Rice R&D (Innovation & Technology)

Latest Rice R&D News covering new varieties and technology in rice.

Philippines Embarks Indonesia Plans Rice Planting and Harvesting Cycle to Ensure Continuous Stocks and Curb Imports

Mar 06, 2015

The government of Indonesia is planning to design a cycle of rice plant of harvesting covering the entire nation to maintain continuous stocks in the country, according to Reuters.The President was quoted as saying that simultaneous harvesting across the country has been leading to excessive stocks during the harvesting season leading to price falls. A cycle of rice planting and harvesting will help to increase farmers' yields, maintain continuous stocks throughout the year thus stabilize rice prices. Such as system will also help to curb rice imports, he said.He also urged the farmers to increase the paddy yields from the current 5 tons per hectare to 9-10 tons per hectare. He noted that the government would support the farmers by providing the adequate infrastructure, including irrigation systems, seeds and rice machinery.The President also noted that the government would announce the paddy price next week and it would be in line with market conditions and farmers' expectations.USDA estimates Indonesia to produce around 36.5 million tons of rice, basis milled (around 57.4 million tons, basis paddy), and import around 1.3 million tons of rice in MY 2014-15 (October - September).

Talks On Agri And Rice Farming Institute Positive

March 07,2015
09:542015
 by Ranoba Baoa, SUVA
Talks on establishing Grace Road Food Company Limited’s first training institute ended on a positive note in Navua this week.Minister of Agriculture Inia Seruiratu, and Grace Road Food managing director Daniel Kim, established focused on Agriculture Training Institute and the Rice Research Institute took place.Grace Road plans to open the institute come October.The purpose of constructing the educational institutions, according to Grace Road, is understood to not be limited to transferring the farming techniques with the basis of hands-on field experience.

However the company’s vision is to have these institutions grow to be a place of intellectual convention to anyone who want to understand and on-site practices for farming.Mr Kim said: “We sincerely appreciate Mr Inia Seruiratu’s supporting our project from the beginning.“We want to rebuild the Rice Industrial Area in Navua, Nausori, and Tailevu.“With this intimate cooperation with the Government and the generation of talentthrough the Agricultural Institution and the establishment of Rice Research Center, we will invigorate the Rice Industry.”Through this revitalisation, Mr Kim said, Grace Road will achieve its 2020 Fiji Rice Self-Sufficiency Scheme.”

Optimistic
Mr Seruiratu responded with great optimism to the company’s vision, and promised full support for the rapid actualisation of the plan.“The education of the agriculture institute should not be limited to the technical aspects of farming, but create entrepreneurship simultaneously.”
 http://fijisun.com.fj/2015/03/07/talks-on-agri-and-rice-farming-institute-positive/
Bioethanol from nipa sap to aid farm mechanization

 on Green Rice Mechanization

Feb 27, 2015
Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150227riceharvestor.jpg
Bio fuel made from sugar molasses and sweet sorghum can serve as a good source of energy to run rice farming machinery such as threshers, dryers as well as small rice mills, according to a notice on the Philippines government website.The Philippines is planning to set up a bio ethanol distillation facility in Infanta, Quezon to fill the energy demand in rice-based communities, according to the notice. The facility is said to produce energy without negatively impacting the environment as it would use eco-friendly inputs. It can produce hydrous bio ethanol (95% alcohol) that can be used to run small farm machines, according to the lead inventor of the technology.
He noted that rice production can be increased with improved mechanization in various processes right from land preparation to post-harvest. The bio ethanol produced from the new facility can produce desired results in an eco-friendly manner as well as at less cost.The former PhilRice Executive Director, who launched the technology said, "“We are aware of the pressing need for alternative fuel to run farm engines and we want to manufacture machines for farming that do not depend on fossil fuel."Three bio ethanol facilities are planned over the next three years after identifying the appropriate model that can produce bio fuel at competitive prices. A pilot testing of the facility is expected to be conducted this year on pumps, transport vehicles, tricycles and micro mills.The project is jointly implemented by the Mariano Marcos State University, Philippine Rice Research Institute, the local government unit of UP Los Baños. 

Philippines Plans to Increase Hybrid Rice Acreage to Achieve Rice Self-Sufficiency

Mar 02, 2015
The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is planning to increase hybrid rice acreage in the country in order to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, according to local sources.The DA is aiming to plant hybrid rice in around 72,563 hectares by 2014-15 dry season and to more than double the hybrid rice acreage to around 147,626 hectares by 2015-16 dry season. It has earmarked a total of about P1.3 billion (around $30.1 million) - around P362.815 million (around $8.2 million) for 2014-15 dry season, around P229.1 million (around $5.2 million) for 2015 wet season, around P738.13 million (around $16.7 million) for 2015-16 dry season - for the development of irrigation facilities as well as to subsidize hybrid rice production in the country.
The Philippines, which aimed to achieve rice self-sufficiency in rice production in 2013 had missed the target due to two devastating typhoons. The country's 2014 paddy rice output has increased about 2.87% to around 18.97 million tons (around 11.95 million tons, basis milled) from around 18.44 million tons (around 11.62 million tons, basis milled) in 2013, according to a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).The PSA is estimating the Philippines to produce around 8.55 million tons of paddy rice in the first half-part (January - June) of 2015, up about 2.02% from around 8.38 million tons produced during the same period in 2014.
USDA estimates Philippines  MY 2014-15 (July - June) paddy rice production at around 19.365 million tons (around 12.2 million tons, basis milled), up about 3% from around 18.822 million tons (around 11.8 million tons, basis milled) produced in the previous year. It estimates Philippines 2014-15 milled rice imports at around 1.6 million tons, up about 10% from last year.

Vietnam Rice Production Threatened by Climate Conditions and Crop Diseases, Says Agricultural Official

Mar 03, 2015
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150303vietnamricefarmer.jpg
Dry weather and crop diseases are expected to reduce the rice output in Vietnam's northern provinces, while salt water intrusion is expected to impact rice production in the southern Mekong River Delta, according to the Deputy Head of the Department of Cultivation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Local sources quoted the Deputy Head as saying that dry weather during the 2014-15 spring-winter crop has led to early opening of the rice seeds which is not a good sign as they may be exposed to cold weather towards the end of the season. He also added that during the 2014-15 season, average temperatures are about 0.5-1.5 degrees Celsius higher than normal temperatures and due to this diseases are likely to develop impacting crop growth and output. He therefore warned the local governments to make arrangements for any disease outbreaks.
Based on the National Hydrometeorology Forecasting Centre, the official noted that the northern and central northern regions are likely to face droughts and water shortages during the next few months.
The official also noted that more than 25,000 hectares of rice lands in the Mekong River Delta (MRD) are likely to be affected by drought and salt water intrusion during the 2015 dry season (mid-March to mid-April) as sea water is expected to enter 50 kilometers inside the provinces. Most of the provinces have also been experiencing unseasonal rains and high tides. The Agriculture Ministry is therefore recommending the people in affected areas to strengthen the dyke system, dredge canals and reservoirs to store fresh water from rivers.
USDA estimates Vietnam to produce 45.2 million tons of paddy rice (around 28.25 million tons, basis milled) in 2014-15. It estimates Vietnam to export about 6.7 million tons of rice in 2015, up about 6% from around 6.325 million tons last year.

Consumers:  Health Foods like Rice are Worth Every Penny  
Fred Zaunbrecher (l) and  
Byron Holmes know promotion opportunities when they see them
 ARLINGTON, VA -- A recent
Global Health and Wellness Survey conducted by Nielsen showcased the willingness of younger consumers to put their money where their mouth is -- literally.  Nielsen, a top global information and measurement company that provides insight into current consumer trends, found consumers are making a conscious effort to incorporate natural foods into their diets in lieu of processed, artificial ingredients.


 This is good news for the rice industry, as U.S.-grown rice is sodium- and cholesterol-free, contains no trans fats or saturated fats, is gluten-free, and the least allergenic of all grains. These health features are what consumers are seeking out and are happy to pay for. "The outreach we do with registered dietitians is precisely designed to capitalize on thesetypes of findings," said Fred Zaunbrecher, a Louisiana rice farmer and chairman of the USA Rice Federation's Domestic Promotion Committee.  "We put a lot of effort into positioning rice as the answer for this influential audience, and this survey shows we got the questions right - the questions people are asking dietitians - namely, 'I have health concerns, whatshould I be eating?'"

The obesity epidemic has worsened over the last few decades, with nearly half of global respondents to Nielsen's Global Health and Wellness Survey reporting that they consider themselves overweight.  In spite of this statistic, or perhaps because of it, consumers are becoming motivated to embrace foods, like rice, that promote good health and combat disease.  The "clean eating" craze has resonated with consumers and they are willing to pay top dollar for these important health attributes.
The Global Health and Wellness Survey also revealed that consumers are looking for practical foods that fulfill their nutritional needs.  According to the study, more than 30 percent of participants want foods that are high in protein, contain whole grains, or are fortified with vitamins or minerals.  U.S.-grown rice easily meets these criteria as it is nutrient dense and contributes more than 15 vitamins and minerals including folate, iron, and zinc. 
"There is a tremendous opportunity for food manufacturers and retailers to lead a healthy movement by providing the products and services that consumers want and need," said Susan Dunn, executive vice president, Global Professional Services, Nielsen.  "While diet fads come and go over time, innovative, back-to-basics foods that taste good, are easy to prepare, and provide healthful benefits will have staying power."The U.S. rice industry agrees. "Healthy rice bowls are fast, easy, delicious, and budget-friendly, and we think here to stay," said Zaunbrecher.  "You start with U.S.-grown rice and add other nutritious foods such as vegetables, poultry, lean beef, seafood, and beans. It's a win-win situation."

Contact:  Colleen Klemczewski (703) 236-1446



Malthusian doomsters foiled again.
Ronald Bailey|Mar. 4, 2015 12:03 pm

IRRIResearchers associated with the International Rice Research Institute are reporting C4 photosynthesis success on the way toward dramatically boosting the productivity of grains like rice and wheat that use less efficient C3 photosynthesis. According to Technology Review:
Description: Rice C4In December, geneticists announced that they’d made a major advance in engineering rice plants to carry out photosynthesis in a more efficient way—much as corn and many fast-growing weeds do. The advance, by a consortium of 12 laboratories in eight countries, removes a big obstacle from scientists’ efforts to dramatically increase the production of rice and, potentially, wheat. It comes at a time when yields of those two crops, which together feed nearly 40 percent of the world, are dangerously leveling off, making it increasingly difficult to meet rapidly growing food demand.
The supercharged process, called C4 photosynthesis, boosts plants’ growth by capturing carbon dioxide and concentrating it in specialized cells in the leaves. That allows the photosynthetic process to operate much more efficiently. It’s the reason corn and sugarcane grow so productively; if C4 rice ever comes about, it will tower over conventional rice within a few weeks of planting. Researchers



calculate that engineering C4 photosynthesis into rice and wheat could increase yields per hectare by roughly 50 percent; alternatively, it would be possible to use far less water and fertilizer to produce the same amount of food.
Getting the C4 pathway to work at all in rice and wheat is just the first step. However, the fantastic new CRISPR gene-editing technology should speed the process of developing more efficient grain crops up substantially. The researchers believe that the first upgraded rice and wheat varieties could be available to farmers in a decade. The spectre of famine recedes ever further. Take that Paul Ehrlich!






Climate factor causes rice price hikes: Observer

Antara News Wednesday 4 March 2015
Agriculture observer Khudori said recent hikes in rice prices were mostly triggered by climate changes that caused a delay in harvesting.“We should have experienced grand harvests beginning this February until next May. However, because of the late arrival of the rainy season, rice planting and harvesting were delayed by about 1.5 months. This has resulted in a longer period of rice scarcity,” Khudori told a press conference here on Saturday.He noted that as a result of rice scarcity caused by delayed harvest season, the price of the commodity has inevitably increased.
“What is regrettable is the governments slow action. It has not taken anticipatory steps to avoid price rise,” he remarked.Following monitoring, it was known that the volume of rice entering Jakartas Cipinang wholesale rice market was only 1,500 tons per day; the normal volume was 3,000 tons per day.“The decline in the production is extraordinary. So, based the principle of supply and demand, the rice price automatically increases,” he noted.Furthermore, the governments statement on the replacement of the rice for poor (Raskin) program with an e-money scheme will also have an impact on rice prices.
“The Raskin program supports some 15.5 million poor people. If the program is no longer available, they will look for rice in markets. This will lead to an escalation in rice prices,” Khudori noted.Earlier, Herman Khaeron, the deputy chairman of Commission IV on agriculture affairs of the House of Representatives said the plan to drop the rice for poor (Raskin) program will affect rice price stability.
“Withdrawing the Raskin incentive will have negative impacts because rice is a sensitive commodity in Indonesia,” he remarked.Khaeron pointed out that in response to the governments statement on its plan to drop the Raskin program, businesses will withhold their rice stocks until Raskin rice, which is relatively cheaper, completely disappears from the market. Businesses will then release their stocks for higher prices. Therefore, the legislator advised, the government should make public this policy matter because it will have implications on many sectors. And it will be the people who will mostly bear its effects


Mounting threats from climate change

Zaraimedia Team February 9th, 2015 Agricultural Research, Agriculture Overview, Issues & Analysis, Weather
 
Description: mounting-threats-from-climate-change
February 9th, 2015 - Ahmad Fraz Khan
THE year 2014 was the hottest ever since humans started monitoring weather conditions in the year 1880, according to four international agencies monitoring global temperature trends.
These four agencies are: two US (NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), one Japanese (Japan Meteorological Agency) and Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The year has surpassed all previous scorchers — 1998, 2005, and 2010. More worryingly, except for 1998, as per NASA’s claim, all 10 hottest years recorded in human history came in the first 14 years of the current century.
Fortunately, the major rise in temperature was occasional, and soil, by and large, escaped the impact. However, it was fourth hottest year for the land as well. For scientists, another concern was the absence of El Niño (which usually accelerates the already up-trend in global average temperature) in 2014. This year (2015), El Niño is part of meteorological forecast, which may improve the heat record further this year.
The report complicates things for agri-businesses around the globe. The US Security and Exchange Commission has told big food and agri chains to regularly furnish reports of global warming impact on their businesses to their investors on stock exchanges. If the agri-businesses start suffering, as fears are — the extent of impact is though still being debated between companies and investors — the farmers and farming would be first to feel the heat, and it would be especially true for countries like Pakistan.
These extreme weather events could cause a direct loss of 2-30pc in agricultural yields — depending on the severity of the event in a particular year, say researchers
The report has not come in a vacuum for Pakistan. Its own official agencies have also been studying the trend (variations in temperature and frequency and severity of weather-related events) and have drawn almost similar conclusion that organisations around the world are warning of.
Two years ago, the Federal Ministry for Environment, in its report — vulnerability to climate change threats — identified a series of such pressures that farming in Pakistan would face due to changing weather patterns. It identified nine areas, where they would impact human life in the country.
Out of the nine areas, where, according to report, threat perception was increasing, six were directly related to agriculture. They included considerable rise in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (droughts, floods, un-timely and heavy rains); recession of glaciers due to global warming and carbon soot deposits from trans-boundary pollution; increased silt in dams caused by frequent, flash and intense floods; increased temperature resulting in enhanced heat- and water-stressed conditions, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions; intrusion of saline water in the Indus delta, threatening coastal agriculture and mangroves and tension between upper and lower riparian in water stress periods. These were on the top of carbonaceous filth that, it warned, has started mixing into Indus water, pouring in from glaciers, and would have hazardous consequences for life of every kind in the water ways. The activity was noted on all three mountain ranges — the Hindukush, the Karakoram and the Himalaya — that feed Pakistani rivers.
According to researchers, these extreme weather events could cause a direct loss of two to 30pc in agricultural yields — depending on the severity of the event in a particular year — and it would be especially true for cereals (wheat, rice and maize). Given Pakistan’s increasing population at almost unknown rate, the country needs an annual increase of 5-10pc in those cereals for its own food security, leave alone exploring exports potential. This would be a herculean task, given Pakistan’s archaic technological and farming practices. In the last ten years, the frequency of flash floods, extreme rains, severe droughts, shifting of monsoon season, which gives Pakistan 80pc of its irrigation water and matures water-loving crops like rice, is increasing and threatening crops like never before.
All the climatic changes documented by different federal, provincial and academic agencies need to form basis of planning for agriculture for the next few decades. The agriculture pattern and practices, as we know them for the last few millenniums, are bound to undergo changes because of weather factors.
The world is trying to adjust to these new realities by measuring the rate of change, and then developing policy and technological responses to those changes. Pakistan cannot be an exception. The scientists insist that rice is already suffering in quality and quantity due to temperature variations, along with other factors. - Dawn -
http://zaraimedia.com/2015/02/09/mounting-threats-from-climate-change/


PhilRice Agusan is best branch station anew


February 26, 2015
REMEDIOS T. ROMULADEZ, Agusan del Norte, Feb. 26 (PIA) -- PhilRice Agusan received the top prize in the 2014 Best Station contest – an annual internal competition organized by the Institute to elevate and improve the modalities in promoting new technologies in rice production. It also aims to highlight the best-fit practices of the stations in rice Research and Development (R&D).PhilRice Agusan was also recognized for successfully and creatively executing the Intensified Rice-Based Agri-bio Systems (IRBAS) program in support of PhilRice’s major advocacy, the Rural Transformation Movement (RTM).RTM aims to help reduce poverty by promoting diversified farming and agri-business ventures.
Nucleus estates will be put up to give farmers access to support services including training, inputs, custom services, technologies, product development and packaging, and marketing.“I thank the PhilRice management for organizing this contest and all my colleagues for keeping our station beautiful,” said Abner T. Montecalvo, station manager.PhilRice Midsayap and Batac placed second and third, respectively, and were cited for creating a strategic research direction and for continually improving their internal systems and processes in accordance with Integrated Management Systems standards. PhilRice has three ISO certifications.The following awards were also given: Most Improved Field Day to Los Baños; Most Interactive Field Day to Negros; and Most Innovative External Linkage to Bicol.

The judges traveled across the country to evaluate each station based on the following: IRBAS (Rural Transformation Campaign Execution); level of mechanization; organization of field day; varietal demo; client satisfaction; innovations; internal processes and financial reports; housekeeping and safety; state of infrastructure; income generation; and station management.The judges were Dr. Rex Navarro, former director for communications of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT); Dr. Genaro San Valentin and Thelma Padolina, PhilRice consultants; Charlene Tan, founder of Good Food Community; and Donald Mateo, from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech).

PhilRice Agusan had earlier received the Best Field Day (2011) and Best Station awards (2013).The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on November 5, 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos. (PhilRice Web Team/PIA-Agusan del Norte)



Courtesy: Bangkok Post

First Global Pesticide Runoff Map Shows Streams At Risk

 


Description: West BankLEIPZIG, Germany, February 27, 2015 (ENS) – The application of insecticides poisons streams in roughly 40 percent of the global land surface, new research reveals. Streams in the United States, the Mediterranean, Central America and Southeast Asia are most at risk.These findings are drawn from the first global map to be modeled on insecticide runoff to surface waters, which has just been published in the journal “Environmental Pollution” by an international team of scientists.

Application of pesticide on the West Bank (Photo courtesy Helmholtz Center)

Description: pesticideUntil now the global extent of the potential water pollution from the application of insecticides has remained largely unknown, according to the authors, who are researchers from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research and the University of Koblenz-Landau together with scientists from the University of Milan, Aarhus University and Aachen University. “Our analysis provides a global map of hotspots for insecticide contamination that are a major risk for biodiversity in water bodies.


 To our knowledge this is the first study that assesses insecticide contamination of water bodies on a global scale,” says Professor Dr. Matthias Liess from the Helmholtz Center, who serves on the scientific advisory board for Germany’s National Action Plan on Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products.The authors estimate that about four million tons of agricultural pesticides are applied annually around the world, equating to an average of 0.27 kilograms per hectare of the global land surface.Pesticide contamination of streams kills their invertebrate inhabitants such as insects, crustaceans, snails and worms. These small creatures are often used as indicators of the health of streams.“We know from earlier investigations that pesticides can reduce the biodiversity of invertebrates in freshwater ecosystems by up to 42 percent and that we can expect an increased application of pesticides as a result of climate change,” explains Dr. Liess.


Pesticide is applied to an Egyptian tomato field. (Photo by Mohamad Khedr)


He warns also of an increase in the application of pesticides in many developing countries as farmers switch from traditional agricultural practices to more intensive ones.The researchers produced several world maps. The vulnerability map only takes into account the geographic and climatic background.The risk map shows the risks from this natural vulnerability through human land use.“The risks of insecticide exposure to water bodies increased significantly the further South one travelled on a North-South gradient in Europe, North America and Asia, mainly driven by a higher insecticide application rate as a result of higher average temperatures,” said Dr. Mira Kattwinkel, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology.

Because the economy and the population are growing rapidly in many countries of the southern hemisphere, scientists expect a higher insecticide application rate in those countries in the future to cover an increase in agricultural production.Daily rainfall intensity, terrain slope, and insecticide application rate play an equally important role as well as the crops cultivated,” explains junior professor Dr. Ralf Schäfer from the University of Koblenz-Landau.“In order to test such complex models, we therefore carried out control measurements of insecticide contamination in freshwater ecosystems from four different regions,” he said.In Southeast Asia, countries such as the Philippines or Vietnam are greatly affected.

Helmholtz Center researchers are looking into solutions for such regions together with the International Rice Research Institute, in an attempt to reduce pesticide application rates.One approach could be to revitalize the functioning of ecosystems so that the natural competitors of rice pests can help to avoid their mass reproduction and subsequent harvest yield losses.In another approach, buffer zones along the edges of water bodies where chemicals are not applied can reduce the negative impacts of pesticides.The researchers intend to use the global map to sensitize citizens and authorities about this issue in vulnerable regions and to stimulate local investigations.

 

Need for a new fertiliser policy

PAKISTAN’S demand for main plant nutrients — nitrogen, phosphate and potash — is rising, but the government lacks an effective fertiliser policy to spur agricultural growth.
The country’s per acre yield of wheat, rice and other grains and cereals needs to increase, and according to the just-published FAO report ‘World Fertiliser Outlook,’ the demand for nitrogen fertiliser in Pakistan is expected to rise by 4pc by 2018, while its demand is projected to rise by 18pc in China and 17pc in India. In the case of phosphate, the demand will increase by 3pc in Pakistan against 27pc in India and 10pc in China.Domestic fertiliser production has been hit by natural gas shortages, and the demand is being met through imports.
After the success of the fertiliser policy in 1989, which assured reasonable prices of fertiliser to farmers (below the import price) and brought substantive investment to enhance domestic production, the government launched another policy in 2001, mainly to attract investment in the industry.That policy has lost its relevance due to the shortage of natural gas, as the government has not revised it even after a span of 14 years despite the fact that the country’s agricultural productivity is much below its potential and it is losing its share in foreign markets, particularly for rice and wheat, whose domestic prices are higher than those in the international market.The National Fertiliser Development Centre is quietly functioning in the planning commission, whose project director, Jalil Marwat, feels the need for a new fertiliser policy. He says that with alternative sources of energy like LNG coming up, the domestic fertiliser industry is expected to be revived.


The National Fertiliser Development Centre’s project director, Jalil Marwat, says that with alternative sources of energy like LNG coming up, the domestic fertiliser industry is expected to be revived

However, an assessment of the fertiliser development centre indicates that the application of fertilisers during 2014-15 is likely to fall to an estimated 4m tonnes, against the sale of 4.1m tonnes during 2013-14. The main reasons for the decline are attributed to less investment by farmers owing to low market prices of sugarcane, rice and cotton.Pakistan’s domestic fertiliser production is 3.1m tonnes, against the average demand of 4m tonnes. The gap of 0.9m tonnes is met through imports. The urea production capacity has been estimated at 6.3m tonnes, and if the full supply of natural gas is ensured, the country can produce at least 5m tonnes, according to the NFDC.Out of 20 urea plants, 18 are operating below their capacity, while two units have been closed for the past one year due to gas shortages.
According to the NFDC, gas supply to fertiliser plants has started to improve lately.According to the FAO report ‘World fertiliser trends and outlook to 2018,’ “the global capacity of fertiliser products, intermediates and raw materials will increase further”.As the potential to produce fertiliser will outpace its use, the global potential balance — the amount available over actual demand — will grow for nitrogen, phosphate and potash, the main three soil fertilisers.Global use of nitrogen, by far the largest fertiliser base, is projected to rise 1.4pc each year through 2018, while phosphate use will increase 2.2pc and potash 2.6pc. In comparison, the supply of those three critical farm inputs is expected to grow by 3.7pc, 2.7pc and 4.2pc per annum, respectively.The report does not forecast future price trends, but notes that fertiliser prices, after surging in 2011, were broadly lower in mid-2014 than in 2010.Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, February 23rd , 2015
http://www.dawn.com/news/1165212/need-for-a-new-fertiliser-policy 
2015 Dietary Guidelines Stresses Sustainability and Shift to Plant-Based Diet, Rice Well-Positioned   
 From left:  Katie Maher, Fred Zaunbrecher, and Bryon Holmes
WASHINGTON, DC -- Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Advisory Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) for public comment and rice remains well-positioned thanks to the industry's sustainability record and the committee's grains recommendation. The DGAC develops influential nutrition recommendations designed to reduce the risk of chronic disease while meeting nutrient requirements and promoting health of the U.S. population.
The 2015 Advisory Report identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; lower in red and processed meats; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, as well as sodium, saturated fat, and refined grains - especially when refined grains are combined with added sugar, solid fat, and sodium."This report emphasizes increasing whole grain consumption, which is not new advice, but is good for rice," said Byron Holmes, an Arkansas rice grower and chairman of the USA Rice Nutrition Subcommittee.
 "In fact, the 2015 report, in many ways, is similar to the 2010 guidelines that recommend half of American's grain intake should come from whole grains and recognizes the important nutrient contribution of enriched, fortified grains to the diet." "The panel also supports a shift to a more plant-based diet and considered the composition of dietary patterns that were linked to health outcomes, such as the Mediterranean and vegetarian patterns," said Fred Zaunbrecher, a Louisiana rice producer and chairman of the USA Rice Domestic Promotion Committee.  "And this is beneficial for both whole grain rice and enriched white rice because they are a great base for the foods the DGAC recommends.
"New this year, the Advisory Report references the sustainability of foods and cites it as one of the benefits of a plant-based diet, saying Americans should take the sustainability of food production into consideration when making food choices."The U.S. rice industry's nutrition and sustainability studies we provided to the DGAC, demonstrated both the nutritional benefits of rice and positive scientific data showing that rice farmers are producing more rice with less resources and that rice growing has a unique relationship to wetlands, habitat, and wildlife," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.USA Rice will submit comments to the Advisory Report through the Grain Industry and Grocery Manufacturers Association coalitions. Following the comment period and a public meeting next month, USDA and HHS will finalize the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 for release later this year.
 Contact:  Katie Maher (703) 236-1453

Courtesy: USA Rice Federation

 

Robotics and automation take off for farmers - research


Orange harvester.
Description: Orange harvester.New research released last week by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is predicting that advanced robotics will boost productivity by up to 30% in many industries by 2025. Robotics will also lower total labour costs by 18% or more in countries like USA, Japan, China, South Korea and Germany.Although industrial robots have been used in factories for decades, the use of advanced robots and automation is now reshaping how we grow and harvest the world’s food and fibre.
Boning in meatworks has already been automated. Robotic milking systems are growing in popularity, easing staff workloads and lifting milk production. Robots are increasingly being used for tasks like weed management, fertilising and seeding. It seems now that the use of multiple cooperative highly-autonomous farm vehicles could lead to the next step in agricultural automation.Robotic technology is about to transform the way we produce food.Unmanned tractors, an on-farm version of Google's driverless car, is now been trialled in Australia. The tractor is guided by GPS signals and trials by Rice Research Australia, and their Japanese partners, have been successful in keeping the tractor to within 3cm accuracy. The specialised satellite system also provides useful data like engine temperature and fuel usage to the operator.
In New Zealand, Auckland University and RoboticsPlus are developing an ‘Autonomous Multipurpose Mobile Platform’ (AMMP) modular robot to operate autonomously in orchards. Whether it is precision spraying kiwifruit or picking apples, modules like vision sensors, arms and grippers will be designed to be added or removed from the unit depending on the application.US based Boston Dynamics, who was acquired by Google in 2013, has been at the leading edge of engineering and robotics design for some time now. Boston Dynamics are developing quadrupedal robots that look and walk like cheetahs and dogs. Originally developed for the US Military, these four-legged robots are redefining how machinery can move across rugged terrain. While wheeled and tracked vehicles still have a strong future, it’s not hard to see how this technology will be used by farmers in the future.
Boston Dynamics, Rice Research Australia and Auckland University will all be presenting at the upcoming MobileTECH 2015 event series. This series will profile advances in robotics, automation and the increasing use of UAVs or remotely piloted aircraft. MobileTECH 2015 is running for this regions primary industries on 21-22 April in the Gold Coast, Australia and again on 29-30 April in Auckland, New Zealand."The objective of this event series is to profile innovative new technology, demonstrate how it’s being used and discuss operationally and financially just what it has meant to the early adopters," says Programme Manager for Connex: Event Innovators, Ken Wilson.Other key presenters within the series include companies like; X-craft Enterprises, Aeronavics, Australian UAV, Unmanned Systems Australia, Pastoral Robotics, Ravensdown, KanDO4U, Australian Centre for Field Robotics, University of Sydney, MasTec and Scion.
"The technologies been applied in manufacturing or operationally within the agricultural, horticultural, forestry, fisheries or grain industries more often than not are able to be replicated across the primary sector. MobileTECH 2015 is one of few technology events where the developers, researchers and end-users can come together to discuss new innovations, opportunities for collaboration and the real results from early adoption," says Mr Wilson.Registrations are now open and further information on this event can be found at www.mobiletech.events

 

Aerobic cropping a good fit

ANDREW MARSHALL
23 Feb, 2015 03:00 AM
Description: http://static.fairfaxrural.com.au/multimedia/images/crop/450x0/2114559.jpgDescription: PrintTHE southern NSW rice industry is hoping to lift its water use efficiency by tapping into achievements being made by the fledgling North Queensland sector where it grows as a row crop.Unlike the traditional paddy rice crop, the current 350 hectares planted in raised bed rows in the sub-tropical north represent a groundbreaking shift into commercial "aerobic" rice cropping.About 12 farms, mostly in the Burdekin Valley, now grow rice as a break crop on sugar cane country, supplementing the region's 900-plus millimetre annual rainfall with irrigation waterings in much the same way cotton, maize or soybeans are grown.
While weed management is still being refined and yields vary widely from five tonnes to 10t/ha, more farmers are keen get involved. Some as far north as Tully or in Central Queensland at Emerald have already given it a try.National rice marketer SunRice is encouraging research efforts which could use northern crop experience, combined with breeding for better plant root development and cold tolerance traits, to make Australia's 800,000t-plus rice industry more water efficient.
Via its subsidiary Rice Research Australia, SunRice also hopes to enhance characteristics found in temperate climate varieties grown in NSW Murrumbidgee and Murray valley's to lift Queensland yields.Researchers are also working hard to breed for improved resistance to the internationally prevalent tropical fungus, rice blast.Rice blast has been a major impediment to expanding the crop into northern Australia, particularly in the Ord irrigation areas.For the time being, however, SunRice chief executive officer Rob Gordon regarded the Burdekin Valley as opening up an exciting new chapter for his industry.He said the Burdekin region, which previously grew ponded rice in the 1980s and '90s, had potential to expand the 80-year-old industry's production footprint and help boost rice exports at a time when Australian production was lagging well behind export needs.

Andrew Marshallis the national agribusiness writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media

 

 

Green Revolutions 2.0 & 3.0: No farmer left behind

Written by Gene Hettel.
Description: IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler on IRC 2014Several million of the world's poorest farmers are already adopting one of the first new technologies of the second Green Revolution (GR2.0)—flood-tolerant rice! This was the optimistic pronouncement of Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), during his keynote address to kick off the 4th International Rice Congress(IRC2014) in Bangkok on 28 October 2014. More than 1,500 delegates from 69 countries attended the week-long IRC, touted as the Olympics of Rice Science.

Start of GR2.0 pinpointed

It is thanks to one farmer, Mr. Asha Ram Pal from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, that Dr. Zeigler pinpoints, at least in his opinion, the exact start of GR2.0. It was 31.07.2008 13:17 (1:17 in the afternoon of 31 July 2008)—the exact moment in time when, ignoring the advice of his neighbors by showing faith in the science, Mr. Pal decided not to plow under his severely flood-ravaged and sick-looking rice crop on his 1-hectare field that had been submerged for around 17 days across two floods.
Well, those rice plants with the SUB1 flood-tolerance gene recovered to yield 4.5 tons, a good yield for any rainfed paddy in the world!
"This was—unambiguously— the start of GR2.0," Dr. Zeigler said, "because for any agricultural revolution to be successful, farmers must adopt the product of the science. Since then, Sub1 rice varieties have spread like wildfire in eastern India and other regions where flooding is a perennial problem for farmers growing their crop in such marginal environments."
According to the internationally respected plant pathologist who has led IRRI for the last 9 years, the new technology can be attributed primarily to high-level and high-quality science—science publishable in the top scientific journals in the world—brought to bear on the problems in farmers' fields.
Indeed, one scientific study indicated that "the scheduled castes are likely to be a major beneficiary from the spread of Swarna-Sub1 in India. "When I read this last paragraph of the study, I literally got goose bumps," he told the delegates. "The scheduled castes are the lowest of the low. So, this technology—the most exquisite research from some of the finest laboratories in the world—is significantly benefiting the poorest of the poor. Now if that is not scientific revolution, I don’t know what is. It gives me great pride to be a scientist and to be associated with the people who have done this work."

GR3.0 will stagger the imagination

"GR2.0's run will be fruitful—and quicker than GR1.0—particularly for farmers in marginal weather- sets the stage for GR1.0 stressed environments," Dr. Zeigler predicted. He said there is a very wide array of problems, previously thought to be absolutely insurmountable, that researchers can now address more rapidly using the scientific tools coming out of parallel high-science revolutions in genetics, molecular biology, and plant physiology.
According to Dr. Zeigler, GR2.0 is allowing researchers to successfully meet great challenges with unprecedented research efforts that will result in unparalleled impact—ranging from mining the rice genomes and wild relatives of rice for needed traits to developing climateready rice and from fighting human malnutrition with more nutritious rice to better management of water and nutrient resources in farmers' rice fields.
"Over the next 10 to 20 years, during which GR2.0 will phase into GR3.0, we will seize opportunities for sustainable rice production in ways that will stagger our imagination," he confidently forecasted. In another bold prediction, he envisions the start of GR3.0 sometime around 2030 when farmers start planting yield plateau-busting C4 and nitrogen-fixing rice varieties and consumers begin finding broad-based nutritious rice in the marketplace.

Summarizing the GR series

Dr. Zeigler summarized for the delegates what he calls the ongoing Green Revolution Series. "GR1.0, which basically built a high-yield plant architecture adapted to the low-stress environments, is justly criticized for benefitting only farmers in those relatively stress-free areas," he said. "GR2.0 is incorporating tolerance to severe stresses and additional nutritional value and ultimately, as already mentioned, is leaving no farmer behind. GR3.0 will accelerate the evolution of the rice plant itself. It will effectively produce designer rice by leaving no Oryzaspecies untapped."

Young scientists will lead the charge

Description: RT14 1green revolution irc
During a media briefing following his keynote, Dr. Zeigler told reporters that leading the charge of the sciencebased GR2.0 and 3.0 is the next crop of vibrant, intelligent, and caring young scientists. They are in league with IRRI through the Bringing new technologies in the uplands

APRIL M. JOSE
Description: bringing-new-technoogies-in-the-uplands-imgEvery day, Margie Baclay, 21, hopes to have a bountiful harvest as this means more money to buy rice and send her two children to school.The young farmer and single parent belongs to the Aeta community that lives in the mountains of Brgy. Sta. Rosa, Bamban, Tarlac.Struggling to make both ends meet, Margie had to stop her elementary education and resorted to what most people in the rural areas cling on – farming.

 For almost a decade now, she has been planting banana, gabi, papaya, sugar cane, and other crops without applying fertilizers and pesticides. She relies on the richness of the soil. She believes that the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 left their mountains with volcanic ashes that made the soil fertile.Farming in the uplands is challenging, according to Margie. No questions asked.“I dig the soil of a steep mountainside and pull the weeds one by one while sitting on a heap,” she says.From the mountain down to the river, she fetches water for her plants. She descends from the mountain for an hour to sell her produce and accompany her children to school.
During the rainy season, the mountain trail gets slippery and dangerous. Hence, she waits for good weather to bring her produce to the market while her children stay at home. She recalls that after the eruption of the volcano, they have not cultivated upland rice due to the unavailability of seeds.In 2013, the DA’s Upland Rice Development Program reached the Aeta community and re-introduced upland rice farming.

Margie’s family did not hesitate on trying the new technology and started planting a 2-kg traditional rice variety known as “Pinilisa” in May 2014 and harvested 25 kg of seeds in October.“I learned the science behind upland rice farming and how to make our own organic fertilizer,” shares Margie. She decided to keep the seeds for mass production and share them later to their fellow farmers. Margie reports they are eager to try new agricultural technologies and revive upland rice farming in their community.
Culture and identity

According to upland rice technologist Julian Macadamia of PhilRice, the Aetas are receptive to new technologies.“Margie and her community were able to balance new and old practices. The Aetas have a way of adopting new technologies while keeping their identity intact,” he says.“The Aetas are not afraid of change because they know how to be a conduit of the old and the new. They become better through knowledge acquisition but still remain who they are – that for me is a good example of an unconventional farmer,” he adds.

Rice cultivation in general is highly valued by Aetas. They acquire rice through barter or with the money they make from selling vegetables, root crops, wild fruits, or tubers to the lowlanders.“As long as my family doesn’t sleep with an empty stomach, I will be happy with what I do every day despite the challenges that we face in farming,” Margie reassures herself.The sight of her crops growing assures her that her family will have something to eat. She’s surely adept in survival matters.

For her, she can’t think of any way of making a living apart from tilling the land. If by chance there will be additional jobs available, she would not totally abandon the land that provides them food.“Indeed, this land on top of the mountain is a gift to our ancestors and to us,” Margie becomes emphatic and emotional.And as the day ends, Margie sleeps with her dreams. She believes that through farming, her children will, unlike her, remain in school.
 Tagged as: amjose, technology, upland
Source with thanks:http://pinoyrkb.com/philricemagazine/volume-28-2015/new-wave-of-farmers/bringing-new-technologies-in-the-uplands/and its five rice-breeding hubs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Many attended their first-ever International Rice Congress in Bangkok. Twentynine of these young rice scientists were chosen to present their research during the science sessions and they were formally recognized for this notable achievement during the IRC gala dinner (photo above)."The future of rice science is at stake because without new blood in the experiment plots and laboratories, the outlook for a continuing GR2.0 would be grim and there wouldn’t even be a GR3.0," he warned reporters.
Source with thanks:IRRI

 

Strings of Young Ideas

JOHN GLEN S. SAROL and JAYSON C. BERTO
The infomediary campaign made its first step two years ago. Now, it’s taking huge strides.With its initiative to mobilize high school students to serve as information providers in their rice-farming communities—it treks on as it continues to involve over a hundred schools nationwide.Certainly, the campaign has gone a long way.Eventful enough, in fact, that several practices can now be emulated toward engaging young people in agriculture.Best-fit practices
The campaign team draws added inspiration from strings of innovative ideas growing from teachers among participating schools.For certain teachers in Davao Oriental, Kalinga, Albay, and Negros Oriental, the best way to re-echo the campaign is through the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) meetings.
Description: strings-of-young-ideas-imgThe info-drive on Climate Change and Rice Production module was performed in Occidental Mindoro and Negros Oriental where students relayed to farmers modern technologies in rice farming such as the Minus-One-Element Technique (MOET), Leaf Color Chart (LCC), and controlled irrigation, among others.Elizabeth Pajarillo, a crop production teacher in Mindoro Occidental, said that exposing students in community-based activities is a good opportunity for farmers to appreciate tips on rice production coming from them.
In some cases, teachers were clever enough to maximize the use of ICTs in promoting the campaign’s components.This is evident in Samar and Bulacan where students promoted the PhilRice Text Center by posting bond paper-sized campaign materials in public places inside and outside their campuses.The campaign also relies upon good collaboration among Internet and Computer Fundamentals (ICF) and other instructors.
In Claveria Rural Vocational School in Cagayan, for instance, the crop protection teacher and the ICF instructor developed a computer-based quiz on infomediary campaign-related topics.“We thought of a way to make the campaign much more challenging and exciting. We’ve developed the Nutri E-Quiz featuring PhilRice’s Infomediary Campaign and the Pinoy Rice Knowledge Bank. Right now, it’s the second year of E-quiz implementation,” Allan Tomas, the quiz developer said.While innovative campaign methods are being executed in most schools, ripples of information are equally helpful.
In Sarangani, for instance, Malalag National High School (MNHS) disseminated the campaign by sharing the learning modules as well as some seeds to its neighboring schools.“We still plan to reach out to other schools and share modules on rice production. This is our way of contributing to the campaign since it has been helpful for us. This would also address the lack of textbooks on rice production,” Onofre Labrador, MNHS instructor said.
MNHS has thus far reached out to Maguiling NHS, Wali Integrated School, and Salakit NHS.In Bulacan, Balagtas Agricultural High School integrates rice production through essays in English and Filipino subjects.
The key school officials are also supportive of the campaign.To encourage other schools to replicate these practices, the campaign team has created a Facebook group where representatives of Infomediary campaign-participating schools can post all activities they are doing.“Technically, however, it is not much about replicating the best-fit practices. Such practices require that we work hard to determine which strategies will work best given specific development contexts.
 Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach in implementing development initiatives. It is all about asking and seeing from there which strategies will work best,” Jaime Manalo IV, the campaign lead clarified.
Outcomes
From the evaluation, 94% of the students performed their role as infomediaries, either by sending text messages to PTC, searching information from the PRKB, or reading publications on rice from their school libraries.Meanwhile, 41% of them reported their parents and other farmers believed in their recommendations.
Collaboration with local government units also exists, as reports in Albay show local officials and farmers attending the PTA meetings. In Cagayan, a local executive lent land for the rice garden in Claveria.The doubts on whether farmers would believe students who have inadequate experience on rice farming are now being slowly erased.Across sites, the students reported their parents believed them. An infomediary in Bulacan, for instance, managed to convince her father and uncle to minimize the use of pesticides in their fields after she shared with them the concept of harmful and helpful organisms.
“Before, I just sprayed on every insect I saw in the farm. Now, I try to avoid spraying on helpful organisms,” Marcelo Hernandez, farmer-parent, said in Filipino.Farmers from nearby areas have asked for seeds from the participating schools. This has been the case in Cagayan, Davao Oriental, and Sarangani. Certified seeds have 10% yield advantage over home-saved seeds being used by some farmers.
Through field days, farmers are introduced to the PhilRice-produced seeds. They then see the schools as sources not only of information but also of seeds.By the end of the day, so to speak, the infomediary campaign is still young and is equally innovative as the young generation.With the strings of ideas from its partners, active involvement of the youth, plus the heart that beats for farming, the campaign is just waiting to take its next big leap.

Source with thanks: Phil Rice
Modern agriculturists

ASHLEE P. CANILANG and ANDREI B. LANUZA
Description: modern-agriculturists-img“Ayaw ko kumuha ng agriculture [course]. Ano makukuha kong trabaho dyan?” (I don’t want to take up Agriculture. What job can I possibly get with it?).Admit it, many of us must have heard or read about this statement or its variant somewhere in time. The thought of working in agriculture or on a farm could be alien to young urban and rural Filipinos.Dr. Eduardo Bagtang, president of the Kalinga-Apayao State College, stated in an interview with the Manila Times that the main reason why the children of farmers do not want to take on agriculture-related professions is that they’ve seen how their parents toil in the field day after day but barely able to make ends meet. Even our college education system is primarily focused on preparing the youth for employment, not entrepreneurship.Fortunately, not all Filipino youngsters have lost faith in agriculture.
Changing the game

Friends Ryan Aguas, Enzo Pinga, and Illian Pascual, while studying abroad, met in New York City to discuss plans of starting an agriculture-related business in the Philippines when they return. They wanted to create an impact by helping Filipino farmers and believed agriculture is the best way to go about it. Illian, a mechanical engineer, introduced them to vertical farming (aquaponics), since sustainability and green agriculture were among his interests.

The trio realized that aquaponics may just be the technology they needed to pursue agriculture given that it requires no soil and is modular; the perfect setup in an urban environment where land for farming use is limited. Thus was the beginning of the Bahay Kubo Organics (BKO), based in Muntinlupa City.BKO is a young social enterprise that vows to help address food security in the Philippines. They grow crops, and help communities in rural areas through capacity- building via training and education. Currently, these three guys are mostly supplying produce to friends and relatives but someday wish to expand to more clients.

“We established partnerships with many different organizations in all of our community builds, including the Fairplay for All Foundation, Mu Sigma Phi, GK Sta. Rita, Dream Project PH, Rotary Club of Bacolod South, ASSIST, and Kawil Tours. The projects we do with these organizations mainly focus on engaging communities interested in learning about the technology and applying it in their own areas”, says Ryan.
All in the family

Passing-the-baton best defines the Gapuz Grape Farm in Bauang, La Union. The farm started with 50 prunes of grapes through the passion and efforts of Cirillo & Roger Gapuz, father and son, during the late 1980s. During those times, grape vineyard was unpopular in the area, and a number of tourists and customers doubted the quality of the local harvest. Through the years, father-and-son tandem strove until they were able to expand their vineyard and market reach. Thus, the beginning of the Farm, now among the local tourist attractions in the municipality.The passion and dedication to grape farming have lingered within the present generation.

The baton was passed on to Danica, the eldest daughter of Roger, a human resource course graduate and currently a consultant in Makati City. Doubling as sales and marketing manager of the Gapuz Grape Farm, she also operates the vineyard’s social media site.It wasn’t hard for Danica to engage in grapes despite having a stable job, as she grew up exposed to farm work. And she was not sour-graping. Through her efforts, the farm expanded and gained new clients. Thanks to social media, they now have customers in Visayas and Mindanao; clients who are not only purchasing the fruits but also the cuttings that they grow in their own backyards.“The demand for grapes outside our locale is huge.
This is why we decided to make our own social media account to help in promotion. Through it, our network stretched, and we now have customers as far as Davao City,” said Danica.Her active marketing drives paid off when the Farm was featured on national TV. As a result, Danica became one member of the Go Negosyo Young Agriprenuers, and is occasionally invited to deliver talks on radio about grape farming. The increased sales and income due to more media exposure helped the Gapuz family to purchase another piece of land in their area. According to Danica, part of the new farm will grow dragon fruit and local vegetables.
A goldmine in plain sight

Ryan of BKO sees Philippine agriculture as rich with potential. All people need to do is tap on the right resources. “Although we currently are not meeting the agricultural needs in our country, we believe that if we continue on this path and improve our agriculture by providing more support, then we aren’t too far away from being self-sustaining,” he added.Danica is of the same opinion. “Farming and agriculture as a whole has a huge potential for generating income. Youth today should be educated that agriculture is not just having your sweat, blood, and tears flow to sustain your crops. Agriculture can be rewarding when treated as a business” she reflected.

PhilRice Agusan is best  branch station again

MARY GRACE M. NIDOY
PhilRice Agusan received the top prize in the 2014 Best Station contest – an annual internal competition organized by the Institute to elevate and improve the modalities in promoting new technologies in rice production. It also aims to highlight the best-fit practices of the stations in rice R&D.Agusan was also recognized for successfully and creatively executing the Intensified Rice-Based Agri-bio Systems (IRBAS) program in support of PhilRice’s major advocacy, the Rural Transformation Movement (RTM).
RTM aims to reduce help poverty by promoting diversified farming and agri-business ventures. Nucleus estates will be put up to give farmers access to support services including training, inputs, custom services, technologies, product development and packaging, and marketing.
“I thank the PhilRice management for organizing this contest and all my colleagues for keeping our station beautiful and world-class,” said Abner T. Montecalvo, station manager.PhilRice Midsayap and Batac placed 2nd and 3rd, and were cited for creating a strategic research direction and for continually improving their internal systems and processes in accordance with Integrated Management Systems standards.

PhilRice has three ISO certifications.The following awards were also given: Most Improved Field Day to Los Baños; Most Interactive Field Day to Negros; and Most Innovative External Linkage to Bicol.The judges traveled across the country to evaluate each station based on the following: IRBAS (Rural Transformation Campaign Execution); level of mechanization; organization of field day; varietal demo; client satisfaction; innovations; internal processes and financial reports; housekeeping and safety; state of infrastructure; income generation; and station management.
The judges were Dr. Rex Navarro, former director for communications of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT); Dr. Genaro San Valentin and Thelma Padolina, PhilRice consultants; Charlene Tan, founder of Good Food Community; and Donald Mateo, from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech).PhilRice Agusan had earlier received the Best Field Day (2011) and Best Station awards (2013).


Testing rice for processing tech 

SHEREEN P. RAZON
PhilRice will test local rice varieties for a food processing application that produces low-protein rice, a healthier alternative for people suffering from kidney disease and diabetes.

Description: testing-rice-imgThe tests will use propriety technology of Biotech Japan Corporation, an exclusive manufacturer of plant-origin lactic acid bacteria, a naturally occurring element found in grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans that can be used to reduce protein content in milled rice and cooked rice.In a meeting with officials from the Niigata-based corporation, PhilRice executive director Eufemio T. Rasco Jr said that the partnership is vital as production of low-protein rice is limited only to Japanese rice for now.
The Philippine Renal Disease Registry reported in 2008 that more than 1.2 million Filipinos suffer from chronic kidney disease in which 41% of the cases resulted from diabetes.The Japanese corporation, established in 1994, said that it is necessary to reduce ingestion of protein in kidney patients to lessen the burden on the kidneys.“By helping reduce the amount of protein in rice and bread, which are common staple foods, kidney patients will be able to have better qualities of life,” the company stated.
An experimental facility at PhilRice in Nueva Ecija was also proposed to pilot-test the technology through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).“This groundbreaking facility will enable us to learn about the technology and conduct our own researches later on if we want to create similar products,” Rasco said.“An additional advantage of this partnership would be our people`s exposure to Japanese work values in terms of quality control and assurance, plant operation, marketing strategies—the culture of continuing improvement,” he added.A follow-up meeting is scheduled on February 2015 to secure the Memorandum of Agreement among PhilRice, Biotech Japan Corporation, and JICA with a target kick-off in April.

Program launching highlight ARMM Rice Farmers’ Field Day in Maguindanao, Lanao Sur
 February 23, 2015
COTABATO CITY, Feb. 23, (PIA)—Some 500 farmers, out-of-school youth and students from the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur participated in the celebration of ARMM’s Regional Rice Farmers’ Field Day held on Saturday under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).DAF-ARMM Regional Secretary Makmod Mending, Jr., led the celebration held at  barangay Tapayan, in  Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao the site of the 2-hectare demo farm for the new rice variety Green Super Rice (GSR).Mending said, while the government intensifies its efforts to achieve increased agricultural productivity for the country’s sustainable food sufficiency, there is a serious concern over the noted decreasing number of farmers engage in agricultural production and the trend of preference among the young generation to reside and seek employment in urban centers.
“We are here to launch several programs to address a very alarming situation. Based on statistics, the average age of a farmer is 52 years old so if the average life of a person is 60 to 65 years old, in 8 years time   no more  farmers will be tilling the lands  here  if  our youth decides  to seek employment in cities. The implication is, in 8 to 10 years time there will be no food in our table if this trend continues,” Mending said.Consistent with the mandate geared towards the attainment of increased agricultural productivity and food sufficiency, the agriculture department and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) launched collaborative programs – the Rice Crop Manager (RCM), Philippine Rice Information SysteM (PRISM), and the Next Generation (Next Gen).With this year’s theme “Pushing the adoption of new technologies for increased productivity and income” poses the challenge to create awareness on the advantages of such modern technologies to farmers seen to increase farm productivity and profitability through the use of high yielding rice varieties, climate resilient and more adaptive to different types of weather condition.
RCM program through modern IT gadgets and equipment provides appropriate recommendations on rice/crop production management practices to address problem on seed use (low yielding), nutrient deficiency, water (flood and drought) pests and disease control with the expected  1 ton increase in production per hectare, while PRISM supports decision-making and activity planning for increased rice production and serves as a platform to develop consistent and regular assessments of rice crop production, crop health, and crop losses brought about by natural calamities and outbreaks of pests and diseases.Next Generation is designed to accelerate the introduction and adoption of higher-yielding rice varieties and hybrids such as the inbred and Green Super Rice (GSR  proven to be climate resilient  and tolerant to biotic and abiotic stresses  (alkalinity, salinity, iron toxity, etc)for increased production and higher income. Pilot areas identified under PRISM include Ampatuan and Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao, and for Rice Crop Manager –Sultan Mastura, Pagalungan, Datu Paglas also of Maguindanao and Taraka, Lanao del Sur with total target of 10,500 farmer-beneficiaries.
Pushing for the commercialization of the Green Super Rice proven to be climate resilient and adaptive to all types of weather condition and resistant to pests and diseases and high yield to farmers, each of the farmer-participants were given a kilo of GSR seed and a bamboo seedling as part of the campaign to mitigate and address the issue and concern on climate change.“Based on our tests, Green Super Rice yield per hectare is 7 metric tons. The average yield in ARMM is 3.1 metric tons per hectare. If the ARMM has a total production of 600,000 metric tons, with GSR the production yield would be 1.2 million metric tons which is more than double our production, more than enough to feed all the people in the autonomous region,” Mending said.
As part of the aggressive efforts toward increased agricultural production for food sufficiency, the agency likewise purchased six units of Combined Harvester that has the capacity to reap/ harvest and thresh 2 hectares rice field in one hour for use with 15% counterpart by partners Irrigators Associations (IAs), Farmers Associations (FA), Cooperatives and LGUs   particularly during extreme weather conditions such as flooding to prevent crop damage and losses. (PBChangco/PIA Cotabato City) 

Philippines Uses Multi-Environment Trials to Test Elite Rice Varieties

Feb 20, 2015

The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is encouraging farmers to test elite rice varieties through multi-environment trials (MET) to evaluate their performance in various cropping conditions, according to local sources.It is understood that the so-called elite rice varieties or next-gen (next generation) varieties have been developed with desirable traits, such as high yielding ability, disease resistance, flood, drought, heat, or salinity tolerance but their adoption rate is very low. The DA is keen on increasing the adoption of these varieties in order to boost production.
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150220filipinorice.jpgAccording to a Senior Associate Scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), to know the actual performance of these varieties, they have to tested in different locations rather than testing in only one location. This is because different varieties are suitable to specific locations.The MET addresses this issue and allows farmers to observe varietal traits that are suitable to their location and choose those varieties under a process called Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS). The IRRI rice breeders will guide farmers in choosing varieties appropriate for their locations. The process also helps farmers to evaluate rice varieties from vegetative to ripening stage under conditions specific to their locations. They can test varieties for their tolerance to pests, texture, aroma, grain length as well as yield.
The Philippines produced around 18.97 million tons (around 11.95 million tons, basis milled) of rice in 2014, up about 2.87% from around 18.44 million tons (around 11.62 million tons, basis milled) in 2013. The Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) is estimating the country's paddy rice output in the first six months (January - July) of 2015 at around 8.55 million tons, up about 2.02% from around 8.38 million tons produced during the same period in 2014. USDA estimates the Philippines to produce around 19.3 million tons of paddy (around 12.2 million tons, basis milled) and import around 1.6 million tons of rice in MY 2014-15 (July - June). 
Contents are published with permission of ORYZA.com

 

Rice growers have new resource to battle rice water weevil

By Tim Sandle  

The rice water weevil is the most harmful insect pest of rice around the world. Hope is at hand for rice farmers in the form of new aquatic traps, which have been developed from a new research strategy.
The rice water weevil (Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus) is a worrisome insect pest of rice and it can trigger significant yield losses. The adult stage of the insect can inflict damage by consuming leaf tissue, whereas the larval form feeds on the roots of rice plants. The larva are equipped with a pair of connected dorsal hooks that are inserted into plant roots.The rice water weevil is a native of the south eastern U.S. Over the years it has invaded Japan, Korea, China, and Italy.
The adults are dark-brown to black with grey scales.Researchers based at the University of California, Davis, have determined why the rice water weevil has spread so rapidly (up to 36 kilometers per year). This is linked to its ability to reproduce asexually.In terms of future strategies, the authors also discuss methods of monitoring and sampling including the use of aquatic barrier traps. To this they add advice relating to minimising the impact through cultural control methods like draining fields, delayed planting, winter flooding, and nutrient augmentation.
As an alternative, the authors also explore the use of microbiological pest control measures using the fungus Beauveria bassiana and the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Both of these organisms target insects.More controversially, the researchers suggest the growing of insect-resistant transgenic varieties or rice. One example is the recently developed Bt rice plant transformed with the Cry3A gene. However, there are some consumer concerns with the use of genetically modified grains.
The new study has been reported to the Journal of Integrated Pest Management. The research is titled “A Century of Rice Water Weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): A History of Research and Management With an Emphasis on the United States.”

Rice company boost farming

Ropate Valemei

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A CHINESE rice company is undertaking a tremendous amount of effort to raise the rice-farming industry in the country.Along with this goal, Grace Road Food Company Ltd will also announce its plan about how they can achieve rice self-sufficiency by the year 2020.In order to achieve this goal, the company is hosting the International Conference on Rice Farming for Food Security in Fiji tomorrow in their farm in Navua.
The conference will feature world-wide leading rice seed researcher Dr Kyung-Ho Kang at the National University of Crop Science and professor of Biotechnology Dr Seong-Gene Lee of Chonnam National University.Company managing director Daniel Kin says participants will lead the discoveries behind Dr Kyung-Ho Kang's research, example of his rice-seed research, and the performance of his research applications.Mr Kim said the guest speaker would enunciate a proposal of the best suited type of rice for Fiji and the importance of food security in preparation of worldwide climate change.The company in Navua will also venture into vegetables, livestock and aquaculture and plans to establish a research institute, milling factory and other infrastructure.It recorded another achievement as it harvested its second variety of rice in Navua last month.It was commended for its role in providing employment for locals and for developing rice farming potential in the area.

Boost In Africa Rice Production To Slash Imports, Promote Food Security


By Makula Dunbar Published: February 18, 2015, 5:39 pm 

Roughly 14 million tons of rice is produced in Africa annually according to CCTV Africa. West African countries including Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria are top producers — and now researchers are working to convince more states to ramp up production. Last year the continent imported 12 million tons of rice. The Africa Rice Center is trying to lower figures, getting Africa’s rice imports down to 5 million tons by 2020.“Within our research process, innovations are developed by other groups. But it’s up to our group to check out those technologies and demonstrate their advantages to the people,” Aminou Arouna, action group policy coordinator at Africa Rice said in the report.

An innovative road to cut lentil imports in rice growing countries

INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN THE DRY AREAS
   CREDIT: ICARDA
Feb 18, Kolkata, India: Rice farmers in the villages of West Bengal and Bangladesh are opening a new path for India and neighboring countries to reduce dependence on foreign lentils - its largest consumers in the world. These farmers are growing lentils in their field left fallow after rice harvest with the help of an agricultural research and training project. The scientists took a delegation from Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan on a first-of-its-kind traveling workshop from Dhaka to Kolkata where the practice is quietly taking roots. As the nine-day journey concluded today, the push for lentils could be ushering in the next green revolution in this part of the world.
Description: IMAGE"In West Bengal alone, five to six districts specially have high potential for this approach to lentil production and can substantially save foreign exchange spent on lentil imports", noted Purnendu Basu, Minister of Agriculture of West Bengal, the main rice growing state in India. Even though India is the largest producer of lentils in the world, it relies heavily on imports and bought 53% of its needs in 2013."A key scientific enabler has been that these lentil varieties are bred to have shorter growing season so they can be suitably accommodated between two rice growing seasons," says Dr. Shiv Kumar Agrawal, lead legume breeder at ICARDA - a work funded under CGIAR's Grain Legumes Research Program.
Other success factors in establishing a thriving rice-lentil system are new higher-yielding varieties of lentils resistant to common diseases, and extensive training of rice farmers in managing lentil crops.The approach has already proven its potential in Bangladesh. Lentil cropping has spread to more than 85 percent of rice fallows in the country, bringing in an additional annual income of US $26.6 million.
For small-scale farmers, obtaining a harvest of lentils from the same piece of land has not only improved their livelihood but also nutrition for their families."In South Asia region, there is a substantial area under rice farming but the land is left fallow sometimes even up to six months every year", says Dr. Ashutosh Sarker, the South Asia Regional Program coordinator of ICARDA. To accelerate the trend, ICARDA has launched a new pulses research platform in Madhya Pradesh. The hub will be supporting and building the region's capacity for pulse production in partnership with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and state partners.
###
For media inquiries:
Rajita Majumdar at r.majumdar@cgiar.org
About ICARDA
The International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), a CGIAR global agricultural research organization, works with countries in the world's dry and marginal lands to improve income and nutrition for smallholders and pastoralists, and strengthen national food security through sustainable systems solutions. The Center's integrated approach includes improved wheat, barley and legume crop varieties; water productivity; agronomy; rangeland and small ruminant production; and socio-economic and policy research to enable large-scale impacts. http://www.icarda.org
IMAGE: A WIN-WIN FOR RICE FARMERS GROWING LENTILS IN THEIR FALLOWS AS THEY ADD NEW INCOMES AND NUTRITION FOR THEIR FAIMILIES -- WEST BENGAL 

 

Boost In Africa Rice Production To Slash Imports, Promote Food Security

By Makula Dunbar Published: February 18, 2015, 5:39 pm
   

Roughly 14 million tons of rice is produced in Africa annually according to CCTV Africa. West African countries including Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria are top producers — and now researchers are working to convince more states to ramp up production. Last year the continent imported 12 million tons of rice. The Africa Rice Center is trying to lower figures, getting Africa’s rice imports down to 5 million tons by 2020.“Within our research process, innovations are developed by other groups. But it’s up to our group to check out those technologies and demonstrate their advantages to the people,” Aminou Arouna, action group policy coordinator at Africa Rice said in the report.

http://afkinsider.com/88983/boost-in-africa-rice-production-to-slash-imports-food-security/#sthash.RE26PpWX.dpuf

 

 

 

 

Experimental project proving to be good for salmon and rice

Jacob Katz of CalTrout pulls a pair of four-day-old salmon out of a fallow rice field at Knaggs Ranch in the Yolo Bypass. Sarah Dowling — Daily Democrat
By Sarah Dowling, Woodland Daily Democrat
POSTED: 02/16/15, 9:33 PM PST 

Description: http://www.chicoer.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/NA/20150216/NEWS/150219796/AR/0/AR-150219796.jpg&maxh=400&maxw=667With the assistance of John Brennan of CalMarsh, left, Jacob Katz explains how the Yolo Bypass system works and how Knaggs Ranch fits into it.Woodland >> During the non-growing season, rice fields in the Yolo Bypass have been a part of an experiment designed to help salmon thrive.The idea is to flood the fields using — well, borrowing — drain water from the Colusa Basin as it flows into the valley and out to the Sacramento River while the fields are fallow.The study is the focus of the Nigiri Project at Knaggs Ranch, in the northern reaches of the Yolo Bypass between Interstate 5 and the Sacramento River.

The Bypass serves as an incubator for young salmon while they feed and bulk up before ultimately being flushed down the Delta.“It all starts with sunlight,” explained Jacob Katz of CalTrout, who spoke to visitors at a farm tour last week. “When sunlight hits the water, it makes algae and algae makes food for salmon.”However, the Yolo Bypass is a system with deep, narrow canals, which limit the amount of sunlight hitting the water.“We built a system that is starving the fish,” Katz added. “By spreading everything out, allowing more sunlight, salmon are able to get enough food.

”It was this simple concept that ignited the project back in 2011, and it has been growing ever since. “We are spreading water out, slowing it down to mimic how the river used to be,” Katz said. “This allows fish to be self-sufficient.”According to the study, these “surrogate wetlands” mimic the floodplain rearing habitat used historically by young salmon.

What scientists have found is extraordinary: The fastest growth rates and highest health indexes ever documented in Delta salmon research.“If you compare river growth with floodplain growth, it’s night and day,” explained Katz, saying the fish double their weight every week. The habitat is so rich in plankton that it’s like “floating filet mingon. The fish are swimming around with their eyes closed and mouths open. They barely have to do anything; there’s so much food.

”http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20150216/experimental-project-proving-to-be-good-for-salmon-and-rice?utm_source=USA+Rice+Daily%2C+February+17%2C+2015&utm_campaign=Friday%2C+December+13%2C+2013&utm_medium=email

Rice growers have new resource to battle rice water weevil

By Tim Sandle  

The rice water weevil is the most harmful insect pest of rice around the world. Hope is at hand for rice farmers in the form of new aquatic traps, which have been developed from a new research strategy.

The rice water weevil (Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus) is a worrisome insect pest of rice and it can trigger significant yield losses. The adult stage of the insect can inflict damage by consuming leaf tissue, whereas the larval form feeds on the roots of rice plants. The larva are equipped with a pair of connected dorsal hooks that are inserted into plant roots.The rice water weevil is a native of the south eastern U.S. Over the years it has invaded Japan, Korea, China, and Italy.

The adults are dark-brown to black with grey scales.Researchers based at the University of California, Davis, have determined why the rice water weevil has spread so rapidly (up to 36 kilometers per year). This is linked to its ability to reproduce asexually.In terms of future strategies, the authors also discuss methods of monitoring and sampling including the use of aquatic barrier traps.

To this they add advice relating to minimising the impact through cultural control methods like draining fields, delayed planting, winter flooding, and nutrient augmentation. As an alternative, the authors also explore the use of microbiological pest control measures using the fungus Beauveria bassiana and the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Both of these organisms target insects.More controversially, the researchers suggest the growing of insect-resistant transgenic varieties or rice.

One example is the recently developed Bt rice plant transformed with the Cry3A gene. However, there are some consumer concerns with the use of genetically modified grains.The new study has been reported to the Journal of Integrated Pest Management. The research is titled “A Century of Rice Water Weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): A History of Research and Management With an Emphasis on the United States.”



USA Rice Federation presents report to Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board

 

Ward provided the board with a financial report and results of the audits for all five organizations overseen by USA Rice, and then focused her presentation on international market challenges the U.S. rice industry is facing in Cuba, Iraq, China, Central America and the No. 1 market, Mexico.

By USA Rice Federation 

Posted Feb. 16, 2015 at 11:48 AM 


LITTLE ROCK

USA Rice Federation President and CEO Betsy Ward, together with Vice President of Communications, Marketing and Domestic Promotion Michael Klein presented the annual USA Rice Council report to the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board (ARRPB) last week.Ward provided the board with a financial report and results of the audits for all five organizations overseen by USA Rice, and then focused her presentation on international market challenges the U.S. rice industry is facing in Cuba, Iraq, China, Central America and the No. 1 market, Mexico.

"With 64 totally new members of Congress we need to educate on rice issues, several delicate trade deals possibly coming to their conclusion, and our regular challenges, it sometimes feels like we're working in a three ring circus," Ward remarked. "We know things out in the countryside are tough right now, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve the viability of rice farming."Ward took several questions on the situation in Iraq, Cuba and food safety concerns, and in both cases the message was keeping the pressure on."We've applied a great deal of pressure on Iraq and we've seen results, but clearly we need to keep pushing," she said. "This will be a top priority issue at our Government Affairs Conference in Washington in a few weeks.
Klein then shared results from last year's consumer focus groups and explained how what USA Rice learned is being implemented.

"We know we have a great opportunity to educate folks, because they don't know a lot about rice — but they respond very positively to our conservation messages, and would like us to tell them more," he said.Klein said the desire people show to eat local and support U.S. farmers factors into the group's retail outreach through supermarket dieticians and elementary school programs

The ARRPB is made up of nine rice producers who are nominated by industry organizations and appointed to two-year terms by the governor. The board is responsible for allocating Arkansas rice promotion and research check-off funds annually. For the past 29 years, the ARRPB has awarded promotion funds to the USA Rice Council. "We always appreciate the opportunity to meet with this board and report on work made possible by the financial resources entrusted to us by Arkansas," Ward said. "I also want to thank the Arkansas rice farmers and industry members who serve on the USA Rice Council board and on USA Rice domestic and international promotion committees. 

Their participation is vital to USA Rice's member-driven process for program development and implementation."After the presentations on promotion results and USA Rice financials, the ARRPB approved the USA Rice Council's request for funding in the fiscal year Aug. 1, 2015 to July 31, 2016.


Bicol co-ops receive rice processing equipment from DA



TWO FARMER associations in Bicol secured infrastructure and P3-million financial support from the Department of Agriculture (DA).


In a statement yesterday, the agency said the move was intended to help rural organizations to become more profitable and sustainable.Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala led the turnover of the rice processing complex and funding support to Hibiga River Irrigation System Irrigators Association (HRISIA), based in Polangui, Albay; and the San Agustin-San Ramon Farmers’ Cooperative (SARFC) from Bula, Camarines Sur.Through the rice processing complex inaugurated last week, the farmer groups will be provided with tools, equipment and technical expertise to become professional farm service providers.On top of the flatbed dryers and rice mills installed in the processing centers, the farmer cooperatives will also get other items of farm machinery such as reapers, threshers and hand tractors.These will be provided via grants or cost-sharing schemes.

The first batch of machinery -- involving three hand tractors for HRISIA and five for SARFC, as well as a palay thresher for the latter -- was delivered last week.Apart from the equipment, HRISIA and SARFC received P2 million and P1 million starting capital, respectively, to operate their rice processing hubs.“As a bonus, DA will likewise support the expansion of planting areas of farmer-cooperators, in coordination with their respective provincial or municipal agriculturists,” the agency said.The HRISIA has committed to expand the area it plants to rice by an additional 200 hectares, according to the DA.Mr. Alcala also pledged to extend the same support to Barotac Nuevo Development Cooperative when he opened and led the turn-over rites for a rice processing center in Barangay Monpon, Barotac Nuevo three weeks ago.The formation of farm service providers is part of DA’s strategy for increased food security and rural incomes under the Food Staples Sufficiency Program. -- Claire-Ann Marie C. Feliciano





Description: http://www.asianscientist.com/wp-content/uploads/bfi_thumb/Vietnam-Eyes-Water-Saving-Tech-For-Rice-Farms-2xwk704ftpgr82jt0j0idc.jpgVietnam Eyes Water-Saving Tech For Rice Farms

Although alternate wetting and drying technology can reduce water usage and greenhouse gas emissions, getting rice farmers to adopt this practice could be difficult. Science and Development Network | November 11, 2014 | Editorials AsianScientist (Nov. 11, 2014) - Agriculture experts say application of alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology in Vietnam’s rice farms, one of South-East Asia’s largest rice-producing countries, holds great promise in cutting water use and greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation without sacrificing yield output. Vietnam along with Bangladesh and Colombia recently partnered with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to introduce the large-scale application of AWD, also known as controlled irrigation in which farmers periodically drain rice paddies rather than keeping them perpetually flooded. The number of non-flooded days can range from one to ten days. The technology can reduce water use by 25 percent and estimated to cut methane from flooded rice field by 50 percent. But getting farmers to adopt it will be a struggle, Nguyen Hong Son, vice-president of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, tells SciDev.Net during an interview at the Fourth International Rice Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, held from October 27 to November 1, 2014. “It’s something that will give the farmers complications in application,” he notes. “It’s really hard for them to understand the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We will try to convince them of the benefits of AWD since it can also help them save money in irrigation.” Aside from economic savings through lower water consumption and pumping costs, there is also evidence that AWD can help crops perform better and improve soil conditions so that machines can operate more efficiently in the fields, says Björn Ole Sander, who is coordinating the effort. But AWD is not without controversy. Adopting the irrigation method will increase nitrous oxide emissions, which Sander himself acknowledges will be anywhere from 20 to 100 percent. Still, given that paddy rice does not produce much nitrous oxide to begin with, the decrease in methane, which the crop produces in heaps, will more than offset any increase in nitrous oxide, says Sander. “We still have a huge overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” he adds. The planned wide-scale adoption of AWD is in line with the Vietnamese government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions especially in the agricultural sector, which is predicted to account for almost 73 percent of emissions in the country by 2030, according to a UN fact sheet produced in 2013. The first phase to expand AWD in Vietnam as well as in Bangladesh and Colombia will run for the next 18 months and will involve preliminary research in each of the participating countries to identify the best areas where AWD can be applied, possible barriers and the needs for investment. Representatives from the CCAC will soon hold roundtable working groups with various national stakeholders, including scientists. A central information kiosk containing extensive information on rice management and greenhouse gas emissions will be hosted by the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute, which along with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia, will provide technical advice and services. ------- Source: SciDev.Net. Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff. Tags: Agriculture, Bangladesh, Food Security, International Rice Research Institute, Rice, Southeast Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, water Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine 


at: http://www.asianscientist.com/2014/11/features/vietnam-eyes-water-saving-tech-rice-farms/




Drought to Affect About 160,000 Hectares of Thai Rice Area, Says Agriculture Ministry
Feb 05, 2015

Thailand is expected to experience worst drought in more than a decade in 2015, Reuters quoted the Irrigation Department Officials as saying. While already 8 provinces of 76 provinces are drought-struck, nearly 31 other provinces are put in high risk category. The government is reportedly taking measures to alleviate drought and has allocated around 6.8 billion baht (around $208.65 million) for the purpose. The funds would be primarily used to install water pumps and provide mobile water tanks in affected areas, according to the Department officials.
The Agriculture Ministry is estimating nearly 160,000 hectares or about 1.3% of the rice land to be affected by drought. The Irrigation department has already announced that water would not be provided for 2015 second/off-season (November - April) crop and is persuading farmers to halve second crop production this year.
In its latest report on production estimates, the Office of the Agricultural Economics (OAE) estimated the output from the 2014-15 secondary/off-season crop at around 6.7 million tons (around 4.4 million tons, basis milled), down about 31% from around 9.75 million tons (around 6.4 million tons, basis milled) last year. The OAE has estimated the country's total paddy rice output for 2014-15 at around 33.8 million tons (around 22.3 million tons, basis milled), down about 8% from around 36.8 million tons (around 24.3 million tons, basis milled) last year.The government is also planning to reduce rice acreage by about 4.44 million hectares (or about 39% of the total rice area of around 11.34 million hectares) under an agricultural zoning system to grow other cash crops, such as sugarcane, in the next 3-4 years.
While a rice production loss could be a boon for the government of Thailand, especially at a time when it is trying sell its huge rice stockpiles accumulated under the previous government’s rice pledging scheme, this drought has so far only affected a small percentage of paddy production and thus is unlikely to support prices.  USDA estimates Thailand to produce around 31 million tons of paddy rice (around 20.5 million tons, basis paddy) and export around 11 million tons in MY 2014-15.

ORYZA News.com




Rice Husk with Worms Can Do Wonders!
Feb 05, 2015
Rice husk mixed with annelids (segmented worms) can be transformed into organic humus that can used as fertilizer in cultivation of rice and many other crops. The process of transforming rice husk into organic manure is developed by a Spanish-Colombian company Bioarroz (BioRiceHusk).
The process has many benefits. First, rice husk need not be burnt and thus avoiding atmospheric pollution. Second, it becomes a feed to annelids. When both are mixed and recycled, it turns into an organic manure while removing the organic calcium and silicon from the rice husk. Thus the manure created is said to act as a wonderful fertilizer especially in rice production.
The developers claim that it can in fact double rice production without polluting the soil with chemicals. It can regenerate the heavily eroded soils as well. Third, the manure thus created ecologically saves water. Fourth, the liquid calcium and silicon extracted can be used for other industries.A Bioarroz plant installed in 5 hectares of rice land is capable of recycled 1,500 tons of rice husk, about 3,700 tons of liquid humus and 750 tons of solid humus. It process can be initiated in any rice producing country.Developers of this project say it is more useful in a country like Africa where there a lot of gap between demand for and supply of rice. The project has been selected to participate in the Global Exhibition of Innovation in Agriculture in March 2015 in Abu Dhabi.

ORYZA.com

Italy to Review Development of Rice Seed Sector

Feb 03, 2015
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150203italyriceseeds.jpg
Italy will review the development in the rice seed sector in a meeting on February 4, 2015, which will be attended by the Ente nazionale risi, the National Agency for Rice, the CRA-SCS (Council for Research and Testing in Agriculture, and for Seed Testing and Certification), and Assosementi, which includes about 30 companies involved in seed research. The meeting will be conducted in the premises of the Centro ricerche sul riso (National rice research center) in Castello d'Agogna, according to local sources.
Issues such as the introduction of new rice seed varieties, their resistance to diseases like rice blast and their requirement of nitrogen fertilizers will be dealt with in the meeting.
The meeting will also review the results of testing of various methods that deal with the use of sewage sludge in agriculture; and the results of agronomic testing and the seeding activities conducted by the National Agency for Rice in co-operation with CRA-SCS and Assosementi. Seed companies will be encouraged to present new seed varieties and awards will be presented to seed breeders.

ORYZA.com

Modern genetics (not necessarily GMOs) can help spur next Green Revolution

Tim Folger | February 4, 2015 | National Geographic
The green revolution transformed global agriculture. Through selective breeding, Norman Borlaug, an American biologist, created a dwarf variety of wheat that resulted in more grain per acre. Similar work at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines dramatically improved the productivity of the grain that feeds nearly half the world.From the 1960s through the 1990s, yields of rice and wheat in Asia doubled. Even as the continent’s population increased by 60 percent, grain prices fell, the average Asian consumed nearly a third more calories, and the poverty rate was cut in half.
To keep doing that between now and 2050, we’ll need another green revolution. One vision is high-tech, with a heavy emphasis on continuing Borlaug’s work of breeding better crops, but with modern genetic techniques. The signature technology of this approach—and the one that has brought both success and controversy to Monsanto—is genetically modified, or GM, crops.But Monsanto is not the only organization that believes modern plant genetics can help feed the world. At the International Rice Research Institute only a few varieties are GM crops, in the sense that they contain a gene transferred from a different species.The institute’s entire breeding operation has been accelerated by modern genetics.
For decades IRRI breeders patiently followed the ancient recipe: Select plants with the desired trait, cross-pollinate, wait for the offspring to reach maturity, select the best performers, repeat. Now there’s an alternative to that painstaking process. In 2004 an international consortium of researchers mapped the entire rice genome, which comprises some 40,000 individual genes. Since then, researchers around the world have been pinpointing genes that control valuable traits and can be selected directly.

Rice crops above Chao Phraya Dam threatened by water shortage

National News Bureau of Thailand Wednesday 4 February 2015
Irrigation officials fear the receding water level above the Chao Phraya Dam in Chai Nat province could lead to partial damages to rice fields situated nearby. According to the acting chief of the water distribution and management unit of the Royal Irrigation Office 12, at the moment the Bhumibol Dam is storing 5.9 billion cubic meters of water or 45 per cent of its capacity while the Sirikit Dam has 5.7 billion cubic meters or 60 per cent. Of the combined amount, only 4.9 billion cubic meters are usable. As for the Chao Phraya Dam, the level of water above the dam is measured at 14.20 meters above mean sea level and it is speculated to continue to recede.
Some of the reasons behind the decrease are the distribution of the water to Bangkok for tap water production and the ongoing effort to flush out salt water. The water discharge rate is still maintained at 70 cubic meters per second. Out of the 1.3 million rai of off-season paddies situated upstream of the Chao Phraya Dam, 800,000 rai has yet to be harvested. If the water level continues to decline, some of the remaining crops could be devastated by drought. 


Phil Rice
Rasco and research at PhilRice
Rasco dedicated almost 4 decades of his career to public service. During his stint as executive director, Rasco envisioned to transform rural communities into more productive and sustainable agri-business enterprises. He has always believed in exploring the potentials of the rice lands to augment rice farming income.He institutionalized five new R&D programs to address the current and future challenges in the rice sector.
These are Coping with climate change, High-value products from rice and its environment,  Farming without fossil energy, Intensified rice-based agri-bio systems, and FutureRice. Each is geared toward a self-sufficient, sustainable, and competitive rice economy.To operationalize these programs, Rasco led the creation of various centers that would help develop appropriate technologies for rice-based ecosystem.
 The Applied Biology Center for the Rice Environment aims to increase outputs and reduce inputs in rice farming and rice-based enterprises through applied biology.Rasco also supported research studies on other sources of energy such as bioethanol and hybrid energy (e.g. wind/solar, biomass/solar) to develop an energy system for rice-based agriculture that is renewable, decentralized, and diversified.“To him, farming without fossil energy is the scientific description for what is commonly called but misunderstood organic agriculture,” said PhilRice Deputy Executive Director for Research Dr. Manuel Jose C. Regalado.Recognizing seeds as a critical input, Rasco also established the Genetics Resources Division to facilitate seed transfer and germplasm exchange. The Seed Technology Division, on the other hand, was established to ensure  high seed quality of the newly-released rice varieties through compact demonstration.

Rasco and development at PhilRice

Rasco strengthened the promotion and adoption of research outputs through development programs. He conceptualized the Palayabangan 10-5 challenge to fast-track the search for technology that can increase production to 10t/ha at a cost of Php5/kg.His term also birthed the National Year of Rice in 2013 to engage the public in the country’s bid for rice self-sufficiency. As a follow through, Rasco advocated the Gusto Namin Milyonaryo Kayo campaign to push for rural transformation rather than mere technology transmission. He also supported youth engagement in agriculture through the Infomediary Campaign.“PhilRice has three treasures [according to Rasco]:  people, germplasm, and information. From these, rice R&D should eventually help rice-based farmers become rich,” Regalado said.


Most cited PhilRice scientist retires from gov’t service
Highly cited PhilRice scientist and crop physiologist Dr. Rolando T. Cruz ended his 19 years of government service at the Institute, January 23. Cruz, who worked at the Agronomy, Soils, and Plant Physiology Division (ASPPD), was responsible for conducting systems analysis and simulation modelling for potential yield and nitrogen optimization in irrigated rice systems.In addition, he spent several years developing practical field diagnostic tools for plant nutrient status and evaluating chemical and physical properties of soil-plant-water interactions.

To date, Cruz is the most cited PhilRice scientist with 1,221 citations both in local and international refereed journals.“When you are cited in scientific literature, it means you are a recognized scientist both nationally and internationally. Dr. Cruz gave PhilRice a name, and it’s a great honor for our Institute,” said Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco, Jr., executive director.
He also led the development of the Palaycheck System for irrigated rice ecosystems to increase on-farm rice yields. PalayCheck is PhilRice’s banner program for favorable environments.“PhilRice offers anyone the chance to be with the farmers,” said Cruz during a short program organized by the Institute. He cited the Institute as a “farmer-oriented” agency and thanked his colleagues and the staff he worked with in the development of new technologies for the farmers.
Description: Description: Most cited PhilRice scientistCruz finished Bachelor of Science in Agronomy and Master of Science in Agronomy and Crop Physiology from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He obtained his PhD in Agronomy, Plant Physiology, and Soil-Plant-Water Relations from the Texas Agriculture and Mechanical (A&M) University. He also spent 10 years at IRRI as a researcher and as a visiting research associate at the Michigan State University for a year.  He was conferred Scientist I in the Scientific Career System in 2008. In 2010-2011, he was a visiting professor at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Australia.
Cruz was born in Dapitan, Manila and is based in Los Baños, Laguna. He will continue working for PhilRice as a consultant and mentor of young researchers.
Science City of Muñoz recognizes PhilRice scientists
Three PhilRice scientists were recognized by the local government of the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija for “giving pride and honor to the city and for their contribution in scientific research.”The Institute’s executive director Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco Jr., Ms. Thelma F. Padolina, and Dr. Riza A. Ramos received plaques of recognition during the Teachers and Employees’ Night, January 9.Ramos was recognized for receiving the 2014 UPLB Distinguished Alumna Award and Padolina for the Asian-wide Senadhira Rice Research Award given by the International Rice Research Institute.Padolina is the first Filipino and the first woman Senadhira awardee.
Meanwhile, UPLB recognized Ramos’s contribution in enhancing the micronutrient content (folate, iron and zinc) of Philippine rice, which created significant impact on the complementary and sustainable solution to the micronutrient-deficiency problem in the country. She has numerous publications in the said area in refereed international journals.The UK-educated scientist is currently the chief of PhilRice’s Rice Chemistry and Food Science Division. Her current research involvement is on nutritional quality assessment important for Philippine rice, factors influencing food intake and nutritional status of rice-based farm households, and quality assessment of iron and zinc rice lines.
Focused and significant accomplishments on rice breeding thereby contributing significantly to improving Filipino farmers’ lives earned Padolina the Senadhira Rice Research Award.“PhilRice is known for its world-class efforts in rice science. The staff complementing the mission of PhilRice is one of the most important building blocks to sustain the excellent status of the Institute,” said Padolina.Padolina, who just recently retired, served the Institute for 26 years.
She chaired the Rice Technical Working Group (RTWG) from 1993 to 1995 and has been the National Cooperative Test Coordinator from 1998 to present. The RTWG implements the NCT and is a technical working group of the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) mandated under the Seed Industry Development Act of 1992 (RA 7308) to nominate new and improved rice varieties for cultivation.“We are proud of the individual accomplishments of our staff members who have earned their awards through persistent dedication and hard work.
 For PhilRice to preserve its tradition of excellence, it must continue to improve,” said Rasco who received the Leadership Award.The City recognized 17 outstanding individuals from different agencies.The Science City of Muñoz is home to various research and educational institutions such as the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).Description: Description: SCM_PhilRice
PhilRice Agusan is best branch station again

PhilRice Agusan received the top prize in the 2014 Best Station contest – an annual internal competition organized by the Institute to elevate and improve the modalities in promoting new technologies in rice production. It also aims to highlight the best-fit practices of the stations in rice R&D.Agusan was also recognized for successfully and creatively executing the Intensified Rice-Based Agri-bio Systems (IRBAS) program in support of PhilRice’s major advocacy, the Rural Transformation Movement (RTM).
RTM aims to help reduce poverty by promoting diversified farming and agri-business ventures. Nucleus estates will be put up to give farmers access to support services including training, inputs, custom services, technologies, product development and packaging, and marketing.
“I thank the PhilRice management for organizing this contest and all my colleagues for keeping our station beautiful,” said Abner T. Montecalvo, station manager.PhilRice Midsayap and Batac placed 2nd and 3rd, and were cited for creating a strategic research direction and for continually improving their internal systems and processes in accordance with Integrated Management Systems standards. PhilRice has three ISO certifications.
The following awards were also given: Most Improved Field Day to Los Baños; Most Interactive Field Day to Negros; and Most Innovative External Linkage to Bicol.The judges traveled across the country to evaluate each station based on the following: IRBAS (Rural Transformation Campaign Execution); level of mechanization; organization of field day; varietal demo; client satisfaction; innovations; internal processes and financial reports; housekeeping and safety; state of infrastructure; income generation; and station management.
The judges were Dr. Rex Navarro, former director for communications of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT); Dr. Genaro San Valentin and Thelma Padolina, PhilRice consultants; Charlene Tan, founder of Good Food Community; and Donald Mateo, from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech).PhilRice Agusan had earlier received the Best Field Day (2011) and Best Station awards (2013).


IRRI's Regional Seed Cooperation Agreement Speeds Up Release of Rice Varieties in South Asia

Feb 04, 2015
Description: Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150104irriseeds.jpgThe regional rice seed cooperation agreement between India, Bangladesh and Nepal, launched by the Philippines-based International Institute of Rice Research (IRRI) is speeding up the release of rice varieties in these countries, according to a news release on its website.The regional rice seed cooperation agreement, promoted through the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), began with an intention to benefit farmers in region by reducing time lags in releasing newer rice varieties. Since the agro-climatic conditions of the three countries are similar, rice seeds developed, tested, approved and released in one country can be released simultaneously in the other countries as well.
This process facilitates quicker release of rice varieties as rice seed development usually takes longer time, according to the news release. For instance varieties developed through market-assisted breeding takes two years while varieties developed through conventional breeding takes about seven years. The agreement saves a lot of time and resources in releasing a new variety in a country.As part of this agreement several varieties such as BR11, BRRI dhan 28, and BRRI dhan 29, modern high-yielding rice varieties developed and released in Bangladesh are widely grown in India. Bangladesh's other varieites such as BINA dhan 8, BINA dhan 10, BINA dhan 11, and  BINA dhan 12 are becoming popular in East Indian states. Similarly, India's rice varieties such as Swarna, Sarju 52, and Samba Mahsuri are released in Nepal and Bangladesh. Nepal’s Sukha dhan5 and Sukha dhan6, and drought-tolerant varieties are being considered for release in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.The progress of the regional rice seed cooperation agreement were presented at the IRRI-Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) Asia Science Week, held from 26 to 30 January in the Philippines.
ORYZA.com


Indian State Maharashtra Approves Field Trials of GM Rice

Feb 04, 2015
Description: Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150204gmricerice.jpgIndia's western state Maharashtra has approved field trials of five genetically modified (GM) crops, including rice, maize, chickpea, brinjal and cotton, according to local sources.The state government has issued "no objection certificate (NOC)" for companies carrying out field trials of these five GM crops. Along with BT rice, the government has also approved field trials of two other rice varieties that are drought tolerant and has nitrogen use efficiency.
Companies carrying out field trials of GM crops are mandated to get a NOC from respective state governments, according to a Central Government Directive. Other states such as Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh have reportedly given NOCs for field trials of some biotech crops, but states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are against the field trials of GM crops.
ORYZA.com



Research Group Urges Government of Ghana to Develop Support Strategy for Small Scale Rice Farmers

Feb 04, 2015
A report released by the a  trade and agriculture advocacy, research and practice organisation, has found that small scale rice farmers need government support in land acquisition, training in using latest agricultural farming equipment as well as financial support from banks. A study conducted by the GTLC covering about 660 rice farmers in about 10 small-scale rice areas in nine administrative regions found that farmers are seeking government support in the above mentioned areas in order to increase yield per hectare.
Description: Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150204ghanaricefields.jpgA Senior Lecturer from the Department of Economics of the University of Ghana commented on the results of the study saying that the government needs to recognize the financial needs of the small-scale farmers and should consider facilitating financing through banks. He noted that due to inadequate support from the government, farmers are forced to take loans from microfinance institutions at high interest rates consequently impacting their incomes.
The study also found that farmers are willing to accept new methods of cultivation and it is high time for the government to react. The government should ensure that policies are properly implemented to get desired results.GTLC has been collecting data on agriculture to assess the implementation of the agriculture sector policies and their impact on small scale farmers in Ghana since 2009 and the report was released in 2014.
Earlier, the) also urged the government to adopt new strategies, including providing access to quality seeds, fertilizers, irrigation facilities, modern rice farming technologies, milling units as well as drying and storage units, to boost rice production in the country.Ghana produces only 30% of its annual consumption needs of around one million tons and imports the rest. The government is currently planning to increase rice production by about 20% per annum over the next four years to make the country self-sufficient in rice and subsequently ban rice imports.According to the USDA, Ghana’s rice production is estimated at about 330,000 tons (milled basis) in MY 2014-15 (October - September). The U.S. agency expects Ghana to import 620,000 tons of rice during the year to meet consumption needs of around one million tons of rice.
ORYZA.com

IRRI to build new biotech facility to study climate change impacts on agriculture

 
IRRI in Los Banos, Laguna. FILE PHOTO

The online news portal of TV5
Description: http://www.interaksyon.com/assets/images/articles/interphoto_1391594481.jpgLOS BAŇOS, Laguna - The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has announced plans to build a new research facility that will help scientists study the impacts of climate change on agriculture, and consequently on the food supply of future generations. The Lloyd T. Evans Plant Growth Facility is a biotech hub that aims to tap more young researchers to study how rising concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will impact on the production of crops and grains, especially rice, said Matthew Morell, deputy director general for research at Laguna-based IRRI.
“We expect researchers to flock to the facility and collaborate with each other. We especially aim to attract young researchers because it is absolutely critical that we have people who will take the battle for sustainable food supply forward,” said Morell in an interview.The biotech facility will be one of the advanced worldwide when it opens by end of 2015, he added.With the new facility, IRRI also seeks to have more national and cross-country collaborations with other research institutes.Agriculture is highly vulnerable to the impacts of severe changes in the weather as it is dependent on highly specific climate conditions. In late 2013, the Philippine agricultural sector suffered major losses after Haiyan (local name: Yolanda), the strongest typhoon to make landfall to date, hit the Visayas.
Moreover, half of the world’s population or about 3.5 billion people consider rice their staple food. Filipinos eat 119 kilos of rice a year, according to an IRRI study.In the new facility, prolonged dry spells and flooding induced by climate change will be simulated, and plants will be attached with sensors to enable accurate, real-time monitoring of the impacts of various weather elements like light intensity, night temperature, and humidity.The Australian government through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research will fund the facility’s construction worth US$15 million.
More agriculture students
In a separate interview, Dr. Fernando Sanchez Jr., of the University of the Philippine Los Baños, welcomed the construction of the new facility, which will provide young university researchers with the best tools. The crop scientist noted that this would encourage more students to take up agriculture as a career or to conduct related studies.In 2012, UPLB reported a sharp decline in agriculture enrollment of only 4.7 percent of the total 9,500 enrollees in 2012, down from 43 percent in 1995 and 51 percent in 1980.A vibrant agricultural research environment is needed to ensure sustainable food supply in the face of climate change, Morell noted.
For this, IRRI has a two-pronged approach that seeks to provide young researchers tools and facilities to conduct their studies and to host regular conventions such as the Global Rice Research Science Partnership (GRISP), where young scientists have the chance to present their studies to senior research fellows.“It is absolutely critical that we have the people in the future to take the battle forward,” stressed Morell.In her doctorate study, Filipina GRISP presenter Rica Joy Flor mentioned the benefits of tapping overlooked informal networks and key players in farming communities to ensure the sustainable adoption of technologies. She says that these informal groups usually identified by their tasks in the field can help the communities get better bargain when dealing with middlemen in acquiring plant materials or in selling their goods as a group instead of simply as an individual.
She mentions a huge opportunity for Filipino students to apply their expertise in agricultural research.Initially, Flor wanted to specialize in medical anthropology and later found her way into community networks in farming communities.“We always view agriculture to be a separate field of discipline but it is interrelated to other studies. I think young researchers will find good problems to study and make an impact to help people via agricultural research,” she says.Pieter Rutsaert, a European post-doctoral fellow at IRRI, noted in his research that gender dynamics is also a challenge, especially in bringing women’s voice in community decision-making.

Rice research adopts drone technology in Riverina

Updated Wed at 8:08pmWed 4 Feb 2015, 8:08pm
The Australian rice industry can't get enough of remote-controlled technology.

Description: Rice research embraces drone technologyIt is trialling robotic tractors to sow crops, while using drones to watch them grow. Industry group Rice Research Australia, based near Jerilderie in south-west New South Wales, has been looking at the benefits of drones for the last three years.This season it is incorporating them across its trial sites.The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which cost around $2,700, has a GPS system installed inside it, with a camera attached on the outside.It flies above the rice fields to record video footage of crop establishment and density, weeds and in some cases nitrogen uptake.

Rice Research Australia manager Russell Ford said with further research the UAV's could save growers time and money."We do a panicle initiation test and it's very manual-orientated," he said."We're looking for an opportunity to make that easy for farmers."If we're going to do that, we need something that correlates very closely to nitrogen uptake and that's some of the research that's happening at the moment."Mr Ford said he expected more farmers would incorporate drones into their production system in the coming years.

"The technology, for some reason, interests people in Australia," he said.We tend to go out there and try it, whether we know how to use it or not."That's an attribute Australian farmers and researchers are very good at."Let's hope we continue to develop that because a lot of this technology will be useful in making us more efficient in the future."

Japanese rice: the new, safe luxury food in China

SHANGHAI/TOKYO Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:16pm EST





Description: People stand in front of stalks of rice plants at a rice paddy in Minami-Uonuma, north of Tokyo in this October 18, 2007 file photo.    REUTERS-Toru Hanai (Reuters) - First it was European infant formula, then New Zealand milk. Now Chinese consumers are adding Japanese rice to the list of everyday foods they will bring in from abroad at luxury-good prices because they fear the local alternatives aren't safe.The volume of rice imported from China remains small - 160 tonnes last year, according to Japan's National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations.
Description: A villager transplants rice seedlings in the village of Basha in Congjiang county, Guizhou province in this May 20, 2013 file photo.  REUTERS-Jason LeeBut that is more than triple the total in 2013, a trend that illustrates Chinese consumers' dwindling confidence in the safety of the country's own agricultural produce."Chinese rice farmers use pesticides," said a seller identified as Ying Ying, who started offering Japanese rice on the Taobao online marketplace last August. "Japanese rice isn't polluted by heavy metals."Pollution from industrialization has exacted a heavy toll onChina's soil and water.
 In May 2013, officials in Guangdong province in southern China said 44 percent of rice samples contained excessive levels of the metal cadmium.A study by the Ministry of Environmental Protection last April estimated that 16.1 percent of China's soil was contaminated. In parts of the country, soil pollution is so bad that some rice farmers refuse to eat what they grow.After the cadmium revelations, some Chinese consumers began to see rice from Thailand as an affordable and safe substitute.
In contrast, Japanese rice is neither cheap nor easy to find in China. Japanese rice imported by Chinese grain trader COFCO sells for 74 Chinese yuan ($12) a kg on PinStore, an online supermarket run by Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp. Domestic rice sells there for as little as 7.5 yuan per kg.
As demand grows, Chinese consumers are increasingly turning to online platforms such as Taobao, run by Alibaba, to buy rice directly from individuals in Japan.One person seems to have paid as much as 1,499 yuan ($241) for five kg, according to Taobao.Steep prices, though, are no deterrent for some."Much tastier than Chinese rice. Worth every cent - great texture and taste," one delighted buyer wrote on Taobao.To meet demand, some Chinese producers now say they use Japanese seeds and promote their rice as a safer alternative to purely domestic strains.Zhejiang Xinxie Yueguang Agricultural Science and Technology says its Echizen brand rice is safe and grown with "water from pure sources and strict quality control". The packaging says the rice is a Japanese variety.
But Echizen rice is grown in Changxing county, a hub of lead-acid battery production in eastern Zhejiang province. Battery production can be highly polluting.Li Jun, general manager at Zhejiang Xinxie Yueguang, insisted the company's rice had passed tests for lead, cadmium, mercury, pesticides and other chemicals by state inspectors.The company had also found other areas to grow rice where there was less concern about pollution, Li said.The Chinese eat around 120 million tonnes of rice a year and the country imported more than 2.2 million in the first 11 months of 2014, including 1.2 million tonnes from Vietnam and 626,000 tonnes from Thailand, customs data shows.
Japan is a small rice exporter - just 3,777 tonnes in January to November 2014, according to agriculture ministry data - but it is looking to boost shipments to Asian countries as part of a wider push to export more agricultural products.However, if the trend to China looks encouraging, any further increase through normal export channels may be slow: the Chinese authorities have given just one Japanese rice mill clearance to send polished rice.Others have begun an application process but that has stalled. Some would-be suppliers have been waiting for three years, a Japanese government official said.(Additional reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Alan Raybould)

Thai crops to suffer worst drought in 15 years

BANGKOK Thu Feb 5, 2015 5:53am EST

 (Reuters) - Thailand will experience its worst drought in more than a decade this year, the irrigation department said on Thursday, damaging crops in one of the world's biggest rice-exporting nations.Thailand was currently battling drought in eight of 76 provinces, but 31 other provinces remained at risk, the Interior Ministry said, adding that it had allocated around 6.8 billion baht ($208.65 million) to alleviate drought, up from 430 million baht ($13.19 million) last year.The funds would be used to install water pumps and provide mobile water tanks in affected areas, it said.
"This year's water levels are the worst in 15 years but we have managed our water supply so people can be confident that there will be no problems regarding water shortages," said Lertwiroj Kowattana, director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department.Drought will cut major rice exporter Thailand's 2015 off-season crop by over 30 percent, according to the latest report from the Office of Agricultural Economics.Thailand's off-season rice is grown between November and April after the main crop is harvested. The second crop needs irrigation as there is little rain during that period.
The government had announced that it would not provide water for second-crop rice farming. On Thursday, it said it had persuaded farmers to halve second-crop production in 2015.Around 160,000 hectares, or around 1.3 percent of Thailand's total rice farm land, will be affected by drought, the Agriculture Ministry estimates.Palm oil production has also been hit by ongoing drought prompting the government to import around 50,000 tonnes of crude palm oil due to a domestic shortage.Thailand's military government has said it plans to invest $7.5 billion in urgent water management projects over the next two years.
The projects are part of a 10-year water management plan across the country after the military government scrapped a 350-billion baht water plan initiated by the previous administration.(Reporting By Kaweewit Kaewjinda, Pracha Hariraksapitak and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Nick Macfie)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/05/us-thailand-drought-idUSKBN0L917F20150205


Research and Scientific Development:
Rice that is genetically modified to contain folate can reduce problems associated with folate deficiencies, according to researchers from the Belgium-based Ghent University.
IRRI has planned to construct a new research facility that would solely cater to studying the impacts of climate change on rice production, according to a press release on its website.
Taiwan's Council of Agriculture and the IRRI have collaborated to carry out rice and other related agricultural research, according to local sources.
A study by Chinese researchers has found that growing of genetically modified rice can reduce pesticide usage to a larger extent and thereby protect farmers from adverse effects of being exposed to pesticides and fertilizers.
Researchers at the Central Rice Research Institute of India have developed four new drought-resistant paddy varieties - Ankit, Sachala, Gopinath, Maudamani - and another variety - Chakaakhi - that can sustain in less water conditions suitable to grow in India's Eastern state Odisha, according to local sources.
Bangladesh government has released two new hybrid rice varieties - BADC Hybrid Dhan 2 and Buyer Hybrid Dhan 4 - on Monday, according to local sources.
Pakistan Rice Millers Association has collaborated with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization to develop rice husk-based gasification power plants in the rice producing areas of the country, according to local sources.
January Tenders:
Iraq issued a tender to buy about 30,000 tons of rice.
Maldives issued a tender to buy about 9,000 tons of Rice.
Libya issued a tender to buy about 25,000 tons tice.
Souh Korea issued a tender to buy about 40,000 tons non-glutinous rice.
Iraq bought about 80,000 tons of rice from Thailand.
Japan bought about 61,000 tons of rice.
Taiwan has imported about 9,100 tons of rice from the U.S. under the first tranche of 2015 Country Specific Quota (CSQ) Simultaneous Buy and Sell (SBS) tender.
Japan issued a tender to buy about 30,000 tons of rice.
Japan has bought and sold a total of about 895 tons of whole grain/brown rice of the U.S., Australia, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam origins; and about 500 tons of broken rice of the Thailand and Vietnam origins, in the sixth SBS (Simultaneous Buy-Sell) tender.



Toyota Affiliate to Sell Higher-Yielding Rice


A typical strain of Koshihikari rice (left) and a new strain (right) that Toyota Tsusho plans to grow and sell. 
 Toyota Tsusho Corp.
Toyota Motor Corp. affiliate Toyota Tsusho Corp. will start producing and selling low-cost “kaizen” rice this year, seeing a business opportunity in Japan’s domestic farming industry.Kaizen, which means “improvement” in Japanese, is known as part of Toyota Motor’s manufacturing philosophy of continuously seeking ways small and large to give its products an edge.

The idea is nothing new to rice farmers, who have long sought to develop hardier and more productive strains of Japan’s staple grain. Toyota Tsusho, working with an agricultural venture company, says it has a strain of Japan’s popular Koshihikari ricethat produces about 30% to 50% more rice in the same plot size.
Japanese farmers are poised to face a challenge from less-expensive foreign-made rice if Japan, the U.S. and other nations can agree on reducing trade barriers as part of theTrans-Pacific Partnership talks. Rice farmers want to establish a brand name for their products so they can charge a premium to consumers.Toyota Tsusho is pursuing a different kind of customer. “We will sell this rice to professionals such as restaurants and bento [lunch box] producers, who want safe products and competitive prices at the same time,” a Toyota Tsusho spokesman said.
The company is a trading house whose main job is buying raw materials for Toyota Motor. “You may find it strange, but we’ll go anywhere we can to apply our kaizen method,” said the spokesman. The company has also invested in farmed bluefin tuna, as the WSJ reported last year.Demand for rice by restaurants and bento producers is rising because more Japanese are eating out, although overall demand for rice has been falling, according to the government-backed Organization of Stable Rice Supply Support.

Zinc-enriched rice sees successful farming

Azibor Rahman, Jhenidah

Farmers plant BRRI-Dhan-64, a zinc-enriched paddy invented by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, at a field in Jhenidah Sadar upazila. PHOTO: STAR
Description: Farmers plant BRRI-Dhan-64, a zinc-enriched paddy invented by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, at a field in Jhenidah Sadar upazila. PHOTO: STARZinc-enriched boro paddy BRRI-Dhan-64 invented by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute sees successful cultivation in the district, following approval of its commercial cultivation by National Seed Board last year.The short duration rice can be harvested withen 100 days of planting and may yield up to 31 maunds per bigha if nurtured properly, researchers said.On January 15, Md Saiful Islam, area co-ordinator of Agricultural Advisory Society (AAS), organised training on the cultivation of BRRI-Dhan-64 for 55 farmers of Jhenidah.AAS Director Harun-or-Rashid, Jhenidah Sadar Upazila Nirbahi Officer and agriculturist Dr Khan Moniruzzaman and Mozibur Rahman of Havest Plus Bangladesh were prsesnt as trainer.
"BRRI-64 has been invented through cross pollination with local variety. Seventy-five acres of land have been brought under its cultivation in Jhenidah, Magura and Jessore districts," said Nasir Uddin Khan, additional director of the Department of Agricultural Extension in Jessore region.
District-wise, the areas are 50 acres in Jhenidah, 15 acres in Magura, and 10 acres in Jessore. The researchers claimed that the newly invented paddy will play a vital role in fighting zinc and protein deficiency in human body, especially for children and women.As rice is the staple food of Bangladesh, the newly invented variety could provide useful food value for zinc enrichment for people and it will be especially helpful to prevent and cure diarrhoea and pneumonia in children, they said.
"The local varieties contain 9-12 miligrams of zinc per kg while the newly invented zinc enriched variety contains around 24 miligrams. It will prevent zinc deficiency in human body and help physical growth and mental development of the children," said Dr Alamgir Hossain, post doctorate fellow, Harvest Plus Bangladesh. "I took training on the cultivation of BRRI-64 Dhan on Januray 15 and I am cultivating it on one bigha of land this season," said Abdul Jabbar, a teacher of Narikelbaria ZA High School.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2015

http://www.thedailystar.net/zinc-enriched-rice-sees-successful-farming-62171

Japan tests new satellite on robotic tractors in Riverina

Updated yesterday at 7:37pmWed 28 Jan 2015, 7:37pm
How would you feel about leaving a tractor to drive itself in one paddock, while you work in another ?
To the busy farmer, struggling to find local labour, it's an appealing concept.  00:00          
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Description: Self-steering robotic tractor on trialAround the world, manufacturers, engineers and researchers are now trying to turn that into a reality.In Japan, they've designed a self-steering robotic tractor which can sow, plough and spray crops.An advanced positioning signal is transmitted from Japan's Quasi-Zenith Satellite System to control the tractor's movements.The Japanese Government is funding trials to test the tractor on crops at Rice Research Australia near Jerilderie in south-west New South Wales.Engineering firm Hitachi Zosen, machine manufacturer Yanmar, Hokkaido University and several other Australian universities are working together on the project.
Phil Collier, research director with Australia's Co-operative Research Centre for Spatial Information, hopes the technology can help farmers run their equipment with more accuracy."The satellites in the sky determine the position of the tractor in a global frame of reference," he said."The additional information that comes from the QZSS Satellites brings the precision down from several metres to two centimetres."The whole objective is to bring down the precision to a reliable level and a consistent level to allow that tractor to navigate its way down the rows of crops so things aren't getting run over.
"If the trials prove successful, people in rural and remote Australia will have access to precise positioning, without having to rely on the mobile network.At the moment, the robotic tractor is being tested on rice crops and paddocks late at night and into the early hours of the morning, when the satellite is passing over Australia.The boundary of the field, the tractor's path and the start and end point of where it can turn are all programmed on a computer inside its cab.This is to ensure the tractor doesn't veer off into a fence or an irrigation channel.The CRC's Phil Collier says the technology's application won't be limited to precision farming.
"From mining to automated guidance of cars, anything where there's a level of machine automation required that's outside, then this technology has got that ability to solve that problem."My prediction, if I can be so bold, is that this sort of technology will move from sophisticated installations in machines like this to mobile phones in due course and people will have it in their back pocket."
The Japanese Government intends to deploy another three satellites in the near future, which will give Australia 24 hour coverage of the advanced positioning signals, once the technology is commercialised.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-28/robotic-tractor-on-rice-crop-2801/6052366

Rice-sized laser, powered one electron at a time, bodes well for quantum computing news 

28 January 2015                                                                      

Princeton University researchers have built a rice grain-sized laser powered by single electrons tunnelling through artificial atoms known as quantum dots. The tiny microwave laser, or "maser," is a demonstration of the fundamental interactions between light and moving electrons.The researchers built the device - which uses about one-billionth the electric current needed to power a hair dryer - while exploring how to use quantum dots, which are bits of semiconductor material that act like single atoms, as components for quantum computers.

"It is basically as small as you can go with these single-electron devices," said Jason Petta, an associate professor of physics at Princeton who led the study, which was published in the journal Science. The device demonstrates a major step forward for efforts to build quantum-computing systems out of semiconductor materials, according to co-author and collaborator Jacob Taylor, an adjunct assistant professor at the Joint Quantum Institute, University of Maryland-National Institute of Standards and Technology. "I consider this to be a really important result for our long-term goal, which is entanglement between quantum bits in semiconductor-based devices," Taylor says.

The original aim of the project was not to build a maser, but to explore how to use double quantum dots - which are two quantum dots joined together - as quantum bits, or qubits, the basic units of information in quantum computers."The goal was to get the double quantum dots to communicate with each other," says Yinyu Liu, a physics graduate student in Petta's lab. The team also included graduate student Jiri Stehlik and associate research scholar Christopher Eichler in Princeton's Department of Physics, as well as postdoctoral researcher Michael Gullans of the Joint Quantum Institute.

Because quantum dots can communicate through the entanglement of light particles, or photons, the researchers designed dots that emit photons when single electrons leap from a higher energy level to a lower energy level to cross the double dot.Each double quantum dot can only transfer one electron at a time, Petta explains. "It is like a line of people crossing a wide stream by leaping onto a rock so small that it can only hold one person," he said. "They are forced to cross the stream one at a time. These double quantum dots are zero-dimensional as far as the electrons are concerned - they are trapped in all three spatial dimensions.

"The researchers fabricated the double quantum dots from extremely thin nanowires (about 50 nanometers, or a billionth of a meter, in diameter) made of a semiconductor material called indium arsenide. They patterned the indium arsenide wires over other even smaller metal wires that act as gate electrodes, which control the energy levels in the dots.To construct the maser, they placed the two double dots about 6 millimeters apart in a cavity made of a superconducting material, niobium, which requires a temperature near absolute zero, around minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit. "This is the first time that the team at Princeton has demonstrated that there is a connection between two double quantum dots separated by nearly a centimeter, a substantial distance," Taylor said.

When the device was switched on, electrons flowed single-file through each double quantum dot, causing them to emit photons in the microwave region of the spectrum. These photons then bounced off mirrors at each end of the cavity to build into a coherent beam of microwave light.One advantage of the new maser is that the energy levels inside the dots can be fine-tuned to produce light at other frequencies, which cannot be done with other semiconductor lasers in which the frequency is fixed during manufacturing, Petta said.

The larger the energy difference between the two levels, the higher the frequency of light emitted.Claire Gmachl, who was not involved in the research and is Princeton's Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and a pioneer in the field of semiconductor lasers, said that because lasers, masers and other forms of coherent light sources are used in communications, sensing, medicine and many other aspects of modern life, the study is an important one."In this paper the researchers dig down deep into the fundamental interaction between light and the moving electron," Gmachl said.

 "The double quantum dot allows them full control over the motion of even a single electron, and in return they show how the coherent microwave field is created and amplified. Learning to control these fundamental light-matter interaction processes will help in the future development of light sources."The paper, Semiconductor double quantum dot micromaser, was published in the journal Science. The research was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency QuEST, and the Army Research Office.

http://www.domain-b.com/technology/20150128_computing.html

 

Efficient rice farming to curb emissions

VietnamNet Wednesday 28 January 2015
New water- and cost-efficient farming techniques will allow Vietnam to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in wet rice production by 15 to 20 per cent by 2020, said Mai Van Trinh, Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Institute for Agricultural Environment.Trinh was speaking at a recent conference on the first phase of the Project on Reduced CH4 Emissions in Wet Rice Cultivation in Vietnam, jointly held by his institute and the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute in Hanoi.
To achieve the target, the ministry will use the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a plan in which farmers will increase productivity, quality and economic effectiveness, while reducing pesticides and nitrogenous fertilisers, he said.In addition to these measures, the ministry will also encourage farmers to use green production methods. The sector will also apply Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in cultivation, which means using techniques that consume less fertilisers and water, employing better land preparation techniques and reducing methane emissions.Another technology mentioned at the conference was Alternative Wetting Drying (AWD).
“Actually, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in rice growing, the institute has tried AWD while implementing a project on reducing CH4 emissions in wet rice cultivation,” Trinh said, adding that AWD is no longer strange to rice growers in Vietnam, as it has already been incorporated in several other programmes, including SRI.Vu Duong Quynh, the project coordinator, said a major challenge with SRI is water management. Most problems are caused by the unfavourable terrain in many areas, fragmented rice fields and a lack of cooperation between irrigation staff and farmers. This is especially troublesome considering the fact that efficient irrigation is the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
To overcome these difficulties, Quynh said that in its first phase, from October 2014 to June 2016, the project intends to collect lessons learnt from efficient irrigation models and to gather data on land and infrastructure in each province, to make a water-efficient irrigation map.“When looking at this map, one can read out which province can apply AWD, as not all types of land are suitable for this technology,” Quynh said. In the second phase, the project will incorporate other technologies.

India Government Has Adequate Rice Seeds for 2015 Kharif Season

Jan 28, 2015

Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150128riceseeds.jpgThe Indian government has adequate agricultural seeds, including those of rice, for the 2015 kharif season (June - December), according to a press release by the Ministry of Agriculture. Following a Zonal Conference of all the State Departments of Agriculture on 20-21 January 2015, the Ministry declared that all the states together have about 1.4 million tons of seeds as against the required 1.37 million tons.The Ministry would provide central assistance to all the states under "submission on seed and planting material" and requires them to send their Annual Action Plan for 2015-16 by mid-March.
All the state governments were urged to use certified and quality seeds to increase the productivity of rice and other cereals. They are also encouraged to be aware of the farmers' rights and existing legislation to help them benefit from it.USDA estimates India's 2014-15 (October - September) production at around 102 million tons, down about 4% from an estimated 106.54 million tons in 2013-14. It estimates India’s rice exports to decline about 16% y/y to around 8.7 million tons in MY 2014-15.
Source with thanks:ORYZA.com

Japanese Rice Variety Becomes Popular in China

Jan 26, 2015
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150126japanrice.jpgReports that nearly 16.1% of soil in China is contaminated by heavy metals like Cadmium are inculcating fears among the Chinese to use their locally produced rice, as it is also feared to be contaminated with the metal, which is proven to damage liver and kidneys.Officials from the Guangdong Province, supposed to be one of the rich rice growing regions in the country, found that 44% of the rice samples grown in this region contained excessive levels of Cadmium, according to local source.
Pollutants from factories are said to contaminate soil and water of many agricultural lands in China. Nearly 16.1% of soil in China is contaminated, according to a 2014 study by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.Consumers have also been complaining of Chinese farmers using more pesticides to increase yields. This they say has been leaving pesticide residues leading to many health problems.
Chinese are of late preferring Japanese grown rice as a safer alternative to locally grown rice. They told local sources that Japanese rice is not polluted with heavy metals like Chinese rice and Japanese farmers use less of pesticides compared to their Chinese counterparts. Especially, Echizen rice variety that is considered to be free of lead, cadmium, mercury, pesticides and other chemicals and is grown with water from pure sources, has become more popular among the Chinese.

However, this variety of Japanese rice is sold at much higher prices compared to the locally grown Chinese rice and is found in very few stores and super markets, according to local sources. They say Japanese rice sold at around 74 Yuan (around $12) per kilogram while Chinese rice is sold at around 7.5 Yuan per kilogram (around $1.2).

Therefore Chinese rice producers are encouraged to use the seeds of Echizen rice variety in their fields to meet the rising demand, according to the Zhejiang Xinxie Yueguang Agricultural Science and Technology.China is the largest rice consumer and importer in the world. The Asian nation imported around 2.244 million tons of rice in the first eleven months of 2014 (January - November), down about 1% from around 2.267 million tons imported during the same period last year, according to data from China Customs General Administration.


Source with thanks:ORYZA.com

Pakistan to Develop Rice Husk Based Power Plants

Jan 23, 2015

Pakistan Rice Millers Association (PRMA) has collaborated with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to develop rice husk-based gasification power plants in the rice producing areas of the country, according to local sources.The project funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) aims to generate cheap and uninterrupted power supply from rice husk. To start with, the PRMA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the UNIDO, under which the UNIDO will support the PRMA to support the development of a feasibility study for 1 Mega Watt (MW) rice husk based gasification power plant at Bawalnagar, according to local sources.

Of late, Pakistan has been facing serious energy issues, including frequent power cuts and breakdown downs due to which the small and medium scale (SMEs) have been facing several problems such as low productivity and incomes.The project is expected to lay a foundation for the development of biomass gasification technologies in the future in Pakistan, according to the industrial development officer at the UN.“Pakistan being an agricultural country possesses a fuel for future which is cheap, clean and abundant. Such projects will enable SMEs to have uninterrupted electricity to run their operations, which will increase their productivity and also help in providing low cost electricity,” the The UNIDO’s country representative for Pakistan was quoted as saying.

Source with thanks:ORYZA.com



24-January-2015 The Jang





Genetically Modified Rice on trial at Nobewam since April 2013

A Genetically Modified Rice which has been on trial at a confined environment at Nobewam in the Ejisu/Juaben Municipality of Ashanti since April 2013 is expected to be released to farmers upon approval by the National Biosafety Committee.The Genetically Modified Rice under trial has proved to be nitrogen, water use efficient and salt tolerant is a project being undertaken by the Crops Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research at Fumesua in Ashanti. Correspondent Thomas Nsowah-Adjei was there for Radio Ghana.The partners in the project are the African Agricultural Technology Foundation in Kenya, Atadia Biosciences in the US and the National Cereals Research Institute in Nigeria.

In order to make the outcome of the research experiment secure and safe for public consumption, the field is confined and protected from human and animal interference such that apart from the research scientists and the staff, no foreign interference including birds is allowed into the confined environment.The Confined Field Trial rice which is ready for harvest involve rice plants that have been genetically modified or transformed to utilize nitrogen efficiently while others have three stack genes developed to do well on drought environment, salty soil, and lack of fertilizer nitrogen.The aim is to help rice farmers in Ghana and other developing countries in Africa and Asia with rice varieties that can withstand the three stresses and climate in an effort to address food insecurity.

A Plant Breeder and a Principal Investigator of the Project, Dr Maxwell Asante noted that the purpose was to research into GM rice that can perform well under nitrogen fertilizer levels that are lower than the recommended rate and give at least 15 percent yield advantage over the non GM version of the rice.He said the identified rice when confirmed shall be recommended to the National Biosafety Committee to allow it to be grown by farmers after testing.Dr Asante said when the approval is given the genes that make the GM Rice nitrogen-use efficient will then be transferred to other popular varieties in Ghana through conventional breeding methods.The Director of the CRI, Dr Mrs. Stella Ennin said there is nothing frightening about GMOs. What is significant about GMOs is that they improve upon varieties of existing crops to enhance production and subsequently address food insecurity in Ghana.
GBC

CSIR harvests fourth batch of genetically modified rice
Description: CSIR GM Rice

Wednesday, 21 January 2015The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has harvested its fourth batch of genetically-modified (GM) rice cultivated at Nobewam in the Ashanti Region for confined field trials (CFTs).The rice project, dubbed “NEWEST”, started in April 2013 after an approval was given by the National Biosafety Committee (NBC) under the Biosafety Law (Act 831), to regulate the production of GM improved seeds in the country.

Briefing the media after a visit to the CFTs at Nobewam in the Ejisu –Juaben District, the Principal Investigator of the CSIR, Dr Maxwell Darko Asante, said the fourth harvest had revealed a “lead event” in the outcome of the trials, which, he said, would be recommended to the Biosafety Committee to allow it to be grown by farmers in Ghana after testing.“The NEWEST rice lines had been developed to handle drought, salty soils, lack of fertiliser nitrogen, and also handle climatic change”, he said.

The project is partnered by African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AAFT) in Kenya, Arcadia Biosciences in the USA, the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia, the NARO-National Crops Resource Institute in Uganda, the National Cereals Research Institute, Nigeria, and the USAID.Dr Asante said he was hopeful that the analysis of the harvested rice seeds would be completed before the end of the year. However, he said, it would take three to five years before the produce would leave the confined field to be produced on commercial scale by conventional farmers.

The Head of Biotechnology Research Programme at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute, Dr Mariam Quain, called on Ghanaians to embrace the use of biotechnology in agriculture production to ensure increased crop yields.Biotechnology, she said, was a tool employed by scientists to improve the genetic make-up of organisms to produce improved seeds.She stressed the need for the country to have improved means of production of food in order to meet the increased demand of the populace, coupled with climatic change and increased pressure on limited arable lands.Dr Quain said the introduction of genetic engineering (GE) would beef up agriculture production, and also improve the livelihood and income of farmers, as well as the country’s economic situation.

“Currently, GE crops are grown on commercial scale in 27 countries, including 19 developing and eight industrial countries,” she added.She said so far, Burkina Faso was growing GE cotton on commercial scale, which, she said, had enabled them to reduce the application of pesticides on the field from six sprayings to two from planting to harvest, coupled with the quality cotton they harvested.









Princeton University scientists develop rice grain sized laser technology Maser


Editor : David JACKMAN


Category : SCIENCE


19 January 2015 / Monday 19:09:34


A laser the size of a grain of rice has been developed that demonstrates a major step forward in the development of quantum computers. Shrinking the scale of semiconductor materials to help build powerful quantum-computing systems has proved to be a real head-scratcher for scientists.


However, boffins at Princeton University have come up with a device that they think could be a "major step forward" for the tech.The university's associate physics professor, Jason Petta, who led the study, said that researchers had created the smallest laser possible powered by single electrons that burrow through quantum dots.



The rice grain-sized device, dubbed a "maser", is a minuscule microwave laser that demonstrates how light and moving electrons interact with each other, said Princeton University.To get an idea of the scale of the teeny-tiny maser, the researchers explained that it uses about one-billionth the electric current needed to power a hair-dryer."I consider this to be a really important result for our long-term goal, which is entanglement between quantum bits in semiconductor-based devices," enthused the Joint Quantum Institute, University of Maryland-National Institute of Standards and Technology's adjunct assistant prof Jacob Taylor, who co-authored the research paper.

Boffins undertook the study to create a better understanding of how to use double quantum dots (two quantum dots joined together) as the basic units of information, known as qubits, in quantum computers. Getting the double quantum dots to "communicate with each other" was the end goal, explained physics grad Yinyu Liu, who worked with Petta in his lab.Prof Petta added that a double quantum dot was capable of only transferring one electron at a time. He said:

It is like a line of people crossing a wide stream by leaping onto a rock so small that it can only hold one person.They are forced to cross the stream one at a time. These double quantum dots are zero-dimensional as far as the electrons are concerned – they are trapped in all three spatial dimensions.The research could apparently aid the future development of light sources.
Princeton University provides further details about the study's promising outlook for quantum computing here. The paper, Semiconductor double quantum dot micromaser, was published in the Science journal yesterday. ®

Researchers Develop Rice-Sized Laser

"Maser," powered one electron at a time, bodes well for quantum computing.

 By Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research at Princeton University 



 The tiny microwave laser, or "maser," is a demonstration of the fundamental interactions between light and moving electrons.The researchers built the device — which uses about one-billionth the electric current needed to power a hair dryer — while exploring how to use quantum dots, which are bits of semiconductor material that act like single atoms, as components for quantum computers."It is basically as small as you can go with these single-electron devices," said Jason Petta, an associate professor of physics at Princeton who led the study, which was published in the journal Science.

The device demonstrates a major step forward for efforts to build quantum-computing systems out of semiconductor materials, according to co-author and collaborator Jacob Taylor, an adjunct assistant professor at the Joint Quantum Institute, University of Maryland-National Institute of Standards and Technology. "I consider this to be a really important result for our long-term goal, which is entanglement between quantum bits in semiconductor-based devices," Taylor said.The original aim of the project was not to build a maser, but to explore how to use double quantum dots — which are two quantum dots joined together — as quantum bits, or qubits, the basic units of information in quantum computers.
Yinyu Liu, first author of the study and a graduate student in Princeton's Department of Physics, holds a prototype of the device.CATHERINE ZANDONELLA, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY OFFICE OF THE DEAN FOR RESEARCH"The goal was to get the double quantum dots to communicate with each other," said Yinyu Liu, a physics graduate student in Petta's lab. The team also included graduate student Jiri Stehlik and associate research scholar Christopher Eichler in Princeton's Department of Physics, as well as postdoctoral researcher Michael Gullans of the Joint Quantum Institute.Because quantum dots can communicate through the entanglement of light particles, or photons, the researchers designed dots that emit photons when single electrons leap from a higher energy level to a lower energy level to cross the double dot.Each double quantum dot can only transfer one electron at a time, Petta explained.
 "It is like a line of people crossing a wide stream by leaping onto a rock so small that it can only hold one person," he said. "They are forced to cross the stream one at a time. These double quantum dots are zero-dimensional as far as the electrons are concerned — they are trapped in all three spatial dimensions."The researchers fabricated the double quantum dots from extremely thin nanowires (about 50 nanometers, or a billionth of a meter, in diameter) made of a semiconductor material called indium arsenide. They patterned the indium arsenide wires over other even smaller metal wires that act as gate electrodes, which control the energy levels in the dots.To construct the maser, they placed the two double dots about 6 millimeters apart in a cavity made of a superconducting material, niobium, which requires a temperature near absolute zero, around minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit.
 "This is the first time that the team at Princeton has demonstrated that there is a connection between two double quantum dots separated by nearly a centimeter, a substantial distance," Taylor said.When the device was switched on, electrons flowed single-file through each double quantum dot, causing them to emit photons in the microwave region of the spectrum. These photons then bounced off mirrors at each end of the cavity to build into a coherent beam of microwave light.One advantage of the new maser is that the energy levels inside the dots can be fine-tuned to produce light at other frequencies, which cannot be done with other semiconductor lasers in which the frequency is fixed during manufacturing, Petta said.
The larger the energy difference between the two levels, the higher the frequency of light emitted.Claire Gmachl, who was not involved in the research and is Princeton's Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and a pioneer in the field of semiconductor lasers, said that because lasers, masers and other forms of coherent light sources are used in communications, sensing, medicine and many other aspects of modern life, the study is an important one."In this paper the researchers dig down deep into the fundamental interaction between light and the moving electron," Gmachl said.
"The double quantum dot allows them full control over the motion of even a single electron, and in return they show how the coherent microwave field is created and amplified. Learning to control these fundamental light-matter interaction processes will help in the future development of light sources."The paper, "Semiconductor double quantum dot micromaser," was published in the journal Science on Jan. 16, 2015. The research was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the National Science Foundation (DMR-1409556 and DMR-1420541), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency QuEST (HR0011-09-1-0007), and the Army Research Office (W911NF-08-1-0189).
Categories: News

DA to expand rice R&D efforts to improve output

by Madelaine B. Miraflor
January 19, 2015
The Department of Agriculture (DA) will be investing further on its research and development (R&D) efforts on rice to improve the country’s crop production.Rice production in the Philippines has been on the uptrend for the past three years.According to Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the palay harvest in the full-year 2014 is projected to reach 18.88 million MT, 2.4 percent bigger than the 2013 record output of 18.44 million MT.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the DA intends to intensify the commercialization of diversified and integrated rice-based farming systems such as ‘Palayamanan’ to enable farmers increase their productivity and incomes.In ‘Palayamanan’ program, farmers are taught to combine rice growing with the cultivation of vegetables and other high value crops, as well as fish and livestock raising.
DA promotes the technology through the PhilRice and National Rice Program.Likewise, DA is banking on its current partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in support of the government’s food security blueprint called the Food Staples Sufficiency Program.Under the agreement, DA and IRRI work together to produce and distribute high-quality and improved rice seeds that are adaptable to climate change.In addition, best agricultural practices and other support tools will be disseminated, including skills-training for extension and field workers.“The Department also intends to engage in profiling, finger printing and purification of traditional varieties with export potentials,” Alcala said.
He also said that regional or provincial location specific technology development and adaptive studies for irrigated, rain-fed and upland ecosystem, is also included in the DA’s agenda.Participatory varietal selection for favorable and adverse environment is included in the DA’s expanded R&D agenda for rice.The DA will also enhance rice research capability and capacity, which includes improving and increasing facilities, equipment and manpower.Nevertheless, the DA chief said the entire country still owes the increase in rice production to the farmers who worked to lead the country towards greater rice sufficiency and increased food security.



Lower Your Blood Pressure with Delicious Low-Salt Recipes
January 17, 2015,8:01 am

67 million American adults have high blood pressure. That’s 1 in every 3 American adults.The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet was developed to help reduce blood pressure.What to eat on the DASH diet: vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Avoid sweets, red meat and cut back on salt.One of the main things DASH addresses, is salt. The diet recommends to consume only 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of salt per day. This can be extremely challenging since the average American consumes3,400 mg of salt each day–which is nearly 1.5  teaspoons of salt daily. Be careful not to eliminate salt completely. Restricting salt too much has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Small amounts of salt are actually good for us. Here are some tasty recipes that don’t eliminate salt, but help you cut back on sodium and achieve a balanced diet.(The DASH diet does recommend eating lean meats, which you can add to the vegetarian recipes below.)
The following recipes are low in sodium and high in vegetables.
Cardamom Coconut Rice Pulao
This pulao has a unique flavor because of the cardamom, fried cashew and sultanas. The coconut adds a nutty flavor to the pulao. If you are not vegan try using ghee instead of vegetable oil to give the dish a wonderful flavor.


Image: This cardamon coconut rice pulao tastes as good as it looks and sounds
Ingredients:
·        1 cup brown basmati rice
·        1/4 tsp salt
·        1 tsp cardamom seeds (fresh from the pods)
·        1/2 tsp turmeric
·        1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
·        4 tbsp desiccated coconut (unsweetened) or fresh grated coconut
·        1 tsp mustard seeds
·        1/4 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper* (optional)
·        2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
·        3  tbsp cashews or peanuts
·        3  tbsp sultanas or raisins
·        2 1/4 cups water
Directions:
1. Wash the rice under flowing water to remove any dust etc.
2. In a heavy skillet, add 1 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil.
3. Once the ghee is hot, add cashews and raisins.
4. Fry until the cashews are lightly-browned, then turn.
5. Remove from the pan and put them on a paper towel so that the ghee is absorbed.
6. Again, keep the pan on heat, add 1 Tbsp ghee.
7. When the ghee becomes hot, add mustard seeds.
8. Then add cinnamon, pepper, cardamon seeds and coconut and fry until the coconut turns golden brown.
9. Add rice and turmeric, stir-fry for a few minutes.
10. Add water, salt and mix well.
11. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to low.
12. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 50 – 55 minutes until the rice is tender and fluffy.
13. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle fried cashews and raisins on top and serve hot.
* I never add pepper, but if you prefer your Indian food spicy, sprinkle some in.
Avocado Vegetable Dip
There are so many dips available to buy at the grocery store but this is one is healthier with its low sodium content,   monounsaturated fat and a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that may protect vision. Best of all it is fresh, and tasty. I enjoy this mixture is on mixed green salads.


Image: Low salt avocado vegetable dip.
Ingredients:
·        1 ripe avocado, peeled & pitted
·        1 tsp. onion, finely minced
·        1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
·        1 – 2 tbsp. lemon juice
·        1 tomato, chopped
·        Nori & Dulse seaweed flakes to taste
Directions:
1.     Mash avocado.
2. Add onion, celery and lemon juice and mix in well.
3. Gently mix in chopped tomato.
4. Serve with slices of vegetables.
Creamy Chick Pea Pie
Ingredients:
·        onion, chopped
·        1 tsp. cumin
·        1 tsp. coriander
·        1/4 tsp. cardamom
·        1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
·        4 tbsp. tahini (light)
·        1/4 tsp. Himalayan salt
Directions:
1. Saute onion, cumin, coriander, and cardamom in a little vegetable oil.
2. Add chickpeas, salt and Tahini.
3. Mix together, adding more water if necessary for a creamy sauce.
4. Set aside.
5. Add salt to taste.
6. Pour into rice pie shell
.
7. Bake at 450º for 25 – 35 minutes.
Rice Pie Shell
Ingredients:
·        1 cup cooked short grain brown rice
·        2 tbsp. Chick Pea flour
·        2 tbsp. Sesame Seeds
·        1/2 to 2/3 cup water
Directions:
1.     Oil pie pan well.
2. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
3. Add a little water to rice and chickpea flour to form a sticky dough-like mixture.
4. Press rice into pan to form a pie shell.
5. Pour in Creamy Chickpea Pie Filling.
6. Bake at 450º F for 25 - 35 minutes.

Image:This chick pea pie is hearty, nutritious and delicious.








Image: For those peanut butter lovers: Warming Vegetable Stew With Peanut Butter

Warming Vegetable Stew With Peanut Butter
Ingredients:
·        1 large sweet potato, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
·        2 medium potatoes, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
·        1 large zucchini, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
·        1 cup green beans, chopped
·        1 cup red pepper, chopped
·        1 medium onion, chopped
·        3-4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
·        1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
·        1 tsp ground coriander
·        1 – 3 tsp fresh grated ginger root
·        1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
·        Salt and pepper to taste
·        1 cup frozen corn
·        2 cups water
·        2/3 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
Garnish with roasted peanuts.
Directions:
1. Chop all vegetables and garlic and ginger.
2. Put potatoes, onion and sweet potato and spices with 2 cups water in a large cooking pot.
3. Cover and bring to a boil then lower heat and cook for 20 – 25 minutes.
4. Add zucchini and green beans and cook 10 minutes.
5. Then add red pepper and cook for 5 more minutes.
6. Turn off heat and stir in corn.
7. Pour out a cup of the stew water and mix peanut butter in.
8. Just before serving stew, stir in peanut butter.
9. Serve with peanuts, garnish if desired.
Winter Immune Boosting Fruit Salad
Ingredients:
2 kiwi fruit
orange
1/3 cup blueberries or  strawberries
Few grapes
5–7 almonds soaked
Directions:
1. Thaw berries of your choice a few hours before making.
2. Chop fruit and almonds.
3. Mix all the fruit together.
4. Eat and enjoy. 


More DASH Recipes and Healthy Information
These recipes are just a small sample of the super healthy recipes I share on Real Food For Life. To get an amazing new recipe sent to your mailbox each week, subscribe to my Health Recipes. All DASH-friendly, gluten-free and dairy-free.
If you want to get serious about making a significant change in your well being, check out one of ourFree Health Webinars or our famous 2-5-30 Healthy Diets for detoxing your body and improving your eating habits.

Source with thanks:http://www.care2.com/greenliving/delicious-dash-recipes.html#ixzz3PM0sQKnl

Agriculture: Centre to set up research boards in all provinces

Published: January 18, 2015

"There is a need to modernise our agricultural practices on the lines of advanced economies," Parc Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad. PHOTO: APP


Description: http://i1.tribune.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/816.jpgISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Food Security and Research will establish agriculture research and development boards in all provinces in a bid to give a push to research and innovation in the agricultural sector.This was discussed in a meeting held on Friday at the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc), chaired by National Food Security and Research Secretary Sirat Asghar and attended by different stakeholders.The research boards will be part of the Agricultural Innovation Programme, an initiative funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and managed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Programme in partnership with Parc and other stakeholders.

Description: http://i1.tribune.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/823498-farmeragricultureAPPx-1421532471-984-640x480.jpgThe objectives of the innovation programme are to increase crop productivity and the production value of livestock, horticultural and cereal crops, resulting in an increase in the income of Pakistan’s farmers.International centres like the International Livestock Research Institute, International Rice Research Institute, Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre and University of California, Davis are working as partners to support the agricultural research community in achieving the goals of the programme.

According to an official of Parc, each of the provincial boards will have the board of directors and an executive committee to run the affairs and channel grants to the province.The research boards will support expansion of provincial linkages to national, regional and international communities through a mechanism of coordination. They will play a growing role in the administration of competitive grants.National Food Security and Research Secretary Sirat Asghar commented that the innovation programme was playing an important role in strengthening agricultural research.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2015.

Source with thanks: The Express Tribune

 

Andhra Pradesh government inks pact with ICRISAT to boost sustainable farming

By PTI | 18 Jan, 2015, 02.25PM IST

"The agreement with ICRISAT is part of the state government's plans to increase productivity of agriculture and allied sectors," the state government said.HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh government has signed a pact with International Crop Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to provide assistance in making agriculture sustainable and profitable. "The agreement with ICRISAT is part of the state government's plans to increase productivity of agriculture and allied sectors," the state government said. The Memorandum of Agreement was signed yesterday in the presence of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu by Special Chief Secretary (Planning) S P Tucker and ICRISAT Director-General David Bergvinson.

Through the agreement, the best technological tools and scientific practices from across the world will be incorporated into primary sector activities, said a state government release quoting the Chief Minister. As part of the agreement, the ICRISAT would prepare a "strategy paper" for primary sector mission, hold research and development and establish "sites of learning" in districts. ICRISAT would also bring in international expertise from other CGIAR centres like International Livestock Research Centre (ILRI), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Water Management (IWMI), Asia Vegetable Research and Development Centre (AVRDC), International Centre for Improvement of Maize and Development Centre (AVRDC), World Fish Centre and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). This consortium (of international organisations) will also bring in regional and national research institutions for the benefit of farmers.

Facilitation of detailed plan preparations for operationalising the mission annually by providing guidance and technical support to mission coordinator would also be done by the ICRISAT. The institute would establish pilot sites of learning in 13 districts (10,000 hectares each) of AP for increasing productivity, profitability and sustainability through science-led development and climate-smart agriculture. ICRISAT would also develop quality assurance system for soil analytical laboratories in the state, undertake capacity building for staff and help in upgrading existing soil labs for complete nutrient profile analysis. It would assist in developing PPP mode guidelines, mobilising private entrepreneurs and preparing DPRs and organise Global Investors Meet, the release added.













Tractor the future with robotics

RODERICK MAKIM
Description: http://static.fairfaxrural.com.au/multimedia/images/crop/450x0/2109799.jpg19 Jan, 2015 03:20 PM
Description: Print 
AUSTRALIAN farmers could have an on-farm version of Google's driverless car if a self-driving tractor trial near Jerilderie continues according to plan. A robotic tractor has been trialled in a joint program with Rice Research Australia, Japanese companies Hitachi Zosen Corporation and Yanmar Co. and three Australian universities.



DA to expand rice R&D efforts to boost output 

 January 18, 2015
QUEZON CITY, Jan. 18 -- The Department of Agriculture said that it plans to expand its research and development efforts on rice to help further improve the production of the crop.


Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in a statement said the DA also intends to intensify the commercialization of diversified and integrated rice-based farming systems such as Palayamanan to enable farmers increase their productivity and incomes. In Palayamanan, for instance, farmers are taught to combine rice growing with the cultivation of vegetables and other high value crops, as well as fish and livestock raising. DA promotes the technology through the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and National Rice Program.Rice production in the Philippines has been on the uptrend for the past three years. Between 2010 and 2013, milled rice production grew by an average of 4.04 percent according to PhilRice. In 2014, palay  harvest is projected to reach 18.88 million MT, 2.4% bigger than the 2013 record output of 18.44 million MT. 

Alcala said the entire country owes this to the farmers who tirelessly worked to lead the country towards greater rice sufficiency and increased food security."We could not have reached these milestones without the farmers and without prompt and proper intervention from the government.  Never before has the Philippines had this increment in rice," Alcala said.DA is also banking on its current partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in support of the government’s food security blueprint called the Food Staples Sufficiency Program.  Under the agreement, DA and IRRI work together to produce and distribute high-quality and improved rice seeds that are adaptable to climate change. In addition, best agricultural practices and other support tools will be disseminated, including skills-training for extension and field workers.

“The Department also intends to engage in profiling, finger printing and purification of traditional varieties with export potentials,” Alcala said.He added, regional or provincial location specific technology development and adaptive studies for irrigated, rain-fed and upland ecosystem, is also included in the DA’s agenda.Participatory varietal selection for favorable and adverse environment is included in the DA’s expanded R&D agenda for rice.The DA will also enhance rice research capability and capacity, which includes improving and increasing facilities, equipment and manpower. (DA-OSEC)

Source with thanks:http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1781421247281/da-to-expand-rice-r-d-efforts-to-boost-output-#sthash.S35E5ybQ.dpuf



Agriculture: Centre to set up research boards in all provinces
By Peer Muhammad
Published: January 18, 2015

"There is a need to modernise our agricultural practices on the lines of advanced economies," Parc Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad. PHOTO: APP


ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Food Security and Research will establish agriculture research and development boards in all provinces in a bid to give a push to research and innovation in the agricultural sector.This was discussed in a meeting held on Friday at the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc), chaired by National Food Security and Research Secretary Sirat Asghar and attended by different stakeholders.The research boards will be part of the Agricultural Innovation Programme, an initiative funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and managed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Programme in partnership with Parc and other stakeholders.

The objectives of the innovation programme are to increase crop productivity and the production value of livestock, horticultural and cereal crops, resulting in an increase in the income of Pakistan’s farmers.International centres like the International Livestock Research Institute, International Rice Research Institute, Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre and University of California, Davis are working as partners to support the agricultural research community in achieving the goals of the programme.

According to an official of Parc, each of the provincial boards will have the board of directors and an executive committee to run the affairs and channel grants to the province.The research boards will support expansion of provincial linkages to national, regional and international communities through a mechanism of coordination. They will play a growing role in the administration of competitive grants.National Food Security and Research Secretary Sirat Asghar commented that the innovation programme was playing an important role in strengthening agricultural research.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2015.

Source with thanks: The Express Tribune


Andhra Pradesh government inks pact with ICRISAT to boost sustainable farming
By PTI | 18 Jan, 2015, 02.25PM IST

"The agreement with ICRISAT is part of the state government's plans to increase productivity of agriculture and allied sectors," the state government said.HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh government has signed a pact with International Crop Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to provide assistance in making agriculture sustainable and profitable. "The agreement with ICRISAT is part of the state government's plans to increase productivity of agriculture and allied sectors," the state government said. The Memorandum of Agreement was signed yesterday in the presence of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu by Special Chief Secretary (Planning) S P Tucker and ICRISAT Director-General David Bergvinson. 

Through the agreement, the best technological tools and scientific practices from across the world will be incorporated into primary sector activities, said a state government release quoting the Chief Minister. As part of the agreement, the ICRISAT would prepare a "strategy paper" for primary sector mission, hold research and development and establish "sites of learning" in districts. ICRISAT would also bring in international expertise from other CGIAR centres like International Livestock Research Centre (ILRI), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), International Water Management (IWMI), Asia Vegetable Research and Development Centre (AVRDC), International Centre for Improvement of Maize and Development Centre (AVRDC), World Fish Centre and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). This consortium (of international organisations) will also bring in regional and national research institutions for the benefit of farmers. 

Facilitation of detailed plan preparations for operationalising the mission annually by providing guidance and technical support to mission coordinator would also be done by the ICRISAT. The institute would establish pilot sites of learning in 13 districts (10,000 hectares each) of AP for increasing productivity, profitability and sustainability through science-led development and climate-smart agriculture. ICRISAT would also develop quality assurance system for soil analytical laboratories in the state, undertake capacity building for staff and help in upgrading existing soil labs for complete nutrient profile analysis. It would assist in developing PPP mode guidelines, mobilising private entrepreneurs and preparing DPRs and organise Global Investors Meet, the release added. 



Source with thanks:http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/andhra-pradesh-government-inks-pact-with-icrisat-to-boost-sustainable-farming/articleshow/45929712.cms







Diets as medicine: Dr. Jenkins puts emphasis on health effects of food

JILL BARKER, SPECIAL TO MONTREAL GAZETTEMore from Jill Barker, Special to Montreal Gazette
Published on: January 18, 2015Last Updated: January 18, 2015 9:00 AM EST

Dr. David Jenkins’s research has more to do with improving health than getting rid of unwanted pounds, but his most significant contribution is the proof that following a specific diet can replicate the results offered by medication.
David Jenkins
At a time of year when we’re all taking a long, hard look at our diets, McGill is welcoming Dr. David Jenkins to speak about his extensive career studying the health effects of food.
Jenkins is Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Metabolism and a member of the faculty of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto. He developed the glycemic index, widely used to determine the extent carbohydrates affect blood sugar, and the Portfolio Diet designed to reduce cholesterol. He is also this year’s winner of McGill’s Bloomberg Manulife Prize, presented to a researcher who has been instrumental in the promotion of active health.
To be clear, Jenkins’s research has more to do with improving health than getting rid of unwanted pounds, something we tend to overlook in a society where diet is synonymous with weight loss. But Jenkins’s most significant contribution is the proof that following a specific diet can replicate the results offered by medication.

 And for Canadians, his knowledge has been put to use by Loblaws, who consulted with Jenkins in the development of their healthy Blue Menu products.The glycemic index is beneficial for diabetics who need to keep an eye on their blood sugar, but it’s also helpful for a society whose collective waistbands are expanding at what health experts consider an alarming rate.The (diabetic) population is growing,” Jenkins said. “It used to be four per cent or so, but now it’s up to eight per cent. And we expect it to double again in the next 20 years.”
Fewer heart attacks
Type 2 diabetes is linked with obesity, which is why anyone who has trouble keeping their weight at a healthy range should choose carbs with a low GI. Not only will it trigger a slower rise in blood sugar, compared to carbs with a high GI, it has been associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and fewer heart attacks.Examples of foods with a low GI are pasta, lentils, barley, sweet potatoes, peas and most fruit. Medium GI foods include oatmeal (rolled or steel cut), whole wheat, rye and pita bread, brown, wild or basmati rice and couscous.
High GI foods that promote a quick spike in blood sugar include russet potatoes, waffles, doughnuts, potato chips, raisins, ice cream and many highly processed foods like crackers, cakes, soft drinks, sugary breakfast cereals and white rice and bread and bagels.A growing number of nutrition researchers suggest that a diet heavy in high GI foods is the cause of much of today’s obesity problems. The boost in insulin that goes hand in hand with a boost in blood sugar promotes fat storage, which is where the diets of today’s society go wrong, they claim.
 So instead of limiting foods high in fat, as we have been doing for the past few decades, we should be limiting foods with a high GI.Jenkins says his research team hasn’t looked specifically into the association of a high GI diet with the nation’s climbing rates of obesity, but he acknowledges that we have become increasingly enamoured with highly processed carbohydrate-laden foods.“The trouble is that carbs are pleasant,” Jenkins said. “Dr. Atkins’s diet (a popular low-carb diet) is tolerable, but it’s not overly pleasant. To be honest, people are not eating enough fruits and veggies.”
Fruits, vegetables key feature in diet
Jenkins addresses the lack of fruits and vegetables by making them a key feature in his Portfolio Diet. Based on the belief that your diet, like your financial portfolio, is healthier when diversified, it also features plenty of proven cholesterol-lowering foods including vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes.In fact, the Portfolio Diet can be as effective at lowering cholesterol as medication. 
Vegetarian based, it features foods like oatmeal, lentils, peas, barley, okra and eggplant as well as healthy fats and soy products such as soy milk and tofu, and foods fortified with plant sterols like margarine, broccoli, salmon, tuna and orange juice.Jenkins cautions that anyone hoping to maximize benefits from either the GI or the Portfolio Diet should eat as many of its healthy foods as possible. So forget about singling out any one food as a super food, a practice that has become increasingly popular.“Most people don’t follow the Portfolio Diet strictly and don’t benefit from the 30-per-cent reduction in cholesterol that comes with the perfect use of the diet,” Jenkins said. “But even if they only use half the diet, they still get half the benefit.
”For those of you who are already healthy and active with no signs of elevated cholesterol, heart disease and/or diabetes, Jenkins says his diets won’t provide any added health benefits. That said, there is very little downside to making a habit of staying away from carbs with a high GI. The same goes with the Portfolio Diet. The best results come from absolute compliance, but any improvement you make in your diet is a step in the right direction.
Dr. Jenkins will be speaking at McGill University Centre Ballroom, 3480 McTavish on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 12:30 p.m. Call 514-398-1248 for more information.
jbarker@videotron.ca

Source with thanks: http://montrealgazette.com/health/diet-fitness/diets-as-medicine-dr-jenkins-puts-emphasis-on-health-effects-of-food


Tractor the future with robotics
RODERICK MAKIM
19 Jan, 2015 03:20 PM
  
AUSTRALIAN farmers could have an on-farm version of Google's driverless car if a self-driving tractor trial near Jerilderie continues according to plan. A robotic tractor has been trialled in a joint program with Rice Research Australia, Japanese companies Hitachi Zosen Corporation and Yanmar Co. and three Australian universities.


Source with thanks: http://www.theland.com.au/news/agriculture/general/news/tractor-the-future-with-robotics/2721398.aspx




In search of a personalised diet


By Denise WintermanBBC News Magazine

Forget the latest weight-loss fad - science may already have worked out what diet is best for you. Experts say a personalised approach could transform the way people lose weight.January is a month when many go on a post-Christmas purge and start dieting. It's also the month when many fail and go back to their bad eating habits. Scientists say this isn't just down to a lack of willpower. It is due to a person's individual make-up - their genes, hormones and psychology.The latest weight-loss theory is that instead of reaching for a one-size-fits-all diet, people should follow one that is tailored to their individual needs.
For the first time leading obesity experts and BBC Science have put this theory to the test nationally. Over three months, 75 dieters were put through a series of tests and monitored at home. The study was overseen by scientists from Oxford and Cambridge and their research teams.
What's the right type of diet for you?

The study looked at three types of overeaters. Feasters who find it hard to stop eating once they start, constant cravers who feel hungry all of the time and emotional eaters who turn to food when they get stressed or anxious.
When it comes to feasters, research shows hormones play a big part in their eating habits. In particular, they produce low levels of certain gut hormones that are released when food arrives in the intestines. These chemical signals travel through the blood to the brain and tell the body when it has had enough food and should stop eating."Some people have astonishingly low levels of certain gut hormones and are not getting those signals," says Susan Jebb, a professor of diet and population at Oxford University.
Constant cravers always want to eat and their "hungry brains" often want fatty and sugary foods. Scientists know certain genes make people this hungry. They disrupt the way signals are sent to the brain telling it to stop eating, tricking it into thinking fat stores continually need replenishing."The role genes play in losing weight is unequivocal, but due to changes in technology we are beginning to find out what these genes are," says geneticist Dr Giles Yeo, from Cambridge University.
Emotional eaters reach for food when they are stressed or anxious. When the brain perceives a person is in difficulty, it triggers changes to the body, like the heart rate increasing. This stressed state makes it even harder for people to overcome what they are facing. This sort of eater has developed habits that are hard to break and in stressful times their brains seek out a reward."People often think diets are about willpower," says Jebb. "Forget that, diets are about habits. There has never been a study that says people can will themselves to lose weight, but they can change their habits."So, what diet should each group follow to successfully lose weight?
Feasters need a diet that makes them feel full for as long as possible. Scientists suggested a high protein, low glycaemia index (GI) diet. These are foods that boost gut hormone signals and include fish, chicken, basmati rice, lentils, grains and cereals. No potatoes or bread because they don't make people feel full for very long."Protein and carbs that are not absorbed quickly are absorbed lower down the gut, producing more hormones that make us feel fuller," says gut hormone specialist Prof Fiona Gribble, from Cambridge University.
Constant cravers have genes that make them feel hungry most of the time. As a result they struggle to diet for seven days a week. Instead they were told to drastically reduce their diet to 800 calories on two days of the week. They ate normally, but healthily, for the other five. This is often called intermittent fasting."Constant cravers have the toughest job as they have a strong predisposition to being overweight," says Jebb. "The fasting diet should shock their bodies into burning fat."

The emotional eater - Alison Vaughan, 53
Alison Vaughan before and after her 12-week diet
"My relationship with food has been quite negative in the past. I now know that is a result of being deliberately deprived of food when I was very small. I would often only be given bread soaked in water. It has taken a long time to realise the effect this has had on the way I eat. The study made me realise food was controlling me, now it is the other way round.
"Getting support was an essential part of that, weekly meetings were a big help for me. I feel relieved at being classified as an emotional eater because it gives you a footing from which to continue, unless you can see what the issue is you've really got no hope of changing."I lost 1st 11lb (11.3kg) over the 12 weeks and my total weight loss now is 3st 1lb (19.5kg). As my size goes down, my confidence and belief in myself goes up."
"Constant cravers have the toughest job as they have a strong predisposition to being overweight," says Jebb. "The fasting diet should shock their bodies into burning fat."Emotional eaters have established bad habits that are hard to break. As well as following a healthier diet, group support was important for them. Encouragement can trigger the motivational part of the brain that helps people overcome stress.By being part of online support groups and attending weight-loss meetings, they were encouraged to stick to their diets. They also had cognitive behavioural therapy to help manage the thoughts and behaviour associated with emotional eating.



Scientists to help Ganges rice farmers handle climate threat



An international team of researchers will boost food security for 300 million people in Nepal, India and Bangladesh




Rice harvests in Nepal are at risk from increasingly volatile rainfall with climate change (Pic: UN Photo/John Isaac)

By Bhrikuti Rai in Kathmandu

Research scientists are coming to the aid of 300 million people along the River Ganges who face a hungry future because their staple rice crop is threatened by climate change.

The team of scientists and development practitioners from Australia, Bangladesh, India and Nepal plan to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of 7,000 small-scale farmers in the eastern Gangetic plains with a five-year US$ 6.7 million programme.According to Nepal’s Ministry for Agriculture Development, 66 per cent of Nepal’s total population of almost 27 million is involved in agriculture and contributes 39 per cent in the GDP.Local scientists say that lack of access to climate-resilient technologies and dependency on monsoon rains for irrigation are major problems for farmers in Nepal.

Food security

“Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to projected climate change effect, so the project will help small-scale farmers address pressing issues about their livelihood and food security,” Devendra Gauchan, senior scientist at Nepal Agricultural Research Council, told the Climate News Network.Altogether, the eastern Gangetic plains of Nepal, Bangladesh and India are home to 300 million people. The aid team, funded by the Australian government, aim to help rice farmers systems through efficient use of water and conserving resources to improve adaptation to climate change, and also connect them to new markets.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) will manage the programme, which will be led by the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre in eight districts − two in north-west Bangladesh, two in east Nepal, and two each in the Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal.

“Rice-based system productivity [in the eastern Gangetic plains] remains low, and diversification is limited because of poorly-developed markets, sparse agricultural knowledge and service networks, and inadequate development of available water resources,” says Kuhu Chatterjee, South Asia regional manager of ACIAR.The project was designed in consultation and participation with NARC, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and agricultural universities in India.

New technologies

Local scientists feel that this project will also help build capacity of researchers in Nepal. Gauchan said: “Agricultural research in Nepal has very limited strength in terms of human resource, infrastructure facility and institutional capacity.“Through this project we will get to learn about new technologies and research management from scientists from participating countries.”
According to Chatterjee, the project will test and fine-tune the technologies developed in countries such as Australia, Canada and Brazil, and will modify them to suit farmers in the eastern Gangetic plains.“Community consultations will be conducted to identify different ways to optimise the productive use of rain and irrigation water, increase cropping intensity through timely planting, reduced tillage and enhancing access to, and use of, energy-efficient irrigation technologies,” Chatterjee said.

This article was produced by the Climate News Network

Source with thanks:http://www.rtcc.org/2015/01/12/scientists-to-help-ganges-rice-farmers-handle-climate-threat/#sthash.Vq19MCvc.dpuf

Philippines Plans to Enhance Investment in Rice R&D to Boost Production

Jan 14, 2015

The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is planning to increase investment in research and development (R&D) of rice to boost production, according to local sources.The Agriculture Secretary was quoted as saying that the DA was planning to increase rice research capability and capacity by improving research facilities, equipment and manpower. He noted that the government was considering to induce adaptive traits in the existing rice varieties to produce more output. He added that the government will select traditional rice varieties with export potential and profile them to be suitable for favorable and adverse environments so as to increase output.
He also noted that the government is planning to focus more on the commercialization of diversified and integrated rice-based farming systems such as 'Palayamanan', which help in increasing farmers' output as well as incomes. Under these systems, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) encourages farmers to combine rice growing along with cultivation of vegetables and other high valued crops as well as fish and livestock raising.The Secretary also noted that the government is planning to disseminate best agricultural practices among farmers through trainings. He added that specific technologies are being developed for rice cultivation in irrigated, rain-fed and upland ecosystems.
The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is targeting to produce around 20 million tons of paddy rice in 2015, up about 6% from an estimated 18.8 million tons in 2014. It is planning to achieve the target by expanding paddy rice acreage and increasing the yield per hectare to around 3.89 tons per hectare from the current 2.09 tons per hectare by using high-yielding hybrid rice varieties.The South-East Asian nation has imported around 1.8 million tons of rice since the beginning of 2014 (including 1.5 million tons of this year's imports and 300,000 tons of last year's imports) to replenish rice stocks and control price hikes. It has recently allowed the private sector to import another 187,000 tons of rice under the minimum access volume (MAV) program.USDA estimates Philippines  MY 2014-15 (July - June) paddy rice production at around 19.365 million tons (around 12.2 million tons, basis milled), up about 3% from around 18.822 million tons (around 11.8 million tons, basis milled) produced in the previous year. It estimates Philippines 2014-15 milled rice exports at around 1.6 million tons, up about 10% from last year.

Source with thanks:ORYZA.com

  



Good news for farmers, drought-resistant rice varieties developed in Odisha

Monday, 12 January 2015 - 6:10pm IST | Team Iamin.in
Scientists at the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) in Cuttack have developed four new varieties of drought-resistant paddy and another variety that can be grown in less water conditions.Named as Ankit, Sachala, Gopinath, Maudamani, these new varieties of paddy can meet the drought condition while Chakaakhi, the other variety, can grow in less water and survive flood conditions up to a week. The CRRI scientists claim that it can also withstand high winds.

Sharat Kumar Pradhan, chief scientist at CCRI, informed that Ankit (CR Paddy-101) can be cultivated in high lands with less water requirement and can be harvested in three and half months.

About 68 kgs of rice can be obtained by milling a quintal of paddy of this variety, according to Pradhan. 
Sachala (CR Paddy-203) and Gopinath are also immune to certain diseases and can be harvested in 110 days and can be cultivated and harvested like the Ankit variety, he informed. “Maudamani (CR-307) is a small, fatty and pest-resistant variety of paddy, can be cultivated in the irrigated lands. About 50 quintals per hectare of this variety can be harvested in normal conditions,” Pradhan said.Chakaakhi (CR-408), the fatty and longer variety, can withstand flood conditions and pest attack and grow up to 130 to 140 centimetres. The harvest period of this paddy is 160-165 days, said Pradhan.

Pradhan, however, pointed out that the farmers of the state may have to wait for another two years to get adequate amount of these new varieties of paddy.

Source with thanks:http://www.iamin.in/en/cuttack/news/good-news-farmers-drought-resistant-rice-varieties-developed-odisha-50217


GMO Biotechnology Categorized as “Biological Weapons of Mass Destruction”, Pakistan, Russia

By Global Research News
Global Research, January 09, 2015


Chemical Concern

Region: Middle East & North Africa, Russia and FSU

Theme: Biotechnology and GMO

Description: Chemtrails-Airplane-Sky-City-Toxic-ChemicalsIn July last year, Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta, multinational companies and a number of national firms approached Pakistan’s Ministry of Food Security seeking licences to raise genetically-modified (GM) food products in Pakistan.



Imran Ali Teepu reported for Dawn that a senior federal government official, who did not wish to be named, told Dawn that “a request in this regard has been received by the Ministry of Food Security a few weeks back and is being reviewed”.The director general of the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency, Asif Shuja, said: “Research is still continuing internationally into whether the genetically-modified products have an impact on human health.



Many of the local companies want to import genetically-modified food products from China and we have not given any approval in this regard”.Meanwhile, Dr Jawad Chishtie, a public health and environment management specialist, said: “Genetically-modified products have been rejected in Europe, and most recently in France, for damaging crops and endangering human health.” He warned that effects of the genetically-engineered organisms were not yet known but “they are suspected of causing dangerous allergies and even cancer.”



He asked the government to promote organic farming in Pakistan for which the country had a far better environment.



In May this year Jamal Shahid reported that Lahore High Court ordered the government to stop issuing licences for genetically-modified (GM) varieties of cotton or corn until a legal framework is put into place to assess new types of genetically modified organisms.

Shahid continues: “The Farmers Association of Pakistan had been complaining about the sale of poor quality Bt cotton seeds in the open market for quite some time. He quotes Chaudhry Gohar, a progressive cotton farmer from Multan, who told Dawn that the use of uncertified varieties of GM seeds increase input costs for farmers. The low levels of pest resistance in these seeds have increased insects’ immunity, necessitating the use of nearly double the normal amount of pesticides. Pakistan Agriculture Research (NBC) also relaxed germination levels for crops from 75% under Seed Act, 1976 to less than 50%.EPA DG Muhammad Khurshid observed that the authority treats GMOs ‘very seriously’:

 “The Foreign Office has also conveyed its concern to the Climate Change Division that the subject of GMO seeds is a matter of grave concerns for national security and trade. The Foreign Office treats GMOs as potential “biological weapons of mass destruction”, which could be used to destroy Pakistan’s major crops such as potato, wheat, rice, corn, cotton and vegetables through modified viruses, bacteria and other parasites.Russian lawmakers also want to address GMO-related activities that may harm human health and impose criminal liability on producers, sellers and transporters of genetically modified organisms, according to Izvestia.Itar-Tass reports that a bill to this effect was submitted to the Russian State Duma – lower parliament house; under its terms criminal responsibility would apply only to companies and government officials, but there is a move to expand liability for GMO-inflicted harm to include state and local self-government officials.


http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-biotechnology-as-biological-weapons-of-mass-destruction-pakistan-russia/5423645

Tests on Fukushima Rice Finally Show Safe Results

January 8, 2015
10:00 am

It has taken three years, but rice growing near the Fukushima nuclear plant has now tested safely for consumption. The Fukushima disaster in 2011 caused international concern over food safety and water contamination when a tsunami pounded into the nuclear facility and unleashed toxic radiation.For reference, the government’s limit on safe amounts of radiation is 100 becquerels per kilogram. The areas affected by the disaster were the farming communities of Fukushima, Iwate, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, Miyagi and Ibaraki.

During the period after the disaster, items like bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, beef and rye were all testing far outside of the accepted range. Mushrooms ranged from 150-350 becquerels, while beef was around 772 becquerels per kilogram.The danger of exporting food from a nuclear disaster site set off long range economic problems for Japan’s farmers and fears from consumers all over the world. In Japan, 44% of people said they’d avoid radioactive foods, with 22% preferring stricter government control. Citizen fears are not unfounded. In response to the nuclear disaster, Japan actually raised its limits of acceptable radiation exposure to 20x higher than what’s considered safe in the United States. Many felt this was Japan’s way of mitigating a PR crisis.

Yet across the Pacific, the West Coast of the United States also worried about how the spread of radioactivity might impact their fish and agriculture. Such fears prompted residents in California to pass measures to improve the testing of marine life off their shores.Although scientists tried to calm fears, telling residents that the levels of radioactivity in water that reached the West Coast would be far below international acceptable standards, it did little to pacify concerns.
So it is no doubt that in this atmosphere of fear and apprehension, farmers and Japanese officials are breathing easier with the study results. More than 360,000 tons of rice were tested in the study. However, it seems the evidence has yet to be corroborated by outside sources, and that’s still causing some hesitation. Many around the world wanted the UN to oversee or take over clean up in Fukushima, citing distrust of the government.This was also true for the Koreans. 

Reports of groundwater seepage from the nuclear facility prompted South Korea to ban imports from the region in 2013. Although the Korean scientists are expected to come back again within the month and consider lifting the ban, many still harbor concerns over importing the rice.It’s a difficult challenge for farmers, who have undoubtedly suffered some of the largest economic losses in the disaster. Many toiled on organic farms that have been ravaged by nuclear waste. One farmer, Toraaki Ogata, told the North Queensland Resister, “All I can do is pray there will be no radiation…It’s not our fault at all, but the land of our ancestors has been defiled.”While the Japanese government assigned about $1.3 billion for decontamination methods in these zones, it has been a slow moving process to get clean rice.

However, it is one that Tsuneaki Oonami claims has been done right. Oonami, a Fukushima official, told reporters that, “The fact that the amount of rice that does not pass our checks has steadily reduced in the last three years indicates that we’re taking the right steps.” And for the sake of the farmers, the environment and international trade, this has been welcome news


http://www.care2.com/causes/tests-on-fukushima-rice-finally-show-safe-results.html#ixzz3OMsgvw5Z



RRI develops new varieties of drought-resistant paddy in OdishaOdisha Sun Times Bureau Bhubaneswar, Jan 12:
Description: paddyScientists at the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) in Odisha’s Cuttack city have developed four new varieties of drought-resistant paddy and another variety that can be grown in less water conditions.The new varieties named as Ankit, Sachala, Gopinath, Maudamani can meet the drought condition while another variety, named Chakaakhi, can grow in less water and survive flood conditions up to a week. Besides, it can also withstand high winds.
They have been prepared specifically to deal with the changing climate and pattern of rain in Odisha.As per the information provided by Sharat Kumar Pradhan, chief scientists of CCRI, “Ankit (CR Paddy-101) can be harvested in three and half months can be cultivated in high lands with less water requirement.This medium thin variety can be harvested up to 40 quintal per hectare in normal condition and up to 28 quintal per hectare under drought condition. Besides, given its immunity to certain diseases and the ability to be grown through sowing, farmers can save more time and money as it does not require re-plantation. About 68 kgs of rice can be obtained by milling a quintal of paddy of this variety, he said.
Apart from this, Sachala (CR Paddy-203) and Gopinath are also immune to certain diseases and can be harvested in 110 days. The cultivation and harvest are the same like the Ankit variety, he added.“Maudamani (CR-307), which is a small, fatty and pest-resistant variety of paddy, can be cultivated in the irrigated lands. About 50 quintals per hectare of this variety can be harvested in normal conditions.” Pradhan said.Talking about the newly developed Chakaakhi (CR-408), Pradhan informed that this fatty and longer variety can withstand flood conditions and pest attack and grow up to 130 to 140 centimetres. The harvest period of this paddy is 160-165 days. It also makes it easy for farmers to clean unwanted grass from the field due to its dark coloured roots which is different from the colour of grass that grows around paddy. This rice would be suitable for preparation of watered rice (Pakhala).
It may be noted that the State Variety Release Committee has developed nine different varieties of paddy this year of which CRRI has developed five.The CRRI scientists had invented three more varieties of paddy in November last year to meet the climatic conditions of other states.However, it may take another two years to provide adequate amount of these new varieties of paddy to the farmers of the state,” Pradhan 

Philippines Plans to Enhance Investment in Rice R&D to Boost Production

Jan 14, 2015

Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150114philricefields.jpgThe Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is planning to increase investment in research and development (R&D) of rice to boost production, according to local sources.The Agriculture Secretary was quoted as saying that the DA was planning to increase rice research capability and capacity by improving research facilities, equipment and manpower. He noted that the government was considering to induce adaptive traits in the existing rice varieties to produce more output. He added that the government will select traditional rice varieties with export potential and profile them to be suitable for favorable and adverse environments so as to increase output.
He also noted that the government is planning to focus more on the commercialization of diversified and integrated rice-based farming systems such as 'Palayamanan', which help in increasing farmers' output as well as incomes. Under these systems, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) encourages farmers to combine rice growing along with cultivation of vegetables and other high valued crops as well as fish and livestock raising.The Secretary also noted that the government is planning to disseminate best agricultural practices among farmers through trainings. He added that specific technologies are being developed for rice cultivation in irrigated, rain-fed and upland ecosystems.
The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is targeting to produce around 20 million tons of paddy rice in 2015, up about 6% from an estimated 18.8 million tons in 2014. It is planning to achieve the target by expanding paddy rice acreage and increasing the yield per hectare to around 3.89 tons per hectare from the current 2.09 tons per hectare by using high-yielding hybrid rice varieties.The South-East Asian nation has imported around 1.8 million tons of rice since the beginning of 2014 (including 1.5 million tons of this year's imports and 300,000 tons of last year's imports) to replenish rice stocks and control price hikes. It has recently allowed the private sector to import another 187,000 tons of rice under the minimum access volume (MAV) program.USDA estimates Philippines  MY 2014-15 (July - June) paddy rice production at around 19.365 million tons (around 12.2 million tons, basis milled), up about 3% from around 18.822 million tons (around 11.8 million tons, basis milled) produced in the previous year. It estimates Philippines 2014-15 milled rice exports at around 1.6 million tons, up about 10% from last year.


Source with thanks:ORYZA.com


UD’s research institute to develop low-cost fuel tanks
Published: January 9, 2015, 11:56 am
Description: University of Dayton.  (WDTN Photo)
University of Dayton. (WDTN Photo)
DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The University of Dayton Research Institute says it will lead an Ohio-based research team with the development of affordable natural-gas vehicle fuel tanks.The initiative was announced by President Barack Obama in Tennessee where the research will be led.The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) was selected by the U.S.
Department of Energy to develop the technology.The group of founding partners, including UDRI, will work to advance fiber-reinforced polymer composites that are lighter and stronger than steel, with development taking place from laboratories to production lines.These types of technologies are already used in the aircraft and military vehicle industries as well as in luxury cars, but the materials are expensive.UDRI will lead the initiative for the development of compressed-gas storage vessels for the automotive and trucking industry.
“The demand for compressed natural gas as a lower-cost, cleaner-burning alternative to diesel and gasoline fuel for vehicles continues to grow,” said Brian Rice, Research Institute director. “In order for natural gas fuel to be efficiently and safely used to power vehicles, the transportation industry needs an affordable, lightweight but high-strength compressed-gas fuel tank.”The group’s goal is to make the materials low-cost and easy to produce.Ohio will commit $10-million of the estimated $259-million project.

University rejects renaming ‘Hindu’ rice varieties

  | 
The Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya here was on Friday caught off guard following “rumours” that the institution was initiating a move to replace names of Hindu deities given to new rice varieties developed in the state.The rumour that there was a serious move by the university to rechristen the new rice varieties developed by the research units functioning under the institution has been making rounds in the state for the past couple of days.As per the speculation, a plan is afoot by the university to rename the popular varieties of rice such as “Mahamaya”, “Durga”, “Vishnubhog”, “Samales-wari”, “Rajeswari”, “Dur-ga” and “Danteswari”.

Incidentally, the rumours have surfaced in the wake of the recent release of the controversial Hindi film PK, which is facing opposition from the Hindutva brigade for, what they claim, is the “improper projection” of Hindu deities.“We are absolutely taken aback by the baseless rumours that we are planning to replace names of Hindu deities given to the new varieties of rice developed by the university. I want to make it clear that there is no such move. We are wondering where such a rumour has been generated,” a senior officer of the university told this newspaper on Friday.When contacted, university spokesman and professor (soil science department) K.K. Sahu said, “I am not aware of any such move.

Description: https://www.labx.com/web/banners/originals/aug22_2014_ACS_BioplasticHR.jpg”Many new rice varieties developed in the state have been christened after names of famed local deities such as Danteswari of Bastar region and Mahamaya of the plains of Chhattisgarh.The university is credited with conserving the second-largest reserve of rice plasmas in the world after the International Rice Research Institute in Manila, the Philippines.

Turning Waste from Rice, Parsley and Other Foods into Biodegradable Plastic

Your chairs, synthetic rugs and plastic bags could one day be made out of cocoa, rice and vegetable waste rather than petroleum, scientists are now reporting.
By American Chemical Society 
Waste husks from rice (in the small vial) can be transformed into bioplastic.A. ABRUSCI – ISTITUTO ITALIANO DI TECNOLOGIAThe novel process they developed and their results, which could help the world deal with its agricultural and plastic waste problems, appear in theAmerican Chemical Society journal Macromolecules.Athanassia Athanassiou, Ilker S. Bayer and colleagues at the Italian Institute of Technology point out that plastic's popularity is constantly growing. In 2012, its production reached 288 million tons worldwide, but its ubiquity comes at a cost. Synthetic plastics persist for hundreds or thousands of years while releasing toxic components with the potential to harm the environment and human health. Also, plastics are made out of petroleum, which is a nonrenewable source. The shift to more environmentally friendly bioplastics has been challenging and expensive. Athanassiou's team wanted to find a simple, less costly way to make the transition.
They turned to an organic acid that also occurs naturally and can process cellulose, which is the main building component of plants and also the most abundant polymer in nature. They mixed the acid with parsley and spinach stems, and husks from rice and cocoa pods. Then, they poured the resulting solutions into lab dishes. When tested, the films that formed showed a promising range of traits from brittle and rigid to soft and stretchable — similar to commercial plastics. "This opens up possibilities for replacing some of the non-degrading polymers with the present bioplastics obtained from agro-waste," the researchers conclude.
Categories: News

Santiago launches hybrid rice center

By Brenda Jocson Gaudia | Jan. 10, 2015 at 12:01am
Description: http://manilastandardtoday.com/panel/_files/image/Tan_Joseph.jpgSANTIAGO CITY, Isabela—Mayor Joseph Tan on Friday launched an accelerated learning module on hybrid rice here at the Agricultural Training and Seed Center.“We expect that the new farming methods will raise harvest from 100 cavans per hectare of traditional farming practice to 200 cavans per hectare,” he said. Tan
The facility in Barangay Balintocatoc was established in partnerships with  the Philippine Rice Center, Department of Soil and Water Management, Cagayan Valley Rice Research Center (CVRRC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the city government.“We have come up with this endeavor to help and support the displaced cabesillas or community service providers consisting of almost 14 percent of the farm labor force in the city,” Tan said.“But I believe that in due time, these displaced farm laborers will soon be trained by the national government through TESDA and become productive in their chosen field of expertise in the operation the new farming technology.”
According to Tan, TESDA-Santiago has trained 200 heavy equipment operators with special funding from the city mayor’s office.  We have also allocated P500,000 for farmers livelihood programs to every barangay under our local poverty reduction action program,” he said.Meanwhile, the city has alloted P42 million for cooperatives and groups in acquiring reapers, tractors, mechanical transplanters for them to offer services to small landowners who could not afford to buy mechanized farm machineries.
CVRRC chief Rosemarie Aquino said mechanization would enable planters to cope with the requirements of an integrated market of South East Asian countries.“Our soil is so fertile that seeds easily sprout and with the introduction of farm mechanization we will make our products more competitive in Asia,” she said.Aquino said CVRRC has also created a new technique in seedling propagation using carbonized water, rice bran and garden soil from river banks.


Two more varieties of hybrid rice introduced 
Abu Bakar Siddique

The new varieties, BADC Hybrid Dhan 2 and Buyer Hybrid Dhan 4, were released on Monday, each variety having the capacity of producing around six tonnes of paddy per hectare

The government has introduced two more varieties of hybrid rice for cultivation aiming to boost the rice production in the country.The new varieties, BADC Hybrid Dhan 2 and Buyer Hybrid Dhan 4, were released on Monday, each variety having the capacity of producing around six tonnes of paddy per hectare.Anwar Faruque, director general of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Seed Wing, said the government gives priority to the cultivation of more hybrid varieties to boost the food production in the country, and introducing the two new hybrid varieties is a part of that.

According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), the annual paddy production, in Bangladesh is around 3.38 million tonnes.The paddy production using traditional and locally developed high-yielding varieties are two tonnes and 3.8 tonnes per hectare, respectively. The paddy production using hybrid seed is 4.7 tonnes per hectare.Of the new hybrid paddy varieties, the BADC Hybrid Dhan 2, sourced from China by Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), has the production capacity of 6.5-7.2 tonnes per hectare, and the Buyer Hybrid 4, sourced from India by Bayer Crop Science, has the production capacity of 6-6.5 tonnes per hectare, sources at the ministry said.Around 10-12% of the total paddy production in the country came from hybrid seeds, which is very low in volume, said Anwar, who is also an additional secretary at the ministry.


“The government is trying to enhance the use of hybrid seeds to get more production in the gradually reducing agricultural land to ensure food security of the country,” he added.The state-owned Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has developed 62 varieties of paddy so far. Of them, the number of hybrid varieties is only six.A total of 132 varieties of hybrid paddy have been introduced in Bangladesh. Of them, the BADC developed two varieties, the BRRI developed six, and the rest were developed by private companies. 





Vietnam needs to develop a national rice brand
VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam was the world’s second-largest rice exporter in the world in 2014, but it is in urgent need of investment to develop a national brand to increase the value of its rice harvests.


Description: national rice brand
In recent years, the Mekong Delta region has spared no effort to attract investment in the field of rice production. Numerous international organizations and foreign investors have also been expanding the production model.However, to date these have only been pilot programs and have had no real global impact on rice production in Vietnam.Scientists and managers are now pondering alternative approaches to improve rice growers’ living conditions, by building a national rice brand name and creating added value for Vietnamese rice.

On a positive note, Vietnamese rice was exported to 135 nations around the globe in 2014 including the demanding markets of the US, EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.However, the Asian market accounts for the lion’s share, or 77%, of exports. Despite huge export volume, the quality and competitive edge of Vietnamese rice remain low, which is not appealing to foreign investors.Huynh The Nang, Southern Food Corporation’s (Vinafood) general director, said Vietnamese rice cannot penetrate into the high-end markets due to lack of high-quality rice varieties, high post-harvest losses and poor regional connectivity, as well as a lack of collaboration between the government, scientists, businesses and farmers.

Associate Professor and Dr. Nguyen Van Sanh, Director of the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute, said rice growers remain poor as the price of rice is insufficient to offset rising production costs, leading to low earnings.Sanh said that Vietnam should make radical reforms to improve competitive capacity and reduce product costs for its rice. He stressed the need to reform activities of cooperatives in the Mekong River Delta to connect to businesses effectively.
For his part, Dr Le Van Banh, head of the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute, underscored the need to study the production value chain and seek solutions to improve the value chain in terms of production, post-harvest treatment, quality, infrastructure and distribution, and gradually develop brand names for Vietnamese rice.To ensure national food security, the State should devise proper policies in the coming time to help rice growers pay attention to their work. It is inevitable that farmers will turn their back on rice if they cannot earn enough income, he said.On a more positive note, in 2014 a pilot program in the Mekong Delta for model paddy fields was successful in generating higher earnings for farmers and creating higher value for Vietnamese rice, which could lead to production of high-quality rice in vast quantities in the future.
VOV

UC Davis scientists work to ID food crops that can survive global warming

By Pat Bailey

UC Davis News Service

Created:   01/10/2015 04:37:38 PM PST0

Scientists are working on ways to make corn and maize adaptable to climate change.
Sometimes it pays to have wild and quirky relatives. That's certainly the case for staple crops that help feed the world. It also helps — both the plants and the people who depend on them — to have leading geneticists searching for family traits that could ensure those crops thrive in a warmer, drier world.Researchers at UC Davis and around the world are scrambling to develop new varieties of food and fiber crops that will produce abundant yields despite drought and other effects of climate change. They're also exploring more water-efficient ways to grow existing crops.

It's estimated that 38 percent of the world and 70 percent of its agricultural output are already impacted by drought — numbers that will likely rise as climate change intensifies. To make matters worse, global population is spiraling upward, expected to soar past 9 billion by the year 2050.In short, we're headed toward a future that will have billions of more mouths to feed with much less water, higher temperatures and no room to expand the global farm.

To be sure, there is no "silver bullet" to take down the twin beasts of drought and climate change. Here's why:
•It's not just about developing less-thirsty crops. With reduced rain and irrigation water, you also get higher salt concentrations in the soil, meaning that many crops of the future will need to be salt-tolerant.
 •And to dodge the warming temperatures, some crops now grown during the summer months will, in certain regions, become winter-season crops — meaning they'll also have to get by on the shorter stretches of daylight that accompany winter.Juggling, heat, light, salt and scarce moisture is a tall order, but scientists are already finding such multifaceted solutions in the genes of both domesticated plants and their ancestors.
With some plants, they're searching for genetic "markers" that will identify the genes responsible for various stress-tolerance traits, speeding up conventional breeding. In other cases, they expect to insert genes from the wild relatives into existing crop varieties, better equipping them to adapt to climate change.Here are snapshots of four crops and the scientists studying them:
•To make rice around the world more tolerant of drought conditions, plant scientist Eduardo Blumwald and his lab colleagues are investigating rice genes that will delay "leaf senescence" — that normal phase when the older leaves begin to decline and the plant, like an aging factory, begins to shut down.Blumwald and team hope to develop rice varieties that don't rush quickly into senescence during drought conditions, but rather continue the leaf-based photosynthetic process that yields the nutrients necessary to make the rice grains.
•The wheat genome contains 16 billion base pairs — the molecules that make up DNA — and is five times the size of the human genome.Plant geneticists Jorge Dubcovsky, Jan Dvorak and colleagues are mapping, isolating and cloning genes from the massive wheat genome, investigating the critical stages of the development cycle, including genes that impact a plant's drought tolerance.For example, genes that allow wheat to flower a few days early — saving precious irrigation water — could be used to develop new climate-flexible wheat varieties. Dubcovsky's laboratory also has recently identified a region of a rye chromosome that, when introduced into wheat, increases yield and improves the water status of the plant under limited irrigation. Dvorak's lab is working to develop salt-tolerant wheat that could be irrigated with poor-quality water, saving the better water for other uses.
•The commercially grown modern peanut emerged thousands of years ago from a natural hybrid fusion between two wild peanut ancestors, meaning that scientists find themselves studying something of a double genome.Research scientist Lutz Froenicke in Professor Richard Michelmore's laboratory at the UC Davis Genome Center developed "ultra-high density" genetic maps for the two peanut ancestor genomes.
These maps serve as frameworks for sorting the pieces of the legume's genomic puzzle and then putting them back together at the chromosome scale, better equipping the world to make sure that peanuts keep producing as the climate changes.•Maize spans global cultures and eons of time, having been domesticated some 9,000 years ago from wild tiosente grasses in Mexico and elsewhere in Central America.Plant geneticist Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra is studying the genetic diversity and domestication of maize, as well as maize breeding.
He's particularly interested in how maize adapted from its origin in the lowlands of Mexico to growing in the high altitudes of Central and South America.Genes for those adaptive traits might also prove invaluable in developing corn or maize varieties that can adjust to climate change.•For millions of the world's poorest people, who are the most vulnerable to famine, Simon Chan's research offers hope for more resilient staple crops.Until recently, ensuring a plant inherited its parents' most valuable traits — such as drought tolerance or pest resistance — required generations of inbreeding.
Chan's "breeding true" discovery bypassed the laborious process.With support from some of the most prestigious grants in science, Chan was working to apply his discoveries to staple foods of the world's most impoverished regions. Just months after he received tenure in UC Davis' plant biology department, however, he died from a rare autoimmune disease at the age of 38. Inspired by his commitment to mentoring students and his impact on modern agriculture, his colleagues launched the Simon Chan Memorial Endowment — with a gift from an anonymous donor — in order to realize the global potential of his work.

Porridge could be key to a long and healthy life, says Harvard University



Eating porridge, brown rice or corn each day could protect the heart against disease, Harvard University has found Youngsters who eat oats regularly are 50 per cent less likely to be overweight, one study of 10,000 children found Photo: Tim 







4:28PM GMT 05 Jan 2015

A small bowl of porridge each day could be the key to a long and healthy life, after a major study by Harvard University found that whole grains reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.Although whole grains are widely believed to be beneficial for health it is the first research to look at whether they have a long-term impact on lifespan.Researchers followed more than 100,000 people for more than 14 years monitoring their diets and health outcomes.Everyone involved in the study was healthy in 1984 when they enrolled, but when they were followed up in 2010 more than 26,000 had died.However those who ate the most whole grains, such as porridge, brown rice, corn and quinoa seemed protected from many illnesses and particularly heart disease.Oats are already the breakfast of choice for many athletes and also for dieters, who find the high fibre levels give them energy for longer.



But scientists found that for each ounce (28g) of whole grains eaten a day – the equivalent of a small bowl of porridge – the risk of all death was reduced by five per cent and heart deaths by 9 per cent.“These findings further support current dietary guidelines that recommend increasing whole-grain consumption,” said lead author Dr Hongyu Wu of Harvard School of Public Health.“They also provide promising evidence that suggests a diet enriched with whole grains may confer benefits towards extended life expectancy.”The findings remained even when allowing for different ages, smoking, body mass index and physical activity.Whole grains, where the bran and germ remain, contain 25 per cent more protein than refined grains, such as those that make white flour, pasta and white rice.Previous studies have shown that whole grains can boost bone mineral density, lower blood pressure, promote healthy gut bacteria and reduce the risk of diabetes. One particular fibre found only in oats – called beta-glucan – has been found to lower cholesterol which can help to protect against heart disease. 



A bioactive compound called avenanthramide is also thought to stop fat forming in the arteries, preventing heart attacks and strokes.Whole grains are also widely recommended in many dietary guidelines because they contain high levels of nutrients like zinc, copper, manganese, iron and thiamine. They are also believed to boost levels of antioxidants which combat free-radicals.The new research suggests that if more people switched to whole grains, thousands of lives could be saved each year. Coronary heart disease is Britain’s biggest killer, responsible for around 73,000 deaths in the UK each year. Around 2.3 million people are living with the condition and one in six men and one in 10 women will die from the disease.



Health experts said the study proved that whole grains were beneficial to health

Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This is an interesting study and reinforces existing dietary recommendations to eat more foods high in fibre.“People with a higher intake of whole grains also tended to have a healthier overall lifestyle and diet so it might not be the whole grains alone that are having the benefit in relation to cardiovascular disease.“But at this time of year when we are all making resolutions to eat better, switching to whole-grain versions of bread, breakfast cereals, pasta and rice is a simple change to make.”

The research is published in the journal JAMA: Internal Medicine.









China Renews Safety Certificates for Two GM Rice Varieties

Jan 05, 2015

China's Ministry of Agriculture has renewed bio-safety certificates to two varieties of pest-resistant genetically modified (GM) rice for another five years, according to Reuters. The Ministry renewed the certificates contrary to its earlier decision not to renew them.The bio-safety certificates, which were first granted in 2009, for the two GM rice varieties expired in August last year but the government decided not to renew the certificates raising doubts about the commercialization of GM rice in the near future as well as continuation of such research in the country. The decision was taken in view of public concerns over the health hazards associated with the growing of GM crops.


However, there are still concerns over the large-scale production of GM rice and its commercialization in the China as the Asian nation has almost reached self-sufficiency in producing conventional varieties of rice.Advocates of GM rice say it consists of betacarotene, which is useful in treating Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) in children. 

Source with thanks:ORYZA.com

Fukushima Rice Cleared of Radiation Effects First Time Since Nuclear Disaster

Jan 05, 2015

Rice grown in the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan has been cleared of radiation effects by the government for the first time since the nuclear disaster in 2011, according to Reuters. Sources at Fukushima Prefecture told media sources that about 360,000 tons of rice from the 2014 harvest have passed government's radiation checks for the first time since last three years. They noted that none of the rice samples contained higher than 100 becquerels of radioactive material per kilogram, the limit set by the government.
They said very little amounts of rice produced in 2012 and 2013 failed to pass the government checks but the amount of rice not passing government checks had been reducing significantly year by year since 2012. The fact that all the 2014 rice passing the government checks indicates that they had been taking right steps to reduce the radiation effects, the official who heads the department that oversees Fukushima rice farming, was quoted as saying.


Rice farmers and fishermen were hit hardest by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to meltdowns from Tokyo Electric Power Co's nuclear plant. Japan had suspended rice exports since then.Japan exports around 200,000 tons of rice annually. USDA estimates Japan to produce around 7.7 million tons of rice in MY 2014-15 (November - October). It estimates Japan to import around 700,000 tons and export 200,000 tons of rice during the year.

Source with thanks:ORYZA.com


Genetically altered rice could solve Japan’s pollen allergy problem
Audrey Akcasuyesterday

Good news for all those who live in Japan and suffer from pollen allergies! Scientists have genetically modified rice in an attempt to desensitize the body to that nasty Japanese cedar pollen that causes all of the sneezing, mask-wearing and eye-watering every spring.Just think, eating some of this special rice everyday could relieve you from all of your hay fever woes! While surgical masks are used year-round in Japan, there is a significant increase in masked-citizens every year from February to April when the Japanese cedar trees are scattering their pollen throughout the country. It’s believed that about one-third of Japanese citizens experience allergic reactions to the pollen, giving the government cause to deem it a national problem.

▼ There are all kinds of tools to help alleviate symptoms, but researchers are trying to stop the allergy all together.
On+Off

Scientists at Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo have singled-out the agent in the pollen that causes our immune systems to attack the normally harmless substance. The idea is that if you start intaking the agent a little bit at a time, your body will stop seeing it as the enemy and thus, not react, even when exposed to the substance in higher quantities. It’s a technique called allergy immunotherapy. Usually this desensitization process is done through shots or pills (or by eating lots of strawberries), but because so much of the Japanese population is effected by hay fever and everyone eats rice, scientists thought of a more user-friendly method of medicating: modifying rice to include small amounts of the allergen.

▼ Scientists take a gene from the pollen and implant it in rice.
After eating a lot of rice, your body won’t react to pollen anymore!
NIAS
The gene recombination center of the Satake Corporation, which handles agriculture products such as rice and grains, is calling the modified rice “Allergy Relief Rice.” The rice was tested in early 2014 in a small study of 30 people. Those who ate the rice every day showed only a slight increase in immune response or symptoms in the spring, even when the pollen was in full bloom. The control group, however, saw as much as four times more immune cells in their blood during allergy season and also experienced the usual symptoms associated with hay fever.

Researchers at the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS) are doing further research to make the “Allergy Relief Rice” even more effective. They are also concerned with keeping the regular rice and modified rice separate, as there are strict rules and regulations about rice, but that’s a story for another day.

▼ Allergy prevention never looked so delicious.
Pixabay (MikuraTV)
Of course, there is still a lot of research to be done, but we could be looking at a hay-fever-free society in the coming years. And to think that it could all be done just by eating rice every day, something most Japanese people are happy to do anyway!
Source: Asahi Shimbun
Top Image: Shikoku Research Center


Source with thanks:http://en.rocketnews24.com/2015/01/05/genetically-altered-rice-could-solve-japans-pollen-problem/




Japan Officials Advise Chewing Slowly After Rice Cake Deaths

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSJAN. 5, 2015, 3:24 A.M. E.S.T.

TOKYO — At least nine people have reportedly choked to death on New Year's rice cakes in Japan, and officials are urging people to chew slowly on the treats.Sticky rice cakes, or "mochi," are an essential part of the Japanese New Year's holiday menu. But the glutinous mochi, grilled or cooked in broth or with sweet beans, can get stuck in people's throats, blocking breathing.The Yomiuri newspaper reported Friday that at least 128 people were rushed to hospitals after choking on mochi, with nine dying.

The Tokyo Fire Department said Monday that 18 people were taken to city hospitals during the first three days of the year, and that three males died.The department advised people to cut mochi in small pieces, chew slowly and learn first aid.In addition to the Tokyo deaths, three people died in Chiba prefecture, while one each died in Osaka, Aomori and Nagasaki prefectures, the Yomiuri reported. In the Nagasaki case, an 80-year-old-man choked on a mochi that was in sweet bean soup served for free at a Shinto shrine.Japanese customarily visit shrines and temples to welcome the new year, and mochi, sake and other treats are sold or given out.




Eat Rice, Save Birds!

Jan 05, 2015

Bird enthusiasts in the region of Devaswom Padam in Varapuzha, India, are asking supporters to eat more rice – but not just any rice, specifically pokkali rice purchased from farmers in the Varapuzha area.The campaign, led by the Cochin Natural History Society (CNHS), an NGO dedicated to bird conservation, is in response to the drastic reductions in farmland in the area as farming no longer brings the economic revenue it once did.  As rice paddies decreased, so did the presence of about 50 bird species that normally frequent the area.

Some of those bird species include Little Cormorant, Oriental Darter, several types of Herons, Little Egret, and the Asian Openbill, among others.  Devaswom Padam in Varapuzha is one of the favorite wetland birding locations in the region for these species.


Birders and like-minded supporters are asked to buy pokkali rice that is farmed by local farmers and, after processing through a threshing unit, is sold for Rs. 60 per kilogram (about 95 cents USD).  The profit is returned to the farmers to encourage them to continue engaging in pokkali farming.Last year, there was good demand for the rice and the biggest obstacle was its transportation to buyers.  One quintal of this rice was sold last year.


Source with thanks:ORYZA.com




The Rice That Can Help You Sleep Better
January 1, 2015
Do you have sleep issues? You are not alone, of course — more than 30 million Americans suffer from sleep deficit. According to the National Sleep Foundation, we lose one hour of sleep every night, adding up to two full weeks of sleep deficit every year. Lack of adequate and good quality sleep is known to wreak havoc on health. An article in the Scientific American states that “Short-term sleep deprivation leads to a foggy brain, worsened vision, impaired driving, and trouble remembering. Long-term effects include obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease. And most Americans suffer from chronic deprivation.”
Here is some good news: A powerful natural aid to better sleep could be just a supermarket shelf away. The next time you go shopping, pop a packet of jasmine rice into your cart, and eat it about four hours before bedtime—a 2007 research study conducted at the University of Sydney says it helps you sleep better.
This is how:
A Thai favorite that has a lovely nutty flavor and emits a delicate fragrance, jasmine rice has a high glycemic index, which means it quickly raises blood sugar. This, says Dr. Chow, the lead researcher, may boost tryptophan and serotonin, the two brain chemicals responsible for sleep.During the research, scientists compared the effect of jasmine rice and long-grain rice on sleep. Two groups of healthy men with no sleep problems were served rice with vegetables and tomato puree.
They found that the group served jasmine rice fell asleep within an average of 9 minutes, while the long-grain rice eaters took more than 15 minutes to doze off.The research team also altered the time gap between serving the rice and going to bed. The results indicated that four hours was the ideal time period for the sleep-friendly effects of jasmine rice.Here is a healthy and delicious recipe for cooking with jasmine rice, ideal for warming you up on a cold winter night. I hope it helps you get the sleep of your dreams, too!
State budget policy limits research work of geneticists

VietNamNet Bridge – Some scientists carry out research to create new varieties with the state’s money, but then sell their results to businesses for money, according to Dr. Duong Van Chin, an agronomist.


Description: geneticists, research work of geneticists, scientific research in vietnamChin made the statement when asked about the quality of plant varieties and what the state should do to retain greatest geneticists. Dr. Chin was a “state employee”, holding the post of the deputy head of the Mekong River Delta Rice Institute. But after retirement, Chin became the director of the Dinh Thanh Agriculture Research Center, a cooperation project between the An Giang Plant Protection JSC and Syngenta, a multinational group on biotechnology and plant varieties.In other words, Chin was once a hired state employee in the past and he is a businessman at this moment.

Analysts noted that when scientists work for state’s institutes and agencies, they cannot create good plant varieties, but when they shift to work for private businesses, they gain many achievements.

Do scientists receive better pay when they work for businesses?

Chin said that most of the rice varieties in the Mekong River Delta are products created by scientists at the state-owned Mekong River Delta Rice Institute.However, in some cases, there are also people who carry out research with the state’s money but later sell the best varieties they create to private businesses.Chin said the current management policy prompts scientists to do this.
In general, scientists have three to five years to carry out their research works, and after that period, they must submit one or several varieties. If they cannot, they must return the state funding.With such a policy, scientists have to create new varieties, at any cost, and have the varieties recognized by watchdog agencies.“They (scientists) do not care if the varieties they create have high quality and fit the consumers’ taste,” Chin said.

Funding disbursement
Why do scientists prefer working for businesses to state research institutes?

An official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said the ministry budgets VND700 billion a year for scientific research. Of this, VND500 billion is paid to researchers, while the remaining VND200 billion is given for project implementation.“The modest sum of money is obviously not enough for all fields of agriculture production,” he noted.
Chin noted that it takes scientists five to seven years to create a new plant variety, but Vietnamese scientists are not given enough time to adequately complete their research works.

Dat Viet

Tags:geneticists,research work of geneticists,scientific research in vietnam,

Source with thanks: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/special-reports/118979/state-budget-policy-limits-research-work-of-geneticists.html




New Group Set Up for More Sustainable Rice

31 December 2014

GLOBAL - The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform’s new Sustainable Rice Project Group aims to speed up the implementation of sustainable rice growing practices.There are already several existing initiatives out there promoting aspects of sustainable rice growing, such as the Sustainable Rice Platform, International Rice Research Institute, and Keystone’s Fieldprint Calculator. SAI Platform’s Rice Project Group, recognising that each of these initiatives plays a role, will build on existing work and focus on speeding up the practical implementation of sustainable practices based on a common industry standard. The members agreed to collaborate in a variety of rice growing area such as Spain, Italy, US, South East Asia and India.

Richard Burkinshaw, Kellogg’s Rice Sustainability manager and SAI Platform member, said: "SAI Platform membership has grown so fast recently that there is now a critical mass of members eager to collaborate to enable faster deployment of sustainable rice agriculture practices in their value chains."The project group recognizes that these practices improving quality and yields, whilst reducing water use and greenhouse gas emissions are well known and tested. For example alternative water management strategies, integrated pest management, managing resource efficiency all have a potential role to play in the challenging flooded environment that rice needs .

"The group recogniss that to see large scale adoption, engagement has to be practical, simple and have win-win scenarios for farmers, customers and the environment. Our aim is to make sustainable rice growing transparent and accessible, helping more to gain as a result."The new group’s mission is to identify and develop a pragmatic, globally applicable Sustainable Rice Practices Standard based on SAI Platform’s easy to use Farm Sustainability Assessment, and to then test and implement it, and feedback any learnings to the Sustainable Rice Platform.

Members have committed to test the resulting standard in their respective supply chains and fund the costs of this joined effort. Local pilots will be executed by the Group’s members. SAI Platform’s secretariat will take care of the overall coordination.The project is planned initially for a year. If successful, the group could decide on follow-up steps like scaling-up, agreeing on metrics and indicators.

TheCropSite News Desk



With Such High Arsenic Levels, Why Isn't Rice Regulated?
By The Conversation | December 30th 2014 04:53 PM

Puffed rice with a bit of poison.Shutterstock
Description: http://content.science20.com/files/images/rice_cakes_or_poison.jpgBy Andy Meharg, Queen's University Belfast
There are two sides to rice: the grain that feeds half the world – and the primary carcinogenic source of inorganic arsenic in our diet.Arsenic is a natural occurring element that is ubiquitous in the environment. It is present primarily as inorganic arsenic, which is highly toxic.
What sets rice apart is that it is the only major crop that is grown under flooded conditions. It is this flooding that releases inorganic arsenic, normally locked up in soil minerals, which makes it available for the plant to uptake. Rice has, typically, ten times more inorganic arsenic than other foods and, as the European Food Standards Authority have reported, people who eat a lot of rice are exposed to worrying concentrations. Chronic exposure can cause a range of health problems including developmental problems, heart disease, diabetes and nervous system damage. However, most worrying are lung and bladder cancers.

Children of most concern

The first food that most people eat is rice porridge, thought suitable for weaning as rice is low in allergens, has good textural properties and tastes bland. As babies are rapidly growing they are at a sensitive stage of development and are known to be more susceptible to inorganic arsenic than adults.
Babies and young children under five also eat around three times more food on a body weight basis than adults, which means that, relatively, they have three times greater exposures to inorganic arsenic from the same food item.
Description: https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/63401/width237/jhfxvf37-1414757636.jpg 
Babies more exposed. 
Rice biscuit by Shutterstock.
The rice product market for young children, which includes biscuit crackers and cereals is booming. If the child is gluten intolerant then rice breads and rice milks can be added to this list. Gluten intolerant adults are also high rice consumers, as are those people of South-East Asian origin.
Rice milk is so high in inorganic arsenic that the UK Food Standards Agency issued the advicethat children under the age of four-and-a-half should not drink rice milk. Despite this, you would be hard-pressed to locate this advice on product packing or displays.

Where are the regulations?

While there is tight regulation around inorganic arsenic in our water supplies in Europe but none for food, yet in Europe only 5% of our inorganic arsenic comes from water and 95% from food. Bottled water in the EU is around 50 times lower in inorganic arsenic water concentrations than rice. Therefore, you would need to drink five liters of water to get the equivalent arsenic dose of eating a small 100g (dry weight packet) portion of rice. The failure to regulate rice in food is unsustainable and needs to be rectified.
Description: https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/63402/width237/548q2dr7-1414757835.jpg 
Milling means less in white rice. 
Takeaway, CC BY-SA
The World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN have just announced guidelines for inorganic arsenic in rice: 200 parts per billion for white rice and 400 parts per billion (ppb) for brown rice. Brown rice is higher in inorganic arsenic than white as arsenic is concentrated in the bran that is removed by milling to produce white rice.
The aim of these limits is to ensure that the bulk of the global rice supply falls below these thresholds rather than directly focusing on the risk inorganic arsenic poses to humans – the particular dangers for children for example. Without doing this, the WHO thresholds are basically meaningless. They certainly do not protect those at greatest risk such as children and the high rice consuming countries of south-east Asia.
Further pronouncements by the European Union and the US Food and Drug Administration are imminent. Let us hope they take a more enlightened view than the WHO and set standards based on protecting human health. It is only when appropriate standards are set that the rice industry can proactively develop plans to remove arsenic from rice to meet those standards.
Standards need to be set to protect those most at risk and 50 ppb for children and 100 ppb for all rice products would be achievable with concerted effort of regulators and industry, though – as every dose of inorganic arsenic carries a risk – the lower the better.

What can be done now?

There are a lot of practical solutions to remove inorganic arsenic from rice; from agricultural management and cultivar selection and breeding. Sourcing rice from regions with lower grain inorganic arsenic concentrations – for example, basmati rice is two to three-fold lower in inorganic arsenic than rice from the European Union or from the US. Cooking rice in a large excess of water also helps to remove inorganic arsenic.
Changing dietary practice and food consumer advice to reduce rice in diets is also an option. There are a range of gluten-free alternatives to rice, so rethinking baby foods is an obvious way to proceed. Top of this list of rice alternatives for baby foods and for breakfast cereals, biscuits and snack bars marketed at young children is oats, which have a range of other health-giving properties.
Andy Meharg, Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Queen's University Belfast, does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on 
The Conversation. Read the original article.
Source with thanks: http://www.science20.com/the_conversation/with_such_high_arsenic_levels_why_isnt_rice_regulated-151908





China offers rice cultivation technology to Bangladesh


IANS | 30 Dec, 2014

China will transfer technology for its indigenous high-yield rice variety to Bangladesh as part of agricultural cooperation between the two countries, media reported Monday.Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said Monday that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his just concluded visit, also talked about taking “necessary steps” for setting up a rice research centre in Bangladesh, bdnews24.com reported.Ali said Wang's visit was “very successful” as new areas of cooperation emerged, and he believed it strengthened the existing Dhaka-Beijing relations further.
He said Bangladesh would need to increase food production on its small arable land and the transfer of rice cultivating technology by China would help in this.The Chinese foreign minister's visit was aimed at reviewing the progress of the commitments both sides made during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Beijing visit in June.It was also aimed at mapping out the details of joint celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries next year when Dhaka expects the Chinese president to visit the country.The Bangladesh foreign minister said that China would have 100 young Bangladeshis visiting the country as part of the celebrations next year.China will finance the $1.2-billion project of building a tunnel beneath the Karnafuli river.Ali said China has endorsed Bangladesh's vision of acting as a bridge between south Asia and southeast Asia, given its strategic geographical location.

China assured Bangladesh of helping it to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).Both sides also agreed to work closely during next year's multi-lateral discussions for adopting a post-2015 development agenda and during climate change talks.They stressed on the need for quick implementation of the proposed Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor.China has proposed to initiate free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations to narrow down the trade imbalance, the Bangladesh foreign minister said.Ali said Wang termed Bangladesh an “important neighbour” and stressed on bilateral cooperation to strengthen the relations.Five priority areas of cooperation -- trade, agriculture, industry, energy and infrastructure -- were identified.China welcomed Bangladesh's proposal of forming a joint working group on trade and industry and a bilateral investment forum.

The issue of the specialised economic trade zone that Bangladesh offered to China during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit was also discussed.Wang reportedly said that Chinese companies were eager to relocate factories to Bangladesh.He promised Chinese cooperation in setting up power plants and exploring oil and gas in Bangladesh.Hasina, during her meeting with Wang Sunday, said her government was inclined to strengthen strategic ties with China and would follow the Asian giant as its development model.“Bangladesh will follow China as the development model. China's development means development of Asia. The two countries can attain the goal of poverty eradication through mutual assistance,” Hasina's press secretary A.K.M. Shamim Chowdhury quoted the prime minister as saying.





Using Weedy Rice Traits to Boost Cultivated Rice Yields

30 December 2014

US - Genetic traits in weedy rice may someday be used to develop sturdy, high-yield varieties of cultivated rice that will flourish in the face of climate change, thanks to findings by scientists at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).This work, conducted by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant physiologist Lewis Ziska and his colleagues.

Ziska, who is with ARS's Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, studied several rice cultivars to determine if changes in temperature and CO2 levels affected seed yields. He also looked for visible traits that could signal whether a plant cultivar has the genetic potential for adapting successfully to elevated CO2 levels.

The investigation included weedy red rice, which infests cultivated rice cropland. Despite the plant's downsides, previous assessments indicated that weedy rice growing under elevated CO2 levels had higher seed yields than cultivated rice growing under the same conditions.Ziska monitored the different rice cultivars at current and future projections of atmospheric CO2 and a range of day/night air temperatures. He observed that on average, all the rice cultivars put out more aboveground biomass at elevated CO2 levels, although this response diminished as air temperatures rose.

For seed yield, only weedy rice and the rice cultivar 'Rondo' responded to elevated CO2 levels when grown at optimal day/night air temperatures of 84 °F and 70 °F. In addition, only the weedy rice gained significant increases of aboveground biomass and seed yield under elevated CO2 levels at the higher temperatures expected for rice-growing regions by 2050.Seed yield is a trait linked to seed head and tiller production. Tillers are stalks put out by a growing rice plant. As the plant matures, the seed heads-where rice grain is produced-develop at the end of the tillers. This suggests that crop breeders might someday be able to use this weedy rice trait to develop commercial rice cultivars that can convert rising CO2 levels into higher seed yields.

Source with thanks: http://www.thecropsite.com/news/17168/using-weedy-rice-traits-to-boost-cultivated-rice-yields#sthash.ooYrbv6I.dpuf



Brown rice more nutritious
Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:19 AM | Monday, December 29th, 2014

Let me express my appreciation of and gratitude for the excellent article titled “Redeeming the lost glory of brown rice” (Across the Nation, 12/3/14).I have noticed that brown rice is more expensive although it needs less processing. I have also noticed that there are many rice hybrids and GMO varieties being promoted.

As someone who worked to make rice-growing less polluting to our environment, I am concerned that hybrids often require a heavy chemical input, much of which runs off into our streams, rivers, lakes and ocean. When growing rice with integrated rice duck methods, we use azolla and/or duckweed to provide extra nitrogen for the rice via the ducks. Small fish can also be integrated if the water level is sufficient, and then both the ducks and the fish will eat the azolla and excrete the nitrogen and other nutrients into the water. Aside from consuming insects and adding to the nutrients in the water, the fish provide additional food and product for the farmer.

In the past I was told that this will not provide sufficient nutrients for hybrid varieties and that we should plant old varieties that do well with the natural fertilizers provided by the ducks (recycled snails, weeds and insects).Before I began my integrated rice duck project I visited both the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) and the Department of Agriculture. Scientists at Irri told me that too much rice is wasted through improper postproduction methods (such as drying palay on highways). A scientist at the DA told me that more rice is wasted by consumers.

The wasted rice, all in all, is more than what is needed for the countryís self-sufficiency in rice.Also, importing rice from abroad is detrimental to Filipino farmers as it inevitably lowers the price they get for their produce. Why not focus on eliminating waste rather than going to hybrid varieties that are likely to contaminate our water with chemical runoff?

One last point, the GMO “golden rice” mentioned in the article lacks some of the nutrients that are present in the rice bran—the bran is removed when rice is milled into the white rice that Filipinos prefer. I urge people to cook and enjoy brown rice, which still has the bran intact and is more filling and nutritious than the polished white rice. In fact, before I heard of the GMO golden rice, I was calling unpolished brown rice golden rice.I was surprised that all things brown are considered inferior here in the Philippines. In my homeland of California, tanning salons, lotions and ointments turn the white into golden brown, a most desirable color… and with rice a most delicious and nutritious one!
—ROWLAND LANE ANDERSON,
permaculturist at Tagpopongan Natural Farm, Veterans For Peace Mission to the Philippines, Davao City andersonlane47@yahoo.com

Source with thanks: http://opinion.inquirer.net/81305/brown-rice-more-nutritious#ixzz3NQUh2ETq


PhilRice develops heat-tolerant rice varieties

By Ric Sapnu (The Philippine Star) | 

NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines – The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is developing rice varieties that can withstand intense heat brought by climate change.According to Norvie Manigbas, lead researcher at PhilRice, the institute has identified 25 new advanced breeding lines after rigorous selection for high temperature tolerance using conventional method and marker-assisted selection.Manigbas noted that the development of heat-tolerant rice varieties is important in addressing the adverse effects of climate change in rice growing areas on which 90 to 95 percent of the population depends.Rice grows optimally between 20°C-35°C but becomes sensitive to increasing temperatures especially during flowering, which eventually reduce yields.

In 2010, Manigbas and his team started to develop new rice genotypes that can tolerate and adapt to high temperatures at 37°C-39°C under irrigated lowland conditions.They identified N22 (Nagina 22 from India), Dular (India), and Nipponbare (Japan) as donor parents and used conventional breeding and molecular marker-assisted selection to generate new high temperature tolerant breeding populations.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

“We established breeding nurseries in high temperature prone areas in Cagayan and Nueva Ecija to screen and select breeding materials under field conditions. Planting was done on staggered basis so that flowering, or reproductive stage, of all test entries would coincide with the highest temperature during the growing season. Thus, selection pressure for high temperature is enhanced,” Manigbas explained.“After that, we identified twenty-five new breeding lines tolerant and 16 of those had lower percent sterility compared with the tolerant checks and donor parent N22,” he added.The new lines will be evaluated further for other traits and if they passed, they can be nominated to the National Cooperative Test for Multi-Environment Testing.

Source with thanks: The Philippine Star


China agrees to transfer high-yield rice technology to Bangladesh



Senior Correspondent,  bdnews24.com
Published: 2014-12-29 19:31:48.0 BdST Updated: 2014-12-29 23:19:28.0 BdST

The technology will help Bangladesh to boost production, the foreign minister says.China will transfer technology of its indigenous high-yield rice variety to Bangladesh as part of agricultural cooperation. Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, briefing journalists about the just-ended visit of Wang Yi, said on Monday his Chinese counterpart also informed him about taking “necessary steps” for setting up a rice research centre in Bangladesh.He said the visit had been “very successful” as new areas of cooperation emerged and believed that it had strengthened the existing Dhaka-Beijing relations further.

“It’s a big development (transferring technology of high-yield rice),” he said.He said Bangladesh would need to increase food production by the day on this small arable land.He said the technology transfer of a variety of rice would help in this regard.Ali mentioned Bangladesh’s rice export to Sri Lanka, its first to any country, and said they would also export to India’s north-eastern Tripura state to meet its need.The Chinese foreign minister’s visit was aimed at reviewing the progress of the commitments both sides had made during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Beijing visit in June.It was also aimed at mapping out the details of joint celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year when Dhaka expects the Chinese president down here.

The foreign minister said China would take 100 young Bangladeshi to visit the country as part of the celebrations next year.He said they were expecting a “top level visit” during the inauguration of the work of building a tunnel beneath the Karnafuli River.China would finance the nearly $1.2 billion project.He said China also endorsed Bangladesh’s vision of acting as a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia due to its strategic geographical location.
It also assured Dhaka of helping it to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).Both sides also agreed to work closely during next year’s multi-lateral discussions for adopting post-2015 development agenda and climate change talks.They also stressed the need for quick implementation of the proposed Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar, or BCIM, economic corridor.During the bilateral meeting, China proposed to initiate free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations to what the foreign minister said narrow down the trade imbalance.Ali said they would discuss with stakeholders before starting negotiations on the matter as some analysts say FTA could widen the trade gap even further.He said the Chinese side during the bilateral talks told them that they would address any concerns when the talks begin.

He said the Chinese foreign minister termed Bangladesh an “important neighbour” and stressed on bilateral cooperation to strengthen the friendly relations.Five priority areas of cooperation – trade, agriculture, industry, energy, and infrastructure – have been identified.China also welcomed Bangladesh’s proposal of forming a joint working group on trade and industry and bilateral investment forum.The issue of the Specialised Economic Trade Zone that Bangladesh offered to China during Hasina's visit was also discussed.The Chinese foreign minister said their companies were also eager to relocate factories to Bangladesh.He promised Chinese cooperation in setting up power plants and exploring oil and gas.


source with thanks:http://bdnews24.com/economy/2014/12/29/china-agrees-to-transfer-high-yield-rice-technology-to-bangladesh




Philippines Plans to Release New Heat-Tolerant Rice Varieties by 2017

Dec 29, 2014
Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/141229philrice.jpg
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is developing new rice varieties that can endure high temperatures and provide high yields, according to a news release on its website.Normally, rice grows optimally between 20-35 degrees centigrade and becomes sensitive to increasing temperatures especially during the flowering stage and eventually, yields may be affected.A team of researchers from PhilRice have been developing new rice genotypes that can tolerate and adapt to temperatures as high as 37-39 degrees centigrade under irrigated lowland conditions.

They identified N22 (Nagina 22 from India), Dular (India), and Nipponbare (Japan) as donor parents and generated new high temperature tolerant breeding varieties using conventional breeding and molecular marker-assisted selection processes. The lead researcher of the project noted that they established breeding nurseries in high temperature regions under field conditions. They set the timing of planting such that the flowering stage coincided with the highest temperature during the growing season.  

They researchers identified twenty five new breeding lines which are tolerant to high temperatures. These breeding lines will be evaluated for other traits and depending on the results, they will be nominated to the National Cooperative Test for Multi-Environment testing, said the lead researcher of the project.

He expressed confidence that a new heat-tolerant rice variety would be released in 2016-17. Developing rice varieties that can tolerate high temperatures is important part in dealing with climate change in rice growing areas, he added.Separately, the Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is planning to incorporate climate smart technologies in its programs to help local agriculture sector adapt to extreme weather conditions.

The DA is currently testing the adaptability of three varieties of Green Super Rice, which is jointly developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the PhilRice, for different climatic conditions. Green Super Rice is developed by combining the superior traits of 250 rice varieties and hybrids for tolerating extreme weather/growing conditions such as drought, floods and low inputs, including zero pesticides and less fertilizers. The National Seed Industry Council has to certify the Green Super Rice for commercial use.  

Source with thanks:ORYZA.com



Integrated rice-fish farming at farm household level
M. G. Neogi


Integrated farming encourages farmers for manifold use of available resources to get higher benefits. Aquaculture is increasingly becoming an important income generating activity by the farm households who cultivate rice. The farm households in Bangladesh have huge demand for quality fingerlings to culture in their seasonal ponds, in rice fields as well as in low-land water bodies.Fish seed is the most critical input for aquaculture, yet the geographically clustered nature of hatchery and nursery operations in Bangladesh restricts its easy availability, and as a result,  few powerful individuals maintain a monopoly over the supply chain. At the community level, decentralised fish seed production may be able to make quality fingerlings available across the country.
The main opportunity of this pattern of farming is to spread a proven way of producing fish seed in rice fields and bring fish farming within the reach of the poor. Producers and traders will thus be less dependent on central hatcheries for fish seed. Poor fish farmers will get access to resources, increase income from production and this will thereby lead to their overall livelihood improvement.

The most important result of this method is to benefit the rice-field based fingerlings producers, besides improving the value chain for fish seed supply.Decentralised fish seed production technology is very simple. During February, farmers stock tilapia fish and common carp eggs in small ditches located in suitable corners of irrigated rice fields. Fish seed production peaks during May and June. The fingerlings are harvested by drawing down water levels to concentrate them in the ditch where they can be retained and netted prior to sale or restocking in household ponds. Little or no additional irrigation or supplementary feed is required, and the fingerlings are ready for sale at the time of peak demand among pond farmers. Fish seed production in this manner is healthy and more resistant than that of the hatcheries, and is less vulnerable to physical damage due to long distance transporting.

Each farmer can produce an average of 5 thousand fingerlings, the sale value of which is Tk. 5,000. Besides, each household can consume fish according to its needs. An experiment regarding rice-fish culture shows that the current fish deficit in Bangladesh (250,000 tons) can be reduced significantly by promoting this technology. It has been found that a total of 2.83 million hectares of land is suitable for integrated rice-fish cultivation in Bangladesh. If these lands are brought under rice-fish cultivation, about 0.1 million tons of fish can be added to national fish production annually. To make integrated rice-fish technique efficient, important input like fingerlings can also be made available (about 15,000 million) using 0.3 million hectare of rice field. Besides, around a total of 0.3 million poor households can earn their livelihood from this.The culture of fish farming in rice fields can greatly improve the productivity of low-income rice farmers.

The technique of combining fish culture with rice cultivation offers higher production compared to traditional rice farming alone. Integrated rice-fish culture is thus a feasible and efficient way to improve the use of agricultural resources. Rice-fish culture provides economic, social and ecological benefits. It improves soil fertility, reduces damage from weeds and insects and thereby cuts on costs for pesticides and chemical fertilisers.To achieve high yields, it is important to choose the appropriate fish species and use the proper stocking density and size. Sharputi, tilapia and common Carp are the ideal species for rice-fish culture. The economic benefit of rice growing alone is not as high as fish culture.

At present, the unit yield of rice is stable. Improved benefits and production value can be achieved by rearing fish in rice fields. Fish brings positive changes in rice cultivation and helps achieve remarkable economic benefit.A CASE STUDY OF KALPONA RANI: Kalpona Rani (46) of Subarbari village of Panchagram Union under Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazilla  in Lalmonirhat district is a marginal farmer owning 50 decimal cultivable lands, which is too small even to run a small family. She had plans to produce fish in her rice field. But lack of knowledge and fund deterred her in executing her plans. She was keen to learn integrated rice-fish cultivation technique for better income.

She soon learnt the technique from a NGO named RDRS, through a project supported by World Fish Centre. She received training on rice-fish culture and after completion of her training, she prepared the land for fish culture along with rice cultivation. She also raised dykes around the plot and made a small ditch in one corner of the land covering 2 decimals of land. She stocked 3,000 fingerlings of sarputi in the 50 decimal of rice field. She invested Tk. 1,500 for fish production and got a net profit of around Tk. 5,000 from selling around 100 kg table fish. With the inspiration of this profit, she again stocked 300 gram carp spawn in the same land.

She used oil cake and rice bran as feed for better growth. She invested Tk.500 for fingerling production and made a net profit around Tk. 5,000 from selling 50 kg fingerlings.Kalpona Rani was making higher profit from the rice-cum-fish culture than the rice monoculture. For getting quality organic fertiliser, she established a compost pit in her homestead space. For drinking safe water, she installed a tube well from the profit of the project. She also established a hygienic sanitary latrine to reduce water borne diseases. She met the expenses of her daughter's marriage from the profit of the project. Now Kalpona's husband assists her more in the rice-fish project as its turnover has been gradually improving their livelihood.

Dr. M. G. Neogi is Consultant International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Bangladesh. mgneogi@gmail.com




DA pushes for climate smart technologies

 December 26, 2014

QUEZON CITY, Dec. 26 --  The Department of Agriculture is incorporating climate change policies in its programs, plans and budget to meet the demands of the forthcoming weather changes.“In response to the directive of his Excellency, President Benigno S. Aquino, and in line with the Climate Change Act, DA has put in place adaptation strategies to cushion the impact of extreme weather conditions,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in a statement. Alcala added that the government thru DA, will be setting up 153 automatic weather stations in agricultural production areas to give weather advisories to food producers.“These stations will serve as source of information so they will know when and how to plant on a particular season,” Alcala said.Alcala added that the government has been working non-stop to develop climate-resistant food varieties.

 Aside from super rice, research centers under DA have been developing drought-, flood-, and salinity-resistant rice varieties.During the 44th Gawad Saka awarding ceremony held at the Philippine International Convention Center on December 18, 2014, Alcala urged all the agri champions to continue to look for effective farm systems that are climate smart.The Secretary thanked all the 22 winners of various individual and group categories who partnered with the government in adapting new technologies.“Your efforts have contributed to the sustainable growth of the agri-fishery sectors, which incurred .33% increment in the first nine months of the year,” he said.During the event, Alcala made special mention of the triumphs of farmer Gerardo “Gerry” Esteban who integrates rice with other farm produce using modern farm technologies.(DA)





Noodle factory opening new market for rice

A new rice noodle venture is filling restaurant spring rolls in the West while pushing the value of Cambodian’s broken rice north
In the competitive world of Cambodian rice, Amru Rice is consistently among the leading exporters, ranking second for the first nine months of this year, with more than 34,450 tonnes, or 13 per cent of the Kingdom’s rice exports for that period.This year marks a new venture for Amru, with the opening of Cambodia’s first industrial-scale noodle factory. The new facility will add value to Cambodia’s lower graded rice – used to make the noodles – and exports to Europe and the US are already locked in, according to Song Saran, the 33-year-old chief executive officer of Amru Rice Group.“In the past, we sold broken rice at a low price and we always worry about the market demand,” he said  “But now, we don’t have worry about it anymore.

By having this new production [of noodles], we can add a value of about $100 per tonne to our broken rice,” Saran added.Located in Kampong Speu province, the 3,000 square metre factory cost $700,000 to build and fit out with equipment imported from Japan. Employing 50 people, production of Cambodian noodles began this month, and the first shipment is destined for France in January.Saran said that recent test samples of his noodles sent to France and the US, via existing relationships he has with rice buyers, proved a hit among a small group of restaurateurs looking to add Cambodian noodles to their menu. “Our product is intended to meet the demand for restaurant appetisers,” he said. “There is an increasing trend of eating spring rolls or wontons as a starter.”
CEO Song Saran. Heng Chivoan

According to Saran, about 10 per cent of rice that comes from his mills is broken rice, which fetches about $440 per tonne. Amru will use the broken rice to produce its noodles, which Saran says will be exported for about $500 to $540 per tonne.Amru will ship its first container to France next month, with another half-container scheduled for the US shortly thereafter.Mey Kalyan, senior adviser for the Supreme National Economy Council, said the new facility was an important example of the enhanced production that is needed in Cambodia’s rice industry.

“Whenever we invest to produce more from our raw materials for higher value-add, it’s a great move,” Kalyan said.Although small-scale, the new factory should be a reminder to others in the industry of the need to diversify, said independent economist Srey Chanthy.The opportunities to vary rice-based products will become available if efforts to strengthen the image are enhanced, the independent economist added.“There will be more Cambodian products processed from rice available on the international market in the near future,” he said.For now, Amru’s noodle factory produces between 200 to 300 tonnes per month, but Saran expects to ramp that up to about 700 tonnes.“Then I believe that my enterprise can buy broken rice from other rice millers who don’t have the ability to export,” he said.

Image: A worker at Cambodia’s first noodle factory. Heng Chivoan
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/post-weekend/noodle-factory-opening-new-market-rice




How Pinay created beauty, spa products from rice bran

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 07/14/2014 3:34 PM | Updated as of 07/15/2014 5:34 PM

Oryspa's kiosk at SM Megamall. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA - Rice bran, a by-product of rice milling more popularly known as "darak," is an ingredient not often associated with beauty and personal care products.
But a Laguna native has found a way to infuse rice bran oil's vitamins, nutrients and antioxdiants into shampoos, soaps, lotions, body scrubs and pain relief products under the Oryspa brand.
"Rice bran, which is the flagship of Oryspa, is rich in Vitamin E and A. Vitamin A is for skin renewal... Rice bran also has oryzanol, a nutrient that is an anti-oxidant, it's anti-aging," Oryspa founder Sherill Quintana told ABS-CBNnews.com in an interview.
Thanks to word-of-mouth, Oryspa's products, which contain rice bran oil, such as the meditation balm, chili oil, relaxing foot mist and body scrubs are selling well at malls.
"Oryspa was coined because of 'oryza sativa', the scientific name of rice, and it's for the spa. Kasi we were supplying to spa before... My idea is like 'food for the soul,' 'rice for the spa' kaya Oryspa," she explained.
PASSION FOR AROMATHERAPY
Oryspa was launched in 2010, but it is backed by a decade of experience and research.
Quintana never thought she would become an entrepreneur. A sociology graduate from UP, she worked in community development and projects with US Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Wife Fund for Nature (WWF).
Her passion was aromatherapy. "I studied essential oils and their uses. Mga candles, alam ko anong purpose to evoke certain emotions... May pagka-witch ako, gusto ko nagcoconcoct ng solutions," she joked.

Sherill Quintana talks to ABS-CBNnews.com about how she started Oryspa. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com
In 2000, she became pregnant with her first child. "Nagkaroon ako ng problem with the pregnancy so I had to stay