Wednesday, June 24, 2020

24th June,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

IMF deploys $25b emergency financing for 70 countries

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it is expected to deploy emergency financing for 70 countries as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ripple across the globe.
IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said at a virtual press briefing that “We expect that number to be 70, so 70 countries supported by the IMF with emergency financing roughly about $25 billion.” “This emergency financing is very fast-disbursing, countries receive the money within days, it does not carry traditional IMF conditionality,” Rice told reporters. “It is money to be spent on paying for things like nurses’ and doctors’ salaries, and equipment, and medical equipment to deal with the crisis.”
For the Asia and Pacific region, seven countries have received emergency financing totaling about $1.5 billion, Rice said. And in Sub-Saharan Africa, 28 countries have received emergency financing totaling almost $10 billion, Rice said, noting that the figure is much higher than the IMF’s average yearly lending of $1 billion to the region. Over 100 countries have asked the IMF for emergency financing amid the pandemic, and the multilateral lender said earlier this year that it had doubled access to its emergency facilities to meet the expected demand. –XINHUA

BOC to meet DA, farmers on grading of rice imports

June 24, 2020

Description: Bureau of Customs office in Manila

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) wants to sit down with the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) and Department of Agriculture (DA) to clarify the issue raised by the farmers’ group that a “significant” volume of imports did not indicate any rice grade.
Without the rice grade on a “significant “ volume of imports, FFF explained that it would be impossible to determine the proper tariff classification and corresponding customs’ reference price.
Customs Assistant Commissioner and spokesman Vincent Philip Maronilla said they are hoping to have the meeting next week.
“We are looking into this and we plan to invite FFF for a dialogue to clarify this matter, present the measures we have been implementing to guard against this practice and get their views on how to move forward,” Maronilla told the BusinessMirror.
Pressed on the BOC’s stand on FFF’s claim that there are imports lacking rice grade, Maronilla said: “As far as our ports are reporting it and based on the documents coming from partner agencies such as the DA, there seems to be a little disparity with the report of FFF.”
Asked to elaborate further on the disparity, he said: “That’s what we want to find out also with our meeting with FFF we want to know their specific information and place them against the reports coming from our ports. If BOC needs to rectify some of its procedures based on our discussion with FFF, then that’s something [we] will positively consider.”
The FFF also earlier urged BOC to review its rice import assessment system to prevent importers from misclassifying the tariff lines of their shipments to avoid higher reference prices.
According to the FFF, the BOC uses over 10 different classification codes for the same type of rice imports, which, it pointed out, could be utilized by unscrupulous importers to evade higher customs’ reference prices.
The customs’ reference price serves as a basis for the prevailing price of an imported good so it could determine if there are undervaluation or other trade-related issues.
FFF also urged DA to tighten further its screening of rice imports and blacklist unscrupulous players that have undervalued their shipments since the rice industry was deregulated in March 2019.
The farmers’ group has also
recommended that the BOC sit down with the DA and  National Food Authority (NFA) and private-sector representatives to come up with an “accurate and realistic” classification and valuation system for rice imports.
The FFF has also repeatedly raised the issue of undervaluation before the BOC and the DA following the enactment of the rice trade liberalization law in 2019, paving the way for the easier importation of rice.
It recently claimed that undervaluation of rice imports continues, with at least P890 million in lost tariff revenues from over 766,000 metric tons of the staple imported from January to April.
While BOC admitted that certain rice importers presented a transaction value below their reference prices, Maronilla recently said they have yet to determine whether there is an undervaluation or not.
Responding to FFF’s earlier allegation, BOC said importers of rice falling below the global published reference prices have availed themselves of the Dispute Settlement Mechanism and the remedy of release under Tentative Assessment.
BOC has already collected a total of P7.955 billion in rice tariffs from January to May this year. The figure was up by 0.48 percent from P7.917 billion in the same period last year.
The BOC has a yearly target of P10 billion in rice tariff collection for remittance to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).  The RCEF was created to help palay growers and rice farmers’ cooperatives transition to a new rice regime.
Image Credits: Klodien |

Post-Covid-19, China faces rice bowl dilemma
Clara Ferreira Marques
Jun 24, 2020, 5:00 am SGT
Empty supermarket shelves in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic have put grow-your-own back on the world's agenda and nowhere more so than in China, where ensuring food supplies for its huge population has been a political priority for decades.
Simply diversifying imports may not satisfy hawkish voices. Emphasising domestic production, though, will extract a heavy toll for a country with a fifth of the globe's people, but roughly a 10th of arable land and less than 6 per cent of water resources. For a nation scarred by famine, it's hard to overstate the importance of food security.
That was true long before 1994, when US environmental pioneer Lester Brown drew global attention to the potential consequences of scarcities by asking who would feed China when it boomed.
Officials fear inflation as a potential cause of social and political instability - not without reason, given that rising prices helped provoke the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Agricultural imports, of course, have a tendency to become tangled in diplomatic spats.
The answer was historically a simple one: self-sufficiency, particularly in grains like wheat, rice and corn.
Then came the 2020 pandemic, pressing everyone to fret about messy distribution chains.
Premier Li Keqiang told China's Parliament last month that it was imperative to ensure food supply, while rewarding grain-producing counties and boosting the minimum purchase price for rice. That doesn't mean the country can simply set the clock back to 1996 when China outlined a strict grain self-sufficiency policy - or that it plans to.
In part, what China is doing now is a regular re-balancing of the official position, says Mr Thomas David DuBois from Beijing Normal University.
For one, a back-to-the-future move would be nigh impossible. China has become a member of the World Trade Organisation. Households eat larger portions and tuck into more protein, increasing demand for grain to feed livestock. Imports of produce have climbed.
While China has rice and wheat, it relies on overseas markets like the US, Brazil and Argentina for soya beans. It has also sought to increase meat imports after African swine fever hit pork production last year.
Agricultural purchases have been key to a trade truce with the US. Certainly, the cost of past domestic ambitions has been extortionate.
In environmental terms, the damage has meant fertilisers used at four times the global rate, degraded soil and scarce water. Then there's the financial blow: According to the World Bank, input subsidies rose sevenfold between 2006 and 2010. This rising bill, along with other changes, including growing international clout, accounts for Beijing's more balanced approach after late 2013, when policy began to lean towards imports, sustainability, investing abroad and modernising at home.
It's encouraging that some of those efforts have paid off during the pandemic. Farmers seem to have been better able to handle spring-planting disruptions, thanks to digital applications. Reserves held out. Still, the weaknesses of the global supply chain were exposed.
As ructions with Washington rumble in the background, it's unsurprising that the idea of the national rice bowl held firmly in Chinese hands, filled with Chinese rice, holds some attraction.
Yet there are longer-term risks for misallocated resources that already lead to plentiful smuggling of cheaper fare. Not to mention what Ms Amrita Jash from New Delhi's Centre for Land Warfare Studies points out are heightened risks of clashes with neighbours like India, as China seeds clouds in Tibet or farther afield from an expanding fleet of distant-water fishing vessels.
It matters, though, that popular concern over issues, including tainted soil and dirty water, plus official awareness of the cost of ignoring them, means that a new domestic push has a chance of being far less destructive than before. Food safety worries have only heightened of late. Physical constraints like water scarcity will play a role in limiting those aspirations and shape more sustainable policy.
China has little choice but to build food security by balancing internal sufficiency against more diverse international sources. That doesn't necessarily mean large-scale acquisition of land in Africa and elsewhere to ship harvests back home, which is both unpopular and economically punitive.
Using its clout on global markets makes more sense. In this context, the Belt and Road Initiative has been a game changer in terms of linking up the mainland and friendly sellers when it comes to grains, says Mr Zhang Hongzhou of Nanyang Technological University. Ukraine is now a leading supplier of corn to China. China's rice bowl is going to stay mixed a while longer - however tightly it is held.
• Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues.

Indonesia's Bulog expects no rice imports this year

JAKARTA, June 23 (Reuters) - Indonesia food procurement agency Bulog currently has 1.4 million tonnes of rice and does not expect a need to import the grain this year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
Bulog had to double the volume of rice released to the market in recent months in an effort to blunt a price spike caused by demand from social assistance programmes during the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
Indonesia has reported nearly 47,000 infections in the country as of Monday, the highest in East Asia outside of China.
Bulog is maximising local procurement from the recent main harvest and expects another harvest between September and November to boost supply, especially for food assistance programmes, chief executive Budi Waseso told reporters.
“Rice absorption is still on going, which convinces me that we have enough supply,” he said.
Based on the farming ministry’s output estimate and data from the statistics agency, Bulog will not require imports this year, he added.
The agency as of June 22 has procured 609,577 tonnes of rice equivalent from local farmers this year, company data showed.

KRBL Ltd - India Gate Basmati Rice extends Ummedhainhum initiative

23rd June 2020, 19:18 GMT+10
New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI/Newswire): Since COVID, India Gate Basmati Rice have been addressing hunger issues and serving millions in the country, standing in support with people of India.
India gate Basmati rice, flagship brand by KRBL - the world's largest rice millers recently launched UmeedHainHum initiative, aimed at resolving the huge but important task of providing basic meals for all the needy and under privileged across the country. So far the brand has reached out in 20 plus cities, feeding more than 2.5 million meals in the past three months, making it one of the largest and most impactful food donation drives in the country. As an extension and to reach out to more people in need, KRBL Ltd- India Gate organised a food distribution drive in Vrindavan to support many women living in ashrams and old age homes. The event happened in the Iskcon Temple of Vrindavan, distributing two lakh meals to these women staying in several old age homes in this small city of Gods and temples. This is one of the biggest and most important initiatives organised by the brand to support the women residing at Vrindavan.
With the current lockdown, most of these old age homes which are dependent on donations given by the pilgrims going to this city, have been facing issues in meeting their basic needs and provisions since the last three months. Hence, KRBL along with Chef Vikas Khanna, have come together to arrange for these essentials to help this community which has gone unnoticed by the others under their campaign UmeedHainHum.
"These are difficult times for everyone and it is important for us to give back to the society, especially to show our support to women in need. This initiative is our thoughtful effort to help by providing meals to the women at Vrindavan who are not only fighting against the situation but also against hunger. We take immense pride in this initiative and believe that through our actions, we deeply associate ourselves with the old Indian values of sharing, helping the needy and underprivileged within our society," said CMD KRBL - India Gate Basmati Rice - Anil Mittal, while speaking regarding the campaign.
"Some partnerships are beyond commerce, it becomes a part of your being. This for me is one such collaboration. I am extremely proud of the work we have been able to do and ensure food for millions of people together. India Gate truly epitomised giving back to the community and we surely see this as a long term commitment to ensure food on every plate. I take immense pride in thanking India Gate for their constant support during the pandemic. This initiative would not have been possible without their support. We hope to work together on more such initiatives and serve meals to those in need," said Chef Vikas Khanna.
With the world facing an economic slowdown, corporates have a critical role to play, not only by addressing key societal needs, but also by becoming a key contributor in taking care of their local community.
Today, as we continue our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, a bigger problem of hunger is affecting millions across the country.
India Gate, being one of the oldest and leading rice brands in India, and a true custodian of hope has started - "Umeed Hain Hum", an initiative that extends hope to a family in need by feeding them. Under this initiative India Gate is donating more than 20,000 meals every day.
KRBL Ltd. has been extending support to feed lakhs of people since the start of lockdown and has provided more than 20 lakh meals under their campaign UmeedHainHum. It is an initiative to get food to old-age homes, orphanages and leprosy centres and millions of other families in India who are not only fighting against Corona, but also against hunger.
This story is provided by Newswire. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/Newswire)

Knives out for Continental millers over butchering Ndebele language
by Mandla Ndlovu

Zimbabweans have taken to social media to register their disgust towards a Continental rice package which is written in broken Ndebele.

The package is written: Fakha inkomicho eyinye ye Continental parboiled rice, inkomicho ezimbili zamanzi, isipuna esinye esincane sesaudho kumbiza enkulu. Peka ngomlilo opansi ukuze amanzi aphele.

MDC Youth leader Discent Bajila posted on Twitter saying: I am looking for contacts of owners or managers of CONTINENTAL PAR BOILED Rice. I want to assist them with isiNdebele translations. If they contact me before 1 July 2020 I will do it for free. My email address is

A teacher organization called Young Teachers of Zimbabwe said: When you employ your mzukuru who ran away from school at ECD level this is what you get. CONTINENTAL PAR BOILED Rice we offer our services to translate the message into ChiShona and isiNdebele using proper spellings for free.
Veteran broadcaster Ezra Tsisa Sibanda said the distortion, misspelling, and wrong tense used to write the language is promoting tribalism and creating animosity among the people of Zimbabwe.

Read his full statement below:

40 years after Independence, Ndebele language continues to be vandalised and it seems to be getting worse by each year. The misspelling of Ndebele words in products and services, including goods in shops is sickening. Why and how this is allowed to continue is anyone's guess. This is the work of people trying by all means possible to extinct Ndebele language. We have many people who can speak and write both Shona and Ndebele perfectly but companies don't use them because they don't value Ndebele language at all and dont care as long as they sell their goods. All languages in our constitution are equal and its high time the GVT criminalise misspelling of words in advertisements, goods and services.

Distortion, misspelling, and wrong tense used to write the language is promoting tribalism and creating animosity among the people of Zimbabwe. With the destruction of language comes the destruction of humanity. Stop vandalising languages, if you limit our language, you limit our thoughts, as well as our actions. Simple respect other people's languages, do the right thing and use people who know the language to interpret, translate and write correct spellings for you. Myself and millions of others are available for free to help you write correct Ndebele spellings. This is not about tribalism, its about correcting the wrong and making it right. Stop undermining other people's languages because you are rich and in control.

OVID-19: Police rescue 600 workers “imprisoned” for 3 months in rice factory

 On June 23, 20207:48 pmIn

Times Operatives of Kano State Police Command have rescued over 600 workers forced to spend three months in a factory called ‘popular farm rice’, in Challawa industrial area. The workers said that they were threatened with their jobs if they opted to go home to see their families. It was gathered that the operatives stormed the factory on Monday after obtaining a court injunction, arresting four managers and releasing the detained workers. According to the workers, they were denied access outside the premises of the factory due to the fear of bringing in coronavirus, COVID-19, into the factory. One of the freed workers told journalists that he had been in the factory since March 23rd without setting his foot outside. Another worker, Haruna Salihu, said he had been in the factory since March 28 and was not allowed to visit his family and parents, saying “Our family members are seriously disturbed, as they don’t know the (condition we are in). My wife and my kids used to come to the factory’s gate and I couldn’t go and meet them. READ ALSO: Police rescue abducted Philippino lady lured to Nigeria by supposed lover We were tricked to stay in the factory for five days, then (it was) extended to seven days, then two weeks and subsequently extended to one month. We are now detained for over three months. There are about 600 workers in the factory.
We are sleeping in a very poor environment. I am appealing to authorities to allow me to go back to my family.” Similarly, another employee lamented that though he was not forced to stay, but was threatened with dismissal if he decided to go outside the factory. Also, a truck driver, Hashimu Isa, who brought paddy rice from Kebbi State, gave insight into how he was kept in the factory for three days without going out, informing that “I brought paddy rice from Yauri, Kebbi State. I could not go out of the factory, since my entry three days ago. Even if you attempted to go out, the security would not allow you. I could not go out to give my boy money to buy food. Someone sent me N10,000, but I could not go to the bank to withdraw it. I was waiting to offload the rice, so that I will leave.” Spokesperson of the state Police Command, Abdullahi Kiyawa, said they had arrested four management staff of the factory, and investigation was ongoing to verify the allegations against them, adding “we have found many workers locked and enslaved in the factory. The commissioner of police, Habu A Sani, has directed for a thorough investigation. So far, we have arrested four management staff and investigation has commenced.”

Read more at:


India''s farm trade may rebound in second half of 2020: Fitch Solutions

 The News Scroll 23 June 2020  Last Updated at 3:37 pm | Source: PTI
New Delhi, Jun 23 (PTI) The country''s farm trade, which was disrupted during the COVID-19 lockdown due to logistic issues in March-June, is expected to rebound in the second half of the calendar year 2020, said analytics firm Fitch Solutions in its latest report.
The central government imposed a strict nationwide lockdown from March 25 to April 30, and then a partial lockdown in May to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"These measures were eased in phases from June 8 despite a continued surge in domestic COVID-19 infections, in order to protect livelihoods. We note that some states will remain in lockdown beyond May, which will continue to disrupt the economy and agribusiness operations," it said.
Stating that the farm trade was greatly disrupted during the lockdown due to logistic issues, Fitch Solutions said both exports (rice, sugar) and imports (palm oil) collapsed over March-June.
"We forecast trade to rebound strongly in H2 (second half) of 2020, but total trade volumes over 2020 will be in line or below 2019 levels due to the scale of the decline recorded in H1 (first half) of 2020," it said.
This will be the case for palm oil imports that have been almost 40 per cent lower year-on-year over January-April.
"We expect demand to recover strongly in H2 of 2020 (due to low stocks and low international prices), but total imports over the year are likely to be lower than in 2019," it added.
Stating that India''s agribusiness sector is being significantly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Fitch Solutions said that although farm work and port operations were deemed essential services and were allowed to continue operating under the lockdown, the disruptions to transport and labour availability impacted agribusiness production.
Labour shortages — partly a result of many migrant workers heading back to their home villages to look for subsistence — likely constrained some plantings. However, it added that it was difficult at the time of the report to have an accurate picture of the scale of the farm disruptions.
"These disruptions pose downside risks to our 2020/21 production forecasts for rice, sugar and coffee production, in particular if individual states'' lockdown measures drag on or if a nationwide lockdown is reinstated," it noted.
The 2020-21 wheat crop was harvested before the lockdown started and India recorded a record crop, along with the 2019-20 sugar crop.
Stating that the dairy and livestock production sectors will be significantly impacted, the report said it is reported that transport of livestock was restricted or became extremely complicated, while meat slaughterhouses shut down as some trading companies said that they were not considered an ''essential service'' that were allowed to operate during lockdown.
Small meat producers are struggling as they are unable to sell their products at a time when feed prices are rising due to transport disruptions, which will push many of them out of business in 2020.
"We now forecast meat production to decline in 2020 and see further downside risks to our forecasts," it said, noting that COVID-19 adds to the key structural challenges India''s beef industry was already facing prior to the pandemic.
The significant disruptions to meat production recorded in the US and Brazil (with meat processing plants closing down due to COVID-19) could bode well for international demand of India''s beef, it said.
Moreover, lower purchasing power globally due to the impact of the pandemic on economic growth should also boost demand for lower-quality and cheap Indian beef meat in 2020, in particular from developing countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa, it added.
"However, we believe that total meat consumption in these markets will decline due to the economic recession. As a result, India is unlikely to see a sharp increase in beef exports in 2020," it said.
With regard to the dairy sector, Fitch Solutions said milk supply to consumers across India has been relatively smooth, unlike perishables such as fruit and vegetables, which witnessed recurrent price volatility.
Although cooperatives and milk producers under their network seem to be operating relatively normally, the report said producers out of their remit are struggling as they are unable to sell their products at a time when feed prices are rising due to transport disruptions. PTI LUX HRS

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI

Agro scientists of KVK urge farmers to adopt improved agricultural technology
 Agro scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) lay emphasis on use of improved agro technology for more crop production. Krishi Vigyan Kendra Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk | 23 Jun 2020 9:41 AM AddThis Sharing Buttons Share to WhatsApp Share to FacebookShare to TwitterShare to More 5 STAFF CORRESPONDENT DIBRUGARH: Agro scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) lay emphasis on use of improved agro technology for more crop production. Three scientists, Hemchandra Saikia, Chayanika Thakuria and Tilok Malakar of KVK Dibrugarh, made a visit to the No.1 Kacharipathar village of Dibrugarh district recently and demonstrated the improved technology adoption of Ranjit Sub-1high yielding variety of Sali rice in the locality. They inaugurated the transplanting ceremony of Ranjit Sub-1 in the field of Mridul Hazarika with their practical intervention and demonstration.

Scientists discover how key molecule is produced in plants

06/23/2020 06:43 PM
Nakamura Yuki (left)
Taipei, June 23 (CNA) A team of scientists at Academia Sinica recently discovered how phosphatidic acid (PA), a molecule that influences the growth of pollen tubes, is produced in plants, it said at a press conference Tuesday.
The team, led by associate research fellow Nakamura Yuki, found that PA was produced by the enzymes DGK2 and DGK4, which convert diacylglycerol (DAG) to PA in pollen grains.
Scientists have long known that PA plays an important role in the growth of pollen tubes, a structure inside plants that enables fertilization, but how PA forms in plants was not known until this discovery, the team said.
The study was conducted using thale cress, a plant commonly used in scientific studies. Because the DGK2 and DGK4 enzymes are also found in rice, wheat and corn, the same mechanism could also exist in those crops, the team said.
This finding, therefore, could help improve scientists' understanding of crop fertility, the team said.
In their study, the researchers also confirmed the critical role PA plays in pollen tube growth by studying the effects of removing DGK2 and DGK4 from plants.
When the enzymes were removed, the pollen tubes grown by the plant became deformed, but they quickly returned to normal when PA was added back, thus proving that PA is essential to the growth process, the team said.
The team's research paper on this discovery was first published in the journal The Plant Cell on May 29.
(By Wu Hsin-yun and Chiang Yi-ching)

USA Rice Petitions for Removal of GSP Benefits for Rice Imports
 WASHINGTON, DC -- Last week, USA Rice provided virtual testimony to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in support of removing rice from the list of eligible commodities under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).  The U.S. has long provided GSP benefits to developing countries, providing duty-free access for thousands of imports to help grow their economies.

Most developing countries are eligible for duty-free access for parboiled rice only, however all rice from the "least developed countries" like Cambodia and Myanmar, is eligible for duty-free access into the U.S.

With the percentage of overall rice imports growing, U.S.-grown rice has become an increasingly import-sensitive commodity.  USA Rice submitted a petition to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in March advocating for the removal of rice from the list of GSP-eligible commodities and the petition has since moved forward into the formal review process, including a concurrent analysis by the USITC.  USA Rice is also participating in an ongoing virtual hearing with the USTR on this topic that is expected to last throughout the summer.

"We acknowledge that [the de facto] duties for rice are not import-prohibiting, but they would certainly help make U.S.-grown rice more competitive and put our product on closer-to-equal footing," the petition said.  "U.S. rice continues to face adversity in export markets where the domestic industries claim import-sensitivity and use tariffs and non-tariff barriers to entry ... It is time to acknowledge that U.S.-grown rice is also import-sensitive and therefore we respectfully request the removal of GSP benefits for rice imports," it continued.

The GSP program is set to expire December 31, 2020, unless it's reauthorized by Congress.  When USTR Ambassador Lighthizer testified before the House Ways and Means Committee last week, he was asked if he supported reauthorizing GSP, to which he responded that the Administration had "not formally taken a position" on renewal.  He added, "I would point out one thing that has come to my attention recently that I found rather annoying ... and that is there are countries that get GSP [benefits] from us ... that have free trade agreements with, for example, Europe, and give Europe better trade benefits than we do."

Rice grower organizations representing the six major rice-growing states signed a joint letter with their corresponding state farm bureau organizations lending their support to the USA Rice petition.

USTR is expected to make a final determination regarding USA Rice's petition by early fall.

Media Trust Login SME Aminiya Tambari ePaper Petition Daily Trust Wednesday, June 24, 2020 Home News Business Politics Sports Health Editorial Feature Multimedia Exclusive IT World Live Blog CCC Agriculture Education Environment Home Front Islamic Forum Jobs & career Labour Law Next Level Property Women In Business HomeNewsPolice rescue ‘126’ labourers at Kano rice factory ADVERTISEMENT Police rescue ‘126’ labourers at Kano rice factory By Clement A. Oloyede, Kano | Jun 24, 2020 3:44 AM TwitterFacebookWhatsAppTelegram Some of the over 300 labourers allegedly forced to spend three months at a popular rice factory in Challawa Industrial Area of Kano Police operatives in Kano on Monday rescued hundreds of labourers allegedly forced to remain within the premises of a rice mill where they had been working for close to three months. Kano Police Commissioner, Habu Sani Ahmadu, told the Daily Trust Tuesday night that contrary to reports that between 300 and 600 labourers were rescued from ‘Popular Farm,’ producers of one of the popular rice in the market, the actual number was 126. Labourer lands in prison over defilement Police, Army, NSCDC deploy operational squad to tackle bandits in Zamfara But one of the rescued workers, who identified himself as Sani Kiru, said over 300 of them were freed from the factory. ADVERTISEMENT Dear our valued reader, we would like to hear your view about a membership club that we plan to launch. Kindly help us fill this survey. “We were treated like slaves for three months,” he told our reporter last night after reuniting with his family. “We were all set free on Monday. It was a nasty experience…I don’t know how to describe the food we were fed with. The head of the administration recruited one woman who was cooking the food for us to buy. “My monthly salary was N32, 000. “We were working day and night. “I wanted to leave but there was no way; my wife and children were traumatized,” he said. Our correspondent reports that owners of the company reportedly said they locked the factory to avoid COVID-19 transmission. The factory is located at Challawa Industrial Area of the state capital. It was gathered that most of the labourers had been working in the factory for long; and when the issue of COVID-19 arose, the owners, said to be Indian nationals, decided to close the doors of the company and denied the labourers the opportunity to go out or visit their families. Sources said while the company decided to increase the wages of the workers in order to entice them, it nonetheless threatened to sack any of the labourers who insisted on leaving the premises. “The factory was closed by the owners shortly after the Kano State government closed its borders on March 27, 2020 and banned interstate travelling,” a source said. According to the source: “The Indians deceptively told the workers that they would only be kept at the premises for few days… “However, instead of allowing the workers to go and see their families, they ended up threatening them, telling them that whoever insisted on leaving would not be considered in the future.” How police stormed the factory Police Commissioner told the Daily Trust that his officers and men besieged the factory on Monday after obtaining a court injunction. “We went to the factory after we received a complaint from the Global Human Rights Network. “We rescued 126 people from the premises,” he said. Asked of what the police plan to do, the commissioner said: “Investigation is ongoing because there are nominal complainants. “We will update you on the development but the good news is that the people held at the factory have been freed.” Although the commissioner did not give details on arrests made at the factory, other sources said four managers have been taken into custody. Kano Police spokesman, Abdullahi Haruna, told the BBC that the plant had now been shut down and the owners were being investigated for “holding the men against their will”. Some of the men said they were forced to work most of the time during their incarceration, with little food. “We were allowed to rest for only a short time, no prayers were allowed, no family visits,” 28-year-old Hamza Ibrahim, one of those rescued, said. “What I saw was heartbreaking. “Where the company kept these people to live isn’t fit for animals,” Karibu Yahaya Kabara of the Global Human Rights Network said. “Their meals weren’t enough and there were no drugs for those that took ill,” he said. Mr Kabara said his organisation was taking up the case to ensure that the men got justice. One of the freed workers told journalists that he had been in the factory since March 23rd without setting his foot outside. Another worker, Haruna Salihu, said he had been in the factory since March 28 and was denied the time to visit his family and parents. “Our family members are seriously disturbed, as they don’t know (the condition we are in). “My wife and my kids used to come to the factory’s gate and I couldn’t go and meet them,” he said. Pictures from the factory showed that the labourers were cramped in make-shift structures. It was gathered that no beds in the factory as most of the workers lie on mats spread in the “shelters erected with zinc.” ‘Popular Farm’ not our member One of the officials of the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RPAN), who does not want his name mentioned, said the rice mill in contention had been suspended from the organisation. “They are not our members because we suspended them long ago over some issues,” he said. “We found them wanting… “Our focus was to enhance local production using homegrown paddy in line with the policy of the federal government but we kept having issues with them. “So, we resolved to suspend them and considering that we have no relationship with them, it became difficult for us to monitor their activities or sanction them,” he said. Another official of RPAN said: “When the Kano State government closed its borders, it gave us exemption, gave us identification cards and also provided us with clearance for vehicles bringing our raw materials from other states to have access to the state capital. “The government gave us the concession because we provide essential services and therefore, those working for us have never been molested. “We were only directed to ensure that only half of our workers are at the factory at the time. “The government insists that we must observe the COVID-19 protocol. “So, if some rice producers were found to have incarcerated some workers for months, it begs for an answer,” he said. Related Police rescue over 300 workers locked for three months in Kano's rice factory How Magajin Garin Daura was rescued INSIDE BOKO HARAM’S ‘BOMB FACTORIES’ Download Daily Trust News App Get it on Google Play Share this article TwitterFacebookWhatsAppTelegram Join us on Join our whatsapp group here for Breaking News, Exclusives , others Complain about a story or Report an error and/or correction: +2348189301900 (Whatsapp and SMS only) Email: DISCLAIMER: Comments on this thread are that of the maker and they do not necessarily reflect the organizations stand or views on issues. 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Flat rice-making, a disappearing profession

HYDERABAD: Akhtar Hussain Bhogri’s family may be the only survivor from the line of workers, who contributed a lot in their life time to manufacture flattened rice (value-added product), locally called peenhon (beaten rice) in Hala New, Matiari district.
Despite ups and downs in the food market, and changing mindsets with mushrooming fast food chains, flat rice is still available in local markets of all towns, cities and larger villages in Matiari, Hyderabad and other districts.
Flattened rice is a popular food in South Asian countries and there are various local recipes to prepare it under different names. Here in Sindh, women use ghee, cardamom, sugar and a little water to make it aromatic. Some people love to have it in breakfast, while others prefer to have a little after lunch or dinner. Until recently, it was also part of the Eid menu, or cooked on weddings and other special occasions.
Hussain, originally from Old Hala, a riverine town in Matiari district, sells the product for Rs120/kg from a small retailer shop in Hala New town. Earlier, there he owned a small workshop where four-five workers remained busy from dawn to dusk to beat the rice for flattening it.
Now, Hussain said they have shifted their small workshop to their home, where family members work together to prepare the product for the market. His family has been associated with the business for generations.
Bhogri told uncomfortably that a few years ago, local shopkeepers objected to the workshop in a congested area. Rice is parboiled before flattening. The workshop produced a lot of heat because of the boiling rice. Also, after boiling, the rice is beaten with a heavy wooden hammer, which created disturbance for some shopkeepers.
“When the shopkeepers started objecting, we shifted our work area and tools so keep our tradition alive,” he said, while claiming that his family has been associated with making this special food product for seven generations.
Peenhon is a special dish from Sindh, which is made by high quality rice locally called Sugdasi, basmati and kangri. Presently, these indigenous rice varieties either have vanished completely from the province or only a few landlord families have kept it for farming for personal consumption and selling a little in the market.
These peenhon manufacturers are known as Bhogri (sub-caste as per profession). They put boiled rice measuring 10-20kg in a large earthen pot called Okhra, where the labour beat through heavy wooden hammer. That is why the product is called beaten rice.
Now machines have replaced human work to beat boiled rice to make peenhon. Each workshop can produce 5-10 maund daily, depending on its capacity and demand in market. Scale of the workshops has now reduced due to lower demand.
Akhtar Hussain said low demand and lack of high quality indigenous rice to prepare the product were the reasons this profession was disappearing.
Bhogris used to collect high-quality indigenous rice from different parts of the province to prepare flat rice, but those varieties have disappeared from the market. “We don’t hire many people any more, as there is no point in preparing a large quantity,” he explained.
Since hybrid and genetically modified (GM) varieties of rice have flooded the markets, farmers’ report that they have also adapted accordingly to meet the demand of the local and foreign markets. As a result, almost all prominent rice producers and landlords have lost these indigenous varieties locally known as sugdasi, basmati and kangri. They use hybrid seeds, which are not suitable for flat rice production.
Around 15-20 years ago, Old Hala had 12 factories to prepare flat rice. Before that, around 1950s there were around 32-35 such workshops. Many of the old families who had flat rice workshops have now shifted to other professions.
Hala also has many other traditional handlooms, pottery, and other workshops where jandi (wooden colourful products), ajrak and other handicraft products are made.
Shakeel Abro, director Sindh Indigenous and Traditional Crafts Company (SITCO), said demand of beaten rice has declined, which might have compelled these workshops to shutdown. “This specific rice-based value-added product is easy to cook, and can be preserved for a long time. But with many changes taking place at the local as well as global level, such indigenous food products were getting wiped out.”
Abro expressed his fear that there would be a time when many of these products, including flat rice, would completely disappear from the market, especially without incentives and government support. “Many people who are associated with traditional professions are losing their livelihoods,” he added.

Indonesia challenged to achieve its mandated food security
Published on: Tuesday, June 23, 2020
By: Antara News
Rizal E Halim, an economist of the University of Indonesia's Faculty of Economics and Business (ANTARA/Special)
WEST JAVA: Indonesia has had the 2012 Food Law that mandates the country to possess a roadmap to achieve an overall food security; however, it remains challenged by various food-related issues, including repeated price hike and shortage of stocks, an economist said.
“Food remains a chronic problem in certain time due to the fact that our national food management is not yet good,” said Rizal E Halim, an economist of the University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Economics and Business, here Sunday.
The food-related issues should be resolved by achieving the mandated food security goal, and improving the integration of food management because the food problems are not just handled by the ministry of agriculture but also by other ministries and agencies.

Halim argued that Indonesia’s food management still faces such challenges as the national food supplies that remain dominated by imported products; unresolved rent seeking activities; and lack of uses of food technology and innovation.
The Indonesian Government is indeed aware of the importance of improving the nation’s food security amid this ongoing global pandemic of novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and beyond.
On April 21, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had asked officials to ensure that their assessment of Indonesia’s rice stocks was accurate.
The President’s directive came on the back of a warning issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, which had predicted the Covid-19 pandemic could trigger a global food crisis.

“Make sure that our rice stocks are sufficient. Please, calculate them accurately. Also, make a precise prediction of our rice production as we are entering the dry season. How long will our national rice reserves last?” he told a video conference recently.
Jokowi requested the authorities to calculate the national rice stocks by referring to valid and reliable empirical data.
He also reiterated FAO’s warning that the current coronavirus pandemic could trigger a food shortage across the world.
Indonesia needs to be cautious because all countries, including rice producers, would prioritise their domestic needs, he said, adding that the imposition of a lockdown could affect the staple food supply chain.
In connection with the impact of Covid-19 on global food security, the Food and Agriculture Organisation had earlier warned of a looming food crisis.
However, this worst-case scenario could be avoided if “measures are taken fast to protect the most vulnerable, keep global food supply chains alive, and mitigate the pandemic’s impacts across the food system”, according to the FAO.
The FAO, on its official website, expressed the opinion that “border closures, quarantines, and market, supply chain, and trade disruptions could restrict people’s access to sufficient/diverse and nutritious sources of food”.

Tamil Nadu Minister Rajenthra Bhalaji criticises Stalin on COVID-19 statements

CHENNAI, JUNE 23, 2020 16:19 IST
UPDATED: JUNE 23, 2020 16:19 IST

The Dairy Development Minister said the government was working day and night to stop the spread of the virus in the State

Dairy Development Minister K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji criticised DMK president M.K. Stalin on Tuesday, stating that he was issuing statements every day, making it seem as if COVID-19 was a creation of the AIADMK and the DMK was fighting against it.
“Stalin should stop confusing people by issuing statements every day. He is speaking like it is he who is trying to stop the spread of the disease,” Mr. Bhalaji said, in a statement.
The Minister said the government was working day and night to stop the spread of the virus in the State. “If Stalin keeps accusing such a government every day, the DMK will vanish from Tamil Nadu politics even before COVID-19 is eradicated,” he said. “Has Stalin given any good suggestions to either the medical experts or professionals to either stop the spread of the virus or to cure the patients? All the statements he is issuing on a daily basis are only for political vendetta,” Mr. Bhalaji said.

IMF deploys $25b emergency financing for 70 countries

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it is expected to deploy emergency financing for 70 countries as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ripple across the globe.
IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said at a virtual press briefing that “We expect that number to be 70, so 70 countries supported by the IMF with emergency financing roughly about $25 billion.” “This emergency financing is very fast-disbursing, countries receive the money within days, it does not carry traditional IMF conditionality,” Rice told reporters. “It is money to be spent on paying for things like nurses’ and doctors’ salaries, and equipment, and medical equipment to deal with the crisis.”
For the Asia and Pacific region, seven countries have received emergency financing totaling about $1.5 billion, Rice said. And in Sub-Saharan Africa, 28 countries have received emergency financing totaling almost $10 billion, Rice said, noting that the figure is much higher than the IMF’s average yearly lending of $1 billion to the region. Over 100 countries have asked the IMF for emergency financing amid the pandemic, and the multilateral lender said earlier this year that it had doubled access to its emergency facilities to meet the expected demand. –XINHUA

Government urged to extend tenure of trade bodies

KARACHI: Business Community has asked the Prime Minister and Ministry of Commerce for the extension in the current...
Recorder Report June 23, 2020
KARACHI: Business Community has asked the Prime Minister and Ministry of Commerce for the extension in the current tenure of all trade bodies due to Covid-19 impacts on the economy.
Abdul Rahim Janoo, Chief Executive, Memon Leadership Forum and Former Chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Safder Hussain Mehkri, Rafique Suleman and other office Bearers of Memon Leadership Forum has requested the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Abdul Razzak Dawood, Advisor to PM for Commerce that currently all the countries of world are facing serious impacts due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and business community of Pakistan is also facing serious results.
Therefore, there is a need to extend the existing tenure of Chambers of Commerce & all trade bodies of Pakistan till December 2020, so that the Office Bearers of all trade bodies may improve their performance and arrange to fetch more foreign exchange for our beloved country Pakistan, they added.
They said that the tenure of all the chambers of commerce and trade bodies should be revised from January to December every year instead of October to September, as all of them are members of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) and similar tenure will definitely bring positive results to the country's economy.

Voice of the People

Articles and letters may be edited for the purposes of clarity and space. They are published in good faith with a view to enlightening all the stakeholders. However, the contents of these writings may not necessarily match the views of the newspaper.
COVID impact on world economies
Everyone is facing a decline in their living style and economic style due to Covid-19 but the third world countries are affected more because of their underdeveloped economies; most of them face malnutrition, which is causing incomputable deaths. Poor nations are at greater risk of contracting the virus and may suffer the devastating effects of economic shock. They have little power to meet people’s pressing needs, from identifying and managing cases of the virus to supporting low-income communities and businesses.
Most people living in the third world countries are employed in the unregistered sector and do not receive subsidies, sickness or other benefits. The health facilities of the third world countries like Pakistan won’t be able to cope because of the lack of capabilities and resources. The effect of economic slowdown is scary as the countries might end up having more poverty and hunger. International support has been declining at a time when it was most needed. The rich countries seem to be busy with its health and economic problems. World community must think of some sort of a debt write-off for such countries that are very vulnerable so they could cope with it and prevent more outbreaks in future.

Pakistan’s dismal civil aviation
People pay to travel safely and it is the responsibility of CAA, as Regulator and Federal Government to ensure that this is done. If it takes a few hundred or thousand individuals to be screened out of PIA and CAA, let that be. Welfare of a few ones cannot take precedence over the lives of citizens.
Pakistan CAA has a dismal record with a series of accidents involving airlines under its jurisdiction, and no meaningful investigation conducted as per international industry practice. What can be more distressing that in 2000, CAA cancelled Bhoja Airline’s License, only to restore it in 2012 and first flight crashes killing all 128 passengers on board. Did somebody question anybody responsible?
The most recent crash involving PIA A320 occurred on 22 May 2020 which on initial approach executed Go Around after both engines touched runway only to crash while making a second approach hardly KM from airport. This A320 collided with multi-storied residential buildings. The ATC must have watched A320 engines scratch the runway. Did ATC follow SOP to meet any emergency and alerted rescue agencies? There are conflicting reports about the pilot’s training record and whether he had taken proper rest and was fasting, in violation of recommendations. Question arises whether CAA, which is licensing authority and regulator, while PIA the operator had ensured that safety was not compromised. Reports about irregularities in pilot recruitment date back to 1994 when an investigation headed by AVM Mushaf Ali Mir was ordered by the Defence Ministry. What action was taken for these gross criminal irregularities?

Importance of agriculture
Agriculture is considered the backbone of Pakistan’s economy which relies heavily on its major crops. There are vast gaps between the acquired and actual output of produce which suffers due to a lack of appropriate technology, use of inputs at improper times, unavailability of water and land use and inadequate education about insect pest control, which not only negatively affect the produce but also significantly reduces the amount of produce.
Farmers mainly use synthetic chemicals for the control of insect pests, but these are used unwisely. To emphasize the major shortfalls and actual performance of major field crops, this study investigated the relationship between agricultural GDP and the output of major crops, including wheat, rice, sugarcane, maize and cotton, in Pakistan over a period of 65 years from 1950 to 2015. Time series data were collected from the Economic Survey of Pakistan (various publications).
Crop data were analysed using the ordinary least square method and the Augmented Dickey Fuller (ADF) test, and the results were interpreted using Johansen’s co-integration test. Our study finds that the output of wheat, rice and cotton has a positive and significant relationship with the agricultural GDP of Pakistan while the output of sugarcane has a negative and non-significant relationship with the agricultural GDP of Pakistan. Therefore, I recommend that the government of Pakistan should launch new funding programmes for the development of the agricultural sector.

An actor gone too soon
Sushant Singh Rajput was a very good actor and I don’t think he has committed suicide. Hope all investigation into his death is carried out swiftly. Only then we will know the exact cause of his death. May his soul rest in peace.
Sushant was best-known for his work in the TV show ‘Pavitra Rishta’ and for starring in films such as ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’, ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy’ and ‘Chhichhore’.
Mumbai, India
Political men

We should think about political men correctly. They are serving people because of their mind and ability. They are like parts of the puzzle in the world. Every part has the different shapes from the others. Now, they are looking at each other strangely because they are ugly in point of their view. We imagine that they are right but they don’t know who bring them to power. They forget the Lord give them the power on the base rules of the universe. The Lord is merciful to give them the opportunity to serve people but, unfortunately, we see there isn’t any peace in the world.
All people are not satisfying with their government. Anyway, I am respecting them because I understand that what a difficult position they have. I am looking at the puzzle correctly. Every part is in bad shape but the whole puzzle is beautiful when you look at from the sky.
The Lord is trying the best to put them altogether until the world works correctly. Therefore, the World Beater Council is the only way for political men can live with each other in peace because it makes the unity in the world.
Tehran, Iran

Inflation is on the rise
Pakistan’s economy is facing serious challenges on the fiscal front. The main challenges are insufficient revenue generation and high fiscal deficit exports and insignificant growth as well as fear of a slowdown in remittances. PTI government is trying to overcome the fiscal challenge in several ways but the relevant departments are not assisting government appropriately.
There is a little scope for encouraging imports of industrial raw material to lift the country’s large-scale manufacturing sector out of recession. This, in turn, means industrial growth may remain stalled in the near future. There is also no room for the rupee to become strong enough in the short term to create demand for the import of even consumer goods. Consumption of domestically produced stuff is also dwindling because of falling income levels and high inflation. Inflation is stubbornly high and is on the rise.
Agriculture is not growing at the desired pace and industries are producing less. The PTI government is hoping for the export-sector revival. But failure to accelerate revenue collection and boost export earnings is pushing the government to continue to borrow from domestic as well as external resources. The resultant increase in the debt is pushing up the cost of both domestic and external debt servicing.
Azad Kashmir

Viet Nam’s rice export price stands at lowest level over past two months

23.06.2020, 10:58,

Description: Viet Nam’s rice export price stands at lowest level over past two monthsViet Nam’s rice export volume surged by 12 per cent to 3.09 million tonnes in the first five months of this year. — Photo
Higher rice supplies in the domestic market has made the export price of Viet Nam’s broken rice drop to US$450 per tonne on June 19, the lowest level in the past two months.
Vietnam News Agency reported that domestic supply is increasing due to harvesting the summer-autumn rice crop. Viet Nam can export 2.3-2.5 million tonnes of rice from this rice crop after ensuring sufficient domestic consumption.
The export price on June 4 hit the highest level of $475 per tonne, as rainfall affected the harvest.
Meanwhile, India’s export rice prices last week also dropped to the lowest level in two months due to weakness of the rupee and lower rice demand. The prices of five per cent broken parboiled rice in India fell to $366-372 per tonne on June 18, the lowest level since March 26.
Prices of Thai five per cent broken rice also plunged to $505-525 per tonne on June 18 from $505-533 per tonne the previous week.
Rice exports
According to the General Department of Customs, Viet Nam in the first five months of this year gained growth in volume and value of rice exports compared to the same period last year.
Specifically, rice exports surged by 12 per cent in volume to 3.09 million tonnes and by 26.6 per cent in value to $1.5 billion. While the average export price rose by 13 per cent to $485.1 per tonne.
In May, the nation shipped 953,950 tonnes of rice, earning $492.54 million while the average export price reached at $516.3 per tonne.
They were up 87 per cent in volume, 93.6 per cent in value and 3.6 per cent in price compared to April. They also increased by 40.6 per cent, 67.6 per cent and 19.2 per cent, respectively compared to May 2019.
During the first five months, Viet Nam exported the most rice to the Philippines with a total volume of 1.3 million tonnes, earning $598.6 million. Exports rose by 22.4 per cent in volume and 41.4 per cent in value year on year.
Rice exports to the Philippines accounted for about 41 per cent of the national rice export volume and about 40 per cent of the national rice export value.
China was the second largest market with an export volume of 429,261 tonnes and a, export value of $257.4 million, accounting for about 14 per cent of the total volume and 17.2 per cent of total value. The exports increased by 92.4 per cent in volume and 131.2 per cent in value over the same period of last year.
Viet Nam also gained strong growth to many markets, including Senegal (18.3 times), Indonesia (192 per cent) and France (171.6 per cent).
However, it saw sharp reductions to other markets, such as Brunei (92 per cent), Algeria (89 per cent), Angola (89 per cent), Turkey (83 per cent) and the US (69.2 per cent). — VNS

Panel to focus on marketing rice, seeds

PUBLISHED : 23 JUN 2020 AT 04:00
The government looks set to promote seven rice products and seed development as part of a marketing-led production strategy for 2020-2024.
According to Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, who yesterday chaired the first meeting of a panel tasked with handling the Thai rice strategy, the five-year strategic plan will focus mainly on Thai hom mali rice, Thai fragrant rice, soft-textured white rice, hard-textured white rice, parboiled rice, glutinous rice and speciality quality rice.
The rice market will also be divided into three categories: Thai hom mali and fragrant rice for the premium market; the mass market for soft-textured white rice, hard-textured white rice and parboiled rice; and the speciality market for glutinous rice and speciality quality rice.
Mr Jurin said the meeting also agreed on a greater focus on R&D for rice seeds to increase yield and quality.
The improvement of rice seeds will help raise Thailand's competitiveness in the world market and cater to demand, while the focus on innovation will help add value to rice products and sustain farmers' income in the long run, he said.
·         Rice price scheme renewed
·         Price guarantee scheme
However, according to Mr Jurin, more discussions on how to address obstacles to rice exports such as export cost and logistics are still needed.
"The panel will hold 2-3 meetings before concluding the rice strategy and proposing it to the National Rice Policy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for consideration. The strategy is then sent to the cabinet for final approval, possibly by August," he said.
Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said this is the first time a meeting of the panel on rice strategy had all stakeholders participate.
"It's a good sign that Thailand intends to focus more on seed R&D in response to market demand," he said.
Prapat Panyachartrak, president of the National Farmers Council, said the government should include buffalo raising in the national rice strategy and provide low-interest loans or interest-free loans for five years to encourage all rice farmers to have a buffalo. Buffaloes are an asset and useful for ploughing and making manure, Mr Prapat said.
The Commerce Ministry reported Thailand's customs-cleared exports tallied 2.12 tonnes worth 43 billion baht between January and April, down 32.1% and 15.7%, respectively, year-on-year.

Myanmar Earns Nearly $600 Million from Rice Export

June 23, 2020
Description: Rice export
Written by Tayzar Bhone Myint
Myanmar has earned $591.252 million from exporting nearly 1.3 million tons of whole grain rice and more than 0.7 million tons of broken rice as of June 5 since October 1, the beginning of the 2019-2020 fiscal year, according to Myanmar Rice Federation.
Overall agricultural product export as of June 12 since October 1, 2019, shows a $466.342 million increase compared to the same period last fiscal year. This year, the country earns $2,439.924 million from agricultural export compared to $2,906.266 million in the previous fiscal year.
Most of the whole rice export went to China and other countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, Madagascar, and Ivory Coast while broken rice was mainly export to Bulgarian and the rest to Senegal, China, Indonesia, and the Netherlands.
Myanmar rice export gradually increased since 2010 and managed to export 3.58 million in 2017-2018, which is a record high in 70 years.
Translated by Min Thu Aung

COVID-19 begins to exact toll on Cambodian farming

JUNE 23, 2020


Description: COVID-19 begins to exact toll on Cambodian farmingPossible water shortages may affect rice production in Cambodia, adding to the problems brought by COVID-19. Credit: Brad Collis/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (CC BY 2.0)
While Cambodia has been less affected by the health impacts of COVID-19, there are fears that smallholder farms will be hit hard during the wet season that runs from June to September as the fallout from restrictions and lockdown measures takes hold.
Agriculture is vital for the Cambodian economy as it employs about 3 million workers, with the rice sector employing a significant majority being the country's main crop and the most important export commodity, according to the World Bank.
Alexandre Huynh, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Cambodia, tells SciDev.Net that movement restrictions because of COVID-19 and limited transportation add to the problems that may affect the production of crops for both personal consumption and for sale. "Agricultural inputs such as seeds, fish fingerlings and breeding chickens are not adequate for the next season."
Possible water shortages, despite the wet season, is another issue that farmers may have to contend with. "Water scarcity in different areas may compound the difficult situation for rice farmers," says Rica Joy Flor, innovation systems scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Flor, who is based in Phnom Penh, adds that farmers may not have the funds to procure inputs. "It is predicted that some farmers may not be able to access the credit they need at the start of the wet season," says Flor. "Many rice farmers depend on credit, especially at the start of the cropping season."
Huynh says, "Taking microloans as a coping strategy to meet household needs and consumption, especially by the poor, can be foreseen." She adds that this, however, could lead farming households into debt traps.
"There are many households that are just above the poverty line," Flor says. "What this means is that many of them are in precarious situations, where a shock such as delayed payment, drought-damaged crop, illness in the household or lack of credit would have significant impacts on the households or their farms."
For its part, the government has offered debt relief or compromise loans with micro-finance institutions as part of interventions to support farmers and boost food production in response to the COVID-19 situation, says Srey Vuthy, secretary-general and spokesperson for the agricultural ministry.
As of now, rice farming is running normally, says Vuthy, noting that rice production in Cambodia has grown from 8.2 million tons in 2010 to 10.8 million tons in 2019.
Cambodia and the IRRI have signed a work plan to strengthen the rice value chain and promote the modernisation of the agriculture sector. Though drawn up before the pandemic, the plan has various entry points to factor in COVID-19-related concerns that "address different constraints as well as broader issues in the rice sector," says Flor.
Meanwhile, the non-profit Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) is collaborating with farmers to maintain production of high-quality rice that is produced using ecologically sustainable farming techniques and exported to Europe, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the US, says Ponhrith Kan, the agency's program development and partnership advisor for livelihoods in Cambodia.
VSO is also providing support through market links, agronomic advice and farming inputs such as seeds and fertilizers. Farmers, with the help of the organization, are now also using social media platforms to stay in touch with agricultural experts and their respective cooperatives.

On nutrition front Indian diets below optimal: Study

The findings broadly applied across all states and income levels, underlining the challenges many Indians face in obtaining healthy diets
Indians have excess consumption of cereals but not enough proteins, fruits, and vegetables in their diets and on nutrition front Indian diets were found below optimal, revealed a study done by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and CGIAR research program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH).
The findings broadly applied across all states and income levels, underlining the challenges many Indians face in obtaining healthy diets.
The study, “A comparison of the Indian diet with the EAT-Lancet reference diet", co-authored by A4NH’s Manika Sharma and Devesh Roy with IFPRI’s Avinash Kishore and Kuhu Joshi, was recently published in BMC Public Health.
Using consumption data from the 68th Round of National Sample Survey (2011-12), they compared diets across Indian states and income levels to the EAT Lancet reference diet. The study compares differences in calorie consumption across income groups, urban and rural sectors, and geographical regions.
The EAT-Lancet reference diet, published by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, and Health, implied that transforming eating habits, improving food production and reducing food wastage is critical to feed a future population of 10 billion a healthy diet within planetary boundaries.
While the EAT-Lancet reference diet recommends eating large shares of plant-based foods and little to no processed meat and starchy vegetables, the research demonstrates that incomes and preferences in India are driving drastically different patterns of consumption.
The findings show a disparity in overall calorie intake between income groups: the richest 10% of households consume more than 3,000 kcals/person/day while the poorest 10%consume only 1,645 kcals/person/day. On average, the Indian total calorie intake is approximately 2,200 kcals/person/day, 12% lower than the EAT-Lancet reference diet’s recommended level. “But we find it intriguing that despite lower calorie consumption levels, obesity is still rising in India," co-author and IFPRI Research Analyst Kuhu Joshi said.
The researchers offer sedentary lifestyles as a potential cause of the phenomenon, showcasing the complexity of the links between diet, lifestyle, and health.
Compared to EAT-Lancet’s recommendation for a well-balanced diet, most Indian households’ diets concentrate heavily in some food groups and lack others. While the EAT-Lancet diet recommends that about one-third of daily calorie intake should come from whole grains, they make up 47% of the average Indian diet.
In the poorest rural households, that number is as high as 70%. Meanwhile, the average Indian’s caloric intake of fruits is less than 40% of what the reference diet recommends. Underconsumption of vegetables is also common across all but the richest households.
Fruits, vegetables, and animal source foods are generally more expensive and inflate more quickly than processed foods and grains, the researchers report. Therefore, the EAT-Lancet reference diet, which consist largely of fresh produce, poses a steep cost for the average household in India.
“Low affordability is only a part of a bigger picture, however," said IFPRI Research Fellow Avinash Kishore. “We were surprised to see that even the richest households do not consume enough protein- rich foods, fruits, and vegetables." In comparison, the researchers found that urban households in the highest income group consume almost one third of their total daily calories from processed foods such as bread, bakery products, refined wheat flour, sweets, and chips. Processed foods account for 10% of daily caloric intake in both urban and rural areas. The researchers point to other relevant factors such as a lack of availability, accessibility, awareness, and acceptability as possible explanations for their findings.
In order to create a shift towards healthier and more sustainable diets, availability, accessibility, awareness and acceptability need to play a larger role in agriculture, trade, and consumer awareness policies. The study recommends increasing production of healthy crops (e.g. coarse cereals, fruits, vegetables) and limiting production of those that leave large environmental footprints (e.g. sugarcane, rice).

Study: Increased use of human antibiotics on rice crops may fuel antibiotic resistance

Farmers in parts of Asia are spraying antibiotics deemed "critical" for human medicine on rice crops, raising fears they may be fuelling antibiotic resistance, say researchers.
A 32-country survey of agricultural advisers found that many are prescribing the common human antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline for insect infestations, fungal diseases and as general protection, as well as for bacterial infections.
In some years, nearly ten per cent of the management recommendations for rice in one region contained an antibiotic, found the study, published today in the newly-launched journal CABI Agriculture and Bioscience.
The usage is "alarmingly high" according to Phil Taylor, co-author of the research and training manager for the global plant clinic network,Plantwise. "They use it like a general tonic almost," he says.
"These data appear to indicate that the use of antibiotics in crop production is more extensive than most of the literature would suggest," Taylor and co-author, Rob Reeder, write.
Streptomycin is deemed "critically important" for human medicine by the World Health Organization (WHO); while tetracyclines are "highly important".
Antibiotics, and resistant bacteria, may remain in the harvested crop and enter the human food chain, especially in food that is not thoroughly cooked.
Additionally, after spraying, much of the antibiotic can remain unspent in the soil. There are growing concerns this creates a reservoir of resistance in the environment.
The research provides rare data on the use of antibiotics in arable farming in the developing world and supports anecdotal reports of their widespread use on crops in Vietnam, Cambodia and China, as well as claims by a leading research and advocacy organisation in India, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that crop farmers are flouting national protocols and liberally using streptomycin and tetracycline.
Erik Millstone, a science policy expert and specialist in food safety policy at the University of Sussex who was not involved in the study, says: "Food safety regulators nationally and internationally have been doing a sloppy job letting this slip under the radar and the very least I hope the publication of this paper achieves is triggering a wave of attention and action on the part of national and international regulatory authorities."
The research was carried out by plant pathologists from the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), an intergovernmental agricultural research and dissemination organisation.
CABI, the parent organisation ofSciDev.Net, trains grassroots agricultural advisers in lower-income countries, who are often employed by national agricultural ministries.
Taylor and Reeder, Plantwise data manager, examined more than 430,000 consultation records these 'plant doctors' submitted between 2012 and October 2018.
There were no records of antibiotic recommendations in any of the 12 African countries in the study, nor in most of the countries from South and Central America; and use in eastern Mediterranean countries was low.
But in South-East Asia (which, using the WHO categorisation, includes India and Nepal) and the Western Pacific, plant doctors regularly recommended antibiotics - most commonly for rice, followed by tomato and citrus fruit.
While 65 per cent of these recommendations were for bacterial diseases - over which experts are divided on efficacy - one in five were for insects or mites, against which antibiotics have no effect.
In many cases, especially in South-East Asia, "the recommendations were identical regardless of the diagnosis," say the researchers.
"We speculate that the agricultural advisors in South-East Asia routinely combine an insecticide with a fungicide and an antibiotic in a single application so as to deal with the current issue and to prevent/control other problems not yet present or residing at a low level."
Reeder and Taylor say there was "enormous variation" between the six South-East Asian countries in the study (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand) but national figures were not included.
The data supports reports of widespread use in some countries.
Ricardo Oliva, an expert in plant resistance at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, says he has often seen streptomycin on sale to farmers in markets in Vietnam and Cambodia. "You see the boxes thrown in the field… it's part of the culture," he says.
And in November the Delhi-based CSE reported on its visits to 15 farmers across India chosen to represent a variety of terrains and produce.
All acknowledged using streptomycin on their crops, according to Amit Khurana, director of the CSE's food safety and toxins programme.
Subsequent interviews and desk research revealed that different agricultural boards and government colleges in a variety of states recommend their use.
The degree of risk is controversial. Advocates of antibiotic use argue there is "no proven evidence of resistance having spread from plant pathogenic bacteria to human or animal pathogens despite 50 years of use", say Reeder and Taylor.
But Jan Leach, an expert in plant-pathogen interactions at Colorado State University says transmission in the opposite direction (resistance genes from bacteria that infect humans have been found in plant pathogens) has been demonstrated, meaning that "we know that there is movement of antimicrobial resistance between plant pathogens and human pathogens".
"We see the spread of diseases all the time and the big concern is that if you get these resistances into these pathogen groups and then they move from country to country, or in wind patterns … we don't know how widespread these things can become," says Leach.
Experts disagree about whether it is ever justifiable to use antibiotics in crops.
Common diseases such as rice bacterial blight can be devastating, says Leach. "These are resource-poor famers and they are dealing with very tiny pieces of land. And if they lose their crop they don't have food for their families ... so these diseases are bad and they have a high impact."
But antibiotics often do not work even against bacterial diseases. Leach says it is better to adopt new varieties bred for resistance to local diseases and use good management practices.
Oliva adds: "It's my personal opinion but I would never advise the use of antibiotics [on rice]."
The researchers highlighted the lack of data on antibiotic use on crops.
An investigation by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health and WHO found that only three per cent of countries did regular assessment of the types and amounts of antibiotic used on crops.
Regulations also vary widely. Many countries have no legislation and some encourage the practice as a valuable tool against infection, the investigation says. The European Union and Brazil do not approve any antibiotic as an active ingredient in pesticides; some countries, such as the United States, allow their use in emergencies.
Last year the US Environmental Protection Agency controversially allowed farmers to spray hundreds of tonnes of human antibiotics, including streptomycin, in orchards to combat the disease citrus greening.
The FAO convened an expert meeting in 2018 to assess the risks posed by antibiotics entering the soil and the environment.
Jeffrey Le Jeune, food safety and quality officer at FAO, says: "We don't have very much data to say what is the relative contribution to the whole human exposure through crops. That's the bottom line.
"We do know that they are used on crops and then they get in the environment. We do know that you can find antimicrobial resistant organisms on foods of plant origin that are intended for animal feed or human consumption."
"And we do know some outbreaks of food-borne illnesses associated with vegetables have had antimicrobial resistant organisms.
But is that a red herring? How did those resistant organisms get there? Was it because they used antibiotics or antimicrobials? Or was it because there were antimicrobial resistant organisms coming in the irrigation water from a faulty wastewater treatment plant? We don't know."
Jeffrey Le Jeune, Food Safety and Quality Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization
"The point is it needs to be looked at and evaluated... but I think you could be safe to say that if you don't need it you shouldn't use it."
The Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme is drawing up a revised code of practice on antibiotic use in food production, which will include new components on plant health. Meetings and working groups are planned into 2021.
Khurana, from India's CSE, adds: "It's difficult to understand how the global scientific community is really not focussed on this. The FAO [needs to] show a similar kind of aggression [towards crop antibiotic use] to the way they are showing it on the animal side."
Journal reference:
Taylor, P., & Reeder, R., (2020) Antibiotic use on crops in low and middle-income countries based on recommendations made by agricultural advisors. CABI Agriculture and Bioscience.

CM should reconsider regulated cropping pattern policy: Telangana MLC Jeevan Reddy

Roushan Ali | TNN | Jun 23, 2020, 19:58 IST

Congress MLC T Jeevan Reddy
HYDERABAD: Congress MLC T Jeevan Reddy has demanded that chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao reconsider the decision on “regulated cropping pattern policy” as part of which the Telangana government is suggesting the farmers the variety of crop they should cultivate.
"Farmers are in a better position to decide which crop to cultivate in their own lands. Also, cultivation of fine rice will take more time compared to coarse variety of rice. As a result, the government should either offer Rs 2,500 per quintal minimum support price to the farmers for fine rice variety or leave it to the discretion of farmers to take a call on the variety of crop they want to cultivate," he said.

Earlier, the state government had asked the farmers to cultivate fine rice variety in more acreage as the coarse variety production has increased in substantial quantities in the last four crop seasons.
On the Rythu Bandhu scheme of the government, Jeevan Reddy said the sop should be extended to all the farmers. “The state government is coming out with new conditions to deny Rythu Bandhu sop to the big farmers i.e., those having more acres of agriculture land,” he said. As part of Rythu scheme, the Telangana government is giving Rs 10,000 per acre per annum to the farmers towards agriculture input subsidy.
“The farmers have already suffered losses in the paddy procurement process done by the state government. If regulated cropping pattern policy is strictly enforced, it will leave the farmers to the mercy of the rice millers, which is not advisable,” Jeevan Reddy said and added that the government should also come out with a comprehensive support scheme for the fruit growing farmers.