Friday, June 26, 2020

26th June,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

From the Lab to the Field, Agriculture Seeks to Adapt to a Warming World

With rising temperatures, the world’s food supplies are at risk, with deceasing yields in key staple crops. Researchers and innovators are looking at more resilient crops and farm animals — from heat-resistant wheat, to drought-resistant rice, to Naked Neck chickens that stay cooler.
·       Fac
It may be coming to a bakery near you: Bread made from wheat that has had its photosynthetic mechanism refashioned to help it flourish on a warmer planet.
Despite the fact a number of researchers — some funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — are scrambling to create this new breed of wheat, it won’t be arriving any time soon. Increasing temperatures are already taking a toll on the world’s wheat fields. But a new heat-resistant wheat that will replace the types currently grown is a decade or more off in the future.
“The largest single global change that threatens food security is high temperature,” said Donald Ort, a professor of plant biology and crop sciences at the University of Illinois who is working on a project called RIPE — Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency — to enhance photosynthesis in food crops, which would also help beat the heat.
The problem is being seen throughout the world. In 2010 and 2012, for example, Russian wheat growers saw their yields decline dramatically because of a combination of hot weather and drought.
“It caused 30 percent reduction in national production, which is really huge,” said Senthold Asseng, a researcher at the University of Florida. Russians made up for the shortfall by reducing exports, he noted, but “If you lose a third of your production in India or Bangladesh that could be a huge disaster.”
A study showed that each degree rise in temperature would cause a drop in production of the world’s main food crops.
There is a concerted global effort to help agriculture adapt to the new climate reality as warming continues apace. The most urgent adaptation initiatives, experts say, involve the world’s main food crops — especially wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans, which together provide two-thirds of human caloric intake. In a study released last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that without fundamental changes in agriculture, the world risks increasing food insecurity.
It’s not just about food. Food shortages are an important driver of social problems. For example, a drought from 2007 until 2010 is considered one of the main factors leading to the civil war in Syria.
2017 study by a group of researchers that included Asseng used models to forecast changes to these main crops under warmer temperatures. The study showed that each centigrade degree rise of temperature would cause a drop in production of all of the crops, led by a plummeting yield in corn of more than 7 percent, wheat of 6 percent, and a drop in soybeans of 3 percent, and rice 3.2 percent. “That means in the next 30 or 40 years, if global temperature rises 3 degrees Celsius we’re talking about 15 to 20 percent loss of wheat yield just from temperature alone,” Asseng said.
Climate change brings more than just higher temperatures. A whole suite of problems and benefits come with warmer weather, from too much to too little precipitation (there’s 7 percent more moisture in the atmosphere for every 1 degree C of warming); changes in the timing of precipitation, floods, and erosion; abrupt temperature swings; changes in soil health; and more wildfires, which can affect planting, ripening, and harvesting. Warmer temperatures may also mean more pests, more diseases, and more weeds. And along with the loss of yield, some studies show that important food crops, such as rice and wheat, have reduced levels of protein, iron, and zinc as they grow in a more carbon-rich environment.Corn plants sprout from cracked soil at a research facility at the University of Illinois. CLAIRE BENJAMIN/RIPE PROJECT
All this comes at the same time the demand for food is rising and may increase by 100 percent by 2050 as the global population soars from 7.6 billion to nearly 10 billion. And as the world shifts from fossil fuels to plant-based materials, such as biofuels or bio-plastics, experts say it will require a 30 percent increase in agricultural production. All of this increase will have to be done on agricultural land already in existence so that the Amazon rainforest or other important natural areas won’t need to be destroyed.
Wheat — the largest food crop on the planet, supplying 20 percent of global calories — is getting a lot of the attention from researchers. One of the leading approaches to increasing yield and creating a heat-tolerant wheat is in the optimization of photosynthesis. “Agricultural crops now convert a surprisingly low percentage of sunlight into plant biomass, some 0.5 to 1 percent,” said Martin Parry, a leading researcher at Lancaster University in England. “Doubling the percentage to 1 to 2 percent is all we need, and this has already been scientifically proven to be possible.”
Researchers are doing this by focusing on something called Rubisco — an acronym for Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase. It’s an ancient enzyme, more than 3.5 billion years old, that evolved with plants. It takes inorganic carbon dioxide and turns it into organic carbon.
But 20 percent of the time, Rubisco grabs oxygen instead of CO2, which leads to a process called photorespiration, which is energetically expensive for the plant and leads to less photosynthesis and smaller yields.
The variety of rice that was integral to the Green Revolution is being phased out in places in favor of native cultivars.
Ort calls Rubisco the most important enzyme on the planet because it is responsible for converting sunlight into plant tissue, which feeds the world. However, Ort says, “It’s not a very good enzyme. It’s slow. And it makes mistakes. It’s the most abundant enzyme on the planet, and the reason is the way the plants cope with its not being a very good enzyme is to make a lot of it.”
What the University of Illinois’s RIPE program and Lancaster University and other labs are focusing on is hacking into the plants to boost the efficiency of Rubisco. “There are more simple ways to do it,” says Ort. “These are complete redesigns to try to bypass the native pathways and replace them with a simpler, more efficient pathway” that doesn’t impinge on photosynthesis.
Even with the focus on redesign for photosynthesis, experts say a new cultivar of wheat is at least 10 or 12 years away.
At least one type of wheat that thrives in high temperatures has been grown successfully. Researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas created a wheat crop from ancient and modern strains that can grow in temperatures above 100 degrees. It’s being grown in the Senegal River Basin in West Africa.


With new perennial grain, a step forward for eco-friendly agriculture. Read more.
Rice, soybeans, and other crops would also benefit from a new, redesigned photosynthetic process. Rice, which is a food source for 3.5 billion people globally, is especially vulnerable. Not only is its yield hurt by higher temperatures, but it also needs a dependable supply of water — it uses 34 to 43 percent of the world’s water supplies for irrigation — and the effects of high temperatures are compounded by irregular weather patterns and the decline in aquifers. Saltwater intrusion as oceans rise is also a serious problem.
Description: Researchers examine a heat-tolerant durum wheat variety planted in the Senegal River Basin.
Researchers examine a heat-tolerant durum wheat variety planted in the Senegal River Basin. FILIPPO BASSI / ICARDA
recent study in the journal Nature found that a warming climate is increasing the level of arsenic in rice, which by 2100 could reduce yields by nearly 40 percent.
There are efforts on a number of fronts to prepare rice for the climate emergency, including developing types that are drought, disease and saltwater resistant. The IR8 variety of rice, for example, which was integral to the Green Revolution in the 1960s, is being phased out in places in favor of native cultivars that are easier on the soil and more disease-resistant.
And a team of U.S. researchers are editing the genome of rice in tests to add disease resistance or edit out genes that make the plant susceptible. They look for a plant that might have poor yield but has good disease resistance and then remove the resistant genes and place them in a high-yielding commercial variety “Genome editing allows us to do that with speed and accuracy,” Adam Bogdanove, a professor of plant pathology at Cornell University, said.
Researchers in Arkansas, where much of the U.S rice crop is grown, have found that over the last four decades nighttime temperatures have increased by 5 degrees Fahrenheit, which means plants lose more water at night. The increasing heat also reduces photosynthesis and hampers the ability of rice to self-pollinate. Some farmers are talking about moving further north to stay within the crop’s temperature range.
Naked Neck chickens, originally from Romania, are naturally air conditioned because of the lack of feathers.
There are other approaches to making agriculture more tolerant in the face of hot temperatures, such as changing the timing of crops or employing agricultural methods that can help crops stay cooler. A recent study in Nature, for example, found that farms in tropical regions that diversify with a mixture of interwoven crops and a border of native forest, instead of a monoculture, help keep the agricultural landscape cooler while also providing more habitat that fosters biodiversity, especially birds.
In addition to crops, livestock and other animals raised for food are also being affected by climate change. Chickens, for example, are especially susceptible to heat.
One of the more intriguing solutions is the Naked Neck chicken. It’s an odd-looking bird that appears as if its feathers have been plucked from the bottom of its neck up to its head. What it lacks in beauty, though, it makes up for in function in a changing climate.
These chickens, originally from Romania, are not only naturally air conditioned because of the lack of feathers, they have bigger lungs than other birds and other important physiological traits that allow them to adapt to warmer temperatures. “It’s leggier too,” said Matthew Wadiak, founder of Cooks Venture, which is pasture-raising and selling these birds in Arkansas. “If you have a leggy bird that is upright and off the ground it has more airflow around it and it can stay cooler.”
Description: Criollo cattle, a breed that can live in arid regions, on a federal research site in New Mexico.
Criollo cattle, a breed that can live in arid regions, on a federal research site in New Mexico. NMSU/USDA
Ranchers and scientists are also looking for cows that can thrive in warmer temperatures. A breed of animal that may help ranchers in the U.S. Southwest and other arid regions adapt is the raramuri criollo cow — which means “light footed ones” — as a replacement for Angus and Hereford, which have more impact on landscapes.
Drought has plagued the Southwest in recent years and some researchers say it may be a permanent fixture in the region. It has taken a heavy toll on ranching. The criollo were brought to North America from Spain by conquistadors and turned loose, before being adopted by, among others, the Tarahumara Indians. Over the last four centuries these cattle have adapted to arid conditions in Mexico.
Two decades ago, they were brought from the Mexican state of Chihuahua to the Jornada Experimental Station near Las Cruces, New Mexico. They have since been adopted by ranchers who have seen benefits, and The Nature Conservancy is studying their impact on the land at its Canyonlands Research Center in Utah.
“These cattle can withstand heat and lack of water,” said Nichole Barger, an arid land ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder who consults at the Canyonlands Research Center. “They are selecting a broader range of different kinds of plants, not just those grasses that are in decline because of climate change.”


Could ‘carbon smart’ farming play a key role in the climate fight? Read more.
The most important solution to food security over the long term, of course, is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is “no possibility for anybody to say, ‘Oh, climate change is happening, and we will just adapt to it,” said Hans Otto Portner, co-chair of the IPCC working group on food and land use. “The capacity to adapt is limited.”

Rice Prices

as on : 26-06-2020 11:00:15 AM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Published on June 26, 2020

Thai rice farmers step up to tackle carbon footprint
Different methods target global greenhouse gas emissions equal to aviation Win-win: harvest time in Thailand. Measures to reduce rice's carbon footprint can also bring financial benefits to farmers © (c) Vinhdav | Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save John Reed YESTERDAY 0 Print this page Rampha Khamhaeng, a farmer in central Thailand’s rice-growing Suphanburi province, was sceptical when she first heard about a new farming method for paddy fields that could reduce both water use and greenhouse gas emissions. The technique, called alternate wetting and drying, breaks with Thai custom, under which most farmers keep their fields submerged through the growing season. That means the new method also reduces the amount of methane created by stubble and other organic matter decomposing underwater in the paddy. The gas is a significant contributor to global warming, with rice cultivation the second biggest agricultural source after livestock. “To be honest, at first I didn’t buy it,” says Ms Rampha, wearing a yellow T-shirt bearing the logo of GIZ, the German government aid agency sponsoring a pilot “sustainable rice platform” in partnership with the Thai government. “Now I tried it and it works — it’s the best way.” The technique is not just good for the environment; it also saves her time, she says, and the money she used to have to spend on diesel to pump water to her farm, which is on high ground. The Thai project, meant to target 100,000 households in Suphanburi and five other provinces, is part of a new push by campaigners and governments to reduce the climate impact of rice. Setting the standard “Globally, rice production accounts for about 1.5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions — the same amount as all aviation emissions,” says Bjoern Ole Sander, senior scientist and country representative for Vietnam with the International Rice Research Institute. Vietnam, the world’s biggest rice exporter after India and Thailand, has made low-carbon rice production part of its commitments under the Paris climate change agreement. However, persuading farmers and governments in rice-growing countries to focus on the environmental and other costs of the sector has taken time. Rice is not internationally traded to the same extent as other food products: the proportion of the crop that stays in-country is much higher than for coffee, say, or wheat. As a result, it has attracted less attention from pressure groups concerned with workers’ rights and the environment. Wetland: a Thai farmer plucks up a bushel of rice. Prolonged submersion means such fields emit lots of methane © Saravut Vanset/Solent News/Shutterstock “In other commodities like cocoa and coffee, there is a more developed sustainability standard,” says Suriyan Vichitlekarn, a Bangkok-based agriculture and food expert with GIZ. “For the rice sector, until about 10 years ago, there wasn’t any clear standard.” With sustainability rising up companies’ and governments’ agendas, however, the commodity’s carbon footprint is coming into focus. Demand for rice is growing along with the world’s population, and the crop’s annual water consumption and gas emissions are among the highest for any food crop. GIZ’s first foray into this sector was a project called Better Rice Initiative Asia that included Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia in a push to promote good agricultural practices and standards. The current programme is called Thai Rice Nama (which stands for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) and it takes in a broad range of sustainability concerns, from water conservation and biodiversity to worker safety and eliminating child labour. As well as alternate wetting and drying, it encourages the use of practices such as laser land levelling, which produces flatter paddies. These in turn allow farmers to reduce their use both of water and fertiliser. Small farms, big picture For the Thai government, the focus of the rice pilot is maintaining jobs in farming and producing food for the country more profitably. But for the farmers themselves, many of them smallholders and many female, the focus is on sustaining livelihoods. Sawanee Phorang, another Suphanburi farmer, heard about laser land levelling and began watching demonstrations of it on YouTube; when the process became available, she volunteered to try it out. Greener grain: rice farmers harvest their crop in northern Thailand, where efforts are being made to introduce more eco-friendly farming practices © AFP via Getty Images “It reduced my fuel costs by 50 per cent,” she says, leafing through a ledger where she records farm expenses. Ms Sawanee supports a family of four and earns money from multiple sources, including selling rice seed and making sweets and noodles from rice. The farming pilot comes at a time when climate change is coming into sharper focus in Thailand after the past year’s unusually severe drought. The farmers in Suphanburi have no difficulty drawing a connection between their own activities and the changing climate. “Farmers are a small player, but we want to take part in the fight against climate change,” says Ms Sawanee. “Consumers should be free of worry from eating the rice we grow, and the environment should be better.” Get alerts on Climate change when a new story is published Get alerts Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Reuse this content(opens in new window) Explore the Special Report READ MORE Dutch farmers face pressure over intensive practices ABOUT THIS SPECIAL REPORT Food production accounts for one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. In this special report, we look at how farmers and food businesses are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, and ask what impact coronavirus will have on their efforts Supported by Rabobank Currently reading: Thai rice farmers step up to tackle carbon footprint Dutch farmers face pressure over intensive practices Soil offers key to curbing climate change Hazelnut sourcing spreads discontent for Italy’s Nutella Vertical farming finally grows up in Japan Audio feature: on the frontline of deforestation in the Amazon São Tomé and Príncipe grows premium cocoa in fragile tropical soil See all 49 stories Follow the topics in this article Agricultural production Add to myFT Climate change Add to myFT Sustainability Add to myFT Thailand Add to myFT John Reed Add to myFT Feedback Useful links Support View Site Tips Help Centre About Us Accessibility myFT Tour Careers Legal & Privacy Terms & Conditions Privacy Cookies Copyright Slavery Statement & Policies Services FT Live Share News Tips Securely Individual Subscriptions Group Subscriptions Republishing Contracts & Tenders Executive Job Search Advertise with the FT Follow the FT on Twitter FT Transact Secondary Schools Tools Portfolio Today's Newspaper (ePaper) Alerts Hub MBA Rankings Enterprise Tools News feed Newsletters Currency Converter More from the FT Group Markets data delayed by at least 15 minutes. © THE FINANCIAL TIMES LTD 2020. 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Is Vietnam outstripping Thailand in rice exports?

26-Jun-2020 Intellasia | Vietnamnet | 6:02 AM

Because of unprecedented difficulties, Thailand may be outstripped by Vietnam in rice exports this year, but this may only be for the short term.
The US Department of Agriculture in its May report showed that Thailand suffers heavily from drought, while Vietnam doesn’t.
The agency predicted that Thailand’s rice output this year would decrease by 2.34 million tons, or 11.5 percent, while Vietnam’s output won’t see reductions.
The reports of Thai agencies showed that the baht price increased by 2.18 percent in the first half of 2019, from 32.31 baht per dollar to 31.61 baht per dollar. The local currency increased by another 3.52 percent in the second half of 2019 to 30.49 baht per dollar.
In the second half of 2019, Thailand’s rice exports decreased by 1.1 million tons compared with the first half.
Nguyen Dinh Bich, a respected trade expert, in his article on Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon, cited statistics by Thai agencies as reporting that Thai export volume in January was 547,000 tons, a sharp fall of 42.5 percent compared with the same period last year.
The sharp falls were also seen in the next two months, which led to the modest total export volume of 1.47 million tons in Q1. Meanwhile, Vietnam exported 1.52 million during the same time.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, as of early May, exports of white rice, which account for 2/3 of Thailand’s total exports, still saw a decrease of 38 percent, though Vietnam’s and India’s exports were interrupted at moments.
As such, it is highly possible that Vietnam will still be the second largest rice exporter in the upcoming months, the position where Thailand stood firmly for many years.
Nevertheless, Bich doesn’t think that Vietnam will be in the second position for a long time.
The US agriculture department insists that the total rice demand of the world will continue decreasing in 2020 for the second consecutive year.
In such condition, the only way for Thailand to implement a plan to reduce their very large rice stockpile is to reduce their export prices.
Thailand began reducing prices in their offers in the first three weeks of May and the trend will continue in the remaining months of the year.
In other words, the second position among the largest rice exporters belongs to Thailand and the country is likely to have to lower export prices in order to protect its position.

Asia Rice-Quality concerns hit Vietnam rates; India's demand improves
·       JUNE 26, 2020 / 6:32
* Vietnamese prices may fall further in coming weeks-traders
* Thai rates firm on supply crunch, stronger baht
* Indian rates at $373-$378/tonne vs last week’s $366-$372
By Eileen Soreng
BENGALURU, June 25 (Reuters) - Vietnamese rice export prices eased this week, hurt by falling purchases and quality concerns as the harvest progresses, while India rates rose from an over two-month low hit last week as demand picked up from Africa.
In Vietnam, rates for 5% broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 slipped to a range of $405-$450 per tonne on Thursday from $450 per tonne a week earlier.
The winter-spring rice is offered at $450 per tonne, while the ongoing summer-autumn harvest is being offered at $405-$410 per tonne, traders said.
“The quality of the summer-autumn rice is low due to heavy rains during the harvest,” a trader based in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang said, adding the harvest is expected to last till end-July.
Adding further pressure on the rates was weak demand from foreign buyers and cheaper Indian rice, traders said, adding prices may fall further over the coming weeks.
Top exporter India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety RI-INBKN5-P1 was quoted $373-$378 per tonne this week, up from last week’s $366-$372.
Rising cases of coronavirus have prompted some buyers in Africa to raise purchases, an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh said.
Thailand’s benchmark 5-percent broken rice RI-THBKN5-P1 prices were quoted at $514-$520 on Thursday, versus last week’s $505-$525.
Thai export rates have been high mainly due to drought-induced low supply and a stronger Thai baht, while demand has been muted, traders said.
“Concerns over supply persist in the market which is likely to continue until August, when new crops are expected,” a Bangkok-based trader said.
In Bangladesh domestic rice prices gained this week, which market insiders blamed on stockpiling by traders and millers. Medium quality rice was being sold at around 50 taka ($0.5896) a kilogram.
Panic buying driven by the coronavirus outbreak had boosted domestic rice prices to a two-year high in April. ($1 = 84.8000 taka) (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Khanh Vu in Hanoi and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

Indonesia plans farm estate in Borneo to boost food security
·       JUNE 25, 2020 /

JAKARTA, June 25 (Reuters) - Indonesia plans to develop a major farm estate covering more than 164,000 hectares (405,000 acres) on the island of Borneo after warnings of a potential food crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak, the agriculture ministry said on Thursday.
The project in Central Kalimantan province will boost output from around 85,000 hectares of existing farmland and add another 79,000 hectares, including from previously drained peat land, the ministry said.
The government will cultivate a range of food crops, as well staples, Kuntoro Boga Andri, a spokesman for the agriculture ministry, said in the statement.
“We are talking about a food estate that will not only have rice and corn,” he said, adding that it would include fruit and vegetables and animal farms.
The government has previously developed a similar estate on in Papua province and has plans to develop more.
Local media quoted Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono as saying the land planned for the food estate was previously developed by the government in the mid 1990s, but had since been abandoned. (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; writing by Fransiska Nangoy; editing by Richard Pullin)

Indonesia's Bulog targets 1.57 mln T local rice procurement in 2021
·       JUNE 25, 2020 / 9:36 AM

JAKARTA, June 25 (Reuters) -
* Indonesia food procurement agency Bulog plans to procure 1.57 million tonnes of rice equivalent from local farmers next year, chief executive Budi Waseso told the parliament on Thursday.
* Bulog also targets to distribute 1.5 million tonnes of rice equivalent next year, he said.
* The procurement target in 2021 is an increase from this year’s target of 1 million tonnes.
* Bulog does not expect to import rice this year despite higher demand for the grains due to social assistance distribution, Waseso told reporters earlier this week. (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe, Writing by Fransiska Nangoy, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

Governor calls for research in immunity-boosting crops and Palm trees

Hyderabad, June 25 (INN): Governor Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan on Thursday called upon the agricultural scientists to carry out research in immunity-boosting crops so as to prevent the ill-effects of viral outbreaks on the humankind.
“Despite the fact that our older generation ate rice and lived longer, our younger generation is distancing away from consuming rice saying it as the diabetic-prone food. We need to come up with new varieties of rice that are low on sugar and maintain our traditions, especially in South India, associated with rice,” she added
The Governor was reviewing and interacting with the functionaries of the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University through a video conference from Raj Bhavan, here. She said that there must be greater emphasis on research on improvised fine quality rice varieties like Telangana Sona, which is considered a low sugar variety.
Exhorting the agricultural scientists to carry out intensive research on Palmyra trees (Thaadi chettu), which the Governor termed as the kalpa vriksha of a kind, she stated that every part of the Palmyra tree also known as the Palm tree is useful and added that this particular tree given its traditional importance has been made the official State Tree of Tamil Nadu.
“As its medicinal and nutritional value, the Palmyra trees must be protected from the diseases and grown in large numbers to process different parts of the tree. The Neera, tender palm water, is one product that is highly nutritious and we need to come up with technologies that preserve the Palmyra-based Neera product for longer periods and for its packaged selling,” Dr. Tamilisai added.
The Governor stressed that we must not lose our traditional assets that date back to times immemorial and we must protect these trees so as to help our future generations to enjoy its fruits, and other benefits.
Referring to the use of lot of oils in our traditional cooking, Dr. Tamilisai said that most of the health issues emanate from the excessive use of some unhealthy oils and this calls for increased research on the part of the agriculture and horticultural scientists to come out with special crops that give healthy oil.
As the food patterns are changing at a rapid pace in this viral pandemic-era, she said that it was the responsibility of the agricultural scientists to create awareness and educate people on the traditional and healthy food habits that contribute to our well-being.
She appreciated the PJTS Agricultural University for coming out with new varieties of crops and for producing healthy oils through the research.
Secretary K. Surendra Mohan, University vice-chancellor Prof Praveen Rao and other senior officials were present

Intensify research on immunity boosting crops: Governor

HYDERABAD, JUNE 25, 2020 19:59 IST
UPDATED: JUNE 26, 2020 10:26 IST
Description: Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan interacted with the functionaries of Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University through a video-conference on Thursday.
Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan interacted with the functionaries of Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University through a video-conference on Thursday.  

Tamilisai interacts with agriculture varsity scientists

Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan has exhorted the agricultural scientists to intensify research on immunity-boosting crops.
The Governor recalled how the older generations ate rice and lived longer and said younger generation is however distancing itself from rice consumption claiming it to be diabetic-prone food. Scientists need to come up with new varieties of rice that are low on sugar and maintain our traditions in south India associated with rice.
Dr. Soundararajan made these comments during an interaction with the functionaries of Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University through a video-conference on Thursday. She stressed the need for research on improvised fine quality rice varieties like Telangana Sona, considered to be a low sugar variety crop.
Palm trees
The scientists at the same time should carry out more intensive research on palm trees (thadi chettu) as every part of the tree is useful, she said adding the palm tree was made official tree of Tamil Nadu, given its traditional importance
She said efforts should be made to protect palm trees from diseases and they should be grown in large numbers to enable processing of different parts of the tree that is known for its medicinal and nutritional value. Neera, the tender palm water, is one such product that is highly nutritious and there is need to come up with technology enabling preservation of Neera for longer periods and for its packaged selling.
There is also need for research on the part of the agriculture and horticultural scientists to come out with special crops that would give healthy oil as several health issues emanate out of the excessive use of unhealthy oils, said an official release.
Congressman Higgins Meets with Rice and Crawfish Farmers
By Kane Webb

MIDLAND, LA -- This past Tuesday, Congressman Clay Higgins, who represents Louisiana's Third District, spent the morning here meeting with local rice and crawfish farmers to discuss current issues and potential COVID-19 relief options available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The opportunity to spend time together, which has not been common in recent months, was made possible by Randy, Dale, Steven, Ross, and Eric Thibodeaux, of the Thibodeaux Ag Group, who hosted the event at their farm shop and attached equipment shed.  The space had ample room to comply with the state's Phase Two reopening occupancy limits and accommodated social distancing requirements with chairs set six feet apart.  The weather cooperated better than expected as overcast skies and a light breeze out of the south made the open shop pavilion comfortable for a late June outdoor gathering.
Higgins acknowledged that COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on families and their concerns for staying safe during these extraordinary times, as well as the economic impact brought on by mandatory closures throughout the nation. "Every American family has been negatively impacted by coronavirus shutdowns, including our farmers," he said.  "My office is here to help you navigate the path to relief funding.  We serve you."
Higgins talked about the effects the pandemic has had on agriculture as a whole, but particularly to rice and crawfish production, key components to the viability of many south Louisiana farms.  He also answered questions on topics such as trade, and the H-2A and H-2B worker programs, both critical to Louisiana agriculture.
"To have the Congressman come and visit during this time, in person, was reassuring for all of us," said Ross Thibodeaux.  "It showed he understands the challenges we're facing in this industry.  We're glad our facility was helpful in making his visit possible."
Ron Smith

Big crop, big price for 2020 rice expected

Tighter supplies, good demand support rice markets.
Updated: Rice supplies are tightening, adding strength to markets.
Ron Smith | Jun 24, 2020
Updated. Previous version indicated price per bushel instead of price per CWT.
U.S. rice producers should make a big crop this year and get paid for it.
"I think the market will get tight in the U.S." says Milo Hamilton, senior economist with FirstGrain, a rice marketing service in Austin, Texas.
"That's a minority opinion," Hamilton said during a June 17 Zoom meeting, "Thinking Our Way Through Rice Market Disruptions," with global rice industry experts and other observers zooming in. Hamilton says U.S. demand for rice has increased 40 percent, due in part to stocking up, hoarding and consumers eating more rice at home during the COVID-19 shutdown.
He thinks the market could support rice at $12 to $13 per cwt. "I think the demand will move it that high," he said. "I expect a big crop and a big price."
Rice, unlike other grain and fiber crop markets, and similar to peanuts, has performed well during the shutdown as people stay home and rely on staples such as rice and peanut butter. "U.S. grain and meat demand was demolished by trade spats and the pandemic," Hamilton said, "but not rice."
Hamilton's bullish expectation comes in spite of increased U.S. acreage and early positive crop progress. "Farmers are still planting rice in the Delta (on June 17)," Hamilton said. "They are typically through by now, but the rice market is much better than other options."

Supplies are tightening.

"The U.S. 2019/2020 rice stocks-to-use ratio is the tightest in 11 years," he said. "The domestic market for 'paddy' or 'rough' rice will stay strong."
He attributes some of the bull market to a few nations halting exports during the pandemic but doesn't expect the virus to exert lasting influence on food prices, as was the case following 1918 Spanish Flu.
"Of course, the world has changed in the last 100 years. No global grain is grown with as much human labor as rice — not corn, wheat or beans. That field and transport labor migrates. It lacks government supports, particularly in India and points east in the Asian rice belt.
"Labor and storage problems could lead to export problems this time around," Hamilton said. Other considerations for rice market movements will occur in Asia. Hamilton says China holds 60% of the global rice stocks. Thailand and India also hold significant rice stocks. But absent those three, the global supply is diminishing, he says.
Asian production is vulnerable. The virus remains a concern in India, where COVID-19 cases continue to rise. That's problematic because India and other Asian nations depend on what Hamilton refers to as "informal" or migrant labor. Virus infection or fear of infection, he says, may affect production. He says labor may be "available but not accessible," because of the virus. "Problems with India's rice crop this summer could mean a tighter market," Hamilton said.
He adds that China productivity is vulnerable to a return of the virus as well as potential for rising fuel costs and resulting higher fertilizer prices.

Skepticism on China

He's also skeptical of China's supply figures and quality. "A lot of things are mysterious in China," he said.
"U.S. exports also should bounce back for the 2020/2021 season," he said. But he and Ricardo Hahn, Montevideo, Uruguay, say the U.S./Mexico market share could be trimmed. Hahn said unless a second coronavirus wave causes significant disruption, South America "will see an increase in rice seeding. We're still in a drought but it's starting to rain, so we will plant as much rice as possible. That might bring the price down."
Hamilton says increased production in Brazil and other South American countries will compete with the U.S. for a share of the Mexican market. He doesn’t' expect the Americas to source a lot of rice from Asia or for Asia to source much from the Americas. He adds that aromatic rice could be the exception as a higher value product.
Key takeaways from the session include:
• Record global rice stocks of six months, but, excepting China, the supply drops to only two months.
• Politics drive trade deals and price levels.
• The pandemic attacks where rice workers exist in dense quarters.
• Food cannot wait on labor to arrive. It spoils.

NFA releases 622,683 bags of rice during pandemic

By Perla Lena  June 24, 2020, 9:47 pm


RICE LAND PREPS. The land preparation for the wet season is ongoing in some palay areas in Iloilo. A Department of Agriculture regional official said on Tuesday (June 23, 2020) that they target 85 to 90 percent of palay areas will be planted this wet cropping season. (PNA photo by Perla G. Lena)
ILOILO CITY – The National Food Authority (NFA) has released 622,683 bags of rice from March 31 to June 19, 2020 for the calamity response of local government units (LGU) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
NFA assistant regional director Lolita Paz said on Wednesday that based on inventory, they still have more than 400,000 bags of rice that is good for eight days. If commercial and household stocks in the region are included, stocks would last for 65 days.
Paz said their procurement is ongoing although they do not expect much harvests as it is planting season and considered as lean months.
"Fortunately, here in Region 6 (Western Visayas) there are household inventories and there are those who sell their palay to NFA. We continue to procure palay from them,” she said in an interview.
She added that Western Visayas does not only produce palay for the region but also supports other rice deficit areas such as Central and Eastern Visayas regions.
“For your information, the transfer of stocks is ongoing to support them. We are fortunate here in Panay because we have a very sufficient production,” she said.
This year NFA Western Visayas was allotted PHP36 million for its procurement program. So far, around 600,000 bags of the targetted 1.285 million bags have been procured.
“We expect half of the procurement by the next harvest in September. Since last time we were able to procure more than 1.5 million starting September last year. With the partnership with local government units, we hope to procure again the 1.2 million bags,” she said.
She added that provincial managers were instructed to closely coordinate with local government units and farmers’ association for the procurement.
Rene Famoso, Department of Agriculture (DA) regional technical director for Western Visayas, in a press conference on Tuesday, said they expect to have a higher production this wet season, especially from those that are using hybrid seeds.
He said that the production in the region could reach eight to 10 tons per hectare.
With the various interventions provided to palay farmers, he said DA is looking forward to a 125 percent rice sufficiency from the current 112 to 115 percent sufficiency level.
The department is targeting 85 to 90 percent of the 322,000 hectares of palay areas in the region to be planted this wet season.
Currently, though around 30 to 40 percent of the target area is already planted with palay. (PNA)

'End Neo-slavery': Lebanon Maid Abandonment Sparks Outrage

Description: 'End neo-slavery': Lebanon maid abandonment sparks outrage

After preparing dozens of rice packages for out-of-work domestic staff, 30-year-old Tirsit breaks down in tears recounting life as a foreign housekeeper in crisis-hit Lebanon

Beirut, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 24th Jun, 2020 ) :After preparing dozens of rice packages for out-of-work domestic staff, 30-year-old Tirsit breaks down in tears recounting life as a foreign housekeeper in crisis-hit Lebanon.
"The (recruitment) agencies sell us," said the 30-year-old Ethiopian, a large sack heaped with bags of rice by her side.
"If I come to work for (a woman) and I don't like it, or she hits me, or there is no food, if I want to change households or leave, I can't," she explained.
"She says: 'I bought you. Pay me back $2,000 then go wherever you want.'" Around 250,000 migrants -- usually women -- work as housekeepers, nannies and carers in Lebanese homes, a large proportion Ethiopian and some for as little as $150 a month.
None are protected by the labour law.
Instead, they work under a sponsorship system called kafala that has repeatedly been condemned by human rights groups as abusive and racist.
As the Black Lives Matter movement trends worldwide, activists in Lebanon are saying abolishing kafala is long overdue.
"Something really needs to change," said Tirsit, after seeing persistent mistreatment of fellow workers during her 12 years in Lebanon.
Under kafala, an employer pays around $2,000 to $5,000 to a recruitment agency to find a helper, with prices varying according to nationality, then sponsors the worker to stay legally in the country.
The live-in employee cannot resign without their permission, or she becomes undocumented. Nothing prohibits an employer from confiscating the worker's passport.
This leaves the worker entirely at the mercy of their employer.