Monday, October 05, 2020

5th October,2020 Daily Global Regionl Local Rice E-Newsletter


News Detail…

Footprints: Basmati battle


Nasir JamalUpdated 04 Oct 2020


At present, India has 65 per cent and Pakistan 35pc share in the world basmati rice trade. — File photo

ABAD Khan stands on the edge of his fields in Nowshera Virkan, a town known for its aromatic, long-grain basmati rice to the west of Gujranwala, looking over his new crop on a September afternoon. The overall average temperatures have dropped but the day feels quite warm — something the basmati growers like Khan should be worried about. To them a warmer weather means early flowering of their rice plants and seed fertility issues.

Some parts of the basmati belt along the Chenab are already under pest attack. The attack, according to him, has so far been observed only in small patches along the basmati belt — Narowal, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Hafizabad and Sheikhupura. But he feels it could spread because the pest is resisting the insecticides like anything and multiple sprays in some areas have failed to kill the insect.

However, climate change and pest attacks are not the only worries for him. India has applied for exclusive GI (Geographical Indications) tag for its basmati rice at the European Union’s official registry, the Council on Quality Schemes for Agricultural Products and Food Stuffs. The EU subsequently published the application of India in its official journal on September 11, showing basmati rice as an India-origin product despite the fact that similar rice is widely produced in Pakistan. To protect its own brand of basmati, Pakistan has a few weeks before December 10 to challenge the Indian claim.

“If the Indians managed to secure GI tag from the EU for their basmati crop, it will be devastating for our growers and exporters,” Khan asserts, elaborating that the drop in the basmati rice exports will result in lower prices for the farmers. “Once India gets the exclusive GI tag, we will not be able to market our rice in the international market as basmati; we would be wholly dependent on the Indian firms and brands to sell our product in the global markets.”

At present, India has 65 per cent and Pakistan 35pc share in the world basmati rice trade.

A GI is a sign used on agricultural products that have specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation that are due to that origin. Geographical Indications are part of the intellectual property rights (IPRs). GI tags help boost sales and exports as the geographical limitation on production and official recognition of historical and cultural significance increase the demand and create a legacy.

The news of India staking an exclusive claim to basmati rice has also shocked Pakistan’s rice exporters as basmati rice exports fetch between $800 million and $1 billion a year. “Pakistan exports basmati rice to many countries. A chunk of our basmati exports is shipped to the EU countries. Should India secure the GI tag for its basmati rice, the consumers will start preferring the [recognised] Indian product. It will drastically harm our market share in EU. Hence, the issue is of crucial importance for us,” says Sameeullah, a rice exporter from Lahore.

“India cannot have exclusive right on the basmati trademark when it is a joint heritage. A GI tag is granted on the basis of geographical origin of an agricultural product and qualities associated with the soil of that region or territory,” he asserts, contending that Pakistan’s rice is way better than India’s in every respect.

Khan says India’s move has come as a surprise to him. “Pakistan had an understanding with India that the two countries would jointly apply for the exclusive GI tag because basmati rice is our shared heritage since it is grown for centuries by both of them in areas along the Chenab. GI has more to do with soil than history, on the basis of which India has applied for exclusive tag from the EU. Our case for exclusive GI tag for our basmati rice is much stronger than India’s.”

Both India and Pakistan had fought jointly in the late 1990s and the early 2000s to foil the attempt by a Texas-based company, RiceTec, to patent basmati rice in the US. After losing the battle, the company named its rice brand as Texmati.

Khan is critical of the government’s indifference towards growers’ plight. “It is unfortunate that our government has never shown interest in protecting our heritage. When India tried to make a case for GI tagging for its super basmati rice some years back, our farmers took the initiative under the banner of the Basmati Growers Association and challenged the move in Indian courts in Chennai and New Delhi. Our government never supported us financially or technically nor did it provide us legal support. Resultantly, we lost our case in the Chennai court. We are unable to pursue the other case in New Delhi because we do not have resources to pay for the lawyers’ fee and other expenses. You cannot fight such issues alone; you always need government’s help in every possible way.”

Sameeullah is also not happy with the government. “It is not that the government was unaware of the New Delhi’s plans. India had been working on it for many years and already declared Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and (some districts of) Jammu and Kashmir as part of its basmati belt. We had our Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act 2020 passed from the parliament in March this year to claim our right to the geographical origin for our products. But since then no movement has so far been made to operationalise the law. Even our trade representative in Brussels has not done anything so far.”

With less than 70 days left to challenge and prepare Pakistan’s case, we may soon be gifting Pakistan’s basmati rice to the Indian firms if the government doesn’t change its behaviour and take immediate action to file objections to India’s claim for exclusive GI tag

Land sale called vital in rice-site plan

by Stephen Steed | October 3, 2020 at 2:00 a.m.

The University of Arkansas System's Agriculture Division says it will have "extremely limited options" for helping pay for a new rice research center near Jonesboro if the pending sale to a private entity of 6,300 acres from another research station collapses.

The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board has voted to provide $21.4 million for the future Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center, including an initial $4 million grant to buy the 614-acre site in Poinsett County, about 5 miles south of Jonesboro on Arkansas 1.

The board, a quasi-public entity whose nine members are appointed by the governor but receives no general funding from the state, also has established a $5 million endowment for the operations of the center, the UA System's first since 1957.

The UA Agriculture Division said the sale of the 6,300 acres from its Pine Tree Research Station in St. Francis County is central to matching the rice board's $5 million endowment.

"Progress and scope of the project will be directly impacted by the sale of Pine Tree," Mary Hightower, a division spokeswoman, said this week in response to a series of questions related to both projects. "If the sale does not proceed with the current executed contract ... we have extremely limited options."

As for other costs associated with the center's construction and operations, the division will seek grants and endowments from private entities and state funds through the Arkansas General Assembly.

"We are also pursuing noncash gifts to equip our research," Hightower said. "Through our development work, we would need to raise $4 million to $6 million, in addition to the endowment; hence the significance of the Pine Tree sale."

Selling 6,300 wet and heavily forested acres of the Pine Tree station was "the most viable option" to help pay for the new research center, Hightower said, because the acreage isn't conducive to the row-crop research conducted elsewhere at the station.

While the sale was approved March 11 by the UA System board of trustees, it also is contingent on the approval of Congress. That's because UA in 1960 had obtained some 11,800 acres from the U.S. Forest Service for what would become the Pine Tree station. UA paid $560,600, making the final payment in 1978. The deed specified that the acreage be returned to the Forest Service should it ever cease being public land -- a stipulation that requires the congressional waiver, according to the Agriculture Division.

Lobo Farms LLC of the Fisher community in Poinsett County made the only offer for the 6,300 acres. The sale price was $17.6 million, plus a $1 million gift to a wetlands and waterfowl conservation endowment.


The proposed sale to a private entity caught the attention -- and opposition on social media -- of hunters and anglers who've used the 6,300 acres for decades under a cooperative agreement between the Agriculture Division and the state Game and Fish Commission.

While that agreement expired in 2005, the land has remained open for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities (but not camping), and the Game and Fish Commission continues to manage the property as a wildlife demonstration area.

The Agriculture Division said efforts to sell the land to state agencies, including the Game and Fish Commission, and conservation groups failed. Some state lawmakers have said the General Assembly could pass legislation next year to buy the land and keep it in public hands.

"We have full faith and confidence in the University of Arkansas coming up with the match," Roger Pohlner, chairman of the rice promotion board, said Friday.

Pohlner said he believed the Agriculture Division did everything it could to keep the Pine Tree acreage in public hands. "I know the university explored a lot of options but just kept coming up empty," Pohlner said. "The sale, if it goes through, helps not just this [Jonesboro] station but all the other farms and stations where the university is researching row crops, vegetables, cattle and forests."

Pohlner said the division went several years without an increase in state general funding. "It's funny, now that the agriculture people have found a way to get new funding, some lawmakers are telling them to go back to the drawing board," he said.

Tying the acreage at the Pine Tree station to paying for the new research station was a response to a board of trustees' directive to inventory underutilized properties for possible sale or link to other "public-private partnerships," the Agriculture Division has said.

"At a time when funding is hard to come by and the research and education needs of our organization are constant, the proceeds from this sale are vitally important," the division said.

There apparently is no timeline for such a vote in Congress. The contract with Lobo Farms expires at the end of the year but can be renewed by mutual agreement, the Agriculture Division has said.

The registered agent for Lobo Farms is Mark "Field" Norris Jr., a financial adviser with Raymond James & Associates in Memphis. Norris, the son of a federal judge in Tennessee appointed two years ago by President Donald Trump, has declined through an attorney for the group to identify other investors in Lobo Farms. No law requires such identification.

After questions were raised by outdoors groups, media outlets and some legislators, Norris wrote the UA division on July 31 to say no members of the buying group are current or past members of the General Assembly or the UA System trustees or hold "any elected position."


Arkansas is the largest U.S. rice producer, supplying about half of the nation's annual harvest. Arkansas rice growers last year harvested more than 185 million bushels from 1.1 million acres. About eight northeast Arkansas counties now grow most of the rice in the state, eclipsing production in the Grand Prairie region, the birthplace of commercial rice production, several years ago.

The Agriculture Division now conducts research on rice production in Stuttgart at the Rice Research and Extension Center and at the Northeast Research and Extension Center in Keiser.

"The soils at ... Stuttgart are not the same as the mixed soils north of I-40 and west of Crowley's Ridge; nor are they the same as the heavier clay soils closer to the Mississippi River on which we grow rice at ... Keiser," Mark Cochran, the UA System's vice president for agriculture, has said.

Some $5 million of the proceeds of the Pine Tree sale would go toward the new station, the Agriculture Division has said. Another $6 million could be invested in research into smart farming and precision agriculture. Research into wetlands and waterfowl conservation and timber and wildlife also would benefit, the division said.

Work at the Poinsett County site has proceeded during the uncertainty surrounding the state portion of its funding.

Hightower said the land has been leveled and irrigation improvements are being made. Ground has been broken for equipment storage. Construction of a shop will begin this year "to accommodate the initial research activities that will take place in 2021," she said.

Those "phase one" activities were funded by the rice promotion board's initial contribution of up to $4 million to buy the 614 acres and $496,500 for construction of irrigation systems and wells.

Some $3.6 million was used for the purchase of two contiguous tracts -- 591.53 acres, for $3.5 million, from R.B. Spencer Farms of Jonesboro, and 22.47 acres, for $150,000, from Rusty Cartillar of Wynne. The UA trustees approved the purchase in November 2017.

The rice board also has pledged $10 million for the new station's headquarters; $1.4 million for construction of a shop and equipment yard, and $529,000 to pay a multiyear portion of the salary and benefits of Tim Burcham, hired last year as the Jonesboro center's director.

Burcham previously was dean of the Arkansas State University College of Agriculture. While ASU has been cited as a partner in research at the Jonesboro center, ASU isn't contributing any money toward its operations, Hightower said.

The budget for a second phase is $3.2 million for early construction and equipment, Hightower said.

"Initial annual operating costs are roughly $200,000, including a farm supervisor and an employee," she said. "Once we reach full operation, we anticipate costs for the research portion of the center to be approximately $800,000 annually."

Construction of the headquarters is projected to cost $12 million to $14 million, Hightower said.

Pohlner, the rice board chairman, said he wants to see a headquarters "with state of the art programs that we don't have going on at any of the other research centers, one that's open to the public, open to teachers who can load their kids onto buses for a day of education on rice and agriculture that's so important to the state."

"Those are the kinds of things that will be curtailed if we can't get fully funded," he said.

Pohlner said the rice promotion board will offer other contributions as needed but also will help raise money from private entities.

Since its creation in 1985, the rice promotion board has been funded by assessments charged to rice growers and buyers, but the $21.4 million contribution to the Jonesboro center comes entirely from tariffs collected on rice imported by Colombia.

Every rice-producing state receives the tariff funds, part of a 2012 trade promotion agreement between the U.S. and Colombia that, by phases, will end in about 2032, when free trade fully opens between the two countries.

The Arkansas board has received about $40 million since the program began, said Brandy Carroll, the board's administrator. She said the Arkansas board, prior to the Jonesboro contributions, had contributed about $10 million of tariff funds to various large-scale rice research programs in the state.

The board, she said, has voted to require that every dollar collected through both the tariffs program and the grower-buyer assessments be spent on research.

In a preface to answering questions this week about the proposed center and the sale of the Pine Tree acreage, the Agriculture Division said in a statement, "We continue to be disappointed and frustrated that opposition to the sale of the land at Pine Tree has devolved into attacks on our reputation and our research, and in particular our plans for the new rice station. This center was requested by the rice farmers in northeastern Arkansas, whose need for our research is great and we need to support them."

Tirap KVK conducts pest infestation awareness prog


KHONSA, Oct 3: The Tirap KVK on Saturday organized a ‘training-cum-awareness programme on pest management of sali rice’ in Sipini village.

KVK Head Dr DS Chhonkar advised the farmers to be hard working and be role models for other farmers and unemployed youths.

Plant protection scientist Pura Hano spoke on the basic management system of rice pest.

“Any chemical pesticide should be used when it is needed by strictly considering the economic threshold level of the pest population,” he said.

The KVK scientists also interacted with the 33 farmer participants regarding the pest infestation problem and its management.

Two knapsack sprayers and insecticides for rice leaf folder and caseworm were divided among the farmers, according to the severity of infestation in their fields.

Palay prices in top-producing areas reach P19 per kilo  

QUEZON CITY, Oct. 4 -- Buying prices for dry palay (paddy rice) in the country’s top-producing areas reach P19 per kilo, at par with the maximum buying price set by the National Food Authority (NFA).
The quick palay price survey report made by the Philippine Rice Information System (PRiSM), from September 16-30, 2020, showed that prices of palay averaged P18 per kilo (/kg) in Central Luzon and P19/kg in Cagayan Valley.
The two regions are the country’s top rice producers, accounting for roughly 19 percent (%) and 12.5%, respectively, of total national harvest in 2019, at 18.8 million metric tons (MMT).
In the same report, PRiSM said the price for freshly-harvested palay in the two regions averaged at P14/kg.
In a virtual press conference on October 1, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said prevailing palay prices in the Philippines towards the end of the second semester 2020 were actually higher than in previous years.
Grains traders and middlemen usually buy wet or freshly-harvested palay, with high moisture content or MC, at 35% to 40% lower than dried grains at 14% MC, as they shoulder the costs of hauling, transportation, and drying.
The NFA, an attached corporation of the Department of Agriculture, buys dry palay with 14% MC at P19/kg nationwide. It also buys wet palay on a pro-rata basis, and offers free transport at designated barangays, said DA-NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal.
The PRiSM project is an online system that consolidates and presents accurate, timely, and location-specific information on the status of rice crops, that includes: rice area estimates, planting dates, yield estimates, and crop health assessments.
Thus, it provides the DA management vital information to support its strategic and policy decision-making on the country’s rice industry and food value chain. PRiSM is jointly undertaken by the DA’s Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and Sarmap, a Swiss technology firm.
“Hence, we base our analysis and decisions using more reliable data. Bumababa tayo sa mga communities to monitor and ensure that our interventions are in place and benefit our farmers,” the DA chief said.
A separate survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) during the last two weeks of September showed that farmgate prices of palay were at P17.12/kg, 5.8% higher than P16.18/kg in 2019, for the same period.
“Our PRiSM data, therefore, debunks the disinformation waged by interest groups against the rice tariffication law (RTL), blaming it for the decline in prices of palay,” said secretary Dar.
“The interest groups, along with former DA officials, have exaggerated data on palay to push for the amendment or repeal of the RTL. They are resurrecting old arguments against RTL,” he added.
Interest groups, led by the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), call for the review and repeal of the RTL as palay prices continue to drop and rice importation remains unregulated by the government.
The PRiSM survey was conducted in 16 regions, among 219 respondents, composed of farmers, traders, and millers. It also considered palay price monitoring reports from DA-regional field offices and provincial and municipal local government units.
“Makikita dito na hindi nagkakalayo ang data na ginagamit ng gobyerno, and definitely the reality is, hindi kasing baba ang presyo ng palay as interest groups claim on social media,” Secretary Dar said. (DA)


Lawmaker wants excess rice tax as cash aid

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star

) - October 4, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Pangilinan is calling on the government to release as cash aid the excess in revenues from the Rice Tariffication Law as prices of palay (unhusked rice) continue to slide.

Pangilinan said farmers are currently in an emergency situation needing urgent assistance from the government to stay afloat.

“The life-saving measure is direct cash assistance especially to the small farmers now suffering from the plunge in the prices of palay and from the lack of other livelihood opportunities due to the pandemic,” he said.

Palay prices have reportedly dipped to as low as P11 per kilogram in some areas, way below their production cost.

The government has so far collected P10.728 billion in taxes from rice imports as of end-July, already meeting the P10 billion allocation for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

Taxes collected in excess of the P10 billion may be allocated as cash assistance to farmers.

“We have an excess collection of P728 million as of July and this should directly benefit the farmers especially in these hard times,” Pangilinan said.

“We need to get the cash in their hands so they can continue to plant and put food on every Filipino’s table,” he said.

The lawmaker urged the Department of Agriculture to immediately address the situation, which he said is expected to happen regularly after the RTL was enacted last year.

The law opened the Philippine market to unlimited rice imports at higher tax rates. In November last year, the Philippines became the world’s top importer of rice overtaking China.

Fresh floods spell disaster for Aman crops

12:00 AM, October 05, 2020

05:45 PM, October 05, 2020

Retail prices of coarse rice soar 31pc in September


Sohel Parvez

The latest spell of flood has inundated nearly 100,000 hectares of Aman crop, raising worries among agriculturists that a large portion of the plantings will be damaged.

Aman is the second-largest rice crop accounting for roughly 38 per cent of the country's annual rice production. The ongoing deluge is likely to affect the overall production of the crop.

"It is really unfortunate. The crop looked good and was growing well," said Md Abdul Muyeed, director-general of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).

"Even though 100,000 hectares of Aman crop were inundated, I think we will be able to reach close to the production target as the crop condition in other parts of the country is very good. We have seen enough rains and plants have received water this year."

The DAE is yet to prepare an estimate on the extent of crops damaged by the flood.

"Crop on half of the inundated areas may be recovered," he said.

Twenty-five districts have been affected by the flood, with Kurigram and Rangpur the worst. Part of Naogaon has also been inundated, said Muyeed, who was visiting the northern region yesterday.

Farmers have started harvesting the early varieties of the paddy, he said.

A former scientist of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute said there was little hope of recovery of a large portion of Aman plantings submerged by the latest floods.

Farmers transplanted Aman paddy on 55.12 lakh hectares this season, down from 55.71 lakh hectares the previous year. The areas for sown or broadcasted also declined, data from the agriculture ministry showed.

This is yet another round of flood that began to hit farmers and localities repeatedly from the end of June this year, fuelling prices of the staple grain amid speculation among rice traders and millers that the overall output will drop during the Aman season because of crop losses and late cultivation.

Floodwaters started to recede at the end of August and the agriculture ministry had said the previous floods damaged Aush and Aman crops on 111,000 hectares of area.

In September, retail prices of coarse rice were 31 per cent up year-on-year at Tk 44 a kilogramme in Dhaka, the Food and Agriculture Organization data showed.

Against the backdrop of the soaring prices, the food ministry, at a meeting with millers and traders last week, fixed the mill gate prices of the grain. The gap between the government-fixed mill gate prices and the retail market has remained high.

Food Secretary Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum said prices would not increase further.

"The government's drive against hoarding of rice will continue. During drives, we still find paddy that has been stocked by people. As we had enough production, we want to explore. Some people must have stocks."

"There is a good stock of food-grains at public warehouses. So, we are not worried," she said.

Bangladesh will have to import to build adequate public stock if Aman production is hampered and the country can't attain the procurement target, Khanum said.

"But, right now, we are not going to import," she said.

Two economists, however, said the drives against hoarding would not be helpful in containing the volatility in the rice market.

Instead, the government should focus on increasing supply either through the higher distribution of rice using the social safety net programmes or through imports.

"The new spell of the flood will create speculation and will have an impact in the rice market," said Khan Ahmed Sayeed Murshid, the director-general of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.

He said drives against hoarding to curb volatility in the market did not work in the past.

"Supply has to be increased in the market to control speculation," he said.

The government distributed four lakh tonnes of grains in the October to November period from public stocks of 10 lakh tonnes of rice.

At the same time, the government should initiate the process for imports. The purchase from the external sources should not be done during the harvesting season as it will hurt farmers, Murshid said.

Prof Shamsul Alam, a member of the General Economics Division of the planning commission, said Aman crop would not be affected if the water recedes fast.

"The price spiral of rice is not good news for consumers. As the rice market is highly competitive, putting pressures on traders and millers will bring little benefit. Steps should be taken to facilitate imports," said Alam, an agricultural economist.

Wais Kabir, a former executive chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, said a portion of Aman crop in the Teesta-Dhara basin would be affected for the inundation.

As an alternative, crops such as mustard and maize can be considered and the government can take steps to support affected farmers so that they can intensify the cultivation of early winter crop, he said.

Muyeed said the DAE would take initiatives to provide seeds of mustard, maize and wheat to rehabilitate farmers.


Rice exports top $300M in first nine months of year

Thou Vireak 

Publication date 04 October 2020 | 22:41 ICT


Cambodia exported a total of 488,785 tonnes of rice, an increase of 22.62 per cent year-on-year. Post staff

Cambodia rice exports in the first nine months of the year topped $300 million, an increase of more than 10 per cent, according to a report by the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF).

The data shows that from January to September, Cambodia brought in more than $328 million from rice exports, up from $297 million in the same period last year.

Cambodia exported a total of 488,785 tonnes of rice, an increase of 22.62 per cent year-on-year, which was 398,586 tonnes, said the data.

China remains the largest export market and buys 35 per cent or 171,896 tonnes of rice.

The European Union (including the UK) is second with 33 a per cent market share (161,614 tonnes), of which France has the largest market share at 13 per cent.

ASEAN member markets accounted for 67,433 tonnes of exports, while other markets accounted for 87,832 tonnes, up 69 per cent from the same period last year. Of that, Africa’s Gabon increased imports by 81 per cent and Australia by 62 per cent.

Cambodia exported more than 78 per cent of its fragrant rice to international markets during this period.

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) secretary-general Lun Yeng told The Post on Sunday that Cambodia’s rice exports to the Chinese market had maintained good growth with demand for fragrant and glutinous rice.

He said Cambodia had exported nearly 140,000 tonnes of glutinous rice to the Chinese market in the period, a record high.

“We see that there is a good market for glutinous rice in China, which is being used in the confectionery industry, and we will encourage our farmers to grow more glutinous paddy rice next year,” he said.

Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) Director Dr Ouk Makara said he met with Cambodian Rice Federation President Song Saran recently to highlight the growing demand for glutinous rice in the Chinese market and promised to encourage farmers to grow local glutinous paddy rice.

He said CARDI-released Damnoeb Sbai Mongkul glutinous seedlings have not been widely cultivated since 2013 and only some farmers in Battambang and other provinces are cultivating them.

Makara said: “I told him to encourage farmers to grow Damnoeb Sbai Mongkul glutinous rice because it is top quality and could meet the market demand”.

China is expected to import a total of 5.32 million tonnes of all types of rice by 2020. China has allowed 12 countries to sell rice, including Cambodia.

Chan Pich, general manager of Signature of Asia, Cambodia’s leading rice exporter, told The Post that Cambodia’s continued increase in rice exports reflects government and private sector efforts to diversify the market.

“I think our continued increase in rice exports is a positive sign towards the government and the rice federation’s target of one million tonnes by 2023,” he said.

He said Signature of Asia needs between $2 million and $3 million in working capital to buy about 25,000 tonnes of paddy rice for storage during the rice harvest season by the end of 2020.

Cambodia’s rice exports amounted to 620,106 tonnes in 2019, down 0.97 per cent from 626,225 tonnes in 2018. Revenue from rice exports was $501 million, down 4.3 per cent from 2018’s $ 524 million, according to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Thailand sees opportunities to boost rice exports to EU

Thailand’s premium rice products are having better chances for export to the EU after the bloc allowed zero-tariff rice imports of 24,883 tonnes for October.

VNA Monday, October 05, 2020 09:29 


Bangkok (VNA) – Thailand’s premium rice products are having better chances for export to the EU after the bloc allowed zero-tariff rice imports of 24,883 tonnes for October.

According to Keerati Rushchano, director-general of Thailand’s Foreign Trade Department, the European Commission has recently announced that the remaining annual quota for rice (white rice, Thai hom mali rice, Thai fragrant rice and 100 percent parboiled rice) would have zero tariffs this month for up to 24,883 tonnes.

The EU has set annual rice import quota for 2020 at 630,000 tonnes.

The zero import tariff is a good opportunity for Thai rice exporters to raise their exports to the market, said Keerati. The EU normally collects an import tariff of 145 EUR per tonne.

The bloc has required importers to apply for import licences within the first 10 working days of October.

In the first eight months of 2020, Thailand exported 146,362 tonnes of rice worth 140 million USD to the EU.

Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said local rice exports to the EU are likely to drop from 2019 because of the COVID-19 impact, which weakened rice demand at restaurants and hotels./.



Cotabato governor calls on Congress to amend rice importation law

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:16 AM October 05, 2020

COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao, Philippines — Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco has called on Congress to review and amend the rice tariffication law, or Republic Act No. 11203, blaming it for the steep drop in palay prices in her province, one of the leading rice producers in Mindanao.

Catamco, a former member of the House of Representatives, said local rice farmers had been complaining of the “very, very low farm-gate prices [of palay, or unmilled rice]” and they desperately needed support from national legislators “to correct a flawed legislation, which allows the unhampered entry of imported rice” into the country.

The rice tariffication law was implemented beginning March last year, doing away with quantitative limits to imports of the staple crop while setting higher tariffs, the proceeds of which go into the rice competitiveness enhancement fund to support the local rice industry.

But instead of helping the local rice industry, farmers “are suffering from the adverse effects of unlimited importation of rice,” said Catamco, who faced farmer leaders in a dialogue on Friday after a peaceful protest rally in Mlang town.

She said that in abiding by the country’s commitments to the World Trade Organization, the government “must not jeopardize the welfare of the millions of Filipino rice farmers who depend on the industry.”

Difficult life

Farmer Gualberto Sison lamented how life has become so difficult for his family when imported rice displaced them from the market.

“The prices of face masks is higher compared to the price of palay,” said Sison, who works in a 2-hectare rice farm. Private traders buy palay at P9.50 to P11 per kilo, and a face mask sells for P20 apiece.

While the National Food Authority (NFA) buys palay at P17 to P19 per kilo, another farmer, Solima Lim, said many of them could not avail themselves of government procurement and were forced to sell to traders who gave them loans for farm inputs.

Buying stations

Mindanao has about 1.2 million hectares of rice farms, generating more than 350,000 jobs with annual wages valued at P42 billion.

In Albay, another rice-producing province, palay buying stations have been set up in two towns where farmers can sell their produce for P19 per kilo.

Rep. Fernando Cabredo said he was assured by the NFA in Albay that it had the funds to buy palay at P19 per kilo at its stations in Libon town and Ligao City.

“The absence of rice buying stations [in other areas] compels farmers to sell their palay to rice traders who in turn take advantage of the situation by manipulating and dictating the buying price of palay,” he said.

Farmers have wanted to sell their produce directly to the NFA but they are discouraged because the agency requires palay to be clean and dry, and doing so would mean additional cost for them.

Cabredo, quoting a report from the NFA, said the agency could still accept palay that were still wet and unclean because of the absence of warehouses and drying facilities in Bicol.

He said he had also asked the Department of Agriculture to provide more postharvest facilities like rice processing centers, dryers and multipurpose drying pavement to rice farmers, more farm-to-market roads and transportation assistance.

Fishermen buck tilapia, galunggong importation

Published October 5, 2020, 11:08 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) is asking the government to look for other solutions to the expected shortage of tilapia and galunggong, stressing importation in not the answer as this will be detrimental to small fishermen.

PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said the Department of Agriculture (DA) should have already come up with a more sustainable solution to the expected shortage by now since this has already been an annual occurrence.

“When will the DA ever learn that resorting to importation every time there is a fish shortage will never address this yearly cycle of a fisheries crisis?” Hicap asked.  
“While we recognize that there may be an actual shortage in fisheries production brought about by the pandemic, the common-sense solution is to fortify government intervention and adequately support the local production,” he added. 

“Opening our floodgates for imports would do more harm than good, especially to the small fishers who will be left at a disadvantage”.

Last week, the DA revealed its current food supply outlook, which shows that that by the end of the year, there will be a deficit in the country’s fishery supply of about 42 days’ worth of consumption.

To fill this in, the DA is contemplating importing additional supply, or about 400,000 metric tons (MT) supplemental fish imports.

Without imports, the agency’s outlook indicated that the supply is estimated to be at 2.9 million MT, which is lower than the demand of 3.3 million MT.  

For round scad or galunggong, the country’s supply is estimated to be at 53,925 MT by the end of the year, which is lower than the demand of 105,690 MT. This shows a deficit of 51,765 MT.

For tilapia, on the other hand, the supply stood only at 102,624 MT versus a demand of 114,660 MT, showing a deficit of 12,036 MT.

However, Hicap said imported fishery and marine products “outcompetes and further pulls down farmgate prices of fresh and locally-caught fish”.

At present, farmgate prices of galunggong and tilapia are at P60 per kilogram (/kg) to P70/kg and P30/kg to P40/kg, respectively.

“Flooding our local market with imported fish will further downgrade the value of our local fishery products, leaving our small fishers at the losing end,” Hicap said. 

“Imported fish which are frozen and inferior in quality are relatively cheaper than our local fish products. This trend is akin to how local rice farmers are being lambasted by the impacts of imported rice facilitated by the Rice Liberalization Law. This is how liberalization of agriculture and fisheries sabotages the livelihood of Filipino fishers and farmers across the country,” he further said.

He then suggested that DA should just manage the country’s fish supply and make other fishery products more accessible and affordable to consumers.

“There are plenty of fish in the Philippine seas, why not make them more accessible and affordable to poor consumers instead of importing deficient varieties?” Hicap said.  

Right now, if there’s a shortage in tilapia and galunggong, considered as the “poor man’s fish” for its affordability, there is now an abundance in the local supply of some high-value fishery products like tuna and crabs.

These products — considered high-value fisheries products for their prices — are supposed to be exported to other countries but couldn’t go anywhere because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. They are also normally served in restaurants.

Because of this, Asis Perez, former director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), advised Filipinos to tweak their fish consumption a bit and lean more on these high-value fishery products to make up for the lost export revenues. 
He then said the government should help local exporters identify the domestic markets where they can divert their products, especially now that it’s hard to export them to other countries.

Coarse grains, millets must for balanced diet

Renowned cooking expert Sanjeev Kapoor, who is always vocal for local food, says coarse grains like kodo, ragi, jowar are more beneficial for health than polished grains so the menu at five-star hotels also includes millets.

New DelhiPublished on: October 05, 2020 6:27 IST

Coarse grains, millets must for balanced diet

Kodo is more beneficial for health than polished rice sold in the market. Kodo is a type of coarse grain and coarse cereals are rich in micronutrients as well as fibre so it is necessary to include coarse grains in your food intake for boosting fitness.

Renowned cooking expert Sanjeev Kapoor, who is always vocal for local food, says coarse grains like kodo, ragi, jowar are more beneficial for health than polished grains so the menu at five-star hotels also includes millets.

Kapoor, who is also the Onboard Chef at Tata Sampann, told IANS that local food is not only beneficial for health but is also delicious so the menu of five-star hotels includes area-specific local foods which are in demand. He said,"We launched a khichdi with Tata Sampann in which we included a lot of millets and spices along with lentil rice and there is a lot of demand for it."

Kapoor, who considers homemade food important, said it would be a better prospect if pizzas, burgers and other continental foods were prepared at home.

People's increasing interest in foods containing coarse grains is undoubtedly beneficial for health as scientists have found they contain lot of rich micronutrients.

However, scientists from the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) say that a limited amount of coarse grains should be included in the diet.

Dr Subba Rao M. Gavaravarapu, scientist at NIN, Hyderabad and Chief of Nutrition Information and Communication division, said at present, the market offers only coarse grains except all other grains which is not good because maintaining diversity in food is important.

"NIN says that a person must have food which provides 2,000 calories a day, which includes nearly 270 grams of grains in it. It is good to take 40 to 50 per cent or 120 to 130 gram coarse grains. The rest of the grains we have been eating since childhood must be included in the diet," Dr Subba Rao added.

Micronutrients and fibre, he said, are found in coarse grains so it is beneficial to include them in food for daily intake but eating only coarse grains is not recommended.

September was celebrated as the 'Nutrition Month'. A special programme "Local Diet With Proper Nutrition" highlighted the importance of local food. Food experts described the consumption of seasonal crops grown in different parts of the country as more beneficial. In this event organised by NIN and Tata Sampann, Director of the National Institute of Nutrition Dr R. Hemlata said there is need to talk openly about the local food items.


Before The Land Borders Are Re-opened



There are indications that the federal government may soon are-open the country’s land borders which it closed in August last year.

The government decided initially to shut the land borders to stop smuggling activities and illicit export of locally subsidised petrol to neighbouring countries while boosting local production. Also, the action was also to combat the smuggling of arms and ammunition, as well as hard drugs into the country. The COVID-19 pandemic added impetus to that decision.

The government said that the borders would remain closed until neighbouring countries duly comply with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)protocols on transit of goods.

Since the closure, different commentators and analysts have tried to condemn the action of the government on the ground that it is hurting the economy. That of course is true, but then there comes a time when the nation needs to endure a little sacrifice to build a better tomorrow.

That was exactly the reason behind the border closure. For too long, Nigeria was turned into a dumping ground for all sorts of commodities including frozen foods, foreign rice, textile materials among others, smuggled through the borders. The unfortunate thing is that most of these commodities are sub standard and fake or are prohibited in the country.

Benin Republic became one of the world’s top importers of rice because of its Nigerian market. Almost all of the rice it imported from Thailand, Indonesia etc found its way to Nigeria through the Seme border.

The government had at various times tried to stop the influx of these commodities through diplomatic means, engaging the customs of the different countries to build a joint patrol. But that achieved very little. In fact it is clear that that country and other neighbouring African countries are taking Nigeria for a smuggling destination.

Recently when President Muhammadu Buhari met with the President of Benin Republic, Patrice Talon, on the sidelines of the seventh Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD7), in Yokohama, Japan, one of the things he told him was that Nigeria had had enough of the smuggling from the Benin end of the border.

The president was right. Of course, while this newspaper agrees that no nation can afford to close its borders forever because the world has become a global village, no nation also throws its borders open to all manner of goods without control. It is also true that Nigeria cannot continue to keep its borders shut since it has appended its signature to the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). However,

the fact remains that Nigeria, as a sovereign nation, cannot sit and watch other countries batter its economy unchecked.

Given the outcry from our West African next door neighbours such as Benin, Togo and Ghana, it is clear that these countries actually depend on Nigeria for their survival. There is nothing wrong with that, but it has to be a symbiotic relationship.

While it is obvious that the closure came with its pains, there is no denying the fact that some gains have also been made. For instance, it was reported that most ofthe cargoes that used to be shipped to Benin Republic, and then discharged and smuggled into Nigeria, with the closure of the borders, the importers have been forced to bring their goods to either Apapa or Tin Can Island and pay the necessary duties to government.

Within this period, customs reported that it has been making between N4.7 billion to N5.8 billion daily–more than the agency used to generate before the closure.

While we applaud the government for the bold step it took to protect its territorial integrity, and better develop its own domestic rice production capacity, it is obvious that the customs, immigration and other security agencies have broadly failed to stop the problem of illegal importation of rice from Benin.

With tariffs on imports of rice into Benin markedly lower than the tariffs on imports of rice into Nigeria, Benin has become a major importer of rice from India, Thailand and other sources. That explains why importers prefer to go through Benin and then smuggle the goods into Nigeria.

As the government is making arrangements to reopen the borders, it is imperative that it should look back to check if the objectives for which the borders were closed in the first place have been achieved.

The President once said that the closure of the country’s borders was effected to allow Nigeria’s security forces develop a strategy to curb smuggling from Benin.Thirteen months after the border closure how far have the security agencies gone with the new strategies to man the borders?

It is also important to ask how far has the neighbouringcountries agreed to comply with the ECOWAS protocol on movement of goods?

If we cannot answer these questions in the affirmative, the whole essence of the border closure would have been a waste and the people have been made to suffer unduly



Glitch in e-kharid portal slows down paddy procurement in Haryana

The tardy lifting has caused glut in the mandis as the farmers are not getting enough space to unload their produce in the overflowing grain markets.

CITIES Updated: Oct 04, 2020 20:16 IST

Neeraj Mohan
Hindustan Times, Karnal

 (HT Photo)


Farmers in Haryana are a worried lot after a technical snag in the e-kharid portal has led to slow procurement of paddy in the mandis of the state.

The tardy lifting has caused glut in the mandis as the farmers are not getting enough space to unload their produce in the overflowing grain markets. The harvesting of both parmal and basmati varieties is on peak in the state.

Aimed at empowering farmers and extending ease of doing business to traders, the e-kharid system was launched for Haryana in September 2016. Under this system, direct payment is made into the accounts of the farmers for their produce.

On Sunday, the ahrtias complained that the farmers were unable to sell their produce due to the technical problem on the e-kharid portal for several hours and therefore the rice millers have been purchasing it without any formalities.

“I reached the mandi with the produce at 3.30am on Sunday. I had to wait for about five hours in the queue outside the mandi as there was no space to unload the produce. I have not been able to sell my produce yet and will have to wait till Monday as there was no procurement,” said Ramesh Kumar, a farmer, who was present in Ladwa grain market of Kurukshetra district.

A commission agent in Kurukshetra, Naresh Kumar, said, “There were problems with the e-portal and it has affected the procurement for several hours causing inconvenience to the farmers who had brought their produce in the mandi as per the schedule.”

A senior officer of the state agriculture marketing board said there was some technical problem with the e-portal but it has been fixed. “The procurement will improve from Monday,” he added. The official said to ease the lifting, the state government is taking help of rice millers as they have enough arrangements for the procurement.

Haryana agriculture minister JP Dalal, who was in Karnal on Sunday, said the government has made all arrangements for the procurement and every single grain of the farmers will be procured on MSP.

BKU: Moisture within limit, yet millers deducting money

Farmers’ union threatens stir if deduction isn’t stopped

Posted: Oct 05, 2020 07:16 AM (IST)

Bhartiya Kisan Union (Charuni) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni has accused rice millers of deducting Rs 100 per quintal for 17 per cent moisture content, which is permissible, in paddy. He has threatened to launch a stir if the deduction is not stopped.

Tribune News Service

Kurukshetra, October 4

Bhartiya Kisan Union (Charuni) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni has accused rice millers of deducting Rs 100 per quintal for 17 per cent moisture content, which is permissible, in paddy. He has threatened to launch a stir if the deduction is not stopped.

Gurnam Singh said, “We have received complaints from different grain markets that the rice millers have been deducting Rs 100 per quintal for 17 per cent moisture content, especially in PR26 variety. The farmers are ready for moisture cut if the moisture is over 17 per cent but the cut at 17 per cent is not acceptable.

“The commission agents also follow the directions of rice millers as they have no other option. The government should take a stand and take strict action against the rice millers. Otherwise, the farmers will be forced to launch another stir,” he said.

He also expressed dissatisfaction with the procurement process and asked the farmers to lock the offices of market secretaries till all gate passes are not issued.

Gurnam Singh Charuni said, “The gate passes are not being issued and the procurement is also not going on smoothly. Huge stocks are lying in the grain markets. We have asked the farmers to hold protests as per their capacity and lock the offices of market secretaries till gate passes are not issued.”

On the other hand, Jewel Singla, chairman, Rice Millers and Dealers Association said, “The farmers should give the names of the millers to the administration and the association for appropriate action if any miller is deducting money wrongly. The government should install dryers in the grain markets so that there are no complaints regarding the moisture.”




Opposition, farmers and other groups announce agri protests in Haryana; BJP launches damage control exercise

BKU’s leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, who is spearheading farmers’ ongoing agitation against the three farm laws in Haryana, on Saturday announced another protest rally at Sirsa on October 6.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Updated: October 3, 2020 8:46:37 pm

Various farmer organisations and Opposition have decided to gherao senior BJP-JJP leaders' residences on October 5 and 6 across Haryana. (Express photo by Harmeet Sodhi)

Not only the Congress, but various political parties and farmers’ organisations have also announced protests against three farm laws across Haryana in the coming three days. The growing resentment has forced the ruling BJP into launching a damage control exercise. Various senior leaders, led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and BJP state chief Om Prakash Dhankar, began back-to-back meetings with party workers, farmers, arhtiyas and rice miller associations. Various farmer organisations and Opposition have decided to gherao senior BJP-JJP leaders’ residences on October 5 and 6 across Haryana.

BKU’s leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, who is spearheading farmers’ ongoing agitation against the three farm laws in Haryana, on Saturday announced another protest rally at Sirsa on October 6. INLD’s Abhay Chautala had already invited various farmers’ organisations to join hands and hold a massive protest against the three farm laws and state government on October 6.

Swaraj India’s senior leader Yogendra Yadav has also announced a farmers’ protest at Shambhu Barrier, Ambala, on October 4. Yadav has also invited all the farmer organisations to join hands against the three farm laws calling it “RSS-BJP’s pro-corporate model”. “Farmers will sit outside Dushyant Chautala’s residence and then everybody will see how this ongoing agitation intensifies. All these Chautalas, Hoodas, Badals will fall in line if the farmers join hands and decide to ensure government procures crops on MSP,” Yogendra Yadav said.

He added, “Last week I was in Karnataka. All farmer organisations have joined hands. Farmer organisations are protesting across the country. It is not that the farmers are only protesting in Punjab or Haryana. Although epicentre of this protest is in Punjab, this fire is spreading fast across the country. Government will have to bow because farmer is king of this country. This may be a long struggle, but farmers will surely get justice.”

Yadav said, “All the farmers want is that government must give it in writing that their crop will be procured on MSP. Although right from Prime Minister to various state governments, all politicians of BJP are saying that crop procurement shall be on MSP. Then what stops them from giving it in writing? Once the government gives it in writing, all the farmers shall go back to their fields and end this ongoing protest.”

Yadav announced that on October 6, various farmer organisations will reach Sirsa and camp outside Dushyant Chautala’s residence.

Sensing growing resentment across the state, the BJP has scrambled its MLAs, MPs asking them to go to their constituencies and pacify the agitated stakeholders.

BJP’s MP from Sirsa, Sunita Duggal, who was shown black flags by a large number of agitated farmers at Sirsa, on Saturday held series of meetings with farmer associations and trader organisations at Sirsa in an attempt to make them aware of the benefits of the three farm laws. She also termed “opposition’s conspiracy” the ongoing protests and those to follow.

For the last three days, CM Khattar had been regularly holding meetings with the officials and stakeholders concerned and monitoring the procurement situation across Haryana.

Haryana Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and Animal Husbandry Minister J P Dalal said, “Protecting interest of farmers has always been state government’s priority. Besides the Central government, Haryana government has also implemented several schemes to make agriculture and farmer sector self-reliant. As a result of declaring the minimum support price of crop every year before the sowing season, the area under crop cultivation has been steadily increasing in the country.” Dalal said this while presiding over a meeting of officials of power utilities to review status of pending agriculture tubewell connections.

“In the wake of the sowing season of rabi crops, directions were issued to officers to ensure a special programme and issue at least 200 connections each week and complete the entire backlog of pending applications by October 31.

Also, new transformers would be installed with immediate effect wherever needed,” Dalal said.

Dalal is currently touring various mandis across the state and holding meetings with the stakeholders. Besides Bhiwani, Dalal also visited Kosli and interacted with farmers, arhtiyas and market associations. “Government is ensuring that entire procurement of all the crops is done with utter transparency. All the suggestions submitted by farmers, arhtiyas, shopkeepers and millers have been taken into consideration and the procurement is going on smoothly,” Dalal said.

Talking about the ongoing procurement’s status in the state, Haryana’s ACS (food and supplies department) P K Das said, “Procurement has begun. Chief Minister has held a meeting through video conference with all the Deputy Commissioners of the districts where procurement is going on. Rice millers’ association has not yet begun their operations due to certain demands. Arhtiyas have also not started operations due to certain pending demands. Both the groups had met Chief Minister individually and submitted their concerns. All their legitimate demands were met and clarifications that were sought by them were also given. On the night of October 1, rice millers’ association and arhtiyas had decided to start their operations. There was a common demand that, like previous years, millers should be allowed to take care of the transportation of paddy from mandis to the mills. But considering the irregularities detected in this operation in previous years, government decided that it will take care of the transportation of paddy from mandis to mills by government-approved contractors. Certain apprehensions were raised that it may cause delays. But to ensure that transportation is done within 24 hours, I held a preparatory meeting with the officials and transport contractors concerned. Detailed guidelines were issued and government’s priorities were explained.”

Regarding delayed procurement, Das said, “Certain farmers from other states have come with their produce. But they would also have to first register themselves on Meri Fasal Mera Byora portal. From Sunday, they can register themselves. Moisture content is also an issue. Yet, we are doing procurement in major mandis. Since Friday, paddy has started being lifted form mandis.”

Regarding payment to the farmers for their produce, Das added, “Government has decided that within three days of I-form approval, payment shall be made for the MSP. We shall procure four crops this time, paddy, bajra, moong and maize. Bajra, moong and maize payments will go straight to farmers’ account. In case of paddy, where farmers want that they should be paid through arhtiyas, it will be done accordingly. For the rest of the farmers, the payment will be directly made to them in their bank accounts.”



Rice, other essential commodity prices remain high

 Bilkis Irani

·       Published at 09:03 pm October 3rd, 2020


A rice wholesaler blamed high prices in the capital due to supply scarcity Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Green chilli prices heat up volatile kitchen market

Prices of rice and other essential ingredients remained high across the capital over the week, but onion prices slightly reduced due to government initiatives. 

Green chilli prices also increased from last week by Tk10-20 per kg, selling from Tk190-220 per kg over the week, compared to Tk170-210 per kg from the week before.

Retailers said that they sold a kilogram of BR-28 rice at Tk52-55, miniket at Tk56-65 per kg, coarse variety of Najirshail at Tk45-50 a kg and fine variety at Tk60-65. 

These varieties sold at Tk40-60 per kg a week ago.

Md Ripon, a rice wholesaler at Malibagh kitchen market, blamed the high prices of supply scarcity.

“We, the middle-income people, are struggling to make ends meet and cover our household expenses as incomes have reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If the government takes stern actions then these traders would never dare destabilize the market,” said Shammi Akter, a teacher from Banasree.

The Ministry of Food, after a meeting with traders and stakeholders, on September 29, fixed the prices of rice for the millers for the first time ever, aiming to keep the most essential item market stable.

Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said that prices of rice had increased a lot in a week which was totally unexpected. "It is a bad sign," he added.

"In the market, we found that a group of unscrupulous traders had kept a lot of paddy and rice stored in about 50 closed mills," he said. No one had informed the authorities about the issue earlier, though many of the millers knew that.

Visiting several kitchen markets in the capital including Malibagh, Mogbazar, Rampura and Karwanbazar on Saturday, this correspondent found that onion prices had slightly reduced by Tk5-10 per kilogram from last week.

Local onions sold for Tk80-90 a kg and imported onions for Tk65-80 a kg, compared to Tk85-100 a kg and Tk75-85 per kg respectively from last week. 

They were selling at wholesale markets at Tk75-80 per kg for local ones and Tk60-70 per kg for imported ones.

In the middle of September this year onion prices shot up by Tk30-50 per kg after the export ban was announced in India on September 14. Local onions immediately sold for as high as Tk120 per kg, even though it retailed below Tk35 per kg even in August. Last year the price also increased as high as Tk 300 per kg after the ban of onion export in India.

However, in an attempt to curb the onion price hike, the government took several initiatives, such as selling the item in open market sale (OMS) across the country at Tk30 per kg, selling them online through selective e-commerce platforms at Tk36 per kg, withdrawing the 5% import duty on the bulb, intensifying market monitoring to prevent its price manipulation and import onions from other countries such as Egypt and Turkey.

Meanwhile, ginger and garlic prices remained high, as imported ginger was retailing for Tk220-250 a kg and local ginger at Tk160-190 a kg.

Local garlic was retailing at Tk100-120 a kg and imported garlic at Tk90-100 a kg. 

In the wholesale markets, the four items were selling for less by Tk5-10 per kg.

Unpacked soybean oil was retailing at Tk90-95 per litre, bottled soybean oil at Tk108-110 per litre and palm oil at Tk85-86 a litre.

Among vegetables, aubergines were selling for Tk70-80 a kg, tomatoes for Tk120-140 a kg, papayas for Tk40-45 a kg, beans for Tk80-85 a kg, and cucumbers for Tk40-45 a kg.

Green chillies were sold for Tk190-220 a kg in retail markets.

Rice market needs monitoring to keep prices in control

Editorial Desk

Published: 3 October 2020, 12:45

A stitch in time saves nine. Instability prevails in the rice market as timely steps were not taken to keep things in control. The first mistake of the government was not being able to meet the target of paddy and rice collection despite good yield of the boro rice crop. The second mistake was not to have accurate data on how much rice lies with the farmers, wholesalers, and the rice mills. The government has been advancing rather blindly in this regard.

A meeting between food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder and rice mill owners on Tuesday set the mill gate prices of rice. According to the new price, miniket rice will be sold at Tk 51.50 per kg and 50kg sack of rice at Tk 2,575. Medium quality rice will have to be sold at Tk 45 per kg and 50kg sack at Tk 2,250. Earlier, the millers used to sell the rice at a higher price than this.

In a free market economy, there are doubts as to whether the rice market can be kept stable by fixing prices this way. The meeting also decided that the millers across the country would have to sell rice at the fixed prices from Wednesday. The news received from various places is not promising. Rice was not sold at the government fixed prices at all the mills. Sales and supply were much less at the mills where rice was sold at fixed rates. According to the millers, it is not possible to supply the grain at the fixed price as they are buying it at higher prices from the farmers and wholesalers. They say if they can buy paddy at a lower price, they will also be able to supply rice at a lower rate.

According to Prothom Alo, an average of 150 trucks daily delivers rice from Khwazanagar of Kushtia, the second-largest rice hub of the country. But only 50 trucks delivered rice on Thursday. If the supply of rice is low from mill, the market may become more unsteady.

The decision to sell rice at the fixed rate did not have any impact on the market. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), fine rice was sold at Tk 52 to 60 per kg while medium quality rice was sold at Tk 45 to 50 per kg in the capital. The traders sold coarse rice at Tk 42 to 48. The price of coarse rice increased by 6 per cent over the last one month. The prices of fine and medium quality rice are also on the rise.

Though the boro rice harvest was good this year, aman rice was damaged due to floods and cyclone Amphan. Aman rice would be harvested in November. The government must increase the sale of rice in the open market in order to keep the market stable till that time. Rice can be imported from abroad if necessary. This will be more effective to control the market rather than any advice or price fixing. Corona has reduced the income of the common people. On top of this, the increase of rice prices has put additional pressure on them.

The food minister has said that he would not tolerate any manipulation over rice. Whether the rice market will be stable or not depends on how far the concerned persons and institutions heed his warning. The millers and wholesalers are blaming each other for the rise in rice prices. It is the responsibility of the government to determine the actual culprits and to address the instability in the market. This requires continuous supervision

PDS rice from Andhra Pradesh worth crores exported to Africa, Malaysia

Ujwal Bommakanti | TNN | Oct 4, 2020, 07:24 IST


VIJAYAWADA: It is well-known that rice and other essentials from the Public Distribution System (PDS) often get smuggled out into the open market in India and sold for profit. But in Andhra Pradesh, a gang of international smugglers has managed to illegally export PDS rice worth crores to Africa, Malaysia, Bangladesh and other countries.
The police busted one such gang recently. Investigators first detected that the rice, meant exclusively for those holding white ration cards, had been illegally exported from Prakasam district. Officials now say this may just be the tip of the iceberg as they have found that rice worth Rs 38 crore was smuggled to Africa in the last two years. This does not include the produce caught at ports before being illegally exported. If this is taken into account, the racket runs into at least Rs 150 crore.

Police officials told TOI smuggling of PDS rice has become a lucrative business for the smugglers as the profit margin is quite high.
“We have seized over one lakh kg of PDS rice. Further audit suggests that in the last two years, PDS gangs smuggled around 4.5 lakh kg (450 metric tonnes) of PDS rice to different countries worth Rs 38 crore,” said Siddharth Kaushal, superintendent of police, Prakasam district.

We have seized over one lakh kg of PDS rice. Further audit suggests that in the last two years, PDS gangs smuggled around 4.5 lakh kg (450 metric tonnes) of PDS rice to different countries worth Rs 38 crore,” said Siddharth Kaushal, superintendent of police, Prakasam district.

Congress 'injuring' farmers' interests with 'dagger of deceit': Naqvi on farm bills protest

Slamming the Congress for opposing the farm bills, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Monday said the opposition party is "injuring" farmers' interests with its "dagger of deceit" in a bid to turn its "barren political land" fertile. Naqvi said the commitment of the Modi govt is to double the income of the farmers has "quadrupled the worry of brokers and middlemen".


FIR registered against Bhim Army Chief after Hathras visit

An FIR has been registered with the Uttar Pradesh Police against Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad and 400-500 unnamed people under multiple sections of the IPC and Epidemic Diseases Act, for violation of Section 144 Code of Criminal Procedure in Hathras. Azad, along with supporters, had reached Hathras to meet the alleged gang-rape victim's family members on Sunday.

So far, 32 persons were arrested for smuggling. They are believed to be part of a much larger nexus of rice mill owners, PDS brokers, transporters, and exporters.
The smugglers first procure the rice from rice millers. The produce is then polished, packed and labelled and taken to Panvel, Chennai, Kakinada and Krishnapatnam ports for export. Kaushal said that export companies across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are involved in the smuggling racket.