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Fatehpur Sikri(UP)
Published on July 01, 2020
Increased extreme hourly precipitation over China’s rice paddies from 1961 to 2012
Scientific Reports volume 10, Article number: 10609 (2020) Cite this article
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·         Published: 30 June 2020
Rice yield have been affected by the increased extreme precipitation events in recent decades. Yet, the spatio-temporal patterns of extreme precipitation by rice type and phenology remain elusive. Here, we investigate the characteristics of four extreme precipitation indices across China’s rice paddy and their potential association with crop yields, by using hourly precipitation data from 1,215 stations and rice phenology observations from 45 sub-regions. The data indicate that hourly extreme precipitation have significantly increased in 1961–2012 for single rice and early rice in China but not for late rice. Rice were mainly exposed to extreme precipitation from transplantation to flowering stages. The frequency and proportion of extreme precipitation were significantly increased by 2.0–4.7% and 2.3–2.9% per decade, respectively, mainly in south China and Yangtze River Basin. The precipitation intensity and maximum hourly precipitation were increased by 0.7–1.1% and 0.9–2.8% per decade, respectively, mainly in central China and southeast coastal area. These extreme precipitation indices played a role as important as accumulated precipitation and mean temperature on the interannual variability of rice yields, regardless of rice types. Our results also highlight the urgencies to uncover the underlying mechanisms of extreme precipitation on rice growth, which in turn strengthens the predictability of crop models.
China, the biggest rice producer around the world, has a total rice sown area of 30 million hectares at present. However, rice was experiencing frequent extreme climate events that led to a large instability in rice production1,2. Long-term exposure of rice growth to extreme climate has raised our concerns3,4, because of the importance of the global or regional food security5. Currently there were a few studies focusing on the spatio-temporal patterns of extreme precipitation events over rice planting areas, especially with highly diverse rice variety, planting time and phenology in China6.
Precipitation extremes have been increasing globally in frequency, intensity and extent over the past decades7,8,9. The maximum daily precipitation, maximum consecutive 5-day precipitation and total precipitation from days > 95th percentile have increased by 5%, 4% and 20% during the period 1900–2010, respectively10. However, conclusions varied with regions and seasons11,12. For example, the proportion and frequency of extreme precipitation significantly increased in Eastern China while decreased in North China over the past five decades due to heterogeneous terrain and climate conditions13,14. By analyzing 265 stations in South Asia in 1961–2000, an increasing trend of extreme precipitation was identified in tropical regions, while decreasing in the Himalaya and desert regions15. Significant increase in maximum daily precipitation were found from June to August, but no obvious elevation or even decreasing during the rest of the year16.
Other than the possible disasters like flash floods and mudslides, extreme precipitation events have different influences on crop growth (or yield) when the events occurred in critical growing periods6,17,18. A positive correlation was found between rice yield and extreme precipitation events in India19, while it was negative in the Philippines20. Specifically, extreme precipitation slightly influenced rice growth at its tillering stage, while it is unfavorable for rice pollination at early rice flowering stage21. Long spells of rainfall at the ripening stage resulted in yield reduction due to lodging and waterlogging and impeded mechanical harvesting22. Moreover, extreme precipitation influenced crop yield through physiochemical and physiological mechanisms. Photosynthetic rate was increased by extreme precipitation by adjusting the stomatal opening of leaf surface of bean and pea23, while it was decreased due to large nutrient loss of leaf epidermis of peatland24. Thus, it is necessary to identify extreme precipitation indices during different rice-growing periods and unravel the potential effects of extreme precipitation on rice growth.
Most of previous studies were conducted based on daily datasets. However, extreme precipitation events often occurred in a short time from less than 1 h to a few hours25. Furthermore, trend analyses using hourly data could better reveal the temporal dynamics at the local scale and retain more information about precipitation pattern, especially in regions with substantial seasonal variability and undulating topography11. For instance, Prein et al.26 found that the hourly extreme precipitation increased in majority of the United States from 2001 to 2013 and expected to increase along with global warming in the future. Li et al.27 estimated the threshold values of hourly rainfall intensity for a 5-year return period and revealed significant regional differences over eastern China. Luo et al. 28 investigated synoptic situations of extreme hourly precipitation over China and suggested complicated regional features in the occurrence frequency and intensity of precipitation extremes.
The objective of this study is to provide an insight into extreme precipitation indices over rice paddy fields, including the frequency, intensity, proportion and maximum hourly precipitation (see “Methods” section). Using hourly precipitation data (1,215 stations) and rice phenology observations (45 sub-regions), we investigated the spatiotemporal patterns of extreme precipitation indices over three rice cropping systems (i.e., single rice, early rice and late rice) during 1961–2012, and tested the association between the long-term exposure to extreme precipitation and rice yield in the last three decades (1981–2012) due to data limitation (see “Methods” section). In addition, we discussed about the long-term goals in quantifying risks of extreme precipitation on rice production and associated model improvements, as well as policy implications to mitigate the losses from extreme precipitation events.
Extreme precipitation indices by crop and phenology
The extreme precipitation varied greatly among different rice growing periods, but not among three rice types (Fig. 1). For the entire rice growing season, the frequency of extreme precipitation of early rice (0.51 ± 0.11%) was significantly higher than that of single rice (0.39 ± 0.12%, p < 0.001) and late rice (0.32 ± 0.06%, p < 0.001) (Fig. 1a). In addition, the frequency in the period 2 and 3 were significant higher than those in period 1 and 4 for single rice and early rice (p < 0.001), while for late rice higher frequency occurred in period 1 and 2 (Fig. 1a). The intensity and maximum hourly precipitation differed significantly by growth period (p < 0.001) and were higher in the first two periods for each rice type (Fig. 1b,d). There were no significant differences of the proportion of extreme precipitation (range within 33.5–34.4%) between cropping systems for the entire rice season, and significant higher proportion of extreme precipitation was found for periods 2 and 3 for single rice and early rice (Fig. 1c).
Figure 1

Extreme precipitation indices by rice type and growth period in 1961–2012. (a) Frequency of extreme precipitation; (b) intensity of extreme precipitation; (c) proportion of extreme precipitation; (d) maximum hourly precipitation, note that the value during whole rice growing season differs with the maximum of those in 4 growth periods because the time of maximum precipitation event differs by year and site. Period 1 represents the stage from transplanting to tillering, period 2 for the stage from the end of tillering to the end of flowering, period 3 for the stage from the end of flowering to doughty, and period 4 for the stage from maturity to harvesting. Error bar indicates one standard deviation of extreme precipitation indices due to spatial variation. Different letters indicate there were significant differences between growing periods at the 5% level. Figures were generated in R version 3.6.0 (
Notable spatial discrepancies were detected for all four extreme precipitation indices based on the averaged data over 1961–2012 (Fig. 2). For the single rice, the frequency of extreme precipitation was relatively higher in southwest China (0.34–0.96%) than the east and the northeast (0.14–0.56%) (Fig. 2a). Intensity of the extreme precipitation was relatively lower in the southwest but reached the highest in North China Plain (Fig. 2d). Similar patterns were found for the proportion and maximum hourly precipitation (Fig. 2g,j). For early rice, the frequency of extreme precipitation was generally high in most provinces (0.39–0.72%, Fig. 2b). The intensity, proportion and maximum hourly precipitation showed similar spatial patterns with the hotspots in Hainan, Guangxi, and Guangdong (Supplementary Fig. S2a, Fig. 2e,h,k). For late rice, the frequency ranged from 0.17 to 0.58% (Fig. 2c). The intensity and maximum hourly precipitation showed similar patterns with a gradual decrease from maritime areas to the inland (Fig. 2f,l). In contrast, hotspots of the proportion were primarily distributed in Hunan, Jiangxi, and Fujian (35.7% to 40.6%), whereas low values were found in south China (28.0% to 36.1%, Fig. 2i). These proportions were smaller than previous studies that used the 90th percentile threshold29,30. Details of the patterns of four indices in different growth periods could be found in Supplementary Figs. S3–S6.
Figure 2

Patterns of extreme precipitation indices for rice growing season averaged over the period 1961–2012. (ac) Frequency of extreme precipitation; (df) intensity of extreme precipitation; (gi) proportion of extreme precipitation; (jl) maximum hourly precipitation for single rice region (left) , early rice region (middle) , late rice region (right) during 1961–2012. Maps were generated in R version 3.6.0 (
The trends of extreme precipitation indices were further detected during rice growing season over the period 1961–2012 (Fig. 3). For single rice, the indices exhibited significantly increasing trends over the entire growing season, with 2.4% per decade (p = 0.02) for frequency, 0.8% per decade (p < 0.001) for intensity, 2.3% per decade (p < 0.001) for the proportion, and 2.8% per decade (p < 0.001) for maximum hourly precipitation. Temporal trends of four indices for early rice growing season were similar to single rice, except for maximum hourly precipitation (0.9% per decade, p = 0.07). In contrast, the proportion of extreme precipitation showed a significant increment for late rice (2.9% per decade, p < 0.001), while other indices showed insignificant upward tendencies. Large tendency differences were found between the four growing periods. An increasing trend of four indices was found within periods 1 and 2 for single rice (Fig. 3). For early rice, no significant upwards tendencies were found, except the frequency in period 2 with a notable increase at rate of 5.1% per decade (p = 0.03; Fig. 3a,b,d). Trends of the proportion were shown with a significant increase in the latter three periods ranged from 2.6 to 4.1% per decade (p < 0.05; Fig. 3c). For late rice, all four indices showed upward tendencies during periods 1 and 2, of which the proportion of extreme precipitation showed a significant trend (2.6% to 3.1% per decade, p < 0.01).
Figure 3

Temporal trends of extreme precipitation indices by rice type and growth period in 1961–2012. (a) Frequency of extreme precipitation; (b) intensity of extreme precipitation; (c) proportion of extreme precipitation; (d) maximum hourly precipitation, with *p < 0.05 and **p < 0.01. The definition of growth period 1 is same as Fig. 1. Figures were generated in R version 3.6.0 (
The trends of extreme precipitation indices were spatially heterogeneous (Fig. 4). For single rice, about two thirds (65%) of stations showed an increasing frequency of extreme precipitation, 6.2% of which were statistically significant (from 4.8 to 18.5% per decade; Fig. 4a). For early rice, 80% of stations showed an increasing frequency, while 11.4% was significant (from 7.1 to 33.1% per decade; Fig. 4b). More than two thirds of stations showed a relatively low increasing trend of the intensity (range from 1.9 to 13.1% per decade; Fig. 4d–f). ~ 75% of stations were shown with increasing tendencies of the proportion in three rice types, 10.6–16.3% of which were with significant increase at a rate of 3.6–22.5% per decade that were equally distributed over paddy fields (Fig. 4g–i). Trend analysis indicated a stronger changes in four growing periods over the last 50 years, except for late rice during periods 3 and 4 (Supplementary Figs. S7–S10). In summary, increasing trends for rice growing season since 1961 were found in the most of stations for the proportion of extreme precipitation (70.6–80.1%, with 10.6–16.3% significant) and for maximum hourly precipitation (67.0–69.9%, with 7.5–8.7% significant), while mixed trends were found for the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation.
Figure 4

Patterns of the temporal trends of extreme precipitation indices in 1961–2012. (ac) Frequency of extreme precipitation; (df) intensity of extreme precipitation; (gi) proportion of extreme precipitation; (jl) maximum hourly precipitation for single rice region (left), early rice region (middle), late rice region (right). Red crosses indicated for insignificant negative trends, blue crosses indicated for insignificant positive trends, while dots indicated for significant trends (p < 0.05). Maps were generated in R version 3.6.0 (
Association between extreme precipitation and rice yield
A negative correlation between the frequency and single rice yield was found in the Northern China and Eastern China, while the correlation was positive in southwest and the North China Plain (Fig. 5a). Early rice yield was significantly and negatively correlated with the frequency of extreme precipitation (Fig. 5b). Negative correlations between frequency and rice yield were also found for late rice at coastal area (Fig. 5c). The relationship between the intensity of extreme precipitation and yield of single rice showed positive correlations in most provinces (Fig. 5d). Negative correlations were further found at coastal areas of early and late rice, while provinces in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river Basin, such as Hunan and Zhejiang, showed positive relationships (r = 0.33 to 0.52, p < 0.1) (Fig. 5e,f). The spatial pattern of correlations between the proportion of extreme precipitation and single rice yield was not notable (Fig. 5g). Proportion of extreme precipitation showed negative correlations with early and late rice yields at coastal area, but positive correlations in the inner regions (Fig. 5h,i). Similar spatial distributions were found for the correlation between maximum hourly precipitation and rice yield (Fig. 5j–l). Details of the patterns of the correlations in different growth periods could be found in Supplementary Tables S3–S5.
Figure 5

Correlation coefficient between rice yields and extreme precipitation indices in 1981–2012 at the provincial scale. (ac) Frequency of extreme precipitation of single rice (left) , early rice (middle), and late rice (right); (df) intensity of extreme precipitation; (gi) proportion of extreme precipitation; (jl) maximum hourly precipitation. Asterisks indicate the significance of each correlation. *p < 0.1 and **p < 0.05. Maps were generated in R version 3.6.0 (
We further implemented stepwise regression to identify the determinants of rice yield variability for three rice types across rice-growing provinces (Fig. 6). Climate factors explained 41% for early rice, 11% for late rice, but only 3% for single rice (Supplementary Table S6). Results highlighted that extreme precipitation were as important as accumulated precipitation and mean temperature on the inter-annual yield differences, regardless of rice types. For single rice, significantly positive effects were found for the maximum hourly precipitation in periods 1 and 4, the proportion in period 3 and the intensity of extreme precipitation in period 2 (Fig. 6a). For early rice, the frequency of extreme precipitation in period 3 has significantly negative effects on yield variability (r =  − 0.49, p < 0.001). The effects of maximum hourly precipitation in the former three periods were opposite in direction to the frequency (r = 0.23 to 0.36; Fig. 6b). For late rice, inter-annual variability of rice yield was negatively related to the intensity of extreme precipitation in period 3 (r =  − 0.48, p = 0.03) and to the proportion in period 2 (r =  − 0.25, p = 0.009). In addition, positive relationships were found for maximum hourly precipitation in period 3, the frequency in period 1, and the intensity in period 2 (Fig. 6c).
Figure 6

Regression coefficients (± S.E.) show the magnitude of the effect of each variable in a multiple regression. (a) Single rice (n = 713); (b) early rice (n = 279); (c) late rice (n = 279). Asterisks indicate the significance of each predictor. ***p < 0.001; **p < 0.01; *p < 0.05. P1 to P4 represent the four growth periods. Figures were generated in R version 3.6.0 (
Our analyses based on observations from 1,215 stations revealed that hourly extreme precipitation have significantly increased in 1961–2012 for single rice and early rice in China but not for late rice. This dataset owned higher spatial and temporal resolutions than previous studies. For instance, Zhang and Zhai31 examined hourly precipitation trends using the data from 480 stations from May to September in 1961–2000. This study found a positive trend of the frequency (2.5–7.5% per decade) in Northeast China and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river Basin, while not evident for the intensity. Li et al.29 analyzed the hourly precipitation data of 1,141 stations during 1982–2012, indicating a relatively low increment trend (< 1% per decade) of the frequency located in south China and Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, and even a decrease in Sichuan and northeast China. Such discrepancies indicated the effects of time period and available stations on the spatiotemporal patterns of hourly extreme precipitation. In addition, the analysis presented in this study helped describing the large variations in historical trend of extreme precipitation across rice producing regions of China.
This study is the first time to quantify the characteristics of extreme precipitation by rice growing periods. Results suggest that the rice growth are mainly exposed to extreme precipitation events at earlier stages. This is comparable to previous studies that presented the risks of extreme precipitation only at regional scale. For example, Xu et al.32 stated that over 60% of 52 stations in Jiangsu province showed increasing trends of the frequency and intensity of daily extreme precipitation during June–August of 1961–2012. Thus, our study based on the observations from 1,215 stations over the past five decades provides comprehensive information, which may be beneficial for farmers or policy makers to optimize their rice-cropping systems to adapt extreme precipitation.
The frequency and proportion of extreme precipitation were negatively correlated with historical yields of early or late rice, especially in southeast coastal area where were the major rice producing areas of China. Such negative correlations were also found in Hainan Island33, southeast China34 and India35. The findings have several policy implications for adapting extreme precipitation events. First, optimizing farm management measures (e.g. shallow-wet irrigation, reseeding and fixing) and investigating in the drainage facilities, including canals, ponds and pump equipment, can improve drainage efficiencies and farmer’s adaptive capacity36. Second, public services, such as providing disaster warning information and technical guidance, are benefit for farmers' prevention awareness and access to advanced technologies37. Further, breeding rice that carry a diversity of resistance genes to environmental stress seem to be fundamental but with great challenges for agricultural sustainability in China2.
However, there are still certain limitations within our analyses. First, the high-resolution (1 × 1 km) maps of rice paddy were helpful to filter meteorological stations close to the small paddy fields across China, but only reflected spatial distributions from 1990 to 2010. We then compared the meteorological stations selected by two additional union sets of rice paddy layers: one was from the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE 3.2.1)38 at 5-arc-min scale, the other one was from the high-resolution maps which were used in this study but resampled into a 5-arc-minute grid dataset. Supplementary Figure S11 indicate that ~ 20% of meteorological stations were not overlapped, mainly in southwest China and the North China Plain. This result implied that the assumption that the pattern remained unchanged before 1990 may introduce additional uncertainties39,40. Second, the number of meteorological stations is 40% less before 1980, which would distort the regionally averaged trend analyses41. Sensitivity analysis was then conducted to determine the consistency of regional trends using different group of stations. The regional trends of extreme precipitation indices were insensitive to the number of meteorological stations, except for the intensity of extreme precipitation that showed opposite trends between two different groups of station (294 v.s. 803 for single rice, 220 v.s. 412 for double rice, Supplementary Fig. S12). Third, the 95th percentile thresholds were defined using the records in 1981–2010, because of the maximum number of stations meeting the strict data availability requirements. We thus analysed the sensitivity of the 95th percentile thresholds to different base periods (1981–2010, 1976–2005, 1971–2000, 1971–2010, and 1961–2012). Fortunately, Supplementary Table S7 indicated a small differences (< 4%) in the 95th percentile thresholds between them. Last, the spatiotemporal pattern of extreme precipitation indices may be sensitive to the length of time periods. Additional analyses in Supplementary Figs. S13–S16 indicated an obvious difference in the temporal trend of extreme precipitation indices between the whole time period (1961–2012) and shorter periods (1990–2010 and 1980–2010). However, there are no obvious discrepancies in the mean values or spatial patterns.
In addition, our study only focused on the association of crop growth in response to extreme precipitation, but the underlying mechanisms remains elusive. This still limits our capabilities of using land surface models to simulate the response of crop phenology or morphology to extreme precipitation events42,43. At present, most of land surface models considered the precipitation as a factor to regulate soil water content44,45 and nutrient losses via runoff and leaching46, but neglected the physical and physiological effects of extreme precipitation on crop growth17,18,47,48. In addition, the models are unable to reflect the spatial and temporal variations of the response of crop growth to extreme precipitation. Therefore, the long-term goal is to uncover the mechanisms and quantify the risks of extreme precipitation on rice growth, which in turn strengthens the predictability of the models in response to extreme precipitation.
Four extreme precipitation indices were calculated not only in the entire rice-growing season but also for each growing period. The 95th percentile was selected as a threshold to represent extreme precipitation, which was recommended by the ETCCDI49. All hourly precipitation above 0.1 mm occurring throughout the base period (1981–2010) were sorted in ascending order at each station to determine the threshold50,51. The base period was chosen based on the rules of maximizing the number of stations meeting the strict data availability requirements52. Four extreme precipitation indices were used to characterize extreme hourly precipitation during rice growing season (Supplementary Table S1), including three percentile-based indices (the frequency, intensity and proportion of extreme hourly precipitation) and one absolute indices (maximum hourly precipitation, i.e., max 1 h). The frequency was defined as the fraction of the number of hours when hourly precipitation exceeded the 95th percentile threshold to the length of the growth period in hours. The intensity was calculated as the mean of extreme hourly precipitation. The proportion was defined as the ratio of the amount of extreme precipitation to total precipitation amount. Further details of these indices are shown in Supplementary Table S1.
Hourly precipitation dataset was obtained from the National Meteorological Information Center of the China Meteorological Administration ( Observations were collected from 2,420 nationally distributed meteorological stations during the period 1961–2012. Precipitation was automatically measured by either tipping-bucket or self-recording siphon rain gauge, with strict quality assurance including the climatological limit value test, the time consistency check, and the internal consistency check28,29. An entire year of observations would be removed from the dataset if there were more than 2% of hourly observations missing in that year. Two types of stations were also excluded from our analysis: (i) stations with the observation period less than 30 years, and (ii) stations with inconsecutive observations in more than 10% of the observation year. After that, missing values were still around 0.2% of the total population, which have little impact on our results.
The hourly precipitation dataset was further filtered only for the rice-growing season across China’s rice paddies. First, a gridded rice paddy map at the spatial resolution of 1 × 1 km was developed as the union set of land use layers derived from the Landsat during the period 1990–201053, where assumed the pattern remained unchanged before 1990. Second, the meteorological stations were selected if there were rice paddies located within a buffer zone within 20 km in radius. The final dataset contains the hourly precipitation observations from 1,215 stations (i.e., 813 for single rice and 412 for double rice; Supplementary Fig. S1). The selected stations were evenly distributed across China’s rice paddies that well represented the contrasting environmental conditions compared to the selections using larger or smaller buffer zones (i.e., the radius of 10 km, 30 km, and 50 km). Third, the hourly precipitation observations were extracted from the period from rice transplanting to harvesting stage. Phenological information for single and double rice were retrieved from the agro-meteorological field observation network54,55, including the period from transplanting to tillering (period 1), the period from the end of tillering to the end of flowering (period 2), the period from the end of flowering to doughty (period 3), and the period from maturity to harvesting (period 4) in each of 45 rice-cropping sub-regions (Supplementary Figs. S1, S2 and Supplementary Table S2). Recent studies suggest that the length of rice growing period hardly varied, i.e. on average 1.0, 0.2 and 2.0 day per decade increase during 1991–2012 for early, late and single rice, respectively54. Therefore, rice phenology was kept constant throughout all the observation periods in this study.
Statistical analysis
To determine the significance of extreme precipitation indices between rice types and rice growing periods, homogeneity tests were carried out. According to the results of Shapiro–Wilk test, extreme precipitation indices are not normally distributed. Therefore, the difference of extreme precipitation indices between single rice and double rice was tested for the entire rice season using nonparametric Mann–Whitney U test. Wilcoxon signed-rank test, which is suitable for paired sample, was used to test the differences between early rice and late rice for the entire rice season, and between four rice growing periods.
Temporal trends were examined for extreme precipitation indices for the 1,215 stations during each rice-growing period from 1961 to 2012, and for each rice type. Trend detection were carried out by Mann–Kendall nonparametric test (M–K test)7,56. A positive Z value indicates an increasing trend while a negative Z value indicates a decreasing trend. The statistical significance was assessed at the 5% level. In addition, Sen’s slope estimator was applied to quantify the trend of extreme precipitation indices during 1961–2012. The slope is the median among all combination of calculations. The M–K test was based on the assumption that the time series was independent since serial correlation could lead to unreliable statistical significance of trend57,58. Therefore, autocorrelation test for each extreme precipitation index at each station was performed before applying the M–K test. The lag-1 serial autocorrelation coefficients were not significant, suggesting that the time series were independent and the following trend analysis could be applied to the original values of time series.
We conducted the correlation analysis between rice yield and extreme precipitation during rice growing periods. Rice yield data were obtained at the provincial level during the period 1981–2012 from the National Bureau of Statistics ( Four extreme precipitation indices were determined as area-weighted average value when being aggregated from sites into provincial level. The corresponding area for each station was determined based on Thiessen polygon. Prior to correlation analysis, we used the first-order difference method to detrend both crop yields and extreme precipitation indices59. This method can avoid the effects due to non-climatic factors (e.g., technology and management improvements). Spearman rank correlation coefficients were then calculated by rice type and province.
We further conducted multiple linear regression models for each of three rice types to test whether rice yield variability depended on extreme precipitation indices across provinces and time periods. In addition to extreme precipitation, each regression model included growing-season accumulated precipitation, mean temperature and mean solar radiation that were considered as effective variables explaining crop yield variability in previous studies60,61,62. It should be noted that extreme precipitation indices by growth period were initially considered in regression models63. These three predictor variables were extracted from the China Meteorological Forcing Dataset (, but further aggregated as area-weighted average values at the provincial scale. For each regression model, we filtered the predictor variables to avoid collinearity between them using Variance Inflation Factors (VIFs) and minimizing the number of variables until all remaining variables fell within the predetermined threshold (i.e., VIF < 5). Because predictors included in the models were measured in different units and have various ranges of values, we standardized each of them, across all provinces and over the full time period, to have zero mean but its own unique variance. Such standardization performed before analyses, and enabled quantitative comparisons of the resulting model coefficients for the predictor variables. To avoid over-fitting, each regression model was then simplified using the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) values by the implementation of stepwise regression.
Data availability
All data used in figure creation are publicly available online at
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This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41977082; 41530528), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0800501), and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2019M650313). We acknowledge the data providers for hourly precipitation dataset from the National Meteorological Information Center of the China Meteorological Administration.
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Author notes
1.      These authors contributed equally: Yiwei Jian and Jin Fu.
1.      Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, Sino-France Institute of Earth Systems Science, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, 100871, People’s Republic of China
Yiwei Jian, Jin Fu, Bengang Li & Feng Zhou
F.Z. designed research; Y.W.J and J.F. performed research. Y.W.J., J.F. and Z.F. wrote the paper. B.G.L. provided the precipitation dataset. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to Feng Zhou.
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Jian, Y., Fu, J., Li, B. et al. Increased extreme hourly precipitation over China’s rice paddies from 1961 to 2012. Sci Rep 10, 10609 (2020).

Bua rice farmers to benefit from new harvester

Elenoa TuragaiviuEditor | @ElenoaFBCNews

Over 100 rice farmers in Bua are expected to benefit from a new $60,000 combined rice harvester handed over by the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today. Description:
The harvester was donated by the Chinese government and is expected to address issues faced by the rice farmers.
Speaking at the handing over this afternoon, Bainimarama says the harvester will address labour issues faced by the rice farmers and significantly cut down harvesting time.
He says government will continue to assist rice farmers in every step of their farming from the provision of seeds, to planting, harvesting and milling.
The Prime Minister told the farmers, obtaining the rice harvester will make them a modern rice farming community.
Vanua Levu Rice Farmers Association Secretary Suresh Chand says after decades of manual rice harvesting, this is the first time that rice farmers in Bua will be using a machine to harvest their rice.
He says the rice harvester can harvest in two hours a field of rice that would normally take two weeks to harvest manually.

Economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis could get an important boost right from

Cambodia’s Food Crisis In A Pandemic
Athira Nortajuddin
30 June 2020
People buy fruit at an early morning produce market in Phnom Penh on 12 June, 2020. (AFP Photo)
The coronavirus crisis has severely affected livelihoods, local industries and the economy in general. It has also disrupted world trade, supply chains and also the production of food and agricultural products and commodities. According to Samarendu Mohanty, Asia Regional Director at the International Potato Center, the production of wheat and rice in Asia would be heavily impacted if lockdowns to curb the pandemic and virus restrictions continue to be enforced.  
“If the situation lets up by the end of the month, we will still be okay to get in our normal planting. But the monsoon season where the most rice is normally produced is from mid-May to early July, so if we do not get the rice planted by then, we’ll see ripple effects start,” Mohanty explained to the media last April.
Some of the likely effects would include food supply shortages, leading to a full-blown food crisis.
OneWorld Foundation India, an organisation that works in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for social and sustainable development, recently released a publication which discusses the possibility of a food crisis in Cambodia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Description: Global food security indexSource: Various
The article stated that an estimated 70 percent of Cambodia’s farmers engage in subsistence agriculture by primarily taking loans and repaying them after the harvest season. 
The agriculture sector in Cambodia is reported to be responsible for the generation of more than 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs around 30 percent of the population. Over the past 30 years, the ASEAN member state has grown its economy by 7.5 percent on average, reducing the poverty rate from around 50 percent to 10 percent of the population. But like other countries around the world, the pandemic is threatening not only the health of its citizens but also Cambodia’s economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a rise in unemployment and loss of sources of income, especially for informal workers. This makes it harder for them to repay their loans and many are buried in great debt.
“After the Mekong River crisis, around 45,000 hectares of rice farms were damaged creating a debt crisis for poor farmers. Consumers on the other side of the spectrum have been hit hard by a lack of food supplies, rise in prices of staple foods and a halt in income due to COVID-19,” noted the organisation.
Other than that, the presence of Chinese dams and the effects of climate change along the Mekong basin have caused drought-like conditions leading to poverty and food insecurity in the country. This has impacted both, farmers growing rice on their fields and also fishermen, who have reported a drop in fish volume by as much as 60 to 70 percent.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has stated that 79 percent of the Cambodian population lives in rural areas and they are on the “front-line of a changing climate”. Floods and droughts frequently threaten the food system and will only increase in frequency and intensify in the future. 
Cambodia will face a two-pronged attack on its food security, according to OneWorld Foundation India. The first one is a slowdown in its supply-side activities as COVID-19 preventive measures have subsequently caused a shortage of labour for the agriculture sector. Coupled with the drought problem in the region, the situation seems dire. This would inherently affect income equalities and food supply chains for the larger public. 
Secondly, it was reported that prices of staple foods in Cambodia have increased recently. As many have lost their jobs due to the economic shocks of the pandemic – this will impact the demand of food items such as rice and fish as buyers are less able to afford them.
“As countries strive to be more self-sufficient and reduce import-dependency by promoting local supply chains, the Mekong River Basin could be heading towards post-COVID-19 food insecurity.”
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The International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) that works to address poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries, said that together with the government of Cambodia, it is working to expand prospects for smallholder farmers through “enhanced production support and through focusing on the appropriate value chains and commodities to ensure adequate food production and dietary diversity.”
The Agricultural Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension (ASPIRE) project, led by Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), is reported to be focusing on maintaining the production of green leafy vegetables and chicken eggs as key components of the local diet. Whereas the Ministry of Commerce (MOC)-led Accelerating Inclusive Markets for Smallholders (AIMS) project is reorienting some of its resources to provide on-farm irrigation assistance to farmers to support their production of commodities.
Restrictions on rice exports eased in Myanmar as demand rises
AUNG LOON 30 JUN 2020Description: Farmers seen working at the field in Kyee Tan village, Twan Tay township, Yangon on June 29. Photo: Mar Naw/The Myanmar Times

Farmers seen working at the field in Kyee Tan village, Twan Tay township, Yangon on June 29. Photo: Mar Naw/The Myanmar Times
The authorities have extended the validity period of rice export licenses to 60 days from July to September now that the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 appears to be declining, said U Nay Lin Zin, joint secretary of the Myanmar Rice Federation
The expiry period of the licenses had been slashed by half to 45 days since March, when the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Myanmar, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation.

"The term of the licenses was for 90 days before COVID-19. We reduced this to 45 days during COVID-19. Now, the infection rate has declined and so we have raised it to 60 days. We will adjust it to 90 later," said U Nay Lin Zin.
He added that export quota restrictions have also been removed. "In the past, one company had to export 300 tonnes or 500 tonnes of rice to meet the quota. Now, we have removed the quota so traders can export as much as they want. But, there is policy that they must contribute rice to the country's reserves," he said.
The country expects to export up to 150,000 tonnes of rice per month in July and August and around 100,000 tonnes in September, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation.

Between October 1, 2019 to June 12, the country exported more than 2 million tonnes of rice and broken rice, generating US$600 million in revenues.
More than 13 percent of the exports were conducted at the border with China while the remaining crops were shipped overseas to countries like Malaysia, Belgium and Senegal.
More recently, Myanmar also inked a bilateral agreement to ship 70,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation.
Demand from Thailand has also risen. This month, Thai merchants offered to purchase broken rice powder from Myanmar after an agreement to exempt the country from taxes was made, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
"We received approval to export powdered rice instead of broken rice. Thailand offered to buy," U Khin Maung Lwin, assistant secretary of the MOC, told The Myanmar Times.
About 100 tonnes of rice powder is being exported on an average every two days and grinding is done in the factories in Myawady industrial zone, he said, adding the authorities will support more construction of grinding factories in that region.
"Thailand levies a 52pc tax on broken rice but there are no taxes in powder form. They want to buy as much as we can supply," U Aung Myint Oo, rice merchant and director at Klohtoo Wah Co Ltd. - Translated
FCI currently has 266.29 LMT rice and 550.31 LMT wheat: Report

Tuesday, 30 June, 2020, 14 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Top of Form
Total food grain stock
As per the Food Corporation of India report dated June 28, 2020, FCI currently has 266.29 LMT rice and 550.31 LMT wheat. Hence, a total of 816.60 LMT food grain stock is available (excluding the ongoing purchase of wheat and paddy, which have not yet reached the godown). About 55 LMT food grains is required for a month under NFSA and other welfare schemes.

Since the lockdown, about 138.43 LMT food grains have been lifted and transported through 4,944 rail rakes. Apart from the rail route, transportation was also done through roads and waterways. A total of 277.73 LMT has been transported. 21,724 MT grains was transported through 14 ships. Total 13.47 LMT food grains have been transported to the North-Eastern states.

Food grain distribution to migrant labourers: (Atmanirbhar Bharat Package)
Under Atmanirbhar Bharat package, Government of India has decided that 8 LMT food grains will be provided to about 8 crore migrant labourers, stranded and needy families, who are not covered under NFSA or State scheme PDS cards. 5 Kg of food grain per person is being distributed free of cost for the months of May and June to all migrants. The states and UTs have lifted 6.39 LMT of food grains. States and UTs have distributed 99,207 MT of food grains to total 209.96 lakh (in the May 120.08 lakh and in June 89.88 lakh) beneficiaries.

The Government of India also approved 39,000 MT pulses for 1.96 crore migrant families. Some 8 crore migrant labourers, stranded and needy families, who are not covered under NFSA or State scheme PDS cards will be given 1 kg of gram/dal per family for the month of May and June for free. This allocation of gram/dal is being done according to the need of the states. Around 33,968MT gram/dal have been dispatched to the states and UTs. A total 31,868 MT gram has been lifted by various States and UTs.4,702 MT gram has been distributed by the states and UTs. The Government of India is bearing 100% financial burden of approximately Rs. 3,109 crores for food grain and Rs 280 crores for gram under this scheme.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana
Food grain (Rice/Wheat)
Under the PMGKAY, for the 3 months April-June a total of 104.3 LMT rice and 15.2 LMT wheat is required of which 101.02 LMT rice and 15.00 LMT wheat have been lifted by various states and UTs. A total of 116.02 LMT food grains has been lifted. In the month of April 2020, 37.02 LMT (93 %) food grains have been distributed to 74.05 crore beneficiaries, in May 2020, total 36.49 LMT (91%) food grains distributed to 72.99 crore beneficiaries and in the month of June 2020, 28.41 LMT (71%) food grains have been distributed to 56.81 crore beneficiaries. The Government of India is bearing 100% financial burden of approximately Rs 46,000 crore under this scheme. Wheat has been allocated to 6 states/UTs, - Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Delhi and Gujarat and rice has been provided to the remaining states/UTs.

As regards pulses, the total requirement for the three months is 5.87 LMT. The Government of India is bearing 100% financial burden of approximately Rs 5,000 crore under this scheme. So far, 5.79 LMT pulses have been dispatched to states/UTs and 5.58 LMT have reached the states/UTs, while 4.40 LMT pulses has been distributed. A total of 08.76 LMT pulses (Toor-3.77 LMT, Moong-1.14 LMT, Urad-2.28 LMT, Chana-1.30 LMT andMasur-0.27 LMT ) is available in the stock as on June 18, 2020.

Food Grain Procurement
As on June 28, 2020, total 388.34 LMT wheat (RMS 2020-21) and 745.66 LMT rice (KMS 2019-20) were procured.

Open Market Sales Scheme (OMSS)
Under the OMSS, the rates of Rice is fixed at Rs 22/kg and Wheat at Rs 21/kg. FCI has sold 5.71 LMT wheat and 10.07 LMT rice through OMSS during the lockdown period.

One Nation One Ration Card
As on June 1, 2020, the One Nation One Card scheme is enabled in 20 states/UTs, namely – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Daman & Diu (Dadra and Nagar Haveli), Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha,  Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Tripura. By March 31, 2021, all remaining states will be added to One Nation One Ration Card scheme and the scheme will be operational all over India. The details and status of the scheme in remaining states/UTs under One Nation One Ration Card is as follows.

Kharif sowing is promising, but it’s too early to be upbeat on output

Rajalakshmi Nirmal  BL Research Bureau | Updated on June 30, 2020  Published on June 30, 2020
Agricultural workers transplant paddy in a field, marking the beginning of kharif, at Gunadala near Vijayawada. Photo: V Raju

Only 30% of kharif area covered so far; locust attack, heavy end-monsoon showers pose a risk in some pockets

With the sowing data released by the Ministry of Agriculture last week, which showed a doubling of the area sown, the market appears to be anticipating a bumper crop. But, it is too early to say how the season will fare.
While there is an increase of 220 per cent in the area under pulses compared to last year, it accounts for only 16 per cent of the normal area (as recorded in the past five years) under pulses in the kharif season. Similarly, in the case of oilseeds, too, while there is a whopping 500 per cent jump in area sown, of the normal area for the full season, only 46 per cent has been covered. In rice, while the area sown is up 35 per cent over the same period last year, it accounts for only 10 per cent of the normal area in kharif.
Until at least a third of the area is covered, one can’t guess the quantum of output. The reason why the area sown is up year-on-year is that last year, the monsoon had a late start and was deficient during June — to the extent of 30 per cent of LPA (Long Period Average).
“The sowing has been good this kharif season because reservoirs were full following last year’s rains; also, the onset of the monsoon was on time and it has been raining regularly since…so no encumbrances so far in sowing,” said Jatin Singh, founder and MD, Skymet Weather Services.

End-season coverage

BusinessLine analysis shows that even when the area sown is higher by mid-season in normal monsoon years, the total area under crops towards the end of the season is not necessarily higher over the previous year or the average of the last five years.
A case in point is the year 2016-17. The year had normal monsoon rains of 97 per cent of LPA. By mid-July, about 66 per cent of the normal area under pulses in kharif was covered. Oilseeds, cotton and coarse cereals, too, saw good area covered by mid-July. However, by the end of September, the total area sown under different crops was higher by only 2-3 per cent, y-o-y. This is despite 2015-16 being a deficient monsoon year. Pulses were an exception (area increase by 29 per cent), given that a large number of farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan took to them. The output in 2016-17 kharif was, in fact, higher than the percentage increase in sown area, implying improvement in yield.
That said, one can’t be sure if the current kharif season will end with higher output like 2016-17 season.
“As things stand now, I don’t see any spoilers in the monsoon; it could end up anywhere between normal and above normal this year,” said Skymet’s Singh. This is good news, but, if there is a locust/pest attack or heavy showers during the end of the monsoon, it may impact the yield and result in lower output.
Locust attack
Swarms of locusts have been spotted in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, risking standing crops including sugarcane. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has asked India to be on a high alert over the next four weeks.
The situation update released by the FAO on June 27 noted that swarms and adult groups were present in Rajasthan and infestations were also spotted in parts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. At least one small group of immature adults moved north in Utter Pradesh on June 27 during strong winds, reaching the northern districts of Kushingar and Sidharth Nagar, said the report.

Government neglects rice farmers who lost their farms to bush fires - PFAG

30 June 2020
The Head of Programs and Advocacy for the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Charles Nyaaba, has said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has neglected the rice farmers who lost their farms to bush fires.
He said although the Ministry assured that they were going to be supported, that support has not come, a situation that is having a negative impact on the lives of the farmers.

“Most rice farms were burnt, I personally lost 55 acres of rice fields. We had several engagements with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and they agreed to compensate the farmers who lost our rice farms so that we will be able to farm this year,’ he said.

He further appealed to the government to assist them secure credit facilities from the banks to enable them carry out their activities in the midst of the COVID-19.

He said the banks are refusing to listen to them whenever they go for loans.

“It will be useful if government could get us inputs like fertilizer or seeds to produce and payback. They could also connect us to the banks for credit at reasonable interest rates.” he said.

“We are pleading with them to pay heed to our pleas. Usually, they don’t listen to our calls. They tell us the banks will support us. But when we go to the banks, they will also not listen to us. We need government to direct the banks to ensure full compliance from them,” he told Citi FM.

Stakeholders Reaffirm Commitment To End Rice Importation


Various stakeholders in the rice value chain have met in Accra to reaffirm their commitment to end rice importation by 2023.

The meeting, organised by the John Ageykum Kufuor (JAK) Foundation brought together the Ghana Rice Inter-professional Body (GRIB), Ghana Commodity Exchange and the Standards Authority to discuss strategies on how to achieve the set target to guard against the practice and also to ensure rice is a sustainable venture in the country.
It also brought on board private sector groups who will be working with Ghanaian farmers by providing them with harvesters, and other logistic services.

The meeting was also to see how to support the advocacy, production, processing and marketing issues in the rice value chain.

Further, it was to proffer solutions to how the rice value chain can be  developed in the various regions for the country to attain the sustainability in rice production and also
improve the quality of rice grown in Ghana.

Speaking on the sidelines with journalists after the opening session, President of GRIB, Nana Ayeh Adjei II, disclosed that GRIB is expecting, before the end of the year, a mechanization provider company coming in to mop up the paddy rice into the warehouse to ease the issue of late harvesting.

He said the meeting is going to provide plans to how all farmers in the regions will plan to grow quality rice and get good market outlets and prices for the farmer.

Touching on Covid-19, he said it has not had any major impact in the value chain apart from the fact that it has slowed in the retail.

Consumption of local rice, he also said has gone up and want to see a higher rate.

Nana Ama Oppong Duah,  Policy Advisor of the John A Kufuor Foundation says the engagement was part of the AGRA and Kufuor Foundation project.

The project is to support advocacy, production, processing and marketing in the value chain, she said.

At the beginning of the year, the stakeholders went around the country twice to mobilize farmers at the regional level, according to her.

Due to coronavirus, the process was stopped but it’s being resumed with the help of Zoom.
Source: Daily Guide

Where are the new young farmers? The picture can be troubling

By AGDAILY Reporters Published: June 29, 2020
AGDAILY Reporters Published: June 29, 2020
For obvious reasons, the most physically demanding jobs — roofers, pile drivers, fishermen, lumberjacks, take your pick of many others — are primarily filled by people no older than 40. But farming, a mixture of hard work and long hours, even as technology automates some tasks, is a dramatic outlier. The extreme demographic skew towards older farmers is a global phenomenon, decades in the making. And in its wake is a worsening crisis reflected by one question: where will the talent come from to manage the fields in the future?
The numbers paint a troubling picture. According to global agricultural experts, the average age of farmers globally is about 60, even in regions like Africa and the Philippines where the median age of the population is just over 20. And this trend is not new. In the U.S., the average age of farm operators was 50 in 1978, 57 in 2007 and 59 in 2017 when the USDA conducted its last census.

Some of the blame for this trend can be laid on the perception that agriculture careers and rural life may not give young people opportunities like the city. And in many cases, this perception comes from elders who encourage their children to explore the possibilities urban life may bring.
“I have yet to have a rice farmer tell me that they want their children to grow up to be rice farmers,” said Robert Ziegler, former director general of the International Rice Institute, at a World Economic Forum meeting.
And as urbanization explodes — nearly 70 percent of people will live in cities by 2050 — the notion that agricultural activities can be fulfilling has waned, along with basic common sense about where our food comes from. (One UK farm expert tells a story of a British school teacher on a field trip to a farm. The teacher asked the farmer not to milk the cows because the students would be terrified by the blood from killing the animal).
Economics are also a deterrent for young people. The financial barriers to entry for owning or running a farm, particularly in developed regions, have risen significantly. As agricultural technology and input gains advanced rapidly throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century — from tractors and tillers to drones, sensors, and seed genetics — yields improved, increasing the dollar returns from a single field. For instance, U.S. corn yields increased from fewer than 60 bushels per acre in 1960 to about 164 bpa in 2016. The value of farmland has also skyrocketed. Taking a recent snapshot, the Global Farmland Index of land prices in 15 global agricultural markets grew by an average annualized rate of 14.8 percent between 2002 and 2016. Taking a longer view, in 1900 the average value of a hectare of farmland in the U.S. was about $1,300, adjusted for inflation. By 2018, that figure had jumped to $10,205.

The combination of expensive mechanized, high-tech equipment and the cost of agricultural land has driven initial startup costs for new farmers to prohibitive levels. It has also greatly extended the time it takes for a return on investment. According to a survey from the National Young Farmers Coalition of more than 3,500 new young farmers in the US, finding and affording productive acreage was the primary impediment in the way of an agriculture career. “We have a lot of older farmers who are over-capitalized and looking to retire and a lot of younger farmers under-capitalized with no land,” Eric Skokan, co-owner of Boulder County (Colorado) Black Cat Farm, told a local newspaper.
To help overcome this impediment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a number of loan programs that, in part, are geared to new farmers, seeking to make farming demographics younger and more diverse. In addition, the European Union has a series of agricultural support campaigns earmarked for youth. Localities in the US are also addressing this issue. Both Colorado and Minnesota have recently passed first-in-the-U.S. laws that provide a tax deduction for farmers that sell or rent their land or other agricultural assets to new farmers.
Mindful of the impact that this demographic dilemma could have on global food supplies in the future, policymakers and NGOs are taking steps to alleviate it. In Africa, organizations like Youth Empowerment in Sustainable Agriculture, Young Professionals for Agricultural Development and Ayihalo are training thousands of potential young farmers in modern planting, crop health, and financing methods for managing a farm. They also serve as youth in agriculture career advocacy programs. Similar efforts in the US and UK include the National Young Farmers Coalition and the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, respectively.
Perhaps the best sign that these skewed farming demographics may improve to some small degree over time, is the enthusiasm of the relatively small group of younger people willing to give agriculture a chance. Andrew Barsness, who runs a farm in Hoffman, Minnesota, wrote a blog post on the National Young Farmers Coalition site. In it, he described taking over his grandfather’s 280-acre grain farm as an unexpected turn in his life. “Before the spring of 2011, the idea of becoming a farmer was completely foreign to me,” Barsness said. “Now I know that there is nothing that I would rather do for a living. Hardships are inherent in farming. For me however, the freedom, variety, and entrepreneurship that farming offers make it as rewarding as it is addictive.”
Still, comments like those notwithstanding, it’s impossible to say whether large groups of young people will ever be convinced that farming is a trade worth considering. But after a recent survey found that two-thirds of US agricultural acreage will need a new farmer over the next 50 years, it seems clear the situation will be untenable if young people don’t.

Cuba’s Rice Hunt 

By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Everybody here knows that rice is the mainstay in the Cuban people’s diets. So much so, that there is a saying that goes: he won’t eat anymore rice, to refer to the death of an unpleasant animal.
Well, what’s happening with rice in Cuba today reminds me of that dark time in the 1990s that was euphemistically known as the “Special Period in Times of Peace.”
Markets are empty and many farmers normally only plant enough for their own consumption. You can’t find this precious grain pretty much anywhere. If by some luck, you do find somebody willing to sell it to you, after traveling half of the world to find it, your pocket will need to be ready to take a big hit, because you can be charged 20 CUP (0.80 USD) or more per pound, a little more or less than most Cubans daily earnings.
Many people blame the global economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic for this situation, which has caused serious problems for rice imports. However, these shortages existed some months before the new Coronavirus stepped foot in our country, which makes me think it was because of the Cuban government’s lack of financial liquidity. The reality is that things have now gotten worse, and the end doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight.
In April, Cuba’s official press published an announcement that Vietnam was donating 5000 tons of rice. According to the prime minister of this Asian country, this gift is to “alleviate the severity of the blockade’s sanctions and to tackle problems that the new Coronavirus poses.”
Regardless of this gesture, we know that this amount isn’t even enough to lighten our current situation, much less help us fix the problem. It only serves to highlight chronic shortages, not only of rice, but of any food product, as the manifestation of an economic crisis that our country has been suffering for decades.
What is the government’s explanation for this tough situation? Let’s take a look, shall we.
An article recently published Granma, the Communist Party daily, with the headline “Food production is a matter of national security” deals with the subject of rice production, as well as of other foods.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the causes of the current shortage are problems with farm supplies, which led to harvests falling short of targets, some 22,000 hectares, in the winter season, and that the spring planting of 4,600 hectares was late..
In order to give a glimpse of hope, he argued that meetings had been held with national government rice companies, advising that they meet with rice farmers. “People want to produce rice, we have a rice program, we have land, water in some places. Cuba needs to produce rice,” he said.
In another article published by the official Cubadebate website, under the headline “Can Cuba produce all of the rice it needs?”, this minister deduced that it can, saying that we can produce the 700,000 tons the country needs per year, thereby eliminating imports of this much-needed staple.
Going beyond government explanations and unfulfilled promises, the reality is that we have been suffering widespread shortages for decades, and not just of food. However, in this regard, it is utterly unacceptable that citizens are unable to find enough to eat in a country with water resources and vast fertile lands. The real cause of so much hardship lies in an economic model, which has only proven its incompetence, without a shadow of a doubt.

Havana Times Needs Your Help To Continue Publishing in 2020


Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

Pandemic Pesticide Safety Training Guidance Released  

WASHINGTON, DC -- The COVID-19 pandemic is making just about every aspect of life that much more difficult and fulfilling Pesticide Safety Training requirements under these conditions is not different. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released welcome guidance on existing flexibilities in the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) available to employers of agriculture workers, or those who assist in the growing or harvesting of plants, and pesticide handlers, or those who mix, clean, or assist with the application of pesticides.

The Agricultural WPS requires employers to certify that their employees have obtained pesticide safety training within the last 12 months before allowing them to work in areas where pesticides are being used. This ensures that agricultural workers and pesticide handlers are up to date on the latest safety training regarding pesticides.

The EPA continues to encourage in-person pesticide safety training if workplace protections to maintain a healthy work environment can be implemented. Alternative options to traditional training include conducting training outside or conducting training in smaller groups. However, amid COVID-19, the EPA has recognized that it may not be feasible to have this training face-to-face, so the guidance outlines that training may be conducted virtually. Employers are still responsible for ensuring that all requirements of the WPS are met regardless of how the training is conducted. To certify all standards are met, employers must document completion of training under a qualified trainer. This is as simple as providing a document to employees with the employer and trainer's name, the trainer's certification, date of the training and materials presented.

"This is welcomed and timely guidance for those of us faced with obstacles due to the coronavirus pandemic," said David Petter, an Arkansas rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety Committee. "These flexibilities will help farmers, millers, and other employers comply with Worker Protection Standards so we can continue to focus on producing a safe and nutritious product."

For more information about this guidance, click here.

USA Rice Daily

Funding for rice farm mechanization

 THE decision to set aside the move to import 300,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam under a government-to-government scheme will save some P8.5 billion that can now be used for more urgent needs of the nation.
The Philippines had planned to buy the 300,000 tons of rice as a reserve in case the country incurs a shortage of the Filipino people’s staple food. It did not want to go through the difficult experience of 2018 when market prices hit record heights – an inflation rate of 6.7 percent – that was stopped only when Congress enacted the Rice Tariffication Law that ended all quantitative restrictions on rice imports. With cheap rice available at a low price, inflation quickly dropped in succeeding months; by June, 2019, it was down to 2.7 percent.
With the decision to cancel this year’s planned importation, Secretary of Agriculture William Dar said the government will have P8.5 billion that can be used instead to support the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Tariffication Law. The RCEF calls for a mechanization program to help farmers acquire production and harvest machinery and equipment, promote the development and use of certified seed varieties, expanded credit assistance, and enhanced extension services.
There is now, however, a problem over government budgeting because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Philippine budget deficit soared in May as tax revenues fell and government spending rose. The budget deficit in May reached P202.1 billion, where there had been a P2.6-billion surplus in May of the previous year, 2019.
Government expenditures in May reached P353.6 billion –up 12 percent from P314.7billion in May of the previous year. These included releases under the law on Bayanihan to Heal as One, including cash grants to over 3 million employees of small enterprises affected by the government’s quarantine measures. Primary government spending also jumped to P335.3 billion from P295 billion in the previous year. At the same time, government income fell by 52 percent in May, due to the closure or suspension of many business operations.
Thus, Secretary Dar may not get his wish that the P8.5 billion saved in the decision to scrap this year’s rice importation from Vietnam be used instead to push rice farm modernization. There simply are so many emergency expenses arising from the coronavirus pandemic that that must be funded.
But this should not detract from the fact that the Philippine rice industry needs to rise to higher levels of development as it occupies a central role in the Philippine economy. Whatever happens in the country, Filipinos simply need to have their rice.
We have the needed resources – the land, water, high-yielding varieties developed by our own scientists. Studies have shown that the principal need of our rice industry is increased mechanization – tractors and harvesters. That is why in the Rice Competitiveness and Enhancement Fund, 50 percent of its proposed P10-billion annual appropriation is to be for farm machinery and equipment. The balance is 30 percent for rice seed development and propagation, 10 percent for expanded credit assistance, and 10 percent for extension services.
When this coronavirus emergency is over, hopefully within a year, our officials should make an all-out effort to fund the RCEF, especially its mechanization program, so we can become sufficient in rice, our nation’s staple food.

Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Fabulous Seafood Curry

By Gordon Wright• 30 June 2020
(Photo: Sean Calitz)

A good curry made from scratch is a lot less hassle than you think. One of the major benefits is that you get such a good range of flavours and you can also control precisely how hot you would like it.

One of the nice things about a seafood curry is that it is very quick to prepare; just be sure to use nice fresh seafood and don’t overcook it. I like to put in a bunch of different seafood but this works well with even just a bit of nice fresh fish. 
The tamarind is very important in this recipe, as is the fact that you must use firm white fish. Oily and game fish do not work as well and tend to fall apart too much.
Serves 4-6
4 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely crushed
+-30 fresh curry leaves
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 x 400g can peeled chopped tomatoes
250ml tepid water mixed with 1 heaped tsp tamarind paste (can substitute this with equal parts lime juice + brown sugar mixed – about  50ml)
100ml cream
2 green chillies, each sliced lengthways into 6 pieces, with seeds
1 tsp salt
500g firm white fish / prawns etc (whatever seafood you prefer)
Boiled basmati rice, to serve


1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and fry for 30 seconds, then stir in the onion and garlic and fry gently for about 5 minutes, or until softened and lightly golden brown.

2. Add the curry leaves, chilli powder, coriander and turmeric and fry for two minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, tamarind liquid, green chillies and salt and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until rich and reduced. Add the fish, cook for a further 5-10 minutes or until fish is cooked, stir in the cream slowly and serve with basmati rice. DM/TGIFood

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First published in Gordon Wright’s book Karoo Food (Penguin/Random House)

Scientists develop novel predictable multi-nucleotide deletion systems in plants

Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters
Description: IMAGE

IMAGE: (a). Schematic representation of the AFID system. (b). Structures of AFIDs 1-3 and eAFID-3. (c). The proportions of predictable deletions generated by Cas9 and AFID-3. (d). Comparison of predictable deletion... view more 
Credit: IGDB
Many small regulatory elements, including miRNAs, miRNA binding sites, and cis-acting elements, comprise only 5~24 nucleotides and play important roles in regulating gene expression, transcription and translation, and protein structure, and thus are promising targets for gene function studies and crop improvement.
The CRISPR-Cas9 system has been widely applied in genome engineering. In this system, a sgRNA-guided Cas9 nuclease generates chromosomal double-strand breaks (DSBs), which are mainly repaired by nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), resulting in frequent short insertions and deletions (indels) of 1~3 bp. However, the heterogeneity of these small indels makes it technically challenging to disrupt these regulatory DNAs. Thus, the development of a precise, predictable multi-nucleotide deletion system is of great significance to gene function analysis and application of these regulatory DNAs.
A research team led by Prof. GAO Caixia from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has been focusing on developing novel technologies to achieve efficient and specific genome engineering. Based on the cytidine deamination and base excision repair (BER) mechanism, the researchers developed a series of APOBEC-Cas9 fusion-induced deletion systems (AFIDs) that combine Cas9 with human APOBEC3A (A3A), uracil DNA-glucosidase (UDG) and AP lyase, and successfully induced novel precise, predictable multi-nucleotide deletions in rice and wheat genomes.
"AFID-3 produced a variety of predictable deletions extending from the 5?-deaminated Cs to the Cas9 cleavage sites, with the average predicted proportions over 30%," said Prof. GAO.
The researchers further screened the deamination activity of different cytosine deaminases in rice protoplasts, and found that the truncated APOBEC3B (A3Bctd) displayed not only a higher base-editing efficiency but also a narrower window than other deaminases.
They therefore replaced A3A in AFID-3 with A3Bctd, generating eAFID-3. The latter produces more uniform deletions from the preferred TC motifs to double-strand breaks, 1.52-fold higher than AFID-3.
Moreover, the researchers used the AFID system to target the effector-binding element of OsSWEET14 in rice, and found that the predictable deletion mutants conferred enhanced resistance to rice bacterial blight.
AFID systems are superior to other current tools for generating predictable multi-nucleotide targeted deletions within the protospacer, and thus promise to provide robust deletion tools for basic research and genetic improvement.
The team's scientific paper, entitled "Precise, predictable multi-nucleotide deletions in rice and wheat using APOBEC-Cas9," was published in Nature Biotechnology.
This research was supported by grants from the Strategic Priority Research Program of CAS, the National Transgenic Science and Technology Program and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

DTN's Washington Insider
Here's a quick monitor of Washington farm and trade policy issues from DTN's well-placed observer.
Ernst Holding Up EPA Nominee
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she will block President Donald Trump's nomination of Doug Benevento to be EPA's Deputy Administrator from advancing until the agency reveals how it plans to handle the dozens of new requests from refineries for exemptions from their biofuel requirements.
“Until EPA tells us exactly what they plan to do with the 'gap year' waivers, Mr. Benevento does not have my vote,” Ernst said in a statement. “Iowa's hardworking ethanol and biodiesel producers are sick of being yanked around by Andrew Wheeler and the EPA. Our producers need certainty; until we get that, no EPA nominee is getting my vote.”
Benevento is currently EPA associate deputy administrator and was nominated in February to take the number two post at the agency.
Holds are not new in the world of Congress, and EPA nominations have been a target previously, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, previously holding up an EPA nomination over biofuel policy.
EPA's proposed 2021 biofuel and 2022 biodiesel levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been under review at the at the Office of Management Budget (OMB) and is normally issued in the late-June/early July timeframe.
USA Rice Daily

US Rice Industry Calls For End To Duty-Free Treatment Of Rice Under GSP
The U.S. rice industry is calling on the Trump administration to eliminate duty-free treatment for all rice imports under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The USA Rice Federation filed a petition in March asking for the action.

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But the U.S. Trade Representative's office, in a set of questions to the rice group and countries that would be affected by the action, noted the U.S. rice industry was still a “significant rice exporter,” with foreign shipments of $1.9 billion last year.
USTR is asking, “Could you please advise whether increased rice imports have harmed U.S. rice production or exports, and if so, how specifically?” Further, they also sought an explanation of the U.S. parboiling industry, its employment levels and locations, and the “degree to which it might be injured by imports.”
Washington Insider: Following the US, China Feud
Bloomberg is reporting this week that the U.S.-China feud is “getting nasty with red tape as a stealth weapon.” The article says the countries are “moving beyond trade threats to exchanging regulatory punches that threaten a wide range of industries including technology, energy and air travel.”
The two have blacklisted each other's companies, barred flights and expelled journalists -- to the point that the unfolding skirmish is starting to make companies nervous that the trading landscape could shift out from under them. “There are many industries where U.S. companies have made long-term bets on China's future,” said Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's head of international affairs. Now, they're “recognizing the risk.”
China will look to avoid measures that could backfire, said Shi Yinhong, an adviser to the nation's cabinet and a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. Any sanctions on U.S. companies would be a “last resort” because China “is in desperate need of foreign investment from rich countries for both economic and political reasons.”
Still, pressure is only expected to intensify ahead of the U.S. elections in November, as President Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden joust over who will take a tougher line on China, Bloomberg said.
Trump has blamed China for covering up the coronavirus pandemic and accused Beijing of “illicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets.” Biden, likewise, has described President Xi Jinping as a thug, labeled mass detention of Uighur Muslims as unconscionable and accused China of predatory trade practices.
And, on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats have found rare unity in their opposition to China, with lawmakers eager to take action against Beijing for its handling of COVID-19, forced technology transfers, human rights abuses and its tightening grip on Hong Kong.
China has repeatedly rejected U.S. accusations over its handling of the pandemic, Uighurs, Hong Kong and trade. China also has fired back at the Trump administration for undermining global cooperation and seeking to start a “new cold war.” Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month said China had no interest in replacing the U.S. as a hegemonic power, while adding that the U.S. should give up its “wishful thinking” of changing the country.
Both sides have already taken a series of regulatory moves aimed at protecting market shares. For example, the U.S. is citing security concerns in blocking China Mobile Ltd., the world's largest mobile operator, from entering the U.S. market. It's culling Chinese-made drones from government fleets and discouraging the deployment of Chinese transformers on the power grid. The administration has also tried to constrain the global reach of China's Huawei Technologies Co., the world's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer.
Meanwhile, China prevented U.S. airline flights into the country for more than two months and, after the U.S. imposed visa restrictions on Chinese journalists, it expelled American journalists. It has stepped up its scrutiny of U.S. companies, with China's state news agency casting one probe as a warning to the White House. China also has long made it difficult for U.S. telecommunications companies to enter its market, requiring overseas operators to co-invest with local firms and requiring authorization by the central government.
One of the most combustible flash points has been the administration's campaign to contain Huawei by seeking to limit the company's business in the U.S. and push allies to shun its gear in their networks.
After suppliers found work-arounds, Commerce in May tightened rules to bar any chipmaker using American equipment from selling to Huawei without U.S. approval, a step that could constrain virtually the entire contract chipmaking industry. Although Huawei can buy off-the-shelf or commodity mobile chips from a third party, such as Samsung Electronics Co. or MediaTek Inc., going that route could force it to make costly compromises on performance in basic products.
Bloomberg thinks that both the U.S. and China have ample opportunities to ratchet up regulatory pressure. A bill passed by the Senate last month could prompt the delisting of Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges if American officials aren't allowed to review their financial audits.
And last week, as the U.S. State Department imposed visa bans on Chinese Communist Party officials accused of infringing the freedom of Hong Kong citizens, a senior official made clear the move was just an opening salvo in a campaign to force Beijing to back off new restrictions on the city.
Companies are still lured to China and its massive local market – and tensions with the U.S. don't overcome the Asian superpower's appeal. Just one-fifth of companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in China late last year said they had moved or were considering moving some operations outside of the country, part of a three-year downward trend.
However, China is no longer the lowest-cost manufacturer and companies are increasingly reluctant to invest there, said James Lewis, director of the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Everyone would like to be in the China market – everyone wants it to be like 2010-- but things are changing.”
So, we will see. Certainly, the pre-election tensions amplify trade uncertainties, large and small. And, they boost the stakes involved – a making it essential for producers, as well as others, to watch this policy “dance” closely as changes and shifts emerge, Washington Insider believes.

Want to keep up with events in Washington and elsewhere throughout the day? See DTN Top Stories, our frequently updated summary of news developments of interest to producers. You can find DTN Top Stories in DTN Ag News, which is on the Main Menu on classic DTN products and on the News and Analysis Menu of DTN's Professional and Producer products. DTN Top Stories is also on the home page and news home page of Subscribers of should check out the US Ag Policy, US Farm Bill and DTN Ag News sections on their News Homepage.
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Grant us access to credit, seed inputs to avert possible rice shortage – PFAG to govt

The Head of Programs and Advocacy for the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called on government to direct banks to ensure full compliance in their provision of credit facilities for rice farmers. According to Charles Nyaaba, government must urgently also furnish them with rice inputs like seeds and fertilizers to aid them in their produce towards averting a possible shortage of rice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It will be useful if government could get us inputs like fertilizer or seeds to produce and payback. Even if they can connect us with the banks to access credit at a reasonable interest, that will also help us greatly. We’re pleading with government to direct the banks to ensure full compliance from them too,” Mr Nyaaba told GhanaWeb in an interview.

Meanwhile, coronavirus lockdowns in countries that Ghana imports rice from, coupled with disruptions in the global supply chains, could pose some vulnerability to food insecurity in Ghana.

Description: File photoAlready, Ghana imports about US$1 billion worth of rice annually to meet a monthly rice demand of 940,000 tonnes. Earlier this year, some producers of rice from the Northern Region were affected by wild fires fueled by the Harmattan winds which destroyed over 300 hectares of rice fields in the region.

Following the disaster, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture made assurances of a compensation to the farmers who lost their farms and produce for the year.

However, some farmers claimed they have since been neglected after engagements with the Ministry. They were concerned about how other farmers took advantage to exploit buyers by demanding that extra big bags of their choice be used to measure their produce.

Send your news stories to and via WhatsApp on +233 55 2699 625.

Funding for rice farm mechanization

THE decision to set aside the move to import 300,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam under a government-to-government scheme will save some P8.5 billion that can now be used for more urgent needs of the nation.
The Philippines had planned to buy the 300,000 tons of rice as a reserve in case the country incurs a shortage of the Filipino people’s staple food. It did not want to go through the difficult experience of 2018 when market prices hit record heights – an inflation rate of 6.7 percent – that was stopped only when Congress enacted the Rice Tariffication Law that ended all quantitative restrictions on rice imports. With cheap rice available at a low price, inflation quickly dropped in succeeding months; by June, 2019, it was down to 2.7 percent.
With the decision to cancel this year’s planned importation, Secretary of Agriculture William Dar said the government will have P8.5 billion that can be used instead to support the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Tariffication Law. The RCEF calls for a mechanization program to help farmers acquire production and harvest machinery and equipment, promote the development and use of certified seed varieties, expanded credit assistance, and enhanced extension services.
There is now, however, a problem over government budgeting because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Philippine budget deficit soared in May as tax revenues fell and government spending rose. The budget deficit in May reached P202.1 billion, where there had been a P2.6-billion surplus in May of the previous year, 2019.
Government expenditures in May reached P353.6 billion –up 12 percent from P314.7billion in May of the previous year. These included releases under the law on Bayanihan to Heal as One, including cash grants to over 3 million employees of small enterprises affected by the government’s quarantine measures. Primary government spending also jumped to P335.3 billion from P295 billion in the previous year. At the same time, government income fell by 52 percent in May, due to the closure or suspension of many business operations.
Thus, Secretary Dar may not get his wish that the P8.5 billion saved in the decision to scrap this year’s rice importation from Vietnam be used instead to push rice farm modernization. There simply are so many emergency expenses arising from the coronavirus pandemic that that must be funded.
But this should not detract from the fact that the Philippine rice industry needs to rise to higher levels of development as it occupies a central role in the Philippine economy. Whatever happens in the country, Filipinos simply need to have their rice.
We have the needed resources – the land, water, high-yielding varieties developed by our own scientists. Studies have shown that the principal need of our rice industry is increased mechanization – tractors and harvesters. That is why in the Rice Competitiveness and Enhancement Fund, 50 percent of its proposed P10-billion annual appropriation is to be for farm machinery and equipment. The balance is 30 percent for rice seed development and propagation, 10 percent for expanded credit assistance, and 10 percent for extension services.
When this coronavirus emergency is over, hopefully within a year, our officials should make an all-out effort to fund the RCEF, especially its mechanization program, so we can become sufficient in rice, our nation’s staple food.

AWS, Google, and Mozilla back national AI research cloud bill in Congress

 June 30, 2020 2:56 PM

Stanford HAI codirector Dr. Fei-Fei Li and Hoover Institution director and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice talking about AI
A group of more than 20 organizations, including tech giants like AWS, Google, IBM, and Nvidia, joined schools like Stanford University and Ohio State University today in backing the idea of a national AI research cloud. Nonprofit groups like Mozilla and the Allen Institute for AI also support the idea. The cloud would help researchers across the United States gain access to compute power and data sets freely available to companies like Google, but not researchers in academia. Compute resources available to academics could grow even more scarce in the near future as COVID-19 fallout constricts university budgets.
The National AI Research Resource Task Force Act was first introduced earlier this month by the founding cochairs of the Senate AI Caucus, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), together with a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives. If passed, the bill will bring together experts from government, industry, and academia to devise a plan for the creation of a national AI research cloud.

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) chair and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt also supports the plan. In reports written by tech executives and delivered to Congress in the past year, the NSCAI has recommended more cooperation between academia, industry, and government as part of a broader strategy to keep the United States’ edge in tech compared to other nations.
The idea of a national AI research cloud was first proposed last year by Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) codirectors Dr. Fei-Fei Li and John Etchemendy, who said its creation was essential to U.S. competitiveness and the nation’s status as a leader in AI. In a March blog post, Li and Etchemendy called the creation of such a cloud potentially “one of the most strategic research investments the federal government has ever made.”
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Leaders at Stanford joined more than 20 other universities in sending a joint letter to President Trump and Congress last year backing a national AI research cloud. Previous bills also recommended the creation of AI centers and a national AI coordination office as part of a comprehensive U.S. AI strategy. Increased data sharing and ideas like a national center of excellence also came up last year when the Computing Community Consortium laid out its 20-year AI research road map.
Li talked about AI, China, health care, and other topics today in a conversation with former Secretary of State and soon-to-be Hoover Institution director Condoleezza Rice.
After stating that a U.S. lead in tech is important to national security, Rice asked Li about how the U.S. can lead in AI if China has more data and fewer privacy concerns. In response, Li said AI applications like speech or facial recognition may be data heavy, but other forms of AI that require less data may supply fruitful ground for U.S. progress.
“Data is a first-class citizen of today’s AI research. We should admit that, but it’s not the only thing that defines AI,” Li said. “Rare disease understanding, genetic study of rare disease, drug discovery, treatment management — they are by definition not necessarily data heavy, and AI can play a huge role. Human-centered design, I think about elder care and that kind of nuanced technological help. That’s not necessarily data heavy as well, so I think we need to be very thoughtful about how to use data.”
The future of work, ethics, and AI bias were also major topics of discussion. Li urged the development of AI that brings together interdisciplinary teams, gathers insights from people impacted by AI, and is made by more than computer science school graduates.
“America’s strength is our people, and the more people who participate in this technology, to guide and develop it, the stronger we are,” she said.
Li also stressed the need to stay ahead of the ethical implications of AI and suggested computer scientists throw away the notion of independent machine values, asserting that “Machine values are human values.”
In a separate policy proposal made by Stanford HAI last year, Li and Etchemendy urged the federal government to grow its national AI investments to $12 billion a year for the next decade.
31 Bicol farmers’ associations get P54-M worth of farm equipment
By Mar Serrano June 30, 2020, 5:58 pm
LEGAZPI CITY – Some 31 farmers' associations across Bicol Region have received PHP54.3 million worth of farm pieces of machinery under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office.
Rodel Tornilla, DA regional director, said the farm pieces of machinery include 29 units of rice combine harvester (PHP43.9 million); seven units riding type transplanter (PHP8 million); five units walk-behind transplanter (PHP1.6 million); and eight units rice reaper (PHP857,000).
He said the PHP54.3 was part of the PHP10-billion RCEF fund aimed at modernizing the farming system in Bicol region.
“The initial 31 beneficiaries were chosen from a total of 872 farmers associations already accredited by DA in Bicol. Half of this or 380 farmers’ associations are in Camarines Sur province,” Tornilla said in an interview on Tuesday.
“This is only the beginning of the distribution of the machinery as RCEF will be implemented for at least six years,” he added.
The DA official challenged the recipients to be role models in implementing the programs of the agency such as the farm consolidation and clustering, where the use of these farm machinery will be maximized.
He said that under Sec. William Dar’s new paradigm, most of the DA interventions will be intended for clustered farmers and consolidated land areas.
“I hope that with your help, we will start embracing farm clustering and land consolidation,” Tornilla added. (PNA)
Adieu is drive-thru for extension chief

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Today at 2:20
A drive-thru goodbye on Tuesday and creation of a scholarship fund marked Rick Cartwright's retirement from the University of Arkansas system's Agriculture Division.
With the coronavirus pandemic preventing a reception, his colleagues and friends took part in an hourlong drive-thru celebration in the parking lot of the UA Cooperative Extension Service's headquarters in Little Rock. Tuesday was Cartwright's official retirement date.
Shortly after Cartwright last year announced his retirement plans, his friends and colleagues quietly raised some $40,000 for a scholarship endowment fund in the name of Cartwright and his wife Lynette. They surprised Cartwright with news of the fund last week. Organizers have set a $50,000 goal and continue accepting contributions, the university said.
The endowment will be managed by the Arkansas 4-H Foundation.
Cartwright, a native of Stone County, has been UA Extension director since 2017 and UA professor since 1992.
Bob Scott, who most recently was director of the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart, will succeed Cartwright as director of the Extension Service. Scott joined the UA division in 2002 as a weed scientist, with a doctorate degree from Mississippi State University and bachelor's and master's degrees from Oklahoma State University.

Ministry commends TARI Uyole for research, production of improved crop

01Jul 2020
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Ministry commends TARI Uyole for research, production of improved crop
Minister of agriculture Japhet Hasunga has directed Tanzania Agricultural research Institute (TARI) to continue organizing and conducting agribusiness expo in all centres so that farmers and other stakeholders can get an opportunity to learn more new technologies and improve farming methods.
The Minister also directed TARI to maintain large number of different germplasms saying they will help much in research and production of improved varieties rather than importing them from outside.
He gave the directive at TARI Uyole in Mbeya when he visited and opened the agribusiness expo hosted by TARI Uyole centre recently.
In fact this is a centre of excellence an excellent of research and production of improved crop varieties in Tanzania. This is what we want as we work hard to realize our President’s vision and mission of building an industrial economy,” he said.
TARI Uyole has eleven experimental stations distributed strategically considering all agro-ecological conditions available in Southern highland regions
According to the Centre Director Dr. Tulole Bucheyeki, the centre coordinates five commodities nationally; Highland maize, beans, round potato, pyrethrum and agro-engineering.
The centre also conducts collaborative research activities; soil, rice, wheat, soybean, agroforestry, horticulture, socio economics, postharvest handling, sweet potato, finger millet, sunflower. The agribusiness expo involved researchers, large and small holder farmers from across the highland regions, seed companies, exhibitors in the grain and staple foods subsector, and agro processors among many others.
It provided an opportunity for TARI and other exhibitors from Mbeya and other neighboring regions to showcase a wide range of latest technologies, innovative farming methods, products and services. The participants also get an opportunity to learn new farming methods and latest technologies.
“One of the ways to inform farmers on the latest technologies and improved seed varieties is through agribusiness and expo. This is another opportunity for stakeholders to display their goods, products and technologies,” he said.
He said TARI must transform agriculture so that the country can be food secure through well researched and sufficient improved seeds.
“I am confident that TARI will now champion transformation of agriculture because agricultural revolution always begins with availability and adequate improved seeds for the farmers and other stakeholders,” he said.
Citing an example, he said that the country spends about 600 bn/- to import edible oil every year while there is adequate and potential land to produce all types of vegetable edible oil.
“We have potential land, energetic people and the capacity to grow enough sunflower, sesame and other horticulture crops. TARI must take the lead to effectively and efficiently play its role of research and production of improved seeds,” he said.
“I understand that we have enough researchers who can conduct fruitful research and production of enough improved seeds to realize the fifth phase government’s vision. We want to move from where we are now to the industrial economy and open employment for Tanzanians, he added.
He said for agriculture to develop, there is also a need to invest in irrigation agriculture. If we want to succeed in agriculture, we need to develop irrigation agriculture.
He said that a survey conducted by agricultural experts revealed that Tanzania has a total of 44.2 million hectares of potential land for agriculture, out of which, 29. 4 million hectares are useful for irrigation agriculture. However, currently the land under irrigation is still small. “We had only 475,000 hectares of land under irrigation and recently in June this year, we increased the land under irrigation to 691,000 hectares. The target is to reach one million hectares under irrigation by 2025, he added.
The said the Ministry I working hard to make sure that the target is reached in two years time. “The major task is to make sure we get enough food to feed our people. If there is hunger everybody will be complaining to the Minister of agriculture. That’s why when it happened shortage of sugar recently, everyone was lamenting and pointing finger to the Minister. I am saying this nation has everything such as valleys, fertile soil and water, we don’t need to have shortage of sugar.
He said Uganda which has smaller area than Tanzania is currently producing five hundred thousand tones of sugar per year. Their requirement of sugar is only 360 tones which means they have surplus and this time around, Tanzania has imported sugar from Uganda. The Ministry is currently putting in place comprehensive plans and strategies to stop this problem. The capacity of all sugar factories in Tanzania to produce sugar is 350 tones, but because this year had much rains, sugar production for all factories did not reach even 350 tones, instead, produced only 264 tones.
The factories have started working, the problem of shortage of sugar has finished, at least there is enough sugar. ”We have enacted law to protect local industries, but we want the local industries that imports sugar to reduce the importation and continue producing more sugar.
TARI Uyole Centre Director Tulole Bucheyeki said his centre has developed different latest technology for all farmers in the Southern highland regions and Tanzania as a whole. “ TARI Uyole has been able to research and produce improved varieties of many crops because it has turned challenges into opportunities.
“There is a need to mobilize our own internal resources to capacitate agricultural research institutes and research systems in Tanzania because there are extra benefits for Tanzanians and farmers in particular as this will respond to the local needs and the country’ broader objectives,” he said.
TARI’s chairman of board of directors Dr. Yohana Budeba explained that TARI has enhanced efforts on research and production of improved seeds in all strategic crops and others to realize the President’s vision of industrial economy.
”Currently TARI is working around the clock to change agriculture in this country. we are well positioned to conduct fruitful research and production of improved seeds that will provide another opportunity for the farmers to produce enough food and raw materials for our industries. Through this way, Tanzania’s economy will be sustaining long-term growth,” he said.
We have directed TARI to conduct research that contribute to increased agricultural productivity through development and deployment of improved agricultural knowledge and technologies by adopting innovation systems approach, he added.
TARI’ Director General Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo said that the efforts of research, production, multiplying and disseminating the improved seeds of all crop varieties in Southern highland regions and elsewhere is basically trying to make sure that there is enough improved seeds for the farmers and other stakeholders in the country.
“TARI has released many new varieties and new technologies. We are still working on several initiatives plans and strategies to make sure that we contribute positively to transforming agriculture through improved seeds for the farmers and the industrial economy.