Sunday, October 04, 2020

3rd October,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

Black Rice and Black Wheat Cultivation in Bihar; Success Story of Progressive Farmers

Description: Abhijeet Banerjee

Abhijeet Banerjee 1 October, 2020 12:29 PM IST


Black rice is one of the most exotic and nutritious rice variety and it has started gaining consumers’ attention globally in last few years. The demand for Black Rice is increasing in Indian markets as well.  This variety of Rice has a deep black color and usually after cooking the color changes into deep purple. This phenomenon is mainly due to presence of anthocyanin, which is available higher in greater percentage than other colored grains. Black Rice is suitable for creating porridge, dessert, traditional Chinese black rice cake, bread and noodles. This type of rice comes from the species of Oryza sativa, some of which are glutinous rice. Varieties include Indonesian black rice, Philippine balatina rice, and Thai jasmine black rice. Black rice is known as chak-hao in Manipur, where desserts made from black rice are served at major feasts.  

Black Rice Success Story: 

The numerous health benefits associated with this rice in addition to opportunity for generating decent return from its cultivation has encouraged farmers of different states to take up the cultivation of Black Rice. Today we shall be covering on the success stories of Black Rice in the state of Bihar. Lot of farmers in Bihar have successfully opted black rice over the conventional white rice this year. There are reports of progressive farmers in Bihar growing black rice, boosting their incomes and thinking of innovation in the farming sector, by giving up traditional cropping patterns, and seeking better farming options. 

Initially most growers were not sure about the fate of the Black rice crop but interactions and guidance from scientists, along with acquiring knowledge on the nutritional value of the black rice; they decided to try growing it in half an acre of land. This was a successful venture for most of the growers who then encouraged their village members/peers to take up cultivation of Black Rice. The successful farmers even sent the seeds across India for cultivation purpose hence making this farming popular in the country. This is a history for these progressive farmers - since from Bihar it is the first time that any farm produce has been sent outside the state. 

Related Links

·         The Amazing Health Benefits of Eating Black Rice

Black Wheat Success Story: 

Like Black Rice the progressive farmers in Bihar have also tried cultivating black wheat variety and were successful in this venture as well. Experts have confirmed that black wheat is rich in anti-oxidants and good for diabetic people, along with other health benefits. Black wheat farming in Bihar had also given good returns to the progressive farmers as per sources. Known for its high nutritional value, Black Wheat is a source of iron, vitamin E, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is very effective for lifestyle disorders like diabetes, inflammatory disorders and obesity, also useful in managing blood cholesterol level. The plant pigment present in this wheat is anthocyanin which is a very well-known antioxidant. Our body produces harmful free radicals therefore Black Wheat becomes useful in fighting against free radical induced diseases like cancer. Additionally, it has high concentration of micronutrients like iron and zinc, and the Iron content is roughly 60 percent more than normal wheat. The percentage of protein, nutrients and starch are nearly the same as in normal wheat. Therefore in terms of health, black wheat scores better than the normal wheat.  

Association with NGO brings Desirable Results: 

In last few years, nearly 5,000 farmers in Bihar had got associated with “Awaz Ek Pahal”, an NGO working to change the farming habits of farmers for the last few years. This NGO also helps Growers to cultivate exotic fruits like kiwis, dragon fruit, strawberries etc. Lots of farmers associated with this NGO, have made serious efforts to interact with farmers with the objective to bring innovations to the sector. Scientists were invited for visits for explaining methods of Black Rice/Black wheat farming and also sharing necessary knowledge. Training from scientists was also on the Agenda list. Those who had successfully grown the varieties Black rice and Black wheat were then invited to share their experiences, and this help the farmers to get convinced to a great extent, in taking up cultivation of the above-mentioned varieties. Farmers from different villages have confirmed that the growers got profitable results in using small portion of their land for cultivating Black Rice and Black Wheat varieties.  

The farming community feedback for black rice grown in half an acre is quite encouraging as most of the farmers have received better returns. Similarly, lots of black wheat growers could get higher output, from which they could keep some portion for their family and near ones while selling rest of the variety and receiving handsome gains against their production cost. Even there are reports of some farmers in Bihar, doubling their income in farming of Black Rice as well as Black Wheat this year.




Bayer's Singapore R&D lab helps Asian farmers

The crop science seeds laboratory here is the regional hub for Asia Pacific.

FRI, OCT 02, 2020 - 5:50 AM


Description: BT_20201002_SUPPBAYER1_4249273.jpg

The Singapore team uses cutting edge genetics and data science to positively impact smallholder farmer lives and livelihoods, says Mr Hartmann. 


ALTHOUGH Singapore is not a rice growing country, pioneering research by a leading German chemicals company on the major Asian crop is being done here and it is benefiting millions of farmers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Bayer, which is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition, has a crop science seeds laboratory in Singapore as part of its R&D setup.

"Aligned with Bayer's vision: 'Health for all, Hunger for none', the focus of Bayer's Crop Science Seeds laboratory contributes to our goal of developing new crop hybrids that enable smallholder farmers in the Asia Pacific region to manage the challenge of growing enough food sustainably while feeding a growing population as climate change makes growing crops increasingly more difficult," says Jens Hartmann, the Singapore-based head of Region APAC for the Crop Science Division of Bayer.

Bayer's Singapore seeds laboratory, set up in 2008, is the regional hub for Asia Pacific in the company's global network of crop science research and development (R&D) centres as a site dedicated to agriculture.

"R&D can help increase the productivity, sustainability and value of crops for farmers and consumers through continuous improvements in yield, climate resilience and disease and pest protection. The Singapore seeds lab team uses cutting edge genetics and data science to tackle these challenges and positively impacts smallholder farmer lives and livelihoods every day," says Mr Hartmann.

The seeds lab helps small farmers simplify their production activities and increase their yield and yield security by developing hybrid seeds with new features that withstand droughts, floods, pests and diseases. Giving crops the armour to thrive in difficult climates means the lab is helping farmers to develop their businesses and to grow more food for their communities.

One example is the hybrid rice seed variety of Arize, which was bred with resistance against brown plant hopper insects and bacterial leaf blight disease, both of which cause devastating crop losses.

"So far, around 1.7 million smallholder farmers have benefited from our pioneering work on hybrid rice. When you consider that around 3.2 billion people worldwide depend on the grain for more than a fifth of their daily calories, the value of hybrid rice and similar advances through innovative R&D at Bayer becomes clear. Importantly, this research and development into rice helps us contribute to the United Nations Zero Hunger Challenge, which aims to eliminate all forms of malnutrition by 2030," says Mr Hartmann.

The seeds lab here with a headcount of eight is one of Bayer's nine laboratory-based innovation centres on crop science. The scientists' tasks include genetic screening for innovative agronomic and quality traits that naturally occur in plants and integrating them into new crop hybrids through plant breeding.

In an interesting development, Bayer teamed up with Temasek in August to form a new company, Unfold, which will focus on innovation in vegetable varieties with the goal of lifting vertical farming to the next level of quality, efficiency and sustainability.

While most startups in the vertical farming market are focusing on the development of more efficient infrastructure, Unfold plans to unlock the genetic potential of vertical farming. Using seed genetics from vegetable crops, Unfold will focus on developing new seed varieties coupled with agronomic advice tailored for the indoor environment of vertical farms.

Singapore is Bayer's

Asia Pacific headquarters for the pharmaceuticals, crop science and consumer health divisions. Its Asean country group platform is also based here. The company has almost 400 employees here, representing a diverse group of both local and international talent.

In fiscal 2019, Bayer employed around 104,000 people worldwide and had sales of 43.5 billion euros (S$70 billion). It invested 5.3 billion euros in R&D.











Create Account | Sign In

The Genius Of ATMs Serving Pizza And Rice During Covid-19


490 views|Sep 27, 2020,07:00am EDT


Description: Alex Ledsom

Alex LedsomSenior Contributor


I write about travel, culture, food & drink.


A vending machine selling pizza in Toronto, Canada


ATMs are increasingly becoming a way of life for distributing more than just bottled water, canned drinks and chocolate bars. Many swimming pools sell swimsuits and goggles through automated machines and it has been one of the most efficient ways of selling sanitary products in toilets for decades. The largest cemetery in Zurich, Switzerland has a machine which distributes rosaries and condolence cards.

Vending machines can distribute all sorts of food without needing customers to come into contact with the people who have prepared it–think of eggs from a machine in Aptos, California (18 eggs in exchange for four dollar bills), pecan pie in Cedar Creek, Texas, and chocolate-filled crepes in Kobayashi, Japan (for 200 yen or $2 each).

It can work for hot food too. PizzaForno has 20 locations in Toronto, Canada, where they make several flavors of pizza and take them to the machine uncooked. The customer then selects the pizza, pays and waits, while the oven cooks it or customers select the cold option and take it home to cook later. ATM pizza machines are also common sitings in Singapore.

Some products are more stereotypical–in Île de Ré in France, there is a machine which sells fresh oysters 24-hours a day and goes the extra mile by adding in other culinary delights, such as paté, sea asparagus and even entire pre-cooked meals. And in Belgium, home to the frite or french fry, there is a 24-hour vending machine for potatoes.

Atlas Obscura reported that many farm shops are increasingly adding a vending machine as an annexe to the farm shop, to make money when it’s closed, but also to make sure that all produce is sold before it perishes.

Or follow the idea of one entrepreneur who has dotted the island state of Singapore with Norwegian salmon ATMs. He has cut out stores, staff and distributors and sells fillets direct to customers for S$5.90 ($4.25) and the fish stays fresh for up to 2 years because the machine keeps them at -4 degrees F or -20 degrees C.

Pre-pandemic, from Germany to Scotland, vending machines were commonly found selling everything from strawberries to freshly-made bread.

A cupcake ATM in New York City


Vending machines come into their own in a pandemic

Vending machines can also be a lifeline for distributing food to refugees, displaced people and the food insecure–The United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP) and World Vision International (WVI) are piloting ATMs in refugee camps in East Africa, which dispense locally sourced foods like cereals.

In 2020, under pandemic conditions, authorities in Indonesia have rolled out ATMs distributing free rice to those in need. Reuters reported in May that 10 machines in Jakarta were providing 1.5 tonnes of rice for around 1,000 residents every day.

A resident receives free rice at an ATM in Indonesia in 2020


In April, Bloomberg reported on queues that were hundreds of people long–all maintaining social distancing rules–waiting for a twice-daily distribution of 1.5 kg of rice via an ATM in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The service has been vital for the 5 million people who have lost jobs or been furloughed as a result of the pandemic.

In Kansas City in April the owners of Jones Bar-B-Q took delivery of a vending machine that had been ordered the winter before but “couldn’t have come at a better time.” Customers can drive up, socially distanced from one another and the staff, and order one of seven items–chicken wings, turkey, rib tips and burnt ends (the crispy charred bits of brisket which are a local speciality). The machine is stocked between 5am and 10am when they come off the smoker, the pay is contactless and service is steady, providing an ideal pandemic-friendly food service for a small business.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Description: Alex Ledsom

Alex Ledsom

I have lived in Provence ever since I exchanged my London city life for the south of France. I have a background in research, business and finance.

Play Video


USA Rice Pushes for Rural Access to Technology   

By Josie McLaurin


WASHINGTON, DC -- USA Rice, and a host of other agricultural organizations, joined the Keep GPS Working Coalition this week to protect Global Positioning System (GPS) from widespread interference.  The coalition was formed in response to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) decision to permit Ligado Networks to operate a wireless network in a band adjacent to GPS, threatening the reception capability of GPS devices.

Coalition members heard from both sides of the aisle on a media call Thursday with House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Representative G.T. Thompson (R-PA) expressing their support for the coalition and the importance of the technology to the agriculture industry.

"The use of GPS is a critical tool used widely and regularly by many rice farmers," said Nicole Montna Van Vleck, California rice farmer and USA Rice Farmers chair.  "USA Rice is proud to be a member of the Keep GPS Working Coalition and will continue working on this issue to protect the integrity of GPS."

USA Rice participates in several industry coalitions related to rural access to technology, and recently joined 
Connect Americans Now (CAN), a coalition that pushes for increased broadband coverage for rural Americans.

"Broadband is essential to running a modern farming operation," said Van Vleck.  "Better access increases our efficiency and productivity as we work hard to supply America with great U.S.-grown rice."
Description: C:\Users\abc\Downloads\unnamed.jpg




Source: USA Rice Daily

Hit by crop failure, Tiruvannamalai farmers let cattle graze in paddy fields

The farmers had chosen the wrong season for the variety-5 paddy which is photosynthetic sensitive, the agricultural experts had said.

Published: 01st October 2020 09:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st October 2020 09:15 PM   

Cattle are let graze the unproductive paddy in Tiruvannamalai (Photo | EPS/ S Dinesh)

By R Sivakumar

Express News Service

TIRUVANNAMALAI: Several rice producers at Arni and its adjoining places in the Tiruvannamalai district have let cattle graze the unproductive paddy.
Farmers, who had opted for the paddy variety-5 developed in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, have been the worst-hit in the district as they could not get the yield even after 180 days have passed since sowing.

With an eye on a bumper production, they sowed this variety without aware of the suitable environmental conditions.

“I cultivated paddy variety-5 in my 8-acre farm. Now, about 180 days have passed. I could get only 3 bags (each weighing 75 kg) of yield per acre,” laments S Parthasarathi, a farmer of Ayyampettai.

As they could not afford to hire a machine to remove the unproductive crop, several farmers have let the cattle graze. “We are not able to hire a machine to remove the crop, so we are allowing cattle to graze,” another farmer says.

The farmers have incurred a loss in the range of Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 per acre due to crop loss.

Agriculture and Seed Certification department officials have already studied the crop with the help of scientists from the Agricultural College and Research Institute, Vazhavachanur, to find out the exact reasons for the crop failure.

“We have already conducted a field study to find out the reasons. Again two scientists are roped in for further investigations,” Deputy Director of Seeds, G Somu, said.

The well-grown paddy plants had suffered a failure of panicle initiation due to unsuitable environmental conditions.

The farmers had chosen the wrong season for the variety-5 paddy which is photosynthetic sensitive, the agricultural experts had said.

However, the DD claimed that farmers in certain places had taken better yield from this particular variety.

This variety was grown in 196 acres of land in certain parts of Tiruvannamalai   including Arni, Polur, and Mandakolathur.

The affected farmers are expecting the government to provide them financial assistance to tackle the huge loss but officials said there is little scope for it.

“Since they had purchased the seed variety from a private dealer, the government can’t arrange them compensation for the loss,” a top officer of the Agriculture department said.




LGUs, private firms told to buy local rice, corn

Published October 2, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

With prices of the country’s two main staple foods significantly down weeks ahead of the peak harvest season, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is making another appeal to provincial local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to buy palay and corn directly from farmers.

Description: workers thresh rice during a harvest, in the barangay of Palattao, in Naguilian, Isabela province, the Philippines. Photographer: Nana Buxani/Bloomberg file photo

Farmgate prices of palay have reportedly dropped to between P11 per kilogram (/kg) to 13/kg for wet palay and P14/kg to 17/kg for dry palay.

This, while the average farmgate price of yellow corn grain went down to P12.32/kg or by 4.6 percent during the first week of September, from its level of P12.91/kg in the previous week.

Description: by DA-CAR.

Prices, according to the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), are expected to go down even more when harvests reach their peak in October and November for rice, while the peak harvest for wet-season corn crop is August and September.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the LGU- and private sector-led palay and corn buying should complement efforts of the DA, through the National Food Authority (NFA), in palay procurement.

For the rest of the year, NFA, whose sole mandate is to maintain the government’s rice buffer stock for calamities and national emergencies, has P10 billion left for palay procurement.

NFA Administrator Judy Dansal said this is enough to buy 10 more million bags of palay. 

“We already instructed NFA to roll-over twice its procurement fund so it could buy P20 billion-worth of palay this year,” Dar said.

NFA currently buys dried palay, at 14 percent moisture content, at P19/kg.

On Thursday, Dar asked NFA to make available its warehouses for use by farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) and LGUs.

“We will accelerate the modernization of the NFA’s drying and milling facilities so they could provide much-needed services for the benefit of our rice farmers,” he said. 

Further, the DA chief said provincial governments can avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) of up to P2 billion at two percent interest to procure palay and acquire farm machineries and post-harvest facilities.

“This should be part of the ‘new normal,’ where LGUs are taking a more pro-active stance by directly buying farmers’ produce – be these rice, corn, vegetables, chicken, eggs, fish and other farm and fishery products – at reasonable prices, and then including them in their food packs for their constituents,” Dar said.

This harvest season, the DA wrote the governors of the top 12 rice-producing provinces in the country to once again buy palay from their farmers.



Ignored minority peasants crushed by poverty after Sindh floods

Marginalised minorities in rural Sindh have suffered badly in heavy rains this year due to displacement and loss of income.

Mohammad Hussain Khan









Description: An elderly displaced woman peasant sits on a roadside near her cot while trying to cover her face on Digri road in Digri taluka of Mirpurkhas. —Photo by Yasir Rajput

“Many [government officials] turned-up and wrote down our names, but we weren’t provided relief,” said Ganga, a peasant whose poverty-stricken community in Sindh has been displaced by floods.

Ratol Kohli, an elderly member of her community, too, looked despondently at every passing vehicle. Their grievance is that, while officials jot down the names of displaced people, many have still not been given relief goods “though some people do provide us cooked rice as lunch”, she said.

Extreme weather events have been unkind to Ganga and her community in Pakistan’s second largest province, which this year witnessed unprecedented rains and flooding. While the media’s focus was on the catastrophic urban flooding in Karachi and other urban centres, the August-September spell of rain wreaked havoc in rural areas with poor drainage.

The disaster has hit the marginalised Kohli, Bheel and Meghwar communities hard, as many of these scheduled Hindu caste members work in farms without ownership of the land they till.

Description: Rain-hit communities have shifted to highlands and roads in Mirpurkhas district and set up improvised tents. They were displaced from their villages due to heavy rains in August. — Photo by Yasir Rajput/The Third Pole

Rain-hit communities have shifted to highlands and roads in Mirpurkhas district and set up improvised tents. They were displaced from their villages due to heavy rains in August. — Photo by Yasir Rajput/The Third Pole

Kohlis, Bheels and Meghwars are considered scheduled castes in India’s caste system which follows Hindu mythology. They are voiceless in the farming sector. They live in substantial numbers in Sindh but largely below the poverty line. While Meghwars opt for other occupations, the Kohlis and Bheels remain in the agriculture sector.

The Sindh government declared 20 districts as calamity hit areas after the recent rainfall. Districts in lower Sindh, including Badin, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, Sanghar and Sujawal are the worst hit. The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) office recorded 348 millimetres of rainfall in August 2020 in Mirpurkhas, which in the previous year had received 150 millimetres of rain.

The rains and the ensuing disaster are reminiscent of catastrophic floods in the area in 2011, when minority communities suffered tremendous losses yet received no relief.

This year, thousands have lost their produce — cotton and chilli crops — after the excessive rainfall. Selling it would have earned them an income for which they toiled tirelessly as the sun’s heat seared their faces.

A picture of misery

“It’s been around one month [since the rains] but we have been left to fend for ourselves here,” said Ganga, one of millions displaced by rains in district Mirpurkhas which is home to Sindh’s famous mango orchards.

“Do you know how difficult it is to pick cotton and hold a baby simultaneously? We are bearing all this pain and suffering only to earn some money. Merely 10 to 15 maunds [around 40kg] of cotton is left for picking. The rest is lost,” she told The Third Pole. In other years, they have picked nearly three times this amount.

“As if this disaster-driven displacement is not enough, the police forces us to leave sections of the highways and shift to other highlands,” she said.

Even in the third week of September, long after the rains stopped, large swathes of agricultural lands are submerged by standing rainwater. Drainage remains slow, and the poor farmers who worked in what is known as the ‘breadbasket of Sindh’ sit idle.

The men, women, elderly and children sleep under the open sky. Their homes, traditionally made of mud and thatched straw, have collapsed. They lack basic civic amenities and even toilets. Their livestock and cattle suffer as mosquitoes and insects invade the environs soon after sunset, making the animals prone to skin infections.

When their homes flooded, the displaced communities temporarily shifted to highlands and roadsides with whatever belongings they could gather. They have set up improvised tents with empty sacks or polypropylene bags, plastic and pieces of cloth.

“We gathered whatever we could when it started raining heavily on Aug 24 and 25 at midnight,” said Marva Kohli.

Description: Displaced women fetch water to take to tents erected on the bank of the spinal drain on the Left Bank Outfall Drain System (LBOD) near Naukot in Mirpurkhas district. A breach had occurred in the spinal drain at RD-287. — Photo by Yasir Rajput/The Third Pole

Displaced women fetch water to take to tents erected on the bank of the spinal drain on the Left Bank Outfall Drain System (LBOD) near Naukot in Mirpurkhas district. A breach had occurred in the spinal drain at RD-287. — Photo by Yasir Rajput/The Third Pole

Extensive damage leaves government helpless

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah wants international aid to ameliorate the situation in Sindh. He put the figure of people affected by rains at 2.5 million. “We need international assistance like the kind we got in 2010, when the Indus river was swollen and experienced super floods, and then in 2011 when torrential rains visited Sindh,” he said.

A September 19 assessment by his government’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) put crop damage at 1.128 million acres and affected people at 2.48 million in Sindh. It reports 151 people dead, including 49 women and 23 children. The survey suggested nearly 30,000 homes were damaged and about 50,0000 cattle perished.

Among the damaged crop, cotton — an exportable commodity — and chilli are badly hit. The province, which produced 4.2 million cotton bales in 2009-2010 has barely come close to that figure in recent years. Production figures for 2010-2020 show a 40% decline.

The Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association’s senior vice chairman Haresh Kumar puts the overall damage to cotton crop in 2020-21 at Rs 5 billion [USD 30.3 million].

Progressive farmer and the leader of a vibrant growers’ body, Syed Mehmood Nawaz Shah, too, said that while the value of Sindh’s agriculture produce in 2020-21 for summer crops is about USD 7 billion, ‘“close to USD 1 billion has been lost in recent rains and flooding”.

No relief for farmers

For the poor farmers, more hardship lies ahead.

“We have lost the produce we had grown. We will lose our share [in the crop] as it will be adjusted by the landowner towards the cost of input he invested in the crop,” said Peeru Kohli.

The immediate rehabilitation of haris (bonded farm hands) is a distant dream. Barefoot peasants enter submerged cotton fields to pick the remainder of cotton from dawn to dusk for Rs 400 (USD 2.40) per 40kg, thus exposing themselves to infection and insects.

Description: Male and female peasants, including children, pick the remainder of the cotton crop hit by rains in Digri taluka of Mirpurkhas district. — Photo by Yasir Rajput/The Third Pole

Male and female peasants, including children, pick the remainder of the cotton crop hit by rains in Digri taluka of Mirpurkhas district. — Photo by Yasir Rajput/The Third Pole

The hari-grower relationship is not governed under any law. Haris are not registered under the record of rights as permanent tenants as per Sindh Tenancy Act 1950. In practice, peasants share expenses incurred by the landlord from the sowing to harvesting stages of the crop. All inputs are purchased by the landlord or through the area’s conventional lending system.

The local lenders charge interest at rates much higher than banks. For instance, if a local lender provides a urea bag at Rs 17,500 (USD 10.60) on credit, he will charge USD 4.5 over and above the price as interest. The borrower/farmer has to sell his produce to the very lender as a precondition. Usually, a peasant’s loan is adjusted once the crop is harvested and sold in the market or to the same lenders who then offer a lower price for the crop along with deductions. The entire practice undermines the monetary interests of haris, who have to make do with a meagre share in profit after the deduction of expenses.

According to Peeru’s calculation, the landowner invests around Rs 30,000 (USD 181) per acre in the cotton crop which he or other peasants are supposed to share equally. “With the considerable chunk of cotton or chilli gone, we end up getting zero share in the profit,” he said, adding that he will now have to ask his landlord to lend him money.

“My community fellows will be borrowing more money to earn a living till the new crop is sown and harvested.”

Description: A village woman wades through thigh deep water in a village of Kali taluka of Tharparkar district to reach her makeshift roadside tent. — Photo by Yasir Rajput/The Third Pole

A village woman wades through thigh deep water in a village of Kali taluka of Tharparkar district to reach her makeshift roadside tent. — Photo by Yasir Rajput/The Third Pole

“Scheduled caste members can’t buy assets or even read their religious books in line within Hinduism. They are the most persecuted community within Hindus,” said Dr Sonu Khangarani, recipient of Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, for his social work in 2010. “I, too, hail from the Meghwar community,” he said.

“They can’t break this vicious circle,” he added. He urged the government to build villages on highlands for these landless peasants under the federal government’s ‘five million houses’ scheme and to give them ownership of land.

Under the Sindh Industrial Relations Act 2013, peasants are defined as “industrial workers”. But seasoned labour rights leader Nasir Mansoor said that unless rules are framed in line with the 2013 Act, it remains irrelevant. “These are rules which will provide a framework to get haris enrolled under social security laws…but the government’s will is missing.”

Basmati rice thru GI tag: REAP vows to foil Indian conspiracy of claiming exclusive rights

Zahid Baig 02 Oct 2020


LAHORE: The leadership of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has vowed to foil the Indian conspiracy of claiming exclusive rights to "Basmati Rice" through Geographical Indication (GI) tag and said that Basmati variety was, is and will remain of Pakistan.

The REAP members expressed these views while addressing the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association here last night where its new Chairman Abdul Qayum Paracha, Senior Vice Chairman Malik Faisal Jahangir and others assumed the office for the term 2020-21.

Abdul Qayum Paracha, the incoming Chairman, said that the rice sector of Pakistan is facing a threat from this Indian GI claim and they will work to thwart this plan as first priority.

He said that he will also be making efforts to get this sector declared as Industry, which is making huge exports and earning valuable foreign exchange for the country.

New Senior Vice Chairman Malik Faisal Jahangir in his address said that there were three major goals before him during his tenure and that include foiling Indian design of claiming GI rights on Basmati, sending at least six delegations to explore new markets and getting status of industry for the rice export sector.

Abdur Rahim Janoo, veteran rice exporters leader, in his address said that the government should give the REAP chairman a seat in the Export Development Fund (EDF) as member. He said that money should be allocated to the Association out of EDF for carrying out research and development to increase per acre yield and attain more exportable surplus, construction of REAP House, etc.

Outgoing REAP Chairman Shahjahan Malik in his address threw light on the efforts made during his tenure despite the lockdown to enhance rice exports from Pakistan.

"We managed to triple the exports to Europe in wake of the ban on Indian rice and mapped rice fields in Punjab with the government help to analyze pesticides residue here and guide farmer about remedial measures," he added.

He said that rice planters and harvesters got included in the agri emergency plan to prevent post harvest losses and made efforts to export Basmati to Japan.

Meanwhile, the members of the Managing Committee from north zone declared elected unopposed include Malik Faisal Jahangir, Ali Hussam Asghar, Jahanzeb Javed, Ahmad Mubarak and Zulfiqar Ali. From South Zone, Abdul Qayum Paracha, Muhammad Anwar, Safder Hussain Mehkri, Mahesh Raja Manglani and Syed Abdul Mateen were declared elected unopposed.

Pir Syed Nazim Hussain Shah, Ali Hussam Asghar, Samee Ullah Naeem, Chaudhry Shafique, Abu Bakar Mirza and various other prominent exporters attended the meeting.




Basmati trademark registered in one person’s name

SMEDA asked to resolve matter pending for past many years

Usman HanifOctober 02, 2020

Description: PHOTO: FILE


At a time when Pakistan needs to approach the European Union for geographical indication (GI) tag for its Basmati rice, it has come to light that Basmati trademark has been registered in an individual’s name in the country instead of being registered as a GI.

The Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan) registered the trademark of Basmati in an individual’s name under application number 179196 in Class 30 dated July 20, 2002, with a disclaimer that it might be challenged.

“Basmati is a generic name that can only be used as a geographical indicator and cannot be used as a trademark until and unless a new word is added to it,” said trademarks and copyrights practitioner Asif Hayat.

He elaborated that trademark was a business name and a company could not own the words separately but in a combination.

“It is unfortunate that nobody could point out this development in about two decades,” he said, referring to Basmati being registered as a trademark in favour of an individual. “In fact, the applicant himself was fooled by somebody in the authority and just one dispute can eliminate this entire trademark.”

When a person or organisation gets a trademark registered, others cannot sell their product or service under the same name. India has applied to the European Union for GI tag for its Basmati rice, claiming it is grown only in India despite the well-known fact that both India and Pakistan grow the aromatic rice.

If the neighbouring country succeeds in its attempt, Pakistan’s exporters will not be allowed to sell rice abroad under the Basmati category.

At a time when Pakistan should claim co-ownership of Basmati rice in the international market, it seems it needs to straighten its own record first. Hayat requested the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda) to approach the commerce ministry, industries ministry, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), IPO and Registrar of Trademarks to resolve the matter pending for the past many years.

He added that Basmati was a heritage of Pakistan and undoubtedly Basmati rice had been grown in the country for decades. “It has all the features and characteristics of Basmati,” he stressed. “Needless to say, it has the best aroma, length and look, and it is renowned in the world for its aroma.”

Basmati trademark belongs to all Basmati growers, millers, processors and exporters, said Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) President Zulfikar Thaver. He added that it was a national property owned by Pakistan and could not be registered in the name of any individual or a firm.

“Of course, national institutions like TDAP can register it on behalf of Pakistan but due to some reasons, it was registered in an individual’s name with a disclaimer,” he said.

“India has applied to the European Union for the GI tag for exclusive registration of Basmati, which shows its mala fide intensions,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2020.



Basmati Export: India Catches Pakistan Napping; Moves EU To Get Exclusive GI Tag For


byM R Subramani-Oct 2, 2020 03:55 PM

Description:  Basmati Export: India Catches Pakistan Napping; Moves EU To Get Exclusive GI Tag For Own Variety    Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.


·         A GI tag for basmati would mean it is exclusively grown in India or parts of the country.

So it will be tough for Pakistan to rush through the process of demarcating areas for its basmati cultivation within a short span.

The Narendra Modi government has made a swift move to protect the exclusivity of basmati rice grown in the country in the global export market.

As part of its efforts, it applied to the European Union (EU) for exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the fragrant, long grain rice, last month. India has applied for the recognition at EU’s official registry, the Council on Quality Schemes for Agricultural Products and Food Stuffs, for the tag.

A GI tag for basmati would mean it is exclusively grown in India or parts of the country.

The move is a significant one since the EU’s revised regulations on fungicides presence in the rice that came into force in 2017-18 resulted in Indian basmati rice losing ground.

Tests had shown that basmati rice from India had higher levels of tricylazole, a pesticide that is sprayed on the paddy to overcome fungal pests. Since the levels could not be brought down, Indian share in the EU basmati market suffered.

This helped Pakistan, which competes with India in the global basmati market, to nearly double its export of the fragrant rice since 2017-18.

A pertinent point here is that Indian basmati has enjoyed a premium position in the global rice market with its prices quoting at least $200 a tonne, higher than Pakistan’s.

Currently, on Alibaba trading website, Indian basmati rice is quoted at around $950-1,000 a tonne against $600-800 quoted by Pakistan shippers. Indian basmati rice enjoys a 65 per cent share in the global export market and Pakistan, the rest.

India has been protective about its basmati rice, even taking on an American firm, which tried to get patents for the variety under Texmati brand in the US, during the late 1990s.

India eventually won its case with the US authorities and since then, followed up with measures to protect its exclusive agricultural products. It was for this purpose that the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, was enacted by India in 1999.

Though basmati is grown in various parts of India, the GI tag for the fragrant, long-grain rice has been assigned to the variety grown only in states such as Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, outskirts of Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

In providing the GI tag cover to its basmati rice, the Indian government has resisted attempts by Madhya Pradesh to get a similar tag for a fragrant variety grown in the state. The MP government even moved court but has not been successful until now.

India produces about 7.5 million tonnes (mt) of basmati rice and exports about 4.5 mt annually. During 2019-20, India earned Rs 34,000 crore shipping 4.45 mt basmati rice.

Basmati exports have stagnated at this level for quite some time. The EU regulations on pesticide have, in a way, affected the growth in its exports.

The Indian move comes at a time when two contrasting developments have taken place.

One, basmati exports witnessed a 10 per cent rise during April-June this year. They earned about Rs 8,600 crore, making up one-third of the country’s agricultural exports during the period.

On the other hand, exports to Iran, a major buyer of Indian basmati rice importing some 1.5 mt annually, have suffered on account of the US sanctions against it. Right now, some quantity of Indian basmati rice reaches Iran's shores indirectly.

The US sanctions have prevented India from buying crude oil from Iran and this, in turn, has affected basmati exports. This has benefitted Pakistan as a result.

The Indian move to get the GI tag from the EU comes amidst these developments. According to EU rules, competing nations have three months’ time to contest the claim.

With over two weeks having already passed after the notification of Indian claim, the neighbouring country has less than 10 weeks now to respond. The problem for the Imran Khan-led government is that it has not assigned any geographical territory for its basmati rice cultivation.

Basmati rice in Pakistan is grown mainly in its Punjab province and its cultivation has extended to Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Within Punjab, the traditional areas are lagging behind in production.

The cultivation of basmati rice in provinces other than Pakistan’s Punjab has diluted the exclusivity of the fragrant rice’s geographical territory. If Pakistan takes measures to demarcate the geographical exclusivity of the rice, then it would be up against regional politics from the Sindh politicians, in particular.

Thus, it will be a tough ask for Pakistan to rush through the process of demarcating areas for its basmati cultivation within the short span.

Pakistan has to prove to EU that it has been maintaining exclusivity of its regions cultivating basmati. This also means hours will have to be spent on talks and negotiations.

But given the fact that the EU is upset with China and its allies such as Pakistan after the novel coronavirus breakout since it holds Beijing responsible for this, the Imran Khan government has the onerous task of convincing it.

With the Indian government now planning to ban pesticides such as Tricyclazole and Buprofezin, which led to trade dispute with importing nations, the basmati rice industry has more reasons to cheer.






Delhi to launch massive anti-air pollution campaign from Oct 5: Gopal Rai

Rai said he has also appealed to the Centre and neighbouring states to use the chemical developed by scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) here to manage stubble.

Published: 01st October 2020 07:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st October 2020 07:12 PM   |  

AAP's Delhi convener Gopal Rai (Photo | EPS)


NEW DELHI: Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Thursday said the city government will launch a mega anti-air pollution campaign on October 5, and that a centre is being set up in Najafgarh to produce a chemical to deal with stubble burning.

Rai said he has also appealed to the Centre and neighbouring states to use the chemical developed by scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) here to manage stubble.

"Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will launch a mega anti-air pollution campaign after a meeting with officials from departments of environment, transport, development, PWD, Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Jal Board, traffic police and municipal corporations," he said.

At a meeting of NCR states with Union Environment Prakash Javadekar, Rai asked the Centre to take time-bound action to ensure that 11 thermal power plants and more than 1,900 brick kilns using outdated technology in the national capital region control their emissions.


  There are 11 plants around Delhi - in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab -- which were supposed to retrofit their units with technology called flue-gas desulphurisation to reduce emissions by December 2019.

   Rai said there are more than 1,640 such brick kilns in Uttar Pradesh, 161 in Haryana and 164 Rajasthan.

"All these contribute to Delhi's air pollution massively," he said.

   The minister said the Delhi government presented its plan to tackle stubble burning in the city during the meeting with Javadekar.

He said a centre is being set up in Kharkhari village in Najafgarh where "bio-decomposer" solution will be prepared in around 400 containers starting Tuesday.

IARI's new technology involves a liquid formulation prepared using bio-decomposer capsules, fermenting it over 8-10 days and then spraying the mixture on crop residue to ensure speedy bio-decomposition of the stubble.

Capsules worth Rs 20 can effectively deal with 4-5 tonnes of raw straw per acre.

Rai said the Centre has been providing subsidies up to 80 per cent on farm machinery, but farmers still have to pay from their own pocket to use it.

  "The Pusa bio-decomposer is an economically viable option.

We have estimated that only Rs 20 lakh is needed to manage stubble in 800 hectares of agricultural land in Delhi," he said.

The minister said an action plan has been prepared to stop stubble burning in the city.

Under it, farmers will fill a form providing details such as name, address, village, the area where they produce non-basmati rice and the date when they want the government to spray the chemical to tackle stubble burning.

Based on this form the Delhi government will send officials to spray the chemical at the designated farmland.

Agricultural development officers of all the districts will lead this work, he said.


Rice prices still high in market 

Staff Correspondent | Published at 12:39am on October 02, 2020

The prices of rice remained high in the city’s kitchen markets although the government had set the mill-gate price of the staple to contain the unusual price hike of the commodity.

Rice mill owners claimed that they were selling rice at the government-set price but wholesalers were not decreasing the price.

Wholesalers, however, said that the government had lowered the mill-gate rate about Tk 20-30 a bag (50-kg) compared to the previous price and it could hardly have any impact on the wholesale and retail prices of rice.

The food ministry in a meeting with the rice mill owners on Tuesday set the price of miniket rice at Tk 51.50 a kg, while the price for medium-quality rice was set at Tk 45 a kg.

‘For the sake of the national interest we agreed with the government and all the rice mill owners’ were selling the staple food at the fixed prices,’ KM Layek Ali, secretary general of Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association, told New Age on Thursday.

He said that in most cases rice mill owners were incurring loss to comply with the government-set prices due to the high price of paddy but wholesalers did not decrease the price of the item.

M Layek Ali urged the government to take an initiative so that the benefit of decreased prices of rice percolated down to the level of the consumers.

Kawsar Alam Khan, a wholesaler at Babubazar in the city, said that the prices of rice set by the government did not impact the market much as the mill-gate rate of rice remained almost the same.

He said that the government had set the prices at Tk 2,575 for a 50-kg sack of miniket and Tk 2,250 for medium quality BR-28 rice, but the previous rate was only Tk 20-30 higher than the current ones.

‘I think there was no possibility to decrease the price of rice in the market with the government initiative as the newly set mill-gate rate of rice was almost the same with the previous prices.’

Md Maksud, a retailer at Mohammarpur Krishi Bazar, said that the rice prices remained high in the market as the wholesale prices remained unchanged.

Although the government set the mill gate rate of rice the retail prices would not come down until decreasing the wholesale prices, he said.

According to the traders the standard variety of BR-28 rice sold for Tk 50-52 a kg while the fine variety sold for Tk 54-55 a kg in the capital on Thursday.

The standard variety of miniket rice sold for Tk 56-58 a kg and the fine variety sold for Tk 60-65 a kg.

The fine variety of najirshail rice retailed at Tk 60-65 a kg and the coarse variety sold for Tk 44-48 a kg on the day. 

Editor: Nurul Kabir, Published


Cambodia wins rice battle in EU court


 The Edge Markets

The European General Court has rejected the European Commission’s (EC) request to reject a complaint submitted by Cambodia and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) regarding the EU’s reintroduction of tariffs on Indica rice exports from Cambodia.

A court order uploaded to the European Law Journal on Sept 10 said the EC had submitted a plea requesting the court to dismiss Cambodia’s complaint and regard it as inadmissible, reported Vietnam News Agency quoting local media, the Phnom Penh Post.

But Cambodia and the CRF argued that the court should reject the EC’s plea of inadmissibility and annul the contested regulation on the rice exports.

In full:


Cambodia’s rice export increases by 22% in first 9 months to nearly 500,000 tonnes

A lush rice field under cultivation in the provinces. AKP


Cambodia exported 488,775 tonnes of milled rice in the first nine months of this year, up 22.6 percent compared to the same period last year.

Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries showed that Cambodian milled rice was shipped to 60 countries around the world.

The ministry also mentioned that as of September this year, paddy rice cultivation was carried out on 2.7 million hectares nationwide, equivalent to 104 percent of the yearly plan. Chea Vannak – AKP

Asia Rice-Rates dip in top hubs; traders flag low Mekong water levels

OBER 1, 20207:25 PMUPDATED* Vietnamese traders warn of drought, salination

* Bangladesh government fixes wholesale price

* New supply expected to pressure on Thai prices

Oct 1 (Reuters) - Rice export prices eased this week in most hubs on lackluster demand with fresh supplies expected to be a further drag, but Vietnamese traders were concerned about low water levels in the Mekong.

Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety RI-INBKN5-P1 slipped to $376-$382 per tonne from last week's $379-$385.

“Local prices are softening due to the expected rise in production. Exports prices are not falling in the same proportion because of rising rupee,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Thailand's benchmark 5% broken rice prices RI-THBKN5-P1 fell to $472–$477 from $475-$495 last week, attributed largely due to the fluctuation in Thai Baht amid muted demand.

“We are starting to see new supply steadily entering the market this month, and this could gradually lead to a decline in prices over the next few weeks,” a trader said.

In Vietnam, rates for 5% broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 were quoted at $460-$480 a tonne range versus $470-$475 last week, as export activity was muted with the absence of buyers from the Philippines.

“Some exporters are only focusing on fulfilling their contracts signed with Cuba,” a trader in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang said.

Traders said water levels in the rice bowl Mekong Delta are low this year and they are concerned about possible drought or salination during the upcoming crop season.

Bangladesh this week fixed wholesale prices for rice following a jump in domestic rates after a government drive to shore up supplies fell short of targets.

Millers will now have to sell fine quality rice at 2,575 taka ($30.37) for a sack of 50 kg and medium quality at 2,250 taka ($26.54) in line with the new prices.

“We’ll have no option but to import rice if the millers don’t sell the grain at the fixed prices,” Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said.

Reporting by Diptendu in Bengaluru, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Promoted by  Dianomi

DA to buy local palay amid decline in prices


Posted at Oct 02 2020 03:18 PM

MANILA - The Department of Agriculture (DA) said Friday it would buy palay or unmilled rice by local farmers at P19 per kilo in light of plunging farmgate price of the staple crop. 

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the National Food Authority (NFA) would expand its palay procurement and buy the rice harvest of farmers in their villages.

"This early, we have put in place the buying stations of NFA all over the country," he told Teleradyo's "Kabayan."

"They will buy dry and clean palay at P19 per kilo, at 14 percent moisture content," he said in Filipino.

The NFA will also help pick up the produce if farmers don't have the means to deliver it, Dar said.

The agriculture chief said they had received reports that farmgate prices of palay had plummeted to P15.

The agency will buy as much as possible from rice farmers using its P10-billion procurement fund this year, he said.

He had also instructed the NFA to roll-over twice its procurement fund so it could buy P20-billion worth of palay this year.

The DA earlier urged provincial local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to buy palay and corn directly from farmers to prop up prices.

In an earlier statement, Dar said provincial governments could avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) of up to P2 billion at 2 percent interest to procure palay, and acquire farm machineries and postharvest facilities.

In 2019, the country’s top 12 rice producing provinces were Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Iloilo, Camarines Sur, Tarlac, Negros Occidental, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Leyte.

They produced more than 9.74 million metric tons (MMT) of palay, roughly 52 percent of the country’s total harvest of 18.815 MMT last year.



Palay farmgate price declines 3% in second week of September

October 2, 2020 | 5:49 pm


THE AVERAGE farmgate price of palay, or unmilled rice, fell 3% week-on-week to P17.12 per kilogram in the second week of September, with the price up 5.8% year-on- year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In its weekly update on palay, rice, and corn prices, the PSA said the average wholesale price of well-milled rice fell 0.4% to P38.42 while the retail price rose 0.02% to P42.24.

The average wholesale price of regular-milled rice fell 0.5% to P34.81 while the retail price fell 0.1% to P37.89.

The farmgate price of yellow corn grain fell 2.5% week-on-week to P12.01. The average wholesale price of yellow corn grain fell 0.3% to P20.79 while the retail price fell 0.1% to P24.82.

The farmgate price of white corn grain fell 2.5% week-on-week to P13.18.

The average wholesale price of white corn grain fell 0.8% to P15.75 while the retail price was flat at P27.80. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave



·         Sponsor

·         Pitch A Story

·         FAQs

·         Contact

·         Awards

·         Shop

·         TOPICS












·         PRINT ISSUES







Welcome to the Anthropocene

Join thousands of researchers, policymakers and educators who rely on our Weekly Science Dispatch to keep up to date on the latest sustainability science.

Top of Form

Sign Up

Terms & privacy

Bottom of Form



Researchers get closer to the goal of flood-proof crops

Engineered enzymes could allow plants to tolerate low-oxygen conditions

By Emma Bryce

October 2, 2020

The effects of climate change on agriculture usually conjures up an image of plants flailing under drought-stricken skies. But how will agriculture cope with climate change’s other offering—the rise of floods? Increasingly extreme weather worldwide is causing flooding across parts of the planet, and that’s driving a parallel decline in growing area, since most crops can’t subsist in the low-oxygen conditions of waterlogged soil. 

But now, researchers writing in PNAS say they have identified a key player in plants’ molecular makeup—one which might help us flood-proof crops against this uncertain future.

In most plants, being submerged in water for prolonged periods leads to hypoxia, a lack of oxygen that shuts down their ability to produce ATP, the molecule that ferries energy around a plant—and which needs air to function. But certain plants like rice, which grows in waterlogged soils, have an unusual capacity to withstand soggy soil for periods of time, because they use a different energy pathway that doesn’t rely on the presence of air. 

Researchers know that in these plants, certain genes control that particular energy pathway, and that those genes are regulated by proteins. In turn, the behaviour of those proteins is governed by a unique group of enzymes called plant cysteine oxidases (PCOs)—which, from the top of this chain, set the whole sequence of events in motion. 

Because those enzymes are so crucial to helping these plants survive waterlogged soils, the researchers on the new study set out to describe their structure, and illuminate how they work—and how they might therefore be enhanced to improve crops’ adaptations in flooded environments. 

By mapping out the detailed structure of the PCOs, the researchers identified key amino acids to target and mutate, which they used as proof that the enzymes could be engineered to behave differently. Then they introduced those engineered enzymes into test thale cress plants—which was practically important, because it proved that these crops could effectively incorporate the altered components. “This is great as it suggests that we can directly translate our biochemical work into a plant context to manipulate PCO function,” says Emily Flashman, a co-author on the new study, and chemist from the University of Oxford, who collaborated on the research with colleague Francesco Licausi.

Discover more:  To reduce food waste, we actually need more grocery stores


For now, the enzyme tweaks the researchers have made haven’t resulted in significant changes to plants’ flood control: instead, their primary research aim was proof of principle. But with the structure of the enzymes now fully laid out, they’re in a stronger position to identify targets for mutation. This will enable them to pinpoint the specific amino acids that alter the enzymes’ behaviour in ways that change the downstream activity of proteins and gene regulation—and could ultimately boost flood tolerance.

“We’ll have to use much more subtle changes to the enzyme’s function to produce plants that are usefully flood-tolerant, for example changing how sensitive they are to low-oxygen conditions—think a dimmer switch, rather than an on-off switch,” Flashman says. If they can make the right tweaks, it could help create plants that are able to continue transporting energy and functioning as normal, despite the low-oxygen conditions of their suddenly-aquatic environments. “Really this is where the hard work starts, as we have to understand the enzymes in more detail to be able to achieve that—but we’re on our way!”

Next up, Flashman says, they’re going to investigate precisely how the enzymes interact with oxygen, to point them towards enzyme modifications that will “generate plants with improved flood tolerance, but without any penalty in yield.” 

She thinks this early stage discovery, advanced by future insights into enzyme hotspots, could have widespread benefits for crops—including staples like wheat and barley. That’s because PCO enzymes are ‘conserved’ in all crops, she explains, meaning that even though they may not be functional in a plant, their infrastructure still exists within.

So ideally, one day researchers will be able to tap into these reservoir enzymes to breed flood-resilient plants—a potential life raft for our food systems, on our ever-changing planet. 


Source: White et. al. “Structures of Arabidopsis thaliana oxygen-sensing plant cysteine oxidases 4 and 5 enable targeted manipulation of their activity.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2020.


Technology Developed By BGU And Rice Researchers Will Filter COVID-19 Particles From The Air



Thu, Oct 01, 2020

Technology developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, in partnership with Rice University, is being commercialized by LIGC Application Ltd. to develop and manufacture products for filtration systems, including those that filter COVID-19 airborne particles.

 LIGC is a company at the forefront of laser-induced graphene (LIG) commercialization. Hubei Forbon Technology Co. Ltd. (300387.SZ) in Wuhan, China provided $3 million in funding.

“For the past five years, our lab at the BGU Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research [] has focused on the development of LIG, specifically in antimicrobial filtration and environmental applications,” said Dr. Chris Arnusch. “We are excited to be commercializing our technology in a number of air-filtration products for COVID-19 and other specialized filtration applications.”

LIGC co-founder and CEO Yehuda Borenstein said, “In the absence of better filtration technology, the indoor spaces where we used to spend most of our ‘normal’ life – schools, stores and workplaces – due to COVID-19 present a real risk. This technology will provide cleaner and more breathable air with lower energy and maintenance costs and virtually silent sound levels.”

Active air filters made with LIG are designed to damage and destroy organic particles, including bacteria, mold spores and viruses at the micron and submicron levels when passed through a microscopic network of porous graphene.

​This cost-effective and scalable approach is produced using commercially available CO2 lasers to create a conductive graphene mesh. The graphene mesh heats, electrocutes and neutralizes organic particles and pathogens with revolutionary efficiency compared to active carbon filters, UV-C and fiber HEPA filters that are used widely in schools, offices, homes, ships and other facilities. Aircraft already are equipped with HEPA filters that remove viruses and bacteria from the circulated cabin air, but at high-energy and maintenance costs.

Since the LIGC filter uses low-voltage electricity to eliminate bacteria and viruses, lower density filtration media can be used, resulting in significantly less energy consumption. In addition, LIGC active filters require lower maintenance than other filters and are safe for the operator during maintenance and replacement.

“To understand the technology, imagine the porous graphene is an electric fence that functions as a mosquito zapper at the submicron level,” Bornstein said. “When an airborne bacteria or virus touches the graphene surface, it is shocked at a low voltage and currents that are safe for use. While 2020 has highlighted the importance of protecting against airborne viruses, the post-pandemic world will likely show us how important it is to do so without increasing energy costs past the point of affordability.”


NFA says too early to gauge impact of Rice Tariffication Law

October 2, 2020 | 5:58 pm


The National Food Authority said it is too early to judge the overall impact of the Rice Tariffication Law (Republic Act 11203) and resisted calls for it to be amended.

"Since the law is still new and the rice sector is still under a transition period, we cannot yet attain or savor the full benefits of the law, although we can already see and feel them,” NFA Administrator Judy Carol L. Dansal said in a statement.

The law removed the restrictions on rice imports while charging a 35% tariff on Southeast Asian grain. The tariffs generated will provide P10 billion a year to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which will assist farmers with mechanization, obtaining quality seed, and accessing farming know-how.

It also removed the NFA’s importing functions and left it with the main functions of maintaining a buffer stock via domestic purchases and supplying subsidized rice to the poor. Its purchasing activity helps set a floor for the price of palay, or unmilled rice, the form in which farmers sell their harvest.

The NFA buys palay for P19 per kilogram, but it cannot buy the entire domestic harvest due to limited funds and storage, leaving farmers to deal with private traders, who undercut the NFA price.

The NFA said it purchased around two million bags of palay in September, for an average of 90,012 bags per day.

The Cagayan Valley was the top source of palay procured by the NFA with 505,440 bags, followed by Western Visayas 318,383 bags, Central Mindanao 298,665 bags, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) 121,910 bags, and Bicol 100,714 bags.

Ms. Dansal said the NFA is ready to purchase the harvest through its 558 warehouses and buying stations.

"As instructed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte and pursuant to our mandate of buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies, we do our very best to accommodate as many farmers who would want to sell palay to the government," Ms. Dansal said.

According to the NFA, some 4.93 million bags of palay were purchased in the year to date as of Sept. 29.

The NFA recently sought to boost its purchasing power by signing agreements with Quirino and Isabela provinces, which agreed to participate in purchasing by supplementing the NFA purchase price by add P1 and P2, respectively using their own funds. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave




Retail prices of rice, edible oil continue to rise in Dhaka

·         Description:

·         Description:

·         Description:

·         Description:


Retail prices of rice and edible oil have continued to increase in Dhaka, rising by up to Tk 5 per kg and litre in a week, as government has failed to rein in the market.

Customers believe a lack of strong government monitoring is to blame for the rising prices of commodities.

Prices of bottled soybean oil of some brands have gone up to Tk 115 per litre, increasing twice in a month.


Maidul Islam Mahin, a grocer at Rampura Kitchen Market, said he was selling oil at previous rates on Friday because his old stock was not exhausted.

He will charge the customers the new rates once the dealers of the companies bring the new products Saturday.

Khurshed Alam, a retailer at Mohakhali, said he received the new products and began selling them at the new rates.

“People in the government work hard when the media writes about the price hike. But we don’t see strong monitoring by the government,” said customer Sarwar Hossain, who resides in Malibagh.


Biswajit Saha, the general manager of City Group which produces oil under the brand name Teer, said they raised the prices following hike in the international market.

All the companies took approval of the Bangladesh Tariff Commission before raising the prices, he claimed.

In the rice market, coarse Swarna, the cheapest in Dhaka, was being sold at Tk 50 per kg.

The fine quality Miniket rice was priced between Tk 62 and Tk 65 a kg.

Ali Ahsan, the proprietor of Bikrampur Rice Store at Rampura, said prices of coarse varieties of rice have increased more than the fine ones.


He was selling Miniket at Tk 2,800 to Tk 3,000 per sack of 50 kg. The price of coarse rice was Tk 2,450 to Tk 2,550.

“The millers have told us that that paddy price hike has driven rice prices,” Ahsan said.

“But sitting here we can’t say what has exactly happened,” he added.

Wahiduzzaman, a wholesaler at Mirpur-1, said the millers were manipulating the market having bought paddy from the farmers at lower rates much earlier.





Haryana Govt budges, allows UP farmers to sell produce at Karnal border

Makeshift purchase centre to come in stadium within 2 days



·         Posted: Oct 03, 2020 07:05 AM (IST)

Officials check the moisture content in paddy in the Karnal grain market on Friday. Tribune photo

Parveen Arora

Tribune News Service

Karnal, October 2

The state has finally allowed the sale of Uttar Pradesh paddy in Karnal, ending days of uncertainty for farmers. For this, the district administration will establish a temporary purchase centre in Mohidinpur village situated on the Haryana-UP border.

The state government took the decision after the district administration submitted a proposal in this regard.

The marketing board has started re-carpeting a road that leads to the purchase centre, installing lights and constructing toilets. The centre is expected to be functional in a couple of days.

Arhtiyas’ associations have been asked to inform farmers in UP to bring paddy to the makeshift centre after October 5. A schedule in this regard has been released. Besides, registered rice millers have been asked to start procurement.

In its September 30 edition, The Tribune had published a news story “Haryana ban on outside crops negates Centre’s free market policy”, highlighting that farmers of UP who wanted to sell their produce in Karnal and Panipat were stopped by the police.

“To help UP farmers, we are setting up a temporary purchase centre at a stadium in Mohidinpur village. The government has approved our proposal. I visited the site on Friday and directed market committee officials to ensure all facilities there,” said Deputy Commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav.

Meanwhile, a day after arhtiyas called off their strike, the district witnessed speedy paddy procurement on Friday.

Till evening, around 22,000 MT of paddy was procured out of 40,000 MT that has arrived in 13 purchase centres of the district. Till Thursday evening, only 627 MT was procured.

From Black Bean Tacos To Arroz Con Leche: 3 Plant-Based Traditional Latin American Foods

Shirley Gómez | Oct 02 2020, 10:50AM EDT

·         OCT 03, 5:50 AM EDT

Description: Almond milkFor Hispanic Heritage Month, Luisa Sabogal RD, is sharing better-for-you, plant-based updates to traditional Latin American breakfast, lunch, and dessert dishes. Photo by Sandi Benedicta on Unsplash

Registered Dietitian Luisa Sabogal, joins the Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month celebration by sharing better-for-you, plant-based updates to traditional Latin American breakfast, lunch and dessert dishes. Some Latinos and Latinas tend to consume high saturated fat foods and forget about the risk of common health conditions in the community, like high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

According to a 2015 study conducted by the American Heart Association, 49.3 percent of Hispanics had high cholesterol levels and were not aware, while those who were aware, only 29.5 percent received treatment. The researchers also revealed that high cholesterol was more common among men than women, 44 percent versus 40.5 percent. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also informed in 2019 that Hispanic/Latino Americans are more likely to have type 2 diabetes (17%) than non-Hispanic whites (8%).

Based on the data, Sabogal wants to use her knowledge to create a healthier world; Therefore, she shared with Latin Times three plant-based recipes using products from Califia Farms. 

3 Plant-Based Traditional Latin American Foods 

·         Black Bean Tacos – Black beans make a hearty, plant-based taco filling. You can make your cashew sour cream (using cashews that have been soaked overnight blended with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, and garlic) for a creamy topping.

Description: Black Bean TacosBlack beans make a hearty, plant-based taco filling. Courtesy


¼ C white onion, chopped

1 C beans, drained

½ tsp Califia Plant Butter with Avocado Oil

1/8 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp cilantro

½ lemon juice, medium-size lemon


1. In a medium pan over low heat, warm the butter. Add chopped onions and cumin.  Cook and mix well until onions are well cooked-translucent in color.

2. Add the garlic and continue to stir. After 1 minute, add drained beans, stir and cook for 5-10 minutes covered. Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to mash beans to desired consistency. 

3. Turn off the heat, add 1 tbsp chopped cilantro and fresh lemon juice, and stir to mix well. 

RD Tip: Instead of “frying” beans, cook beans with Califia Farms Plant-Based Butter with Avocado Oil and mash with a fork. Using plant-based butter is a great way to reduce the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol while still adding flavor.

·         Calentado (rice and beans) with hogao (sautéed tomato, onion, and garlic stew) – a Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Costa Rican breakfast or lunch that is typically made with chorizo. You can make it vegetarian with a mix of tomatoes, onions, and garlic.

Description: CalentadoCalentado is a Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Costa Rican breakfast or lunch that is typically made with chorizo. Courtesy


For hogao

1 C fresh tomatoes, chopped

½ C scallions, chopped

1 small garlic clove, pressed

¼ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp Califia Farms Plant Butter with Avocado Oil

Salt to taste

For calentado

½ brown rice, cooked

1 C beans, cooked


Make tomato stew by heating butter in a pan and add the tomatoes, scallions, garlic, and ground cumin. Mix well and cook for 10 minutes covered.

Add salt and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until the sauce has thickened. Remove sauce from heat.

Add cooked beans and rice to a separate pan, mix well and warm them up.

Serve cooked beans and rice on a plate, and accompany with tomato mixture, oven-baked plantains, and avocado slices for a balanced, tasty, and nutritious meal.

RD Tip: Swapping out meat for veggies makes this a heart-healthy meal because it reduces saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium intake, and increases fiber intake. 

·         Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) – a popular Latin American dessert traditionally made with condensed milk. Replace condensed milk with creamy, dairy-free oat milk.

Description: Arroz con LechePopular Latin American dessert traditionally made with condensed milk. Courtesy


• ½ C short grain rice

• 2  cinnamon sticks

• 2 C Califia Oatmilk 

• 1 Tbsp coconut sugar

• Optional: ground cinnamon and raisins


1. In a pot, combine oat milk, cinnamon sticks, and rice. Bring milk to a simmer and simmer slowly for ~10 minutes. 

2. Remove cinnamon sticks, add coconut sugar and simmer for ~10 minutes, and stir often to prevent the rice from sticking to the pot

3. Remove from the heat, add the raisins and extra cinnamon, and let it cool. It will thicken as it cools.

RD Tip: Choose unsweetened oat milk, like Califia Farms Oatmilk, for a dessert with less saturated fat and sugar and no cholesterol.


Description: Shirley Gómez

Shirley Gómez



URA bans warehousing of rice, sugar after tribunal ruling


Tax Tribunal upholds URA decision to ban warehousing of rice and sugar. PHOTO URN

Kampala, Uganda |THE INDEPENDENT | The Tax Appeals Tribunal has given the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) a go-ahead to ban the warehousing of sugar and rice.

The Tribunal has further ordered the Commissioner Customs URA to gazette the import of all rice without any restrictions, and to grant adequate notice of 2 – 3 months before any action taken by URA becomes effective.

Tax experts say the decision favours URA policy, and is a big step towards protecting consumers and the local industry.   

In October 2019, URA issued a list of goods that it declared not eligible for warehousing, including sugar, milled and broken rice, building materials and wines and spirits (except in duty-free). Others were motor vehicle tyres and tubes, motorcycle tyres and tubes, dental care products, garments and footwear of all kinds, as well as imported cars of 14 years and above. 

The East African Community Customs Management Regulations 2010 already had a list of products deemed ‘high risk’ that should not be in warehouses, including acids, ammunition for trade and business, arms for trade and business, chalk, explosives, fireworks, dried fish, perishable goods and matches other than safety matches.

URA boss Musinguzi

 Combustible or inflammable goods were also listed except petroleum products which were allowed for storage in approved places. The directive only allowed small importers who bring in goods in group containers to put their products in warehouses where necessary, but only for 24 hours to enable them to clear their goods.             

URA argued that under Regulation 64(k) of the East African Community Customs Management Regulations 2010, the Commissioner has the discretion to gazette any other goods that are not supposed to be warehoused and that the directive was issued to protect the public from hazardous goods and to also protect local manufacturers.

These new measures, however, did not go down well with importers and distributors, accusing the URA of making business more expensive. Importers usually keep their goods in warehouses manned by the URA as they prepare themselves to clear all tax obligations, while others delay their introduction onto the market, anticipating for better proceeds. 

However, for re-exporters, the system is used to prepare them for another market, including the processing of documents, organizing for logistics before shipping them out to their final destination. Sometimes, the importers have been accused of offloading goods declared as transit goods, onto the local market, which amounts to dumping.         

It is based on this that R1 Distributors led 11 other importers and distributors to challenge this decision.  Now, the Tax Appeals Tribunal has ruled that URA’s decision to list sugar among items not to be warehoused was lawful, rational and within URA’s mandate.

Kampala City Traders Association Chairman Everest Kayondo says the URA has the mandate of securing warehouses from leaking and to keep the records of all imported and bonded goods, and that banning the practice is unnecessary. He says that sometimes the goods are shipped in when the demand as dropped and traders need to hold them for some time.     

The main point of contention in the Tribunal, therefore, was whether the notice published by URA was lawful and/or proper. The tribunal acknowledged that there is ample evidence to prove that the government of Uganda has to protect the local industries that manufacture sugar from unfair competition arising from dumping, diversion of sugar in transit and tax evasion.       

The Tribunal agrees with URA that this will ensure that Ugandans are protected from the consumption of expired sugar and that the local sugar manufacturers are protected from unfair competition arising from dumping. URA Manager Corporate Affairs Ian Rumanyika says the ruling a will now allow the Commissioner to make similar decisions on goods it deems not safe for warehousing.

While the URA says that the move aims at curbing unfair competition in the country, KACITA says it puts Uganda on the back-foot in the region because warehousing facilitates re-exports, which is a legal trade activity.  

Kayondo says countries like Rwanda, which are instead promoting warehousing of the said goods will attract Ugandan investors to the neighbouring country, especially re-exporting products to the Democratic Republic of Congo.