Saturday, January 04, 2020

4th January,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

CPEC Phase II commences with SEZ: Ambassador Hashmi
1:41 PM | January 04, 2020

Description: CPEC Phase II commences with SEZ: Ambassador HashmiThe second phase of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative has started with the establishment of special economic zones in various parts of the country, Pakistan Ambassador to China, Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi said on Saturday.
“The second phase of CPEC has now started, which is actually the establishment of special economic zones in various parts of the country,”she said in an interview with China Economic Net.
Ambassador Hashmi remarked that with the establishment of these special economic zones and the signing of agreements between the Chinese and Pakistani agricultural sectors and with increased cooperation, agriculture was a field with great potential for investment and re-export.
She said that with the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement becoming operational, the price would in any way go down, because the import duties would not apply.
“So with the establishment of these special economic zones and with the increasing number of agreements and cooperation in the agricultural sector, which is a priority both with President Xi and with Prime Minister Imran Khan, I think this is one area where there is a huge potential of both investments, growth and then re-export of those value added products to China,” she added.
Talking about the Pakistani products which have the most export potential to China, she said in order to let more Chinese consumers know about Pakistani mangoes, a Mango Festival was held in the Pakistan Embassy Beijing.
“This is Pakistan’s third Mango Festival held in Beijing. Mango is one of Pakistan’s leading export products. One day, we hope to see Pakistani mangoes sold in supermarkets and markets across China,” she added.
To reduce the price of Pakistani Mango in China, Ambassador Hashmi said that the products of the country of origin were generally cheaper, but a series of tariffs were added to the products when exporting, and mangoes also needed to be treated with hot water, steam sterilization or other technologies. These technologies were not readily available in Pakistan, increasing product prices.
“The first thing China can do to reduce the price of Pakistani agricultural products in China is through joint ventures, through the introduction of technology, and working with farmers and exporters to set reasonable prices in order to meet China’s requirements for imported fruits and vegetables,” she added.
Secondly, Hashmi believed that with the CPEC process and the establishment of the cold chain system, many products could be transported by road without air transport.
Due to its short shelf life, mango was currently unable to be transported to China by land, and fisheries and other agricultural products also needed to be transported by cold chain roads, so she believed this was an area where many Chinese investors do business in Pakistan.
This is mutually beneficial for importers and exporters, and it was also a way to introduce high-quality Pakistani agricultural products to China at reasonable prices.
On zero-tariff treatment given to 313 types of Pakistani products after implementation of FTA Phase-II, Ambassador Hashmi said that some traditional export varieties of Pakistan were very popular in China. “For example, Pakistan exports a lot of rice to China, but Pakistan’s most famous Basmati rice is not very popular in China.”
She said that there was another type of rice in Pakistan that was very close to Chinese rice, called IRRI-6, a small grain of glutinous rice. This type of rice could be exported to China.
On Pakistan’s sugar export to China, Ambassador Hashmi said China was importing more and more Pakistani sugar, and it would be the same next year. For Pakistani growers, exporters and sugar makers, sugar was a new product launched in the Chinese market. Once the attempt was successful, Pakistan would export more sugar to China in the next two years.
Ambassador Hashmi said Pakistan produced a lot of cotton. China had a huge textile industry, so Pakistan’s yarn was exported to China.
“We have a lot of gems. The Chinese like Onyx. Baluchistan Province in northern Pakistan is the only one producing Onyx in the world. There are many gold and copper is transported from our mine to China. Therefore, minerals and gems in Pakistan have great market potential.”
Ambassador Hashmi said the gem field is another area where Pakistan was looking for a Chinese joint venture.
“In northern Pakistan, there are beautiful gems everywhere. But we don’t have advanced technology to polish them. And the Chinese know how to sculpt to make beautiful jewelry products. Chinese technicians, stone importers, manufacturers can work with Pakistan Enterprises establish joint ventures.”


The New Rice War: China eats into big African markets secured by India

"We are aware that China, hitherto a buyer (of rice), is increasing its export of white rice at a very competitive price.

New Delhi: As the buyer becomes the seller, India, the largest exporter of rice in the world, has a new competitor in the global market. From the key policy makers in Udyog Bhawan to the top millers exporting rice, everyone is cautiously watching China, which offloading tonnes of rice in African markets usually secured by India.
"We are aware that China, hitherto a buyer (of rice), is increasing its export of white rice at a very competitive price. But let's see how the situation develops in terms of overall volume of exports," said an official in the Export Division(Agriculture) of the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
In the past six months, China has released over 3 million tonnes of white rice from government-owned warehouses. A bulk of these consignments were reportedly shipped to African countries.
"We (India) export non-basmati rice for $400 per tonne approximately...but China is offering rice at considerably lower prices," said Lakshya Agarwal, a prominent rice exporter of Uttrakhand.
As per market sources, China is exporting non-basmati rice at rates ranging from $300 to $320 per tonne. "The difference between Indian and Chinese rates are quite significant. In the long run, it can have an impact on our exports," Agarwal added.
For decades, India has been world's largest exporter of rice followed by Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan. While India continues to secure the top berth, its exports of non-basmati rice are shrinking rapidly.
For example, in 2019 (April to November), India exported non-basmati rice worth Rs 9,028.34 crore against Rs 14,059.51 crore in the same period of the previous year.
The Commerce Ministry data reveals that non-basmati exports have fallen to 35.78 percent in early eight months of the current financial year, compared to the corresponding period a year ago.
Sources in the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said that China has meticulously planned offloading its old stock of rice in the African market.
"Actually Chinese eat sticky rice which has a rich taste when it is fresh. The flavour is not the same in the old stock of rice.. that's why there is always a demand for fresh rice in China.
The moment the fresh rice floods the market, the government releases its old stock at very low rates," the source said "The old stock of rice is being exported in African countries."
The Chinese strategy has ultimately disrupted the global market of rice exports wherein India feels the pinch, being the largest exporter.
Meanwhile, a senior official of Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that to tackle the Chinese competition globally, a lobby of rice exporters had suggested that the government should release excess stock of non-basmati rice from the warehouses of the Food Corporation of India into the open market.
However, the government seems unwilling to release the stock, as it has to run the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS) for the poor.
To this, an executive of Delhi-based top rice export company said: "If the government cannot afford to release its stock from FCI warehouses, than it can at least grant some export incentive to non-basmati exporters in wake of face stiff competition from China and other global players."

China Seeks Public Opinion on GMO Corn Approval, Gets an Earful

The Chinese public has long been wary of genetically modified crops despite little scientific evidence of food safety risks.

Cai Xuejiao

Jan 03, 2020 
Chinese people may be more averse to genetically modified foods than most, but domestic media outlets are hoping to change that following the country’s first proposed biosafety approvals for GMO crops in a decade.
In a statement Monday, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) said it is soliciting public opinion on a list of 192 genetically modified plant species — including two strains of corn and one strain of soybean — that are awaiting biosafety certification. The public feedback period will conclude after 15 days, on Jan. 20.
The soybean species SHZD32-01, which is especially suitable for cultivation in southern China, was developed by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The two GMO corn species, meanwhile, can be grown in China’s colder northern provinces. The DBN9936 corn species was developed by Beijing Dabeinong Biotechnology Co. Ltd., and the “double-stacked 12-5” species was co-developed by Hangzhou Ruifeng Biotechnology Co. Ltd. and Zhejiang University.
In the days since, several major state-controlled media outlets have published articles explaining the science behind GMOs in an effort to assuage the public’s fears.
China began researching genetically modified crops in the 1980s. MARA approved insect-resistant cotton and disease-resistant papaya for commercial production in 1997 and 2006, respectively, and greenlit GMO soybeans, corn, canola, cotton, and sugar beets as for import to the Chinese market.
In 2009, MARA issued biosafety certificates for a genetically modified corn species and two GMO rice species, though none were later approved for commercial production. In early 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a genetically modified strain of rice developed by Chinese researchers as commercially viable, though its developers said at the time that large-scale production in China would not be possible without new policies to grease the wheels.
Monday’s news from MARA hasn’t been enthusiastically received by all, with many on Chinese social media expressing concerns about the potential health and safety risks of GMOs. Some netizens have called for a boycott on GMO foods, while others have questioned the scientific basis for such skepticism.
The Chinese public’s fears of adverse health effects from GMOs have been stoked over the years by high-profile figures like Cui Yongyuan, a former televisions presenter and outspoken anti-GMO campaigner who is now perhaps best known for exposing the A-list actor Fan Bingbing’s fraudulent contract in 2018.
Many scientists have also spoken out over the years and tried to reassure the public that China’s current policy framework for assessing GMO foods is sufficient to guarantee their safety.
Wu Kongming, chairman of China’s biosafety committee overseeing agricultural GMOs, told Xinhua earlier this week that any genetically modified foods approved for the domestic market would be safe, and that the environmental risks of commercially grown GMO crops can be effectively controlled.
For over 20 years, Wu said, billions of people in 70 countries and regions around the world have consumed genetically modified products without a single scientifically confirmed food safety problem.
Genetically altered crops must receive a production certificate from MARA before they can be commercially grown in China, and all GMO foods must be clearly labeled as such when sold to consumers.
Also on Monday, MARA published a list of 12 GMOs that have been approved for import until December 2022, including an insect-resistant strain of soybean developed by U.S.-based company Dow AgroSciences LLC, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: Ships unload imported soybeans at a harbor in Nantong, Jiangsu province, March 28, 2012. Tuchong)

The UK must introduce folic acid fortification in foods, say scientists

JANUARY 3, 2020
Description: cerealCredit: CC0 Public Domain
According to St George's scientists, there is an urgent need to fortify flour and grains with folic acid to prevent spina bifida and other birth defects.
In response to the UK government's consultation on a proposal to add folic acid (vitamin B9) to flour, an article published online in Archives of Disease in Childhood indicates that the UK government should do so to prevent the birth defects, spina bifida, a cause of serious lifelong disability, and anencephaly, a fatal birth defect where most of the brain is missing.
The two defects are collectively referred to as neural tube defects. Many thousands of pregnancies have been either terminated or resulted in the birth of children with neural tube defects that could be been prevented if folic acid fortification had been implemented universally.
The article is written by three senior medical researchers, including the former Chief Executive of the British Medical Research Council, Sir Colin Blakemore, and St George's scientists, Professor Sir Nicholas Wald and Professor Joan Morris. The piece is a series of answers to questions asked in the Government's public consultation on whether the UK should introduce mandatory folic acid fortification. Over 80 countries have already done so, including the U.S., where it's estimated that fortification has saved 1,300 children each year from death or a lifetime of disability.
The scientists are calling for fortification of cereal grains such as rice as well as flour to ensure the benefits reach all sections of the population, regardless of their personal or cultural preferences for cereal products. They also believe there should be no limits set on fortification level, as there is no limit above which folic acid consumption is unsafe.
The important issues raised in the article are:
·       Folic acid fortification of flour and other cereals is effective and safe
·       All flour should be fortified and cereal grains such as rice should be fortified as well
·       The fortification level that should be set to achieve a significant reduction in the risk of having a pregnancy with spina bifida or anencephaly
·       Voluntary fortification should not be restricted (e.g. in breakfast cereals) as there is no limit above which folic acid consumption is unsafe
·       Mandatory fortification of folic acid provides a "public health safety net" and could potentially prevent about half of all cases of neural tube defects
·       Folic acid fortification does not mean that women do not need to take folic acid supplements immediately before pregnancy and in the early stages of pregnancy; fortification and supplementation are complementary.
Mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid has been considered by the UK government on several occasions and always deferred. The efficacy of fortification has not been in question and detailed consideration regarding safety has been reassuring, with the scientists saying there is no evidence that high levels of folic acid intake are harmful.
The article outlines that the cost of fortifying flour and grains with folic acid is minimal and would be borne by the millers, who recognise the benefits of fortification and are willing to implement fortification if the Government mandates this. Although the financial cost is minimal, it needs to be mandated to set a level playing field for all the millers involved.
Professor Sir Nicholas Wald, author of the article from and St George's, University of London and University College London, said:
"Britain's past failure to fortify flour and grains with folic acid is a missed public health opportunity. It is like having a vaccine for polio and not using it."
Professor Wald conducted the seminal research in 1991 that showed that neural tube defects were due to deficiency of folic acid consumption, and that taking extra folic acid immediately prior to pregnancy and in the early stages of pregnancy prevents most cases. He added: "It is more than a disappointment that UK funded research published nearly 30 years ago has not been fully used in the UK to improve the health and wellbeing of its citizens who paid for the research."
Professor Joan Morris, co-author of the paper from St George's, University of London, said: "The research has been done, the health effects evaluated, and there now needs to be the political will to introduce folic acid fortification to prevent one of the most serious birth defects."

Amid losses, Sub-regional traders weigh options as border closure enters new year

By Sulaimon Salau
04 January 2020   |   3:26 am

Idiroko border post
The New Year 2020 comes with fresh hopes, but regional traders across the West African corridor are looking at chances of having a renewed border policy that would facilitate their business relations with the continental giant – Nigeria.

With millions of Nigerians counting their gains last year, quite a number of these traders rounded off the year with disappointment. However, the January 31 end of the first phase of the border drill marks an important date that has continued to strike the minds of the affected traders. Some are optimistic that the Federal Government would reopen the borders by February 1, 2020, while others are pessimistic about the review date.

But the spokesperson of the Joint Border Security Drill also known as operation ‘Swift Response’, Joseph Attah, said the January 31 timeline was not necessarily the termination date but the end of phase one of the border drill, after which a review of the process would be done and the next line of action would be communicated to Nigerians.
“Security operation of this kind is usually in phases. The partial border closure will continue until the set objectives are achieved,” said Attah, who is also the Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

Already, agricultural producers like rice millers, among others, are smiling to the banks for improved patronage and earnings, as foreign rice is gradually fading away in Nigeria’s market, while cross border traders and manufacturers are groaning under huge losses.

Car dealers are also hailing the policy as the spate of vehicle smuggling reduced tremendously. The influx of arms and ammunitions are also being nipped in the bud. The border drill has also significantly saved the nation of smuggled petrol and consequently reduced the quantity of the product imported into the country with consumption now put at 52 million litres per day from 60 million litres.
At the seaports, the border closure has also helped to increase patronage resulting in improved earnings by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). The Customs Area Controller, Apapa Command of NSC, Compt. Mohammed Abba-Kura said since the beginning of the border closure, the command’s revenue has increased.

According to him, the command generated N414 billion from January to December 18, 2019, as against N404 billion generated between January and December 2018, which translates into about 111 per cent of the 2019 annual revenue target. This feat, according to him, gives credence to the positive impacts of the policy.
Also, the Port Terminal Multipurpose Limited (PTML) Command reported N116.52 billion revenue collections between January and September 2019, showing an increase of N28.9 billion from N87.6 billion collected within the same period in 2018.  However, 35 per cent increase in vehicle imports was recorded in the third quarter of the year 2019.

Customs Area Controller of the Command, Mrs. Florence Dixon, also attributed the development to the border closure policy.
Notwithstanding these benefits, the policy came with some pains to migrants and traders who are currently grappling with poor patronage, loss of capital and stalled business deals.

During the yuletide period, many producers and traders who deal with imported products faced tough moments, while migrants found it difficult to move freely across the border to celebrate with their loved ones. This is as Nigerians residing in some of the affected African countries such as the Republic of Benin and Ghana are finding it difficult to trade freely in those countries, as their citizens have declared ‘war’ on Nigerian traders.

President of Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, said about 300 shops were closed in Ghana even when Nigerian traders did not violate any Ghanaian law; but as retaliation to the border closure policy.

The measure is also taking its toll on border communities, businesses and the economies of neighbouring Benin and the Niger Republic.

Residents of border communities who spoke with The Guardian lamented the intense hardship imposed on them by the border drill.

A community leader in Idiroko, Akinde Akogun, said the residents were currently suffering from an acute shortage of petroleum products, adding that their economy has crumbled due to the border closure.

Akogun said: “Things have never been the same for us around here since the borders were closed. The policy has negatively affected our businesses because we rely on cross border trade and migrants are our major targets. But since the border drill, the whole economy here has crumbled and people are now living from hand to mouth.

“The halt in the supply of petroleum products has compounded our woes. The filling stations have shut down and their workers are now jobless. We now buy fuel in the black market, which is costlier than the official pump price. A litter of petrol now sells for about N500 instead of the official rate of N145. Many of our youths are transporters, but the influx of passengers has reduced drastically in the past few months making the business unattractive. Government should help us and review the decision in 2020 so that we can also feel like bonafide Nigerians,” he said.
President, West African Road Transport Union (WARTU), Salami Nasiru, also told The Guardian that his members had recorded low patronage since the border closure, expressing optimism that the Federal Government would review the policy this year to favour the traders and Nigerian domestic market.

Nasiru said the group had made proposals to the government on some factors that could cushion the effect of the closure, which he hoped would be adopted at the review of the border drill by January 31.
He suggested that rather than halting the supply of products to the border communities, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should track loading from point of loading to the final destination. He added that the government should provide distribution centres in each local council headquarters where products would be available.
Nasiru further proffered the creation of warehouses at various international markets; creation of grains council that would comprise farmers, producers, distributors, and other relevant stakeholders as members; local rice distribution should be based on the six geopolitical zones of the country to enhance competitiveness; and that government should subsidise the transport system.
The WARTU boss also proposed the establishment of a cargo stock exchange through a transport commission, which would regularise tariffs in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, as the seaports and airport command of Customs continued to rake in more earnings, the land border commands are recording a sharp drop in revenue.

The Seme Area Command of NCS collected the sum of N4.9 billion in revenue for the Federal Government from January to early December 2019. The amount is lower than the N5 billion recorded over the same period in 2018.

The Customs Area Controller, Compt. Mohammed Uba Garba attributed the reduction to border drill exercise.
SBM Intelligence, a Lagos-based political and economic risk advisory firm, has warned that the closure of borders has consequences for export-focused Nigerian businesses.

“Nigerian authorities assume that a border closure works only one way – on the import side. But it bears reiterating that the country is actually a net exporter via the land borders and this closure affects these exporters,” it stated.
The firm believes Nigeria’s porous borders reflect a “failure” of the Nigeria Customs Service to effectively carry out its duties.
Nevertheless, President Muhammadu Buhari in his new year message to Nigerians insisted that the land border would be reopened only when the government was satisfied with safety and compliance measures expected from the joint security exercise. 
We May Be Forced Out Of
Business, Lament Frozen Food, Fairly Used Wears Dealers

By Maria Diamond and Victoria Nwosu
IN Lagos, down but not defeated might be the appropriate phrase to describe dealers in frozen food and second-hand wears who despite the border closure, have found a way to stay in business against all odds.
One of them, Temitope, who sells chicken and turkey in the Ikotun Egbe market, revealed that although the border has been closed, she and some other dealers in the market have managed to find a way to bring in frozen food from the neighbouring countries.
She said: “When the border was initially closed, I settled for selling our local chicken and turkey, but the turnover was poor. Customers kept rejecting it. Some even complained it was too expensive and not very tasty. So, we had to find a way around the situation in order not to go out of business. Perhaps we wouldn’t have had any problem with sticking to Nigerian chicken and turkey if customers were not constantly requesting for imported frozen ones despite being aware of the closed border. A lot of them say they don’t mind paying extra just to have the imported chicken and turkey. So, when the opportunity to pay extra to smugglers from Cotonou presented itself, we had to take it. They bring the chicken and turkey into the country in midnight and those who need it pay for it,” she said.
Temitope, however, noted that she doesn’t know how the smugglers manage to maneuver into the country, saying she was only concerned with the fact that her business was intact.
Another trader, Mrs. Chidinma, who sells frozen chicken at Century market, Ago, Okota, also said that the ban has not really affected her business. She said a carton of turkey sells for N16,000, while each kilo sells for N1,600. She also noted that a carton of chicken sells for N15,000. She said the price has remained stable for over two months.
She said: “A few weeks after the border closure, turkey and chicken became scarce, but the scarcity did not last long as it became surplus again. So presently, we sell a kilo of chicken for N1,500 and turkey N1,600 and we have been selling it like that for some time now. Considering that it was between N1,700 and N1,800 a few months ago, it is cheaper now.”
But Mama Shade, a frozen fish seller in the same market, lamented the loss of customers due to the closure of borders. “I have been experiencing a really bad market since the closure of the border. It has, in turn, led to an outrageous increase in the prices of goods. Some customers who can’t afford it are not patronising me again. For instance, a carton of sardine fish that cost between N14, 000 and N15,000 before goes for N24,000 and N25,000 now, while ‘Shawa’ (herring fish) that cost N8,000 is now N13, 500.
“I can no longer purchase as much as I used to because they go bad when no one buys them and there is no electricity supply. I may decide to eventually stop this business if the border closure persists,” she added.
Chinyere Amadi, a dealer in fairly used wears, told The Guardian that instead of travelling to the Benin Republic to procure hare wares, she now pays smugglers who deliver the materials at her shop.
“I have been selling fairly used wears (okrika) for about two decades. I open different types of bales – shoes, bags, and others. It is the only business I know how to do. I have trained my kids in tertiary institutions with the income I make from the business. So, the closed border would have been a disaster for my family if there were no maneuvering means.
“Before the border closure, I usually travelled to the Benin Republic myself but now I don’t have to, as my goods come to me and I pay at delivery. Although I pay a lot more than I used to, another disadvantage is that I don’t get to make a choice selection. I buy whatever is delivered and hope that I find clean wears that can be sold as the first grade for reasonable prices,” she said.
She, however, expressed optimism that the borders would be reopened.
She said: “In all sincerity, it has been very difficult because most times when I open my bales, I get junks, something I ordinarily wouldn’t purchase if I could access the border myself like I used to. But I believe this phase shall pass and the border would eventually be opened for business.”
At Cele Night market along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, where fairly used wears are sold, Mr. Darlington Igwe, who trades in fairly used shoes, lamented the effect of the border closure on his business.
“The closure of the border is affecting me extremely. For about three months now, I have over six bags of shoes that I paid for that I have not been able to bring in from Togo. These goods are worth millions of naira because I usually supply school shoes during their resumption. I haven’t been able to do that because the border is closed, trapping all my goods there. The school I supply shoes have been calling me because resumption is now closed. I do not know what else to do,” he explained.
He called for the reopening of the borders, adding that he has been unable to provide for his family because of the situation. 
“I cannot even resort to smuggling goods into the country because if you do, you will be arrested and the goods seized,” he said.
Another trader in the market, Gloria Eke, who sells second-hand clothes, said the closure of the border has affected her business too.
“I buy my goods from Togo and since the closure of the border, it has been difficult to get goods. Currently, I buy from Aswani, which is more expensive than the normal price. While I get a bale of first-grade clothes at N80,000 from Togo, I get it for N120,000 or more at Aswani. And when I increase the price as a result of the increase in cost price, some customers complain, while others do not buy at all.
“The government should try to understand that we are still developing and it is not everything that we can manufacture yet. Should we continue to
suffer like this till when? If they can reverse the policy, it will be appreciated,” she said.
Smugglers Selling Property
To Defray Loans In Oyo
From Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan

With the closure of the nation’s land borders, many residents of Oyo State groan under the exorbitant prices of items especially rice, which they used to get at a cheaper price.
This is as reports from the border communities of Shaki and its environs, a journey of about five hours from Ibadan, indicate that those doing legitimate and illegitimate businesses in the communities were bearing the brunt of the closure. 
A source told The Guardian that the effects of the closure were devastating for consumers, sellers, and others in the community.
“It hit people hard. We don’t get the goods we used to get before. The little coming in are very expensive. In fact, it has made some smugglers wretched. Many are selling their properties now just to defray loans they obtained. Some had obtained credit facilities when smuggling was booming; people built houses from the proceeds of smuggling. But because of the closure, they are ‘out of business’. They have to sell those houses.”
The source, however, urged the government to close all routes and borders and focus more on mechanised farming in order to reap the full benefits of the closure.
Speaking on the issue, the Public Relations Officer of Oyo/Osun Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullahi Abiola-Lagos, said the closure has assisted the Service in fighting smuggling in a great deal.
He said: “Our discovery so far is that the border closure has assisted in the fight against smuggling within the Command and other land borders of the country. Our local farmers are smiling due to the high patronage of our local agricultural products and this automatically leads to more employment for our youths. The menace of insecurity is also reducing drastically.
“Since the commencement of the exercise, the Command has made the following seizures:
1,040 SK blocks and 101 bags of cannabis sative; 2,540 (50kg) bags of foreign rice; 12 smuggled tokunbo vehicles;15 bags of sugar; three motorcycles; 40 bales of second-hand clothes and shoes and 500 pieces of tyres.
“The border closure exercise will continue until the Federal Government is convinced that our borders are safe and controllable from any security threat and influx of foreign products especially rice. Also, our neighbouring countries should comply with ECOWAS procedures on transit goods in order to allow the government to have proper statistics and control of what comes in and goes out of the country.”
Kebbi Border Communities
Count Losses
From Ahmadu Baba Idris, Birnin Kebbi

Lamenting the effects of the ongoing closure of land borders across the country on residents of Kebbi State, former chairman of Bagudo Local Government Area of the state, Hassan Adamu, has urged the Federal Government to reopen the borders.
Adamu, who is also a businessman, lamented that the policy has negatively affected his business and farming activities in border communities in the state.
Speaking with The Guardian in an interview in Lolo, the former chairman said that following the Federal Government’s policy, most residents could not farm again because their farmlands are in the neighbouring country.
He explained further that 80 per cent of their businesses had been crippled due to the closure of the borders, urging the Federal Government to device means of supporting their business.
His words: “We have farmland in Gaya, Niger Republic while in the Benin Republic we also have farms in Sande where we normally farm crops such as maize, dry pepper, rice, guinea corn, and others, while foreigners also farm in Lolo and also come to the market. But now all has been blocked due to the decision to close the borders.
“Three days ago, they met with the security agents attached to the border to even allow them to farm because we are in the dry season farming period but they refused. So, things are not okay for them at all,” he said.
When approached for comments, the border joint security operatives said they were not allowed to talk to the press, stressing that all they knew was that they were there to do their job.
Meanwhile, The Guardian investigations revealed that the smuggling of food items, especially rice, was still obtainable in border communities in the state but in a smaller scale. The smugglers use commercial motorcyclists who understand the landscape of the communities to perpetrate their act but operatives of the joint security agents are also not resting on their oars. Although the security operatives refused to speak on the matter, it was learned that many of the motorcyclists had been nabbed and both their motorcycles and the smuggled items seized.
Further findings showed that a bag of foreign rice in the state now sells for N15,000 as against N11,000 before the borders were closed, an indication that residents were bearing the brunt of the closed borders in spite of the activities of smugglers.

Sri Lanka businesses should bring down prices after tax cut: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s businesses should bring down prices after tax cuts were made by the government President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said making his inaugural address to parliament.
“Business have been given benefits by bringing down taxes,” President Rajapska said.
“They should now pass on a reasonable amount by cutting prices.”
Commodities including rice, wheat and coconut have soared over the past month, taking the new administration by surprise.
The administration has come under fire for its close links with an oligopoly of rice millers. The government cut taxes on wheat ending a state protected duopoly of millers to bring down wheat prices.
Sri Lanka’s rupee’s collapsed in 2018, after call money rates were targeted by printing tens of billions of cash, mis-targeting real money demand as credit recovered leading to a run in the rupee.
Rates were cut and money printed in 2018, despite the US tightening policy, leading to an inevitable collapse of the rupee from 153 to 182 to the US dollar.
To stop the currency crisis, liquidity was reined, helping prevent an inflationary meltdown, but an output shock with growth falling.
Most businesses held prices with difficulties in recovering credit despite higher costs from the currency collapse.
Analysts had warned that inflation would spike as credit recovered. There is also a global commodity price pick up.

Sri Lanka tile, brick, gem, carpentry blocked by 'un-necessary' regulations: President

Foreigners sell Sri Lanka rupee bonds

Excess liquidity in the banking system was also pumped up in December, with excess banks dumping over 50 billion rupees in the central bank.
Sri Lanka has the worst performing central bank in South Asia after Pakistan running to the International Monetary Fund after monetary instability. (Colombo/Jan03/2019)
Farmers pushed to distress sale of paddy in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts

UPDATED: JANUARY 04, 2020 09:14 IST

Though the government has set up procurement centres, many have not picked the farmers’ crop forcing them to sell short to rice millers and middlemen

For many the New Year-2020 and the ensuing Sankranti festival is bringing cheer. But not to farmers of Srikakulam and Vizianagaram district. Reason?
With abundant rain in July and August, both districts witnessed bumper yield in the current season. However, farmers have not been able to sell their produce in many places in the absence of minimum support price (MSP). In fact, the government had decided to buy between at 1815 and 1835 per quintal based on the quality of the paddy. It had even established many procurement centres but those centers had reportedly failed to buy paddy from farmers, causing untold miseries.


According to sources, even 10 percent of the total produce was not bought so far by those centres run by Velugu members and others. To add to farmers’ woes, rice millers are also not interested to buy the produce. The result? In many places farmers are being forced to sell their hard grown crop at throw away prices to middlemen as they feared damage to the stock.
S.Sangam Naidu, a farmer from Palakonda village said the middlemen were offering only 1,350 per bag. “There were no takers for ‘1075’ variety paddy in the district,” rued another farmer S.Venkataramana of Ramakrishnapuram. So much so, S.Krishna Rao of Vangara mandal and V.Bhujanga Rao of Burada village of Regidi Amadalavalasa urged Srikakulam Collector J.Nivas to take stern action against millers and others who were cheating the farmers.

Collectors get tough and going

Mr. Nivas, who reviewed the issue directed Agriculture, Revenue, and Marketing officials to ensure speedy procurment of paddy and take action on millers and procurement staff if they failed to buy the paddy immediately. “Revenue Inspectors and Village Revenue Officers should monitor the procurement on a day-to-day basis. Senior officials have to coordinate the situation with daily tele- conference in their respective areas,” said Mr. Nivas.
The situation is equally bad in Vizianagaram district with the delay in paddy procurement. Vizianagaram Collector M. Hari Jawaharlal asked district Civil Supplies officials to lift the paddy stock immediately since the farmers did not have storage facility. He said that the farmers would lose their crop with possible rains.


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Golden Rice Approved as Safe for Consumption in the Philippines

The genetically modified crop could help combat the country’s vitamin A deficiency

Engineered with genes that boost its beta-carotene content, golden rice (top) comes with a yellowish hue that makes it stand out from typical white rice (bottom) (International Rice Research Institute)
JANUARY 3, 2020 10:30AM
Nutrient-rich golden rice—a genetically-modified, amber-hued crop—has passed a rigorous biosafety assessment in the Philippines, where it may soon be distributed to combat the country’s widespread vitamin A deficiency. The plant is engineered to be packed with beta-carotene, an orange pigment that the body converts into the essential nutrient vitamin A.
Declared “as safe as conventional rice” by the Department of Agriculture in December, golden rice can now be legally consumed and processed. The stamp of approval makes it the first GMO crop created to combat a public health issue in a lower-income country, reports Steve Baragona for Voice of America.
In a statement, congressperson Sharon Garin of the Phillipines' House of Representatives praised the development as “a victory for science, agriculture and all Filipinos,” according to Charissa Luci-Atienza at the Manila Bulletin.
The Philippines is one of several lower-income countries with widespread vitamin A deficiency, a dietary condition that can cause blindness and hamstring the immune system. More than half a million children die from the deficiency each year, in large part because they don’t consume enough beta-carotene, which is present in only scant amounts in staple grains like rice.
While vitamin A supplements have found their way into many afflicted countries, roughly 20 percent of children under the age of five remain deficient in the Philippines. To fill in the gap, researchers have pushed for the introduction of low-cost crops rich in beta-carotene.
Golden rice, first unveiled as a prototype in 1999, fits the bill: Adding less than a cup of the grain to a child’s diet could meet up to half of their daily needs. But by the end of 2018, nearly two decades since the plant’s arrival on the scientific scene, only a handful of countries—Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, all high-income nations with few vitamin A issues—had deemed it safe to grow and eat en masse, reports Michael Le Page for New Scientist. Much of the resistance in these countries and others, Le Page writes, has come from groups campaigning against GMOs and their alleged negative effects on health.
That makes the Philippines’ approval of the crop a huge milestone, especially amidst false rumors that its beta-carotene would break down into cancer-causing chemicals, Le Page reports. (As safety assessments continue, Bangladesh may be next in line.) But the recent news has also been met with pushback: Late last month, environmental organization Greenpeace appealed the Department of Agriculture to overturn its decision, citing a lack of data and transparency in the approval process. In an interview with Louise Maureen Simeon at the Philippine Star, Adrian Dubock, an executive at the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, disputed the claims.
“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,” Dubock tells Simeon.
Scientific consensus has long held that golden rice—as well as other GMOs on the market—are safe to plant, process and eat. The crop’s successful safety clearance, officials hope, will help quell the controversy. “We are trying to dispel the notion that commercially-produced biofortified goods are potentially dangerous,” Garin said in the statement.
While useful, golden rice shouldn’t be considered a panacea, Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, tells Baragona. Another priority involves diversifying the diets of people in countries suffering from these deficiencies with more fruits and vegetables, he says. Such a shift, however, would take more time and effort, and perhaps a larger cultural change. As a possible substitute for white rice, golden rice might more seamlessly integrate into the diet, explains Dubock in an interview with Baragona.
But the golden grain won’t be served to the Filipino public just yet. The crop has yet to get the green light for commercial propagation—a necessary step for farmers to plant it in their fields. The International Rice Research Institute, the Philippine-based organization developing the country’s golden rice, plans to submit its application for approval early this year.

P3-B aid distributed to rice farmers in 33 provinces

 January 3, 2020 6:13pm
The distribution of P3-billion worth of cash assistance to small farmers in the country who bore the brunt of the drop in the prices of palay last year is ongoing, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Friday.
"The P3 billion is now being given to those farmers in 33 provinces affected by the falling prices of palay," Dar said, noting that the distribution was first rolled out in Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija last December.
"We're hoping that within the whole month of January maibigay na lahat," he added.
Those 33 provinces were recommended by the Philippine Rice Research Institute to receive financial aid after a thorough study on the impact of the changes in prices of palay to the local farmers, he said.
Around 600,000 farmers are expected to receive P5,000 each from the said unconditional cash grant which was sourced from excess government funds in 2019, according to Dar

Scientists hail technique to cut Arctic methane emissions 

Description: Scientists hail technique to cut Arctic methane emissions 
Scientific researchers say they have found a new way to extract methane from permafrost gas-hydrates which could increase the amount of methane available and cut harmful emissions.
A team from Skoltech University in Russia and Heriot-Watt University in Scotland reported in Scientific Reports that replacing methane in hydrates with flue gas from fuel combustion was more efficient than the current method of recovering methane.
The Russian Arctic is seeing increasing levels of exploitation of recently discovered oil and gas fields. 
Russia is offering heavy tax cuts to energy firms willing to extract fossil fuels from recently discovered reserves, which have been revealed by melting Arctic ice.
But one problem facing energy firms is the formation of gas hydrates in frozen rock mass. 
Clear and odourless methane is flammable and is a powerful greenhouse gas. In a 100-year time span, methane traps about 28 times more heat than carbon dioxide. But the gas is short-lived, lasting about nine years before turning into carbon dioxide, water and ozone, which can cause respiratory illness in humans and harm crops.
Gas hydrates are ice-like crystalline formations made by water and gas molecules, which is often methane. 
They form in the Arctic in frozen rock mass, triggering methane leaks.
Their accumulations cause spontaneous methane emissions on the Arctic coast and shelf.
Flue gas contained greenhouse gas which can be locked in permafrost and reduce emissions, making gas hydrates a potential carbon sink, the team said.
Methane is especially dangerous, as it can warm the planet 86 times as much as carbon dioxide over 20 years in the atmosphere. 
Methane can raise the acidity of water and kill sea life as it breaks down.  
A Russian study found the thawing of underwater permafrost has doubled in the last 30 years, reaching 18cm a year.
Frozen soil lies under two-thirds of Russian territory and a large proportion of the Arctic Ocean. It has been thawing as the Arctic warms at least double the speed of the rest of the planet, damaging buildings and pipelines, potentially releasing diseases and emitting greenhouse gases. 
“Our approach not only helps extract methane and prevent its free release into the atmosphere but also reduces carbon-dioxide emissions,” said Evgeny Chuvilin of Skoltech’s Centre for Hydrocarbon Recovery. “I would say our method offers a double dividend in terms of environmental safety.”
Flue gas consists of several gases produced in coal-powered plants, metal refineries and other furnaces and produced by fuel combustion. 
It also contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen, sulphur dioxide and water vapour.
The team said they used a hydrate formed by the carbon dioxide in the flue gas to replace the natural methane hydrate. The researchers said the method allowed them to capture around 82 per cent of the flue gases’ carbon dioxide. 
“In comparison with potential methods such as thermal stimulation, depressurisation, chemical inhibitor injection, carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide-mixed gases (eg flue gas) injection is more environmentally friendly because of the potential to capture carbon dioxide simultaneously with methane recovery,” the paper said.
A 2019 International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook report said the world’s coal mines emit around 40 million tonnes of methane each year. 
Russia is the world’s third-biggest hard coal exporter and Europe’s largest foreign supplier, meeting 45 per cent of European import demand in 2018.
Levels of methane have risen by an estimated 250 per cent since the 19th century. 
About 56 per cent of human-caused methane comes from livestock, rice farming and food waste decomposing in anaerobic conditions like landfill sites which creates methane.

Indoor Ag-Con Announces May 2020 Conference Keynote Speaker Sneak Preview

May 18-20, 2020 Indoor Ag-Con Keynote Speakers Include David Rosenberg, CEO, Aerofarms; Mike Zelkind, CEO, 80 Acres Farms; and Sonia Lo, CEO, Crop One Holdings.
CEOs from Aerofarms, 80 Acres Farms, Crop One Holdings Join Growing Speaker Line-Up For May 18-20, 2020 Edition At Wynn Las Vegas
Description: Indoor Ag-Con 2020 Keynote Speaker Sneak PreviewLAS VEGAS, NEVADA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, January 3, 2020 / -- Attendees will hear from CEOs, thought leaders and industry experts from today’s cutting edge farms and other innovative companies during Indoor Ag-Con, the premier crop-agnostic trade event for vertical and indoor farming, heading to the Wynn Las Vegas from May 18-20, 2020. Among them, keynote speakers David Rosenberg, CEO, Aerofarms; Mike Zelkind, CEO, 80 Acres Farms; and Sonia Lo, CEO, Crop One Holdings.In addition to these top-notch keynotes – and others to be announced in coming weeks -- the robust 2020 Conference Schedule will feature three core tracks – Business, Science | Technology and Alternative Crops.

“We surveyed our past attendees to find out what they need from a conference and our 2020 format and track topics are in direct response to their feedback,” says Nancy Hallberg, 
co-owner of Indoor Ag-Con LLC along with other event industry veterans Brian Sullivan and Kris Sieradzki. “The full program will offer a mix of panel presentations, fireside chats, roundtables and other programs that bring together different perspectives and steer clear of commercial pitches.”

Look for more information coming soon on these keynote speakers, their topics and other announcements about additional keynotes, featured speakers and the full conference schedule. In addition to the extensive educational component, attendees will also find more new initiatives and show highlights to explore during the May 2020 edition, including:

To deliver a top-quality meeting experience for its attendees, Indoor Ag-Con heads to Wynn Las Vegas for 2020. Wynn Resorts is the recipient of more Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Awards than any other independent hotel company in the world and was once again named the best resort in Nevada on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2019 “Gold List,” a title received for the 12th time.

Indoor Ag-Con is forging new alliances with other events, industry associations/groups that will play an integral role in its marketing outreach and conference programming. Look for partnership announcements coming soon.

Indoor Ag-Con will launch Start-Up Showcase, a dedicated showplace on the exhibition floor for early to mid-stage indoor farming and agtech companies seeking ways to meet investors, farmers/growers and other attendees. Available exclusively to new, first-time Indoor Ag-Con exhibitors, Start-Up Showcase is designed to offer these young companies a cost-effective, easily accessible gateway to indoor ag decision-makers.

In addition to the new Startup Showcase, the Indoor Ag-Con team is working to bring even more resources for farmers/growers to explore across all sectors – everything from government agencies to insurance/finance and other business services to IT solutions, lighting solutions, substrates, vertical farming solutions and much more. Attendees and exhibitors alike will also have even more networking opportunities with daily continental breakfast, coffee break and luncheon sessions, evening receptions, and more.

WHEN: Monday, May 18 – Wednesday, May 20, 2020 (Exhibits Open May 18-19)
WHERE: Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89101
INFO: For information on exhibiting or attending visit or email:

Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the premier trade event for vertical farming | indoor agriculture, the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis |hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. In December 2018, three event industry professionals – Nancy Hallberg, Kris Sieradzki and Brian Sullivan – purchased Indoor Ag-Con LLC from Newbean Capital, so setting the stage for further expansion of the events globally. More information:

EIN Presswire does not exercise editorial control over third-party content provided, uploaded, published, or distributed by users of EIN Presswire. We are a distributor, not a publisher, of 3rd party content. Such content may contain the views, opinions, statements, offers, and other material of the respective users, suppliers, participants, or authors.

Flash Update No. 3 - Philippines: Typhoon Phanfone (Ursula), As of 3 January 2020, 4 p.m. local time

Published on 03 Jan 2020
Description: preview
Situation Overview
More than a week after Typhoon Phanfone (locally named Ursula) made initial landfall in Salcedo, Eastern Samar as a category-2 typhoon and crossed the Visayas region, over 2.4 million people in more than 2,700 barangays are affected in regions V, VI, VII, VII, Caraga and MIMAROPA. Sixty percent of those affected are in Region VIII (Easter Visayas) and were previously in the path of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013, which caused significant damage in the region.
As of 3 January, over 133,000 people are displaced, of whom 77,800 are taking shelter in 547 evacuation centres and over 55,000 staying with host families or open spaces. The number of displaced is lower than previously reported (145,000 people as of 31 December) as people are gradually returning home to repair their homes and recover from the effects of the typhoon. While classes are scheduled to resume on 6 January after the holiday break, over 440 schools have sustained damage in regions V, VI, VIII, MIMAROPA and CALABARZON, according to the latest National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reports. Learning materials and school equipment that were washed away, and damage to roofing and electrical wiring in classrooms were due to the heavy to sometimes intense rains, strong winds, and storm surges which brought up to waist-deep flooding in some affected regions.
As local authorities continue to assess damage to buildings and infrastructure, the number of houses reported as damaged or destroyed continues to rise, with over 431,000 houses listed as damaged, out of which over 107,000 are registered as destroyed. Nearly 90 per cent of the destroyed houses are in Region VI (Western Visayas) and Region VIII (Eastern Visayas). In Tacloban City alone, a city that was significantly affected by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, over 24,000 houses are reported as damaged. Most of the affected families are vulnerable farming and fishing communities in exposed coastal areas.
The economic damage to infrastructure and agriculture has risen to an estimated PhP3.4 billion (US$67 million) in regions V, VI, VII, VII and MIMAROPA according to the NDRRMC, an increase from P1 billion reported on 31 December. The Department of Agriculture reports that as of 2 January, damage and losses to agriculture is estimated at P3 billion. The production losses on rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, and fisheries is at 39,461 metric tonnes, affecting over 30,700 hectare and more than 84,000 farmers and fisherfolk in affected regions.
Government response and humanitarian coordination
The national government is leading the response, assisted by the Red Cross and with the Office of Civil Defense coordinating with the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and local authorities, to provide food and other relief assistance to affected communities, which to date is valued at over P56 million ($1.1 million). Mobile, phone and electricity services are gradually being restored in affected communities. DSWD is continuing the distribution of food packs, which usually consist of six kilos of rice, four cans of sardines, four cans of meat loaf or corned beef and six packets of instant coffee. In some areas that were hit by Typhoon Tisoy last month, calamity funds are stretched, and food and relief assistance may last only for a limited amount of time.
Humanitarian partners with programmes on the ground are conducting initial damage assessments in affected areas and have identified food, potable water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, and shelter materials as priority needs of affected families. Families have begun repairs to their damaged homes but continue to camp in open areas or stay in makeshift tents sleeping on the ground and exposed to various elements. Some families report bringing their children to neighbors to sleep at night for safety. Due to the lack of shelter and sanitation facilities, affected families are vulnerable to health and protection issues. Livelihoods are also a concern, as affected farmers, fisherfolk and informal workers have limited financial means to cope with economic losses and have expressed their need for food and shelter assistance and livelihood support in the long-term.
OCHA, on behalf of the Philippines Humanitarian Country Team, remains in contact with national authorities and ready to support should that be required.
For more information, contact: Mark Bidder, Head of Office,, Mobile: +63 917 174 3536
Gina Maramag, Public Information Officer,, Mobile: +63 917 174 3546

Despite gov’t interventions, palay prices remain too low

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:10 AM January 03, 2020
Despite a number of government interventions, the average farm gate price of palay in November had remained low.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that as of the last week of November, a kilo of palay was sold at an average of P15.55, down 22.29 percent from a year ago.
While economic managers said palay rates were only going back to their “average” levels coming from an “abnormal year,” PSA data reflected that between 2015 and 2017, the farm gate price of palay was at P18.53 a kilo, or higher by 19 percent.
The lowest quotation in November was recorded in Zamboanga Sibugay at P10 a kilo—lower than the current palay production cost at P12 a kilo—while the highest quotation was recorded in Surigao del Sur at P20.40 a kilo.
In major rice-producing provinces such as Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Tarlac, Occidental Mindoro and Cagayan, the prevailing palay prices per kilo were at P19.35, P16, P15.60, P16 and P16, respectively.
Before 2019 drew to a close, the government has rolled out several programs to cushion the blow on farmers of the declining palay prices due to the continued inflow of cheaper rice imports.
The Department of Agriculture distributed cash aid and provided loans, issued stricter requirements to be followed by importers, and asked local government units to buy palay from their respective constituents to ensure that there would be a market for local produce.
It also started projects under the rice competitiveness enhancement program, which has a budget of P10 billion yearly.
The National Food Authority, for its part, has intensified its palay procurement operations.However, palay prices remained low.
“The more palay prices drop because of the continued inflow of cheap imports, the more losses farmers will incur and the more pressure on the government to provide relief to farmers,” said Raul Montemayor of the Federation of Free Farmers.
Based on studies of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies and the Philippine Rice Research Institute, the downtrend was seen to continue until 2020, bringing further losses to palay farmers.

Rice sector eyes rebound after small exports drop

Hin Pisei | Publication date 02 January 2020 | 23:27 ICT

Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rice exports reached 620,106 tonnes last year, a drop of almost one per cent from the 626,225 tonnes the previous year. Afp
Rice exports reached 620,106 tonnes last year, a drop of almost one per cent from the 626,225 tonnes the previous year, the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) said.
The total value of exports dropped more than four per cent last year from 2018, the Kingdom’s rice industry body added.
Coupled with the 1.43 per cent decline between 2018 and 2017, the modest drop marks the second consecutive year that exports have fallen.
According to a CRF report obtained by The Post on Wednesday, the total value of the Kingdom’s rice exports were valued at some $501 million last year, down 4.3 per cent from $524 million in 2018.
A breakdown of the data showed that the 202,990 tonnes to the Chinese market accounted for 40.73 per cent of rice exports, followed by 13.41 per cent, or 83,164 tonnes, to the Asean region and 13.84 per cent, equal to 85,847 tonnes, to other markets.
According to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data, Cambodia also exported 2.15 million tonnes of rice to Vietnam last year.
Meanwhile, rice exports to European markets declined steadily after the EU imposed tariffs on rice imports from Cambodia last January. Myanmar was also hit with the tariffs.
CRF secretary-general Lun Yeng blamed the decline on reduced demand from European markets, but he predicted that exports would rebound this year.
He said that the 400,000-tonne export quota to China, a drop in EU taxes from €175 to €155 per tonne and access to new markets, notably Australia and Brunei, would favour this year’s exports.
“I am optimistic that this year’s exports will experience strong growth and revenue will rebound,” Yeng told The Post.
He added that while the Kingdom had lowered the price of rice to address demand in the European market, the volume of fragrant rice exported to Europe had increased from 79 per cent in 2018 to 86 per cent last year.
“At the same time, white rice and parboiled rice exports fell from 21 per cent to 14 per cent,” he said.
Yeng explained that while Australia had previously banned rice imports, unfavourable weather conditions for rice cultivation had prompted it to allow imports and invest in Cambodia’s rice sector.
Thmor Korl Rice Import Export Co CEO Heng Pheng said his firm had exported the same amount of rice last year as in 2018, with the bulk to Malaysia.
He also warned that climate change would threaten future harvests of Cambodia’s top agricultural export.
“Based on quality and value, Cambodian rice still has plenty of opportunities for exports to international markets. I think that exports will see a boom this year, especially to the Chinese market,” Pheng said.
Cambodian Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng estimated the Kingdom’s rice production capacity to be at more than 10 million tonnes per year.
He said that rice exports are expected to increase this year provided there is strong cooperation between stakeholders, including farmers, rice millers, exporters and all authorities.
Heng added that along with increasing production capacity, developing new markets in Japan and South Korea were also important factors to ensure sustained growth.
“To increase rice export capacity for the international market, Cambodia needs to work together, while farmers have to commit more to contract farming,” he said.

Optimising growth in the rice sector

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times  
Cambodia’s rice sector is faced with the challenge of strengthening the quality of its fragrant rice, said Song Saran, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), the recently appointed head of the milled rice export promotion body.
For in depth analysis of Cambodian Business, visit Capital Cambodia
His stated task is to sell 1 million tonnes per annum by the next three years.
Saran is looking at markets in Asia – especially China – Africa and Australia as regions for growth but first must strengthen the quality and variety of rice crops and ensure there is a sufficient budget to  harvest it.
“We have to compete,” he says. “The issues we can see include climate change, lack of pure rice seeds and sometimes lack of capital to buy paddy rice,” Mr Saran said.
Cambodia experienced a decline in milled rice exports to the EU this year because of tariff duties imposed by the European Union on Cambodia’s white Indica rice. However, the loss from the EU bloc, the biggest market for the country’s milled rice, has been replaced with increasing export to China and other new markets.
Figures from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export, showed that Cambodia exported a total of 514,149 tonnes of rice to 59 countries and regions during the first 11 months of this year, up 3.4 percent over the same period last year.
Cambodia shipped 174,397 tonnes of rice to the European market during the period, down 26 percent, the report read.
On the other hand, Cambodia exported 205,358 tonnes of milled rice to China during the first 11 months of 2019, up 34 percent over the same period last year, according to the report.
China was still the top buyer of Cambodian rice during the January-November period this year, with exports accounting for 40 percent of the Kingdom’s total.
The drop in exports to the European market came after the EU imposed duties on Cambodian rice to protect European producers.
Saran said exports of cheap white milled rice to the EU fell but, at the same, the amount of more expensive fragrant rice increased.
“Despite tariff duties, our fragrant rice still stands out there. Currently, the fragrant rice in the EU market has increased. The sort of rice declining in the EU is white rice. If we continue producing and try to export this kind of rice, our farmers and millers will face difficulties,” Mr Saran said.
“Rice exports declined [in the EU], but only the cheap rice. We increased the amount of fragrant rice which means we increased the value of exports our country’s economy,” Mr Saran said.
“Learning from this trend of demand for fragrant rice, Cambodian farmers should focus on planting this variety ,” Mr Saran said, adding that farmers should ask the government to help provide pure rice seeds with well-known sources to farmers for planting.

Call to form cooperatives

The CRF also encourages farmers to form agricultural cooperatives so it is easier to develop contract farming with exporters and processors to maintain the market, remain up-to-date regarding information related to the markets and to keep s steady price for agricultural products.
Mak Soeun, deputy director-general of agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said that the ministry has researched many rice seeds to make pure varieties for distribution to agricultural cooperatives and farmers.
The Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute has worked on finding the best seeds, Soeun said.
Good quality and competitive rice varieties include Pkar Romdul, Pkar Romeat, Pkar Romdeng and Sen Kra Ob, he added.
According to the CRF, the price of rice is $680 to $720 per tonne of fragrant rice in the second harvest season, which starts from December to January next year.
Saran said the current price of milled rice in international markets decreased about 10 percent compared with the first harvest season, from July to August, when the price was $750 to $780 per tonne.
To help rice millers to buy paddy rice from farmers in the harvest season, the government has disbursed $50 million twice this year, aiming to keep the price down and to avoid the export of good quality paddy rice to neighbouring countries through rice traders in case local rice millers lack the capacity to collect paddy rice because of insufficient capital flows.
Kao Thach, director general of the state-run Rural Development Bank (RDB), said that the programme of keeping the price of paddy rice steady was started in 2016 through emergency loans to rice millers to buy paddy rice each season and for them to build rice facilities including warehouses and silos.
The government provided $50 million earlier this month as capital to the RDB, renaming it the Rural Development and Agriculture Bank and making it a commercial enterprise to disburse cash to rice millers.
The first $50 million of disbursement started in mid-2019.
The aim is to raise the price. Before the $50 million was disbursed from the government, the price of paddy rice in some areas was below 900 riel ($0.23) per kilogramme. After the announcement, it increased to 1,000 Riel per kg and even more than 1,000 riel per kg in some areas. The current price gives farmers a much greater margin,” Mr Thach said.

New markets expanded

Cambodia has a quota of400,000 tones that China allows Cambodia to export. According to the CRF, the quota will be implemented from early 2020.
Last week, the Chinese government allowed 18 new local rice millers to export to China, increasing the number to 44 rice millers exporting to China.
Cooperation with China is good, enabling export amounts to increases by 34 percent as of November  2019 compared with the same period last year, Mr Saran said, adding that almost of 80 percent rice export to China is fragrant rice.
Cambodia’s rice ranks fourth among rice exporters to China out of 12 countries, according to Saran.
“With 18 new rice millers, there is the capacity to mill and export up to half  a million tonnes so if China places new orders, we are able to export it to them,” Mr Saran said.
“The CRF has requested the government to disburse emergency loans because we have markets already. If we have a  budget for buying paddy rice, I think that the processing and milling will fill the quota as mentioned in accordance with the agreement the two government signed,” Saran said.
To facilitate the trade, the Agriculture Ministry has actively joined in efforts to find markets said  Soeun from the Agriculture Ministry.

“This year, China imported from Cambodia 205,000 tons of milled rice. We hope that in 2020, the figure will increase,” Soeun said.
With the emergency loans from the RDB, main rice producing areas including Battambang, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng and Takeo have enough rice facilities such as warehouses and silos.
The capacity of a rice warehouse is 1 million tonnes and silo facilities can cope with 26,000 tonnes per day, according to the CRF.

Diversifying markets

“The CRF has re-focused its plan for a million tonnes of milled rice exports within three years by concentrating on fragrant, sustainable and organic rice,” Mr Saran said. “In the EU, we are trying to diversify rice exports. We do not focus on exports of only one rice variety.”
Soeun, from Ministry of Agriculture, said that the ministry is preparing a policy for organic agricultural practices. We are applying the organic standard of Cambodia,” he says.
“Cambodia’s organic rice ranks fifth in the EU and we are committed to competing to become number two or number three there,” Mr Saran said.
For Saran, although facing a number of issues that need to be addressed and enhanced, Cambodia’s ambition of exporting 1 million tons of milled rice would be within reach.
“We designate fragrant rice for promoting exports, which we register under the trademark Malys Angkor. Our rice is quality – our fragrant rice has won the world’s best rice award four times,” Saran said.
Myanmar exporting 10,000 tonnes of rice a day so far this year
YU WAI 03 JAN 2020
Since the start of the 2019-20 fiscal year, which began on October 1, Myanmar has been exporting roughly 10,000 tonnes of a rice a day at prices 5 percent to 10 pc lower than last year, an industry body has announced.
“Over the last 90 days or so of the current fiscal year, a total 900,000 tonnes of rice has been exported. The moisture content in Myanmar’s rice has stabilised and prices have held steady,” said U Myo Thura Aye, central executive committee member of the Myanmar Rice Federation.
So far this year, African countries have been the major market for Myanmar’s rice followed by ASEAN countries. There are also some exports to European countries, U Myo Thura Aye said.
He also revealed that rice exports across land borders have declined and only 15pc of the total so far is currently going through land borders to neighbouring countries.
In the previous fiscal year, 55pc of rice exports were across land borders, while 45pc was exported by sea.
“More rice and corn exports are now going through the Chinshwehaw border area rather than Muse in Shan State and as we can now export to Laos as well, Laos traders are re-exporting to China,” said Ministry of Commerce Deputy Secretary U Khin Maung Lwin.
Up to December 6, nearly 700,000 tons of rice had been exported, an increase of 330,000 tonnes over the same period in the previous year, the Ministry of Commerce’s statistics showed. Meanwhile, rainy season rice export volumes remained the same compared with the same period last year, said exporters, adding that but hot season rice exports might decrease.
“The government has announced reductions in hot season rice growing areas due to irrigation problems in dam water distribution, so the harvest and exports are expected to drop,” said U Myo Thura Aye.
The Myanmar Rice Federation says its expects to export 2.5 million tonnes of rice this fiscal year and the 770,000 tonnes of rice exported up to December 13 has so far generated US$220 million. Of the total 100,000 tonnes was exported by land and 650,000 tonnes by sea.
Some 39pc of total export volume was to the African market, 31pc to China and neighbouring countries, 11pc to Europe, and 19pc to other countries.
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- January 3, 2020
JANUARY 3, 2020 / 2:54 PM /
* * * * * *
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-January 3, 2020 Nagpur, Jan 3 (Reuters) – Gram prices moved down in Nagpur Agriculture Produce and Marketing Company (APMC) here on lack of demand from local millers amid high moisture content arrival. Easy condition on NCDEX and weak trend in other foodgrain mandis also affected prices in limited deals. About 50 bags of gram reported for auction, according to sources.

* Desi gram prices showed weak tendency in open market here in absence of buyers.

TUAR * Tuar gavarani recovered in open market here on renewed demand from local traders

amid tight supply from producing region.

* Lakhodi dal reported higher in open market here on good buying support

from local traders amid weak arrival from producing belt.

* In Akola, Tuar New – 5,200-5,400, Tuar dal (clean) – 8,100-8,300, Udid Mogar (clean)

– 9,500-10,700, Moong Mogar (clean) 8,600-9,400, Gram – 4,200-4,300, Gram Super best

– 5,500-5,700 * Wheat, rice and other foodgrain items moved in a narrow range in

scattered deals and settled at last levels in thin trading activity.

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

FOODGRAINS Available prices Previous close

Gram Auction 3,750-4,250 3,700-4,250

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

Tuar Auction n.a. 4,700-5,000

Moong Auction n.a. 3,950-4,200

Udid Auction n.a. 4,300-4,500

Masoor Auction n.a. 2,200-2,500

Wheat Lokwan Auction 2,050-2,190 2,100-2,175

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

Gram Super Best Bold 5,800-6,000 5,800-6,000

Gram Super Best n.a. n.a.

Gram Medium Best 5,500-5,700 5,500-5,700

Gram Dal Medium n.a. n.a

Gram Mill Quality 4,500-4,600 4,500-4,600

Desi gram Raw 4,350-4,450 4,400-4,500

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

Tuar Fataka Best-New 8,200-8,400 8,200-8,400

Tuar Fataka Medium-New 7,700-8,000 7,700-8,000

Tuar Dal Best Phod-New 7,400-7,600 7,400-7,600

Tuar Dal Medium phod-New 6,600-7,100 6,600-7,100

Tuar Gavarani New 5,500-5,600 5,450-5,550

Tuar Karnataka 5,800-5,900 5,800-5,900

Masoor dal best 5,800-6,000 5,800-6,000

Masoor dal medium 5,400-5,600 5,400-5,600

Masoor n.a. n.a.

Moong Mogar bold (New) 9,000-9,800 9,000-9,700

Moong Mogar Medium 8,000-8,800 8,000-8,500

Moong dal Chilka New 7,500-8,800 7,500-8,500

Moong Mill quality n.a. n.a.

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

Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 10,000-11,000 10,000-11,000

Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG) 8,500-9,500 8,500-9,500

Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG) 7,200-7,700 7,200-7,700

Mot (100 INR/KG) 6,000-7,500 6,000-7,500

Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg) 5,000-5,300 5,000-5,200

Watana Dal (100 INR/KG) 6,000-6,200 6,000-6,200

Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG) 12,000-12,500 12,000-12,500

Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG) 2,350-2,450 2,350-2,450

Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG) 2,200-2,300 2,200-2,300

Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG) 2,700-2,800 2,700-2,800

Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG) 2,600-2,800 2,600-2,800

Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG) 2,500-2,600 2,500-2,600

Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG) n.a. n.a.

MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG) 3,600-4,200 3,600-4,200

MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG) 2,800-3,200 2,800-3,200

Rice Parmal (100 INR/KG) 2,400-2,500 2,400-2,500

Rice BPT best new (100 INR/KG) 3,000-3,600 3,000-3,600

Rice BPT medium new(100 INR/KG) 2,700-3,000 2,700-3,000

Rice Luchai (100 INR/KG) 3,000-3,100 3,000-3,100

Rice Swarna best new (100 INR/KG) 2,700-2,900 2,700-2,900

Rice Swarna medium new (100 INR/KG)2,400-2,600 2,400-2,600

Rice HMT best new (100 INR/KG) 4,000-4,200 4,000-4,200

Rice HMT medium new (100 INR/KG) 3,800-4,000 3,800-4,000

Rice Shriram best new(100 INR/KG) 5,100-5,500 5,100-5,500

Rice Shriram med new (100 INR/KG) 4,500-4,900 4,500-4,900

Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG) 8,500-13,500 8,500-13,500

Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG) 5,000-7,500 5,000-7,500

Rice Chinnor best new 100 INR/KG) 5,600-6,000 5,600-6,000

Rice Chinnor medium new(100 INR/KG)5,300-5,500 5,300-5,500

Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG) 2,350-2,550 2,350-2,550

Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG) 2,050-2,250 2,050-2,250 WEATHER (NAGPUR) Maximum temp. 18.0 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 12.0 degree Celsius Rainfall : Nil FORECAST: Generally cloudy sky with a few spells of rains or thunder-showers. Maximum and minimum temperature likely to be around 25 degree Celsius and 14 degree Celsius respectively. Note: n.a.—not available (For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, but included in market prices)

Rabi sowing tops 600 lakh ha on higher coverage

New Delhi | Updated on January 03, 2020  Published on January 03, 2020
Our Bureau
Rabi planting this season crossed 600 lakh hectares on account of considerable higher planting of winter crops mainly in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
The total acreage for the week has gone up by nearly 7 per cent over 562 lakh hectares (lh) sown in the corresponding week last year, data released by the Agriculture Ministry showed on Friday.
Wheat sowing in Madhya Pradesh is higher at 75 lh, about a third more than the 56.56 lh planted in the same week in the previous rabi season. Most other wheat growing States maintained the sowing more or less at the same levels, even though Rajasthan reported an increase of nearly 10 per centarea in wheat planting.

Pulses up a tad

There is a marginal three per cent increase in pulses cultivation as well. The area sown under pulses moved up to 146 lh (142 lh). The increase can be attributed to a considerable jump in acreage under gram cultivation in Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
While the two other prominent pulses growing States — Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka — reported some dip in acreage, Uttar Pradesh almost maintained the same level.
Coverage of coarse cereals, too, has gone up by 13 per cent as compared to the same period last year. As against an area of 44 lh sown under coarse cereals in the corresponding week last year, the area covered till this week was 49.4 lh. Much of the increase was due to higher planting of jowar in Maharashtra which stood at 16.67 lh (11 lh). On other hand, Karnataka — the other major jowar-growing State — witnessed around 20 per cent decline in area as compared to the same week last year. There is nearly a seven per cent increase in maize sowing, which moved up to 13.7 lh.

Oilseeds, rice gain

Oilseeds, too, moved into the positive territory for the first time with an acreage of 75.72 lh, which was slightly higher than that in the corresponding week last year. Mustard/rapeseed cultivation was sown on 66.62 lh (67 lh).
Strong sowing activity in Tamil Nadu, which received good rains because of cyclonic depressions in the recent months, has helped rice planting to go up by nearly 16 per cent to 16 lh.
Water storage levels in reservoirs continue to be 52 per cent more than that in the corresponding week last year. According to the Central Water Commission, which monitors 120 major reservoirs in the country, these water bodies have a cumulative storage of 133 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water as against 88.17 BCM in the same week a year ago.


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Exploring the deep sea to moving mountains — Modi lays out over 20 challenges for India’s young scientists to solve at ISC 2020
Jan 3, 2020, 14:57 IST2020-01-03T14:57:10+05:30
"Our success in space exploration should now be mirrored in the new frontier of the deep sea. We need to explore and map responsibly harness the vast ocean resources of water, energy and food. This requires developing strengths in submersibles, deep-sea mining systems and autonomous underwater vehicles."
Fore-reef slope habitat around Kandahalagala showing the extent of coral bleaching and massive coral die-off (Source: University of Exeter)

Fore-reef slope habitat around Kandahalagala showing the extent of coral bleaching and massive coral die-off (Source: University of Exeter)
"We need to prepare seeds which are abundant but don’t use a lot of water."
Rice plants grow from the cracked and dry earth in outskirts of Nagpur City in India. Rice plants normally need to be partially submerged in water during the farming. (Source: BCCL)
Rice plants grow from the cracked and dry earth in outskirts of Nagpur City in India. Rice plants normally need to be partially submerged in water during the farming. (Source: BCCL)
"We know from science that potential energy — the silent form of energy — can move mountains when converted into the kinetic energy of motion. Can we build science in motion?"
Mount Everest (Source: Unsplash)
Mount Everest (Source: Unsplash)
"India is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastic to save our birds, fish and soil. But you will have to find a cheap and sustainable alternative to plastic in order to make this possible."
A child plays amid mounds of plastic at a scrap workshop in Chembur in India (Source: BCCL)
A child plays amid mounds of plastic at a scrap workshop in Chembur in India (Source: BCCL)
Share Slide
"A new beginning is needed in the way we think about how to use the soil database to make day-to-day farming operations more effective."
Brisk farming activity in villages around Vadipatti as water is released in Periyar channel (Source: BCCL)
Brisk farming activity in villages around Vadipatti as water is released in Periyar channel (Source: BCCL)
Share Slide
"It is imperative to find a solution to save our farmers from the losses they face due to the inefficiencies of the supply chain."
Wheat and rice being transported in trucks (Source: BCCL)
Wheat and rice being transported in trucks (Source: BCCL)
"The strength of MSMSEs in a rapidly changing world is dependent on your progress."

The workforce at MSMSE in Coimbatore (Source: BCCL)
The workforce at MSMSE in Coimbatore (Source: BCCL)
"We need new methods and processes to remove metal from electronic waste and aid in its reuse. Your solutions will benefit craftsmen looking to more products into the market."
E-waste collection drive in New Delhi organised by European Union member states (Source: BCCL)
E-waste collection drive in New Delhi organised by European Union member states (Source: BCCL)
Share Slide
"I have high expectations from startups implement a green, circular and sustainable economy in villages."
Model village set up by former CM D Devaraj Urs in Mysuru, Karnataka (Source: BCCL)
Model village set up by former CM D Devaraj Urs in Mysuru, Karnataka (Source: BCCL)
Share Slide
"An emerging challenge in India is addressing the growing pollution from household and farm waste. We have to move quickly to turn this waste into wealth."
The latest trash mountain in a lower part of the Ghazipur landfill site in East Delhi (Source: BCCL)
The latest trash mountain in a lower part of the Ghazipur landfill site in East Delhi (Source: BCCL)
"We aspire to reduce the use of crude oil by 10% by 2020. This opens up new opportunities in the development of bio-fuel and ethanol-blended fuel for you. Industry-backed research needs a boost. Every stakeholder’s interests will have to be developed."
Large crude carrier MT Diamond with 1.30 lakh tons of crude oil that arrived in Chennai port (Source: BCCL)
Large crude carrier MT Diamond with 1.30 lakh tons of crude oil that arrived in Chennai port (Source: BCCL)
"There is a need for a revolution in technology assisting agricultural practices. Can we find farmer-centric solutions to the problems of stock-burning?"
After harvesting crop from the field, women burning dried Parathi — agricultural waste — at the farm in Aurangabad (Source: BCCL)

After harvesting crop from the field, women burning dried Parathi — agricultural waste — at the farm in Aurangabad (Source: BCCL)
"Can we design the model of clean drinking water supply around the country?"
Students being taught about the importance of clean drinking water in schools (Source: BCCL)

Students being taught about the importance of clean drinking water in schools (Source: BCCL)
"How do we prevent affluent and discharge from industries from destroying our soil and our groundwater tables for years to come?"
The oil leak from ONGC Uran plant in 2013, spilling about 5,000 litres of crude oil into the Arabian Sea, spread about 10km along the coastline may causing irreparable damage to the soil and the regions of flora and fauna (Source: BCCL)
The oil leak from ONGC Uran plant in 2013, spilling about 5,000 litres of crude oil into the Arabian Sea, spread about 10km along the coastline may causing irreparable damage to the soil and the regions of flora and fauna (Source: BCCL)
"Another important point I wish to make is the significance of Make in India in the development of medical devices — to bring the fruits of advancements in diagnostics to our people."
School students are getting practical chemistry training at the research lab in Chennai to bust myths about chemicals and teach them about basics (Source: BCCL)

School students are getting practical chemistry training at the research lab in Chennai to bust myths about chemicals and teach them about basics (Source: BCCL)
"Water recycling and reuse need to become more efficient and cost-effective. It’s up to you to design the technology."
Bengaluru scientist AR Shivakumar has not had to pay a water bill for 24 years, yet has water supply at all times using rainwater harvesting (Source: BCCL)

Bengaluru scientist AR Shivakumar has not had to pay a water bill for 24 years, yet has water supply at all times using rainwater harvesting (Source: BCCL)
"To promote wellbeing we should not only practise some of the tested tradition wisdom. But also continuously enlarge its scope by introducing the modern tools and concepts of contemporary biomedical research."
Special Chief Secretary, Health Medical & Family Welfare Poonam Malakondaiah looking at eye test machine free health camp at the secretariat in Amaravathi (Source: BCCL)
Special Chief Secretary, Health Medical & Family Welfare Poonam Malakondaiah looking at eye test machine free health camp at the secretariat in Amaravathi (Source: BCCL)
"Our aim should be to protect people from communicable diseases like Nippa and Ebola. We must work overtime to fulfil the promise to eliminate TB by 2025."
Students take part in rally on the occasion of World T B Day (Source: BCCL)
Students take part in rally on the occasion of World T B Day (Source: BCCL)
"Globally, India is the leader in the supply of vaccines. We aim to develop India as a world-class $100 million biomanufacturing hub 2024. This will happen with the right policy initiatives and support to innovative research, human resource development and enterprise."
Pulse Polio Vaccine for child at Gateway of India organised by Government of Maharashtra in Mumbai (Source: BCCL)Pulse Polio Vaccine for child at Gateway of India organised by Government of Maharashtra in Mumbai (Source: BCCL)
"India must also develop a longterm roadmap for sustainable and environment transportation."
E-buses launched in Mumbai (Source: BCCL)
E-buses launched in Mumbai (Source: BCCL)
"Development of energy storage options are increasingly significant for green management as we expand our renewable energy supply. This requires developing new battery types which are based on earth-abundant and environmentally benign materials — which are affordable and suitable for tropical climates."
Solar Power Plant installed on a rooftop at a government building in Patna (Source: BCCL)
Solar Power Plant installed on a rooftop at a government building in Patna (Source: BCCL)
"The economic and social benefits of accurate weather and climate forecasting are immense."
Pedestrians walk on a waterlogged street during heavy rains in Mumbai (Source: BCCL)
Pedestrians walk on a waterlogged street during heavy rains in Mumbai (Source: BCCL)


USD 2.5 million fund for clean-tech start-ups

The initiative focusses on solving the problems around reliable electricity which has challenged many a business and also affects the livelihood opportunities and incomes of households.
Published: 04th January 2020 11:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th January 2020 11:49
L-R: Ananth Aravamudan(Villgro), Wase Khalid (CEEW), Abhishek Jain (CEEW) Arunabha Ghosh(CEO, CEEW), Shankha Lahiri(Villgro), Paul Basil (CEO, Villgro) and Gowtham Sundara Raju (Villgro) | Express
Express News Service
VilLgro Innovation Foundation, one of the country’s top social enterprise incubators has collaborated with the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) for a $2.5 million initiative to support start-ups working on clean energy solutions.
The initiative aims to provide dedicated capital, technical and sectoral growth support to at least five enterprises which are deploying innovative, clean energy-powered livelihood appliances and shall enable them to undertake large scale commercial deployments over a period of three years. Investment firms like Caspian Debt, Upaya Social Ventures and others have been roped in under the initiative.
Start-ups that leverage cleantech and renewable energy sources are slowly gaining traction in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Karnataka, which is home to one-fourth of all start-ups in the country has also emerged as the highest renewable energy producer according to a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
The initiative focusses on solving the problems around reliable electricity which has challenged many a business and also affects the livelihood opportunities and incomes of households. Villgrow said in a statement that the provision of energy-efficient appliances for providing reliable energy to households as well as industries has become imperative.
The Powering Livelihoods initiative will provide a grant of up to $250,000 to each enterprise working on commercial deployment of products or appliances.
Based on the needs assessment, enterprises would be provided support services (up to $100,000) through strategic partnerships. This includes mentoring, capacity building, financial planning and modelling, and assistance on compliance and legal issues, with an end-goal to scale up to commercial deployment, Villgro said.
Start-ups or enterprises deploying clean energy solutions and appliances like energy-efficient commercial food processors, cold storages, juicers, dryers, milk chillers, flour mills, milking machines, rice hullers, and oil expellers in agriculture and allied sectors would be prioritised.
Similarly, in the textile industry, enterprises deploying appliances such as solar charkhas, sewing machines and jute machinery would be supported, since they aim to improve productivity without harming the environment.
“India alone has a market worth more than $50 billion for clean energy solutions for rural livelihoods. ‘Powering Livelihoods’ aims to catalyze the transformation of India’s rural economy by scaling up the accessibility and commercialisation of clean energy-based solutions. By marrying CEEW’s deep expertise in evidence-based policy formulation and sectoral engagement with Villgro’s years of experience in growing businesses, the initiative will be highly significant in terms of capital, capacity building, and ecosystem support,” said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW.

Reviving Our Rice Bowl: Bengal Farmers Preserve 200+ Traditional Rice Varieties
West Bengal hosts over 5,000 varieties of rice, a majority of which have disappeared due to faulty agricultural practices.
·       JANUARY 3, 2020
·       Description: Reviving Our Rice Bowl: Bengal Farmers Preserve 200+ Traditional Rice Varieties
For over five years now, Ujwal Das (35), has been growing and propagating extant folk rice varieties in West Bengal’s Koro village. On two bigha land (where three bighas equal an acre), he grows Sitasal, Kalobhat, and Kalamkati, for his eight-member family; and the remaining four bighas are occupied by a high-yielding variety (HYV) called ‘Lal Sarna’.
Das is a member of the 50-member strong farmer-run Amarkanan Rural Socio-environmental Welfare Society (ARSWS). Their efforts were recognised by Narendra Singh Tomar, the Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. He conferred on them the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s Plant Genome Saviour Community Awards, which came with a citation and a cash award of Rs 10 lakh.
Most efforts to conserve folk rice varieties in India have been individual or institutional initiatives. That’s what sets the farmer-run ARSWS apart. It is led by Dr Anjan Kumar Sinha, a botanist and assistant professor with Purulia’s Raghunathpur College. The Society has so far conserved and preserved over 200 extant varieties, growing them on plots of land as tiny as an office cubicle, and sharing the seeds with fellow farmers so that they can be multiplied.
Of these, 106 varieties have been registered with the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority—an effective system for the protection of plant varieties and the rights of farmers and plant breeders.
Description: Paddy varieties identified on a plot of land.
Once considered the rice bowl of India, West Bengal boasts of a large number of local varieties and landraces. According to an estimate, the State hosts over 5,000 varieties of rice, a majority of which have disappeared due to faulty agricultural practices. Interestingly, these varieties are of immense value in agriculture as they are a treasure house of innumerable genes that have evolved in the environment over millions of years. Development of disease-resistant newer varieties is possible only with the help of genes available in landraces.
Lured by HYVs, farmers have confined themselves to 15 such races and ceased cultivating folk or local varieties due to poor yield and lesser market demand, despite the scarce inputs needed to grow them.
study conducted on 65 landraces in 2012 on small farm areas has shown immense promise from varieties like Kalamkati, Danarguri, Tulsibhog, Nagrasal, Bahurupi, Sitasal, Gobindabhog, Barani, Khajurchari, Keralasundari, Kabiraj, Chandrakanta, Daransal, Dangapatnai, Kataribhog, Badshabhog—all indigenous rice cultivars of West Bengal. What sets these varieties apart from the HYVs like Lal Sarna, IR 64, Jyoti and Lalat is their use, both medicinal and nutritional. They also possess several stress tolerant properties which act as positive factors in the retention of the rice landraces in the face of increasing propaganda for cultivation of high-yielding varieties. Traditional rice varieties therefore represent important genetic reservoirs with valuable traits.
In West Bengal, rice is associated with every step of life, beginning with mukhe bhat (introduction of the infant to a solid meal) and ending with an offering made to the departed souls. Besides being a part of the staple diet, it is also used for making foods, like piteh (rice cake), chire (beaten rice), khoi (puffed rice), chaler payesh or kheer (sweetened rice) and muri (rice bubbles). For instance, Dharansal is used for daily cooking; Sukalma and Bhootmori for rice bubbles, Tulsibhog for sweetened rice and others.
Description: Paddy being dried in the sun for storage.
Rice growers of six villages in Bankura have formed the Ranbahal-based ARSWS. Seeds are stored in clay pots with dried neem leaves. The Society also runs a seed gene bank and distributes seeds to prospective farmers free of cost. The initiative being an on-site conservation, seeds of the varieties to be conserved are grown and multiplied on farms with the desired traits refined through adaptations to changes in the natural environment.
With each rice-planting season, the number of farmers propagating the folk varieties has been growing, although at a slow pace, as there is a lack of awareness among consumers about these indigenous varieties.
According to Dr Sinha, farmers can become members of the society by expressing their willingness to cultivate the traditional paddy variety in their field without the use of chemical-based farming inputs.
Before transplanting the folk varieties of paddy, most farmers replenish the soil using leguminous green manure crop as Sesbania or Gliricidia, which are ploughed down and crushed with the soil. Both the roots and stems host the friendly Rhizobium bacteria, which trap atmospheric nitrogen—their decay releasing large quantities of nitrogen in the soil, along with organic matter, thus enriching it.
Description: Paddy seeds stored in clay pots.
Every farmer-member is offered 500 g-1 kg of seeds, which is cultivated for 3-3.5 months, to end up with 1 kg of seeds following harvest. Most farmers grow these for their consumption due to their aromatic and nutritional content. A kilo of seeds yields between 300-500 kg of rice and can get premium rates in the market compared to HYVs. To further increase consumer awareness, farmers attend krishi melas along with their produce and educate prospective consumers.
Of the several farmers is 51-year-old Biman Sinha of Ranbahal village, 28 km from Bankura town, who has been growing aromatic varieties like Gobindobhog, Danarguri, Badshabhog on five bighas of land for the past nine years using organic methods. “The yield from the folk varieties may be less, but we are compensated with the price we get,” he informs.
Efforts of farmer groups like ARSWS play an important role in providing us with the opportunity to tap into its germplasm to develop new varieties that can mitigate climate change, issues like erratic increase/decrease in temperature, and humidity, resulting in the appearance of new pests and diseases.
So far, ARSWS has shared the seeds of a folk rice variety with research institutions like Bidhan