Sunday, April 26, 2020

27th April,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Heat-protected plants offer cool surprise—greater yields
1.     Erik Stokstad
 See all authors and affiliations
Science  24 Apr 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6489, pp. 355
DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6489.355
Photosynthesis generates chemical byproducts that can damage a plant's light-converting machinery, and the hotter the weather, the more likely the process is to run amok. Now, a team of plant biologists has engineered plants so they can better repair heat damage, an advance that could help preserve crop yields as global warming makes heat waves more common. During heat stress, transgenic rice in test plots yielded up to 10% more grain than control plants, the team reports this week in Nature Plants. And in a surprise, the change made rice plants growing at normal temperatures up to 20% more productive than controls. The approach bucked conventional wisdom among photosynthesis scientists, and some plant biologists wonder exactly how the added gene produces the benefits.

PSA: Farm-gate price of rice continues to rise

The average farm-gate price of unhusked rice went up for the sixth consecutive week and reached P16.69 per kilogram in the fourth week of March, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
In its latest price monitoring report, the PSA said the average farm-gate price of rice during the period was 1.71 percent higher than the previous week’s P16.41 per kg.
However, the latest quotation was still 11.22 percent lower than the average price of P18.80 per kg recorded in the same period of last year, PSA data showed.
Nonetheless, the current average quotation for dry palay is the highest in seven months, or since August 2019, when it reached P16.68 per kg, according to historical data from the PSA.
The highest buying price for dry palay was recorded in Davao del Sur at P20.50 per kg while the lowest was observed in Surigao del Sur at P9 per kg, PSA data showed.
However, a farmers group warned that the increase in farm-gate prices may be short-lived and that it could fall again during the main harvest season due to higher rice imports.
The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) decried the ”pro-import stance” of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) and ”warned that excessive imports will again end up discouraging farmers from planting and make the country even more dependent on foreign suppliers for its food requirements.”
In particular, FFF questioned the need for the 300,000 metric tons (MT) of rice that the Philippines will import via the government-to-government given that the country’s projected stockpile by end-June would reach a ”comfortable” level of 84 days.
FFF argued that private-sector importation and the government’s purchases would lead to a ”supply glut that will again lead to a fall in palay farm-gate prices during the main harvest season in September to November.”
”On the one hand, it is encouraging farmers to expand their production and enticing them with loans, subsidies and other incentives.  On the other hand, it is leaving the room open for private importers to bring in unlimited volumes of rice from abroad,” FFF National Manager Raul Montemayor said in a recent statement.
”The DA was even the one who proposed that government import another 300,000 MT. It appears that the DA just wants to flood the market with rice and is not really concerned about what happens to farmers in the process,” Montemayor added.

Want to Help COVID-19 Researchers? You Don’t Have to Leave Your Living Room

Written by Joni Sweet on April 25, 2020 - Fact checked by Michael Crescione New
Share on Pinterest Description: if you’re stuck at home you may be able to help researchers. Getty Images
  • Researchers at Rice University are seeking volunteers for crowdsourced studies to help them better understand the impact of the pandemic.
  • You don’t even have to leave the couch to get involved in the research.
  • Playing the role of citizen scientist through crowdsourced studies can be an empowering experience during a time when many people feel vulnerable.
Have you been spending more time online than usual lately? You’re not alone.
Internet usage has spiked since the first U.S. COVID-19 death in early February. As social distancing measures confine us to our homes, we’re spending more time scrolling through Facebook, binge-watching Netflix, and reading the news than ever before.
There’s nothing wrong with using the internet to stay connected with loved ones and escape through some much needed entertainment. But rather than just doing your regular online activities, why not devote some time to help scientists study COVID-19?
Researchers at Rice University are seeking volunteers for crowdsourced studies to help them better understand the impact of the pandemic — and you don’t even have to leave the couch to get involved.

Studying the pandemic

Earlier this month, Rice University launched a pair of studies aimed at getting a big-picture view of the impact of the pandemic on society.
CovidSense is taking a look at how social distancing and stay-at-home orders impact people over time, while the COVID-19 Registry aims to track the spread of the virus and get a sense of its economic and health effects.
One of the researchers, Marie Lynn Miranda, PhD, statistician, data scientist, and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative at Rice University, estimated that more than 2,000 people had signed up for the registry within its first week.
She encourages everyone, especially those from rural communities and other understudied areas, to fill out the online surveys.
“There’s a lot of information available on how COVID-19 is affecting New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco, but we have very little understanding of what’s going on in rural areas,” she said.
“[This study] is meant to be helpful to big cities, midsize towns, and rural areas, so that we’re better positioned to deploy healthcare resources where they’re needed and give policymakers a clear sense of the impact as they plan the recovery.”

Benefits of crowdsourced studies

Crowdsourced studies aren’t perfect — they rely on members of the public to completely understand every question, navigate potential technical difficulties, and respond truthfully. They also have limited ways for researchers to verify the data.
But when responses hit a critical mass, similar studies (like the COVID-19 Symptom Tracker) have already shown to make a real-world impact. The United Kingdom’s version of the app-based survey, which has already drawn more than 2 million participants worldwide, helped detect that a loss of taste or smell could be predictive of a COVID-19 diagnosis.
“We’re not asking participants to know for sure whether they have COVID or not,” explained Dr. Andrew Chan, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead researcher for the COVID-19 Symptom Tracker.
“There’s a lot of variability in how people get sick, and looking at data on the total number of people who are carrying the virus with relatively minimal symptoms will be important to controlling the spread of the virus, reopening states, and reducing isolation measures.”
Studies like these aren’t just good for public health, though. They can also help participants feel less helpless during a time of uncertainty, said Jonathan S. Comer, PhD, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Florida International University’s Center for Children and Families, who has studied the psychosocial effects of disasters, like 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing, on children and families.
“They’re not first responders or police officers or healthcare professionals, but families know it’s a unique time of need for our country and they want to find ways they can serve,” said Comer, who is helping lead a study on the impact of the coronavirus on families.
“Sharing your own experience and helping researchers understand how families are adjusting is a proactive, positive way to make a contribution from the comfort of your own home,” he added.

Choosing the right study for you

The Rice University surveys and others mentioned in this article are just a few of many pandemic-related studies seeking participants right now. You can also participate in crowdsourced studies from the University of UtahLunaDNA and Disease InfoSearch, and xCures, among other institutions and research groups.
With so many opportunities to participate in research, how do you choose which studies and surveys make the most sense for you?
Miranda recommends considering three key factors: Who’s running the study, whether you feel confident that those researchers will respect your data and keep it confidential, and whether the study has the potential to make a difference in ways you care about.
And while it might seem like a small act, playing the role of citizen scientist through crowdsourced studies can be an empowering experience during a time when many people feel vulnerable.
“These situations bring out a desire to be part of the solution, to help battle this virus that is impacting all of our lives so profoundly,” said Miranda.
“Enrolling in the COVID-19 Registry is one way to be part of the solution and advance the knowledge frontier to ensure we have better care, better deployment of resources, and better recovery programs once the virus passes. It’s meaningful to join these efforts.”

World Market for Pasta: Gluten-Free and Low-Gluten Pasta Options Set to Be a Key Trend

GlobeNewswireApril 24, 2020
Dublin, April 24, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The "The Global Pasta Market - Market Analysis, Size, Segmentation, Trends, Consumption, Insights, Opportunities, Challenges and Forecast until 2024" report has been added to's offering.

The global pasta market was equal to 60.60 billion USD (calculated in retail prices) in 2014. The average consumption per capita in value terms reached 12.27 USD per capita (in retail prices) in 2014.

One of the main characteristics of the pasta and rice industry includes the dependence on the availability of wheat and rice crops, as well as on climate changes, yields, oil prices, international and lagging prices, and trade. As wheat and rice are exchange-traded commodities, their price level is closely linked to the dynamics of the international markets. Therefore, it is very difficult for the companies to forecast their revenues in short-to medium term. Furthermore, the prices of wheat on a global scale have dramatically increased, which also causes rise in flour prices. As a result, the companies' margins are threatened by both the higher wheat prices and the public pressure for lower bread prices. In addition to these specifics, the industry is also highly dependent on public policy developments regarding agricultural land, energy and resource efficiency, environment, land use and more. So, the starting point for analyzing the leading trends in the pasta and rice industry is the current development of wheat and rice crops and their main uses.

Consumers are increasingly looking towards healthier options for an improved lifestyle. Following this trend people are expected to want to cut back on gluten, which will increase demand for more protein enriched products in the next couple of years, including rice and gluten-free pasta. With the continuing shift from gluten heavy categories, companies are also expected to begin offering gluten-free and low-gluten pasta varieties such as buckwheat noodles, rice noodles, brown rice pasta and corn pasta, among others, to counteract concerns over gluten.

Key Topics Covered:

1. Introduction

2. Research Methodology

3. Executive Summary

4. Product Description

5. State of the Global Demographics and Economy
5.1. Characteristics of the Global Demographics in 2014-2018
5.2. Characteristics of the Global Economy in 2014-2018
5.3. Forecast for the Development of the Global Economy in the Short Term

6. Overview, Segmentation and Analysis of the Global pasta Market
6.1. Volume, Value and Dynamics of the Global pasta Market in 2014-2018
6.2. Segmentation of the Global pasta Market in 2014-2018 by Main Regions
6.3. Segmentation of the Global pasta Market in 2014-2018 by Countries
6.4. Trends and Insights of the Global pasta Market
6.5. Profiles of the Main Players on the Global pasta Market
6.6. Five Forces Analysis
6.7. Competitive Landscape on the Global pasta Market
6.8. Drivers and Challenges That Will Affect the Future Development of the Global pasta Market

7. Characteristics and Analysis of the Global Prices of pasta in 2014-2018
7.1. Value Chain Analysis
7.2. Structure of Price Formation
7.3. Segmentation of the Average Retail Prices of pasta Globally in 2014-2018 by Main Regions

7.4. Segmentation of the Average Retail Prices of pasta Globally in 2014-2018 by Countries

8. Global Foreign Trade Operations of pasta
8.1. Global Foreign Trade Operations of pasta in 2014-2018

9. Overview, Segmentation and Analysis of the Global Imports of pasta
9.1. Volume, Value and Dynamics of the Global Imports of pasta in 2014-2018
9.2. Segmentation of the Global Imports of pasta by Importing Regions in 2014-2018
9.3. Segmentation of the Global Imports of pasta by Importing Countries in 2014-2018
9.4. Segmentation of the Average Import Prices of pasta by Importing Countries in 2014-2018

10. Overview, Segmentation and Analysis of the Global Exports of pasta
10.1. Volume, Value and Dynamics of the Global Exports of pasta in 2014-2018
10.2. Segmentation of the Global Exports of pasta by Exporting Regions in 2014-2018
10.3. Segmentation of the Global Exports of pasta by Exporting Countries in 2014-2018
10.4. Segmentation of the Average Export Prices of pasta by Exporting Countries in 2014-2018

11. Characteristics and Segmentation of the Global Consumption of pasta per Capita
11.1. Segmentation of the Global pasta Consumption per Capita by Main Regions in 2014-2018
11.2. Segmentation of the Global pasta Consumption per Capita by Countries in 2014-2018

12. Forecast for Development of the Global pasta Market in 2019-2024
12.1. Forecast for Development of the Global pasta Market in 2019-2024 in Three Possible Scenarios
12.2. Forecast for Development of the Global pasta Market, Broken down by Main Regions in 2019-2024
12.3. Forecast for Development of the Global pasta Market, Broken down by Countries in 2019-2024

For more information about this report visit

No time to waste to avoid future food shortages

During the past few weeks, empty supermarket shelves, without pasta, rice and flour due to panic buying, has caused public concerns about the possibility of running out of food. Australian farmers have reassured consumers saying that the country produces enough food to feed three times its population. However, will this statement remain true in ten to twenty years in a country severely affected by climate change? The answer is yes, if we are prepared for this and if there is continuous funding towards creating solutions to increase crop production.
"Plant scientists are punching above their weight by participating in global, interdisciplinary efforts to find ways to increase crop production under future climate change conditions. We essentially need to double the production of major cereals before 2050 to secure food availability for the rapidly growing world population," says ANU Professor Robert Furbank from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis (CoETP).
"It is similar to finding a virus vaccine to solve a pandemic, it doesn't happen overnight. We know that Australia's agriculture is going to be one area of the world that is most affected by climate extremes, so we are preparing to have a toolbox of plant innovations ready to ensure global food security in a decade or so, but to do this we need research funding to continue," Professor Furbank says.
Several examples of these innovative solutions were published recently in a special issue on Food Security Innovations in Agriculture in the Journal of Experimental Botany, including five reviews and five research articles.
Co-editor of the Special Issue, ANU Professor John Evans, says that this publication highlights the now widely accepted view that improving photosynthesis - the process by which plants convert sunlight, water and CO2 into organic matter - is a new way to increase crop production that is being developed.
"We are working on improving photosynthesis on different fronts, as the articles included in this special issue show, from finding crop varieties that need less water, to tweaking parts of the process in order to capture more carbon dioxide and sunlight. We know that there is a delay of at least a decade to get these solutions to the breeders and farmers, so we need to start developing new opportunities now before we run out of options," says Professor Evans, CoETP Chief Investigator.
The special issue includes research solutions that range from traditional breeding approaches to ambitious genetic engineering projects using completely different ends of the technological spectrum; from robot tractors, to synthetic biology. All these efforts are focused on finding ways to make crops more resistant to drought and extreme climate conditions and being more efficient in the use of land and fertilisers.
"Our research is contributing to providing food security in a global context, and people often ask what that has to do with Australian farmers and my answer is everything. Aside from the fact that economy and agriculture are globally inter-connected, if Australian farmers have a more productive resilient and stable crop variety, they are able to plan for the future, which turns into a better agribusiness and at the same time, ensures global security across the world," says Professor Furbank.
This research has been funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis (CoETP), led by the Australian National University, which aims to improve the process of photosynthesis to increase the production of major food crops such as sorghum, wheat and rice.
This research is published in the Journal of Experimental Botany Special issue on Innovations in Agriculture for Food Security (Volume 71, Issue 7, April 2020)
Journalists who want to link to the Journal of Experimental Special issue and associated papers in their stories can use the following link:

Rice genetically engineered to resist heat waves can also produce up to 20% more grain
By Erik StokstadApr. 21, 2020 , 1:10 PM
As plants convert sunlight into sugar, their cells are playing with fire. Photosynthesis generates chemical byproducts that can damage the light-converting machinery itself—and the hotter the weather, the more likely the process is to run amok as some chemical reactions accelerate and others slow. Now, a team of geneticists has engineered plants so they can better repair heat damage, an advance that could help preserve crop yields as global warming makes heat waves more common. And in a surprise, the change made plants more productive at normal temperatures.
“This is exciting news,” says Maria Ermakova of Australian National University, who works on improving photosynthesis. The genetic modification worked in three kinds of plants—a mustard that is the most common plant model, tobacco, and rice, suggesting any crop plant could be helped. The work bucked conventional wisdom among photosynthesis scientists, and some plant biologists wonder exactly how the added gene produces the benefits. Still, Peter Nixon, a plant biochemist at Imperial College London, predicts the study will “attract considerable attention.”
When plants are exposed to light, a complex of proteins called photosystem II (PSII) energizes electrons that then help power photosynthesis. But heat or intense light can lead to damage in a key subunit, known as D1, halting PSII’s work until the plant makes and inserts a new one into the complex. Plants that make extra D1 should help speed those repairs. Chloroplasts, the organelles that host photosynthesis, have their own DNA, including a gene for D1, and most biologists assumed the protein had to be made there. But the chloroplast genome is much harder to tweak than genes in a plant cell’s nucleus.
A team led by plant molecular biologist Fang-Qing Guo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences bet that D1 made by a nuclear gene could work just as well—and be made more efficiently, as its synthesis in the cytoplasm instead of the chloroplast would be protected from the corrosive byproducts of photosynthetic reactions. Guo and colleagues tested the idea in the mustard Arabidopsis thaliana. They took its chloroplast gene for D1, coupled it to a stretch of DNA that turns on during heat stress, and moved it to the nucleus.
The team found that modified Arabidopsis seedlings could survive extreme heat in the lab—8.5 hours at 41°C—that killed most of the control plants. The same Arabidopsis gene also protected tobacco and rice. In all three species, photosynthesis and growth decreased less than in the surviving control plants. And in 2017, when Shanghai exceeded 36°C for 18 days, transgenic rice planted in test plots yielded 8% to 10% more grain than control plants, the team reports this week in Nature Plants.
The shock was what happened at normal temperatures. Engineered plants of all three species had more photosynthesis—tobacco's rate increased by 48%—and grew more than control plants. In the field, the transgenic rice yielded up to 20% more grain. “It truly surprised us,” Guo says. “I felt that we have caught a big fish.”
Veteran photosynthesis researcher Donald Ort of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne, says the group presents credible evidence of plant benefits, but he’s not yet convinced that the D1 made by nuclear genes could have repaired PSII in the chloroplast. “Anything this potentially important is going to be met with some skepticism. There are lots of experiments to do, to figure out why this works,” he says.
Guo plans further tests of the mechanism. He also has a practical goal: heftier yield increases in rice. The productivity boost his team saw in modified Arabidopsis was the largest of the three species—80% more biomass than controls—perhaps because the researchers simply moved Arabidopsis’ own D1 gene. Guo thinks rice yield might also burgeon if it could be modified with its own chloroplast gene rather than one from mustard—further heating up these already hot results. 
Posted in: 
·       Plants & Animals

Cable bacteria can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation
April 20, 2020
Aarhus University
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.

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.

Journal Reference:
1.     Vincent V. Scholz, Rainer U. Meckenstock, Lars Peter Nielsen, Nils Risgaard-Petersen. Cable bacteria reduce methane emissions from rice-vegetated soilsNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15812-w

Saudi Arabia’s corn, rice imports expected to fall

RIYDAH, SAUDI ARABIA — Saudi Arabia’s grain imports vary as the country’s trade policies alter and shift, according to an April 16 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Saudi Arabia’s corn imports for market year 2019-20 are forecast to drop 18% to 3.3 million tonnes due to the end of import subsidies on most animal feeds. Its corn production is revised down to 15,000 tonnes with the government discouraging “domestic production of water-intensive crops, including feed corn,” the USDA said.
The country’s rice imports are expected to decline 13% compared to the previous year as Indian exporters struggle to meet recently implemented import requirements, the USDA said. Saudi Arabia does not produce rice, it relies on imports.
Imports of wheat and barley, meanwhile, are expected to increase. Saudi Arabia signed purchase contracts for 3.5 million tonnes of wheat for this marketing year, an 18% increase over the previous year, the USDA said. Since the 2015-16 marketing year, the country has implemented a domestic ban of wheat production due to concern of groundwater depletion. Saudi Arabia eased the ban in late 2018 allowing for 202,000 tonnes to be produced in marketing year 2019-20.
The barley purchases include 6.7 million tonnes of the commodity and are expected to be delivered by June. Domestically, barley is only being produced for human consumption, no longer for animal feed, in order to conserve water resources. The USDA expects approximately

Sirs, PH has extra liberal, almost reckless, rice import rules

Description: Marlen V. Ronquillo
April 22, 2020

SMALL farmers can’t fathom why some dimwits in politics are calling for a supposed speedy process of rice importation. Our guess is that these dimwits have not even read the specific provisions of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) they passed with undue haste last year. If they did, they should have found out this hard truth — that the country, under the RTL, allows for reckless rice importation where supposed “rules” are superfluous. The Philippines has the most liberal rice import rules in the Southeast Asian region.
Here are the rules under the RTL.
Step 1, an importer files for a permit to import from the Department of Agriculture agencies.

Step 2, the import permit application has to be acted upon within seven days from date of filing.
Step 3, if no action is taken within seven days, the importer can import, no questions asked.
Note: There will be no questions on the volume and the quantity of the importation. If the importer is vile enough to get plastic rice from China, which has indeed happened, the importer can absolutely do so.
The import rules are so liberal that there are almost no rules. Just a few months back, I wrote a column about that sad reality, of course from the point of view of a suffering small farmer.
Proof? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (forget the incompetent Philippine Statistics Authority), roughly 3 million metric tons (MT) of rice was greedily and giddily imported in the last 10 months of 2019. The importers — this is another reality — were mostly soulless profiteers.
(I have to explain the soulless profiteering a bit. You see the 3 million MT of rice imports was grossly undervalued . Why? To depress the tariff payments on the rice imports. Why?)
With the undervalued rice imports, very little will be collected by way of the meager rice tariff. And because that tariff collection goes to small rice farmers in the form of an amelioration program, small rice farmers will end up with very little funding support. Which is like kicking the dying small rice farmers.
Why are the dimwits raising the issue of “ liberal import rules” when the reality is rice importers can import at will, without questions on the volume and the quality ? And why are they raising this issue of import rules in this time of the coronavirus?
There are two answers. One is to get attention through a supposedly proactive statement on a possible rice shortage. Second, to rein in all questions on where the 3 million MT went. The 3 million MT of rice imported in the last 10 months of last year, plus the domestic rice production, are enough fill in the rice needs of 2020. It is only April. We are not supposed to face a rice shortage within the year.
Really, we in the diminishing and suffering rice farming community do not know from what context the import rules on rice are raised in this season of coronavirus hell. Is this plain stupidity or is there a malevolent intent?
Instead of focusing in rice imports, the sane and helpful policy process (nationally beneficial, too) would be to focus attention on ramping up the domestic rice production. This is precisely the right timing for the execution of the “rice policy roadmap,” which the Department of Agriculture has supposedly crafted.
The production conditions are agnostic of the virus. Farming, specifically rice farming, is almost a solitary exercise. Paddy preparation (I was a full-time rice farmer for many years), is a work mostly done by a lone farmer. The only collective work is the manual rice planting but physical distance can be arranged.
The modern combines are now doing the reaping and winnowing and sacking — all done by one man operating a solitary machine. More, we can shed off this shady reputation as the world’s biggest rice importer, which we are at the present.
Our rice production culture predated the concept of a republic and we are still the best rice farmers in this part of Asia, bar none. In fact, the rice farm of Nanding Gabuya in Nueva Ecija attracts year-round observers from neighboring countries because of his record-breaking yields.
Give us, small farmers, irrigation and a few other support items, and we will deliver.
Contrary to the claim of the country’s economic managers that it is cheaper to import than produce rice in our rice farms, here is one powerful argument for domestic rice production. The volume of rice traded on the global market is very thin. Right now, with the decision of Vietnam and Thailand to stop rice exports (except for the volume that they have to export under the Minimum Access Volume mandates), rice imports will be done under duress and very costly.
The better option is to invest on domestic rice production. With adequate irrigation and a little support, we, the small rice farmers, will deliver.

Uttam criticises KCR for not delivering promised relief packages

 UPDATED: APRIL 25, 2020, 3:49 PM IST
Hyderabad: Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President & Nalgonda MP Capt. N. Uttam Kumar Reddy has strongly criticised Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao for not delivering the promised relief package for those affected due to lockdown in view of Coronavirus pandemic.
Uttam Kumar Reddy was addressing a press conference at Nalgonda on Friday after having review meetings with the District Collector and SP on the Coronavirus measures taken in the district.
He enquired about the Coronavirus relief measures and the status of procurement of agriculture produce. He also lodge a criminal complaint against the Republic TV and its head Arnab Goswami for his highly objectionable, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and urged the District SP to register a criminal case against him.
Speaking on the occasion, Uttam Kumar Reddy said it was highly unfortunate that even after one month Chief Minister did not ensure that the relief announcements from the State and Central Governments were not honoured to all sections of the society who were affected due to lockdown.
He said that CM KCR, on March 22, had announced that 12 kg rice per person and Rs. 1500 per family assistance would be given to all White Ration Card holders in the State. Even after one month, he said not all the beneficiaries got the promised rice and cash assistance.
Further, he alleged that the quality of rice being supplied to poor was sub-standard. He said nearly 80% people who had received the ration rice are disposing it off for other purposes in some way and buying fine rice for consumption. He demanded that the State Government supply good quality rice to the poor.
The TPCC chief also condemned the State Government for not clarifying whether the 12 kg rice supplied to White Ration Card holders include the 5 kg rice promised by the Centre.
He said when he enquired about it with the senior officials, they had no clarity although they promised that they would check with their higher-ups in the government. Further, he said that there was no clarity on the status of 1 kg Dal promised by the Centre.
He reiterated the demanded that one free LPG cylinder for three months promised by the Centre for Ujwala Scheme beneficiaries should be extended to Deepam beneficiaries. Further, he said that the State Government should provide food and financial assistance to the people not having White Ration Cards.
Uttam Kumar Reddy alleged that a majority of migrant workers in Telangana State did not get the promised rice and financial assistance. Further, he said that the State Government still lacks clarity on their approximate number and locations.
Therefore, he said that the State Government should ensure that all migrant labourers get required assistance in this hour of crisis. He also urged the State Government to restore the services of Field Assistants, who were on strike, to start NREGA works in Telangana.
He said despite Field Assistance offering to withdraw their strike unconditionally due to Coronavirus, the State Government was not responding to their request. He said restoration of MGREGA works would provide livelihood to lakhs of rural people.
The TPCC Chief said it was quite shocking that the Chief Minister was yet to come up with the details of estimated losses to the State due to lockdown and how the government plans to help the affected segments.
He reiterated the demand that the State Government release a White Paper on the financial conditions and also announce a comprehensive package covering all sections of the society. He also demanded that the State Government provide financial assistance to journalists in this crisis.
Earlier, Uttam Kumar Reddy, along with former CLP leader K. Jana Reddy and other leaders visited Sitharapuram area which was declared a Red Zone. They reviewed the arrangements and demanded that all those confined in Containment Zones should be supplied food and other essential items at their door step. They also took part in the distribution of food grains and other Corona relief measures in Miryalaguda town.


Rice millers face price squeeze by importers, says council

Description: Malay Economic Action Council has called for a government review of the rice import monopoly and the padi and rice industry. (Reuters pic)
PETALING JAYA: Rice millers and wholesalers are complaining of being squeezed by a “rice import cartel” which has twice raised prices although retail prices are controlled, according to the Malay Economic Action Council.
The council, better known as MTEM, said the complaints had come from the Malay Rice Millers Association Malaysia and members involved in the wholesaling of rice.
MTEM chief executive director Ahmad Yazid Othman said rice imports were controlled by the agriculture and food industry ministry and PadiBeras Nasional Berhad (Bernas).
“The wholesale price of rice that is resold by these cartels was increased by RM0.20 and now increased yet again by RM0.40,” he said.
However retailers could not increase market prices and are forced to bear a small profit margin.
MTEM called for an official explanation on whether rice is being imported every week to meet domestic demand, and whether Bernas had received a subsidy on rice imports as was the case in 2008.
Bernas, formed in 1996 when the National Padi and Rice Board was privatised, has sole rights to import rice until 2021.
Yazid urged the government to be fair in distributing rice to all wholesalers at a reasonable price. Large companies who have been enjoying a lot of privileges while making millions in profit before should not be taking advantage of other businesses.
“The rice industry must be managed and operated more transparently to ensure sustainability of the country’s food security, the country’s food sovereignty and also the economic safety of Bumiputera industry players,” he said.
“The time has come for the new government to review the paddy and rice industry,” he said. The monopolies only benefited one party and were no help for the rice supply chain from the farmers, millers, wholesalers and retailers.
“The Covid-19 crisis should not be manipulated to profit one party’s monopoly, but should be a lesson by the government to develop the full capacity of the country’s food security, and to equally develop all of the players in the industry, especially the farmers and small and medium enterprises,” he added.

Bernas continues to safeguard local rice industryDescription:, April 24th, 2020 at , Economy | News
WHILE there has been a surge in food prices in several countries, Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) will continue to safeguard the price stability and rice supply in Malaysia amid the Covid-19 crisis.
“The pandemic has caused some countries to increase their staple food prices including rice, and it has raised some concerns that it could disrupt Malaysia’s supply.
“As mentioned by the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry (MoA) as well as other relevant ministries, Malaysia’s security and food supply is currently under control.
“The staple foods are still widely available and the prices have remained the same prior to the Covid-19 outbreak,” the country’s single rice importer said in a statement yesterday.
It added that Bernas is committed to ensuring rice prices will remain stable despite the rise in global food prices, and they will bear the additional costs of rice and operation to maintain its stability.
Bernas said it has also maintained the prices of local white rice and imported rice for the wholesale purchase.
Bernas was responding to a claim by the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) saying that rice millers and wholesalers are pressured by the price hike set by the rice importer.
It also refuted MTEM’s statement which claimed Bernas has been receiving subsidies and that the MoA is monopolising the rice import.
“To date, Bernas has been keeping to its responsibility in managing the rice industry development and its duty as rice importer.
“Bernas will continue to manage the subsidy payments to farmers, administer the Bumiputera paddy scheme, ensure paddy procurement from farmers at guaranteed prices and be responsible as the last buyer from farmers,” it said.
Bernas added that it will continue to cooperate with the MoA to ensure the viability of the rice industry.

In Punjab, employers step in to provide food, shelter to 13% of state’s migrant labour
As per statistics compiled by the SCCR, four out of 22 districts in the state -- Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Sangrur -- account for close to 84 per cent of the migrant labour in Punjab currently.
Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh | Published: April 24, 2020 3:32:33 am
Description: Sweet dal, khichdi, longing for meat, add to migrant despair in Gujarat
s per the SCCR report, in Amritsar district, which as per the data has around 2.25 lakh migrant labourers, 50,000 were provided shelter and food by the employers or industry till April 21.
Apart from efforts by the state and social outfits, employers across Punjab have also played a crucial role in stopping the exodus of migrant labourers from the state during the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19. A report prepared by Punjab’s State Covid Control Room (SCCR) shows that out of 12.22 lakh total migrant labourers in the state, 1.64 lakh were provided shelter and food by the industry during this period. This comes to 13 per cent of the total migrant labour in the entire state.
While industry in districts of Amritsar, Sangrur, Hoshiarpur, Moga and Pathankot came forward in good numbers in providing food and shelter to the migrant labourers, migrant workforce in industrial hub of Ludhiana was largely taken care of by the state government and the NGOs, the report revealed.
As per statistics compiled by the SCCR, four out of 22 districts in the state — Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Sangrur — account for close to 84 per cent of the migrant labour in Punjab currently.
Punjab Additional Chief Secretary (Industries and Commerce) Vini Mahajan told The Indian Express, “We believe that government, administration in districts and the industry everyone put together played a strong and positive role to ameliorate the distress by providing relief in the form of food or anything else to the migrant labour. All sections of society recognised that it is just not humanitarian cause but also that labour has been contributing to the economic activity in the state. We recognise their contribution to the state and support them in their time of need.”
Part industry played
As per the SCCR report, in Amritsar district, which as per the data has around 2.25 lakh migrant labourers, 50,000 were provided shelter and food by the employers or industry till April 21.
As compared to this, the number was minuscule for Ludhiana with 670 migrant labourers out of 6 lakh such workforce in the district being taken care of by employers and industries in there, as per the report.
However, Ludhiana East SDM Amarjit Singh Bains said that migrant labour in Ludhiana mostly remained in their localities called “vehras” and have been largely being provided food and ration by the government, local administration and the NGOs.
Though, there were relaxations for the industry to resume operations, but given the rider of keeping the workforce in premises and ensure strict compliances to check spread of coronavirus, not many industries preferred to start the operations in Ludhiana.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said that there were some big industries in the district which catered to the migrant population.
Referring to Khanna Paper Mill, Dhillon said, “The paper mill is one of the biggest industries in Amritsar district. It provides newsprint to the leading newspapers and employs a huge workforce which it takes care of. Amritsar district is hub of Basmati rice export from Punjab. (Rice) shellers are open and functioning. The pharmaceutical industry is open. Also, the government has also allowed activities in rural areas which also have sizeable migrant population. All such labour is being catered to by the employer and the industry,” said Dhillon.
By providing shelter and food to workforce in the district, industries in Hoshiarpur district catered to almost all the migrant workforce. Hoshiarpur Deputy Commissioner Apneet Riyait said, “We have big industries like Sonalika, Vardhman, Reliance, JCT, Century Plywood, Ludhiana Beverages, Quantum Papers and Hawkins etc. We ensured that they provide food and shelter and the wages to the migrant labour and ensure that they do not go back to their states like UP and Bihar amid the curfew and lockdown.”
As per the statistics, another district where employers ensured food and shelter for almost all migrant labour is Moga with 14,500 migrant labourers are being looked after by the employers. Moga Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Hans said the migrant labour in the district was working in rice shellers, brick kilns, focal points and other industries. Moga Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) Subhash Chander said that there were 326 rice shellers and more than 100 brick kilns. “Each brick kiln has around 100 labourers. The employer wants to retain such workforce, so they have ensured food and shelter to them. Also, it is the peak time in brick kilns and would last till the end of June when the rainy season starts. Brick kiln labour does not generally move out, so a brick kiln is also acting as sort of quarantine place,” said Chander.
Efforts by state and NGOs
While employers are retaining and feeding the labour in several districts in good numbers, another chunk of migrant labour in the state is being provided food and ration by the state government, the NGOs and through the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). Over 30,000 ration kits, accounting for 17 per cent of total ration kits distributed in the state from March 31 to April 21, and nearly 4 lakh food packets — 43 per cent of the total food cooked food distributed in the state, were distributed to migrant labour in varying proportions by the Punjab government, the NGOs and through SDRF.
In Pathankot, which does not house any large number of migrant labourers as compared to some other districts, 12,861 were provided shelter and food. “In addition to the labour working in places like brick kilns and crushers, there were migrants from Jammu and Kashmir who were in the district for around 22 days and for whom nine relief camps were set up,” said Pathankot Deputy Commissioner Gurpreet Singh Khaira.
Khaira said: “Sects like Radha Soami Dera Beas and Nangli Wale Baba ji have been providing food to the labour in good numbers.”

Home Bargains is selling a £23.99 essentials food box to help you in lockdown

Home Bargains has joined the string of retailers offering customers essentials food box.
Following in the footsteps of supermarkets Morrisons, M&S and Aldi - along with takeaway shops Pret and Leon - Home Bargains’ boxes contain store cupboard essentials to help shoppers get through the coronavirus lockdown.
Home Bargains Included some of its best selling products, along with essentials such as canned goods, rice and even loo roll, the Liverpool Echo reports.
In a notice on the  retailer’s website   , it says: “Home Bargains understands the importance of our customers getting essential food items during this unprecedented time.
“We have carefully selected some of our best selling products to create the Essential Food Box; ideal for those who may be struggling to get certain items, are self-isolating or want to send a care package to a loved one.
“We are unable to accept requests to swap items within the box.”

Watch | Telangana farmers are facing difficulty in procuring harvestors

APRIL 24, 2020 11:42 IST
UPDATED: APRIL 24, 2020 11:51 IST
A video interview by The Hindu's Ravikanth Reddy with farmer Ram Reddy on the use of harvesters during th COVID-19 lockdown
The COVID-19 lockdown has curtailed the availability and movement of labourers for harvesting and procurement-related jobs. According to Telangana Rice Millers Association, almost 2,200 rice mills in Telangana depend on migrant workers for their labour requirement.
The Agriculture department has taken up listing number of harvesters available in Telangana. According to Secretary (Agriculture) B. Janardhan Reddy, 14,095 harvesters are owned by persons and firms across Telangana.

Telangana R and B Minister warns rice millers

The Minister on Friday reviewed the procurement of paddy and the Covid-19 situation at Kamareddy and Nizamabad district collectorates.

By AuthorTelanganaToday  |  Published: 24th Apr 2020  8:48 pm
Nizamabad: Telangana Roads and Buildings Minister Vemula Prashanth Reddy has warned rice millers not to impose a depreciation while purchasing paddy from farmers. The Minister on Friday reviewed the procurement of paddy and the Covid-19 situation at Kamareddy and Nizamabad district collectorates.
The Minister said only in Telangana the government was purchasing the entire paddy from farmers while in other States only part of the farm produce was being procured by governments. Till now, 92,000 tonnes of paddy was procured and Rs 52 crore paid to the farmers.
Millers were deceiving farmers in the name of depreciation by discounting nearly 10 kg while purchasing paddy stating it has excess moisture. He asked officials to register cases against if millers.
He said in erstwhile Nizamabad district, 73 corona positive cases were reported, of which 61 was registered at Nizamabad and 12 at Kamareddy.
Telangana paddy farmers allege cheating by rice millers over depreciation in crop weighing
Paddy farmers in Telangana are up in arms against rice millers who are allegedly cheating them by depreciating the weight of their crop.
Farmers are urging authorities to intervene in order to prevent rice millers from allegedly trying to tamper with paddy weights in various parts of the state. On Thursday, several farmers in Thangalapalli of Laxmipur in Sircilla district set their crops ablaze to protest the situation with rice millers. In Jabithapur of Jagtial district, farmers staged a dharna on Peddapalli highway, alleging that there was a delay in paddy procurement.
According to farmers, they are facing a two-fold loss — one round of depreciation in the crop at procurement centres and later at rice mills. There is also a loss in quality and weight due to humidity, they say. The humidity referred to is a factor taken into consideration when the price is fixed for paddy. The weight of water content is taken into account, and till 17% humidity is considered to be A grade crop. Humidity above this percentage is considered to be regular and the price level drops.
The Telangana government will purchase paddy with up to 17% humidity, and is offering Rs 1,835 for A grade crop and Rs 1,815 for regular crop. The state has set up as many as 7,700 procurement centres.
Citing better irrigation facilities, the government said that the state has seen a massive increase in paddy cultivation compared to the Kharif season. With the lockdown making it difficult for farmers to travel to sell their crops, the Telangana government has said that it will procure all the paddy in the state.
"We will buy every last grain," Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had declared at a press meet earlier this month.
However, Vaasu Karthik, a young farmer from Sirikonda in Nizamabad, said that rice millers are framing their own conditions for paddy procurement. He said that farmers are losing out on 2-3 kgs in a 40-kg bag and 4-5-kg per quintal bag.
Several farmers have already taken the matter to the notice of Nizamabad rural MLA Bajireddy Govardan and Lok Sabha MP Arvind Dharmapuri. Arvind has also written letters to Nizamabad and Jagtial Collectors to ensure that farmers don't face losses due to indiscriminate depreciation by millers.
Dr Dasoju Sravan Kumar, national spokesperson of the Congress, alleged that only 4,380 procurement centres have been set up and that even those aren't functioning properly, contrary to the government's claims. He further urged the government to ramp up paddy procurement to a much higher level to fulfill its promise.
"In the absence of government's paddy procurement centres, farmers are forced to sell their produce to private rice millers at lesser prices. Moreover, in most paddy procurement centres of government, they are procuring only thick rice (doddu varieties) and not purchasing fine varieties (sanna rakalu)."
The Telangana BJP has also launched a protest against the state government, alleging negligence in addressing the problems of farmers. BJP state unit president Bandi Sanjay and other leaders staged a day-long fast in party headquarters while others fasted in their respective homes.
COVID-19: Is Telangana turning away symptomatic people with no contact history?
Many patients are being sent back from the outpatient (OP) wards of Gandhi Hospital and King Koti Hospital without tests, as they have no contact or travel history.
Description: IMAGE
It has been a taxing few days for 33-year-old Padma Priya, a journalist based out of Hyderabad. After developing a fever five days ago, she decided to visit King Koti Hospital in the city to get tested for COVID-19. What followed highlighted the severe discrepancies in existing testing protocols, particularly the reluctance of officials to test those who have symptoms of COVID-19 if they do not have contact or travel history. In fact, Padma Priya was told she has 85% symptoms of COVID-19 and still denied a test.
“Before I even went to the hospital, I tried contacting someone via the helpline numbers. Neither 104 nor the landline number were working, and given that I have a baby at home, I didn’t want to go to the hospital right away,” she said. However, she decided to visit the hospital after she was not able to reach anyone via the helpline.
Five days ago, she developed a fever and subsequent cold and cough. She also had a sore throat and severe body and joint pain. Despite having taken paracetamol, her fever did not subside over the course of a few days. She also noticed that there was a significant loss in her ability to smell and taste, symptoms which have been accepted by experts across the world as being indicative of COVID-19.
The doctor who examined her at the hospital refused to admit her for testing, even though he acknowledged that her symptoms matched COVID-19 – she was told she has 85% of the symptoms. Instead, she was told to go home and take antibiotics and to return if she developed any symptoms of SARI (severe acute respiratory infection), such as shortness of breath. It was only after several people took cognisance of the issue on Twitter, where she had shared her experience, did officials concede to test her.
“Not only did they outright say that they wouldn’t test me, the doctor also stated that even if I did have COVID-19, that I was ‘young enough’ that my immune system would fight it off,” she said.

 · 10h

Day 4- fever continued; body aches are now really bad; cough started. a annoying scratchy itchy dry cough. i was asked to come and so i went to king koti hospital. the hospital was spic and span; i was screened for symptoms - told i had most symptoms but no primary contact

so no test. told even if i get covid i shouldnt worry- my body will fight it as am “young”. in the 40 mins i spent there i saw many many people with covid symptoms being turned away on account of no primary contact & no travel history- which doesn’t make sense anymore.

Padma Priya is not the only one. There have been several incidents (most of which have gone unreported) of individuals with symptoms indicative of coronavirus disease not being tested in view of the protocols laid down by the Telangana state government. Many of them are being sent back from the outpatient (OP) wards of Gandhi Hospital and King Koti Hospital, located in the city.
A similar incident took place near Bhavani Nagar police station in old city earlier this week, where a woman tested positive. Following this, three of her primary contacts – her two daughters and a son, tested positive, while one son tested negative.
"Since Saturday night, the landlord, an old lady who stays in the same building, is showing all the symptoms of the virus, from fever and headache to body pains. But authorities are asking her to go to the OP ward at King Koti Hospital where doctors will take a call after checking on her, whether to conduct a test or not as she is a secondary contact and had not directly interacted with the positive patients," a source said.
"In many cases, people are being sent back and asked to stay at home without a test. Even asymptomatic primary contacts are not being tested in some cases. If they take samples, and the samples return positive, only then are the patients being shifted to the hospital," the source added.
A junior doctor who is involved in the frontline also confirms this. "Many times, we are asked to send back patients if they do not have any history of travel or contact. Some of us feel this is wrong, but we are just obeying orders. The state has to conduct more tests. Since the guidelines were framed, we have been testing even less than what we were doing before," he told TNM.
Sources said that the change in testing was implemented after an order by Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar dated April 22, which said, "Asymptomatic secondary contacts shall not be tested. They shall be identified, stamped and placed in strict home quarantine for a period of 28 days and monitored daily by the local multi-disciplinary surveillance teams."
The order came as a surprise to many, as in hotspots, especially in Hyderabad, several secondary contacts have tested positive for the coronavirus. Many of them were also asymptomatic.
This, despite Hyderabad reporting over 500 cases of COVID-19, with the Centre saying earlier this week that the situation was "especially serious" in the city, and other major cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Chennai and Thane.
An Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) is also currently on a visit to Hyderabad to assess the situation. The five-member team led by Arun Baroka, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti, has been briefed by Director General of Police Mahender Reddy and Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar on the measures taken by authorities to check the spread of the coronavirus.
Telangana lags in testing
Hyderabad has been recognised as a hotspot of COVID-19. As per guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), individuals who live in hotspots who develop symptoms indicative of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) must be tested via RT-PCR within seven days of falling ill. RT-PCR, or real time polymerase chain reaction, is the standard test used to confirm if someone has COVID-19.
Many point out that the state is lagging behind in the number of tests being conducted. As of April 19, the state government said that it had conducted 375 tests per million people compared to the national average of 254. It also said that it had collected 14,962 samples and had a testing capacity of 1,560 per day in nine laboratories in the state. While Telangana is faring better than the national average, it is still behind states like Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka.
In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh for example, 68,034 tests have been conducted as of 9 am on April 26, according to data put out by the state's health department. The state has claimed that it is testing at a rate of 1,274 per million people.
Speaking to TNM, Dr Srinivasa Rao, Director of Public Health of Telangana, stated that guidelines issued by the ICMR were being followed with respect to testing.
“We are testing all the symptomatic people who report (themselves),” he stated adding that those individuals with SARI symptoms are tested while individuals with ILI are tested if the symptoms worsen. “Not all flu-like symptoms are indicative of COVID, therefore not all those with ILI are tested. We are following protocols issued by ICMR.”

How Africa Risks Reeling From a Health Crisis to a Food Crisis
By Reuters
·       April 24, 2020
LAGOS — In Nigeria's Benue state, the food basket of the country, Mercy Yialase sits in front of her idle rice mill. Demand is high across the nation, but she already has mounds of paddy rice that are going nowhere amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
"I can't mill because the marketers are not coming," Yialase said, referring to wholesale buyers, as she sat at a market stall in the city of Makurdi with dozens of other millers.
Although food truck drivers are meant to be exempt from lockdown restrictions, many are afraid for their own safety, or fear they will be fined or arrested by overzealous police.
The situation in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is reflected across sub-Saharan Africa.
Trucking logistics firm Kobo360 said 30% of its fleet across Nigeria, Kenya, Togo, Ghana and Uganda was not operating as a result. Several farmers said crops were rotting in the fields or at the depots waiting for trucks that never arrive. And millers cannot get their milled rice to buyers.
"There is no clarity around what can move around ... or what is essential transportation," said Kobo360 co-founder Ife Oyedele, adding that truck bosses were afraid. "They're scared to go out and have their drivers on the road."
Millions of people in the region are at risk of not getting the food they need due to coronavirus disruptions, according to the United Nations and World Bank.
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While domestic crops and capacity go to waste, the imports the region relies on have also dried up as major suppliers, including India, Vietnam and Cambodia, have reduced or even banned rice exports to make sure their countries have enough food to cope with the pandemic.
Meanwhile, scarcity has driven up prices of the main staple food beyond the reach of some people since lockdowns were announced in three states at the end of March to tame the spread of the virus.
Sub-Saharan Africa, the world's largest rice-importing region, could be heading from a health crisis straight into a food security crisis, the World Bank warns.
More widely, the United Nations says coronavirus disruptions could double the number of people globally without reliable access to nutritious food, to 265 million.
"There is no question about it that there is an imminent problem of food insecurity, not only in Nigeria, but also in nations all over the world," Nigeria's Agriculture Minister Muhammed Sabo Nanono told Reuters.
(GRAPHIC: Top Regional Rice Importers 2018 -
Nanono said Nigeria had at least 38,000 tonnes of grains in government-controlled strategic reserves. It is looking to replenish with 100,000 additional tonnes.
However the region has among the lowest inventories relative to consumption, so export restrictions mean rice shortages "could happen very quickly," according to John Hurley, lead regional economist for west and central Africa for the U.N.'s International Fund for Agricultural Development.
(GRAPHIC: Months of crop use held in stocks by region -
Nigeria has substantially increased domestic rice production in recent years. But figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show it still imports at least a third of what it consumes. Across sub-Saharan Africa, countries rely on imports for roughly 40% of rice consumption.
This puts these countries at particular risk.
India, the world's largest rice exporter, temporarily stopped new export agreements earlier this month, while lockdowns and supply chain disruptions in Pakistan, Vietnam and Cambodia have limited available exports.
Since only 9% of global output is traded internationally, the curbs hit prices immediately, the USDA said.
"We need to make sure we're not taking policy measures that are going to hurt the rural poor and people in developing countries, said Hurley.
The price of a bag of imported rice rose by more than 7.5% in Abuja and Lagos between the third week of March and early April, according to SBM Intelligence, while bags of local rice became about 6%-8% more expensive.
In Kenya, panic-buying and government programmes to distribute rice to low-income households have already depleted reserves.
If imports don't pick up, East Africa alone could face a shortfall of at least 50,000-60,000 tonnes by the end of the month, said Mital Shah, managing director of Kenya-based Sunrice, one of the region's largest rice importers.
"The entire supply chain has been disrupted," Shah said. "In the next couple of weeks, East Africa is going to have a huge shortage."
Getting the bills of loading for imports into Kenya has also stretched from three to four days to three to four weeks. In Nigeria, clearing imports has gone from weeks to months.
Senegal's rice imports have fallen by around 30% due to international supply disruptions, said Ousmane Sy Ndiaye, executive director of UNACOIS, a Senegalese commerce industry group. He estimated the nation had enough in storage to cover two months.
Growing rice in nations outside East Africa, such as Nigeria, is also more important now due to a plague of locusts in East Africa that has decimated crops this year.
(GRAPHIC: Regional Rice Production 2018 -
Domestic movement restrictions and import delays are also hindering farmers, and some are warning that production will fall if governments do not act.
A survey by AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, a Nigerian company that assists the agriculture sector with logistics and financing, found that Nigeria's fertilizer stocks are currently 20% below normal levels. There are only enough seeds and other inputs to farm 1 million hectares out of the roughly 30 million typically farmed, the study showed.
Other farmers say the lockdowns are hindering farm inspections by banks, putting their financing at risk, and creating problems physically getting tractors - which are often hired - to fields. Planting rice would typically start in May.
"Most people in the industry I speak with are worried," said Dimieari Von Kemedi, managing director of Alluvial Agriculture, a farm collective.
Nigeria's government has created a task force to minimize the coronavirus's impact on agriculture. Nanono said it was creating ID cards for those in the agriculture sector, from farmhands to food truck drivers, to enable them to move freely.
He said the government was taking steps to make sure farmers, millers and marketers could operate. The agriculture ministry is working to increase locally produced fertilizers, while the central bank would look to expand financing for farmers, he added.
Help cannot come soon enough for Yialase in Benue, who is awaiting the day marketers return.
"When they start to come, I can mill everything here, and they will buy."
(Reporting by Libby George; Additional reporting by Abraham Achirga in Abuja, Christian Akorlie in Accra, Loucoumane Coulibaly in Abidjan, Ayenat Mersie and Duncan Miriri in Nairobi; Graphics by Gavin Maguire; Editing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Pravin Char)
Rice stock in check despite lower production, higher demand: Ministry
·       Dzulfiqar Fathur Rahman
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta   /   Sat, April 25, 2020   /   05:12 am
Description: Rice stock in check despite lower production, higher demand: MinistryFarmers plant rice during their second planting period of 2020 in Tunggulwulung village, Malang, East Java, on April 10. (JP/Aman Rochman)
The Trade Ministry has said that the rice stock from the upcoming harvest season will last through November despite declining production and surging demand.
The ministry’s domestic trade director general, Suhanto, estimated rice production to decline by 10 percent to around 17.8 million tons, citing a report by the Indonesian Rice Millers and Entrepreneurs Association (Perpadi). Added with the current stock of 3.3 million tons, the supply would exceed national demand by 6.2 million tons, the ministry estimated.
Perpadi also recorded a threefold rise in demand recently with government agencies and private organizations buying more rice for social assistance aimed at helping those most vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It means that milled rice in general has been distributed to the public either via retail markets or social assistance,” Suhanto said Tuesday in an online hearing with the House of Representatives Commission VI overseeing trade and industry.
Rice farmers and food businesses are facing logistical disruptions on top of price volatility due to the large-scale social restrictions that were implemented to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, which has infected more than 7,700 people nationwide.
The average price of rice slightly rose by around 0.8 percent to Rp 11,950 (77 US cents) per kilogram on Wednesday from a month earlier, according to data from the government’s staple food prices tracker, the Information Center for Strategic Food Prices (PIHPS).
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Tuesday that rice prices should have fallen instead, in line with the downward trend in unhusked rice prices. The average price of unhusked rice declined 4.6 percent to Rp 4,936 per kg between March and January, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data in February.
With Ramadan having started Friday, the demand for rice is expected to rise even more. According to data from the Agriculture Ministry's Food Security Agency (BKP), rice demand rose 3 percent in the days leading up to Ramadan and is expected to jump 20 percent ahead of Idul Fitri in late May.
“To ensure there is a sufficient rice stock and stable prices, the Trade Ministry has ordered the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) to distribute medium quality rice to the markets,” Suhanto said.

Telangana: Millers delay purchase, Sircilla ryots burn paddy

Ch Sushil Rao | TNN | Updated: Apr 24, 2020, 09:29 IST
Farmers threatened to burn their entire produce if it was not procured
HYDERABAD: Farmers in Laxmipur village of Thangallapalli mandal in Sircilla district on Thursday set a portion of their paddy ablaze to bring to the notice of the state government that the produce they had brought to the market was not being procured and rice millers were imposing conditions of their own on farmers.
Pouring a bottle of petrol on a heap of paddy, the farmers burnt a portion of it and threatened to destroy the entire lot if their produce was not procured. Local police and officials intervened and prevented the farmers from carrying on with their protest.
“We are being neglected. We want chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to take note of our problems. We also want minister K T Rama Rao, who represents our constituency, to visit us and understand what the situation is,” said M Malla Reddy, a farmer.
The complaint of the farmers is that they had been waiting for millers to procure the paddy but the millers were imposing conditions on taking the paddy. The millers said they would calculate the quantity by discounting 5-6 kg of rice per bag as farmers had themselves dried the ‘wet’ paddy. Since the millers kept delaying the process citing different reasons, the farmers resorted to the extreme protest .

'Telangana only state to procure 100% paddy produce': Agriculture minister blasts BJP

Agriculture Minister assures farmers that discoloured and drenched paddy will also be procured by the govt; asserts that Telangana is only State to procure 100 % of the crop 
Published: 25th April 2020 06:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th April 2020 06:52 AM  |  
Farmers harvesting rabi paddy. (Photo | EPS)
By Express News Service
HYDERABAD: Agriculture Minister Singireddy Niranjan Reddy blasted BJP leaders for politicising paddy procurement in the state, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Referring to BJP president Bandi Sanjay’s one-day fast in Hyderabad on Friday, the agriculture minister said that Telangana was the only state which was procuring 100 per cent paddy produced by the farmers. 
No BJP-ruled state is procuring paddy like that in Telangana, the minister said. Pointing out that the BJP leaders were even politicising crop loss due to hailstorm and rains, Niranjan Reddy alleged that BJP leaders lacked clarity on matters related to agriculture. The minister assured farmers that the discoloured and drenched paddy too would also be procured by the government and farmers need not worry about anything.
He said the state had given permission to open 7,077 paddy procurement centres and 1,027 maize procurement centres in the State. So far, 5,187 paddy centres and 923 maize procurement centres had been opened, he said. The minister advised the BJP leaders to prevail upon the Central government to ensure that a turmeric board is set up in the state. State BJP leaders should ensure that the Centre accords permission to procure all food grains produced in the State with MSP, he added.
Niranjan Reddy said it was the TRS-led government which had instilled confidence in farmers with schemes such as round-the-clock power supply, Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bima. The Central government had copied Rythu Bandhu scheme and implemented Kisan Samman Yojana, the Minister said.
File cases against errant millers: Vemula
Nizamabad: State Roads and Buildings Minister Vemula Prashanth Reddy said if rice millers refuse to buy paddy citing reasons such as presence of husk, officials must register cases against errant millers.  Farmers in Rajanna-Sircilla have burnt heaps of paddy alleging that rice millers were paying less money citing wastage in the rice.
Every grain will be procured by govt: Gangula
Karimnagar: A day after farmers set ablaze their paddy produce in Rajanna-Sircilla, Civil Supplies Minister Gangula Kamalakar said farmers need not worry about paddy procurement. Every grain of their produce would be procured by the government, the minister said and added, government would convince rice millers to procure paddy from farmers.

Protesting farmers burn their paddy in Boinpalli

The farmers are a trouble lot as the rice mill owners, for the past ten days, have been refusing to buy their paddy unless 5kg to 8kg of chaff is removed from each quintal of paddy.
Published: 26th April 2020 08:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th April 2020 08:33 AM  |  
Distressed farmers set their paddy crop ablaze at Boinpalli mandal in Rajanna-Sircilla district on Saturday
By Express News Service
RAJANNA-SIRCILLA: There seems to be no end to the issue of protesting paddy farmers. A day after TRS working president and MAUD Minister KT Rama Rao tried to pacify the farmers, assuring them of all support from the government, the distressed ryots once again burnt their produce at Boinpalli mandal headquarters on Saturday.
The farmers are a trouble lot as the rice mill owners, for the past ten days, have been refusing to buy their paddy unless 5kg to 8kg of chaff is removed from each quintal of paddy.
This is apparently delaying the whole process and leaving the farmers more worried as they are afraid of unexpected rains destroying their produce and also the resultant delays to their works for Kharif season.
After being informed about the farmers burning the paddy in Boinpalli, Additional Collector R Anjaiah rushed to the spot and tried to pacify farmers. He tried to reason with the farmers, saying that is scrap percentage more, the FCI will not accept the paddy from the rice millers and requested farmers to bring chaff-free paddy to the procurement centres. He also assured to talk to the mill owners.

Pakistan’s exports to Africa increased even in this hard time of coronavirus outbreak

The exports of Pakistan to Africa have been increased by 10% even in this hard time of the coronavirus pandemic, said the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood on Friday.
“Alhumdulillah! Even in these testing times Pakistan’s exports to Africa have increased by 10% from July 2019 to 21st April 2020, as compared to the same period last year,” the Advisor to the Prime Minister said on a social networking platform Twitter.

Alhumdulillah! Even in these testing times Pakistan’s exports to Africa have increased by 10% from July 2019 to 21st April 2020, as compared to the same period last year.1/2 @ansukhera @pid_gov @ImranKhanPTI @aliya_hamza

Dawood said that the imports of the rice from Pakistan to Africa have increased by 20% from $500 million to $600 million, tractors from $9 million to 15 million, clothing from $4 million to $50 million, and bed linen from $30 million to $36 million.

Alhumdulillah! Even in these testing times Pakistan’s exports to Africa have increased by 10% from July 2019 to 21st April 2020, as compared to the same period last year.1/2 @ansukhera @pid_gov @ImranKhanPTI @aliya_hamza

I would like to commend my team at the MOC for the Look Africa Policy Initiative under which rice exports has increased 20%, from $500 to $600 million, tractors from $9 to 15 million, clothing from $4 to $50 million, and bed linen from $30 to $36 million. 2/2

Earlier on April 21, the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said that Gwadar Port has been made operational for the Afghan Trade Transit.
While announcing the development through his official social media account of Twitter, he said that the Gwadar Port has been operationalized for the Afghan Transit Trade under APTTA 2010.

I am pleased to share with you that Ministry of Commerce has operationalized Gwadar Port for Afghan Transit Trade under APTTA 2010.@ImranKhanPTI @ansukhera @aliya_hamza @Emergingpk @PTIofficial @PTVNewsOfficial @RadioPakistan @appcsocialmedia 1/4

UK Pakistani group commences ration drive in Gwadar

LONDON: A leading British Pakistani group has launched an initiative to provide hundreds of ration packs carrying three months' worth of essential supplies in Pakistan's southwestern port city of Gwadar.
Speaking to, Lt Gen (retd) Syed Sabahat Husain from CPIC said: "We would like to thank DG Gwadar Development Authority Shazeb Kakar [and] the Gwadar Chamber of Commerce for their ongoing support and the Pakistan armed forces for their ongoing support."
The distribution of ration packs — which include rice, flour, wheat, lentils, ghee, and tea — commenced earlier this week with International Port City acting as the distribution centre. Volunteers will distribute ration packs door-to-door to people who did not have "the means of transport to come to us".
"As a responsible organisation involved in the cohesive development of Pakistan, we are here to assist all institutions across the country regardless of geographic location," added Shah, who is also the founding member of the China Pakistan Investment Corporation (CPIC), a privately-owned real estate company.
The officials in Gwadar had requested protective masks from various people. Husain said he has pledged to donate over 50,000 masks to doctors, medical professionals and others in the city in order to combat the viral outbreak of COVID-19.
Balochistan, in which Gwadar is located, has so far seen upwards of 600 cases, of which more than 160 have recovered and eight have passed away. It constitutes over 50% of Pakistan's landmass but is extremely impoverished, with minimum health facilities.
Gwadar, the port city, is considered to be a game-changer not only for Pakistan but for the entire region and the world at large due to its strategic location and trade route opportunities.
The Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan, under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, also indicates how it is on way to embrace a futuristic vision and evolve into one of South Asia's major trade hubs.

Pakistan’s exports to Africa increase by 10pc: Razak Dawood

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood has said that Pakistan’s exports to Africa have increased by 10 percent. He also announced the approval of the export of textile masks. While referring to the clarification sent by the Ministry of Health to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), he stated that this approval does not apply to surgical and N95 masks.
“Alhumdulillah, even in these testing times Pakistan’s exports to Africa have increased by 10% from July 2019 to 21st April 2020, as compared to the same period last year,” Abdul Razak Dawood stated in tweet on Friday.
He stated that he would like to commend his team at the Ministry of Commerce for the “Look Africa Policy Initiative” under which rice exports have increased 20 percent, from $500 to $600 million, tractors from $9 to $15 million, clothing from $4 to $50 million, and bed linen from $30 to $36 million
USAID offers support to Pakistan agri, food sector
By  News desk
April 24, 2020

Zubair Qureshi
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Julie Koenen has reiterated her resolve to support Pakistan’s agriculture and food sector particularly in the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. She expressed this desire in a meeting with Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research (NFSR) Syed Fakhar Imam.
The Minister informed the visiting delegation that Pakistan’s main agriculture crops were wheat, rice, maze, sugarcane and cotton.
Our production of cotton was good in 1980s but presently the production has declined, he said adding cotton contributes about 60pc of Pakistan export. There is need of value addition in cotton crop through which Pakistan would earn billions of dollars.
Moreover, the current government’s focus is on uplifting the seed quality and production of cotton crop by exchange of information and research with other cotton producing countries. We have the world’s best basmati rice but failed to exploit toward international marketing, he added.

Doctors dispatched to Pakistan, Myanmar, Laos to fight Covid-19

April 26, 2020

BEIJING: China has started sending military medical teams to Pakistan, Myanmar and Laos to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Analysts said this shows the high-level of mutual trust and friendly relations between China and these countries, and that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) medical teams are the most experienced force in China in handling public health crises.
The Ministry of National Defense of China released a statement on Friday that the Central Military Commission approved the Chinese Air Force to dispatch aircraft to deliver emergency medical supplies and professional medical teams to the three countries for anti-pandemic efforts.

A medical team from the PLA arrived in Yangon, Myanmar on Friday morning, bringing medical supplies, including test kits and KN95 medical masks, to help local military forces.
According to China Central Television, the Chinese military medical team consists of six experts, who arrived at the Yangon International Airport by a Y-9 military transport aircraft together with the supplies.
This is not the first time that China has helped the three countries fight the virus. According to the Xinhua News Agency, the team of Chinese medical experts aiding Myanmar in its fight against Covid-19 returned on Wednesday to Kunming, capital of Southwest China’s Yunnan Province.
The team, consisting of 12 medical experts from Yunnan, was established by the National Health Commission. They arrived in Yangon on April 8, with a batch of donated medical supplies.
An eight-member medical expert team organized by the Chinese government also arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 28 to help the country fight the pandemic.
A team of Chinese medical experts, along with medical supplies, arrived in the Lao capital Vientiane by charter plane on the morning of March 29.
When China was fighting a tough fight against Covid-19 during the early stages of the pandemic, the three countries provided various forms of aid to China.
The Xinhua News Agency reported on March 1 that the government of Myanmar had donated 200 tons of rice to China as part of humanitarian aid.

Govt To Provide Subsidy To Rice Growers


SIALKOT, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th Apr, 2020 ) :A five year project under Agriculture Emergency, a national programme for higher profitability through increased rice produce ,has been launched in 15 rice growing districts of Punjab costing Rs. 6.63 billion.
Under this programme the government will provide subsidy to paddy growers belonging to rice growing districts for obtaining authenticated paddy seed. Rice growers have been advised to contact local agriculture department for registration,sources in Agriculture department told APP here .
It was learnt that special attention would be focused on promoting mechanized farming in these districts. Under national agriculture emergency efforts would be made for timely sowing of identified ecologically best varieties by promoting direct seedling of rice drill in these districts.
The mechanized transplanting of rice nurseries will replace the outdated manual transplanting. The project was being carried out in SialkotGujranwalaSheikhupura,OkaraHafizabadNankana Sahib, Bahawalnager, JhangNarowalKasur, Mandi B.Din, ChiniotGujratLahore, and Faisalabad districts. In these area rice--Basmati and course varieties would be cultivated on 70,000 acres of land.
Under the programme government will provide riding type rice transplanter, walk-after type rice transplanter, nursery raising machine, direct seedling drill, rice straw chopper, water tight rotavator and knapsack power sprayer.
The government will provide subsidy to rice grower for the purchase of tested paddy seeds and pesticides. The government will also provide subsidy of Rs.1500 per acre to growers for encouraging combined harvesting.

Description: BR-Logo
SPI-based inflation goes up 0.62pc
·       The SPI for the week under review in the above mentioned group was recorded at 125.93 points against 125.16  points registered in the previous week.
·       The Sensitive Price Indicator for the lowest consumption group upto Rs 17,732 witnessed 0.91 percent decrease and went up from 130.14  points in last week to 131.32 points during the week under review.
·       The commodities, which recorded increase in their average prices included potatoes, onions, bananas, chicken, garlic, milk (fresh), rice (Irri-6/9), curd, gur, rice (Basmati broken), mutton, beef, mustard oil and firewood.
ISLAMABAD: The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) based weekly inflation for the week ended on April 23, for the combined consumption group, witnessed an increase of 0.62 percent, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported Friday.
The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the week under review in the above mentioned group was recorded at 125.93 points against 125.16  points registered in the previous week.
The weekly SPI with base year 2015-16=100 is covering 17 urban centers and 51 essential items for all expenditure groups.
The Sensitive Price Indicator for the lowest consumption group upto Rs 17,732 witnessed 0.91 percent decrease and went up from 130.14  points in last week to 131.32 points during the week under review.
Meanwhile, the SPI for the consumption groups from Rs. 17,733-22,888, Rs. 22,889-29,517, Rs. 29,518-44,175 and above Rs 44,175 per month increased by 0.82 percent, 0.72 percent, 0.68 percent and 0.52 percent respectively.
During the week, prices of 12 items decreased, 14 items decreased while that of 25 items remained constant.
The items, which recorded decrease in their average prices included tomatoes, eggs, gram pulse, masoor pulse, LPG Cylinder, mash pulse, moong pulse, cooking oil, vegetable ghee (tin) wheat flour, vegetable ghee(loose) and sugar.
The commodities, which recorded increase in their average prices included potatoes, onions, bananas, chicken, garlic, milk (fresh), rice (Irri-6/9), curd, gur, rice (Basmati broken), mutton, beef, mustard oil and firewood.
Similarly, the prices of the commodities that observed no change in their price during the week under review included bread, milk (powdered), salt, chilllies, tea (packet), cooked beef, cooked daal, tea (prepared), cigarettes, long cloth, shirting, lawn, georgette, gents sandal, gents sponge chappal, ladies sandal, electricity charges, gas charges, energy saver, washing soap, match box, petrol, diesel, telephone call charges and toilet soap.
According to the PBS analysis, this increase was mainly due to a rise in prices of food items i.e. potatoes (24.75%), onions (9.39%), bananas (4.72%), chicken (4.68%), garlic (2.65%), milk fresh (1.33%), rice Irri (1.15%) and curd (1.12%) with joint impact of 0.86 into the overall SPI for combined group of (0.62%).

China Starts Delivering VT4 Battle Tanks to Pak Army

Description: china
China has begun delivering new VT4 main battle tanks (MBTs) to Pakistan. A subsidiary of China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group Co. Ltd. held a shipment ceremony in a tank factory located in Baotou, Mongolia for a foreign customer.
The first batch of VT4 MBTs which is equipped with explosive reactive armor (ERA) (Option FY-IV) is in the process of being delivered to the Pak Army.
Pakistan Army Armored Corps decided to acquire almost 1000 VT4 tanks from NORINCO to meet its needs.
The VT4 MBT is an upgraded version of Al-Khalid MBT which is also known as MBT-2000. It is offered for export by NORINCO with the same 125 mm main gun, carousel auto-loader, and crew configuration.
Furthermore, it is pertinent to mention here that the company also delivered the first shipment of 17 military vehicles to the Nigerian Army. It also included ST1 tank, SH5 105mm wheeled self-propelled howitzers and VT4 MBTs.
On another note its important to mention here that China has shipped 500 tonnes of hybrid rice seeds to Pakistan. It is estimated that around 33,333 hectares of land will be planted with those seeds, as per the details. It will help Pakistan to ensure grain yield this year.

New Arkansas long-grain rice variety offers high yields, UA says

Jewel, a new mid-season, long-grain rice variety from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, offers high yields and resistance to most known blast races, according to a news release.
Foundation seed for Jewel will be maintained by the Division of Agriculture’s Foundation Seed Program at the Rice Research and Extension Center near Stuttgart. Certified seed will be available to growers in 2021.
In 14 Arkansas Rice Performance Trials conducted over three years, Jewel averaged 187 bushels per acre, said Karen Moldenhauer, professor and rice breeder for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture.
In Uniform Regional Rice Nursery trials in Arkansas during that same period, Jewel yielded an average of 229 bushels per acre.
Those yields compare favorably to LaKast and Roy J rice varieties, and in some cases even with the high-yielding Diamond rice variety, she said.
Maturing about three to four days earlier than Roy J, Jewel reaches 50 percent heading in 87 days, Moldenhauer said. Jewel stands about 37 inches tall and has straw strength similar to Diamond and approaching Roy J, indicating lodging resistance.
Moldenhauer said Jewel has excellent milling yields of 59 percent whole kernels and 71 percent total milled rice, based on three years of Arkansas Rice Performance Trial data.
Jewel contains the Pi-ta and Pi-ks genes for resistance to most of the common races of blast, Moldenhauer said. It is moderately susceptible to sheath blight as well as bacterial panicle blight, much like Roy J.
Moldenhauer said Jewel has good food quality and cooks up in a manner desired by consumers. Jewel was developed using Rice Grower Checkoff funds administered by the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow the agency on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.

Climate change threatens our food security

By Dr Shamshuddin Jusop - April 24, 2020 @ 9:06pm
Description: Global warming is of great concern among those in the agriculture fraternity across the globe. -NSTP/SHAHRIZAL MD NOORGlobal warming is of great concern among those in the agriculture fraternity across the globe. -NSTP/SHAHRIZAL MD NOOR
IT seems that farmers in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia worry more about dry spells or droughts that affect their rice yield than the Covid-19 pandemic. They are worried about the rice in fields that generate adequate income to sustain their life. This was articulated by some writers in the mainstream media last week.
The concern by the farming communities is real, given the serious shortage of water to sustain rice growth and production in the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) area of Kedah-Perlis plains, the main granary of the country. We are talking about the country's food security, which is being threatened to the core by the recent drought in the region.
As a senior soil scientist working to help enhance rice production to sustain food security, I am worried about the situation. No matter what we do, if there is insufficient irrigation water, the agro-technologies we have developed are of little use, unless there is a rice variety available in the country that can withstand without much water during the vegetative stage. What has gone wrong with the climate in Peninsular Malaysia of late?
To put it in proper perspective, I made a visit to the area in mid-March. The visit was to start a research project with farmers in Pendang, Kedah, who wanted to participate in the project. Sad to say that water was lacking in some areas that rice plants in the fields were left unattended.
The rice plants turned brown due to insufficient water to support their growth. The plants could no longer grow or survive, let alone produce rice that the farmers were looking for. It was a sad end to farmers' dream of having a good harvest.
Based on the geological record, Kedah-Perlis plains were once inundated by sea water when the sea rose to its highest level some 4,300 years ago. During that period of the geological history, mineral pyrite (FeS2) was formed and remained in the sediments where the Mada area is.
That geological episode leaves a fingerprint that affects soil fertility. During dry spells, the water table level drops and exposes the pyrite, which is subsequently oxidised, releasing acidity and toxic iron. The phenomenon affects rice production negatively.
This seems to be the case in certain rice fields in Pendang that I visited. The problem of high acidity and iron toxicity has to be rectified via agronomic means. The objective of my visit to Mada areas was to look for the best ways to do it. Alas, the project was put on hold until the Covid-19 pandemic is done and over with.
The rice self-sufficiency level (SSL) in Malaysia stands at 71 per cent. With the improved infra-structure put in place, the SSL is expected to be increased to 80 per cent by 2022. The drought situation in Mada areas right now is made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the problems facing the farmers, I hope Malaysia can still sustain the SSL at 71 per cent. The powers-that-be should have already started working to alleviate the problem facing the rice farmers.
Recently, the government invited researchers nationwide to submit research proposals for Trans-disciplinary Research Grant and Long-term Research Grant Schemes. Among the 14 areas of research offered for full funding is "Impacts of 1.5-2.0°C Global Warming on Malaysia". This shows how important is the impact of global warming on the economic wellbeing of Malaysians.
The phenomenon of water shortage for rice production is unprecedented in the history of Malaysia. Water in dams at the upper reaches of rivers is almost dry due to the lack of rainfall. It has much to do with the change in weather patterns, the so-called global warming.
Global warming is of great concern among those in the agriculture fraternity across the globe. It is accelerated by the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere.
We have more than 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, almost double in amount compared with that before the industrial revolution.
The worldwide increase in the Earth's surface temperature has already reached the alarming level of 1.5°C increase in the Earth's surface temperature to 2°C.
The writer is Fellow of Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Research Fellow, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia

Labour shortage and farm mechanisation 

Published:  April 25, 2020 22:11:16

Description: Labour shortage and farm mechanisation 
The crisis emanating from the ongoing pandemic has been all-engulfing.  Bangladesh's farm sector is also in the midst of a very difficult situation as far as the harvesting of its main rice crop - Boro - is concerned. Millions of daily-wage earning labourers, now stuck in cities, towns and other parts of the country due to Covid-19-related shutdown, have been going without work for more than six weeks in a row. In such a situation, the harvesting of Boro is being seriously affected due to the severe shortage of farm labourers in different parts of the country, including haor areas.
The government, however, has come to the rescue of the peasantry by making available agricultural machinery such as combined harvesters and reapers. The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), reportedly, has already distributed more than 1200 harvesters and reapers at a cost of Tk 1.0 billion to the farmers. It will make available more of similar farm equipment at an additional amount of Tk 1.0 billion. The farm machinery are being mainly deployed in the country's haor and low-lying areas that are particularly vulnerable to flash floods during this period of the year. Farmers are procuring those at subsidised rates up to 70 per cent of their actual cost.
However, the government's endeavours relating to farm machinery distribution are not enough to compensate for the shortage of labourers. The MoA is also aware of this fact. It is, thus, transporting labourers from Dhaka and other parts of the country under special arrangements to haor areas that produce nearly one-fifth of the country's Boro rice output. Besides, different voluntary organisations and students are helping the farmers in the harvest of the crop. Yet nearly 80 per cent of Boro rice awaits harvesting.
There are plausible reasons behind the government being sensitive to the harvest of Boro crop in haor and other low-lying areas of at least five districts, namely, Habiganj, Kishoreganj, Sunamganj, Moulavibazaar and Sylhet. In 2017, flashfloods starting in the final week of March caused extensive damage to Boro crop in these districts. The total loss of Boro rice production was estimated at more than 0.8 million tonnes. Haor people went through a very difficult time for months together following the natural disaster. Besides, the loss of crop had made the rice prices soar to a record high, prompting the government to make the highest-ever rice imports.
The shortage of agricultural labourers is nothing new. It becomes acute during the harvesting time of major food crops. Migration of farm labourers to urban areas and their switching over to better-paying occupations are largely responsible for the shortage. Thus, it is important to mechanise the agriculture at a fast pace. The transformation will also make the farm practices efficient and productive. However, mere wishes would not be enough to meet the goals here. There is no denying there has been some progress in farm mechanisation. More needs to be done to make further progress.
Moreover, the benefits of mechanisation need to be shared also by the small and marginal farmers. It is most likely that relatively more affluent section of the farmers would be benefited most by the programme of subsidised distribution of farm machinery. In line with past practices, they would employ those for commercial purposes. To avoid such a possibility, the government might think of using the age-old institutions called cooperative societies at the grassroots and hand over the farm machinery to those. This could be the best way of spearheading the programme of farm mechanisation without bypassing small and marginal farmers.

Poor agri-mechanisation is a big headache

 Yasir Wardad | Published:  April 22, 2020 09:22:03 | Updated:  April 25, 2020 08:41:09

Description: Farmers with the help of locals harvesting paddy in Dharanti Haor of Sarail upazila under Brahmanbaria district on Tuesday in their race against time with a flood warning already issued — Focus BanglaFarmers with the help of locals harvesting paddy in Dharanti Haor of Sarail upazila under Brahmanbaria district on Tuesday in their race against time with a flood warning already issued — Focus Bangla
Poor agri-mechanisation has posed a fresh challenge to the current Boro crop harvest in Bangladesh for labour scarcity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, agriculturists have said.
They have put emphasis on enhancing farm machinery like combined harvester and ripper to help cope with agri-worker shortages.
Though the government has initiated to mobilise labourers in crisis-riddled districts, the arrangement is not enough to meet the demand, said experts.
Boro is the major cropping season producing 55 per cent of rice the country consumes.
April to June is the peak harvest time of Boro crop and also of summer vegetables for which the period is most important for the country's economy.
The countrywide shutdown, as a precaution against the pandemic, has virtually turned into a bane for the farm sector for a dearth of labourers.
"As ingathering has already begun at haor and other lowlands, a lack of modern farm machinery has deepended labour crisis", said agronomist Golam Hafeez Kennedy.
He said the farm community need an additional 1.8 million labourers this Boro-harvesting season.
Mr Kennedy said haor Boro growers are more dependent on migrated workers as they usually need 45,000 to 50,000 labouers a day between April 15 and 30.
A lack of usage of modern farm machinery like combined harvester and ripper has intensified labour problem.
He said the country has made a significant progress in farm mechanisation for ploughing and irrigation but a little progress in plantation and harvest.
The agronomist said poor financial condition of farmers and lack of government initiatives have caused low development in post-harvest farm mechanisation.
He said the government has allocated Tk 2.0 billion for farm mechanisation in recent weeks which should be spent immediately on farm machinery.
A combined harvester is too costly for a farmer. So, government should provide such equipment for free to every union council, he observed.
The union council can render services to farmers in exchange of an amount set by the Deapartment of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
Mr Kennedy suggested that the government provide at least 1,000 combined harvesters at Tk 2.0 billion.
Though the number is also much lower than the demand, it should be managed for a better production outlook.
Agriculture ministry additional secretary (extension wing) Md Hasanuzzaman Kallol said the government has provided 180 harvesters and 137 rippers through special arrangements for haor farmers.
The local administration and the DAE have jointly arranged migratory farm workers for haor and other areas to reap paddy and other crops, he told the FE.
More than 40,000 farm labourers have been sent to haor and other lowlands from Rangpur, Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Faridpur and Chattogram regions in the past 10 days, Mr Kallol stated.
The ministry with the help of the local administrations and the DAE have also arranged their transportation and accommodation in different districts.
ACI Motors Ltd executive director Subrata Ranjan Das said the country has a demand for 0.1 million units of harvesters but availability is still below 1,500 units.
Farmers are using around 50,000 tractors and 700,000 power tillers for 95-per cent mechanised ploughing.
But the use of rippers and combined harvesters or rice planters is very low, which is now obligatory to make the total farming process mechanised.
Mr Ranjan said there is a demand for rice planters is 0.2 million units, whereas farmers have only 950 units.
His company is selling Japanese Yanmar brand of combined harvester which costs Tk 2.5-2.8 million each.
A modern combined harvester can reap paddy of 3.5 hectares a day and can save Tk 15,700 per hectare a day, minimising the need for labourers.
Prof Monjurul Ahsan of farm power and machinery department at Bangladesh Agricultural University said the use of mini or combined harvesters that cut, thresh and bag grains simultaneously.
This could be a game-changing solution to farmers during this lockdown period through saving cost, time and human labour, he went on to say.
Mr Ahsan said a modern harvester can harvest, thresh or even package paddy of 3.5 hectares a day with only 61 labourers when doing things automatically.
But it needs 213 labourers when things are done in a traditional way, he added.
Mr Ahsan said farmers can buy such machinery with maximum 70 per cent of incentive but it is not enough.
Despite having such incentive, he said, a farmer needs an additional Tk 1.0 to 1.5 million to buy the machine which is not possible for the local peasantry.
The government should undertake measures to raise incentive so that farmers can buy modern equipment like combined harvester, ripper and transplanter to minimise labour shortages.
Customs says 1,800 bags of rice released to Oyo good for human consumption
 ON APRIL 26, 20208:02 AMIN NEWS
 The Nigeria Customs Service, Oyo and Osun Command, on Saturday said the 1,800 bags of rice released as a palliative to the Oyo State government were good for human consumption. This was in response to the claim by Oyo State Government that the bags of rice released to it by the command were infected and not good for human consumption. An aide to Gov. Seyi Makinde on Agribusiness, Dr Debo Akande, had on Friday alleged that the rice given through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and released by the Customs were infested with weevils. Description: Customs says 1,800 bags of rice released to Oyo good for human consumption؎However, ASC1 Abdullah Lagos, the Command’s Public Relations Officer, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan that 6,000 bags of rice were given to Ekiti, Osun, Oyo and Ondo States. He said that only Oyo State claimed that the 1,800 bags of rice released to it were infected and not good for consumption. Lagos said the claim by the Oyo State government was not fair and the command suspected foul play. READ ALSO: Lockdown: Customs seizes smuggled rice, beans worth N12.7m in Kano “Representatives of Oyo, Ekiti and Osun states were on the ground together with representatives of Humanitarian Affairs to inspect in our warehouse twice on Monday. “Oyo State came to evacuate their rice on Tuesday and everybody was there. It was not as good as they claimed, all of us would have been able to see it right there. “In the process of evacuating, some of the bags fell down and got torn and no weevil or any other insect came out of them. “Oyo State even selected the ones they wanted themselves. Of all the states, which collected the rice, only Oyo State is saying all the 1,800 bags of rice given to them are infected. “What we gave out are not infected and are fit for human consumption and we cannot give out infected rice,” he said. Lagos said the command would not receive any infected rice from anybody who wanted to return it because it could not join the bad ones with the good ones in its warehouse.

Prime Rib Day – how roasted ribs found their way from European kings onto American tables

Every year on April 27th the biggest demonstration of skills in preparing and consuming this popular dish is celebrated in the US.
Little is known about the genesis of Prime Rib Day. The popularity of this event probably began several hundred years ago.
Description:, POLAND, April 26, 2020 / -- Americans like to enjoy ribs every day - both pork and beef. There are many ways to prepare ribs - any food enthusiast can easily find several hundred recipes online. Every year on April 27th the biggest demonstration of skills in preparing and consuming this popular dish is celebrated in the US.
Little is known about the genesis of Prime Rib Day. The popularity of this event probably began several hundred years ago. Prime Ribs were initially known, depending on the context, as Standing Roast, Christmas Roast or Sunday Roast, but it has always been a dish for special occasions. The name Standing Roast comes from the method of preparation of the dish: the ribs remain on the bone, during roasting, which ensures stability of the whole element and does not allow the meat to come into direct contact with the hot metal, thus preserving its juiciness.
Sunday Roast comes from an English Sunday meal where beef was served with Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, horseradish or mustard . The whole family would gather around the dish after going to church. Numerous sources claim that the popularity of this dish started in the late Middle Ages.
The English royal guards are still sometimes called "beefeaters” – the name appeared as early as in the 15th century, when the custom of eating roast beef became popular among the guards. The tradition of the Sunday Roast still prevails today. The way this dish is prepared means that the ribs can be placed in the oven before going for a Sunday walk or to church so that you can come back to a practically ready meal. This Sunday meal has been chosen by the British people as the second most important part of British culture, even ahead of the British Queen and Big Ben.
The name Christmas Roast refers to a festive culinary tradition Christmas ribs can be served with seasonal extras such as mushrooms. With the expansion of the British Empire, the tradition of this meal became popular in Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and above all in Canada and the United States. This period of expansion coincided with the agrarian revolution, when increasing agricultural productivity in the UK allowed people to see meat on their tables more often. It was also connected to the development of processing - as butchers' qualifications developed, new methods were created for producing pieces of a different culinary value from carcasses.
Roasted ribs have not only a long historical tradition as a dish, but above all a significant culinary value. Prime Ribs do not have to be made of U.S. Prime quality ribs , but can be prepared using any grade ribs. The ribs must be cut from one piece, so that they form a single whole. It is important that the piece has at least two ribs to keep it juicy during the roasting process. It is worth adjusting the size of the purchased ribs to the number of served portions - it is recommended that one protruding rib should make two portions. The dish can also be prepared after removing the bones, but then it may lose a lot of taste - in such a case, remember to shorten the roasting time by 30 minutes.
It is not very difficult to prepare this dish if you have good quality beef. First of all - it's best if the beef is dry seasoned - in the case of EU beef, there is a chance that the transport process itself has already made it tender. Once the beef has been taken out of the fridge, it should be coated with the right sauce - it could be butter with salt, pepper, garlic, thyme and rosemary. Ribs must be cooked in a higher temperature, e.g. 425°F for 20 minutes, so that the pores in the meat close to keep the juices in, then roast them at a lower temperature, e.g. 325°F. The roasting time at the lower temperature depends on the weight of the roasted meat - it can be assumed that each pound requires 15 minutes of cooking. For example – three ribs may require 1.5 hours, while 6 ribs require as much as 3 hours of roasting.
Of course, those who prefer rawer or even blue beef can reduce the roasting temperature. After taking the dish out of the oven, leave it to rest for 20 minutes. You can use that time to prepare Yorkshire pudding, which traditionally accompanies the dish.
Beef from meat breeds imported from the European Union is well suited for making this dish.
The use of these breeds means not only going back to the roots, as the recipe for this dish was developed using the meat of these animals, but it also guarantees high culinary quality. Large pieces of meat, the right marbling and the peace of mind in knowing that the cattle grew slowly, without any growth hormones, make European beef suitable for preparing tasty, juicy ribs for Prime Rib Day.
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