Wednesday, March 04, 2020

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

‘Pakistan to come out of FATF grey list in June’
Shibli Faraz lauds improvement in economic indicators, sees reduction in interest rate after June 2020
March 3, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the House in Senate Syed Shibli Faraz said on Tuesday that owing to timely policies of the government, the country’s already stabilised economy was now steadily moving towards growth.
In an exclusive interview with APP, Faraz hoped that Pakistan would come out of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list in the global watchdog’s June session.
“The country has already completed 14 out of 27-point FATF Action Plan, while work on the remaining points is continuing expeditiously. I hope the country meets all FATF requirements before the next session.”
He said that India had miserably failed in its efforts to drag Pakistan in the FATF blacklist, adding that the government should be lauded for its diplomatic endeavours at international level.
To a question, he maintained that the incumbent government had received economy in a very shabby condition. “However, it is improving, as indicated by many indicators, including declining inflation and rising exports.”
In addition, he said, the current condition at the external front has also turned favourable for Pakistan, as the oil prices in the international market were declining, providing a cushion for the government to provide relief to the masses.
He said the decline in oil prices would also create fiscal space for the government and reduce hardships for the common people, as it would help further reduce inflation, which had already decelerated to 12.4pc in February.
Faraz pointed out that the country’s exports were rising, which he thought was a good sign for the economy. “It is true that the coronavirus outbreak has caused huge damages, but it has also helped Pakistan to attract many export orders.”
On reduction in State Bank of Pakistan’s discount rates, the Senator said if the downward trend in inflation continues, there would definitely be a cut in interest rate.
He said that higher interest rates were also affecting stocks as the investors prefer to keep their money in banks instead of venturing into businesses. “As things are moving in the right directions, I expect the SBP to reduce interest rates after June 2020.”
To exploit the conducive export environment, he said that there was a dire need for the country to increase its industrial production.
He said owing to sound economic policies of the government, the country’s exports had increased in the last eight months whereas the trade deficit had also declined.
Talking about government priorities, he said a two-pronged policy — revenue growth and austerity – was adopted by the government to decrease the financial deficit.
To a question on Geographical Induction Law (GIL) for proper international branding of agriculture items including rice, salt and other food items, he said that a law on this had already been approved by Senate and was pending with the National Assembly for approval.
He said that Generalized System of Presences (GSP-Plus) with the European Union was a success, which helped enhance the country’s exports to EU by 40pc in the last eight years.

Basmati rice, soya decline by up to 10%

Iran has been the largest importer of basmati rice from India in recent years.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 02, 2020, 09.54 AM IST
Description: rice-gettyIndia’s basmati rice exports to Iran have almost stopped as cargo handling at the ports was restricted because of concerns regarding virus spread, said Satish Goel of Shree Jagdamba Agrico Exports.
New Delhi: Prices of basmati rice, cotton and soyabean have dropped by up to 10 per cent in the last one month as the coronavirus outbreak curtailed overseas shipments leading to a build-up of stock. Since early February, cotton and yarn prices in the wholesale market have fallen by 7 per cent, while basmati is cheaper by 10 per cent and soybean by 5 per cent, according to traders.

Basmati rice and
soyabean meal exporters said sales were down at a time when shipments were ex- pected to rise ahead of the Nowruz celebration, which marks the beginning of the New Year in Iran, from March 20.

India’s basmati rice exports to Iran have almost stopped as cargo handling at the ports was restricted because of concerns regarding virus spread, said Satish Goel of Shree Jagdamba Agrico Exports.

Iran has been the largest importer of basmati rice from India in recent years, accounting for more than 30 per cent of the total basmati rice shipped abroad.

“It was the peak time for exports which has come to a standstill now. More than 60,000 tonnes of rice slated for export is lying in the ports,” said Goel. Similarly, soyabean meal exporters said the development has come at a time when they were expecting a pickup in demand from Iran. “With the fall in soyabean prices by 15 per cent in past two month we hoped to be competitive in the export market and were expecting demand from Iran’s poultry and fish industry,” said Davish Jain, chairman of the Soyabean Processors Association. Iran accounted for over 25 per cent of the 1.5 to 2 million tonne of soyabean meal exported from India.

Jain said that Iranian buyers were not negotiating for further deal and orders were expected to be slow. “If situation doesn’t improve and there is no posi- tive signal, we can expect another 5 per cent drop in soyabean prices from the current Rs 3,900 per 100 kg,” said Jain.

Cotton prices have fallen 7 per cent to Rs 38,000 per candy of 356 kg in the past one month, said Mahesh Sharda, president at Indian Cotton Association. “There is no new buying by China or any other country. We will be meeting the textile secretary to understand the government’s view on effect of coronavirus on industry,” he said.

Yarn prices, too, traded 5 per cent to 7 per cent lower than a month ago due to a drop in demand and fall in international cotton prices, said Rakesh Rathi, director at New Delhi-based Kamal Cotton Traders. He said cotton yarn prices were at Rs 180-190 per kg for export quality 30s carded yarn.

March 04 2020
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Don’ expect free handouts from the government, it only promotes laziness and laziness is a disease that cripples people and destroys society’s progress and development.
Instead, be self-reliant and productive, Unggai-Bena MP, Benny Allan told people when visiting a community initiated Upland Rice Farming project in partnership with the Chinese company Juncao Technology at Ketarobo, Eastern Highlands, over the weekend.
There to witness the first harvest of 25 hectors of upland rice, Mr Allan said that Eastern Highlands is rich with fertile land and people must not be lazy but invest in agriculture to sustain themselves and venture into businesses.
“The Eastern Highlands provincial government already established a partnership with the Fujian province that is keen on promoting agriculture in the province,” he said.
“I commend the Chinese counterpart and the Eastern Highlands government to partner in promoting agriculture as it will benefit many people and the province in the long-run.”
He said it is encouraging to see people in his electorate realize the importance of agriculture and start up rice farm and other projects hence, the district will assist them.
Mr Allan commended the people of Ketarobo for taking the initiative in the upland rice farming and encouraged them to continue with the project.
Provincial natural resources adviser Frank Wangnapi said Unggai Bena is the sixth district in the province to be incorporated with the Juncao Technology in upland rice farming.
He said apart from upland rice farming, livestock, and mushroom have a high demand in the market.
“We will make sure we incorporate all the nine districts with the Juncao technology so that people can engage themselves in productive projects that will sustain themselves and also to achieve the government’s vision in agriculture,” Mr Wangnapi said.
Engineering healthier, more plentiful crops to aid developing countries
Genetically modified food has faced opposition from both consumers and decision-makers alike. Here, Dr. Oliver Peoples, PhD., CEO of Yield10 Bioscience, suggests that, with modern understanding of their benefits, GMO crops could hold the answer to ensuring the food security of the future.
Description: Engineering healthier, more plentiful crops to aid developing countries
Despite advancements in agricultural practices and technologies, global hunger is still an issue that we face today. The World Food Programme notes that there are about 795 million people in the world who do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life and the vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries where 12.9 percent of the population is undernourished.
World leaders, policy makers and the agriculture industry all need to come together to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis and better address the global hunger issue which may only grow as our population expands to almost 10 billion by 2050. Gene and genome editing for crops has been presented as a reasonable solution to create healthier, more plentiful food but it has faced tremendous opposition in developed and developing countries alike.
This is due to fear-driven anti GMO/genetically engineered food marketing campaigns that position these crops as ‘dangerous’ or ‘unhealthy’ to both consumers and policymakers, despite multiple studies proving otherwise. Inevitably and sadly, the non-GMO labelling of foods has become part of a fear-based marketing for products that otherwise may have nothing to offer the consumer in terms of benefits.
Food Integrity 2020, 18-19 March 2019 | Twickenham Stadium, London
Building on the success of New Food’s Food Fraud events, now in its fourth year Food Integrity 2020 will explore some of the toughest questions the industry is facing. Leaders from the food and beverage sector will debate the challenges facing the industry and share their lessons and solutions.
Gene and genome editing for crops has been presented as a reasonable solution to create healthier, more plentiful food but it has faced tremendous opposition in developed and developing countries alike.
Global acceptance, however, is now shifting, particularly in some countries where lack of nutrition and food availability have created a true public health crisis that can only be solved with high-quality and more readily available food staples. This comes, in part, from scientists in the Philippines and Bangladesh who are pushing back and standing firm in their beliefs that research has proven that benefits exist in genetically modified and gene edited foods. Some of these countries are now making policy changes to incorporate foods that have been engineered to boost certain vitamins, fats or other nutritional factors, or increase the amount of food produced. 
For example, Bangladesh’s agriculture minister is expected to approve GMO superfood “golden rice”, a fortified form of rice that has been genetically modified to biosynthesise beta-carotene in the edible parts of rice, out of concern for the health of its children and expecting mothers. Hesitation from policy makers that was once fueled by the actions of environmental and human rights organisations has now been minimised as more research validates the benefits of GMO and gene edited food.
Policymakers, technologists and farmers need to come together to promote the benefits and safety of these addition to traditional crop breeding methods.
Although we do not see a future where GMO commodity crops will not play a major role in food security, gene and genome editing techniques are now available to better use and enhance specific traits that are already present in crops and seeds. This approach has proven to be an effective way to increase and target genetic diversity naturally present within plants, emphasising the traits that will help crops survive and thrive in a wider range of variable growing conditions resulting from global climate change. With these technologies, crop breeders can improve existing traits that can make plants stronger, healthier and more productive.
·       Yield – increasing crop yield is top of mind for all individuals within the agriculture space at the moment, from policymakers to technology providers, there is a race to identify a solution capable of providing enough food to feed the expected population jump to 10 billion in the next 30 years. While it is still in the development phase, select yield traits are showing promise in increasing a crop’s yield without additional resources such as land, water or pesticide, meaning we can do more with what we have available. A few traits that are showing promise include C3003 which has shown a yield increase of up to 11 percent in in canola, C3004 in Camelina and canola, and C4001 in wheat, rice, sorghum and corn.Identifying and then introducing these traits to staple crops is critical to creating healthier, more plentiful food in developing counties. As such, trait gene discovery platforms have emerged to identify which genetic traits and specific genes could have the biggest impact on a crop’s lifecycle. These genes need to focus on three key areas, each of which is necessary to preserve and provide a sustainable food supply
·       Nutrition – increasing the nutritional value of certain common crops, like rice, corn, potatoes and soybean, could help support individual health. This is precisely what they are doing with Golden rice. Researchers are also looking into creating edible oils with healthier profiles and have found traits such as C3007 for oil enhancement to show potential
·       Resiliency – in recent years, various environmental issues such as insects, drought and extended wet seasons has impacted crop harvest and useable yield. Just this past year we saw corn and potatoes suffer from late planting seasons, resulting in lower yields in select states. Farmers are looking to new traits and gene delivery techniques that can make crops more resilient without the relying solely on pesticides or hoping for extended growing seasons.
Scientists, crop breeders and farmers are going to need all of the genetic tools available in the ongoing effort to solve the global hunger crisis. Policymakers, technologists and farmers need to come together to promote the benefits and safety of these addition to traditional crop breeding methods to help foster acceptance and incorporation within developing countries where engineered crops could better support public health. Children in developing countries should not have to suffer ill health or starvation for the sake of the egos of anti-GMO activists from wealthy countries in the face of the overwhelming scientific evidence of the safety of the technology which is after all just a form of intellectual colonialism.
About the author 
Oliver P. Peoples, Ph.D. was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Metabolix in October 2016 in conjunction with the transition to Yield10 Bioscience as the Company’s core business. Dr. Peoples was a co-founder of Metabolix and served as our Chief Scientific Officer from January 2000 until October 2016, and was previously our Vice President of Research and Development.
Dr. Peoples has served as a director since June 1992. Prior to founding Metabolix, Dr. Peoples was a research scientist with the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he emerged as a pioneer of the new field of metabolic pathway engineering and its applications in industrial biotechnology. The research carried out by Dr. Peoples at MIT established the fundamental tools and methods for engineering bacteria and plants to produce Mirel biopolymers. Dr. Peoples has published numerous peer reviewed academic papers and is an inventor of over 90 patents and patent applications worldwide. Dr. Peoples received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Recipes: Grilled red capsicum and zucchini dip and stuffed red capsicum with cinnamon scented rice
Nicola Galloway05:00, Mar 04 2020
Grilled red capsicum and zucchini dip.
A change of season is here. As much as I enjoy the long hot days of summer, by the time autumn arrives I am ready for the slower pace and cooler nights.This is my favourite time of year for produce as, thanks to the summer heat, the produce is sweet and dense.
Capsicum, although available all year grown in hot houses, really comes into its own in autumn when grown outside.
Stuffed red capsicum with cinnamon scented rice.
It can be eaten fresh (crunch), grilled, or slow-cooked. It's a super versatile vegetable that will feature often in my cooking this month.
Here are two recipes for your autumn table.
With a second planting of zucchini in December I now have a second flush of this prolific cucurbit. Combined with flavoursome grilled capsicum, it's a winning combination.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes about 300g
2 red capsicums, halved and seeds removed
2 small zucchini, cut into 1cm thick lengths
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
Cracked pepper
Preheat the oven grill to 220 degrees Celsius.
Arrange the capsicum halves, cut side down, and zucchini on a baking tray. Brush generously with olive oil (about one tablespoon), and season with salt. Place in the oven under the preheated grill.
Cook for five minutes, then flip the zucchini only, then grill for a further five minutes or until the capsicum skin is charred. Cool for five minutes, then peel off the capsicum skin. It is OK if a small amount remains, but make sure to remove the charred skin, as it is bitter.
In a food processor roughly grind the toasted sunflower seeds. Add the grilled vegetables (it is OK if they are still warm), remaining olive oil, garlic, vinegar, honey, and cracked pepper. Blend until smooth. Adjust taste as needed with extra salt or vinegar.
Scoop into a bowl and serve with a selection of crackers and vegetables. The dip will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to four days.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves 4-6 as a side
2 tbsp olive oil
½ brown onion, chopped
½ cup jasmine or basmati rice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ tablespoons currants
2 cups (500ml) good-quality stock (vegetable or chicken)
400g can chickpeas, drained (or 1 cup cooked chickpeas)
½ teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper
A handful of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, mint, coriander)
3-4 red capsicums, halved and seeds/pith removed
Preheat the oven to 190C.
In a heavy-based frying pan heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over a moderate heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for five minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the rice, garlic, cinnamon and currants, and saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
Pour over the stock, and add the chickpeas, and salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
Leave to gently cook for 8-10 minutes until most of the stock has been absorbed by the rice but it still has a bite to it. Fold through the chopped herbs.
Spoon half of the mixture into an oven dish (about 20cm x 25cm) spreading out to cover the base. Fill each capsicum half with the remaining rice mixture and nestle into the bed of rice so the capsicums fit snugly in the dish. Drizzle with the extra tablespoon of olive oil and cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 30 minutes then remove the lid/foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
Serve immediately with fresh fish or slow-cooked lamb.
Nicola Galloway is an award-winning cookbook author, culinary tutor and homegrown enthusiast.

Scientists Discover Earth’s Oldest Green Plant Fossil in China

March 01, 2020

Description: A green seaweed fossil from China dating back 1 billion years is seen using a microscope in this photograph released by Virgina Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia U.S. February 24, 2020. (Virginia Tech/Handout via Reuters)
A green seaweed fossil from China dating back 1 billion years is seen using a microscope in this photograph released by Virgina Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia U.S. February 24, 2020. (Virginia Tech/Handout via Reuters)
Scientists have discovered what may be the oldest fossils of a green plant ever found.
The fossils were found in rocks from northern China. The plant is thought to be a piece of seaweed that grew on Earth’s seafloor about 1 billion years ago. That would make this seaweed an ancestor of all green plants alive today.
Researchers in the United States reported on the discovery in the publication Nature Ecology & Evolution. The researchers are with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.

In the background of this digital recreation, ancient microscopic green seaweed is seen living in the ocean 1 billion years ago. In the foreground is the same seaweed in the process of being fossilized far later. (Photo Credit: by Dinghua Yang)
Description: In the background of this digital recreation, ancient microscopic green seaweed is seen living in the ocean 1 billion years ago. In the foreground is the same seaweed in the process of being fossilized far later. (Photo Credit: by Dinghua Yang)The seaweed is a form of green algae called Proterocladus antiquus. It was very small, about the size of a single piece of rice. Researchers say the plant was connected to the seafloor with a root-like structure. At the time, the plant was one of the largest life forms in the sea, which contained mostly bacteria and other microorganisms.
The researchers say Proterocladus was able to perform photosynthesis, taking energy from the sun to produce life-supporting carbon and oxygen. They believe the plant also provided food and shelter for many different kinds of sea life.
Shuhai Xiao serves as a Professor of Geobiology at Virginia Tech. He said the fossils were found in rock taken from an area of dry land - formerly ocean - near the city of Dalian in China’s Liaoning Province. Qing Tang, another Virginia Tech researcher, discovered the micro-fossils in the rock using an electronic microscope in a laboratory.
Xiao said the fossils represent the oldest green seaweed ever found. The next oldest fossil of green seaweed was found in rock thought to be about 800 million years old.
Description: In this January 30, 2020 photo, Virginia Tech geobiology professor Shuhai Xiao, right, poses for a picture with his postdoctorate colleague Qing Tang inside Virginia Tech's Derring Hall. (Virginia Tech)
In this January 30, 2020 photo, Virginia Tech geobiology professor Shuhai Xiao, right, poses for a picture with his postdoctorate colleague Qing Tang inside Virginia Tech's Derring Hall. (Virginia Tech)
The scientists say the seaweed once lived in an ocean that was not very deep. Once the plants died, they became “cooked” under thick sediment, which created fossils in the shape of the seaweed. Many millions of years later, the dirt was lifted out of the ocean and became the dry land where the examples were collected.
“These new fossils suggest that green seaweeds were important players in the ocean long before their land-plant descendants moved and took control of dry land,” Xiao said.
He added that Earth’s biosphere depends heavily on plants for food and oxygen. But the first land plants, believed to be ancestors of green seaweeds, did not appear until about 450 million years ago.
The Virginia Tech researchers believe that land plants – including trees, grasses food crops and others – all developed from green seaweeds that lived in the ocean. Then, over millions of years, the seaweed plants moved out of the water and adapted to life on land.
Description: In this April 9, 2016 photo, young sea lettuce grows on a rock in Mountain Point, Alaska. (Taylor Balkom/Ketchikan Daily News via AP)
In this April 9, 2016 photo, young sea lettuce grows on a rock in Mountain Point, Alaska. (Taylor Balkom/Ketchikan Daily News via AP)
The history of how green plants developed is a subject of debate. “Some scientists think that green plants started in rivers and lakes, and then conquered the ocean and land later,” Xiao said.
Proterocladus is believed to be closely related to a modern seaweed, widely eaten by humans today. It is called sea lettuce.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters, Virginia Tech and Nature Ecology & Evolution. George Grow was the editor.
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The Wonderful Everyday at the 2020 Farm & Gin Show 

MEMPHIS, TN -- The 68th annual Mid-South Farm & Gin Show is a wrap!  The event brings together more than 20,000 attendees eager to see the newest technologies, equipment, machinery, industry leaders, educational seminars, giveaways and freebies, and, of course, the Rice Wheel.

"We are always thrilled to participate in this conference," said Kane Webb, USA Rice director of field services.  "It is a busy place, with a constant flow of folks stopping by the booth to say hello and spin our wheel.  USA Rice has been a consistent presence at the Gin Show for many years, and it's really rewarding to see people seeking us out among the sea of exhibitors to talk U.S. rice."  

The perennial home of the Farm & Gin Show, the Memphis Convention Center, is currently under construction making the venue a challenge to navigate.  "Whoever engineered the flow of foot traffic must have been Swedish because it felt an awful lot like shopping at Ikea - once you started, you couldn't stop," said Webb.  "The only difference from Ikea was, instead of meatballs to greet you at the end of your journey, you got a pulled pork sandwich, which we all agreed was a fine substitute."

Though the construction element was a major topic of conversation, the organizers made the event work well.  It is always well-attended because of what you can learn simply by taking a lap through all the exhibit booths.  Ag technology changes daily and these shows help keep farmers up to date with those advancements, catalyzing continuous improvement and development of more efficient and sustainable farming practices.  
Webb reminds those who had trouble finding the Rice Wheel, "USA Rice will be back next year.  Come see us!"


BEIJING, March 3 (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday that regions with good growing conditions should restore double-cropping of rice as part of its efforts to ensure food security amid ongoing measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
A lockdown on movement of people in the virus epicentre of Hubei province has raised concerns about spring planting of key food crops such as rice.
A central government group charged with managing the response to the virus said in a statement posted on the government's website that regions should try to expand the planted acreage of early crop rice.
(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton, editing by Louise Heavens)
© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020. Click For Restrictions -

Rice prices eyed to further decrease to P34

By: Krissy Aguilar - Reporter / @KAguilarINQ / 01:58 PM March 04, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — The government is expecting rice prices to further dip at P34 per kilo this year, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Wednesday.
NEDA Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla said she is hoping for rice prices to decrease more than the six-year low recorded last month at P36.53 per kilo.
“We are hoping that the retail prices of rice will still go down,” Sombilla said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
“It depends on how all of these things will work out. But we are hoping it will still go down to P34, P35,” she added.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier reported a 12.3 percent decrease to P36.53 a kilo in January from P41.36 in December last year.
“The lowest one that we saw was in 2013 which was P33.70, eto na ngayon ang pinakamababa after six years, seven years (this is now the lowest we have after six years, seven years). Hopefully, pababa pa rin tayo (it will continue to decrease),” Sombilla said.
But Sombilla noted several factors may affect the target rice price of P34 like the world market’s trends or possible crisis on country’s rice importers like Vietnam and Thailand.

Rice prices eyed to further decrease to P34

By: Krissy Aguilar - Reporter / @KAguilarINQ / 01:58 PM March 04, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — The government is expecting rice prices to further dip at P34 per kilo this year, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Wednesday.
NEDA Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla said she is hoping for rice prices to decrease more than the six-year low recorded last month at P36.53 per kilo.
“We are hoping that the retail prices of rice will still go down,” Sombilla said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
“It depends on how all of these things will work out. But we are hoping it will still go down to P34, P35,” she added.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier reported a 12.3 percent decrease to P36.53 a kilo in January from P41.36 in December last year.
“The lowest one that we saw was in 2013 which was P33.70, eto na ngayon ang pinakamababa after six years, seven years (this is now the lowest we have after six years, seven years). Hopefully, pababa pa rin tayo (it will continue to decrease),” Sombilla said.
But Sombilla noted several factors may affect the target rice price of P34 like the world market’s trends or possible crisis on country’s rice importers like Vietnam and Thailand.
“There are so many factors that will get into that, including how the world market will also be evolving in the coming months,” he said.
“Hindi naman naapektuhan maliban kung merong magiging crisis sa (It won’t be affected unless there would be a crisis in) Vietnam, Thailand where major of our imports are coming from, which I don’t see in the near future,” she added.

DA denies rice farmers lost P68B due to Rice Tariffication Law

Published March 4, 2020 3:40pm
The Department of Agriculture on Wednesday refuted claims that rice farmers lost P68 billion in 2019 following the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.
“Hindi naman sila nalugi ng P68 billion,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar told reporters in Malacañang, even though he could not immediately provide a counterpart figure from the government.
‘Yung P68 billion ang daming factors na i-consider mo para we should be talking apples to apples.”
According to the non-government Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), the average retail price of regular milled rice (RMR) declined by P2.61 per kilo in 2019 from 2018, while the price for well-milled rice (WMR) went down by P1.99 per kilo. 
If the decline in the per kilogram of prices of RMR and WMR is multiplied by rice consumption volume of 9.466 million metric tons, it will result in P34.16 billion savings or gains for rice consumers.

On the other hand, the average farmgate price of palay declined by P3.62 to P16.78 per kilo from P20.40 per kilo in 2018.
If the palay price difference of P3.62 is multiplied by the palay production volume of 18.814 million metric tons, it will result in P68 billion in losses to farmers, the group claimed.
The Rice Tariffication Law removed most government controls on rice imports in order to enhance the competitiveness of the industry and make the staple more affordable and accessible.
Safety nets were included in the law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February last year, including a comprehensive assistance program for farmers worth P10 billion a year for the next six years.
As of February 20 this year, the government has released P1.4 billion to 279,666 farmers affected by the falling prices of palay or unmilled rice, Dar said.
“The interventions of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund will indeed really help the farmers’ lower production but at the same time increasing their farm incomes,” added National Economic and Development Authority Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla.
“And hopefully also for them to diversify into other sources of income, higher value products that could really increase further their farm incomes.” — BM, GMA News

Pangilinan warns of another rice crisis due to ‘lackluster’ rice tariff law

By: Maila Ager - Reporter / @MAgerINQ / 06:49 PM March 03, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — A “triple whammy” may cause another rice crisis, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan warned Tuesday.
Pangilinan recalled that when the global rice crisis hit in 2008, the international trading price of rice jumped from US$300 per metric ton to US$1,200 per metric ton in just four months.
During that time, he said, the spike in rice prices was attributed to trade restrictions by major suppliers, panic buying by several large importers, a weak dollar, and record spike in oil prices.
“This time, a triple whammy may cause another rice crisis: the Rice Tariffication Law’s lackluster implementation; terrible drought now being felt by our rice exporters in Thailand and Vietnam; and the still undetermined and uncalculated effects of the coronavirus outbreak, particularly on China, also a rice-producing and rice-consuming country. As well as the impact on prices of goods,” the senator said in a privilege speech.
“This means that the dire impact of the lackluster implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law has not only cast its gloom on the country’s farmers but is threatening consumers as well.”
Pangilinan then offered several proposals to cushion the impact of this possible scenario.
One is the creation of an inter-agency task force on rice security composed of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Finance and the Department of Trade Industry to oversee the swift implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.
Signed in 2019, the law replaced the quantitative import restrictions on rice with tariffs, which opened the country’s doors to unimpeded importation of rice.
“Get this task force to review the implementation of the law and its effects on the rice industry, on the farmers and farmworkers, and even the NFA (National Food Authority) employees, and submit its findings immediately to the Senate,” the senator said.
Pangilinan said authorities should also monitor “possible collusion” between the Bureau of Customs and some rice traders in the technical smuggling and undervaluation of rice imports.
“File non-bailable charges of economic sabotage and jail the smugglers. Get the Philippine Competition Commission to go after profiteers and rice-price manipulators,” he said.
Enforce the law correctly, by providing, among others, compensation to affected rice farmers, and speeding up the government’s procurement of local rice, the senator said.
Pangilinan lamented that instead of making the country self-reliant on rice, it has become “more import-dependent.”
“We are on our way to becoming rice beggars when we should have been reaping the fruits of a bountiful agriculture landscape,” he said.
“This is an extremely serious concern that should be addressed urgently not just by the administration, but everyone who eats, as it will throw vulnerable sectors into a worse state of poverty and hunger,” he stressed.

Hypocritical NPP campaigning for ‘Made in Ghana’ rice but distribute foreign rice at Jubilee house – A.B.A Fuseini


Member of Parliament for Sagnarigu Constituency, A.B.A Fuseini
Description: Member of Parliament for Sagnarigu Constituency, A.B.A FuseiniMember of Parliament for Sagnarigu Constituency in the Northern Region, A.B.A Fuseini has said the Akufo-Addo led government is not committed to development of Ghanaians as little has been done to promote made in Ghana goods in the country. He alleged that government still uses foreign branded rice when holding parties even in the Jubilee house; an indication that the Mahama-led administration did better at projecting the local industry.

“This government does not have an iota of commitment to ensure that this Made in Ghana thing they are talking about works. They are not committed”

Speaking on TV3 News Day show A.B.A Fusieni added, “Go and see when they throw parties, when they are organizing reception, foreign goods more than 95 percent. Even the president who gave the directive, when they do (parties) at his door step flagstaff house go and see the stuff”

“Rice import reduced under Mahama from over 6 million dollars to 480 million dollars under the NPP rice imports have ballooned to 1.3 billion dollars its matter of records. So how can you be encouraging the consumption of local rice when imports are souring than before? So where is the vision of the government? he quizzed.

He added Ghana Beyond Aid project has failed as this government has borrowed more than any to other that has governed this country.

He said “talking about Ghana beyond Aid, this is the government that has borrowed more recklessly than any government. So, if you are talking about beyond aid and you are borrowing worse than any government what are you doing to yourself.”

However, Deputy Information Minister, Pius Ahiadze refuted the above claims stating that his comment with regards to Jubilee House cooking foreign rice is false as the MP did not back it with evidence

“…. This accusation is a rant, the MP should speak beyond propaganda because it was an unnecessary introduction”

“Our local capacity under the NDC reduced and documented unless you tell me Ghanaians stopped eating rice. What we are doing today to actually help grow the industry is that the government is making the importers of rice to deal with some of the local rice production at least a certain percentage even if you are to provide or use local rice to a certain percent the Agric Minster does not even give you the license to import rice,” he said

Repurposing public policies for sustainable water management in Indian agriculture

March 3, 2020, 10:24 PM IST A K Padhee in Voices | India | TOI
Water being a crucial raw material for improved productivity in agriculture, its sustainable management in a changing climate can’t be over-emphasized. Depleting water resources, besides land degradation/desertification; loss of biodiversity; and negative impacts of weather variabilities on crop production are direct manifestations of climate change in the agriculture production system. In such a critical scenario, conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, including water, demands priority action in the policy agenda.
While going through various facts and trends on water for agricultural use in india, few startling facts come to attention.
The first example is drawn from numerous papers on irrigation water productivity by many Experts/Agricultural Economists. In Maharashtra, as per these observations, a water intensive crop like sugarcane occupies only 4 percent of the cropped area, but uses almost two-thirds (60 %) of water used for irrigation.
The second example is of India’s export of ‘virtual water” while exporting food and livestock products. We must take note that production of a kilogram of rice requires about 3,500 litres of water. As all us know, India exports a substantial quantity of rice (both basmati and non-basmati) and thus, we must account for all these ‘embedded water’ that also gets out of the national boundary. A study has revealed that India exported on an average 26,000 million liters of virtual water annually (2006-16 data).
The third example that I wish to quote is from a recently released World Economic Forum (WEF) report (January 2020). The report titled “Incentivizing Food Systems Transformation” talks about the over-exploitation of ground water due to power subsidies to farmers in Indian State of Punjab and cites that “the state’s rice production alone requires more than three times the amount of water that Punjab receives in rainfall”.
We can very well imagine the unsustainable usage of ground water in all these cited instances, which calls for attention of all stakeholders: policy makers; businesses; civil society; researchers; and above all, the farming communities.
Based on available evidence and existing policy preferences by Governments (both at Center and State levels), I suggest the following actionable strategies to ensure sustainable water use management in agriculture sector.
Promoting water-use-efficiency:
‘More crop-per drop’ has been the mantra of current public policies around irrigation water. Water used for Indian agriculture accounts for 78% of total fresh water resources (Central water Commission data) and therefore, efficiency savings are always advocated for additional food production for an increasing population. Promotion of micro-irrigation practices (sprinkler and drip) through number of schemes and programs by the Government has been localized in few States as of now (7.7 million hectares of micro-irrigation, 95 % of which is in 10 states), which should proliferate to larger crop areas (potential of micro-irrigation in India is 69.5 million hectares). We need to move from a supply-based to demand-based system to reach the huge micro-irrigation potential. A number of new production methods and techniques along with specific agronomic practices have been suggested by agricultural scientists and experts. For example, system of rice intensification (SRI) or alternate wetting and drying (AWD), direct seeded rice, conservation agriculture, furrow irrigation, etc. are often advocated for efficient use of irrigation water in a traditionally perceived water-guzzling crop like paddy with no yield disadvantages. Farm scientists have solutions suiting to a particular agro-ecology or a cropping system to ensure use-efficiency from the irrigation water. Suitable policies with incentives mechanism could lead more farmers to adopt such technologies that aim to “irrigate the crop and not the land”.
Re-orienting Policy incentives:
Subsidy-based approach to irrigate farm lands has led to negative environmental consequences in many parts of India. Punjab is a case in point, where over-exploitation of ground water due to subsidies on power (in fact, it’s free) has already led to an alarming situation. Studies indicate that ground water is depleting at a rate of 0.3 to 1.00 meter annually. As per a NASA study, the annual withdrawal of ground water from North-West India is 13 to 17 Km3 which is moving out of aquifers and not replenishing. Could it not be fixed? Definitively yes! But, it needs political will and a suitable offer of an alternative portfolio to tillers that maintain or raises the present levels of farm income. Diversification to crops likes nutri-cereals (sorghum and millets); maize; soybean; fruits and vegetables, etc. have been suggested to obviate the problem. Adoption, however will depend on suitable policy framework with market linkage; creation of supportive infrastructure and public investments. The World Bank supported ongoing project titled ‘Paani Bacho, Paise Kamao’ (save water, earn money) could throw practical insights into future public policies to address a very alarmist situation. Farmer wants irrigation water and not free power. Designing a framework in which payment is made for efficient water use through participatory irrigation management (PIM) of the resources by farmers’ groups themselves may prove to be a better governance model, as demonstrated in few parts of India and outside. Pricing of irrigation water on volumetric basis has also been successfully pilot tested. However, scaling- up would depend on a defined policy framework and associated structural issues. Use of treated water from sewerage systems for urban and peri-urban agriculture is also growing in few states. Policy incentives thus have to be redesigned to yield positive environmental externalities.
Adoption of sustainable water management technologies:
Crop specific irrigation management practices should be aimed at improving or restoring natural ecosystems. In many high value crops, precision irrigation models and controls like variable-rate drip irrigation and other micro-irrigation systems are gaining wide acceptance including in India. Smart irrigation systems with increased usage of information and communication technology (ICT) and remote sensing have been in use in advanced economies like USA, Japan and Israel. Such precision irrigation management systems bring water-use-efficiency to the maximum. Uses of PVC water-conveyor pipes and underground pipeline systems in canal irrigation commands have also been proved to enhance water use efficiency. Growing adoption of laser land levelers in parts of North India, in spite of its high cost and sophistication, is indeed good news. In specific instances, improvement of effectiveness of traditional irrigation systems has also been suggested to maintain local ecological balance/equilibrium. Farmers need to be sensitized on sustainable and efficient irrigation water management practices and the ultimate economic and environmental benefits.
Watershed management approach:
In-situ soil and moisture conservation with involvement of the community can best be addressed through the watershed management approach. Integrating both on-farm and non-farm activities in watershed areas lead to sustainable livelihood options for the community, mainly the disadvantaged. The impacts of the interventions demonstrated successfully by institutes like the international crops research institute for the semi-arid tropics (ICRISAT) have shown recharging of groundwater that has enabled farmers to grow more crops per year and enhancement of productivity of a diverse portfolio of crops. As a young District Collector in tribal pockets of Odisha, I’ve personally seen how a holistic approach of watershed management can transform lives of rural poor, besides meeting the core objective of sustainable natural resources management. I’ve also observed social, economic and even political empowerment, mostly of rural women, through effective implementation of watershed schemes in backward pockets of the state. Convergence of schematic interventions through national rural employment guarantee scheme (NREGS), Neeranchal, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), etc. for ground water recharging, revival of traditional water bodies and creation of water harvesting structures would go a long way in conservation and usage of water for agricultural use.
Use of solar pumps:
Increased usage of solar pumps has been recommended by policy makers while addressing the challenges arising from ‘water-energy-food’ nexus. Government of India’s KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahaabhiyan) scheme is in fact catching up in many parts of India through installation of stand-alone off-grid solar pumps for drawing water from surface or ground water. The Union Budget that was presented early this month before the Indian Parliament (for the fiscal 2020-21) has proposed for installation of solar pumps (2 million) and also, solarized grid connects (1.5 million) to enhance farmers’ income. Popularizing solar power usage would not only reduce carbon footprints from existing use of diesel/kerosene/electric pump sets for irrigation purpose, but also lead to higher productivity and income. However, while promoting solar based irrigation systems in agriculture sector, we must ensure that the groundwater extraction is sustainable. Regular monitoring of the water table, thus, must feed the policy space.
Investments in research and innovation:
Prescriptions for better and sustainable irrigation water management have to be evidence-based. Research on irrigation practices and technologies; drainage water management; tools for sustainable agroecosystem management; breeding drought-tolerant crop varieties (with adequate productivity), etc. should therefore be focus of the agricultural research system. Unfortunately, the water management aspects of crops are still under-invested and deserve enhanced research outlay.
The water productivity of major crops in India has recently been mapped by NABARD that calls for urgent attention to shift areas covered by water-guzzling crops like rice, sugarcane, etc. to other remunerative options. With increasing weather variabilities, climate change would continue to pose risks to water availability for agriculture. The political economy has to take cognizance of this inevitable fact and repurpose both irrigation and power policies that should incentivize farmers to save water. Focus on sustainable water usage under climate change could in fact be a long-term solution to the challenges of inadequate food and water supplies.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

Description: pm news logo 

FG delegation visits Stallion Group Rice Mill

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 3:14 pm | Business | 0 Comment(s)

Minister Sabo Nanoso accompanied by Prof Sabagi, Hon Munir Umar Baba, Mrs K I Babangida and many others at Stallion Group Rice Mills
By Daniels Ekugo
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono has visited Popular Farm and Mills Limited, belonging to Stallion Group Company.
The Minister stated that Nigeria has the necessary resources to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, as there were over 50,000 agricultural graduates that could get associated with Agric Extension services to drive better yield in the country.
“New technologies in farming should now percolate from the research institutes to actual farming practices in the field. The Federal Government will soon introduce Mechanisation Hub for all 650 local governments that will support the farming community with training and stocking of farming equipment like tractors, power tillers, harvester combiners,” he said.
The Minister further added that “I see no reason why a 50kg bag of rice should be sold for N17,000, the same paddy rice is sold at N8,500 and maximum processing expense is N2,000 making a total of N10,500, it is unpatriotic to sell a bag more than N14,000 – N 15000.”
He said he would soon have a meeting with the rice millers to conclude on an affordable rate for rice for the consumers.
Stallion Group’s Popular Farms & Mills registered the best quarterly sale of rice post Nigeria’s land border closure.
The border closure has definitely boosted the local agriculture in Africa’s most populous country. The policy roll out did come with some very severe short-term effects of price inflation and undesirable impact on legal cross border trade.
But nonetheless it was essential for a turnaround in the economy. The company is grateful to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the much-needed call to close the land borders to restrict rampant smuggling and the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele for supporting favourable Agric policies in this country.
The Minister commended Stallion Group’s Popular Farms and Mills Limited, for investing an additional USD $70m to boost production of agric business, especially rice and sesame in Nigeria.
He applauded Popular Farm’s local rice value chain from farmers to final retailers and clearly sees the huge potential and feels highly encouraged.
He agreed that Stallion Group has transformed itself into a productive and community sensitive company, helping outgrowers with all farming needs, as the group is investing further in additional milling facilities to obtain self-sufficiency in rice, locally.
Recently KPMG valued two of the top Stallion Group rice brands Royal Stallion at N66.1bn and Caprice at N 41.5 08bn a consolidated valuation of N 107.6bn establishing leadership in the formal retail market. Some of the other popular brands from the company are Tomato King, Double Bull, People’s Princess and Super Champion.
The Managing Director of Popular Farms & Mills Ltd, Mr. Amit Kumar Rai, stated that the company had entered into a partnership with over 1,151 cooperative groups, having 41,486 member-farmers as well as 65,715ha of rice farm area for developing the rice business.
“The group imparts training and distributes rice farming tools free of cost to out growers across the rice producing states in Nigeria as a part of fulfillment of dedicated service towards achieving its rice value chain initiative. The group believes that focus on empowering communities leads to more progressive farmers and greater economic and social opportunities for households.
“Popular Agric Centers” (also known as Aggregation Canters) spread across rice producing states of Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Niger, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Zamfara, Kwara in Nigeria are nodal points at the doorstep of farmers for all backward integrated activities which includes training, knowledge dissemination, input distributions, quality testing, off-taking and transit storage,” he said.

Rice export prices surge amid high demand

Prices of rice exports have been surging in recent time due to high demand from some markets such as Malaysia, the Republic of Korea (RoK), the Philippines, and Indonesia, according to the Vietnam Food Association.
Description: Rice export prices surge amid high demand hinh anh 1Rice for export (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Prices of rice exports have been surging in recent time due to high demand from some markets such as Malaysia, the Republic of Korea (RoK), the Philippines, and Indonesia, according to the Vietnam Food Association.

Malaysia has agreed to purchase 90,000 tonnes of the grain from Vietnam and will import more in the coming time and the RoK has given a quota of 55,112 tonnes of the food for Vietnam this year.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has been importing a large amount of rice from Vietnam since December 2019. It was the world’s biggest importer of the goods in 2019 and is forecast to maintain this top position in 2020 with the purchase of 2.6 million tonne.

A working delegation from the Philippines’ Ministry of Agriculture is scheduled to visit Vietnamese rice processing facilities in preparation for further import from Vietnam.

Indonesia aims to import about 1 million tonnes of rice this year, up 700,000 tonnes compared to 2019.

Mainland China used to be Vietnam’s biggest rice market for many years, but in 2019, exports to the country declined sharply by 64.2 percent, due to the impact of the acute respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)./.

Rice tariff law a year later: Prices down but farmers lose

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:28 AM March 04, 2020
STILL ON SURVIVAL MODE A year since the implementation of the rice tariffication law, the picture is not as rosy as economic managers have painted it to be. Rice prices have gone down, but farmers are barely surviving. A state-run think tank said they lost P8.22 billion between April and September last year, while a study found that the losses they incurred exceeded by P34 billion the gains that the law gave consumers. —WILLIE LOMIBAO/CONTRIBUTOR
MANILA, Philippines — Rosadilla Limbres has been planting rice for three decades in Bukidnon province, but she finds the last three years the hardest.
She and her husband used to cultivate a 3-hectare farm in Barangay Kibawe, where palay (unhusked rice) with high moisture content now sells for as low as P15 a kilogram, down from P20 in the past years.
During the last harvest, however, Limbres, 64, was forced to till just 1 hectare after her husband died from an illness.
“I cannot sustain 3  hectares anymore,” she said. “We just plant enough for our food and let the remaining 2 hectares be. We cannot gamble another planting season and spend again for fertilizers and laborers and inputs. It’s not going to be worth it.”
The story of Limbres highlights the plight of rice farmers  a year after the Duterte administration implemented the rice tariffication law (RTL), which opened the floodgates to imports of the grain.
Deregulation of imports was envisioned to bring about a more food-secure Philippines. Rice would become more affordable and farmers would no longer cough up unnecessary expenses to increase yield and raise their income.

Barely surviving

But the picture is not as rosy as economic managers have painted it to be. While rice prices have gone down, farmers are barely surviving.
Between April and September last year, rice farmers lost P8.22 billion, according to the state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
A study by the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) found farmers in a worse situation.  Losses they incurred exceeded  by P34 billion the gains that the rice tarrification law gave consumers, according to the group.
“The results of the first year of RTL implementation are totally the opposite of what its proponents were promising,” said Raul Montemayor, FFF national manager.
“[They said] RTL was a ‘no brainer’ because the gains of consumers in terms of lower rice prices would surely outweigh the losses of farmers from lower farm-gate prices. Official data now indicate that they were overly optimistic, if not mistaken, in their projections,” Montemayor said.
Much has changed in the rice industry since the new policy was enacted.
Prices for both palay and rice went down, as the country’s rice imports recorded its highest volume yet.

World’s biggest importer

For 2019, the Philippines earned the dubious distinction of being the world’s biggest rice importer. It brought from other countries a total of 3 million metric tons (MT), or 7 percent of the entire globally traded stocks, dethroning China, which imported 2.5 million MT. Assistant Agriculture Secretary Andrew Villacorta said the influx of imported rice had given the country a surplus of 2 MT to 2.5 MT, enough buffer for 80 to 100 days.
With so much supply, palay prices have yet to recover. Philippine Statistics Authority data show that as of the third week of February, the average farm-gate price of palay was P16.06 a kilo, lower than the P17.23 between 2015 and 2017.
In some provinces, the average price  was P11.78. Prices of fertilizers and other inputs, in contrast, continued to go up.

‘Transition challenges’

Despite the bleak figures, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said at the World Rice Congress in November last year that these were “temporary transition challenges” and that the government was responding with decisiveness.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar also remained hopeful. At a press conference in February, he reiterated that “the rice tariffication law is one of the game changers where the growth of the agriculture sector can come from.”
Indeed, the Duterte administration has channeled hundreds of billions of pesos into the local rice industry to help farmers transition to the tariff regime.
Under the new rice law, the government is mandated to subsidize the sector with P10 billion in the rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF). The amount was for the purchase of machinery and equipment (P5 billion), seed subsidy (P3 billion), provision of credit (P1 billion) and extension services (P1 billion)—initiatives that are aimed at lowering the cost of producing rice and making farmers competitive.
The National Food Authority has spent roughly P14 billion to procure palay at P20 a kilo, while the country’s top 33 rice-producing provinces have committed P5 billion for their own procurement program. The Department of Agriculture (DA) has set aside P7 billion for its own rice programs and an additional P2.5 billion for rice-related loans, while Land Bank of the Philippines lent P236 billion to the agriculture sector in 2019, mostly loans to rice cooperatives and organizations.
The administration also shelled out P3 billion for unconditional cash transfers to 600,000 small-scale farmers.
Crop diversification
The DA is beginning to prepare its crop diversification program in which farmers would be assisted in shifting to planting other crops that command higher prices. The program will begin next year.
The question, however, is whether these funds have reached their intended beneficiaries.
Except for credit, RCEF components had yet to be completed as of Feb. 18. The completion rates for the distribution of seeds and extension services during the period were 87.85 percent and 87.90 percent, respectively, while mechanization has yet to begin.
No machinery yet
Dar admitted that farmers had not yet received any machinery and equipment promised them, a year after the tariffication law was implemented, citing budget delays.
There are  1,212 rice-producing municipalities or at least 60,000 farmers who await these interventions, which do not cover producers not on the country’s farmers registry.
Despite the shortcomings, PIDS still considers RTL a “propoor” policy, noting that it has cut rice spending across all income brackets—except for those who produce the staple.
On the whole, the Department of Finance reported that rice prices had gone down to its lowest levels in six years, enabling consumers to buy more of the staple.
PIDS senior researcher Roehlano Briones said consumers were expected to benefit P197 billion yearly in the first five years since the law’s implementation in March 2019.
The biggest gain of P367 billion  would be felt by Filipinos in the top income group, while  P87 billion  would benefit the bottom income group.
The flipside is that palay prices have sunk to their lowest levels in eight years.
The administration is aware that the new policy would displace farmers who would not be able to survive the new market landscape. They would mostly include smallholder producers in far-flung areas who live below the poverty line.
Lands sold
Those who do not have enough buffer to sustain losses have already sold their lands, most of which have been converted to factories, poultry farms and residential developments.
Others have migrated to the city to become “habal-habal” drivers, fast-food and factory workers, and household helpers.
Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said rice prices might begin to stabilize only by 2022, the last year of President Duterte’s term.
Until then, Filipino farmers may have to be more patient if they can still afford to do so.
“Farmers know how to sacrifice. We are so used to it, so good at it, but don’t push us to our limit,’’ said  Joe Pangalilingan, a farmer in Nueva Ecija province.
“At this rate, we would not be able to feed our families anymore. There is not enough government help,” he said

Prepare well to procure paddy, officials told

The issue of additional payments to the rice-millers for running paddy in the mills was also discussed in the meeting.
Published: 03rd March 2020 11:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd March 2020 11:26 AM  |  
For representational purposes only (Photo | MK Ashok Kumar, EPS)
By Express News Service
HYDERABAD: A cabinet sub-committee on Monday directed the Telangana State Civil Supplies Corporation (TSCSC) to make necessary arrangements to procure paddy in this Rabi season. Agriculture Minister Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, Civil Supplies Minister Gangula Kamalakar, and Health Minister Etela Rajender had attended the review meeting with the top bureaucrats of agriculture and allied sectors.
The civil supplies department is expecting over 77 lakh tonne of paddy this Rabi season, as against the 37 lakh tonnes procured in the last Rabi season.
The ministers directed the officials to ensure a hurdle-free environment for the farmers. They have also instructed the officials to ensure adequate jute bags, storage spaces, and transport facilities are provided well in advance.
Civil supplies officials stated before the cabinet sub-committee that the farmers are bringing the paddy immediately after cutting. Following this, it was decided in the meeting that machinery to evaluate moisture levels in the paddy, and paddy cleaners should be made available in the procuring centres from the funds of market fees paid by the civil supplies department.
The ministers asked civil supplies, agriculture, marketing, and warehousing departments to collaborate for best results and maintain a continuous vigil on the paddy imported into the State from neighbouring states. The issue of additional payments to the rice-millers for running paddy in the mills was also discussed in the meeting.
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India’s rice exports drop 12% in Jan on weak demand
Description: India's rice exports drop 12% in Jan on weak demand
A worker spreads rice for drying at a rice mill on the outskirts of Kolkata
MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's rice exports fell 12% in January from a year earlier due to weak demand for non-basmati rice from African and Asian countries, government data showed on Tuesday.
India is the world's biggest exporter of rice.
Rice exports totalled 908,492 tonnes in January, down from 1.03 million tonnes a year earlier, according to data compiled by the ministry of commerce and industry.
Non-basmati rice exports dropped 14% from a year earlier to 452,519 tonnes, while basmati rice exports fell 10% to 455,973 tonnes, the data showed.

Rice Prices

as on : 03-03-2020 10:46:16 AM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Published on March 03, 2020

India's rice exports drop 12% in Jan on weak demand

A worker spreads rice for drying at a rice mill on the outskirts of Kolkata, January 31, 2019. Picture taken January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files
MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s rice exports fell 12% in January from a year earlier due to weak demand for non-basmati rice from African and Asian countries, government data showed on Tuesday.India is the world’s biggest exporter of rice.
Rice exports totalled 908,492 tonnes in January, down from 1.03 million tonnes a year earlier, according to data compiled by the ministry of commerce and industry.Non-basmati rice exports dropped 14% from a year earlier to 452,519 tonnes, while basmati rice exports fell 10% to 455,973 tonnes, the data showed.
Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Susan Fenton
Our Standards:
Rice prices to peak mid-year
Global consumers beefing up stockpiles
PUBLISHED : 3 MAR 2020 AT 04:41
Description: A farmer harvests rice in the fields in drought-stricken Pathum Thani province.(Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)A farmer harvests rice in the fields in drought-stricken Pathum Thani province.(Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)Rice prices are expected to rise until the middle of the year as global consumers are beefing up their stockpiles, with China unlikely to rev up its rice exports for food security in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of Thai Rice Exporters Association, said global rice demand has surged since the deadly virus outbreak, leading rice prices to increase by US$30-50 since early in the year.
"People, particularly in the US, Europe and Asia, are staying home, while China, which controls a massive rice stock of up to 120 million tonnes, has halted exports after shipping 3 million tonnes priced about $100 per tonne lower than Thai grains last year," he said.
Before the virus outbreak, it was estimated China would boost its rice shipments to 3.5-4 million tonnes this year.
"Buyers from several countries are now more interested in Thai rice, with some importers willing to buy unlimited amounts to boost their stocks," said the veteran. "The free-on-board prices of white rice 5% have risen to $440-450 per tonne from $400 at the beginning of the year."
"The past few years traders had a difficult time selling Thai rice, given its relatively higher prices than grains of other countries," he said. "Once China started halting its shipments, the baht weakened, and Indonesia looked likely to resume its rice purchases, prospects brightened."
Mr Chookiat predicts rice prices will gradually increase until the middle of the year, or longer if the epidemic is prolonged.
In a separate development, the National Rice Policy Committee yesterday approved a rice insurance scheme for the 2020 season worth 2.91 billion baht, aiming to cover 44.7 million rai of farmland.
Narumon Pinyosinwat, the Government House spokeswoman, said the rice insurance scheme will be offered for two types -- a basic insurance programme (tier 1) and a voluntary programme (tier 2).
The tier 1 rice insurance will be for customers of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) and farmers in low-risk areas, charging an insurance premium of 97 baht a rai and 58 baht per rai, respectively. The government and BAAC will contribute subsidies for both cases.
Insurance premiums for general farmers in at-risk areas will be charged at 210 baht per rai, with the government subsidising 73.77 baht per rai.
Under the scheme, farmers will receive compensation of 1,260 baht per rai for rice damaged by natural disasters. They can further secure 630 baht per rai for damage caused by plant diseases and epidemics.
The tier 2 scheme will apply to BAAC customers who want to buy additional insurance and general farmers.
The premium rates will charge 24 baht per rai for farmers in low-risk areas, 48 baht per rai in medium-risk areas and 101 baht per rai in high-risk areas.
Farmers will receive compensation worth 240 baht per rai for natural disasters and 120 baht per rai for losses caused by plant diseases and epidemics. The government will not offer any subsidies for the tier 2 scheme.
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Mekong Delta farmers expand smart rice farming

Smart rice farming is offering high profits for farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta as the model has adapted well to climate change and is environmentally friendly.
Description: Mekong Delta farmers expand smart rice farming
A smart rice farming model used in Kien Giang Province’s Hon Dat District. 
Smart rice farming includes the use of advanced technologies like smart rice seeding, transplanting machines and other smart devices that irrigate rice fields.
It uses less rice seed, pesticides and fertiliser compared to traditional rice farming methods while the yield and quality of the former are not less than that of the latter.
In Kien Giang Province, which is the country’s largest rice producer, the model offers high efficiency for the members of the Cay Chom Agriculture Service Co-operative in Hon Dat District’s Linh Huynh Commune after they have implemented the model for one year.
In early 2019, the Binh Dien Fertiliser Joint Stock Company helped the co-operative to implement the model, including buying advanced facilities like water monitoring facilities and pumps which are installed at irrigation water resources and rice fields.
The company also provided farming techniques, supplied input materials, and guaranteed outlets for the co-operative members.
The co-operative’s members use their smart phones to monitor the quality of irrigation water and the level of irrigation water in rice fields. They can detect when they need to irrigate rice fields and the proper times to pump irrigation water from the river into rice fields.
The co-operative has 30 members who cultivate a total of 148ha of rice.
Nguyen Van Vui, a member of the co-operative, said during the rice cultivation period, co-operative members can actively monitor the irrigation water levels in rice fields and pump irrigation water into or out of rice fields.
“We work less harder than previously, but the production efficiency is higher.”
Linh Huynh is located in a low-lying area so rice fields are often inundated when there are rains and in the flooding season.
With advanced facilities for smart rice farming, farmers can now actively pump water out of flooded rice fields so they can grow rice on schedule.
According to Le Hoang Anh, deputy chairman of the Linh Huynh Commune People’s Committee, the yield of smart rice farming fields in the commune is 1.5 times higher than traditional rice farming fields in the commune.
The commune will encourage more farmers to join the co-operative to expand the area of smart rice farming.
In Hau Giang Province, farmers in Vi Thuy District’s Vi Thang Commune, have planted 24ha of rice under the smart rice farming model in the 2019 – 20 winter – spring crop, up 15.2ha against the last rice crop.
The implementation of smart rice farming in the commune began last year and is now implemented mostly in the commune’s Hamlet 7 and Hamlet 9.
The model offers a profits of 20 -30 per cent higher than traditional rice farming methods, according to farmers.
The Hai Huynh Agriculture Service Co-operative in Hamlet 7 is one of the two co-operatives in the commune implementing smart rice farming.
Tran Van Huynh, director of the Hai Huynh Agriculture Service Co-operative in Hamlet 7, said: “Smart rice farming helps the co-operative’s members reduce production cost …. and offers higher profits.”
The co-operative’s members earn a profit of VND30 million (US$1,290) per hectare a crop from smart rice farming.
The co-operative will expand smart rice farming area this year.
Many rice farmers in the commune are switching to smart rice farming because of its production efficiency.
Pham Thi Linh, deputy chairwoman of the Vi Thang Commune People’s Committee, said the commune was encouraging farmers to expand smart rice farming areas. – VNS