## Riceplus

A Voice for Rice Community

## Thursday, September 10, 2020

### 10th September 2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Mindanao leaders call for review of rice tarrification law

By Che Palicte  September 9, 2020, 5:52 pm

Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Emmanuel Piñol. (PNA file photo)

DAVAO CITY – Mindanao leaders are clamoring for Congress to review the rice tarrification law, which allows unimpeded rice importation, amid the tanking farm gate prices of paddy rice, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Wednesday.

In a statement, Piñol noted that the farm gate prices of paddy rice have dropped from an average of PHP22 per kg. two years ago to just PHP11 per kg. since Republic Act 11203, or “An Act Liberalizing the Importation, Exportation, and Trading of Rice”, was enacted late last year.

He said MinDA's governing board has recently passed a resolution unanimously urging both the House of Representatives and the Senate to review and amend the law, which allows the unimpeded entry of imported rice into the country.

MinDA's governing board includes Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ahod Murad Ebrahim, as well as House lawmakers, governors, and mayors who head the Regional Development Councils (RDC), and private sector representatives in the island region.

The resolution, Piñol said, was proposed by private sector representative Sherwin Begyan and seconded by Agusan del Norte Governor Dale Corvera "without any opposition."

He said the measure called for the "review of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) in the face of irrefutable evidence that the unimpeded rice importation has caused injury to the local rice industry and the rice farmers of Mindanao."

“The resolution was presented during the MinDA Governing Board meeting as among the issues and problems, which could affect Mindanao's economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic,” Piñol said

During the discussions, he said, MinDA's board members took note of the "very low farm gate prices of paddy rice," reaching as low as PHP11 per kg., which is less than the production cost of PHP12.

This has caused economic hardships for rice farmers and could adversely affect Mindanao’s economic recovery efforts, Piñol said.

Zubiri, whose home province of Bukidnon has one of the biggest rice production areas in Mindanao, also received appeals from rice farmers for a review of the RTL.

"If it is really causing injury to the rice industry and hardships to our farmers, then it is only fair that we review the law," Zubiri was quoted as saying by Piñol.

He noted that while the RTL aims to provide affordable rice prices for consumers, coupled with the goal of raising the income of palay or rice farmers, the law also allows importers "to bring in as much imported rice, provided they pay the tariffs, which in turn will be placed under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which assures the rice industry of PHP10 billion annual support for the next six years."

Piñol, however, said studies conducted by the Federation of Free Farmers showed that while rice consumers benefited from the lower rice prices at an estimated value of PHP6 billion, rice farmers lost about PHP80 billion because of reduced income as a result of very low farm gate prices.

“Additional losses, which have yet to be quantified were also reported in ancillary activities to rice production, including land preparation equipment utilization, milling, and processing, and by-products like rice bran and rice hulls,” he said. (PNA)

# Why Rice Self-Sufficiency Has Such a Grip on the Indonesian Public Imagination

## Despite being economically damaging and nearly impossible to achieve, politicians continue to cling to a policy of rice self-sufficiency.

Being known by the Indonesian public to support importing rice over self-sufficiency can jeopardise a politician’s place in Indonesian politics. Recently, supporters of Prabowo Subianto, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s opponent in the country’s upcoming election, tried to attack the incumbent using this issue.

An economist in Prabowo’s camp, Dradjad Wibowo, criticised Jokowi for having a “hobby of importing rice”. Dradjad claimed that Jokowi has imported the largest amount of rice since the New Order regime. The agriculture minister has refuted this.

Interestingly, no officials in Jokowi’s administration has appeared to refute an allegation Prabowo made during the televised presidential debate of January 2019 that elements within Jokowi’s government were benefiting financially (that is, illegally) from rice imports.

That political insiders have taken advantage of state-controlled rice imports in Indonesia has long been an open secret. So what may have transpired under Jokowi was nothing new.

That both presidential candidates have pledged to achieve self-sufficiency in rice, just as they did during the 2014 election campaign, is also to be expected.

## Self-sufficiency: a difficult promise to keep

It is exceedingly difficult to pinpoint why today’s politicians in Indonesia cling to a policy of self-sufficiency in the country’s primary staple food when the country has so rarely achieved this feat on an annual basis.

The simple answer is because the policy seems to be popular. But why? Why is the idea of reaching rice self-sufficiency so popular among the public? Why is it political suicide for a national politician to support a policy that aims to increase the annual supply of foreign rice?

After all, according to many mainstream (admittedly mostly foreign) economists, doing so would bring many benef its. Since foreign rice, mostly sourced from Vietnam and Thailand, is more cheaply produced, lower rice prices in Indonesia would amount to less household spending on this staple food among the poor.

In turn, the poor could spend more on food with higher nutritional content than white rice, on health care and on their children’s education. This does not only apply to the urban poor. Because many rural poor, even small-scale rice farmers, remain net consumers of rice, cheaper foreign rice would reduce rural poverty as well.

Lastly, by suspending expensive rice self-sufficiency efforts – Jokowi oversaw significant state spending to build a few dozen reservoirs to increase rice production – the government would be able to spend public money elsewhere.

For example, the government could use the money to help marginal farmers who might be forced to sell their crop at lower prices. Public funding could be used for income support or for extension services to help growers shift to crops of higher value than rice. Both possibilities, it seems, would make inroads into rural poverty.

## The populism of rice self-sufficiency

Several reasons have been proposed for why self-sufficiency in rice remains so popular.

Some suggest the public just does not realise that higher rice prices actually hurt the rural poor since they believe what the government tells them — that higher domestic prices mean the farmer will receive more money for his crop. This might be true for the large-scale farmers, but they are small in number.

Others insist that the rice milling lobby is behind self-sufficiency. Higher domestic production means more milling and therefore more profits.

Officials from the National Food Security Council that I interviewed highlighted the simmering nostalgia for the glory days of the New Order, especially when under Soeharto in the mid-1980s Indonesia last achieved rice self-sufficiency, albeit briefly.

The populism generated by Indonesia’s competitive elections may also play a role here.

Yet these factors are also found in regional neighbours that share similarities with Indonesia. Malaysia and the Philippines, for example, also grow rice in abundance yet rely on imports to fulfil national requirements. There, high domestic rice prices hurt the poor as well.

These two countries rely on state agencies to import rice, which leads to considerable rent-seeking. Milling lobbies are robust in the Philippines and Malaysia as well. These two countries also experienced impressive production spurts during the Green Revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, and each has competitive electoral regimes that have spurred populist sentiments.

But, significantly, new governments in Malaysia and the Philippines have taken concrete steps toward liberalising their rice trade policies. This means extinguishing dreams of achieving rice self-sufficiency. In short, they have begun serious discussions to revoke the monopoly import licences of their rice parastatals in order to involve more private traders in the buying and selling of imported rice.

While it is uncertain precisely what will come of these policy changes, one thing is sure — neither Jokowi nor Prabowo between now and the April election will make pledges like this. In Indonesia, the rice self-sufficiency dream remains alive.

## A legacy of nationalism

Indonesia’s current distinctiveness might lie with the legacy of the country’s nationalist, anti-colonial movement, and specifically the central role the rice peasant holds as a stirring symbol of independence.

Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president, famously espoused an ideology of Marhaenism, where the average, poor Indonesian (read Javanese) peasant embodied the ideals of self-sufficiency and perseverance in the face of aggressive, foreign intrusion.

This belief, ironically carried forth by Soeharto who liked to portray himself as the patron of the Indonesian peasant, continues to resonate powerfully in Indonesia. Idolisation of the rice peasant was absent or less prominent in the ethnically fractured nationalist movement of Malaya/Malaysia, and in the oligarchic, top-down, elite-controlled movement in the Philippines.

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In short, it falls on us to consider how specific histories and ideologies continue to shape critical public policies in Indonesia and elsewhere. Liberalisation can be achieved easily with the stroke of a pen. Altering creeds rooted in one’s nationalist past cannot be as easily undone

# Govt to cut per capita rice consumption by 2024

Illustration - Workers pack rice at the National Logistics Board (Bulog) warehouse in Lebak, Banten province. (ANTARA FOTO/Muhamamd Bagus Khoirunas/agr/aww)

Rice consumption can be reduced in case the government intervenes. Without the intervention, the per capita rice consumption will reach 91.2 kilograms per year.

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Agriculture Ministry has set itself the target of lowering national per capita rice consumption by 7 percent to 85 kilograms by 2024.

Rice consumption will be reduced by 1.77 million tons, worth Rp17.78 trillion, secretary of the Food Security Board of the Agriculture Ministry, Riwantoro, said here on Wednesday.

“Rice consumption can be reduced in case the government intervenes. Without the intervention, the per capita rice consumption will reach 91.2 kilograms per year," he said during a discussion with the Agriculture Journalists Forum (Forwatan) here.

The per capita rice consumption is projected to reach an average of 92.9 kilograms in 2020 compared to 94.9 kilogram a year earlier, he said.

“We are targeting to lower rice consumption. In contract, the consumption of other local foods will increase. The opportunity for (food) diversification is wide open, since the public wants to lead a healthy life, and that is a business opportunity for small and medium businesses,” he added.

He said the Food Security Board has medium- and long-term strategies to realize food diversification.

The food diversification is aimed at anticipating the food crisis, providing alternative food, encouraging local economy, and creating healthy human resources to reduce dependence on rice consumption, he elaborated.

Currently, each province is focusing on producing local food other than rice, he said adding, there are six food commodities which can serve as substitutes for rice, namely, cassava, corn, sago, banana, potato, and sorghum.

Meanwhile, chief of the Economics Department of IPB University, Dr. Sahara, said the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the right momentum to accelerate the food diversification program.

“Therefore, the food pattern must be changed, and rice is not the only carbohydrate source. So far, the government has been focusing more on developing rice (farming). In fact, Indonesia is endowed with abundant food varieties,” he said.

Indonesia now has 77 kinds of carbohydrate-rich foods, 75 kinds of protein-rich foods, 110 kinds of spices and seasoning, 389 kinds of fruits, 226 kinds of vegetables, 26 kinds of legumes, and 40 kinds of beverage materials, he added.

# Riverina farmers make 'uncommon' decision to cut or spray winter crops to make room for rice

The rush is on in the Riverina to cut winter crops, so farmers can plant rice as more water becomes available.(Supplied: Warwick Collis)

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Some farmers in the Riverina are taking the unusual step of spraying winter crops or cutting them for stock feed so they can plant rice this season.

## Key points:

·         Some farmers are spraying winter crops or cutting them for stock feed so they can use the paddocks to plant rice

·         Hay and silage contractor Warwick Collis says farmers are removing winter crops because there is more money to be made from rice

·         Water allocations for general security irrigators have been rising in the Riverina creating optimism of a larger rice crop this season

A hay and silage contractor based near Griffith said his phone had been ringing hot since an increased water allocation was announced last week, which had given growers confidence they would have enough water to plant rice this year.

Rice planting will start next month and contractor Warwick Collis said some farmers were cutting wheat and barley crops for silage, so they could clear their paddocks for rice.

"I've got three jobs to do now and each job is [60 hectares], and they're taking wheat out wholly and solely to put rice in," Mr Collis said.

"I've had another half a dozen people wanting to do it.

"I've got one customer who changed his mind and sprayed it out with Roundup, and he's now mulched it and he's going to disc it into the ground."

Mr Collis said it was "uncommon" for farmers to get rid of winter crops but he said they did so because there was more money to be made from planting rice, as increased water allocations meant farmers would have access to the water needed to grow it.

"Ten years ago the same thing happened where people had wheat in the ground and had to get rid of it," he said.

"The quickest way is to cut it for silage because we can get silage off a paddock in two days."

## Rising allocation creates optimism

Water allocations for general security irrigators in the Murrumbidgee Valley increased by 12 per cent last week to 44 per cent, while in the Murray Valley the total allocation for this year is 12 per cent.

Last season's rice crop was the second smallest on record but rising water allocations had created optimism of a significantly larger rice crop this season.

Low water allocations and tough seasonal conditions resulted in last season's rice crop being the second lowest on record at just 45,000 tonnes.(ABC Rural: Cara Jeffery)

President of the Ricegrowers Association Rob Massina said good conditions earlier in the year saw many farmers plant their properties "wall to wall" with crops.

"We're now in a fortunate position where we are seeing the water allocation build so we can see what we can do from a summer cropping perspective," he said.

"If you were making a decision to take out a wheat crop today, you would have to assess if you've got a market for the silage, if you've got a market for the wheat, when you're going to get paid for that, if you have livestock to graze and fatten."

Mr Massina said there was still time for growers to decide if they wanted to plant rice this season.

"Planting of rice generally starts in October but with the development of other varieties you can nearly push it out to the end of November," he said.

"There could be a situation where you could harvest oats or a canola crop and potentially get a rice crop in, depending on the chemicals used previously."

# January to August rice imports reach 1.642 MMT, BPI data show

September 9, 2020

File photo: Workers unload tons of rice to be distributed to Quezon City barangays affected by the COVID-19 lockdown. (NONOY LACZA)

The country’s rice imports from January to August reached 1.642 million metric tons, about 44 percent of the 3.737 MMT volume applied by the private sector to date, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) data obtained by the BusinessMirror showed.

Latest BPI data also showed that rice imports in August reached a two-month high of 139,706.323 MT as importers used 189 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPS-IC) to bring in the volume.

The eight-month volume was less than half of what 202 registered rice traders, comprising of farmers cooperatives, organizations, traders, companies and private firms applied to import, BPI data further showed.

In August alone, the BPI issued 365 SPS-IC to registered imports for the importation of 259,180.060 MT. SPS-ICs have a 60-day must ship out rule before it expires based on existing rules.

BPI data showed that Puregold Price Club Inc. was the top rice importer to date with 65,278.65 MT volume followed by Davao San Ei Trading Inc. with 64,636 MT.

The BPI earlier told the BusinessMirror that “unjustified” underutilization by traders of their approved SPS-IC for milled rice is an “anomalous” activity that may disrupt state food sufficiency planning.

The BusinessMirror earlier reported that rice traders and importers who have unused sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance could be suspended by the DA as about 60 percent of issued SPS-ICs in the first half, covering almost 2 million metric tons, remained unutilized as of July 10.

The BPI, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), said the underutilization of the SPS-ICs this year was attributed to such reasons as the lockdowns in countries of origin due to Covid-19 pandemic and export ban in Vietnam.

Other reasons given by rice importers were: delayed shipments, rice suppliers limiting their export to ensure supply for their own needs, port congestion and holidays at country of origins and high price of imported rice than locally produced staple, according to BPI’s National Plant Quarantine Service Division (NPQSD).

“Underutilization of approved SPS-ICs without proper justification is a kind of anomalous activity which can disrupt government planning for food sufficiency,” NPQSD said in an e-mail interview.

# Laura brings ‘wind burn’ to local rice crops

Posted: Sep 8, 2020 / 05:09 PM CDT Updated: Sep 9, 2020 / 08:59 AM CDT

MOREHOUSE PARISH, LA (KTVE/KARD) Nearly two weeks ago, Laura moved her way through the ArkLaMiss, leaving a path of destruction in her wake. As communities continue to pick up the pieces, we’re starting to get a better idea of what kind of damage she left behind. Now we’re starting to see it show up in the agriculture community.

“We may have to use some of our rice up here for what they’re going to use it for. And it may just be a shortage in general, you know, because of that. You know, it could drive the price up a little but you know, I don’t expect it to drive it up a lot” Richard Costello, A Rice Consultant & Ashley County Rice Farmer said.

Wind burnt rice is popping up in fields from Southern Arkansas to Northern Louisiana. Between 3,000-5,000 acres have been affected in Louisiana alone.

“This is the first time we’ve ever seen this kind of damage in the rice fields” Jason Waller, A Morehouse Parish Rice Farmer said.

It’s being seen in late planted crops, mainly affecting the pollination process.

“It kind of beat the rice back and fourth against each other, the different heads that were out. And it just devastated the pollen and the pollination process” Waller said.

Even early planted crops sustained some shatter, which is damage to the pollinated grains. Rice is only grown for human consumption and undergoes strict quality control, which has farmers fearing much of the crop will be lost.

“We needed to have a perfect growing season this year because the prices have been so depressed” Waller said.

As if the damage from wind burn wasn’t enough, farmers are going to have to worry about other issues related to it as they head into harvest season.

“It can create tiny fissures and things in that hole, that rice hole. So that leaves a pathway into pathogens and fungi and things like that” Costello said.

The damage goes beyond the crop itself.

“Not only is it going out of my pocket but it will be gone from being able to take that money and putting it back into the community” Waller said.

Farmers say that they’ll have a much better idea of what the total damage is from Laura once they get closer to harvest time.

# Laura brings ‘wind burn’ to local rice crops

Posted: Sep 8, 2020 / 05:09 PM CDT Updated: Sep 9, 2020 / 08:59 AM CDT

MOREHOUSE PARISH, LA (KTVE/KARD) Nearly two weeks ago, Laura moved her way through the ArkLaMiss, leaving a path of destruction in her wake. As communities continue to pick up the pieces, we’re starting to get a better idea of what kind of damage she left behind. Now we’re starting to see it show up in the agriculture community.

“We may have to use some of our rice up here for what they’re going to use it for. And it may just be a shortage in general, you know, because of that. You know, it could drive the price up a little but you know, I don’t expect it to drive it up a lot” Richard Costello, A Rice Consultant & Ashley County Rice Farmer said.

Wind burnt rice is popping up in fields from Southern Arkansas to Northern Louisiana. Between 3,000-5,000 acres have been affected in Louisiana alone.

“This is the first time we’ve ever seen this kind of damage in the rice fields” Jason Waller, A Morehouse Parish Rice Farmer said.

It’s being seen in late planted crops, mainly affecting the pollination process.

“It kind of beat the rice back and fourth against each other, the different heads that were out. And it just devastated the pollen and the pollination process” Waller said.

Even early planted crops sustained some shatter, which is damage to the pollinated grains. Rice is only grown for human consumption and undergoes strict quality control, which has farmers fearing much of the crop will be lost.

“We needed to have a perfect growing season this year because the prices have been so depressed” Waller said.

As if the damage from wind burn wasn’t enough, farmers are going to have to worry about other issues related to it as they head into harvest season.

“It can create tiny fissures and things in that hole, that rice hole. So that leaves a pathway into pathogens and fungi and things like that” Costello said.

The damage goes beyond the crop itself.

“Not only is it going out of my pocket but it will be gone from being able to take that money and putting it back into the community” Waller said.

Farmers say that they’ll have a much better idea of what the total damage is from Laura once they get closer to harvest time.

World Bank urges Philippines to reduce fixation on rice

Agriculture production has historically accounted for about a tenth to the Philippines' annual economic output, but declines and dismal expansions in recent years have lagged the industry behind manufacturing and services sectors.

The STAR/Andy G. Zapata Jr./File

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - September 9, 2020 - 5:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — It's time for the Philippines to abandon its rice-oriented agriculture policies and start investing in improving production of other crops to develop the country's farm sector, the World Bank said Wednesday.

In a report, the Washington-based multilateral lender said the government's excessive focus on rice, the country's main staple, has not been the most efficient way of spending public funds as it neglects other farm sectors that have potential to drive growth.

"The narrowly focused agenda has caused other segments of the agricultural sector to fall well short of their potential," the World Bank said in a report titled “Transforming Philippine Agriculture During Covid-19 and Beyond."

"Rice will remain a vital food staple for the country, yet the bulk of the income-earning and job creation opportunities for the sector going forward will be generated in other non-rice sub-sectors," it added.

Although the Duterte administration's move to lift rice import caps by enacting the Rice Tariffication law "was an important step" in bringing more attention to other farm sectors, World Bank said the government remains overly-focused on the rice program.

Based on the bank's estimates, large chunks of the agriculture budget for this year were cornered by rice programs, particularly the agency's funding for production support services where rice accounted for 48% of the outlay, education and training (53%), equipment and facilities (35%), research and development (49%) and irrigation (88%).

"There is a need to shift from a rice-centered agri-food policy to one that anticipates greater balance in sectoral priority-setting and resource allocation," the lender said.

The share of agriculture in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) has declined from 13% to 9.3% between 2008 and 2018, which World Bank mainly attributed to low productivity in rice and the country's failure to diversify into high-value-added farm products for local consumption and export.

For the lender, the coronavirus pandemic heightens the urgency for government to "transform" the farm sector to ensure sufficient food supply. Government data showed the farm sector grew an annual 0.5% in the second quarter, bucking a downtrend posted by most industries.

But as it appears, the bank's ecommendation is easier said than done. Next year, the agriculture department will see a 6.2% budget cut if the Duterte administration's proposed outlay come out of Congress intact. The agency initially asked for P280 billion budget for 2021.

"The budget of DA should be proportional to the contribution of the DA to GDP." Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said in a press conference.

"The secretary keeps on saying we will try to work on this one, but of course (the budget) should be proportional to what you wanted to achieve," Cayanan added.

Agriculture production has historically accounted for about a tenth to the Philippines' annual economic output, but declines and dismal expansions in recent years have lagged the industry behind manufacturing and services sectors.

The STAR/Andy G. Zapata Jr./File

World Bank urges Philippines to reduce fixation on rice

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - September 9, 2020 - 5:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — It's time for the Philippines to abandon its rice-oriented agriculture policies and start investing in improving production of other crops to develop the country's farm sector, the World Bank said Wednesday.

In a report, the Washington-based multilateral lender said the government's excessive focus on rice, the country's main staple, has not been the most efficient way of spending public funds as it neglects other farm sectors that have potential to drive growth.

"The narrowly focused agenda has caused other segments of the agricultural sector to fall well short of their potential," the World Bank said in a report titled “Transforming Philippine Agriculture During Covid-19 and Beyond."

"Rice will remain a vital food staple for the country, yet the bulk of the income-earning and job creation opportunities for the sector going forward will be generated in other non-rice sub-sectors," it added.

Although the Duterte administration's move to lift rice import caps by enacting the Rice Tariffication law "was an important step" in bringing more attention to other farm sectors, World Bank said the government remains overly-focused on the rice program.

Based on the bank's estimates, large chunks of the agriculture budget for this year were cornered by rice programs, particularly the agency's funding for production support services where rice accounted for 48% of the outlay, education and training (53%), equipment and facilities (35%), research and development (49%) and irrigation (88%).

"There is a need to shift from a rice-centered agri-food policy to one that anticipates greater balance in sectoral priority-setting and resource allocation," the lender said.

The share of agriculture in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) has declined from 13% to 9.3% between 2008 and 2018, which World Bank mainly attributed to low productivity in rice and the country's failure to diversify into high-value-added farm products for local consumption and export.

For the lender, the coronavirus pandemic heightens the urgency for government to "transform" the farm sector to ensure sufficient food supply. Government data showed the farm sector grew an annual 0.5% in the second quarter, bucking a downtrend posted by most industries.

But as it appears, the bank's ecommendation is easier said than done. Next year, the agriculture department will see a 6.2% budget cut if the Duterte administration's proposed outlay come out of Congress intact. The agency initially asked for P280 billion budget for 2021.

"The budget of DA should be proportional to the contribution of the DA to GDP." Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said in a press conference.

"The secretary keeps on saying we will try to work on this one, but of course (the budget) should be proportional to what you wanted to achieve," Cayanan added

# Effects of introducing eels on the yields and availability of fertilizer nitrogen in an integrated rice–crayfish system

## Abstract

Recently, many new rice–fish co-culture models have been developed to increase economic and ecological benefits. In this study, we added eels (Monopterus albus) to a rice–crayfish system and conducted a 3-year field investigation to compare the yields and availability of fertilizer N among groups with a low density of eels, high density of eels and no eels. We performed a mesocosm experiment and used an isotope tracer technique to detect the fate of fertilizer N. The results showed that the rice yields significantly improved after the introduction of the eels. However, the introduction of a high density of eels significantly limited the crayfish yield, increased water N and N2O emissions and decreased soil N content. The mesocosm experiment suggested that the use efficiency of fertilizer N was significantly increased after the introduction of the eels. The fertilizer N used by rice was significantly higher in rice–crayfish–eel system than in rice–crayfish system. This study indicated that the introduction of eels may be a good practice for improving yields and availability of fertilizer N in a rice–crayfish system.

## Introduction

In recent years, a substantial increase in integrated rice–fish culture (IRFC) has been observed in China. By the end of 2010, IRFC covers an area of 1.33 × 106 ha, which accounts for 4.48% of the total rice planting area in China1. The primary concept of IRFC is to culture aquatic animals, e.g. fish, shrimp, crabs and soft shell turtles, in limited paddy space2,3. When compared with monoculture of rice and fish, IRFC has advantages, such as optimizing land resources, saving labour inputs and facilitating field management4. IRFC is considered an effective agriculture mode that can simultaneously provide food security and conserve the environment because almost no pesticides or herbicides are used during rice production5. Moreover, IRFC can increase fertilizer availability and decrease fertilizer application6,7,8.

Nitrogen (N) fertilizer provides an essential nutrient for rice cultivation. In IRFC, the availability of soil or fertilizer N can be enhanced through the complementary use of N by rice and fish9. The activities of aquatic animals can increase N release from the soil and N uptake by rice plants10,11,12,13. Fish excrement and effluents also have a fertilizing effect, which increases the amount of nutrients available to the rice crops14. Excess N temporarily retained in rice fields can be transmitted through the food chain by aquatic animals15. Therefore, when compared with rice monoculture, IRFC can greatly reduce N loss to the environment.

Integrated rice–crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) culture (IRCC) is one of the most popular IRFCs in China. Currently, the total area under IRCC in China is 6 × 105 ha, and 1.2 × 106 t crayfish are produced from paddy fields16. The co-culture of rice and crayfish can improve the soil carbon pool and microbial community structure17. Crayfish activities can contribute to a high rice yield from paddy fields18. However, the explosive increase in crayfish production has greatly limited the economic benefits of IRCC in the past few years. Moreover, crayfish farming relies too much on artificial diets, which may cause water pollution and environmental damage. To increase income and ecological health, many farmers have tried to introduce new species into the rice–crayfish (RC) system to develop new IRFCs with more complex species combinations, such as rice–crayfish–eel and rice–crayfish–turtle co-cultures19.

In China, the Asian swamp eel (Monopterus albus) is an indigenous species with a high economic value. The eels can adapt to the complex environment of rice fields, and they are considered as an ideal species for rice paddy farming20. The introduction of eels to the RC system can improve spatial efficiency, prolong the food chain and increase biodiversity21. Many scholars have detected N availability in the RC system. Previous studies have suggested that IRCC does not significantly increase the N uptake in rice grains, roots and straw when compared with rice monoculture22. Moreover, the co-culture of rice and crayfish may cause more N loss in the form of N2O from the paddy ecosystem23. However, there is limited information on the effects of eel or eel–crayfish disturbance on the N cycle in paddy fields.

In this study, we investigated a rice–crayfish–eel (RCE) system continuously for 3 years. Meanwhile, we performed a mesocosm experiment and used a stable isotope (15N) tracer technique. The aims of this study were to (1) analyse the effects of eel introduction on the yields of rice and crayfish and (2) detect the availability of fertilizer N in the RCE system.

## Results

### Yields in field investigation

Table 1 shows the average yields and total N content of rice, crayfish and eels. The rice yields decreased significantly in the control paddies during the investigation (P < 0.05, Table S1). However, no significant changes were observed in the yields of rice, crayfish and eels in the LD and HD groups (P > 0.05, Table S1). From 2018 to 2019, the rice yields were significantly higher in the LD and HD groups than in the control group (P < 0.05, Table S1). However, the crayfish yields in the HD group were significantly lower than that in the LD and control paddies (P < 0.05, Table S1). The eel yields were significant higher in the HD group than in the LD group (P < 0.05, Table S1). The total N content of rice, crayfish and eels had similar spatial and temporal trends with the rice yields.

Total N content in the water and soils

Figure 1 shows the changes in water and soil N during the 3-year investigation. No significant changes in water and soil N were observed during the 3 years (P > 0.05, Table S2). The average content of total N in the water was significantly higher in the HD group than in the control paddy (P < 0.05, Table S2). From August to October, the total N content in the water was significantly higher in the HD group than in the control group (P < 0.05, Table S2). However, no significant differences in water N were observed among the three groups from June to July (P > 0.05, Table S2). In contrast, the soil N was significantly lower in the HD group than in the control and LD paddies (P < 0.05, Table S2).

N2O emission and NH3 volatilization

Figure 2 shows the variations in N2O emission and NH3 volatilization from the three rice–fish groups. The average N2O flux was significantly higher in the HD group than in the other two groups (P < 0.05, Table S3). In August and October, the N2O flux was significantly higher in HD group than in LD and control groups (P < 0.05, Table S3). However, no significant differences in N2O flux were observed in the other 3 months among three groups (P > 0.05, Table S3).

No significant differences in average NH3 volatilization were observed among the three groups (P > 0.05, Table S3). The NH3 flux was significantly higher in HD group than in control group (P < 0.05, Table S3) from September to October. However, there were no significant differences in NH3 flux among three groups from June to August (P > 0.05, Table S3).

### Fate of fertilizer N

Figure 3 shows the fate of fertilizer N in the RCE and RC systems. No significant differences in the total N content of rice (P = 0.228) and crayfish (P = 0.334) were observed between the RCE and RC systems after the mesocosm experiment. The use efficiency of fertilizer N was significantly higher in RCE (54.39%) than in RC (36.78%; P = 0.009). The proportion of fertilizer N used by crayfish was significantly higher in RC (7.78%) than in RCE (0.82%; P = 0.003). In contrast, the proportion of fertilizer N used by rice was significantly lower in RC (29.00%) than in RCE (37.30%; P = 0.048). In the RCE system, about 16.27% of N was transferred to the eels from the fertilizer.

Discussion

This study demonstrated that the introduction of eels at a low density significantly increased rice yields in the RC system. Moreover, no significant changes in rice and crayfish yields of the LD group occurred during the investigation. The results suggest that eels and crayfish can be bred simultaneously in paddies, despite their predation relationship. Moreover, the rice yields may be enhanced by multispecies complex rearing in the rice field. This viewpoint was also demonstrated by other scholars24,25. Lin and Wu found that the rice yields were significantly higher in the rice–frog–fish system than in rice–fish co-culture and rice monoculture25. In the rice fields, the eels prefer high temperatures and are usually active in the rice-growing platform. In contrast, the crayfish are aquatic animals that prefer shady areas and usually live at the bottom of ditches. The living spaces of the eels and crayfish do not completely coincide. The addition of eels can restrict the activities of crayfish in the rice-planting platform, thus reducing the destruction of rice roots by the crayfish. Therefore, an appropriate number of eels may promote the sustainable development of the RCE system.

This study also suggests that the crayfish yields were significantly suppressed by a high density of eels, although the rice yields were significantly increased. Previous studies have shown that bioturbation by eels is beneficial for maintaining the ecological security of paddies and rice yields because they prey on insect pests26. However, the eels also feed on benthic animals and fishes. The crayfish, especially the juvenile ones, may become the major food source of eels in the RCE system27. In rice fields, cultivation of crayfish would mainly require self-propagation and self-breeding; thus, the crayfish juveniles would probably be heavily preyed on by the eels, leading to an inevitable population degradation. In addition, we found that the concentration of water N in high-density group was significantly enhanced. However, the variation of ammonia can alter the duration and intensity of agonistic interactions in the crayfish28. Therefore, the decline in crayfish populations could also be caused by cannibalism.

In this study, the introduction of eels considerably increased water N and decreased soil N. Moreover, previous studies have suggested that the process of N release is affected by many abiotic and biotic factors, e.g. temperature, mobility and rearing density29. We found that the water N content was significantly higher in the HD group than in the control group from August to October. In addition, bioturbation by the eels in the rice platform may have loosened the soil structure, thus increasing pore size and sediment permeability and fertilizer N uptake by rice. Therefore, the N content of rice also significantly increased in the groups with eels.

The emission of greenhouse gases, e.g. N2O and NH3, is one of the main methods of N loss from rice fields. In this study, the emission of N2O was significantly increased after the introduction of a high density of eels. Some behaviours of aquatic animals, e.g. digging burrows and foraging, can promote gas exchange among soil, water and atmosphere as well as enhance soil Eh, which contributes to the production of N2O through nitrification30. Moreover, the N substrates used for nitrification and denitrification can be obtained from the excretions of crayfish and eels. We found that NH3 volatilization was higher in the HD group than in the LD and control groups. This was possibly attributable to an increase in ionized ammonium (NH4+). Hargreaves considered that NH3 volatilization is determined by the equilibrium between unionized ammonia (NH3) and ionized ammonium (NH4+)31. All three groups showed a trend of increase in NH3 flux from June to September. This may be because the ingestion and excretion of crayfish and eels may be accelerated with an increase in temperature, thus increasing the concentrations of NH3 and NH4+.

In the mesocosm experiment, we found that the use efficiency of fertilizer N significantly improved with the introduction of eels in the RC system. However, the proportion of fertilizer N in the crayfish was significantly lower in the RCE system than in the RC system because the feeding habitat of crayfish may have been affected by the introduction of eels. A previous study indicated that about 58.6–65.3% of crayfish diets originated from aquatic plants, zooplankton and organic debris in the RC co-culture system15. However, the eel activities restricted the crayfish to the benthic zone, thus greatly reducing the probability of the crayfish of feeding on plants. Therefore, the N of crayfish in the RCE culture was mainly derived from the artificial diet, although no significant differences in total N were found between the RC and RCE systems. Wan et al. reported that muscle quality can be significantly improved in integrated RC culture (when compared with crayfish monoculture in ponds) because the crayfish can ingest more plant fibre32. Therefore, the quality of crayfish may be indirectly degraded in the RCE system, although their yields did not decrease significantly. To sum up, the introduction of appropriate amount of eels into rice–crayfish system may improve the availability of nitrogen fertilizer without increasing nitrogen loss to the environment.

Conclusions

This study demonstrated the possibility of co-culture of crayfish and eels in rice fields. The addition of eels at a low density can promote the rice yield, while maintaining crayfish yield and N content in the environment. However, an overabundance of eels can cause a decline in crayfish yield. Moreover, total N content of the water and N2O emission increased significantly after the introduction of eels at a high density. More fertilizer N was used by rice and less N entered the crayfish from the fertilizer in the RCE system than in the RC system. The recycling of N in the field shows that the availability of fertilizer in the RC system can be effectively improved after the introduction of an appropriate number of eels.

Materials and methods

### Field investigation

This study was performed between from May 2017 and October 2019 at Xinsheng Aquaculture Professional Cooperative (121° 0′ 56″ N, 30° 58′ 17″ E) in Qingpu District, Shanghai, Eastern China. This region has a subtropical monsoon climate with a mean monthly air temperature of 17.6 ± 2.3 °C and mean monthly precipitation of 126.9 ± 24.6 mm.

Each RC paddy (667 m2) had a rice-growing area (80% of the total area), aquaculture area (10%) and ridge area (10%; Fig. 4A). In the aquaculture area, a 1.2 m deep ditch was dug to provide a more comfortable habitat for the crayfish and eels. The ridge had a height of 40 cm, and it was covered with a high-density polyethylene film to prevent the aquatic animals from escaping. Every May, rice (Oryza sativa L., Qing-Xiang-Ruan-Geng) seedlings were transplanted from a nursery into the paddies at a planting density of 20 × 20 cm (one seedling on each hill). Moreover, the juvenile crayfish weighing 1.5 ± 0.3 g were released into the paddies according to the standard of 45,000 juveniles per hectare, and the crayfish were allowed to self-propagate inside the rice paddies. A total of nine RC paddies were divided into three groups according to the rearing density of the eels: control group (C), low-density group (LD) and high-density group (HD) with rearing densities of 0, 6000 and 12,000 ind. ha−1, respectively. The LD and HD groups were supplemented with juvenile eels at a density of 2000 and 4000 ind. ha−1 in June 2018 and 2019. The average weights of juvenile eels in 2017, 2018 and 2019 were 21.4 ± 1.8, 24.1 ± 0.9 and 26.8 ± 1.1 g, respectively. All juvenile crayfish and eels were purchased from Shanghai Xiangsheng Aquaculture Cooperative. In the aquaculture area, floating plants, such as duckweed (Lemna minor L.) and foxtail (Myriophyllum spicatum L.), covered one-third of the water surface. The soil contained 20.6–23.7 g kg−1 of organic matter, 0.7–1.2 g kg−1 of total N and 0.31–0.37 g kg−1 of total P.

Only basal fertilizer was used for rice cultivation, and it contained 587 kg ha−1 of urea (46.4% N), 625 kg ha−1 of superphosphate and 150 kg ha−1 of potassium chloride. Every day, 500 g of commercial fish diet (5.83% N) was applied, and no pesticides or herbicides were used in the paddies.

In late August, the mature crayfish and eels were collected using ground cages to measure the aquatic product yields. The immature crayfish and eels were returned to the paddy fields during the collection. After the rice was harvested, the rice grains were air-dried and weighed to estimate the rice yield. The N content of the rice grains and aquatic animals was determined using the semi-micro Kjeldahl method33. Before testing, rice grains, crayfish and eels were weighted, dried at 65 °C and ground. Then, all the samples were digested with concentrated sulphuric acid (H2SO4) and hydrogen peroxide.

Water samples were collected every month during the co-culture period. Three duplicate 500 mL water samples were collected from 0 to 10 cm below the surface in the aquaculture area; the three subsamples were combined to obtain one sample per paddy. In the laboratory, the total N content of the water was analysed using UV spectrophotometry after digestion by alkaline potassium persulfate oxidation.

Soil samples were collected after the rice-planting period. In each paddy, three samples were collected from a rice-planting area of 0.25 m × 0.25 m × 0.10 m. All the soil samples were air-dried, ground, passed through a 0.15 mm sieve and digested with K2SO4–CuSO4–Se solution. Then, the semi-micro Kjeldahl method was used to test the total N content of the soil.

The N2O flux rate was measured using the static chamber method34. The size of the chamber was 1.0 m × 1.0 m × 1.0 m. The N2O samples were collected every half month between 8:30 and 10:30 AM from June to October. In each paddy, four gas samples were collected using 40 mL vacuum tubes at 10 min intervals (0, 10, 20 and 30 min after chamber closure). All samples were analysed with gas chromatography (GC 2010; Shimadzu, Kyoto, Japan). The N2O flux rate was calculated using the following equation:

$$F = \rho \times h \times \left[ {{273}/\left( {{273} + T} \right)} \right] \times {\text{d}}C{\text{/d}}t$$

(1)

where F is the N2O flux rate (μg N m−2 h−1); ρ, density of N2O at the standard state (μg m−3); h, height of the chamber (m); T, average temperature in the chamber during gas collection and dC/dt, concentration variation rate of N2O.

The ammonia volatilization flux was measured with a continuous airflow enclosure method35. The NH3 flux was measured every half month from 09:00 to 11:00 AM during the rice-planting period. NH3 was absorbed using boric acid, and 0.01 M H2SO4 was used to titrate the solution to determine the rate of NH3 volatilization. The ammonia volatilization flux was calculated using the following equation:

$$F = 14 \times V \times C \times A^{ - 1} \times t^{ - 1}$$

(2)

where F denotes the ammonia volatilization flux (mg N m−2 h−1); V, volume of H2SO4 titrated (L); C, concentration of H2SO4 (mol L−1); A, area of the chamber base (m2) and t, continuous measurement time.

In this study, all the data were shown as mean ± standard error of the mean (SEM) values. One-way ANOVA and Tukey’s test (SPSS V.16.0) were used to compare the differences of the yields and total N content among the three groups and three investigated years.

### Mesocosm experiment

Between May and October 2019, the mesocosm experiment was conducted at Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Each mesocosm consisted of an experimental plot (1.2 m × 1.2 m × 0.6 m) covered with a high-density polyethylene film (Fig. 4B). In each experiment plot, 30 kg of soil from Xinsheng Aquaculture Professional Cooperative was used to construct a rice-planting platform and an aquaculture ditch (40 cm in depth). The platform area was about three-fourth of the cross-sectional area of the plot.

A total of six mesocosms were constructed: three experimental plots (RCE) and three control plots (RC). In each plot, the rice seedlings were planted in hills (one seedling per hill) within rows in May, with 20 cm between rows and 20 cm between hills in the same row for the experimental and control plots. The fertilizers used in each plot contained 84.5 g of urea (N content, 46.8%; 15N abundance, 10.15%), 90 g of superphosphate and 15 g of potassium chloride. The duckweed was planted in the aquaculture area, and it covered 30% of the aquaculture zone. Mudsnails (Cipangopaludina cathayensis, 500 g) were added to each plot. After a month, 12 crayfish were cultured in each simulated paddy, and two eels were reared in each experiment plot. The proportion of crayfish and eels was set according to that in the LD group of field investigation. The crayfish feed was supplied once every day, and the daily allowance was about 3% of the estimated crayfish weight in each mesocosm. The rice and aquatic products were harvested in October.

Rice, crayfish and eel samples were collected to measure the total N content and 15N abundance. The total N content of the soil and organism samples were measured using the semi-micro Kjeldahl method after digestion with concentrated H2SO4 and hydrogen peroxide. The 15N abundance was measured in all samples by using the MAT-271 isotope mass spectrometer (Finnigan MAT, California). The accumulation of N in rice, crayfish and eels from N fertilizer was calculated using the following equations:

$${\text{Percentage of accumulated N from fertilizer NDFF}})\;( \% ) = {\text{A}}\% \;{\text{E of the organism sample/A}}\% \;{\text{E of the fertilizer sample}} \times 100$$

(3)

$${\text{Amount of accumulated N from fertilizer}} = {\text{organism N accumulation amount}} \times {\text{NDFF}}$$

(4)

$${\text{N use efficiency NUE}})\;(\% ) = {\text{amount of N accumulated by the organism accumulated from N fertilizer/total N content of the fertilizer}} \times 100$$

(5)

where A% E is the difference between the 15N abundance of the samples or 15N-labelled fertilizers and natural abundance of 15N.

The independent-samples t-test was used to determine the differences in total N, N use efficiency and percentage of N derived from fertilizer between RCE and RC at 95% confidence level by using SPSS 16.0 (P value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant).

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the Shanghai Municipal Agricultural Commission [Grant Number (2018) 1-28] and SAAS Program for Excellent Research Team [nong ke chuang 2017 (A-03)].

Author information

### Contributions

W.L. wrote the manuscript. Q.Y. collected and analyzed the data. W.L. contributed to the plot management. W.Z. designed and performed the experiment.

### Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wenzong Zhou.

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### Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

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Lv, W., Yuan, Q., Lv, W. et al. Effects of introducing eels on the yields and availability of fertilizer nitrogen in an integrated rice–crayfish system. Sci Rep 10, 14818 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-71884-0

·         Accepted

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·         DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-71884-0

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## Fragrant rice market promising

Sok Chan / Khmer Times

The price of  Cambodia’s premium fragrant rice export market is promising compared with Thailand and Vietnam’s, according to a rice exporter.

Two types of the staple food, Phka Malis and Phka Rumduol 5 percent broken (the best quality) is $900 per tonne for their free-on-board (FOB) price while Thai Jasmine rice is$990 per tonne and Vietnamese Khao Dac Mali is $750 per tonne. Regarding second-grade fragrant rice variety, Thai Pathum Thani fragrant rice is around$680 per tonne, Cambodian Sen Kro Ob variety is $780 per tonne and Vietnam jasmine rice is around$580 per tonne.

Thai white rice 5 percent broken price is around $510 per tonne and Cambodia’s is around$530 a tonne while Vietnam’s is around $487 per tonne. The Vietnam Food Association (VFA), was quoted by Vietnam News (VNS), as saying that Vietnam rice export prices had continued to increase. Specifically, its 5 percent broken rice was$20 per tonne higher than Thailand’s in August.

Earlier this year, Thailand’s 5 percent broken white rice price was between $50 and$60 higher than the Vietnamese variety. By mid-August, Vietnam’s 5 percent broken white rice was trading at $493 to$497 per tonne, while the Thai variety stood at $473 to$477. A VFA official said: “It is the first time Vietnamese rice export prices have risen above Thailand in 30 years.”

Cambodia has competitive advantages on premium fragrant rice compared with Thailand while Vietnam does not have this kind of rice variety, said Chan Pich, general manager of Signatures of Asia, one of the leading rice exporters in Cambodia.  “Cambodia Sen Kro Ob variety is good in terms of the quality and it can sell the rice at a higher price compared with Thailand and Vietnam,” he added.

According to VNS, Vietnam’s rice exports have expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic to exceed rival Thailand in price for the first time in three decades, leading experts to suggest the sector should consolidate its position. They reported that Vietnamese rice exports reached 4.5 million tonnes worth $2.2 billion in the first eight months of 2020. Thailand is expected to export 6.5 million tonnes of rice this year and drop from third to fifth place on the list of global rice exporters in the next decade. Cambodia’s milled rice exports in the first eight months is also on the rise, reaching 448,203 tonnes, increasing 31 percent compared with the same period in 2019 and receiving about$300 million in gross revenue.

China is Cambodia’s top rice export market at 159,253 tonnes, The European Union (the EU including the UK) takes 149,848 tonnes – 34 percent – of total Cambodia rice exports.

Signatures of Asia’s General Manager Pich said from January to May, Cambodia, Thailand, India and Vietnam saw rice exports increasing especially to the European market. However, from July to August, EU buyers start looking at Vietnam’s market because it has a quota to export milled rice to the EU based on the European-Vietnam free-trade agreement (EV-FTA). Therefore, buyers started purchasing more rice from Vietnam.

“From January to May, the exports of milled rice to the EU from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam were almost the same. However, from July to August this year, the EU started testing the Vietnamese market through the FTA, therefore, we can see that Vietnamese rice exports are growing,” Pich said.

He added that the EU’s orders for milled rice from Cambodia were slow in July and August. The reason was because some EU buyers were taking their summer holiday.

Pich added that Cambodian paddy this year will not provide a full harvest until next month, so exports fell in August and will do so in September. He added that Cambodia’s premium fragrant rice is running out of stock because it was selling from November 2019 until June this year. The Sen Kro Ob variety is also running out of stock.

“Our sales of these rice varieties is good. Now we are waiting for the next harvest in October and November for the premium fragrant Malis and Romdoul rice varieties,” Pich added.

Cambodia Rice Feder- ation’s Secretary-General Lun Yeng said the price of Vietnamese rice is too low compared with Thailand and Cambodia. Therefore, it is hard to compete with Vietnam. He added that Vietnam can produce up to ten tonnes per hectare, has a low cost of transport and a tariff-free status with the EU market, giving it advantages.

He added that Cambodia is studying the market trend of Cambodian rice exports. “We are now reserving funds to buy paddy from farmers for the upcoming harvest season and working on new rice seedlings which have greater resilience to climate change,” Yeng said.

# Ministry urges enterprises to complete procedures to export fragrant rice to EU

The EU has raised the quota of rice imports from Vietnam from 50,000 tons to 80,000 tons per year. Of which, the additional 30,000 tons of rice is fragrant rice from the Mekong Delta, which will receive a tariff wild card, and according to the schedule, its import tariff will be at zero percent within the next 3-5 years.

Rice harvesting in the Mekong Delta. (Photo: SGGP)

At a press conference on September 8 in Hanoi, Director of the Department of Crop Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Nguyen Nhu Cuong informed that after the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect, the EU has expanded its quota of rice imported from Vietnam to 80,000 tons per year.

In 2019, Vietnam exported 50,000 tons of rice to the EU market under quotas, with a value of 28.5 million euros. Compared to other countries in the ASEAN, Vietnam's rice exports to Europe were only one-sixth of those of Thailand, one-tenth of those of Myanmar, and a quarter of those of Cambodia. However, since this year, Vietnam will have an additional 30,000 tons of fragrant rice grown in the Mekong Delta, which receives the wild card to enjoy preferential tariff treatment to this market.

According to the Director of the Department of Crop Production, the cultivation area of fragrant rice in the Mekong Delta annually reaches about 25 percent of the total cultivation area, equivalent to about 1 million hectares. The production of fragrant rice is estimated at 5.5 million tons of paddy, equivalent to about 3.5 million tons of fragrant rice.

If the country follows well the EU regulations, and an additional 30,000 tons of fragrant rice can be exported under quotas with low tax rates and high selling prices, since this year, it will improve the efficiency of Vietnam's rice production and also affirm the brand of Vietnamese rice in a fastidious market like the EU in particular, and the world in general. This initial success is also the basis for further negotiations on the expansion of fragrant rice export quotas to the EU market in the coming time.

Mr. Nguyen Nhu Cuong said that the Department of Crop Production has sent a document to enterprises and the Vietnam Food Association to suggest adding some fragrant rice varieties to the list of fragrant rice exported to the EU.

While Deputy Minister of the MARD Le Quoc Doanh informed that on September 4 this year, the Government issued Decree No.103/2020/ND-CP on the certification of fragrant rice varieties exported to the EU. Right after this decree was issued, on September 7, the MARD quickly issued a Decision to guide enterprises on the procedures for certification of fragrant rice varieties exported to the EU.

Currently, three enterprises have submitted their application to the MARD to register to export fragrant rice to the EU. The certification is completed within five days.

Other enterprises can send registration documents through the public administrative service portal of the MARD or by post. The certification for enterprises will be done completely free of charge.

‘The Decree takes effect from the date of signing, the MARD has requested that enterprises that have fragrant rice and export orders of fragrant rice to the EU should urgently send documents to the Department of Crop Production for the ministry to quickly complete procedures for them to soon export rice to the EU,’ Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh informed.

Thus, the EU has raised the quota of rice imports from Vietnam from 50,000 tons to 80,000 tons per year. Of which, the additional 30,000 tons of rice is fragrant rice from the Mekong Delta, which will receive a tariff wild card; and according to the schedule, its import tariff will be at zero percent within the next 3-5 years.

From now to the end of this year, there are only four months left. Enterprises need to speed up the registration process to enjoy maximum incentives for 30,000 tons of fragrant rice this year.

Vietnam hopes to export 100,000 tonnes of rice to EU

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Vietnamese firms hope to export some 100,000 tonnes of rice to the EU following the EVFTA.

Vietnam hopes to export 100,000 tonnes of rice to EU.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development held a meeting about exporting rice to the EU following the EVFTA on September 8.

Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh said the EVFTA is the most anticipated out of 13 free trade agreements that Vietnam has joined.

“The EVFTA will bring many benefits to agricultural products. Rice exports have huge potential under the EVFTA, the EU pledges to provide an annual rice quota of 80,000 tonnes to Vietnam and completely liberalise trade in broken rice. This means Vietnam can export as much as 100,000 tonnes of rice to the EU annually,” he said.

According to the Department of Crop Production, the EU will completely waive taxes for rice products from Vietnam after three to five years. This is an advantage over Cambodia and Myanmar that pay a tax of USD150 per tonne in 2020 and USD125 a tonne in 2021.

Nguyen Nhu Cuong, head of the Department of Crop Production, said in 2020, Vietnam expected to export 6.74 million tonnes of rice.

“2.02 million tonnes of fragrant rice will be exported to the EU of which 1.01 million tonnes are Jasmine 85, ST20, RVT, VD20 and Nang Hoa 9 rice,” he said.

Nguyen Quang Truong, director of Vinaseed, said, “We made preparations even when the EVFTA was still being negotiated. We have fields that meet VietGAP standards and use the Food Safety Management System 22000.”

In 2019, Vinaseed exported over 2,000 tonnes of rice to the EU for USD2m. They hope to export 5,000 tonnes of rice this year, especially when taxes are exempted.

In order to grab the opportunities brought by the EVFTA, Trung An Company signed a contract to export 3,000 tonnes of rice to three firms in Germany for USD1,000 a tonne.

Director of Trung An Company Pham Thai Binh said the first shipment on August 27 transferred 150 tonnes of rice to Germany. They are preparing the second shipment.

Export firms must meet all standards in order to export to the EU including the requirement about pesticide residue. Trung An Company had also prepared raw material areas since 2012 to meet GlobalGAP standards.

Ministry urges enterprises to complete procedures to export fragrant rice to EU

hanguyen0409

Rice harvesting in the Mekong Delta. (Photo: SGGP)

At a press conference on September 8 in Hanoi, Director of the Department of Crop Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Nguyen Nhu Cuong informed that after the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect, the EU has expanded its quota of rice imported from Vietnam to 80000 tons per year.

In 2019 Vietnam exported 50000 tons of rice to the EU market under quotas, with a value of 28.5 million euros. Compared to other countries in the ASEAN, Vietnam’s rice exports to Europe were only one-sixth of those of Thailand, one-tenth of those of Myanmar, and a quarter of those of Cambodia. However, since this year, Vietnam will have an additional 30000 tons of fragrant rice grown in the Mekong Delta, which receives the wild card to enjoy preferential tariff treatment to this market.

According to the Director of the Department of Crop Production, the cultivation area of fragrant rice in the Mekong Delta annually reaches about 25 percent of the total cultivation area, equivalent to about 1 million hectares. The production of fragrant rice is estimated at 5.5 million tons of paddy, equivalent to about 3.5 million tons of fragrant rice.

If the country follows well the EU regulations, and an additional 30000 tons of fragrant rice can be exported under quotas with low tax rates and high selling prices, since this year, it will improve the efficiency of Vietnam’s rice production and also affirm the brand of Vietnamese rice in a fastidious market like the EU in particular, and the world in general. This initial success is also the basis for further negotiations on the expansion of fragrant rice export quotas to the EU market in the coming time.

Mr. Nguyen Nhu Cuong said that the Department of Crop Production has sent a document to enterprises and the Vietnam Food Association to suggest adding some fragrant rice varieties to the list of fragrant rice exported to the EU.

While Deputy Minister of the MARD Le Quoc Doanh informed that on September 4 this year, the Government issued Decree No.103/2020/ND-CP on the certification of fragrant rice varieties exported to the EU. Right after this decree was issued, on September 7 the MARD quickly issued a Decision to guide enterprises on the procedures for certification of fragrant rice varieties exported to the EU.

Currently, three enterprises have submitted their application to the MARD to register to export fragrant rice to the EU. The certification is completed within five days.

Other enterprises can send registration documents through the public administrative service portal of the MARD or by post. The certification for enterprises will be done completely free of charge.

‘The Decree takes effect from the date of signing, the MARD has requested that enterprises that have fragrant rice and export orders of fragrant rice to the EU should urgently send documents to the Department of Crop Production for the ministry to quickly complete procedures for them to soon export rice to the EU,’ Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh informed.

Thus, the EU has raised the quota of rice imports from Vietnam from 50000 tons to 80000 tons per year. Of which, the additional 30000 tons of rice is fragrant rice from the Mekong Delta, which will receive a tariff wild card; and according to the schedule, its import tariff will be at zero percent within the next 3-5 years.

From now to the end of this year, there are only four months left. Enterprises need to speed up the registration process to enjoy maximum incentives for 30000 tons of fragrant rice this year.

By Van Phuc – Translated by Thanh Nha

Vietnam seeks to bolster rice exports to Africa

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Vietnam‚Äôs rice exports to African nations have been on the rise (Illustrative photo: congthuong.vn)

Hanoi (VNA)
‚Äì Rice exports of Vietnam to African nations have been on the rise and the upward trend may continue in the next year.

The Asia-African Market Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade has joined hands with trade offices to arrange webinars introducing potential of the African and Middle East markets, which drew hundreds of Vietnamese firms.

African countries, especially those in the western region, have high demand for rice because local production cannot meet demand, especially during years with natural hazards, crop failure, political instability and diseases.

Algeria, in particular, relies entirely on rice imports, according to the Vietnam Trade Office in the country.

The surge in its rice consumption is attributed to the increase of Asian migrants in the country, particularly Chinese workers. Algeria purchased about 100000 tonnes of rice per year, equivalent to 1 percent of the country‚Äôs food consumption.

Vietnam shipped in excess of 16390 tonnes of rice to the African country in 2019 fetching 628 million USD, a leap of 20.8 percent in value from the previous year. The figure hit 1458 million USD in the first six months of 2020 accounting for 58 percent of Vietnam‚Äôs total export value to Algeria.

Similarly, Senegal imports up to 800000 tonnes of rice a year, primarily broken rice.

Vietnam‚Äôs rice exports to Senegal witnessed a sharp increase to 96665 tonnes in 2019 earning 3262 million USD, rising 13.1-fold in volume and 10.2-fold in value.

The country shipped rice worth 2647 million USD in the first seven months of 2020 a year-on-year surge of 77.2 percent.

This year, Senegal is projected to import 125 million tonnes of the grain.

In both markets, Vietnamese rice faces tough competition from products of India, Thailand, Pakistan, Uruguay and China, among others.

The Vietnam Trade Office is keeping a close eye on adjustments in trade policies and rice import demand in the region, as well as import and payment regulations, especially in the context of COVID-19 , to promptly inform businesses./.

# Riverina farmers make 'uncommon' decision to cut or spray winter crops to make room for rice

Some farmers in the Riverina are taking the unusual step of spraying winter crops or cutting them for stock feed so they can plant rice this season.

## Key points:

·         Some farmers are spraying winter crops or cutting them for stock feed so they can use the paddocks to plant rice

·         Hay and silage contractor Warwick Collis says farmers are removing winter crops because there is more money to be made from rice

·         Water allocations for general security irrigators have been rising in the Riverina creating optimism of a larger rice crop this season

A hay and silage contractor based near Griffith said his phone had been ringing hot since an increased water allocation was announced last week, which had given growers confidence they would have enough water to plant rice this year.

Rice planting will start next month and contractor Warwick Collis said some farmers were cutting wheat and barley crops for silage, so they could clear their paddocks for rice.

"I've had another half a dozen people wanting to do it.

"I've got one customer who changed his mind and sprayed it out with Roundup, and he's now mulched it and he's going to disc it into the ground."

Mr Collis said it was "uncommon" for farmers to get rid of winter crops but he said they did so because there was more money to be made from planting rice, as increased water allocations meant farmers would have access to the water needed to grow it.

"Ten years ago the same thing happened where people had wheat in the ground and had to get rid of it," he said.

"The quickest way is to cut it for silage because we can get silage off a paddock in two days."

## Rising allocation creates optimism

Water allocations for general security irrigators in the Murrumbidgee Valley increased by 12 per cent last week to 44 per cent, while in the Murray Valley the total allocation for this year is 12 per cent.

Last season's rice crop was the second smallest on record but rising water allocations had created optimism of a significantly larger rice crop this season.

President of the Ricegrowers Association Rob Massina said good conditions earlier in the year saw many farmers plant their properties "wall to wall" with crops.

"If you were making a decision to take out a wheat crop today, you would have to assess if you've got a market for the silage, if you've got a market for the wheat, when you're going to get paid for that, if you have livestock to graze and fatten."

Mr Massina said there was still time for growers to decide if they wanted to plant rice this season.

"Planting of rice generally starts in October but with the development of other varieties you can nearly push it out to the end of November," he said.

"There could be a situation where you could harvest oats or a canola crop and potentially get a rice crop in, depending on the chemicals used previously."