Wednesday, April 22, 2020

22nd April,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter


The COVID-19 rice economy: what a pandemic means for Southeast Asia’s staple

Description: https://i0.wp.com/www.aseantoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Rice_fields_Chiang_Mai.jpg?resize=777%2C437&ssl=1Photo: echiner1 / CC BY-SA
COVID-19 is part of a web of factors changing the livelihoods of rice farmers and exporters in Southeast Asia. As rice prices climb and governments restrict exports, the rice economy offers a window into how the pandemic is changing our food systems.
By Skylar Lindsay
As cities and countries impose lockdowns, people around the world, from the UK to India, are struggling to access food. The causes vary, with some communities facing lost income and local scarcity while others deal with barriers to movement, but the drivers of this food insecurity are primarily localized and specific to each country or region.
The world isn’t running out of food, but COVID-19 is already impacting our food systems in deep and varied ways: farms in the United States are struggling to make sure they have enough migrant workers and hundreds of thousands of Indonesian fishers are now barely able to earn a living.
One of the key factors impacting our food systems is the price of rice. Food prices dropped globally in March due to cheap fossil fuels and a drop in demand triggered by the economic slowdown. The price of rice, however, rose for the third month in a row as governments began to stockpile rice and exporters began to limit supply.
In Southeast Asia, the pandemic is changing the way the region’s rice farmers and exporters do business. Demand is increasing despite the crumbling global economy and prices are rising as farmers struggle to cope with COVID-19, in addition climate change-fueled drought.
Prices climb as demand for Thai rice surges and farmers face drought and COVID-19
Thailand’s rice prices, used as a benchmark for the global market, have hit a seven-year high as competitors struggle with the impacts of the pandemic. India, the world’s largest rice supplier, has stopped the majority of its rice exports. Vietnam halted exports of most varieties of rice and limited exports of others but the government is expected to move to a quota system for April and May.
Description: https://i0.wp.com/www.aseantoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/RicePricesThailand.jpg?w=777&ssl=1
Thailand is the world’s second-largest exporter of rice and its domestic rice economy offers some indication of what’s to come for the rest of the world. Since January, domestic rice prices have risen 20-30% and rice packers say prices will continue to climb until the new harvest enters the market in August or September.
Over the past year, Thailand and the Mekong region have experienced their worst drought in 40 years and farmers have seen their livelihoods dry up. Experts pin the drought on both climate change and the construction of hydropower dams along the Mekong River, with producers in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam all feeling the impacts.
Somkiat Makayatorn, honorary president of Thai Rice Packers Association, said the drought has led to as much as a 2 million-tonne drop in the supply of off-season rice this year. This is significant, as last year domestic rice consumption in Thailand totalled 7.5 million tonnes. Somkiat added, however, that Thailand will never face a rice shortage and that any shortages at supermarkets are due to branch supply and distribution issues, not a shortage of food.
Before the pandemic hit, Thai rice producers were also seeing a labour shortage, according to Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association. “Because of the labour shortage, farmers opt to use machinery and chemicals that affect Thai rice’s aromatic quality and good taste,” he said, though he added that the quality of Thai rice has also dropped because of climate change and changes in plantation methods.
Thailand could face an additional labour shortage due to COVID-19, but so far this isn’t the case. The Thai government says it has no plans to restrict rice exports.
Thai rice farmers benefit from high prices
There may not be a rice shortage but Thailand’s limited supply is keeping prices high and, combined with the economic slowdown, this effectively caps Thai exports. Despite the fact that Indian and Vietnamese competition is largely absent, Thai rice exporters announced in January that they expect this year’s rice exports to be the lowest in seven years at 7.5 million tonnes, down from 7.8 million in 2019. Thailand’s exports peaked in 2017 at 11.6 million tonnes.
Thai rice merchants say they have yet to see major orders from overseas but it’s only a matter of time. The Philippines, which became the world’s largest rice importer in 2019 after the government abolished import limits, has said it will buy at least 300,000 tonnes of rice to stockpile—on top of the 1.3 million tonnes the country has already purchased in 2020. Manila normally purchases the bulk of its rice from Vietnam and will likely turn to Thailand for the extra supply.
The rice economies of Thailand and Vietnam speak to how COVID-19 is changing our food systems
The challenges for rice farmers and exporters in Southeast Asia will continue to grow, and they reflect broader patterns in how the pandemic is affecting food security. Jean Balié at the International Rice Research Institute published an analysis that shows how rice prices could continue to rise due to three key factors: labour shortages, supply chain disruptions and barriers to liquid capital for farmers.
A shortage of workers due to COVID-19 could drive up the cost of labour, especially as women, who play a central role in rice production in most places, are expected to dedicate even more time to caring for children, the sick and the elderely.
Supply chain issues could drive up prices as the pandemic makes it harder to get rice from producers to markets and also to get agricultural inputs, like seeds and fertilizers, to farmers. Lastly, high interest rates and other barriers to credit may mean that farmers are already struggling to access the capital they need to operate—and to cope with the challenges of drought, COVID-19 and unpredictable markets.
Balié also shows how rice export bans from Vietnam, Cambodia and India can significantly drive up global prices. Though India and Vietnam haven’t stopped exports all together, Cambodia has now announced it will limit exports starting in April.
These supply restrictions will become a major problem if there is also an unprecedented surge in demand—from China, for example. In that scenario, rice prices would jump far past their 2008 peak.
Restrictions on exports, drought in the Mekong, labour shortages and supply chain issues will all limit supply and drive up prices despite the demand-side issues of a global economic slowdown. This isn’t the same as a food shortage—the world still has more than enough food. But COVID-19 is now part of a web of factors making the livelihoods of rice farmers, packers and sellers—the people who work to get our food to where people need it—far less predictable.

Ensure national rice stock data is accurate, Jokowi tells officials


Description: Ensure national rice stock data is accurate, Jokowi tells officials
President Joko Widodo. (Rusman - Biro Pers Sekretariat Presiden)
Make sure that our rice stocks are sufficient. Please, calculate them accurately. Also, make a precise prediction of our rice production as we are entering the dry season. How long will our national rice reserves last?
Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has asked officials to ensure their assessment of Indonesia’s rice stocks is accurate as the nation enters the fasting month of Ramadhan and the dry season amid the coronavirus pandemic.



The President’s directive comes on the back of a warning issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which has predicted the COVID-19 pandemic could trigger a global food crisis.



"Make sure that our rice stocks are sufficient. Please, calculate them accurately. Also, make a precise prediction of our rice production as we are entering the dry season. How long will our national rice reserves last?" he told the concerned authorities in Jakarta on Tuesday.



President Jokowi raised issues related with staple food stocks during a virtual cabinet meeting with Vice President Ma'ruf Amin and ministers, which took place at the Merdeka Palace.



President Jokowi requested the authorities to calculate the national rice stocks by referring to valid and reliable empirical data. "Please, calculate it accurately. Do not overestimate," he urged.



The President then reiterated FAO’s warning that the current coronavirus pandemic could trigger a food shortage across the world.



Indonesia needs to be cautious because all countries, including rice producers, would prioritize their domestic needs, he said, adding that the imposition of a lockdown could affect the staple food supply chain.



Speaking about the rice supply chain, President Jokowi highlighted the importance of securing the supply chain from farmers by implementing the principles of good governance.



To this end, Jokowi ordered the Food Task Force to coordinate with the National Police in monitoring staple food stocks and their supply chains.



State Logistics Agency (Bulog) president director Budi Waseso recently revealed that as of April 17, 2020, the total rice stocks stored at Bulog stood at 1.41 million tons.



In connection with the impact of COVID-19 on global food security, the Food and Agriculture Organization had earlier warned of a looming food crisis.



However, this worst-case scenario could be avoided if "measures are taken fast to protect the most vulnerable, keep global food supply chains alive, and mitigate the pandemic's impacts across the food system", according to the FAO.



The FAO, on its official website, expressed the opinion that "border closures, quarantines, and market, supply chain, and trade disruptions could restrict people's access to sufficient/diverse and nutritious sources of food”. (INE)



Fiji imported $42.6 million worth of rice last year which is equivalent to around 40,000 metric tonnes of rice

Tuesday 21/04/2020
Description: https://www.fijivillage.com/news_images/547521695e9e6302285e77e8c94fdf.jpg
Fiji imported $42.6 million worth of rice last year which is equivalent to around 40,000 metric tonnes of rice.
This was highlighted by the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Mahendra Reddy as he announced a national rice assistance package targeting a wide cross-section of the community.
Dr. Reddy rationalized the program as being one that would ensure Fiji gradually achieves self-sufficiency in rice production.
He highlighted that with rice being a staple food source and being widely consumed by every household in Fiji, it was an essential commodity, therefore requiring the Ministry’s upscaling of assistance to ensure improved yield and production.
Dr.Reddy says about 8,000 metric tonnes of rice is produced and consumed locally and historically, Fiji has achieved around 66% self-sufficiency of rice production, so they know it can be done as the agro-climatic conditions in Fiji are exceptionally favourable for rice cultivation.
The Minister stated that a total of 24,000 acres of land was required to achieve 100% self-sufficiency for rice with 2 crops per year; an achievable aspiration that would require unity to achieve at the earliest.
He says to achieve this, the Ministry of Agriculture will implement the following strategies which include providing up to 30KG (for 1-acre farms) rice seeds to every sugarcane farmer. Assistance on milling their rice for home consumption will be provided through small portable rice mills close to their area when the rice paddy is ready for milling.
Up to 30KG (for 1-acre farms) rice seeds will be provided to every non-sugarcane farmer. Assistance on milling their rice for home consumption will be provided through small portable rice mills close to their area when the rice paddy is ready for milling.
Dr. Reddy says Rice seeds will be provided to all 1,100 villages for community-based rice farming. The seeds are to be provided following a signed commitment by the village headman, the amount of rice seed to be provided will be equivalent to the population size of the village, that the village attend short training on rice cultivation, that the village allocates a dedicated communal land and appoints a dedicated “Rice Growing Cluster”.

NFA-Bicol has enough supply of rice amid health crisis

By Mar Serrano  April 21, 2020, 8:31 pm
Description: https://files.pna.gov.ph/category-list/2018/04/27/nfa%20rice%20enough_5ae313f4c2df26_79412725.jpg
Sacks of rice kept at a National Food Authority warehouse. (PNA file photo)

LEGAZPI CITY – The National Food Authority (NFA) in Bicol said it has sufficient supply of rice to sustain the staple food requirement needed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In an interview, Henry Tristeza, NFA regional director, on Tuesday said there are 516,000 bags of palay (unhusked rice) in various warehouses across Bicol.
He said once milled, the 516,000 bags are equivalent to 325,000 sacks of milled rice, and these would add up to the 8,055 bags now kept in NFA warehouses for distribution.
“The 333,055 bags of rice would serve as additional buffer stocks to maintain the 15-day supply requirements under the agency guidelines,” he said.
Tristeza added that the rice supply would address the pending rice requirement needed by various local government units and other front line agencies involved in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.
To date, the NFA has a request for 493,000 bags of rice from various LGUs and of the number, the agency has released 224,000 bags of the grain staple.
The heavy demand would be addressed once the 160,000 bags of rice arrive from Mindoro province.
“Initially, we expect the first batch of shipment of 20,000 bags to arrive next week,” Tristeza said.
He admitted that the milling preparation has slowed down due to the strict enforcement of the ECQ.
“Our private milling firms were closed while some of them can only operate for four hours instead of the 10 to 12 hours normal operations due to the ECQ,” he said. (PNA)


Indonesia Has Enough Rice to Last Pandemic: Bulog

BY :TARA MARCHELIN
APRIL 20, 2020
Workers carry sacks of rice from a Bulog warehouse in Central Java in December 2019. (SP Photo/Stefy Thenu)

Description: https://img.beritasatu.com/cache/jakartaglobe/960x620-4/2020/04/1587389724.jpgJakarta. The head of the Indonesian Bureau of Logistics, or Bulog, Budi Waseso, said on Monday that Indonesia has enough supply of rice to last during the coronavirus pandemic. As of April 17, Bulog still has 1.41 million tons of rice in its warehouses across the country.
"We have 1.35 million tons in government warehouses and 56,000 tons for commercial purposes. It should be enough to last during the pandemic," Budi said during a teleconference with the House of Representatives' Commission VI.
To maintain the rice supply and keep prices stable, Budi said the bureau plans to obtain 950,000 more tons of rice in 2020, around 69 percent of which will be bought directly from farmers throughout April–June.   
"Dozens of regions all over the country will have their rice harvest season in April, May and June. We've set a target to buy 950,000 more tons [of rice], but we'll likely buy more, as much as we possibly could, since a prolonged pandemic might cause food scarcity," he said.
Bulog has also been buying more sago from farmers in the eastern parts of Indonesia. Budi said sago could be a substitute for rice in case supply of the latter becomes scarce. 
The bureau has also been trying to keep enough sugar in reserve during the pandemic. According to Budi, as of April 17, Bulog still has a total of 9,674.81 tons of sugar in its warehouses.
Bulog has also bought 15,000 extra tons of sugar from Sugar Group Companies and proposed more raw sugar import to the government through its subsidiary Gendhis Multi Manis (GMM). 
"The raw sugar import will be done in two phases. A total of 29,750 tons of raw sugar arrived in early April for the first phase. The tender process for the second phase of import has now been completed and 35,000 more tons of raw sugar should arrive here in early May," Budi said. 
Bulog is also in the process of importing 50,000 tons of crystal sugar, 21,800 tons of which will arrive by the end of April. The rest will arrive by the end of May.
Budi said the bureau also has in its reserve a total of 97.41 tons of buffalo meat. Bulog was going to import 5,000 more tons of buffalo meat from India, but the country's strict lockdown policy has stopped the import for the time being.
"We were supposed to be importing buffalo meat from India from March to May, but it's been delayed by the lockdown in India until May 3. However, we've already obtained an import permit for 100,000 tons of buffalo meat," he said.
Bulog also has 1.1 million kiloliters of cooking oil, 644 tons of flour, 29.69 tons of garlic, 79.73 tons of eggs and 0.20 tons of shallots in its warehouses as part of its pandemic reserve.


I ordered the £24.99 Aldi food box but it didn't arrive as I hoped
Aldi's food parcels were released last week with 22 food items and household products suppose to be inside
By
Catherine MurphyRetail and Leisure reporter
·       07:46, 21 APR 2020
·       UPDATED07:53, 22 APR 2020
Description: https://i2-prod.liverpoolecho.co.uk/incoming/article18120828.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/0_WhatsApp-Image-2020-04-20-at-164751jpeg.jpgAldi's food parcel is delivered in a big box by a courier
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Budget supermarket Aldi followed in the footsteps of Morrisons and Marks & Spencer's last week when it released its food parcels.
Similar to M&S, Aldi told the majority of the items which would be inside its box but promised a few surprises too.
Aldi's food parcel is priced at £24.99 and includes free standard delivery. To order, customers can visit its website here. Aldi is advising shoppers that stock is being replenished everyday, so keep checking back if it is sold out.
I ordered Aldi's Food Parcel on Friday morning (the day they were released) and received an email straight afterwards stating it would be delivered in three to 10 working days.
To me, 10 working days seemed long to wait for a box full of essentials but given the current circumstances we can't really complain about delivery times.
The items arrive in a big box and are delivered by a courier who offers contactless delivery
However, to my surprise I received an email on Sunday morning from Hermes saying they had received my parcel. It arrived the next day.
The product arrived, similar to Morrisons, and Marks & Spencer - in a big cardboard box by courier.
The full contents were:
·       400g salted peanuts
·       500g Fusilli
·       4 pack of toilet rolls
·       4 pack of tuna in brine
·       1kg of classic basmati rice
·       2 packs of 6 brown bake from home bread rolls
·       One litre of British semi-skimmed long life milk
·       80 gold blend teabags
·       Lacura handwash
·       Tinned peeled plum tomatoes
·       Two tins of tomato soup
·       Chicken and Noodle soup
·       Tin of baked bins
·       Tin of rice pudding
·       500g of bolognese pasta sauce
·       Minestrone soup
·       Four tins of sweetcorn
·       Tinned Chilli Con Carne
·       Tinned sliced carrots
·       Mini delights chocolate bars
·       Four pack of biscuit assortments
As you can see from the list, the box does include essential items such as toilet rolls, teabags, pasta and soups as well as a couple of treats for customers too.
However, the main issue I found with the box was how it arrived. You may be wondering why no coffee is listed above.

I found the jar of coffee smashed when I opened the box
This is due to the fact when I opened the box the Alcafe jar was completely smashed. The coffee had then consequently spilled all over the box.
It would benefit customers if glass items were wrapped separately. When I opened the box it looked like everything had just been thrown in.
The box itself was also heavy to lift. Aldi does state this on its website, but it is worth bearing in mind if you're planning to order one to an elderly relative or someone whose mobility isn't great.
Overall, the box does come with essentials items but I do think the delivery of it needs some work.

In Memory:  Agnes Kirkpatrick Godchaux  

USA Rice extends condolences to the family and friends of Agnes Kirkpatrick Godchaux, who passed away on April 16, at the age of 92.  Agnes was married to Frank A. Godchaux III for 66 years until his death in February 2019.  She is survived by four children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Agnes was born December 28, 1927 in Abbeville, Louisiana, and graduated from the University of Louisiana Lafayette.  After college, she moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, to teach and coach women's sports before returning to Louisiana, and Frank, and a life filled with travel, gardening, and community service.  

Her husband was a respected leader in the U.S. rice industry and Agnes enjoyed accompanying him on his business travels.  She was truly an asset in that capacity as she was known for her smile and grace, and was able to charm everyone she met.

Meryl Kennedy Farr, a rice miller from Louisiana whose father, Elton Kennedy, was business partners with Frank Godchaux, remembers Agnes as "a person of not only beauty but immense grace...always smiling, always laughing, always thoughtful of others.  For those of us fortunate enough to know her, she will live in our hearts forever for being with her was truly like being wrapped in love."

Funeral services will be private.  A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at a future date.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 101 E. Vermilion Street, Abbeville, Louisiana 70510, or Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana, 301AA Comeaux Memorial Drive, Abbeville, Louisiana 70510.



Rice Industry Announces 2030 Sustainability Targets   

MARYSVILLE, CA & NEWPORT, AR -- USA Rice and The Rice Foundation conducted their first joint, virtual press conference today to announce a new set of aggressive sustainability reduction and improvement targets for the industry that build on more than three decades of conservation accomplishments.

"I am particularly proud to represent this industry today," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward who kicked the press conference off.  "Last year, thanks to our partnership with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, we were able to showcase our industry's outstanding commitment to the principles of sustainability with our joint report.  Today, we are unveiling the bright future of a rice industry not satisfied to rest on its laurels."

"There is no question we have accomplished great things for sustainability and conservation on our farms," said Charley Mathews, Jr., chair of USA Rice who joined the media event from his rice farm in Marysville, California.  "But in farming, you're never quite done.  You can always do more, always do better.  And that's what we've come together to announce -- to challenge ourselves and our fellow farmers to do even better.  I know we can do it."

Jennifer James, a fourth-generation rice farmer from Newport, Arkansas, who serves as the chair of the USA Rice Sustainability Committee talked about her family farm, what inspires her to lead the industry forward, and then unveiled the new 2030 targets in six areas.

"Over the next 10 years the U.S. rice industry has committed to the following goals," she explained.  "To increase land use efficiency by 10 percent, to decrease soil loss by 8 percent, to decrease water use by another 13 percent, decrease greenhouse gas emissions by another 13 percent, decrease energy use by another 10 percent, and increase biodiversity on our farmland by 10 percent."

James reminded that these targets are on top of the already impressive 36 years of reductions the industry has made, including water use reduction of 52 percent, greenhouse gas reduction of 41 percent, soil loss reduction of 29 percent, energy use reductions of 34 percent, and land use efficiency improvement of 39 percent.

"As an industry we have a great story to tell that we can all be proud of," James said.  "We will continue working together to make the story even better and to keep telling it."

Dr. Steve Linscombe, executive director of The Rice Foundation, explained how the goals would be tracked.

"The U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report will be used as a baseline for tracking these goals," he said.  "The data used in that report come from USDA and are tabulated in the Field to Market Indicators Report which is published every four years.  In addition, the land grant universities in all six rice-producing states estimate practice adoption and have significant research on how much water, energy, and emissions are saved through the use of these practices."

Linscombe continued:  "It goes without saying that rice is farmed differently in every state, and often even within the same states.  And each state and region has its own challenges and opportunities to reach these goals so our aim is to rely on aggregate data to show how our industry is working as a whole to reduce our overall numbers."

Ward said these new goals, on top of previous accomplishments, firmly establish U.S. rice as a leading commodity.

"Environmental responsibility is top of mind for many U.S. consumers," she said.  "But not any more than it is for the men and women who grow our food and make their living off the land.  Their track record shows it, and these new targets should signal to consumers that the U.S. rice industry hears them and is leading the way to a sustainable and nutritious future."

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Order Extra Rice With Your Takeout

Because getting takeout or delivery right now necessitates a little more planning
Description: Cardboard takeout container containing white rice. Shutterstock
This post originally appeared in the April 20, 2020 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.

Whether one should continue ordering out in this crisis is the subject of much debate. On one hand, you may be putting restaurant workers at risk by having them bring stuff to your house. On the other hand, numerous businesses are trying to stay afloat doing just that, and are urging their customers to keep buying. I can’t make the choice for you. But I also imagine that no matter who you are, there’s only so much sourdough you can lovingly craft before you get sick of your own kitchen and would just like someone else to make you some noodles, please. Anyway, it at least makes sense that if you’re getting takeout, you should be judicious about your order, getting enough to last you a few days. Which is why you should always order extra rice for your own cooking.
This is something I’ve always done when ordering Chinese or Indian food (or any other cuisine where plain white rice is plentiful). I think I first got the idea from Carla Hall, who says you can freeze extra rice for up to three months. There’s some science saying leftover rice left out at room temperature for too long can carry the toxin B. cereus, and experts recommend cooling cooked rice quickly and storing it in shallow containers.
But getting some extra rice with my sesame chicken order is a habit I’m thankful I picked up recently, because when you’re staring down a freezer of weird odds and ends and a pantry with ever-dwindling cans of vegetables, being able to make fried rice is a godsend. Got some tomato paste, half a bag of frozen peas, and sausage? That’s a dish. A can of corn, an onion, and the last remnants of a kimchi jar? Fry it with rice and put an egg on it. You can put it in soup if you’ve run out of noodles, use it under dal with all those lentils and beans you bought, or make what I call “college dinner” by just adding soy sauce and sriracha. Pretend your apartment is a dorm!
I know, this sounds a little obvious. You heard of this thing called rice? Gotta check it out! But while takeout was once a relatively thoughtless endeavor, now it necessitates a little more planning. We’re all trying to figure out the etiquette of delivery and social isolation. There aren’t really any clear answers; after all, no one should be interacting with other people if they can help it, but everyone needs to eat. Ordering an easily storable extra few cartons also means fewer trips for your delivery person, so ideally, they are putting themselves at as little risk as possible.
And even though rice is pretty easy to cook — especially if you own a rice cooker — having a few extra cartons on hand means one fewer kitchen task to undertake right now, one thing that you don’t need to think about. Even if, like me, you’re healthy and working from home and everything is personally fine, the weight of the world is crushing. It’s okay to want to make things easier for yourself. Just make sure you tip really well.
P.S.: Prefer to make your own rice at home? We recommend this fancy rice cooker from Japan.








Rice export continues despite pandemic and natural disasters

Tuesday, 2020-04-21 12:31:54
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Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung speaking at the meeting (Photo: VNA)
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NDO/VNA - Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on April 20 ordered the advancing of the export quota of 100,000 tonnes of rice from that which was set for May in order to ease difficulties for firms that have rice stuck at ports but are unable to submit customs declarations.
Chairing a meeting on rice export amidst the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, along with drought and saltwater intrusion, Deputy PM Dung said glutinous rice can be exported as normal.
He assigned the Ministry of Industry and Trade to coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to review and assess the domestic supply and demand of rice to manage the export.
In the present context, rice export must be carefully considered, with national food security being taken into account first, so as to reduce disruptions in the rice production chain and to protect the legal and legitimate rights of farmers and relevant organisations, he said.
He pointed out bottlenecks in rice export management in recent times that need to be addressed, saying the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Finance and concerned agencies must bear the main responsibility for these problems.
He, therefore, asked the two ministries to monitor businesses that have rice stuck at ports but are unable to submit customs declarations.
Earlier, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the resumption of rice export, on that condition that food security must be guaranteed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, drought and saltwater intrusion.
On the basis of the opinions raised at the Government’s meeting on March 31, the PM agreed in principle on the rice export plan for April.
In its report to the PM on April 6, the Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed to continue the rice export but the volume must be strictly controlled on a monthly basis, firstly for April and May.
The ministry suggested that about 800,000 tonnes of rice should be allowed to be shipped abroad in April and May, down 40% from the same period last year. It also proposed 400,000 tonnes of rice for export this month.
In the last week of April, basing on the pandemic’s developments and reports by ministries and sectors, the PM will decide the shipments for May.
According to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Dang Doanh, Vietnam expects to ship abroad 6.5-6.7 million tonnes of rice this year. However, by the end of March, only 1.5 million tonnes were exported due to suspension.
Also, on April 20, PM Phuc asked the Government Inspectorate to conduct inspections over the observance of regulations on rice export management in recent times. During the inspections, rice export will continue as normal.

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Rice export still allowed despite pandemic, natural disasters

08:57 | 21/04/2020
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on April 20 ordered advancing the export quota of 100,000 tonnes of rice from that set for May in order to ease difficulties for firms that have rice stuck at ports but are unable to submit customs declarations.
Description: rice export still allowed despite pandemic natural disasters
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung chairs the meeting. (Photo: VNA)
Chairing a meeting on rice export amidst the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, along with drought and saltwater intrusion, Dung said glutinous rice can be exported as normal.
He assigned the Ministry of Industry and Trade to coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to review and assess the domestic supply and demand of rice to manage the export.
In the present context, rice export must be carefully considered, with national food security being taken into account in the first place, so as to reduce disruptions in the rice production chain and protect legal and legitimate rights of farmers and relevant organisations, he said.
Dung pointed out bottlenecks in rice export management over the past time that need to be addressed, saying the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Finance and concerned agencies must bear the main responsibility for these problems.
He, therefore, asked the two ministries to monitor businesses that have rice stuck at ports but are unable to submit customs declarations.
Earlier, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the resumption of rice export, conditioned that food security must be guaranteed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, drought and saltwater intrusion.
On the basis of the opinions raised at the Government’s meeting on March 31, the PM agreed in principle on the rice export plan for April.
In its report to the PM on April 6, the Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed to continue the rice export but the volume must be strictly controlled on a monthly basis, firstly April and May.
The ministry suggested that about 800,000 tonnes of rice should be allowed to be shipped abroad in April and May, down 40 percent from the same period last year. It proposed 400,000 tonnes of rice for export this month.
In the last week of April, basing on the pandemic’s developments and reports by ministries and sectors, the PM will decide the shipments for May.
According to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Dang Doanh, Vietnam expects to ship abroad 6.5-6.7 million tonnes of rice this year. However, by the end of March, only 1.5 million tonnes were exported due to suspension.
Also on April 20, PM Phuc asked the Government Inspectorate to conduct inspections over the observance of regulations on rice export management over the past time. During the inspections, rice export will go on as normal.

NBCC approves use of surplus rice for sanitisers

The national policy allows production of ethanol from damaged food grains like wheat and broken rice which are unfit for human consumption.
Published: 21st April 2020 09:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st April 2020 09:47 AMA+A A-
By Express News Service
BHUBANESWAR:  As the country is facing acute shortage of hand sanitisers, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has decided to use surplus rice in Central godowns for production of ethanol to make alcohol-based sanitisers. The decision was taken at a meeting of National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) chaired by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
“It was approved that the surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) may be converted to ethanol for utiliasation in making alcohol-based hand-sanitisers and in blending for ethanol blended petrol (EBP) programme,” Pradhan said.
He said the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018 envisages that during an agriculture crop year when there is projected over supply of food grains as anticipated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the policy will allow conversion of these surplus quantities of food grains to ethanol, based on the approval of NBCC. The national policy allows production of ethanol from damaged food grains like wheat and broken rice which are unfit for human consumption


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India File

Telangana facing a problem of plenty in paddy

K V Kurmanath  | Updated on April 21, 2020  Published on April 21, 2020
Description: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/india-file/ev4k7u/article31393716.ece/alternates/WIDE_435/Bl21IFgrainjpg
Farmers with their produce at a procurement centre in Telangana Telangana Rythu Sangham   -  Telangana Rythu Sangham

Farmers have reaped a bumper rabi harvest of 1 crore tonnes of paddy

Telangana, like many other major cereal producing States in the country, is facing a problem of plenty. Supported by irrigation facilities from the newly constructed water projects and aided by an extended monsoon last year, farmers in the State have reaped a bumper harvest of one crore tonnes of paddy in the rabi season.
Lockdown restrictions and the closure of market yards from the last week of March were seen as a challenge for farmers to sell their produce.
However, the Telangana government has decided to buy all of the paddy (and maize) at an estimated cost of 30,000 crore.
“We will buy every single grain that you harvested. And, we will buy it in your village,” Telangana Chief Minister, K Chandrashekar Rao, has assured the farmers.
The good communicator that he is, the Chief Minister has cautioned them against bringing the produce to the market yards in towns and cities. He also warned them against mobbing procurement centres by gathering there in large numbers.
Consequent to his announcement, the Civil Supplies Department, the nodal agency for paddy procurement, has opened about 6,500 paddy procurement centres (PPCs) as against 3,500 centres last year. Some of the PPCs are managed by GCC (Girijan Cooperative Corporation) and SERP (Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty).
In order to avoid mobs and ensure ‘physical distancing’ norms at the procurement centres, the Department has roped in about 5,000 Agriculture Extension Officers (AEOs) who were appointed after the formation of Telangana. “The AEOs will assess the harvesting status and positioning of paddy in a particular village and give the farmers ‘chits’, indicating the time and date on which they can take their produce to the procurement centre,” a top Civil Supplies Department official said.
“We started procurement about 10 days ago and have purchased five lakh tonnes of paddy so far at 1,830 a quintal,” he said.

Arrivals to peak in May

The Department expects maximum arrivals in May. “We will require 22 crore gunny bags for the whole stock. We have about 12 crore bags with us and another 2-2.5 crore bags with ration shops and millers. We can bridge the gap by the time we need them next month,” he said.
“They have set up 3-4 procurement centres in a mandal and are asking us to transport the produce there at a scheduled time,” A Chandru, a farmer at Bommanapalli in Kothagudem district, said. The farmers are yet to receive the money. The procurement centres will pool the produce and send it to millers after getting enough produce to be carried in a truck. “They said it will take 10-12 days before we get the money in our accounts,” Chandru said.
The Chief Minister had hinted that payments may be delayed and asked the farmers not to lose sleep over getting the money in their accounts. “It may be delayed but it will surely be deposited,” he had said.
There, however, is no additional advantage in terms of cost or convenience when compared to last year. “It is almost like last year’s process. Only, I’m assured of selling the produce during difficult days,” said farmer Chandru.
M Shobhan, Joint Secretary of Telangana Rythu Sangham, said there was lack of awareness (on government’s assurance that it will buy all of the produce) among farmers in the hinterland. "I have visited four purchasing centres. There is a shortage of gunny bags," he said. The government has given the mandate of procuring maize to Telangana State Co-operative Marketing Federation (TS Markfed). It has earmarked 3,200 crore for this purpose.
However, the government has excluded commercial crops from the purview of its procurement process, leaving chilli and turmeric farmers in the lurch.
Published on April 21, 2020


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Good move amid myriad challenges

12:00 AM, April 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:54 AM, April 21, 2020

 

Govt to double Boro paddy procurement amid outbreak but farmers doubt if it will benefit all of them

Description: https://assetsds.cdnedge.bluemix.net/sites/default/files/styles/very_big_1/public/feature/images/paddy_32.jpg?itok=0tNBeDo9
The government is taking steps to increase food grain stock and help farmers get fair prices for their produce amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Yet, many fear, this may not benefit all farmers due to the existing procurement process.
This year the government has decided to purchase eight lakh tonnes of Boro paddy at Tk 26 a kg directly from farmers from April 26 onwards and 11.5 lakh tonnes of milled rice --- 10 lakh tonnes parboiled and 1.5 lakh tons sunburnt --- from millers from May 7.
Last year, the procurement was four lakh tonnes of paddy and 14.09 lakh metric tonnes of rice.
The decision to buy more paddy was taken so that farmers do not face loss in their production in this crisis, said Food Minister Sadhan Kumar Majumder.
"We have already issued a circular [last week] for procurement of six lakh tonnes of paddy and 11.5 lakh tonnes of rice in this Boro season," the minister said.
"But the honourable prime minister has directed us to increase it [the purchase quantity] -- to another two lakhs tonnes of Boro paddy," he told The Daily Star on Friday.
GOOD CROP YIELD
This year, the government targeted Boro production in 48.66 lakh hectares of land but actual cultivation occurred in 47.54 lakh hectares. Average yield of Boro rice is four tonnes per hectare, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
The harvest of Boro, the principal crop of the country, has already begun in haor areas of Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions. In other regions, it will start from early May.
The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Sylhet division, the biggest hub of Boro rice cultivation, is expecting 25,83,115 tonnes of yield from the division alone this year.
Farmers harvesting paddy in haor regions are happy with the current yield.
Bidhan Krishna Sarker, a farmer from Khaliajury upazila in Netrokona cultivated Boro in 20 acres of land.
"I am getting at least 80 to 85 maund (40 kg) of rice per acre. I have not seen such a good production in the last few years," said Bidhan on Friday morning, while cutting paddy in his field.
Mozammel Haque of Mendipur village in the upazila told The Daily Star that he sold one maund of paddy at Tk 780 last week (Tk 19.5 per kg).
"Most farmers in our area have harvested and sold paddy at the rate," he said.
Last year, the price of Boro paddy was below Tk 500 per maund (Tk 12.5 per kg).
WILL FARMERS BENEFIT? 
The good yield and the government's decision to increase paddy procurement are not reassuring for farmers.
They said the government's procurement process of selecting rice growers through a lottery system often benefits non-farmers such as traders and local political men, instead of small and marginal farmers and sharecroppers.
They alleged that political connection or bribe is often required to make it to the lottery list.
Besides, farmers often cannot bring the moisture content of their freshly cut paddy below 14 percent as required by the government.
Ali Hossain, a farmer in Chalan Beel area, could not sell paddy to the government because of this rule, even though he was selected at the lottery.
He said rice traders, mostly belonging to the ruling party, own facilities where they can dry paddy as per the government criteria.
They buy identity cards from village farmers selected through the lottery, and supply paddy -- bought at a lower price from farmers -- to local depots, mostly located in upazilas headquarters, at the higher rate fixed by the government.
"Last year, the traders bought farmers' cards for Tk 4,000 to Tk 6,000 each," he said, adding that the sales proceeds of the cards are the only profit the farmers get.
When farmers harvest paddy, the grains have a moisture level of 18 percent. After that, even if the paddy is dried several times on farmyards with mud surface, the moisture level does not come down below 16 percent, said an upazila food officer.
"If a farmer does not dry his rice on a concrete surface, it is not possible to reduce the moisture level down to 14 percent. So marginal farmers have to take care of their paddy separately if they want to sell it to a government depot," he said.
"But farmers are often in a hurry to sell their crops. Taking advantage of this, rice mill owners and traders are selling paddy to the government," said a food directorate official, seeking anonymity.
If the moisture content is higher than 14 percent, the paddy weight would fall by at least 1kg per maund (40kg) after a month, he added.
The discrepancy in the purchase weight would then put the official in charge of the local supply depot in trouble, the food official said.
Explaining how the lottery system creates problems in the procurement process, he said sometimes, the lottery generates names of farmers, who do not have rice to sell or are not willing to sell.
Even then, the farmers are pursued to sell their product because of the system, the food official added.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION?
Farmers opine they would benefit if the government buys paddy directly from them by setting up purchasing centres in large paddy haats.
Asked about this, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said the government would not be able to buy paddy from a haat at a rate higher than market price.
The government would have to go by the price set by the market if they buy from haats, he said.
"Also, there is the problem of moisture. If we do not maintain the moisture level, the quantity of paddy will reduce after a few days. Also, we have to spend money on transporting rice to the local depot. It is a matter of huge cost," the minister said, questioning who would bear the transportation cost.
Quazi Shahabuddin, former director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, welcomed the government's move to increase paddy procurement saying more farmers will benefit from this.
He, however, urged the government to relax the moisture content regulation and accept the loss in weight for the current Boro season.
About buying paddy from haats, Shahabuddin said, it would take some time to eliminate the middlemen involved in the paddy trade.
The government has engaged the International Food Policy Research Institute  to come up with the most effective ways of procuring paddy that will benefit farmers, said Akhter Ahmed, country representative of the research organisation.

100,000 tons of rice for May exports to be advanced to support rice exporters
The Saigon Times
Tuesday,  Apr 21, 2020,13:52 (GMT+7)
Description: https://english.thesaigontimes.vn/Uploads/Articles/76243/aa8da_rice_ex.jpg
An individual examines high-quality Jasmine rice at a local firm. Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has asked for an advance of 100,000 tons of rice from the quota for rice exports in May – PHOTO: TRUNG CHANH
HCMC - Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has asked for an advance of 100,000 tons of rice from the quota for rice exports in May to help rice exporters who failed to register for April rice exports, heard attendees at a meeting chaired by Deputy PM Dung on April 20.
Many rice exporters have been facing a huge rice backlog at ports since the Government ordered a rice export suspension on March 24 over concerns about food security, the local media reported.
Speaking at the meeting, Deputy PM Dung said that due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, it is necessary to carefully consider rice exports to ensure national food security and protect the interests of farmers and businesses.
The deputy prime minister also stated that the management of rice export activities has faced problems that have been widely covered by the local media, so it is vital to tackle the shortcomings quickly.
Deputy PM Dung asked the relevant ministries and departments to ensure an adequate rice supply for residents, alongside enhancing production and rice exports.
In addition, the export of glutinous rice remains unchanged, Deputy PM Dung said, adding that the Ministry of Industry and Trade should collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to review the volume, assess the market demand and monitor the volume of glutinous rice exports to avoid a shortage of this type of rice on the local market.
Earlier, some 40 rice traders successfully registered to export 400,000 tons of rice in April, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
Many others have filed complaints that the opening of the online customs system for rice export registration at midnight lacked transparency, making it impossible for them to register for rice exports. Their rice inventories at ports remain high.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on April 20 urged the Government Inspectors to launch an inspection to verify allegations of interference in rice exports, with regard to procedures for opening the online customs system for rice export registration.

Prime Minister requests inspection over rice exports

 Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Monday requested the Government Inspectorate inspect rice exports in recent times.
Description: https://vnn-imgs-a1.vgcloud.vn/bizhub.vn/thumbnail/BizHub-450-2020-4-20/xkgao_2.jpg
Rice is ready for export at Cua Lo Port in the central province of Nghe An.
In a message sent to the inspectorate on Monday, PM Phuc said he wanted to clarify if there were signs of profiteering and negative actions in rice exports as well as press information reflecting the publicity and transparency related to customs procedures for rice exports.
The inspection results must be completed and submitted to the Prime Minister in June.
From now to June, exports of rice will take place as normal following Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh’s proposal to allow an export volume of 400,000 tonnes of rice in April and May each.
Viet Nam is one of the largest rice exporters in the world but rice export volume is limited because the Government wants to ensure food security as it is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The volume of rice export is limited while the global rice price is rapidly increasing due to the demand for food reserves in many countries.
Problems have been reported in carrying out customs procedures, with some businesses able to export rice and many others stuck with their rice stored at ports. VNS


Cable bacteria can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation

Date:
April 20, 2020
Source:
Aarhus University
Summary:
The rice fields account for five percent of global emissions of the greenhouse gas methane, which is 25 times stronger than CO2. Researchers have found that cable bacteria could be an important part of the solution. In the laboratory, they have grown rice in soil with and without cable bacteria, and the pots with cable bacteria emitted 93% less methane than the pots without cable bacteria.
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FULL STORY

A Danish-German research collaboration may have found a solution to the large climate impact from the world's rice production: By adding electric conductive cable bacteria to soil with rice plants, they could reduce methane emissions by more than 90%.
Half of world´s population is nourished by rice crops, but rice cultivation is harsh to he climate. The rice fields account for five percent of global emissions of the greenhouse gas methane, which is 25 times stronger than CO2.
This is because the rice plants grow in water. When the fields are flooded, the soil becomes poor in oxygen, creating the right conditions for microorganisms to produce methane. Now researchers from Aarhus University and the University of Duisburg-Essen have found that cable bacteria could be an important part of the solution. In the laboratory, they have grown rice in soil with and without cable bacteria and measured what happened.
"And the difference was far beyond my expectations. The pots with cable bacteria emitted 93% less methane than the pots without cable bacteria, "says Vincent Valentin Scholz, who conducted the experiments as a PhD student at the Center for Electromicrobiology (CEM) at Aarhus University.
The result is published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
Increases sulfate and attenuates microbes
"Cable bacteria transport electrons over centimeter distances along their filaments, changing the geochemical conditions of the water-saturated soil. The cable bacteria recycle the soil's sulfur compounds, thus maintaining a large amount of sulfate in the soil. This has the consequence that the methane-producing microbes cannot maintain their activity," explains Vincent Valentin Scholz.
It is already known that the rice growers can temporarily slow down the emission of methane by spreading sulfate on the rice fields. Apparently, the cable bacteria can do this for them -- and not just temporarily.
This finding adds a new angle to the role of cable bacteria as ecosystem engineers. While the authors emphasize that they have only the very first laboratory observation, it is tempting to speculate that enrichment of cable bacteria by sensible management of water and soil regime could become a sustainable and convenient solution for reducing methane emissions from rice fields. But of course, it requires field studies to see how cable bacteria can thrive in rice fields.
About cable bacteria
Cable bacteria were an unknown way of life until they were first identified in the Bay of Aarhus, Denmark, in 2012. They thrive on the bottom of the sea, lakes, groundwater and streams and often in large quantities. Each individual consists of thousands of cells in a centimeter-long chain surrounded by a common outer sheath with electric wires. One end is buried in the oxygen-poor sediment, the other is so close to the water that it has contact with oxygen. This allows the bacteria to use electric power to burn the food in an oxygen-free environment. The process also changes the chemical composition of the soil.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Aarhus University. Original written by Peter F. Gammelby. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Pakistan Weekly Market Monitor Report - 21 April 2020

Source



Posted


Originally published

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HIGHLIGHTS
• Weekly average retail prices update as of 16th April 2020 indicates overall the prices of staple cereals and most of non-cereals foods experienced negligible to slight fluctuations when compared to the previous week’s prices;
• Cereals: the retail prices of essential staple cereals (wheat, wheat flour, rice Irri-6 and rice Basmati) remained stable. Overall, the average retail prices of wheat and wheat flour slightly decreased. A slight increase was noted in the price of rice Irri-6 while price of rice Basmati remained unchanged compared to the previous week;
1.     Non-cereals: overall, the average retail prices of essential non-cereals registered slight increases for pulses and live chicken, while significant price spikes were observed for pulse Mash, pulse Masoor, and live chicken in few cities compared to their prices from the previous week;
• The average ToT slightly increased by 2% compared to the previous week.

Prime Editing Optimized For Rice And Wheat
PrimeEditing a new genome editing approach, has great potential for plant breeding and functional genomic research. SHARE AsianScientist (Apr. 21, 2020) – A research team in China has successfully modified prime gene editing so that it can be used on commercially important plants like rice and wheat. Their findings have been published in Nature Biotechnology. Over the course of hundreds of thousands of years of domestication, most of the plants we eat today have become vastly different from their wild counterparts. Being able to precisely manipulate the genetic material of these plants could render them resistant to drought or pests, or even make them more nutritious. Existing techniques such as nuclease-initiated homology-director repair (HDR) can generate useful point mutations and insertions/deletions (indels), but are currently inefficient. In human cells, prime editing, which uses engineered Cas9 nickase (H840A)-reverse transcriptase (RT) fusion proteins paired with a prime editing guide RNA (pegRNA), has shown promise as an efficient and accurate gene editing tool. However, prime editing has yet to be applied to plants. In the present study, a research team led by Professor Guo Caixia of the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences reported the optimization of a prime editing system for creating desired point mutations, insertions and deletions in two major cereal crops, namely, rice and wheat. The main components of the system are a Cas9 nickase-RT fusion protein and a pegRNA. Using their prime editing system, these researchers produced all 12 kinds of single base substitutions, as well as multiple point mutations and small DNA insertions and deletions at nine rice and seven wheat sites in protoplasts, with efficiencies up to 19.2 percent. The efficiency of the editing was strongly affected by the length of the primer binding site and RT template. Although their prime editing approach introduced off-target effects, these could be reduced by optimizing RT template length. Moreover, using a prime editing system optimized for plants, the researchers found that the original RT could be replaced by CaMV-RT (from the cauliflower mosaic virus) and retron-derived RT (from E. coli BL21). Furthermore, Gao and her collaborators were able to create stable rice plants with mutations that are very difficult to produce with existing gene editing tools, sucha s G-to-T point mutations and multinucleotide substitutions. “Although the efficiency of the prime editing system is lower than that of base editors, it is still an appealing new tool for creating all 12 types of single-point mutation, mixtures of different substitutions as well as insertions and deletions. The system thus has great potential for plant breeding and functional genomics research,” Gao concluded. Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine at: https://www.asianscientist.com/2020/04/in-the-lab/prime-editing-rice-wheat/