determine the right price and the right rice,” Dr. Gregorio said.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies has provided an overview of the immediate aftermath and potential long-term impact of rice industry liberalization in the Philippines. 
Dr. Roehlano M. Briones, Senior Research Fellow at the PIDS, said that despite the immediate decline in farmgate and retail prices of rice, the implementation of the RTL or liberalization of the industry, in the long-term, can benefit the society as a whole. 
In terms of regional trade, the UP School of Economics said: “With the liberalization of rice import policies in the Philippines, we can possibly experience an increase of around 10% in rice imports for local consumption.”
Dr. Ramon L. Clarete, UPSE Professor, explained that the expected boost in productivity and efficiency in rice farming (i.e., milling and logistics) will encourage modernization and farm aggregation as part of the productivity effect of import liberalization.
“We raise the average productivity of the industry and its value chain by getting rid of the marginal producers on which for a long time the quantitative restrictions has been designed to protect,” Dr. Clarete said.
Nonetheless, Dr. Clarete clarified that the marginal producers can still be part of the industry as the farm can actually boost its productivity if it joins an alliance of several others and get their aggregated farm managed professionally.
An associate research fellow from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore claimed that climate change and the failure of rice production systems to upgrade or adapt has caused a sudden reversal of the state of undernourishment in the region.
Describing food security in Southeast Asia as a U-shaped “love-hate relationship, Jose Ma. Luis P. Montesclaros of NTU cited that the lack of exposure to trade competition in markets, caused by quantitative restrictions such as the import quotas, has prevented rice production systems to upgrade and adapt.
He explained that for the rest of the region, the Philippines’ opening up to more rice imports may cause international demand to expand faster than supply (short or medium-run), harming the growing number of urban consumers in rice-importing and -exporting countries.

Top 10 scientific-technological events in Vietnam in 2019

Friday, December 27, 2019 14:36
The Vietnamese Science & Technology Journalists’ Club yesterday announced the result of the voting for the 10 most significant scientific-technological events in 2019. These events happen in various aspects of state policies, social science, natural science, research implementation, globalization.
Description: Representatives of scientific researchers, teams, and individuals received the certificate of honor in the event to announced the top 10 scientific-technological events in Vietnam
Representatives of scientific researchers, teams, and individuals received the certificate of honor in the event to announced the top 10 scientific-technological events in Vietnam
This is the 14th year that the voting has been held, attracting the participation of nearly 60 journalists and reporters in the scientific-technological field coming from 30 news agencies, newspapers. The following list ranges from the first position to the tenth.
1. Resolution No.52 about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), issued by the Politburo
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam cum President of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong represented the Politburo to approve Resolution No.52-NQ/TW on ‘Guidelines and Policies for Active Participation in the 4th Industrial Revolution’ (Resolution No.52) on September 27, 2019.
This Resolution clearly states that Industry 4.0 brings about both opportunities and challenges for each nation, organization, and individual. It has powerful effects on all aspects of the economy and society.
Therefore, it is essential that Vietnam actively participate in the revolution. This is a strategic mission, both short-term and long-term, of the whole community, especially the political system as it closely connects with the globalization process. Vietnam must be fully aware of the nature of Industry 4.0 to make crucial breakthroughs in its socio-economic development.
2. National scientific conference ‘Sino-Vietnamese War – 40th Anniversary’
On February 15, 2019, the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences cooperated with the Vietnam Association of Historical Sciences to organize a national conference ‘Sino-Vietnamese War – 40th Anniversary’, attracting the participation of several renowned scientists and lecturers from prestigious universities and research institutes nationwide, veterans of the War.
The conference honored all citizens who bravely fought and died for the war against China to protect the Vietnamese border. It also served to boost patriotism in the society, especially the young. It mentioned the valuable lesson of solidarity and its implementation in today’s community in order for Vietnam to grow sustainably, of caution against all kinds of harmful plots to destroy peace in the country.
3. Successful manufacturing and launch of MicroDragon satellite
On January 18, 2019, the made-in-Vietnam satellite MicroDragon was successfully launched into the orbit in Japan. This is a historic moment of the Vietnamese space industry, signaling the ability to master observation satellite and telecommunications technologies of the country (from the design, data collection, part assembling, ground system installation stages) in order to serve commercial purposes.
The MicroDragon satellite was designed and created by Vietnamese engineers, with the support of Japanese experts. Its goals are to capture pictures of seawater colors in coastal areas to evaluate quality and components there in order to timely inform Vietnam’s aquaculture sector.
With the maturity of the space industry, Vietnam will become more active in preparation for potential natural disasters.
4. Grand opening of Vietnam Data Exchange Platform (VDXP) and National Public Service Portal (NPSP)
On March 12, 2019, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and leaders of ministries, state organizations pressed the button to formally launch VDXP.
VDXP is the foundation for the digitalization process of the government, aiming at becoming a paperless and efficient government in the future. VNPT is responsible for component installation, and the Government Office hires the hardware in a long term.
On December 9, 2019, NPSP at the address was launched to support citizens and businesses to perform administrative procedures more conveniently.
It had 6 main sections of the national database on administrative procedures; one-time sign-in for all procedures; online payment; feedback and suggestion submission; integration of administrative services among ministries, industries, and local authorities; online support.
At the moment, NPSP offers 8 public services at 63 areas.
5. Rice type ST25 selected as the best in the world
In the 2019 World Rice Conference held in Manila of the Philippines from November 10 to 13, 2019, the rice type ST25 won the title ‘World Best Rice’.
ST25 is cross-bred using the improved back crossing technique by a research team from the southern province of Soc Trang, namely Ho Quang Cua, Dr. Tran Tan Phuong, and Nguyen Thu Huong.
The ST rice types, with the latest version of ST25, are high-yield climate-resilient ones that can adapt to saline, alum soil and resist pest. It is long-grain white rice with an aroma of pineapple. It can provide 2-3 crops per year.
6. First successful mobile call in Vietnam using 5G network
On May 10, 2019, Viettel successfully made the first call on its 5G mobile network with an Ericsson device. This event belongs to the piloting program of Viettel to evaluate possibilities of applying technology in the Vietnamese reality.
Viettel aims at being the pioneer in developing and implementing cutting edge technologies, including 5G technology, in the nation to keep up with the world in order to serve the digitalization process and be well prepared for Industry 4.0.
Viettel’s engineers are now researching for more innovative methods to conveniently install 5G stations.
This event marks Vietnam as one of the first countries in the world to successfully pilot 5G technology.
7. Grand opening of DNA Analysis Center for skeletons of martyrs
On July 25, 2019, the DNA Analysis Center under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology formally operated, right in the event of the 72th anniversary of Viet Nam's War Invalids and Martyrs Day. It aims at finding the identification of martyrs via their skeletons.
At the moment, the center is closely cooperating with large organizations from the US like the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), the Armed Force DNA Identification Lab (AFDIL) and QIAGEN from Germany in projects such as Project USAID to help improve technological capability and precision in detecting the identity of dead people.
Since this August, the Center has processed more than 200 samples per month, with an impressive success.
8. Formal introduction of IVACFLU-S to protect people from influenza
On January 15, 2019, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC) officially announced the use of IVACFLU-S, produced by this Institute. This is the first made-in-Vietnam vaccine to protect users from the three most common flu viruses of A/H1N1/09; A/H3N2 and B.
From 2003, when the A/H5N1 epidemic spread widely in the world including Vietnam, the Ministry of Health asked that all vaccine manufacturing institutes concentrated on the research and development of an effective domestic vaccine.
In May 2018, IVACFLU-S has been proved to satisfy the safety and immune demands at the rate of 60.3 – 86.6 percent (equal to the one from Europe). This vaccine is produced under the form of injection solution for people 18 – 60 years old. Around 1.5 doses can be manufactured per year.
9. Ramanujan Awards presented to Prof. Pham Hoang Hiep
In October 2019, the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) delivered the 2019 Ramanujan Award to Prof. Pham Hoang Hiep from the Mathematics Institute under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.
Prof. Pham Hoang Hiep is honored because of his valuable contribution to the field of complex analysis, and in particular to pluripotential theory, where he obtained an important result on the singularities of plurisubharmonic functions; complex Monge-Ampère equations and log canonical thresholds, which have important applications in algebraic and complex Kähler geometry. The prize is also in recognition of Dr. Pham's important organizational role in the advancement of mathematics in his home country, Vietnam.
The professor had nearly 40 articles printed in international mathematics journals, 2 textbooks for graduate and post-graduate programs.
10. First time Techfest Vietnam introduced to the world
Techfest Vietnam 2019, a festival for innovative startup in the country, happened from December 4-6, themed ‘Vietnam: Globalise’. It was able to collect the best startup ideas in the whole nation via several contests. It could attract the interest of investors through the process of sending domestic businesses to developed nations for training sessions.
2019 is the first year that the Ministry of Science and Technology has held Techfest in other countries like the US (from September 7-14), the Republilc of Korea (from November 3-9), and Singapore (from November 10-14) to introduce potential startups and the Vietnamese innovative startup ecosystems.
In the event, several discussions, seminars with practical topics were held simultaneously. Many investors, managers, successful startup entrepreneurs, experts took part to discuss matters and shared experience, boosting the strong connections between the Vietnamese and the global community.
It aims at helping Vietnam to achieve sustainable development.