Friday, March 13, 2020

13th March,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter


Indian scientists from ARI identify bacteria capable of methane mitigation in rice plants
Description: Indian scientists from ARI identify bacteria capable of methane mitigation in rice plants
Pune: Scientists at the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), have isolated 45 different strains of methanotrophic bacteria which have been found to be capable of reducing methane emissions from rice plants.
Methanotrophs metabolise and convert methane into carbon dioxide. They can effectively reduce methane emission, which is the second most important greenhouse gas (GHG) and 26 times more potent as compared to carbon dioxide. In rice fields, methanotrophs are active near the roots or soil-water interfaces.
Dr Monali Rahalkar, Scientist from the Bioenergy Group, ARI, and her team working on methanotrophs, have enriched, isolated, and cultivated the 45 different strains of methanotrophs and created the first indigenous methanotroph culture. In their work published in Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, an International Journal of General and Molecular Microbiology, they isolated indigenous methanotrophs from Western and Southern India, mainly from rice field soils and freshwater mud, and have documented two novel genera and six novel species of methanotrophs from rice fields in western India. In pot trials, some of the strains were used as bio-inoculants in rice plants.
The team found a decrease in methane emissions from inoculated plants with a positive or neutral effect on the growth of the rice. This could lead to the development of microbial inoculants for methane mitigation in rice.
Rice fields are human-made wetlands and are waterlogged for a considerable period. Anaerobic degradation of organic matter results in the generation of methane. Rice fields contribute to nearly 10% of global methane emissions. Very few studies in the world have focused on methanotrophs from tropical wetlands or tropical rice fields.
Before scientists at ARI commenced their studies, practically no cultures of indigenously isolated methanotrophs from India were available. Native and relevant methanotrophs isolated from rice fields can be excellent models to understand the effects of various factors on methane mitigation. Ammonium fertilizers and increasing temperatures (due to global warming) are some of the important factors which the team plans to study in the future.
Description: https://i0.wp.com/indusdictum.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ARI-Scientists-Study-methane-oxidizing-bacteria-for-methane-mitigation-and-value-addition.jpg?w=800&ssl=1Various methanotrophs on culture media (upper left);
The dark pink color biomass from methanotrophs which is a rich source of carotenoids, single-cell proteins leading to methane valorization (upper right); Preliminary experiments indicated that when methanotrophs were inoculated rice plants showed lower methane emissions, higher methane oxidation potential and better/ neutral effect on plant growth (lower left);
Plastic chamber to measure methane emissions is shown (lower right).
Besides methane mitigation studies, methanotrophs can also be used in methane value addition (valorization) studies. Bio-methane generated from waste can be used by the methanotrophs and can be converted to value-added products such as single-cell proteins, carotenoids, biodiesel, and so on. The team is further working on methane valorization studies from the isolated methanotrophs. Such studies help reduce GHG emissions, especially anthropogenic or man-made emissions, which is a pressing need in the age of global warming.

This information was provided by the Communications Team at the Dept. of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology.

IAEA and FAO Help Zanzibar Grow More Rice

12 Mar 2020
Description: https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/styles/width_555px_6_units_16_9/public/zanz131140x640.jpg?itok=Ka9S4VmL
Currently, around 70% of the rice consumed in Zanzibar needs to be imported. With the help of nuclear techniques, the Government is trying to produce more rice to meet the demand. (Photo: B. Csete/IAEA)
Cheju, Zanzibar – With one of the fastest growing populations in Africa and a surge in tourism, Zanzibar needs more rice, and its farmers and authorities are turning to nuclear techniques for help.
Currently, around 70% of the rice consumed in this semi-autonomous region of Tanzania is imported, a ratio the Government would like to halve in coming years. It is working on a project in partnership with the World Bank to increase local rice production and self-sufficiency, and save the hard currency currently spent on importing rice, said Mansoora Kassim, Deputy Principal Secretary at Zanzibar’s Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries. Rice accounts for a fifth of the territory’s imports.
Farmers involved in this greenfield rice production project have selected the variety SUPA BC, developed using nuclear techniques, with the support of the IAEA in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Mutation induced by irradiation speeds up natural changes in the genetic make-up of crops, so scientists can select improved plant lines with desired traits such as higher yields and eventually identify the best. They then use conventional techniques to multiply the seeds of plant lines with favorable traits, test them and eventually release them as varieties to farmers.
More rice means less dependence on imports, more income and more jobs for Zanzibar. (Photo: B. Csete/IAEA)
SUPA BC, developed using this technology and released in Zanzibar to farmers in 2014, has a yield that is double that of the traditional variety and it can be harvested twice a year – which means quadrupled production and income, said Ali Iddi Mjombo, a farmer in Cheju, a village in central Unguja, the larger of Zanziba’s two main islands.
Mjombo is one of 700 farmers using the new variety, which also has a better aroma, so millers pay a 20% premium compared to the traditional varieties, he added. “It has made a real difference for us,” he said. “I’ve bought a new plot of land and built a metal roof over my house from the additional cash.”
The Government is planning for most of the territory’s 70,000 smallholder rice farmers to eventually use SUPA BC and achieve similar results to Mjombo and his neighbours. SUPA BC is planted on 80% of irrigated land used for rice on Zanzibar – though that for the time being is only 6,400 hectares. With support from South Korea, the Zanzibar Government is installing irrigation systems on more than 1,500 acres of land to plant more SUPA BC, Kassim said. “With the support of the IAEA we have eradicated tsetse flies, improved livestock rearing – and are now working on rice.”

Virus and fungus

There is still a problem though: SUPA BC is susceptible to two major diseases – the Rice Yellow Mottle Virus and rice blast, so work is under way at the Zanzibar Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) to improve the resistance of SUPA BC.  The IAEA, in partnership with the FAO, through the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, has provided expert and technical services as well as training and fellowship to several researchers, and – through its technical cooperation programme, has provided equipment and consumables to ZARI’s laboratories for the testing of new lines and for marker assisted selection.   
Using equipment donated by the IAEA, researchers identified a promising line and cultivated it further. The result was SUPA BC, a rice variety which has double the yield of local varieties and it can be harvested twice a year. (Photo: M. Gaspar/IAEA)
Using this knowledge and equipment, Salum Hamad, the lead researcher, and his colleagues have characterized and inoculated 100 samples of SUPA BC, irradiated at various doses in order to induce genetic change, with the Rice Yellow Mottle Virus. One of the samples was found resistant to the virus. It will now be tested further to validate resistance and proceed with further trials of the variety.
Work on achieving resistance to the rice blast fungal disease is also under way at ZARI, supported by the IAEA. Last month the IAEA sent to ZARI a new batch of irradiated seeds. Soon they will be planted and inoculated with rice blast fungus to select resistant plants, Hamad said. “In a few years, we hope to have a further improved variety resistant to blast.”
More local rice means less dependence on imports, more money and more jobs for Zanzibar – helping it to achieve its targets under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  

ARI Scientists Study methane-oxidizing bacteria for methane mitigation and value addition

New Delhi: Scientists at Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, have isolated 45 different strains of methanotrophic bacteria which have been found to be capable of reducing methane emissions from rice plants.
Methanotrophs metabolise and convert methane into carbon-di-oxide. They can effectively reduce the emission of methane, which is the second most important greenhouse gas (GHG) and 26 times more potent as compared to carbon-di-oxide. In rice fields, methanotrophs are active near the roots or soil-water interfaces.
Dr. Monali Rahalkar, Scientist from Bioenergy Group, ARI, and her team working on methanotrophs, have enriched, isolated, and cultivated the 45 different strains of methanotrophs and created the first indigenous methanotroph culture. In their work published in Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, an International Journal of General and Molecular Microbiology, they isolated indigenous methanotrophs from Western and Southern India, mainly from rice field soils and freshwater mud and have documented two novel genera and six novel species of methanotrophs from rice fields in Western India. In pot trials, some of the strains were used as bio-inoculants in rice plants.
The team found that there was a decrease in methane emissions in inoculated plants with a positive or neutral effect on the growth of the rice. This could lead to the development of microbial inoculants for methane mitigation in rice.
Rice fields are human-made wetlands and are waterlogged for a considerable period. Anaerobic degradation of organic matter results in the generation of methane. Rice fields contribute to nearly 10% of global methane emissions. Very few studies in the world have focused on methanotrophs from tropical wetlands or tropical rice fields.
Before scientists at ARI started their studies, practically no cultures of indigenously isolated methanotrophs from India were available. Native and relevant methanotrophs isolated from rice fields can be excellent models to understand the effect of various factors on methane mitigation. Ammonium fertilizers, increasing temperatures (due to global warming) are some of the important factors which the team plans to study in the future.
Various methanotrophs on culture media (upper left)
The dark pink color biomass from methanotrophs which is a rich source of carotenoids, single-cell proteins leading to methane valorization (upper right) Preliminary experiments indicated that when methanotrophs were inoculated rice plants showed lower methane emissions, higher methane oxidation potential and better/ neutral effect on plant growth (lower panel
Plastic chamber to measure methane emissions is shown (lower right)
Besides methane mitigation studies, methanotrophs can also be used in methane value addition (valorization) studies. Bio-methane generated from waste can be used by the methanotrophs and can be converted to value-added products such as single-cell proteins, carotenoids, biodiesel, and so on. The team is further working on methane valorization studies from the isolated methanotrophs. Such studies help reduce GHG emissions, especially anthropogenic or man-made emissions, which a pressing need in the age of global warming.

PAU mourns demise of prof
·       Posted: Mar 13, 2020 07:33 AM (IST)
Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, March 12
The senior officials, faculty, staff and students of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) mourned the demise of Prof Darshan Singh Brar, academician, researcher and visionary agricultural development leader. Late Prof Brar was the former head, Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Division at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines. He was also a member of the PAU Board of Management.
Brar passed away on March 11. At present, he was serving as an adjunct professor at School of Agricultural Biotechnology, PAU.
In his condolence message, Vice Chancellor Baldev Singh Dhillon said: “Prof Brar touched countless lives as a mentor and fellow. He was a dedicated scientist and humble human being. May the departed soul rest in peace.”
RS Sidhu, Registrar, said: “Prof Brar always tried to uplift PAU by encouraging collaborations with national and international institutes. Major output of his initiatives could be assessed from double digit number of PAU students going abroad every year for pursuing post graduation.”
Navtej Bains, director of research, said: “Prof Brar contributed immensely to rice breeding programme worldwide in close association with the Gurdev Singh Khush, known as the king of rice. His immense contributions in shaping major field and horticulture breeding programmes at PAU cannot be forgotten. His presence in PAU since his return from the IRRI in 2012 can be sensed in every extra mural competitive project. He motivated the university to take molecular breeding initiative in underexplored and perineal crops.”
Prof Brar taught Plant Breeding and Biotechnology undergraduate and postgraduate students at the university. He had contributed to research projects of every student and scientists at PAU, said Dr Bains.
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Rice stocks up in February
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star 
) - March 12, 2020 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s rice inventory maintained its upward momentum in February, given a continued open market regime.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that total rice inventory stood at 2.37 million metric tons (MT) in February, up 11 percent from the previous year.
However, the current inventory is 11.2 percent lower than last year’s 2.67 million MT.
The PSA did not specify the number of days that the stock inventory of Filipinos’ main staple will be sufficient.
But based on the average daily consumption of Filipinos of 32,000 MT, the current inventory is sufficient for 74 days.
Households had nearly half of total inventories at 44 percent, while commercial warehouses held about 35.4 percent. Supplies from the National Food Authority depositories cornered 20.6 percent of the total.
On a monthly basis, rice stocks in households and commercial warehouses decreased by 12.7 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively.
A 6.9 percent decrease was also noted in NFA depositories.
Meanwhile, prices of Filipinos’ main staple continued to be on the downward trend with consumers saving more, but farmers earning less following the influx of imported rice.
Data showed consistent lower prices for a year now after the Philippines opened its rice industry to more private sector imports.
According to the PSA, the average wholesale price of well-milled rice is now at P37.19 per kilogram as of end-February.
This is 10 percent lower than the P41.17 per kilo in the same period a year ago but 0.4 percent higher on a weekly basis.
The average retail price also decreased by eight percent to P41.24 per kilo.
Meanwhile, the wholesale price of regular-milled rice was P32.77 per kilo, down 13 percent while its average retail price was at P36.16 a kilo.
While consumers are benefitting from the opening up of the market, local farmers are suffering from declining palay (unhusked rice) farm gate prices.
The average farm gate price of palay is nowhere near recovery at P16.04 per kilo, down 0.1 percent on a weekly basis.
The current price represents a decline of  18 percent from  P19.55 per kilo last year.

Study: Rice sold in Kenyan markets has high aflatoxin levels

Local News   By 
Description: https://www.sde.co.ke/sdemedia/sdeimages/friday/vadsd1t1hmds5e6b11047bb02.jpgLong-term exposure to aflatoxins can lead to cancer, birth defects and compromised body immunity.
newsdesk@standardmedia.co.ke
Experts want more to be done to protect Kenyans against aflatoxin-contaminated rice being sold in local markets.
Laboratory analysis of samples of rice sold in Nairobi, Mwea and Thika shows the popular food is highly-contaminated with the cancer-causing organisms.
The evidence was presented at the annual scientific conference of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) held last month in Nairobi.
“We have established that a lot of locally-produced and imported rice contains aflatoxin-causing agents and maybe a threat to human health,” said Youmma Douksouna, the lead study author.
The team collected and tested 98 samples from retail markets and millers in Mwea and Thika regions and found much of it is contaminated with aflatoxin causing organisms.
“We are now quantifying the actual levels of the toxicants but the long-term consumption of aflatoxins at any levels is a threat to human health,” Douksouna told The Standard.
He attributed the presence of aflatoxin in rice to poor handling and packaging, sale of expired grains and long periods of storage and transportation of imports.
“Some of the imported samples had been shipped more than two years ago with the packaging already in very poor conditions,” said Douksouna.
The study that involved Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and the University of Yaounde, Cameroon, coincides with increasing police reports of expired and suspect substandard rice in the local market.
In 2018, Kenyans were shocked by the staggering amount of bad rice in the market when police seized one million bags of the grain at the port of Mombasa destined for the local market.
Some of the rice, the police said, had been condemned about three years before as unfit for human consumption.
In May, again, the police gave Kenyans a clearer picture of how bad rice is being recycled into the market.
Detectives raided godowns in Kariobangi South, Nairobi County, arresting several suspects repackaging expired rice from the original bags to ones with new expiry dates
Excess moisture
Originally, the rice, in 1,500 bags was indicated to expire in 2017, but the new bags showed it would expire in 2022.
The sale of substandard rice is also widespread across the country. Last July, public health officers in Busia County intercepted 256 bags of contaminated rice.
When tested at the Government Chemist in Nairobi it was found with excess moisture levels and unfit for human consumption.
Description: https://www.sde.co.ke/sdemedia/sdeimages/friday/tinfgfolmbihg8ady05e6b124b6cc7e.jpgSamples of rice sold in Nairobi, Mwea and Thika were found to have the poisonous substance.
“Once moisture enters into rice it may lead to aflatoxin, a possible cause of cancer in humans. That is why we destroyed the rice,” Dr Isaac Omeri, Busia County Chief Officer for Health told The Standard.
Rice is the third most consumed food in Kenya after maize and wheat with consumption estimated to be increasing at a rate of 12 per cent annually.
The annual national rice consumption is estimated at 538,000 metric tonnes compared to an annual production of 112,800 tonnes.
With a projected population growth rate of about 2.7 per cent per year, the estimated annual national requirement may reach up to 570,490 tons by 2030.
Local production has not been able to meet demand and the resultant deficit is offset by imports mainly from Pakistan, Thailand, India, and Vietnam.
“Our investigations suggested imported rice especially from Thailand was much more contaminated than locally-produced grains,” Douksouna told The Standard in an interview.
Long-term or chronic exposure to aflatoxins, the World Health Organisation warns, can lead to liver or kidney cancer, birth defects in children and compromised body immunity.
An earlier study (2016) by a team from the University of Nairobi by Diana Nyangaga, Dr Michael Gicheru and Prof James Mbaria had collected 96 food samples from Toi, Kawangware, Uhuru, Kangemi and Nyamakima markets in Nairobi.
Most of the rice samples contained aflatoxin levels above 20ppb (parts-per-billion) the maximum residue limit.
On average, rice in the five open-air markets, a good representation of the quality of rice in the country, had aflatoxin levels of 38 ppb and up to 63 ppb in processed rice samples.
The highest level of aflatoxin in non-processed rice was recorded in Uhuru market while processed rice with the highest levels of the toxins was reported at Kangemi mark
Pakistan’s exports to China up 1.8pc in 7 months

Description: Pakistan’s exports to China up 1.8pc in 7 months

APP

March 12, 2020
ISLAMABAD-Pakistan’s exports of goods and services to China grew by 1.80 percent during the first seven months of financial year (2019-20) compared to the corresponding period of last year, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported.
The overall exports to China were recorded at $1056.773 million during July-January (2019-20) against exports of $1038.023 million during July-January (2018-19), PBS data revealed.
On the other hand, the imports from China into the country during the period were recorded at $5794.114 million against $5941.554 million last year, showing negative growth of 2.48 percent in first seven months of this year.
Based on the trade figures, the trade of goods and services with China witnessed decrease of 3.38 percent in deficit during first seven months of ongoing fiscal year as compared to the corresponding period of last year.
The deficit during the period under review was recorded at $4737.341 million against $4903.536 million during same period of last year, the data revealed.
The commodities that contributed positively growth in exports included fish frozen exports of which grew from $40.253 million last year to $73.947 million during the current fiscal year, showing growth of 83.70 percent.
The exports of cane or beet sugar and sucrose also increased by 4520.59 percent, from $0.874 million to $40.384 million whereas the exports of refined copper and copper alloys increased by 73.30 percent, from $28.214 million to $48.895 million.
The exports of cotton waste including yarn waste grew by 27.25 percent, from $3.375 million to $4.295 million while the exports of articles of apparel and accessories of leather increased by 86.49 percent, from $1.911 million last year to $3.564 million, the data revealed.
Meanwhile, the commodities that contributed positively growth in imports included rice imports of which grew from $5.006 million last year to $9.779 million during the current year, showing increase of 95.34 percent.
The imports of ginger, saffron, turmeric, thyme, bay leaves and curry also increased by 41.70 percent, from $25.752 million to $36.493 million whereas the imports of parts of footwear increased by 55.62 percent, from $5.675 million to $8.832 million.
The imports of electric apparatus for line telephony and telephone sets also increased by 93.97 percent, from $338.682 million to $650.175 million whereas the imports of copper tubes and pipes increased by 10.83 percent, from $9.373 million to $10.389 million.
The imports of motor vehicles for transport of goods increased by 31.07 percent, from $33.498 million to $43.908 million whereas the imports of onions, shallots, garlic, leeks etc also increased by 190.26 percent, from $12.795 million to $37.139 million, the data revealed.

Angola: Commitment to Agribusiness Investment Reduces Imports

12 MARCH 2020

Luanda — Angola needs to spend more on agribusiness to reduce the costs of import of staple products and work on export of food, warned the economist Sérgio Hirose.
Angola spent USD 1.3 billion on imports of basic food products from January to October 2019, said the economist on Wednesday. As for the imports, the economist put at USD 305 million the amount spent on rice, USD 205 million on meat and chicken and USD 180 million on palm oil. Sugar imports accounted for 137 million dollars and wheat flour reached 124 million dollars.
Recent data from the sector point to USD 26 million as having been spent each month to import 15,000 tons of rice. Speaking to Angop on the country's commitment to reduce dependence on oil revenue, the official said that Angola has favorable conditions (climate, soil, among others) to have positive results in agribusiness.

Vietnam ready to stabilise price of rice, pork

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked rice traders to strictly maintain a reserve equivalent to at least five percent of their export volume in the six most recent months as well as enhancing efforts of price stabilisation in the domestic market amid ongoing global uncertainties.
VNA Thursday, March 12, 2020 21:07 
Description: Vietnam ready to stabilise price of rice, pork hinh anh 1Rice loaded for export (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) -
 The Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked rice traders to strictly maintain a reserve equivalent to at least five percent of their export volume in the six most recent months as well as enhancing efforts of price stabilisation in the domestic market amid ongoing global uncertainties.

The ministry’s Import-Export Department said that unpredictable developments in the global economy coupled with the declines in import demand of Vietnam’s traditional rice markets like China, Indonesia and Malaysia were posing significant challenges to Vietnam’s rice exports.

Rice traders must strictly comply with Decree No 107/2018/ND-CP about rice reserves and price stabilisation, the ministry asked.

Accordingly, rice traders must consolidate their distribution system in the domestic market and be ready to bring rice stocks into circulation to stabilise the domestic market following the authorities’ orders.

Focus must also be placed on improving facilities and enhancing awareness in production and processing to increase rice’s added value and build a brand for Vietnamese rice, the ministry asked, adding that fluctuations of paddy and rice prices must also be closely watched.

The ministry asked provincial departments of Agriculture and Rural Development to enhance cooperation with traders, co-operatives and farmers to ensure rice production to follow standards which would help Vietnam easily expand exports.

The ministry said that China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced last week that this country could finish its goal of rice output this year. In addition, import demand from Indonesia and Malaysia was also low.

The Philippines also enhanced control over rice imports, with the revision of the food safety management system on imported rice.

Vietnam’s rice exports in the first two months of this year reached 890,000 tonnes, worth 410 million USD, up by nearly 6 percent over the same period last year.

Seeking pork supply

The Import-Export Department also asked trade offices to work with pork export associations and companies in foreign countries to seek sources to import pork into Vietnam.

Diversifying pork sources was important to stabilise the domestic market due to the impacts of the recent African swine flu.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development predicted that meat output would reach around 5.5 million tonnes this year, in which pork would account for 64-67 percent.

Pig raising was recovering in recent months, the ministry said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last week asked ministries of agriculture and rural development, industry and trade, and finance to ensure pork supply and demand balance and control prices at reasonable levels.

According to statistics from the Animal Health Department, Vietnam imported more than 65,800 tonnes of meat as of the end of February, in which pork accounted for 21 percent, up by 150 percent over the same period last year. Pork was mainly imported from Canada (33.6 percent), Germany (25.4 percent), Brazil (16.1 percent) and Poland (15.81 percent)./.

Investing in Rice Production, Processing Business

Description: https://storage.googleapis.com/thisday-846548948316-wp-data/wp-media/2019/12/63e6e2cb-rice-plantation-696x392.jpg
The federal government plans to make Nigeria self- sufficient in rice production. That is highly commendable. From research it has been proven that Nigeria rice is the best rice in the world as the taste and quality is far better than the imported ones from other parts of the world.
In Nigeria today, some states produce paddy rice in abundance. Some of these states are Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Kebbi, Imo, Kwara, Edo, Ogun, Ondo, Cross River State and some Northern States such as Sokoto to mention but few. Therefore, with serious efforts not only by Government but private companies and individuals, the self-sufficient policy is achievable.
Rice is now a staple food in Nigeria. Every household both rich and poor consumes a great quantity of rice every day. The demand for rice is very high. The huge demand for rice is further accentuated by increasing and expanding urbanization, endless social parties where rice is the main menu, Nigerians eating habits (preference for foreign rice).
The preference for foreign rice should be stopped.
Of the total projected population figure of 200million, over 70% feed on rice.
Because of the demand, many Nigerians have embarked on importation of rice. This situation should not be allowed to continue forever. These importers must channel their huge resources to establishment of modern milling plants in Nigeria instead of fastening the growth of some foreign countries.
From publications made by the Bureau of Statistics and Federal Ministry of Finance the importation figures of rice amounted to about N1 trillion as the end of 2012. This figure increased to over two (2) trillion Naira in 2016 and about N3 trillion in 2018. The figure has always on an increase. Rice importation has the greatest figure of over 60 per cent of total import figures.
The federal government had total closure of the neighbouring borders and it became clear indication that large quantities of foreign rice come into the country through the neighbouring ports. It became clear that there was huge importation of rice through illegal means.
During this period of total ban and closure of borders, it became imperative that Nigerians can actually produce enough rice to sustain itself. Nigerians had survived and are gradually adapted to eating of local rice.
Famers were happier, local processors of rice came back to life and they all make more money with less competition with imported products. However, the prices of rice, the staple food in the country rose on top of the roof. A common man can no longer afford the commodity, both locally produced and imported. Currently a bag of imported rice is as high as between N28, 000 and N30, 000 for a bag of 50kg; while the locally made rice is between N18, 000 and N20, 000. Government must therefore have to sustain the tempo of not allowing massive importation of rice into the country, but have a relaxed but full control of rice imports.
It is not advisable to impose a total ban on importation of rice without first assessing and establishing exactly what the country can afford to produce; ensure that the country can produce at least 70 per cent of what is needed in this country. There must be full record of what we can produce internally with projection of what our farmers can produce at full capacity.
Generally, encouraging local production or manufacturing, Agricultural production and processing is one of the good things that can happen to this country because the policy will generate more employment opportunities and put more foods in our tables.
The federal government has also concluded arrangements to roll out a new policy that will ensure that loans are available at single digit interest rate to farmers with effect from this year.
Corporate organisations such as Coscharis Group have gone into production, processing and bagging of rice.
More individuals are being encouraged by the Government to invest into this sector. Here we discussed on how you can invest into rice processing and packaging business.
Investors can invest in rice farming and rice processing or rice milling plant. Rice milling project will best be sited in these areas where rice is grown in order to reduce cost of transportation of the paddy. To set up this project, a minimum space of a plot of land is required to dry paddy rice after harvesting.
The components of machines required to set up this project are cleaning facilities, Dehuller, Boiling tank, Polisher, Bagger and other miscellaneous equipment such as wheel barrows, weighing scales.
These machines can be fabricated locally. They can also be imported from Europe and some known Asian companies that specialize in the area. Prospective investors would be given details on these machine produces and specialists.
Also project vehicles and generating sets are essential for smooth running of this project.
Rice milling could be done on cottage, small, medium and large scale bases depending on availability of capital and the raw materials- paddy rice. Output could be from 2MT to 150MT per day.
Generally, one metric tonne of paddy rice yields about 60kg- 70kg of milled rice, depending on milling efficiency company management practice and the variety of rice purchased.
In the process of milling well parboiled rice free from sand, stones, unpleasant ordour with fewer breakages, a whole rice, broken rice and bran are obtained. Whole rice is packed and sold for human consumption. Broken rice is further milled into ‘’Tuwo Shinkafa’’ (a flour meal) while bran is very important input for manufacturing dietary products like rice bran bread which has been acclaimed good for the decrease of blood cholesterol, rice bran oil and livestock feeds. From rice you can also be obtained puffed rice, rice cakes, rice pudding etc.
The husks are used for the production of potassium Hydroxide solution or as fuel for milling plants. It can be seen that virtually all parts of paddy rice is useful.
The likely cost of total project will not actually be stated safely unless one knows the scope (whether cottage, small, medium or large scale) proposed investors would like to embark upon. However, the cost ranges from N550, 000 – N10.2million for cottage level to N57million for medium size plant and over N500million for large scale. Basic factors to consider in determining the initial cost includes the capacity to produce, the source(s) of the machinery, whether to construct his own building or rent one, the location etc.
Therefore, to embark upon this project, one needs a business plan (feasibility studies), with detailed costing for all the aspects of inputs, and before one can obtain the likely total estimated cost.
In conclusion, rice milling; an agro-based business is very profitable (45-55% return on investment), and sustainable. It has low capital requirement; technical know-how is not complicated. The machinery and equipment can be sourced locally. The project has a short pay–back period.
It is highly recommended for serious and aggressive promoters, local and state Governments and private investors particularly those that are thinking good for this country.
For details on comprehensive and bankable feasibility studies, investment Advisory services, funding arrangements, please contact the writer.
Uba can be reached via ubagodwin@yahoo.com

IAEA and FAO Help Zanzibar Grow More Rice

12 Mar 2020
Description: https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/styles/width_555px_6_units_16_9/public/zanz131140x640.jpg?itok=Ka9S4VmL
Currently, around 70% of the rice consumed in Zanzibar needs to be imported. With the help of nuclear techniques, the Government is trying to produce more rice to meet the demand. (Photo: B. Csete/IAEA)
Cheju, Zanzibar – With one of the fastest growing populations in Africa and a surge in tourism, Zanzibar needs more rice, and its farmers and authorities are turning to nuclear techniques for help.
Currently, around 70% of the rice consumed in this semi-autonomous region of Tanzania is imported, a ratio the Government would like to halve in coming years. It is working on a project in partnership with the World Bank to increase local rice production and self-sufficiency, and save the hard currency currently spent on importing rice, said Mansoora Kassim, Deputy Principal Secretary at Zanzibar’s Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries. Rice accounts for a fifth of the territory’s imports.
Farmers involved in this greenfield rice production project have selected the variety SUPA BC, developed using nuclear techniques, with the support of the IAEA in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Mutation induced by irradiation speeds up natural changes in the genetic make-up of crops, so scientists can select improved plant lines with desired traits such as higher yields and eventually identify the best. They then use conventional techniques to multiply the seeds of plant lines with favorable traits, test them and eventually release them as varieties to farmers.
More rice means less dependence on imports, more income and more jobs for Zanzibar. (Photo: B. Csete/IAEA)
SUPA BC, developed using this technology and released in Zanzibar to farmers in 2014, has a yield that is double that of the traditional variety and it can be harvested twice a year – which means quadrupled production and income, said Ali Iddi Mjombo, a farmer in Cheju, a village in central Unguja, the larger of Zanziba’s two main islands.
Mjombo is one of 700 farmers using the new variety, which also has a better aroma, so millers pay a 20% premium compared to the traditional varieties, he added. “It has made a real difference for us,” he said. “I’ve bought a new plot of land and built a metal roof over my house from the additional cash.”
The Government is planning for most of the territory’s 70,000 smallholder rice farmers to eventually use SUPA BC and achieve similar results to Mjombo and his neighbours. SUPA BC is planted on 80% of irrigated land used for rice on Zanzibar – though that for the time being is only 6,400 hectares. With support from South Korea, the Zanzibar Government is installing irrigation systems on more than 1,500 acres of land to plant more SUPA BC, Kassim said. “With the support of the IAEA we have eradicated tsetse flies, improved livestock rearing – and are now working on rice.”

Virus and fungus

There is still a problem though: SUPA BC is susceptible to two major diseases – the Rice Yellow Mottle Virus and rice blast, so work is under way at the Zanzibar Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) to improve the resistance of SUPA BC.  The IAEA, in partnership with the FAO, through the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, has provided expert and technical services as well as training and fellowship to several researchers, and – through its technical cooperation programme, has provided equipment and consumables to ZARI’s laboratories for the testing of new lines and for marker assisted selection.   
Using equipment donated by the IAEA, researchers identified a promising line and cultivated it further. The result was SUPA BC, a rice variety which has double the yield of local varieties and it can be harvested twice a year. (Photo: M. Gaspar/IAEA)
Using this knowledge and equipment, Salum Hamad, the lead researcher, and his colleagues have characterized and inoculated 100 samples of SUPA BC, irradiated at various doses in order to induce genetic change, with the Rice Yellow Mottle Virus. One of the samples was found resistant to the virus. It will now be tested further to validate resistance and proceed with further trials of the variety.
Work on achieving resistance to the rice blast fungal disease is also under way at ZARI, supported by the IAEA. Last month the IAEA sent to ZARI a new batch of irradiated seeds. Soon they will be planted and inoculated with rice blast fungus to select resistant plants, Hamad said. “In a few years, we hope to have a further improved variety resistant to blast.”
More local rice means less dependence on imports, more money and more jobs for Zanzibar – helping it to achieve its targets under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  

EU imports of Cambodian rice doubled after tariffs fell

The country’s total rice sales are growing despite global concerns over the spread of COVID-19

·       12 Mar 2020
Cambodia’s rice exports to the EU are rising significantly since the bloc lowered its safeguard tariffs at the beginning of 2020.

Planting For Food And Jobs Initiative Has Made Prices Of Food Cheaper – Minister

By News Desk

Description: Planting For Food And Jobs Initiative Has Made Prices Of Food Cheaper – Minister
 LISTEN   MAR 11, 2020
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has said there has been a tremendous reduction in the prices of agricultural produce in the country since the New Patriotic Party (NPP) took over the administration of the state.
He said food inflation has reduced from 9.7% in 2016 to 7.2% in 2019, making the cost of food cheaper in the last three years.
The Minister attributed the development to what he claimed was the successful implementation of the Planting for Food and jobs initiative.
“Food prices have never been so cheap and I'm sure every one of you in this room will confirm that. So the overall food prices declined significantly in 2019 compared to 2018. The decline was 20 percent for maize, rice and sorghum and 38 percent for groundnut, cowpeas and soya beans and 45 percent for the decline in wholesale prices of cassava and plantain. Lower prices will, of course, imply an increase in disposable income for consumers and food inflation also reduced from 9.7 in 2018 to 7.2 in December last year.”
Touting the achievements of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the past three years under his leadership, the Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the government has created a huge number of jobs under his ministry.
“We created 745,000 jobs in 2017; in 2018 we created about 794,000 to 795,000 jobs and 946,000 in the last year.
The Minister also said the government is in the process of importing machines for the milling of rice to boost local rice production.
“We are also bringing in a lot of rice mills, maize mills, soya mills as part of the mechanization in the centre so that farmers can have access to these machineries.”
Dr. Akoto Osei also mentioned that the government will inject an amount of 600 million cedis to fight the swollen shoot disease that has been destroying cocoa farms in the country.
“We have a plan to tackle and we have engaged the African Development Bank and they have made available $600 million for the cocoa sector and $200 million of that money will go into the fighting of the swollen shoot virus.”
The Minister stated that the government has no intention of placing a temporary ban on the importation of rice and poultry from countries affected by the Coronavirus.
The Planting for food and jobs
The Planting for Food and Jobs policy, which has been in existence for about three years, is to boost local production and reduce the importation of foodstuff.
The ultimate aim is also to help reduce the impact of imports on the cedi's performance as it will reduce the high requirement for dollars for such purposes.
Under the Planting for food and jobs, every district or local authority is expected to select a crop that it has a comparative advantage in, where the government will support the cultivation of such crops with fertilizer, improved seeds as well as other improved technology.
Even though crops such as Maize, Rice, Soybeans, Sorghum, and Vegetables including tomato, onion, and chili pepper are all cultivated under the policy, the cultivation of maize has been relatively dominant across the country.
As a result, in 2017, there was no importation of the grain as local producers recorded higher output, and have since been exporting some to neighbouring countries.
Food prices have reduced; but we must stabilize it – Esoko
Esoko Ghana , a provider of digital solutions and services for agriculture and data collection, had earlier admitted there was a reduction in food prices but charged the government to do more to stabilize the prices of food and other commodities on the market by boosting production.
“Comparatively, I'll say that what the President said there has been some price reduction in commodity prices since the implementation of the planting for food and jobs. It is because most often production has increased so when the harvest season is on, commodity prices are fairly very low” said Content Manager of Esoko Ghana, Francis Danso Adjei.
Citing some major problems faced by the agric sector during various food seasons, he called on the President to ensure that farmers don't run at huge losses as that affects their sales.
“Moving forward, he should look at the post-production of the chain that has to do with how we handle whatever we get at the end of the season; so that we will try and stabilize the prices and have enough volume to supply throughout the year, and not to have lower volume at certain times which will trigger price increases or have too much at certain times to lower the prices which will be a disincentive for producers to produce. So we need to try and make sure to reach a point where throughout the year, prices will be fairly stable and not fluctuate” he added.
---citinewsroom

Tackling Coronavirus impact on economy


Description: Tackling Coronavirus impact on economy

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic is wreaking havoc on world economies and Nigeria is not an exception. But, it has an advantage not many others enjoy. Aside the temperate climate, which makes it difficult for the virus to spread, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) policies on diversification of the economy and investment in the agricultural sector are shielding the economy from the adverse impact of crude oil price fluctuation. The policies have helped in cutting Nigeria’s import bill, created more foreign exchange earnings and improved consumption of locally-produced goods, writes COLLINS NWEZE.
The world has shown enough resistance and bravery towards risks. But when it comes to Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, even the bravest of men are anxious and scared. The plaque arrived when the world was least expectant, with catastrophic damages to economies.
For instance, the world financial markets have tumbled as concerns about supply-chain interruptions from China, oil price uncertainty among major producers rise. Only few countries are likely to be left unscathed by the outbreak’s financial ramifications.
The United Nation’s trade and development agency predicted that apart from the tragic human consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic, the economic uncertainty it has sparked will likely cost the global economy $1 trillion in 2020.
Although two cases of COVID-19 outbreak have been confirmed in Nigeria, and decline in crude oil prices elevated the country’s economic risks, the policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on economic diversification and investment in agricultural sector have helped the economy to stand  firm in the midst of daunting challenges.
The CBN’s economic diversification policies are insulating the economy from crude oil price fluctuation risks. Already, the economy has witnessed reduced import bill, more foreign exchange earnings and consumption of locally produced goods by Nigerians to save foreign exchange. There has also been job creation from CBN’s initiatives in the agricultural sector created jobs for Nigerians.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the impact of COVID-19 on the African economy is becoming severe, especially the declining global oil price and called for massive investment in agriculture.
Emefiele said the bank had been developing home-grown policies to surmount challenges that confronted the economy lately.
“As I have always emphasised, it is our collective duty to ensure that the potential and prospects of the economy are optimally realised. The ongoing economic recovery requires the joint efforts and wise counsel of everyone, if we must take giant strides forward. The CBN is more determined now than ever to remain at the forefront of efforts to ensure that the rebound is not overturned,” he said.
Speaking at a meeting with bankers in Lagos on the theme: ‘Strengthening the economic recovery process in Nigeria’ the CBN boss said with regards to over-dependence in imports, the economic recession triggered mainly by the drop in crude oil prices, only strengthened the case for moving from a nation wholly dependent on consumption, to a nation that produces a large proportion of what it needs, particularly in areas where the resources needed for production are widely available across the country. This thought process, he said, shaped decision to impose the restriction on access to forex for 43 items that can be produced in Nigeria.
“There has been considerable discourse particularly on whether the restriction on access to foreign exchange for 43 items is driving local production, with some nay-sayers stating that it has constrained productivity and growth in the economy. Based on our internal research conducted at the Central Bank of Nigeria, there is strong support that the recovery of our economy from the recession may have been much weaker or even negative, without the implementation of the restriction on 43 items.”
“Our research supports the conclusion that the combination of the restriction on 43 items along with other measures imposed by the fiscal and monetary authorities has helped to promote the recovery. Any attempt to reverse the course of this action may have untold consequences on the growth trajectory of our economy particularly in our push to diversify and restructure our economy. In fact, recommendations are being made to the CBN that the list of 43 items be expanded to include other additional items that can be locally produced.”
Emefiele said many entrepreneurs were taking advantage of this policy to venture into the domestic production of the restricted items with remarkable success and great positive impact on employment. “The dramatic decline in our import bill and the increase in domestic production of these items attest to the efficacy of this policy. Noticeable declines were steadily recorded in our monthly food import bill from $665.4 million in January 2015 to $160.4 million as at October 2018; a cumulative fall of 75.9 percent and an implied savings of over $21 billion on food imports alone over that period. Most evident were the 97.3 percent cumulative reduction in monthly rice import bills, 99.6 percent in fish, 81.3 percent in milk, 63.7 per cent in sugar, and 60.5 percent in wheat,” he said.
Deepening agricultural sector
Speaking at the at the African Economic Research Consortium Senior Policy Seminar XXII in partnership with CBN in Abuja, on the theme:  “Agriculture and Food Policies for Better Nutrition Outcomes in Africa”,  Emefiele said the outbreak of the coronavirus had dampened consumer confidence resulting to decline in private consumption and global demand slowdown.
He said the sad development had posed great threat to the economic gains achieved across Africa in the recent past.
He emphasised the need for the countries on the continent to massively invest in agriculture.
He said: “Very much like we have seen in the past, food is often one of the immediate causalities of any catastrophe on the African continent. The reason is not far-fetched, a sizeable proportion of the population is food poor.
Emefiele said unlocking the huge potential of agriculture must therefore be at the heart of any meaningful engagement on economic and social development of the continent.
Anchor Borrowers’ Programme
The CBN has under Emefiele been giving priority to agriculture and that has started to yield positive results.
The CBN established the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on in 2015 with the objective of creating a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and smallholder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities.
The thrust of the ABP is the provision of inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to smallholder farmers with a view to boosting the production of rice, maize, poultry, sorghum, cassava, tomatoes and cotton, among others. The idea is to stabilise input supply to agro-processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.
The ABP evolved from the consultations with stakeholders comprising Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, State Governors, millers of agricultural produce, and smallholder farmers to boost agricultural production and non-oil exports in the face of unpredictable crude oil prices and its resultant effect on the revenue profile of Nigeria.
Aside the CBN, many stakeholders have called for diversification of the economy away from oil. President/Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers’ of Nigeria (CIBN) Uche Olowu said, there was need to diversify the economy from crude oil earnings so as to boost foreign investors’ confidence in the economy.
Speaking at the Economic Outlook forum in Lagos, he disclosed that as soon as the economy is diversified, the country will see higher accretion to the foreign reserves and improved confidence in the economy.
He said opportunities in the agricultural sector should be explored to improve the country’s capacity to export agric products.
Head of Research at Coronation Merchant Bank, Guy Czartoryski said oil price crash will be a defining risk for Nigeria’s foreign exchange market. “We began this year with the view that the Naira/US dollar exchange rate could hold for most of 2020. When the coronavirus outbreak became apparent at the end of January, we still believed that a combination of monetary stimulus in developed markets and foreign portfolio investment into Nigeria would stabilise the risk outlook,” he said in an emailed report to investors.
Emefiele has continually urged Nigerians to support the drive by the bank and the fiscal authorities to ensure diversification away from crude oil.
He recalled how the CBN tackled the multiple challenge of bringing down exchange rate from a high of about N525 to $1 to N360 to $1, reducing inflation and creating jobs at the height of recession, stressing that there were structural inefficiencies in the economy that the bank had to correct.
He also listed some of the initiatives towards expanding the agricultural sector. There has been support for the textile industry, creative industry among others. In the textile industry,  the CBN facilitated the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MoU) among stakeholders in the country’s Cotton, Textiles and Garments (CTG) sector.
The first MoU signed was between the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) and Ginning Companies, to guarantee steady off-take and processing of cotton lint and cotton seeds; while the second was between the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association and the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Nigeria Police, Para-military institutions & National Youth Service Corps to facilitate long- term contracts with Textile and Garment companies to manufacture uniforms in Nigeria for use by various arms of Nigeria’s uniform services.
Speaking at the epoch-making ceremony held at the Bank’s Head Office in Abuja, the CBN Governor, Emefiele, expressed gladness that stakeholders are supporting the vision to  grow and develop Nigeria’s agricultural sector and the wider economy.
On rice milling, Emefiele, has extracted commitments from the National Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (NRMAN) and Nigeria Rice Dealers and Suppliers for the supply of rice as well as ensuring its availability to merchants to ensure supply across the country.
The CBN has also approved a single-digit interest rate facility of N19.2 billion to nine cotton processing farms for retooling their factories and boosting production capacity.
The industry which deteriorated over time, had the potential to create at least two million jobs if well harnessed.
Emefiele said: We (CBN) are improving the links between cotton farmers and ginneries, by ensuring that ginneries are able to off-take the high-quality cotton produced by these farmers. The same support will be extended to the textile and garment farms. We have invested heavily in our local textile and garment factories to retool and produce assorted uniforms for our uniformed services that meet international standards, he added.
Support for the Creative Industry
The CBN in conjunction with the Bankers’ Committee is set to support the growth of the creative industry comprised mainly of fashion, information technology, lm and music through the Creative Industries and Financing Initiative (CI-FI) with an initial N22 billion funding.
Emefiele, disclosed this while delivering his keynote address the Creative Nigeria Summit with the theme: Finance for Growth which held in Lagos.
The Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CI-FI) was introduced as a Bankers’ Committee initiative to improve access to long-term, low-cost financing to entrepreneurs and investors in the Nigerian creative and information technology (IT) sub- sectors in recognition of its significance to job creation, poverty reduction and inclusive growth.
The initiative is to be financed from the Agribusiness, Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) Fund which the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have set aside five per cent of their profit after tax yearly to support small and medium scale businesses.
He noted that close to 60 per cent of the nation’s population is under the age of 35, indicating a youthful population that need to be engaged. Therefore, the CI-FI is part of the banking sector’s efforts to harness the innovative and creative energy of the youth towards enabling them to create productive ventures that would support improved wealth and job creation in Nigeria.
Emefiele said that with the support of the Federal and Lagos State Governments, the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, is expected to serve as the pilot scheme for the planned 40-acre Creative Industries Park, after which similar parks will be set up in Kano, Port-Harcourt and Enugu.
The CI-FI is expected to improve access to long-term, low-cost financing for entrepreneurs and investors in Nigeria. This initiative is targeted at employing 300,000 youths within the next five years. The beneficiaries could get up to N500 million at an interest rate of nine per cent. The industries to bene t from this initiative include fashion, information technology (IT), movie and music production and software engineering students loan.
The CBN had said that software engineering students could get a loan of up to N3 million, N30 million for movie production, applicants in the movie distribution business could get as much as N500 million. Loans for fashion and information technology businesses would cover rental and service fees, while loan amounts for music business would cover training fees, equipment fees and rental and service fees.
The bank had said that the period for the repayment of the loan for software engineering students is a maximum of three years. Loans for movie production and distribution, fashion, information technology (IT) and music production could be repaid in a maximum of ten years.
Currently, the CBN had received 38 applications from industry players who were interested in accessing the facility. The CBN had said that the Deposit Money Banks (DMB) had the mandate to disburse the funds to the qualified applicants.
Forex restriction on milk import
Besides, the CBN restricted importers of milk from accessing foreign exchange from official market. It limited the importation of milk and other dairy products to six firms- FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria; Chi Limited; TG Arla Dairy Products Limited; Promasidor Nigeria Limited; Nestle Nigeria PLC (MSK only), and Integrated Dairies Limited.
According to the policy guideline, all Forms ‘M’ for the importation of milk and its derivatives will only be allowed for the aforementioned companies.
Managing Director, Financial Derivates Company Limited who is also a member of Economic Advisory Council, Bismarck Rewane, said the restriction on dairy products was to increase the domestic production of milk and other dairy products and conserve foreign exchange, thereby forcing manufacturing companies to look inwards and invest more in backward integration.
“The foreign exchange restriction policy will reduce the demand pressure on Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. Nigeria spends approximately $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion annually on milk and dairy importation, 3.21 per cent to 4.01 per cent of the current external reserves level of $37.37 billion,” he said.
Finding showed that for over 60 years, Nigerian children and indeed adults have been heavily dependent on milk imports with huge implications for national food security. It is time to change the tide and ensure the future food security of the Nigerian child and adults.
Also, the under the CACS programme (Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme), is supporting dairy farmers, producers and companies, with credit to enable backward integration. The bank will be partnering with State Governments to acquire farmlands of up to 200 hectares for grazing reserve purposes, rehabilitation and development.
Analysts said that while it was difficult to predict how the international financial markets will react to COVID-19’s impacts “what they do suggest is a world that is extremely anxious. For them, there’s a degree of anxiety now that’s well beyond the health scares which are very serious and concerning.
But Nigeria’s economic diversification diversification agenda and CBN’s commitment to the agricultural sector will continue to insulate the economy against uncertainties.

FG will continue engagement, collaboration with private sector – Osinbajo

Posted on March 11, 2020 by Encomium
Description: https://encomium.ng/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/OSINBAJO-650x400.png
*Urges business community to support free & compulsory education initiative

*VP is a reliable partner, excellent leader, says Kano Chamber of Commerce

The importance of the private sector in the development of the economy, especially in creating employment is why a regular interface between the private sector and the Federal Government will continue, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday when he received on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a delegation from the Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (KACCIMA) led by its President, Alhaji Dalhatu Abubakar.

According to him, “We must see how to make sure that we are continually engaging, it is very important. I have continued to emphasize that the private sector is the engine of the economy and will continue to see in what ways we can support the private sector.”

“So, we need to be able to get private sector interest along with government to bring power to Kano, for instance. If we can bring substantial amount of investment in power to Kano, we can really make a difference. So, I am looking forward to working with you on power.”

Continuing on the need for closer collaboration between KACCIMA and the Federal Government, the Vice President said “anyone who understands the history of business in Nigeria cannot in any way diminish the importance of the Kano business community.

“As a matter of fact when we started the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), in engaging the partnership that will help us, Lagos and Kano had to be the two focal points for the implementation of our reform plans.

“We must establish a way of collaborating, where we look at specific measures on how to advance solutions to the numerous problems that are facing us.”

Speaking further on the importance of effective collaboration with the business community, Prof. Osinbajo said “we must do everything possible to support the business community in Kano.”

Encouraged by the report he received from the delegation on the progress made by rice millers in Kano State, the Vice President restated efforts being made by the Federal Government to further support agricultural production including a collaboration with other partners using 12 dams across the country under the Transforming Irrigation Management Project.

Besides the core interest of boosting opportunities to grow businesses in Kano, Prof. Osinbajo tasked the business community in the state to support the free education initiative of the State government as a way of building the future workforce for the industries that would be established.

“Everywhere businesses have thrived and succeeded, it has been accompanied by the drive of young people who have the requisite skills to do the necessary jobs.
“There is, therefore, the need for the Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture to support the free education initiative in Kano, even just the advocacy is important.”  

Earlier, the President of KACCIMA, Alhaji Dalhatu Abubakar who led other members of the delegation to welcome the Vice President into the conference room with a birthday song, commended Prof. Osinbajo for his commitment to the achievement of successes under the ease of doing business initiative and described the VP as a “reliable partner,” of the President.

According to him, “your excellent leadership qualities and commitment in making Nigeria a better country has been responsible for all the achievements that have been recorded under the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).”

Rice federation requests $80 million to aid sector

Thou Vireak | Publication date 12 March 2020 | 23:43 ICT

Description: Content image - Phnom Penh Post
In December, the Ministry of Economy and Finance allocated $50 million to a fund managed by RDB that firms can use to buy rice during the harvest season. Post Pix
The Cambodia Rice Federation has asked the government to disburse $80 million through the Rural Development Bank (RDB) to help millers purchase paddy.
CRF president Chan Sokheang made the request on Tuesday during a meeting with RDB director-general Kao Thach.
Sokheang told The Post on Thursday that the rice federation asked the government to increase the budget dedicated to helping the sector by $30 million from the current $50 million. The money in the fund will be used by millers to buy paddy in the next harvest season.
“Part of the budget [to help the rice sector] has been diverted to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. CRF asked the government not to take money out of the fund and instead add to it as millers will need the money to buy paddy starting next month.
“We are facing difficulties obtaining credit, with commercial banks reducing their lending to the agriculture sector from $1 million to just $500,000.
“We are asking the government for help so that we can meet our goal of exporting one million tonnes of rice,” he said.
CRF also asked the state-sponsored bank to extend repayment periods from six to 12 months.
“We ask for the repayment period to be delayed as rice exporters and millers face a lack of liquidity as a result of Covid-19,” CRF said in a press release.
Sokheang said Kao Thach had initially agreed to disburse the funds but that the government had the final word.
In December, the Ministry of Economy and Finance allocated $50 million to a fund managed by RDB that firms can use to buy rice during the harvest season.
Signatures of Asia general manager Chan Pich told The Post that his company plans to buy 200,000 tonnes this season with a $500,000 loan from RDB.
“Increasing the fund will definitely help the rice sector. My company, for example, plans to spend $4 million to buy rice and will need to borrow money,” he said.
In October, the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) set the goal of reaching one million tonnes in exports of rice by 2022.
“To make this happen, we have a credit package of $200 million with a special interest rate to purchase rice during the harvest season,” said then-president Song Saran, adding that this amount of money can buy at least 500,000 tonnes of jasmine rice.
Cambodian rice exports reached 620,106 tonnes last year, a one per cent drop compared to 2018. It was the second year in a row that rice exports experienced a slight decline.
The Kingdom’s rice exports were valued at $501 million last year, down 4.3 per cent from 2018.

Stainless steel is the most hygienic, durable and, cost effective metal for rice mill industry: ISSDA

Lower maintenance and longer life cycle gives stainless steel an edge over other materials
11th March, 2020: Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA), the apex body of the Indian stainless steel industry, organised a seminar on the ideal choice of material in rice mill plants today in Burdwan. The event highlighted the growing corrosion and hygiene related concerns of the rice mill industry, thus emphasizing on the urgent need to shift to stainless steel in order to ensure a durable, healthy, and cost effective raw material which is also low on maintenance. “Corrosion and hygiene are the biggest challenges in the rice mill industry but they can be easily curbed with the use of stainless steel. Stainless steel is a low maintenance, corrosion free, easy to fabricate, and hygienic metal with a longer life cycle. I am confident that the rice mill industry will benefit economically with stainless steel solutions as corrosion related losses will reduce drastically”, said Shri SK Goel, Chief of Business Unit, Jindal Stainless Steelway Limited in his welcome note.
India, being one of the world’s largest producers of rice, boasts of a significant rice milling market. East India accounts for the largest share of the rice milling market in the country, primarily due to the fact that this area is conducive for rice growth. As per the Market Research Future report, Indian rice milling market is expected to value at an estimated USD 392.6 million by the end of 2022*. Rice millers are increasingly investing in modern and high-quality rice milling equipment to increase yield and quality of the final product. However, they face challenges of rapid corrosion of blades and other hygiene-related issues due to unused rice husk.
In his opening remarks, Shri Sushil Chowdhary, President, Bengal Rice Mill Association and General Secretary, The Federation of All India Rice Millers Association said, “East India constitutes the biggest rice mills market with Burdwan as a major centre where use of mechanical dryer started in 1990s. In due course, we have faced challenges like high maintenance cost, frequent repair work etc. I am hopeful that with the use of stainless steel, we will be able to improve the productivity as well as bring down the lifecycle cost of our machineries, which in return will benefit both the industry and the society.”
Along with Shri Sushil Chowdhary, President, Bengal Rice Mill Association, the event was attended by other dignitaries like Shri Abdul Malek, Working President, Burdwan District Rice Mill Association & Bengal Rice Mill Association; Shri Rohit Kumar, Executive Director, Indian Stainless Steel Development Association, and Shri Punjab Singh, a fabricator from Punjab.
“ISSDA has been working closely with rice millers to promote stainless steel in the industry as the metal which will ensure sustainable growth in the sector. Stainless steel can curtail contamination as well as increase the life of machineries and equipments. This directly benefits the consumers as well as the millers”, said Rohit Kumar, Executive Director, ISSDA.
Stainless steel has a high resistance to corrosive media found in rice mill industry. This leads to a long life of the equipment and prevents wear and tear. The special high chromium and nickel – alloyed grades of the metal allow scaling and retain strength at high temperatures, which is quite useful for the industry.
The metal also prohibits growth of bacteria due to its smooth surface. Hence, stainless steel is the preferred choice of sectors like hospitals, food processing, rice mill, brewery, distillery, and pharmaceutical industries where hygiene plays an important role. Moreover, stainless steel offers lifestyle cost advantage since it is durable and a low maintenance material. It is easily recyclable and has a better end-of-life scrap value.

Vijayawada: Collector Mohammad Imtiaz opens handicrafts exhibition

Krishna District Collector Mohammad Imtiaz going around the stalls after inaugurating Shilpararam Handicrafts exhibition in Vijayawada on Thursday
HIGHLIGHTS

Vijayawada: Krishna District Collector Mohammad Imtiaz has said the State government was encouraging handicrafts and providing opportunities for...

Vijayawada: Krishna District Collector Mohammad Imtiaz has said the State government was encouraging handicrafts and providing opportunities for marketing and sale of products.
Imtiaz on Thursday inaugurated the Shilparamam Handicrafts exhibition at the Rice Millers Association hall in Gandhi Nagar here. The exhibition will be conducted till March 21.
Speaking on the occasion, the District Collector said that the customers could directly visit the exhibition and purchase various types of handicrafts, garments, sarees and many other products. He said the State government has decided to set up Shilparamam in all districts to encourage the artisans and craftsmen to promote their products.
The collector informed that Shilparamams were set up in Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Kadapa, Pulivendula, Anantapuram, Puttaparti, Vizianagaram and Kakinada. Weavers and artisans from various parts of the state put on sale various products like sarees, dresses, towels, leather products like bags, jute products, footwear, decorative articles etc.



Farmers can now fire up a mobile app to sell paddy to govt

12:00 AM, March 12, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:36 AM, March 12, 2020

The move to ensure fair prices for farmers

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Technology can change the world, it is often said. And the lives of the country's 1.5 crore farm families, who are often shorn of fair prices, are about to change with the government move to purchase paddy from them by way of a mobile application. 
The app, which is called Krishoker App, will be used to purchase paddy from farmers in all sadar upazilas in the upcoming boro harvesting season.
"Our aim was to ensure fair prices for farmers," said Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder at a press conference at his office yesterday.
The app has already been piloted in 16 upazilas by the Directorate General of Food in the just concluded aman procurement season: 30,000 tonnes of paddy was bought off 23,000 growers.
The food office bought the highest amount of aman paddy of 6.27 lakh tonnes in recent decades and achieved its buying target -- a first in 24 years, according data from the food ministry.
"Save for some minor errors, this was the first time we were able to buy such a big quantity of paddy. We hope we have become successful."
The paddy was bought directly from farmers based on a list of producers prepared by the agriculture ministry. The list had more than 135,000 names. From the list 23,000 were chosen at random. Some 25 teams monitored the purchase to ensure they were real growers and there was no political intervention or presence of middlemen.
Riding on the success, the food office will pilot paddy procurement through the mobile app in the remaining 48 sadar upazilas as well during the next boro harvest.
"We introduced the mobile app to ensure that we can reach out to more farmers and the initiative has paid off. The idea is to bring all the districts under the app-based procurement system in the next aman season," Majumder added.
A farmer can apply for selling paddy to public warehouses, track progress of his application and file complaint using the app.
Apart from paddy, the DG Food bought 3.37 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice from millers at Tk 36 per kg, and 43,400 tonnes of unboiled rice during the just concluded aman purchasing season.
In case of milled rice, the total amount of grain purchased during the aman harvest was 7.97 lakh tonnes, according to food ministry data.
With the aman purchase, the total amount of rice procured by the DG of Food including last year's boro stands at 22 lakh tonnes, food ministry data showed.
The government has allocated Tk 8,024 crore to buy 21.20 lakh tonnes of rice in the current fiscal year, according to the finance ministry. 
The government's purchase has started to have an impact on the prices of the staple grain in the market, said Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque.
At present, the price of coarse paddy is Tk 800 each maund and the prices of fine grain are between Tk 1,100 and Tk 1,200 a maund, much higher than before.
"Despite the rise, the prices of coarse grain are normal and there is no negative reaction from low-income people," Razzaque said, adding that the government is hopeful of buying paddy directly from growers in the next boro season.
Ensuring the percentage of moisture content in line with the required parameters of the food ministry has been the biggest obstacle for farmers in supplying grain to public warehouses and thus getting fair prices.
The agriculture ministry has bought adequate moisture measuring meters, which will be given to agricultural extension officials so that they can help farmers know if the moisture level in their grains is within the required level of 14 per cent.
As a result, officials at the local storage depots will not be able to refuse to buy paddy from the farmers.
"The government is determined to buy paddy from growers at any cost."
Razzaque went on to share his past experience as a food minister and said politically and socially influential people used to provide the grains to public warehouses depriving farmers.
He said he had once tried to buy wheat from farmers and found that influential people in the northwest districts of Thakurgaon, Panchagarh and Dinajpur were supplying the cereal by posing as farmers.
The food ministry also plans to buy rice from millers through the mobile app, said Food Secretary Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum.
Tushar Roy, a farmer from Dinajpur sadar, praised the government's initiative to buy paddy through the mobile app.
The grower signed up for the Krishoker App with the help of his relatives and received a text message later that he was selected in a lottery to sell paddy to the public food office.
He supplied the grain on the scheduled date and received the proceeds in his bank account just after delivery.
"This is a good system. Farmers will be benefitted if the government makes its purchases in this way. But the government should ensure that all the farmers can sell their grains to food offices gradually," he told The Daily Star by phone.
Razzaque said farmers who could not provide paddy to the government godowns in the just concluded aman purchase scheme would be able to supply in the next boro season.
The names of those who supplied aman paddy this time will not be put in the lottery in the next boro paddy purchase drive so that all farmers are equally benefitted, he added.
To ensure that real farmers get the opportunity to sell their produce to the government, the agriculture ministry is also preparing to provide farmers new cards as per an updated list, said Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiruzzaman.
Replying to a question on the progress in establishing 200 paddy silos, Majumder said the proposal for the Tk 6,000-crore project is now with the planning commission and its implementation might begin in the next fiscal year. 

Kalay locals plan to donate food supplies to IDPs in Paletwa
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PUBLISHED 12 MARCH 2020

AUNG THU TUN
Locals from Kalay are collecting money to donate food supplies and medicines to IDPs living in Paletwa Township, Chin State, sources said.
Locals from Paletwa organized a committee to send rice and food supplies from Kyauktaw and Samie in this month.
“We want to fulfill the need of ethnics. We learned about their difficulties from the news and MP Hway Tin. The donation started for two days now and we have over 60 rice bags and over one million in cash. We planned to ask for donations until March 20. We will transfer the food supplies to the state government. We will mainly donate rice as we own rice mills. We want to tell the organizations, which can bring peace, to do for a ceasefire,” said Thein Shwe from Rice Millers Association.
Social welfare associations held an emergency meeting on March 10 in Paletwa and announced six agreements.
“We are nearly short on rice in our homes and no store is selling. We planned to carry rice and food provisions via Kyauktaw and Samie. We will carry rice and food provisions through Sittwe if we are allowed. We cannot buy dry noodles as well,” said San Mya from Paletwa.
Transport and internet access in Paletwa has been cut off for about one month now.
Paddy procurement: Intention and outcome 

 Shamsul Huq Zahid   | Published:  March 12, 2020 22:19:59

Description: Paddy procurement: Intention and outcome   
The Ministry of Food has achieved something remarkable---it has procured 0.627 million tonnes of Aman paddy this year. The quantity is the highest in nearly two and a half decades. The ministry has also surpassed the target of procuring 0.6 million tonnes of paddy.
This was for the first time after 2010 the government reportedly purchased paddy alongside processed rice with the objective of benefitting the rice growers. The decision was taken in the wake of widespread criticism of the government for its failure to ensure fair price for farmers during the harvest time of major rice crops.
Rice growers had not been able to recoup even their production cost for the past few years despite the fact that the rates fixed by the government for procuring rice from them (farmers) were well above their cost of production.
It is rather an open secret that the directorate of food does not buy rice from farmers directly. Large millers are their procurement sources. The main reason for choosing the millers is that they supply fully processed rice that can be preserved in silos for a reasonable period of time. Naturally, farmers do not have the capacity to fulfil the requirement of the food directorate, in terms of supplying processed rice.
But this dependency on the millers, in fact, has given rise to the opportunity to exploit the rice growers.
The millers collect paddy through their agents at the field level. It is obvious they would want to procure paddy at low price with a view to maximising the profit they would earn by supplying milled rice to the government. The main reason for paddy price remaining at unusually low level, compared to the prices of milled rice, is the influence that the millers maintain at the ground level rice market.
One cannot be blamed for being sceptical about the government's latest move to benefit farmers by procuring paddy directly from the latter. The food ministry claims that its officials procured Aman paddy from the farmers who were on the lists supplied by the Department of Agricultural Extension officials and authenticated by the upazila procurement committees.
But the experiences gained from similar government moves in the past or ongoing safety net programmes in rural areas, it is hard to put faith in such lists and procurement on the basis of those.
It could be that here also the millers or the agents appointed by them had supplied paddy to the government. Why would not they? The supply of paddy in bulk would earn no less financial gain than that of processed rice. Moreover, the field-level food officials find it rather easy to deal with a limited number of millers rather than with thousands of farmers.
The top notches at the Ministry of Food do need to see whether the move initiated by them to benefit rice growers through the procurement of paddy had gone in the right direction. Allegation of widespread irregularities in government's food procurement programme is rather old. So, instead of believing the reports coming from the field-level officials, the ministry high-ups should despatch fact-finding teams to different areas of the country to know the actual developments.


$80 million requested from RDB for upcoming harvests

Chhut Bunthoeun / Khmer Times 

The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) has requested the state-run Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (RDB), reserve an additional $30 million to purchase paddy from the Kingdom’s rice farmers during the upcoming harvest seasons.
For in depth analysis of Cambodian Business, visit Capital Cambodia
.
The CRF and RDB determined during a meeting that another $30 million, on top of the already $50 million reserved for the 2020-2021 harvest season would be required, bringing the total assistance package to $80 million.
Launched in 2016, the government-led fund aims to help rice millers purchase paddy rice from farmers that have been affected from the drop in loan approvals from commercial banks, which coincided with the European Union’s imposition of tariffs on rice exports.
Lun Yeng, secretary-general of CRF said, “Only a small amount of the $50 million in funds allocated last year have been used because it was disbursed at the end of the harvest season. We believe there will be additional loans required this year and this is why the federation has requested the additional $30 million.”
He explained that the already reserved $50 million will be used in the first round of harvest season and the $30 million requested will be used in the second round.
“With this extra amount we will be able to buy around 200,000 tonnes of rice and will help rice millers and agricultural community members of the CRF to purchase paddy from farmers,” he told Khmer Times.
Meeting between Rural Development Bank and Cambodia Rice Federation on loan package and loan repayment delay. The Cambodia Rice Federation
He noted that the first round of harvesting will begin in July, particularly the Sen Kor Ob fragrant rice variety, while the second round of harvesting will start between November and December for the premium fragrant rice varieties such as Phka Rumdoul, Romdeng, Romeat and Somaly.
Kao Tach, director of the RBD, could not be reached for comment yesterday, but has been quoted as saying that  he will “take all proposals for consideration and asks the government for a principal approval.”
Cambodia exports approximately 600,000 tonnes of jasmine and fragrant rice aevery year and is the nation’s most important crop, according to the CRF. Grade A fragrant rice fetches $900 to $950 per tonne, with estimates that around three million Cambodians rely on the grain for their livelihood.
Despite the devastating global economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, Cambodian milled rice to the European Union saw a 126 percent increase in the first two months of this year, compared to the same period in 2019. With the Chinese market increasing 33 percent over the same period, according to data from the CRF.
Lun said the rise of rice exports to the European Union is due to the reduction of tariffs which have been dropped from $175 to $150 per tonne of rice exported this year, while at the same time Chinese demand has also been rising significantly.
“Although the Novel Coronavirus is hurting China’s economy badly, exports to there are going
well. What we were concerned about was ship availability, but now we have confirmed they are in place to carry our rice to China,” Lun added.


Troops seize smuggled rice in Zambo City

By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.  March 12, 2020, 8:25 pm
Description: https://files.pna.gov.ph/category-list/2020/03/12/rice.jpg
SMUGGLED RICE. Government troops seize a rice shipment on Tuesday (March 10, 2020) while manning a checkpoint in Sitio Lawingan, Barangay Labuan, Zamboanga City. Authorities say the shipment lacked documents and declared the cargo smuggled. (Photo courtesy of Joint Task Force Zamboanga)
ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Government forces have intercepted a shipment of smuggled rice in a west coast barangay of this city, officials said Thursday.

Col. Antonio John Divinagracia, Joint Task Force Zamboanga commander, said the troops belonging to the Army’s 74th Infantry Battalion were manning a checkpoint when they intercepted the rice shipment around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Sitio Lawingan, Barangay Labuan here.

Divinagracia said the truck driver, Arlen Pantaleon, failed to present documents showing the legality of the rice shipment, prompting the troops to seize the cargo consisting of 130 sacks of rice.

He said Pantaleon told the troops that the rice shipment is owned by Ariane Tan, a businesswoman residing in Barangay Malagutay, this city. The truck and items were turned over to the Police Station 10 for proper disposition.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said that they will not tolerate rice smuggling in their area of operation.

“Rice smuggling deprives the government revenue collection; hence, it should be stopped,” Sobejana said. (PNA)

Nutrition Research Gives Thumbs Up to Infant Rice Cereal 

ARLINGTON, VA -- Results from a recent research project examining nutrition benefits of rice cereal consumption for infants make the strong case for inclusion of baby cereal in the diets of infants and toddlers.

The study, "Nutrient intake, introduction of baby cereals and other complementary foods in the diets of infants and toddlers from birth to 23 months of age," reviewed the reported intake of rice baby cereal, non-rice baby cereal, and non-baby cereal consumers using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The NHANES data suggests that infants who consumed baby cereal had greater consumption of nutrients from 0 to 23 months of age.  The study also found that baby cereal consumers, both rice and non-rice, had better intake for nutrients such as iron and calcium.  In addition, baby cereal consumers, again both rice and non-rice, had lower intakes of cheese, pizza, sandwiches, cured meats/poultry, desserts, fats, and oils.

"The findings from this research are significant for the industry as they demonstrate consumption of rice baby cereal in the 0-24-month population is linked to better nutrient intake which leads to better overall health and lower risk of disease," said Byron Holmes, Arkansas rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Nutrition Subcommittee.   "This science-based study bolsters the industry's claim that rice cereal is a nutritious option for infants, and the findings are being well received by consumers and the media."

The study results have been picked up by more than 145 media outlets including Yahoo! Finance, Market Place, and New Food Magazine, and received more than 149 million positive impressions within a 24-hour period.

This project was undertaken in advance of the 2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans to secure rice's position as a valued and important nutrition source for infants.  It was supported and funded by The Rice Foundation, with additional resources provided by the Arkansas Rice Research & Promotion Board, the Louisiana Rice Research Board, and the Mississippi Rice Research Board; and was published in the March edition of AIMS Public Health Journal

The research has been shared with trade and consumer media, and will be sent to all members of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee by both USA Rice and the AIMS Public Health Journal.

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Tk 100cr subsidy earmarked for farm machinery

12:00 AM, March 13, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:26 AM, March 13, 2020

Move to reduce farmers’ production cost in next boro season

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The government is putting its best foot forward to help farmers buy agricultural machinery with subsidy ahead of the next boro season so that the growers can bring down their production costs, said officials of the agriculture ministry.
Some Tk 100 crore has been set aside for this purpose this fiscal year and the farmers will get 50 per cent of the price of a machine as subsidy.
For example, a farmer will be entitled to up to Tk 14 lakh of subsidy for buying a combine harvester, which will help him bag produce on time by reducing dependence on labourers.
Similar support will be provided for buying reapers and transplanters, the officials said.
"We will start offering the support to farmers as soon as possible," said Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiruzzaman.
On Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said the finance ministry has already allocated the money and additional fund would be available if needed.  
On top of that, his ministry has outlined a Tk 3,200-crore project to speed up mechanised farming and the project would soon be placed at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting for approval. 
The initiative comes in the face of soaring wages due to a shortage of farm labourers in the peak season of harvest and plantation, causing a loss in the yield of rice. Paddy is cultivated on 71 per cent of the total croplands of 1.54 crore hectares in the country, according to official data.
As per Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the average daily agricultural labour wage remains high during harvesting seasons of aman and boro rice crops, which account for more than 90 per cent of the total annual production of 3.73 crore tonnes of milled rice.
Farmers harvest most of their aman paddy during the months of November and December and the principal crop boro during May and June.
The average daily wage (excluding the cost of food) of a male farm worker rose 27 per cent to Tk 337 in May of 2016 from Tk 265 two years earlier, according to BBS data.
Currently, farmers prepare more than 90 per cent of their total croplands by power tillers and tractors.
A majority of the grains, mainly rice, are threshed by machines and the rate of mechanisation is growing as farmers find the use of agricultural machinery beneficial in terms of cost-saving and timely cultivation.
However, the progress in mechanised transplantation and harvest has been slow over the years owing to the high cost of machines, a lack of machinery suitable for cultivating all types of soils and a dearth of operators and mechanics, said agriculturalists.
To provide support to farmers, the agriculture ministry requested the finance ministry in October last year to allocate a subsidy fund for combine harvesters, reapers and transplanters.
Agriculture Secretary Nasiruzzaman said the agriculture ministry sought the fund from the allocated subsidy of Tk 9,000 crore this fiscal year and the finance ministry would provide another Tk 100 crore if needed.
However, the finance ministry has fixed the ratio of subsidy and farmers' contribution at 50:50 for buying the machinery.
Based on that, the agriculture ministry set a ceiling for the price of a combine harvester at Tk 28 lakh to prevent showing inflated prices, he said.
"We are trying to finalise everything so that farmers can buy the machinery with subsidy before the upcoming boro season," said Md Hasanuzzaman Kallol, additional secretary of the agriculture ministry.
Officials said a large number of farmers have applied for the subsidy support to buy combine harvesters and other equipment and Tk 350 crore would be required if all applications are granted.
With the current allocation, subsidy can be provided to buy 800-plus combine harvesters, and 400 reapers and transplanters, according to the officials.
"We had sought a priority list of farmers from the government's upazila level offices. We have already got the list and a panel here will take decisions so that support can be given to every upazila proportionately," said Sheikh Md Nazim Uddin, member secretary of the technical committee on the agri-machinery subsidy programme under the ministry.
Using farm machinery is the only option for reducing production cost and loss of crops, said Subrata Ranjan Das, executive director of ACI Motors, one of the leading farm machinery marketers.
Farmers can save their cost by around 70 per cent by using machinery like combine harvesters and rice transplanters, he said, adding that the government initiative will have a positive impact on farmers' income.
The demand for harvester is quite high and around 60,000 units of harvesters will be needed within the next 3-5 years for a positive impact.
"So, the allocation of Tk 100 crore is not enough to meet the requirement," Das added.
Technological self-reliance only way forward
LAHORE: Transfer of technology enabled Pakistan to produce hybrid rice seed, which is shielding rice farmers from the coronavirus impact, while failure of solar and electronic sectors in acquiring transferable Chinese technology will make them suffer along with many other industrial sectors.
Since the menace of coronavirus started spreading, all the countries began calculating its impact. The OECD in its earlier estimates calculated that it would eat up 1.1 percent of GDP growth in India, and 0.8 percent in Pakistan.
Some estimates say that it would cost $1 billion to the Pakistani economy, but later estimates suggest the economic losses could exceed $5 billion. This more than doubles the benefit of $2-$2.2 billion that Pakistan would get if oil prices remained at the current level.
One wonders where would an economy go that some economists say is already on a ventilator. A small silver lining in this regard is the hybrid seed technology. This complicated technology required years of research inside Pakistan with the assistance of Chinese scientists.
Guard Rice, a Pakistani firm not only acquired this technology but established its own research facility to improve the yield of non-basmati rice varieties. Pakistan has been exporting hybrid rice seed to Philippines for the last three years. Manila, the capital of Philippines is the headquarters of International Rice Research Institute.
There are some simple technologies that the private sector in Pakistan could have acquired from China. These include the technology of making solar panels that we mostly import from China. Many electronic products that are assembled in Pakistan are made up of mostly imported components.
More than 70 percent of Pakistan’s rice exports come from the non-basmati varieties. Almost 80 percent of the rice farmers in Sindh, where non-basmati varieties are mostly produced use hybrid rice seed.
This includes both domestically produced hybrid seed and seeds imported from China. The import of hybrid seed from China has been impacted by Coronavirus based suspension of trade with China.
Only the seed that has already arrived in the country would be available along with the local variety that incidentally is more popular and gives highest yield of 120-130 maund per acre.
This is more than double the traditional IRRI varieties that yield of 40-50 maund per acre. Local seed producer claims that high yield hybrid rice seed has alleviated poverty among the rice farmers of Sindh. They also assured that they have developed capability and capacity to provide for total non-basmati seed requirements of Pakistani farmers and the coronavirus impact would not affect the rice farmers of Sindh.
This was a rare example of transfer of technology where the producers can survive without any import of inputs and it has paid high dividends to the company that acquired the technology as well as the farmers.
Moreover, it has shielded the farmers from the disruption in trade caused due to the spread of the coronavirus. In India, the hybrid and biotech varieties of seeds were developed by the public sector after which the private sector also pitched in.
In Pakistan, the lead was provided by many private sector seed companies, while the public sector remained dormant despite employing thousands of agricultural scientists (that get no funds for research as the allocated budget hardly covers their salaries).
The private sector has not shown the foresight to go for technology transfer of many products that they either import in finished form or assemble in the country by importing the components.
This is despite the fact that the demand for those products is increasing exponentially in the Pakistani market. For instance, there is great demand both in the domestic and industrial sector for solar power, but everything from solar panels to the solar modules have to be imported (mostly from China where coronavirus problem is highest).
We may now see shortage of these panels or use of substandard panels by unscrupulous elements that exist large in numbers. There are many split air conditioner producing units that developed a local vending base and usually import compressors only.
They would make good business in coming summer. Those depending on imports for most components would have to halt production.
Others sectors that would suffer include pharmaceuticals. We import most of the basic and intermediates that give medicines their therapeutic value from China.
China is dominant in the battery supply chain and battery manufacturers would suffer. Suspension of dyes and chemical imports from China would increase their cost. The yarn and fabric exports would also suffer badly.
The spread of coronavirus has made experts realise the importance of decentralisation and technological self-reliance, as all industries, technologies, and supply chains are affected by the shutdown in China.

Investing in Rice Production, Processing Business

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The federal government plans to make Nigeria self- sufficient in rice production. That is highly commendable. From research it has been proven that Nigeria rice is the best rice in the world as the taste and quality is far better than the imported ones from other parts of the world.
In Nigeria today, some states produce paddy rice in abundance. Some of these states are Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Kebbi, Imo, Kwara, Edo, Ogun, Ondo, Cross River State and some Northern States such as Sokoto to mention but few. Therefore, with serious efforts not only by Government but private companies and individuals, the self-sufficient policy is achievable.
Rice is now a staple food in Nigeria. Every household both rich and poor consumes a great quantity of rice every day. The demand for rice is very high. The huge demand for rice is further accentuated by increasing and expanding urbanization, endless social parties where rice is the main menu, Nigerians eating habits (preference for foreign rice).
The preference for foreign rice should be stopped.
Of the total projected population figure of 200million, over 70% feed on rice.
Because of the demand, many Nigerians have embarked on importation of rice. This situation should not be allowed to continue forever. These importers must channel their huge resources to establishment of modern milling plants in Nigeria instead of fastening the growth of some foreign countries.
From publications made by the Bureau of Statistics and Federal Ministry of Finance the importation figures of rice amounted to about N1 trillion as the end of 2012. This figure increased to over two (2) trillion Naira in 2016 and about N3 trillion in 2018. The figure has always on an increase. Rice importation has the greatest figure of over 60 per cent of total import figures.
The federal government had total closure of the neighbouring borders and it became clear indication that large quantities of foreign rice come into the country through the neighbouring ports. It became clear that there was huge importation of rice through illegal means.
During this period of total ban and closure of borders, it became imperative that Nigerians can actually produce enough rice to sustain itself. Nigerians had survived and are gradually adapted to eating of local rice.
Famers were happier, local processors of rice came back to life and they all make more money with less competition with imported products. However, the prices of rice, the staple food in the country rose on top of the roof. A common man can no longer afford the commodity, both locally produced and imported. Currently a bag of imported rice is as high as between N28, 000 and N30, 000 for a bag of 50kg; while the locally made rice is between N18, 000 and N20, 000. Government must therefore have to sustain the tempo of not allowing massive importation of rice into the country, but have a relaxed but full control of rice imports.
It is not advisable to impose a total ban on importation of rice without first assessing and establishing exactly what the country can afford to produce; ensure that the country can produce at least 70 per cent of what is needed in this country. There must be full record of what we can produce internally with projection of what our farmers can produce at full capacity.
Generally, encouraging local production or manufacturing, Agricultural production and processing is one of the good things that can happen to this country because the policy will generate more employment opportunities and put more foods in our tables.
The federal government has also concluded arrangements to roll out a new policy that will ensure that loans are available at single digit interest rate to farmers with effect from this year.
Corporate organisations such as Coscharis Group have gone into production, processing and bagging of rice.
More individuals are being encouraged by the Government to invest into this sector. Here we discussed on how you can invest into rice processing and packaging business.
Investors can invest in rice farming and rice processing or rice milling plant. Rice milling project will best be sited in these areas where rice is grown in order to reduce cost of transportation of the paddy. To set up this project, a minimum space of a plot of land is required to dry paddy rice after harvesting.
The components of machines required to set up this project are cleaning facilities, Dehuller, Boiling tank, Polisher, Bagger and other miscellaneous equipment such as wheel barrows, weighing scales.
These machines can be fabricated locally. They can also be imported from Europe and some known Asian companies that specialize in the area. Prospective investors would be given details on these machine produces and specialists.
Also project vehicles and generating sets are essential for smooth running of this project.
Rice milling could be done on cottage, small, medium and large scale bases depending on availability of capital and the raw materials- paddy rice. Output could be from 2MT to 150MT per day.
Generally, one metric tonne of paddy rice yields about 60kg- 70kg of milled rice, depending on milling efficiency company management practice and the variety of rice purchased.
In the process of milling well parboiled rice free from sand, stones, unpleasant ordour with fewer breakages, a whole rice, broken rice and bran are obtained. Whole rice is packed and sold for human consumption. Broken rice is further milled into ‘’Tuwo Shinkafa’’ (a flour meal) while bran is very important input for manufacturing dietary products like rice bran bread which has been acclaimed good for the decrease of blood cholesterol, rice bran oil and livestock feeds. From rice you can also be obtained puffed rice, rice cakes, rice pudding etc.
The husks are used for the production of potassium Hydroxide solution or as fuel for milling plants. It can be seen that virtually all parts of paddy rice is useful.
The likely cost of total project will not actually be stated safely unless one knows the scope (whether cottage, small, medium or large scale) proposed investors would like to embark upon. However, the cost ranges from N550, 000 – N10.2million for cottage level to N57million for medium size plant and over N500million for large scale. Basic factors to consider in determining the initial cost includes the capacity to produce, the source(s) of the machinery, whether to construct his own building or rent one, the location etc.
Therefore, to embark upon this project, one needs a business plan (feasibility studies), with detailed costing for all the aspects of inputs, and before one can obtain the likely total estimated cost.
In conclusion, rice milling; an agro-based business is very profitable (45-55% return on investment), and sustainable. It has low capital requirement; technical know-how is not complicated. The machinery and equipment can be sourced locally. The project has a short pay–back period.
It is highly recommended for serious and aggressive promoters, local and state Governments and private investors particularly those that are thinking good for this country.
For details on comprehensive and bankable feasibility studies, investment Advisory services, funding arrangements, please contact the writer.
Uba can be reached via ubagodwin@yahoo.com

China moves to expand early rice acreage

Xinhua, March 12, 2020
BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- China is working to increase the planting area of early rice, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said Thursday.
This year, the government has been supporting early rice production through raising the minimum purchase prices, the ministry said in a statement after a teleconference.
Meanwhile, 3.67 billion yuan (about 527.3 million U.S. dollars) has been set aside for agricultural projects, and local governments have mapped supporting policies to promote an increase in the early rice planting area, it said.
Now, early rice planting is at a critical stage in southern China and the Yangtze River Basin as seedlings are being raised, and local governments should make efforts to increase early rice acreage, it said.
In 2019, China's early rice planting area dropped 7.1 percent to 4.45 million hectares, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
China's total grain output consists of three parts -- early rice, summer grain and autumn production. Autumn grain crops, which include corn and mid- and late-season rice, account for the bulk of the total. Enditem

NFA assures sufficient rice stocks amid Covid-19 threat

 March 12, 2020, 5:10 pm
Description: https://files.pna.gov.ph/category-list/2018/04/19/nfa%20rice%20enough_5ad87f15b54362_27299081.jpg
MANILA – The National Food Authority (NFA) has sufficient rice inventory in the National Capital Region (NCR), even in case of an emergency situation or possible lockdown due to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). This was the assurance from NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal in view of the government’s total efforts and preparations on the Covid-19 outbreak. 
 “We have 455,000 bags of rice in Metro Manila. This is good for 40 days, at 10 percent market participation. Of course, there are still rice stocks in the households and the commercial sector, which comprise the great portion of rice stocks in the market,” Dansal said in a statement Wednesday.

The continuing transfer of 2,224,120 bags or 111,206 metric tons (MT) of rice to NCR from the nearby rice-producing regions is also being fast-tracked. This is to ensure the rice sufficiency level of NCR at all times. 

NCR will receive 311,920 bags (15,596 MT) from Region 1; 1,000,000 bags (50,000 MT) from Region 2; and 912,200 bags (45,610 MT) from Region 3.
 The total government rice stock is 9.636 million bags or 481,800 MT. This is equivalent to a 14.5-day rice consumption requirement of the whole country at 661,930 bags. They are stored in different strategically located warehouses in all provinces. 

Meanwhile, Dansal further said that for 2020, the NFA has bought 1,734,230 bags (86,711 MT) of palay from farmers and farmers’ coops and associations. This is a 124-percent accomplishment of the 1,399,000 bags target for January and February. For the whole of 2020, the NFA aims to locally buy 15,440,000 bags of palay.  
Republic Act 11203 mandates the NFA to maintain a sufficient level of rice buffer stocks to be sourced locally, intended primarily for emergency/calamity operations. 
NFA continues to sell rice through disaster/relief/calamity operations response outlets, private authorized distributors, and other government agencies. (PR)

Asia Rice-Thai drought raises supply jitters, Vietnam rates at over 1-yr high

Author of the article:
Reuters
Publishing date:
BENGALURU — Drought conditions in Thailand stoked concerns of a supply shortage and lifted rice export prices to a more than 6-1/2 year high this week, while strong domestic demand amid a coronavirus outbreak pushed Vietnamese rates to more than a one-year peak.
Thailand’s benchmark 5% broken rice prices rose to $470-$495 per tonne on Thursday, their highest since August 2013, versus last week’s $460-$467 range.
“Many rice mills are refusing to sell due to uncertainty over supply during this dry season,” a Bangkok-based rice trader said, echoing the concerns of others.
Many parts of the country’s rice growing area have been hit by drought and traders said higher prices were also denting overseas demand.
The Thai government has said this year’s dry season could extend beyond the usual period of April through to June.
In Vietnam, rates for 5% broken rice rose to $400-$405 on Thursday, their highest since November 2018, compared with $390-$400 a week earlier.
“Domestic demand has been strong over the past week as families are rushing to stockpile rice in anticipation of the further spread of the new coronavirus,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.
“This massive stockpiling has forced exporters to raise their prices due to scarce supplies,” the trader added.
Vietnam’s rice exports in the first two months of this year rose 31.7% from a year earlier to 928,798 tonnes, according to government customs data released on Wednesday.
In top exporter India, rice export prices extended their losing streak due to a depreciation in rupee despite strong demand from African countries.
India’s 5% broken parboiled variety rates edged lower to $363-$367 per tonne this week from last week’s $367-$371.
The Indian rupee was trading near a record low on Thursday, raising exporters margins from overseas sales.
“Demand has been slowly improving from African countries. Prices are moderating due to the weak rupee,” said B V Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association (REA).
India’s rice exports in 2019 fell 18.1 % from a year ago to their lowest in eight years, government data shows, as demand from key Asian and African buyers moderated.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh could miss its target of 20 million tonnes for the “Boro” summer variety rice crop this season, as many farmers who were upset about low prices switched to other crops, insiders said.
Boro contributes more than half of Bangladesh’s typical annual rice output of around 35 million tonnes. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Khanh Vu in Hanoi and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Rice exporters told to keep 5% of stock for local market
The Saigon Times Daily
Wednesday,  Mar 11, 2020,20:14 (GMT+7)
Description: https://english.thesaigontimes.vn/Uploads/Articles/75338/03147_81ca2_gao_ttxvn.jpg
Rice is being loaded onto a vessel. Rice exporters have been told to set aside a volume of rice equivalent to at least 5% of their rice shipments from the previous six months - PHOTO: VNA
HCMC - The Ministry of Industry and Trade's Import-Export Department has requested rice exporters to set aside a volume of rice equivalent to at least 5% of their rice shipments from the previous six months to meet the rising demand on the local market.
Traders are told to improve their distribution systems in such a way that allow them to supply rice to the market at the instruction of competent State agencies so as to help stabilize the market in the midst of coronavirus fears. The past few days have seen consumers boost purchase of rice and other necessities due to virus fears.
In fact, local supply is guaranteed due to high output and stagnant rice exports over the past months.
Since early this year, developments on the global market have significantly affected Vietnam’s rice exports. Specifically, other countries have boosted their rice volumes, while the demand for rice in Vietnam’s traditional markets, such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia, has dropped, the Government news website reported.
Further, the Philippines as a key buyer of Vietnam's rice has enhanced its control over rice imports.
To meet the rice export target assigned by the prime minister and effectively deploy Decree 107/2018/ND-CP on rice exports, the Import-Export Department has also required the Departments of Industry and Trade of localities and the Vietnam Food Association to encourage rice exporters to continue improving their infrastructure and increasing the added value of their products, contributing to building the Vietnamese rice brand.
They should closely monitor rice prices in their localities and report any volatility to the departments as well as coordinate with the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development in their localities to instruct cooperatives and farmers to apply new production processes to ensure the quality of rice for export.

Myanmar must be prepared to deal with economic fallout from spread of COVID-19
ZAW OO 10 MAR 2020
Description: Workers walk past sewing machines in a recently closed garment factory in the Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone on the outskirts of Yangon. Photo - EPA
Workers walk past sewing machines in a recently closed garment factory in the Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone on the outskirts of Yangon. Photo - EPA
Although Myanmar has not officially detected any COVID-19 carriers, the virus has wreaked havoc on the economy and could lead to full-blown economic crisis if not contained soon.
The tourism sector has suffered from a stampede of cancellations beginning in China. Now, most tourists from all other countries have decided to stay at home. The income from tourism is quite substantial, US$1.7 billion or 2.5 percent of GDP in 2018. Back then, Myanmar was the fastest-growing destination in the world, and even the negative international coverage of the Rakhine crisis did not deter the 40pc year-on-year increase in tourist arrivals - until the outbreak of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the garment industry has experienced serious disruptions in supply chains originating in China, on which 90pc of inputs are dependent. Last week, 13 garment factories, including three being built, closed down their operations, laying off more than 5,000 workers who will not easily find alternative jobs. The whole industry, which employs over half-million workers, faces the same fate.  
At the same time, 70pc of populations who live in rural areas are also suffering from the economic flu as a result of Chinese restrictions to border trade. Over 90pc of Myanmar’s top export commodities such as maize, watermelons and bananas are dependent on the Chinese market. Perishable agriculture exports, which make up 40pc out of US$6 billion worth of exports to China, have come to a near halt.
Consequently, the impact of COVID-19 has been severe on farmers and traders.  Just before the outbreak, farmers were already struggling from the collapse of rice exports to China after the country tightened border control against illegal rice trade.   
Back then, farmers had hoped for a rebound of income from winter crops as the Chinese authorities exercise less stringent measures on these products during that season.   But COVID-19 has wiped out demand, so the farmers got a second shock to their income instead.
With rising prices of consumer goods and production costs, stakeholders are now turning to the government for leadership.  Last week, the Union of Myanmar Chambers of Commerce and Industry issued a 10-point statement calling for economic assistance from the government and trade unions have followed suit.  Demands include a range of previous requests from low interest rates, loan deference and tax cuts on new proposals such as government-backed unemployment compensation and unpaid leave policies.  
Based on experience, Myanmar has shown resilience in dealing with economic shocks such as during the aftermath of natural disasters and economic sanctions. Under each crisis, the economy recovered quickly.   
However, the hidden strength of the economy was China, which continued to invest in Myanmar since early 1990s. China is by far the largest investor in Myanmar, officially committing US$20 billion worth of investments across the country, followed by Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.

garment-2.jpg

Description: A file image of sunset at Ngwe Saung beach in Myanmar. Tourist arrivals have been hit by the virus outbreak first discovered in China at the beginning of the year. Photo - EPA
A file image of sunset at Ngwe Saung beach in Myanmar. Tourist arrivals have been hit by the virus outbreak first discovered in China at the beginning of the year. Photo - EPA
But with Chinese investments now in lock-down due to COVID-19, most BRI-related capital flows will be delayed at best, thus depriving Myanmar of a reliable source of external funds.
A potential halt in export revenues and foreign capital inflows can tip the economy into a full-blown economic crisis on three fronts.  
The first crisis is exchange rate volatility. Since the beginning of the current fiscal year in October 2019, the Myanmar kyat has risen in value against the dollar. The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to a dramatic appreciation of the local currency, which has risen 10pc against the dollar in two months. 
This reflects less demand for dollars as the economy slows down. The unexpected rally around the kyat could trigger a collapse in the export sectors, further undermining the drop in manufacturing and agriculture exports.
Second, the banking sector will also come under pressure. According to the World Bank, the net profits of private banks went negative for the first time in a decade as their ability to lend at a profit is severely limited by high interest rates required by the Central Bank of Myanmar. The high borrowing costs had already hurt domestic industries and stopped private credit flows even before the crisis.  
A prolonged crisis over a quarter or two could result in many firms going bust, delay the recapitalisation of private banks and exacerbate bank fragility.  
Finally, the COVID-19 can offset significant portions of economic growth as the combination of demand and supply disruptions ripple across the economy. 
The Myanmar economy has yet to experience disruptions to the workforce asCOVID-19 has not resulted in a public emergency response. At this point, international financial institutions expect a slight 0.2 percentage point cut in the GDP growth rate. 
That can change dramatically if COVID-19 is detected in Myanmar and causes severe disruptions and panic reactions. In 2015, severe floods and landslides led to a 1 percentage point drop in growth.
As such, economic policy makers should anticipate the worst-case scenario and prepare timely responses. 
Myanmar should heed the advice of Dr Tedros Adhanom, head of the World Health Organization, who encouraged governments to “demonstrate (high level political) commitment (against) the level of threat we all face.” 
Myanmar does have a step-by-step guideline under the National Plan of Action on Health Security, which was updated in 2018. The country also has experience recovering from severe shocks such as Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and floods and landslides in 2015. Back then, the apex authority under the National Natural Disaster Management Committee was activated to oversee response and recovery plans.
Shifting the focus from emergency health measures to a whole-of-government approach in building the coalition for strategic preparedness can mitigate any further disruptions under the prevailing circumstances. It will also enable Myanmar to effectively deal with bigger blows to the economy. 
Zaw Oo is an economist who served as Special Coordinator for Recovery Planning of the Government of Myanmar during the 2015 crisis of floods and landslides.

Govt to buy paddy through app in Boro season

Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka | Published: 02:09, Mar 12,2020

Food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder on Wednesday said that the government was going to procure paddy and rice using a digital app from 64 upazilas across the country during the upcoming Boro season.
The government took the decision following the success of paddy procurement through the digital app in 16 upazilas in the last Aman season, he said while talking to reporters at the ministry’s conference room.
Through the app, the government procured 6.27 lakh tonnes of Aman paddy directly from farmers, he said.
The purpose of introducing the app was to provide fair prices to paddy growers, the minister said, adding that their main objective was to procure paddy maintaining transparency.
In the Boro season, the government would procure paddy and rice from 64 upazilas, said Sadhan Chandra.
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