Wednesday, January 01, 2020

1st January,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Bush Fire Destroys Rice Farms In Northern Regions
By News Desk

Description: Bush Fire Destroys Rice Farms In Northern Regions
Some rice farmers in Northern Ghana are counting their losses as bush fire ravages hundreds of acres of their rice farms.
The Upper East, Northern and North East Regions, are the worst-hit regions as affected farmers attributed the situation to lack of combine harvesters and a ready market for their produce.
The farmers who experienced rice gluts this year but struggled to find markets for their produce fear rice production for the next farming season will be greatly affected if the government does not intervene.
Over 400 hectares of rice farms along the Fumbisi-Gbedembilisi-Yagaba rice valleys were completely burned by the fires.
Rice farmers who are still harvesting their rice during this dry season are compelled to compete for limited combine harvesters at an exorbitant fee to harvest their rice or face losing their produce to bush fires.
Some affected farmers spoke of their ordeals to Citi News with one saying, “[my farm] covered 52 acres. I harvested only 15. The rest got burned because of a lack of combine harvesters in the system. I lost GHS25,000 to GHS27,000.”
Another farmer said: “my rice got burned on the 23 of December this month. 47 acres that was ready for harvest got burned through bush fires so you can imagine the amount of rice I am losing.”
Apart from losing their produce to bush fires, fortunate farmers who have harvested their produce have to sleep in the valleys to protect their heaped produce from bush fires whilst others are compelled to store their produce in homes due to lack of ready market for the produce.
The rice farmers' debunked claims that neither the Buffer stock company limited nor rice millers have either bought all their rice or cannot get rice to purchase for milling purposes.
This situation caused for an emergency meeting of all rice farmers in the five regions of the North at Navrongo by the Peasant farmers association of Ghana (PFAG) to deliberate on recent challenges facing rice production in Northern Ghana and propose to government pragmatic solutions for redress

Bush fires ravage rice farms in northern regions

Regional News of Tuesday, 31 December 2019
Some rice farmers in Northern Ghana are counting their losses as bush fire ravages hundreds of their rice farms.

The Upper East, Northern and North East Regions, are the worst-hit regions as affected farmers attributed the situation to lack of combine harvesters and a ready market for their produce.

The farmers who experienced rice gluts this year but struggled to find markets for their produce fear rice production for the next farming season will be greatly affected if the government does not intervene.

Over 400 hectares of rice farms along the Fumbisi-Gbedembilisi-Yagaba rice valleys were completely burned by the fires.

Rice farmers who are still harvesting their rice during this dry season are compelled to compete for limited combine harvesters at an exorbitant fee to harvest their rice or face losing their produce to bush fires.

Some affected farmers spoke of their ordeals to Citi News with one saying, “[my farm] covered 52 acres. I harvested only 15. The rest got burned because of a lack of combine harvesters in the system. I lost GHS25,000 to GHS27,000.”
Description: File photo

Another farmer said: “my rice got burned on the 23 of December this month. 47 acres that was ready for harvest got burned through bush fires so you can imagine the amount of rice I am losing.”

Apart from losing their produce to bush fires, fortunate farmers who have harvested their produce have to sleep in the valleys to protect their heaped produce from bush fires whilst others are compelled to store their produce in homes due to lack of ready market for the produce.

The rice farmers’ debunked claims that neither the Buffer stock company limited nor rice millers have either bought all their rice or cannot get rice to purchase for milling purposes.

This situation caused for an emergency meeting of all rice farmers in the five regions of the North at Navrongo by the Peasant farmers association of Ghana (PFAG) to deliberate on recent challenges facing rice production in Northern Ghana and propose to government pragmatic solutions for redress.
Kiko Pangilinan calls for focus on climate crisis, food security in 2020
Franco Luna ( - January 1, 2020 - 11:42am
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Pangilinan called for a sharpened focus in the areas of climate change and food security, citing higher prices triggered by TRAIN Law, low farmers' incomes and the natural disasters that came at 2019's end.
"Produksyon ng pagkain o ang pagsasaka at pangingisda ang mga unang naaapektuhan nito," the senator said in a statement on Tuesday night, referring to the global climate crisis. 
"Sundin natin ang mga panawagan ng mga scientists na ibaba ang ating tinatawag na carbon footprint at bawasan ang polusyon."
(Food production or farming and fishing are the first things that this climate crisis affects. We should heed the calls of scientists to lower what we call our carbon footprint and lessen pollution.) 
He also pointed to the Rice Tarriffication Law, which he said only doubled the existing burdens of rice farmers. 
As of the fourth week of November 2019, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recorded the average farmgate price of palay at P15.57 per kilo. 
But farmers themselves have said that the actual price, particularly in far-flung areas, plunge to as low as P7 per kilo, much lower than their production cost of around P12.
Data from the US Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service showed that the Philippines imported the most rice in the world even over China whose population is over a billion.
And according to a statement by the PSA in December, the Philippines is steadily relying more and more on food imports to ensure sufficient supply and to stabilize prices. Economists, too, have said that the top-importer status was only an indication of the country stocking up and said that it should even out eventually. 
The senator also called for stricter policy in a number of areas, namely single-use plastic, rainwater management, urban agriculture, organic farming, solid waste importation, food waste reduction, electric and hybrid vehicles incentives, national mangrove forest protection, expanded crop insurance, post-harvest facilities, among others. 
A 2015 report by the Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment on plastic pollution ranked the Philippines as the third-biggest source of plastic waste in the oceans just after China and Indonesia.
Annus Horribilis
January 1, 2020
FROM what fictional data the Department of Agriculture (DA) will base its upcoming pronouncement of a “growth rate”for the agriculture sector for the year 2019 is something beyond the ability of small farmers like me to comprehend. Small farmers know one thing though: William Dar, the current Agriculture secretary and a technocrat, is eminently capable of producing a made-up data set on “growth.” Government statisticians, bending to the will of those in power, will be willing abettors.
The country’s feckless agricultural economists — if such expertise in the economic field still exists — will offer no resistance, and no brave, empirically trained soul will counter the fictional data from the DA. The newspaper reports, where intellectual rigor and rectitude is the outlier rather than the norm, will just dutifully report the hot air from the DA.
A close friend, a former print journalist now active in social media, has a theory on how the DA would produce the figure on fictional growth. It would compute, he said, the rise in share prices of a publicly listed agri company now building metropolitan subways. And pass on that share price rise as strides of the agri sector. There are many of that kind in the country — agri-business companies with side businesses larger than their core, supposedly agri-centric undertakings. Drawing “growth” from thin air is not even rocket science.
As there a thousand and one ways to skin a cat, there are a thousand and one ways to produce fictional data to support an alleged “growth” for the agriculture sector.

But the reality of agricultural enclaves turned into virtual wastelands — and we are speaking of vast swaths of rural areas of hopelessness and misery spread across the country — will automatically belie any claim of “growth.” Reality is both jolting and educational. What the naked eye can see is more powerful than the most elaborately contrived data in the world.
This is the truth that does not even need an explanation. The year 2019 was an “annus horribilis” for the agriculture sector, a truly horrible year.
Looking back, the presidential rant (delivered in the midst of the last State of the Nation Address or SONA) on the epic fail of the Land Bank of the Philippines, in which President Duterte threatened to radically reform the bank for its failure to carry out its legal mandate, which is to serve as the banker for small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries, was just a minor assault on agriculture.
Of course, it was not. The LandBank was put up to serve the funding needs of small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries and Dr. Basilio Estanislao, the late former first president of the LandBank, tried to meet, against all odds, that mandate. In 2018, the lending of the LandBank totaled P798.8 billion, according to congressional leaders. It lent P21.6 billion to agriculture overall, which meant directing most of that amount to agri-businesses and allocating a token amount for small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Worse, it faked its lending records to make it appear that it really carried out small-scale agricultural lending. And spent millions of pesos on newspaper advertorials to paper over that crime.
The worst law passed in the 21st century was Republic Act 11203, and it was an early 2019 assault on the peasantry. The law lifted the quantitative restrictions on rice imports and allowed “unli” importation of rice based on moderate tariffs. The law imposed a virtual death sentence on 3 million small rice farmers who have been neglected by governments from time immemorial and whose only protection against massive rice dumps and pricing debacles was the quantitative restrictions or QR.
For the less than 10 months ending December 2019 that the law was operational, an impossible volume of 3 million tons was dumped into the country (making the Philippines the world’s biggest rice importer for the year) and palay prices dropped from the usual prices of P17 to P20 per kilogram to as low as P8 per kg in the remote farming communities. Many farmers are contemplating suicide just to end their miserable existence.
As if the historically low palay prices were not enough, small farmers found out that the greedy rice importers undervalued their import prices, thus depressing the tariffs on the imports. The money pool from the rice tariffs, under the law, was to be used supposedly for an amelioration program for rice farmers. So, we have two situations: massive rice dumps and undervalued rice imports.
Then, the government planners, harebrained as usual, crafted programs that would just waste the funds to be generated from the tariffs. These are the programs that have been designed: training, mechanization, seeds, etc. etc. Loans and irrigation water are the most basic needs and these were absent in the so-called amelioration program.
Right now, the specter of a raging African swine fever (ASF) has all but wiped out the “Hog Belt” in Pampanga, a top hog producer, and many other former thriving hog -producing areas in Central Luzon. Hog prices dropped to P75 per kg and that was the average price until early December. Prices have somehow recovered to P90 per kg but that is still selling at a loss.
Around 90 percent of backyard farms in Luzon have been shuttered and even the commercial farms with world-class bio-security standards have been helpless against the ASF, which spread into the country via tainted pork from China, supposedly an ally of the country.
The Philippines’ hog industry was the eighth largest in the world last year and in 2019 it literally collapsed on the sheer viciousness of the ASF.
The government, clueless and heartless on agriculture as usual, wants to impose another cruel policy, the unlimited importation of sugar.
The agriculture sector is wallowing in Dickensian sorrow and the Scrooge is government.

Russia Expected to Lift Yearlong Ban on Pakistani Rice

It is expected that Russia will lift a yearlong ban on rice imports from Pakistan. The concerns relating to the grain phytosanitary standards have been dispelled. This has opened the prospects of the reopening of a $50 million market, as per a government official. Description: Trade Development Authority of Pakistan official said that the Russian government might lift the ban on the import of grains from Pakistan. The state-owned Department of Plant Protection did implement the compliance program for rice export to the Russian Federation.
The official said, “The implementation of the compliance program will ensure export of pest-free grains to Russia.”
A detailed report was sent by the Department of Plant Protection to the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance of the Russian Federation. The measure that has been taken to prevent the Trogoderma granarium proliferation also known as a cabinet or khapra beetle in the products supplied to milling, processing, storage, and packaging facilities in Russia.
A temporary ban was imposed on the rice import from Pakistan, earlier this year. It was banned on the pretext that khapra beetle was found in a batch of rice. This happened, despite the fact that the Department of Plant Protection, which issues sanitary and phytosanitary certificates to each grain consignment moving outside the country cleared the consignment.
Following the ban, the Russian side has asked for info on the measure that can be taken to prevent beetle proliferation in products that are supplied to Russia and information regarding zones in Pakistan free from the beetle.
The official said, “Russian side has been informed that there is no specific area in Pakistan, which is free from Trogoderma granarium beetle.
“The implementation of the compliance program will help in exporting pest-free rice to Russian Federation. The Russian side has also been requested for a meeting of experts of both sides too.”

China, dollar likely key factors for rice market in 2020

·       EditorJonathan Dart 
·          CommodityAgriculture
·          China to remain key exporter, importer
Dollar expected to limit Thai exports, buyers' purchasing powers
Demand from regular buyers, lower production likely to support US, South American long-grain prices
London — China's transformation from a net importer to a net exporter was one of the most significant developments in the 2019 global rice market, and this is expected to continue in 2020 due to China's large stocks and international demand for low-cost rice.
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Description: Commodities 2020 | S&P Global Platts
The strength of the dollar has been a particularly important factor in 2019 because of US President Donald Trump's trade policies and is expected to remain so ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The seasonal falls in South American prices are likely to be restricted by reduced production across the region as well as demand from regular buyers. Similarly in the US, participants are expecting limited supply in the first quarter due reduced long grain production, with harvesting not due until Q3.


Chinese exports have taken market share from most major origins, with particularly high demand from buyers in Africa. It appears likely that the country's huge surplus of competitively priced old-crop stocks will continue entering destination markets at the expense of other origins in 2020. The US Department of Agriculture has forecast China's ending stocks in the 2019-20 marketing year (July-June) at 118 million mt (milled equivalent), up 2.41% year on year; China's ending stocks are expected to make up 66% of total global ending stocks.
The dollar has affected supply and demand in 2019. Its strength against the euro has reduced West and Central African buyers' purchasing power, as both the West and Central African franc are pegged to the euro. While most origin currencies have depreciated against the dollar, the Thai baht has appreciated. This has restricted Thai exporters' ability to keep their prices competitive and Thai exports have declined as a result. The USDA forecast 2019 exports at 8.6 million mt (milled equivalent) 22.3% lower on the year. While 2020 exports are expected to increase from this unusually low level to 9.7 million mt. However, exports are unlikely to reach 2018's 11.1 million mt due to the strength of the baht and competitive Chinese exports.
Exports from Thailand, and other Asian origins, have also been affected by the closure of Nigeria's land borders. This has particularly affected demand for parboiled rice from Thailand and India. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been quoted in local reports as saying that the borders will remain closed until at least January 31, 2020 due to unofficial cross-border rice trade, despite pressure from its neighbors to open them. While trade is expected to return to normal once the borders are re-opened, traders are likely to remain cautious in case they are closed again.
Despite lobbying from farmers' groups and conflicting statements from President Rodrigo Duterte, it does not seem likely that the Philippines' Rice Tariffication Law will be revoked. As a result, imports are expected to continue at the pace established at the end of Q2 2019.


Harvesting of South American crops is due to begin in Q1 2020. Production in the major South American origins (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) are forecast to either remain close to last year's low levels or fall year on year as farmers switch to other crops due to high paddy production costs and increased Chinese demand for soybeans. While CONAB has forecast Brazilian planted area 1.1% lower year on year, higher field yields are expected to boost production 0.6% to 10.5 million mt. Exporters in Uruguay broadly agreed with the forecast of 2020 paddy production at 1.08 million mt, down 10% on the year, as presented at the Conmasur meeting. Although figures at this meeting also forecast Paraguayan production 2.94% lower at 1.09 million mt, Paraguayan rice is still expected to be extremely competitive. Regular demand from buyers in South and Central America, as well as the EU and Iraq, is expected to continue.
Reduced 2019 production is expected to support US prices in 2020. Signing of the USCMA agreement this month is likely to solidify Mexico and Canada as major US rice buyers. While exporters are hoping that further sales can be concluded to China after the first shipment was received successfully in 2019, it is unlikely to become a major importer of US rice next year. Further large volume sales to Iraq under the countries' Memorandum of Understanding are also likely to provide support to the market.


Harvesting in Italy was severely delayed by bad weather in 2019, and new-crop prices have not witnessed much of a seasonal fall as a result. Farmers have already sold 32.2% of new-crop paddy, according to Ente Nazionale Risi, and are in no rush to conclude sales due to adequate storage facilities. While the prices of risotto and long-grain varieties may fall in 2020 as production rose year on year, round-grain prices are expected to increase due to lower production.
Description: Commodities 2020 | S&P Global Platts
-- Thomas Wigglesworth,
-- Edited by Jonathan Dart,

Monthly food relief package for the poor

Wednesday, January 1, 2020 - 01:10
The Government will shortly provide a relief package containing essential food items to Samurdhi beneficiaries and low income families, it was announced yesterday.
The monthly relief package worth Rs 3,600 will include rice, wheat flour, sugar, dried fish and sprats among other food items. The monthly food package programme is to meet needs of low income groups affected by food price rises.
Heavy rains experienced over the past few months have had an impact on the prices of rice and other vegetables in the market.
The previous Government without releasing the existing rice stocks in stores to the market had allowed rice imports to the country. As a result, stocks in stores are now about to expire and we cannot release them for human consumption anymore.
“We have to give them as animal fodder at low prices. There is about 350,000 kgs of locally produced rice in stores, but the stocks will expire in February next year.
“This situation has also caused an increase in rice prices. An investigation has now begun to find out who was responsible for this waste”.State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told a news conference that a team of UNP MPs, who were part of the previous Government that had sanctioned rice imports in 2017, had visited the Narahenpita Dedicated Economic Centre making comments on the controlled rice prices.
“They have said that the rice sold at Rs. 98 per 1kg is of low quality. The sellers complained that those remarks were a blow to their trade,” he added. Noting that the Government has already intervened to control the prices of food in the retail market in the festive season, the State Minister pointed out that the wholesale prices of minor export crops such as cinnamon, pepper, ‘karunka’ (dried arecanut) and cloves had increased considerably following the Government’s

Researchers bringing rice ancestors back for new variety development
·       By Bruce Schultz / LSU AgCenter
 CORNELL UNIVERSITY geneticist Susan McCouch works with Diane Wang and Sandy Harrington to collect leaf tissue from rice plants grown at the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station near Crowley. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter
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The LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station is collaborating with a Cornell University-based project aimed at studying the ancestors of what became the modern rice plant.
Researchers hope the work will uncover useful traits from the wild lines of rice that have been lost through domestication.
Three wild strains of rice from China, Laos and Indonesia were used in the project. “They represent distant cousins of the ancestors that gave rise to modern rice,” said Cornell University geneticist Susan McCouch.
The wild strains were crossed with two modern rice varieties — an Arkansas variety, Cybonnet, and IR64, a variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.
After several generations of backcrossing to the modern varieties, the researchers generated a collection of 460 genetically distinct lines, each containing only a small, unique segment of the wild ancestor.
LSU AgCenter rice breeder Adam Famoso, who earned his doctorate degree while studying with McCouch, grew the rice lines at the Rice Research Station. Famoso also worked on the project when he was at Cornell.
McCouch and two of her co-workers came to the Rice Research Station in summer 2019 to collect leaf tissue for genetic analyses.
Genetic analyses of the collection of 460 lines are being compiled for use in breeding and genetic research. “They’re an encyclopedia that no one has read yet,” McCouch said.
It’s possible to discover novel traits conferred by the small, wild segments in these lines, McCouch said. They could result in new textures, flavors or forms of disease resistance that were eliminated from the rice genome as domestication occurred, starting thousands of years ago.
The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, was designed to turn up valuable traits that are not immediately obvious, McCouch said.
For example, research could determine that some plants have a mechanism to shed pollen early in the day to avoid heat-based sterility or to recruit particular microbes from the root area in the soil to help them extract nutrients from the soil in a process may have been lost through domestication.
It’s also possible that researchers will be able to find new genetic mechanisms that help rice plants withstand drought or submergence, she said. Those characteristics could be crucial in countries where water demand is exceeding the supply or where control of flooding is a problem.
“It’s a nontransgenic approach to derive new traits,” McCouch said.
The harvested rice seed will be used for further study.
For five years, one of McCouch’s talented postdoctoral associates, Namrata “Moni” Singh, worked to develop the lines. But she never got to see the final results of her work, as she died earlier this year after a lengthy battle with leukemia.
“One of the last things Moni wanted was to get the paper published describing this work and to make the seeds available for distribution,” McCouch said.
Anna McClung, research director at the Dale Bumpers Rice Research Station in Arkansas, and Georgia Eizenga, a rice geneticist at the Dale Bumpers Rice Research Station, were directly involved with McCouch in developing these lines.

Hanoi hosts Countdown 2020 in city centre

Description: many as 100 young artists will help ring in the new year with the musical extravaganza ‘Countdown 2020’ at Hoan Kiem Lake on December 31.
Description: Hanoi hosts Countdown 2020 in city centre
Vinh Khuat will debut his new composition for Countdown 2020. — Photo
Entitled 'Dance of Light', the event is co-held by Hanoi People’s Committee, Vietnam National Television (VTV) and Viettel.
“We invited young artists to perform at the event,” said one of the event’s producers Diep Chi. “The young artists, who are creative and energetic, will inspire people."
Attending 'Dance of Light', guests will enjoy musical performances by singers Phuong Uyen, Luu Huong Giang, Ngu Cung, Vinh Khuat and many others.
Germany-based Vinh Khuat, who gained fame after returning to compete at VTV's Sao Mai Singing Contest 2019, will debut a new composition for the event.
The event will also honour figures whose great efforts were recognised in 2019. They are scientists Ho Quang Cua and Nguyen Thi Hiep; designer Cong Tri; and singer Son Tung.

Cua is Vice Chairman of the Soc Trang Province-based Union of Science and Technology Associations. He was involved in the creation of rice variety ST25, which was named the World's Best Rice at the 11th World Rice Conference in Manila.
Tri is an established designer known globally, with his creations worn by celebrities including Beyonce, Rihanna and Katy Perry.
Son Tung has gained success with his Sky Tour 2019 and music video Hãy Trao Cho Anh (Give It To Me). The video is the first co-operation between the Vietnamese pop singer and American rapper Snoop Dogg. It garnered 70 million views on YouTube just a week after its launch.
Scientist Nguyen Thi Hiep is one of the top 100 Asian scientists. She has developed a bio-glue that seals wounds and can even be loaded with living cells or therapeutics.
The event will be aired live on VTV's Channel 1. The audience, including event-goers and television viewers, will have a chance to play a mini game with total prizes worth VND1 billion (US$43,000). — VNS

International group backs Philippine approval of Golden Rice
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - December 31, 2019 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, an international group, has backed Philippine regulators amid calls of a green group to revoke the approval of the controversial Golden Rice even after it passed rigorous biosafety assessment.
In an email to The STAR, Golden Rice Humanitarian Board executive secretary Adrian Dubock defended the Department of Agriculture (DA) which recently issued the biosafety permit addressed to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which detailed the approval of the Golden Rice for direct use as food, feed or for processing (FFP).
This after non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace formally submitted its appeal to the DA to revoke the approval of the genetically modified (GM) Golden Rice.
Greenpeace said that the approval is 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 Philippine regulators are very experienced in judging the safety of GM crops, which are in widespread use in the Philippines and which cause no harm and give farmers and the environment significant assistance,” Dubock said.
“They examined in detail all the evidence submitted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute and found that there was no potential to cause harm from Golden Rice consumed as food, or animal feed, including in processed form,” he said.
The Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, which provides strategic guidance to worldwide Golden Rice project, has the responsibility of delivering the technology to the vitamin A-deficient poor in developing countries in the most efficient way.
It is composed of internationally recognized experts belonging to various reputed institutions which provides strategic guidance to the project.
“Farmers are not stupid, they only buy what they find useful, no one forces them to purchase. They always have a choice,” Dubock said.
“It is true that all the GM crops so far available in the Philippines are commercial products. The companies don’t need any assistance to promote their benefits: the products, and the farmers speak for them,” he said.
The Golden Rice Humanitarian Board argued that Golden Rice is different and that it is not a commercial product.
“The only difference from white rice is that it contains the golden colored beta-carotene. Beta carotene is a source of vitamin A. And a universal source of vitamin A will reduce childhood mortality by 23 to 34 percent, and up to 50 percent when it is used to treat measles,” Dubock said.
Vitamin A deficiency is the biggest killer of children globally, and the main cause of childhood blindness.
The beta-carotene content of Golden Rice aims to provide 30 to 50 percent of the estimated average requirement of vitamin A for pregnant women and young children.
Citing data, Dubock said only 40 grams of dry Golden Rice, cooked and eaten daily, would save lives and sight and that there is no danger at all of over dosing.
“The beta-carotene delivering technology in Golden Rice works in all of the public sector owned rice varieties it has been put into by PhilRice.  No commercial company owns any Golden Rice,” he said.
“For the extra beta-carotene nutrition in Golden Rice, there is no extra cost to the government, no extra cost to farmers and no extra cost to consumers,” he said.


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Nigeria closer to self-sufficiency in rice production – FG

 December 30, 2019
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Nigeria is closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production owing to the border drill that has drastically reduced smuggling and catalysed rice production across the country, the Federal Government has said.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this on Monday in Lagos while briefing newsmen on the major achievements of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s (retd.) regime for the outgoing year.
“We recently visited some of Nigeria’s 34 integrated rice mills as well as rice clusters in Kano. The rice mills are either operating at full capacity or have doubled their production.
“Before the drill, there were 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, but now six million people, mostly youths, are venturing into rice production.
“Before the drill, farmers were cultivating rice twice a year, now that has increased to three times a year, and some rice farmers are now venturing beyond rice cultivation to milling, packaging, and marketing.
“Overall, the integrated mills currently produce 150,000 bags of rice daily and about 35 million bags per annum,’’ he said.
The minister added that the border drill had curbed the smuggling of other prohibited items into the country, leading to significant seizures with an estimated monetary value of over N3.5 billion.
He said the exercise had reduced the importation of arms, ammunition, and drugs.
Mohammed said because of the drill, terrorists and other criminals are finding it hard to procure arms and ammunition while criminal elements no longer make their way into the country through the land borders.
“This has resulted in reduced cases of insecurity, whether its kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery or other violent crimes,’’ he said.
The minister said smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria had been drastically curtailed and had led to a 30 per cent reduction in domestic fuel consumption.

Lack of capital, human resources, land impedes rice production

Description: is a major rice producer and exporter in the world, but Vietnamese farmers and companies cannot make fat profits.
Pham Van Quang, chair and general director of Trung Thanh Hi-tech Agriculture JSC, complained at the dialogue between local authorities and enterprises in Can Tho City some days ago that his enterprise meets difficulties in loan access and human resources.
Description: Lack of capital, human resources, land impedes rice production

Quang said rice companies need huge capital to collect rice from farmers, upgrade the husking technology and preserve products to serve exports. Most of the technologies being applied by rice processing mills are out of date.

“We want to export rice to choosy markets which always set high requirements. Even China, the familiar export market of Vietnam, now also requires product traceability. This proves to be an impossible mission if we don’t have huge capital,” he said.

Quang emphasized that enterprises need capital rather than preferential interest rates.

Meanwhile, commercial banks are tightening lending and the local authorities don’t have policies to support companies to make medium- and long-term investments.

Le Thi Thuyen Quyen, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Can Tho Branch, while affirming that banks don’t lack capital to provide to rice companies, said in order to increase the credit limits, borrowers have to satisfy some conditions. They have to have feasible business plans, assets to mortgage for loans, and transparent financial situation.

Quang said companies are seriously lacking high-quality workers.

“Many workers who operate machines worth hundreds of billions of dong only finished the third or fourth grades,” he complained, adding that the result of the use of unskilled workers is the high rate of loss during rice processing.

If rice is dried with commonly used technology, the cost is VND100-120 per kilogram for summer-autumn and autumn-winter crop rice and VND80 per kilogram for winter-spring crop rice. Meanwhile, if drying with higher technology, which allows to control the heat, the production cost would be VND35 per kilogram only.

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta has the total rice growing area of 2 million hectares and the rice output of 25 million tons a year, of which 50 percent is reserved for export. One of Vietnam’s rice varieties, ST 25, has been recognized as the best in the world.

Scientists said with the great potential, Vietnam will be a rice production power if it can modernize the rice production phases.

One of the barriers that make it difficult to do this is the existence of fragmented small fields. It is impossible to modernize the production phases on the fields with the area of less than 0.5 hectares. Meanwhile, most households are farming on such small fields. 

Rice Prices

as on : 31-12-2019 12:10:04 PM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.

DA seeks ways to help rice farmers
December 31, 2019 at 09:30 pm by Othel V. Campos
The Agriculture Department said it is seeking more ways to lessen the burden on rice farmers aside from regular programs, like the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers.
The department, Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines jointly launched the P3-billion Rice Farmer Financial Assistance program.
Starting Dec. 23, 600,000 rice farmers in 33 rice-producing provinces each received cash assistance worth P5,000 under the RFFA.  The program will be piloted in the provinces of Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija, which are among the top rice producing provinces in the country.
Dar said the RFFA guidelines were meticulously crafted and targeted to benefit the farmers who suffered from the impact of the Rice Tariffication Law.
Agriculture Field Operations Service director and Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program coordinator Roy Abaya said that 36 percent of the P10 billion from RCEF was obligated for its first year of implementation beginning September 2019.

Success in agro machine fabrication

Cross River State-based entrepreneur, Emmanuel Ntiti, is up on the entrepreneurship ladder, having set up a thriving business of fabricating durable machines for agro entrepreneurs and farmers, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

Cross River State-based entrepreneur, Emmanuel Ntiti, fabricates a range of farm machinery for industrial use.
His agricultural background helped him to identify the various problems that grassroots farmers face.
A Senior Technical Instructor at the Government Technical School, Calabar, Ntiti has developed a range of machines for small scale business owners.
These include machines for de-stoning, harvesting, threshing, milling, peeling and polishing machines to process maize, potatoes, groundnuts, rice, yam and cassava.
He started small with his savings. The early days weren’t easy.
He designed and produced  machines for processing cassava into ethanol. This is good news for farmers and producers  who cannot afford these machines.
Ntiti said his machines break waste biomass into ethanol, thereby reducing costs through savings on maintenance, production time and capital expenditures, for farmers using cassava.
The equipment, made of iron and steel, has a distillation system.
Ntiti is ready to deploy the technology to parts of the country, especially rural areas where cassava is produced. He said his dream is to serve the farming community by providing innovative techniques to reduce drudgery.
One of his machines is the cassava grater, which can process about 800 kilogrammes of cassava per hour. This has assisted farmers to reduce the time spent on the pressed cassava before it is turned to garri.
He also fabricated a manual palm kernel oil (PKO) expeller. The machine can produce a drum of PKO in eight hours. It processes the oil palm fruit from its fibre, and shell. It processes the oil into fatty alcohols.
Ntiti is empowering Nigerians to make briquettes out of charcoal dust, solve fuel problem, reduce poverty, unemployment and tackle poor waste management.
To him, producing charcoal requires wood, which means an increase in deforestation and stress on ecosystems.
Burning wood to charcoal leads to emission of large amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). To address this, he has been looking for an alternative source of fuel after realising that firewood contributes to the depletion of forests.
He saw a business opportunity in briquettes and started researching the possibilities of making them to save the forest and create opportunities for Nigerians to make money.
At the moment, he makes environmentally-friendly charcoal briquettes from wastepaper, plants and agricultural wastes that are combustible, including grass, straw, water hyacinths, maize and rice husks, peanut shells and potato and banana peels.
They burn longer than wood and the coal are cheaper, safer and cleaner to cook with.
The investment is also minimal for small producers and has high returns.
According to Ntiti, briquettes have a high growth potential in the market with lot of businesses still relying on wood and diesel for fuel.
The other advantage, he said, is international funding coming for energy friendly businesses, using options, such as  briquette for e-processing.
Ntiti’s mission is to support farmers by providing them with better and cheaper machinery than the imported models. He wants to partner cooperatives to establish Agro-processing centre (APC) to process the grains in the villages to enhance farmers’ income.
He believes the establishment of such centres at the farm gates will help in getting quality products, reducing post-harvest losses, employment to rural youth and achieve diversification in agriculture besides improving the economic and social status of   farmers.

GM golden rice gets landmark safety approval in the Philippines

HEALTH 31 December 2019
Golden rice (r) has been genetically modified to boost vitamin A
Erik de Castro/Reuters
The Philippines has become the first country with a serious vitamin A deficiency problem to approve golden rice – which is genetically modified to prevent such health problems – as safe for humans and animals to eat. According to a government report, it is as safe as conventional rice varieties.
“This is a victory for science, agriculture and all Filipinos,” member of congress Sharon Garin said in a statement.
In the Philippines, many children under five years old are severely vitamin A deficient, according to the World Health Organization – even though most of them are given vitamin A supplements. Vitamin A deficiency affects the immune system and makes children vulnerable to diseases, as well as leading to blindness.
Golden rice has been altered produce the orange pigment beta-carotene, which the body can turn into vitamin A. Because rice is a major part of the diet in the Philippines, if children eat golden rice instead of normal rice, it should substantially reduce vitamin A deficiency.
It could reduce deaths among children by up to a third, says Adrian Dubock of the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, a non-profit group of experts who help with the development of golden rice. “This decision is huge,” says Dubock.

Read more: Approval of golden rice could finally end vitamin A deficiency deaths

The Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute will now carry out taste tests as they seek approval for farmers to grow specific strains commercially.
Greenpeace, which has long campaigned against golden rice, has asked the agriculture department to overturn its decision. According to the Philippine Star, Greenpeace has said the approval is unwarranted due to incomplete data and a lack of transparency. These claims are rejected by Dubock.
Golden rice has already been approved as safe to eat in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US. Bangladesh, which also has a vitamin A deficiency problem, is expected to make a decision soon.

Dr Rachael Wood's research will help rice industry

·       The Irrigator
Description: WELL DONE: Dr Rachael Wood's PhD research has made a big discovery for the rice industry. Photo: Contributed
 WELL DONE: Dr Rachael Wood's PhD research has made a big discovery for the rice industry. Photo: Contributed


35,000 MT paddy missing from mills in Haryana

Manvir Saini | TNN | Updated: Dec 31, 2019, 13:05 IST


There are 1,305 rice mills in Haryana
CHANDIGARH: A total of 35,000 metric tonnes (MT) of paddy was found missing from the rice mills of Haryana, a report on the physical verification of the stock till December 26 has revealed.
Haryana additional chief secretary (agriculture) P K Das said this figure could go up as the inspection was in progress. "Once we quantify the total figure, we will issue a show-cause notice to millers to explain the deficiency. Once we receive replies, adequate action will follow. One thing is for sure: wrongdoers will not be spared," he said.
There are 1,305 rice mills in the state. Till December 26, officials could inspect 1,105 mills. Das said the physical verification was almost over by Monday and officials were compiling data for the final figure.
As of now, the highest mismatch has been recorded in Karnal district, where 12,000 MT of paddy was missing from stock of rice mills. It is followed by 9,400 MT in Ambala .
Soon after the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP-JJP government had taken over Haryana, it was faced with allegations of irregularities in paddy procurement. Not only the Congress and INLD, even BJP's coalition partner JJP had questioned paddy procurement.
It was alleged that rice millers or arhtiyas (commission agents) had either made bogus purchases or purchased paddy from outside the state. It resulted in unrest among farmers.
Why prices of key food items are rising rapidly
Tuesday December 31 2019

By Alawi Masare @AMasare
Dar es Salaam. Prices of major staple foods are soaring in the markets as the rainy season has started in many regions in Tanzania.
Beans, which are widely consumed in Tanzania, are now leading in price movements, having increased by at least 25 percent in the last three months.
A survey condueted in some markets and retail outlets in the city indicated that beans are currently retailing at between Sh3,000 and Sh3,200 per kilogramme, up from Sh2,400 recorded in October.
Rice and maize are also experiencing increased prices although at a slower pace in recent months, according to dealers.
Traders say it’s a common volatility fueled by the seasonality - and, of course, high demand following year-end festivals.
They also say the limited supplies experienced in the markets have nothing to do with food availability in the country.
“As for beans, it’s not unusual for prices to rise and fall. In the last three months, we have been experiencing supply constraints, and that is why prices are also going up,” said Mr Adan Msury who trades in cereals at Temeke’s ‘Double Cabin’ market.
“We hope prices will start falling in January because new harvests will have started in places like Kagera Region and, therefore, increase supply,” he added.
“The funny thing about beans is that its price can go up in like three months and fall abruptly. That’s whereit eats into our capital,” he said.
The traders also say the ongoing rains may have contributed to the price increases in the sense that transporting the produces from upcountry to markets has become challenging.
“Tanzania has plenty of food; but the challenge might be in transporting it from other regions due to heavy rains which disrupt transportation in rural areas,” said Mr Mohamed Mwekya, a trader at Tandale market.
“We should also understand that the stocks of foods crops were now on the hands of middle men or traders who are holding until they see the prices are giving them better profits,” said Mr Mwekya.
According to him, this is a temporary situation which may end in the next one or two months.
Mr Tabran Shabani who sells maize flour at Manzese market says the produce prices were going up to Sh1,000 per kilogramme before processing.
“This is one of the toughest periods in the season as prices go up due to limited supply. A lot of milling machines have been switched off around Manzese due to the fact that you need to be very careful to continue operating,” he said.
“From my experience, prices of maize will continue going up until end of February when places like Kahama start supplying again,” he added.
He sells maize flour at Sh35,000 per 25kg bag and retail outlets are selling at Sh1,600 per kilogramme in some areas.
Rice is not spared in the price growth with prices ranging between Sh1,700 and Sh2,300 around Mbagala.
“Currently, I’m depending much on the supply from Mbeya and prices are going up,” said Mr Ali Omary who sells cereals at Mbagala.
“I think prices will continue increasing until around March when new stocks start getting into market from the Lake Zone areas including Shinyanga,” he said.
Reports from Kariakoo Markets indicate that prices have drastically changed over the year in all major food crops. For instance, wholesale maize prices recorded on December 28 last year were between Sh47,000 and Sh60,000 per 100kg sack and increased to between Sh85,000 and Sh87,000 on December 23 this year.
Rice increased from between Sh130,000 and Sh180,000 to between Sh170,000 and Sh250,000 per sack. Beans also increased from between Sh180,000 and Sh200,000 to between Sh230,000 and Sh270,000 per bag.