Wednesday, September 16, 2020

17 September,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice e-newsletter


USDA NeedEgypt turns to science to mitigate water crisis

Alamein’s 150k cbm/day desalination plant has been inaugurated as first phase to offset water scarcity

 Mohammed El-Said 

 Comments Offon Egypt turns to science to mitigate water crisis




Among the most fertile of Egypt’s lands in Daqahleya governorate, 48-year-old farmer Mohamed Awad used to plant rice at this time of the year.

In 2020, however, he has been prevented from doing so by the local authorities, as the Egyptian government moves to allocate only a certain area of land to cultivate rice to decrease the country’s water consumption. 

Awad said that rice is one of the best crops for farmers in Egypt to grow in economic terms, but “due to the construction of the Ethiopian dam, the government started to decrease the area cultivated with the water consuming crop.”

Description: ostensibly to save water, the decision has negatively affected thousands of farmers across Egypt, like Awad, who have had to plant other crops they are not used to.

Egypt is heavily dependent on River Nile water, which provides about 97% of its present water needs. This still means that Egyptians can access only 660 cbm per person, one of the world’s lowest annual per capita water shares.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia is proceeding with construction on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Egypt believes will threaten its water security. 

The Egyptian government blames overpopulation for the exponential increase in water demands. With the population expected to double in the next 50 years, Egypt is projected to experience critical countrywide fresh water and food shortages by 2025, according to a study conducted by the Geological Society of America (GSA). 

Over the next 30 years, Egypt’s population is estimated to reach 150 million which will lead to a decrease in the per capita share of water to 350 cm/year.

Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohammed Abdel Aaty explained that his ministry is bulking out on the amount of water available, with 33% of Egypt’s water coming from recycled water resources. A further 55% of the virtual water comes in the form of crops that are imported as commodities and food items.

Egypt’s per capita share of water currently stands at below the international standard of 1,000 cbm/year, with the country taking 600 cbm/year. Despite the potential threat to accessing water from this source due to the Ethiopian dam project, the country’s share of River Nile waters is stable.

Four-directive strategy 

Ragab Abdel Azeem, Deputy Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, said that in order to meet the country’s water needs, the ministry has set a strategy using four directives. These will develop water resources, rationalise water use, purify water and protect it from pollution, whilst also creating the appropriate environment for implementing these aspects.


Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Abdel Azeem noted that the ministry is working on implementing a modern irrigation system as an alternative to flood irrigation. The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has also implemented programmes and campaigns to educate farmers and citizens about the importance of balanced water consumption.

In addition to this, the ministry is undertaking several studies to estimate Egypt’s underground reservoir, and its potential uses in development without depleting this non-renewable natural resource. 

“We have, in the past two years, started to implement the use of solar energy for irrigation in underground wells instead of diesel,” Abdel Azeem said.

The project started in the New Valley Governorate, with a three-year plan to make all wells across the governorate solar-powered. The project was also implemented in the Nile Delta governorates, to operate irrigation systems using solar energy. A number of government buildings nationwide are also being converted to using solar energy.

Drought tolerant crops 

Researchers have identified new drought-resistant plant genes that could cope with water scarcity. They have also looked into cultivating rice, which could help in decreasing the salinity of the soil in Egypt’s coastal governorates.  

Said Soliman, Professor of Genetics at Zagazig University’s Faculty of Agriculture, outlined one local experience relating to environmentally viable rice cultivation. Soliman has gained long-term experience in developing new species of rice that resist drought and use less water during cultivation.

He said that he has developed a variety of rice, which was given the name “Oraby” in honour of the political leader Ahmed Oraby and who is Zagazig University’s symbol.

This new variety of engineered rice only takes about 120 days to grow, compared to the 145 days for normal rice. He added that the Oraby rice variety can be cultivated twice yearly.  

Description: can also be cultivated on all types of land, with successful cultivation experiments having been undertaken using the sandy soils of Toshka, as well as in clay soil. According to Soliman, there are several other benefits to the new variety of rice developed at Zagazig University.

Not only is Oraby rice considerably more productive than normal varieties, it is also possible to cultivate 2m feddan of Oraby rice using the same amount of water as that needed for 1m feddan of normal rice.


Another solution to mitigating the water access crisis is the use of desalinated water. This would see a dependence on groundwater as well as the desalination of seawater to meet the domestic demand for water.

Late in 2019, the government established the Alamein desalination plant, located on the Mediterranean Coast. The plant expects to produce 150,000 cbm/day of drinking water from desalinated seawater.

A recent study noted that the domestic water sector is one of the largest users of water in Egypt, consuming more than 16% of the country’s total renewable water resources. 

Egypt is urgently in need of a plan to offset the increase in current domestic water consumption, from around 9.2bn cbm in 2016 to about 15bn cbm of water by 2040. This would use alternatives to River Nile waters, according to findings of a study published in the American Journal of Engineering Research (AJER).

According to the study, domestic water in Egypt is taken from two main sources. The first source is surface water, which supplies about 88.99%, with the second source being groundwater, which supplies about 10.77% of total demands. A further 0.24% is taken from sea water desalination plants. The major factor affecting the amount of diverted water for domestic use is the efficiency of the country’s delivery networks. 

“Groundwater and seawater desalination are together a promising source for meeting the future water needs of Egypt. By 2040 Egypt will need additional 5bn cbm to meet the domestic use of water to reach the needed amount 15 bn cbm,” said Osama Sallam, the author of the study and researcher at the Egyptian National Water Research Center, and Water Projects Manager, at the UAE’s Environment Agency.

Sallam added that Egypt’s groundwater stock is fresh with low levels of salinity, allowing for the future domestic water demands to be met. He noted that it is also cheaper than seawater desalination methods. 

The process of seawater desalination is very expensive, with the cost of desalinating 1 cbm of water currently stands at $1,000. This is in addition to the other operating and maintenance costs.

Description: process, however, is a promising source of water for coastal governorates particularly as Egypt relies on cheaper sources for energy that will help in decreasing the cost of desalination.   

Harvesting water from desert air 

A total of 97% of Egypt’s land is desert, found in Sinai as well as the Eastern and Western Deserts, with only a restricted line of fertile lands available hugging the River Nile.

For arid countries like Egypt, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley have developed a device that produces water from dry desert air, using only sunlight. The method is dependent on developing a molecular powder, a metal–organic framework (MOF), that is highly porous and acts like a sponge to absorb water. 

According to the study published in Science Advances Journal, the powder saturated with water during a moist and cool night after it was packed in a frame at a plexiglass box. After this step, it releases water as sunlight heats it during the day, resulting in water condensation on the sides of the box which was kept open at night and closed in the day.





ICAR appoints 2 SKUAST-K professors as Emeritus Scientists

GK News Network


UPDATED: September 15, 2020, 11:28 PM


Indian Council of Agricultural Research, (ICAR), Union Ministry of Agriculture has offered position of Emeritus Scientists to two faculty members of SKUAST-K, Prof M Y Zargar and Prof G A Parray, for a period of three years, an official statement said.

It said the offer has been made on the basis of their “life time achievements” including contributions to agricultural education and research and the projects submitted by them for investigation during their tenure as Emeritus Scientists.

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            Ash collects on windshield

(Vicky Boyd photo)

Rice Harvest Commences in California

By Steve Linscombe


SACRAMENTO, CA -- Most of California's rice production is in the Sacramento Valley, north of Sacramento, the state capital.  While much of the 2020 crop was planted earlier than normal because an unusually dry spring allowed earlier field preparation, smoke associated with wildfires in the region appears to be slowing development as much of the crop approaches harvest maturity.


Bruce Linquist, with the University of California Davis, said that smoke, and thus lower temperatures, are delaying grain drying and harvest. 


"We started harvesting short grain before Labor Day and have been moving along steadily," said Nicole Van Vleck, with Montna Farms near Yuba City.  "Although we have had relatively high temperatures, the two weeks of smoke have blocked the sunshine and as a result the fields have not dried out as much as we normally would see.  Our yields and quality look really good."


Tom Butler, near Robbins, started harvesting this past weekend.  "Everybody is expecting high yields due to a warm spring and so far, we are seeing that.  The smoke may have delayed some crop maturity, but we are still much earlier than the past few years.  There's going to be a lot of demand for new crop early, as there isn't much carry over from 2019, so, for now, people are pretty bullish on price."


Seth Fiack who farms near Glenn, expects to begin harvest next week.  He notes a large amount of variable heading this year which led to him holding water longer then he normally does to encourage the secondary and late heads to have enough moisture to mature.  This, combined with the smoke-covered valley and lower than average day-time temperatures, have led to his harvest start being pushed back almost 15 days.


Leo LaGrande has a diverse operation near Williams that has experienced continuous smoke on the westside of the valley for more than 28 days.  "Some days the visibility was less than a mile," said LaGrande.  "The rice appears to be ripening on time.  Until this past week, we had extreme hot weather layered with smoke, and nighttime temperatures in the 70s.  We started harvesting short grain this past week, with yields and quality at average to above average. According to our planting dates the medium grain appears to be on time, and we will start cutting these fields by the end of the week.  Fields will be difficult to get dried out this year and parking trucks in the fields might not happen."


Smoke-laden skies

(Kurt Richter photo)  

"Smoke from the wildfires has limited hours of sunlight in our region near Sacramento," said rice farmer Brian McKenzie.  "In the past three weeks, we've had only a handful of clear views of the sun.  It is extremely humid, and the valley is still under a blanket of smoke.  I estimate our fields have probably had a few hundred pounds of ash per acre deposited from the wildfires which may have an interesting effect."


"I saw the sun on Monday for the first time in quite a while and the smoke is slowly going away," said Charley Mathews, Jr., who farms near Marysville.  "It looks to be a decent crop, but, like most people, I will be glad when harvest is complete and 2020 is over."


Christopher Cota said his family operation is about two weeks away from commencing harvest, while Greg Van Dyke noted that his mochi/sweet fields have done well despite smoky conditions. 


"The timing of harvest has been delayed due to the smoke insulation as the ground has not dried out, so the rice is ready, but the ground is not," said Don Traynham, with Sun Valley near Arbuckle.  "We have had some Calrose fields harvested, and the yields are average to above average.  California experienced a similar situation a few years ago, though not this extreme, where smoke insulation kept the high and low temperatures very minimal which enhanced quality."


Bert Manuel, from Yuba City, said not a lot of rice is being cut in his area, and there is a great deal of green rice around.  "My rice has gone from being ahead of schedule to being behind, and the jury is still out on yields for this year's crop as smoke continues to affect later planted rice."  Manuel noted the lack of sunlight delays the beginning of harvest each day as it takes longer for surface moisture to evaporate.


"Mild lodging already exists where I farm in Butte County and with a significant wind or any amount of rain, we could have some rough harvest conditions show up," said Josh Sheppard.  "Our co-op drying facility in Richvale has the capacity to receive 350 truckloads a day and only took in 39 on Monday.  I expect things will start to pick up next week as growers become anxious and frustrated with waiting for harvest."


Dr. Kent McKenzie, director of the California Rice Experiment Station near Biggs, said, "No plots have been cut either on the experiment station or by the UC-Davis Statewide Variety Testing Program.  RES Foundation seed from small fields of specialty varieties are being cut."  McKenzie also agreed that the lack of sunlight has been delaying initiation of harvest each day.


A true assessment of the 2020 crop will have to wait until harvest is complete.  In the meantime, California rice farmers are cautiously optimistic as the start of the harvest season has been somewhat promising.  As the smoke dissipates in the valley, harvest conditions should improve along with the collective frame of mind.


Harvest in fields of gold (Greg VanDyke photo)

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The American Farm Bureau Federation and 41 other agriculture organizations are asking Congress to ensure the USDA has the tools necessary to help farmers in times of crisis. The group sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting they immediately provide replenishment for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) through the continuing resolution. Without immediate replenishment, funding for farm bill programs could run out while farmers struggle against low commodity prices, natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic.

“For decades, CCC has been regularly replenished to fund programs integral to the farm safety net that Congress has worked tirelessly to craft,” the letter states. “Producers count on programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, Dairy Margin Coverage, Marketing Assistance Loans, conservation programs, and many others as they provide food, fuel and fiber for our nation. Without immediate CCC reimbursement, payments and programs would be significantly delayed, jeopardizing operations across the country.”

Although much recent attention has been focused on CCC aid to farmers to address the unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic, it’s important to recognize that the CCC is critical when natural disasters strike, enabling USDA to act quickly to deliver aid. The CCC is also core to our nation’s success advancing conservation efforts, having enrolled more than 140 million acres in USDA conservation programs – more than the land mass of California and New York combined. In reality, the CCC is a stabilizing force across U.S. agriculture.

Organizations that signed the letter include the Agricultural Retailers Association, Amcot, American Agri-Women, American Cotton Producers, American Cotton Shippers Association, American Dairy Coalition, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Pulse Association, American Sheep Industry Association, American Soybean Association, American Sugar Alliance, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Cotton Growers Warehouse Association, Cotton Warehouse Association of America, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Cotton Ginners Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sorghum Producers, National Sunflower Association, Panhandle Peanut Growers Association, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Produce Marketing Association, Rural & Agriculture Council of America, Society of American Florists, Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association, Southern Cotton Growers, Southwest Council of Agribusiness, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, United Egg Producers, United States Peanut Federation, US Rice Producers Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, USA Rice and the Western Peanut Growers Association.

Read the full letter here.

Mike Tomko
Director, Communications
(202) 406-3642
Bailey Corwine
Media Relations Specialist
(202) 406-3643

ice farmers withdraw from wet season rice farming in Delta state...


Flooding: Rice farmers withdraw from wet season rice farming in Delta state –RIFAN


 Naija247news Media, New York


By Ifeanyi Olannye
Asaba, Sept. 15, 2020 Rice farmers in Delta have withdrawn from wet season farming for failure of service providers to prepare land early for participating farmers before the onset of flooding in the state.

Mr Sylvanus Ejezie, the Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) made this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Asaba.

Ejezie said that the state chapter had received inputs under the RIFAN-Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)- Anchor-Borrowers scheme to boost rice production for no fewer than 5,000 participating farmers for the wet season farming.

He said that only 200 farmers, who prepared their own land keyed into the programme, adding that many farmers would have gone into planting since July if not for the delay in land preparation.

According to him, it is part of the scheme’s arrangement for designated service providers to do the land preparation for participating farmers before delivering the inputs to them.

“We received the first batch of inputs for 3,107 farmers which were later increased to cover more than 5,000 farmers.

“But the state farmers are disappointed as they have waited for the land preparation but the service providers are yet to come and because of the rains and the threatening flood, the farmers are now afraid to continue with the wet season farming.

“However, the farmers are making arrangement to take advantage of the dry season farming from November instead, while appealing to the service providers to come and help them with the land preparation.

“So far, we have released inputs to only 200 farmers in the state who took the pains to prepare their own land for the wet season farming,’’ he said.

Ejezie said that the inputs were factored as loan amounting to about N217, 344 per farmer depending on the items and services received by participating farmers under the scheme to cultivate one hectare of land with expected yield of four tonnes of rice.

He said that for those farmers who prepared their land on their own, that the portion of loan that had to do with land preparation would be removed during loan repayment.

He encouraged farmers to take up land preparation as business farmers and not to continue to wait for the service providers to prepare the land for them.

He said that the association had approached the state government through the State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources to make tractors available to members to address the challenge of land preparation to boost rice cultivation and production.

He expressed the hope that those who planted in July would soon be harvesting their crops by October, adding that by November, the dry season farming was expected to have started, unless there was flooding.

“And because we are already expecting the flood, it is not advisable for farmers to continue with the wet season farming for fear of their plants being washed away.

“Actually, we consulted with the farmers from across the state, and they told us that because of the delay in land preparation, they cannot continue but wait till November to take up dry season farming,” he said.

The chairman said that items received and given to the farmers as loan include certified rice seed, water pumps, hose intake, fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, knapsack sprayers, others.

Delta is one of the states in the country predicted by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) to suffer the impact of flooding this year.



SunRice, former Deniliquin farmer, on depleted rice supplies and water policy

·         Description: Sophie Boyd

Sophie Boyd


Description: Shelley Scoullar holds a picture of her family - husband Paul and sons Hayden, 14, Lachie, 4, and Jack, 12 - taken in April 2019 during their last rice harvest on her farm.

 Shelley Scoullar holds a picture of her family - husband Paul and sons Hayden, 14, Lachie, 4, and Jack, 12 - taken in April 2019 during their last rice harvest on her farm.

Australia's locally-grown rice supplies could be exhausted by Christmas, according to SunRice, with high water prices and a lack of allocation making rice growing "almost impossible" for NSW Riverina growers.

A SunRice spokesman said supplies of Australia rice would be exhausted by the end of 2020 or early 2021, depending on demand.

He said 623,000 tonnes of rice was harvested in 2018, but production dropped 91 per cent in 2019 to just 54,000 tonnes. The 2020 crop was 45,000 tonnes.

"The record low Australian crops of the last two years - despite SunRice paying our growers record high rice prices - are a reflection of the ongoing drought, lack of water availability, and very high water pricing which has made rice growing almost impossible for most Riverina growers," he said.

"While in part caused by drought, we also believe those impacts have been exacerbated by state and national water reform - with the burden being disproportionately borne by farmers who grow annual crops like rice in southern NSW."

Panic buying earlier this year "accelerated how quickly [SunRice] processed remaining supplies of Australian rice."


Former Deniliquin rice grower Shelley Scoullar said the lack of water allocation forced many Riverina rice farmers to sow smaller crops, diversify or leave the farm altogether.

"The rice shortage is more about poor policy than the drought, it is about people making decisions from concrete city buildings and not understanding the big picture," she said.

Mrs Scoullar grew up on her parent's rice farm in Deniliquin and purchased her own farm opposite decades later with her husband.

"In a good year between my parents and ourselves we produced enough rice to feed a serve each to roughly nine million people," she said.

"In our last year of growing rice, which was harvested in April 2019, we could only grow less than a million serves because we had such a low water allocation, even though it was pouring down the Murray River and unnaturally flooding forests."



Ilocos Norte Gets P4-M Prize As Agri-Pinoy Rice Achiever


ByFeaturesdesk (MD)

September 16, 2020



The province of Ilocos Norte continues to lead the way in terms of rice sufficiency as it hit again its rice production target with a surplus of more than 150 percent.

Recognized as one of the country’s top 10 rice producers, Ilocos Norte was awarded PHP4 million check recently through Department of Agriculture (DA) regional director Nestor Domenden, as an Agri-Pinoy rice achiever.

The turnover of the check coincided with the distribution of multi-million farm machinery and equipment to further inspire Ilocos Norte farmers to boost their productivity.

According to provincial agriculturist Norma Lagmay, the PHP4 million prize will be utilized to help rice farmers improve their way of life in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The DA-initiated Agri-Pinoy Rice Achiever’s Award identifies the top 10 rice-producing communities in the country. The competition is divided into three categories: Local Government Units (LGUs), Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs), and Irrigators Associations (IAs) for the regional level and national level.

Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority data, the volume of rice production in Region 1 had an increment of 6,033 metric tons from 488,855 metric tons production in 2019 to 494,887.85 metric tons production in 2020.

La Union recorded the highest growth at 19.83 percent, followed by Ilocos Sur at 2.42 percent, Ilocos Norte at 2.42 percent, and Pangasinan at 0.91 percent.

As to yield, the province of Ilocos Sur registered the highest level yield per hectare at 5.30 metric tons, followed by Ilocos Norte at 5.21 metric tons, La Union at 4.92 metric tons, and Pangasinan at 4.74 metric tons.

In receiving the award, Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc said in a virtual interview Tuesday that agriculture remains to be a top priority under his administration. (PNA)


Can you spot which meal is healthier? Dietitian shares photos of her meals - but one comes with nearly DOUBLE the calories

·         Dietitian reveals how simple swaps can make a huge difference to calorie intake

·         Paula Norris shared a picture of two nearly identical stir fries with basmati rice 

·         She said making changes to ingredients can cut dish from 683 to 438 calories

·         he difference comes about by varying the amount of chicken and basmati rice

PUBLISHED: 07:20 BST, 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 07:21 BST, 16 September 2020


A dietitian has revealed how tweaking your diet with simple food swaps can make a huge difference to your calorie intake.

Paula Norris, from Brisbane, shared a picture of two nearly identical stir fries with basmati rice - but one dish contains 245 calories more than the other.

The nutrition expert explained how making just a few changes to the ingredients can cut the dish from 683 to 438 calories by reducing the portion size of chicken and rice, doubling the amount of vegetables and substituting honey for lime juice.

A dietitian has revealed how tweaking your diet with simple food swaps can make a huge difference to your calorie intake (pictured: Two different versions of a chicken stir fries)


Surface ozone increase threatens global food crops

Basic food crops for millions of people worldwide are endangered because of surging ground-level ozone concentration. Indian farms are among those most at risk. Scientists are now racing to make plants more resistant.


Description: An Indian woman looks through the Basmati field, a small boy in tow

The alarming discovery of an increasing hole in the planet's ozone layer in 1985 led to a global ban on the production of CFCs, halons, and other ozone-depleting chemicals. As a result, the protective cocoon of gas that shields the earth from harmful solar radiation is now on the mend. Last year, NASA announced that the hole in the ozone layer was much smaller than when first discovered.

But while the ozone present in the upper atmosphere works as a natural sunscreen blocking harmful ultraviolet rays, high ozone concentration on the ground is toxic for people's health, and damages vegetation and ecosystems.

Ozone is a key component of smog. It is created by a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxide and pollutants emitted by cars and power plants in the presence of ultraviolet sunlight. Recent findings by the Royal Society, the UK's academy of sciences, suggest ground-level ozone has increased by about two parts per billion (ppb) each decade since the 1980s. What's more, ozone levels have breached safety thresholds in many regions around the world, and have been linked to severe vegetation damage globally.

"These effects of ozone are also comparable to other stresses such as pests and diseases in plants, heat, and aridity," explained Ane Vollsnes, a researcher at the University of Oslo, citing a study that shows ozone has the most damaging impact on plants compared to other factors.

A 2017 study found that future warming and unmitigated ozone pollution in the US, could cause a decline of 13% in wheat crops, 28% in soybean yield, and 43% in maize by 2050 as compared to 2000.

Surface ozone a concern in Arctic region

Description: Researchers with clover plants in a lab

Frode Stordal and Ane Vollsnes in Norway are researching how plants are damaged by ozone

Description: A clover plant showing dead tissues as the effects of an ozone experiment

This clover plant is showing dead tissue after 9 hours of exposure to ozone

Around the world, scientists are trying to understand the correlation between ground-level ozone and damage to vegetation.

The ozone concentration rises when it's sunny. That has led to big problems in countries like Norway and arctic regions that experience many hours of sunlight in summer.

Read more: Climate change already affecting German farmers

Ane Vollsnes and Frode Strodal at the University of Oslo have been tracing how ground-level ozone pollution affects plants, depending on how much sun they get. For their study, they exposed clover plants to ozone for three six-hour periods in their lab.

"In our experiments, the clovers were exposed to 70 ppb of ozone. In Europe, 70 ppb often occurs during the daytime in some regions, and this is not considered a very high level," Vollsnes told DW.

They found that after a few hours, black spots started to appear on the clovers' leaves, indicating dead tissue. Even this brief exposure was enough to damage the plants by blocking their tiny pores called stomata, which help them breathe.

Health effects of 'bad ozone'

In contrast to oxygen's two atoms (O2), which are essential for the existence of life, the three atoms of oxygen (O3) that make up ozone can suffocate plants and animals when inhaled. In humans, it can damage lung tissue.

Ozone tends to block the small holes called alveoli in the lungs, aggravating respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, asthma attacks, and coughing. Long-term exposure to ozone is linked to permanent health issues, such as abnormal lung development in children.

Some of the highest levels of surface ozone in the world have been found in parts of the western US, Norway, northwestern India, China, and Pakistan. That also means that crops in these regions are particularly at risk.

Description: A doctor checking a child with a stethoscope

Asthma patients and children are particularly at risk from ozone pollution

Ozone in India killing crops that could feed 94 million

India faces a distinct challenge to curb ozone-causing pollution as hot weather speeds up the chemical reactions that create ozone near the surface. The country is estimated to have suffered massive vegetation loss over the last two decades, according to a study by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur.

"Our estimates show the highest annual loss of wheat of about 9 million tons in northern India, one of the most polluted regions in India, and about 2.6 million tons of rice in the eastern region," Shyam Lal Gupta, one of the lead authors, told DW.

Similar recent studies by major institutes like the University of Oslo, the Indian Institute of Meteorology and UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology indicate that crops in India face the impacts of ozone every winter whenever smog levels increase.

That has led to a loss of two-thirds of the annual harvest in the states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. However, Gupta adds that more research needs to be done to show "long-term trends in surface ozone over the Indian region."

Description: An Indian farmer in the local farms of Andhra Pradesh

Agriculture employs more than 50% of the Indian population

Description: A man holds up his hand to reveal several grains of brown rice

Basmati rice is one of the main export items of India

Ozone mitigation

According to Vollsnes, India and China will likely bear the brunt of ozone's damaging impact on food production.

"This is where population growth is the greatest, and the standard of living is increasing the most," Vollsnes told DW. "This is happening at the same time as the need for food is increasing."

The number of vehicles in India has nearly tripled in the past decade, with 130 million cars in 2013 compared to 50 million in 2003, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation. 

Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from such vehicles create the ideal conditions for ozone to accumulate on the ground as temperatures rise due to global warming.

Description: A thick layer of smog envelops India's capital, Delhi

A busy road in the middle of the day is caught in a haze in the smoggy India capital, Delhi

That's why researchers like Shyam Lal Gupta are calling for new solutions.

"We have suggested that if the winter cropping season is shifted a bit earlier, when ozone levels are lower, it will have a positive effect on saving the crops," he said, but adds it might be difficult the monsoon rains begin, as they can spoil crops that need dry conditions to grow — like wheat.

"The other suggestion is to produce a new variety of wheat and rice or of other crops, which will have lower damaging effects due to ozone," Gupta said.

In a 2019 paper published in Nature Communications, researchers at the University of California reported they had successfully prepared plants capable of surviving in different temperature, For instance, arabidopsis, a model plant, can grow at different times of the year as the season changes. Description: Tractor ploughs field


This could potentially minimize ozone impacts on crop yields by helping plants grow all year round and avoid smog. It would be even more effective to reduce the levels of toxic surface ozone in the first place by mitigating pollution, but Gupta said there's a lack of awareness surrounding the problem.

"We do not find any mitigation policy being implemented in India just for ozone," he said. "However, efforts to control air pollution are being made by different government agencies. These efforts will also have effects on the levels of surface ozone."

India is seeing reduced smog levels for the first time in many years thanks to a strict coronavirus lockdown.

To date, climate negotiations have focused mainly on bringing down carbon emissions. But without further efforts to regulate other poisonous emissions, rising temperatures and pollutants like nitrogen oxides will continue to form ground-level ozone.



Room for improvement

Annual carbon emissions from global agriculture can be reduced by as much as 90 percent by 2030, according to a new report released by Climate Focus and California Environmental Associates. That would be the equivalent of getting rid of all the cars in the world. The study highlights a range of strategies to mitigate carbon production in agriculture.



UCCE holding webinars regarding major Sacramento Valley crops



The University of California Cooperative Extension Sutter-Yuba-Colusa is hosting a series of webinars in September and October regarding research updates on some of the Sacramento Valley’s major crops.

The classes are primarily focused on pest management and pesticide safety, which is relevant to growers throughout the state.

The next webinar is planned for Sept. 16. Amber Vinchesi-Vahl, vegetable crops advisor for UCCE, will provide information on pest issues in vegetables and the latest research updates on disease and weed management in processing tomatoes and cucumber beetles in melons.

After that, the next webinar will be hosted on Sept. 30 and will feature Whitney Brim-DeForest, rice and wild rice advisor and local director of the UCCE branch.

“The webinar will provide an opportunity for discussion and interaction about weed identification,” Brim-DeForest said in a press release. “We will also cover the latest research updates on specific weed species, resistance management, and new herbicides in rice.”

The final webinar in the series is planned for Oct. 7 and will feature Sarah Light, agronomy advisor. Topics discussed will include opportunities to decrease environmental risk through pesticide selection and application, accurate diagnosis, and reduction of loss to the environment.

The first webinar was held on Sept. 9 and went over proven almond Integrated Pest Management practices with an eye on reducing input costs while delivering effective pest control.

Enrollment is limited, so those wishing to participate are encouraged to register early. The cost is $20 for one webinar, $35 for two, or $50 for three. For more details or to register, visit

Continuing Education credits are available for participants.


California Rice Growers May Hold Key to Building up Salmon Populations

Date:  Tue, 09/15/2020    Broadcast: 11

Remark:  California rice growers may soon be able to provide the perfect habitat for young salmon. (Gary Crawford and Paul Buttner, California Rice Commission)

Duration:  00:01:00.107