Thursday, July 16, 2020

Daily Rice News - From 11 July 2020 - 14 July 2020 (Local Global Regional Rice News)

DIMO Agri Machinery Division together with Mahindra Tractors supports “Waga Saubhagya” and youth-led Barren Land Recultivation
July, 13, 2020
With its aim to assist in the process of reviving the country’s economy, the Agri Machinery Division of DIMO together with its partner Mahindra tractors came to the fore in supporting the country’s national initiative to recultivate barren paddy lands across the island.
The government has identified the need to recultivate these lands in its vision to bring forth a self-sufficient economy and the national project “Waga Saubhagya’’ was launched as a result. The national event of Waga Saubhagya 2020 was held in Kegalle district. As the Official Machinery Partner of the event, DIMO supplied Mahindra Yuvo tractors for preparations of these abandoned lands, empowering the national initiative commencement.
The government’s initiative has encouraged social responsibility among Sri Lankans and it is highly commendable to see the youth of the country rallying behind it, shouldering the responsibility and committing to cultivate barren lands. Yuresh Eranga, the Founder of “Mr. Farmer” is one such aspiring farmer from the young generation who has been engaging in recultivation of barren lands. He is on course to implement organic cultivation methodology in these lands with the objective of producing and introducing organic rice to the local market under the brand name of “Mr. Farmer”.
DIMO has already collaborated with “Mr. Farmer” to recultivate 12 acres of an abandoned land in Malabe by providing Mahindra Yuvo tractors to prepare the lands. As a responsible corporate, DIMO expects to provide machinery assistance alongside technical instructions to “Mr. Farmer” and encourage them to recultivate more lands.
‘’Agriculture sector has a huge potential in developing the Sri Lankan economy. It is a vital factor that the country utilizes abandoned paddy lands for recultivation and optimizes the resource management in the agriculture sector. DIMO is privileged to support this endeavor”, said Ranjith Pandithage Chairman and Managing Director of DIMO.
Commenting on the development Sanjay Jadhav, Vice President, International Operations (South Asia) of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, said “We at Mahindra and the team at DIMO Agri Machinery Division are proud to introduce Mahindra’s next-generation tractors to the youth under the “Waga Saubhagya” program; modern tractors, with all the right attributes and developed to drive productivity, as the youth of Sri Lanka drive the change in making the country self-sufficient. DIMO is Mahindra’s sole partner in Sri Lanka and together with them, we are fully committed to supporting the ‘Waga Saubhagya” initiative.
“This inspiration from the youth has already created a certain buzz around the island and if they are provided with necessary support, they are capable of continuing the government’s vision as one country,” said Viranga Wickramaratne, Chief Operating Officer (COO) - Retail Cluster of DIMO.
“Apart from supporting the national initiative, I applaud DIMO’s initiative to support young entrepreneurs to make our country self-sufficient once again,” said Yuresh Eranga, Founder of Mr. Farmer.
“Land preparation costs account to nearly 50% of the total cost for recultivation on abandoned paddy lands and with DIMO coming forward to help us as the machinery partner, we were able to vastly reduce project costs. We were also able to accelerate the land preparation process with Mahindra Yuvo tractors while saving time,” Eranga added.
DIMO Agri Machinery Division brings state-of-the-art technology in the field of agriculture and is dedicated to improve the country’s agriculture by empowering local farmers with necessary equipment and valuable knowledge. DIMO is the Sole Distributor of popular Mahindra tractors and CLAAS harvesters in Sri Lanka, the company is renowned for offering best-in-class after sales services and certified genuine spare parts.

Photo Caption - Land Preparation at Mr. Farmer - Malabe Project

Asene Manso Akroso District Acquire Machinery To Add Value To Agriculture Produce


The Asene Manso Akroso District Assembly is to acquire equipment to add value to agriculture produce under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) produce.

The aim is to increase the incomes of farmers and create new opportunities and jobs for the youth in the District.

The equipment, to arrive in the District soon, include oil palm digester, oil palm boiler, a cracker, winnowing machine, rice mill and destoning machine.

This was disclosed by Mr Prosper Klu, the District Director of Agriculture at the Research Extension and Farmers Linkage Committee (RELC) session at Akim Manso in the Eastern Region.

The RELC session is held annually to bring actors on the agriculture value chain including farmers, food processors, input dealers and consumers to meet Agriculture Extension Agents and Researchers to address challenges on the various fields in the agriculture value chain.

Mr Klu explained that the session helped the department to draw its annual work plan.

The meeting observed that, climate change, worm infestation and poor farm management were the major causes of low productivity in the District.

Mr Francis Ampofo, the Assistant Agricultural Officer in Charge of Monitoring and Evaluation at the Eastern Regional Agriculture Directorate, urged the participants to seek advice from the Agriculture Extension Agents in the District to improve upon their farm maintenance.

Mr David Nyavor of the Eastern Regional Agriculture Engineering Department, said his department has mechanic planters, tractors, cassava harvester, multi-crop thresher, rice reaper, among others to enhance farming activities at the Agriculture Engineering Services Directorate in Accra.

He said Farmer Based Organisations (FBO), individuals or Non-Governmental Organisations could purchase them at subsidised prices by the government.

Madam Comfort Anim, Leader of Ideal Women's Group, an oil palm processing group in Akim Asuboa, called on food processors to abide by hygienic protocols in their work to ensure good health and safety during and after the corona virus pandemic.
Source: GNA

Anchor Borrowers: CBN-RIFAN’s 36,000 bags of rice hit markets

Description: Credit history

Our Reporter

ABOUT 36,000 bags of rice produced by local farmers  under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)- funded Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) have hit Nigerian markets.
The bags of rice were produced during the 2019/2020 dry season
It was learnt that the mass production of the local rice was designed to crash the price of Nigeria’s most consumed staple food.
The scheme, funded by CBN, is being midwifed by the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN).
According to RIFAN, sales of its padi rice to millers  was flagged off at the weekend in Taraba State.
The Secretary of RIFAN, Taraba State chapter, Mamman Rabiu, in a statement last night said “36,000 bags of padi rice were sold to the integrated millers, local millers, women groups, among others at the subsidized price of N11,000 per 100-kilogram bag.
“The 36,000 bags were collected from members of RIFAN as 30 percent equity of the 2019/2020 dry season recovery. The padi was sold to millers in the local communities. And they are expected to process the padi and sell it back to the community at a subsidized price.”
Rabiu said RIFAN has signed an MoU with the millers to sell the finished products at a subsidized price as part of efforts to ensure food security.
He said the agreement covers integrated millers who have bigger machinery for de-stoning and polishing.

Read Also: CBN palliatives coming for aviation industry

He added:  “For example, there are plans to sell a processed bag of rice  at N15,000 per 50 kilogram bag. It is worth mentioning here that a 50kg local bag of rice sells at an average N18,000 in Taraba state. On the other hand, the RIFAN agreement will see small holding millers (who don’t have machinery for de-stoning and polishing, etc) to sell their 50kg bag at between N13-N13,500.
He said the  Taraba State “success story is what is happening across the entire federation, “The essence of ABP is to ensure food safety and security. By this, the local farmers are economically empowered, while the general public is fed with healthier and nutritious rice at “President Buhari’s action against hunger and ensuring food security was made possible by CBN under the dynamic leadership of Mr Godwin Emefiele.
“In keeping with his promise to run a central bank that would serve the growth and development needs of the country, Emefiele ensured that CBN becomes a strategic driver of economic growth of the country.
“The CBN under him has introduced various initiatives for concessionary funding of agriculture, which is widely recognized as the sector that has the potential to drive economic growth affordable prices.”
This perspective was echoed recently by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, while speaking on food security.
“The future of food in the world will depend on what Africa does with agriculture. Therefore we must change our view on agriculture. Agriculture is not a development activity or a social sector; agriculture is a business. We must not use agriculture to manage poverty; instead, we must use agriculture to create wealth,” the AfDB President said

July 14, 2020, 02:42 PM
by Vina Medenilla
As community quarantine (CQ) continues to take effect to combat COVID-19, many people are still adjusting to the changes in their new daily routine. For this teacher of Lucena City National High School named Marcelo Alivia residing in Quezon province, losing his side jobs as a part-time coach, swimming instructor, and basketball referee is something he had to face.
Since classes haven’t started yet, he decided to plant in a vacant lot next to their house as a way to relieve his boredom. He was able to get free seeds and seedlings from the regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) through his colleague. A government program called “Tayo ang Kalikasan” that provides seminars and garden competitions also urged him more to start gardening.

Use of plastic sachets a concern for environmental groups

July 15, 2020, 11:31 AM
by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Environmental groups have expressed a growing concern for single-use plastics, specifically sachets, due to the affordability and convenience they give to Filipino consumers.
A new report, titled “Sachet Economy: Big Problems in Small Packets,” which was released on Tuesday was commissioned by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) using the data from University of Santo Tomas’ Research Center for Social Sciences and Education to look into Filipinos’ sachet consumption habits.

Autokid now offers Emtrac Plus batteries

July 15, 2020, 12:02 PM
by Inigo Roces
With the community quarantine still in effect in many parts of the country, more and more businesses are now relying on trucking services to fulfill their customers’ needs.
To meet the growing demand for reliable and cost-effective vehicles, services and parts, Autokid Truck Solutions has partnered with Emtrac Plus Philippines to provide quality and affordable automotive batteries for vehicles of all sizes.

Kenya wildlife reserves threatened as tourists stay away

July 13, 2020, 02:47 PM
by Agence France-Presse
In the majestic plains of the Maasai Mara, the coronavirus pandemic spells economic disaster for locals who earn a living from tourists coming to see Kenya’s abundant wildlife.
Even before the virus arrived in Kenya mid-March, tourism revenues had plummeted, with cancellations coming in from crucial markets such as China, Europe and the United States.
According to the tourism ministry, the sector has lost $750 million this year — roughly half of the total revenue in 2019.

DA distributes feeds, vet drugs for ASF rehab program in Region 1

July 13, 2020, 02:00 PM
by Freddie Lazaro
SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 1 through its regulatory division had distributed feeds and veterinary drugs to comply with a component of the African Swine Fever (ASF) Rehabilitation Plan to ASF affected farmers in the towns of Mapandan and Calasiao, both in Pangasinan.
“The DA has allocated recovery fund to regain the losses of livestock raisers affected by the ASF. Among the distributed rehab assistance are cattles and to ensure good health of the animals, additional feeds and drugs/supplements were likewise provided,”said DA regulatory chief, Dr. Florentino Adame.

Targeting the Daily Magnesium “Rhythm” Could Increase Crop Yield

Description: Targeting the Daily Magnesium “Rhythm” Could Increase Crop Yield
Credit: Pixabay.
 Read Time: 3 min
The fundamental process that arguably forms the backbone of life on earth is photosynthesis; every organism is directly or indirectly dependent on this process. On paper, the process is simple: plants (and other organisms that have "chloroplasts," the structures where photosynthesis takes place, and give the characteristic green color to leaves) convert solar energy into chemical energy that helps them grow and flourish, and other "higher" organisms depend on these plants, or on organisms that feed on these plants, for their own sustenance, and so on.

But in practice, and especially at this point in biological history, this process is not so straightforward. The human population is growing at an unprecedented rate; the resources we have are not enough to feed the billions of people on earth today. While policymakers and politicians are trying to optimize the use of existing resources, scientists are doing their bit by figuring out how to improve the resources by exploring whether the natural process of photosynthesis can be modified through the latest technologies to ultimately improve the yield of food crops.

A team of scientists led by Prof Jian Feng Ma from Okayama University, Japan, and Prof Zhichang Chen from Fujian A & F University, China, also set out to explore photosynthesis, but they decided to do this with a twist: while current research predominantly focuses on trying to modify the direct chemical reactions involved in photosynthesis, the team decided to look at the "diel" variations--or the variations that occur over a periodic cycle of 24 hours--in photosynthesis.

That many processes of photosynthesis exhibit 24-hour variations shouldn't come as a surprise, given that the entire process is dependent on sunlight. Apart from external light-dark conditions, these diel changes can also be driven by internal genetic mechanisms.

But what exactly did these scientists look at? "Our study focused on magnesium, and for a diverse set of reasons," explains Prof Ma. "Magnesium is an essential macronutrient for plants, but around 15-35% of total magnesium intake is allocated to chloroplasts, where it functions not only as a structural element of chlorophyll but also as an activator for a number of photosynthetic enzymes." This meant that studying the diel changes in magnesium can shed light on an important functional aspect, and potential target for manipulation, of photosynthesis.

Through gene studies in the rice plant (the results of which are published in Nature Plants), the researchers decided to narrow in on a magnesium ion transporter OsMGT3, found in chloroplasts, and are known to be rhythmically expressed in "mesophyll" cells, the cells specialized for photosynthesis.

They created genetically modified rice plants in which the gene that gives rise to OsMGT3 was absent; they found that these plants showed significantly reduced uptake of magnesium and reduced amplitude of free magnesium ion fluctuations in chloroplasts. This resulted in a decrease in the activity of "ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase," a fundamental enzyme of photosynthesis, naturally leading to a decline in the photosynthetic rate. Next, through genetic engineering techniques, they caused the excessive production of OsMGT3 in mesophyll cells in normal rice plants and found that the photosynthetic efficiency and growth improved in these plants.

These experiments proved that OsMGT3 partially controls the magnesium fluctuations in chloroplasts, and that these fluctuations may contribute to magnesium-dependent enzyme activities for photosynthesis over the daily cycle.

So where does this leave us in terms of optimizing crop yield and feeding the masses? Prof Ma states that the findings open up hitherto unexplored avenues, remarking, "Our studies put magnesium in the limelight. Modifying the magnesium input into chloroplasts could be a potential approach to improving photosynthetic efficiency in plants and can eventually improve crop yield."

This study, along with future studies that would demonstrate how exactly magnesium should be targeted, could be a potential answer to the global food shortage.

Li, J., Yokosho, K., Liu, S. et al. Diel magnesium fluctuations in chloroplasts contribute to photosynthesis in rice. Nat. Plants 6, 848–859 (2020).

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.


Chemists have shown that asphalt binder, the glue that holds together the stones, sand and gravel in paved roads, when exposed to sun and water, leaches thousands of potentially toxic compounds into the environment.

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The constraints of rice production and processing in Nigeria | By Ogungbile Emmanuel Oludotun

Today in Nigeria, if I’m right, a 50 kg bag of rice can cost as much as 24,000 naira in Lagos – nearly double the price in July last year before the borders were shut and not far below the monthly minimum wage of 30,000 naira. Hence, consumers, who already spend more than half their income on food according to the World Bank, are feeling the squeeze.
Again, the question is are we not going to get to a point where people who are buying rice can’t afford to buy rice, and perhaps look at other alternatives to get energy and get food on their table? Who will ease the length of this ‘colic’ from the suffering masses? The answer I may not know.
Evidently, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with a population of over 130 million people. Food Agriculture and Organisation (FAO) attested that Its domestic economy is dominated by agriculture, which accounts for about 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and two-thirds of the labour force.
Agriculture supplies food, raw materials and generates household income for the majority of the people. Again, it’s ostentative that the external sector is dominated by petroleum, which generates about 95% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings while agriculture contributes less than 5%. Incessant reports has always shown that trade imports are dominated by capital foods, raw materials and food. Nigeria is currently preoccupied with the challenge of diversifying the structure of its economy.
True, Nigeria is the continent’s leading consumer of rice, one of the largest producers of rice in Africa and simultaneously one of the largest rice importers in the world. As well as an important food security crop, it is an essential cash crop for it is mainly small-scale producers who commonly sell 80 per cent of total production and consume only 20 per cent.
Rice generates more income for Nigerian farmers than any other cash crop in the country. In 2008, reports accounted that Nigeria produced approximately 2 million MT of milled rice and imported roughly 3 million metric tons, including the estimated 800,000 metric tons that is suspected to enter the country illegally on an annual basis.
Today, we can confidently say that rice is an increasingly consequential crop in Nigeria. It is passably simple to produce and is grown for home and sale consumption. In some areas like the South west and the North there is a long tradition of rice growing, but for many, rice has been considered a luxury food for special occasions only. With the increased availability of rice, it has become an everyday diet of many average Nigerians.
Undisputable research has unfurled that there are many varieties of rice grown in Nigeria. Some of these are considered conventional varieties, others have been introduced within the last twenty years. Substantially, rice is grown in paddies or on upland fields, depending on the requirements of the particular variety; there is limited mangrove cultivation.
New varieties are produced and disseminated by research institutes or are imported from Asia. Further studied also averred that the spread of these strains is determined by their perceived success, and farmers multiply seed for their own plots when they see a variety doing well in someone else’s field, or if a variety is fetching a good price in the market.
It seems also that strong political factors affect the dissemination of varieties; the most striking example of this is a rice called  “China”, imported to Nigeria around twenty years ago by a political figure and now grown everywhere despite the fact that seed trials carried out by NCRI declared it unsatisfactory.
Before we dive further, it is necessary to assert that Rice (Oryza sativa) is a cereal belonging to the Gramineae, a large monocotyledonous family of some 600 genera and around 10,000 species. It is valued as the most important staple food for over half of the world population and ranks third after wheat and maize in production on a world basis. More than half of the world’s population depends on rice as the major source of calories.
The amount consumed by all these people ranged from 100kg to 240kg per annum in the year 2000 alone. Two species have emerged as our most popular cultivated rice, Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima; of these two species, the more widely produced is Oryza sativa.
According to the World bank, a combination of various factors seems to have triggered the structural increase in rice consumption. Like elsewhere in West Africa, urbanization appears to be the most important cause of the shift in consumer preferences towards rice in Nigeria. Rice is easy to prepare compared to other traditional cereals, thereby reducing the chore of food preparation and fitting more easily in the urban lifestyles of rich and poor alike.
Rice indeed is no longer a luxury food in Nigeria and has become a major source of calories for the urban poor. For example, the poorest third of urban households obtain 33% of their cereal-based calories from rice, and rice purchases represent a major component of cash expenditures on cereals. Rice availability and prices have become a major welfare determinant for the poorest segments of the countries’ consumers who also are the least food secure.
Thus, rice has, become a strategic commodity in the Nigerian economy. Wherefore, the Nigerian government has interfered in the rice sector over the past few decades. Public policy in this respect has neither been consistent nor appropriate and domestic production has continued to lag behind demand. Given the current globalisation trend and an increasingly competitive world economy, Nigeria faces some strategic choices in relation to the rice economy.
Now, in a brief into rice processing by farmers, Agricultural field report showed that the fields cannot be ploughed until after the first rain, generally in May or June. During the oil boom many farmers had access to tractors, but most now undertake all land preparation and harvesting by hand. Generally, tasks are allocated along gender lines, but in some areas men and women work together. It was observed that women are typically responsible for the transplanting of seedlings to the fields and threshing, whilst it is often the men who hoe.
Most farmers produce one rice crop each year, but some have made irrigation channels which allow them to reap two or even three harvests in the year. This allows them to plant seedlings when there is less danger from disease or pests. At the same time, frequent planting exhausts the soil more quickly and, as fertilisers are expensive, many farmers are noticing the falling productivity of the soil.
Fertilisers and herbicides are expensive, and rice is favoured as a crop because it needs fewer inputs than maize. Some farmers use organic fertilisers, including a method of green manuring by which grass is allowed to grow and is then ploughed back into the soil. The use of organic fertilisers, though, is time-consuming, and is not widespread; many farmers resign themselves to buying fertilisers which they consider to be too expensive.

It’s necessary to know that rice processing involves several steps: removal of the husks, milling the shelled rice to remove the bran layer. and an additional whitening step to meet market expectations for appearance of the rice kernels. This process generated several streams of material which include the husks, the bran, and the milled rice kernel.
Consequently, according to a journal of food processing by Ladoke Akintola University, it averred that in Nigeria, rice consumption has risen tremendously at about 10% per annum due to changing consumer preferences. However, discovered that most Nigerians prefer to consume imported rice brands as compared to local rice varieties. The reason is that most Nigerian rice process or slack adequate technology of rice processing to meet international standard.
Again, Nigeria has the potential to be self-sufficient in rice production, both for food and industrial raw material needs and for export purpose. However, a number of constraints have been identified as limiting factors to rice production. These include problems with research, pest and disease management. Addressing at least most of these problems is good first step towards attaining the target of rice self-sufficiency. Therefore a major objective of this piece is to review the challenges facing rice production in Nigeria and provide guide to overcome these problems.
Now, one of the major quagmire encountered by farmers in rice production cuts across the value chain. Howbeit, the most outstanding challenge is the finance for rice farming. In every segment of the rice production process,  it has been observed that finance played a significant role in the development of rice processing in Nigeria, has government do little or nothing in rendering help to the Nigerian farmers.
According to a study, ‘Rice Production and Processing in Ogun State, Nigeria: Qualitative Insights from Farmers’ Association’ it opened that majority of the rice farmers are aged above 50, and they serve as the major source of labour as most of the young working population prefer white-collar jobs.
Consequently, the cost of farm labour has become very expensive making it very difficult for an individual farmer to hire. Hence, before any farmer can carry out rice production beyond the subsistence level, there will be a need for financial support from the government, private investors, individuals, agric-scientist and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). For instance, the government could assist the farmers by procuring group of interested farmers at a reduced cost to facilitate farm mechanisation and commercial production. Thus, clusters of rice farmers could afford to hire these tractors to clear large hectares of land.
Again, according to FAO, the world rice production for over almost a decade (2003–2012). In 2003, about 580 million tons of rice were produced worldwide, 602 million tons in 2004, 620 million tons in 2005, and 622 million tons in 2006. The production continued to grow yearly; by 2007, the production had risen to 648 million tons.
The production reached a peak in 2011 with a total production of 720 million tons in order to feed the increasing global population. Furthermore, the world’s annual production growth rate was stagnated in 2012. A review article in the journal of food processing suggested that the reason could be attributed to natural disaster such as storm, tornado, and unfavourable climate as reported by.
Furthermore, reported that instant low temperature below the critical point can affect seedling establishment in the early growth stage and high grain sterility he late crop season. Unavailability of water has impeded farmers from growing rice in the southern part of California and in Southern Italy, even though these areas are more favourable in terms of climate for growing rice than the northern parts of the countries. Asia accounts for 90% of the world’s production and consumption of rice because of its favourable warm and humid climate, but suitable lands for increasing rice production are almost exhausted, and even in Nigeria what is this case?
The problem of land development is another pickle that arises because most of the farmlands for rice cultivation are usually located in the rainforest, especially areas that have not been used for rice cultivation previously. In a March 2018 study of researchers from Covenant University affirmed that, given the nature of vegetation, intended lands for rice cultivation will require a great number of labour inputs to clear a large expanse of land particularly when it is not mechanised.
However, to effectively clear such forest zones for rice cultivation, there will need to hire tractors which could be highly exorbitant; hence, may not be within the reach of an average rice farmer. Apart from the challenge in hiring tractors, the interview revealed that rice seed germinates within the topsoil where the rice roots absorb soil nutrients; hence, most of the nutrients needed for rice growth are supplied from the surface soil.
This further entails that the tractor operation during land preparation should be carried out with some care with a view not to removing the surface soil that houses the essential nutrients, which is crucial for effective rice production. However, it is observed that there are instances whereby the soil nutrients are eroded from the surface soil during tractor operation in the land preparation process which eventually affects the supply of nutrients to the crops.
Furthermore, a 2012 book on ‘Agricultural Transformation Agenda: Repositioning Agriculture to Drive Nigeria’s Economy. Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’ laid out that the farm inputs refer to the availability of farm raw materials required for the rice production. Most important in this aspect is the ability of the farmers to have access to the right variety of rice seed that is suitable for that particular ecology.
Secondly, studies from a piece ‘Support for Small Rice Threshers in Nigeria opined the issue of genuine herbicides for effective treatment of weeds is a real challenge at the rice production stage. This owes to the fact that some of the herbicides are now becoming adulterated. This makes it difficult to distinguish between the original and fake herbicides. To access new improved varieties that are suitable for a particular ecology requires a huge sum of money which could highly expensive for an average farmer to afford. However, the government is yet to meet up with the demand of procuring these varieties and making it available to the farmers at a subsidised rate as a means of assisting the local farmers in boosting rice production.
Further deeper, a study and survey conducted into the rice processing in Ogun state in 2018 stated that most of the production processes that are connected to rice production in Ogun State still make use of traditional method approach. The process starting from land cultivation to harvesting and processing are mostly done with manual labour, thus making the production process labour intensive. From KII, it was learnt that on the average a farmer needs a total of 10 workers to work on a hectare of land from cultivation to the harvesting stage.
Despite the fact that some of these farmworkers are family members, the cost of hiring farm labourers poses a significant constraint to rice production in Nigeria. The labour-intensive method of rice farming is not only tedious but time-consuming and at the end, the farmers only produce at the subsistence levels and in few cases where there is excess it is sold at the local markets. The un-mechanised method (which is also referred to as no or low tractorisation) of rice production does not allow for production in commercial quantities that could be harvested, processed and marketed to reach wider consumers.
According to a study, another factor militating against rice production and processing in Nigeria is that the inadequate knowledge on the use of herbicides and pesticide, which shall make us dive into another major challenge associated with the production stage as highlighted in the fieldwork is the issue of bird infestation, which is quite problematic at the period of maturity of the rice grains in the field. An infield study showed that the farmers interviewed explained that rice farmers need to scare the birds for at least 30 days prior to the maturity of the rice grains.
The challenging aspect of it is that the farmer or the person employed for this job will have to be in the farm early in the morning about 6.00 am before the birds wake up to stay on the farm till in the evening around 7.00 pm after the birds have gone to sleep. Hence, the farmer has to be in the farm before the waking up of the birds and remain there till evening when the birds go to sleep with routine process of blowing a whistle or beating a kind of drum to raise sufficient noise that will drive away the birds.
Once more, we can go on and on to discuss into the different constraints, and iterate the labour intensity involved such as ploughing, planting, weeding, harvesting, threshing, and transportation being strenuous and laborious; the problem is worsened by lack of appropriate rice farming tools, implementation, and equipment. We can also go on to highlight the problem of linkages relates with the marketing and distribution networks challenges, which is the rice economy.
Savants have agreed that there is a need to link the rice farmers with the markets for demands of their produce. In the interview works of some Agric researchers with the farmers, they discovered that the price of the rice products does not reflect their real value. In this case, the farmers are at a loss. This occurs in instances where the produced and packaged rice is being sold below the real value probably because the farmers are in dire need of finance to solve some other problems and will have no other option than to sell the rice at a price which is below what it would have been sold under normal circumstances.
Today, however, it’s not strange that in August last year, Nigeria went a step further and closed its land borders altogether to stamp out smuggling, often from neighbouring Benin, with rice being one of the main targets. Then, the presidency through the Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the measures boosted rice production to 9.2 million tonnes last year from 7.2 million in 2015, making Nigeria more or less self-sufficient, though traders can import rice through ports if they pay the tariffs.
Agricultural data specialist Gro Intelligence, however, put Nigeria’s rice output at 4.9 million tonnes in 2019, up 60% from 2013 but well below local consumption of 7 million tonnes. Furthermore, The U.S. Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, expects Nigeria’s 2020 rice imports to rise 9% to 2.4 million tonnes, in part due to the high cost of unprocessed Nigerian paddy rice and elevated operating costs at mills. In Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, supermarket shelves remain stocked with a plethora of imported rice brands. Isn’t this a challenge already?
Having highlighted into constraints of rice processing and production it’s necessary to discuss the solutions that might ease the situation. Hence, as suggested by the early referred outcome of the study conducted on rice production and processing in Ogun State, Nigeria: Qualitative insights from farmers’ association, which opened that it’s germane that additional support for the development of efficient rice seed varieties be advocated, and that It is also essential that the distribution of rice varieties that are resilient to climate changes be encouraged. Once more, the promotion of good agricultural practices that will help to compensate for the lapses rice production processes cannot be overemphasised in this regard.
Moreso, it’s quite ostentative that the decision of the federal government to close the country’s land borders has resulted to increased local rice production. The volume of rice produced locally has soared to eight million metric tonnes with the federal government aiming to achieve 18 million tonnes by 2023. Hence, this development can only be sustained if farmers are motivated towards increasing yield per hectares across the federation to meet the Agricultural Policy Programme, as this would ensure food security and increase agro-export to boost the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Without much ado, reports have it that Nigeria has about 12 million rice farmers, and the number is expected to keep growing. Global rice consumption remains strong. It is driven by both population and economic growth in many Asian and African countries, as Nigerian rice value chain is characterised by yields that are far below what would be possible with improved management, improved market information and structure, and updated rice-processing capacity.
The Nigeria government can also consolidate on the achievement as the World rice production statistics revealed that in 2018, out of the 14.6 million metric tonnes of paddy produced annually on 7.3 million hectares of land in Africa, Nigeria’s production rose from 3.7 million tonnes in 2017 to 4.0 million metric tonnes. Through the anchor borrower’s scheme, reports on rice production in Nigeria said it has hit eight million metric tonnes, with the nation aiming at 18 million tonnes by 2023.
According to Cyril Okonkwo, a rice seller at Mile 12 market, Lagos, although the margin of profit between foreign to Nigerian rice is still high, it is pertinent that the nation supports homegrown rice producers to encourage local farmers in various states. The government can also aid farmers, according to Rice Almanac, a publication of Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), Policies and conditions that offer opportunities for developing the rice sector in the country, includes zero tariffs on agricultural machinery and equipment, a large domestic market for rice products and by-products, government subsidies on fertilizer, seed, and tractors and implements, and guaranteed minimum price support for farmers.
Still on, as the method of rice cultivation and harvesting mostly relied on labour-intensive approach at the subsistence level in addition to low level of Agricultural extension agencies. An alternative,  however, to encourage farmers to increase their production base is through agricultural extension services. Therefore, for the rice farmers to operate at the mechanised level of rice production government support is earnestly advocated for.
In conclusion, Nigeria has a good climate for rice production and it has the favourable market to absorb the production, and one cannot exhaust out all the solutions to the problems of rice processing and production in Nigeria. Thus, there is an urgent need for all stakeholders connected with agricultural productivity to work in synergy in the cross-fertilisation of ideas on the current challenges and prospects of rice production and processing techniques that will enhance rice security and other food security policy measures.
It’s wherefore consequential for government, non-governmental organisations and private investors and stakeholders in the provision of financial assistance, agricultural grants, subsidy and accessible credit facilities in support of rice production and processing among the rice-producing states in Nigeria. We can make an economy out of rice processing and production.
Ogungbile Emmanuel Oludotun
University of Ibadan

Qwenu! publishes opinions, stories, reflections, and experiences on contemporary issues. Click here to read articles from many Africans at home and in the diaspora. Embedded tweets and guest articles do not represent the opinions of Qwenu! as we only provide a platform for writers to express themselves. Email your articles to Follow us @qwenu_media Featured image: Giau Tran@giautran/Unsplash

‘Access to finance remains a challenge to agribusiness’ - Nigeria's The Abadini Group

 13 JUL 2020

Published 13 Jul,2020 via The Nation - Chief Executive Officer and Founder, The Abadini Group, Mr. Abraham Adonduwa is an emerging leader in the agric-economy with more than 200 hectares under cultivation. In this interview with Deputy Group Business Editor, Taofik Salako, Adonduwa speaks on the challenges and prospects of the Nigerian agricultural agenda among other issues
What is the prospect of agribusiness in Nigeria?
I think the future of agribusiness is very bright. Nigerians are obviously becoming more appreciative of the need for the country to achieve food sufficiency and reduce our current reliance on imported food items.
Besides the fact that our economy desperately needs this focus on agriculture in order to grow, we also should be mindful of the harmful effects of the preservatives used on these imported food to increase their shelf life.
So, when you look at all the metrics- population, food demand and health, everything points to continuing and increasing relevance of agribusiness to Nigerian economy.
What are the incentives needed for the success of the agric-centred growth agenda of government?
We have seen commendable focus on agribusiness by the government in recent years. But I think government needs to do more given the importance of agriculture to the national economy and government’s agenda of job creation.
I think agribusiness industry needs more incentives including tax waivers, single-digit loans with reasonable tenors, and a massive patronage of made in Nigeria products, amongst others.
What are the challenges facing agribusiness?
The main challenges are access to finance, insecurity and lack of human capital. There are other challenges like unfavourable government policies but so far the current administration has been fair to the agribusiness sector.
How sustainable is the rice domestication policy of government?
We can testify that the policy has spurred Nigerians to action. Abadini is a typical example as are a couple of other brands currently changing the narratives of rice farming and production in Nigeria. We hope the favourable policies and government support will continue even after the 2023 elections.
What’s your experience in the area of access to finance?
The government still has a lot of work to do in this regard. Right now it is rather difficult to obtain funds from a bank even after meeting its stringent conditions and even though the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) mandated banks to increase their loan to deposit ratio.
The CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme under the amiable, committed and unassuming Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele is highly commendable.
For the first time we witnessed a government that is committed to alleviating the suffering of Nigerian farmers through palliative measures and incentives.
Without doubt, it has boosted the agricultural sector as more people have shown interest to go into far mining or many people have seen farming as a viable venture.
Back to your question, we are yet to enjoy any form of support from the government but we are hopeful that the government will recognise our efforts and partner with us.
What’s the vision of Abadini and what strategies have you put in place to achieve this?
Abadini’s vision is unique because our major driving factor is achieving food sufficiency by providing locally produced and healthy food products for every Nigerian home.
Subsequently, we will set our sight on exports because by so doing we will not only create more wealth and empower people but also earn much-needed foreign exchange required to catapult our economy from what it is today to what it should rightly be as the giant of Africa that we are.
Abadini will become the pride of the giant of Africa and the best news is the fact that we are a youth-driven company. Having said that, we have put in place strategies that will help in pushing our vision.
We recognise that the market opportunity for our products is beyond our imagination and current situation; rice, maize, housing-which encompasses our block industries and housing projects, processed and packaged meat-including but not limited to pork, beef, chicken, turkey, fish and animal rearing including pigs, chicken, goats, cows and sheep.
We believe that with substantial growth capital we can decisively claim market leadership and substantially expand the market potentials for the company.
We also take very seriously the nascent logistics arm of the group, whose sole focus is to ensure quick deliveries while reducing our current costs of nationwide deliveries and ensuring that we can sustain cost effective prices and maintain a competitive edge.
Currently, our fleet of delivery vehicles stands at six with a view to expanding to meet nationwide demands. Our online presence with Abadini Agritech promises a huge opportunity to expand our markets around the globe.
The Abadini Group is proudly Nigerian: young, vibrant and burning with ideas and a drive to cater to 200 million Nigerians locally and a global market that is growing rapidly and brimming with opportunities.
Two years ago, we began on a five hectares of farmland and proceeded to process with locally manufactured machines and bagged in poorly made woven sacks.
The result, our sacks had a brand name that peeled off and the rice was unclean and packed with stones. But, we completely sold out in two weeks! This was all the impetus we needed to fuel our drive to succeed.
Now we have a brand new complete rice milling line with 40 tons per day capacity. We also expect to increase our production capacity to 130 tons per day.
Our inaugural brand; Abadini Rice, is very well received in several markets with demand growing exponentially. We can now aim to inspire the world by showing that it is possible to offer excellent customer service, achieve excellence in design, production, branding and delivery while impacting the lives of employees, investors, distributors and indeed the entire Nigerian community and beyond.
We operate 200 hectares of farmlands in Benue State and we have currently set up livestock ranches in Benue and Abuja. Our multi-million naira rice factory, which is second only to the State Governor’s rice factory, is located at the heart of the industrial layout in Makurdi, where we provide jobs for scores of indigenes and residents.
A grand commissioning of this factory will be organised at the earliest possible date and well publicised. We have warehouses in Lagos and Port Harcourt, from where we are rapidly penetrating the markets, supermarkets and having easy and direct access to consumers.
Do you consider risks of policy somersaults by government, for instance liberalisation of the rice business and allowing importers to import?
I am confident that would not happen under the current dispensation. However, Abadini is the preferred brand because we can compete with any foreign brand anywhere in the world.
I said this because there is a claim by the Federal Government that the country produces 150,000 bags daily. For me, the Federal Government alone is in the best position to confirm or deny this.
And if the claim is true, it is a plus for us as a country considering the amount being spent on rice importation yearly.
We all know that home grown companies will not only provide jobs for the youth, it will also strengthen our local economy.
What are the opportunities and challenges of Africa Free Trade Continental Agreement?
The opportunities far outweigh the challenges in my opinion. Imagine a unified Africa like we have the United States of America. Imagine free trade between sister countries.
Imagine retaining vital resources within the African Continent. Imagine how much that would mean to our collective economies.
But, as an entrepreneur, I am an avid idealist who also tries to always remain grounded. So, in as much as the prospect of an Africa without borders excites me immensely, I am reminded daily of the human factor issue which continues to dog our daily existence amongst other issues.
I am reminded that the task ahead is beyond daunting. However, this is an ideal that I hope to see in my lifetime. One that I strongly believe is the key to Africa taking her rightful place as a nation of great people, as leaders of the world.
This is why I am leading a company that is investing in the youth population; so that we can lead the rest of Africa, so that we can unite and conquer the world together, and so that we can shape the future today.
Who are the investors in Abadini?
Abadini is a privately held company with board of directors who are helping to drive the mission and vision of the organisation. Again, I am happy to say that 99 per cent of us are less than 40 years.
We also have an experienced hand in S. Adondua, a member of the board and shareholder. He is a seasoned Chemical Engineer with over 35 years working experience.
He serves in advisory capacity and offers guidance and assistance, bringing his wealth of experience and vast network to bear.
Also, we have investment categories which allow an ordinary Nigerian to invest. You may call it ‘Abadini Investment Inclusion’ in the sense that we have a programme called Abadini Growers’ Programme whereby an investors can sponsor a unit with N250,000 at 25 per cent return on investment (Rol) in eight months or invest in 50 units and above and get 27 per cent (Rol).
You may wonder why the healthy returns. It is simple. At competitive interest rates, you can invest and get your money back including interest within the shortest possible time. You can also choose to revolve your capital and interest for another cycle.
Payback period is within six to eight months, depending on the farm type, you can grow your investments from seeds to trees.
As said earlier, with as low as N50,000 you can be an investor and watch your money work while you sleep. Investments are risky by nature, but we’ve gone an extra mile to ensure your investments are 100 per cent insured and backed up by reputable and experienced insurance providers.

How to grow rice

Description: A farmer will be able to earn about Shs10m from
A farmer will be able to earn about Shs10m from one acre if they follow the best agronomy practices. File photo 

·       Paddy rice cultivation is done under varied climatic conditions and soil types ranging from loamy to black cotton soil, but a lot of water is needed for irrigation.
·       The study further shows that with climate change, there are many rice farms that are being abandoned in the respective countries due to high salinity levels in the soils as well as pest and disease burden.
By Lominda Afedraru
Rice farming is considered as one of the strategic agricultural enterprises with the potential to contribute to increasing rural incomes and livelihoods and improving food and nutrition security.
However, current rice yields in the country are still low, a situation partly attributed to the fact that farmers hardly use best agronomy practice or effects of climate change to realise good harvest.
Agricultural experts at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) based in Nairobi, Kenya attribute poor yields to poor farm management practices and effects of climate change.
One of the reasons is because most farmers are still relying on rain fed farming system, use of saved seed for subsequent production, lack of machinery to support quality processing for commercialisation and low use of fertilisers.
The study further shows that with climate change, there are many rice farms that are being abandoned in the respective countries due to high salinity levels in the soils as well as pest and disease burden.
The experts realised that abiotic constraints associated with soil nutrient depletion and water availability contribute significantly to low rice productivity in the three countries.
The survey shows that only 9 per cent and 10 per cent of sampled rice producing communities in Nigeria and Uganda respectively practiced exclusive irrigated rice farming.
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Farmer experience
Ambassador Phillip Idro is a rice grower and processor. His rice processing plant Upland Rice Millers located in Jinja has milling capacity of 100 metric tonnes per day but he is unable to meet this target because there is limited rice production in the country.
To him this is because farmers are taking their time to learn new methods of growing the crop.
“Most farmers in Uganda are satisfied when they produce one acre rice worth Shs1m and yet if more effort is put in place to adopt high yielding varieties and application of best agronomy practice, the yield can increase and a farmer will be able to earn Shs10m from an acre,” says Idro.
What farmers can do to increase yields
Speaking to Simon Alibu, a scientist majoring in rice breeding at the National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI); this is what he advises farmers to do as they go about with daily routine work of growing rice.
Land preparation
Alibu explained that before rice can be planted, the soil should be in the best physical condition for crop growth.
Farmers are expected to till land in time, about one month before the rains start. Ploughing and harrowing is done twice before planting seeds.
Traditional method of tilling using hoe and ox plough or modern method of using tractors particularly for large scale farmers owning huge acres of land is recommendable.
Alibu narrates that farmers growing upland rice are expected to plant rice seed in rows with spacing of 1ft by 1ft.
Planting method
There are three methods of direct seed planting. They include broadcast method where farmers sow seed using hand, metallic drilling where a line is drilled using metallic fork measuring 30cm by 15cm. Seed is dropped into the drilled lines and covered and a farmer uses one kilogramme of seed in a 200 square mile land.
The third method is the dibbling or spot planting mainly practiced along mountain slopes where ploughing is difficult.
Farmers use a metallic hook to make a hole comprising 30cm by 12.5 cm and in each hole seven seeds are dropped and covered with soil.
It takes a week for the seeds to germinate. After three weeks from germination farmers are advised to weed their farms. This is the time to apply the first round of fertiliser namely UREA and Diammonium phosphate (DAP) measuring 50 kilogrammes per hectare.
It is better to apply the fertilisers before weeding to allow the weeding process cause it to infiltrate to the soil.
The second weeding is done after 50 – 60 days from planting. Rice takes about 70 days to flower depending on the variety and farmers are expected to start harvesting 40 to 50 days from the date of flowering.
Most farmers in the country are growing Nerica rice varieties namely Nerica 1, 4 and 10 which is considered as old generation of rice.
Nerica 4 matures between 110 – 120 days with yield capacity of 4-5 tonnes per hectare and it is tolerant to drought.
Nerica 2 and 5 are high yielding and it is mostly adopted and grown by farmers in northern Uganda.
The seed does not break easily meaning there is less loss during processing. A farmer milling 100 kilogrammes of paddy seed is able to get 70 kilogrammes of processed rice.
Nerica 1 matures between 105-115 days and the yield is between three to four tonnes per hectare while Nerica 10 matures in a short period of 100 -105 days with yield rate of three to four tonnes per hectare.
Nerica 6 is tolerant against Yellow Mortal Virus (YMV) and it matures in 130 – 140 days with yield potential of three to five tonnes per hectare.
Wita 9 variety is high yielding and farmers can harvest five to six tonnes per hectare with maturity period of 140 - 160 days. It is resistant to YMV
Alibu and his breeding team at Namulonge in 2013 released upland varieties namely Namche1, 2, 3, and 4.
Namche 1 is widely adopted because it is early maturing taking 100 days to harvesting.
Low land rice growing
Farmers engaged in growing lowland rice are expected to prepare nursery beds for raising seedlings.
A farmer is expected to heap soil of about one metre wide and sow seed in holes, cover the beds with grass and keep watering for germination to take place.
Farmers must have a good source of water and drainage which will channel water into the field. Seedlings are transplanted after raising them for three weeks.
At the nursery preparation, organic manure and fertiliser should be added. The bed should be prepared in 30cm by 60cm trays. Construction of water drainage channels is essential.
The farm for low land rice must be flat to enable even flow of water. The fertiliser is applied on the same day of transplanting.
Usually weeds are not a problem in low land rice growing because the water tends to kill the weeds.
Farmers are therefore expected to weed once and that is 50 days from planting. Second fertiliser application should be done after 80 days from date of planting.
Lowland rice takes about 140 to 150 days to mature and farmers grow it in one season.
The recommended varieties released by scientists from NaCRRI include Wita9, Komboka, Agoro and Okile. Other traditional varieties are K85 and K98 commonly known as Kaiso and Super rice.

Wheat and rice yields in Haryana could decline in just 15 years if temperature continues to rise: Study
The yields for wheat and rice in Haryana could decline in just 15 years if temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, a study by Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar has predicted.
Wheat yield will decline by eight per cent and rice by 11 per cent if temperatures continue to rise. By 2095, wheat yield will decline by 57 per cent and rice by 34 per cent.
For the study, Haryana was divided into three climatic zones: dry sub-humid, semi-arid and arid. The Marskim DSSAT weather generator meteorological data tool was used for forecasting temperature and rainfall between 2010 and 2095.
The study gave the examples of temperature increase in three districts – Ambala, Karnal and Hisar – that belong to the three climatic zones as well as parallel increase in rainfall between 2010 and 2095.
Haryana ranks fourth in India in wheat cultivation and tenth in rice cultivation according to the statistics of 2017.
Not only honey bees, native bees may also be facing a ‘pandemic’: Scientists
A fungal pathogen has been infecting bees around the world for at least two decades. And scientists are calling it a pandemic.
The unicellular pathogen Nosema causes the most common and widespread disease in adult honey bees. It has been exclusively documented in European honeybee, though it is also found in bees across Europe, Canada and Kenya. The pathogen is impacting the native, solitary bees, the extent of which is unknown, according to University of Colorado Boulder researchers. 
The results were published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
The information is crucial as solitary bees comprise a majority of the approximately 20,000 bee species on the planet.
“More work needs to be done to understand Nosema infections in native bee species and the potential consequences to native ecosystems, if native bees suffer a similar fate as honeybees when infected,” said Arthur Grupe, lead author and researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
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The different strains of Nosema — Nosema apisNosema ceranae, Nosema bombi — are the most common strains to cause infections in bees. Nosema ceranae causes year-round infections in hives; so far, only Nosema bombi, which infects bumblebees, has been documented in Colorado.
While N apis was the only known unicellular honey bee pathogen until 1996, when the second species, N ceranae, was identified from the Asian honey bee.
Reserachers have underlined the need to better understand how these Nosema strains travel through the globe and affect native, solitary bees.
The strains could contribute to colony collapse, a phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a honey bee colony disappear, leaving behind a queen, food, and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees.
Elephant found dead in Odisha’s Keonjhar, third within a month
The carcass of a four-year-old male elephant was found in Odisha’s mineral-rich Keonjhar district July 8, 2020. The carcass — the third elephant death in the district and the fourth in the state in a month — was found in Choramalada forest under the Barbil range.
The elephant carcass was in a state of decay when it was found, something that points to the death likely having occurred more than a week ago. Locals saw the carcass in the forest and soon informed forest officials. A team of the officials reached the spot and sent the carcass for an autopsy, after which it was buried.
Forest officials believe the dead elephant belonged to a herd of elephants roaming in the area recently. An investigation into the death is underway, said Santosh Joshi, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Keonjhar.
“Stern action will be taken against those who will be found guilty,” he added.
Bhitarkanika: Man taken by estuarine croc in fatal attack 
A 42-year-old man was missing, presumed dead, after being dragged into a river by an estuarine crocodile in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika National Park on July 7, 2020.
Ranjan Mohanty, a milk supplier, was attacked in the morning while he was standing near the bank of the crocodile-inhabited Bausagali river in Satabhaya village, waiting to cross it and reach the nearby market at Gupti to supply milk.
“The crocodile suddenly exploded out of the knee-length water, clamping its vice-like jaws and pulled him in. Some villagers raised an alarm and tried to save him. But it was futile,” Karunakar Behera, a boatman at the ghat where Mohanty was standing, said.
“Forest officials, fire brigade personnel and locals launched a search operation. The man’s body is yet to be retrieved. The forest department will provide a compensation amount of Rs 4 lakh to the family members of the victim after due inquiry,” Bikash Ranjan Dash, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the park, said.
After bats, do not make marmots into villains: Expert
Do not make marmots the new villains after bats, an expert cautioned on July 7, 2020, even as reports emerged of an outbreak of bubonic plague in Mongolia, China and the Russian Far East.
“We already have had the vilification of bats due to COVID-19. Please do not shift your attention to marmots now,” Sabuj Bhattacharyya, a member of the Lagomorph Specialist Group in Species Survival Commission (SSC), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Switzerland.
Although Bhattacharya is not an expert on rodents, the group that marmots belong to and rather studies lagomorphs or members of the rabbit family, he has nevertheless frequently come across marmots during his study of pikas, lagomorphs that share marmot habitat.
Marmots are essentially a type of squirrel and are found on the continents of Europe, Asia and North America.
South Asia or the Indian Subcontinent is home to the Himalayan Marmot as well as the Long-tailed Marmot. The incidents of plague in Mongolia, China and the Russian Far East have been caused largely after locals consumed the Tarbagan Marmot, which is found in the region.
“Marmots are eaten in China and Mongolia. High altitude regions lack proteins. Pastoral nomads usually eat these during their days out on the steppe, when they do not have any other means of sustenance. But I don’t know whether marmots are the principal diet of people in the region,” Bhattacharya, said.
Marmots are also hunted for their fur.
The squirrels may have been mentioned in antiquity as well. According to one hypothesis, the story of the “Gold-digging ant” reported by Herodotus in Ancient Greece, originated with the Himalayan marmot, whose burrows would be dug by local tribes to collect gold dust.
“Marmots play a very important role in Himalayan ecology. They are prey species for predators including the snow leopard, red fox, hawks, kestrels and eagles,” Bhattacharyya said.
“Marmots also eat plants. Every time they dig burrows, they increase aeration in the soil that also increases nutrient circulation and helps different plants to propagate. These are the ecosystem services that the marmots offer. If they are eradicated, these services will stop,” he added.
वन्य जीव एवं जैव विविधता से जुड़ी सभी खबरें हिंदी में पढ़ें।
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12:00 AM, July 12, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:30 AM, July 12, 2020

Rice imports drop to four-decade low

Analysts point to challenges to sustain increased production

Bangladesh's rice imports fell to a nearly 40-year low in the fiscal year 2019-20 thanks to farmers' endeavour to increase the yields of the main crop and allow the nation to be self-sufficient in the cereal production.
Total import was 4,180 tonnes in the last fiscal year, marking a 98 per cent slump over the previous fiscal year, resulting from high import tariffs and adequate domestic production, food ministry data showed.
Agricultural analysts attributed the gain to rising production amid farmers' gradual shift to improved varieties and replacement of older varieties by the newer ones. And these were supported by favourable weather, better crop management and subsidies aimed at keeping the prices of fertilizers affordable for growers.
Annual rice output, which was less than 3 crore tonnes until the fiscal year 2007-08, crossed the mark in the subsequent year. Since then, upward trajectory continued except for the fiscal year 2016-17 when floods in the northeastern haor region damaged crops.
Production recovered a year later but encouraged by low import duty, private importers brought in 38.90 lakh tonnes of the cereal in FY2017-18, the highest in nearly three decades.
Total yearly rice production stood at 3.64 crore tonnes in FY2018-19, posting a marginal increase over the previous year. The production estimate for the last fiscal year is yet to be made available by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
However, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, in a report in May, said the country was expected to have produced 3.87 crore tonnes of rice in FY2019-20. Bangladesh consumes 3.2 crore tonnes of rice and 55 lakh tonnes of wheat annually, said the UN agency in the report.
"No doubt, Bangladesh has made tremendous progress in rice production and food security," said Humnath Bhandari, the representative for Bangladesh at the International Rice Research Institute, in an email reply recently.
"Rice production this year has been excellent mainly due to favourable weather conditions in boro and hoping good aman production (if no natural calamities) as a result of a good price of rice and government efforts to increase rice production."
Farmers have been producing a higher amount of rice than the country's annual requirement for the last several years.
"As a result, the country sees carryover stock every year," said Md Shahjahan Kabir, director-general of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute.
Rice production has grown by 600,000 tonnes annually since 2009 and the amount was higher than the annual increase in demand for rice by 3 lakh to 3.5 lakh tonnes owing to population growth. 
"There is no need to think of import. We are producing more food than required," Kabir said.
Aromatic rice used for festivals and at hotels and restaurants is mainly imported now.
Nearly 39 lakh tonnes of rice were imported in FY2018-19. There would have been no problem had there been no import of the staple grain, said Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiruzzaman.
"Figures show that we are not only self-sufficient, but we also produced a large surplus in FY2019-20," said Subash Dasgupta, a former senior technical officer of the FAO.
"The major burning issue in this production is making the system sustainable. As of late, the current rice production system has become more unstable," he said in an email reply.
Earlier, he said, the major concern of production instability was associated with the unpredictability of monsoon.
"However, in 2017, we witnessed production vulnerabilities in all three rice growing seasons -- aus, aman and boro -- which pose alarming consequences," he said.
"A very important point to note is that the growth rate in rice production has been decelerating."
For example, Dasgupta said, rice productivity rose by 2.3 per cent per annum in the first decade of the new millennium and slowed down to 0.87 per cent in the past decade from 2011 to 2019.
A rice self-sufficient country should have continuously increasing growth in rice productivity, alongside a competitive and stable production system, Dasgupta said.  
Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, a significant percentage of the population will fall below the poverty line, resulting in increased rice consumption among them.
According to IRRI Representative Bhandari, there are challenges in future rice production such as flood, drought, salinity, cold and heat.
Agriculture Secretary Nasiruzzaman said the government has prepared a rice vision to produce enough to meet the national requirement by 2050.
The government targets to produce 5 crore tonnes of rice under the vision.
The vision lays out ways how the country will increase production in line with the population growth against the backdrop of a decline in farmland. "One of the ways would be to improve yield by variety replacement," the secretary said.
The Rice Vision prepared by the BRRI in 2015 said the population of Bangladesh will reach 21.54 crore in 2050 when 4.46 crore tonnes of rice will be required.
The vision paper said several hurdles, such as increasing population, decreasing resources and rising climate vulnerability, can stand in the way of achieving the target.
Three major interventions -- accelerating genetic gain, minimising yield gap and curtailing adoption lag -- are proposed to break the barriers to achieve the target.
Major challenges facing the implementation of the interventions include shrinking net cropped area, scarcity of water for irrigation and increasing pressure on soil fertility, the paper said.
BRRI DG Kabir said various improved varieties of rice have been released in recent years. In-bred varieties capable of withstanding stresses such as drought, flood and salinity have also been released.   "We have several draught-, flood- and salinity-tolerant rice seeds already in the field. We have replacement varieties of mega varieties," he said, adding that the target has been set to attain 25-30 lakh tonnes of surplus rice.

Global Automatic Shelling Machine Market 2020 Trending vendors – Amisy Shelling Machinery, Yung Soon Lih Food Machine, Defino& Giancaspro, TECNOCEAM, Nikko

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