Monday, February 25, 2019

25th February,2019 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-newsletter

Need to bridge the gap between Agri-scientists & Agri-engineering

Pakistan is largely dependent on imported seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and agri-engineering. Why scientists and innovators of Pakistan could not help? Answer lies in this story. 

Pakistan used to produce 150000 bales of cotton in 1975. The scientist of NIAB FSD developed new cotton variety and output of cotton reached to 11 million bales. Then for last three decades the output is same and stagnant.

The scientist of KSK Rice Institute developed Baspati variety and Pakistan secured good name in rice. Rest are imported varieties. India has 50+ commercial varieties. Why we could not have a good variety after basmati?

These both scientists got nothing for innovations. The message is well understood by rest of scientific community. Just because;

  • Our S&T is not responsive.
  • It is led by non technical rather political figures.
  • No IP law approved till today for variety, seed etc.
  • No commercial incentives for scientists. 
  • Scientists are not allowed to earn from profits of their innovation as they are treated like civil servants under ESTA code.

Potential Effects of RA 11203 (Philippine Rice Tariffication)

By Caesar B. Cororaton, Krista Danielle S. Yu and Marites M. Tiongco
School of Economics, De La Salle University
AFTER 24 YEARS since the Philippines was granted approval in 1995 by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to impose quantitative restriction (QR) on rice importation into the country, the government finally eliminated the quota system on rice importation through the passage of RA 11203. The law, which was recently signed, will be implemented on March 5, 2019. One of the key features of RA 11203 is the replacement of the rice importation quota system with tariffs. In the new law, the following tariffs apply:
(i) 35% if rice was imported from within ASEAN
(ii) 40% if within the minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons for imports coming from countries outside of ASEAN
(iii) 180% if above the MAV and from a non-ASEAN country.
The Philippine government expects to generate additional tariff revenue of P10 billion as a result of the tariffication of the rice quota. This amount is expected to be allocated to assist rice farmers who will be negatively affected by the expected increase in the inflow of cheaper rice imports of similar quality (Class C or 25% broken) into the country.
The objective of this short note is to present our simulation results of the potential economic impact of RA 11203 on rice farmers, rice imports, consumer prices, Filipino consumers, government tariff revenue, and poverty. The simulation was conducted using a Philippine economic model. We considered two scenarios involving a complete elimination of QR: (i) without tariff replacement on rice imports; and (ii) with rice tariffs in RA 11203. The simulations were compared to the base case where the QR on rice importation is retained.
1. In the case of QR elimination with no tariff replacement, the volume of inflows of cheaper rice will increase by 92.7%, displacing local palay production by 5.9%. The price of local palay will also decline by 2.9%. Overall, the value of local palay production will decrease by P35.1 billion as a result of the drop in both the volume of production and prices. Because there are no tariffs to replace the quota, government revenue will drop by P1.3 billion.
2. If the elimination of the QR is replaced with tariffs stated in RA 11203, the volume of inflows of cheaper rice imports increase at significantly lower rate of 8.1 %. The drop in palay price is also considerably smaller at 0.2%. Overall, the value of local palay production will decline by P2.7 billion. Because of the tariffs imposed on rice imports, government tariff revenue will increase by P18.9 billion, significantly larger than the estimates of the government.
3. In both cases, the elimination of the rice QR will result in lower domestic prices of rice, which in turn leads to higher volume of rice consumption. The value of rice consumption however will decline by P2.1 billion despite the increase in the volume of rice consumption largely because of the decrease in the domestic prices of rice as a result of the tariffication of rice QR.
4. In both cases, the tariffication of the QR will result in lower inflation. The reduction in the overall price is larger in the case of no tariff replacement, mainly because tariffs are additional taxes on consumption. Across decile income groups, however, the decline in consumer prices is higher in lower income groups largely because these groups have relatively higher expenditure share on rice in their consumption basket. Cororaton and Yu (2019) have noted that 20.2% of consumption of poor households is on rice as compared to 10.9% of consumption of non-poor.
5. Both cases are poverty-reducing. The number of poor who will be lifted out of poverty is considerably higher in the first case at 409,956 compared to 38,060 for the second case mainly because of the higher reduction in consumer prices. However, the negative effects on palay farmers are significantly higher in the first case with no tariff replacement compared to the case with tariffs under RA 11203.
The rice QR system which lasted for 24 years generated sizable pure economic rent that went directly to the pockets of select few. It is about time to tariffy the rent and redistribute these to the rice farmers who will be negatively affected by the influx of cheaper imported rice. The higher expected increase in government tariff revenue generated through RA 11203 will be more than enough to assist palay farmers and may be used by the government to increase the assistance to palay farmers through direct income support or through productivity assistance, e.g., the development of improved rice varieties that can withstand and adapt to rapid changes in weather conditions, in addition to the programmes specified under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.
All told, the implementation of RA 11203 was a right policy move by the government to correct the distortion created by the rice QR that puts heavy burden on poor.
Caesar B. Cororaton is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Issues Initiative of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has been working on global economic modeling focusing on regional trade agreements, country-level modeling focusing on policy reforms and poverty, and community-level modeling focusing on impact evaluation of policy interventions.
Krista Danielle S. Yu is an associate professor and research fellow in the School of Economics of De La Salle University. Her research activities centers on the development of quantitative models for disaster risk and vulnerability analyses, as well as on the economic impact of natural disasters. In 2016, she was recognized by Thomson Reuters as the Philippines Promising Star in Economics and Business. In 2017, she received the National Academy of Science and Technology Outstanding Young Scientist Award in the field of Economics.
Marites M. Tiongco is a Full Professor and Dean of the School of Economics at the De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. Her research work focus on the impact of human and social capital on development and poverty, and on the economics of agricultural development with emphasis on critical natural resources and policy issues as they affect food security, food and water safety along the value chain, market access of smallholder producers, agricultural health and productivity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and environmental sustainability.
Bureaucracy seen delaying benefits to rice farmers
February 25, 2019 | 12:05 am
By Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio
THE NEWLY-SIGNED Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 or Rice Tariffication law is expected to reduce poverty by bringing down rice prices, but the bureaucratic process may delay the farmer relief measures attached to the law, academics said.
The law is to implemented beginning March 5, with the National Food Authority’s (NFA) import functions to be removed, leaving the task to the private sector. A 35% tariff will be charged for imports from ASEAN countries, while 40% will be imposed on shipments from non-ASEAN countries for imports within the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons (MT).
The tariffs will finance the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) at P10 billion a year for six years, with 50% to be distributed for farm mechanization; 30% for development, propagation and promotion of inbred seed; 10% for low-cost credit to be facilitated by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP); and 10% for extension services to upgrade farmers’ skills.
“Farmers will be affected because imported rice can be sold at P35 per kilogram (kg) or about P17 per kg for palay (unmilled rice), (which is) great for consumers. That is why the government must have income support for rice farmers,” Rolando T. Dy, Executive Director of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Center for Food and Agribusiness, said in a mobile message.
Mr. Dy noted that if government acts in accordance with the law, it will spur development, though the bureaucracy may take time to establish an efficient process for distributing the RCEF benefits.
“It will take time to implement the P10 billion RCEF due to organizational and bureaucratic weaknesses. I support the Rice Tariffication Act. I am skeptical on the bureaucracy to quickly deliver the RSBSA (Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture) fund transfer and the RCEF,” Mr. Dy said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) said last week that it is now fast-tracking the updating and validation of its National Farmers and Fisheries Information System (NFFIS) which will form part of the RSBSA that will serve as the official list of recipients of RCEF.
Mr. Dy said that investing in mechanization will benefit farmers, reducing the labor required and lowering production costs.
“Mechanization has done well for Vietnamese farmers. Based on the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) PhilRice study, rice farmers in Nueva Ecija use 44 man-days per hectare mainly for transplanting and harvesting. Vietnamese farmers use only four man-days. Big cost difference. The machinery should be the farmers’ choice,” Mr. Dy said.
Mr. Dy noted that rice demand falls as per capita income increases.
“Rice demand falls as per capita income increases. Our problem is very high poverty. Malaysia’s per capita demand is down to 82 kg compared with the Philippines’ 110 kg. South Korea’s is 62 kg, China’s is 78 kg, Japan’s is down to 60 kg… Per capita consumption in most of Asia is falling,” Mr. Dy said.
Roy S. Kempis, a professor with Pampanga State Agricultural University, said imports outside the MAV will be charged higher tariffs of up to 180%, which is why he does not expect imported rice to flood the Philippine market. However, he said the game at the point of import becomes misdeclaration of rice volume.
“Volume to comply with the MAV for 35% tariff must meet the 2012 minimum of 350,000 MT from ASEAN countries, 50% from non-ASEAN countries. Any excess imports from the MAV shall be assessed higher tariffs… One has to be wary of misdeclarations of volume of imports,” Mr. Kempis said in an e-mail interview.
“Opposition to the law must be based on responsible and objective appreciation of the principles of agricultural economics, not politics,” according to Mr. Kempis.
Mr. Kempis said he does not expect the law to encourage dependence on imported rice or threaten the livelihood of farmers.
“Filipino rice farmers will always plant rice, especially for their home consumption. Local and fresh rice is an experience that rice farmers will not exchange for imported rice which is usually old stock… But you have to be wary of people mislabeling rice sold to consumers public,” Mr. Kempis said.
He added some opportunists could scare farmers into selling their land by painting a negative scenario under rice tariffication.
Mr. Kempis backs consolidation of small farms into 50 to 80-hectare plots in order to maximize the efficiency of farm machinery.
Krista Danielle S. Yu, a professor with De La Salle University’s (DLSU) School of Economics (SoE), said the government should also make a strong push for crop insurance and direct cash transfers.
“There is a need to develop programs should rice tariff collections exceed P10 billion. Based on our computation, the welfare loss due to operating with quantitative restrictions was P28 billion. We suggest that a cash transfer program targeted specifically to rice farmers be implemented with the remaining collections. Also, given that farmers are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, crop insurance is also another program worth looking into,” Ms. Yu said in an e-mail.
Asked if farmers will experience losses from more extensive imports, Ms. Yu said, “Initially, rice farmers may incur losses as a result of influx of imported rice. But rice farmers are also rice consumers. Harvested palay meeds to be milled in order to become rice which is now cheaper for farmers thereby yielding gains for them as rice consumers.”
On Sunday, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) warned economic managers and Senator Cynthia A. Villar, the sponsor of the law, of the consequences of the liberalization of rice imports.
“We warned her (Ms. Villar) several times of the danger of abruptly removing NFA’s price stabilization functions, but she did not listen. She just echoed the theory of the economic managers that the free market will take care of everything. Now she is saying the President will take care of it. In effect, she has placed the President in a legally tenuous and politically dangerous trap in case things go awry,” FFF National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said in a statement.

Farmers’ dismay over rice trade lib law may lead to lawsuits–report

Last updated on February 25th, 2019 at 03:55 am
THE Foreign Agricultural Service in Manila of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-FAS) said the Philippine government may face lawsuits over the rice trade liberalization law as opposition against the measure grows.
In a Global Agricultural Information Network (Gain) report, USDA-FAS Manila noted that Republic Act (RA) 11203 would “likely face legal challenges in the form of lawsuits in the near future” as some rice industry stakeholders are “dismayed” over the measure.
RA 11203 liberalized the country’s rice trade, including the removal of the quantitative restriction on imports, and also deregulated the National Food Authority, leaving it as a buffer-stocking agency for emergencies.
“The rice tariffication law has also been met by strong opposition from some sectors, with legal challenges in the form of lawsuits likely in the near future,” the Gain report, which was published recently, read.
The report also agreed with farmers that the country’s rice imports will increase, particularly from Asean member-states, after Manila liberalized rice trade.
The USDA earlier projected that Philippine rice imports this year could reach 2.3 million metric tons (MMT), driven by stronger appetite from traders as they anticipate the full liberalization of the industry.
This would be the second consecutive year that the Philippines will import over 2 MMT of rice, as purchases from abroad last year were also estimated at 2.3 MMT, according to the USDA.

‘Undue haste’

Farmers belonging to the Federation of Free Farmers Inc. (FFF) on Sunday decried the “undue haste” of the economic managers to finish the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) by March 5 sans proper consultation with affected stakeholders.
The FFF noted that RA 11203 provides a 45-day period for the government to consult farmers, millers and other stakeholders in crafting the IRR.
FFF National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said it is important to maximize the 45-day period allotted by the law to ensure that farmers are well informed about the impact of the law.
This would ensure that the concerns of farmers will be heard and will be considered in the IRR, considering that the law has “a lot of loopholes” that need to be clarified, Montemayor added.
“Why are they rushing the completion of the IRR?  Have commitments been made to some importers?  Most farmers have not heard of the Official Gazette, nor do they read newspapers, so they do not even understand what is inside the law,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“How do you expect ordinary farmers to understand, much less critique, this draft in one-day ‘stakeholder consultations’?” he added, noting that the latest draft of the IRR consists of 32 pages.
Officials of the agriculture department sounded the alarm last week that the government could face lawsuits if it would implement the rice trade liberalization law on March 5 sans the IRR.
Some members of the President’s economic team had announced that the new rice trade regime would take effect on March 5 even without the necessary IRR.
Farmers’ groups and other allied industry stakeholders have stated that they may challenge the law before the court due to lack of public consultation in crafting the bill.
Some groups are looking into the possibility of securing a temporary restraining order against RA 11203 from the Supreme Court.

Moody's: Bangko Sentral, rice reform laws 'positive' for PH

Feb 25 2019 01:47 PM | Updated as of Feb 25 2019 03:53 PM
MANILA -- Recent economic reforms in the Philippines will be "positive" for its credit score, according to debt-watcher Moody's, which rates the Southeast Asian economy at investment grade.
A law that imposes tariffs on rice imports in place of quotas will "diminish price volatility" in the staple grain, Moody's said in a research note.
Expanding the supervisory oversight of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to include money services, credit granting businesses and payment system operators will "enhance financial stability," Moody's said.
"All these are credit positive, but doesn't necessarily mean there are triggers from an upgrade," Moody's analyst Christian de Guzman told ANC's Market Edge.
"Our stable outlook connotes a balance between positive and negative factors at the moment," he said, adding the Philippines still had a "hangover" from inflation and interest rate increases.
Moody's rates the Philippines at Baa2, or one notch above investment grade with a "stable" outlook.

Pro-poor: Mareng Winnie cheers Duterte for finally swapping rice quota with tariffs after 15 years of foot-dragging

Last updated Feb 24, 2019
Former Socioeconomic Secretary Solita “Mareng Winnie” Monsod gave President Rodrigo Duterte rare praise for finally signing into law the shift from rice quota to rice tariffs Monsod said the Filipinos waited for 15 years for a President to have the political will to enforce this much needed economic reform which called unequivocably “pro-poor.”
“President Duterte’s human rights record is execrable, and I have dwelt on it in detail… but the two bills he signed into law—the Rice Tariffication Act and the Universal Health Care Act—stand out as much-needed reforms whose enactment and approval deserve applause. They are genuinely pro-poor… it is a good law,” said Monsod in her Inquirer column.
Monsod said a tariff was preferable over a quota because duties generate revenues for the government while quotas benefit importers; and tariffs are universal while quotas are discretionary which makes it more vulnerable to corruption.
Monsod said that even with a 35 percent tariff, Thai rice imports would only cost P27 per kilo versus the P30 to P40 price range of local rice.
She said the Rice Tariffication Law has a safety net provision where rice tariffs would be used to raise a P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund every year to be distributed to farmers to improve their farming operations or shift to higher value crops.
She said the Law empowered the President to impose a special safeguard duty to protect local farmers from rice dumping. “The rice industry, dying of neglect as a result of this law? Nothing can be further from the truth,” Monsod said,

Pakistan, China set to ink FTA-II by June 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China are set to ink much-awaited second free trade agreement by June 2019 and to this effect a technical experts’ delegation from Islamabad will leave for China by end of February, a relevant top official told The News.
“Yes, both the countries have progressed on this account and are set to ink the second FTA by June 2019 and to this effect, Pakistan’s experts’ team is to leave for Beijing to further fine tune the bilateral trade agreement. And in the month of March, Commerce Secretary Younas Dagha will hold meeting with vice commerce minister of China to give final shape to the agreement.”
First FTA with China was, he said, concluded in 2012, but it didn’t yield the required dividends as the items on which Beijing had provided tariff concessions but later on provided more concession on the said items to ASEAN countries owing to which Pakistan’ products in Chinese market remained no more competitive and Pakistan’s exports to China continued to stay at $1.2 billion whereas import from China soars to over $15 billion.
There are 8,000 tariff lines that have been negotiated with Chinese counterparts and to shape up the trade deal-II in favour of Pakistan, Pakistan remained in talks as per the studies and models commerce ministry have had exclusively for China.
Beijing has already extended the commitment to Islamabad during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan that China will double its imports from Pakistan. According to Commerce Minister Razak Dawood, Chinese Premier Li Keianq, during the visit, in clear words asked the top leadership of Pakistan that they are ready to double the imports from Pakistan and if Pakistani entrepreneurs have the capacity, after doubling the imports from $1.2 billion to $2.2 billion, they would also increase imports from Pakistan by more $1 billion. So China, he said, is ready to triple the imports from Pakistan but it all depends upon the ability of Pakistani entrepreneurs.
In addition, Beijing has also agreed to extend to Pakistan a special quota for export of sugar and rice which will also help to have a massive surge in exports to China.
The cabinet member said that a crucial meeting of Pakistan top officials is going to take place in Beijing on November 9 with their counterparts to shape up the process to finalise placing the dollars in Pakistan’s account to improve reserves situation and carve out the modus operandi to improve the export of Pakistani goods to China.
Pakistan exports range from $120-$150 million a month which improved in the July 2018, August, September, October and November to $200 million a month. In the remaining months, commerce ministry wants to jack up its monthly export to $400 million to materialise the offer of China.
Pakistan’s export to china stands at $1.2 billion per annum which can go up to $2.2 billion and then to $3.2 billion. Pakistan wants market access and unilateral concession of 313 tariff lines, but the Chinese premier by setting aside these demands offered Pakistan’s top leadership that his country is poised to increase its imports from Pakistan by 100 percent and later on it would also increase them by another 100 percent.
This will help decrease trade deficit with China. The official said that Pakistan can increase its exports by just $500 million by sending to Chinese market one million tons sugar and one million tons rice. China’s imports stands at $2 trillion but Pakistan entrepreneurs lacks the ability to harness even 1 percent share in China’s total imports.

The last resort

FEBRUARY 25, 2019
Description: R. ARANDA
FILIPINO artisans, skilled workers, professionals would rather stay home or within the country’s shores – if there are enough jobs that would provide them with decent pay, and consequently, the prospects of a better future for their families.
Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are threatened by war, pestilence, health outbreaks and ethnic conflicts in one Middle East nation would rather cross the border and wait things out instead of coming home, even if there are assurances of repatriation and opportunities for training in preparation for re-entry into the Philippine workforce.
To these OFWs, going abroad is not the ideal but it is the only viable option left.
Last week, we traveled to Batangas, one of the provinces comprising the Calabarzon region.
Based on various sources—the Philippine Statistics Authority, POEA, Commission on Filipinos Overseas and the Central Bank—the number of OFWs who work abroad would be at least 2.2 million as of September 2016.
There are no other available official statistics from these government sources online. Intermittent news articles by industry practitioners and recruitment agencies come out every now and then, but one would have to exert effort to scour the web for actual and timely numbers.
The Philippines registered a nine percent decline in the deployment of migrant workers in 2017 after 10 years of continuous growth.
A Sept. 24, 2018 news article which appeared on another daily quoted a “recruitment consultant Manny Geslani,” as saying that “the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to 180 countries declined by nine percent in 2017 as compared to 2016, a banner year of deployment for migrant workers that hit 2,112,331.”
A POEA summary of Deployed Overseas Filipino Workers by type of hiring for the years 2006 to the first semester of 2018 shows only 1,992,746 workers were deployed in 2017.
Of the total deployed in 2017, only 419,955 were new hires, and 1,194,719 were rehires. In 2016, there were 582,816 new hires while rehires numbered 1,086,695.
By region, Calabarzon reported the biggest share of OFWs with 21 percent, followed by the National Capital Region and Central Luzon with 12.9 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively.
According to the POEA’s 2010 report on OFW Deployment per Skill and Country, there were 401,000 farm workers and farmers deployed. Five years earlier, the same occupation group represented only 103,000 of the total deployed based on 2005 POEA statistics.
On the way to La Luz Resort in San Juan, Batangas, we passed through the Star tollway ending up in Rosario, bypassing Lipa City. On the way back, we decided to take a road trip through the backroads from Pagsanjan to Mabitac, onwards to Pililla, Tanay, towards Teresa then to Antipolo City.
The rice fields along the way had shrunk while the commercial establishments, particularly the fast food franchises, had mushroomed. In addition, subdivisions were being built over rice fields. This is true from Pagsanjan to the long stretch of road to Mabitac and even the town of Teresa, Rizal.
“Build, build, build” roads, of course, would require buying the agricultural area planted to rice. Without sellers, there would be no buyers. In quite a few cases, farmers volunteer to sell a portion of their rice fields as the value of the land would be more than the reduced harvest (cavan per hectare).
In some cases, the government uses its eminent domain authority to take the land without the owner’s consent provided there is just compensation. The buying price through eminent domain in general is much lower than if the price were to be negotiated directly between the farmer and the buyer.
In 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the average family income for all occupations was P267,000 per year. The average income of farmers (farm, off-farm, and non-farm), however, was just around P100,000 a year.
After deducting the farming costs, the net income is much smaller.
PSA’s report on production costs and returns shows a gross income of P80,360. With total costs of P48,985, a Filipino farmer only makes P31,375 net income. Remember that NEDA officials got into hot water when it claimed that a family of five needed only P10,000 a month to survive. With these numbers, the farmer’s family would be able to survive for just over three months.
According to Payscale, the average pay for a farm worker is SAR 15,660, or P217,394 per year. No wonder the number of farmers being deployed overseas increase over a one to five-year period.
If there are less areas planted to palay, where do Filipinos get their rice?
From imports of course.
For politicians, importing provides a better opportunity to make money than providing funds and support for the Filipino farmer.
In November 2018, the country’s rice self-sufficiency level declined to 93.44 percent from 95.01 percent, according to PSA data. The PSA report said that “the country’s import dependency ratio (IDR) of rice increased to 6.56 percent last year, from 4.99 percent in 2016.
“Rice imports went up by 39 percent to P18 billion in 2017.In terms of volume, shipments soared 46 percent to 888,085 metric tons.”
The reason?
The declining self-sufficiency of rice was due to the reduced share of domestic production in the country’s supply of the staple, while the share of rice imports increased.
It does not take rocket science to deduce that with subdivisions being built and commercial establishments being built over rice fields, domestic production is bound to decrease.
In fact, the PSA reported that by major industry group, other sectors got a boost, but the agriculture industry registered a decline of 723,000 workers in farming, hunting, forestry and fishing sectors.
Rehired OFWs – farmers or non-agricultural workers – invest their earnings in tricycles, jeepneys and other modes of transportation as the alternate source of income in anticipation of the day when the OFW might have to return home, repatriated or not. After losing the farm or being forced to either pawn or sell their rice fields, the farm worker/farmer hopes income from tricycles or other forms of transportation would earn more than the previous farm income.
OFWs also hope that when they finally have to return voluntarily or otherwise, their children would have finished secondary education and would be able to earn for themselves or contribute to the family income, this time as workers in other sectors, but not agriculture.
In 2012, there were over 650,000 public tricycles operating in the country, accounting for nearly 68 percent of the total for-hire vehicle population. While this motorized personal and public conveyances earn income for the OFW operator, tricycles and motorcycles are responsible for 45 percent of all volatile organic compound that destroy the ozone layer and worsen the greenhouse effect, according to a study conducted by the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) of the University of the Philippines.
A few students in hospitality courses were deployed by the schools in Batangas province to La Luz Resort. These on-the-job trainees hope to gain experience and later move out of the province either to Metro Manila, Metro Cebu or Metro Davao where the pay would be higher and there would be a career progression compared to inheriting the farm or working the fields.
In August 2018, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported the minimum wage of non-agriculture in Calabarzon, or Region IV-A, was P317 to P400. Workers in agriculture, however, get P303 to P372.
Non-agriculture workers in NCR get P475 to P512 a day.
With at least two years’ experience, the same entry-level or semi-skilled workers (food and beverage servers for example) in Canada would earn an average of $12.70 per hour, or $16,661.00 per year today, according to the Alberta Wage and Salary Survey.
The peso equivalent in today’s exchange rate would be P657,378 a year.
The son or daughter of a farmer would be earning P147,456 a year with the highest wages (in NCR), after moving out of the farm into a provincial resort hospitality job, then on to NCR and eventually overseas.
As an OFW, the farmer or the farmer’s children would even be able to save enough and join other OFWs in Batangas – particularly in Mabini – as homeowners and, with their global qualification and experience, become mid- to top-level management in hotels, rental facilities and other hospitality establishments.
Leaving for overseas may have been the painful last choice of their parents and they had to move out of the family farm as a last resort, but they can return better individuals, more productive members of the community and bringing back some of the better traits from their country of temporary work and residency.
They may even be stockholders, partners of owners of their first resort.

Rice: our ‘orphan’ export product

Amin AhmedFebruary 25, 2019
Description: Basmati rice is Pakistan’s celebrated export. But its production and exports have slipped of late. — AFP/File
Basmati rice is Pakistan’s celebrated export. But its production and exports have slipped of late. — AFP/File
Basmati rice is Pakistan’s celebrated export. But its production and exports have slipped of late.
The absence of research and development makes it extremely difficult for the rice sector to prepare for new challenges. The high status of basmati rice as a major export commodity conceals the fact that its contribution to the economy is below its potential. Without a strong commitment to elevating basmati rice as a strategic product, it will continue to be a victim of changing economic and environmental conditions.
A report prepared with the help of technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says the handling of the country’s premier export product as an ‘orphan’ is a tragedy. In the absence of research and development–based preparedness, the subsector is exposed to multiple risks from internal as well as external sources.
While the overall revenues from rice are stable, the lack of growth of basmati revenues should be a ‘red flag’ for policymakers. A reform programme is urgently needed because years of under-investment have weakened the system. However, some practical measures can reverse the trend, ADB says.
The overriding requirement is for the government to commit to a strategic road map that fills the research and development gap. It should create an environment that enables the public and private sectors to engage in commercially viable research. The rice sector is already paying the bills for its development.
The missing link is the utilisation of the resources. New efforts may be needed to bypass the existing setup if it is too costly or rigid to reform. But, without a reform of research and development, the future of the production and marketing of Pakistan’s basmati rice is uncertain, cautions the report.
The additional levy on exporters would not be needed if the current levy is channelled as intended. In 1999, parliament passed the Export Development Fund Act under which all exporters, including rice exporters, pay a surcharge of 0.25 per cent. This is deducted by the exporter’s bank from foreign receipts and submitted to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
The bank transfers the collected cess to the Ministry of Finance. Under the Act, the finance ministry must transfer all proceeds of the Export Development Fund to the commerce ministry, which is responsible for disbursing the proceeds according to the stipulations of the Act.
In reality, the finance ministry has not been transferring all the amounts to the commerce ministry. As a result, the commerce ministry has a large sum due from the finance ministry. The cess collected in 2017 from rice exporters is equal to half of all expenditures on rice research and development for the last 20 years. The Act specifies that the cess funds can be used for research and development, technical institutes, market and product development and other areas related to export enhancement.
While the export segment of the value chain benefits most from rice in terms of private profits, exporters still expect the public sector to fund core research and development. The inability to view the whole value chain means that the billions of rupees that have been collected from rice exporters in the last 20 years have not been used for basic research and development. The vision of the Export Development Fund or the exporters is not broad enough to realise that research and development across the value chain will contribute to increased export revenues.
The amount of funding required to reviving growth in basmati production and exports is not huge. Recent policy work, especially in Punjab, has recognised the need for investment in research and development. Funds are available in the government’s annual development budget.
The study suggests that the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, a government body, is a good model of how the coordinated efforts of a whole value chain can improve the prospects of a particular crop. The board has made Malaysian palm oil an international benchmark product and has invested heavily in research and development and commercialisation.
Pakistan can create a basmati rice board based on the Malaysian model and funded by the rice exporters’ contributions to the Export Development Fund. As is the case for all research and development in the country’s agriculture, basmati research and development in rice suffers from a low quality and quantity of funding. The core issue relates to the absence of policy commitment and the recognition of the need to invest a minimum amount consistently. The irony is that the amount of research investment needed is tiny compared with its potential return, it says.
Insufficient investment in agriculture research and development in Pakistan has resulted in suboptimal yields and a lower-than-potential productivity growth curve of its basmati rice varieties. Pakistan is the globe’s fourth largest rice exporter in terms of quantity and rice is the country’s largest export earner after cotton. This status was achieved by liberalising the rice trade in the early 1990s and allowing the private sector to operate freely.
India is Pakistan’s only competitor in the export market for basmati rice. But basmati has to compete with other varieties in the global marketplace. Although Pakistan inherited good rice varieties and managed to improve on them, the country has not made significant progress during the last 20 years.
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, February 25th, 2019
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Don’t delay rice tariffication, Piñol warned
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - February 25, 2019 - 12:00am
NFA officials earlier said they are exploring their options in questioning the law before the Supreme Court.
MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol was warned yesterday not to delay or derail the implementation of the landmark rice tariffication law, which he had opposed when it was being deliberated in Congress.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the economic affairs committee and one of the authors of Republic Act (RA) 11203, defended the law as a major solution to the unstable price and supply of rice in the country amid the strong opposition of Piñol and the National Food Authority (NFA).
“Secretary Piñol, please cooperate fully in implementing the law,” Gatchalian told dzBB when asked about the possibility of officials from the Department of Agriculture (DA) delaying the law’s implementation.
“He must work for the success of the law even if he’s against it,” Gatchalian said.
NFA officials earlier said they are exploring their options in questioning the law before the Supreme Court.
RA 11203 replaces the quantitative restrictions imposed by the government on rice imports with a 35 percent tariff as required by the World Trade Organization.
The law also allocated P10 billion annually for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) for six years to be extended to farmers for various initiatives including mechanization, educations, provision of choice fertilizers and seeds.
The senator also warned that he would scrutinize the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) that the DA and National Economic and Development Authority are expected to issue in the next 30 to 90 days to make sure the IRR remains faithful to the intent of the law in ensuring stable rice supply and lower prices while supporting the local farmers as well as enhancing the country’s competitiveness in producing the staple.
Gatchalian said the country’s uncertain rice supply and the poor competitiveness of local farmers have been an issue in government for decades.
He said DA and NFA officials have been “countering and countering” the Rice Tariffication law for a long time but “have not presented any credible solution.”
Gatchalian said the law is expected to lead to a reduction of rice prices by P2 to P7 per kilo.
He said another law providing for free irrigation to farmers would also help improve the country’s rice production.
About half of the country’s rice-producing regions have already become as productive as Thailand and Vietnam in growing the staple, Gatchalian noted.
This means that the regions can easily compete with imports and with the RCEF helping the other provinces, it is possible that the country will have almost no need to import rice in the future, Gatchalian maintained.
Meanwhile, reelectionist Sen. Nancy Binay and former senator Juan Ponce Enrile raised issues on the Rice Tariffication law yesterday in Bulacan.
Binay noted that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has warned of a possible dry spell in the first quarter of this year due to the developing El Niño phenomenon.
For his part, Enrile cautioned the government in its importation of rice.
“When you bring in too much commodity from the outside, you deprive local farmers of their source of livelihood, so we should be using tariffs to protect them,” Enrile maintained. 
Enrile said rice could be imported from other countries at low levels of tariff. – With Ramon Efren Lazaro

Krishi Kendra employees demand job regularisation

The agitating employees alleged though they have been appealing the OUAT authorities to regularise their job for the last several years, their demands have fallen in deaf ears. 
Published: 24th February 2019 10:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2019 04:03 PM  |  
By Express News Service
BHUBANESWAR: More than 300 employees of 31 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) under Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) are on dharna for the fifth consecutive day on Saturday demanding regularisation of jobs.
The agitating employees alleged though they have been appealing the OUAT authorities to regularise their job for the last several years, their demands have fallen in deaf ears.
Of 33 KVKs functioning in 30 districts of the State, 31 are under administrative control of OUAT and the rest two are under National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) and Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA).
With a team of six scientists and other scientific staff, each KVK functions as a knowledge and resource centre. Though all employees working in KVKs prior to 2005 were regular, contractual recruitment started thereafter due to austerity measures of the State Government.
The sanctioned strength of a KVK is 16 headed by a senior scientist and six other scientists from different disciplines, three programme assistants and other staff. Even as KVK employees have been made regular in different State Agricultural Universities in the country and ICAR institutes, it is not so in Odisha.
The facilities like CAS, RACP, MACP and NPS announced by OUAT have also not been implemented yet. The employees have urged the university authorities to send a proposal to the State Government for regularisation of their jobs.
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EXCLUSIVE: What went wrong with THE RICE BILL? (Updated) #AsiaNewsNetwork


EVERYONE INVOLVED agrees that the rice bill – Thailand’s first legislation aimed at guiding holistic management of production – began with good intentions. But now that it’s sailed through first reading by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), and despite a series of amendments in recent months, the devil is appearing in the details.
The NLA initiated the bill in a rush late last year, prodded along by groups of farmer representatives allegedly tied to state agencies such as the Rice Department.
The original bill, which didn’t survive the draft stage, was aimed at “developing and stabilising rice production and the supply chain and protecting farmers’ rights more effectively”, resulting in “the utmost benefit to the whole production process”.
According to the drafters, the 22-page bill’s six main sections foresaw the creation of a policy body overseeing rice production and management, pooling the authority of the Rice Department and other concerned officials, collecting “big data” on rice-grain trades, and setting out penalties for violations.
The most controversial current component is Section 5, which concerns the management and supervision of rice production. The production of and trade in different rice varieties remain the subjects of heated debate.
The original draft addressed the issue in Article 26, which proposed a ban on trade in certain rice varieties without state certification but made an exception for small-scale farming. The clause drew strong opposition based on the fear that farmers would still be forced to use only varieties produced and sold in the market by farm-business firms or else face jail.
Strong opposition by other alternative-farming and farmers’-rights advocacy groups resulted in the contentious article being dropped. Other articles were altered in the latest version to be tabled for second and third readings in the NLA coming week.
“The bill came with good intentions from people who wished to see holistic management for our rice production and marketing,” said Witoon Lianchamroon, director of the Biodiversity-Sustainable Agriculture-Sovereignty Action Thailand (BioThai Foundation), the leading alternative farming advocacy group.
“The real problem with it is that the broad public participation it was supposed to have was lacking, so some critical elements were omitted that were essential to production management being able to withstand future challenges, including food security.”
BioThai has been working with farmers across the nation for years and says it is the farmers who still lead the way in developing and improving rice varieties through their selection skills. World-renowned varieties such as Hom Mali, for instance, derived from that wisdom and skill, long before any state agency certified it, Witoon said.
Over the last 10 years, as interest in organic produce boomed, many rice farmers have parlayed their traditional skills as growers to become breeders. They’ve created new rice varieties such as aromatic Chor Ratree, which is Nakhon Sawan’s answer to Hom Mali and Pathum Thani 1 and the Yellow rice grain cultivated in Yasothon, which is full of folic acid, a boon to pregnant women.
These varieties tend to be exchanged among farmers and traded locally before earning state certification, a process that can take years because it involves scientific study to confirm that the variety’s distinctive traits are stable.
BioThai’s findings are in line with those of the Rice Department itself, which says up to 49 per cent of rice varieties are those developed and improved by farmers. That’s in stark contrast to the 6 per cent of varieties it has developed and certified, another 6 per cent coming from its community rice centres and cooperatives, and 18 per cent derived from rice-business firms.
All of this is ignored in the current draft of the legislation, which instead focuses on ways to regulate the state-certified varieties, Witoon pointed out.
And it extends state support only to farmers who grow the state-certified varieties. Worse, the greater authority given the Rice Department under the newly added Article 27/4 can also be enforced through the 1975 Plant Variety Act, which bars trade in uncertified plant varieties, including rice.
Witoon believes the bill runs counter to realities in the field and fails to correct mistakes made in the past. In India, he cited, rights of farmers to plant varieties are fundamentally protected in the 2001 Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer's Rights Act, the point he views as being advanced in developing countries.
Witoon partially blames the state’s mindset when writing laws, which gives priority to enforcement and private-sector benefits while overriding community rights.
BioThai has asked the drafters to delay further deliberation so that the public has more time to weigh in on the issues.
“Rice is not just about products on the market, it’s about the way of life, the culture” said Witoon. “These dimensions need to be weighed before a decision is made so we can maintain the diversity and resilience that could help us survive against future challenges, including food security and control by big business.
“That resilience is in the hands of our farmers.”
Macro economist and rural-development policy advocate Nipon Poapongsakorn, a distinguished member of the technical staff at the Thailand Development Research Institute, said the current draft is better equipped to deal with the controversial ban on trade in rice variety. But the challenge remains how to maintain diversity in production while also maintaining high standards, he said.
Extending greater authority to the Rice Department seemed to be heading in the wrong direction, Nipon said. It should not play a regulator’s role, but rather serve as a research institute on rice production.
The new law, he concurred, should be written with an eye to meeting future challenges.

Black rice is the new brown rice - Benefits of black rice

Posted: Feb 23, 2019 11:34 AM PST
Updated: Feb 23, 2019 11:34 AM PST

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) - You've been told to switch from white rice to brown rice to get more fiber and nutrients. 
Now, there's another type of rice to think about... that's black rice.
Health expert Karen Owoc told KRON 4’s Marty Gonzalez that health-conscious shoppers should consider black rice.
Karen says it is a whole grain and more nutritious than brown rice. It has more fiber content, protein, fewer calories and nutrients. Karen says Anthocyanins are plant purple/blue pigments, the same pigments that give blueberries, purple grapes, plums, tart cherries, and beets their color and health benefits.
These purple/blue pigments have anti-inflammatory effects and protect against carcinogens. They may help prevent heart disease (Compared to white rice, black rice decreased Atherosclerotic plaque formation by 50% in rabbits.)
A study showed that a spoonful of black rice bran contains more Anthocyanins than a spoonful of blueberries. Scientists are finding that rice contains arsenic, a heavy metal.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that’s present in soil or water due to minerals in the earth and can eventually end up in food, drinking water, and wine.
A study out of Harvard found no increased cancer risk from long-term consumption of rice (eating five or more servings of white or brown rice a week) in U.S. men and women.
Cooking Tips to Reduce Arsenic Content: Cook rice like pasta In 6 parts water per 1 part rice (6:1). This drastically reduces arsenic levels by 40% as arsenic is water-soluble.
The Takeaway: If you really like rice, choose black for its unique health benefits, and avoid eating rice grown In Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and China (due to higher levels of arsenic).

Krishi Kendra employees demand job regularisation

The agitating employees alleged though they have been appealing the OUAT authorities to regularise their job for the last several years, their demands have fallen in deaf ears. 
Published: 24th February 2019 10:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2019 04:03 PM  | 
By Express News Service
BHUBANESWAR: More than 300 employees of 31 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) under Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) are on dharna for the fifth consecutive day on Saturday demanding regularisation of jobs.
The agitating employees alleged though they have been appealing the OUAT authorities to regularise their job for the last several years, their demands have fallen in deaf ears.
Of 33 KVKs functioning in 30 districts of the State, 31 are under administrative control of OUAT and the rest two are under National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) and Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA).
With a team of six scientists and other scientific staff, each KVK functions as a knowledge and resource centre. Though all employees working in KVKs prior to 2005 were regular, contractual recruitment started thereafter due to austerity measures of the State Government.
The sanctioned strength of a KVK is 16 headed by a senior scientist and six other scientists from different disciplines, three programme assistants and other staff. Even as KVK employees have been made regular in different State Agricultural Universities in the country and ICAR institutes, it is not so in Odisha.
The facilities like CAS, RACP, MACP and NPS announced by OUAT have also not been implemented yet. The employees have urged the university authorities to send a proposal to the State Government for regularisation of their jobs.
Stay up to date on all the latest Odisha news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
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Importers’ rice cartel?

The new untested  Rice Tariffication Law could affect   the productivity of local farmers, lower the price of rice, or ensure a stable rice supply only if the government will make good its assurance of a P10-billion substantial support to rice production in  agriculture.
This money support for rice farmers from government is envisioned to come from the tariff of importers duties ranging from  35 to 45% rate.  If realized, the importation tarriff is expected to hit P100-billion. What if unforeseen events will fall?  What if rice importers will form a cartel and control the price of rice?    How will the rice industry survive? Of course it will go back to the poor Filipino farmers burden. Or government will form its own set of importers by using favored  business groups.
The Rice Tariffication Law replaces volume restrictions and allows unlimited rice importation, with a 35-percent tariff on rice imports from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and 50 percent from non-Asean countries. This means anyone can import rice, thus, huggle for low prices….But what if the importers will form a cartel?
This takes effect on March 5, with up to P11 billion in import duties expected to be collected during its first year of implementation, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Tuesday.
Under the law, a P10-billion rice competitiveness enhancement fund will be taken from the tariff revenues to support Filipino farmers for six years.
Beyond control
But global prices cannot be controlled. If foreign rice cartels will jack up their prices, our country will be forced to buy rice abroad for high a price, and makes it un-affordable here bv our people.
Or there will be   possible price manipulation by domestic rice traders. Or the accelerated land conversion by CARP land reform could lessen rice production.
Skeptics say Global rice prices are volatile and can become very high depending on the production  conditions of exporting countries. Rice production [in] Vietnam and Thailand is subsidized and incentivized, making their rice cheap. But they can decide to prioritize local consumption and ban exports, making cheap rice unavailable to Filipino consumers.” Ibon warned.
Palace assurance
But Malacañang has assured farmers that safeguards would be put in place to prevent the misuse of the fund, with the Department of Agriculture (DA) being accountable and responsible for it.
The DA, would work with farmers cooperatives and groups to validate the list of beneficiaries.
The Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization will also conduct a periodic review of the fund.
Dept of Financve   spokesperson Antonio Joselito Lambino II said “the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the new law is being crafted to ensure that [there would be no corruption].”

Ludhiana CLU controversy: Punjab cabinet minister Ashu dares Navjot Singh Sidhu to prove his involvement

Civil supplies minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, who is being accused of helping a realtor procure CLU, says he has nothing to do with the property.

CHANDIGARH Updated: Feb 23, 2019 23:25 IST

HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh/Patiala/Ludhiana
Description: Ludhiana CLU controversy,Punjab,Bharat Bhushan Ashu
Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Navjot Singh Sidhu (HT File )

The long-standing differences between cabinet ministers —Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Navjot Singh Sidhu — have escalated over change of land use (CLU) granted to a housing project in Ludhiana. Food and civil supplies minister Ashu on Saturday dared local bodies minister Sidhu to prove former’s alleged involvement in the ongoing CLU controversy or initiate action against the official who had named him in an inquiry report.
“I have nothing to do with the property involved in the CLU controversy. It’s Sidhu who should explain how my name is being dragged. And if he (Sidhu) finds any merit in the inquiry report, he should report the matter to the CM and seek action against all, including me. But if my name is added with a mischievous intention, then take the official to task,” said Ashu, who was attending a function organised by All India Rice Millers’ Association in Patiala. Ashu and Sidhu have been at loggerheads for long over delay in development works in Ludhiana.
Ashu reacted a day after Sidhu said that “no matri or santri (minister or official)” will be spared after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) deputy leader in the assembly Sarabjeet Kaur Manuke raised the issue during the Zero Hour in the Vidhan Sabha on Friday. She termed Sidhu an “honest minister” and raised finger at officers and sought resignation of Ashu. Sidhu also said he had put a stay on the CLU granted to Grand Manor Homes, a housing project in Ludhiana’s Ishar Nagar area, which he said was obtained using “forged” documents.
When asked whether his name in the inquiry report was outcome of political rivalry, Ashu said, “Sidhu can explain that better.”
Sidhu pointed out that the application for the CLU was submitted on January 17, 2018, and documents attached were forged. He said the registry of the land was done two days later on January 19, whereas it is mandatory to attach the registry papers at the time of applying for the CLU. “This means that the applicant was not the owner of the land at the time of applying for the CLU,” he had said.
Sidhu has asked principal secretary, local bodies, to take stringent action against the officers guilty of willful disobedience of the orders issued by him on July 7, 2018, regarding keeping the matter of CLU approval in abeyance.
Ludhiana municipal corporation commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur Brar and assistant town planner SS Bindra are under the lens for granting the CLU and Sidhu reportedly has summoned them to produce the project records.

Indonesia formally grants immediate market access for 20 Pakistani products

ISLAMABAD: Indonesia has issued a formal notification for the correction of Indonesia-Pakistan Preferential Trade Agreement (IP-PTA) by offering immediate market access for 20 products of Pakistan’s prime interest.
The priority products included mangoes, broken rice, ethanol, tobacco, yarn and fabric, home textile, terry towel, apparel and knitwear.
A memorandum of understanding to amend the Preferential Trade Agreement between the two countries was signed during the visit of the Indonesian president in January 2018. Following this, a meeting was held between the Indonesian trade minister and Commerce Secretary Younas Dagha on the sidelines of Shanghai Expo in 2018 wherein the latter underlined the need for correction in PTA and requested for early resolution of this issue.
The secretary also took up the issue of non-tariff barriers imposed on Pakistani agriculture products by Indonesia. Owing to the sustained efforts of the Ministry of Commerce, Indonesia has finally offered unilateral market access for Pakistani products.
IP-PTA was signed in 2012; however, it failed to help Pakistan’s exports grow in the Indonesian market. Despite the PTA, Pakistan’s exports to Indonesia showed a negative growth during the post-PTA period; the figures came down to $141 million (2016-17) from $236 million (2011-12). However, 2017-18 proved a good year for Pakistan’s exports, which jumped to $296 million.
The balance of trade was highly tilted in favour of Indonesia. At the time of the signing of the PTA, the total volume of bilateral trade was $1.6 billion, which reached $2.8 billion in 2017-18. All the growth in bilateral trade was due to an increase in Indonesia’s exports to Pakistan, which were recorded at $1,720 million in 2013-14 and increased to $2,530 million in 2017-18.
The Ministry of Commerce took up this matter with the Ministry of Trade Indonesia during review meetings of IP-PTA. Subsequently, three review meetings were held and Indonesia acknowledged concerns expressed by Pakistan regarding adverse effects of IP-PTA on Pakistan’s exports and finally agreed to unilaterally grant zero duty on 20 products of Pakistan export interest.
Formal notification of inclusion of additional tariff lines in the IP-PTA has now been issued after the approval of the president and effective from 1st March 2019.
During the previous year, Pakistan exported 200,000MT of white rice and 200,000MT of wheat to Indonesia. Recently, the Ministry of Commerce has managed to get special permission from Indonesia to export mango for the upcoming season as well.
Traditionally, Indonesia has been one of the leading export destinations for Pakistani kinnow. In wake of these new tariff concessions, exporters of denim fabric, ethanol, towel, leather and home textile products are very excited and eager to exploit the potential of the Indonesian market.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood thanked the Indonesian government for understanding the negative impact of the PTA on Pakistan’s trade and for addressing the issue accordingly. The advisor stated that Pakistan would review other FTAs/PTAs as well to make them more beneficial for the country.

More than a grain of truth
Description: The draft bill on rice reform is the latest political earthquake shaking up the country's rice industry, as it has stirred an uproar among farmers and academics who have cried foul that the bill is designed... View our policies at

Genetically modified crops contributing to country's agriculture

12:00 AM, February 25, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:35 AM, February 25, 2019

BRRI director general says at workshop

Staff Correspondent
Aiming to develop journalists' capacity, a two-day workshop on application of biotechnology in agriculture, began at a hotel in Dhaka yesterday.
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Farming Future Bangladesh (FFB), an initiative of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, jointly organised the event with technical support from Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).
A total of 28 journalists from different print, electronic and online media outlets participated in the training, titled “Agri-Biotechnology Reporting”. The training will end today with a field trip at BRRI office in Gazipur.
Biotechnology is the manipulation of living organisms or their components, through genetic engineering, to produce useful -- usually commercial -- products such as pest resistant crops, new bacterial strains or novel pharmaceuticals.
Speaking at a session of the event yesterday, BRRI Director General Shahjahan Kabir said there are some misconceptions among people about genetically modified organisms.
“Genetically modified crops are completely safe and these have a significant contribution to global agricultural production. Now it has started to contribute to our country's agriculture,” said Shahjahan.
He expressed hope that journalists would help dispel the misconceptions through their reporting.
IRRI Representative for Bangladesh Humnath Bhandari, former BRRI Director General Jiban Krishna Biswas, Dhaka Tribune Executive Editor Reaz Ahmad and Farming Future Bangladesh Executive Director Arif Hossain, among others, also spoke at the programme. 

Govt agro research bodies press for GM crops

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:18, Feb 25,2019
Three government agricultural research organisations on Sunday argued in favor of promoting genetically modified crops as a means of reducing pesticide consumption without affecting crop yields.
While attending a workshop organised for journalists at a city hotel, they called for a scientific transformation in agriculture sector to feed growing population in land-starved Bangladesh.
Journalists attending the workshop, however, pointed out that the research organisations did not have enough work to assure people that the genetically modified crops they were proposing to introduce were safe for human consumption, environment and biodiversity.
‘For ensuring food security in future we need scientific transformation in agriculture sector,’ said Bangladesh Rice Research Institute director general Md Shahjahan Kabir.
He said that they were close to releasing genetically modified golden rice to meet vitamin A deficiency among people, especially children and women.
‘People have to keep in mind that we are not trying to promote any business,’ he said.
‘We are promoting science. And we assure people of our commitment to protecting their health and the health of our environment,’ he said.
Cotton Development Board executive director Md Farid Uddin said that the country could drastically reduce application of pesticide in cotton production by shifting to cultivation of genetically modified BT cotton.
He said that Bangladesh met 97 per cent of cotton demand with imports which could be reduced by increasing production through cultivation of BT cotton.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute’s senior scientific officer AKM Quamruzzaman, BRRI’s principal scientific officer Partha S Biswas and CDB’s senior scientific officer Kamrul Islam presented separate keynote papers highlighting benefits of having genetically modified crops.
Journalists criticised the presentations for being highly biased with the intention of pushing genetically modified crops in Bangladesh without proper research.
They blamed the research organisations for ignoring people’s health safety concerns in their research work and focusing only on the aspect of increasing production.
They said that the research organisations completely failed to justify the necessity for having genetically modified crops like BT Cotton and golden rice.
They said that introduction of BT Brinjal had also been unjustified and authorities failed to ensure marketing of the product with proper labelling so that people could make informed choice.
They feared that introduction of genetically modified crops may offer a window for multinational companies to overtake agriculture sector rendering hundreds of thousands of farmers jobless.
As many as 28 journalists attended the workshop on knowledge sharing and capacity building workshop on agri-biotechnology reporting.
It was jointly organised by International Rice Research Institute, Farming Future Bangladesh and BRRI.
IRRI representative for Bangladesh Humnath Bhandari, its national consultant Jiban Krishna Biswas and FFB chief executive officer Arif Hossain also attended the workshop among others