Saturday, March 07, 2020

7th March,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter


Reclaiming our root crops
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:04 AM March 05, 2020
Most Filipinos today consider rice as by far our most important, if not our one and only, staple food, a sine qua non of our daily meals. Whether one’s viand is bistek Tagalog, lechon Cebu, fried chicken, or sautéed fish, it is cooked with rice in mind.
In some parts of the country, the primacy of rice has been around for centuries;
Pigafetta noted as much. But the same cannot be said of other areas where it was root crops that people ate regularly. Even where rice was a staple, root crops shared its place among the commonly consumed foods, as in sinigang which was meant to be a complete meal, with gabi serving as carbohydrate source. Our ancestors would have been none the poorer. Unlike rice, which is relatively labor- and land-intensive, root crops grow even in unfavorable conditions. They also have nutritional profiles superior to white rice. Gabi (taro), for instance, is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and the leaves are edible, too (laing!). Beyond gabi, ube (purple yam), and the New World-sourced kamote (sweet potato), and kamoteng kahoy (cassava)—each of which has different varieties—we have dozens of root crop species with their unique flavors and profiles.
What can explain the shift to rice?
People might respond by saying “well, rice tastes much better.” But even taste, a subjective quality, is shaped by culture; our fondness for rice draws from our having been eating it since childhood and our meals having been designed to complement rice. There must be a stronger explanation for the relative decline of root crops in our consciousness.
One answer involves changing attitudes toward both rice and root crops. As the physical anthropologist Francisco Datar said in the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT) conference last November in Visayas State University, Baybay, Leyte, rice was — and still is — perceived as a “prestige food” in various parts of the archipelago, leading to its desirability and eventual ubiquity. Conversely, root crops were seen as an inferior food, leading to their being shunned by people. We still see this low regard for root crops today in expressions like “kinakamote” and the very telling “Go home and plant kamote!”
Agricultural technologies that have made rice widely available are another contributory (and corollary) factor, with rice varieties today far more productive in yield than those in the past. Even with rice shortages, the ease of importing all but guarantees rice’s ubiquity, even as the economics of it raises questions of equity for our rice farmers.
Conversely, despite the efforts of scientists (there are Root Crops Research and Training Centers in Baybay, Leyte, and La Trinidad, Benguet, not to mention the work of DOST and UPLB), there has been relatively little investment in root crops, whether in terms of agricultural research, food technology, or marketing.
This marginality of root crops is unfortunate for a number of reasons. As mentioned earlier, root crops are actually very nutritious, and hold the potential to enrich our culinary heritage. Although ube is beloved by Filipinos as a dessert and is increasingly being recognized abroad, we miss out by ignoring other varieties and species. In the UGAT conference, for instance, UST’s Hermel Pama gave a colorful account of namu in Bicol, and when I shared this topic with my medical colleague Johanna Banzon, she spoke of kayos in Iloilo.
Moreover, root crops can reduce our (over)dependence on rice, increasing our food sovereignty and diversity, benefiting overall nutrition, and helping indigenous and marginalized communities who are most vulnerable to inflation and fluctuations in rice prices.
Finally, a revival of root crops can contribute to building resilient communities, particularly in our age of climate crises. As Development Academy of the Philippines’ Julieta Roa pointed out, also in UGAT, root crops have always served as “survival foods”—but knowledge about them, including how to remove toxicity, is fast fading away.
Of course, I am not saying we should abandon rice completely. My modest appeal, echoing what others have said, is that we include root crops as part of our diet and give them the attention, research, and investment they deserve. Reclaiming our root crops will make us more rooted in our rich biocultural heritage, healthy in our diets, empowered in our food choices, and resilient as a nation.
glasco@inquirer.com.ph

What we don't know (about lakes) could hurt us
As extreme weather increases, scientists from 20 countries warn of risk to lakes and water quality
UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
Description: IMAGE
IMAGE: AS THE POWER OF EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS INCREASE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE, AN INTERNATIONAL TEAM OF 39 SCIENTISTS WARN THAT LAKES AROUND THE WORLD MAY DRAMATICALLY CHANGE, THREATENING ECOSYSTEM HEALTH AND... view more 
CREDIT: SAMUEL NANCHEN
As the power of extreme weather events increase with climate change, a team of scientists warn that lakes around the world may dramatically change, threatening ecosystem health and water quality.
And the international team reports that our limited understanding of how lakes--especially algae at the base of food webs--may respond to more-extreme storms represents a knowledge gap that increases the risk.
The team of 39 scientists from 20 countries on four continents investigated what is currently known about how lake ecosystems respond to extreme storm events. The scientists found they cannot confidently predict how lakes will respond to the more frequent and intense storms that are expected in a warming world.
"If extreme weather events significantly change carbon, nutrient, or energy cycling in lakes, we better figure it out quickly," said Jason Stockwell, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Vermont who led the new research, "because lakes can flip, like a lightbulb, from one healthy state to an unhealthy one--and it can be hard or impossible to flip them back again."
The new study focused on phytoplankton--microscopic plants commonly known as algae. "Phytoplankton are of particular concern because they are the base of the food web," said Stockwell, "and a critical driver of water quality."
The new study, "Storm Impacts on Phytoplankton Community Dynamics in Lakes," was published in the journal Global Change Biology on 5 March.
STORMS AHEAD
It is well known that extreme weather events damage property, infrastructure, and the environment, including freshwater resources that are critical to human health. However, lakes are especially sensitive to storm events because they experience storms directly and receive storm runoff from throughout their watersheds. Runoff includes sediments, nutrients, microplastics, and much more.
"We have a good idea of how lakes physically respond to storms: the water column mixes, water temperature changes, and sediments can be churned up from the bottom or delivered by rivers and streams to make the lake more turbid," Stockwell said. "But the physical response of the lake is just a part of the story. The biological impact of storms on phytoplankton and other plants and animals is fundamental to how lakes behave--and, as our study reveals, poorly understood."
In a search of thousands of scientific articles from around the world, the scientists found just 31 studies on 18 lakes that connected storms to freshwater lake conditions, and then to phytoplankton. Not only was the information sparse, but the few available findings were inconsistent. It became clear that the scientific community has a poor understanding of how phytoplankton respond to storms, or how their responses may differ by storm types, across different lakes, or even at different times of year.
NEW KNOWLEDGE NEEDED
The scientists call for a collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort by modelers, limnologists, watershed experts and other scientists, through research coordination networks--such as the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON)--to develop and advance a research framework of storm impacts on phytoplankton.
The team of scientists suggest several research directions including integrating watershed and lake physical models with biological models to better predict phytoplankton responses to storm-induced changes to lake conditions. The scientists also recommend continued and expanded long-term lake monitoring programs, coupled with networks of electronic high-frequency sensors, to evaluate short-term changes, emergent patterns, and long-term responses of lakes and water quality to storm events.
Similar research is also required for zooplankton, tiny grazers a little smaller than a rice grain that are essential food for fish. The goal is to better understand the pathways by which storms impact watershed-scale processes and plants and animals in lakes.
"We must quickly learn more--so we can better respond to the very real and pressing threat of climate change on lakes around the world," said Stockwell, director of UVM's Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory. "Without healthy lakes, we are sunk," he said.

Prices of rice surge as businesses struggle with supply issues

by Marie Edinger
Friday, March 6th 2020
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Signs placed in the window at Fresno Community Market (FOX26)
FRESNO, Calif. (FOX26) — In response to fears Covid-19 could limit the supply of rice, people are flocking to Asian markets to stock up.
That's causing some stores to struggle to keep the product on the shelves, and leading others to hike the prices way up.
Phonexay Keobandith says he couldn't find rice anywhere in Fresno.
"The main thing we were looking for was bags of rice. The aisle was completely empty."
25 pound bags of rice that used to cost around $22 are now $35
50lb bags that used to cost about $35 are now being sold for $71
100lb bags that used to be $50-$60 are now going for $130
Koebandith says a lot of Asian families in Fresno eat rice every day, and are going to be hurting if they have to pay prices like that.
"That's not affordable at all. If we really want it, we're going to end up paying the money for it, but 70 or 75 dollars for a 50 pound bag? That's not worth it at all."
Price Gouging in California is illegal.
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California Attorney General warns about price gouging following Covid-19 emergency declaration

Penal Code Section 396 says businesses can't raise the price of consumer goods and services by more than 10% after an emergency declaration is made.
Governor Newsom declared a state emergency yesterday.
But, the price gouging law also says,
If the seller can prove that the increased price is directly attributable to increases in the cost of labor or materials needed to provide the good or service, the seller may not be liable under the statute.
Adam Hauter, the owner of Fresno Community Market, says he's able to prove that.
To keep his shelves stocked, he had to pay a $2,200 "Urgent same-day delivery truck fee."
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The owner of Fresno Community Market shows off an invoice with a massive "Urgent same-day delivery truck fee."

Normally he doesn't pay anything for shipping.
"They want rice. I'm trying to get it here for them. But then they complain about the price. Well, I'm trying to get it here for them. They need to understand that. Other stores, they're out, because they don't want to pay the high price to bring it here."
Stores in San Jose are selling 50 pound bags for $70.
In Los Angeles, stores in Korea Town are keeping prices the same, but limiting how much people can buy.
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Asian supermarkets in Korea Town, Los Angeles charged the same amount as always for rice, but limited customers to one or two bags per person, depending on the store.Photo credit: Andrew Gioia

At Vons in Fresno Thursday, rice was on sale, but with a notice warning people about distribution issues.
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Vons Grocery Store warned customers it was having supply issues
At Walmart Thursday evening, the store had no restrictions, but the shelves were pretty cleaned out.
Fresno City Counilmember Vong Mouanoutoua told FOX26 News in a statement,
Many people in our community want to be as prepared as possible. Rice is such a staple food. It is eaten at every meal and served on every occasion. It is the primary food eaten during times of sickness and recovery. It is a main dish at celebrations. It goes with everything we eat. Maybe this will encourage us to try rice grown in California and Japan or go and have basmati rice. Better than that, it will be a healthy push to go and try other diverse foods in the Valley like Indian, Mexican, American or Italian. We will survive. Our Valley is so rich.
The Owner at Fresno Community market feels the problem is twofold: yes, the distributors are having some issues, but it does not help when consumers flock to clear out these shelves.

Asian business sees customers rush in for rice amid COVID-19 outbreak
SAN ANTONIO – Some stores have placed limits on disinfecting products amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. However, one local Asian business is experiencing customers rushing in for rice.
Sari Sari on Wurzbach Road has seen its supply of rice leave store shelves rather quickly.
Imelda Roberts says she’s been working at the market for 13 years and has noticed her customers seem to be stockpiling the rice. She said she hopes she can keep up with demand.
 “I was making an order to our wholesaler where we get our stuff, and even they limit us. She actually just gave us half our order,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the restaurant side of the business has not been impacted, but she hopes people will calm their concerns.

DA: Farmers’ loss from rice tariff law only P3.3B
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:08 AM March 06, 2020
URDANETA CITY—Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Thursday said the revenue loss among rice farmers because of the rice tariffication law was pegged at only P3.3 billion, contrary to the P68 billion claim by the Federation of Free Farmers.
Dar said the government collected P12.3 billion worth of tariffs last year, a portion of which would be used to finance Department of Agriculture programs for rice farmers, such as the rice competitiveness enhancement fund.—Yolanda Sotelo


Trade Talks Scheduled with Ecuador   

ARLINGTON, VA -- As negotiations with the UK and Japan ramp up, another country on the radar for trade talks with the U.S. is Ecuador, where rice is a staple.  Discussions are primarily aimed at encouraging Ecuador's move away from socialism and expanding commercial ties.

In Ecuador, U.S. rice is subject to a 68 percent tariff for milled and brown rice, and 20 percent for paddy rice.  The country imports 100,000 MT and grows 870,000 MT milled basis; they import on average 200 MT of U.S. rice annually.

"Ecuador consumes nearly 985,000 metric tons per year, which works out to be about 130 pounds per person - that's five times more than Americans eat, so we're talking about a lot of rice," said Asiha Grigsby, USA Rice manager of promotions in the western hemisphere.  "A combination of logistics and tariffs make it difficult for the U.S. to be a cost-effective supplier to Ecuador, but if tariffs can be addressed in these trade talks, we'd certainly increase our ability to be competitive there."

Rice imports in Ecuador are politically sensitive, as they are in many countries.  The Ecuadorian government has promoted rice self-sufficiency by setting a minimum price for domestic rice at the farm-gate level, higher than the world market, maintaining the Andean Price Band System, and further trying to limit imports using presidential decrees.

The Andean Price Band System sets floor and ceiling prices and is recalculated twice each month.  Andean community members (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia) are assessed a zero-tariff and are not subject to the Andean Price Band System.  A ministerial decree is necessary however before an import permit is issued.

Other Latin American countries have been granted ad valorem tariff preferences under the Latin America Integration Association (ALADI) that are well below what the U.S. pays, but they are still assessed the Andean Price Band System variable levy.

"Peru and Colombia, neighboring countries to Ecuador, have existing free trade agreements with the U.S. which should generate some pressure to bring Ecuador to the negotiating table," said Grigsby.  "A delegation from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is scheduled to travel to Ecuador next month to begin talks." 

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How you should stock your pantry for a coronavirus quarantine, according to expert cooks


March 5, 2020, 2:29PM

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.
Edward Lee is not prepared for a coronavirus lockdown. His pantry is not stocked. He shops often, buying only what he needs and what will fit in his small kitchen. "I'm a chef, so I rarely cook at home from scratch," he said with a shrug. "My fridge is filled with leftovers from the restaurant. My whole life is eating leftovers."
In other words, he's like a lot of people.
For years, nutritionists and cookbook writers have advised Americans to keep a stocked pantry, and to cook and eat together. It's better for our health. It's better for our relationships. (There are even apps that will help you do a lot of the planning.) And yet, we've stubbornly refused. Research firm NPD reported in 2017 that cold cereal, toaster pastries, yogurt and tap water are among the most popular "meals" prepared at home. Food Genius, a food-data firm now owned by U.S. Foods, estimates that as many as 80% of Americans don't make plans for dinner until at least 4 p.m. the same day.
Now comes the threat of the coronavirus, which could mean that, at least temporarily, we stock up and limit trips to the grocery store, stop going to restaurants and spurn delivery drivers.
In other words, Americans might finally have to plan and cook.
No one knows where the virus might bloom — or how long restrictions might last. What is clear is that this will be different from the usual "stock up on bread and milk" emergencies: Snowstorms generally only trap people in the house for a few days, whereas lockdowns in China have lasted weeks, stressing even the most seasoned cooks. On the plus side, it's unlikely that homes will lose power as they might after a natural disaster.
How do you plan to potentially cook three meals a day for weeks at a time with limited access to the outside world? And given our high expectations about what we eat — sushi one night and pizza the next — is it possible to keep it interesting? We asked some of the country's best-known cooks for tips and inspiration.
- - -
Padma Lakshmi
Author, host of Bravo's "Top Chef"
"The first thing I would do, right now, before there is a panic, is start cooking," Lakshmi said. "Pick a Saturday or Sunday and involve the whole family in making huge batches of different dishes: turkey chili or green chili with white beans, things that are stew-y and freeze well. Then pack them in quart containers so you can take out just what you need."
This plan has two benefits. It lessens anxiety — yes, you'll have food to eat! — but it also allows you to cook with what's fresh. You're not stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables and hoping they don't rot.
And since fresh foods do go off, Lakshmi also recommends stocking up on frozen vegetables, which "have no less nutrition than fresh ones do," and plenty of root vegetables that also store well — even if you don't have a big freezer: "Turnips are delicious cooked in broth with a little bit of soy sauce, a dash of hoisin sauce and Chinese five spice."
Finally, bulk up your condiment supply with shelf-stable sauces and concentrates that can create variety. One of Lakshmi's go-to pantry meals is what she calls "paste pasta," noodles tossed in a mix of sun-dried tomato paste, anchovy paste and green-olive paste, olive oil and crushed red pepper. Another is kitchari, a traditional Indian rice and lentil porridge she makes for her family that can be filled with vegetables — or not.
Hugo Ortega
Chef-owner of Backstreet Cafe and four other Houston restaurants
Ortega grew up in the mountains of Oaxaca, so among his go-tos are sopecitos, little corn cups that can be filled with stewed vegetables, meat, cheese, anything really. You start with masa harina (ground, nixtamalized corn flour) and mix it with water, then form it into little balls and stretch it in the palm of your hands. All that's left is to cook it lightly in a cast iron pan. "Masa is my equivalent of pasta," Ortega said. "You can put almost anything on it and it will give you plenty of energy for the day."
If you're really worried about the coronavirus, you can buy 10-pound (or larger) sacks of masa at club stores or Latin markets. Ortega likes blue-corn masa, which is often of higher quality. And as long as you're stocking up, Ortega recommends canned cherry tomatoes, "which have a lot more flavor" than the usual plum variety.
Though it may not help in the short term, Ortega also hopes the scare will encourage people to cultivate some fresh food themselves: "Put rosemary in a pot in the window or a tomato plant out the back door." After all, Americans have done it before. During World War II, there were 18 million so-called Victory Gardens.
- - -
Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer
Authors, owners of Canal House Station restaurant in Milford, New Jersey
In the culinary world, Hamilton and Hirsheimer are goddesses of simple food, the kind of people who just happen to have a pie coming out the oven when you stop by without advance notice. So no surprise that cooking from a well-stocked pantry is what they do. Never are they without lots of good olive oil and canned tuna — which can be made into a stellar and satisfying pasta sauce with the addition of parsley and lemon — or eggs because, says Hirsheimer, "omelets are fantastic and can be made with whatever you have kicking around in the fridge."
Like Lakshmi, Hamilton and Hirsheimer are also big advocates of frozen vegetables, especially peas. They dedicated a whole chapter to them in the sixth volume of their Canal House Cooking series. "You can make a great soup with canned or boxed chicken broth and a few bags of frozen peas," Hirsheimer says.
- - -
Nina Compton
Chef-owner of Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro, New Orleans
"The busier I get, the simpler I keep it at home," Compton said. That means a lot of snacks, including pickles, nuts, charcuterie and cheese — plus a few Totino's Supreme frozen pizzas. The one meal she cooks regularly out of her pantry: pasta "cacio e pepe," with cheese and black pepper. "The key is adding the right amount of pasta water because the starchy water makes the sauce really creamy." Compton makes the pasta from scratch once a month, and then pulls it out of the freezer, but any dried pasta will do.
Chili and risottos are also go-tos. For risotto, she uses dried mushrooms, which can live in the pantry indefinitely and are reconstituted to make the stock the rice cooks in. (Frozen peas, plus plenty of cheese and butter, complete the dish.) Her chili, usually vegetarian, features dried beans and spices that she has on hand, including lots of smoked paprika, and she servers it with Cool Ranch Doritos.
Living in New Orleans, Compton has become a fan of Zatarain's jambalaya seasoning mix. She adds it to rice, which she tops with fresh avocado. She also uses the seasoning to make a broth to cook mixed frozen vegetables.
- - -
Edward Lee
Author, chef-owner of 610 Magnolia and two other restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky, and Succotash in Washington, D.C.
Lee may not regularly cook at home, but when pressed he showed off his chef bona fides by cooking up something from next to nothing. In less than 15 minutes, he explained in a phone interview, he coaxed a tantalizing bowl of noodles from a packet of instant ramen, some frozen green beans, a dash of curry powder and a slice of processed American cheese. "The cheese adds a little creaminess and tang," he said.
And a dash of nostalgia. During and after the Korean War, Lee says, Koreans learned about many nonperishable American foods such as Spam, hot dogs and processed cheese through U.S. military pantries and adopted them as a part of their staple diet, though they used them in their own ways. "Melted cheese on ramen is the best. It's comfort food."
And isn't that what we really need right now?
- - -
Padma Lakshmi's Kitchari
Active: 35 minutes | Total: 55 minutes
4 to 6 servings
"Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi loves to serve her family and friends kitchari, a much-loved Indian food that she describes it as a savory rice-and-lentil porridge.
Lakshmi makes the dish a bit healthier by tweaking the traditional recipe. For example, the dish usually is made with two cups of rice to one cup of lentils, but Lakshmi reverses that to have the lentils be the main ingredient. The legumes are boiled with a bay leaf and a bit of salt. When she makes the dish for family and friends, she sautes vegetables and adds them to the porridge, which makes it healthier still. Here, the kitchari is made with more pantry-friendly ingredients. It gets its spice from black mustard seeds and dried red chile peppers.
Ingredients
1 cup (7 ounces) yellow or green lentils
1/2 cup (6 1/2 ounces) basmati rice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 cup diced carrots (about 1 large)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 to 3 dried red chiles, or more to taste
3/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or ghee (optional)
Steps
Rinse the lentils and rice until the water runs clear. In a large stockpot, add the lentils, rice and bay leaf and enough cold water to cover the ingredients by about 3 inches. Stir in enough salt so that the water tastes lightly salty.
Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Stir in the carrots and cook, stirring a few times, until the rice is tender and the porridge is the consistency of oatmeal, about 10 minutes. If any foam forms during cooking, skim it off If the mixture seems too dry during cooking, add water, a little at a time, as needed.
When the rice is just about cooked, in a shallow pan over medium high heat, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Add the chiles, mustard seeds, cumin and pepper and cook, stirring, until the mustard seeds begin to pop, about 3 minutes. Add the oil and spice mixture (called chhonk) to the porridge. Stir in the butter or ghee, if using.
Remove from the heat, divide among bowls and serve.
Nutrition (based on 6 servings) | Calories: 270; Total Fat: 6 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 200 mg; Carbohydrates: 45 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugars: 1 g; Protein: 10 g.
(Adapted from "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi.)
- - -
Pantry Ramen
15 minutes
1 to 2 servings
A reliable pantry staple, packaged instant ramen, enjoys a cult status with many, from cash-strapped college students to gourmet chefs. The slice of processed American cheese adds comforting, savory creaminess and is a nod to the days following the Korean War when iconic American foods flooded South Korea.
Ingredients
1 cup water
3/4 cup coconut milk
One (3-ounce) packet instant ramen noodles, such as Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup
1/4 cup frozen green beans
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (optional)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder, plus more for garnish
1 slice American cheese, such as Kraft
Steps
Add one cup of water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the coconut milk, noodles, green beans and peanut butter, if using, and cook, stirring now and then, for about 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the curry powder and half of the spice mix from the ramen packet and stir until fully dissolved, about 1 minute. (Discard the remaining spice mix.)
Transfer the ramen and its broth to a large bowl and place the cheese on top. Dust with more curry powder and serve.
Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful nutritional analysis.
(Adapted from chef Edward Lee.)
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Trading resumes in Muse, but demand from Thailand yet to pick up
Trade in Muse, the Myanmar town bordering China, has picked up again after grinding to a halt in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, U Min Thein, vice chair of Muse rice merchants association told The Myanmar Times.
He said trade activities are now running at 80 percent of their usual capacity, and should return to normal by Thingyan next month, if  things continue at the current pace. China is now buying 30,000 bags of rice a day, with an average of 40 trucks crossing the border, he said.
Trade at Muse came to a standstill during Chinese New Year in January, leading to a glut of commodities such as sugar, a variety of melons and rice in Myanmar  and a decline in trade totaling US$209 million compared to the same period last year, said Minister of Commerce U Than Myint.
Trading in Muse resumed in mid February.  
Demand at the Myanmar-Thai border has yet to pick up though. As a result of the virus, the Thais have suspended imports of fishery and marine products such as mantis shrimp, squid and fish farmed or caught in Myanmar.  
U Than Lwin Oo, a resident of Kyaing Mei Taung village in Bokepyin township, Tanintharyi Region, said prices for large mantis shrimp have declined by more than 75pc to K3,000 each due to the lack of buyers.
The local fisheries trade has long been the bread and butter for residents in Tanintharyi. The products are exported to Thailand, which re-exports the goods to China. 
As a result, of the decline in trade, most of marine products are now being sold locally in Myeik and other local villages for a fraction of the cost.
“Right now, we have a huge supply of seafood, including the expensive and good quality seafood which used to be rare as these would be snapped by Thailand or China. We can get all this for cheap now,” said Daw Su Su Hlaing, a local from Kyaing Mei Taung village in Myeik. – Translated

Ebro Foods boosts pasta and rice output to meet coronavirus-driven demand

By REUTERS
MADRID, March 6 (Reuters) - Spain's Ebro Foods has ramped up production of pasta and rice in Western Europe and the United States in the past couple of weeks to meet growing demand by consumers worried by the coronavirus crisis, a company spokeswoman said on Friday.
Consumers around the world have been stockpiling non-perishable food and household items as the coronavirus spreads on fears they may end up in quarantine at home.
"To follow the peak in demand, we have increased our overall production in Italy, France, United States, Germany, Britain and Spain by 15% to 25%," the spokeswoman said.
Ebro Foods owns brands such as Garofalo in Italy, Panzani in France and Minute Rice in the United States.
It has not had trouble sourcing raw materials on the market or noticed price volatility, the spokeswoman said, adding: "We have our own stocks of raw materials and future contracts."
The company expects the market will adjust at some point as fears ease.
With sales worth 2.81 billion euros ($3.19 billion) in 2019, Ebro Foods says it is the world's second-largest rice seller and the world's second-largest dry and fresh pasta maker.
The company invested 149 million euros in 2019 to increase capacity on both sides of the Atlantic. ($1 = 0.8814 euros) (Reporting by Inti Landauro Editing by Ingrid Melander and Nick Macfie)

RPT-ASIA RICE-DROUGHT-HIT THAILAND'S RATES SOAR TO 6-1/2 YR PEAK ON SUPPLY DEARTH

3/5/2020
(Repeats with no change to text)
* Vietnam rates rise to $390-$400/tonne this week from $365-$375
* More orders coming from Malaysia, Cuba, Africa-Vietnamese trader
* Indian rupee falls to lowest in 16 months
* Bangladesh sets 'Boro' production target of 20 mln tonnes
By Sumita Layek
BENGALURU, March 5 (Reuters) - A supply crunch in drought stricken Thailand pushed rice export prices to their highest in 6-1/2 years this week, while Vietnamese rates bounced back to a more than one-year high on firm demand.
Thailand's benchmark 5% broken rice <RI-THBKN5-P1> prices jumped to $460-$467 per tonne on Thursday, their highest since August 2013, from $430-$452 last week.
"Most of the demand is from domestic buyers who are stocking up rice amid fears of shortages," a Bangkok-based trader said.
The protracted drought in many rice producing areas caused market concerns over possible supply shortages and is the main reason for the price hike as overseas demand remained flat, traders said.
The dry season, which usually starts in November and lasts until April, could persist into June, the Thai government said.
In Vietnam, rates for 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> rose to $390-$400 on Thursday, their highest since December 2018, versus $365-$375 a week earlier on strong demand.
"The Philippines remains the largest buyer, and we have seen more orders coming in from Malaysia, Cuba and Africa," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Vietnam's rice exports in the first two months of this year likely rose 11.5% from a year earlier to 811,000 tonnes, the government's General Statistics Office said on Saturday.
"The strong demand has outpaced the rise in supplies as local farmers are still harvesting rice from the winter-spring crop," another trader in the city said, adding that farmers have harvested 60%-70% of the crop.
Meanwhile, in top exporter India, rice export prices extended losses due to weak demand and as rupee fell to the lowest level in 16 months.
India's 5% broken parboiled variety rates <RI-INBKN5-P1> inched lower to $367-$371 per tonne this week, from last week's $369-$373.
"Weak rupee is allowing us to lower prices in dollar terms, but still demand is not picking up," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
Weak rupee increases exporters margin from the overseas sale.
Neighbouring Bangladesh has set a production target of 20 million tonnes for summer variety rice crop "Boro", for the current year, a senior agriculture ministry official said.
Boro contributes more than half Bangladesh's typical annual rice output of around 35 million tonnes.
In 2019, the country produced a record 20.4 million tonnes of Boro, up from 19.6 million tonnes the previous year, the agriculture ministry says. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Khanh Vu in Hanoi and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; editing by David Evans)
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Major rice research platform to be built in northeast China


XINHUA – A major rice research platform will be built in northeast China with a total investment of about 90 million yuan (about $13 million) to promote the upgrading of the rice industry in the northern part of the country.
For in depth analysis of Cambodian Business, visit Capital Cambodia
.
The construction of the northern rice research centre of the China National Rice Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences has recently been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
The centre will be built in Baoqing County, Shuangyashan city, Heilongjiang province. As a national science and technology innovation platform, It is expected to significantly improve the contribution of science and technology in the rice industry in northern China, and promote the development of a high-quality rice industry.
The centre will focus on rice resources innovation, new variety selection, ecological research, cultivation technology innovation and soil fertilisation and remediation research.

Two-month rice exports soar despite Covid-19 epidemic

Thursday, 2020-03-05 17:55:18


Description: https://en.nhandan.org.vn/cdn/en/media/k2/items/src/846/3521210721732e5d93401ec502329610.jpg
Vietnam is expected to export 6.7 million tonnes of rice in 2020. (Illustrative image)
NDO –Vietnam has exported approximately 890,000 tonnes of rice worth US$420 million in the first two months of 2020, an increase of 27% in terms of volume and 32% in terms of value compared to the same period in 2019.
Notably, the price of Vietnamese 5% broken rice has increased to US$380 per tonne, a record high since December 2018.
While exports of a number of agricultural products have faced difficulties due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, Vietnamese rice exports have seen sharp increases in both quantity and value, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
Deputy Director of the MARD’s Department of Crop Production Le Thanh Tung said that the rice export rise was due to timely supply coinciding with increasing demand in many markets, pushing up domestic prices of rice.
According to agricultural expert Vo Tong Xuan, Thailand, the second largest rice exporter in the world is suffering big losses due to saline drought. Rice production in Thailand has decreased by nearly two million tonnes.
Vietnam has also been affected by saline drought but only a small area of about 28,000ha. Thus, Vietnam remains a plentiful supplier of rice.
In addition, the Philippines and Indonesia are facing rice shortages and have had to import a huge volume from Vietnam.
The demand for rice reserve is increasing in many countries, particularly China, creating opportunities for Vietnam to boost rice exports, Xuan noted.
Vietnam is expected to export 6.7 million tonnes of rice in 2020 and this goal is believed to be reachable, Tung said.

Vietnam to achieve rice export target this year

Vietnam expects to achieve its export target of 6.7 million tonnes of rice this year due to high global demand, according to an official.
VNA Friday, March 06, 2020 18:16 
Vietnam targets to export 6.7 million tonnes of rice this year. (Photo: chinhphu.vn)

Description: Vietnam to achieve rice export target this year hinh anh 1Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Vietnam expects to achieve its export target of 6.7 million tonnes of rice this year due to high global demand, according to an official.

The country could reach the goal and produce enough rice for domestic demand, said Le Thanh Tung, deputy head of the Department of Plant Cultivation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world, demand for rice reserves in many countries, especially China, will increase. Vietnam’s traditional rice export markets, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, lack rice and they continue to import huge volumes from Vietnam. Therefore, Vietnam has many opportunities to boost rice exports, Tung said.

Tung said the winter-spring rice crop will ensure enough output for exports and domestic consumption.

Thailand – the second-largest rice exporter in the world – has suffered great losses in rice output from severe drought and saltwater intrusion with a reduction of about two million tonnes of rice.

In the winter-spring crop 2019-20, Vietnam has had only about 28,000ha suffer from severe drought and saltwater intrusion, accounting for a small part of a total 1.65 million ha cultivating rice in the southeast region and the Mekong Delta. Therefore, Vietnam will have an oversupply of rice to add to inventories from the last two crops.

In addition, the State Bank of Vietnam has asked banks to enhance lending for rice production and consumption in the Mekong Delta. Banks there have provided loans in terms of 3-6 months with an annual interest rate of 6 percent. That has provided a lot of support for firms and farmers in the industry.

Vietnam's rice value has increased on the world market because a number of businesses have built value chains for rice, though domestic rice is still lower quality.

Experts say that to achieve sustainable export growth, the rice production industry must further develop the value chain.

Pham Thai Binh, General Director of Trung An High-tech Agriculture Joint Stock Company, said if there is investment in the value chain and farmers work with businesses, stable production and consumption will follow.

According to the MARD, in the first two months this year, many key agricultural products, such as pangasius (tra fish), cashew nut, rubber and vegetables had strong reductions in export value, but rice exports gained year on year growth of 27 percent in volume to 890,000 tonnes and 32.6 percent in export value to 420 million USD, chinhphu.vn reported.

Increasing rice demand in many markets has increased Vietnamese rice exports from early this year, leading to a surge of rice prices in the domestic market, Tung said.

During the first two months, the price of rice purchased at enterprises’ warehouses was 5,400-6,400 VND per kilo, 1,000 VND more than rice purchased at fields.

In the first two months this year, the price of 5 percent broken rice for export on the domestic market increased to 380 USD per tonne, a high since December 2018./. 

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta Declares Emergency on Devastating Drought

By 
Mai Ngoc Chau
March 6, 2020, 4:16 PM GMT+5

Vietnam’s prolonged drought, coupled with an extensive buildup of salinity, have driven five provinces in the country’s rice bowl to declare a state of emergency.
“This year’s drought and salinity have been way more devastating than what we saw four years ago,” said Nguyen Thien Phap, head of the water resources department in Tien Giang, one of the provinces that announced the emergency in the Mekong Delta.
The entire area of fruit trees in Tien Giang province, or about 80,000 hectares (310 square miles), are at risk, while 24,000 hectares of rice fields will give below-normal yields, said Phap, who added that water usage upstream on the Mekong by nations including China, Laos and Thailand increased the dryness.
The Mekong Delta, which produces more than half the country’s rice, has so far seen a total of 33,000 hectares of rice fields damaged and nearly 70,000 households suffer from lack of water, Vietnam National Television reported Friday, citing latest data from the country’s department of water resources.
Salinity of four grams a liter will continue to spread in the Delta, affecting as much as 110 kilometers in some major estuaries this month, according to a report by the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research in Ho Chi Minh City. That’s three to five kilometers more than in the same period in 2016.
Another severe spell of salinity is expected in the short term, while water flows from the Mekong River into the region this month remain very low, estimated at 20% less than the same period in 2016, according to Vietnam’s National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.
Lack of rain combined with growing water consumption on river tributaries, as well as increased water storage in dams, are likely to spur drought and make saline intrusion more severe and longer-lasting, Hoang Phuc Lam, the center’s deputy director, said in a report.
The government estimates drought and salinity will affect 362,000 hectares of rice and 136,000 hectares of fruit trees in the Delta this year, while more than 120,000 households will experience a water shortage. As of March, salinity had hit about half the districts in 10 of the 12 provinces and one city in the region.
The persistent drought in the Delta in 2016 caused losses worth 8.9 trillion dong ($384 million) with 250,000 hectares of rice, 130,000 hectares of crops and 30,000 hectares of fruit trees destroyed, according to local news website VnExpress. It was regarded as the worst drought in the region of more than 17 million people in data going back to 1926.
While the Delta is a key rice-growing area, the crop is grown in almost all of Vietnam, which is the world’s third-largest exporter, behind India and Thailand.

China’s Green Goals Overtaken by Worries Over Virus-Hit Economy

Bloomberg News
March 5, 2020, 2:00 AM GMT+5
With global climate stress growing ever more apparent, the world’s biggest polluter is setting aside its lofty environmental ambitions as it confronts an unprecedented slowdown in growth.
China, which spews more carbon into the atmosphere than the U.S. and European Union combined, is being forced to give greater priority an economy that had wilted during the trade war with Washington and is now being flattened by the coronavirus epidemic.
Increasing economic headwinds are prompting Beijing to roll back restrictions on industrial pollution, slow its transition away from coal and slash subsidies for cleaner energy and transportation. A carbon market slated for this year may not live up to its billing, and there are signs that the government is unwilling to set a higher bar this year for its climate goals.

Climate Impact

China's emissions have been creeping up after falling for 3 years
It doesn’t mean China is giving up its long-term green ambitions, and one silver lining to a flagging economy is fewer emissions in any case. The nation is expected to remain as the largest investor in renewable energy. But the deceleration will undermine Beijing’s opportunity to exert influence internationally after the U.S. exited the Paris climate accord, underscoring the priority it places on the economic engine that has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and solidified the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party.
“In China, there’s a belief that problems can only be solved in the process of economic development,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing. “Just like a moving bicycle, it runs more smoothly when it is moving at a high speed. But when it slows down, setbacks tend to occur.”

Hard Brake

China’s National Development and Reform Commission did not respond to faxed questions. A fax to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s listed number would not go through, and no one answered calls to the ministry’s listed phone number.
China’s economy has been slowing since early 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump began a tariff war between the world’s two biggest economies. Efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus from its epicenter in Hubei have put a hard brake on growth. Economists believe gross domestic product could contract in the first three months of the year from the prior quarter, leaving full-year growth well below the politically important threshold of 6%.
With millions of firms teetering, Beijing is enacting a series of stimulus measures to get the citizenry back to work, and avoid the widespread unemployment that could lead to unrest and jeopardize President Xi Jinping’s goal of doubling per-capita GDP over the decade that ends in December.
Heavy air pollution in Harbin, Jan. 2019.
Photographer: Tao Zhang/Getty Images
The industry-friendly measures threaten to unravel, at least temporarily, some of Xi’s modest green gains. The super-charged growth of the 2000s came with an unhealthy dose of environmental degradation and left China as the world’s biggest polluter. When Xi came to power in 2013, he made building an “ecological civilization” a priority and began a series of radical measures to improve air quality and cut emissions.
China’s carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels more than doubled in the 2000s, the biggest jump of any country, according to BP Plc. Xi’s first three years in charge actually saw emissions fall, before they started creeping higher again. The short-term need for stimulus, including a big fiscal jolt to infrastructure spending, means pollution controls are likely to take a back seat to shoring up the economy in the second half of the year.
“I don’t think China will go back down the old road of development with huge pollution, but it’s likely the government might adjust its priorities at a time like this” said Qian Guoqiang, a strategy director at SinoCarbon Innovation & Investment Co. in Beijing.
China’s initial response to the outbreak, including quarantining millions of families, shutting down transportation and idling factories, has already reduced carbon dioxide emissions by at least 100 million tons, more Greece spews out in an entire year. Depending on how quickly activity ramps back up and how the government decides to stimulate the economy, emissions growth in the second half of the year could outweigh the short-term reduction.

Industrial Emissions

Among the first casualties of Beijing’s refocus on growth were measures to reduce pollution from heavy industry, put in place to bring blue skies to smoggy cities, particularly the capital. In the winter of 2018, the environment ministry relaxed those rules, adopting a more flexible program for output curbs and giving special treatment to sectors including steel. This past winter, the government again eased its clean air targets.

Smog Situation

Beijing pollution levels recently rose to the worst in 3 years
Source: U.S. State Department
The step-back from more stringent targets “indicates the enhanced policy priority of growth support relative to air pollution control, in the short term at least,” analysts with Everbright Sun Hung Kai Co. said in a report after the initial relaxation.

Coal Transition

In another effort to clear the nation’s skies, the government in 2017 began an aggressive campaign to make homes and factories switch from burning coal to cleaner natural gas. While successful in helping rein in smog, the program also resulted in heating fuel shortages in the middle of winter, and the following year it was eased to allow for a larger role for coal.

Gas Gloom

China gas demand growth slowed as switching from coal eased
Source: National Development and Reform Commission
The program may face even further cutbacks after the coronavirus outbreak, as the government could halt spending that gives rural customers an incentive to use gas, according to Daiwa Capital Markets analyst Dennis Ip. “We believe China’s economy would be further dampened and hence the three-year rural gas subsidy may not be extended in the coming winter,” he said in a note in early February.
The China Electricity Council is also backing efforts to rely more on the cheaper fuel, recommending that the nation increase its total coal-fired power capacity to a maximum of 1,300 gigawatts from its current cap of 1,100.
A man catches fish with a net in the Huangpu river across the Wujing Coal-Electricity Power Station in Shanghai, 2017.
Photographer: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
The sum of China’s efforts to wean itself off the dirtiest fossil fuel: coal is shrinking as a proportion of the energy mix, but overall consumption continues to rise.

Subsidy Slashing

China has also cut the financial support that made it the world’s biggest market for renewable energy and electric vehicles, a decision that’s slowing the adoption of cleaner modes of power generation and transport. EV sales have fallen for seven straight months after the government slashed subsidies by two-thirds last year.

Slumping Sales

Electric vehicle sales in China fell for a 7th straight month in January
Source: China Passenger Car Association
About 70% of China’s operating wind and solar plants were built in the last five years, driven by high subsidies. Those are now being phased out. Solar support is shrinking and wind power payments are expected to cease at the end of next year. The government’s stated reason is to ensure that green energy is sustainable, and competitive with fossils fuels.
But economic pressures are also a catalyst, said BOCOM International Holdings Co. analyst Louis Sun, as China doesn’t want to raise the subsidy surcharge it slaps on electricity bills at the same time as it’s promoting cheaper electricity to help its embattled companies.
Still, as renewable power firms join the ranks of the beleaguered, the fight against coronavirus could actually forestall the assault on subsidies, as the industry lobbies the government for extensions to compensate for losses and installation delays.
A medical staff sprays disinfectant on a man outside a hospital in Wuhan, Feb. 2019.
Photographer: AFP via Getty Images

Carbon Market

Economic headwinds and the coronavirus response could make the plan to establish a national carbon market this year “politically difficult,” according to Fitch Solutions.
It would be the world’s largest, covering more than 3 billion tons of CO2 a year, using market forces to incentivize investment in emissions reductions and offsets. But that would be to the detriment of coal, the most carbon-intensive fuel, on which China relies for most of its electricity and to keep vast numbers of people employed.

Carbon Colossus

China now produces more carbon dioxide than the U.S. and Europe
Source: BP Plc
Note: Measures carbon dioxide emissions from burning fuel
Logistics could also slow development, according to SinoCarbon’s Qian. The national market will combine seven regional pilots, including one in Hubei, which has effectively been quarantined for many weeks. And the Hubei pilot is supposed to handle participant registration for the entire nation.

Future Plans

At the last count, China was on track to reach or exceed its 2030 emissions targets under the 2015 Paris agreement. But it’s yet to give an update on progress; nor has it established the more aggressive goals required before this year’s climate conference in Glasgow in November. Coronavirus and a severely weakened economy “make the call for enhancing China’s climate targets tougher than before,” said Li Shuo, a policy adviser for Greenpeace China.
Beijing is in the process of compiling its 14th five-year plan, which will cover development from 2021 to 2025. The 13th plan set ambitious targets to revamp the country’s energy mix, and it’s likely to hit most of them.
But for the next five years, analysts are less optimistic that the government will aim as high again. Premier Li Keqiang in November cited shoring up the economy as one of the government’s major goals, and that was before the current health crisis. Beijing is instead likely to adopt a more flexible approach and avoid hard targets that could put it in a bind, said Michal Meidan, China director for the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
“That doesn’t mean that China doesn’t care about the environment anymore,” she said. “It just needs to prioritize growth in the near term.”
— With assistance by Dan Murtaugh, Feifei Shen, and Jing Yang

Việt Nam to achieve rice export target this year: insider

Update: March, 06/2020 - 07:43
Description: http://image.vietnamnews.vn/uploadvnnews/Article/2020/3/5/72512_rice.png
Việt Nam targets to export 6.7 million tonnes of rice this year. Photo chinhphu.vn
HÀ NỘI Việt Nam is expected to achieve its export target of 6.7 million tonnes of rice this year due to high global demand, according to an official.
The country could reach the goal and produce enough rice for domestic demand, said Lê Thanh Tùng, deputy head of the Department of Plant Cultivation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world, demand for rice reserves in many countries, especially China, will increase. Việt Nam’s traditional rice export markets, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, lack rice and they continue to import huge volumes from Việt Nam. Therefore, Việt Nam has many opportunities to boost rice exports, Tùng said.
Tùng said the winter-spring rice crop will ensure enough output for exports and domestic consumption.
Thailand – the second-largest rice exporter in the world – has suffered great losses in rice output from severe drought and saltwater intrusion with a reduction of about two million tonnes of rice.
In the winter-spring crop 2019-20, Việt Nam has had only about 28,000ha suffer from severe drought and saltwater intrusion, accounting for a small part of a total 1.65 million ha cultivating rice in the southeast region and the Mekong Delta. Therefore, Việt Nam will have an oversupply of rice to add to inventories from the last two crops.
In addition, the State Bank of Việt Nam has asked banks to enhance lending for rice production and consumption in the Mekong Delta. Banks there have provided loans in terms of 3-6 months with an annual interest rate of 6 per cent. That has provided a lot of support for firms and farmers in the industry.
Việt Nam's rice value has increased on the world market because a number of businesses have built value chains for rice, though domestic rice is still lower quality.
Experts say that to achieve sustainable export growth, the rice production industry must further develop the value chain.
Phạm Thái Bình, General Director of Trung An High-tech Agriculture Joint Stock Company, said if there is investment in the value chain and farmers work with businesses, stable production and consumption will follow.
According to the MARD, in the first two months this year, many key agricultural products, such as pangasius (tra fish), cashew nut, rubber and vegetables had strong reductions in export value, but rice exports gained year on year growth of 27 per cent in volume to 890,000 tonnes and 32.6 per cent in export value to $420 million, chinhphu.vn reported.
Increasing rice demand in many markets has increased Vietnamese rice exports from early this year, leading to a surge of rice prices in the domestic market, Tùng said.
During the first two months, the price of rice purchased at enterprises’ warehouses was VNĐ5,400-6,400 per kilo, VNĐ1,000 more than rice purchased at fields.
In the first two months this year, the price of 5 per cent broken rice for export on the domestic market increased to $380 per tonne, a high since December 2018.  VNS
STAR/ File
Philippines to keep rice imports at 1.6 million MT
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star 
) - March 7, 2020 - 12:00am
URDANETA, Pangasinan, Philippines – The Philippines plans to keep rice imports at a minimum this year, just enough to meet the shortage in local production, even with a liberalized rice regime already in place.
During the celebration last week of the Rice Tariffication Law’s first year, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the country targets to manage importation and just bring in 1.5 million to 1.6 million metric tons of rice this year.
Dar said Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said that with the country’s adequacy level of 85 to 87 percent, the shortfall is just about 1.6 million MT so that’s what the country could import.
“That is our direction. Managing importation and enhancing local productivity equals better for rice farmers, they are more productive and more competitive and at the end of the day, better income,” Dar said.
Villar said importation has been declining and based on her projections, imports will only average 400,000 MT per quarter to reach the 1.6 million MT.
“Last year, we imported nearly three million MT, so it will be half and that would be good for our farmers,” Villar said.
“And now the DA is already controlling the issuance of SPSIC (sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance) and importers are also afraid partly because of the coronavirus,” she said.
Further, Dar refuted claims that the Philippines may have a hard time importing from neighbouring countries Thailand and Vietnam as the two countries are facing their own challenges.
“I think that is too extreme. After this summer harvest, we will open up again the importation so that on rainy days coming June and July, we will have enough supply of rice,” Dar said.
Right now, rice inventory of the country is good for 80 days or almost three months and after the summer harvest season by May, inventory is expected to be sufficient for five months.
The United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service said earlier the Philippines will bring in less rice this year but it is expected to maintain its status of being the world’s biggest rice importer, beating China for the second year running in the global market.
The Philippines is expected to emerge as the top global importer of rice in 2020 as the new regime for Filipinos’ main staple continues. This year, the country is seen importing some 2.5 million metric tons of rice, 13.8 percent lower than last year’s 2.9 million.
The USDA already lowered this year’s projection from the earlier 2.7 million MT as the Philippines will tone down its rice importation amid excessive supply coupled with improvements in local production.
China, on the other hand, is seen buying some 2.3 million MT for 2020.
Last year, the Philippines ended up as the world’s biggest buyer of rice, reaching a record high 2.9 million MT as the country opened up the industry to liberalization.

E. Visayas farms get 98K bags of high-value rice seeds
By Gerico Sabalza  March 6, 2020, 4:57 pmDescription: https://files.pna.gov.ph/category-list/2020/03/06/rice-farm.jpg
HYBRID RICE. A rice farm in Pagsang-an village Abuyog, Leyte, a demonstration farm for hybrid rice farming. The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said on Thursday (Mar. 5, 2020) a total of 98,264 bags of 20 kilos high-value rice seeds were transported to Eastern Visayas for the dry season. (PNA photo by Gerico Sabalza)
ABUYOG, Leyte – The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said on Thursday some 98,264 bags of high-value rice seeds are intended for shipment to Eastern Visayas for the dry season.
As of March 4, some 88,530 seeds were distributed in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, and Samar.
These areas are among the 57 provinces nationwide with high potential for competitiveness based on the size of area harvested, yield level, cost of production, and share of irrigated area, PhilRice Bicol branch station director Victoria Lapitan said in an interview during the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) anniversary here.
“We are already at 90 percent in terms of distribution. In fact, during our review in February, Eastern Visayas is among the regions with the highest efficiency in the delivery of the intervention,” she said.
For the wet season, PhilRice targets to distribute about 139,249 bags of certified rice seeds in the region, covering 69,624 hectares of farm.
“We have increased our target since we do our best to accommodate all farmer-beneficiaries listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture,” Lapitan said, adding that some of the stocks have been delivered to the early planters.
The distribution of high yielding seeds is one of the components implemented under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) meant to increase the rice sector’s productivity and boost the income of farmers.
It is mandated under the RTL that the sector is guaranteed for a PHP10-billion annual budget for six years starting 2019 accumulated from the tariff revenues.
Among the other components of RCEF is the provision of modern farm equipment, expanded credit assistance, training for local farmers and other extension services.
“We are experiencing the birthing pain of RTL. It is new and during its first year of implementation, we haven’t felt its goal yet. But we are doing our best to efficiently and properly deliver government services to our hardworking farmers,” Lapitan added. (PNA)

Farmers to benefit from Rice Tariffication Law this year
By Gail Momblan  March 6, 2020, 7:19 pm
Description: https://files.pna.gov.ph/category-list/2020/03/06/ilo-da-on-rice-tarrification.jpg
REAPING BENEFITS. The Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas (DA 6) said on Thursday (Mar. 5, 2020) rice consumers benefited from the Rice Tariffication Law because of the variety of rice choices. Remelyn Recoter (middle), regional executive director of DA 6, says the farmers will reap the direct benefits of the law this year. (PNA photo by Gail Momblan)
ILOILO CITY – After a year of the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) on Thursday, the Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas (DA-6) said farmers in the region will further gain from its benefits this year.
Remelyn Recoter, regional executive director of DA 6, said in a press conference the first year of the RTL implementation has done good to the consumers.
Citing studies, Recoter said the RTL has caused a 10 percent rice price drop.
“We are requesting our farmers to give chance to our law because there had been clamors to amend the law. We are hoping this 2020, the 2019 (budget) and the 2020 will be implemented,” she said.
As of Thursday, the DA 6 has received 2,578 letters of intent from farmer cooperatives and associations.
Recoter said more than half of the number has already been accredited and can avail of the benefits under the RTL.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), one of the implementing agencies of the RTL, has already kicked off its distribution of seeds.
Fennie Lyn Pantin, regional focal person of PhilRice, however, said the distribution of seeds to farmer cooperatives and associations was done in the third week of October last year. “Some of the farmers have already planted when the seeds arrived,” she said.
Recoter said the certified seeds that will be distributed to the farmers will increase one metric ton of harvest per hectare.
On the other hand, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), another implementing agency, will start distributing farm machinery this March.
Thirty-eight farmers’ cooperatives and associations will benefit from the mechanization, which include farm equipment like four-wheel tractor, hand tractor, floating tiller, combine harvester, among others.
“For the mechanization, the intention is to decrease the cost of production because the biggest expense in rice farming is labor that is about more or less 30 to 40 percent,” Recoter said.
For the first year of the RTL implementation, the Landbank of the Philippines has also assisted farmers in rice production.
Giovanni Baoy, Land Bank of the Philippines Capiz Lending Center head, said that the bank has so far released PHP17.6 million to 194 farmers for palay production.
“The budget is PHP42, 000 per hectare for hybrid and PHP37, 000 per hectare of inbred,” Baoy said. (PNA)

170 farm machines to benefit Eastern Visayas farmers

By Gerico Sabalza  March 6, 2020, 3:52 pm
Description: https://files.pna.gov.ph/category-list/2020/03/06/fam-machines.jpg
FARM MACHINERY. Some of the farm machines displayed at the Department of Agriculture Rice Processing Center in Abuyog, Leyte. At least 170 machines will benefit rice farmers in Eastern Visayas this year as part of the 2019 Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. (PNA photo by Sarwell Meniano)
ABUYOG, Leyte – At least 170 machines will benefit rice farmers in Eastern Visayas as part of the 2019 Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) Visayas cluster area manager Remelie Hermoso said on Thursday the first batch of machinery and equipment is funded under the PHP5 billion RCEF.
These machines up for delivery on-site between March to April include 35 four-wheel tractors, 28 hand tractors, and 17 floating tillers meant for land preparation; 15 walk-behind transplanters, 13 riding-type transplanters, and four mechanical seeders used in crop establishment; 32 combine harvester, 11 small threshers, and 11 reapers used in harvesting and threshing; and four impeller type rice millers.
In the region, some 47 farmer’s cooperative associations in 38 towns will benefit from the first batch of mechanization program – 34 in Leyte province, five in Western Samar, and four groups both in Biliran and Southern Leyte.
Hermoso said the second batch of equipment for 2019 is also expected to be delivered within this year for 60 other farmers’ groups from 46 towns in the region.
“We recommend other farmers’ associations to merge with other groups to meet the minimum requirement of 50 hectares. This has been the issue why others don’t qualify,” Hermoso said during the first anniversary of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) here.
RTL or Republic Act 11203 took effect on March 5 last year that opened the Philippine rice market and placed a minimum 35 percent tariff on imported rice.
The tariff revenues go to RCEF, which is used for programs dedicated to increasing the sector’s productivity and boosting the income of farmers.
Under the RCEF, PHP10-billion is guaranteed for the rice sector annually for the next six years for the provision of modern farm equipment, high-yielding seeds, expanded credit assistance, training for local farmers and other extension services. (PNA)

Can rice survive climate change?

Description: https://www.equaltimes.org/local/cache-gd2/ff/eb478b8d6da2be344043fad210de3e.png?1580805610
6 March 2020
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Farmers planting rice in paddy fields in Indonesia.
(Laura Villadiego)
Every June, Thailand’s fields fill with millions of farmers as they begin to plant rice, the foundation of the country’s diet. In 2015, however, the land was so dry that the government asked them to postpone the start of the season and to refrain from growing a second crop during the winter. Production fell by 15 per cent that year and it took two years for the world’s second largest rice exporter to return to former production levels.
Thailand is not the only country where rice is threatened by the changes in rainfall and temperature patterns linked to the climate emergency. In Vietnam, rising sea levels are increasing soil salinity to such an extent that the paddy fields will no longer be productive. In West Bengal, in eastern India, drought and flooding are already causing recurrent crop failures. “Rice is highly vulnerable to climate change, so factors such as sea level, salinity and temperature rises will affect rice production,” says agricultural consultant and researcher Wyn Ellis.
Many scientific investigations have confirmed how sensitive rice is to climate change. A study published in the Nature research journal, for example, shows how rising temperatures could increase arsenic concentrations in rice paddies and reduce yields by almost 40 per cent between now and the year 2100. Other studies also forecast yield losses in places as disparate as Kenya or India if adaptation measures are not taken.
In a world where almost half the population – 3.5 billion people according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – depend on rice for a living, this fall in yields could be fatal for global food sovereignty. Asia would be the hardest hit, but the losses would be felt around the globe, with rice accounting for around 20 per cent of the total calories consumed worldwide.
Paradoxically, rice farming is also one of the biggest contributors to climate change, producing 10 per cent of global methane emissions, which explains why a total of 48 countries have included rice in the national emission reduction strategies set out in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to combat climate change.
Rice, moreover, takes up between 34 and 43 per cent of the total water used for irrigation around the world. “Rice uses more water than any other crop,” says Ellis, who is coordinating the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP). Intensive rice growing also depletes the soil and lowers its fertility. “Intensive double and triple monocropping of rice in Asia is associated with the depletion of soil micronutrients, the build-up of soil toxicity and a high incidence of pests and diseases,” reports the FAO. Rice is the world’s number three crop in terms of the land dedicated to its cultivation, with a total of 167 million hectares in 2018, only behind wheat and maize.
There is, however, very little awareness about it compared with other crops, such as oil palm, soya or timber. “Rice is overlooked, despite the environmental impact [of these other crops] being much lower,” says the SRP coordinator. “We need to shift attention from high profile crops to high impact crops.”
This is what Ellis is working towards, as coordinator of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), a project that sets social and environmental sustainability standards for rice, under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
The platform, which is currently working with five million farmers in 22 countries, serves as a sustainability label with criteria that farmers have to meet to be certified, such as reduced fertilizer use, integrated pest management, and, above all, good water use. “Rice needs to be seen not just as a commodity but as a crop that is part and parcel of a landscape...where smarter water use is required,” says Ellis.
It is hoped that the label’s arrival on supermarket shelves will make consumers think about the impacts of this industry and will reward sustainable rice cultivation with their buying decisions. “If we don’t take action we are going to end up with increased volatility and less stable supply chains, which will make prices skyrocket over the next 25 years,” explains Ellis.

New planting schedules and crop rotation

Vietnamese rice farmers, like their Thai counterparts, are also changing their planting schedules. In their case, however, the problem is not too little but too much water, and of the kind not suited to rice growing: seawater.
Seawater intrusion has been affecting the Mekong Delta for years, undermining the harvests in a region that produces as much as 50 per cent of the country’s rice. Rising sea levels are not the only problem. The construction of dams and poor rainfall in the upper reaches of the river also mean that the Mekong has less flow when it reaches the delta and does not have enough strength to push back the seawater, explains IRRI researcher Leo Sebastian. “We are already seeing the major impacts that climate change and events such as El Niño are having on the Mekong Delta,” says the scientist. El Niño is a weather event often accompanied by drought.
To limit the damage caused by saltwater intrusion, Sebastian is mapping the high-risk areas so that farmers know when to plant. They usually harvest in late February or March, but if they plant earlier they can harvest in early February and prevent salt intrusion from destroying the harvest,” he explains. During the 2016 El Niño event (before the map was launched), 200,000 hectares of rice paddies were affected by the rise in sea level.
Despite adaptation measures such as dikes and adapted irrigation systems, in some parts of the delta, rice will nonetheless have to be replaced by resistant crops such as coconut. “There will always be crops that can be planted. It is human nature [to seek solutions], but there will always be crops that can adapt to different conditions,” says Sebastian. Another possibility, as the scientists points out, may be a further increase in the already popular shrimp farms in the area. “It will be the market that decides what is produced,” he concludes.
Elsewhere in the world, other options are being tested to help rice survive these increasingly hostile conditions. In some places, such as Thailand, rice is being rotated with other crops, such as sunn hemp. “We are trying to discourage intensive cultivation and to encourage rotation with other crops,” explains Ellis.
Tests are being conducted with ‘aerobic’ rice, which needs much less water. In addition, some regions are leaving behind the famous IR8 variety (the high yielding variety propelling the Green Revolution that began in the 1960s) and returning to native varieties that are less aggressive on the soil. The IRRI, from which IR8 emerged, is also developing a saltwater-tolerant rice, and several laboratories are working on varieties that are more resistant to drought.
And although the history of rice belongs to Asia, Ellis assures us that the adaptation of this cereal is key to development in regions such as Africa – the continent where rice consumption is growing the most – as well as to the achievement of the sustainable development goals at global level. “We all have a role to play in making sure we have access to a sustainable food supply for years to come,” concludes the coordinator of the Sustainable Rice Platform.
This article has been translated from Spanish.


Tissue-Digging Nanodrills Do Just Enough Damage

Molecule-sized drills do the damage they are designed to do. That’s bad news for disease.
Scientists at Rice University, Biola University and the Texas A&M Health Science Center have further validation that their molecular motors, light-activated rotors that spin up to 3 million times per second, can target diseased cells and kill them in minutes.
The team led by Biola molecular biochemist Richard Gunasekera and Rice chemist James Tour showed their motors are highly effective at destroying cells in three multicellular test organisms: worms, plankton and mice.
A study in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces shows the motors caused various degrees of damage to tissues in all three species. The journal plans to designate the paper as an open-access ACS Editors’ Choice.
The project’s original goal was to target drug-resistant bacteriacancer and other disease-causing cells and destroy them without damaging adjacent healthy cells. Tour has argued cells and bacteria have no possible defense against a nanomechanical drilling force strong enough to punch through their walls.
“Now it has been taken to a whole new level,” Tour said. “The work here shows that whole organisms, such as small worms and water fleas, can be killed by nanomachines that drill into them. This is not just single-cell death, but whole organism, with cell death in the millions.
“They can also be used to drill into skin, thereby suggesting utility in the treatment of things like pre-melanoma,” he said.
The researchers saw different effects in each of the three models. In the worm, C. elegans, the fast motors caused rapid depigmentation as the motors first caused nanomechanical disruption of cells and tissues. In the plankton, Daphnia, the motors first dismembered exterior limbs. In both cases, after a few days, most or all of the organisms died.
For mouse models, researchers applied the nanomachines in a topical solution to the skin. Activating the fast motors caused lesions and ulcerations, demonstrating their ability to function in larger animals.

Damaging impacts of warming moderated by migration of rainfed crops

Continued migration, however, may result in significant environmental costs

Date:
March 6, 2020
Source:
Colorado State University
Summary:
Many studies seek to estimate the adverse effects of climate change on crops, but most research assumes that the geographic distribution of crops will remain unchanged in the future. New research using 40 years of global data, has found that exposure to rising high temperatures has been substantially moderated by the migration of rainfed corn, wheat and rice. Scientists said continued migration, however, may result in significant environmental costs.
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FULL STORY

Many studies seek to estimate the adverse effects of climate change on crops, but most research assumes that the geographic distribution of crops will remain unchanged in the future.
New research using 40 years of global data, led by Colorado State University, has found that exposure to rising high temperatures has been substantially moderated by the migration of rainfed corn, wheat and rice. Scientists said continued migration, however, may result in significant environmental costs.
The study, "Climate adaptation by crop migration," is published March 6 in Nature Communications.
"There's substantial concern about the impacts of climate change on agriculture and how we can adapt to those changes," said Nathan Mueller, assistant professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at CSU and a senior author on the paper.
"We often think about how farmers can adapt to shifting climate conditions by changing crop varieties or planting dates. But farmers have also been changing what crops they are growing over time, collectively leading to large-scale shifts in crop distribution. This pathway of adaptation has been underexplored."
40 years of data from around the world
Using new, high-resolution datasets on crop areas around the world, the research team analyzed the location of crops, climate, and irrigation from 1973 to 2012. They focused on rainfed crops, since they are highly sensitive to changes in temperature and extreme weather.
"We found that on average, over these cropland areas, things are getting warmer," said Mueller, also a researcher in the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences.
The study showed that exposure to increased high temperatures for corn, wheat and rice was much less than it would have been if the crops were positioned where they were in the 1970s.
CSU postdoctoral fellow and first author Lindsey Sloat said this does not mean there is an unlimited capacity for farmers to adapt to climate change by shifting where they grow crops.
"If you add new farmland, that comes with massive environmental consequences," she said. "Land use change in agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss, with consequences for carbon storage. We can mitigate some of the effects of climate change by increasing irrigation, but there are also environmental costs on that front."
Researchers also found that unlike the other crops, there has been a huge expansion in the production of soybeans, and that these crops are being grown in hotter areas around the world.
Next steps
Sloat said the research team will next delve into analyzing other climate variables, moving beyond temperature to consider how changes in a harvested area can alter exposure to other extreme climate conditions.
"Since this migration has been extensive enough in the past to substantially alter exposure to climate trends, we need to think about what our agricultural landscapes are going to look like in the future as warming increases," said Mueller.
Co-authors on the paper include Steven Davis from the University of California, Irvine; James Gerber, Deepak Ray and Paul West from the University of Minnesota; and Frances Moore from the University of California, Davis.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Colorado State University. Original written by Mary Guiden. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
1.     Lindsey L. Sloat, Steven J. Davis, James S. Gerber, Frances C. Moore, Deepak K. Ray, Paul C. West, Nathaniel D. Mueller. Climate adaptation by crop migrationNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15076-4

Cite This Page:
Colorado State University. "Damaging impacts of warming moderated by migration of rainfed crops: Continued migration, however, may result in significant environmental costs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200306122507.htm>.


Dar on year-old rice tariff law: Farmers are the winners

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:38 AM March 07, 2020
The country’s Agriculture chief described the controversial rice tariffication law (RTL) as the “best reform that ever happened to Philippine agriculture” despite pleas from small-scale farmers and other organized groups to review the policy because of its repercussions to the poorest stakeholders of the rice industry.
Speaking during the first year anniversary celebration of the RTL in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, on Thursday with Sen. Cynthia Villar, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the liberalized importation law would make Filipino palay farmers more competitive and on a par with their counterparts from neighboring rice-producing countries like Vietnam and Thailand, where most of the country’s rice imports come from.
He also noted the year-old policy has resulted in more rice options for consumers. “Just after a year [since the law was passed], there are already several rice variants available in the market … Consumers now have a choice from regular milled, well-milled and fancy rice varieties,” he said.
Both Dar and Villar said they were banking on the annual P10-billion rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF) under the RTL to cushion the impact of low palay prices, which continued to hover between P12 and P17 a kilogram against rates from the previous years between P15 and P20 a kilo. Villar is the proponent of the law.
As of February, however, the RCEF has not been fully given to the beneficiaries. Except for credit, other components such as provisions for seeds, extension services and mechanization have yet to be completed.
After imported rice flooded the local market, small-scale farmers who were not able to sustain the impact of tumbling palay rates have either sold their lands, migrated to the city or cut their planting activities.
Nonetheless, Dar noted that “under RTL, Filipinos are the winners, rice farmers are the winners.”
Groups like Bantay Bigas, Ibon Foundation and Amihan Women continued to rally for the amendment of the policy, while organizations such as the Federation of Free Farmers, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura and Alyansa Agrikultura have been urging the Department of Agriculture to impose additional safeguard duties on rice to control the arrival of imported rice.
Government aims to keep rice imports at 1.6 MMT

Description: https://businessmirror.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/agri01-020718-696x524.jpgIn File Photo: The National Food Authority stores its buffer rice stock consisting of imports and paddy it purchased from farmers in its warehouses.

A year after the rice trade liberalization (RTL) law took effect, Manila said it is targeting to maintain imports at around 1.6 million metric tons (MMT)—the estimated shortfall in local output—to stabilize the farm-gate price of the staple.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the country’s rice production is capable of supplying only 85 percent to 87 percent of the requirements of Filipino consumers.
“That’s the direction [to keep imports at that level]. Managing importation and enhancing local productivity equals better opportunity for rice farmers, and they are more productive and competitive and they have higher income,” Dar told reporters in an interview at the sidelines of the government’s celebration of the anniversary of the RTL law.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is aiming to hike local palay production to a record-high 19.6 MMT this year via the interventions bankrolled by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) created by the RTL law.
The law deregulated the local rice industry and eased import rules to increase the supply of the staple and make it more affordable.
Dar also said the tightness in global rice supply due to the decline in the output of Thailand and Vietnam is an “opportunity” for local palay prices to recover. Thailand and Vietnam are currently grappling with the ill effects of a severe El Niño on their farms.
He said the government expects the arrival of rice imports to decline during harvest this month after the DA invalidated thousands of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPS-IC) that were unused since last year.
“As what we have been saying, it is managing the balance between enhancing productivity and competitiveness, and once you have some idea then you can target your importation,” said Dar.
Dar noted that the nationwide rice stocks are good for 80 days. “After this main harvest we will open up the importation again during the rainy days starting June to ensure we have sufficient supply.”

Appeal

Rice industry traders and importers told the BusinessMirror that the DA, through the Bureau of Plant Industry, which oversees rice importation, has appealed to them in a recent dialogue to cut or if possible, totally stop buying imported rice during harvest.
However, a trader noted that everything will be “business as usual” for them since their operations depend on importing the staple unless the government will again stop issuing SPS-ICs. The government stopped issuing SPS-ICs in September and October last year.
“We don’t over-purchase we just bring in whatever is the demand of our buyers,” a Manila-based trader told the BusinessMirror.
Another trader based in Metro Manila told the BusinessMirror that rice imports have been declining due to lower demand. This could cause the high carry-over stocks to increase further after harvest.
“There are reports in Vietnam that the Philippines will stop issuing SPS-IC. What can we do if [Manila will] stop issuing it?” the trader said.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority obtained by the BusinessMirror indicated that the country imported 2.76 MMT of rice last year, 38 percent higher than the nearly 2 MMT recorded in 2018.
PSA data also showed that the value of crops production, which accounted for 50.6 percent of total farm output, fell slightly to P402.894 billion in 2019 from P406.119 billion in 2018.
Despite a 5-percent expansion in the fourth quarter, total unmilled rice output in 2019 declined by 1.3 percent due to a series of contractions in the previous quarters.
Total palay output fell to a three-year low of 18.814 MMT, PSA data showed.
The government said the typhoons that struck the country in December had reduced the production of rice and other crops.
Aside from the typhoons, the onslaught of African swine fever also slowed the expansion of farm output last year. The growth rate settled at 0.7 percent, lower than the government’s goal of 2 percent, but slightly higher than the 0.54 percent recorded in 2018

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star 
) - March 7, 2020 - 12:00am
URDANETA, Pangasinan, Philippines – The Philippines plans to keep rice imports at a minimum this year, just enough to meet the shortage in local production, even with a liberalized rice regime already in place.
During the celebration last week of the Rice Tariffication Law’s first year, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the country targets to manage importation and just bring in 1.5 million to 1.6 million metric tons of rice this year.
Dar said Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said that with the country’s adequacy level of 85 to 87 percent, the shortfall is just about 1.6 million MT so that’s what the country could import.
“That is our direction. Managing importation and enhancing local productivity equals better for rice farmers, they are more productive and more competitive and at the end of the day, better income,” Dar said.
Villar said importation has been declining and based on her projections, imports will only average 400,000 MT per quarter to reach the 1.6 million MT.
“Last year, we imported nearly three million MT, so it will be half and that would be good for our farmers,” Villar said.
“And now the DA is already controlling the issuance of SPSIC (sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance) and importers are also afraid partly because of the coronavirus,” she said.
Further, Dar refuted claims that the Philippines may have a hard time importing from neighbouring countries Thailand and Vietnam as the two countries are facing their own challenges.
“I think that is too extreme. After this summer harvest, we will open up again the importation so that on rainy days coming June and July, we will have enough supply of rice,” Dar said.
Right now, rice inventory of the country is good for 80 days or almost three months and after the summer harvest season by May, inventory is expected to be sufficient for five months.
The United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service said earlier the Philippines will bring in less rice this year but it is expected to maintain its status of being the world’s biggest rice importer, beating China for the second year running in the global market.
The Philippines is expected to emerge as the top global importer of rice in 2020 as the new regime for Filipinos’ main staple continues. This year, the country is seen importing some 2.5 million metric tons of rice, 13.8 percent lower than last year’s 2.9 million.
The USDA already lowered this year’s projection from the earlier 2.7 million MT as the Philippines will tone down its rice importation amid excessive supply coupled with improvements in local production.
China, on the other hand, is seen buying some 2.3 million MT for 2020.
Last year, the Philippines ended up as the world’s biggest buyer of rice, reaching a record high 2.9 million MT as the country opened up the industry to liberalization.

Millers irked over space crunch

Kharar, March 5
Around 17 millers in Kurali are facing difficulties while delivering rice to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) due to shortage of space.
They have written to the FCI Divisional Manager stating that most of the rice millers have not delivered even a single wagon of rice from the past 20 days due to space crunch. The letter states that 35,000 MT rice was yet to be delivered to the FCI by millers. They said as there is no contractor in Kurali to load rice in a special rack and as a result, the rack has been diverted to Morinda centre. — OC


Traders recount losses as fire guts rice mill in Taraba

 March 5, 2020
Justin Tyopuusu, Jalingo
Rice traders at the Gidin Dorowa Rice Mill in Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State have recounted losses resulting from the fire that gutted the rice mill on Tuesday night.
At least one hundred and seventy bags of rice, as well as some rice processing equipment, were reportedly burnt.
Vice-chairman of the rice millers association, Alhaji Salisu Mamman, said on Thursday that the watchmen at the factory informed them that the fire started from a nearby dumpsite and spread to the factory.
Mamman said, “According to them, when they saw the fire, they quenched it but unknown to them, the fire had penetrated beneath the waste product and sparked out of control.
 “The fire burnt three of our processing machines; one shop, one union office, one fashion designer store and about one hundred and seventy bags of rice.”
One of the traders, Fachino Boyi, while recounting the losses said the damage caused by the inferno was over twenty million naira.
“Most of the machines that were destroyed are very expensive and as ordinary people, it is not easy to overcome this.
“Our main source of income has been seriously affected and we call on spirited individuals to come to our aid.
“We also want the government to come to our aid to enable us to recover from the lost and acquire new machines to continue our business,” he said.
The Caretaker Chairman of Wukari Local Government Council, Adi Daniel, who visited the scene of the fire incident urged the traders to remain calm even as he promised to forward the report of the incident to the state government and other relevant organisations for prompt action.



Traders count losses as fire guts Taraba rice mill

 March 6, 2020

Justin Tyopuusu, Jalingo
Rice traders at the Gidin Dorowa Rice Mill in the Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State, on Thursday, recounted their losses from the fire that gutted the mill on Tuesday.
At least 170 bags of rice and processing equipment were reportedly burnt in the inferno that destroyed the mill.
The Vice-Chairman of the Rice Millers Association, Alhaji Salisu Mamman, told journalists on Thursday that the watchmen at the factory informed the members that the fire started from the waste being burnt and spread to the mill.
Mamman stated, “According to them, when they saw the fire, they quenched it, but unknown to them, the fire had spread underneath the rice waste and went out of control.
“The fire burnt three of our processing machines, one shop, the union office, one fashion designer’s store and about 170 bags of rice.”
A member of the association, Mr Fachino Boyi, while recounting the losses, said the damage caused by the inferno was worth over N20m.
He stated, “Most of the machines that were destroyed are very expensive and as ordinary people, it is not easy to overcome this.
“Our main source of income has been seriously affected and we call on spirited individuals to come to our aid.
“We also want the government to come to our aid to enable us recover from the loss and acquire new machines to continue our business.”
The Caretaker Chairman, Wukari Local Government Area, Adi Daniel, who visited the site of the inferno, urged the traders to remain calm even as he promised to forward a report on the incident to the state government and other relevant organisations for prompt action.
Our correspondent reports that some rice buyers, who also lost their goods to the incident, came from other parts of the country.

Vijayawada: Conduct civic polls peacefully, SP M Ravindranath Babu tells police

Hans News Service   |  5 March 2020 10:35 PM IST
Krishna district SP M Ravindranath Babu speaking at a workshop in Machilipatnam on Thursday
HIGHLIGHTS

Vijayawada: Krishna district Superintendent of Police M Ravindranath Babu has asked the police to get ready for the peaceful conduct of local body elec...

Vijayawada: Krishna district Superintendent of Police M Ravindranath Babu has asked the police to get ready for the peaceful conduct of local body elections.
He presided over a one-day workshop conducted at the Rice Millers Association hall in Machilipatnam on Thursday as part of the preparations for the municipal, panchayat and MPTC elections to be held soon.
Speaking on the occasion, SP said the police will play key role in peaceful conduct of elections.
Bandar DSP Mahaboob Basha, officials and staff from the sub divisions of Bandar and Avanigadda attended the workshop.

Past In Review for March 7 and 8

   
100 YEARS AGO (1920)
— Rachel H. Rice, an 83-year-old area resident and one of the founders of the Women Crusaders, a group that fought for temperance, had been featured in the Cleveland Plain Dealer magazine section. Rice, whose maiden name was Rachel Hole, and other Crusaders would stand in pairs in front of saloon doors and plead with those about to enter to refrain from patronizing the thirst parlors. In the Plain Dealer article, the story was told of how Rice met Tom Thum in such a manner on a day the Barnum Circus was in Alliance. A street in Mount Union, Rice Street, was said to have been named in honor of Rice, who later became identified with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. The article was written by Mount Union journalism student Russell Rymer.
75 YEARS AGO (1945)
— More details were provided about the service of Pfc. Roger Taylor, the Beloit soldier reported as killed in action in the previous day’s edition. Taylor, a 1942 Beloit High graduate, lost his life in Belgium on Jan. 6, a date he was previously listed as missing in action. Second trumpeter in the Depot Band at Fort McClellan, Alabama, he was assigned to the 194th Infantry when he reached Europe. A member of the Alliance City Band, he was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Taylor and had helped his father work the farm in addition to working at Babcock and Wilcox. He was also survived by a fiancee, Virginia Israel, a resident of Westville.
— Alliance’s Pfc. Ray Russell was reported as missing in action since Jan. 27 on Luzon in the Philippines while serving with an infantry unit. He had a 1-year-old son that he had never seen.
— Reported as wounded in action were Alliance’s Cpl. Richard B. Davies, 22, a paratrooper, on Feb. 17 in the Pacific; Alliance’s Sgt. Fred Jones, 23, an infantryman in Italy on Feb. 11; Deerfield’s Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, 27, on Feb. 5 in the Philippines; and Minerva’s Sgt. Jess W. Sutton in the Philippines and Pfc. William T. Grimes in Europe.
— Eileen Davis, an Atwater High graduate who served as a nurse at Alliance City Hospital, was commissioned an ensign in the Navy Nurse Corps.
— Ensign Winthrop C. Difford, 23, an Alliance High and Mount Union graduate, was the outstanding student in his group of officer trainees attending diesel school in Coronado, California.
— Alliance High grad Lt. Robert Roberts Jr., 23, had completed 25 combat missions as bombardier on “My Gal,” a B-24 Liberator
— Sebring’s Pfc. Lynn S. Morley had received a Purple Heart for wounds suffered Jan. 4 in Belgium.
50 YEARS AGO (1970)
— Christi Barret was crowned basketball queen at State Street Junior High.
—Mrs. Harry Bush, six-year chairman of the Ohezu Neighborhood, was presented the Thanks Badge by the Girl Scouts. Mrs. Bush, who was retiring as a leader, was a member of one of the first Girl Scout troops organized in the Sebring-Beloit area in 1934. Also honored for 10 years as volunteers were Mrs. Robert Cline (Cadette Troop 74 in Sebring) and Mrs. Robert Kirksey (Brownie Troop 750 of Maple Ridge)
— Eighth-grader Connie Sonagere was crowned the spelling champion at West Branch Junior High after correctly spelling “succeeded” and “obliged.”
25 YEARS AGO (1995)
— Gary Charles Durell, a 1968 Alliance High graduate, was one of two Americans killed in Karachi, Pakistan, when two gunmen jumped out of a taxi and sprayed bullets at a van carrying American consulate workers. Durrell, 45, was a communications technician who had been working in Pakistan since November. Durell’s parents, Quentin and Ellen Durell, residents of Nellabrook Avenue, learned about their son’s death via a radio report at 6:30 a.m.

Weekly inflation drops 0.32pc

By APP
 
Description: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2-2-696x383.jpg
ISLAMABAD: The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI)-based weekly inflation for the week ended March 5 decreased by 0.32pc as compared to the previous week.
The SPI for the week under review in the combined income group was recorded at 128.74 points as against 129.15 points registered in the previous week, according to latest data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The weekly SPI was collected with base 2015-16, covering 17 urban centres and 51 essential items for all expenditure groups.
The SPI for the lowest consumption group, up to Rs17,732, witnessed 0.28pc increase, as it went up from 132.23 points in the last week to 132.60 points during the week under review.
As compared to the corresponding week of last year, the SPI for the combined consumption group in the week under review witnessed an increase of 11.59pc, while for the lowest group, it increased by 10.78pc.
Meanwhile, the SPI for the consumption groups from Rs17,733 to Rs22,888, and from Rs22,889 to Rs29,517 increased by 0.16pc, and 0.02pc, whereas from Rs29,518 to Rs44,175 and above Rs44,175 per month, it reduced by 0.11pc and 0.6pc, respectively.
During the week under review, average prices of 18 item registered a decrease, while that of 12 items prices increased with the prices of 21 items remaining unchanged.
The prices of the commodities that recorded an increase in their prices during the week under review included potatoes, onions, eggs (farm), sugar, long cloth, bananas, lawn printed, rice (irri-6), georgette, shirting, mutton, toilet soap, washing soap, gur, curd, vegetable ghee, cooked daal and beef (with bone).
Similarly, the prices of commodities that witnessed a decline included tomatoes, LPG, petrol, hi-speed diesel, garlic, pulses (gram, masoor, mash, moong), wheat flour, chicken (farm) and mustard oil.
Commodities with no price change included rice (basmati), bread, fresh milk, powdered milk, cooking oil, vegetable ghee (pouch), salt, chillies, tea, cooked beef, tea (prepared cup), cigarettes, gents sandal, ladies sandal, electricity charges, gas charges, firewood, energy saver, matchbox and telephone call.

Onion and garlic prices dip while other essentials get costlier

STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
Description: Onion and garlic prices dip while other essentials get costlier
A customer buys vegetables from a seller at Kaptan bazaar in the capital yesterday. FOCUS BANGLA PHOTO
The price of onions and garlic declined last week even while the costs of rice, edible oils, vegetables, and fish went up.
Visits to different kitchen markets in the capital, including Karwan Bazar, Malibagh, and Mirpur-2, revealed that local onions were retailing at Tk 70–90 per kg yesterday. 
At wholesale markets, local onions sold for Tk 55–70 per kg, while the Myanmar variety went for Tk 70–75 per kg, Chinese onions for Tk 50–60 per kg, Pakistani ones for Tk 55–60 per kg, and Egyptian onions for Tk 55–70 per kg.
Onions from Myanmar retailed at Tk 72–75 per kg, while those from China sold for Tk 60–80 per kg, those from Pakistan went for Tk 70–90 per kg, and Egyptian onions fetched Tk 70–80 per kg. A week earlier, the same varieties had sold in the range of Tk 90–120 per kg.
But the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) revealed that onion prices are still 219% higher than at this time last year.
Also in decline is the price of garlic—it dropped by Tk 70–100 per kg in the last two days owing to increased supply of the local variety in the markets. 
Imported garlic was selling for Tk 170–180 per kg yesterday, down from the earlier range of Tk 170–220, while local varieties were going for Tk 80–100 per kg. 
However, edible cooking oils, vegetables, fish, and some varieties of rice became costlier this week.
The price of loose soybean oil, which had shown a slight decline in February, has increased again. According to TCB data, the price increased to Tk 90 per litre from last week’s price of Tk 88 per litre. There has also been a notable increase in fish prices, which traders blamed on a decline in supply resulting from the fishing ban imposed by the government.
The Department of Fisheries (DoF) imposed a two-month ban on fishing in select areas of five major sanctuaries across six southern districts from March 1. The ban aims to protect hilsa and other fish during their breeding season in order to increase production, DoF officials said.
The ban, which is scheduled to end on April 30, covers 392 kilometres of the Ilisha, Meghna, Tentulia, Bishkhali, and Padma rivers in the Barishal, Bhola, Patuakhali, Shariatpur, Chandpur, and Lakshmipur districts.
Despite the ban, hilsa was available in the markets, though in very small volumes. The fish was selling at Tk 650–900 per kg depending on the size. Shrimp of different sizes and quality were retailing at Tk 500–1,000 per kg and pabda at Tk 500–850 yesterday.
Also on the rise is the cost of rice. Prices have increased by at least Tk 2–3 per kg, depending on the variety. Rice traders alleged that rice mill owners have increased the prices through syndication despite adequate supply of paddy in the markets.
The retail price of the fine variety of Miniket went up by Tk 2–3 per kg to Tk 55–60, while the coarse variety sold for Tk 50–52 per kg. The Swarna variety was selling for Tk 35–36 per kg and BR28 for Tk 38–40 in kitchen markets yesterday.
While supplies of early summer vegetables have increased, their prices are yet to decline. 
Traders said the prices will fall over the next couple of weeks until the early summer crops hit the market in full swing. Bitter gourd, for example, was quite expensive at Tk 130 per kg.
The price of broiler chicken also increased by Tk 10 per kg over the week. The going rate was Tk 120–130 per kg yesterday. 
Local varieties were selling for Tk 450 per kg. 
Beef was selling for Tk 550–570 per kg yesterday, while mutton retailed at Tk 750–800 per kg. Farm egg prices, however, had dropped to Tk 90–100 per dozen, down from Tk 100–110 a month back.
Faisal Anis named FPCCI body’s deputy convener
President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Anjum Nisar has appointed Faisal Anis Majeed as a Deputy Convener of FPCCI Central Standing Committee on “RICE" for the year 2020. Faisal Anis Majeed's appointment notification has been issued. Faisal is a rice exporter and active member of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP).

Ali Jahangir says he tried to allay US concerns over CPEC

Description: https://www.thenews.com.pk/assets/uploads/akhbar/2020-03-06/624326_828701_Ali-Jahangir-Siddiqui22_akhbar.jpg
WASHINGTON: Pakistan is committed to documenting its economy, tax collection and having prudent fiscal management, said Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, Ambassador-at-Large for foreign investment.
Addressing at an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a local distinguished think tank, Ambassador Siddiqui raised points to understand opportunities for American business and growth in trade between the US and Pakistan.
The event titled, “Is Pakistan open to American business” was held here on Thursday. Both the US and Pakistani governments have identified expanding trade and investment ties as a necessary step to improve bilateral relations, but Pakistan’s close relationship with China has also sparked concern in the United States. Ambassador Siddiqui offered key areas of investment while highlighting CPEC related broad-based investment opportunities.
He informed the audience that Pakistan has been transparent about the CPEC projects. He pointed out that project details that upgrade infrastructure are available on public forums while American companies such as GE and IFC have been interested in CPEC related projects.
Siddiqui underscored that Pakistan has been ranked higher than before in ease of doing business just because in the last one year the government worked tirelessly to resolve issues and offer a “one window” solutions.
Presenting the case for investment in the agriculture sector, Ambassador Siddiqui argued that the US companies should bring technology to the country. He presented the case that in last few years Pakistan’s corn production went up dramatically. He mentioned that Agro yields in wheat, rice and cotton have the similar potential to grow through new technology.
“We would hope for a much broader partnership,” Siddiqui said adding that Pakistan and the US are looking for a relationship that goes beyond economics as well. He mentioned partnership in education sector, cultural exchange and contributions on expats as many elements in the relationship. Siddiqui said that Pakistan has made significant progress in FATF compliance. The country, he said, is on a typical pathway to coming off the grey list.

Pakistan Eager To Trade With Jamaica - I Will Strongly Push For A Head-Of-State Visit – High Commissioner Khan

Published:Friday | March 6, 2020 | 12:12 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Asad Khan.
Description: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Asad Khan.If Pakistan High Commissioner to Jamaica Dr Asad Khan has his way, Jamaica could shortly be on the list of countries for the next visit by President Arif Alvi or Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Hours after his credentials were accepted by Jamaica’s Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, an excited Khan said despite the small population of his countrymen and women here, Jamaica is a welcomed addition to the number of countries sharing diplomatic relations with Pakistan.
“I will strongly push for that, but failing that, we can actually start off with ministerial exchanges. Seeing is believing. Until I arrived here, I didn’t have as clear an idea of the potential you have here. Similarly, like looking at Pakistan from a distance, persons are influenced by the stereotypes that you get from the media. So that’s where I believe we should start, with high-level political exchanges,” Khan told The Gleaner on Monday.
Pakistan, with the world’s fifth-largest population, and Jamaica, with about six million on island and in the diaspora, are a perfect fit, said Dr Khan during an interview.
Opportunities for trade, cultural and sporting collaboration, as well as high-level political exchanges, will be atop his list of priority achievements.
The Washington-based Khan is ambassador to the United States, but high commissioner to Jamaica, being a Commonwealth country. Wearing both caps is not unique to him in his country’s foreign service.
“I think there is a lot to do in Jamaica ... I was looking at our trade statistics and it is far too low. Far below the actual potential, and that’s what I would like to work on, but not merely to create one-way streams. Basically, to create win-win for both countries,” Khan told The Gleaner.
Jamaica’s appetite for foreign goods appears to be one of the doors of entry for cementing diplomatic relations.
Jamaica’s imports from Pakistan was US$1.62 million during 2017, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade updated in 2020. Man-made staple fibres, sugars, and confectionery, as well as cotton, were the top imports.
There are no available statistics on imports from Jamaica by Pakistan.

NO EXPORTS FROM PAKISTAN

Currently, Jamaica exports nothing to Pakistan, but goods made in that country have found its way here via exports from other countries. With its vast exports of rice, cotton, textiles and sugar, Jamaicans could see that product on the shelves, given the near-death local sugar industry which became non-competitive when preferential pricing was discontinued by Europe.
However, trade is not the only platform on which Khan hopes to build bridges.
“On the education side, we both come from the traditional British system, so we already have a lot in common there. What we don’t have are high-level political exchanges. High-level visits from either side helps to sensitise both countries to systems and bureaucracies, and pushes greater cooperation,” Khan told The Gleaner.
“The mainstay of our exports is textiles. We are also a major exporter of rice, sugar, cotton. These are the traditional ones, but you have a very strong sporting industry and you produce world-class quality of sports goods and I see opportunities there,” he expressed with delight, stressing Jamaica’s prowess in the sporting industry, especially in track and field
Pakistan produces 35,000 information technology experts per year and some have been hired by companies operating here, he said proudly, stating that the area is also another avenue for collaboration.
Both countries have collaborated at the multinational level.
“We have a history of cooperation at the United Nations and in the multinational forums. I was in New York with our Permanent Mission to the UN and we used to collaborate very closely with Jamaica, very closely as members of the Group of 77. So it’s not about numbers or size. It’s about things that we can do together,” he stressed.
An action plan is to be drafted by his office to provide the basis for more definitive cooperation, Khan told The Gleaner.

Local rice producer eyes export of ultra premium brand
Star 
) - March 6, 2020 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Rice processing firm Chen Yi Agventures Inc. plans to start exporting its high quality rice brand to Asia or the Middle East this year.
Chen Yi Agventures president Rachel Renucci-Tan said in a briefing the firm is currently in talks with different countries for the export of rice.
“We’re looking at one to two but large export markets,” she said, noting these countries are in Asia and the Middle East.
She said exports could begin within the year.
Chen Yi Agventures is the company behind ultra premium rice brand Dalisay.
Last year, the firm won Third Best Rice at the World Rice Conference for Dalisay Rice, marking the first time the Philippines was recognized as a world class producer of rice.
Vietnam was declared the World’s Best Rice Winner last year.
Chen Yi Agventures has invested P1.7 billion in a rice processing center in Leyte which uses end-to-end Japanese technology.
Through the use of Japanese technology, the firm is able to ensure the rice is always fresh.
For the production of Dalisay Rice, the company is implementing a program which involves organizing farmers by providing low interest loans, as well as high quality fertilizers, pesticides, high yielding inbred seeds, as well as high-tech planting and harvesting equipment.
Farmers under the program have seen their yield increase two to three times and their income rise by over 10 times.
The firm’s rice processing center currently produces 100 tons of rice per month, based on orders made by retailers and restaurants.
At full capacity, the rice processing center’s output can reach 50,000 tons in a year.
Dalisay Rice, launched just last year, is currently being sold online, as well as in more than 150 supermarkets in Metro Manila such as SM, Robinsons, Rustan’s, Shopwise, Landmark, Metro Supermarket, Cash and Carry, Unimart and Puregold.
For a two-kilogram bag, Dalisay Rice retails for P170 to P174.
Tan said the company expects to have Dalisay Rice available in more than 180 supermarkets within the month.
There has been good market reception for Dalisay Rice as it is often sold out in supermarkets.
Dalisay Rice is also being used in 50 restaurants across Metro Manila.
Patrick Francois Renucci, co-founder and senior management consultant at Chen Yi Agventures, attributed the warm reception of the product to the market’s understanding of the importance of consuming good quality food.
As its name implies, Tan said Dalisay Rice is pure as the company is the only producer in the country that doesn’t use cheap palay (unmilled rice) or poor quality palay.
“We don’t mix imported rice. We’re the only one that maintains one to two varieties at most and we don’t spray chemicals,” she said.