Thailand advises Hom Mali rice buyers to check certification branding…

  • Thailand advises Hom Mali rice buyers to check certification branding after fake production coming from China

    The Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) has advised consumers to look for certification branding on the packages for quality assurance as recent reports have warned of Chinese imitations of Hom Mali rice, whereby manufacturers sell rice of other origins processed with flavor enhancers.

    The Ministry of Commerce has advised customers looking to purchase genuine Hom Mali rice from Thailand to look for certification branding on the package. This recommendation came in response to a report on fake Hom Mali rice coming from China.

    The Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) has advised consumers to look for certification branding on the packages for quality assurance. Recent reports have warned of Chinese imitations of Hom Mali rice, whereby manufacturers sell rice of other origins processed with flavor enhancers.

    DFT Director General Ronnarong Phoolpipat said three manufacturers have already been found producing imitated Hom Mali rice, after which they were shut down by Chinese authorities.
    Ronnarong said the damage to the reputation of Thai rice from these imitation products has yet to be determined.

    Thailand’s trade promotion offices in China will conduct more frequent inspections against imitated products, as well as work to raise awareness among Chinese customers on the quality assurance branding for items originating from Thailand. (NNT)

  • Less food waste means more food security

  • FILIPINO households do not consume all the food on their dining tables, and the resulting wastage has grown into a problem that requires serious attention.

    This finding is highlighted in the 2018 Expanded National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Department of Science and Technology's Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).

    According to the study, rice, vegetables and meat are the three most wasted foods in Filipino households. The bigger the household, the higher the waste. And rural households squander more food than their urban counterparts.

    In terms of income class, households in the highest one-fifth or quintile had a bigger wastage than the poorest quintile.

    "This implies that households incur more wastes when higher quantities are purchased, which most probably are not consumed and end up being thrown away due to spoilage." the FNRI noted.

    The study reflects a glaring disconnect: millions of Filipinos go hungry every year, but the average Filipino wastes 86 kilograms of food annually. The vast amounts of food that go uneaten and thrown away would have been enough to feed hungry stomachs.

    Food waste is a global malaise. By one estimate, as much as 40 percent of food, or 2.5 billion tons, around the world is wasted every year. The wastage is enough to feed 3 billion people.

    Food waste impacts the environment as well, and is already recognized as one of the drivers of climate change. Estimates suggest that 8 to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed.

    "The increasing and persistent global demand for food is also driving fertile land useless while contributing to more land degradation and deforestation, which as a result, destroys our precious natural habitats and biodiversity, limiting the services that they provide and disrupting entire ecosystems," according to one study.

    The Philippines is struggling with its own food security woes. We ranked 69th among the 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index of 2018, indicating a "serious level of hunger incidence."

    Fifteen percent of the population experience "severe food anxiety," the highest rate among five Southeast Asian countries.

    Based on monitoring by the World Food Program last year, one out of 10 Philippine households is food insecure. The problem is most acute in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Eastern Visayas and Soccsksargen, three of the country's poorest regions.

    Addressing food waste must be a multisectoral effort if it is to be effective. The United Nations has made curbing food waste a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target. SDG 12.3 aims to cut by half per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels, and reduce food losses along production and supply chains by 2030.

    In its 2022 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) suggested increasing efforts "to measure food and inedible parts wasted at retail and consumer level and track food waste generation in kilograms per capita at country level."

    The World Food Program noted that Filipino households with heads who only had a primary or elementary education "are more likely to be food insecure." That could be a cue for the government to include food security in school curriculums to raise family awareness on managing food needs.

    Food manufacturers and dining establishments can do their share by donating surplus food to charitable and social work institutions instead of throwing it out as garbage.

    FNRI Director Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa stressed the need for new strategies to focus on reducing plate waste, which is beneficial from a nutritional, economic and environmental point of view.

    Training people to prepare and choose less food in terms of portion and meal size reduction and formulating policies on waste reduction could be an effective strategy in preventing additional food waste, Angeles-Agdeppa said.

    The FAO is urging governments to rethink how to reallocate their budgets "to make them more cost-effective and efficient in reducing the cost of nutritious foods and increasing the availability and affordability of healthy diets, sustainably and leaving no one behind."

    It will be in the Philippines' best interest to heed FAO's suggestion.

  • Rice, vegetables, meat are most wasted food in Filipino households: DOST

  • People buy various meat and produce at the Agora Public Market in San Juan City on February 21, 2023. The local government along with officials of the MMDA and DTI inspected the market on the same day to ensure vendors are complying with the suggested retail price set by authorities for commodities to protect consumers. Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News.

    MANILA — Rice, vegetables, and meat are the most wasted food in Filipino households, the Department of Science and Technology said in a recent study.

    Based on the two-stage cluster survey to assess the household plate waste in the country by the agency's Food and Nutrition Research Institute, some of the factors to wastage to the following food are: 

    • larger household meal portion size 
    • greater number of household members 
    • higher wealth status

    The study also found that households with the highest rice consumption were more likely to have rice wastage compared to households with the lowest consumption. 

    "Rice wastage is also more common in households with a household head whose age ranges from 50–69 years old, than those with a younger household head," DOST said.

    "More food are wasted in households with 5 or more members, and those residing in rural areas," it added. 

    DOST said that households with the highest vegetable consumption were more likely to waste vegetables compared to those with the lowest consumption, as well. 

    "This implies that households incur more wastes when higher quantities are purchased, which most probably are not consumed and ends up being thrown away due to spoilage," the agency said.

    "Households composed of five or less members were found to have greater chances of wasting vegetables, which mirrors the results of a previous study which found that larger households were more efficient in meal consumption," it added.

    Meanwhile, fish, meat, and poultry plate waste was less likely in households with less than or equal to five members than in households with more than five members.

    The study used the data from 20,151 Filipino households who participated in the 2018 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS).

    DOST said that richer families tend to have more food waste than poorer families. 

    "Households belonging to the richest quintile were found to have greater plate waste compared to the poorest quintile. Past studies exhibited the same, where higher income households were found to waste more food than lower-income households," it said. 

    "This may be explained that higher-income households consume diets that tend to include more perishable items. Some of the waste can be explained by food spoiling before the household had a chance to eat it."

    The agency said that the plate waste is closely linked to hunger incidence and threatened food security. 

    “Millions of Filipinos under poverty and experiencing food insecurity are struggling to be fed, and the food that is simply thrown away or discarded might actually be enough to feed them,” said Dr. Imelda Angeles‑Agdeppa, lead researcher of DOST-FNRI.

    It noted that plate waste also generally emits a portion of the total global greenhouse gas emissions that impact on global warming. 

    "The study suggested that a more effective strategy for reducing food waste may be to train people to prepare and select less food (portion and meal size reduction) and to formulate more policies tackling waste-reduction programs," DOST added.

  • Pakistan Market Monitor Report – February 2023


    • Food prices continued to rise high since February 2022 for the 11th consecutive month (except for a decline by 0.1% in Dec-2022), with CPI food inflation in January 2023 increasing by 42.94% over January 2022. National and international drivers (fuel price hikes, energy costs, devaluation of rupee against dollar increasing prices of food/Non-food imported items, Russia-Ukraine war, etc) suggest that prices will remain high for the coming months.

    • Headline inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is now 27.55%, the highest in 48 years (since 1975), representing an increase of 27.55% in January 2023 over January 2022. It should be noted that inflation rates in neighbouring countries stand at 5.2% (Afghanistan), 6.5% (India), and 8.6% (Bangladesh).

    • In January 2023, prices increased for staple cereals wheat (+27.1%), wheat flour (subsidized) (+17.0%), wheat flour (Fine) (+8.2%), rice Basmati (+16.3%) and rice Irri-6 (+14.6%) compared to December 2022, representing an increase of 90% in wheat, 78% in both wheat flour (subsidized) and wheat flour (Fine), 61% in rice Irri-6 and 53% in rice Basmati from the same time a year ago.

    • Among non-cereal food commodities, prices increased for chicken (+21.0%), pulses (Moong (+5.2%), Gram (+2.7%), Mash (+2.6%), Masoor (+2.0%)) and eggs (+2.0%) from the previous month, representing an increase in chicken (+99%), eggs (+60%), Moong (+56%), Gram (+48%), Mash (+40%) and Masoor (+21%) from the same time a year ago. On the other hand, prices decreased for ghee (-2.1%) and sugar (-1.1%) from December 2022.

    • A comparison of pre-flood (June 2022) and post-flood (January 2023), some food commodities indicated huge increase in prices; for instance, price of onions increased up to 220%, wheat flour 74%, rice Irri 68%, pulse moong 65%, rice Basmati 45%, and milk 39%.

    • Average Terms of Trade (ToT) for January 2023, measuring the amount of wheat flour that can be purchased with one-day of casual unskilled labor wage worsened by 14.0% from the previous month. The retail prices of automotive fuels increased in January 2023 compared to the previous month i.e., Super Petrol (+16.0%) and High-Speed Diesel (+15.0%).

  • Indonesia may import another 500,000 tonnes of rice in 2023

  • Indonesia may procure another 500,000 tonnes of rice from abroad this year to fill up the diminishing government rice reserves, the Trade Ministry has said.

    Jakarta (VNA) - Indonesia may procure another 500,000 tonnes of rice from abroad this year to fill up the diminishing government rice reserves, the Trade Ministry has said.

    The announcement came despite the government having imported 500,000 tonnes of rice from countries including Vietnam, Thailand, and Pakistan starting last December.

    Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the government had agreed to offer the option, arguing that the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) only had around a quarter of the required minimum reserves of 1.2 million tonnes.

    They decided at a meeting with the President that whenever necessary, they can import again as many as 500,000 tonnes, the minister told a recent session with Commission VI of the Indonesian House of Representatives.

    However, he noted, the government will not import rice in the near future as the harvest season is coming and the import of foreign rice may affect domestic prices.

    Rice prices has kept rising in Indonesia since the year’s beginning despite the rice import since late 2022 and recent market interventions by Bulog.

    Head of Bulog Budi Waseso said this agency has distributed about 230,000 tonnes, or nearly half of the imported 500,000 tonnes to stabilise prices.

    He pledged continued distribution to meet demand of retailers and traditional markets, affirming that import is licensed only in emergency cases./.


  • P25 per kilo rice still a dream – group

  • PRICE increase watchdog Bantay Bigas has belied the government's claim that people can now buy rice at P25 per kilo.

    "The [government's claim of] P25 per kilo... we haven't seen it yet," Bantay Bigas spokesman and Amihan Secretary General Cathy Estavillo told The Manila Times in Filipino.

    "That's in the Kadiwa Center where they put the P25-per-kilo rice. These P25-per-kilo rice in Kadiwa centers have a volume limit — on how many kilos a consumer can buy — when the stocks run out, people have to buy rice again at a regular price," she added.

    Bantay Bigas said that as of the first week of March, the retail price of well-milled rice at local markets registered an increase of P4 from the previous price of P200 per sack, while that of regular-milled rice had a P1 to P2 increase from the previous price.

    "We just don't see any rice that's at P25 per kilo in the regular market. We now see prices at P42 per kilo and above. We used to see prices at P38 to P39. Now, it's even rare to see rice being sold at those prices," Estavillo said.

    A Department of Agriculture infographic presented by Bantay Bigas said the retail price for regular-milled local commercial rice is P34 to P40 per kilo while imported commercial regular-milled rice is P37 to P44 per kilo.

    Estavillo attributed the high price of rice to the scrapping of the subsidy program of the National Food Authority in 2019, after the enactment of Republic Act 11203 or "Rice Liberalization Law," mandating the price of rice at P25 per kilo.

    "Had this law not been implemented, the farmgate price of rice would have reached P18 [per kilo]. At the time of implementation, the farmgate price of palay (unmilled rice) was even at P7 to P10," she added.

    Estavillo said they are against the importation of rice.

    "The government is expecting to see prices of products decrease, by means of importing, we oppose this, and because of RA 11203, it allows the country to take in imported rice that importers pay 35 percent tax, regardless of how much rice they can import, which is not the right solution," Estavillo said.

    "When RA 11203 was signed into law, the country became the rice net importer to the whole world, that was in 2019. Around 3.1 million metric tons (MT) of imported rice have reached the markets, which is why data from the Philippine Statistics Authority [shows] that the Philippines is the number one rice net importer. In 2022, 3.8 million MT of imported rice reached our markets, but prices did not go down," she said.

    "It's a monopoly; they can dictate, because they can import a lot, and with that large importation, it results in a low farmgate price, because millers and traders say their warehouses are full, so they are stock buying," Estavillo added.

    Estavillo called on the government to prioritize programs that will strengthen local rice production, which includes subsidies, farm inputs, subsidized loans and post-harvest facilities for farmers.

  • Nepalis forced to pay more for rice, no one knows why

  • According to market observers, the price of the most common food grain in Nepali homes has gone up by Rs100 to Rs700 per bag.

    Nepal requires 4 million tonnes of rice annually to feed its population, and there could be a deficit of 480,000 tonnes this fiscal year. SHUTTERSTOCK

    Food prices from wheat and meat to edible oils have shot up sharply and refuse to come down. And now even rice, the staple food of millions of Nepalis, has become more expensive.

    According to market observers, the price of the most common grain food in Nepali homes has gone up by Rs100 to Rs700 per bag.

    Analysts blame higher fertiliser costs for making food more expensive for inflation-hit consumers.

    Prem Lal Maharjan, president of the National Consumer Forum, said that based on their market assessment, the price of rice has increased by Rs500 per 30-kg sack in the past five months.

    Taichin rice now costs Rs4,400 per 25-kg sack, he said, up from Rs3,300.

    The price of rice has been rising continuously in the past few months even though India has lifted export restrictions.

    “Prices are increasing mainly due to a black market,” said Maharjan. “There is no specific reason why the price is rising in the domestic market.”

    In a bid to control domestic prices, the Indian government banned exports of broken rice and slapped a 20 percent export tax on several varieties of rice starting September 9 last year.

    The repercussion was felt in Nepal immediately with the price going up beyond control.

    On November 2, India allowed the export of 600,000 tonnes of unmilled rice to Nepal, and lifted the 20 percent duty imposed on several varieties of rice.

    Pavitra Bajracharya, immediate past president of the Nepal Retailers Association, says traders have increased prices on the pretext of a tax hike in India.

    “But that’s not true. Nepal harvested its paddy crop in November, and the supply situation should have eased,” said Bajracharya. “The price should have dropped around this time, but we don’t know why it has been increasing.”

    According to the association, the price of Trishuli Pokhreli rice increased to Rs90 per kg from Rs75 per kg two weeks ago. The price of steamed jeera masino rice has remained unchanged. The price of long-grain basmati rice has risen slightly to Rs130 per kg from Rs120 per kg.

    The price of steamed sona mansuli rice increased to Rs60 per kg from Rs55 per kg.

    Nepali farmers are expected to harvest 5.48 million tonnes of paddy this fiscal year, which is 7 percent more than last year, despite a crippling shortage of chemical fertiliser during the key transplantation period in the monsoon.

  • Army handed over 45,000 acres for ‘corporate farming’

  • ISLAMABAD: The caretaker government of Punjab has signed an agreement to hand over at least 45,267 acres of land in three districts — Bhakkar, Khushab, and Sahiwal — of the province to the Pakistan Army for ‘Corporate Agriculture Farming’.

    According to a document, the military’s land directorate wrote to the Punjab chief secretary, Board of Revenue and secretaries of the agriculture, forest, livestock and irrigation departments for handing over of 42,724-acre land in tehsils Kaloor Kot and Mankera in Bhakkar, 1,818 acres in tehsils Quaidabad and Khushab in Khushab, and 725 acres in tehsil Chichawatni of Sahiwal.

    The letter referred to a notification of the Punjab government dated Feb 20, 2023, and a joint venture (JV) agreement of March 8. It reminded that “while signing the JV management agreement on March 8, it was decided that state lands immediately required for the project be handed over to Pakistan Army.”

    According to informed sources, the JV has been signed between the military, the Punjab government, and private firms dealing with corporate farming.

    Insiders claim military will ‘reap no benefit’; 40pc of revenue to go to Punjab, 20pc for R&D

    Speaking about the salient features of the proposed project, the sources said that the Punjab government will provide the land while the army will utilise its resources and retain the management of the project. The private sector, on the other hand, will invest and provide auxiliary support, including the supply of fertilisers.

    Military sources confirmed this development and said that the army was “not taking over the ownership of the land as it will remain the property” of the Punjab government. “The intervention of the army will provide a coherent administrative structure,” the sources added.

    They said that the land in question is mostly barren, uncultivated, and under-cultivated and added that the army with the assistance of the relevant stakeholders, including its JV partners and locals, will turn this into fertile land.

    The sources said that the Punjab Board of Revenue has conducted surveys for months and identified these lands for corporate farming purposes.

    The sources said that the project will be managed by retired army officers and the army will not get any pecuniary benefit out of this project rather the profit from the farming will go to the locals, the Punjab government, and firms that will invest in the project.

    At least 40pc of the revenue generated from the cultivation will go to the Punjab government, 20 per cent will be spent on modern research and development in the agriculture sector, while the remaining will be used for the succeeding crops and expansion of the project.

    They said that the agri sector’s growth rate from 4 per cent in 1960 dropped to 2.5pc in 2022 due to “flawed reforms, ineffective agriculture policies coupled with climate change, and population boom”.

    Citing the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the sources said that at least 27pc of the total cultivated land of Pakistan was not being utilised. In order to deal with this situation, the Punjab government has made a plan to restore the agriculture sector with the help of the Pakistan Army. With the use of modern agricultural methods, machinery, and high-quality seeds, agricultural production will be increased manifold, the sources claimed.

    According to the sources, in the first phase of the project, different varieties of pulses, millets and rice will be cultivated. This will be followed by large-scale cultivation of canola and wheat.

    Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2023

  • 55% of Indian large rice fields could face yield loss due to high carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere

  • Just the fact that you're reading this article means you probably reside in some type of urban setting. This also means that on many days, you find yourself torn, choosing to stick to the staple rice or treating yourself to something slightly more extravagant for the next meal.

    Unfortunately, this is hardly the case for the impoverished in India, many of who resort to meals like plainamak-bhat (cooked rice with plain salt) to pull them out of starvation. India's Public Distribution System helps provide them with grains for the month, but even that falls short oftentimes.

    With millions of Indians devastatingly reliant on rice as their staple food, it is imperative that we maintain our crop yields to ensure adequate supply to every sect of society. However, a new report has shown that excessive atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could affect rice yields significantly in low- and middle-income countries, including India and China.

    A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience has shown that high atmospheric CO2 levels can reduce phosphorus availability in soils by more than 20% in rice fields. Since phosphorus is an essential fertiliser for the crop, this could substantially affect final yields.

    How substantially? By as much as 55%, it turns out. The research has pinpointed that over half of large rice paddy fields in India and China could experience an increased risk of yield reduction due to this phosphorus deficiency.

    This isn't the worst of it either; other low-income countries in Southeast Asia, Central America, Africa and the Middle East could see even riskier percentages, going up as high as 70% in some places.

    Atmospheric CO2 is actually an excellent source of carbon for crops, which helps increase them photosynthesise more, improving plant growth, biomass and yield. However, the study revealed that this was actually a double-edged sword, since its long-term presence impoverishes the soil of phosphorous.

    Furthermore, phosphorus as a chemical fertiliser is unevenly distributed worldwide, making its import exceedingly valuable to countries without the resource. India is a prime example, with the country 90% dependent on rock phosphate as the key raw material in DAP and NPK fertilisers. In the past, phosphorus import prices have skyrocketed during food crises, which can severely exacerbate the food security of countries with inadequate purchasing powers.

  • Asia rice: weak currency hits rates in India, Thailand

  • MUMBAI/HANOI/ BANGKOK: Vietnam’s rice export prices extended gains this week as it shipped more of the staple grain to China, while rates in top exporters India and Thailand were weighed down by a weakening in their domestic currencies.

    Vietnam’s 5% broken rice prices were offered at $450 per tonne on Thursday, up from $440-$445 range a week ago. “Prices edged up as shipments to China are recovering, while Indonesia is said to be buying more to improve its national reserves,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    The central bank’s move to cut its policy rates on Wednesday would give a boost to export activities, including rice shipments, the trader said. Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $382 to $387 per tonne, down from last week’s $385 to $390 range.

    “Rupee’s fall is allowing us to reduce export prices.

    Demand from African countries is also weak,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $455 per tonne, down slightly from last week’s $460. Prices were impacted by changes in the exchange rate, said a Bangkok-based trader. “Supply and demand have been quiet,” the trader said. A weakening currency makes exports from the country cheaper in dollar terms.

  • Rising rice prices reflect increased fertilizer costs, farmers’ group says

  • Rising rice prices reflect increased fertilizer costs, farmers’ group says

    RICE PRICES are rising even during the dry season harvest, reflecting the higher cost of fertilizer, according to a farmers’ organization.

    In a Viber message, Raul Q. Montemayor, chairman of Federation of Free Farmers, said high fertilizer prices raised the cost of production for palay (unmilled rice).

    In Metro Manila markets, the price of domestically-produced rice between March 1 and March 15 rose P2 per kilogram compared with February levels, while the price of imported rice rose around P4, according to government price monitoring reports.

    According to Mr. Montemayor, the dry season crop accounts for about 44% of annual rice production. The harvest for this crop is currently ongoing.

    Mr. Montemayor also attributed higher prices to the rising cost of rice in Vietnam, one of the Philippines’ top suppliers of the staple grain.

    He said that the “overall increase in import prices allowed local prices to inch up.”

    “We expected this to happen in late 2022, but large imports during the year may have resulted in some delayed reaction which we are seeing now,” Mr. Montemayor said.

    Citing data from the Bureau of Customs, Mr. Montemayor said that the Philippines imported 3.85 million metric tons of rice in 2022 which was the highest total since the rice tariffication law took effect in 2019.

    He said imports do not seem to have kept prices from increasing.

    Agriculture Assistant Secretary Rex C. Estoperez said that prices usually increase during the dry season, but agreed that fertilizer costs were a factor.

    Mr. Estoperez said that the Philippines has been heavily dependent on chemical fertilizer.

    “It might be better to source locally. Either organic or chemical fertilizer, it is better to have (domestic production) so that we are not dependent on imports,” he said.

    “We still cannot say that the (rice prices) have normalized as the harvest has not peaked yet. We are still dependent on the remaining supply we are importing,” Mr. Estoperez told reporters. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

  • Govt Will Protect IP Rights Of Basmati, Darjeeling Tea & Other Geographical Indications Products

  • The eligible agencies which have undertaken the initiatives for the promotion of Geographical Indications (GIs) products shall be provided financial assistance by the government.

    Govt Will Protect IP Rights Of Basmati, Darjeeling Tea & Other Geographical Indications Products

    Operational guidelines have been issued by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) for the financial assistance for undertaking the initiatives for the promotion of GIs.

    Financial Assistance to Agencies to Promote Geographical Indications (GIs) Products

    Dealing with the investments and intellectual property rights (IPRs), DPIIT is an arm of the commerce and industry ministry whereas the Geographical Indications (GIs) products are primarily an agricultural, natural or manufactured product (handicraft and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.

    Essentially attributable to the place of its origin, typically this name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness.

    Some of these famous goods that carry GI tag include Basmati rice, Darjeeling Tea, Chanderi Fabric, Mysore Silk, Kullu Shawl, Kangra Tea, Thanjavur Paintings, Allahabad Surkha, Farrukhabad Prints, Lucknow Zardozi and Kashmir Walnut Wood Carving.

    In a note DPIIT said that “In accordance with the objectives of national IPR policy, Government of India will provide financial assistance to eligible agencies for undertaking initiatives for Promotion of GIs, which aims to create awareness about significance of GIs and its uniqueness, promoting registered Indian GIs, identify potential GIs and encourage stakeholders towards registration”.

    The objective as per DPIIT is to be provide varied platforms to GI stakeholders thereby giving them ample opportunities for business development and income generation.

    Extra Information Related to GI goods producers shall be added

    It said that the initiatives would also include capturing socio- economic status of GI goods producers, their livelihood conditions and other related information, which would assist in devising suitable policy interventions.

    It said that the “financial assistance will be extended to eligible agencies as 100 per cent grants in aid for undertaking initiatives for promotion of GIs.”

    As mentioned in the operational guidelines, the disbursement of the assistance will be subject to actual expenditure or head-wise maximum permissible amount whichever is less for grants-in-aid.

    It also said, while throwing light on eligible agencies, that the department may on its own undertake initiatives for the promotion of GIs within the country as well as abroad with Indian diplomatic missions or its agency or jointly with India’s apex industry chambers and their overseas counterparts.

    After a product gets a GI tag, any person or company cannot sell a similar item under that name. This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.

    The other benefits of GI registration include legal protection for the item, prevention against unauthorised use by others, and promotion of exports.

  • Indian rice exporters unlikely to seek export duty rollback for now

  • Shippers may not approach Government unless volume takes a hit

    Indian rice exporters will unlikely demand a rollback of the 20 per cent export duty by the Government as long as the volume of shipments does not drop.

    “Demand for Indian rice has picked up despite the export duty. Some buyers might have converted from buying white (raw) rice to parboiled (boiled). The duty has helped the government,” said BV Krishna Rao, President, The Rice Exporters Association (TREA). 

    Centre’s earnings

    On September 8, 2022, the Centre imposed a 20 per cent duty on exports of white and brown rice in order to keep domestic prices on a leash following fears of the crop being affected by deficient rains. 

    The move came at a time when demand for Indian rice was high in the global market as other origins such as Thailand and Vietnam were offering the cereal at far higher prices. 

    Rao said even if the Centre had earned $50 a tonne on average since September, it could have easily earned $0.5 million (₹414 crore).  “If there is a drop in the volume of exports in any quarter then we might approach the Government for some remedy. Until then, we may not seek a duty cut,” he said. 

    Rising enquiries

    According to data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), non-basmati exports during the April-January period of the current fiscal were 14.56 million tonnes (mt) against 14.01 mt in the year-ago period. Between September and January, exports were 5.48 mt, down marginally from 5.8 mt a year ago. 

    According to M Madan Prakash, President, Agricultural Commodities Exporters Association (ACEA), enquiries for Indian rice, particularly 5 per cent white, are good. “Vietnam is seeking 5% white rice. We are quoting around $430 a tonne cost and freight,” he said. 

    VR Vidya Sagar, Director, Bulk Logix, said demand for Indian rice continues, particularly for parboiled rice. “Prices have stabilised now after a fall. There is decent demand for 25% broken white rice from Vietnam for use as feed,” he said.

    May rise from April

    Indian parboiled rice is quoted at around $390 a tonne, while white rice prices were over $400. The 25% white rice is quoted between $380 and $410 depending on the variety. 

    For parboiled rice, demand is good from Coutnou, Casablanca and Jordan. Though demand is decent for Indian rice, exporters continue trading with their regular old buyers, Sagar said. 

    A Delhi-based analyst said rice prices are ruling stable now as the new crop arrivals have begun in Vietnam and Thailand. But prices could begin increasing from April onwards and they could continue their northward journey until September. 

    “Prices will be firm at least till September,” said the analyst. 

    Record-high Indian crop

    In the global market, rice prices in Thailand dropped by one per cent last week as the Thai Baht gained. However, Indian rice is still competitive by over $10 a tonne compared to other origins such as Vietnam and Thailand. 

    “The price difference will increase once Thailand and Vietnam arrivals get over,” the analyst said. 

    India will likely be helped by a record-high crop this season to June despite kharif output being lower. The Ministry of Agriculture has estimated rice production this year at 130.83 mt compared with 130.5 mt last year. 

    Rabi production has been projected at 22.76 mt this year against 18.5 mt a year ago. Rice output is estimated higher in the rabi season in view of higher acreage in States such as Telangana. 

  • Malaysia’s rice import contract cannot be canceled unilaterally…

  • A general picture of people shopping at Mydin on February 2, 2023. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

    KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — The government cannot unilaterally cancel any contract to import rice into the country because it needs to consider the social obligations which Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas) has agreed to implement, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

    Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister Chan Foong Hin said as the country’s main rice importer, Bernas needed to fulfil 10 social obligations without getting any grants from the government.

    The obligations include managing the country’s rice buffer stock, maintaining its role as the last padi purchaser at a minimum price, and managing padi price subsidy payments as well as the scheme for millers, Bumiputera wholesalers and farmers’ cooperatives.

    Apart from this, Bernas also has to allocate funds for supply of machinery and padi mechanisation, development of large-scale padi farms and providing allocations for several programmes, including development of padi seed buffer stock, padi cultivation disaster fund aid and an information system on padi and rice.

    “The cost that Bernas needs to bear to continue with the implementation of all these obligations, whether directly or indirectly, is RM3.22 billion, and of this figure, RM1.85 billion involves farmers and RM1.37 billion is for industries and consumers.

    “Furthermore, Bernas now also gives a cash contribution of RM60 million and shares 30 per cent of its net profit from rice imports with farmers this year,” he said when winding up the debate on the Supply Bill 2023 at the committee stage on behalf of the ministry.

    Earlier, several parties had questioned the extension of Bernas’ concession period as the country’s sole rice importer but the government stressed that it was necessary to ensure the commodity remains stable and under control.

    The RM3.7 billion allocation for the ministry under Budget 2023 was approved at the committee stage by a majority voice vote after being debated by 21 government and opposition MPs. — Bernama

  • India to Spend Tens of Billions in 2023 to Incentivize Rice Production, Further Violating WTO Obligations

  • Seeing the sobering results (USDA)

    NEW DELHI, INDIA – Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported in the March World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report that India will continue to dominate the world rice trade in the 2022/23 marketing year, projecting that they will break their own world record with 22.5 million metric tons (MT) of rice exports on tap.

    In May 2022, the U.S. government along with nine other governments initiated technical consultations with India regarding their egregious trade distorting rice subsidies that feed into their public stockholding program and violate the terms of the Bali Peace Clause. However, to date, the U.S. government has not taken formal action to address India’s explicit World Trade Organization (WTO) violations.

    The rise in exports shown above is not coincidental but corresponds with significant increases in production which corresponds with the Indian government’s significant increases in the price they pay farmers to buy their paddy rice for government stocks. According to USDA figures, in 2010/11, that price roughly translated to $120 per MT of paddy rice whereas the 2022/23 price is roughly translated to $259 per MT of paddy rice.

    A government-guaranteed price of $259 per MT of long grain paddy rice converts to about $13.16 per hundredweight coupled with a series of input subsidies that cover as much as 85 percent of the total cost of production. USDA estimates that the Indian government will purchase as much as 59 million MT of paddy rice from Indian farmers this year, which equates to $15.28 billion in just procurement costs alone at the government rate of $248 per MT.

    “Just six months ago, the Indian government had imposed export restrictions on rice because of alleged food shortages, but within weeks they had put themselves on track for another record crop year and another record year of rice exports, continuing to penetrate markets across the globe, including the United States, with their artificially low-priced rice,” said Bobby Hanks, Louisiana rice miller and chair of the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee.

    Despite India’s claims around their domestic food security last year, they continued to export a record amount of rice and crowd out other, more reliable exporters, worsening uncertainty for needy rice importers. At the same time, India was making deals with Russia to funnel fuel and fertilizer into their country while most of the world stood in solidarity with Ukraine.

    “India’s policies not only violate their WTO commitments, but also impact the livelihoods of those that produce or consume rice across five other continents,” Hanks added. “It is long overdue for countries that are concerned about the future of the multilateral trading system and the livelihoods of their producers to address India’s protectionist policies through formal dispute settlement. We encourage the U.S. Trade Representative to initiate a dispute settlement action to help American farmers and our counterparts compete on a level playing field and prevent further industry consolidation.”

  • Rice body discusses proposals for boosting production

  • LAHORE: The sub-committee on ‘rice seed’, which met here on Tuesday with Governor Punjab Muhammad Balighur-Rehman in the chair, discussed various proposals aimed at boosting rice production for fetching precious forex through the export of commodity.

    Suggestions were also presented in the meeting regarding the improvement of rice seed.

    Speaking on this occasion, the Governor said that rice is important cash crop that fetches billions of foreign exchange besides meeting the country’s nutritional requirements.

    “All the stakeholders would have to give special attention on research on rice seed to increase rice production substantially and explore new markets to increase export of rice,” he said. “Modern research is needed to improve the quality of seed to increase the export of rice so that the production of high quality rice in the country and its export can be boosted through joint efforts.”

    He said he will play his role in conveying the recommendations of the Rice Seed Committee to the provincial and federal governments to support the rice seed producers and rice exporters in the country.

    Convener of the sub-committee on rice, Shahzad Ali Malik, put forward the recommendations and said that private seed companies producing hybrid seeds of modern technology in the country should be allotted government land on easy terms for the cultivation of seeds.

    He also demanded to simplify the rules and regulations related to breeding at the local level and also to provide interest-free loans for research and development of the institutions that produce seeds of modern technology at the local level. He emphasized on providing the facility of conducting tests from, at least three accredited laboratories.

    Members of the Rice Seed Committee, Dr. Khalid Hameed, Muhammad Asim, Tahir Saleemi, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Haider and Dr. Abid Mehmood, besides representatives of Agriculture University Faisalabad, MNS Agriculture University Multan were present.

    Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

  • Governor reviews proposals on rice seed improvement.

  • LAHORE    -    Governor Punjab Muhammad Balighur Rehman presided over a meeting of Sub-Committee on Rice Seed to review suggestions regarding improvement of the rice seed at the Governor’s House, here on Tuesday.

    Speaking on this occasion, Gov­ernor Punjab Muhammad Balighur Rehman, said that rice is important cash crop that earns country billions of foreign exchange besides meeting the country’s nutritional require­ments. He said that all the stakehold­ers have to give special attention to the research on rice seed to increase rice production substantially and explore new markets to increase export of rice. The Governor Punjab said that modern research is needed to improve the quality of the seed to increase the export of rice so that the production of high quality rice in the country and its export can be boost­ed through joint efforts.

    He said that he will play his role in conveying the recommendations of the Rice Seed Committee to the pro­vincial and federal governments to support the rice seed producers and rice exporters in the country.

    Convener Sub Committee on Rice Seed Shahzad Ali Malik put forward the recommendations and said that private seed companies producing hybrid seeds of modern technol­ogy in the country should be allot­ted government land on easy terms for the cultivation of seeds. He also demanded to simplify the rules and regulations related to breeding at the local level and also to provide interest-free loans for research and development of the institutions that produce seeds of modern technol­ogy at the local level.

    He emphasized on providing the facility of conducting tests from at least three accredited laboratories.

    Members of the Rice Seed Com­mittee, representatives of the Agri­culture University Faisalabad and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (MNS) Agriculture University Multan were present in the meeting.

  • Governor for exploring new markets to boost rice export.

  • LAHORE: Punjab Governor Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman presided over a meeting of Sub-Committee on Rice Seed at Governor’s House here Tuesday. In the meeting, various suggestions were presented regarding the improvement of rice seed.

    Speaking on this occasion, governor said that rice is important cash crop that earns country billions of foreign exchange besides meeting the country's nutritional requirements. He said that all the stakeholders had to give special attention to the search on rice seed to increase rice production substantially and explore new markets to increase export of rice.

    Punjab Governor said that modern research was needed to improve the quality of the seed to increase the rice export so that the production of high quality rice in the country and its export can be boosted through joint efforts. He said that he would play his role in conveying the recommendations of the Rice Seed Committee to the provincial and federal governments to support the rice seed producers and rice exporters in the country. On this occasion, Convener, sub-committee on rice, Shehzad Ali Malik, put forward the recommendations and said that private seed companies producing hybrid seeds of modern technology in the country should be allotted government land on easy terms for the cultivation of seeds. He demanded the government simplify the rules and regulations related to breeding at the local level and provide interest-free loans for research and development of the institutions that produce seeds of modern technology at the local level. He emphasised on providing the facility of conducting tests from, at least three accredited laboratories.

    Meanwhile, Governor in his message on Punjab Culture Day, said that Punjab is the custodian of regional customs and cultural traditions. He said the Punjab government deserves congratulations for celebrating March 14 (Punjab Culture Dihar) with zeal.

    Health Consortium: The Vice-Chancellors of different medical universities suggested promoting academic research and modern trends in the field of medicine. They floated these suggestions during a meeting of the Consortium on Health chaired by Punjab Governor Balighur Rahman on Tuesday.

    The trends in health education was the topic of the Consortium meeting which was attended vice chancellors of various medical universities. Convener of Health Consortium Committee, Vice Chancellor of FJMU Prof Khalid Masood Gondal briefed the governor about the suggestions and recommendations of the consortium.

    VC University of Health Sciences Prof Ahsan Waheed Rathore, VC Children's University Prof Masood Sadiq, VC Faisalabad Medical University Prof Zafar Ali Ch, VC Nishtar Medical University Prof Rana Altaf Ahmed, VC Rawalpindi Medical University Prof M Umar and Pro VC King Edward Medical University Prof Ijaz Hussain also participated in the meeting.

  • Stakeholders urged to increase rice production

  • Meeting was held at the Governor’s House

    A farmer tends to his rice field in the village of Yangchao in Liping County, Guizhou province, China, June 11, 2021. Picture taken June 11, 2021. REUTERS


    Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman presided over a meeting of the Sub-Committee on Rice Seed to review suggestions regarding improvement of the rice seed.

    The meeting was held at the Governor’s House on Tuesday.

    The governor said that rice was an important cash crop that earned the country billions in foreign exchange besides meeting the country’s nutritional requirements.

    He said that all the stakeholders had to give special attention to the research on rice seed to increase rice production substantially and explore new markets to increase export of rice.

    The governor said that modern research was needed to improve the quality of the seed to increase the export of rice so that the production of high quality rice in the country and its export could be boosted through joint efforts.

  • Rice exporters demand to extend tax relief on mandi fee.

  • Raipur: The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on Monday organised an export outreach programme in Atal Nagar Nava, Raipur, with the exporters and investors from the state to increase the exports from the Chhattisgarh.
    Exporters from Chhattisgarh have demanded that the 5% tax exemption of mandi fee on rice export — set to expire after two months — should be continued.
    They also demanded a concession on the export units for goods transport and modernisation of processing plants, as Chhattisgarh is a landlocked state.
    Raipur district collector Dr Sarveshwar Bhure said that pro-industry policies of the state have led to increase of more than 22% in the exports in the last five years. He said that special efforts are being made to promote the export of rice, construction machinery, and materials and processed spices from Chhattisgarh.
    Raipur and Durg district are among 75 districts of the country that have been identified as potential districts for export promotion by the government of India.
    Raipur district collector Bhure also emphasised on the possibilities of export of wire, rods, bars, coils, TMT bars, steel as well as forest produce tamarind, mahua, lac and small grain millets, Kodo, Kutki and Ragi.
    Representatives of the Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority, Shellac and Forest Products Export Promotion Council, Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India Limited attended the programme.

  • Prices of essential kitchen items witness mixed trend

  • ISLAMABAD: The prices of essential kitchen items have witnessed a mixed trend during this week past against the previous week, revealed a survey carried out by Business Recorder, here on Saturday.

    A reduction in the prices of chicken and vegetables was observed, while spices, packed milk, sugar, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), rice, pulses, cooked food items, detergents, ghee, cooking and bathing soap prices remained stable. Wheat flour and pulses prices witnessed an increase.

    Chicken price went down from Rs 16,100 per 40 kg in the wholesale market to Rs 15,500, which in retail, is being sold at Rs 410 per kg against Rs 440 per kg, while chicken meat is being sold at Rs 600 per kg against Rs 650 per kg. Eggs prices went up from Rs 6,000 per carton of 30 dozens to Rs 6,500 per dozen, while in retail, eggs are being sold at Rs 250 per dozen against Rs 245 per dozen.

    Wheat flour price witnessed an increase as best quality wheat flour price went up from Rs 1,930 per 15 kg bag to Rs 1,960, which in retail is being sold at Rs 2,000 per 15 kg bag against Rs 1,960. Normal quality wheat flour bag is being sold at Rs 1,940 per 15 kg bag against Rs 1,880 in the wholesale market, which in retail is being sold at Rs 1,980 against Rs 1,900 per bag.

    Tea price remained stable as Lipton Yellow Label tea is available at Rs 1,750 per 900 gram pack and Islamabad tea price remained unchanged at Rs 1,650 per 900 gram pack, powder chilli price remained stable at Rs 720 per kg, and turmeric powder price remained stable at Rs 360 per kg.

    Sugar price went up from Rs 4,800 per 50 kg bag to Rs 4,805 per bag, which in retail is being sold at Rs 105-110 per kg. LPG is available at Rs 390 per kg which is Rs 105 higher than the Ogra’s fixed price of Rs 275 per kg.

    The survey observed no changes in the transportation costs which witnessed a significant increase following an increase in petrol and diesel prices. The increase in transportation cost has also played an important part in increasing the prices of all the essential kitchen items.

    No changes were observed in spices prices as normal size of a spice pack is available at Rs 100 per pack, prepared tea cup is available at Rs 60 per cup, a plate of cooked daal at a normal hotel is available at Rs 200 per plate, cooked vegetable at Rs 200 per plate, and roti price remained stable at Rs 20 per roti.

    Rice prices remained stable as best quality basmati rice is available at Rs 12,800 per 40 kg bag, while the retailers are selling at Rs 350 per kg, normal quality Basmati at Rs 10,500 per 40 kg bag, which in retail is being sold at Rs 300 per kg, and broken basmati rice price at Rs 7,000 per bag, which in retail is being sold at Rs 180 per kg.

    B-Grade ghee/cooking oil price remained stable as it is available at Rs 6,800 per carton of 16 packs, which in retail is varying from Rs 450 per kg to Rs 500 per pack of 900 grams. While best quality cooking oil/ghee brands such as Dalda prices are stable at Rs 3,220.

    Pulses prices witnessed an increase as best quality maash is available at Rs 460 per kg against Rs 440 per kg, gram pulse is being sold at Rs 250 per kg against Rs 240 per kg, whole gram pulse is being sold at Rs 400 per kg against Rs 360 per kg, bean lentil at Rs 400 per kg against Rs 380 per kg, moong at Rs 320 per kg against Rs 240 per kg, and masoor at Rs 280 per kg against Rs 260 per kg.

    Packed milk prices remained unchanged as small Milk Pak and other brands are available at Rs 70 per pack, while one litre pack is available at Rs 240. Fresh milk price remained stable at Rs 190 per kg and yoghurt prices at Rs 200 per kg. Detergents prices witnessed no changes.

  • 40% of rice crop affected due to floods in Sindh: Rafiq Sulaiman.

  • Convener of Rice Exports Committee of Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), former Chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REP) Rafiq Sulaiman said that due to flood in Sindh.

    40% of the rice crop has been affected due to which non-basmati rice exports have decreased by 15% and overall rice exports have decreased due to the prevailing conditions, Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry Rice Exports Give suggestions to the government to improve those who are currently suffering so that the rice export targets can be achieved. He expressed these views while addressing the third meeting of the Rice Exports Committee of FPCCI yesterday.

    FPCCI vice presidents Shabbir Mansha, Shaukat Ali Sulaiman, Haji Muhammad Yaqoob, former senior vice president FPCCI Abdul Rahim Janu, REP chairman Chela Ram Kiwalani and prominent exporters of rice were also present in the meeting. Rafiq Sulaiman said that in the 8th month of this year, the export of basmati rice has decreased by 25% while the export of non-basmati has decreased by 29%.

    Pakistani rice is exported to 116 countries around the world, the current situation in which electricity, due to non-availability of gas, increasing price of petrol exporters are suffering a lot and they are loosening their market, I strongly appeal to the government of Pakistan to pay special attention to the export industry so that Exporters can export more.

    Rafiq Sulaiman added that there is a great demand for 386 Pakistani rice in Somalia, soon a trade delegation of rice exporters will also go to Somalia to increase the export of Pakistani rice.

    Abdul Rahim Janu said that if the current situation continues, there is a possibility of a huge decrease in exports and there will be a significant decrease in domestic foreign exchange.

    He said that after Eid-ul-Fitr, FPCCI and Rice Exporters Association will organize a biryani festival with mutual cooperation in which ambassadors, commercial attachés, government officials of all countries will be invited.

    To highlight the importance, in this biryani festival, dishes prepared from different types of rice will be made.

    Shabir Mansha said that Kazakhstan has emerged as a new market and direct flights are starting here from the month of April.

    Due to which the export of Pakistani rice can be increased in this market.

    Chela Ram Kevalani said that due to the rise and fall of the dollar, both imports and exports have been badly affected, the government has increased the interest rate and the business community is facing a lot of difficulties.—NNI

  • Ban on broken rice exports likely to affect Telangana.

  • Ban on broken rice exports is likely to have an adverse impact on farmers and millers, especially in Telangana, where a huge quantity of broken rice is expected during the Yasangi (Rabi) crop season

    Hyderabad: The Centre’s decision to levy 20 percent duty on raw rice exports and ban export of broken rice has put paddy farmers and millers from Telangana in a tricky position. Though the Centre is claiming that the decision was taken to discourage rice exports and ensure availability of adequate stocks domestically, it is likely to have an adverse impact on farmers and millers, especially in Telangana, where a huge quantity of broken rice is expected during the Yasangi (Rabi) crop season.

    Paddy is being cultivated in a record 55 lakh acres in Telangana during this Yasangi season, which expected to result in an yield of 1.5 crore tonnes. While the State government is planning to procure nearly 90 lakh tonnes, the Centre had agreed to purchase the rice but with a rider that the State would supply only raw rice. It is now well-known that the Yasangi crop would result in huge quantity of broken rice if the paddy is milled into raw rice.

    India banned overseas shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20 percent duty on exports of various other grades in September 2022 amid concerns over production due to below-average monsoon rainfall in key paddy growing States. Though the Centre anticipated a shortfall of rice stocks in the country, the situation appears to be different.

    The Union government has recently informed the Parliament that India’s rice exports recorded 22.26 million tonnes in 2022, an increase of 3.5 percent, making it the largest exporter of rice globally. Further, officials said India has ample stocks of rice domestically and would ensure that the restrictions have not deprived the world of rice.

    The Centre’s decision not to lift the ban on broken rice exports is expected to affect buyers, particularly in China, who use broken rice as raw material for making ethanol or cattle feed. China was the largest buyer of India’s broken rice, with purchases of 1.1 million tonnes in 2021. Thus, this would affect Telangana farmers and millers adversely as well with the State turning into largest producer of broken rice due to the Centre’s mandate to supply only raw rice to the Food Corporation of India.

    Meanwhile, a large quantity of parboiled rice which is used to make idli and dosa batter has been reportedly held up at some ports in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, after the Customs authorities assuming it to be normal raw rice due to presence of chalky white grains in rice. The parboiled rice is largely exported to countries like Dubai, Japan, Singapore and Canada. The officials are asking the exporters to pay 20 percent duty to export it, treating it as raw rice. Except exports from Kerala, where idli rice is double parboiled, parboiled rice exports are affected in all other States.

  • SPI inflation rises to 42.27%

  • Commodity prices surged due to supply constraints, rupee devaluation

    The price of essential goods, particularly that of onions, rice, pulses and petroleum products, spiked to 42.27% in the week ended March 9, 2023, ahead of the holy month of Ramzan, reported the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

    The Sensitive Price Index (SPI), comprising of 51 essential commodities, rose by 1.37% in the week under review, compared to the week-ending on March 2.

    According to the PBS data, the price of onions increased 305.23% in the week, compared to the same week of the last year. Cigarettes became expensive by 165.86%, gas charges for Q1 jumped 108.38%, the price of diesel rose by 93.82%, eggs by 78.63%, rice Irri-6/9 by 78.14%, petrol by 77.89% and basmati rice (broken) by 77.27%.

    In the fruit category, the price of bananas increased by 74.01% in the week. Among pulses, the price of moong rose by 72.54%, mash by 56.02% and gram by 55.97%.

    Similarly, the price of tea (Lipton) surged by 66.31% and the price of bread went up by 55.36% in the week compared to the same week of the previous year.

    In an opposing trend, the price of tomatoes dropped by 41.79% in the week compared to the same week of last year, and chilli powder became cheaper by 7.42%. Among utilities, electricity charges for Q1 came down by 6.64%. The price of commodities is on the rise partially due to supply constraints and a massive devaluation of the rupee in recent times.

    The rupee has deprecated by 18%, or Rs50, in the past six weeks to Rs281 against the US dollar in the interbank market on Friday.

    The SPI inflation has also made imports exorbitantly expensive – a worrying fact as the country meets most of its local demand for energy and partial demand for food through imports. To control the high inflation reading, the central bank has increased its key policy rate by a massive 300 basis points in March to a record high of 20%. The move, however, has hit economic activities adversely and has rendered millions of people jobless.

  • India’s rice rates fall on fewer buyers

  • NEW DELHI: India’s rice export prices extended their decline this week as demand from key importing countries faltered, while supplies in Vietnam boomed due to peaking winter-spring harvest in the Mekong Delta.

    India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $385-$390 per tonne this week from last week’s $390-$395. Prices have been sliding from around $400 reached in the week of Feb. 23, their highest since March 2021.

    The recent upside in export prices and an increase in freight rates for break bulk vessels were affecting demand, said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India’s leading rice exporter.

    India does not plan to lift a ban on broken rice exports and cut a 20% tax on overseas shipments of white rice, as the world’s biggest exporter of the grain tries to keep a lid on domestic prices, two government sources said last month.

    In Vietnam, the 5% broken rice was offered at $440-$445 per tonne, unchanged from a week ago.

    Traders said the winter-spring harvest is peaking in the Mekong Delta provinces, giving a boost to domestic supplies, which hasn’t impacted prices as demand is expected to be strong.

    The country exported 534,607 tonnes of rice in February, according to government customs data released on Thursday.

    Meanwhile, Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices was quoted at $460 per tonne, little changed from $450 to $460 seen last week.

    “Prices are still standing at this level because (changes to) supply and demand have been quiet,” said a Bangkok-based trader. “We have to wait for the new harvest.” Meanwhile, domestic rice prices in Bangladesh stayed elevated, despite efforts to cool rates of the staple grain.

    The government has allowed private traders to import rice while it’s also buying from the key exporting countries such as Vietnam, India and Myanmar.

  • Australia rejects India’s request seeking GI tag for basmati rice.

  • Unlike the case in EU, Pakistan did not contest India's application in Australia

    ISLAMABAD: The Australian government has rejected India’s application for exclusive rights of Basmati rice on the grounds that it is not grown only in India.

    The development comes while the European Union (EU) remains undecided on a conflict between India and Pakistan over basmati’s Geographical Indication (GI) tag.   

    According to officials, the development in Australia will support Pakistan’s case in the EU wherein Islamabad has opposed the Indian application on the grounds that the rice variety is grown in both South Asian countries. 

    A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and ensures good qualities or a reputation in the region. A protected geographical indication does not entitle the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques that are used in the standards for that indication.

    Sources informed Profit that unlike the case in EU, Pakistan did not contest the India’s application in Australia. In fact, Canberra itself rejected New Delhi’s application knowing that the rice is grown in both the neighboring countries. However, India has reportedly moved the federal court of Australia in appeal against the decision.

    The trade dispute started back in 2019 when India filed the application for basmati’s name and logo. Sources informed Profit that India has applied for the exclusive trade rights of basmati in over 20 countries where the best quality of rice is marketed. 

    “After the case in EU, Pakistan has also applied for exclusive GI Tag for Basmati in a number of countries like USA, Thailand, UK and others,” they claimed, adding that the applications may face opposition from India in the same way Pakistan did in EU.

    Pakistan registered Basmati as GI product after approval of the GI Law of the country. It had registered its GI for basmati rice in 2020 after India had falsely claimed its produce of basmati rice to be original in an attempt to hinder Pakistan’s trade in the EU. The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) was given the task of registering all the merchant profiles and trade routes and with the Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO). 

    In September 2020, India had applied for an exclusive GI tag for Basmati rice in the EU. The EU had applauded India’s application in its official journal, showing basmati rice as an Indian origin product asking if there was any opposition to the application within 90 days.

    To support its claim of exclusivity, India in return referred to various reports and dictionaries to show that the basmati rice is of Indian origin and conveniently left out the part that the same rice is widely produced in Pakistan.

    Subsequently Pakistan, the second-largest exporter of basmati, filed opposition against India’s claim. The main grounds for opposition were that both Pakistan and India produce basmati, and therefore, it was a joint product of both the countries.

  • Pakistan-China hybrid rice cooperation forges ahead

  • Rice industry facing series of challenges amid global headwinds


    Unquestionably hybrid rice is a model of China-Pakistan agricultural cooperation in Sindh, remarked Zhou Xusheng, Director of Pakistan Business Department, Wuhan Qingfa Hesheng Seed Co Ltd, a Chinese developer and provider of hybrid seeds.

    Amidst global headwinds, Pakistani rice is facing a series of challenges.

    Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) President Chela Ram Kewlani indicated that during the first seven months of FY 2022-23, exports of Pakistani rice decreased by 15.82% year-on-year to $1.08 billion.

    The decrease came mainly due to flood damage to paddy fields in Sindh, where rice production decreased by 40%, he added.

    Qingfa Hesheng has been providing hybrid seeds of rice, canola and vegetables to Pakistan for nearly 20 years as well as training more than 300 local agriculturalists. It registered the first hybrid rice variety, QY0413, in the history of Pakistan.

    “It may take three years for rice export, which is an important means to earn foreign exchange, to recover,” Zhou noted. “However, we have made preparation for such a situation.”

    First, the stress resistance of crop varieties should be improved. Second, seed production can be carried out separately in Pakistan and China, spreading risk in the face of extreme weather. Currently, test fields are located in Lahore, Chiniot, Shikarpur and Golarchi.

    Annual average temperature here is much higher than that in China’s main rice climate zone. Therefore, in the selection of rice varieties, it is imperative to guarantee the seed setting rate and quality under high temperature.

    “It is precisely because of the hot and dry climate in Pakistan that hybrid rice diseases are much less than those in China, such as bacterial blight, but far less hazardous.”

    Exports of Basmati rice fell 22.95% to 316,055 tonnes in the first seven months of current fiscal year from 410,207 tonnes in the same period of last year. Similarly, exports of non-basmati rice fell 25% to 1.62 million tonnes, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data.


  • BENEO Provides Local Rice Farmers in Laos with Farm Machinery 

  • BENEO’s rice ingredients production site in Wijgmaal, Belgium, has changed the long-term working life of more than a hundred small-scale farmers in Laos thanks to the provision of harvesting and threshing machinery. This investment reflects BENEO’s commitment to its stakeholders throughout the supply chain and has enabled the business to strengthen its farm-level partnerships even further.  

    As the primary economic activity in Laos, small-scale rice farming accounts for 70 percent of the total cultivated area and one-fifth of the total GDP. BENEO liaised with its longstanding partner IDP, the leading producer and supplier of rice in Laos, to find out how working conditions for local farmers could be improved. As a result, eight harvesting machines and four threshers were purchased to help ease workloads and improve field yields.  

    Whilst BENEO retains full ownership of the equipment, the farmers have been trained on how to use and maintain it to ensure the long-standing success of the project. The machines support 10 groups of 10 small-scale farmers. They help lighten the workload and speed up the harvesting process for them and their families by eradicating the need for hand cutting and manual threshing. With threshing now taking place directly on the field, this lowers the risk of loss caused by rainfall, as well as mould formation. As a result, the farmers can expect higher yields and better income. They can also earn additional money by renting out the machines to other farmers in the region, enabling many more families to benefit from BENEO’s investment.   

    Roland Vanhoegaerden, Operations Managing Director for BENEO’s rice ingredients, comments: 

    “We value our long-term relationship with our farming and logistical partners in Laos. By liaising with IDP, we could quickly see where our investment would make the most impact. As a result of supporting our farmers with new equipment, more than 100 farming families have their everyday workloads eased. Also, by offering these economic resources to rice farmers we are helping to further work towards the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given the success of this initiative, we intend to launch another project of this type in the coming year to support more rice farmers.”  

    Frédéric Jullien, CEO at IDP comments: “We are honoured that BENEO chose IDP to work with on this project. As a company, we are focused on assisting farmers in improving their work conditions whilst maintaining rice quality. BENEO’s contribution has shown its commitment to the sustainable development of the rice value chain here in Laos.”  

  • Pak-China hybrid rice coop forge ahead amidst global headwinds

  • KARACHI, March 10 (China Economic Net)– "Unquestionably hybrid rice is a model of China-Pakistan agricultural cooperation in Sindh Province," Mr. Zhou Xusheng, Director of Pakistan Business Department, Wuhan Qingfa Hesheng Seed Co., Ltd. a Chinese developer and provider of hybrid seeds, told the reporter of China Economic Net (CEN).

    Local technicians participate in field training [Photo provided to CEN]

    Amidst global headwinds, Pakistani rice is facing a series of challenges. Chela Ram Kewlani, President of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), indicated that during the first seven months of the FY 2022/23, the export value of Pakistani rice decreased by 15.82% year-on-year to USD 1.08 billion, mainly due to flood damage to paddy fields in Sindh, where the local rice production has been reduced by 40%. 

    Qingfa Hesheng has been providing hybrid seeds of rice, canola and vegetables to Pakistan for nearly twenty years, as well as training more than 300 local agricultural personnel. In particular, it registered the first hybrid rice variety -QY0413 in the history of Pakistan. 

    “It may take three years for the rice export, which is an important means for Pakistan to earn foreign exchange, to recover,” Zhou noted, “however, we have preparation for such situations. First, the stress resistance of crop varieties should be improved. Second, seed production can be carried out separately in Pakistan and China, spreading risk in the face of extreme weather. Currently, our test fields are located in Lahore, Chiniot, Shikarpur, Golarchi.”

    “Except for floods, extreme high temperatures brought about by climate change are also difficulties that must be overcome in the upgrading of Pakistan’s rice industry. The annual average temperature here is much higher than that in China’s main rice climate zone. Therefore, in our selection of rice varieties, it is imperative to guarantee the seed setting rate and quality under high temperature. Nevertheless, a coin has two sides. It is precisely because of the hot and dry climate in Pakistan that hybrid rice diseases are much less than those in China, such as bacterial blight, but far less hazardous.”

    Pakistani rice exported to China [Photo provided to CEN]

    Data from PBS showed that exports of basmati rice fell 22.95% to 316,055 tonnes in the first seven months of this year from 410,207 tonnes in the same period last year, while exports of non-basmati rice fell 25% to 1.62 million tons. Despite a sharp drop in exports, rice prices have seen unprecedented increases in the domestic market due to inflation and rising international rice prices. In this regard, Zhou put forward his viewpoint.

    “Affected by currency depreciation and inflation, the cancellation of natural gas subsidies means that fertilizer prices have risen, and even supply shortages. Various expenses have pushed up the purchase price of basmati rice. On the other hand, the main purpose of non-basmati rice is to export foreign exchange, and the three leading rice enterprises account for more than 50% of non-basmati exports. Rising costs have led to a decline in the competitiveness of non-basmati rice in the international market, so orders have dropped significantly.”

    Soaring price of rice has greatly stimulated the enthusiasm of local farmers to plant hybrid rice, but expensive fertilizers and gasoline and diesel has pushed up the cost simultaneously. “For us, in order to make the hybrid rice business go further in Pakistan, ensure local food security, and further increase Pakistan’s foreign exchange, help the local establish relevant downstream industrial chains, lower the cost to improve the competitiveness and added value of its agricultural products, and further expand employment is is our top priority.”

  • The Challenges of Regulating Rice in Myanmar.

  • The Myanmar government has regulated its agricultural and export industry through one specific crop: rice. What are the future prospects of the rice economy?

    Rakhine farmers harvest in a rice paddy near Pa Rein village, Myauk Oo township on October 29, 2012 in Rakhine state, Myanmar.

    When a central power decentralizes its markets, it should ensure the durability of alternative political structures; otherwise, it risks economic and/or political disarray. The agricultural system of Myanmar (formerly Burma)—intrinsically linked with the state’s rice paddies—offers testimony of what happens when deregulation isn’t supplemented with adequate policy. When the state introduced sweeping policy reforms to its rice production operations, it also reinforced economic instability by way of government control.

    Economics and resource management scholar Ikuko Okamoto specifies two liberalizations of Myanmar’s rice marketing system history: the first in 1987, the second in 2003. The first, taking place shortly after Myanmar gained independence from British rule, launched a new rice collection method from state farmers. Along with other exogenous factors, the general political tumult strained both the new policies and the agricultural workers.

    During both liberalizations, policies issued to alleviate pressure on farmers ultimately backfired.

    The second liberalization, part of an effort to open more exports and lift up Myanmar in the international market, also stressed producers and farmers. Producers submitted their harvest to either the Myanmar Agricultural Produce Trading (MAPT) or private contractors hired by the MAPT—fortifying the government’s monopoly over the agricultural market instead of the working peoples.

    During both liberalizations, policies issued to alleviate pressure on farmers ultimately backfired. A government-issued procurement quota, introduced early in the process, was meant to spur domestic rice production. However, it accounted little for details: the differences in farm sizes, for one, was not considered—straining medium- and small-scale mills that couldn’t produce the same output as their large counterparts.

    These infrastructural disparities had historical implications—many large farms were holdovers from British rule—but they only worsened as other liberalization issues arose. The challenges ultimately led to a number of consequences—one of which compromised the quality of harvested rice: to meet their quotas, many farmers moved their better crops toward a free, unregulated market, delivering lesser product to the government-controlled market.

    Both liberalizations cemented government control over agricultural trade via the very policy targets they meant to address. The public policy to aid a shift towards privatization was ultimately found lacking, creating issues in other economic and political arenas as well as within the rice market itself. Today, in post-coup Myanmar, rice is still very connected to agricultural public policy. Paddy procurement standards, however, continue to be a catalyst for further instability, especially given contemporary pressures. While rice farmers have long been unable to make a profit off their crops, they’re faced with new handicaps such as rising temperatures and changing climates that also threaten general rice production. The lack of policy worsens the situation—and a precedence for a government-regulated price deficit continues to threaten the state’s economic stability.

  • Asia rice: India rates fall on lack of buying interest

  • MUMBAI/HANOI/ BANGKOK/DHAKA India’s rice export prices extended their decline this week as demand from key importing countries faltered, while supplies in Vietnam boomed due to peaking winter-spring harvest in the Mekong Delta.

    India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $385-$390 per tonne this week from last week’s $390-$395. Prices have been sliding from around $400 reached in the week of Feb. 23, their highest since March 2021.

    The recent upside in export prices and an increase in freight rates for break bulk vessels were affecting demand, said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India’s leading rice exporter. India does not plan to lift a ban on broken rice exports and cut a 20% tax on overseas shipments of white rice, as the world’s biggest exporter of the grain tries to keep a lid on domestic prices, two government sources said last month.

    In Vietnam, the 5% broken rice was offered at $440-$445 per tonne, unchanged from a week ago. Traders said the winter-spring harvest is peaking in the Mekong Delta provinces, giving a boost to domestic supplies, which hasn’t impacted prices as demand is expected to be strong.

    The country exported 534,607 tonnes of rice in February, according to government customs data released on Thursday. Meanwhile, Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices was quoted at $460 per tonne, little changed from $450 to $460 seen last week.

  • Vietnam to develop 1 million ha of low-emission high-quality rice by 2030: draft

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is about to complete a draft of the project to develop 1 million ha of low-emission high-quality rice in Vietnam, according to Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam.

    The project on cultivating 1 million hectares of hi-quality rice will be among Vietnam’s efforts in realising the country’s commitment at COP26 for net zero emissions by 2050. (Photo: VNA)

    Hanoi (VNA) – The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is about to complete a draft of the project to develop 1 million ha of low-emission high-quality rice in Vietnam, according to Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam.

    Speaking in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency, Nam said that the ministry will submit the draft to the Government next month.

    About 700,000 ha of rice nationwide has been registered to join the project once it’s approved, Nam said.

    The project is part of the activities to implement Vietnam’s Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in the 2021-2030 period, with a vision to 2050.

    Among the strategy’s goals is to develop areas of qualified raw materials.

    Meanwhile, the project on 1 million hectare hi-quality rice will be among Vietnam’s efforts in realising the country’s commitment at COP 26 for net zero emissions by 2050.

    The project will be critically important to the Mekong Delta region – Vietnam’s largest rice bowl - as current statistics show that rice production emission accounts for 40% of the total agricultural production’s emission.

    Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam. (Photo: VNA)

    It also aims to reorganise rice production in which cooperatives connect and support farmers to reduce production costs, and increase values for products and incomes for farmers, Nam said.

    Currently, low-emission production models are applied on about 180,000 ha across Vietnam, Nam said, adding that those models will be consolidated and scaled up.

    Results from the Vietnam Sustainable Agriculture Transformation Project (VnSAT) - a successful model that helps boost sustainable agriculture in the country - will be also expanded with higher requirements.

    Nam said that enterprises are called on to join the low-emission high-quality rice production project as they need high-quality raw material areas./.

  • Rice Hybridization Program aims to make Davao rice-sufficient

  • AS DAVAO Region only reached 54 percent rice sufficiency in the last two years, an official from the Department of Agriculture - Davao Region (DA-Davao) said the Rice Hybridization Program would help achieve the goal for the region to become completely rice-sufficient as it will solve the lack of local rice production.

    Evelyn Basa, DA-Davao agricultural center chief said during the Agribiz Media Forum, for both 2021 and 2022 Davao Region missed 46 percent to become rice-sufficient.

    Rice sufficiency is the ability of the region to produce local rice crops for public consumption.

    Basa added that with DA’s efforts of strengthening the Rice Hybridization Program, hybrid rice seeds, along with inbred rice seeds, will be distributed for free to eligible farmers.

    “The hybrid rice ay may kakayahang magpa-increase og production (Hybrid variants can increase rice production) by up to 10 to 30 percent based on the techno-demonstrations na gina-conduct namo (that we are conducting) nationwide ,” Basa said.

    “For as long as fully irrigated siya mabuhi man ang atong hybrid rice, and tested na pod na siya sa Davao Region (As long as the area is fullyirrigated, our hybrid rice will survive. Seeds are also proven effective here in Davao Region),” she added.

    Basa added the department earmarked P492 million for this program, in which 11 variants of hybrid rice seeds will be distributed to eligible farmers.

    “They [The farmers] must register first from RSBSA (Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture), then through LGU coordinations gihapon nato sa RFO (regional field office) ato siyang [seeds] i-distribute sa atong farmers,” Basa said.

    Basa said hybrid seeds cost P5,000 per bag compared to inbred seeds which only cost P1,520 per bag.

    Although hybrid seeds are pricey, they give more return on investment (ROI) than their inbred counterpart.

    Basa added that farmers who don’t want to plant hybrid rice, the department can provide them with free inbred seeds.

    Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data from 2022, about 490,125 metric tons of rice was produced in Davao Region compared to 2020, which was only 484,000 metric tons.

    Basa said the Rice Hybridization Program, which was started through High Yield Technology Adoption for Hybrid Rice Project (HYTA-HR) aims to meet the need for growing food consumption. She added that Davao Region is importing rice from neighboring regions and countries.

  • Myanmar exports 106,855 tons of rice in February

  • Workers carry packages of rice at a warehouse in Yangon, Myanmar, March 8, 2023. Myanmar exported 106,855 tons of rice in February this year, as compared to 171,811 tons of rice exported in January, the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) said on Tuesday.(Photo: Xinhua)

     A worker transfers packages of rice at a warehouse in Yangon, Myanmar, March 8, 2023. Myanmar exported 106,855 tons of rice in February this year, as compared to 171,811 tons of rice exported in January, the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) said on Tuesday.(Photo: Xinhua)
    A worker transfers packages of rice at a warehouse in Yangon, Myanmar, March 8, 2023. Myanmar exported 106,855 tons of rice in February this year, as compared to 171,811 tons of rice exported in January, the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) said on Tuesday.(Photo: Xinhua)

    A worker carries a package of rice at a warehouse in Yangon, Myanmar, March 8, 2023. Myanmar exported 106,855 tons of rice in February this year, as compared to 171,811 tons of rice exported in January, the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) said on Tuesday.(Photo: Xinhua)
    A worker carries a package of rice at a warehouse in Yangon, Myanmar, March 8, 2023. Myanmar exported 106,855 tons of rice in February this year, as compared to 171,811 tons of rice exported in January, the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) said on Tuesday.(Photo: Xinhua)

    Myanmar exported 106,855 tons of rice in February this year, as compared to 171,811 tons of rice exported in January, the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) said on Tuesday.

    The Southeast Asian country also exported 84,549 tons of broken rice in February, as compared to 97,024 tons of broken rice registered in January, the MRF data showed.

    China remained the top buyer of Myanmar's rice and broken rice in February, purchasing 45,000 tons of rice and 64,321 tons of broken rice during the period, the federation's figures showed.

    During the first 11 months of fiscal year 2022-23 starting from April last year, the country's rice export reached over 1.28 million tons, while its broken rice export hit more than 812,488 tons, official data showed.

    Myanmar has shipped most of its rice and broken rice via sea routes, as the country has a long coastline.

    Myanmar exported its rice and broken rice to China, the Philippines, Japan, European Union countries, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, African countries and Middle East countries, according to the MRF.

    In Myanmar, rice is the most cultivated crop followed by beans and pulses.

  • India’s non-basmati rice exports jump 4% in Apr-Jan of FY23

  • Rise comes despite 20% export duty on white rice, ban on fully brokens

    India’s non-basmati rice exports surged 4 per cent to 14.56 million tonnes (mt) during the April-January period of the current fiscal from 14.01 mt a year ago. This is despite the Government imposing a 20 per cent export duty on white (raw) rice and banning shipments of fully broken rice.. However, with an upward trend in freight cost, the realisation by exporters may get hit if importing countries do not absorb any increase.

    The non-basmati rice segment registered a 3 per cent growth in value at $5.17 billion (₹41,273 crore) from $5.01 billion in the year-ago period, according to the latest data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). In the entire 2021-22, non-basmati rice export was 17.26 mt worth $6.12 billion (₹45,652.35 crore).

    Freight uptrend

    Exporters said when the government imposed the duty in September last year, the freight cost was about $100-$120/tonne and it was declining. While it dropped to about $50/tonne in February, it began to show an uptrend in the first week.

    “Importing countries did not feel the impact of export duty as in the same period there was a fall in the freight cost. One thing is established the world now knows India as a credible destination for non-basmati rice,” said BV Krishna Rao, President of The Rice Exporters Association (TREA). There is no concern for now and exporters are ready to wait for the next kharif crop’s arrival in October to see if any policy change will be required, Rao said.

    He said the increase in non-basmati rice has to be seen amid the crop failure in Pakistan and also the quantitative restriction in Myanmar. However, he said: “The world needs Indian rice. We will seek a change in policy if at all there is a drop in export.”

    Fair assessment in Sept

    Rao further said even after the imposition of export duty, neither there is a substantial improvement in procurement, nor a decline in export. He said a fair assessment could be made by September about how the kharif paddy crop would be and a decision could help exporters to enter into new contracts for shipments from October-November.

    “As no fresh crop from any other origin to come before September, we are fairly covered till then. A policy review at that time will be definitely of help,” Rao said.

    Meanwhile, basmati rice increased 41 per cent to $3.82 billion (₹30,514 crore) in the 10 months to January and there was an 18 per cent surge in volume to 3.66 mt. Total exports of rice (both non-basmati and basmati) increased 16 per cent to $8.98 billion (₹71,787 crore).

  • Vietnam rice export prices rise 9.8 pct as buyers stock up.

  • HANOI, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Vietnamese rice export prices increased to 528.5 U.S. dollars per ton, up 9.8 percent in the first two months this year from a year earlier, the Vietnam News reported on Wednesday.

    The Ukraine crisis has prompted buyers to import more rice and build up their inventories on fears that the disruption in the supply chain of food grains would make a comeback, the newspaper quoted Nguyen Quoc Toan, head of the Center for Digital Transformation and Agricultural Statistics under the Agriculture Ministry, as saying.

    Prices of Vietnam's 5-percent broken rice prices in February rose to 457 U.S. dollars per ton from 449 U.S. dollars in January, Toan added.

    Vietnam exported 789,000 tons of grain in January and February, earning 417.2 million U.S. dollars, down 18.8 percent in volume and 10.8 percent in value compared to the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office.

    The Philippines was the biggest import market in January with over 129,000 tons worth 64.55 million U.S. dollars, accounting for 34.6 percent of Vietnam's total export.

    Supply remains a concern as the drought in some countries affected production and the situation in Ukraine raised concerns over shortages, traders said.

    Besides, India's ban on broken rice exports and a 20-percent tax levy on white rice varieties have added to the supply difficulties given the fact that the South Asian country is one of the largest rice exporters in the world. Enditem

  • India to Benefit from EU Proposal to Raise Residue Limits on Rice Fungicide- ‘Tricyclazole’

  • The European Union suggests raising the maximum residue level (MRL) for tricyclazole in rice from 0.01 mg/kg to 0.09 mg/kg after determining that the increased level poses no risk to consumers.

    Tricyclazole is a fungicide used to treat blast disease in rice

    The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has proposed raising the level of tricyclazole in rice after concerns about permitting a higher limit were addressed sufficiently.

    The European Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health is now expected to ratify the proposal in May. The decision should encourage Indian rice exporters, as the presence of fungicide residue has been a source of concern for shipments to the EU. However, India has requested that the MRL for the chemical be reduced to 1 mg/kg.

    Tricyclazole is a fungicide used to treat blast disease in rice. Japanese scientists conducted tests on mice that resulted in decreased body weight gain as well as increased organ weight and others in the rodent's liver.

    Corteva Agriscience had applied to Italy's competent national authority, which is the rapporteur Member State (RMS) of the EU, to set an import tolerance for the active substance tricyclazole in rice, according to EFSA. According to trade experts, Italy is one of the EU members who is dissatisfied with the EFSA regulations because it is a major producer of rice.

    In accordance with EU regulations, the RMS created an evaluation report. On April 26, 2018, it was submitted to the European Commission and forwarded to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). "The RMS proposed setting the MRL for rice imported from Brazil at 0.09 mg/kg," it said.

    As a result, the EFSA identified the evaluation gaps, and the RMS submitted a revised evaluation report on October 7, 2022. "Based on the risk assessment results, EFSA concluded that the short-term and long-term consumption of residues resulting from the reported agricultural practise of tricyclazole is unlikely to pose a risk to consumer health," the authority stated.

    Tricyclazole "is stable," according to hydrolysis studies conducted to investigate the effect of processing on its nature. "Because the proposed use of tricyclazole is on imported crops, residue investigations in rotational crops are not required," EFSA stated.

    Rice bran, a byproduct of (husked) rice, may be used for feed purposes, and a potential carry-over into animal food was assessed. For all relevant animal species, the measured livestock dietary burden did not exceed the trigger value of 0.1 mg/kg dry matter (DM).

    "Because the relative contribution of tricyclazole residues from rice hulls to total livestock exposure was insignificant, animal commodities were not further considered in this application," according to EFSA. The EFSA concluded that "the recommended use of tricyclazole on rice will not lead in a consumer exposure exceeding the toxicological reference values so it is unlikely to pose a risk to consumers' health".

  • Lundberg rice achieves Regenerative Organic certification

  • RICHVALE, CALIF. — Lundberg Family Farms has launched Regenerative Organic Certified rice and aims to certify all the organic rice it grows by 2027. The Richvale-based company grows organic rice and makes packaged rice and rice snacks.

    The rice will be available at Whole Foods Market nationwide and at beginning April 4.

    “Lundberg Family Farms has always aspired to, in my grandpa Albert’s words, leave the land better than we found it,” said Bryce Lundberg, vice president of agriculture and third-generation farmer at Lundberg. “We’re grateful that we were able to achieve certification, which validates that our farming practices align with Regenerative Organic Certified standards. We believe our family has been farming regeneratively for generations by prioritizing the health of our soil and supporting the ecosystem around our rice fields.”

    The non-profit Regenerative Organic Alliance, in offering Regenerative Organic Certified, uses the US Department of Agriculture’s certified organic program as a baseline and adds other criteria and benchmarks related to regenerative agriculture.

    Lundberg Family Farms prioritizes soil health through compost and cover crops, which help sequester carbon, restore nutrients to the soil, reduce weeds and prevent erosion. Each winter the company floods a portion of its fields to provide habitat and nutrition for wintering waterfowl. The feet of the waterfowl press rice straw into the soil, which helps decompose the straw and turn it into mulch for next year’s crop.

  • Africa emerges lucrative market for Indian rice exporters

  • Notwithstanding restrictions, India’s rice exports to Africa have jumped during the current financial year. During the April-January period this financial year, India’s rice exports to African countries crossed 9 million tonnes compared to 7.3 million tonnes in the previous fiscal year. Africa has mostly sourced parboiled rice from India. While the Centre imposed a 20 per cent duty on non basmati rice, parboiled variety was exempt from any additional charges.
    For the full financial year, India’s rice exports to price sensitive Africa are expected to touch 11 million tonnes.
    “We expect robust demand from Africa even in the next financial year,” Vinod Kaul, executive director, All India Rice Exporters’ Association, told India Narrative.
    Africa is a major player in the international rice market as it imports about 20-30 per cent of the total global imports, Africa Business said, adding that the rapid growth in rice trade is due to its high consumption of the grain as a food source in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Guinea are among the top importers of Indian rice.
    Indian non basmati rice is priced at about $410 a tonne compared to the grain sold by Thailand, and Vietnam.
    “We are satisfied with overall rice exports. While Africa has become a major market for India, our outbound shipment to other destinations including the West Asian countries and several in Latin America has also picked up,” Kaul said.
    Among the Latin American countries, Cuba, for the first time has started importing Indian rice. It has already sourced 57,000 tonnes of non basmati rice from India.
    India’s rice exports to China however have dropped significantly, Kaul said. China was sourcing 100 per cent broken rice from India. However, the Centre banned the exports of 100 per cent broken rice last year.
    Despite several restrictions including imposition of 20 per cent duty on exports of non basmati grains, India’s total outbound shipment could touch about 20 million tonnes by the close of the current financial year.
    The US Department of Agriculture had projected India’s rice exports to drop at about 19 million tonnes.
    Though in 2021-22 India’s rice exports touched a record 22 million tonnes, several projections had earlier indicated a “huge drop” in outbound shipment of the grain after the ban in exports of 100 per cent broken grain along with an imposition of 20 per cent duty on non basmati variety barring the parboiled crop.
    Total exports of basmati rice between April and January stood at 3.7 million tonnes and for non basmati, it was 12 million tonnes.
    Kaul said that exports of basmati for the full financial year may be in the range of 4.4 million tonnes to 4.6 million compared to 3.9 million tonnes in 2021-22.
    Rice accounts for more than 40 per cent of total food grain production in the country. According to World, a website tracking production, consumption and exports of grains and other crops, rice production in India is trending upwards and has reached record levels in the last five years due to rising yields on favourable monsoon rains and improved varieties.
  • Texas rice farmers face another year without Colorado River water

  • Talking on the phone from his tractor in Colorado County, Texas, Craig Gutman said he was not surprised to hear water would not be available for rice farmers like him this year.

    "I was pretty much expecting it. We've been watching the lake levels," he said, referring to the Highland Lakes.

    The lakes sit well over 100 miles away from his farm, upstream on the Colorado River. These are the reservoirs that supply water not only to Austin, but also to agriculture and industry downstream.

    Ever since drought took serious hold last summer, the reservoirs have been depleted enough to trigger an automatic cutoff for farmers who hold “interruptible” water contracts with the Lower Colorado River Authority, the agency that manages the reservoirs.

    Those cutoffs began last July, and the LCRA announced Thursday they would continue this year.

    “LCRA’s state-approved Water Management Plan requires it to cut off Highland Lakes water to agricultural customers ... based on the intensity and duration of the drought,” the agency said in a press statement.

    That water management plan was adopted after the drought of 2011, which remains the worst single-year drought in Texas history.

    All About Rice Farming In Texas

    Early in that drought, water sent downstream for agriculture reduced the reservoir storage in the Highland Lakes considerably. It was so low some worried it put reserves for cities like Austin, with firm water contracts, at risk.

    “During hot, dry times like these, the plan requires the curtailment of water to interruptible customers so LCRA can continue meeting the needs of cities, businesses and industries," John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of water, said in the statement.

    Gutman says that some farmers in his area will use groundwater to keep growing rice, but tens of thousands of acres will now go uncultivated this year. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that a new reservoir which was constructedafter the 2011 drought to help farmers is still not up and running.

    "When they were filling itup, the water was ... running straight back into the river," he said. “They're trying to seal it and line it ... to where that thing will hold water and do what it is supposed to do.”

    He says crop insurance should soften the blow for the owners of approximately 250 rice farms that cultivate roughly 160,000 acres of cropland near the Texas Gulf Coast. But the rest of his community doesn’t have insurance to fall back on.

    "The support industries are the ones that are really going to suffer,” he said. “It's our flight services, our chemical companies, our seed companies, our rice driers, and just the local economy is going to take a major, major hit.”

    “It all starts with rice,” he said. “And rice has to have water.”

    Rice farming is extremely water intensive – so much so that many have wondered whether the industry will survive in Texas, as water scarcity continues and water demand grows.

    "To be really honest with you," Gutman said, "it is a major concern in this area."

  • Calculating New Options for Shrinking Rice Fields.

  • As water supplies dry up, farmers look to drought-friendly alternatives if rice becomes unsustainable.

    George Tibbitts, a third-generation farmer in Arbuckle, CA, has been growing rice on his 1,200-acre farm for three decades. His Sacramento Valley irrigation district, one of the oldest in the state, has long benefitted from senior water rights, which date back to 1914. The rights allow farmers such as Tibbitts to keep their fields flush with water, even in arid conditions.

    But last year, with much of the state in extreme drought, he faced a career first: His district slashed water allocations by an unprecedented 90 percent, leaving him with little choice but to fallow all of his rice fields. 

    Fortunately, the tenth of normal supply he received was still enough to plant sunflower, wheat and tomatoes in four of his nine fields. “If I were only growing rice,” says Tibbitts, “I would’ve been in a big world of hurt.”

    Because farming is a profession fraught with uncertainty, there are obvious advantages to having options. Yet, when it comes to rotating fields in a region steeped in a long tradition of growing rice, Tibbitts goes against the grain. In fact, only about 10 percent of the Sacramento Valley’s 500,000 acres of riceland is rotated, with heavy clay soils favoring flooded paddies over other field crops. As such, there’s little information or much of a history to support the practice of crop rotation or substitution.

    To bridge the knowledge gap, University of California researchers have developed the Rice Rotation Calculator, an online tool that helps growers explore the economic impacts of switching from rice to one of several alternative crops. Like an insurance estimator, it takes the guesswork out of field rotation: Farmers input a host of variables for cultivating rice—everything from seed and input costs to equipment, labor and irrigation—to get instant, dollar-per-acre revenue comparisons for beans, safflower, sunflower and tomatoes.

    Crop rotation can help mitigate the economic and agronomic risks of mono-cropping, such as loss of soil fertility, increased reliance on pesticides and vulnerability to price fluctuations, says Whitney Brim-DeForest, a UC Cooperative Extension rice advisor, who developed the calculator with Sara Rosenberg, a UC Davis doctoral student in horticulture and agronomy.

    However, because the practice is relatively rare in California’s rice country, the unknowns can make it a daunting proposition. “We don’t want to advise [growers] to crop-rotate if they [don’t] have an idea of what it looks like economically,” says Brim-DeForest. “This tool is designed to help them make informed decisions and, hopefully, reduce the barrier to entry.”

    There’s also an enormous effort required to take a field out of rice, including removing levees, bedding up fields and installing irrigation. Rosenberg says that’s just one factor that contributes to “a whole system that’s been created to make rice so feasible.” Yes, there’s the clay soil, flat landscape and senior water rights. But that has created a unique regional economy and industry—one that seeds fields with planes instead of drill seeders, harvests with giant combines rather than tractors and requires far less labor than row crops.

    It’s no wonder, then, that there’s very little data to support the practice of rotating rice fields, adds Brim-DeForest, and a lot of uncertainty around adopting such a major transition. “In this region, rice is a cultural crop,” she says—one engrained throughout generations of families and entire communities. The ubiquity often means that information and resources needed to make a switch are harder to come by, as are the social networks that aid in sharing equipment and tapping different markets.

    The Rice Rotation Calculator is designed to demystify one of the biggest unknowns of rotating out of rice: the bottom line. Curious growers simply input their current farming costs as well as opportunity costs—the learning curve, in hours, for a new cropping system multiplied by hourly wage—to get a comparative overview of switching to one of four options: dry beans, safflower (both lower in value than rice, with a low barrier to entry), sunflower or tomatoes (both higher in value, with a more complicated transition).

    Data pulled from the UC Integrated Pest Management Program, which developed the backend, factors in a comprehensive range of cost considerations. Along with seed, input and equipment costs, the calculator accounts for labor, field reconstruction and even rent for tenant farmers. Users get instant rice-versus-selected-crop comparisons, displayed via a graph and itemized summary for first- and average-year costs and net revenue.

    Rosenberg emphasizes that the calculator shows only short-term cost implications, and it doesn’t account for bumps in rice yields, savings in inputs and weed control and additional benefits touted by Tibbitts and other advocates. She hopes that in supporting the wider adoption of crop rotation, data and research will follow and that future upgrades will incorporate that knowledge into forecasting long-term returns on a seemingly promising investment.

    In the meantime, the calculator allows growers to weigh sound options for squeezing the most out of a limited water allocation or selecting a robust crop mix for weathering a cool rice market. Given all the uncertainties inherent in farming,“it’s another tool in the toolbox,” says Rosenberg, for growers to build resilience.

    In a normal year, the Sacramento Valley produces 97 percent of California’s rice, but with reservoirs drained after three years of continuous drought, production plummeted by half in 2022, to 250,000 acres. Although heavy winter storms have brightened the outlook for this year, “we’re not out of the woods yet,” says Tibbitts. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recently signaled a potential increase in allocations—all the while noting that conditions are still subject to change. At this point, he notes that he’d be happy to get half of his annual water supply.

    Regardless of outcome, a diverse planting helps Tibbitts roll with the punches. While four fields are slated for a May seeding of rice, he’ll plant a couple with sunflowers in early spring and lease the remainder to a tomato grower. In addition to stretching water allocation—sunflowers grow solely on residual soil moisture, while drip-irrigated tomatoes require 60 percent less water than rice—crop rotation improves soil health, reduces pesticide resistance and weeds and helps stagger his harvest.

    “And when I put a field back into rice after growing tomatoes,” adds Tibbitts, “I always get the best yields.”

  • Export prices of Vietnamese rice up nearly 10%

  • The export prices of Vietnamese rice in the first two months of 2023 rose by 9.8% year-on-year to 528.5 USD/tonne, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

    Hanoi (VNA) - The export prices of Vietnamese rice in the first two months of 2023 rose by 9.8% year-on-year to 528.5 USD/tonne, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

    Vietnam exported 789,000 tonnes of the grain in the reviewed period, earning 417 million USD, down 18.8% in volume and 10.8% in value compared to the same period last year.

    The Philippines is the largest importer of the food from Vietnam in January with over 129,000 tonnes worth 64.55 million USD, accounting for 34.6% of Vietnam’s total export.

    Vietnam recorded the highest increase price for rice exported to Taiwan (China) in January, with a surge of 54.6% year-on-year.

    It is forecast to have favourable conditions for rice exports in 2023 as many countries such as the US and China, and those in Europe, are being affected by climate change and drought, which cause a shortage of rice supply.

    Moreover, India - one of the largest rice exporters in the world, imposes a ban on broken rice exports and a 20-percent tax rate on white rice varieties.

    Vietnam aims to export between 6.5 – 7 million tonnes of rice in 2023.

    Its export is predicted to increase again as the demand in traditional markets such as Indonesia and Bangladesh has risen, and China – one of the largest importers of Vietnamese farm produce, has opened the market after the COVID-19 pandemic./.

  • Higher export prices: only saving grace

  • After touching the peak of 4.9 million metric tons during the last fiscal, Pakistan’s rice exports are well on their way to explore a fresh bottom. Seven-month fiscal report from Pakistan Bureau of Statistics indicates that the country would be lucky to manage 3.2 million metric tons in exports during 2022-23, lowest quantum in past 15 years. Per PBS, rice exports are already down 25 percent during 7MFY23, easily making rice one of the worst performers among major exporting segments.

    January 2023 turned out to be one of the worst performing months, as coarse rice - which constitutes up to 85 percent of exports by quantity – saw volume exported decline by 56 percent year on year to just 0.18 million metric tons. If last year isn’t fair comparison given record exports, consider that January 2023 underperformed Covid year exports (Jan’21) by 30 percent, and were 51 percent lower than average exports for the month over the last decade.

    Export revenue performance from coarse rice offers little cause for hope either, falling 40 percent over last year. It was also one-third lower than the 10-year average, despite 40 percent higher unit prices fetched. At this rate, coarse rice exports would be lucky to breach the 2.8MMT mark in the full fiscal, having managed at least 3MMT every year since at least FY14. Coarse rice export revenue may rake in $1.3 billion, a six-year low. However, it may not the worst year for the exporting firms, who have fetched the highest per unit prices for coarse exports in well over a decade.

    Meanwhile, export performance of the higher value basmati rice hasn’t been too different either. Although per unit basmati prices fetched in the export market during the 7MFY23 – nearly $1,100 per metric ton - have climbed up to their highest level in the last 10 years, basmati export volume remained lowest in five years, barely breaching 0.3MMT in the seven-month period. In fact, this may be the first time in five years when annual basmati exports from Pakistan once again fall under half a million metric tons, putting Pakistan’s share in the global market well below 10 percent, barely putting a dent in the market share of neighboring India, which commands the remainder 90 percent market share.

    Here too, however, higher prices once again come to the rescue. Basmati unit prices are at least 25 percent higher compared to last fiscal year, raising the average earnings for the exporters. If prices remain elevated for the remainder fiscal year, revenue from basmati exports will only be 18 percent lower than last year, compared to one-third lower had prices remained at the same level as year – when they averaged around $900 per metric ton during the full fiscal. Revenue from basmati exports is expected to remain under $600 million, lowest in five years.

    Although higher prices amid low volumes will make 2022-23 a mixed season for exporters, it is surprising that basmati exports did not pick up during the current marketing year. According to provisional crop statistics from provincial authorities, basmati crop had performed better during the kharif 2022 season, unlike coarse rice varieties such as IRRI and hybrid, which had become victim to the devastating floods in southern parts of the country. If export volumes do pick up during the remaining fiscal, it may lend credence to the theory that keeping the currency artificially appreciated during the first half caused irreparable damage to revenue from exports. Keep a close eye!

  • More funds, land for hybrid rice production in PH sought

  • MANILA, Philippines  -SL Agritech Corp., the country’s largest hybrid rice producer, is asking President Marcos to provide additional and long-term funding for farmers and devote a bigger land area for hybrid rice to achieve the government’s rice self-sufficiency goal.

    “We need P7 billion to P8 billion for at least 10 years for us to produce enough seeds. That is what we asked from the government,” SL Agritech chair and CEO Henry Lim Bon Liong told the Inquirer.

    He said the company was spending about P1 billion per hectare to produce seeds for hybrid rice, a type of rice bred from two different parents as defined by Laguna-based International Rice Research Institute.

    “How can you fund a long-term investment [with] a short-term loan?” he said. “If we want to be self-sufficient in rice, we should also be self-sufficient in seeds. If we are sufficient in rice but we don’t have enough seeds and we only rely on importation, [then] what will happen if there will be a shortage of seeds worldwide?”

    SL Agritech technical and promotion support consultant Frisco Malabanan said farmers should also gain easier access to loans with zero or low interest rates.

    The issues were raised during a recent meeting with Mr. Marcos, who concurrently heads the Department of Agriculture.

    “The problem for farmers is that the government’s credit program is not that accessible. Farmers do not want to go back and forth to the bank to comply with the requirements and secure financing because they are too busy cultivating their lands. That’s why they patronize the informal credit conduits,” said Malabanan.

  • Scientists Uncover Seed Size Regulation Pathway in Rice

  • In a study published in Cell Reports, Prof. SONG Xianjun’s group from the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has uncovered a gene network underlying the regulation of seed size.

    The researchers found that a genetically defined cascade-OsTIR1-OsIAA10-OsARF4-plays an important role in controlling rice grain size, and Thousand-grain weight on chromosome 3 (TGW3) phosphorylation of OsIAA10 regulates the trait by altering the corresponding auxin signaling.

    Cultivated rice (Oryza sativa L.) is an important crop, feeding more than half the world’s population. In rice, grain size is an important agronomic trait that significantly affects grain yield and quality. However, few genetically defined pathways for grain size control have been reported so far.

    Together with other groups, the researchers reported in 2018 a large QTL for grain size and yield, called TGW3, whose target gene encodes a GSK3-like protein kinase. They then identified the canonical auxin/indole-3-acetic acid protein OsIAA10 as a novel interacting partner of TGW3. As expected, TGW3 has the ability to phosphorylate OsIAA10.

    Interestingly, in this study, the researchers identified three serine sites-Ser68, Ser75, and Ser97-of OsIAA10 as the major amino acids that are phosphorylated by TGW3 and found that the phosphorylation of OsIAA10 is involved in grain size regulation.

    In addition, they showed that TGW3 phosphorylation of OsIAA10 promotes ubiquitylation and proteolysis of the substrate. Mechanistically, phosphorylation of OsIAA10 favors its interaction with OsTIR1 but hinders its association with OsARF4.

    Furthermore, genetic evidence indicated that a viable OsTIR1-OsIAA10-OsARF4 auxin signaling axis regulates rice grain size.

    “TGW3 may mediate the brassinosteroid (BR) response and the physiological effect may be transmitted through the regulatory pathway,” said Dr. MA Ming, first author of the study.

    Overall, these findings uncover a phosphorylation-driven auxin signaling pathway for seed size regulation in rice, providing useful information for the improvement of the agronomic trait in crops.

    Phosphorylation of OsIAA10 caused by TGW3 shapes rice grain size through alteration of the auxin signaling regulatory module OsTIR1-OsIAA10-OsARF4. (Image By IBCAS)

  • Husking rice millers call for Tk 30,000cr fund

  • Husking rice mill owners yesterday urged the government to form a Tk 30,000 crore fund to enable sick mills to make a turnaround and help them compete in the grain market.
    In a proposal placed at the National Board of Revenue for the fiscal year of 2023-24, the Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mills Owners Association (BAMHMOA) said the existence of small rice mills is almost threatened against the backdrop of modern technologies and higher milling capacity.
    The association called for tax exemption for the rice mills with a paid-up capital below Tk 10 crore, according to the proposal placed by Shahidur Rahman Patwari Mohan, vice-president of the BAMHMOA.   
  • Govt to Double Down on Rice & Millet Due to Heat Threat to Wheat Yield

  • Wheat yields will definitely be decreased by the heatwaves but the government's food management plan will cover the nation's food security needs.

    Wheat yields will definitely be decreased by the heatwaves but according to the official

    The central government has doubled down on paddy purchases to tide over any shortages and has advised the millet-growing states to draw up intricate networks to buy the hardy crops in case of scarcity.

    According to procurement strategies put in place, the central government will get by with enough stock of rice and millet to cover the country's food security demands since it is aware of the high likelihood of heatwaves over food-bowl states and their potential impact on the wheat harvest.

    The government aims to procure 34.1 million tonnes of wheat at federally determined prices. Even if rising temperatures do have an impact on wheat production, as they did last year, estimates of the yield loss are available, an official stated while requesting anonymity.

    According to the official data, the government has bought 71.3 million tonnes of paddy, paying farmers ₹1.4 lakh crore in support prices until 1st March 2023.

    The government intends to buy 76.6 million tonnes of summer-sown paddy (equivalent to 51.4 million tonnes of rice). They intend to purchase 15.8 million tonnes of winter-sown paddy (equivalent to 10.6 million tonnes of rice). According to official estimates, the government's paddy stockpile will total 90 million tonnes.

    Wheat yields will definitely be decreased by the heatwaves but according to the official, the government's food management plan depends on the precise distribution of rice, wheat, and even millets to meet the nation's food security needs, which include providing free grains to 800 million people.

    The state purchases of wheat were abnormally low at 18 million tonnes last year, down nearly 58% from the previous year after a disastrous spell of heatwave cut output by 2.5% to 106 million tonnes.

    The government intends to buy 76.6 million tonnes of summer-sown paddy (equivalent to 51.4 million tonnes of rice). They intend to purchase 15.8 million tonnes of winter-sown paddy (equivalent to 10.6 million tonnes of rice). According to official estimates, the government's paddy stockpile will total 90 million tonnes.

    Wheat yields will definitely be decreased by the heatwaves but according to the official, the government's food management plan depends on the precise distribution of rice, wheat, and even millets to meet the nation's food security needs, which include providing free grains to 800 million people.

    The state purchases of wheat were abnormally low at 18 million tonnes last year, down nearly 58% from the previous year after a disastrous spell of heatwave cut output by 2.5% to 106 million tonnes.

  • Some relief. India to gain from EU proposal to hike residue cap on rice fungicide

  • EFSA moots raising maximum residue level on tricyclazole to 0.09 mg/kg

    Tricyclazole is a fungicide that is used to control the blast disease in rice.  | Photo Credit: reuters

    The European Union proposes to raise the maximum residue level (MRL) for tricyclazole in rice to 0.09 mg per kg from 0.01 mg/kg after finding that the raised level is unlikely to cause any risk for consumers.

    The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has proposed the hike in the level of tricyclazole in rice after concerns over allowing the higher limit had been sufficiently addressed. 

    The proposal is now expected to be ratified by the European Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health in May. 

    India’s demand

    The decision should encourage Indian rice exporters as the fungicide residue’s presence has been a concern for shipments to the EU. However, India has been seeking an MRL of 1 mg/kg for the chemical. 

    Tricyclazole is a fungicide that is used to control the blast disease in rice. Tests carried out by Japanese scientists on mice are reported to have led to decreased body weight gain and increased organ weight and others in the rodent’s liver. 

    EFSA said Corteva Agriscience had submitted an application to  Italy’s competent national authority, which is the rapporteur Member State (RMS) of the EU, to set an import tolerance for the active substance tricyclazole in rice. 

    According to trade experts, Italy is one of the EU members who has been unhappy with the EFSA regulations since it is a significant producer of rice. 

    Evaluation resubmitted

    The RMS drafted an evaluation report in accordance with the EU regulations. It was submitted to the European Commission and forwarded to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on April 26, 2018. 

    “The RMS proposed to establish MRL for rice imported from Brazil at the level of 0.09 mg/kg,” it said.

    In turn, the EFSA identified the gaps in the evaluation and the RMS submitted a revised evaluation report on October 7, 2022. 

    “Based on the risk assessment results, EFSA concluded that the short-term and long-term intake of residues resulting from the use of tricyclazole according to the reported agricultural practice is unlikely to present a risk to consumer health,” the authority said.

    Hydrolysis studies conducted to investigate the effect of processing on the nature of tricyclazole demonstrated that tricyclazole “is stable”. “As the proposed use of tricyclazole is on imported crops, investigations of residues in rotational crops are not required,” EFSA said.

    Impact on feed

    As by-products from (husked) rice, rice bran may be used for feed purposes, a potential carry-over into the food of animal origin was assessed. The calculated livestock dietary burden did not exceed the trigger value of 0.1 mg/kg dry matter (DM) for all relevant animal species. 

    “The relative contribution of tricyclazole residues from rice hulls to the total livestock exposure was insignificant, and therefore, animal commodities were not further considered in this application,” EFSA said.

    The EFSA concluded that “the proposed use of tricyclazole on rice will not result in a consumer exposure exceeding the toxicological reference values and therefore is unlikely to pose a risk to consumers’ health”.

  • Australia rejects India’s application for GI tag to Basmati rice…

  • Geographical indication. Australia rejects India’s application for GI tag to Basmati rice

    We have appealed before Federal court of Australia, says APEDA Chairman

    Australia rejected granting GI tag on the grounds that basmati rice is not grown only in India.

    Australia has rejected India’s application to grant a geographical indication (GI) tag for basmati rice on the grounds that it is not grown only in India.

    Indian had filed the application in February 2019 for Basmati name and logo.

    “Australia has rejected our application for GI,” said M Angamuthu, Chairman, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

    “We have already filed an appeal. (An) Appeal has been filed before the Federal Court of Australia on February 1, 2023, against Basamti name,” he said.

    “Australia contends that rice growers outside of India have an equally valid claim to use the term, Basmati. The interpretation of reputation of GI products by Australian authorities is the think of the new world,” said S Chandrasekaran, an expert in GI andauthor of “Basmati Rice: The Natural History Geographical Indiction”.

    Ongoing process

    APEDA is the authority that promotes exports and takes care of GI registration for Indian products abroad. 

    “It is (GI registration) an ongoing process and we will appeal again. This will not have any impact on our trade as such,” the APEDA Chairman said.

    “I think India has not explained its point correctly. It is a product that is grown only in North India and Pakistan. It will be corrected,” said Vijay Setia, former president of All India Rice Exporters Association and Director, Chaman Lal Setia Exports Ltd.

    Australia imports about 50,000 tonnes of basmati annually with shipments of 35,112 tonnes valued at ₹351.78 crore during the April-December period of the current fiscal. 

  • Researchers discover “saviour” for threatened rice crops.

  • A gene editing technique has been discovered that researchers say could be a “saviour” for rice crops threatened by climate change.

    Researchers have carried out a review of gene editing techniques and have found that the CRISPR/Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/Cas) method could act as a ‘saviour’ for rice crops threatened by climate change.

    The study noted that while rice is one of the “most consumed cereals worldwide and feeds about three billion people”, climate-induced abiotic and biotic stresses have taken their toll on the crop and have affected the production and quality of rice crops.

    Highlighting the findings of the study, Dr Antonio Costa de Oliveira, Lead Author of the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil, alongside a team of fellow scientists, said that the CRISPR/Cas tool was “efficient” in gene editing in studies related to yield, tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses and rice grain quality.

    However, they have noted that the impact of using the CRISPR/Cas approach in breeding programmes depends upon the cultivation of the edited plants on a large scale in the field.

     “The development of new, higher yielding cultivars is necessary to ensure global food security,” said Dr Costa de Oliveira.

    “Although great progress has already been achieved by conventional breeding, biotechnological tools, such as transgenics and genome editing, can aid in meeting future demands.”

    Although they are various gene editing techniques, Dr Costa de Oliveira said that CRISPR/Cas has been proposed because of its “ease of manipulation”.

    “Variants such as multiple Cas proteins, base editing and prime editing, which aim to increase editing efficiency have also been proposed. Edited plants are also more accepted because they are transgene free,” continued Dr Costa de Oliveira.

    The study highlighted that a 50 percent increase in the current consumption of rice is projected for 2050, in turn generating a demand as high as 1.125 billion tonnes.

    Citing the occurrence of biotic stresses (diseases – viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, pests and weeds) coupled with abiotic stresses (drought, submergence, salinity, heat, cold and heavy metals) as a limiting factor for rice production, the researchers also said that climate change impacts the process,

    “Climate change influences the frequency, intensity and duration of these stresses,” explained the scientists. “Therefore, it is necessary to develop new rice cultivars with tolerance to stress and higher yield potential, since the expansion of the cultivated area is limited.”

     “The high potential of CRISPR/Cas9 editing, for instance, has aided in the development of broad-spectrum resistance against bacteria, fungi and viruses by silencing susceptibility genes and the insertion of resistance genes,” added Dr Costa de Oliveira.

    “In this sense, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing has made it possible to introduce mutations in three promoters of the SWEET gene that resulted in rice lines with broad-spectrum resistance to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. Oryzae.”

    Looking ahead, the researchers said that even though conventional breeding has been “decisive so far”, there is still a long way to go in order to meet future demands and face the challenges of rice cultivation.

  • Myanmar’s Poultry Business Suffers Broken Rice Price Hike

  • YANGON, Mar 3 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 3rd Mar, 2023 ) :Burmese layer ducks farm owners face loss due to the rocketing feed price.

    Layer ducks farm owner Ko Naing from Yangon Region put his ducks up for sale at 5,000 kyats (about 2.38 U.S. Dollars) per head for an outright sale.

    "The feed cost is exorbitantly high. The price of broken rice as animal feed went up 33 per cent. Besides, the production rate has declined," he said.

    "The quality of the feed is changed to an inferior state. Although the layer ducks fed well, the egg production plunged compared to the previous record," added another duck farmer Ko Kyaw Swar.

    Meanwhile, the price of duck eggs is headed for a decrease.

    The fishery sector is also facing burdens of high feed costs. Entrepreneurs have requested government efforts on the price stability of raw materials.

    However, U Khin Hlaing, vice chair of the Myanmar Livestock Federation, said layer poultry farms are financially doing well, and the federation has a plan to conduct awareness courses to boost production for the livestock breeders.

  • Govt releases two new rice varieties

  • BRRI dhan 105 is diabetic- friendly while BRRI dhan 106 is a submergence -tolerant variety

    The government on Thursday released two new varieties of rice aiming to boost production of the main staple in a changing climatic condition.

    The National Seed Board (NSB) at a meeting gave the go-ahead to the rice varieties- BRRI dhan 105 and 106-, developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).

    With the development, the number of BRRI developed rice varieties is now 113.

    Beneficial for diabetic patients upon being on a low glycemic index (GI) of 55, BRRI dhan 105 has been developed for Boro season, says a BRRI press release.

    BRRI dhan 106 which is a submergence-tolerant Aus variety has been developed for the non-saline tidal areas of Barishal division, it was revealed at the NSB meeting presided over by Agriculture Secretary Wahida Akter.

    Director General of BRRI Dr Shahjahan Kabir said average production of BRRI dhan 105 is 7.6 tonnes per hectare (paddy form) and it would take 148 days to harvest.

    He added BRRI dhan 106 would take only 117 days to grow while its production is 4.79 tonnes per hectare which is nearly 17.4 per cent higher than that of its traditional alternative BRRI dhan 27.

    Both the varieties are medium slender grains.

    However, despite development of 113 varieties by the BRRI, only a few are dominating farmlands in the country, creating a market imbalance, said experts.

    BRRI dhan 28 and 29, developed in 1993, dominate above 50 per cent land in Boro season and BRRI dhan 11, 22, 49 and trans-boundary variety Swarna capture above 80 per cent land in Aman season.

    The government has highly been emphasising popularising the new varieties for a changing climate as well as to boost production of the staple grain.

  • Rice Farmers Talk Farm Bill on Capitol Hill

  • USA Rice Farm Policy Task Force Chair Curtis Berry (center) and the Mississippi delegation meet their home state Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (USA Rice)

    WASHINGTON, DC – More than 50 farmer members of USA Rice fanned out on Capitol Hill and around Washington this week for more than 60 meetings with lawmakers, key Congressional staff, and Administration officials to share industry priorities as the 2023 Farm Bill gets underway and make their case for why they should be considered.

    “We were unified with our messaging that the Farm Bill is hugely important for us and we have significant concerns that are likely unique to rice,” said Curtis Berry, a Mississippi rice farmer and chair of the USA Rice Farm Policy Task Force. “The Price Loss Coverage program is our true safety net, but the reference price is based on cost of production data that is more than 10 years old. In today’s environment, cost of production data from 10 months ago is out of date.”

    Berry said his group talked about runaway input costs and stagnant prices as a result of global market manipulation by India as adding to the rice industry’s woes.

    “U.S. rice acres in 2022 were the lowest in 40 years,” Berry said. “The impact of the decline is significant: the average U.S. rice farm contributes $1 million to its local economy, and the industry provides more than 125,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in critical wildlife wetland habitat in the off-season.”

    Berry added that rice farmers are 100 percent committed to conservation and sustainability, but that government conservation programs should focus on working lands, avoid inflexible climate-related sideboards, and be locally-led, voluntary, and incentive-based.

    “We want to do the right thing, but if we can’t remain viable as a business, we won’t be able to pursue any of these conservation goals,” Arkansas rice farmer Mark Isbell said to the minority staff of the House Agriculture Committee during a meeting yesterday.

    The message appears to be resonating.

    “Let me put it this way,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman GT Thompson (R-PA) in a meeting with rice representatives on Wednesday morning, “the Farm Bill is not going to be a Climate Bill.”

    “I want to thank everyone who left their farms this week to join us in Washington to advocate on behalf of the entire industry,” said Mississippi rice farmer and USA Rice Chair Kirk Satterfield. “We really appreciate the many Members of Congress, the Senators, and their staffs who joined us, and it was wonderful to hear directly from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Tuesday who shared some positive news about assistance heading to our beleaguered industry in the near future.”

    The 2018 Farm Bill is set to expire on September 30, 2023.



    India's 5% broken parboiled variety quoted at $390-$395 a tonne


    Supplies building amid winter-spring harvest in Vietnam

    By Arundhati Sarkar

    March 3 (Reuters) - Prices of rice shipped from top hub India eased this week on a slowdown in demand from buyers in Africa, while Bangladesh looked to clamp down on hoarding to tame soaring local rates for the staple.

    Rates for India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> fell to $390-$395 per tonne from $397-$404, which was the highest in about two years, were also hurt by a depreciation in the rupee.

    Buying from African countries has slowed a bit due to the recent rally in prices, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house.

    India does not plan to lift a ban on broken rice exports and cut a 20% tax on overseas shipments of white rice as the top exporter tries to keep a lid on domestic prices, two government sources said last month.

    In Bangladesh, domestic prices stayed elevated despite good crops and reserves, which officials blamed on hoarding by middlemen.

    The government has warned of legal action against those involved.

    "Surveillance has been increased. New laws are being enacted," Bangladesh Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said.

    Thailand's 5% broken rice prices <RI-THBKN5-P1> were quoted at $450 $460 per tonne, a slight dip from the $460 range last week.

    "Supply and demand have been muted because it's early in the month, (so) we have to wait for the new harvest," said a Bangkok-based trader.

    In Vietnam, 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> was offered at $440-$445 per tonne, down from $457 per tonne a week ago.

    "Prices edged lower as supplies are building up amid the winter-spring harvest," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    While prices may ease further as the harvest peaks this month, strong global demand will prevent a more pronounced retreat, traders said.

    (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Chayut Setboonsarg in Bangkok, Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Sonia Cheema)

  • Farmers count losses after hailstones destroy rice fields

  • They spent between Sh20,000-Sh50,000 per acre in land preparation and planting

    • Juma Rapemo is among the farmers who lost his crop. He said his farm is not insured and he did not anticipate any losses.
    • Rice should be harvested when its panicles start drying. In the event of hailstones, the seeds are destroyed and detached from the main stem.
    Some of the rice farmers in Kochia, Rangwe constituency on March 3,2023
    Juma Rapemo at his rice filed in Kochia on March 3, 2023
    A rice filed in Kochia, Rangwe constituency on March 3,2023

    More than 300 rice farmers in Kochia in Rangwe constituency, Homa Bay county are counting losses after hailstones destroyed their crops.

    At least 100 acres of rice field was destroyed during a storm last week. The farmers were expecting a bumper harvest in the next two weeks.

    Due to the current economic situation, the farmers expected to harvest and sell their produce to residents at Sh30,000 for a 90kg bag and even higher because of high demand.

    The farmers spent between Sh20,000-Sh50,000 per acre in land preparation and planting of the crop.

    Last September, the farmers came together to grow rice on a 100-acre piece of land under an irrigation block.

    But on Friday, the farmers led by Rose Akumu said they are counting losses after hailstones destroyed their crops.

    They expected to supply their produce to schools with each expecting at least 50 bags of 90kg each.

    “The high expectation we had on the crops has been quashed. The storm made rice fall off and destroyed the crop just two weeks to full maturity,” Akumu said.

    Rice should be harvested when its panicles start drying. In the event of hailstones, the seeds are destroyed and detached from the main stem.

    The seeds fall in the paddy field which is muddy, making it impossible to hand-pick them.

    Juma Rapemo is among the farmers who lost his crop. He said his farm is not insured and he did not anticipate any losses.

    “All my dreams of building a new house and clearing my children's school fees are shuttered. The Homa Bay government should come to our aid since we didn’t insure the crops,” Rapemo said.

    Rapemo is among the farmers who have resorted to selling their destroyed crops to cattle farmers.

    Another farmer, Nyagilo Oduor urged the county to help them in land preparation and planting by providing subsidised fertiliser and free tractor services.

    “It will be prudent if the Homa Bay government can compensate us even though we never insured the crops,” Oduor said.

    The farmers also called for more support, saying they have been struggling to control birds that invade their farms.

    The farmers have now resorted to selling dry leaves to their dairy counterparts to cushion themselves from losses.

    The farmers grow their rice crops using water from Kimira-Oluch Small-Holder Farm Irrigation Improvement Project (Kosfip).

    This has enabled active farming all year round due to the continuous supply of water. River Awach is the source of water.

  • Replacing rice-bag delivery with digital card vouchers helps Indonesia’s poor…

  • Replacing rice-bag delivery with digital card vouchers helps Indonesia's poor get more food

    For many years, the Indonesian government's food aid program sent bags of rice to villages, where local leaders were supposed to distribute them to poor residents every month. But starting about five years ago, Indonesia changed that. Instead of rice bags, the poor were sent debit cards to buy the equivalent amount of food at local neighborhood shops.

    Going digital had a major effect: Suddenly millions of Indonesians in the program started receiving the total amount of food intended for them 81% of the time, according to a study that MIT economists helped lead. Under the old system, by contrast, people received the full intended amount of food only 24% of the time, most likely because portions of the rice were given locally to many people not officially eligible for the program. The debit cards gave the poor the ability to purchase food themselves rather than rely on the government to deliver rice to them.

    "What the program effectively does, by shifting from handing out bags of food to handing out a digital debit card with your name on it, means that people get the full amount they're eligible for," says Benjamin Olken, an MIT economist and co-author of a new paper detailing the study's results. "That's the big impact of the switch, and that leads to a pretty substantial reduction in poverty."

    Indeed, for the poorest 15% of households when the study began, switching to debit cards reduced the overall poverty rate by 20%. The researchers discovered this by conducting a randomized controlled study, comparing the results of the different methods while the government implemented the new program in stages.

    "It turns out the effects are very large," says Abhijit Banerjee, an MIT economist and another of the paper's co-authors. "This is the advantage of doing a randomized controlled trial rather than sitting and speculating about possible outcomes."

    The paper, "Electronic Food Vouchers: Evidence from an At-Scale Experiment in Indonesia," is published in the current issue of the American Economic Review.

    Indonesia founded its food aid program, called Rastra, prior to the most recent change, in 1998, targeting about 15 million households. Before the switch, those households were supposed to receive one 10-kilo bag of rice per month, about 6.5% of the income needed to rise above the poverty line.

    However, with the rice apparently going to relatively better-off households fairly often, in 2017, the Indonesian government decided to try the debit-card system. At neighborhood shops, people could use their cards to purchase both rice and eggs, at a value level commensurate with the 10-kilo rice bag.

    During the rollout of the new program, the Indonesian government randomly selected 42 out of 105 regional districts to receive the program in 2018, a year before the other districts converted. This created a real-world experiment because the simultaneous results of the new and old systems could be compared in similar circumstances. Indonesian officials themselves recognized that this created the potential for rigorous study, and approached the scholars about it.

    "They recognized that a phased rollout like this is an opportunity to build randomization into policy design," says Olken. All of the co-authors have conducted extensive field research in the field of development economics in Indonesia; Banerjee, Hanna, Olken, and Sumarto have collaborated on multiple prior studies, including 2018 and 2019 papers about government food distribution in Indonesia, and Satriawan is an expert in antipoverty programs who has studied the effects of malnutrition, among other related topics. J-PAL backs rigorous field experiments and evaluations of antipoverty programs; one benefit of the durable working relationships the scholars have established in Indonesia is precisely the government's heightened interest in leading-edge evaluations of its own work.

    "It's a pretty remarkable story about how researchers and governments can work together to build rigorous evaluation into programs," Olken adds. "It reflects not just our particular interests in this project, but more broadly how J-PAL works with policymakers."

    To conduct the study, the scholars also collaborated with Indonesian officials to add new questions to the national household survey the government conducts. From this, the researchers could derive answers about the actual effects of the program change, including the striking rise, from 24% to 81%, in the frequency with which households received their full allocation of food. About 97% of households also reported consuming more rice, while egg consumption rose slightly.

    The program also avoided one potential pitfall—that by increasing demand for rice in rural areas, the program might also lead to price increases as a result. The scholars found only marginal price rises. The program's administrative costs also dropped, from an already-low 4% to under 2%.

    The most notable outcome, however, may be that the allocation of debit cards was implemented so smoothly, without problems in program adherence.

    "The rules stick," says Banerjee, who shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in economic science along with MIT's Esther Duflo.

    "The technology does make it harder to change," Olken observes about the program. "If you make [preferential distribution] a little more difficult, it's not worth it. What's so stark in the paper is this snapping to full compliance, with about 80% of the people getting the full amount they're entitled to."

    To be sure, questions will likely remain about where to set the program's cutoff in terms of who receives food aid. In retooling this program, some people just above the official program eligibility line, who might have been receiving rice not intended for them, might now have less food than before.

    "No targeting system is perfect," Olken says. "On net we show that concentrating the benefits to the poor really does reduce poverty and helps the government's objectives, but it does mean other people are losing out. So there is this question: Can you further improve the targeting of people to minimize exclusion and make sure everyone who is most needy gets some? That may be a matter for future research."

    Still, Olken notes, for now the sheer efficacy of the debit card approach has been informing discussion about the program, its goals, and its effectiveness. "I think understanding these results is shaping the policy debate," he says.

  • Conservative level. Rice procurement target for 2022-23 fixed at 62.1 mt…

  • Conservative level. Rice procurement target for 2022-23 fixed at 62.1 mt, rabi-grown rice to be 10.6 mt

    Rice and wheat procurement arrangements for rabi season arrived after receiving feedbacks from States

    The Centre has fixed a target of 10.6 million tonnes (mt) of rice to be purchased during the rabi season starting April 1, taking the total target to 62.1 mt in 2022-23 (October-September), which is 45 mt more than the actual purchase in the previous year. Besides, 34.15 mt of wheat has been estimated for procurement in 2023-24.

    During the first session of the conference of State Food Secretaries, held on March 1, to discuss the procurement arrangements for the ensuing season, both wheat and rabi-grown rice targets have arrived after the feedback received from States, the food ministry said Thursday.

    Initially, the target was 51.8 mt from kharif-grown rice, which was revised to 52.1 mt after higher procurement in Haryana. However, because of lower purchases in Tamil Nadu, the target has since got reduced to 51.47 mt from kharif season, out of which 93 per cent has already procured. “If the target of 62.1 mt (which is over 47 per cent of total output) is achieved, it will be the highest ever rice purchase as the previous high was 60.25 mt in 2020-21,” said an official.

    “States were advised to enhance milling capacity so that milling of one season gets completed before the commencement of the next season and recycling of rice may be avoided. It is expected that seamless procurement with direct transfer of money into farmer’s account, minimum cost of transportation, and human interference-free and quick analysis of foodgrains shall be a part of the ecosystem of Food Security Management very soon,” it said.

    Apart from the auto grain analyser to be used by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), States have been advised to implement more Minimum Threshold Parameters, linking of electricity consumption of mills with the milled quantity of paddy and linking of vehicles used for transportation of foodgrain and their GPS tracking for increased efficiency and transparency by June 2023, the ministry said.

    The auto grain analyser based on artificial intelligence can process results in a minute with high accuracy for paddy, rice, wheat, and coarse grain. It has been certified by ICAR-CIPHET of Ludhiana. The machine will help minimise human intervention, error and biases, and will also save time by giving digitally verifiable result of each grain.

    The wheat procurement target this year assumes significance on the backdrop of 2022 experience when the government could buy only 18.79 mt against the target of 44.4 mt. The lower procurement led to a ban on wheat export, which still continues since May 2022, and also a reallocation of grains in terms of rice by cutting the wheat quota for the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

    Sources said that the target has been set at a conservative level as the food ministry does not want to take any chance with agriculture ministry’s production estimate. The agriculture ministry has already released its forecast of a record 112.18 mt of wheat production during 2022-23 crop year (July-June).

    Addressing the state food ministers, Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal said that ‘SMART-PDS’ is a technological driven initiative and the need of hour, which should be implemented by all the States at the earliest. He emphasised on a transparent and accountable system and urged officials to reduce human intervention and promote automation in the existing processes. He said transparency should be of utmost importance for free supply chain of foodgrains under Public Distribution System (PDS).

  • Seed board approves two new high-yielding rice varieties

  • One of the two varieties pose low diabetes risk

    The National Seed Board on Thursday approved two new rice varieties developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute to boost crop production prospects and food security hopes in the country.

    Of the two varieties, Brri-105 is ideal for cultivating in the March-May period (Boro season) in arable land, and Brri-106 is intended to be cultivated in the July-August period (Aush season) in non-saline tidal areas.

    The two new varieties take the national rice research institute's total developed rice varieties to 113.

    According to the institute, Brri-105 has low score at the glycemic index, meaning it has low-sugar content and poses very low diabetes risks. Thus, it can become very popular, the institute claims. The rice variety can be identified through its green and straight leaves, as well as medium-long, golden-coloured and thin grains.

    The average output of the variety is 7.6 tonnes per hectare but it can yield up to 8.5 tonnes in the best possible conditions. 

    Brri-106 can on average produce 4.79 tonnes per hectare, which is over 17% higher than the yield of Brri-27 in areas frequented by unsalted tidal waters.



    JAKARTA, March 1 (Reuters) - Indonesia's rice output is estimated at 13.79 million tonnes for the January to April harvest period this year, up 0.56% from a year earlier, data from the country's statistics bureau showed on Wednesday.

    The figure represents rice produced for household consumption and do not include output used in industries and animal feed.

    Around 4.51 million hectares of rice plantations are expected to reach harvest between January and April this year, compared with 4.41 million hectares in the same period last year, although the bureau warned the threat of heavy rain in some regions could disrupt production.

    "The rice production potential could be corrected due to impact of weather in February," Pudji Ismartini, an official at Statistics Indonesia, told reporters.

    Much of Indonesia, a tropical country, faced high rainfall last month, which has left some rice plantation areas submerged in floodwater.

    Higher rice prices were among the top contributors to inflation in February.

    Indonesia food procurement agency Bulog has imported 500,000 tonnes of rice to help stabilise prices.

    (Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)

  • USDA Encourages Rice Farmers to Prepare for new Rice Production program.

  • New program makes one-time payment to rice farmers based on 2022 plantings and prevented plantings 

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2023 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today previewed plans to provide up to $250 million in assistance to rice farmers and what steps they can take to be prepared to sign up when the program is released later this spring. USDA is sharing information early so producers can prepare for program signup, which will include a pre-filled application in an effort to simplify and streamline the application process.  

    “USDA intends to use the streamlined approach it has utilized on other disaster programs to speed program implementation," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By leveraging Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency data for the Emergency Relief Program, USDA saved farmers and staff significant time, and we think this approach will help us provide an initial payment more quickly with a final payment after the application period has closed. I appreciate Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman’s assistance bringing together rice farmers from across the country to provide input on how to expedite and simplify the process.” 

    On Dec. 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law H.R. 2617, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, which provided the authority and funding for USDA to make payments to rice producers based on data already on file with the USDA, including planted acres and acres prevented from being planted.

    What Farmers Can Do Now 

    The full details of the program and application will not be available until after a Notice of Funding Availability is published later this year in the Federal Register. But there is something farmers can do right now to be better prepared for the signup, if they qualify for a higher payment limitation.

    The payment limitation for the program is set by law and is higher if the farmer’s average adjusted gross farm income (income from activities related to farming, ranching, or forestry) is more than 75% of their average adjusted gross income (AGI). Specifically, a person or legal entity with adjusted gross farm income of less than 75% of their overall AGI, cannot receive, directly or indirectly, more than $125,000 in payments. AGI is based on the three taxable years preceding the most immediately preceding complete tax year.  Farmers with 75% or more AGI from farming qualify for a $250,000 payment limit. 

    Rice farmers may visit their local county office to submit the appropriate form and certification (FSA-510, Request for an Exception to the $125,000 Payment Limitation for Certain Programs), if they qualify for and want to seek the higher payment limit and get part of the paperwork done early. Farmers will still have a chance to fill out the AGI form during signup as well. The form should be filled out for the 2022 crop year.

    Planned Application Process 

    After the official notice is published later this year, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) plans to mail prefilled applications to producers using information on file with USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) or FSA, as reported by rice producers through their crop insurance agents or FSA county office. This streamlined application process will reduce the burden on producers and minimize errors due to manual data entries on the application form. More information will be provided when FSA announces the signup period in the coming weeks.  

    Program Payments 

    As directed by the omnibus legislation, FSA will calculate Rice Production Program (RPP) payments by multiplying the payment rate, individual average actual production history (APH), as reported to RMA, or county yield and an amount of certified rice acres determined by the number of planted acres and acres that were prevented from being planted.  FSA plans to issue an initial payment to eligible farmers soon after applications are returned and a final payment after the sign-up has closed. Details on these procedures and the initial payment rate will be in the future notice. 

    USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit 

    USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

  • Retail price of rice up by P4/kilo – farmers’ group

  • CONSUMERS can expect a P4 per kilo increase in the retail price of rice as a sack now costs P2,000 from the previous P1,850, a farmers' group said on Wednesday.

    In a radio interview, Rosendo So, president of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), attributed the rise in the price of the grains to an increase in farmgate price of palay to P23 per kilo from P21.50 per kilo in January 2023.

    "So far, palay was averaging P21.50 (per kilo) in January. It increased to P22 (per kilo) in February. It further went up to P23 per kilo in one-week time," So said.

    So added that as a result of the movement in the farmgate price of palay, the wholesale price of rice now ranged between P38 and P40 per kilo.

    "This is not yet the retail price, it is only the wholesale price. It will mean plus P4 per kilo more or less for retail price so from the previous local price of P40, it will go up to P42 (per kilo), almost the same price of imported rice," he noted.

    So added that there is limited stock of palay as the peak harvest season will start in April.

    "Our harvest is between October and November and the farmers will start planting again between November and December. That's why the harvest starts at the end of March going to April, that's the harvest season," So noted.

    Based on the monitoring of the DA in Metro Manila markets, the retail price of local regular milled rice ranged between P37 and P40 per kilo; local well-milled rice, between P40 and P44 per kilo and local premium rice, between P43 and P52 per kilo; and local special rice, between P46 and P58 per kilo.

  • Rice production exempted from Social Security Contribution Levy

  • The Government yesterday said there will be no Social Security Contribution Levy imposed on purchasing of paddy, production, and sale of rice.

    A proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Minister of Finance was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on Monday to amend the Social Security Contribution Levy Act exempting the tax to encourage local rice producers.

    Currently, 2.5% or Rs. 7-8 is being charged for a kilogram of rice produced with the aforementioned tax.

    The Cabinet of Ministers also approved the purchasing of a kilogram of Nadu for Rs. 100 from farmers to be distributed to low-income families free of charge.

  • Pesticides taint vegetables, rice in the market.

  • The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has urged consumers to be cautious of the high amount of pesticides detected in vegetables and rice sold in the market. -NSTP/MIKAIL ONG

    GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP) has urged consumers to be cautious of the high amount of pesticides detected in vegetables and rice sold in the market.

    In a study done with the assistance of Wonjin Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health (WIOEH), and supported by the Financial Industry Public Interest Foundation (FIPIF), Korea, a total of 112 samples of vegetables and 20 samples of rice were tested for the presence of pesticides.

    A total of 98 samples or 87.5 per cent of vegetables, and 11 samples or 55 per cent of rice contain pesticides.

    Samples were purchased from various outlets such as supermarkets, hypermarkets, wet markets, mini markets and retail shops in Penang.

    CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader described the results as "horrifying".

    "From the results, it was found that excessively high amounts of pesticides are being used in the vegetables tested.

    "Besides, it was found that there were pesticides that are banned by EU countries used in Malaysia.

    "What is most shocking was the presence of up to 35 compounds in a single vegetable," he told newsmen here today.

    Results showed celery contained between seven and 35 active compounds/pesticide; rice (one to three active compounds); lettuce (one to 13 active compounds); Chinese flowering cabbage (three to nine active compounds); Napa cabbage (one to seven active compounds); and cabbage (one to two active compounds).

    Meanwhile, Amaranth mixed red/green contained two to seven active compounds; spinach (two to eight active compounds); leaf mustard (three to 13 active compounds); Chinese kale (two to 21 active compounds); coriander (one to four active compounds); spring onion (one to 11 active compounds); and bok choy (two to 22 active compounds).

    Mohideen said most of the vegetables tested were from the farms in Ara Kuda, which is the main vegetable growing area in Penang.

    He said the vegetables grown in this area were also supplied to the surrounding states of Kedah, Perlis and Perak.

    Explaining, Mohideen said, presently in Malaysia, legislation pertaining to pesticide residue in crops was under the Sixteenth Schedule (Regulation 41) of the Food Regulation 1985.

    He added that only the pesticides mentioned in the Schedule (together with its MRL – minimum residue level) were allowed to be present in the respective crops.

    "Besides using excessive pesticides, farmers are also using pesticides that are banned.

    "The results revealed that there are a number of crops found to contain pesticides that are not allowed to be present in it.

    "For example, the pesticide Abamectin which is only allowed to be used in fruits such as watermelon, cucumber and tomato, was found in celery and spring onion. Carbofuran, which is allowed only in rice, was found in some leafy vegetables.(Carbofuran will be banned from May 2023).

    "The samples were also found to contain insecticides such as Malathion and Metaflumizone," he added.

    Malaysian consumers, according to Mohideen, are unaware of the extent and types of pesticides used on the local agricultural produce as there has not been much publicity on it.

    He, however, said there were cases where Malaysian vegetables were sometimes rejected overseas due to the high pesticide content.

    "The study also revealed that our government encourages the use of pesticides as farmers are given financial aid to purchase them. Besides, illegal pesticides are also available to farmers.

    "It was also found that many farmers are unaware of the dangers of pesticides and do not practise the required safety procedure such as the wearing of protective safety gear. Normally, foreigners who are not trained in the procedure, are paid to apply the pesticides.

    "We also found that there is no proper storage place for keeping the pesticides. Sometimes it is kept in the same storeroom with tools and food.

    "Empty pesticide containers are being disposed of at random even though there are proper places that have been designated for them," he said.

    Given the above situation, Mohideen urged the authorities to:

    * Regularly conduct tests on food items in the market for pesticide levels;

    * Publicise the results so that consumers can avoid the food items that were found to contain pesticides;

    * Strictly enforce the Sixteenth Schedule (Regulation 41) of the Food Regulation 1985;

    * Enforce and monitor good farming practices;

    * Conduct education programme for farmers to educate them on the hazards of pesticide use; and

    * shift from industrial agriculture based on high use pesticide to organic agriculture.

    Meanwhile, Mohideen advised consumers to demand for better food production practices through their power of consumption.

    "Where CAP is concerned, we are encouraging and educating consumers to grow their own organic vegetables," he said.

  • U.S. rice industry advocates for strong farm bill safety net programmes

  • Jamison Cruce, Senior Director, Government Affairs at USA Rice details how the U.S. rice industry advocates for strong farm bill safety net programmes

    The Farm Bill is a sweeping piece of U.S. law that touches every American and many others around the world. Approximately every five years, the U.S. Congress drafts and negotiates a bill consisting of many titles that span farm, nutrition, and rural policy.

    There have been 18 U.S. Farm Bills since the 1930s. While early bills focused solely on supporting farmers, they have grown to include a myriad of programmes and support an expansive set of stakeholders. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, known informally as the 2018 Farm Bill, is the most recent to be signed into law and expires this year. The 2018 Bill has 12 titles: commodity, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance, and miscellaneous. This goes far beyond the scope of the early Farm Bills and more closely reflects the diverse constituencies of the U.S. Congress.

    2018 Farm Bill provisions

    For the U.S. rice industry and rice farmers at large, the 2018 Farm Bill delivered many successful provisions. The rice farmer’s primary and most important safety net, the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Program, which provides assistance during times of depressed prices beyond a farmer’s control, was maintained and improved to be a better risk management tool for the modern-day family farm. While Federal crop insurance is a tool utilised by rice farmers, the safety net provided by the PLC Program is invaluable.

    Working lands conservation programs, which help rice farmers remain at the forefront of being the best stewards of our land and natural resources, were prioritised and continued in true conservationist fashion allowing flexibility for local concerns to be addressed rather than a top-down, regulatory approach.

    Other programmes important to the U.S. rice industry included trade promotion programmes, like the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program, and international food aid assistance programmes, including Food for Peace, Food for Progress, and the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Programs.

    Unforeseen challenges for farmers

    However, while the 2018 Farm Bill was delivered for rice farmers at the time of passage, the implications of events beginning in 2020 and continuing today could not have been predicted. In March 2020 and throughout that summer, the COVID-19 pandemic led to high demand for rice and rice products. Conflated with supply chain challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, commodity markets were thrown for a loop. However, those supply chain challenges, including the domestic transportation of goods and exports, have persisted with an ongoing truck driver shortage, port congestion, and decreasing transportation reliability.

    Further, natural disasters, including several hurricanes and wildfires, wreaked havoc on farmers, resulting in billions of dollars in losses in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, California experienced its third year of debilitating drought, which halved its rice production because of the regulatory nature of the state’s water allocations to farmers.

    Stagnant prices across the rice industry

    In the Mid-South and Gulf Coast, along with those able to plant rice in California, rice production input costs skyrocketed ahead of the 2022 planting season. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major energy and fertilizer producer in the region, the cost to grow a rice crop in the U.S. became a looming and troublesome concern for farmers and the industry. At the same time, most agricultural commodity markets began to see steep market price increases as the uncertainty of Ukraine’s corn and wheat crops grew, as did Ukraine’s inability to export those crops.

    One major outlier has endured – stagnant U.S. rice market prices. Competition for rice versus other crops that saw these drastic price increases, like corn and soybeans, meant that U.S. rice acres nationally dropped to the lowest in 40 years.

    To add insult to injury, World Trade Organization (WTO) subsidy violations by India and others artificially depressed world rice market prices.

    And an economic study published by the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University showed that two-thirds of U.S. rice farms would not be profitable in 2022.

    Faced with these high production costs and stagnant prices, and contending with WTO violators, rice farmers had no alternative but to appeal to the U.S. government for ad hoc assistance ahead of the next Farm Bill reauthorisation. While rice farmers will receive modest assistance for the 2022 crop year, sound and meaningful U.S. farm policy will be key for the next five years as Congress writes the next Farm Bill. Over the past year, U.S. rice farmers have worked to develop policy recommendations to ensure the next Farm Bill delivers for the industry.

    2023 Farm Bill priorities

    As the key risk management tool and safety net for rice farmers, the U.S. rice industry believes that the PLC program must be bolstered. The reference price (the triggering mechanism that determines assistance), should be increased to reflect present-day rice farming conditions. The current rice reference price was established in the 2014 Farm Bill and based on the cost of production in 2012 – more than a decade ago.

    In the face of climate change, rice farmers also need the ability to continue implementing practices and systems through working lands conservation programs, and they believe these should be prioritised over land retirement or set-aside programs, especially with potential global food shortages.

    And while these are the key priorities for the U.S. rice industry going into the next Farm Bill, many other policies will be brought forward that will also need to be addressed.

    Passing U.S. farm policy is always a daunting task, but the U.S. rice industry urges Congress to act this year so that rice farmers have all of the tools to best manage their operations. This will enable them to continue providing consumers in the U.S. and worldwide with a sustainable product that is grown under some of the highest environmental and labour standards anywhere.

  • Rice export to enjoy favourable conditions in 2023

  • Vietnam’s rice export this year is expected to benefit from many favourable conditions, including high global demand, to reach 7 million tonnes, according to the Cong Thuong (Industry & Trade) newspaper.

    Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam’s rice export this year is expected to benefit from many favourable conditions, including high global demand, to reach 7 million tonnes, according to the Cong Thuong (Industry & Trade) newspaper.

    The January report by the US Department of Agriculture forecast the global rice trade in 2023 will decrease about 4% from last year.

    Large rice exporters are predicted to witness declines, including Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, China, the EU, India, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia, Senegal, Tanzania, Turkey, Uruguay, and the US. Among them, India and Pakistan may see the sharpest falls, down by some 2.1 million tonnes in total, due to lower output and domestic market stabilisation policies.

    Climate change impacts and drought in the US, Europe, and China are posing a risk of supply shortages, the Foreign Trade Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade told a recent conference on rice export.

    Aside from rising global demand, improved quality has also boosted importing countries’ demand for Vietnamese rice, the agency noted, expecting an export volume of 6.5 - 7 million tonnes in 2023.

    Import demand in traditional markets like the Philippines and Africa will stay stable in the first half of this year as they are increasing food stockpiles, according to Chairman of the Vietnam Food Association Nguyen Ngoc Nam.

    Nguyen Viet Anh, Director General of the Phuong Dong food company, said businesses are now highly optimistic, and that since 2019, the sector has no longer needed support to sell out the grain, but sometimes even run out of rice to meet demand.

    Last year, Vietnam exported nearly 7.2 million tonnes of rice, gaining 3.49 billion USD./.

  • Exports of rice likely to keep growing

  • Shipments could hit 8m tonnes this year

    Demand for Thai rice in the international market remains strong, with Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit expecting the country's exports to potentially increase to 8 million tonnes this year.

    Speaking after a discussion with the Thai Rice Exporters Association, Mr Jurin said on Monday that the weak baht, increased stocks for domestic consumption in India and Vietnam, and growing demand in the Middle East are the key factors that will help boost the Thai rice export outlook this year.

    The Foreign Trade Department on Monday reported that Thai rice exports rose 75.2% year-on-year in January to 805,519 tonnes, driven by year-end orders, higher demand from the Middle East, and the weakness of the baht.

    The value of rice exports, meanwhile, rose by 78.7% from January last year to 14.2 billion baht.

    Ronnarong Phoolpipat, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the weakened baht, which made Thai rice prices competitive, helped accelerate year-end purchase orders, while orders from many countries such as Iraq, Indonesia and Bangladesh had significantly increased in January.

    However, Mr Ronnarong said his department was sticking to the rice export target of 7.5 million tonnes this year as it wanted to monitor the baht before deciding whether to revise the target.

    "The baht's prospects are vital to the country's rice exports this year. Thai rice exports will become competitive in the world market if the baht is weakened," he said.

    The baht has weakened again, by 1.5% against the US dollar so far this year, making it Asia's third-worst performing currency.

    Last year, Thailand shipped 7.69 million tonnes of rice, outperforming the Commerce Ministry's target of 7.5 million tonnes.

    Export volumes increased by 22% from 6.3 million tonnes shipped in 2021, while the value in baht terms rose by 25.1% to 138 billion baht.

    Meanwhile, the export value in dollar terms rose by 14.6% from a year before to US$3.97 billion.

    Last year, Thailand was ranked the world's second-largest rice exporter after India, which exported 21.9 million tonnes.

    Vietnam was third, with rice exports of 6.31 million tonnes.

    Iraq was the largest importer of Thai rice, buying 1.6 million tonnes last year, up 458% from a year before. South Africa came second, importing 775,000 tonnes (down 2.26%), followed by China at 750,000 tonnes (down 2.26%), followed by China at 750,000 tonnes (up 18.8%), the US at 650,000 tonnes (up 13.2%) and Benin at 321,000 tonnes (down 15.3%).

  • Rice exporters to gain from tight supplies, lower costs

  • Workers pack bags with rice in Vietnam's Yen Bai province on July 27, 2022. - AFP

    HANOI: Decreasing input costs as Europe eases sanctions against Russia and increased fertiliser supply will benefit rice export businesses, according to Vietcombank Securities Company (VCBS).

    A recent report on the rice sector from VCBS showed that the global rice output is estimated at 519.7 million tonnes at the end of the 2021/2022 crop.

    China, India, and Asean are key consumption markets, while India, Vietnam and Thailand are the largest rice exporters.

    Rice prices witnessed an uptrend in global markets last year as the Indian government’s ban on rice export, floods in Pakistan, and adverse weather in China and the Philippines caused reductions in rice output in these countries.

    While depleted inventories in the Philippines will result in higher imports in 2023, rice production will drop due to prolonged droughts in China and India.

    On the other hand, due to heavy rain in Vietnam over the past year and gradually neutral weather in the first half of 2023, the country’s rice output is forecast to be stable this year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

    Therefore, Vietnam is very likely to benefit from the upward trend in rice prices which is fuelled by limited supplies and a shift away from the Indian supply, according to VCBS.

    Meanwhile, input costs are also expected to go down in 2023 as Europe eases sanctions and welcomes back Russian fertiliser exporters, increases reservations, and aggressively reduces gas consumption.

    The availability of fertiliser on a global scale is anticipated to rise, boosting rice industry profit margins.

    According to VCBS, the business growth prospects of Loc Troi Group are positive thanks to the promotion of rice exports to the European market, starting with the French market. The merger with Loc Nhan Food also increased the company’s capacity. — Viet Nam News/ANN

  • Thai January rice export volume up 75.2% y/y

  • BANGKOK: Thailand’s rice exports for January were at 805,519 tonnes, up 75.2% from a year earlier, helped by year-end orders, higher demand from the Middle East and a weak baht currency, the Commerce Ministry said on Monday.

    The value of rice exports rose 78.76% to 14.28 billion baht ($406.72 million) in January year-on-year, Ronnarong Phoolpipat, head of the ministry’s foreign trade department, told a news conference.

    “Rice exports in January increased by a shocking rate,” he said, adding the ministry’s trade promotion efforts also helped.

    However, the ministry is sticking to its rice export target of 7.5 million tonnes this year as it wants to monitor the baht before deciding whether to revise the target, he said.

    Earlier this year, the ministry lowered its export target for 2023 from 8 million tonnes to 7.5 million tonnes as the baht, which dropped as much as 13% against the dollar in October last year, appreciated.

    The baht has weakened again, by 1.5% against the dollar so far this year, becoming Asia’s third-worst performing currency.

    Thailand is the world’s third-largest rice exporter after India and Vietnam.

    Thailand exported 7.69 million tonnes of rice in 2022, up 22.1% from a year earlier, beating a target of 7.5 million tonnes, with top markets being Iraq, South Africa, China and the United States.

  • Paddy purchase, rice production and sale to be exempt from Social Security Contribution Levy

  • The Cabinet of Ministers has given the nod to amend the Social Security Contribution Levy to exempt the purchasing of paddy, and the production and sale of rice from the tax.

    The proposal was tabled by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policy.

    The government says it expects to maintain the maximum retail price of rice per kilogram at its current while purchasing a kilogram of Nadu for more than Rs. 100 from the farmers, after freeing the paddy purchasing and the rice production and sale from the Social Security Contribution Levy.

    The Cabinet of Ministers has also given the approval to provide rice free of charge for low-income families.

  • Technology the game-changer as Uttar Pradesh reaches rice milestone

  • Uttar Pradesh makes the “fastest delivery” of custom milled rice to Centre in the country after application of technology for automatic allotment of paddy to mills

    Custom milled rice is manufactured by milling paddy that the state government procures at the minimum support price (MSP) from farmers. (REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE)

    Uttar Pradesh has made the fastest delivery of custom milled rice (CMR) to the Centre, saving around ₹1300 crore as interest burden and eliminating the possibilities of malpractices that millers often indulged in by delaying the delivery of processed rice to the state government, officials aware of the issue said.

    Application of technology for automatic allotment of paddy to genuinely performing rice mills and elimination of discretion and human interference in the whole process is believed to be the game- changer this year.

    Custom milled rice is manufactured by milling paddy that the state government procures at the minimum support price (MSP) from farmers. The government gives the procured paddy to mills, which are supposed to deliver CMR to the government by March-April. The rice received from mills is finally handed over the Centre. It is only after the final CMR delivery that the Centre reimburses money already spent by a state in purchasing paddy from farmers.

    “We have already delivered 9 lakh MT of CMR to the Centre and the remaining quantity of the same will also be delivered by March 2,” principal secretary, food and civil supplies, Veena Kumari Meena said.

    This, she claimed, was the fastest CMR delivery by any state in India.

    “Earlier, we kept on delivering to the Centre till as late as October because of which our money remained blocked and the interest burden continued to mount,” she said.

    “Use of technology in allotment of paddy to deserving mills did the trick,” she emphasised.

    Commissioner, food and civil supplies, Sourabh Babu said the government made a lot of technological interventions that not only curbed various malpractices prevalent in the procurement chain but also ensured fast delivery of CMR from mills and then to the Centre.

    “A new provision in the software, for example, ensured that paddy allocation to mills was done automatically on merit without any human interference and this helped. Uttar Pradesh is the first state to do this,” he explained.

    Paddy allocation to manufacture CMR was made among 1800 mills.

    People aware of the issue said that vested interests tried their best to throw a spanner in the government’s plan to introduce the new system of automatic selection of rice mills for paddy allotment.

    Earlier, allotment was made manually by the department’s inspectors who used their discretion for the purpose.

    “Often, deliberately or otherwise, paddy was allotted disproportionately to mills, many of which were not able to do the job on time due to lack of capacity,” said an official.

    “Many mills also indulged in bungling and malpractices. There was always the possibility for the millers to sell the undelivered rice in the open market at higher rates, and deliver the rice of the earlier season to FCI at the current higher market price,” he said.

    Arun Kumar Singh, who retired as additional commissioner (marketing) three months ago, said timely delivery of CMR to the Centre will help the government save hundreds of crores of rupees as interest that it had to pay to lending banks.

    “Various government agencies have to take loan from banks to buy paddy or wheat from farmers at MSP. While the government pays farmers promptly after purchase, the Centre reimburses bills only after delivery of CMR. Delay in CMR delivery blocks the cash flow and increases interest burden,” he said.

    “Quality issues also cropped up when CMR was delivered to the Centre after the rains,” he added.

    Some other reforms were also made during the last one-two years to eliminate role of middlemen in the procurement system to ensure that only genuine farmers avail of MSP and they got quick payments to their account. These steps include introduction of Aadhaar-based farmer registration system, integration of land records, verification of bank accounts, biometric authenticated procurement, biometric authentication of farmers and installation of dusters at all the procurement centres.

    “The impact has been huge in terms of proper identification of farmers, weeding out of middlemen, control on disproportionate procurement, proper utilization of funds, faster payment of MSP, real-time monitoring of purchase and payments and purchase of good quality stuff,” Singh said.


  • (Adds details, rice exports to the Middle East)

    By Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai

    BANGKOK, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Thailand's rice exports for January were at 805,519 tonnes, up 75.2% from a year earlier, helped by year-end orders, higher demand from the Middle East and a weak baht currency, the Commerce Ministry said on Monday.

    The value of rice exports rose 78.76% to 14.28 billion baht ($406.72 million) in January year-on-year, Ronnarong Phoolpipat, head of the ministry's foreign trade department, told a news conference.

    "Rice exports in January increased by a shocking rate," he said, adding the ministry's trade promotion efforts also helped.

    He singled out "an opportunity to export further" to the Middle East given some Arab nations' high purchasing power and low agricultural output.

    The region was the only growing market for Thai rice in the last year, taking 2.02 million tonnes of rice, or 26% of total rice shipments, Ronnarong said.

    In 2021, Thailand shipped out only 630,000 tonnes of rice to the region, he added.

    However, the ministry is sticking to its overall rice export target of 7.5 million tonnes this year as it wants to monitor the baht before deciding whether to revise the target, he said.

    Earlier this year, the ministry lowered its export target for 2023 from 8 million tonnes to 7.5 million tonnes as the baht, which dropped as much as 13% against the dollar in October last year, appreciated.

    The baht has weakened again, by 1.5% against the dollar so far this year, becoming Asia's third-worst performing currency.

    Thailand is the world's third-largest rice exporter after India and Vietnam.

    Thailand exported 7.69 million tonnes of rice in 2022, up 22.1% from a year earlier, beating a target of 7.5 million tonnes, with top markets being Iraq, South Africa, China and the United States.

    ($1 = 35.1100 baht) (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai Writing by Orathai Sriring Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)

  • DA sets upgrade of rice processing facilities to cut postharvest losses

  • The Department of Agriculture (DA) is aiming to reduce postharvest losses in rice by improving processing centers across the country.

    The agency has revised the guidelines governing rice processing centers, designed to improve the efficiency of rice production by reducing postharvest losses, improving the quality of milled rice, enhancing distribution and marketing system and maximizing the utilization of rice by-products.

    The revision is contained in a memorandum order which, the DA said, was issued “to ensure efficient implementation, coordination, and delivery of integrated support services that will optimize investments in [rice processing centers] under the Rice Banner Program”.

    It will cover the following: upgrade of existing rice processing facilities including the construction of a new warehouse and provision of machinery, establishment of such facilities and the support complementing the rice processing system funded by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.

    The DA said it aimed to give farmers access to a palay drying facility especially during inclement weather conditions.
    This will preserve the quality of harvested paddy and help attain at least 65-percent milling recovery and the production of high-grade quality milled rice.

    It shall also provide rice producers with direct access to modern rice milling facilities capable of producing premium, well-milled, and regular-milled rice based on the required preference of consumers, and enhance the technical, financial, entrepreneurial and managerial capacities of farmer’s organizations.

  • Vietnam to export 7 million tons of rice this year

  • Vietnam’s rice export activity has shown positive signs early this year, with 6.5-7 million tons of rice forecast to be exported in all of 2023.

    The forecast was made during a trade conference held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in HCMC on February 21.

    At the conference, the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that the nation shipped 7.13 million tons of the food staple last year, bringing in US$3.45 billion in revenue, up 13.8% and 5.1% year-on-year, respectively.

    Vietnam was among the world’s top three rice exporters in 2022.

    According to the Vietnam Food Association, rice export activity has kept its growth momentum so far this year. Vietnam’s 5% broken rice got the highest price worldwide.

    On February 15, Vietnam-exported 5% broken rice sold for US$463 per ton (FOB), a 16.3% increase over the same period last year. This selling price equals that of Thailand’s rice and is US$20-30 higher than that of India’s and Pakistan’s rice.

    Rice for export mainly comes from the Mekong Delta, while other regions of the country provide rice for domestic consumption, said a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

  • Grain market review: Rice.

  • LONDON, ENGLAND – The Lunar New Year took the edge of a previously bullish rice market, slowing down sales in late January, after prices started the year with rises.  

    In its Grain Market Report of Feb. 16, comparing with its previous report, which was published on Jan. 12, the International Grains Council (IGC) said “with activity curtailed by Lunar New Year celebrations, average international rice prices were little changed month-on-month amid offsetting movements across key exporters.” 

    “In Thailand, export values for 5% broken retreated by $23, to $460 fob Bangkok, as early gains, linked to currency movements and the covering of previously agreed sales, were later more than reversed by weak buying interest,” the London, England-based IGC said. “In Pakistan, initial support from rising local values was likewise countered by pressure from slow international demand, while Vietnamese 5% broken firmed as traders awaited fresh supplies from the upcoming winter/spring harvest. 

    “Indian 5% broken offers were $15 higher, at $433 fob Kakinada, amid steady buying interest and solid government procurement.”  

    The US Rice Producers Association, in its Rice Advocate publication of Feb. 17, noted a USDA attaché report highlighting the continued drought in South America.

    “With approximately 10% of the harvest complete, it is expected that farmers have been forced to abandon approximately 50,000 acres of rice on account of the drought in Corrientes and Entre Rios,” the USDA said. “Rainfall in 2022 was only half of the annual average, so producers who planted hoping for rain and surface water were sorely disappointed.

    “This will ultimately result in a shorter exportable supply, with key export markets like the EU, Brazil, and Chile competing for the product. In Asia, we are seeing some price softening in Thailand, likely a result of the second crop supply about to hit the market.”  

    In its Rice Price Update of Feb. 3, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that after rising for the greater part of 2022, international rice prices opened calendar 2023 on a firm note. January’s global price level was up 6.2% from December and the highest since November 2011. 

    “Indica prices drove this increase, rising 6.2% over December levels,” the FAO said. “Aromatic prices also strengthened markedly (by 9.8%), sustained by demand for Lunar New Year celebrations, preparative purchases for Ramadan and a post-harvest surge in Pakistani basmati quotations. 

    “Low buying interest kept gains in Japonica prices comparatively more moderate (at 0.9%), even though this January increase placed the Japonica Index at a fresh nominal peak. By contrast, glutinous prices eased by 2%, weighed by ebbing Chinese glutinous demand.”

    Asian quotations of Indica rice firmed across all the major origins in January, the FAO said.  

    “The most pronounced gains took place in Thailand, where the Baht strengthened to a 10-month high, adding to the sentiment boost provided by Indonesian purchases,” the FAO said. “In Pakistan, short supplies from a flood-reduced crop and persistently elevated inflationary pressure were compounded by strong local demand for rice (including brokens), as constraints in wheat flour supplies drove consumers increasingly toward rice.” 

    A further factor was that rises in currency against the US dollar influenced prices in Brazil, Vietnam and India.  

    “In Vietnam, tight availabilities ahead of the winter-spring harvest provided further underpinning, as did a record pace of government domestic procurement in India, despite the smaller Kharif crop harvested in 2022,” the FAO said. “In the Americas, Iraqi purchases sustained Indica quotations in the United States, Argentina, and Uruguay.” 

  • India maintains rice export restrictions to control domestic prices…

  • India maintains rice export restrictions to control domestic prices and ensure adequate stocks

    India maintains its ban on broken rice exports and 20 percent tax on white rice shipments to keep a lid on domestic prices and ensure adequate stocks amid concerns over production due to below-average monsoon rainfall in key growing states.

    India has decided not to lift its ban on broken rice exports or reduce the 20 percent tax on overseas shipments of white rice as it seeks to keep a lid on domestic prices, according to two government sources. The move is expected to result in higher prices for rice buyers, particularly in Asia and Africa.

    The ban on exports of broken rice and the imposition of the 20 percent duty on various other grades were introduced in September 2022 amid concerns over production due to below-average monsoon rainfall in key growing states.

    Despite the restrictions, India's rice exports rose 3.5 percent to a record 22.26 million tonnes in 2022, more than the combined shipments of the next four largest exporters: Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the United States.

    "We can't resume broken rice exports just because somebody in China or any other country wants it as a raw material to make ethanol or cattle feed. We'll rather prefer our domestic industry consuming it," said a senior government official who declined to be named in line with official rules.

    China was the biggest buyer of India's broken rice, with purchases of 1.1 million tonnes in 2021. However, India will not be resuming exports to China or any other country at this time.

    "We'd like to continue with the same arrangement," said another government source directly involved in decision-making. "Our restrictions have not deprived the world of rice, and at the same time, we've been able to maintain adequate stocks."

    India's farmers plant rice, the most water-thirsty crop, in June and July when monsoon rains lash the country. Due to apprehensions that the El Nino weather phenomenon might hit this year's monsoon rains, India will extend its rice export curbs.

    "We don't want to take a chance. We've limited wheat stocks but ample rice stocks, which we can use if the weather throws any big surprise," the official said.

    The decision to maintain the export restrictions is expected to impact buyers, particularly in Asia and Africa, who will now have to pay more for the staple.

    India's export restrictions have been in place for several months and are likely to remain so until the government is confident that monsoon rains will not have a significant impact on domestic production.

  • India to extend rice export curbs to ensure domestic price stability, supply: govt sources

  • MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: India does not plan to lift a ban on broken rice exports and cut a 20% tax on overseas shipments of white rice as the world’s biggest exporter of the grain tries to keep a lid on domestic prices, two government sources said on Thursday.

    New Delhi’s rice export curbs will force buyers, especially in Asia and Africa, to pay more for the staple that has become expensive in the last few weeks.

    India banned overseas shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other grades in September 2022 amid concerns over production due to below-average monsoon rainfall in key growing states.

    “Rice exports didn’t slow down despite the 20% export duty, and that’s why we believe that there is no reason to reduce or scrap the duty,” said a senior government official, who declined to be named in line with official rules.

    India’s rice exports rose 3.5% to a record 22.26 million tonnes in 2022. That was more than the combined shipments of the next four largest exporters: Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States.

    “We can’t resume broken rice exports just because somebody in China or any other country wants it as a raw material to make ethanol or cattle feed. We’ll rather prefer our domestic industry consuming it,” the official said.

    China was the biggest buyer of India’s broken rice, with purchases of 1.1 million tonnes in 2021.

    India will also extend its rice export curbs due to apprehensions that the El Nino weather phenomenon might hit this year’s monsoon rains.

    “We don’t want to take a chance. We’ve limited wheat stocks but ample rice stocks, which we can use if the weather throws any big surprise,” the official said.

    Indian farmers plant rice, the most water-thirsty crop, in June and July, when monsoon rains lash the country.

    “Our restrictions have not deprived the world of rice, and at the same time, we’ve been able to maintain adequate stocks,” said another government source directly involved in decision-making. “We’d like to continue with the same arrangement.”

  • New Vietnamese rice variety resists drought and salinity.

  • Hanoi, Feb 23 (Prensa Latina) The High Agricultural Technology Research Institute for Mekong Delta in Vietnam unveiled the development of the new rice variety, HATRI 200, which is resistant to drought and salinity.

    Researched by the institution since 2017, HATRI 200 is a species derived from Japonica (round-grain) rice, with advantages such as growth time from 95 to 100 days, strong stems, ability to bear 10 to 13 shoots per bush, and a round fruit that is 6.2 millimeters long.

    The new rice variety was planted on a trial basis in Ben Tre province as part of a project led by HATRI Director Professor Nguyen Thi Lang to show good tolerance to drought and salinity.

    HATRI 200 is considered one of the most salt-tolerant rice varieties in the Mekong Delta. It boasts a stable yield, averaging 6.5-7 tons per hectare, explained Thi Lang, who was quoted by VNA.

    This kind of rice is suitable for cultivation under the current climate change conditions and it can help farmers grow three crops in a year, specialists stated.

  • Govt to extend rice export curbs to ensure domestic price stability, supply: Sources

  • India banned overseas shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other grades in September 2022 amid concerns over production due to below-average monsoon rainfall in key growing states.

    Government does not plan to lift a ban on broken rice exports and cut a 20% tax on overseas shipments of white rice as the world's biggest exporter of the grain tries to keep a lid on domestic prices, two government sources said on Thursday.

    New Delhi's rice export curbs will force buyers, especially in Asia and Africa, to pay more for the staple that has become expensive in the last few weeks.

    India banned overseas shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other grades in September 2022 amid concerns over production due to below-average monsoon rainfall in key growing states.

    "Rice exports didn't slow down despite the 20% export duty, and that's why we believe that there is no reason to reduce or scrap the duty," said a senior government official, who declined to be named in line with official rules.

    India's rice exports rose 3.5% to a record 22.26 million tonnes in 2022. That was more than the combined shipments of the next four largest exporters: Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States.

    "We can't resume broken rice exports just because somebody in China or any other country wants it as a raw material to make ethanol or cattle feed. We'll rather prefer our domestic industry consuming it," the official said.

    China was the biggest buyer of India's broken rice, with purchases of 1.1 million tonnes in 2021.

    India will also extend its rice export curbs due to apprehensions that the El Nino weather phenomenon might hit this year's monsoon rains.

    "We don't want to take a chance. We've limited wheat stocks but ample rice stocks, which we can use if the weather throws any big surprise," the official said.

    Indian farmers plant rice, the most water-thirsty crop, in June and July, when monsoon rains lash the country.

    "Our restrictions have not deprived the world of rice, and at the same time, we've been able to maintain adequate stocks," said another government source directly involved in decision-making. "We'd like to continue with the same arrangement."

  • Cambodian rice on display at Gulfood expo

  • The Cambodia Rice Federation booth at the Gulfood expo. Fresh News

    The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) participated in the Gulfood expo to promote the quality of Cambodian rice and rice products.

    The Cambodian delegation was led by Chan Sokheang, President of the Cambodian Rice Federation. They participated in the expo on February 20.

    The Gulfood is the largest exhibition event for the Middle East, with the 2023 event being the 28th event taking place from February 20-24. More than 5,000 food companies from 125 countries are participating in the event.

    The participation of the Cambodia Rice Federation in the expo is taking place while the government tries to open markets for Cambodia in the Middle East.

    On February 21, Tek Reth, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Commerce, led an inter-ministerial delegation to visit the booth of the CRF, while leading a delegation to negotiate the Cambodia-UAE free trade agreement.

  • HAFED to export 85,000 MT basmati rice to UAE

  • Chandigarh, Feb 22 (IANS): HAFED, the apex cooperative federation of Haryana, has procured export orders of 85,000 metric tons (MT) basmati rice valuing Rs 850 crore from a Saudi Arabia importer, Managing Director A. Sreenivas said on Wednesday.

    He said of this, an order of 33,000 MT has been executed and the rest is under the process of execution.

    HAFED is currently participating in the world's biggest food and beverages exhibition at Dubai, aGULFOOD 2023', by putting up its exhibition stall for the first time.

    Its Chairman Kailash Bhagat and Managing Director Sreenivas, along with officers, visited the exhibition and had a series of meetings with potential buyers of basmati rice for export tie-ups, an official statement said.

    Sreenivas said HAFED procured export orders from the leading importer M/s Saleh A Babekar Sons Company of Riyadh.

    "HAFED is also making commercial purchases of basmati paddy and has procured 2.75 lakh MT basmati paddy from farmers during the current financial year," he said.

  • Vietnam seeing promising future in rice export

  • Vietnam Food Association has just informed the price of Vietnamese 5-percent broken rice passes that of Thailand, becoming the leader in this segment, a milestone in the national target for rice export.

    Workers of Loc Troi Group are packaging rice under the brand name of A An 2. (Photo: SGGP)

    The winter-spring rice crop is the main one in the Mekong Delta. Thanks to favorable weather and high price, with a yield of 7.2 tonnes per hectare, farmers earn a profit of over VND30 million a hectare (US$1,260).

    The Mekong Delta now has 1.5 million tonnes of rice ready for harvest. The price of Jasmine rice in Vinh Long Province and Can Tho City is at VND7,600/kg ($0.32), OM 4218 rice at VND7,400/kg ($0.31), and ST24, ST25 in Ca Mau Province at VND7,000/kg ($0.29). These are positive signals besides the stably high price of Vietnam 5-percent broken rice at $463 per tonnes ($2 higher than that of Thailand counterpart).

    In this year’s winter-spring rice crop, An Giang Province is the leader in terms of rice field area under the partnership between farmers and businesses. Chairman Nguyen Thanh Giang of the Director Board of Binh Thanh Agricultural Cooperative (sited in Thoai Son District) said that his cooperative is growing rice on 1,000ha according to the order from Loc Troi Group, with a yield of 7-8 tonnes/ha thanks to proper techniques and synchronous mechanization in most steps. Loc Troi Group informed that it has made orders with farmers in the Mekong Delta for 210,000ha of rice.

    Similarly, General Director Pham Thai Binh of Trung An Hi-tech Farming JSC. (sited in Can Tho City) shared that it is urgently finishing the order to sell 30,000 tonnes of rice to the markets of Singapore, Malaysia, and the Republic of Korea. The company is collaborating with farmers in the Mekong Delta to form a stable rice farming area for its export orders in 2023. At present, it is processing 9,000 tonnes of high-quality fragrant rice.

    The year 2022 ended with remarkable achievements in rice export, with nearly 7.3 million tonnes sold abroad and a revenue of $3.54 billion (a volume rise of 16.3 percent and a value increase of 6.9 percent compared to 2021).

    The most impressive result was that ST24 and ST25 rice types of Vietnam for the first time were sold to the markets of the EU and the Middle East at the price of more than $1,000/tonne, which is a true miracle.

    Hence, in 2023, Trung An Hi-tech Farming JSC. has sighed a contract to export fragrant rice at the price of $1,250/tonne. This February, Quang Tri Organic Agro-product JSC. (QTOrganic) has sold its first 15 tonnes of organic rice to the EU market at the price of $1,800/tonne. Meanwhile, Loc Troi Group is expanding its market to the EU with orders of up to 400,000 tonnes of rice this year, at the price of €12.9/pack of 5 kilos or $2,000/tonne.

    To successfully sell rice in such picky markets, both farmers and rice enterprises have to strictly follow a specific rice growing and processing procedure under a close partnership to ensure quality.

    The product ‘Com Vietnam Rice’ is displayed in a supermarket in the EU

    Another positive signal comes from the project ‘Sustainable Development of 1 Million Hectares of Specialized Field for High-quality Rice in Association with Green Farming’ by the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry. It is now in the finalization stage to submit to the Prime Minister for approval, in hope of creating more breakthroughs in rice export.

    Accordingly, the total estimated investment for the project in the 2023-2030 period reaches over VND40 trillion ($1.68 billion). 30 percent of this amount will be distributed to farmers for seed purchasing at a rate of 80kg/ha in the first 4 crops.

    An Giang Province immediately expressed the wish to join in the project with its 200,000ha. Director Nguyen Si Lam of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that in order for the project to be successful, it is necessary to create favorable conditions for rice companies to access this investment, to provide sensible land policies, and to call for the collaboration of relevant partners like the State Bank of Vietnam, the Industry and Trade Ministry, the Planning and Investment Ministry, trading associations in the field.

    Director Nguyen Van Thanh of Phuoc Thanh IV Manufacturing – Trading Co. Ltd. (in Vinh Long Province) commented that 2023 is a promising year for Vietnam’s rice export. The global rice resource is depleting, and its stock is exhausted. This might lead to even higher international rice prices. With such lucrative prices, a high yield in the Mekong Delta, and lower fertilizer prices, farmers are enjoying a profit increase of 10-15 percent. Therefore, most rice enterprises are now concentrating on gathering material for their export orders.

  • University professor says upland rice can be cultivated in Egypt

  • Professor of lands and water resources at Cairo University Nader Noureddine said on Tuesday that the idea of cultivating Egyptian upland rice has been applied in some areas of al-Sharqia Governorate, Nile delta.

    Therfore  it is possible to allocate part of the desert land to experiment cultivating this kind of rice.

    He added that there is no difference between the types of rice, but the difference is only in the methods of cultivation.

    The Egyptian rice differs in its taste from other types of rice.

    “The Egyptian consumer does not prefer imported rice, especially from East Asian countries,” Noureddine said during a telephone interview with the talk show “Hadith al-Qahira” (Cairo Talk) on the “al-Qahira wal Nas” (Cairo and the People) channel.

    Some researchers have found a new rice known as “dry rice” (upland rice), which may be similar to Chinese rice, he said.

    Noureddine stressed that Chinese rice can be called dry rice, which does not need water in the amounts of water needed by Egyptian rice.

    He explained that the Egyptian crop of rice must be preserved, because it is internationally registered.

    Noureddine pointed out that the cultivating Egyptian rice needs to flood the land to a large extent with water, adding: “Egyptian rice cannot be grown in the desert.”

  • Rice exporters see surge in demand from global buyers

  • In 2021-22, India shipped an all-time-high 21.21 million tonnes of rice.

    After a lull of three months since the imposition of 20% export duty on rice, India's rice exporters are witnessing a surge in demand from the global markets and international buyers are willing to pay a price of $400 per tonne, as compared to $330 per tonne before the imposition of the export duty.

    The government had imposed the duty on September 9 last year to contain the domestic price rise. Area under kharif fell 5.62% to 38.39 million hectares in last year's season due to poor rains 

    rains in some states including UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal. Buyers are absorbing the export duty, despite which Indian rice is cheaper than rice from Thailand which is commanding a price of $500 per tonne in the international market.

    "The upswing in global demand will help India to achieve 15.5 million tonnes of non-basmati rice exports, which are only 10% lower compared to last year even though earlier it was thought exports would come down to 12-13 mt following the imposition of export duty," said BV Krishna Rao, president, Rice Exporters Association of India.

  • N. Korean farming households see drop in income due to state-run food shops

  • “The government talks about developing and promoting agricultural villages, but state-run food shops are making the lives of farmers harder," one farmer complained

    Rice planting in North Hwanghae Province (Rodong Sinmun)

    The incomes of North Korean farming households have fallen significantly since the country began operating state-run food shops nationwide, Daily NK has learned.

    State-run food shops provide rice and other grains to ordinary consumers at prices less than what can be found in local markets.

    According to a Daily NK source in South Pyongan Province on Friday, the incomes of farming households last year were 25 to 30% lower than in previous years due to poor agricultural production last year and state-run shops coercing farmers to sell them grain. 

    After harvests, farmers usually sell the share of production earmarked for personal use to market grain merchants or sell it into markets themselves. Following the harvest of 2021 and 2022 — when state-run food shops were operating — officials working for the shops went around farms to coerce them to sell the crop yield that farmers had traditionally taken for themselves. 


    Generally speaking, farmers can sell their rice for at least KPW 5,000 a kilogram at markets, but can only get KPW 3,800 to 4,000 if they sell the rice to state-run food shops. Given the approximately 30% difference in what they can get, farmers tend to prefer to sell their rice to markets.

    However, the state-run food shops have been collecting rice from farmers in a coercive way under various pretexts, telling the farmers that they can become “patriotic farmers” and “loyal to the regime” if they contribute rice. The shops also call the rice farmers contribute to the state “patriotic rice.” 

    Moreover, of the rice taken from farmers, the shops add an additional KPW 500 to 700 to each kilogram of rice that is sold to ordinary consumers. 

    However, last year’s poor harvest meant that there has been less rice to go around, resulting in a situation where farmers have had less rice to use or sell.

    According to figures announced by South Korea’s Rural Development Administration last December, North Korea’s food production in 2022 was estimated at 4.51 million tons, a 3.8% fall from 4.69 tons in 2021.

    The situation differs from region to region, but in South Pyongan Province, farmers feel that last year’s production fell far short of previous years, with some saying that 2022’s rice production was just 60 to 70% of 2021’s production.

    Excess agricultural production has fallen 30 to 40% compared to the previous year, and farmers are being coerced to sell their own share of the harvest at prices 30% less than what they can get at markets. What this means is that the incomes of farming households cannot go anywhere but down, the source explained.

    In fact, one farmer told Daily NK that he takes a KPW 150,000 loss when he sells 100 kilograms of rice to the state-run shops, and a loss of KPW 1.5 million when he sells a ton.

    “A farming household can survive a month on KWP 150,000, and 10 months on KPW 1.5 million, so we farm for a year and then we have no money to live on the next year,” he said.

    “The government talks about developing and promoting agricultural villages, but state-run food shops are making the lives of farmers harder,” the farmer complained. 


    However, state-run food shops are far from strict about the quality of rice they buy from farmers, which means that some farmers are turning over low-quality rice that is damp or has impurities, such as having stones mixed in with the grains. 

    In fact, the poor quality of rice has become a focus of complaints by consumers of the state-run food shops.

    Specifically, consumers are saying that while the rice is cheap, “its quality is equally low, and if you pick out the edible rice, there’s little price difference with the markets.”

    Meanwhile, given the fact that the state-run shops do not sell grain all the time, critics say the shops are having little effect in stabilizing the market price of rice.

    Cho Chung-hee, director of Good Farmers and an expert on North Korean agriculture, said that the shops are unable to provide regular sales of grain because of the country’s insufficient agricultural production and issues in procuring the rice from farms, adding that the amount of grain available to the shops is “extremely small.” 

    Cho went on to say that the shops could have a positive impact on stabilizing food prices in North Korea if they operate normally, “but if the current situation continues, it is unlikely they will have an effect on stabilizing rice prices.”

    Recently, high-ranking North Korean cadres have been conducting frequent tours of state-run food shops nationwide to inspect how they are operating, which suggests that the authorities are aware of the problems suffered by the shops.

    North Korean state-run media reported on Feb. 7 that Premier Kim Tok Hun visited state-run food shops in the city of Nampo to ascertain how well they are distributing food, even demanding that measures be taken to improve food distribution. 

    Kim also made onsite inspections of several grain distribution centers and state-run food shops in South Pyongan and North Pyongan provinces on Jan. 28, instructing that measures be created to deal with food distribution issues. 

    North Korean authorities have announced that they will discuss agricultural issues and the future goals of agricultural development during the Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Eighth Central Committee set to be held later this month. The results of this meeting will make clear whether the country will take new measures to resolve problems with the state-run food shops. 

    Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

  • Fiji Rice records profit despite missing target

  • Fiji Rice Ltd made a profit of half a million dollars last year.

    Chief Executive Ashrit Pratap says this was achieved despite not meeting the annual target of 5000 tonnes of production.

    He says the highest target they have met is 2,000 tonnes last year, which is still less.

    Pratap says the shortage of labour remains a challenge in the rice industry.

    “What has happened is that over the years, the production has gone down because farmers moved out of their farms and hardly any young farmers were associated with farming.” So if you go to Dreketi, it’s like mostly the older generation is there.”

    Fiji currently imports $39 million worth of rice from India, Thailand, and Vietnam annually.

  • Vietnam rice exports to Taiwan continue to rise

  • Grains are seen on assembly line of a rice processing factory in Vietnam's southern Mekong delta city of Can Tho, August 23, 2015. Photo by Reuters

    Vietnam’s rice exports to Taiwan rose by 18.5% last year as quality improved and prices were competitive.

    It shipped 20,281 tons worth over US$10 million to account for more than 16% of Taiwan’s imports, the third highest market share.

    In recent years Vietnam’s exports of high-grade rice to the market have been steadily increasing as its prices are lower than Thailand’s, Taiwan’s second largest source of imports at 23,042 tons.

    But Thailand’s exports declined by 20% last year. Vietnam’s sticky rice exports to Taiwan exceeded those of the U.S. and Thailand.

    Overall, Vietnam exported more than seven million tons of rice worth $3.5 billion to the global market last year.

    It was sold in European supermarkets for the first time.

  • Rice Farmers Want Subsidy

  • Fiji Rice Limited board chairman, Raj Sharma, said the request was compiled after recent consultation with farmers in the Northern Division.

    A request have been made to the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture for consideration over re-establishment of a subsidy scheme for rice farmers.

    Fiji Rice Limited board chairman, Raj Sharma, said the request was compiled after recent consultation with farmers in the Northern Division.

    The pocket meetings were held for rice farmers in cluster areas such as Dreketi, Korokadi, Tabia and Lagalaga, in the Macuata province.

  • How FG’s agric revolution spurs investment in rice

  • From the Laban Rice Mill in Kebbi to the Cosharis Rice Mill in Akwa and Lagos Rice Mill in Imota, Nigeria’s agricultural revolution is driving investments across the rice value chain.

    Rice production has dominated the discourse in the Buhari-led administration’s agricultural sector revolution since coming into power in 2015.

    A 70 percent tariff was imposed on rice imports through the ports, coupled with an outright ban through land borders by the federal government to support the local rice industry.

    The policy created opportunity across the value chain and spurred investments as farmers and millers ramp up production to meet the ever-growing demand for rice – a key staple in Nigerian diets.

    Rotimi William, chief executive officer of Kereksuk Rice Farm, said the agric revolution brought lots of investments across the rice value chain.

    “Lots of youths made investments in rice production owing to the revolution in the sector,” William said. “Some youths invested in the aggregation of paddy for millers while others in the cultivation of the crop.”

    Data from the National Bureau of Statistics show that Investments in the agricultural sector grew from $98.3 million in 2015, when Buhari launched the campaign, to $366 million in 2021.

    The number of rice mills that have sprung up across the country and local rice brands that have become more visible is evidence of improvement.

    Both integrated and cottage mills have increased by more than 60 percent in recent years as the government and private sector continue to invest in processing.

    The number of integrated rice mills jumped from 10 to above 60 during the same period, according to industry data, an indication that investments are fast rising in the production of the crop.

    Milling capacity also increased from 350,000 metric tonnes per annum in 2015 to more than 3 million metric tonnes per annum in 2021, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    The average crop yield per hectare has risen from 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare to an average of 4 and 5 metric tonnes of the same acreage, owing to renewed government commitment, experts said.

    The most recent reliable figures for production come from the USDA, which puts Nigeria’s milled rice 2022/2023 production at 5.5 million metric tons (MMT), up over 10 percent from the 2021/22 figure of 5 MMT.

    “Since the agric revolution, lots of farmers who have abandoned growing rice have returned and even other farmers are shifting to rice cultivation because the market is there now and it is profitable,” Muhammed Augie, former chairman of Rice Farmers Association, Kebbi chapter, said.

    “Mills are springing up across the country, a testament that the revolution in the sector is driving investments,” Augie said.

    The agricultural sector is critical to the economic growth and development of Nigeria as it will not only enhance the diversification and integration of the economy but also become a major source of foreign exchange earner for the country.

  • CRF to showcase rice at Dubai F&B exhibition

  • Cambodia Rice Federation team at Gulfood, the world-famous food and beverages exhibition in Dubai. The CRF will showcase a variety of Cambodian rice. CRF

    As part of its sustained efforts to popularise the Cambodian “white gold” and help expand rice export to newer markets, the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) will take part and showcase the commodity at Gulfood, the world-famous food and beverages (F&B) exhibition in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

    While Chan Sokheang, President of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), and Lun Yeng, Secretary General of the CRF, will represent the apex body of rice millers and exporters in the Southeast country, four Cambodian companies will take part in the five-day exhibition that will start on February 20.

    “They will be participating in the event under the CRF and together be showcasing a variety of Cambodian rice at one stall during the event,” Lun Yeng, the CRF Secretary General, told Khmer Times.

    The four companies that will take part in one of the well-known F&B exhibitions are Signatures of Asia Co Ltd, a leading Cambodian rice exporter; Indochina Rice Mill Limited, one of the largest rice mills in the Kingdom; Primalis Corporation Ltd, a leading rice producer and exporter of the Southeast Asian country; and Kompong Thom Rice Mill Ltd, one of the top rice producers and exporters in Cambodia, according to the CRF.

    The participation at the Dubai F&B show is aimed at showcasing Cambodian rice varieties, the CRF secretary general said.

    These companies will be exhibiting aromatic rice, fragrant rice, white rice, parboiled rice, and organic rice at the 28th edition of Gulfood, one of the largest F&B sourcing events in the world.

    Gulfood, which brings together food and beverage communities from around the world, also performs the role of an industry trend springboard and a global sourcing powerhouse.

    More than 5,000 companies from over 125 countries are expected to take part in the event. “A line-up of industry thought leaders, and the world’s greatest chefs will chart the way forward and inspire industry-wide transformation for the good of the entire ecosystem,” claimed the organisers of the event on its website. The event will be spread over 24 halls and one million square feet of area.

    Meanwhile, a high-level delegation from Cambodia will also be there in Dubai to take part in the three-day third round of the Cambodia-United Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CAM-UAE CEPA) dialogue, starting on February 20, according to a statement of the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, early this month.

    While the first round of CAM-UAE CEPA talks took place in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi on October 24-25, the second round of dialogue was held in Phnom Penh on December 19-21. The two countries are expected to formalise and put their signatures to the pact at the fourth round of talks to be staged in Cambodia this year.

    Rice trade with the UAE is one of the focus areas of the agreement, according to the officials. The agreement will also help Cambodian rice producers/exporters to reach out to other West Asian and North African countries (collectively known as the MENA region).

    According to the CRF, rice exports to the Middle East region have shown a significant increase in recent years. The shipment of Cambodian rice has increased from 673 tons in 2019 to around 3,807 tons in 2020 and about 6,139 tons in 2021. Rice exports to the region reached 8,358 tons in 2022, the data shows.

    In the first month of this year, the Cambodian milled rice was shipped to 34 countries, earning the Kingdom $92 million in revenue along with the export of paddy, according to the CRF statistics.

    Exported milled rice varieties in 2022 included premium aromatic rice, fragrant rice, long grain white rice, parboiled rice, organic rice and glutinous rice, said the CRF.

    Agriculture, one of the key pillars of the Cambodian economy, contributed 24.4 percent to the gross domestic product in 2021, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

  • Cambodia produced more than 11 million tonnes of rice last year

  • Farmers around the country saw success in the cultivation of rice last year despite hard weather conditions bringing an extended rainy season and achieved 110.40 percent of the planned rice cultivation for 2022.

    The General Department of Agriculture stated that in 2022, rice cultivation spread over 3.40 million hectares, which is equivalent to 110.40 percent of the annual plan, with a total yield of 11.62 million tonnes.

    Within the framework of the Cambodia Food Reserve System, the department stated that 6,172 tonnes of rice seeds were distributed to disaster-affected families in 22 provinces.

    Local news stated that 275,625 hectares of horticultural land have been harvested, providing a total yield of 4.42 million tonnes and 18.30 tonnes of vegetable seeds were also distributed to families affected by natural disaster. Yields of industrial crops were recorded at 18.67 million tonnes.

  • Surplus rice, maize to be exported

  • ISLAMABAD - Chairman United Business Group in Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry Shahzad Ali Malik has said surplus crops of rice and maize would be exported to new destinations including African markets for earning direly much-needed foreign exchange.

    Addressing the one day all Pakistan Chambers Presidents Conference at Rahim Yar Khan Chamber the other day, he stressed the urgent need for establishing imports substitution industries in Pakistan without loss of time to narrow down the yawning trade deficit and on the other hand, equally emphasised the vital significance of adding the new products in the export basket rather than only relying on textile and surgical, etc. He said there was a vast scope of exports to African countries and new global markets must be explored on top priority which he added would help a lot in stabilizing the balance of payment.

    He said the use of hi-tech hybrid seeds resulted in bumper crops of rice and maize and its credit goes to the private sector which invented new disease-resistant and pest-free varieties to increase yield per acre. He stressed the need for evolving new hi-tech hybrid seeds for other field crops of cotton, wheat and sugarcane.

    He said Pakistan’s economy was agro-based and Pakistan imports nearly $14 billion in edible oil, oil seeds, cotton and wheat annually which he added can be brought to zero level if government sincerely focuses on the promotion of the agriculture sector on modern scientific lines taking all stakeholders into confidence.

    Shahzad Ali Malik said if the government takes care of its proposals and recommendations in letter and spirit, it will not only bring agricultural revolution in the country but also surplus agri products could be exported at high international rates. He said if half of the same amount spent on the imports of agro-based products is invested in growers, farmers, and peasants in Pakistan, it will not only comfortably meet the food staple needs of the ever-growing population but surplus can be exported. Nearly 50 presidents of chambers of commerce and industries across the country participated in the conference and put forth their viable proposals.

  • Higher carbon dioxide levels could put rice crops at risk, study finds

  • Reduced phosphorus – an essential nutrient – seen in paddy soils when CO2 in the atmosphere was elevated, according to researchersThey estimate 55 per cent of the world’s rice paddies will face increased yield reduction risks due to phosphorus deficiency in the future

    There will be more risk of reduced rice yields if carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, with low-income countries likely to be hardest hit, according to the study. Photo: Xinhua

    Higher carbon dioxide levels could result in less phosphorus in paddy soils – and that could threaten the security of rice supplies in the future, according to a new study.

    Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant metabolism and growth. A prolonged deficiency in the nutrient can affect plant development and limit yields, and previous research has suggested that increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could affect phosphorus levels in soil.

    The new study – led by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Soil Science in Nanjing – involved two long-term experiments to evaluate the effect of elevated carbon dioxide on phosphorus concentrations in rice paddy fields.

    Researchers found that by the end of the experiments, the phosphorus available in the soil had declined by more than 20 per cent. During a 15-year period from 2004 to 2018, there was a 27 per cent reduction. And between 2011 and 2019, phosphorus levels were down by 21 per cent.

    The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience last month.

    Soil phosphorus is found in two forms – organic and inorganic. About 30 to 65 per cent of soil phosphorus is organic and has to be converted to inorganic phosphate with the help of microbes in the soil before it can be taken up by plants. Another 35 to 70 per cent is inorganic, and that includes what is known as soil-available phosphorus.

    Both experiments showed decreased soil-available phosphorus and increased soil organic phosphorus after several years of increased carbon dioxide emissions.

    “The gathered data were precious and highly convincing since one can rarely find field data in such a big experimentation with decades-long monitoring history in the literature,” Dengjun Wang, co-author of the study and an assistant professor with the Auburn University College of Agriculture in Alabama, was quoted as saying on the university’s website.

    Moreover, the study authors estimated that 55 per cent of the world’s rice paddy fields will experience increased yield reduction risks due to phosphorus deficiency in the future.

    Most of these rice paddy fields are already facing phosphorus deficiency, according to the study. It said about 35 per cent were at extremely high risk of yield reduction and 15 per cent were at risk of phosphorus pollution.

    The researchers said the risk of rice yield reduction would go up if carbon dioxide concentrations continued to rise, and low-income countries were expected to be hardest hit.

    “This situation is likely to place poor countries under more adverse conditions and further widen the economic inequality associated with CO2 emissions,” the authors said.

    The study involved two long-term experiments to evaluate the effect of elevated carbon dioxide on phosphorus levels in rice paddy fields. Photo: Shutterstock

    The study involved two long-term experiments to evaluate the effect of elevated carbon dioxide on phosphorus levels in rice paddy fields. Photo: Shutterstock

    Some 70 per cent of rice paddy fields in low-income countries are expected to face increased yield reduction risks, compared to 52 per cent in middle-high-income countries, according to the study.

    That is partly due to the fact that middle-high-income countries have better resources for recycling alternative phosphorus fertilisers from waste and organic compounds.

    The researchers suggested that phosphorus fertilisation rates needed to more than double in countries such as Myanmar and Indonesia to avoid reductions in the soil-available phosphorus supply for rice crops.

    “To ensure further crop and environmental gains, climate change must be included as a key factor for future sustainable strategies of phosphorus management,” the study concluded.

    The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience last month.

  • Pakistan’s rice exports to China increases by 53% in 2022

  • * In 2022, Pakistan achieved a significant milestone in its rice trade with China, as its rice exports surpassed $455m for first time

    The news was announced by Ghulam Qadir, the Commercial Counsellor at Pakistan’s Embassy in Beijing, China.

    Qadir highlighted that the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China reported a 53% year-on-year increase in bilateral trade in agriculture products, with China importing more than 1.19 million tons of different types of rice from Pakistan.

    He credited the facilitation from both governments and the hard work of businessmen for the successful trade, adding that with the opening up of China, the exports are expected to grow even further.

    According to statistics from the General Administration of Customs, in 2022, China imported semi or wholly milled rice, broken rice, and other rice varieties from Pakistan, which amounted to USD 211.88 million, USD 162.78 million, and USD 80.74 million, respectively.

    Qadir expressed that the Chinese government has been supportive of Pakistan by establishing offline and online pavilions, and Pakistani rice has already hit the e-commerce platform in China, with sales expected to grow further. He also noted that they are working with the General Administration of Customs to ensure more Pakistani rice enterprises register and increase exports even further.

    The Commercial Counsellor shared that Pakistani rice has gained popularity in the Chinese market due to its finest taste and quality, and the total number of Pakistani enterprises registered with the General Administration of Customs has increased to 62.

    The growth in trade and registration of enterprises signify a positive trend for the bilateral relations between Pakistan and China, as they continue to strengthen their economic ties.

  • 7.5 tonnes of PDS rice seized from poultry farm in Salem

  • The seized PDS rice at a poultry farm at Arasanatham near Attur in Salem on Saturday.

    The flying squad officials seized 7.5 tonnes of ration rice from a poultry farm on Saturday.

    Acting on a tip-off that ration rice was crushed and provided to chickens in a poultry farm along with fodder, a flying squad from the District Supply Office led by Tahsildar N.S. Rajeshkumar raided a poultry farm at Arasanatham near Attur. During the raid, the officials found that ration rice in 133 gunny bags weighing 7.5 tonnes in a godown at the poultry farm.

    The flying squad officials handed over the seized item to the Civil Supplies CID for further investigation.

    The poultry farm owners claimed that they bought the rice from the general public. ,This was the first time that a flying squad had raided a poultry farm in Salem. The Civil Supplies CID would register the case and arrest the owners soon, sources added.

  • Surplus rice and maize crops to be exported in new markets

  • Chairman United Business Group in Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shahzad Ali Malik said surplus crops of rice and maize would be exported to new destinations including African markets for earning direly much-needed foreign exchange.

    Addressing the one day all Pakistan Chambers Presidents Conference at Rahim Yar Khan Chamber, he stressed the urgent need for establishing imports substitution industries in Pakistan without loss of time to narrow down the yawning trade deficit and on the other hand, equally emphasised the vital significance of adding the new products in the export basket rather than only relying on textile and surgical, etc.

    He said there was a vast scope of exports to African countries and new global markets must be explored on top priority which he added would help a lot in stabilizing the balance of payment.

    He said the use of hi-tech hybrid seeds resulted in bumper crops of rice and maize and its credit goes to the private sector which invented new disease-resistant and pest-free varieties to increase yield per acre.

    He stressed the need for evolving new hi-tech hybrid seeds for other field crops of cotton, wheat and sugarcane.

    He said Pakistan’s economy was agro-based and Pakistan imports nearly $14 billion in edible oil, oil seeds, cotton and wheat annually which he added can be brought to zero level if government sincerely focuses on the promotion of the agriculture sector on modern scientific lines taking all stakeholders into confidenceShahzad Ali Malik said if the government takes care of its proposals and recommendations in letter and spirit, it will not only bring agricultural revolution in the country but also surplus agri products could be exported at high international rates.

    He said if half of the same amount spent on the imports of agro-based products is invested in growers, farmers, and peasants in Pakistan, it will not only comfortably meet the food staple needs of the ever-growing population but surplus can be exported.

    Nearly 50 presidents of chambers of commerce and industries across the country participated in the conference and put forth their viable proposals.

    He thanked the president Rahim Yar Khan Chamber Iqbal for hosting the conference and lauded the group chairman Rauf Mukhtar’efforts making the event a success.—APP

  • U.S. Rice Goes Nationwide at Costco Taiwan

  • TAIPEI – Costco Taiwan is now selling a new package of U.S. long grain as its Kirkland Signature house brand at all 14 warehouses nationwide.

    “Taiwan has historically purchased medium grain from the U.S. but USA Rice started encouraging importers here to try U.S.-origin long grain back in 2020,” said Jim Guinn, USA Rice director of Asia promotion programs. “After that initial positive market reaction, U.S. long grain became a regular purchase by importers.”

    In 2022, USA Rice developed consumer communications including press articles, social media influencer campaigns, in-store promotions, and educational events for professional chefs that promoted U.S. long grain to different consumption sectors.

    “Our USA Rice team in Taiwan is currently in negotiations with Costco to schedule a retail promotion to spur demand for the newly introduced rice,” said Guinn.

    The Taiwan market for U.S. rice is the most diverse in Asia, featuring imports of southern medium grain, long grain, long grain parboiled, long grain jasmine, short grain glutinous rice, and Calrose. Taiwan imports a four-year annual average of 59,000 MT of U.S. rice valued at more than $38 million.



    (Repeats Thursday's story with no changes to text)


    New supplies in April awaited - Thai trader


    Buyers comfortable with the price rise in India - trader


    Vietnam to export 6 mln tonnes despite low domestic inventory

    By Seher Dareen

    Feb 16 (Reuters) - Thai rice export prices dropped this week to their lowest levels in more than one month due to a softer baht and demand, while Indian rates held firm near their highest in about two years on strong buying.

    Thailand's 5% broken rice prices <RI-THBKN5-P1> were quoted at $460 - $465 per tonne, down from last week's $480 - $490.

    "The baht is weaker and has lowered the price of rice. Demand has been quiet and there has not been a big lot order," said a Bangkok-based trader.

    Demand is still quiet and will have to wait until a new lot of supply in April, said another trader.

    Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted at $395 to $402 per tonne this week, unchanged from last week.

    "Buyers were making purchases despite the recent rise in prices. They are comfortable with the price rise," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house.

    India's rice exports in 2022 jumped to a record high despite the government's curbs on overseas sale, as buyers continued to make purchases because of competitive prices, according to government and industry officials.

    Vietnam's 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> were offered at $455-$460 per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from a week ago.

    "Prices are expected to stay at elevated levels as many countries are buying to boost their national reserves, including China and Indonesia," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    Traders forecast this year's exports to be over 6 million tonnes, adding that domestic inventory levels are low.

    Meanwhile, domestic rice prices in Bangladesh stay high despite good crops and reserves, traders said. The government has also been importing rice while private traders have been allowed to buy in an effort to cool prices. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

    © Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023. Click For Restrictions -

  • WFP-USAID bags illegally used to sell rice in Larkana: WFP

  • ISLAMABAD: World Food Programme (WFP) Thursday said WFP-USAID branded empty bags were used illegally to sell rice in Larkana, Sindh adding that it takes any unauthorized sale of its humanitarian food assistance extremely seriously and is committed to ensuring that it reaches those vulnerable people who depend on it for survival.

    “WFP is aware of the unauthorized use of WFP-USAID branded food bags in Larkana, Sindh being used to sell non-WFP food in the open market. The issue has been investigated by local authorities. The WFP hotline at 0800 93732 remains available to report any unauthorized sale of WFP assistance”, WFP said in a statement in response to reports of food donated by it being sold in the markets in Larkana, Sindh.

    Talking to The News, an official said WFP had provided yellow split peas in WFP-USAID branded food bags to flood affectees in Sindh but some people took the empty bags and after refilling them with rice, sold them in the local market. “WFP never provided rice to the flood affectees in Sindh, instead it was split yellow peas. The empty bags were refilled with rice and sold in the market”, the official added.

    Earlier this month, a video had gone viral on social media in which a shopkeeper was selling rice in WFP-USAID branded bags in Jellus Market, Larkana. After the video went viral, different political parties criticised the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government for looting and plundering the flood victims’ relief. The Sindh government initiated an inquiry into the allegations, which revealed that a shopkeeper had purchased the empty bags, which had the monogram of WFP-USAID printed on them. The shopkeeper refiled those bags with rice and sold them.

    The fact-finding report submitted to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah further said stern action was taken against the shop owner immediately and the shop was sealed by Mukhtiarkar Larkana to stop the sale till an impartial inquiry was conducted. The Mukhtiarkar also confiscated 1,000 bags which were clearly labelled “Not for sale or purchase”. The inquiry committee, under the supervision of Larkana’s assistant commissioner, is also conducting probe into the case.

    The inquiry found that the shopkeeper had purchased the empty bags from a man named Mohammad Saleem who sells gunny bags in the city. Furthermore, the incident report also gave detailed findings of an inquiry conducted by the representative of Secours Islamique France (SIF), an NGO that undertook a ration distribution programme across Sindh for flood victims in collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP) and USAID. “During the floods, USAID distributed ration among 22,000 families in 11 union councils of Larkana district,” the fact-finding report added. According to the incident report, the SIF representative apprised that the food bags did not contain rice as it is being circulated rather, it contained 9kg of yellow split peas.

    Meanwhile, a spokesman for Sindh government said a fact-finding team was constituted to probe into allegations of WFP-USAID food donations being sold into the market and it has found all allegations to be ‘wrong and baseless’.

    In fact, the inquiry found “empty bags of WFP-USAID were used to refill rice and sell in the market”, he said adding that the whole issue was conveyed to international donors, who also expressed their satisfaction over the inquiry.

  • Arkansas Ag Researchers Seek Climate-Resilient Rice As Part of USDA Grant

  • These rice plants in a greenhouse growth chamber at the Rice Research and Extension Center, are part of a study on high nighttime air temperatures. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Fred Miller)

    STUTTGART, Ark. — Scientists at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Rice Research and Extension Center seek to develop rice that is more resilient in the face of climate change and usable water depletion.

      Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station scientists Nick Bateman, associate professor and extension entomologist, and Stan De Guzman, assistant professor and rice breeder, have been awarded $547,842 as part of a four-year, $10 million grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Louisiana State University is the lead institution on the grant to improve the sustainability and profitability of rice farming through research innovations.

    The project’s collaborating institutions include Clemson University, Mississippi State University, Texas A&M AgriLife, and the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture. Jai Rohila, a research agronomist for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service based at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, is also involved in the grant.

    “I am thrilled to see this investment in rice research by USDA-NIFA,” said Jean-François Meullenet, director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and senior associate vice president for agriculture-research for the Division of Agriculture. “I want to congratulate LSU and the research team on this award. This project has the potential to enhance rice production in southern states, and I look forward to the impact it will have on rice farmers in Arkansas.”

    Extreme weather patterns due to climate change pose serious challenges to enhancing productivity, according to the project proposal summary. The project aims to help rice growers in the southern U.S. make the right decisions at the right time to reduce yield losses, land use, and water and energy consumption.

    Rice is among Arkansas’s top three agricultural commodities, worth approximately $1.2 billion in 2020. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state typically produces 56 to 58 percent of the nation’s long-grain rice.

    De Guzman will work to develop rice lines with heat stress tolerance using advanced genetic techniques. The process includes evaluating different rice lines for grain quality and agronomic and physiological traits under drought stress in field conditions using the alternate wetting and drying growing method. He will then work to incorporate those genetic traits into elite rice lines and varieties with drought and heat tolerance.

    Bateman’s role is to conduct a study that monitors the changes in insect pressure when moving from flooded rice to the alternate wetting and drying method for water savings. Bateman said rice water weevil larvae are substantially reduced when moving to alternate wetting and drying. Still, other insects like armyworms, rice billbugs and chinch bugs are prone to pop up. He will look at environmentally friendly pesticides to control those populations.

    “It’s not so much about controlling the insects but controlling the stress,” Bateman said. “Since part of the overall project is to reduce water use, we will be looking at what other insect pressures arise when you take it off a flood.”

    Prasanta Subudhi, the lead investigator of the project and a crop geneticist in the LSU AgCenter School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, said, “We will equip the current and next generation of rice farmers, consultants and researchers with the necessary knowledge and skillset to embrace the new climate-smart agriculture technologies and production practices.”

    “Knowledge gained from this project will increase the speed and accuracy of identifying rice genotypes with desirable combinations of genes for improved adaptation to a changing climate,” the project proposal summary states.

    The specific objectives of the project are to assess the socio-economic and environmental impacts of current crop management practices and identify barriers to adopting novel technologies and practices; develop novel genotypes with enhanced tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses; develop and optimize environmentally friendly crop management practices; and implement a robust extension program to disseminate the concepts and benefits of sustainable farming technology.

    The five collaborating institutions are members of the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors, which represents 15 agricultural research centers at land-grant universities in the southern U.S. Southern region scientists collaborate to conduct research and outreach focused on conserving the region’s natural resources and sustainably feeding a growing global population.

    “This grant demonstrates the importance and power of regional research collaborations in providing solutions to pressing problems that impact growers and consumers,” said Gary Thompson, executive director of the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors. “This significant federal investment leverages the capacity of our State Agricultural Experiment Stations to assist farmers in modifying their practices to a changing environment.”

    This grant is part of a $70 million investment from USDA to establish robust, resilient and climate-smart food and agricultural systems.

    “Southern U.S. rice production is concentrated in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas, and rice research is a major component of the research portfolios of the agricultural experiment station in these states,” said Michael Salassi, interim LSU AgCenter executive associate vice president and director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station. “This grant will provide the many rice scientists across the region the opportunity to work collaboratively to evaluate alternate climate-smart production practices associated with a major U.S. food crop.”

    To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit

    About the Division of Agriculture

    The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

    The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

    The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

  • Rice Growers Encouraged To Embrace New Varieties

  • Migori Rice farmers have been encouraged to embrace the new rice varieties to help boost their annual production.

    Speaking during a rice field day at the Lower Kuja Irrigation Scheme in Nyatike, Migori County Chief Officer for Agriculture Linus Origa said that new rice varieties developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRL) in conjunction with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) will help the farmers to experience an improved yield.

    The new variety namely Mkombozi (08FAN10) and CSR36 mature within a period of 95 to 105, yield more, and are more tolerant to salinity. The CSR36 rice variety is a long slender grain, non-sticky rice that separates on cooking and widely appealing to rice consumers in Kenya

    According to KALRO trials for new climate-smart high-yielding rice varieties, the wide adoption of CSR36 by rice farmers in Migori and Tana River will offer an opportunity to utilise the salt affected areas for rice production and to significantly increase rice production and set the country free from the ballooning rice imports.

    Origa said that the new variety will upscale the adoption of climate smart high yielding rice for increased productivity, income generation, and food security in Kenya. He encouraged the Lower Kuja rice growers to adopt the new varieties to improve production in the scheme.

    The county official also called upon the farmers to register with the national fertilizer subsidy programme to help them curb the high costs involved in the general production of rice and other crop farming activities.

    The stakeholders from the IRRL and KALRO had the opportunity to take the Nyatike rice farmers through demonstration farms in the scheme where they consequently unveiled the two improved high yield rice varieties.

    The five billion Multi-irrigation project that was started in 2011 by the national government will place over 19,000 of semi-arid and flood prone land under irrigation to increase rice production in the country.

    In 2022 the scheme opened 1,200 acres of land for paddy with an estimate of over 5,000 tonnes harvested and Sh200 million generated.

    The lower Kuja irrigation scheme was also created to boost rice production in the lake region basin and ensure the country is food secure by 2030.

  • Thai rice exports to Philippines set to double as Vietnam cuts back

  • Fresh demand to help boost Bangkok's annual trade in staple to 8.2 million tons

    BANGKOK -- Thailand's rice exports to the Philippines are expected to double this year, the Thai Rice Exporters Association said, as rival supplier Vietnam faces capacity constraints.

    Philippine rice imports hit 3.7 million tons last year, making it the world's second-largest importer of the staple. The figure is likely to remain roughly the same in 2023. The country, which is battling inflation and various food shortfalls, is forecast to produce about 12.4 million tons, below the 15.8 million tons needed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Of the Philippines' total rice imports last year, some 90% came from Vietnam -- the country's biggest supplier for decades due to its competitive pricing and close bilateral trade ties. The remainder of Philippine imports came from Thailand.

    "This year, the Philippines is expected to buy more rice from Thailand as Vietnam is having a smaller crop," said Chookiat Ophaswong, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

    Land used for the 2022-2023 growing season in Vietnam shrunk 3% from the previous season, likely pushing production down 1% to 27 million tons. Local rice consumption is forecast to be 21.5 million tons in 2023, unchanged from the previous year. That would leave about 6 million tons of rice available for export in 2023, versus 7.1 million tons in 2022.

    Adding to the problem is a drought that has been hammering poorly irrigated Cambodian farms since late last year. "Over the past few years, Vietnam had a stable supply of rice because about 1 million tons a year was being smuggled into the country from Cambodia, allowing Vietnam to export 7 million to 8 million tons," said Chookiat. "But this year there's no more rice from Cambodia to bolster Vietnamese exports."

    With supplies somewhat limited, Vietnam exported only 400,000 tons of rice in January, down 20.9% from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.

    In contrast, Thailand foresees a large harvest this year, with reservoirs across the country at or near capacity, allowing cultivation of rice outside the usual growing season.

    During the 2022-2023 season, Thailand is expected to produce around 20.2 million tons of rice, up from 19 million tons in the previous season. Domestic consumption will account for 12 million tons, with the remainder earmarked for export.

    Traders and exporters said the Philippines has already reached out to Thai exporters, hoping to secure rice for the second quarter.

    The Philippines' switch to a new supplier comes as the government tries to keep a lid on prices of food staples amid inflation that is at a 14-year high.

    Inflation reached 8.7% in January, the highest recorded since November 2008, partly on rising food prices. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has agreed to import more agricultural products such as sugar and onions amid domestic shortages.

    "The situation has forced Manila to buy rice from Thailand to meet demand and curb inflation," said a trader at an international trading house in Thailand. Strong demand from the Philippines was expected to double Thai rice exports to Manila to 300,000 tons in 2023, up from 180,000 tons the previous year.

    Even with fresh demand from the Philippines and the usual orders from the Middle East, the Thai Rice Exporters Association predicted that total rice exports in 2023 will be 7.5 million tons -- almost unchanged from 7.6 million tons the previous year.

    "That was a conservative forecast," said Chookiat. "In fact, we have up to 8.2 million tons or more left for export, as we can grow rice all year round."

    He added that the association is monitoring the situation and will raise the 2023 export forecast if it sees production increasing or finds fresh demand.

  • 1 crore families to get 10kg VGF rice each during Ramadan

  • 'Rice is being provided to 50 lakh families at a rate of Tk15 per kg under the Food Friendly Programme (FFP); OMS trucks now carrying 500kg more essentials to meet growing demand'

    The government, under the VGF (Vulnerable Group Feeding) programme, will give 10kg of free rice to one crore families each. These are the families who are currently not receiving any form of government aid.

    "This initiative will commence at the beginning of Ramadan," Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder told reporters at the Secretariat on Thursday noon (16 February).

    The food minister said that Open Market Sales (OMS) rice is being sold at Tk30/kg and flour at Tk24/kg.

    Also, rice is being provided to 50 lakh families at a rate of Tk15 per kg under the Food Friendly Programme (FFP), he said adding that OMS trucks are now carrying 500kg more essentials to meet growing demand.

    "All things considered, the price of rice is currently stable," the minister said.

    He said that the law to ban the sale of polished rice under different names and to name rice varieties based on the names of the paddy is up for scrutinisation. 

    He said that there is nothing to worry about when it comes to the stock of rice. "limited scale imports are taking place. Also, stocks are at an all-time high. 

    "Some 374,030MT of Aman rice has been collected till yesterday. Our target is 5 lakh MT." 

    Sadhan Chandra said, "The ongoing global crisis has not affected Bangladesh in terms of food and it is likely to remain the same in the future. Besides, we are expecting a bumper Boro season."

    The minister said that FFP will resume from 1 March till May. "OMS are ongoing and will continue. "We will be able to sell atap rice, imported from Myanmar, in Ramadan."

  • Surplus Rice And Maize Crops To Be Exported In New Market

  • ISLAMABAD, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 16th Feb, 2023 ) :Chairman United business Group in Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry�Shahzad Ali Malik said surplus crops of rice and maize would be exported to new destinations including African markets for earning direly much-needed foreign exchange.

    Addressing the one day all Pakistan Chambers Presidents Conference at Rahim Yar Khan Chamber, he stressed the urgent need for establishing imports substitution industries in Pakistan without loss of time to narrow down the yawning trade deficit and on the other hand, equally emphasised the vital significance of adding the new products in the export basket rather than only relying on textile and surgical, etc.

    He said there was a vast scope of exports to African countries and new global markets must be explored on top priority which he added would help a lot in stabilizing the balance of payment.

    He said the use of hi-tech hybrid seeds resulted in bumper crops of rice and maize and its credit goes to the private sector which invented new disease-resistant and pest-free varieties to increase yield per acre.

    He stressed the need for evolving new hi-tech hybrid seeds for other field crops of cotton, wheat and sugarcane.

    He said Pakistan's economy was agro-based and Pakistan imports nearly $14 billion in edible oil, oil seeds, cotton and wheat annually which he added can be brought to zero level if government sincerely focuses on the promotion of the agriculture sector on modern scientific lines taking all stakeholders into confidence.

    Shahzad Ali Malik said if the government takes care of its proposals and recommendations in letter and spirit, it will not only bring agricultural revolution in the country but also surplus agri products could be exported at high international rates.

    He said if half of the same amount spent on the imports of agro-based products is invested in growers, farmers, and peasants in Pakistan, it will not only comfortably meet the food staple needs of the ever-growing population but surplus can be exported.

    Nearly 50 presidents of chambers of commerce and industries across the country participated in the conference and put forth their viable proposals.

    He thanked the president Rahim Yar Khan Chamber Iqbal for hosting the conference and lauded the group chairman Rauf Mukhtar'efforts making the event a success.

  • 40% rise in rice export to Europe likely in 2023

  • Twenty European countries accounted for 48 percent of the total milled rice exported by Cambodia this January alone. KT/Chor Sokunthea
    European countries have emerged as the main buyers of Cambodian milled rice in January 2023, and the Kingdom is expecting an increase in shipment of the commodity this year.
    Deciphering the January export data, Chan Sokheang, President of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), told Khmer Times, “We are expecting an increase of approximately 35-40 percent in rice exports to the European market in 2023.”
    Twenty European countries accounted for around 48 percent of the total milled rice exported by Cambodia this January. They together imported 17,795 tons of Cambodian rice, worth more than $13.44 million, according to the CRF.
    Sokheang said, “The European market has now started to recognise the quality and the consistency of quality of the rice, we are shipping to them. I think a lot of Asian people are now living in European countries and they have started liking Cambodian rice.
    “We have good quality and aroma, and we comply with the chemical residue standards of Europe.”
    After staying around 203,280 tons in 2019 and about 203,861 tons in 2020, the rice export to Europe declined to 168,063 tons in 2021 only to jump back to 221,709 in the previous year.
    Among European countries, France imported 6,170 tons of rice worth over $4.11 million, the Netherlands 2,357 tons valued at $2.31 million, the Czech Republic 2,287 tons, the United Kingdom 1,669 tons, Spain 1,137 tons, Germany 1,064 tons, Italy 1,011 tons, Portugal 494 tons and Greece 323 tons.
    In January, more than 36,900 tons of milled rice, worth around $28.83 million, were shipped to global buyers by Cambodia.
    China (including Hong Kong and Macau), figured behind Europe in terms of the import of Cambodian rice. At 15,045 tons, it accounted for 41 percent of the total rice export from Cambodia, earning approximately $11.50 million, in January.
    The apex body of rice millers and exporters attributed the “slight drop” in rice imports by China to the New Year holidays.
    “We witnessed a slowdown in the export because they (Chinese) had the New Year in very early January. As is the culture of business operations in China, they take (a break of) two weeks before and two weeks after the Chinese New Year. You cannot expect any deal (during that period),” said the CRF president.
    “In February, the Chinese market has started to come back,” he remarked.
    During January, the Cambodian milled rice was shipped to 34 countries. Countries like the US, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Gabon purchased around 2,189 tons of rice valued at $2.53 million, according to a CRF stats.
    Among ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states, Malaysia and Singapore together bought 1,871 tons worth $1.09 million of milled rice from the Kingdom. Of this, import by Malaysia was 1,748 tons.
    In the first month of 2023, Cambodia earned $92 million in revenue from the export of milled rice and paddy. The Kingdom also exported around 252,714 tons of paddy to neighbouring countries, the rice federation said.
    According to the CRF, of all the rice varieties produced in the country, the premium aromatic rice (Malys Angkor) accounted for 22,810 tons of export in January, followed by Sen Kra Ob (9,359 tons), premium white rice (1,721 tons), parboiled rice (1,867 tons) and organic milled rice (1,144 tons).
    Cambodia, which has set a rice export target of 1 million tons in the coming years, in 2022 shipped 637,004 tons of milled rice to 59 international destinations and earned $414 million in revenue. The export of the commodity was 3.2 percent more than the 617,069 tons shipped in the previous year, according to CRF data.
    The country plans to earn revenue of around $800 million per year from the export of milled rice, and over $1 billion from value-added products made from rice.
    In an attempt to reach the 1 million tons export target, the country that aims to emerge as the “rice basket” will have to almost double the 2022 figure for the shipment of milled rice. On its part, the rice federation will encourage farmers to increase farm output, particularly of the fragrant rice that has higher market demand and fetches good prices.
    According to the CRF, the Cambodian government has sought to open new markets through free-trade agreements (FTAs), the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPA), and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with several countries.
    Exported milled rice varieties in 2022 included premium aromatic rice, fragrant rice, long grain white rice, parboiled rice, organic rice, and glutinous rice, said CRF, the government-recognised organisation.
    Agriculture, one of the key pillars of the Cambodian economy, contributed 24.4 percent to the gross domestic product in 2021, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

  • Kampong Thom rice paddy production up to 700,000 tonnes

  • Farmers harvest paddy in Kampong Thom province last year. AGRICULTURE MINISTRY

    Kampong Thom province has the capacity to produce 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes of paddy per annum, an amount that can ensure its food security and allows for exports of 500,000 tonnes per year, according to governor Nguon Rattanak.

    Rattanak was speaking at a press conference on the province’s achievements of the past five years, held at the Council of Ministers on February 14.

    He said that for the development of the agriculture sector, the province has been repairing the irrigation system, which supports both dry-season and wet-season paddy production.

    He said that dry-season rice in Kampong Thom has an area of cultivation of more than 60,000ha, but through current irrigation infrastructure such as reservoirs, main canals and sub-canals, the province can provide water security to paddy on only 25,000 ha.

    He explained that the province has four main water sources – Stung Stoung, Stung Sen, Stung Taing Krasang and Stung Chinit – and water management could improve the area under cultivation to increase it past the level provided by the state to plant dry-season rice on up to more than 60,000 ha.

    Rattanak said the government provided legal titles to land for the people who depend on it in the area around Tonle Sap Lake, and also partitioned it from forest areas and created other environmental buffer zones, so the cultivated area in Kampong Thom will increase further, making agricultural production in the province greater.

    He added that with the support project of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology in 2023, Kampong Thom will build two more dams to increase the amount of water available and support the expansion of cultivation. The two dams will be in the upper part of Dang Kambit commune of Sandan district and the lower part of Kampong Kor commune in Kampong Svay district.

    “The crop will grow in total amount with the physical infrastructure that will be available in the near future, both the transport infrastructure and the infrastructure supporting the water sector and with the land policy,” he said.

    Pen Vanrith, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the average paddy production in Kampong Thom is four tonnes per hectare, but in some areas, it can produce seven tonnes per hectare and in a few places up to nearly 10 tonnes per hectare. However, the paddy production depends on soil, seed, climate and maintenance factors.

    Vanrith said that in some countries such as China, farmers can produce nearly 15 tonnes per hectare, so by comparison Cambodia still has low production.

    He said the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is promoting production by selecting varieties of rice to plant and addressing technical and soil factors.

    “Today, in thinking about the land policy, we must consider what kind of land is right for which crops so that the farmer cultivates with the right soil and if the agriculture department pointed that out to them and they cultivated the right kind of crops, they can make a profit,” he said.

  • 4 years since rice tariffication: Farmers’ income per hectare shrank by 40%

  • MANILA, Philippines — A research and advocacy group has renewed the call to junk the Rice Liberalization Law, saying it has failed to deliver on the promise of boosting farmers' incomes and worsening the country's import dependency four years since it took effect.

    An analysis by IBON foundation published Tuesday found that rice farmers' net returns per hectare decreased by around 40% – or from P32,976 to P19,680 – after rice tarrification was implemented in 2019.

    "The effect is even worse when inflation is taken into account. When adjusted for 2018 prices, the real income rice farmers lost is worth P15,053,” the think tank said. “Not only did farmers lose money since rice liberalization, but their purchasing power also weakened as well.”

    IBON foundation scored the current government for its “lack of interest” in supporting local production of rice in the long run, which placed the country’s rice farmers at risk of “plunging further in the spiral of import dependence.”

    Rice watchdog Bantay Bigas also called for a repeal of Republic Act 11203, saying it pushed prices of unhusked rice to P7 per kilogram in Bicol in 2019 to 2020, which has now stagnated at P10 - P15 per kilogram on average. 

    Farmer Mila Lirio of Bantay Bigas said that rice farmers have yet to recover from the massive income loss brought by rising fuel prices, which drove up costs of pesticides, seeds and other farming necessities. 

    Rice-producing regions have also been ravaged by severe typhoons in the last three years, which lead to damaged rice fields and a drastic reduction in local rice harvests.

    "The price of rice has now reached P40 - P50 per kilogram. We still haven't seen the P20 per kilogram of rice that was promised by President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos, Jr. He’s now the secretary of the Department of Agriculture, but we still haven’t seen concrete solutions to our problems,' Lirio said in Filipino. 

    Bantay Bigas also estimated that rice farmers saw a drastic loss of income to a tune of P206 billion from the rice crisis and from imported rice.

    Marcos said on Wednesday that he will implement a program to promote the shift of rice production from conventional seeds to hybrid seeds to increase crop production, according to the Presidential Communications Office.

    The push for hybrid rice came after the chairman of SL Agritech Corporation, a private company engaged in the production of hybrid rice seeds, met with the president in Malacañang and proposed to convert 1.90 million hectares into areas with planted hybrid seeds in four years.

  • All-time high rice yield to take grain output to record 324MT

  • NEW DELHI: India is likely to produce nearly 324 million tonnes (MT) of foodgrains in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June), a new record and higher by around 8 MT (2.5%) than the output in the previous crop year.
    The increase is mainly backed by the all-time record production of the paddy (131 MT), wheat (112 MT) and pulses (28 MT). High-priority millets could not match the increased attention with bajra recording only marginal increase whereas jowar and ragi reported a decline.
    Millets output shows that the farmers continue to prefer paddy (rice) and wheat as current focus of procurement mainly on these two major crops make it an easy choice for them. Overall output of coarse/nutri cereals (53 MT), however, reported an increase in 2022-23 compared to previous year, mainly due to record output of maize and barley.
    Second advance estimates of production of major crops, released by the agriculture ministry on Tuesday, showed even record output of certain non-foodgrains including oilseeds and sugarcane. Among oilseeds, mustard recorded an increase of over 7% this year compared to 2021-22.


    Attributing the record output of foodgrains and oilseeds to "hard work of farmers, proficiency of scientists and farmer's friendly policies" of his government, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar hoped that there would be increase in production and use of coarse/nutri cereals in the coming years.
    "It is expected that more and more farmers may switch over to millets during upcoming kharif season, beginning June, as many states have lined up with incentives to them during the International Year of Millets 2023 in sync with the government's efforts to make India a global hub for millets," said an official in the ministry.
    The current assessment of production of different crops is based on the feedback received from states and validated with information available from other sources. "This assessment will undergo further revision over successive estimates based upon feedback received from the states, alternative sources and other factors," said the ministry which comes out with four estimates before releasing the final one for a particular crop year.

  • Climate change takes toll on traditional Ojibwe wild rice harvest

  • Extreme weather events, including droughts and heavy rain, are making it more difficult to carry out wild rice harvests in the Upper Midwest.

    Members of the Leech Lake Band of the Ojibwe Tribe harvesting wild rice on Minnesota's Mud Lake in September 2015. (Photo credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / public domain)

    For hundreds of years, Ojibwe people have harvested wild rice in the lakes and rivers of the Upper Midwest. They migrated there in search of a place — foretold by Anishinaabe prophecy — where food grows on water.

    “Wild rice is an aquatic grass, and so it grows in the water, and we harvest it with our canoes,” says Jerry Jondreau.

    Jondreau and his partner Katy Bresette own Dynamite Hill Farms. The Michigan-based business produces wild rice, maple sugar, and other traditional Ojibwe foods.

    Each fall, Jondreau travels to Minnesota to harvest rice. But last year, spring storms and floods damaged seed beds.

    “A lot of the tribes had actually closed all of their ricing lakes and rivers because it was so spotty,” he says.

    But the previous year, drought interfered with the harvest.

    “When there’s a severe drought going on, it’s really difficult to get the canoes into the lake or the waterways,” he says. “And then if you’re successful in getting the canoe in the waterway, your canoes bottom out.”

    As the climate warms, both increasingly severe droughts and more heavy rain are expected in the region.

    So it’s getting harder to maintain a tradition that has been central to Ojibwe culture for generations.

  • Envoy urges rice exporters to join in trade delegation to Ethiopia

  • * Ambassador also briefs REAP members on political, economic and security situation in Ethiopia and assures them of all-out facilitation in doing business in Ethiopia

    Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan H.E. Jemal Beker Abdula on Tuesday urged the Pakistani rice exporters to explore the Ethiopian market by joining in the five-day trade delegation flying to his country on March 05. “The rice exporters of Pakistan will get an opportunity to connect with the right people in Ethiopia by taking part in the trade delegation which includes subsidized airfares and accommodation at five-star hotel, visits to the industrial sites and above all meetings with the top leadership of his country,” he said during a meeting with the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) here. He said the Pakistani exporters could penetrate in the markets of Africa by investing in the agriculture sector and transferring their technology to Ethiopia. However, the REAP needed to develop a strategic framework to better compete with the other competitors which were selling the quality rice at affordable rates.

    The ambassador said the rice exporters could play their due role in boosting the exports of their country by exporting the edibles to the markets of East Africa. Pakistan and Ethiopia had signed a trade agreement today to formalize the trade between two countries, he added.

    The ambassador also briefed the REAP members on political, economic and security situation in Ethiopia and assured them of all-out facilitation in doing business in Ethiopia which had undergone a lot of transformation under the leadership of Prime Minister of Ethiopia H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed.

    He said the cost of production was cheap in Ethiopia which had been producing clean energy through water, solar and geo thermal sources. It was also a signatory of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement which enabled the manufacturers in Ethiopia to sell their products across the continent.

    There has been full investment protection guarantee in Ethiopia, he noted. REAP Senior Vice Chairman Haseeb Khan gave a detailed briefing to H.E. Jemal Beker on the exports potential of rice in Pakistan and said there was a strong appetite in exporters to explore other markets. He commended the efforts of Ambassador H.E. Jemal Beker for organizing the trade delegation to bring the two big nations more close. “I hope you will be able to achieve your target of increasing the bilateral trade between the two countries to $200 soon,” he added. At the end of meeting, the ambassador addressed to different queries of the exporters and highlighted the opportunities for the Pakistani businessmen in diverse sectors of economy including manufacturing, agriculture and agro processing, textile, fertilizer, chemicals and tourism.

  • First batch of Quang Tri organic rice exported to EU

  • The central province of Quang Tri shipped its first batch of 15 tonnes of organic rice to the European Union (EU) on February 13, at a price of 1,800 USD per tonne.

    The ceremony of exporting the first batch of organic rice from the central province of Quang Tri to the European Union. (Photo: VNA)

    Quang Tri (VNA) – The central province of Quang Tri shipped its first batch of 15 tonnes of organic rice to the European Union (EU) on February 13, at a price of 1,800 USD per tonne.

    This will be a motivation for businesses and farmers to focus on their production to meet organic rice-related requirements, thereby conquering other markets around the world, said Phan Thi Diem Loc, director of the exporter QTOrganic.

    In the coming time, the company is preparing to ship between 30 and 50 tonnes of the food of this kind to the European market every month.

    Since 2017, the company has implemented an organic rice farming model under value chains with a total area of 35 hectares and an output of about 340 tonnes per year.

    Addressing the ceremony, Ha Sy Dong, vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee said he hopes that in the coming time, QTOrganic will continue to expand its linkage with cooperatives and farmers, thereby increasing the value of organic rice and contributing to raising farmers' incomes./.

  • Discovery could lead to new fungicides to protect rice crops

  • A fungus that plagues rice crops worldwide gains entry to plant cells in a way that leaves it vulnerable to simple chemical blockers, a discovery that could lead to new fungicides to reduce the substantial annual losses of rice and other valuable cereals.

    Each year, blast disease, caused by the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae, attacks and kills plants that represent between 10% and 35% of the global rice crop, depending on weather conditions.

    University of California, Berkeley biochemists led by Michael Marletta, professor of chemistry and of molecular and cell biology, have discovered that the fungus secretes an enzyme that punches holes in the tough outer layer of rice leaves. Once inside, the fungus rapidly grows and inevitably kills the plant.

    In a paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Marletta and his colleagues describe the structure of the enzyme and how it works to help the fungus invade plants. Because the enzyme is secreted onto the surface of the rice leaf, a simple spray could be effective in destroying the enzyme's ability to digest the wall of the plant. The scientists are now screening chemicals to find ones that block the enzyme.

    "The estimates are that if you could knock out this fungus, you could feed 60 million more people in the world," said Marletta, the Choh Hao and Annie Li Chair in the Molecular Biology of Diseases at UC Berkeley. "This enzyme is a unique target. Our hope here is that we'll screen to find some unique chemicals and spin out a company to develop inhibitors for this enzyme."

    This target is one of a family of enzymes called polysaccharide monooxygenases (PMO) that Marletta and his UC Berkeley colleagues discovered a little over 10 years ago in another more widespread fungus, Neurospora. Polysaccharides are sugar polymers that include starch as well as the tough fibers that make plants sturdy, including cellulose and lignin. The PMO enzyme breaks cellulose into smaller pieces, making the polysaccharide susceptible to other enzymes, such as cellulases, and speeding up the breakdown of plant fibers.

    "There is an urgent need for more sustainable control strategies for rice blast disease, particularly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa," said Nicholas Talbot, who is Marletta's colleague and co-author, a plant disease expert and executive director of The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich in the United Kingdom. "Given the importance of the polysaccharide monooxygenase to plant infection, it may be a valuable target for developing new chemistries that could be applied at much lower doses than existing fungicides and with less potential environmental impact. It might also be a target for completely chemical-free approaches, too, such as gene silencing."

    Discovery could lead to new fungicides to protect rice crops
    Damage to rice leaves from rice blast disease. Credit: Nicholas Talbot, The Sainsbury Lab

    Marletta and UC Berkeley Ph.D students Will Beeson and Chris Phillips were originally interested in these enzymes because they degrade plant cellulose much more quickly than other previously described enzymes and thus had potential to turn biomass into sugar polymers that can be fermented more readily into biofuels. Fungi use PMOs to provide a source of food.

    He and UC Berkeley colleagues subsequently found hints that some fungal PMOs may do more than merely turn cellulose into food. These PMOs were turned on in the early stages of infection, implying that they're important in the infection process rather than providing food.

    That's what Marletta, Talbot and their colleagues found. Led by postdoctoral fellow Alejandra Martinez-D'Alto, the UC Berkeley scientists biochemically characterized this unique PMO, called MoPMO9A, while Talbot and UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow Xia Yan showed that knocking out the enzyme reduced infection in rice plants.

    Marletta and his UC Berkeley colleagues have found similar PMOs in fungi that attack grapes, tomatoes, lettuce and other major crops, which means the new findings may have broad application against plant fungal diseases.

    "It isn't just rice that small molecule inhibitors could be used against. They could be widely used against a variety of different crop pathogens," Marletta said. "I think the future for this, in terms of drug development for plant pathogens, is pretty exciting, which is why we are going to pursue both the fundamental science of it, like we always do, and try to put together pieces to spin it out as a company."

    Biofuels lead way to attacking fungal pathogen

    Marletta specializes in identifying and studying new and unusual enzymes in human cells. But 10 years ago, when people got excited about biofuels as a way to address climate change, he was awarded a grant from UC Berkeley's Energy Biosciences Institute to search for enzymes in other life forms that digest plant cellulose faster than the enzymes known at the time. The goal was to turn tough cellulose fibers into short-chain polysaccharides that yeast could ferment into fuel.

    Discovery could lead to new fungicides to protect rice crops
    A field in China damaged by rice blast disease. Credit: Nicholas Talbot, The Sainsbury Lab

    "I said to two of my first-year graduate students, Chris Phillips and Will Beeson, "You know, there's got to be organisms out there that eat cellulose fast,'" Marletta said. "Those are the ones we want to find, because we know the enzymes that eat it slow, and they're not particularly useful in a biotechnology sense because they're slow."

    Phillips and Beeson succeeded in finding fast-acting enzymes in a common fungus, Neurospora, which is among the first fungi to attack dead trees after a fire and does a quick job of digesting wood for nutrients. They isolated the enzyme responsible, the first known PMO, and described how it worked. Since then, Marletta's students have identified 16,000 varieties of PMO, most in fungi, but some in wood-eating bacteria. To date, these have had some success in speeding the production of biofuels as part of a cocktail of other enzymes, though they haven't made biofuels competitive with other fuels.

    But Marletta was intrigued by a small subset of these 16,000 varieties that seemed to do more than provide nutrition for fungi. MoPMO9A, in particular, had an amino acid segment that binds to chitin, a polysaccharide that forms the outer coat of fungi, but is not found in rice. And though all PMOs are secreted, MoPMO9A was secreted during the infectious cycle of the fungus.

    Studies subsequently showed that Magnaporthe concentrates MoPMO9A in a pressurized infection cell, called the appressorium, from which it is secreted onto the plant, with one portion of the enzyme binding to the outside of the fungus. The other end of the enzyme has a copper atom embedded in its center. When the fungus slaps the loose end of the enzyme onto the rice leaf, the copper atom catalyzes a reaction with oxygen to break cellulose fibers, helping the fungus breach the leaf surface and invade the entire leaf.

    "We were curious: 'Hey, why does this enzyme have a chitin-binding domain if it's supposed to be working on cellulose?'" said Marletta. "And that's when we thought, "Well, maybe it's secreted, but it sticks to the fungus. That way, when the fungus is sitting on the plant, it can have between it and the leaf the catalytic domain to punch the hole into the leaf.'"

    That proved to be the case. Marletta and Talbot are now testing other pathogens that produce PMOs to see if they use the same trick to enter and infect leaves. If so—Marletta is confident that they do—it opens avenues to attack them with a spray-on fungicide, as well.

    "The only place you find PMOs like this is in plant pathogens that have to gain access to their host. So, they're almost certainly going to be working the same way," Marletta said. "I think the scope of work to develop inhibitors to this particular PMO is going to be well beyond rice, even though that itself is pretty important. We're going to be able to use them in other important crop plants."

  • Kenyan rice farmers battle quelea birds in Kisumu

  • Rose Nekesa's rice field in western Kenya has been invaded by huge swarms of the voracious red-billed quelea bird.

    Thousands of farmers like her near the lakeside city of Kisumu fear they will reap their worst harvest in five years.

    "I'm losing my voice because I spend all day shouting, to chase the birds away. These birds are not afraid of anything," she tells the BBC, holding a huge lump of mud in one hand and a stick in the other.

    "They are already used to us and everything we throw at them."

    She pelts the birds with mud to scare them away from her crop. Her small, wiry frame often allows her to run across her paddy field as more swarms descend.

    "When there are no birds, I can work alone. Now, I need at least four people to work for me. It's very expensive. We are pleading with the government to intervene. This rice is the only source of income that we have."

    Farmer chasing the birds
    Image caption,Rose Nekesa tries to shoo the birds away with a stick in one hand and mud in the other

    Lawrence Odanga, another small-scale farmer, is also at the mercy of the world's most populous wild birds.

    "I can hear them. They are coming to destroy us," he shouts in his mother tongue, Dholuo.

    Even for the five people he has hired to protect every acre of his crop, chasing the birds away is an impossible task.

    Scarecrows, the occasional blaring of vuvuzelas and bird traps have all proved ineffective.

    "The birds have destroyed nearly all four acres of my farm. I won't earn anything. How will I take my children to school?"

    Sometimes referred to as "feathered locusts", queleas are considered as pests across East and Southern Africa.

    An average quelea bird can eat around 10g (0.35 oz) of grain a day. Not a huge amount, but as the flocks can number two million they can collectively consume as much as 20 tonnes of grain in 24 hours.

    Chemical spraying

    In 2021, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimated that $50m (£41m) worth of crops were lost to the birds annually, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

    The latest quelea invasion in Kisumu, amounting to some 10 million birds, has already decimated 300 acres of rice fields. According to the county government, another 2,000 acres are still at risk during the harvest season. caption,

    WATCH: Kenyan farmers battle the quelea birds

    Other parts of the country have been worse hit. Millions of the birds invaded wheat farms in the southern Narok county, destroying an estimated 40% of the harvest.

    The prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa, which has meant fewer seeds from wild grasses, a primary source of food for queleas, may be behind the invasion of cultivated land as the birds look for an alternative, some Kenyan scientists have suggested.

    Paul Gacheru, from the environmental organisation Nature Kenya, however argues that climate change-induced drought is not the main driver.

    He points the finger at land-use changes as "intensive farming and settlement means that we are losing space for natural vegetation to grow. The quelea species are adapting to the current land use".

    Increased cereal crop production throughout Africa may have also increased the quelea populations as there is a larger source of food for their super-nomadic populations.

    Added to this is the fact that the birds breed very fast - three times a year with as many as nine chicks - allowing for a huge explosion in the population.

    As mud, sticks and vuvuzelas have not worked to protect the crops, the authorities have turned to a mass cull through chemical spraying.

    Drone in the night sky
    Image caption,Drones are being used to spray the roosting grounds

    In 2019, the Kenyan government is thought to have killed eight million quelea which had invaded the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, the country's largest rice-growing project.

    Another two million were killed at Mwea in the same way last year.

    This year the authorities in Kisumu began an aerial control operation aimed at killing at least six million birds. Drones are used to target the birds' roosting grounds, where they rest and breed, with the pesticide fenthion.

    Ken Onyango, in charge of agriculture in Kisumu county, said the chemical spraying was the only way to save the rice fields at risk.

    'You can't kill everything'

    Fenthion is highly toxic to other species which are not the main target. As a result, environmental scientists and animal group activists are warning that the spraying will have severe consequences on the ecosystem, other plant and animal species, as well as human health.

    "The question is, how do you plan to coexist with the birds? Because you can't kill everything, so that human beings remain," argues Raphael Kapiyo, a professor of environment and earth science at Maseno University.

    "But more than that, we are saying the act of trying to control the birds with the chemicals is so dangerous."

    The professor wants more traditional, environmentally friendly methods - such as scaring or trapping and eating the birds - to be employed instead to contain the quelea.

    Chemical spraying, he feels, just offers an easy way out. The alternatives, though, are seen as expensive and time-consuming.

    Mr Onyango, who oversees the Kisumu spraying operation, says that the correct procedures were followed, and approved by the National Environment Management Authority.

    "We cannot be so careless to carry out anything that has any adverse environmental impact," he adds.

    Collins Marangu, director of crop protection services, acknowledges that killing the birds is not desirable but says it is necessary.

    "What we are doing is precision agriculture," he says.

    "We spray the roosting grounds at night, precisely where the birds are. After that, we collect and burn them." Two out of the three roosts have been sprayed.

    But whatever method is used, for the farmers affected the control measures have come too late as some of the crop has already been eaten. Harvests are down by more than a half.

    Those near Kisumu say that the queleas are still causing a problem.

    Rice farmer Rose Nekesa is bracing for the worst. She had hoped that she would harvest at least 50 bags of rice during the season. Now, she expects to gather only 30.

    "We just want the government to take these birds away," she says in desperation.

  • Basmati rice sales to grow 30% on high demand this fiscal: Report

  • Basmati rice sales are likely to increase 30 per cent to more than Rs 50,000 crore in the current fiscal, mainly due to high realisation and healthy demand, according to a report

    Basmati rice sales are likely to increase 30 per cent to more than Rs 50,000 crore in the current fiscal, mainly due to high realisation and healthy demand, according to a report.

    In the report on Thursday, Crisil Ratings said that next fiscal, however, sales will decline 5-7 per cent as basmati rice realisation is expected to soften with anticipated increase in paddy acreage.

    The volume demand is expected to remain stable at 6.8 million tonnes, it added.

    "Basmati sector sales will likely rise 30 per cent this fiscal, with volume growing 10 per cent and realisation increasing 20 per cent.

    "Growth in export volume is driven by two factors -- increased food grain demand amid geo-political issues, and India benefiting from lower basmati exports from flood-affected Pakistan, a key basmati exporter. Next fiscal, sector sales will reduce by 5-7 per cent solely due to moderating prices," Crisil Ratings Director Nitin Kansal said.

    Basmati rice exports, comprising 64 per cent of sales by volume, are estimated to log a healthy growth of 11 per cent on-year this fiscal to 4.4 million tonnes following strong demand from key markets like the Middle East and the US, as per the report.

    India has already exported 3.19 million tonnes (growth of 16 per cent year- on-year) of basmati rice in the first nine months of this fiscal.

    The report said the improved operating profitability will, in turn, result in higher cash accrual, which will improve the financial risk profiles of basmati players.

    "Though absence of capex will limit basmati players' requirement of external long-term funds, their working capital borrowings will rise as paddy procurement will increase this fiscal to meet increased demand.

    "However, increased cash flows from business will control the overall leverage of the players, keeping credit profiles stable," Crisil Ratings Team Leader Rachna Anand said.

    (Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



    (Repeats with no changes to text)


    New supplies in March could impact prices - Thai trader


    Vietnam rice exports down over 17% in January


    Rice prices stay elevated in Bangladesh despite good crops

    By Rahul Paswan

    Feb 10 (Reuters) - Indian rice export prices extended their rally to a near two-year high on strong buying, while Thai rates fell for the second straight week due to a weaker baht and lower demand.

    Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted at $395 to $402 per tonne this week, up from last week's $393-$398.

    "Indian prices are going up but still buyers are making purchases for March and April shipments," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house.

    Thailand's 5% broken rice prices <RI-THBKN5-P1> were at $480 -$490 per tonne on Thursday, down from $495 per tonne last week.

    "Despite the weakening of the prices due to the exchange rate, demand remains weak because exporters sees the current prices as high," a Bangkok-based rice trader said.

    Another trader said supply has also decreased, helping maintain the current level of prices.

    A Bangkok-based trader said prices could change once new supplies enter the market at the beginning of March.

    High cost of freighters also contributed to muted supply and the rise in rice prices, another trader said.

    In Vietnam, 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> was offered at $455-$460 per tonne on Thursday, up from a range of $445-$450 per tonne a week ago.

    "Traders are resuming their rice purchases from farmers to prepare for new contracts, following the holiday," a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said.

    Vietnam's rice exports in January fell 17.3% from the previous month to 359,310 tonnes, customs data showed.

    "Supplies remain low as the winter-spring harvest won't peak until next month," said a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City.

    In Bangladesh, domestic rice prices stayed elevated despite a good harvest, which officials blamed on hoarding by dishonest traders. The government is also importing rice while private importers have been given permission to import rice. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

  • Central Region takes delivery of 2.5MT high-quality rice seeds from KOICA

  • The Central Regional Coordinating Council (CRCC), on Wednesday, took delivery of 2,500 kg (2.5MT) of high-quality rice seeds to boost the Region’s rice revolution drive.

    The gesture formed part of the $8million intervention by the Korea International Corporation Agency (KOICA) under its Rice Value Chain Support Programme (RVCSP) for farmers.

    The KOICA in June 2021 launched its RVCSP, now being implemented in five beneficiary districts in the Region; Gomoa East, Assin Fosu, Assin North, Assin South, and Twifo Atti-Morkwa.

    The project seeks to improve the quality of life of rural farmers in the Region through increased rice production and income of farmers.

    It is also aimed at leveraging the capacities deployed by the KOICA rice value chain interventions with machinery and equipment, knowledge, and skills training programmes to increase output.

    Dubbed: “Central Region Movement for Planting for One More Square Meter of Rice for the Next generation,” the move had been spearheaded by CRCC and the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies.

    Addressing beneficiary farmers at a brief presentation ceremony, Mr Moon Heon Kong, the Country Director of KOICA, said the RVCSP had a broader goal of increasing rice value addition among farmers in the beneficiary districts of the Region.

    He commended Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, the Regional Minister, for her commitment and support to making the Region the hub of quality rice production. He said rice had become an important staple on the Ghanaian menu to the extent
    that its value was far beyond what it had traditionally been known for.

    Aside from the nutritional value, he said, the initiative buttressed the policy of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to attain the country’s estimated self-sufficiency in rice production by 2023/2024.

    “The estimated USD500 million used to import rice into the Ghanaian market can significantly reduce with initiatives such as the “Central Region Movement for Planting One More Square Meter of Rice for the Next Generation.

    “This is a progressive initiative that will eventually help preserve the country’s hard-earned forex, help create jobs with improved livelihoods around the value chain activities, contribute to local economic development, and many other benefits,” the Country Director of KOICA said.

    For her part, Mrs Assan said the region had the potential to produce enough rice to feed the country and boost the economy and livelihoods of farmers.

    She said the Region had strategized to become the fulcrum of rice production and rice seedlings for rice farmers in the country.

    “Undoubtedly, the region has the capacity and prospects to produce rice to meet local demand and for export and I encourage you all to support,” she added.

  • Asia rice: India rates at near 2-year high on firm demand

  • MUMBAI/HANOI /BANGKOK/DHAKA: Indian rice export prices extended their rally to a near two-year high on strong buying, while Thai rates fell for the second straight week due to a weaker baht and lower demand. Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $395 to $402 per tonne this week, up from last week’s $393-$398.

    “Indian prices are going up but still buyers are making purchases for March and April shipments,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were at $480 -$490 per tonne on Thursday, down from $495 per tonne last week. “Despite the weakening of the prices due to the exchange rate, demand remains weak because exporters see the current prices as high,” a Bangkok-based rice trader said. Another trader said supply has also decreased, helping maintain the current level of prices.

    A Bangkok-based trader said prices could change once new supplies enter the market at the beginning of March. High cost of freighters also contributed to muted supply and the rise in rice prices, another trader said. In Vietnam, 5% broken rice was offered at $455-$460 per tonne on Thursday, up from a range of $445-$450 per tonne a week ago. “Traders are resuming their rice purchases from farmers to prepare for new contracts, following the holiday,” a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said. Vietnam’s rice exports in January fell 17.3% from the previous month to 359,310 tonnes, customs data showed. “Supplies remain low as the winter-spring harvest won’t peak until next month,” said a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City.

    In Bangladesh, domestic rice prices stayed elevated despite a good harvest, which officials blamed on hoarding by dishonest traders. The government is also importing rice while private importers have been given permission to import rice.

  • Basmati rice sales to cross Rs 50,000 crore this fiscal, says Crisil

  • According to the ratings agency, exports, comprising 64% of basmati sales by volume, are estimated to log a healthy growth of ~11% on-year this fiscal to ~4.4 million tonne, riding on strong demand from key markets such as the Middle East and the US.

    A combination of high realisation and healthy demand will help the basmati rice sector log strong sales growth of over 30% on-year to more than Rs 50,000 crore in fiscal 2023, its highest ever, said Crisil in a media release.

    It added: "Next fiscal, however, sales will decline by 5-7% as basmati rice realisation is expected to soften with anticipated increase in paddy acreage, leading to higher supply. The volume demand is expected to remain stable at ~6.8 million tonne. Higher realisation, compared with increase in raw material prices, will also improve operating profitability by 100-125 basis points (bps) this fiscal, while the absence of capex and increased cash accrual will keep credit risk profiles stable.

    According to the ratings agency, exports, comprising 64% of basmati sales by volume, are estimated to log a healthy growth of ~11% on-year this fiscal to ~4.4 million tonne, riding on strong demand from key markets such as the Middle East and the US. India has already exported 3.19 million tonne (growth of 16% on-year) of basmati rice in the first nine months of this fiscal.

    "Domestic demand, on the other hand, should log 8-9% volume growth to 2.4 million tonne, riding on higher demand from the hotel, restaurant, and café segment, which is expected to fare better this fiscal on account of increased social gatherings as the pandemic tapers. Household demand is expected to remain stable," said the report.

    Nitin Kansal, Director, CRISIL Ratings said, “Basmati sector sales will likely rise ~30% this fiscal, with volume growing 10% and realisation increasing ~20%. Growth in export volume is driven by two factors: increased food grain demand amid geo-political issues, and India benefitting from lower basmati exports from flood-affected Pakistan, a key basmati exporter. Next fiscal, sector sales will reduce by 5-7% solely due to moderating prices.” Increase in the prices of paddy (key raw material) by about 18% in fiscal 2023 will add a percentage point to operating profitability, which will stabilise at ~7%. Profitability will remain at a similar level next fiscal as paddy prices are expected to fall. The improved operating profitability will, in turn, result in higher cash accrual, which will improve the financial risk profiles of basmati players, though they will likely utilise the entire cash accrual to fund increased working capital requirement in the current fiscal."

    Rachna Anand, Team Leader, CRISIL Ratings said, “Though absence of capex will limit the CRISIL rated basmati players’ requirement of external long-term funds, their working capital borrowings will rise as paddy procurement will increase this fiscal to meet increased demand. However, increased cash flows from business will control the overall leverage of the players, keeping credit profiles stable.” Looking ahead, working capital management, monsoon intensity, and the next crop harvest will bear watching.

  • Basmati exports increase as Iran, Saudi, UAE make 50% of total shipments

  • Exports increased 17% to 3.2 million tonnes in April-December; unit value realisation up 40%

    The shipments of basmati rice increased to 3.2 million tonnes (mt) in April–December of the current fiscal from 2.74 mt in the year-ago period | Photo Credit: KSL

    India’s basmati rice exports surged 17 per cent in volume during the first three quarters of the current fiscal, while exporters are earning at least 20 per cent more on average in overseas markets as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE together bought half of India’s total shipments of the aromatic rice.

    According to the latest data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the shipments of basmati rice increased to 3.2 million tonnes (mt) in April–December of the current fiscal from 2.74 mt in the year-ago period. However, in terms of value, the surge was 40 per cent to $3.34 billion from $2.38 billion. Due to the depreciating rupee, the growth is even higher – 50.5 per cent - in Indian currency, at ₹26,591 crore against ₹17,664 crore. In fact, export realisation in basmati rice increased to $1,044 per tonne this fiscal from $868 per tonne a year ago.

    Win-win for all

    Prices did not increase from the average received ($1,057) in April-September, contrary to what was expected, an official said. Though traders and exporters paid record-high prices for basmati paddy this year anticipating a huge jump, it is a win-win for all stakeholders—farmers, exporters, and consumers—the official said.

    Recalling the 2013-14 price spiral in basmati, an industry official said exports may not rise that high over the next two months as contracts are happening at an average of $1,100-1,200/tonne, though some are getting premiums and selling at $1,350 for limited quantities.

    In 2013–14, India exported 3.76 mt of basmati worth $4.87 billion, a record high in value terms, realising an average of $1,295 per tonne. “That was an exceptional year as Iran had bought nearly 1.5 mt of basmati from India whereas the traditional top buyer Saudi Arabia imported around 0.8 mt,” said an industry veteran who has been tracking basmati prices for the last two decades.

    “The problems in Pakistan is redefining the basmati market in addition to India’s demand and supply. We are in the twilight zone,” said foreign trade policy expert S Chandrasekaran, who is also the author of a book on Basmati GI.

    Normally, prices drop on higher supplies, but in the case of basmati, paddy prices witnessed an increase in October as high as 19 per cent at ₹3,322/quintal in Haryana and then topped ₹4,000/quintal.



    HANOI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Vietnam's rice exports in January fell 17.3% from the previous month to 359,310 tonnes, government customs data showed on Thursday.

    Rice shipments from Vietnam were valued at $186.6 million in the month, down 15.3% against December last year, it said. (Reporting by Phuong Nguyen Editing by Ed Davies)

    © Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023. Click For Restrictions -

  • Uncertainty boosts Vietnam’s rice prices in global markets

  • Hanoi, Feb 9 (Prensa Latina) The economic and political uncertainties being faced by the world have benefited Vietnam's rice prices, which have reached their highest level in the last two years, sources from the sector reported in this capital.

    Anxiety has pushed many countries to increase imports to grow their rice reserves, with the consequent increase in its value in the international market, Do Ha Nam, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), said.

    According to the official, quoted by The Voice of Vietnam, until February 5, Vietnam’s rice price had risen by 15 dollars per ton since late January, when 5-percent broken rice was traded at 473 dollars per ton and 25-percent broken rice was sold at around 453 dollars per ton.

    In mid-January, the VFA itself predicted that domestic rice exporters would have a clear advantage this year, thanks to high prices and the enormous demand for rice worldwide.

    Many companies have already received orders until April or even the third quarter of this year, Ha Nam informed at the time, noting that thanks to high-quality jasmine rice, the country has seen rapid growth in demanding markets such as the United States and the European Union.

  • China’s rice farming trials cut methane emissions and increase yields

  • Techniques that use less water, produce more rice and emit less methane are gaining traction in China

    In a mountain village in south-west China, the local people are playing a guessing game. A new climate-friendly way of growing rice is being trialled here that will reduce methane emissions. So, what’s the difference in yield between it and the conventional method?

    Shortly after the guesses are in, the findings are revealed: the new approach can increase yields by about 20%.

    Although it seems far removed, the rice cultivation in this village is connected to a joint statement made by China and the US at the COP26 UN climate conference in 2021. In it, China said that by COP27, which was held in November 2022, it would produce a “comprehensive and ambitious national action plan on methane”, to achieve significant results in controlling and reducing emissions by 2030.

    The full text of that plan is not yet available. But during COP27, China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said the text has been written, and that it focusses on three areas: energy and natural gas; agriculture; and waste handling.

    Reducing methane emissions is an urgent problem and is viewed as essential to keeping the global average temperature increase below 1.5C. Methane has 86 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timescale, according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). While the International Energy Agency has said methane accounts for 30% of global warming since the industrial revolution.

    Methane remains in the atmosphere for about a decade, so rapid emission cuts could quickly reduce its contribution to global warming, winning some valuable time to avoid disastrous warming. This is the goal of the Global Methane Pledge, an initiative to voluntarily reduce global methane emissions at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030, which is currently endorsed by 150 countries. China has not joined the initiative, but as the world’s biggest emitter of methane – accounting for 14.3% of global emissions – its actions, together with other major emitters, will be crucial.

    In China, unlike other industrialised countries, paddy field rice farming is a significant source of the gas, accounting for 16% of human-caused methane.

    Last year, the government published policy guidance on cutting methane from rice farming, while new planting methods and technologies are being tested in the field. However, as we shall see, the small profits available from small-scale rice farming in the south of China pose problems for promoting climate-friendly techniques.

    Meanwhile, the centre of rice farming has been shifting northwards, where less water-intensive techniques are producing less methane. In parts of China’s vast expanses of paddy fields, methane emissions are quietly falling.

    Why does paddy farming produce methane?

    The microorganisms that produce methane are some of the most ancient forms of life. Known as “methanogens” they are widely found in oxygen-poor environments such as lakebed silt, animal intestines and flooded paddy fields.

    Rice can grow in dry ground, but farmers found when domesticating the plant that it also grows well in flooded fields, while the weeds it competes with do not. Paddy field farming therefore developed and has remained largely unchanged for millennia.

    The water in paddy fields acts as a barrier between the air and soil, creating the ideal oxygen-poor environment for methanogens, while organic matter excreted by the rice’s root systems provide nutrition. Those ancient organisms thrive in the water-logged soil, emitting methane as they do so.

    China is the world’s largest rice producer, utilising 30 million hectares of land for rice farming in 2021, and producing a harvest of 210 million tonnes, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Rice is the staple food for 65% of China’s population. The country has 20% of the world’s paddy fields and produces 29% of the rice, according to a paper published in 2018 in the Chinese Journal of Eco-Agriculture.

    But those paddy fields are Chinese agriculture’s biggest source of methane emissions. According to the government’s Second Biennial Update Report on Climate Change (2018), China emitted 55.3 million tonnes of methane in 2014, with 22.2 million tonnes of that coming from agriculture. Paddy field rice farming accounted for 8.9 million tonnes, or 40% of all agricultural emissions. Research has found that paddy fields in China produce 29% of global paddy field methane emissions.

    Cutting methane emissions from rice farming

    In June 2022, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and the National Development and Reform Commission, published plans for emissions reduction and carbon sequestration in rural areas and the agricultural sector. Paddy field methane reduction was listed as the first of ten priorities in that document, with plans to “promote water-saving rice irrigation where suitable, improve efficiency of water use, and reduce production of methane.”

    The best-established method of cutting methane from rice farming is to shift away from traditional flooded-field methods. As the organisms that produce methane can only survive in oxygen-poor environments, letting the soil dry out regularly – exposing it to the air – reduces emissions.

    The System of Rice Intensification, which originated in Madagascar in 1981, does this through the use of shallow and intermittent irrigation or alternate wetting and drying. Research has found these techniques can reduce methane emissions from rice growing by 22–64%.

    SRI is widely used across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Alongside the environmental benefits, it increases yields and so farmers’ incomes.

    But one team working on paddy field methane emissions says SRI isn’t practical for local farmers in China’s south-west. A team member, who preferred to remain anonymous, told China Dialogue: “We haven’t promoted the method as we found the farmers very confused about when they should and shouldn’t flood the fields. In the mountains of the south-west, paddy fields are left flooded year-round, and always have been. This means the fields continue to emit methane over the winter, even though nothing is growing.”

    They explained that as the different farmers’ paddy fields are all connected, one farmer adding or removing water affects others, making things more complex.

    To accommodate these millennia old practices, the research team has opted for another approach known as furrow flooding. This involves piling up earth into ridges and planting crops on top of them. The furrows between the ridges are then flooded.

    Irrigation in winter croplands in Argentina

    ”Furrow flooding” can save a lot of water compared to fully flooding fields. In this photograph, it is being employed in San Juan, Argentina (Image: Eduardo Pucheta / Alamy)

    “There are clear advantages to furrow flooding,” said the researcher. “The Institute of Soil Science at the Chinese Academy of Sciences found reductions of 60–80% in methane emissions. Managing water levels is easier, as water can be left in the furrows year-round. This saves the farmers a lot of work.”

    Elsewhere, other approaches are being tried. In the township of Xitang in Jiashang county, Zhejiang, the China National Rice Research Institute and Alibaba Cloud have built a “smart” farming system as part of a 400 mu (27 hectare) low-carbon farming project.

    According to the National Business Daily, the project uses Alibaba’s cloud computing tech and the Internet of Things to connect monitoring instruments with irrigation equipment and automated machinery, allowing more efficient, targeted management. For example, water level sensors are linked to valves that add or remove water from the field as necessary.

    Calculations by the institute say the smarter techniques cut water use by 30–50% and methane emissions by 30% or more.

    Challenges in popularising the new techniques

    Rice farming in the south has been gradually shrinking as people move to the cities. In Hunan, for example, production was 27.6 million tonnes in 2015 and 26.8 million tonnes by 2021. China’s rice production has not been falling overall, however. Production has been shifting to the north. In Heilongjiang, 27.2 million tonnes were produced in 2015, and 29.1 million tonnes in 2021, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

    China has seen 40 years of rapid economic growth, creating many jobs and attracting hundreds of millions of people from the countryside to the cities. In the densely populated south, the remaining farmers tend to work only small patches of land. This makes it harder to achieve economies of scale. It is generally possible to make much more money in the cities. Fewer people are willing stay home and grow rice.

    I’ve realised the biggest problem is that the villages are empty and nobody is planting rice

    That presents another problem for the team trying to encourage furrow flooding in the south: “When we go into villages to try and talk about rice farming techniques, nobody is interested. A major problem for us is that resistance is in fact a resistance to the idea of rice farming.”

    Although furrow flooding can reduce methane and increase yields, the changes aren’t big enough to tempt anyone to quit the factory job and come home to change existing techniques.

    “Since joining the team, I’ve realised the biggest problem is that the villages are empty and nobody is planting rice,” said the researcher, who did not wish to be named. “Paddy field rice farming is very tough work and you don’t earn much. Two crops a year on a mu of land earn about 600 yuan (US$89). Why would you do that instead of working in a factory? Our method offers more stable, or even better, harvests. But the difference between 600 and 800 yuan isn’t significant. In some places in Hunan, they’re offering 600 yuan subsidies per mu of rice farming, doubling income, and still nobody is interested. Guangdong’s so close, who wouldn’t choose to work there?”

    The team has found that to promote low-methane techniques should involve more than talking to villagers about how to grow rice. How to improve overall economic returns from farmland is the key. They’re investigating involving other more profitable crops too.

    “We’re looking at using no-till cover techniques and planting other crops after harvesting [the rice] to add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil. That will increase soil fertility and reduce the need for fertiliser the following year, improving the harvest and reducing costs. We’re looking at a few ways of doing this, including no-till cover planting of broad beans, to see which is most profitable,” the team member said.

    Potential for emissions cuts at scale

    While rice farming in the south might be shrinking, things are different in the north-east, where there is more arable land per person and higher levels of mechanisation in agriculture. The province of Heilongjiang in particular, with its expanses of dark fertile soil, is becoming a new centre of rice production. Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show the province grew more rice than any other in 2021 – 2.3 million tonnes more than second-place Hunan.

    Rice growing in coastal provinces in the southeast like Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang has been shrinking since the early 1980s, according to a paper by Liu Guozhen, Li Zhengguo and others from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences’ Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning. Growth, meanwhile, has been mainly in Jilin and Heilongjiang in the north-east.

    That shift north has meant changes in techniques. According to news agency Xinhua, Heilongjiang has been researching water-saving methods of rice growing since 2004, with water use reduced by 30–40% and yields up 5–10%. In 2012, that “dry-cultivation” method was used across 4 million mu. That expanded to 30 million mu in 2018, a sevenfold increase over eight years and more than half the area of flooded-field rice growing in the province.

    Rice paddy in Heilongjiang, China

    A rice-growing demonstration park in Heilongjiang, north-east China, employing a method to save water and emissions (Image: Zhang Tao / Alamy)

    The expansion was due to a combination of government support and significant cost reductions with the new method. One rice farmer, who has 400 mu of land in the Heilongjiang city of Hulin, said in an interview with that he had seen costs per mu fall by over 200 yuan, as well as savings on time, labour and water.

    The changes rolled out in Heilongjiang have also reduced methane emissions. Research has found the dry-cultivation technique cuts production of methane by over 30%.

    But while rice production has been shifting north, paddy fields in the south still produce most of China’s rice. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, only two northern provinces made it into the top ten rice growers for 2021. The other eight were all in the south and they grew 138 million tonnes of rice, about 65% of the total.

    As all provinces have been told by the central government to maintain certain levels of arable land and grain production, there is little chance of a wholesale shift of rice growing to the north in this coming decade – a decade which is crucial for tackling climate change. There is still a lot of scope for climate-friendly techniques to be applied in the paddy fields of the south.

    Some experts argue that increased “land transfers” – meaning long-term leases – could help reduce methane emissions from rice cultivation, while warning that smallholders’ land contract rights must be maintained to protect equity. If such transfers were made easier, then an increase in income of only 200 yuan per mu from dry-cultivation would be significant. On a 400 mu farm like that in Hulin, it would be 80,000 yuan per harvest, potentially more with government subsidies. This could increase the likelihood of people leaving factory jobs to implement the new techniques.

    There is a parallel to be drawn with fertiliser reduction. In China, larger farms use less fertiliser per unit area, according to a joint study by China Agricultural, Zhejiang and Virginia universities.

    The researchers found smallholder farms (less than 0.5 hectares on average) use machinery less and physical labour more, which hampers precise and science-based use of fertilisers. And as smallholder farmers can make more money working in the cities, they are less reliant on their farming income than larger professional farmers (with 30 hectare or more, on average). This makes the latter group more sensitive to changes in fertiliser costs and keener to reduce usage. But 98% of China’s cropland is farmed by smallholders. This led the researchers to recommend policymakers look at systems to facilitate “land transfers” and not just fertiliser application technology.

    Chen Mei’an, programme director with the consultancy Innovative Green Development Program (iGDP), studies climate change issues in China. She told China Dialogue: “Farm size is a very important factor. China has smallholder agriculture, but applying better emissions tech costs money, whether it’s in fertiliser use or methane reduction, and that discourages smaller scale farmers. When you have larger farms, you get economies of scale and the costs are spread more thinly. Land transfers and leases would help achieve that.”

  • Rice farmers urged to follow strict safety process to protect export markets

  • Guyana risks losing its largest international buyer of rice if farmers do not follow strict safety limits on agrochemicals (pesticides), Plant Pathologist Dr Rajendra Persaud has warned.

    Amid concerns of pesticide residue in rice and other exported food products, the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) has once again advised farmers to comply with the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL).

    The European Union (EU) is currently Guyana’s largest export market for rice with 46 per cent of it being sold to EU countries in 2022.

    But on the heels of a recent refusal to purchase because of pesticide residue, Dr Persaud has reiterated the importance of farmers’ compliance to maintain this relationship.

    “The EU has put in place MRL for over 50,000 different pesticides. Basically, it’s a safeguard mechanism for us to restrict or have a restriction in terms of the usage of the imidacloprid pronto so that we can protect one of our largest rice markets.

    Plant Pathologist attached at the GRDB, Dr Rajendra Persaud (Photo: Stabroek News)

    “This the sensitization programme began because only recently we had a shipment of rice went to the EU and those rice were rejected because of high MRL,” Dr Persaud said.

    The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) recently conducted a study of paddy bugs to reduce their impact on rice cultivation here. This was to secure the country’s rice export markets, preserve the ecosystem, and aid in food security.

    The GRBD recommended some pesticides that show low residue. Dr Persaud said the GRBD has found that some pesticides, which have higher residue, are picked up by the EU.

    Dr Persaud indicated that the rice industry could face severe consequences if farmers fail to comply.

    “Farmers failing to comply or adhering to this advisory or the restrictive use of the imidacloprid can seriously jeopardise the European market and secondly if that market shuts off, you know what could happen to the rice industry,” Dr Persaud warned.

    He said there are farmers who are more open to the changes and some who stick with the old technology. The GRBD has compiled a list of insecticides that can be used based on the 2022 trials and some of which are recommended for a rotation schedule.

    But Dr Persaud suggests that farmers use these insecticides early, or when the first paddy bugs are observed, in order to avoid a large infestation.

    According to the EU, in 2020, samples randomly collected from 12 food products, including brown rice, were found with pesticide residue.

    But with the use of insecticide, pesticide residue or the trace of pesticide compound remains on the crop, water, soil, and air. This can pose serious constrain to a person’s health and the environment.

    However, the GRDB has said a National Monitoring and Surveillance Strategy was established here. It is also evaluating new insecticides, which are being recommended.


  • The USDA is projecting higher U.S. cotton and rice ending stocks.

    Rice ending stocks for the current marketing year are now seen at 33.1 million hundredweight, 1 million more than in January, with a cut in exports mostly canceling out a lower import guess. The average farm price is estimated at $19.40 per hundredweight, $.20 above a month ago.

    Cotton ending stocks are pegged at 4.3 million bales, 100,000 higher than last month because of slower demand by domestic mills. The average farm price is estimated at $.83 per pound, unchanged on the month.

    Globally, rice ending stocks were nearly unchanged, production was slightly higher, and exports modestly lower, while cotton ending stocks were down on a smaller production guess, but with declines for exports and domestic use.

    The new marketing year for cotton and rice starts August 1st.

    The USDA’s next set of supply and demand estimates is out March 8th.

  • Philippines rice trade opens up

  • Workers move rice sacks to a conveyer at the AMRU rice processing factory in Kouk Roka commune’s Tropaing Por village of the capital’s Prek Pnov district. Heng Chivoan

    Officials from the Ministry of Commerce said they are working with their Philippines counterparts to finalise a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on rice trade, following their February 1-3 official visit to the archipelagic country along with a delegation of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF).

    According to a ministry statement, the visit was aimed at expanding rice exports. During their tour, the Cambodian delegation met with Philippine Minister of Commerce Alfredo Pascual and Emmie Liza Perez-Chiong, president of the state-run Philippine International Trading Corporation, among other stakeholders.

    They also discussed import mechanisms and pricing with several Filipino rice importers, who expressed interest in importing high-quality Cambodian rice.

    “The Philippines is prepared to open a direct rice trade with the Kingdom, provided we can agree on the terms, including quantity, quality and price,” said the ministry.

    CRF president Chan Sokheang said the Philippines is not only a rice producer, but one of the largest importers in Asia. In 2022, the country imported 3.82 million tonnes, mostly of plain white rice.

    He added that initially, the CRF envisioned a market share of about 100,000 tonnes. In the past two years, the Kingdom has exported only around 100 tonnes to the Philippines. Its rice market, however, is very competitive so the CRF is exploring ways to reduce shipping costs.

    “We are looking at the possibility of exporting as many as 100,000 thousand tonnes this year, but this will depend on whether competitive pricing can be guaranteed. Even Thailand exports very little rice to the Philippines, as the margins are so slender,” he continued.

    He said the federation has the support of the government to control transport costs, so now is the ideal time to begin looking into the Philippine market.

    According to Sokheang, the federation will hold an internal meeting to discuss the new market with his members and determine the best way to export the first 100,000 tonnes.

    Song Saran, CEO and founder of Amru Rice – the leading producer and exporter of organic rice in the Kingdom – said the opportunity to expand into the Philippines is an excellent one for Cambodian exporters.

    He said he was aware that the Philippines is a large market, but he wanted to receive more details about the proposal and whether sufficient funds for rice storage during the harvest season would be made available.

    “We have never exported to the Philippine market. I am pleased that the commerce ministry and CRF are exploring this option on behalf of the hardworking Cambodian farmers,” said Saran.

    “The Philippines is one of the largest rice markets in ASEAN, and we produce a lot of rice here in Cambodia. My company buys direct from farmers, so I think we are likely to be competitive in this exciting new market,” he continued.

    The commerce ministry said that in late February or early March, at the invitation of the CRF, Philippine rice importers will visit Cambodian rice mills to meet the producers directly. This will build their relationships and improve trust, it said.

    “The visit is scheduled to take place during the first round of the dry-season rice harvest and may lead to the signing of a purchase contract,” it added.

  • Researchers Elevate Health Benefits Found in Rice with New Technologies

  • A team of researchers from the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC) in New Orleans, La. are working to provide the world with more healthful rice. As one of the primary staples for half of the globe, the team is developing new technologies to make rice a more valuable commodity, according to a release.

    “We’re interested in processing treatments that enhance resistant starch and other bioactive components,” said Stephen Boue, a research chemist in SRRC’s Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research unit. “We’re also using whole grain sprouts from rice to develop unique functional foods, like rice beverages and enhanced rice flour as a cooking ingredient.”

    Bioactive compounds including lycopene, lignan and tannin have the potential to promote good health. Studies are in the works to uncover their role in combating diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

    One new advancement is a rice variety that contains 8-10% resistant starch. Cooked rice usually has one to two percent starch that resists digesting, making the newer varieties more beneficial to human health.

    “Resistant starch has many health benefits, like the prevention of diabetes, fat loss, better insulin resistance and reduced risk of colorectal cancer,” explained Boue.

    In addition to its health benefits, the new variety brings color to plates across the globe.

    “Red and purple whole grain rice offer U.S. consumers more colorful and healthy options to put on their plates,” added Boue. “They provide some of the same antioxidants as fruits, like grapes and blueberries. Additionally, the food industry can use these new rice varieties to make novel foods, particularly snack foods.”

    SRRC sensory scientist Ryan Ardoin developed one of the new products: a rice-based horchata. While horchata made with white rice can currently be found on the shelves of grocery stores, Ardoin is taking a different spin on the traditional drink by using sprouted rice to enhance the health benefits. The next beverage in the pipeline for Ardoin is a version of iced tea created by cold-brewing purple rice bran.

    “I’m excited about exposing consumers to the new colors, flavors, and products from rice and helping to change their perceptions about rice from ‘just a starch’ to ‘something healthy,’” concluded Boue.

  • Chaman Lal Setia Exports zooms 17% on strong Q3 operational performance

  • EBITDA margin increased by 430 bps to 14.5 per cent compared to 10.2 per cent last year on account of superior realisation and moderation in the freight cost.

    Shares of Chaman Lal Setia Exports (CLSEL) zoomed 17 per cent to Rs 155.2, hitting multi-year high on the BSE in Monday’s intra-day trade in an otherwise weak market, after the company reported a strong operational performance in December quarter (Q3FY23).

    The stock surpassed its previous high of Rs 145.75 touched on January 19, 2023. It traded at its highest level since May 2018. At 11:48 AM, CLSEL was up 15 per cent at Rs 152 as compared to a 0.69 per cent decline in the S&P BSE Sensex. The average trading volumes on the counter jumped over 10-fold today. A combined 1.42 million equity shares, representing 2.75 per cent of total equity of the company, had changed hands on the NSE and BSE.

    For Q3FY23, earnings before interest, depreciation, tax and amortization (EBIDTA) was up 130 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs 51 crore, supported by moderation in freight expenses and the company’s efforts towards operational efficiency. EBITDA margin increased by 430 bps to 14.5 per cent compared to 10.2 per cent last year on account of superior realisation and moderation in the freight cost.

    Revenue was up by 62 per cent YoY to Rs 354 crore for Q3FY23 due to market share expansion in key geographies and further strengthening of distribution network. Consequently, the net profit also increased by 134 per cent YoY to Rs 37.5 crore in Q3FY23 compared to Rs 16.0 crore in Q3FY22.

    For Q3FY23, the export volume grew by 44 per cent YoY and export sales grew by 66 per cent YoY to Rs 312.4 crore. Average export realization in the period increased by 15 per cent YoY, the company said.

    CLSEL is one of India’s largest basmati rice exporter. It has processing facilities in Karnal (Haryana) and Kandla (Gujarat). The company exports under its flagship brand “Maharani” apart from private labels to more than 90+ countries and has 440+ distributors spread across the world.

    In November 2022, CRISIL Ratings had upgraded its rating on the long-term bank facilities of CLSEL to ‘CRISIL A’ from ‘CRISIL A-‘and revised the outlook to ‘Stable’ from ‘Positive’.

    The upgrade reflects sustained improvement in the business risk profile of the company, as indicated by 8 per cent revenue growth in FY22, which is supported by healthy demand from exports leading to growth in volumes sold, better price realisation and geographically diversified operations with customer presence in more than 90 countries.

    The rating also reflects continuous improvement in the financial and liquidity risk profiles of the company. The financial risk profile continues to remain healthy with strong networth and comfortable capital structure in the absence of long-term debt in the books. Liquidity is supported by robust cash accrual and healthy unencumbered cash and bank balance of Rs 258 crore as on September 30, 2022, it added.

    The company has maintained healthy unencumbered cash and bank balance of Rs 258 crore as on September 30, 2022. Promoters’ support in the form of unsecured loans will continue to aid the liquidity profile of the company. Current ratio was healthy at 4.72 times as on March 31, 2022 and is expected to be 5-6 times over the medium term. The rating agency believes CLSE will continue to benefit from its strong presence and healthy relationships with clients.

  • Negri Sembilan to expand padi cultivation

  • SEREMBAN: The Negri Sembilan government will expand the area for padi cultivation up to 20.23ha in Londah here to boost the state's production, thus reducing the import of rice.

    State Agriculture and Food Security Committee chairman Datuk Bakri Sawir said the state government was in the irrigation planning process with the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, and the land-clearing work would commence soon.

    "This is in line with the government policy of 75 per cent local padi production. I think we will be able to complete the land-clearing work this year.

    "We are also looking at the sustainability of the water supply for the crop because we are worried that when all the facilities are built, the water source to irrigate the crop will not be sufficient. So we need to look into permanent water sources and expand food production areas," he said at his office at Wisma Negeri here.

    He added that opening new areas for padi cultivation would not only boost food security and create jobs for the locals, but also enable Negri Sembilan to fulfil its goal to become one of the rice-producing states.

    On the abandoned padi fields in Jelebu, Kuala Pilah and other districts, Bakri said this might be caused by irrigation issues due to forest clearing for developmental plans, weather problems, as well as issues concerning financial and development of other sectors.

    Meanwhile, he said the state government would create a permanent food production park for vegetables, cash crops and napier grass on a 40.5ha land in Gemas to encourage large-scale, commercial and high-technology agriculture activities.

    He also said that the state government was ready to find land or an old warehouse to be used for vertical farming as an alternative to cover food needs in the future.

    He said the move could be implemented in the future if the land area became smaller due to development.

    "It (vertical farming) is not a new method, but it can be considered to be implemented in this country. This method is also popular in Singapore because it saves space," he said. – Bernama

  • ‘Abeyance’. Bangladesh scraps parboiled rice…

  • ‘Abeyance’. Bangladesh scraps parboiled rice G2G import deals with Indian co-op agencies

    With the deal not going through, domestic parboiled prices drop 10%

    Bangladesh has cancelled its orders to import two lakh tonnes of parboiled rice from two Indian cooperative agencies through government-to-government (G2G) deals after having kept them in “abeyance” for a few weeks.

    Trade sources said Bangladesh, which began dragging its feet after getting a couple of offers offering the rice at lower prices, has returned the “bid bonds” submitted by the two cooperative agencies during negotiations.

    The return of the “bid bonds” is a confirmation of Dhaka cancelling its plans to import the rice as part of its efforts to buy five lakh tonnes for its public distribution system.

    According to media reports in Bangladesh, the Sheikh Hasina Wajed government decided to “suspend the process of buying over-priced rice” from the two agencies — NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers Federation of India Ltd) and Kendriya Bhandar — last weekend.

    Impact on India

    The impact of the deal is being felt in the Indian domestic market with prices of parboiled rice dropping at least 10 per cent after having increased 30 per cent in January to ₹29,000 a tonne. Prices had surged on expectations of the G2G rice deals with Bangladesh going through.

    “Even as we were loading parboiled consignments for African destinations, millers called us offering more rice at lower prices,” said VR Vidya Sagar, Director, Bulk Logix.

    Dhaka’s plans to enter into G2G deals to import parboiled rice ran into rough weather after it face criticism of paying a higher price than what some private Indian exporters had quoted in a global tender to import 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice.

    The Wajed government was also facing problems concerning foreign exchange, which added further pressure on going ahead with the deal.

    Global import tenders

    In December, NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar offered to supply the two lakh tonnes under G2G deals at $433.60 and $433.50 a tonne, respectively.

    Accepting the offer, Bangladesh’s Food Ministry issued letters of intent for the purchases of one lakh tonnes each from the two cooperatives before putting them on hold its decision.

    At that time, the offers made by the two cooperatives were $35/tonne higher than what private traders offered in two global import tenders.

    In a tender opened on December 21, India’s Bagadiya Brothers was the lowest bidder offering the foodgrain at $393.90/tonne. In the next tender opened on December 27, Singapore’s AgroCorp International offered the most competitive rate of $397.03.

    Playing hide & seek

    Official sources said they had charged more for the supplies since Bangladesh asked for the new crop besides wanting the consignments to be delivered in two months. Still, a couple of offers were made from the Indian side lowering the price by a few dollars.

    “Had it given more time and opted for an older crop, it could have got the rice at a cheaper rate,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

    Trade sources said some of the Indian exporters who took part in Bangladesh’s global import tenders had quoted higher prices when the cooperative agencies approached them for the G2G deals.

    “Practically, they played hide and seek with us by cutting prices for the Bangladesh tender and raising it when the agencies sought rice for the G2G deals,” said a trader, who did not wish to be identified.

    Dhaka, the loser?

    After receiving the LOI, the Indian cooperatives were to furnish bank guarantees. But they got delayed by six days and Bangladesh utilised the opportunity to drag its feet before finally calling them off.

    A trader said: “If it wanted, Bangladesh could have accepted the guarantee.” This was because Bangladesh Food Ministry and its Cabinet Committee had cleared the G2G deals.

    Traders said Bangladesh would be the loser in deciding to not sign the deals as rice prices have increased by at least 10 per cent since the start of the year.

    According to Thai Rice Exporters Association data, Thailand, India’s main competitor in the global market for parboiled rice, is offering the cereal at $517/tonne and Pakistan, which is facing short supplies, is offering it at $496-500.

    India’s parboiled rice is quoted at $395-399.

    “India’s offer is lower by at least $100 a tonne. Where can Bangladesh get rice at such a price? Even if it were to pay higher than the bids made in its global tender, it will still be over $60 a tonne lower than other origins,” said a trader.

    Low output, stocks

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, rice prices zoomed to their highest since November 2011 in January, though they have declined a tad recently.

    In India, the top global exporter, rice prices have increased with the Ministry of Agriculture estimating the Kharif crop this crop year to June lower at 104.99 million tonnes against 111.76 mt last year.

    The procurement of rice by the Food Corporation of India has been tardy. Rice stocks in the central pool have dropped by 43 per cent compared with the year-ago period to an 8-year-low of 12.54 mt.

    However, unmilled paddy stocks are higher than last year at 47.62 mt (31.91 mt rice).

  • N. Koreans receive long-grain rice imported last year

  • Ordinary people received nothing, while food-poor households struggling the most received three kilograms of “long white rice,” with elderly households getting priority

    North Koreans have recently received the long-grain rice the country imported in large quantities late last year, Daily NK has learned.

    However, some North Koreans have sold their long-grain rice in local markets to buy other kinds of rice, complaining that they dislike how the long-grain variety tastes.

    A source in North Hwanghae Province said Thursday that to mark the Lunar New Year, grain shops in Sariwon sold mixed grains and white rice on a eight-to-two ration for half the price of markets.

    “Families of three received 10 kilograms, but they received rice that looked like long-grain rice,” he said.

    Voice of America reported in late January that North Korea imported large quantities of long-grain rice from China from October to December of last year.

    The authorities appear to have provided the rice to people at the start of the year to soothe public discontent.

    However, public reaction to the long-grain rice has been less-than-enthusiastic.

    The source said Vietnamese rice flies off when you blow on it and needs to be eaten hot.

    “It crumbles if it cools just a little, so it feels like your chewing sand, and it doesn’t stick together in either soup or mixed grains,” he said.

    “When you make porridge, it’s better to use unglutinous rice, corn flour or corn mixed with rice.”

    The source said the first rice he ate during the Arduous March era was Vietnamese rice.

    “Many people complained how they received that sort of rice after helping the agricultural villages like it was a national uprising, and asked why they were being made to eat rice they ate during the Arduous March of the 1990s when [the authorities] said agriculture turned out fine [this year],” he said.


    Some people have responded by selling the rice they received on the market to buy glutinous rice.

    The source said while well-off people are trying to buy good rice, people unable to purchase the good rice are keeping their long-grain rice, making due on two meals a day.

    “Some people say even if it’s unglutinous rice, if they give you a lot and it fills you up, they can’t ask for anything more,” he said.

    In other regions, cadres reportedly received the long-grain rice.

    A source in North Hamgyong Province said cadres, legal officers and military families received Vietnamese rice on Lunar New Year.

    “They received between seven to 10 kilograms, depending on the agency,” he said.

    Ordinary people received nothing, while food-poor households struggling the most received three kilograms of “long white rice,” with elderly households getting priority.

    “Long white rice” appears to mean a long, thin kind of long-grain rice.

    This means that while everyone is struggling with economic problems, the really vulnerable — the elderly — received long-grain rice.

    “People who got the rice are happy, saying it’s better than nothing, given that people aren’t doing well enough to be picky,” said the source.

    “Some people are dumping their long-grain rice on the market to buy unglutinous rice, perhaps because they think it’s much better to eat rice mixed with corn, while others are keeping it and mixing it with unglutinous rice,” he added.

    Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

    Please direct any comments or questions about this article to

  • Sri Lanka’s Awful Agronomic Romance: Is it consequential to say no more organic agriculture?

  • Officially known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, it is a South Asian country possesses GDP of about $ 85 billion according to the statistics of world bank. Over the past few years, the contribution of agriculture sector in Sri Lana’s GDP has experienced a rising trend. According to the latest report of statista, agriculture sector accounts for approximately 9 percent of Sri Lanka’s total GDP. Major crops are rice, tea, coconut, rubber, maize, wheat, potatoes, chili and beans. 52 percent of the total exports are based on garments and textile products. Tea accounts for 17 percent of total exports and 53.3 percent of agricultural exports. It contributed annually about $ 1.3 billion to country’s exports before the arrival of economic crises in Sri Lanka. Rest of the exports volume is distributed among fish, rubber, gems and spices etc. However, the decision to go for organic agriculture has stalled the production of multiple agricultural crops which has further exacerbated the economic difficulties for Sri Lanka. Therefore, the purpose of this case study is to examine whether organic agriculture itself is a technique that leads to adverse economic consequences on a country or there is something wrong with the planning and strategies which made organic agriculture ineffective for Sri Lanka so that it can be determined that organic agriculture is still useful or not in today’s living habits after what it has done to Sri Lanka.

                In June 2022, the then prime minister of Sri Lanka acknowledged the collapse of country’s economy before the Parliament leaving it insufficient to afford for the essentials. Later on after investigation of this economic catastrophe, various reasons were identified for pushing the country in to economic turmoil. One of the main reasons was organic agriculture. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had an ambitious goal of transforming Sri Lanka into first country having 100 percent organic agriculture. He used this motto in his election campaign of 2019. Few months after he became the president of Sri Lanka in November 2019, he imposed a complete ban on the imports of pesticides and synthetic fertilizer on April 26, 2021. An year later, country was facing the crises of supply shortage. The production of rice dropped to 20 percent which compelled Sri Lanka to import rice by spending $ 450 million to meet the demand. Moreover, the prices of rice rose up to 50 percent. Tea industry being the major source of Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange suffered the financial loss of $ 450 million. Government had to pay significant amount to farmers and in subsidies to compensate the loss of low productivity. According to a report of foreign policy, about half million Sri Lankans had to sunken below the line of poverty after COVID-19 and Sri Lanka’s economic crises which was intensified by agricultural crisis. Moreover, according to WFP (World Food Programme) report of July 2022, on average three out of ten persons in Sri Lanka are  insecure to food which cruises to a total of approximately 6.26 million people of total population.

                Many commentators blame organic agriculture for economic crises in Sri Lanka, however there are number of underlying reasons including mismanagement by government, tourism, interference of China, economic crimes, violation of human rights and scarcity of foreign reserves behind this economic default.

              The President Gotabaya Rajapaksa banned the import of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on April 26, 2021. He decided it overnight in a hurried manner without listening to the concerns of farmers. During his election campaign, Gotabaya kept highlighting his pure intentions to go for organic agriculture but he would argue that such a transition from conventional to organic agriculture would take place under a steady period of ten years so that all the farmers can have enough amount of time to adjust into organic agriculture. Moreover, he believed that agricultural chemicals and pesticides were steering the country towards the challenges of health and environment. There was a perception that a kidney disease named as Konketiyawa killing 20,000 farmers in Sri Lanka during last two decades was chiefly because of  impure chemical based availability of agricultural food products. Gotabaya argued that industrially manufactured agrochemicals were against the Sri Lanka’s legacy  of having sustained systems of food. Gotabaya wanted to save $ 400 million which country used to spend on the imports of agricultural chemicals and pesticides. Therefore, he considered it appropriate to take the overnight decision of shifting towards organic agriculture. So, millions of farmers had no choice but to opt for organic means for cultivation. The production of natural fertilizers at domestic level was not sufficient to compensate all the farmers. The matter did not finish there. Government did not import extra nutrients to meet the requirements of farmers for organic transition and it also put complete ban on the imports of fertilizers. Consequently, farmers were confronting the scarcity of fertilizers and pesticides in growing crops and the results were immediately witnessed in shape of serious ruination of crops productivity. Therefore, the root cause behind agricultural collapse was not organic agriculture itself, indeed it was due to the improper implementation techniques including insufficient arrangements for organic agriculture.

                  Being sustainable form of cultivation, organic agriculture finds its importance owing to the economic and ecological reasons. Notable surge in organic cultivation has been witnessed  during the last decade across the world. 20% food market of USA and Canada, and 7.8% food market of Europe is based upon organic food. IFOAM (International federation of organic agriculture movement) issues guiding principles for the countries to opt organic agriculture. Organic agriculture is useful in reducing erosion of soil, requires lesser use of pesticides, reduces the leaching of nitrate into groundwater, and endorses recycling of animal waste for the nutrients purposes to the crops. It contributes in improving health of soil and biodiversity.

                 Besides number of benefits of organic agriculture, it is argued that organic agriculture decreases the productivity of crops. Dalhousie University of Canada’s  research demonstrates that output productivity gap between conventional and organic agriculture is rapidly closing. In some cases, output productivity of organic agriculture exceeds the productivity of conventional agriculture. 40 years of research conducted by Rodale Institute, America’s largest side by side comparison between conventional and organic agriculture, unveils the fact that after five years of transition, yields through organic agriculture equalizes conventional agriculture. Because of its low production costs, it yields 3 to 6 times greater profit for farmers as compared to conventional agriculture. 45% less energy is consumed and it leaches no toxic chemicals to waterways. Therefore, organic agriculture if implemented properly, leads to sustainable, sufficient and profitable means of production.

                 The world is confronting severe environmental effects in form of melting glaciers, changing raining patterns, scorching summers, floods, forest fires, storms and tornadoes. Shifting towards sustainable means of production and consumption is one of the major weapons that can be utilized in order to address these dilemmas. As organic agriculture is one of the sustainable means of production, therefore it should be experimented at first in those regions having lesser population and are economically developed so that in case of low productivity, states may not have to face food crises. Secondly, It should be adopted in phases after analyzing the outcomes in a certain area instead of immediately forcing entire country into rapid transition as in case of Sri Lanka. In areas of drought, organic agriculture should be given priority over conventional agriculture because of its high productivity. So, due to Sri Lanka’s terrible experience with organic agriculture, the significance of organic agriculture has not minimized in modern world. Therefore, pertaining to all these significantly affirmative aspects of organic agriculture, it is not wise to say no more organic agriculture in modern living habits. In fact, organic agriculture is need of the modern world for environmental friendly and healthy lifestyle.

  • Mechanisation to up Aus output: Experts

  • Following fall in Aus rice production last season, the government is focusing on raising the grain's output this season. To do so, it is emphasising mechanisation to increase per hectare crop yield in Aus season, said speakers at a workshop.

    The observation came at the mid-term workshop of the project -"Enhancement of Farm Machinery Research Activities for Mechanised Rice Cultivation (SFMRA)" - organised by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) at its head office in Gazipur on Saturday.

    According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), rice production in Aus season declined to 3.0 million tonnes in the last financial year (FY), 2021-22, which was 3.28 million tonnes in FY 21. The production might decline further in FY 23, as per primary projection of the BBS.

    Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) Secretary Wahida Akhter, while speaking at the workshop, said mechanisation should be given importance to boost production as well as to minimise cost.

    She noted that the country's food security largely depends on availability of the staple grain, and also focused on increasing cultivation and production of rice in Aus season.

    "Therefore, the mechanisation process should be carried forward in coordination with the institutions that manufacture agricultural machinery for production," she added.

    BRRI Director General Dr Md Shahjahan Kabir presided over the programme. Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) Sheikh Mohammad Bakhtiar, Director General of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) Debashish Sarkar, MoA Additional Secretary (Planning Division) Mahbubul Haque Patwari, Additional Secretary (Extension) Rabindra Sree Barua, BRRI Director (Research) Dr Mohammad Khalequzzaman, and BRRI Higher Education and Research Coordinator Dr Munnujan Khanam also spoke on the occasion, among others, said a press release.

    BRRI SFMRA Project Director and Chief Scientific Officer Dr A K M Saiful Islam presented the keynote.

    He said under this project four agricultural machineries, including BRRI seed-sowing machine, whole feed combine harvester, solar light trap, and rope twister, have been developed and expanded.

    Apart from this, development of eight other machineries, like BRRI manual rice transplanter, power weeder, etc, is also in progress.

    The SFMRA is an ongoing project, being implemented in 12 upazilas under 12 districts of the country from July 2019 to June 2024.

    BRRI Director General Dr Kabir said if the benefits of this project can be taken to the farmers, there would be a revolution in agricultural mechanisation in the future.

    The main objective of the SFMRA project is to strengthen research activities on farm machinery for their development and modernisation, suitable for sustainable rice cultivation, he added.

  • Global rice prices hit 12-year high in Jan: FAO

  • BD's private sector imports halted in recent weeks

    The world rice prices hit a 12-year high in January 2023, raising further concern for the importing countries, according to a latest report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO).

    Bangladesh's private sector imports have also almost stopped notably in recent weeks, indicating a gloomy prospect for the domestic rice market in coming months following the persisting volatile situation in the global commodity market, said market experts.

    FAO All Rice Price Index increased to 126.4 points in January which is 6.2 per cent higher than that of December 2022 and a 12-year high, according to the FAO monthly report on the food grain, published on Friday.

    The prices of Indica species, consumed mostly by South Asians, witnessed the highest surge as its index reached 127 points in January, uppermost level since 2011, said the FAO report.

    Price of exportable parboiled rice of India reached $388-$ 419 a tonne while Pakistani and Vietnamese rice traded at $430 to $ 466 a tonne.

    Thai parboiled rice, suitable for the South Asians, was traded at $ 473 to $ 523 a tonne in January. (FAO report documents FOB prices, freight charges are excluded here).

    Gradual appreciation of Asian currencies against US dollar, rising demands in Indonesia, lesser exports by Pakistan amid a flood-induced low output, the lunar year celebration across the far-east Asia and a record pace of government domestic procurement by India despite a decline in output were some major reasons behind such tectonic hike in rice prices, said the FAO report.

    Meanwhile, import by Bangladeshi traders almost stopped in recent weeks amid the rocketing global prices as well as obstacle to sourcing US dollar for opening L/Cs, Shamsul Hoque, a Rangpur-based importer, said.

    He said cost for imported Indian coarse rice would be minimum Tk 57 a kg now considering the minimum price of $390 a tonne, duties of 15.2 per cent and freight charges.

    Most of the importers are trying to bring medium varieties of rice like Ratna, BRRI dhan 28, Swarna-5 and finer quality like Nazersail, Miniket from West Bengal, Hariana and Punjab in India to make some profits.

    A food ministry official told the FE that private sector has been permitted to bring 1.45 million tonnes of rice from the foreign sources this financial year but they could bring only 0.409 million tonnes so far.

    He said the government has brought above 0.45 million tonnes of rice so far this FY while another 0.5 million tonnes would be imported (by the government).

    He said the public warehouses have now a handsome amount of 1.95 million tonnes of food grains of which rice is 1.6 million tonnes; Aman rice procurement is also going on.

    There will be no shortage of rice until the next Boro harvest, he added.

    Economist and value chain expert Prof Dr Md Moniruzzaman said though coarse rice prices showed a slight decline in recent weeks, medium and finer rice prices have surged even during the Aman harvesting season.

    There is no sign of relief as production cost in the ongoing Boro season has also been rising to a record high this year.

    Rising import costs will be a matter of concern from the later days of March when the stock of Aman crop would start to decrease, he continued.

    The government would have the preparation for those off-peak months, he said.

    According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and the city groceries, coarse rice prices are static at Tk48-52 a kg but medium and finer varieties of rice witnessed a further Tk2.0-3.0 hike per kg in a month in Dhaka city as those were retailing at Tk62-68 and Tk 75-98 a kg respectively.

    The current prices are 6.0-12 per cent higher than that a year ago.

  • Cambodia to export rice to PH

  • Cambodia is exploring the possibility of exporting rice directly to the Philippines, according to Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

    Pascual yesterday met with delegates of the Green Trade Co. and the Rice Federation of Cambodia who initiated talks on the possible purchase by the country of rice instead of buying everything from Vietnam, which also sources some of the rice from Cambodia.

    Pascual said Cambodia can supply the Philippines as much as 3 million metric tons, which is about the volume the country imports per year.

    He said half of Cambodia’s rice production is surplus.

    Initial indicative price of long grain rice from Cambodia is P33 per kilogram, CIF.

    The Philippines and Cambodia started preliminary talks on the rice trade at the sidelines of the Asean Summit.

    Delegates led by Chan Sokey Secretary of State in charge of Green Trade and Okhna Chan Sokheang, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, were in Manila for a fact-finding on how Cambodia can secure a market from the Philippines through the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), DTI’s trading arm.

    Rice under Asean is pegged a tariff of 35 percent and is open for private sector importation under the Rice Tarrification Law. – Irma Isip

  • Kellogg sees positive results from sustainable rice farming pilot

  • Rice farming produces 1.5% of the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Wildlife Fund, but Kellogg sees a path toward diminishing the crop’s negative impact by working directly with farmers.

    The cereal giant said its InGrained rice partnership with farmers in the Lower Mississippi River Basin region — which aims to grow the crop with reduced methane emissions — yielded positive early results after the pilot year of the program.

    Kellogg invested $2 million in implementing irrigation practices over the past year. The company said that during a five-year period, it is paying producers $20 per ton of greenhouse gas they abate through introducing climate-friendly practices to their farming operations.

    Over the first year, Kellogg said, these practices garnered a reduction of over 1,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases, equal to removing 345 gasoline-fueled cars from the road.

    Janelle Meyers, chief sustainability officer at Kellogg, told Food Dive working with farmers on establishing the new agricultural practices has led to success with the project thus far. The farmers, she said, shared with Kellogg that the quality of their rice was not impacted by the new methods.

    “What we’re trying to understand is, what are the practices that can deliver greenhouse gas reduction or water conservation as a collective between those different partners?” Meyers said. “Practices were identified based off of both technical recommendations and the suggestions from the different suppliers and growers as well.”

    One practice, she said, is alternate wet and dry irrigation, in which rice fields are not kept continuously irrigated but are allowed to dry at specific intervals during the rice growing stage, according to research published by the Journal of Agricultural Science, which has been shown to mitigate emissions.

    Kellogg sources rice, a key ingredient for its Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Treats brands, from growers in Northeast Louisiana. The company collaborated with emissions tracking group Regrow Ag for its calculation.

    The cereal giant believes the rice endeavor, which is part of Kellogg’s Origins sustainability program, will further its 2030 sustainability goals. These include lowering its Scope 3 emissions — which derive from food commodity production and transportation — by 15%, and engaging over one million growers in its environmental projects by 2030. As of 2021, the company had invested in 445,000 farmers.

    Meyers said the company has a particular interest in investing in women-owned farmers. A 2019 study from AgFunder reports that only 3% of agri-food tech investment dollars go to women.

    Kellogg identified 15 priority ingredients that need particular environmental, social or animal welfare needs, which it is rolling out and planning sustainabile agriculture projects for, Meyers said. “We’re working on corn in Mexico, wheat in Australia, potatoes in Europe, and there’s multiple others.” 

    Rice production results in emissions of several greenhouse gases, including methane, which is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

    The Environmental Defense Fund reports that global production of the crop is doing as much harm to the environment as 1,200 coal power stations.

    Rice production in the U.S. declined in 2022 because of persistent rainfall last spring that prevented the crop from being planted in parts of the South, according to USDA data. Yields for the 2022-2023 are projected to be lower in all growing states, the government department said, because of droughts in the Southwest region.

    With its rice project, Kellogg aims to apply some of the principles it learns to other regions, but Meyers noted that strategies will differ based on the location and climate of the project.

    “We take those learnings and try to apply them as we try to build out similar commodity projects in different regions,” she said.

  • Iraq buys 88,000 metric tons of U.S. rice

  • U.S. rice exports are expected to total around 3 million metric tons in the 2022-23 marketing year.

    U.S. rice exports are expected to total around 3 million metric tons in the 2022-23 marketing year.FARM PRESS

    Al Awees, the private company that took over much of the food purchasing for the government of Iraq in 2021, made two purchases of 44,000 metric tons each of U.S. rice as the 2022 calendar year ended.

    The total of 88,000 metric tons may not seem like much given that U.S. rice exports are expected to total around 3 million metric tons in the 2022-23 marketing year, but the symbolism may be more important than the actual amount.

    Questions had been raised about whether Al Awees would honor the 2022-23 Memorandum of Understanding signed by the governments of the United States and Iraq that calls for Iraq to purchase 200,000 metric tons of U.S. rice. Al Awees’ initial rice purchases in the summer of 2021were from Uruguay.

    Rice trade

    Iraq was once a major market for U.S. rice, but the rice trade between the two countries has been limited to nonexistent over the last three decades. Iraq imports nearly 90% of the rice it needs, and its purchases have been increasing.

    “Iraq’s rice imports averaged 1.1 million to 1.2 million tons a few years ago but have now surged to nearly 2 million tons,” said Sarah Moran, vice president, international, who manages the USA Rice Federation’s international marketing programs.

    Moran said rice production in Iraq has increased from 120,000 tons to 250,000 in the past year, but domestic consumption of rice has risen from 1.3 million metric tons to 1.7 million metric tons in 2022.

    “Iraq operates a public distribution system where the government provides certain essential food products, such as rice, oil, wheat flour, sugar, and milk,” she said. “Nearly 90% of Iraqi households receive ration cards for subsidized food commodities. The amount of rice in these ration cards has increased from 12 kilograms per person (26 pounds) to 33 kilograms per person in 2022.”

    India and Thailand

    A chart displayed by Moran showed India and Thailand have accounted for the bulk of Iraq’s rice imports in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Prices of rice in those two countries are typically $200 per ton below U.S. prices due, in part, to government subsidies for rice farmers in India and Thailand.

    The price disparity has played a role in the reduced outlook for U.S. exports worldwide. In January, USDA’s Economic Research Service lowered its forecast for U.S. 2022-23 all-rice exports to 66 million hundredweight or about 3 million metric tons, the lowest since the 1985-86 marketing year. “The downward revision was largely based on sales and shipments through late November, expectations regarding shipments for the remainder of the market year, and uncompetitive prices,” said Nathan Childs, coordinator of the USDA Economic Research Service’s Rice Outlook Report.

    Export forecast

    In it, the U.S. rough-rice export forecast was again lowered 2.0 million cwt and is now projected at 23.0 million cwt., or about 1 million metric tons. Rough-rice imports are projected to be almost 19% below a year earlier and are the lowest since 2000/01.

    “Long-grain shipments to Latin America are expected to again account for the bulk of these exports,” Childs said. “However, the United States is facing increasing competition from South American suppliers in the region, especially in Mexico, the top U.S. rough-rice export market, as well as in several Central American markets.

    U.S. 2022-23 milled-rice exports remain forecast at 46.0 million hundredweight, nearly 15% below a year earlier and the smallest since 1965/66. United States sales through late November to both Haiti—the largest market for U.S. long-grain milled rice—and Japan—the largest market for U.S. medium- and short-grain milled rice—were well below a year earlier.

    U.S. rice shipments to Mexico have been declining by about 100,000 metric tons per year over the last two-and-a-half years, according to Dwight Roberts, senior advisor to the U.S. Rice Producers Association.

    “In 2021, the U.S. exported 765,000 metric tons of rice to Mexico; in 2022, it was 625,000 metric tons; and as of September, it was 373,000 metric tons,” he said. “Mexico now accounts for 60 % of Brazil’s paddy exports, a statistic that was unfathomable only a few years ago.” (Brazil could ship 900,000 metric tons of rice to Mexico this year, he notes.)

    Numbers like these make the Iraqi agreement to buy 200,000 metric tons and any other sales U.S. shippers can make more important than ever.

  • Vietnam’s rice export forecast to enjoy another successful year

  • HANOI: Vietnam’s rice export is forecast to continue reaping successes this year as the world’s rice prices remain high at least in the short term as global economic and political uncertainties have resulted in high demand for rice reserves, according to experts.

    According to the Vietnam Food Association, by the middle of last month, Vietnam earned nearly US$115 million from exporting more than 226,000 tonnes of rice, an increase of over 41 per cent in terms of both volume and value compared to the same period last year, reported VNA (Vietnam News Agency).

    The country exported ST24 and ST25 rice to the Middle East region with a record-high price of US$1,000 per tonne, doubling the price of normal white rice.

    Vietnamese rice further penetrated demanding markets like Japan and the EU.

    According to experts, more than 80 per cent of rice varieties in Vietnam are fragrant high-quality rice, which is an important factor that helps increase Vietnamese rice’s value and accessibility to markets.

    This year’s rice prices are forecast to return to their peak in 2019 thanks to periodical factors and increasing demand for rice reserves in countries, including such populous nations as China and India.

    Moreover, Vietnamese rice exporters are taking advantage of free trade agreements.

    Pham Thai Binh, General Director of Trung An Hi-tech Agriculture Joint Stocks Company, said that before the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect, Vietnamese rice exported to the EU was taxed at high rates, from 5 per cent to 45 per cent, depending countries.

    As the result, it was difficult for Vietnamese rice to compete with those from Cambodia and Myanmar as the EU has exempted import taxes for those countries.

    Meanwhile, although Thailand’s rice is heavily taxed branding is strong and long-lasting, resulting in its high competitiveness, Binh said.

    According to analysts from BIDV Securities Company (BSC), unfavourable weather conditions make major rice exporters like India and Pakistan reduce export volumes while major rice importers like China to increase imports.

    Vietnam and Thailand are expected to hold negotiations to discuss rising rice prices in the context of increasing prices of input materials.

    Last year, Vietnam exported nearly 7.2 tonnes of rice, gaining US$3.49 billion. -Bernama

  • Indian rice export prices stay high on strong demand

  • MUMBAI/ HANOI/ BANGKOK/DHAKA: Rice export prices from India rose to their highest level since April 2021 this week, aided by firm demand and tight supplies, while elevated rates in Thailand kept buyers at bay. Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $393 to $398 per tonne this week, up from last week range of $387-$395.

    “Government has made record purchases of unmilled rice from farmers this year. Limited amounts of supplies are available to private players for the exports,” a New-Delhi-based dealer with a global trade house said.

    India’s rice exports in 2022 jumped to a record high despite the government’s curbs on overseas sale, as buyers continued to make purchases because of competitive prices, according to government and industry officials.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices eased slightly to $495 per tonnes, from $500 per tonne. Traders attributed the small price drop to a slow down in demand but blamed the lack of supply and the strength of the local currency for keeping prices high which they say deter buyers.

    A Bangkok-based trader said prices could change once new supplies enter the market at the beginning of March. High cost of freighter also contributed to muted supply and the rise in rice prices, another trader said. In Vietnam, 5% broken rice were offered at $445-$450 per tonne, free on board, unchanged from two weeks ago.

    “Traders are resuming their rice purchases from farmers to prepare for new contracts, following the holiday,” a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said. Vietnam exported 400,000 tonnes of rice in January, down 20.9% from a year earlier, government data released on Sunday showed.

    Bangladesh’s rice production in the marketing year to April has been revised upward to 35.8 million tonnes, the US Department of Agriculture said in its latest update.

  • 25,000kg of rice distributed to elderly homes, mosques in campaign to reduce hunger

  • Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong (centre) receiving the donation of 25,000kg of rice from Mr Lee Yik Hun (left) of DFI Retail Group and Mr Luke Siew of UOB. PHOTO: GIANT SINGAPORE

    SINGAPORE - Elderly homes, mosques and churches in Joo Chiat received 25,000kg of rice on Friday as part of a campaign to provide one million meals in two years to the less fortunate in Singapore.

    The 5,000 bags of 5kg Meadows Thai Fragrant Rice were distributed by DFI Retail Group, which operates supermarkets like Giant and Cold Storage, and and United Overseas Bank (UOB) in DFI’s Have You Eaten? project.

    The campaign, which began August last year, is a tie-up with non-profit The Food Bank Singapore to reduce hunger and increase food security for the less fortunate.

    The rice, which is equivalent to 62,500 meals, was distributed at the Siglap South Community Centre on Friday evening to the Joo Chiat Division of Marine Parade GRC, who will be giving out the bags to community partners who serve the elderly and vulnerable in the area.

    Attending the distribution event, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said that food is a key aspect of Singapore’s festive celebrations, and rice is central to the local diet.

    He said: “From nasi briyani to nasi lemak, from rice at tuan yuan fun (Chinese New Year reunion dinner) to rice we pair with curry debal (Devil’s curry), rice is about as Singaporean as you can get. But yet, there are some in our society who, for various reasons, might find it difficult to put rice on the table as often as they like.”

    He said that initiatives like these are important to providing community support to the less fortunate.

    In Singapore, for every 1kg of Meadows rice bought from any Giant, Cold Storage and CS Fresh store, 10 cents will be used to purchase the same brand at cost price, which will go towards feeding beneficiaries The Food Bank Singapore supports.

    DFI’s South East Asia marketing director for food and own brand Lee Yik Hun, who attended the distribution alongside UOB’s Singapore head of cards and payments Tan Min Yeow, said that the project aims to strengthen food security in Singapore.

    He said: “With rice as a staple in the Singapore diet, we often take that one bowl, or plate of rice for granted. We hope to raise awareness that there are still many among us in Singapore who may sometimes struggle to put food on the table.”

  • Food, rice seeds from Premier and First Lady donated to more than 200 families

  • Khoy Rida, Governor of Pursat, brought donations of rice seeds and food from Prime Minister Hun Sen and First Lady Bun Rany Hun Sen to 219 families of one of the communes of the province.

    The donations were handed out yesterday morning at the party headquarters of Svay Daun Keo commune and were distributed through the Cambodian Food Reserve System Committee to distribute to 219 families affected by the dry season floods from Otapong, Svay Daun Keo and Romlech communes, Bakan district.

    Rida brought a message from the Premier and First Lady and said that they constantly care for the safety and wellbeing of the people.

    The provincial governor said that once they get the rice seeds, they have to work hard to grow and rehabilitate the damaged rice fields.

  • Thai cabinet extends rice promotion campaign to September.

  • Government Spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said the program was initially due to expire at the end of the 2022 fiscal year, while noting that the Cabinet’s motion effectively added another fiscal year to the campaign’s duration.

    The Cabinet has resolved to extend a campaign to promote organic rice cultivation until September 2023. The program offers 94,888 participating farmers a subsidizing fund of 2,000 to 4,000 baht per rai at 15 rai per person for three consecutive years.
    The initiative involves nearly 847,400 rai of farmland for the organic rice plantation.

    Government Spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said the program was initially due to expire at the end of the 2022 fiscal year, while noting that the Cabinet’s motion effectively added another fiscal year to the campaign’s duration.

    The almost 9.7-billion-baht-budget program is expected to generate 400,000 metric tons of unmilled organic rice, empowering rice farmers while preserving the environment.

    Notably, the Rice Department was unable to distribute the subsidy fund in 2021, as most organic rice products are harvested during the November-December period. To address the issue, it was agreed that the payment will be delivered within the 2023 fiscal year.

    Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha stated at the Cabinet meeting that the project was in line with the Green Rice Project and the government’s Bio-Circular-Green Economy model.

    He also asked the Ministry of Commerce and relevant agencies to work towards enhancing the ability to export Thai products and promote Thai organic rice through all channels, including online trading.

    The premier said doing so would allow these products to reach consumers more directly. He noted that it is equally important to develop marketing and processing methods for organic rice products to meet the needs of consumers of all ages, both domestically and internationally. (NNT)

  • China is sending rice to space to create new varieties

  • Space breeding involves the production of a new variety of crops by sending seeds into space and exposing the seed to radiation and microgravity in the hope of inducing a mutation. Some preferred mutations for rice production are increased yield, early maturing, and resistance to pests.

    Hubei Jinguang Agricultural Technology Co is responsible for cultivating rice sent in this space mission. The seeds were sent to space for three months. Aside from rice, corn and rapeseed were also selected to be sent to space.

    The seeds sent back to Earth were evaluated for their mutations. After the selection, they were germinated in the Hainan province by China’s Space Breeding Achievement Transformation Center to produce more seeds.

    According to Gao Xuegang, the president of Hubei Jinguang Agricultural Technology Co in Wuhan, even without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the selected rice from space breeding has better quality than ordinary rice in terms of having sweeter fragrance and waxier texture.

    Space rice showed high drought resistance and was less affected by pests and diseases than ordinary rice. It is expected to address the issue of drought, pests, and diseases that widely cause significant loss of production in the country. Because of its resiliency and adaptability, space rice can be planted early or late in the planting season.

    Space is a unique environment to induce mutation. The conditions in space – high pressure, weightlessness, and high radiation are tough to replicate on Earth. Because of this, space breeding has become a tool for shortening the duration of regular breeding and creating new varieties.

    Some of the harvested space rice will be used for further research, and some will be marketed as an exclusive product. It will be available in the market for $27.46 per kilogram.

  • Haryana : Domestic consumers shell out more as foodgrain exports continue to surge

  • As per traders, basmati rates have reached an all-time high of ₹120 to ₹170 per kg (depending upon the quality and variety) from ₹90 to ₹140 three months ago, due to increasing exports amid falling production. The rates of parmal (non-basmati) rice have also witnessed an increase, going from ₹30 to ₹40 per kg three months ago to above ₹45 per kg now.

    Domestic consumers are on the receiving end as the rates of foodgrains, including basmati and non-basmati rice, besides wheat flour, have shot up due to the growing exports.

    As per traders, basmati rates have reached an all-time high of ₹120 to ₹170 per kg (depending upon the quality and variety) from ₹90 to ₹140 three months ago, due to increasing exports amid falling production.

    The rates of parmal (non-basmati) rice have also witnessed an increase, going from ₹30 to ₹40 per kg three months ago to above ₹45 per kg now.

    The rate of wheat flour is hovering between ₹38 and ₹40 per kg as compared to ₹30 earlier.

    Wheat grain is also fetching a whopping ₹2,800 per quintal, against the minimum support price (MSP) of ₹2,125, in the domestic market despite a ban on exports. The government had banned wheat exports in May last year in view of a dip in production. While in 2020-21, the country had produced 109.59 million tonnes of wheat, in the subsequent year (2021-22), it had produced 106.84 million tonnes.

    Bunty Garg, a rice-trader from Taraori of Karnal, said, “The prices of basmati and non-basmati rice are rising with every passing month. Even the rates of common basmati rice have shot up to ₹110 per kg from ₹85 two months ago.”

    Rice exporters from Karnal say the global surge in demand for basmati is driving the surge in domestic rates.

    Former vice-president of All-India Rice Exporters’ Association Vijay Setia said, “With around 13% increase in basmati exports and more than 5% increase in non-basmati rice exports in the international market, the prices of both varieties have witnessed a surge in the domestic market. Though basmati consumers are not affected much, the increase in prices of non-basmati which is called common man’s rice is worrisome.”

    he latest comparative statement of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) reveals that India’s cereal export between April and November 2022 reached ₹72,626 crore as compared to ₹57,658 crore for the corresponding period in 2021. (HT Photo)
    he latest comparative statement of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) reveals that India’s cereal export between April and November 2022 reached ₹72,626 crore as compared to ₹57,658 crore for the corresponding period in 2021. (HT Photo)

    India’s exports see a rise

    The latest comparative statement of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) reveals that India’s cereal export between April and November 2022 reached ₹72,626 crore as compared to ₹57,658 crore for the corresponding period in 2021.

    The figures revealed that 27.32 lakh tonne of basmati was shipped between April and November against 23.97 lakh tonne in the corresponding period last year and the price of Basmati touched 1,051 USD ( ₹85,971) per tonne in November 2022 against 860 USD ( ₹70,348) per tonne in November in the last financial year.

    The government had even imposed 20% duty on rice exports during this period but the basmati export increased.

    Wheat export reached to ₹11,727 crore from ₹8,658 crore. Despite poor production last rabi harvesting season, India had exported 4.92 lakh MT wheat more than the previous year as the figures reveal that India’s wheat export from April to November this year was 46.56 lakh MT against 41.64 lakh MT of the last year.

    The biggest reason behind the surge in the wheat export is surge in the prices in the international market -- it increased to 324 USD ( ₹26,503) in November this year from 280 USD ( ₹22,904) last year. “We are selling wheat flour at ₹35 per kg and maize flour at ₹40 a kg. This is the highest ever it has gone in recent memory and there is a strong possibility that the prices will increase further,” said Pawan Kumar, a trader of Ladwa of Kurukshetra.

    Agriculture economist and food expert Devinder Sharma said increased export is leading to increase in prices of wheat flour and rice. “Though basmati consumers can afford this increase in prices, the main concern is the increase in prices of parmal rice which is consumed by the common man. As of now, the government has enough stock of rice. But the increase in wheat flour rates is worrisome. Even the Food Corporation of India has offered to sell wheat in open market to bring down the prices but there is need of more steps deal with the problem and protect the consumers.”

  • “We Created A Rice Variety Having Three Times More Yield”

  • Hinging hopes and envisioning, New Agricultural and Educational Policy to revolutionize the agricultural output and agro-education in Jammu and Kashmir, Prof Nazir A Ganai, Vice Chancellor SKUAST-K, tells Khalid Bashir Gura about how technologically driven agriculture can help improve the output and how the varsity is upgrading itself. The 40-year-old is the sixth-best university in India with a better ATAL ranking

    KASHMIR LIFE (KL)With the population increase, food demand goes up. How is SKUAST-K contributing to tackling the demand surge?

    PROF NAZIR A GANAI (NAG): Our agricultural land is shrinking and getting fragmented. In Jammu and Kashmir, the land availability is less than half a hectare (0.5) and in Kashmir, it is 0.4 hectare. Marginal land holding limits the capacity to grow. That’s why we need a change in policies. We have to turn towards cultivating cash crops if we want to increase farm income and sustain farmer livelihood. We have to also introduce technology in our farming. Floriculture will be an important sector in future. Our traditional horticulture orchard system had low productivity with ten tons per hectare. The government and our university collaborated to introduce high-density plantations, which resulted in six times more productivity on one hectare. Similar initiatives were taken in livestock to boost productivity and bring them to a commercial scale with the help of technological intervention. To market produce from small land holdings, aggregation forms an important part. In collaboration with the government, we are aiming at creating 300 Farmer Produce Organizations (FPO’s) which will be helped in different phases of pre- and post-harvest to boost the economy.

    KLWill the newly introduced Agriculture Policy help with it?

    NAG: To address the different challenges in agriculture, the administration worked for one year and came up with a holistic agriculture policy. The policy has been drafted keeping the environment in consideration as during the past, especially in India, the green revolution helped tackle food deficiency but adversely impacted air, water and soil quality. We are ensuring that along with food security, nutritional and economic security is ensured. We also want to reach marginalized communities. Recently, the Lieutenant Governor rolled out a Rs 5013 crores policy, which aims at secondary agriculture, processing, aggregation, marketing, tackling seed chain challenges and bringing diversification. 50 per cent of land in Jammu and Kashmir is rain-fed where irrigation is not possible. We are mulling bringing this rain-fed land into diversified crop cultivation. Jammu and Kashmir’s agriculture Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is Rs 37000 crore and in the next five years, we want to take it to Rs 80000 crore. We aim at upgrading agriculture from subsistence to commercial level, which will create jobs for our youth and make them self-reliant.

    KLHow will climate change impact agriculture?

    NAG: Our glaciers which have been a source of perennial fresh water are receding at an alarming rate because of global warming. In future, we have to be ready for the water crisis as it is going to be scarce. To tackle the crises in future, we need to introduce technologies like micro-irrigation to save water. Climate change and resultant weather vagaries impact crop production adversely. Our new agriculture should be climate-smart and resilient agriculture. We have to introduce and grow crops which will be able to sustain weather vagaries and be tolerant to both biotic and abiotic stressors. We have developed a variety of maize Kishan Ganga (KG 2), which can be cultivated in high-altitude areas and it requires less water. However, its yield potential is four times more than normal maize. We have created another variety called high-quality protein maize. We have to keep introducing new varieties and also focus on reinvigorating our existing indigenous resilient crops.

    KLHow is the university benefiting farmers on the ground?

    NAG: Food production – rice, wheat and maize is an important concern. In the last few decades, we have developed hundreds of varieties of seeds but not all of them had the desired outcome. In the last four years, we created a rice variety Shalimar rice-4, which has a productivity level of 10 tons per hectare as it is three times more productive than any national variety. We also introduced Kashmir’s Basmati rice called Shalimar Sugand to alley perceptions that Kashmir cannot cultivate fragrant varieties. Presently we are in its seed production stage and next year we will make it available to farmers. Its national productivity also exceeds the national average with six tons per hectare and is more aromatic but is costlier than conventional rice. Similarly, our traditional indigenous Mushq budij infused with profuse aroma was almost extinct and the university played a pivotal role in its revival. We are also working on Red rice. We have also released the first variety of saffron in the world and its production is better. Our university is also working on almost six vaccines in livestock to help stakeholders in this industry.

    Prof Nazir A Ganai (SKUAST-K)

    KLWhat is the status quo and market conditions of Mushk Budji?

    NAG: Compared to basmati the indigenous Mushk Budji has a good aroma and with Red rice, it has nutritional benefits also. However, what dissuaded farmers from growing it was that it was infected with a fungal disease called Blast, which would destroy the crop. We developed a blast-resistant variety. Locally it sells at Rs 150-200 per Kg and we are still exploring the international market and overcoming different challenges. Similarly, other niche crops like walnut, saffron, almond, black cumin and honey are also facing international market problems as there is no certifying agency. The government has introduced a GI tag system to give a unique identity to these crops and we are working to give them a competitive edge to get into the international market.

    KLHas there been any initiative towards introducing organic farming?

    NAG: In order to protect our natural resources we have to promote organic farming. We have damaged the health of the soil through the intensive use of fertilizers and we need to reverse the trend with the help of science and technology. The new agriculture policy envisions holistic development of agriculture and it will lead towards an inclusive and sustainable agricultural revolution and organic farms. To reverse the damage, we have to use biocontrol agents, and biopesticides which are organically derived and promote agri activities, which can enhance soil health. At the Wadura campus of our university, we have developed more than twelve organic products. We are also educating and promoting the use of vermicomposting. We want to practice and promote zero-waste organic farming.

    KL: Is SKUAST conducting any research in medicinal and herbal plants? Has there been any research on anti-cancer drugs?

    NAG: Pesticides and fungicides are a major challenge. With the help of technology, we are aiming to reduce these carcinogenic elements. With technological intervention, like spraying pesticides on crops by drones, the exposure can be reduced by 80 per cent. This inevitably will also reduce human and environmental exposure to harmful chemicals.

    Nature has bestowed us with a tremendous diversity of medicinal plants in our forests; however, unfortunately, we have not been able to explore and sustainably exploit them. The holistic project will promote medicinal and aromatic plants. Our division of plant biotechnology is researching anti-cancer properties of herbs. Off late, one of the faculty members has explored a  herb’s anti-prostate cancer properties. After his paper was acknowledged globally, we made a food product. We are in collaboration with a start-up company and soon its products will be in the market. The northwestern Himalayan region has 50 per cent of the global diversity of medicinal plants. As we randomly extract these resources from forests, under the new project, we aim at educating our farmers and teaching them how to extract, cultivate and reap the health and economic benefits.

    KL: Which institution and countries have collaborated with SKUAST on the technology front?

    NAG: Our university cannot find solutions to diverse challenges in isolation so we have to collaborate with institutions within Jammu and Kashmir and outside. We have tie-ups with 10 international universities. This year our 12 students from SKUAST-K and foreign universities are in joint research. For this, our students get biannual scholarships. We are also starting a joint master’s programme with a university in Australia wherein the student will spend each year in their respective universities. It will be a dual degree.

    KLHas SKUAST planned any joint collaboration with technologically advanced Israel as well?

    NAG: As of date we don’t have any formal collaboration with Israel. But Israeli technologies are now available in the country like micro irrigation and drip irrigation. In future, drip irrigation in our orchards will be based on smart and sensor-based systems.

    KLHow is the University planning to implement National Education Policy?

    NAG: We first have to align our education system with NEP and then come up with the model of agro-education. We held a 21-day Foundation Programme suggesting students, who are entering any university, that need life and social skills. Our undergraduate degrees will be by design, and education should be choice based and flexible. The student should be able to design his own curriculum. During his degree, the student will be trained in core subjects and also in choice-based skills. Similarly, our master’s and PhD programmes will be pursued in collaboration with other universities. We are also stressing the role of innovations and start-ups.

    KL: How many start-ups and patents does the university have?

    NAG: We have 10 student start-ups and three faculty start-ups. We have seven patents and have applied for 40 more. Student start-ups need seed money, which we are not providing. They compete at different levels with different agencies to procure the funds. Similarly, our faculty is shunning norms and mandates of teaching and research. We have directed them to convert research ideas into innovations and those innovations into start-ups which eventually should help society.

    KLWhat is the future of AI and ICT in agriculture and where does SKUAST stand?

    NAG: We are aligning our education with the requirements of the twenty-first century and integrating it with the latest technologies. We are establishing one centre for artificial intelligence and machine learning. We have to teach our students the essence of these skills as people lagging will be rendered obsolete. KLOff late SKUAST has started offering admissions to foreign students also.

    NAG: Until now foreign students used to come through the Indian International Cultural Centre. There are around 12 students pursuing degrees. From 2023, we have formally opened our university to students and reached out to them through embassies. We want to open a new chapter of educational tourism in Kashmir. We believe that education should have been the best destination for education in India but unfortunately, we have missed the bus. But now we are taking the first leap and expecting sister universities to collaborate.

    KLWhat is the role and scope of agro-biotechnology?

    NAG: Some of these sciences like Information Communication Technology (ICT) have revolutionized the age. Lately, the government of India approved a big project, which will help in phenomics, genomics and advanced agro-biotechnology in developing the latest varieties and seeds and vaccines. Similarly, new technology; CRISPR-Cas genome editing technology has been introduced and we are working on it.

  • Export curbs fail to arrest India’s booming rice shipments -sources

  • India’s rice exports in 2022 jumped to a record high despite the government’s curbs on overseas sale, as buyers continued to make purchases from the South Asian country because of competitive prices, according to government and industry officials.

    The record exports allowed Asian and African countries to import the staple at a time when supplies of wheat and other grains were hit by drought and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, in September banned exports of broken rice and slapped a 20% export tax on some non-basmati varieties as erratic monsoon cut production.

    India’s rice exports in 2022 rose 3.5% from a year ago to 22.26 million tonnes, or more than the combined exports of the next four largest exporters Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and United States, a top government official told Reuters.

    He declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak with media.

    “Exports fell after government imposed the export duty, but very soon exports revived. In December, India managed to export more than 2 million tonnes,” the official said on Tuesday.

    In 2022, non-basmati rice shipments stood at 17.86 million tonnes, while premium basmati rice exports were 4.4 million tonnes, the official added.

    India exports non-basmati rice mainly to Africa and Asia, while basmati rice goes to the Middle East, the United States and Britain.

    An export duty on Indian non-basmati rice shipments spiked prices but buyers soon returned, as Thailand and Vietnam were offering rice at an even higher price, said Nitin Gupta, vice president of Olam India’s rice business.

    Indian rice is the cheapest and that’s why exports would remain strong in 2023, he said.

    India has been offering 25% broken white rice at around $430 per tonne, while Vietnam was offering the same grade at around $440 and Thailand at around $500, a dealer said.

    Despite higher exports, India has ample domestic stocks, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president, Rice Exporters Association of India.
    Source: Reuters (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Rashmi Aich)


  • Photo Credit: cottonbro studio via

    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has introduced a new rule amid growing complaints of adulteration of basmati rice that come into effect on August 1, 2023.

    For the first time, the Food Regulatory Authority of India has decided to impose certain regulatory standards on basmati rice to curb the spread of adulterated rice. According to several affidavits, traders mixed substandard rice with basmati rice, polished it and used chemicals to improve the appearance and smell of basmati rice to increase profits.

    The new rules will set standards regarding the average size, moisture and uric acid content and condition of basmati rice after cooking.

    What rules did FSSAI implement?

    • The exporter must maintain the basmati perfume.
    • All kinds of dyes, polishes and artificial fragrances are strictly prohibited.
    • The regulations apply to all basmati rice, whether sold in India or exported.
    • The regulations apply to brown basmati rice, milled (parboiled) basmati or semi-cooked basmati.

    Among other measures, it was also ruled that the proportion of non-basmati varieties should not exceed 15% by mass, broken grains 5% and damaged grains 1%.

    Basmati rice has been cultivated for thousands of years in the fertile alluvial plains between the Indus and the Ganges. To be considered basmati, the grains must meet certain criteria, such as aroma, length and width, and cooked texture. They must also contain moderate levels of amylose, which is necessary for making some traditional Indian dishes such as coconut basmati rice.

    Compared to other countries, the quality of rice exported from India ranks first. Indian basmati is exported to the USA, Iran, Yemen and many other countries. Pakistan ranks second, followed by Vietnam, and the combined exports of these two countries account for only half of India’s exports.

    An inconvenient with a long history

    In 1900’s, scammers became notorious for cutting basmati rice with inferior grains, lured by the fact that it was 50% more expensive per kilo. A few decades ago, it was not uncommon for imported basmati rice to contain more than 50% impurities.

    To address this, the UK Rice Board introduced a code of good practice in 2005. The standard is also observed across the European Union, which limits basmati to 7% impurities and introduces a list of 15 permitted varieties: nine traditional varieties could be imported duty-free and six modern varieties.

    A DNA fingerprinting system was developed at Bangor University for code enforcement, sometimes leading to prosecutions for infringements.

    In 2017, 25 new modern rice variants were added to the system and some code segments were updated. This was followed by a wave of new breeders in the 2000s and 2010s to address the problem of low yield and high growth of traditional basmati varieties, which tended to stagnate if over-fertilized.

    These breeders solved this problem by cross-selecting to add a plant growth retardation gene, which has also been introduced into most modern rice varieties of the highest quality. However, it could be shown that this improvement was not entirely true.

    By developing alternative DNA markers for fingerprinting, it was shown that six of the new varieties – five from India and one from Pakistan – had not been properly bred for fragrance. Some did not even contain the version of the BADH2 gene that made basmati fragrance possible.

    Fish regulations

    The FSSAI notification also sets an upper limit for formaldehyde, a substance identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a potential carcinogen that occurs naturally in some fish but is also used illegally to extend the shelf life of fish.

    The FSSAI stipulates that naturally occurring formaldehyde should not exceed 4 mg/kg in marine and freshwater fish, 8 mg/kg in crocodiles and 100 mg/kg in all frozen and stored marine fish products.

  • Paddy farming, organic versus agrochemical based methods.

  • Chandre Dharmawardana

    The amount, 3.2 metric tonnes/ha claimed in a Sinhala article by Upali de Sarem (Jan 2023) using modern fertilizer is still very low compared to the usual yields in Sri Lanka (4-5 metric tonnes/ha).

    Furthermore, if optimal agronomy is used (as in Batalagoda or MahaIlluppallama research stations), 6-8 metric tonnesor more  may be achieve with the right variety of seed, with less water and no-tilling or ploughing (but using benign herbicides) to remove weeds. 

    Comparisons of organic paddy and modern fertilizer-based farming outputs, costs etc., were done about a decade ago in the Agricultural Research Stations and also at Peradenitya University (Bandara et al).

    I discussed one of those in detail in Newspaper articles, and in the Colombo Telegraph in 2015. If I remember correct, various writers who are prominent in Lanka web, and linked with Ven. Ratana criticized me, and Mr. Dilrook Kannangara sided largely with them. He re-iterated his position when I criticized the Hiru-Govi Sangramaya sponsor by Hiru TV, eulogizing traditional agriculture.

    There too Dr. Ivan Amarasinghe (IA) stated how he even now cultivates his paddy lands in a traditional way using only “Gerikatu pohora (bone emal)” and “gendagam” (sulphur, a toxin used by organic farmers). The same line of thinking led them to claim that the Corona virus and the Covid-19 pandemic can be treated using traditional herbal cures. Jayasumana went on TV supporting the Dhammika Paeniya.

    IA used to end his email messages with the slogan Prof. Jayasmana will have the last laugh”.

    We don’t have to go to Egypt to learn about the best paddy cultivation practices. There are 24 booklets issued by the agriculture Dept. for the 24 districts, giving the best approach, depending on the soil type, based on recommendations from the Agricultural research Institutes.

     All the leading scientists of the world, be them from USA or Egypt or Japan and India, made pilgrimages to Maha Illuppallama and Batalagoda (as they were must vsit” places), until about the late 1980s, early 1990, as they had become world famous for their rice research.

    But in Sri lanka we don’t value the work of SL scientists, instead even a bit of idiocy, if it comes from somewhere else, is held to be better, esp. by the NGO green lobby. The research stations declined due to increasing lack of government support, with the JRJ government leaving everything to the Free Market.

    Then came the nationalists Ven. Ratana, Nalin de Silva, Jayasumana types talking about ancient agriculture and some other nationalists pushing “traditional seeds” claiming that they have “immense health and nutrient benefit” –  it is exactly that myth that people like Malinda Seneviratne had also picked up, at least in part.

    But one must by now see that these so-called huge nutritional benefits” are mere deviations of the order of a few percent found for in vitro chemical analysis, and NOT from clinical trials. At the food preparation level under heating, washing etc, and with several foods on the plate, these differences get wiped out even with rice being the staple. 

    What matters is the difference among raw rice, par-boiled rice, and polished rice, irrespective of the variety. The rice which is less polished and most fresh is nutritionally the better rice. The variations in fats, anti-oxidants, and carbohydrate level, vitamins etc., are too small to mount to anything significant in the overall diet unless strong fortification is used by genetic modification as in Golden rice, a GMO rice developed in India.

    Vanadana Shiva, the Indian equivalent of Nalin de Silva-Ratana cabal, prevented the use of Golden rice for decades, and at last it has been approved for use.

    Today, the controversial Arhath” Samanthabadhra with his followers have also popularized a false model, show casing Umandawa, where he claims that he can produce crops without fertilizers. It is this sort of nonsense that misleads ignorant politicians and even educated members of the public who may know little about agriculture, but think they know it as if by instinct!

    If tonnes of harvest (made up of nitrogen, phosphorous, carbon etc., are removed from the field, they should be put back if the soil is to remain productive. That is why fertilizers are added. If not, after a few harvests, the land has to be left fallow (for a significant length of time) for it to recover. In the olden days people left the land to fallow for a few years and opened up a new chena by burning up forest (that produced mineral fertilizer as ash), but today we don’t have land to engage in such wasteful types of agriculture.

    This ensures that soil nutrients are not washed off by water (used to flood the paddy fields to kill weeds, a practice used in organic and traditional farming. Filling up the kumbura” with water also encourages anaerobic microbial processes and produces excess Green House Gases like Methane which is 30 times worse than CO2. So organic farming is BAD for the environment, contrary what Eco-extremists and Western funded NGO, so-called “Environmental Justice” and MONLAR activists say. They are uncritically following the completely unscientific, politically motivated erroneous policies of the European Green Deal popular in the EU.

    Chandre Dharmawardana

  • Think tank moots cultivating unique rice in East Malaysia as cash crop

  • KRI deputy director of research Sarena Che Omar who is the lead author of the report said that Malaysia’s paddy and rice industry were dual in nature where one focused on the cheaper price controlled medium grained rice and the other was for speciality heirloom rice. – Malay Mail photo

    KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 31): The paddy and rice industry in Malaysia can grow exponentially and become a major source of revenue if farmers in Sabah and Sarawak were to cultivate speciality rice grains on a large scale, Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) said today.

    The think tank said there were around 500 unique rice varieties and that these seeds need to be preserved to prevent genetic loss of their unique characteristics; among them the Bario, Biris and Bajong.

    In just one village there can be multiple varieties of rice, KRI said in its report launched today titled “The Paddy and Rice Industry of Sabah and Sarawak: Status and Potential”.

    For example in Kampung Katagayan in Tambunan, Sabah there are several varieties of specialty rice like Padi Tamparuli, Tadong, Keladi Merah, Bukit Bulan, Keladi Putih and Seribu.

    KRI deputy director of research Sarena Che Omar who is the lead author of the report said that Malaysia’s paddy and rice industry were dual in nature where one focused on the cheaper price controlled medium grained rice and the other was for speciality heirloom rice.

    She said in order to grow this revenue channel, the government needed to update some laws and policies to improve the businesses acumen and competitiveness among paddy farmers in East Malaysia.

    One of the laws that needed updating is the Control of Padi and Rice Act 1994.

    “The Control of Padi and Rice Act 1994 (522) is an important act that’s there to regulate the prices of rice but it poses some challenges like the need for around RM200,000 in capital for three months to start cultivating rice, it requires one to get permission to export.

    “KRI acknowledges that Act 522 is an important Act to protect the supply and prices of cheap medium-grained rice with the goal of ensuring food security. Meanwhile, specialty rice has the potential to be commercialised and exported. These two rice segments have differing objectives which require separate policies and regulations,” she said in presenting her report.

    “Farmers we spoke to want to plant their own unique rice as they like the flavour profile and it gives them a different option but they also want to know how they can sell the excess and make some extra income but they don’t have the capacity to try and reach a high end market like selling to places like St Regis or a Hilton,” she added, referring to international upscale hotels.

    The difference between cheap and special rice is that cheap rice is sold at around RM1.60 to RM2.60 per kg, is high volume with a price ceiling, matures within 100 days and is valued at RM3.3 billion a year.

    Speciality rice is priced around RM5 to RM22 per kg, is low volume with premium pricing, has a long maturity rate at three to six months, has hundreds of varieties and the seeds are not certified (informal or heirloom) and the industry is valued at RM3.1 billion.

    “Given the low rice self-sufficiency for Sabah and Sarawak, it may be beneficial to explore alloptions for improving production, including the potential of rural specialty rice varieties as a means to assist in achieving that objective.

    “But, of course, achieving rice self-sufficiency alone is not the only goal we should be aiming for. Other holistic factors of food security include improving income of farmers (food affordability) and instilling sustainable, good agricultural practices,” former minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop who is incumbent KRI chairman, said at the report launch.

    Apart from that, KRI said the challenges faced by the industry were regulations that were designed solely for the purpose of security (in supply and prices).

    In an effort to promote the uniqueness of specialty rice to both local and international markets, the report suggests several policy considerations. These recommendations would serve to support small businesses producing specialty rice, as well as facilitate the distribution of rice beyond Sabah and Sarawak.

    The first suggestion to state governments would be to safeguard as many unique seeds and top introduce a universal naming system and to formally characterise these varieties.

    Federal government needs to recognise the big difference between cheap and specialty rice and not subject the latter to the same regulations as the former. Once these two rice groups are differentiated the report suggested to allow specialty rice to be exported without needing special permission from the Director General, allow rice to be transported across state, review input subsidies for growers of specialty rice meant for export and to lower the minimum working capital requirement for the relevant licenses for micro and small enterprises in this sector.

    By adopting these steps KRI hopes it will help alleviate the farmers from living in poverty as they can now expand their specialty rice business and market it to a bigger audience.

    The think tank hopes it would increase the overall income of the locals while boosting Malaysia’s food supply and reserves.

  • State Unveils Plans To Boost Rice Production

  • The National Irrigation Authority (NIA) is working on modalities to increase the acreage under rice production in the country by at least 20,000 acres.

    The authority’s Chief Operations Officer (COO) Joel Tanui said the move was to bridge the consumption deficit of rice in the country that rose to 600,000 metric tons against the 300,000 metric tons produced annually.

    He decried the the Country was compelled to import at least 80 percent of rice to fill the huge shortfall in production and was working with stakeholders in the sub sector to developing strategies to increase production by introducing hybrid varieties.

    “Our major responsibility is to ensure that farmers are producing enough maize and rice to feed Kenyans. This year alone, we have a target of expanding the area under irrigation specifically for rice by 20,000 acres,” he said.

    According to the NIA, 650,000 acres are currently under irrigation in Kenya, with 200,000 under rice production.

    “In the five-year plan we want to put another 100,000 acres under rice production so that we can bridge the deficit in terms of rice consumption in the country. In all the irrigation schemes, the authority is ensuring that the farmer produces rice at the least cost possible,” Tanui said.

    This, he explained, will be  done by making sure that the operations are at a minimum cost.’ We want to ensure farmers are able to offload their rice or maize to the market at an affordable price for the Kenyan people,” he said.

    Tanui mentioned that the authority is working towards expansion and rehabilitation of existing irrigation schemes, as well as promoting introduction of high yielding rice varieties that are climate smart like the one that Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) together with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have recently launched in the Hola Irrigation Scheme.

    Komboka rice variety seeds from KALRO

    He said this is a milestone in ensuring increase in productivity and income of the farmer while at the same time addressing food and nutrition security.

    “We are looking at it from three aspects as an authority and that is promoting new varieties, improving irrigation facilities so that we are efficient in our operations and reducing the cost of operations in the schemes. This will ultimately help the farmer be able to meet the market demand of supplying rice at an affordable price,” Tanui  said.

    Dr. Ruth Musila, a rice breeder from KALRO says they have adopted and are breeding climate smart high yielding rice varieties which are on trial in 26 locations distributed in Central, Western, Coastal region and Tana River.

    “We have done this because in the Central, Western and Coastal region there is variation so we want to find out which of this new lines  we are introducing is adaptable to these regions and which of these lines is preferred by famers so that when we are entering them into the National Performance Trials (NPTs)  we do not make a mistake of entering what famers do not  want or prefer  but we have the best choice”, she said

    Dr. Musila explained that farmers will only  be able to adopt varieties that they identify with and that is high yielding varieties that mature early and also match the consumers’ preference which is long slender, aromatic, non-sticky and are also tasty.

    Ruth Musila KALRO rice breeder

    Kenya has had a challenge in terms of low production but when it comes to consumption the deficit is as high as 89 percent more because smart varieties are needed to close the gap between the two.

    Dr. Musila said the the country has a bright future when it comes to rice production because of the new varieties being bred and together in a project dubbed “seed equal” in collaboration with the IRRI where they have developed 9 new lines, 5 of them are drought tolerant 2 are saline tolerant and 2 others tolerant to flooding.

    ‘Komboka’  rice variety introduced in both Mwea and Bura rice irrigation schemes a while back is one of the varieties that is showing promise for farmers and has seen them harvesting between 38 to 50 bags per acre compared to the old Basmati rice which a farmer gets about 25 kgs per acre.

    As of 2021 the annual production of rice in Kenya was about 180,000 tonnes and consumption is about 1.1 to 1.2 metric tonnes every year. The country imports from Asian countries and the neighbouring Tanzania which is self-sufficient in rice. Around 2018/2019 the per capita consumption of rice per year was reading 22.6 kg.

    As a country, Kenya has prioritized rice as a food security crop from 2008. Among the cereal food crops, rice ranks third after maize and wheat.

    By Wangari Ndirangu

  • Punjab starts rajma rice in mid-day meal;…

  • Punjab starts rajma rice in mid-day meal; directs schools to implement immediately

    Rajma rice will replace dal rice on Tuesdays, and as per the order, the decision has been taken following the feedback received from schools during a social audit.

    According to the earlier menu, kids were being given dal (pulses) with vegetables and roti on Mondays. (File/Representational)

    To bring a change in the mid-day meal menu for children studying in government schools, the Punjab education department has issued an order to introduce rajma rice once a week.

    Rajma rice will replace dal rice on Tuesdays, and as per the order, the decision has been taken following the feedback received from schools during a social audit.

    The order further states that schools have to implement the menu change with immediate effect and now rajma rice should be served to students on Tuesdays without fail.

    According to the earlier menu, kids were being given dal (pulses) with vegetables and roti on Mondays, dal with rice on Tuesdays, black chana with potatoes and chapatis on Wednesdays, curry pakora with potatoes and rice on Thursdays, seasonal vegetables with chapati on Fridays and again dal with rice on Saturday. Also they were given kheer as dessert once a week.

    An official said that a social audit was conducted in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala and according to the feedback received from schools, children were finding it boring to eat pulses thrice a week and they also expressed their fondness for rajma rice. So, a change has been made in the menu and rajma rice has replaced dal rice for Tuesdays.

    The letter further directs school heads to ensure that only ISI marked pipes are used with gas cylinders while cooking in schools.

  • Kellogg’s sustainable rice farming pilot yields positive results

  • A Battle Creek-based breakfast food and snack maker recently shared an update on a new rice farming initiative.

    Kellogg Company last week reported early positive results from the pilot year of its InGrained program, a five-year partnership with Lower Mississippi River Basin rice farmers to help reduce their climate impact.

    According to Kellogg, the InGrained program in 2022 helped farmers implement climate-smart irrigation practices, which achieved a reduction of more than 1,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases — the equivalent of taking more than 345 gasoline-powered cars off the road for one year.

    “Kellogg has established itself as a committed partner to farmers in implementing climate-positive agricultural practices in important crops like rice,” said Steve Cahillane, chair and CEO of Kellogg Company.

    Kellogg piloted the program in northeast Louisiana, where much of the rice is used in foods such as Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies treats.

    The company worked in collaboration with agricultural greenhouse gas measurement firm Regrow, rice producers, Kellogg supplier Kennedy Rice Mill and agribusiness firm Syngenta.

    “Not only are we helping farmers implement new practices on their farms, but farmers are telling us that, just as importantly, the quality of their rice was not affected by the adjusted irrigation practices,” said Stacey Shaw, senior sustainability lead at Syngenta.

    Rice production emits several greenhouse gases, most significantly methane. According to World Resources Institute, methane contributes approximately to 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cites methane as 25 times more potent than carbon monoxide.

    Going forward, Kellogg and its InGrained partners plan to make adjustments as they transition into the second year of the program while ensuring financial and technical support continue to help farmers with these new practices.

    Kellogg also said it will explore the possibility of expanding the program to include various regions with different weather patterns and soil types to determine if similar positive impacts are found.

  • Agriculture: Food security through climate-smart agriculture

  • Climate change manifests itself through rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. It has enhanced the production risk of agricultural farming, a business which has already been inherently risky for farmers due to high dependency on favourable weather conditions and volatile prices of crops in the market.

    Even if we put aside the megaflood of 2022, Pakistan’s farmers already feel the full brunt of climate change. For instance, the extraordinary heat wave in March 2022 reduced wheat yield significantly because grains could not reach their full size due to early higher temperatures in the range of 40–42 Celsius.

    Likewise, this heat wave also impacted the flowering of mango trees, which in turn decreased mango production in 2022. Negative effects of climate change can be seen in 2023 as well, where severe frost in January has adversely affected the potato crop in Punjab’s major potato-growing districts. As a consequence of such production decrease, Pakistan’s current food security situation is worsening, and it is likely to be aggravated further in the future.

    To decrease the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture, international development agencies are pursuing an integrated approach called climate-smart agriculture (CSA), which is primarily comprised of three components; increasing agricultural productivity, building resilience to climate change (adaptation), and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change (mitigation).

    With one of the lowest crop-water productivity in the region, two to five times more water is used to get the same amount of produce

    In Pakistan, a clear consensus does exist amongst relevant stakeholders for making necessary changes to our agriculture system and improving the management of natural resources, as outlined by CSA. Considering the current vulnerability of our agricultural system to climate change, here are some broad areas for intervention, which are now becoming increasingly crucial for farmers as well as the country’s food security.

    The biggest challenge being faced by our agriculture sector is low crop productivity. With the exception of a few, yields of our most crops remain below the world’s averages. Due to rising temperatures, winters are getting shorter in Pakistan, which is affecting our winter crops, including wheat, the largest staple food in the country. Similarly, higher temperatures and irregular rains, especially at pollination and maturity stages, are adversely affecting the yields of Kharif crops.

    Such variability in climate necessitates the availability of climate-resilient crop varieties that must be high-yielding, short-duration, and heat tolerant. Along with this, they must be able to tolerate water stress and waterlogged conditions. Without such varieties, nothing concrete can be achieved to cope with the menace of climate change.

    Unfortunately, Pakistan’s public sector research centres have failed to meet the nation’s expectations due to inadequate agricultural research budgets and poor human and institutional capacity. As a result, imported seeds have captured a good market share in Pakistan, which especially includes hybrid seeds of maize, rice, canola, sunflower, vegetables, and other crops.

    Relying on intensive research, multinational companies have continuously introduced improved crop varieties of these crops to cope with climate variations. However, such ever-increasing dependency on imported seed is not a long-term and sustainable solution for a country like Pakistan, which has a large agriculture sector.

    Therefore, what the country desperately needs is an enabling policy environment coupled with the right incentives for the private sector that can boost in-country seed production at a large scale. Only local production can enhance the provision of affordable quality seed to smallholders.

    Water is a critical agricultural input and plays a central role in food security. Pakistan has one of the lowest crop-water productivity in the region. We use two to five times more water compared to other countries to get the same production. However, water availability is becoming increasingly uncertain in the country due to an increase in extreme weather events like dry spells (droughts) and heavy rainfall.

    All of this necessitates increasing water management through various resource conservation technologies (RCTs), improving on-farm irrigation practices, and introducing water-smart farming. The greater usage of suitable RCTs like precision land levelling, raised bed planting, and various types of high-efficiency irrigation solutions can conserve a great deal of water and, in turn, the energy required to pump groundwater. Such energy saving would also reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

    Another related issue is the drainage of excess rainwater from fields caused by greater intensity and frequency of precipitation — another manifestation of climate change. The problem of standing water is increasing, especially in low-lying fields, and it has a very damaging effect on those crops that can’t tolerate waterlogged conditions. It is imperative to improve the drainage of rainwater from fields and its storage for subsequent usage.

    In Pakistan, a substantial amount of agricultural produce is already lost to crop pests and diseases during the production phase. Climate change is impacting the biology and outbreak potential of crop pests, which may further increase crop loss. Therefore, to ensure food security, it is high time to introduce climate-smart pest management aimed at reducing pest-induced crop losses, but with a lesser application of pesticides.

    The manufacturing and application of chemical fertilisers also produce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, ammonia, and nitrous oxide. In Pakistan, urea (nitrogenous fertiliser) is the most widely used fertiliser. Crops hardly take up 50 per cent of applied nitrogen, while the remaining runs off into waterways or gets broken down in the soil, releasing nitrous oxide. Hence, an increase in fertiliser use efficiency would not only mitigate climate change but also decrease fertiliser costs for farmers, which is on the rise.

    In conclusion, Pakistan needs a productivity-centric and resilience-focused CSA that could increase its agricultural production while decreasing the agriculture sector’s vulnerability to climate change, thereby ensuring food security in the country.

    However, in view of the country’s economic and financial problems, the real challenge is to identify, rank (prioritise), and then execute the most relevant interventions, which must be cost-effective and sustainable, with a higher impact.

    Khalid Wattoo is a farmer and a development professional Sara Mehmood is a researcher in forestry and environmental sciences

  • Punjab farmers refuse to phase out water-guzzling paddy…

  • Punjab farmers refuse to phase out water-guzzling paddy despite rapid groundwater depletion

    The state is the highest extractor of groundwater in the country and 97% of it is being used in irrigation, mainly for paddy.

    Despite years of discussions to phase out paddy in Punjab, owing to its impact on groundwater, latest data shows that the paddy crop area still dominates agriculture in the state. Paddy is currently grown over 87% of the total area under kharif crops (June-October) in Punjab, according to data shared by the Punjab Agriculture department which notes that in the current 2022-’23 kharif season, the area under paddy, was 3.1 million hectares out of 3.5 million hectares under kharif crops.

    Over 35 years ago, in 1986, a government report on crop diversification, led by economist SS Johl, recommended at least 20% area under paddy and wheat, the dominant crops in Punjab, should be shifted to other crops for ecological sustainability, primarily prevention of groundwater depletion. The predicted impact of a large paddy area on groundwater has come true – currently 80% of the state is in the red zone due to the overexploitation of groundwater.

    Punjab is currently the highest extractor of groundwater in the country and 97% of it is being used in irrigation, mainly for paddy, as per Central Ground Water Authority’s last available Ground Water Estimation report 2020. The seriousness of the problem was apparent in a statement by the monitoring panel of the National Green Tribunal NGT under Chairman Justice Jasbir Singh (retired) when it stated in May that if the present rate of extraction continues, the state would be left with groundwater for 17 years, till 2039.

    Paddy is a water-intensive crop and needs around 5000 litres to grow a kg of rice. Punjab had a diversified agriculture landscape before two cereal crops – paddy and wheat – were promoted as part of the Union government’s thrust to attain food security, later pegged as Green Revolution.

    The area under paddy in the state, which was 0.2 million hectares in 1960-’61, had increased almost five times to 1.1 million hectares by 1980-’81, data taken from Punjab State Farmers’ and Farm Workers’ Commission’s 2018 report revealed. The report has been removed from the public domain by the Punjab State Farmers’ & Farm Workers’ Commission after a new panel was announced recently. At the time of Johl’s report in 1986, the paddy area kept increasing and touched 2 million hectares by 1990-’91, an addition of almost 1 million hectares in one decade.

    In an interaction with Mongabay-India, Johl, now 92, said he had advocated the promotion of alternative crops since he could foresee the fast depletion of Punjab’s underground water on which irrigation of paddy was mainly dependent.

    However, farmers have been incentivised to stick with paddy production because of a few reasons, note various experts and government officials: there is almost 100% procurement of paddy at Centre’s minimum support price; harvesting and sowing has become easier; and agriculture extension services have helped to increase per hectare production.

    With paddy being cultivated over 3.1 million hectares in the current kharif season (June-October) and wheat crop cultivated in 3.5 million hectares in the current rabi season (November-April), the two cereal crops occupy almost 84% of the total gross cropped area of 7.8 million hectares in the state.

    Impact on groundwater

    Punjab’s wheat-paddy cycle consistently contributed to the Centre’s food security needs for the last several decades. In the 2021-’22 procurement season, Punjab contributed more than 12.5 million tonnes or 20% of total rice procurement of 56.8 million tonnes to the central pool managed by the Food Corporation of India. Similarly, the state contributed around 53% of wheat to the central pool in 2022.

    However, this high cultivation of paddy is fast-depleting groundwater in the state. As per the Central Ground Water Authority’s data obtained under the Right to Information Act in January, 119 out of 138 blocks in Punjab are currently in the over-exploited category as far as groundwater depletion is concerned. According to the agency’s reply, the situation is more serious in central and southern parts, including Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa, Bathinda, Moga, Ludhiana and Jalandhar – where paddy is the dominant crop in the kharif season. The state’s average groundwater depth at which water is available has crossed 70 meters (200 feet). In the last decade (2011-2020), overall depletion was 2-4 metres.

    “There are areas in southern districts of the state where the groundwater is not available even at 150-200 metres (450-600 feet),” Punjab’s former irrigation secretary KS Pannu told Mongabay-India. He said if this trend is not reversed anytime soon, Punjab will be left with no groundwater to irrigate its crops. “If the water level drops below 300 metres in the next 18-20 years, water quality becomes highly contaminated and unsuitable for irrigation or drinking. Even the cost of extraction will be too high for farmers,” Pannu said.

    While quoting from Central Ground Water Authority’s groundwater estimation report 2020, Pannu explained that the state is over-extracting 14 billion cubic metres of groundwater annually. The annual extractable groundwater recharge in Punjab from different sources like rainfall, etc., is 20 billion cubic metres, but the state is using 34 billion cubic metres of groundwater, he said.

    A water channel passes through a rice field in Punjab. The state is heading towards severe groundwater depletion if it continues with the existing cropping pattern. Credit: Gill Prabhnoor/Wikimedia Commons

    Factors sustaining paddy

    Responding to a question by Mongabay-India, on why the state failed to phase out paddy despite its adverse impact on groundwater, Gurvinder Singh, director of the department of agriculture in Punjab, reiterates the reasons that farmers stick to paddy farming: 100% procurement of the paddy at centre’s minimum support price and consistent economic returns for the farmers.

    While procurement data for the 2022-’23 season is not officially available yet, the centre spent Rs 1.45 trillion on procuring 75 million tonnes of paddy in the 2021-’22 season, followed by 89 million tonnes of paddy at Rs 1.69 trillion in 2020-’21 season.

    Gurvinder Singh said in the 2018 and 2019 crop seasons, the department convinced a section of farmers in districts most-affected by groundwater depletion, to grow maize in place of paddy. But the farmers returned to paddy the next season as there was minimum support price for maize. “Even if the government starts procuring alternate crops like maize or pulses at minimum support price, it will still be insufficient to match the income farmers get from paddy,” he said. He explained that farmers’ current earnings from paddy are between Rs 45,000 and Rs 50,000 per acre. On the contrary, per acre income from pulses or maize, even after minimum support price realisation will be Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000. “The income gap is basically due to low yield in alternate crops and further lack of proper sowing and harvesting techniques,” Singh added.

    Another indirect reason that paddy has been able to sustain is that water for its irrigation is highly accessible at no cost. Punjab offers free power for agriculture since 1997, allowed farmers to extract as much water from the ground through tubewells for free. The data obtained from Punjab Electricity Corporation’s Engineers Association revealed that power consumption in the agriculture sector in Punjab has almost doubled in the past two decades, an increase from 6,049 million units in 1997-1998 to 11,226 million units in 2018-’19. This also increased the Punjab government’s subsidy bill from Rs 6.58 billion in 1997-’98 to Rs. 72 billion in 2022-’23, which is projected to touch Rs 75 billion in the current fiscal year, data revealed further.

    In 2017, Punjab State Farmers’ and Farm Workers’ Commission recommended the withdrawal of free electricity to medium and large farmers and the use the money saved on subsidies to start an income support programme to promote alternate crops. The move, as per a report, could save at least half of the subsidy bill of the state government. But, these recommendations have not yet been implemented.

    Economist SS Johl told Mongabay-India that free power was one of the major hurdles why Punjab could not phase out paddy. “It led to wastage of groundwater and increased its consumption manifold. This must stop before it is too late,” said Johl.

    “Punjab’s problem is severe. We do have solutions to overcome them. But we lack political leaders who have farsightedness and can gather enough political will to take hard and strong decisions,” said Johl.

    Past failures

    A contract farming programme launched by the Punjab government in October 2002 aimed to remove 10 lakh hectares from the wheat-paddy cycle over the next five years as part of the crop diversification programme as recommended by another Johl-led committee in 2002. A pilot project to divert area under wheat-paddy to other crops began on over 11,000 (29,000 acres) jointly by the Department of Agriculture, Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation and private companies.

    The Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation provided seeds purchased from reputed seed companies and promised to buy back the entire production at a fixed price agreeable to farmers and procurement agencies.

    But Sukhpal Singh, an agriculture expert from Indian Management Institute, Ahmedabad, wrote in a research paper in 2005 that towards the end of harvesting season for the contracted crops, the programme had run into rough weather. The contracted maize crop failed almost completely due to weather-related issues and poor-quality seeds. None of the companies procured the produce. After this failure, occasional efforts were made to promote maize as an alternate crop to paddy but these efforts were without any income support programme.

    Farmers in Punjab get free electricity for irrigation. Credit: Baljot.22/Wikimedia Commons.

    In September, a special committee of Punjab Vidhan Sabha came out with a series of recommendations to save Punjab’s groundwater, which includes conserving water by agricultural zoning of the state and by metering groundwater. The committee also recommended reviving the canal water system in Punjab to reduce dependence on tubewells for irrigation.

    Many such studies and recommendations have been periodically made regarding conservation of groundwater in Punjab.

    New panel

    The new Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab, which won the election last year in March on the agenda of badlaav (change), recently announced another panel to formulate a new agriculture policy. On January 17, the state agriculture minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal told media that the government is working on a new policy, aiming to save Punjab’s natural resources such as groundwater, soil health and geographical conditions. In this policy, aspects like crop diversification, agri exports etc., would get special attention.

    Former bureaucrat KS Pannu, criticising the announcement, told Mongabay-India that Punjab needs the right intention more than anything else. “There is no dearth of solutions. For instance, it can optimise areas under canal irrigation to reduce dependence on groundwater. The government can initiate an income support programme to gradually phase out paddy. It can push the food processing industry and align it with the purchase of diversified crops at minimum support price,” he added.

    Economist Kesar Singh Bhangoo, from Punjabi University, Patiala, told Mongabay-India that Punjab could not succeed in crop diversification without the active support of the central government but currently it cannot afford Punjab to phase out area under paddy. “Look at what happened last year when the union government had to ban wheat and paddy export just after a decrease in food grain production in the country due to climate conditions,” he added.

    On the contrary, economist Johl, who also served as vice chairman of the Punjab state planning board between 2002 and 2007, argues that Centre can be convinced to help Punjab in its diversification programme. “After my second diversification report in 2002, I collaborated with the Union Food ministry. I convinced them for promoting oilseed production in Punjab, for which an initial grant of Rs 1600 crore was also approved. But later, no one from Punjab pursued this matter,” he added.

    Meanwhile, Darshan Pal, a member of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, a joint body of the farmers union, told Mongabay-India that any diversification plan without assured returns would not work.

    This article first appeared on Mongabay.

  • State to implement action plan to boost farmers’ income

  • While in several sectors, farmers’ income has been doubled, the Odisha Government is on a move to boost farmers’ income further with a roadmap to 2030.

    Accordingly, in order to enhance farmers’ income in the State, multiple strategies have been suggested by the State Committee on Enhancing Farmer’s Income (SCEFI).

    SCEFI Chairman Sanjeev Kumar Chadha has recently submitted a Detailed Strategy Report to the State Government.

    Chadha is Principal Secretary Co-operation and Special Secretary, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

    The Report of Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI) headed by Ashok Dalwai says that farmers' income in various sub sectors have more than doubled in the State.

    Dr Dalwai is appreciative of Millet Mission areas that have registered over two and a half times increase in productivity and income.

    In fact, the Millet Mission is one of the flagship programmes of the Odisha Government spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment.

    The SCEFI has gone into details of the production, productivity, enhancement of resources, enterprise diversification, climate smart agriculture, organic farming, marketing strategy, credit support, insurance support, use of technology and other issues.

    While Odisha has gone much ahead in production and productivity, more is needed to achieve the national average.

    Take for rice production, yield per hectare is 2,475 kg, where as national average is 2,722 kg per hectare and Punjab produces 4,034 kg per hectare.

    So far as pulses are concerned, Odisha produces 544 kg per hectare, where as Gujarat produces 1,172 kg per hectare and the national average is 823 kg per hectare.

    Total food grain production per hectare yield is 1,862 kg, where as India average is 2,343 kg and Punjab yields 4,527 kg per hectare.

    So far as oilseed is concerned, yield of Odisha is 945 kg per hectare, where as Tamil Nadu's yield is 2,626 kg per hectare and the national average is 1,224 kg per hectare.

    Total vegetables production is 14,197 kg per hectare in Odisha, while the national average is 18,262 kg per hectare and Uttar Pradesh's yield is 19,431 kg per hectare.

    Total fruits production in Odisha is 8.31 Metric Ton per hectare, where as all India average is 15.07 MT/Ha and Andhra Pradesh yield is 23.41 MT/Ha.

    Under this backdrop, the SCEFI has suggested multiple strategies, which are needed for enhancing the farmers’ income and it is expected that soon the State Government will come up with the implementation of an action plan for enhancing the income to next level, said sources.

  • Western Visayas farmers to receive inbred rice seeds

  • ILOILO CITY – Farmers in Western Visayas are set to receive certified inbred rice seeds for wet season planting.

    FARMERS in Western Visayas are set to receive in-bred rice seeds for wet season planting. (DA-6)

    The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has allocated 430,196 bags of seeds under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) program for them.

    Engr. Rojen Austria, Panay and Negros coordinator of RCEF, said these will benefit a total of 223,156 farmers across the region.

    Austria announced in a recent meeting here that these will be delivered to 133 local government units (LGUs) starting March.

    Iloilo will get 166,351 bags, followed by Negros Occidental with 101,216, Capiz, 63,391; Antique, 55,735; Aklan, 31,975; and Guimaras, 11,528.

  • Food ministry issues guidelines for open market sale of rice by FCI

  • Traders say the ministry’s decision would give a signal to the market for improving supplies and curb spike in price.

    Retail inflation in rice rose by 10.49% in December 2022 while prices rose by 10.51% in the previous month. FCI had last sold 2.49 MT of rice in the open market in 2020-21. (File/Pixabay)

    Following the government decision to sell 3 million tonne (MT) of wheat in the open market from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) stock commencing February 1, the food ministry has issued guidelines for initiating open market sale scheme (OMSS) of rice to states, private traders and entities engaged in ethanol production.

    While the food ministry will soon decide on the quantity of rice to be sold in the open market from FCI stocks, the guidelines have fixed rice prices for various categories of purchasers which would be valid for the current year. 

    Traders say the ministry’s decision would give a signal to the market for improving supplies and curb spike in price.

    Retail inflation in rice rose by 10.49% in December 2022 while prices rose by 10.51% in the previous month. FCI had last sold 2.49 MT of rice in the open market in 2020-21.

    In a communication to the FCI, the food ministry has fixed the price of rice to be allowed to be purchased by states, including fortified rice for distribution in their own schemes, at the rate of `3400/quintal.

    The ministry has set the reserve price of rice to be supplied for ethanol production under biofuel policy at `2000/quintal, while a price of `2400/quintal for private purchase through e-auction has been fixed, according to the guidelines.

    Private entities, with the exception of those engaged in ethanol production, would not be allowed purchase of rice in grain surplus states including Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana during paddy procurement period. The OMSS sale of rice would be allowed in deficit procuring states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

    The FCI has allocated 1.6 MT of rice from its stocks for ethanol production in the current year so far.

    The biofuel policy allows production of ethanol from damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice etc. which are unfit for human consumption. It also allows conversion of surplus quantities of food grains to ethanol, after the approval of the national biofuel coordination committee.

    The ministry has stated that in view of uncertainties of procurement and additional allocations of rice, the quantum of stocks to be offloaded, and timing, considering stock holding at the relevant point of time for all the schemes would be decided by it.

    At present, FCI has 15.4 MT of rice along with 31.5 MT to be received from millers which was far more than the buffer requirement of 13.8 MT for January 1.

    Meanwhile, close to four months since the commencement of paddy procurement by the FCI and state government agencies for the current kharif season (2022-23), the total purchase till Saturday was up by 2% on year at 64 MT.

     Higher grain procurement is expected to boost rice stocks held by FCI, which has been depleted by implementation of the free ration scheme that was implemented during April, 2020 – December, 2022.

    FCI distributes around 40 MT of rice and 18 MT of wheat annually under the National Food Security Act where 5 kg of grain per month per head are distributed free of cost to 800 million beneficiaries.  

  • Lamentation as helpless flood victims cry over unfulfilled govt promises

  • The flood that ravaged many states last year has receded but its impact on affected farmers lingers. JOSEPHINE OGUNDEJI tells the stories of victims

    People living in lowland areas are not new to flooding, because it is a perennial occurrence.  However, last year’s flood which ravaged many parts of the country was unprecedented. Many roads were washed off and rendered impassable while the flood lasted. Many became homeless as their houses were taken over by the flood. Farmlands were submerged in water, leaving farmers who have invested their life savings to count their losses.

    Although the flood has receded, those affected, especially farmers, have yet to recover from the havoc it wreaked. The challenges of the flood victims were further compounded because they did not hedge against their losses. Most of those affected had no insurance coverage for their farms. Their fate was hanging in the balance as they looked forward to help from the government and other well-spirited Nigerians.

    Farmers’ Ordeal

    Mohammed Sule was full of optimism as the harvest period of his 60,000 fish drew near in the middle of October.

    “My clients who include hotels in Lokoja and Abuja, eateries, and roasted fish sellers had all been contacted and the October 15 date had been fixed for the first batch harvest,” the Kogi State Chairman of Fish Farmers Association, Mohammed Sule, told our correspondent in an interview.

    According to him, “I have a very large farm that can take up to 100,000 fish. This time around, I stocked it with 64,000 fish.  Before the flood, they were four to five months old. I was looking forward to the October 15 harvest date.  I had already contacted interested buyers. None of the fish was less than 900 grams. Unfortunately, the flood came. At first, I tried to cover the pod with a net, but within 24 hours, the farm was overtaken by flood. That was how I lost everything I had invested.”

    Sule estimated his loss to the flood to be between N3m and N4m. He said, “The flood also affected all the fish farmers in my locality because most fish farms are located in the riverine areas. There are people who lost more than I. So, from the report I got from my members, we collectively lost over N500m across the state.

    “We are not expecting any help from any quarter. We just have to start all over. We just have to start looking for money to go back into the business. The fishes we are producing are not even enough for consumption in Lokoja alone, let alone the whole state. That is why you see that fish are brought from Ibadan, Lagos, and other states. Before now, we have been battling with the high cost of fish and with the flood; you can imagine what the farmers would be going through. Some people even invested their feeding money, which has gone down the drain.”

    He claimed that the impact of the flood has been devastating on fish farmers in Kogi State. “Those of us who have invested so much were thinking that at the end of October, we would be smiling to the bank. It has become a mere wishful thinking. Up till now, I have not been able to return, though the flood has receded.”

    The Kogi State Chairman of Fish farmers Association also disclosed that he lost over N50m to the flood in Koton-karfe in Kogi Local Government Area of the state.

    Sule disclosed that he and members of his association have not received any help from the government, individuals or corporate organisations. Sule said aside from a bag of 10 kg rice sent by an organisation, which he did not collect, no help whatsoever has come from anywhere in spite of several attempts to seek for assistance.

    He said, “In my farm, I have a lot of people I was training. They included N-power, National Directorate of Employment and the Hydro Power Producing Areas Development Commission trainees. Each of them sent in 50 or more people to me for training. So, the government is fully aware of our activities, but no one has approached us with an offer of assistance.”

    Similarly, Hassan Jimgba Mohammed said he invested over N6m in his rice, corn, and cassava farms in Obangede village, Koton-Karfe.

    According to him, most of the fund was invested in a100-acre farm, which has gone down the drain.

    “As I speak, none of my children is in school as I cannot afford to pay their school fees. The banks are on my neck and there has not been any hope of getting any assistance either from the government, individual or corporate organisations. My family and I are in a terrible situation. We are calling on the government to come to our aid; otherwise, I may not be able to go back to farming because there is no hope anywhere.”

    He also disclosed that he invested N1.5m in rice and cassava farms. According to him, it was close to the harvest season that the flood wreaked havoc. “I lost everything as my farm was covered with water,” he stated.

    “Unless some miracles happen or if the government comes to my aid, I may not be able to return to farming.”

    TheKogi State Commissioner of Information, Kingsley Fanwo, explained relief materials have been dispatched to critically affected areas such as Ibaji, Lokoja and Koton-Karfe.

    “We have structured our intervention programme into three: pre-flood, during the flood, and post-flood intervention. Part of the post-flood intervention is to work for three international organisations. We have well-structured intervention plans with them to support victims and it had been working well. Quite a number of victims have been rehabilitated. May be those you spoke to have not been lucky enough to get theirs. I am assuring them that they are in the picture of our plans and would be captured.

    “Also, we also have plans with the Ministry of Agriculture charged with the responsibility of getting food to flood-prone areas such as Ibaji, Koto, and parts of Lokoja, where the impact of the flood was most pronounced,” he said.

    The commissioner disclosed that the Ministry of Finance has also been mandated to assist the farmers, liaising with banks with a view to renegotiating their loans.

    “You know that before you can do this, the farmers have to be profiled to know genuine victims. In the coming weeks, the profiling would have been completed. So, let us be patient. They would be attended to.

    “Apart from providing palliatives, we are also embarking on an aggressive enlightenment campaign to enable farmers to be adequately informed about the dangers of flood and how to prepare before it arrives.”


    In 2016, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom introduced a work-free day for workers in the state to enable them to engage in farming activities. The work-free day was always declared at the beginning of planting season from June to August and during the harvest period, which in most cases lasts between November and January. The policy has helped many workers to face the current economic downturn that has made the regular payment of salaries a major challenge in the state.

    Our correspondent learnt that based on this policy, many people including artisans and workers in private sectors within the state have embraced farming to cushion the effects of the current economic lull. In addition, it was gathered that many people also used the opportunity to obtain loans from financial institutions to invest in middle and large-scale farming.

    For the past few years, both professional and subsistence farmers have had good testimonies for their investment until this year when many hectares of farmlands were submerged by flood. Farmers were left to count their losses.

    The Nigerian Meteorological Agency had in September 2022 warned of a high amount of rainfall, which may trigger flooding in some states based on the rainfall distribution recorded in the country in July and August 2022.

    Benue State was among the states at a high risk of flooding in North Central. However, no one envisaged the magnitude of the havoc it eventually wrecked as many houses and peoples’ livelihoods within Makurdi and other 11 local government areas of the state were buried in the water. Statistics from the State Emergency and Management Agency showed that 14,040 hectares of farmland were reportedly washed away.

    Further checks revealed that rice farmers were the worst hit by this year’s flooding since the crops are mostly planted around swampy areas.

    Benue Farmers Lament

    Our correspondent spoke to some farmers in the state on the lamentation of the affected farmers and the havoc the flood wreaked on their farms as well as its devastating effects on their families, the state, and the country as a whole.

    One of the commercial farmers, Vitalis Tarnongo who planted rice behind the University of Agriculture, Makurdi in Guma local government area of the state is not a happy man having lost over N60 million worth of rice plantation to flooding.

    According to him, the rice crops had grown fast and were already yielding good seeds when the flood came and washed away about 170 hectares of rice farm leaving him to lick his wounds.

    “This year’s flooding was terrible and devastating because the whole 175 hectares of land where I planted rice was completely submerged.

    “The economics of production stand at N364,000 per hectare translating to the sum of N63,700,000, so you can see a great loss I have incurred and this is really affecting me,” Tarnongo said.

    Also lamenting the pain caused by the flood is the organizing secretary of the State Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Sam Yuwa who said that everything now was at standstill.

    Yuwa said that he lost 19.4 hectares of rice farm to the flooding having invested close to N7m and was on the verge of insuring it when the flood came and washed away the farm.

    At the moment, Yuwa is in a fix, he is running helter-skelter on how to pay the loan incurred and meet family needs.

    He said, “I had about 23 hectares of farm rice but 19.4 hectares were in deep swamps which were flooded, I was preparing to insure the crop because I had filled the form remaining to submit it and was preparing to pay the money when the flood came.

    When asked to quantify his loss in monetary terms, Yuwa said, “the economics of production was N355,000 per hectare, so if you multiply it is in millions that went down the drain.

    “At the moment, I don’t know what to do next because, if not for the flooding by now, I should start harvesting. But right now, I don’t know how to get money to pay back the loan I invested into the farm.

    “I cannot deceive you; it is quite tough for me now because paying fees for my children in the university, and meeting other pressing needs like maintenance of my vehicle and others have been so difficult. Everything is just at a standstill”, Yuwa lamented.

    On the part of Jila Barnabas, an artisan made use of the state government work free day policy to turn a farmer at Tse Tyohemba, Modern Market Ward, Makurdi Local Government Area, Benue State.

    Unlike the mechanised farmers who have access to loans and invested a huge amount of money in big-time farming, Barnabas only cultivates a few hectares of farms to support his family’s needs and to make little money.

    According to him, what he cultivated this year was about six hectares of farmland where he planted rice but lamented that everything was washed away.

    He said, “I ventured into farming due to the state government policy of work free day for workers, though am not a civil servant but with the harsh economy, and when I saw some of my colleagues going into farming and giving good testimonies of what they make after harvest I decided to go into farming three years ago to support myself.

    “Last year I planted about two hectares of rice and cassava and it yielded good seeds and made a lot of money after harvest, so this year I have to increase my farm size from two hectares to six and was excited when the crop grew very well and was expecting a good harvest.

    “Unfortunately, the flood came and washed away everything, making me lose not only my time but also my investment.

    Barnabas appealed to state and federal governments to come to their aid by granting them grants to cushion the effects of the flood.

    He noted that there may be severe hunger in the coming year following this year’s flooding that ravaged some states of the federation except that the government pays attention to dry season farming.

    The State chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigerian, Aondoana Saku, lamented the impact of this year’s flooding in the state and expressed concern about the possible hunger that may hit the nation next year except the government do the needful by assisting farmers during irrigation farming.

    “The reason some of us take to farming is to be able to pay our bills, we were contending with the herders’ problem and now flooding.

    “We have lost so much to this flood that we can not quantify for now but I will appeal to the government both at the state and federal level to help farmers if the government can make the grant available to us especially as we are going into the dry season and if the government can encourage irrigation farming,” the State AFAN chairman said.

    Farmers in Bayelsa State are bemoaning their losses to the recent 2022 floods, which devastated their means of livelihood. While some of them expected the disaster, others did not.

    Many of them lost several farms to the catastrophe. They are afraid that the overwhelming destruction of farms by the flooding incident will cause more hunger and poverty in the months ahead as feeding will be difficult.

    Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH, one of the farmers, Brighten Oku, said the floods gravely affected his cassava farms and plantain plantation. According to him, the damage caused by the massive floodwaters will worsen food insecurity and increase hardship in the society.

    He said, “I planted cassava and plantain. The floods came unexpectedly. It took me unawares and my farms were affected. We could not salvage all our crops. It was difficult for us to harvest many of them. So I lost more than half of my crops to the floods.

    “And I know that with the Nigerian situation, with the bad economy, almost all farmers depend on their farms for survival; and the cost of living is high; things are costly in the market and we will find a lot of difficulty in terms of foodstuffs, and getting money to buy things in the market is a serious problem. Worst still, you can’t even get your crops to eat. So, it’s a very difficult situation.”

     Quantifying his loss in monetary terms, Oku disclosed that he lost over N500,000 to the devastation, adding that he would not be able to recover the huge loss.

     “Though I am not a commercial farmer, I have lost over N500,000 worth of crops and it is difficult to recover from the loss. And I am not certain of getting any loan because it is not easy for a farmer like me to access loans in this country. In the Nigerian system, you know; loans are not given to farmers. As it is now, I have to seek financial assistance from relatives and also borrow on an interest basis to be able to buy cassava stems and plantain suckers, and other things I need to begin planting again.

    “It is, therefore, very necessary for the government to look into the suffering of farmers, not just myself. If you look around, everywhere was covered by the floods and everybody is suffering as of today.

    “So, we expect that the government should do something in terms of soft loans to farmers; they should help us form co-operatives to enable us access loans so that we can fall back on the government to sustain our farming occupation,” he added.

    Another farmer, Rita Etemu, said, “The flood affected me very badly. I lost everything on my farms. I am an applicant and I have four cassava farms. I could not harvest much after the floods submerged my farms. I harvested just a little.

    “Even the cassava that I was able to harvest with my family, we harvested them inside water and because we could not get a canoe or boat to take them away early, some of them got rotten inside the water and we could not carry them again. That’s how we lost a good quantity of our cassava.”

    She said she had started farming early in order for her to also carry out early harvest before the water level will rise in the next rainy season, lamenting that the signs of hunger were already noticeable.

    Etemu added, “There will be hunger. In fact, hunger has started. We are already feeling it. In some of my four cassava farms, I could not harvest anything. The four farms are more than two hectares of land, and that means I lost over N1m. Because if I am able to harvest one acre and the cassava tubers are big, I might sell an acre for more than N100,000.”

    Like Oku, she also appealed to the government to come to the aid of farmers so that the shortage of food caused by the floods can be solved.

    “If the government can assist farmers like us, it will be nice; I mean they should help farmers financially with loans to get farming materials and cassava stems. Government should come to our rescue.

    “Devoted farmers are ready to cope with farming despite the flood disaster that destroyed farms and crops, and we believe that as far as there is life, there is hope. We can’t give up on life. Only lazy people give up on life. I know that once there is life, if you plant, you will reap because I believe the floods cannot happen every year.”

    Also, Galilee Ade, said she was yet to come to terms with the loss she incurred as a result of the flood catastrophe that impacted her three farms.

    She said, “I don’t know how to describe the flood and how it affected my plantain plantation and cassava farms. Like this farm where we are, I could not harvest all the crops when the floodwaters covered it. I have another farm inside that got totally submerged and I could not pick anything away by way of harvesting.

    “I was discouraged (by the disaster) but people encouraged me to resume farming and have hoped that things will be better. I don’t have the power to do farm work. I have children and school fees to pay so I can’t sit down and fold my hands and watch them unable to go to school, keeping them at home.

    “I was hoping that this year, when I harvest my crops, I will be able to sell and get some money to give to them to go to school as (ASUU) strike has been suspended and the floods have receded for them to resume school. Now my plantain and cassava crops that I hoped I would have harvested and sold to sponsor the children have been destroyed by the floods. I am just encouraged to farm again, hoping on God.”

    When asked how she and her children are managing to survive in the midst of the losses, Ade said, “It is by the grace of God. This year, people that did not farm will cry over the lack of cassava flakes. Myself that also laboured will also cry for hunger.

     “But anyhow, as long as we are alive, we are hopeful. That’s why I am encouraging myself to work on my farms again after the floods dried up just to make sure we don’t suffer too much.”

    Enabling Solution

    Speaking on the issue, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, Tope Adaramole, said insurance is one of the ways by which risks are mitigated, and when looking at the extent of damage occasioned by flooding in several states of the federation, it calls for farmers to be more circumspect.

    He said, “Farmers should be more circumspect in ensuring their farm produce, as well as everything used for farming purpose because whatsoever would make you lose your sleep, it is best you insure it. However, for farmers to be able to maximise their insurance, there is a need for them to engage the services of registered insurance brokers.

    “A lot of people have horrible stories to tell because they do not patronize insurance brokers who are the professional intermediaries in the insurance value chain, they are the ones that unlock the technicalities of insurance to farmers, educating them about what they are supposed to insure, how they are supposed to insure, with whom you are supposed to insure, and when a loss occurs, how such farmer would make a claim.

    “Insurance brokers are like lawyers; this is my advice to farmers as a precaution against subsequent damages that may come as a result of weather, overflow of water, fire, drugs, and even outbreak of diseases. This is because, when talking about agriculture, you are talking about every department of it including agronomy and animal husbandry. Agric-insurance is a special type of insurance composed of specialised insurance experts, you necessarily do not need to know everything about insurance, but when you know a broker and are ready to go along with the broker, you will not just know insurance, you will be able to maximise insurance.”

  • PNG to Start Major Rice Project in Central Province

  • Papua New Guinea's Minister for International Trade and Investment Richard Maru is hopeful a major rice project in Kairuku in Central Province will get off the ground this year.

    He says the project though will have to get the blessing from the Central Provincial Government, Kairuku District Development Authority, Hiri-Koiari DDA, impact communities, and the National Government, who own the Manumanu land at Gabadi.

    Rice investors from the Philippines, who visited the project site at Gabadi recently, say millions of Kina will be needed to finance the growing of rice on a commercial scale.

    Former Philippines Department of Agriculture Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Pinol, who leads the investor team, says they will need 1, 200 hectares to start this investment. 

    The availability of state land and close proximity to the Hiritano Highway and electricity grid are some of the deciding factors.  

    This decision was reached by a group of Filipino Rice Investors, after the conclusion of a two-day field trip up the Hiritano and Magi Highways of Central Province recently.     

    It was all thumbs up, a gesture of confirmation that rice can be grown on a large scale in the country. 

    A group of investors, from the Philippines, were satisfied after visiting villages along the Hiritano Highway, from Brown River, Vanapa, Gabadi, and Agevairu, and the Rigo Rice Farm along the Magi Highway last Thursday.

    Minister Richard Maru in a media statement confirmed the investors have chosen Gabadi in the Kairuku District of Central Province as the ideal location for a large-scale rice investment, under the nucleus estate concept. 

    Mr. Maru says rice farming is not new to the area. 

    He added that large-scale rice investment will see the establishment of an 800-hectare estate rice model farm and train and support local village out-grower farmers under family-owned or rice-cooperative farmers from Brown River to Vanapa, and Gabadi all the way to Bereina.

    The land they are interested in to set up the 800-hectare model rice farm with all the processing facilities is the recently acquired Manumanu State land which was recently acquired by the Government through Kumul-Consolidated Holdings Limited for K34 million.

    NBC News / PNG Today

  • USDA attache sees Australia 2022/23 wheat crop at 37 million tons

  • Following are selected highlights from a report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) post in Canberra:

    “Australia is set for a third consecutive record grain crop, and strong exports. Wheat production is estimated to have reached a record 37 million metric tons (MMT) in marketing year (MY) 2022/23, while barley is estimated to achieve 13.5 MMT of production, the fourth largest on record. The wheat and barley results were strongly supported by near ideal conditions in Western Australia and South Australia, but this was partially offset by excessive rains in much of the grain-growing regions of New South Wales and Victoria in September and October 2022.

    Wheat exports in MY 2022/23 are forecast to reach a record 28 MMT. For the summer crops, sorghum production in MY 2022/23 is estimated to achieve 2.9 MMT and, if realized, would be the third largest on record. The rice production forecast has been severely impacted by excessive rains in the lead up to planting, resulting in only around half of the area planted from what was previously expected.”
    Source: Reuters (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago)

  • USDA revises up Bangladesh’s rice production forecast

  • Haor farmers in Sylhet are currently toiling away to plant boro paddy with an aim to harvest their crop ahead of the coming rains as much of the paddy grown last year was washed away by early flooding. The photo was taken from Gowainghat upazila recently. PHOTO: Sheikh Nasir

    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revised upward its forecast regarding Bangladesh's rice production in the marketing year (MY) 2022-23 beginning from last May.

    Production of the staple grain is forecasted to be 3.58 crore tonnes in MY23, up from the USDA's official estimate of 3.56 crore tonnes, the agency said in its Grain and Feed Update on Bangladesh released by the end of last week.

    The USDA said it increased Bangladesh's rice harvested area and production forecast because of good Aman season rice harvest during the marketing year that begins with Boro and ends with Aman rice.

    The USDA said it hiked MY 2022-23 Aman season rice harvested area and production forecasts to 58.5 lakh hectares and 1.41 million tonnes respectively, which is higher than its estimates for MY 2021-22.

    The USDA said it increased Bangladesh's rice harvested area and production forecast because of good Aman season rice harvest during the marketing year that begins with Boro and ends with Aman rice.

    The USDA said it hiked MY 2022-23 Aman season rice harvested area and production forecasts to 58.5 lakh hectares and 1.41 million tonnes respectively, which is higher than its estimates for MY 2021-22.

    The agency estimates 1.97 crore tonnes of rice was produced during the last Boro season in MY23, which is 2 per cent higher than the 1.93 crore tonnes produced previously.

    However, cultivation of Aus season rice, which took place in March and April 2022 and was harvested in July and August, dropped 24 per cent from the previous year as severe floods affected the north and north-eastern parts of the country during planting.

    Yet, overall production was equal to the 3.58 crore tonnes estimated by the USDA for MY22 thanks to higher yields of Boro and Aman.

    And despite no change in overall production, prices of all types of rice prices remained high through the third and fourth quarters of 2022.

    "Usually, rice prices decline at harvest; however, higher production costs, high milling and transportation costs, appreciation of the US dollar, and high inflation were the major factors contributing to the high rice prices this year," the USDA report said.

    In December 2022, the average retail price of coarse rice reached Tk 50.55 per kilogramme, which was approximately 7 per cent higher than what it was during the same period the year before.

    This season, farmers harvested Aman rice in November and December 2022. The average retail price of high-quality nonaromatic (fine) rice hit Tk 75 per kilogramme last December, up by approximately 3 per cent compared to the same period the year prior, it added.

    While prices of wheat flour hit a record high in January 2023, the average retail price of unpacked coarse wheat flour, also called aata, hit a record of Tk 61.6 per kilogram, up approximately 70 per cent year-on-year, the USDA said.

    At the same time, the average retail price of fine quality unpacked wheat flour, called maida in Bangladesh, reached Tk 72 per kilogramme, which was also a record high.

    The USDA report said since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, all types of wheat flour prices have been rising due to supply chain disruptions and higher international prices.

    India's wheat export ban on May 13, 2022, and the appreciation of the US dollar against Bangladesh's taka aggravated the situation further as most wheat is imported.

    "Due to the high price of all types of wheat flour, demand has fallen significantly at the consumer level," the USDA said, citing industry contacts that high wheat flour prices would likely continue until the wheat harvest begins in Bangladesh in April 2023 and India allows exports again.

  • African scientists root for hybrid rice to beat climate-induced hunger crisis

  • The Large-scale adoption of hybrid rice, which has proved effective in withstanding climatic stresses, pests and diseases, is paramount to tackling Africa's hunger and malnutrition crisis, scientists have said.

    NAIROBI, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The large-scale adoption of hybrid rice, which has proved effective in withstanding climatic stresses, pests and diseases, is paramount to tackling Africa's hunger and malnutrition crisis, scientists have said.

    Emmanuel Okogbenin, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) director for program development and commercialization, noted that the introduction of improved rice varieties will boost food security and tackle rural poverty in the continent.

    "We are encouraging farmers to adopt hybrid rice that is adaptable to different ecologies and whose yield levels are high, which is key to food security and improved incomes for rural communities," Okogbenin said.

    The file photo shows farmers raising hybrid rice seedlings in Kihanga, Bubanza Province, Burundi, on Oct. 29, 2022. (Xinhua/Dong Jianghui)

    He spoke during a tour of the Mwea irrigation scheme in central Kenya, where AATF has facilitated the introduction of hybrid rice to test its resilience in the face of extreme weather events, invasive pests, and diseases.

    According to Okogbenin, hybrid rice introduced in central Kenya has registered a doubling of yields at the small-holder level besides boosting the socioeconomic status of farmers.

    He stressed that the unfolding climate crisis in Africa, coupled with the spread of voracious pests, diseases, and loss of soil fertility, calls for a shift from conventional to improved rice varieties.

    The file photo shows a farmer pollinating in a hybrid rice field in Kihanga, Bubanza Province, Burundi, on Oct. 29, 2022. (Xinhua/Dong Jianghui)

    Sheila Ochugboju, executive director of the Alliance for Science, called upon African governments, research institutions, and industry to facilitate the deployment of improved rice varieties to small-holder farmers as part of climate adaptation in the agriculture sector.

    Ochugboju added that extension services in Africa should be revamped to help farmers access information, improved seeds, fertilizer, and modern post-harvest storage facilities.

    She noted that hybrid rice is not only climate smart but is also rich in nutrients and ideal for tackling growing micronutrient deficiency among children in the continent.

    Ochugboju said friendly policies and regulations, farmers' training, and investments in modern storage facilities will be key to spurring greater adoption of hybrid rice in Africa.  

  • Punjab ‘mandis’ see 56% jump in basmati rice arrival

  • According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    Over a half-a-dozen districts have procured more than 1 lakh tonnes to 5 lakh tonnes of basmati this financial year. (Representational/File)

    After the three-month harvest season ended in November, Punjab’s agricultural market popularly called ‘mandis’ witnessed an increase in the arrival of basmati (aromatic fine-quality rice). The market saw a jump of 56 per cent (22.12 lakh tonnes) till January 24 as compared to last season.

    Moreover, the farmers are getting around Rs. 4,400 to Rs. 4,745 for one quintal of basmati this year, which is also quite high. Last year they were getting between Rs 3,000 to 4,000 per quintal rate.

    Last financial year, 14.17 lakh tonnes of basmati arrived in the ‘mandis’ which was 7.95 lakh tonnes less than the total arrival this year. Over a half-a-dozen districts have procured more than 1 lakh tonnes to 5 lakh tonnes of basmati this financial year.

    According to the Punjab Mandi Board, Amritsar district tops the list where around 5.55 lakh tonnes of basmati rice has been procured followed by Fazilka where 4.12 lakh tonnes arrived in the ‘mandis’.  Apart from this, Patiala recorded 1.98 lakh tonnes, Sir Muktsar Sahib 1.86 lakh tonnes, Tarn Taran 1.75 lakh tonnes, Sangrur 1.69 lakh tonnes, Faridkot 1.22 lakh tonnes and Gurdaspur around 1.22 lakh tonnes.

    Firozpur’s basmati arrival was recorded as 88, 174 tonnes, followed by Mansa (61, 843 tonnes), Kapurthala (42,092 tonnes), Ludhiana (35, 323 tonnes), Moga (19,083 tonnes), Bathinda (16, 178 tonnes), Jalandhar (7,062 tonnes), Nawanshahr (3,888 tonnes), and Mohali (1, 275 tonnes).

    Minor quantities of basmati also arrived from Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, and Fatehgarh Sahib where 343, 153, and 115 tonnes of basmati were recorded, respectively. According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    Like paddy crops, basmati is not procured by the government and mostly big exporters and traders purchase it. The rate is highly dependent on the demand of the private players. There is a big demand for Punjab basmati rice in foreign countries, particularly in West Asia.

    Ten varieties of basmati, including six recommended by Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, are grown in Punjab. The recommended variety of PUSA-1121 is cultivated in 43% of the total area this season, followed by Punjab Basmati 1718 and PUSA Basmati 1509.

    The crop was cultivated in around 4.50 lakh hectares of the area in Punjab this year. If the basmati area can be expanded to 10 lakh hectares it will help the state achieve its long-desired objective of diversification and save a huge amount of groundwater being consumed by water-guzzling paddy crop (non-Basmati Parimal rice) every year even though Punjab should not grow paddy on more than 14-15 lakh hectares. Currently, the area of paddy farming has almost doubled the required limit.

  • S.Korea’s rice consumption hits record low in 2022

  • SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Rice consumption in South Korea hit a record low last year due to the change in eating habits, statistical office data showed Friday.

    The per-capita rice consumption averaged 56.7 kg in 2022, down 0.4 percent from the previous year, according to Statistics Korea.

    It was the lowest since relevant data began to be compiled in 1962. Last year's rice consumption was about half of 112.9 kg tallied 30 years ago.

    The consumption of rice, the country's staple food, has been on the decline for the past decades amid the change in eating habits. The per-capita consumption of other grain, including barley, wheat and bean, declined 2.4 percent to 8.0 kg in 2022.

    Among food and beverage manufacturers, rice consumption grew 1.7 percent over the year to 691,422 tons in 2022 due to solid demand for ready-to-eat items. Enditem

  • Global rice supplies challenge could impact Caribbean food security situation

  • With predictions emanating from the global Analytics company, GRO Analytics Intelligence, regarding a likely sharp reduction in rice production in 2022/2023 (a projection with which the United States Department of Agriculture concurs), it would be instructive to attempt to assess the implications of this pronouncement for Guyana, the foremost rice grower in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

    GRO’s recent Intelligence Report made no mention of Guyana in its projection on the state of the global rice industry in the period ahead, its primary focus targeting some of the ‘heavy hitters’ in the sector, including India and China, never mind the fact that the fortunes of Guyana’s rice industry have an important bearing on the food security bona fides of other Caribbean territories. The causes of the projected underperformance of the global rice sector, according to GRO Analytics, range from “weather events in the rice-growing heartlands of Asia to crop diseases and consequential damaged harvests in other parts of the world.” The predicted production decline, GRO is quoted as saying, is hinged to “a reversal following consecutive years of increased rice harvests worldwide.” The GRO report also asserted that it was the previous plentiful supplies forthcoming from global rice giants like India, which, for the most part, had “helped to forestall even worse food security crises in those parts of the world that had been gripped by sustained famine.”...

  • Punjab ‘mandis’ see 56% jump in basmati rice arrival

  • According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    Over a half-a-dozen districts have procured more than 1 lakh tonnes to 5 lakh tonnes of basmati this financial year. (Representational/File)

    After the three-month harvest season ended in November, Punjab’s agricultural market popularly called ‘mandis’ witnessed an increase in the arrival of basmati (aromatic fine-quality rice). The market saw a jump of 56 per cent (22.12 lakh tonnes) till January 24 as compared to last season.

    Moreover, the farmers are getting around Rs. 4,400 to Rs. 4,745 for one quintal of basmati this year, which is also quite high. Last year they were getting between Rs 3,000 to 4,000 per quintal rate.

    Last financial year, 14.17 lakh tonnes of basmati arrived in the ‘mandis’ which was 7.95 lakh tonnes less than the total arrival this year. Over a half-a-dozen districts have procured more than 1 lakh tonnes to 5 lakh tonnes of basmati this financial year.

    According to the Punjab Mandi Board, Amritsar district tops the list where around 5.55 lakh tonnes of basmati rice has been procured followed by Fazilka where 4.12 lakh tonnes arrived in the ‘mandis’.  Apart from this, Patiala recorded 1.98 lakh tonnes, Sir Muktsar Sahib 86 lakh tonnes, Tarn Taran 1.75 lakh tonnes, Sangrur 1.69 lakh tonnes, Faridkot 1.22 lakh tonnes and Gurdaspur around 1.22 lakh tonnes.

    Firozpur’s basmati arrival was recorded as 88, 174 tonnes, followed by Mansa (61, 843 tonnes), Kapurthala (42,092 tonnes), Ludhiana (35, 323 tonnes), Moga (19,083 tonnes), Bathinda (16, 178 tonnes), Jalandhar (7,062 tonnes), Nawanshahr (3,888 tonnes), and Mohali (1, 275 tonnes).

    Minor quantities of basmati also arrived from Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, and Fatehgarh Sahib where 343, 153, and 115 tonnes of basmati were recorded, respectively. According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    Like paddy crops, basmati is not procured by the government and mostly big exporters and traders purchase it. The rate is highly dependent on the demand of the private players. There is a big demand for Punjab basmati rice in foreign countries, particularly in West Asia.

    Ten varieties of basmati, including six recommended by Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, are grown in Punjab. The recommended variety of PUSA-1121 is cultivated in 43% of the total area this season, followed by Punjab Basmati 1718 and PUSA Basmati 1509.

    The crop was cultivated in around 4.50 lakh hectares of the area in Punjab this year. If the basmati area can be expanded to 10 lakh hectares it will help the state achieve its long-desired objective of diversification and save a huge amount of groundwater being consumed by water-guzzling paddy crop (non-Basmati Parimal rice) every year even though Punjab should not grow paddy on more than 14-15 lakh hectares. Currently, the area of paddy farming has almost doubled the required limit.

  • Investors pursue rice farming

  • The government is fulfilling its plan to importing less and developing more local agriculture industry by inviting investors to collaborate with the government and local people in developing large agricultural farms.

    This week Minister for International Trade and Investment, Richard Maru received one of the first groups of investors, the Number one Filipino Rice Farmer, Danilo Bolos and accompanied his delegates of technical people to parts of Kairuku district to pursue rice-farming prospects.

    On Wednesday 25 January, the team of Members of Parliament including Richard Maru, Vice Minister Kessy Sawang and Member for Kairuku, Peter Isoaimo, visited possible rice farming land in Kairuku district.

    They were accompanied by Philippines former Secretary for Department of Agriculture, Dr. Emmanul Pinol and Bolos, to talk with the landowners regarding land for rice farming.   

    “Councilor, these are investors and they will not put their money, their time and effort in any land where there will be dispute. That’s why the model farm must be on state land, not customary land. But you can plant up your own, after you get the training and support from the main model farm,” said Minister Maru. 

    The aim of the visit is also to check the soil samples as well as securing a state land that has ample land to build a rice farming mill site which will help improve the livelihood of the surrounding villages in terms of job opportunities and creating sustainable rice farming pathways for the locals.

    Dr. Pinol who made first contact with PNG government said the discussion about the possibilities of growing rice in PNG goes back to the former government under Peter O’Neill. 

    “Today I’m out of government and I come back to fulfill a promise to government. I made to Minister Maru and Prime Minister Marape that I will help even in my private capacity to achieve the dream of PNG to produce your own rice. I know that you have been told that you cannot grow your own rice you cannot plant rice in PNG. It is wrong. The truth is that PNG & Indonesia are two of the countries in the world with the most number of wild rice varieties,” Dr. Pinol said. 

    The investors have also plans to grow other crops as well if the rice project is successfully completed as they see PNG has the largest land mass that hasn't been occupied by large scale commercial farming compared to Philippines.


  • Soaring rice price shows food inflation still stalking the world

  • Rice prices are climbing, a sign that the food inflation shock that threw millions into poverty is still reverberating, even as the cost of wheat and other farm commodities has declined.

    Thai rice, a benchmark for Asia, has soared to the highest in almost two years. Strong demand lies at the heart of the rally, with some importers buying more of the grain to replace wheat after the war in Ukraine disrupted supplies. Some consumers have also been stocking up ahead of festivals, while a strengthening Thai currency has also helped to push up dollar-denominated prices.

    Rice is a staple for half the world, and while wheat soared to a record in March last year, rice was relatively subdued for most of 2022, constraining food inflation in Asia. Costlier rice now will be unwelcome news for billions of people from China to India and Vietnam. The United Nations has flagged the rise in prices as a risk, saying it’s important to stay vigilant on food security.

    Thailand, the second-biggest rice shipper, has seen strong demand from Iraq and Indonesia, said Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association. “Iraq has been diligently buying our rice every month,” he said. The Middle Eastern country was the single largest buyer last year.

    But as Thai rice prices get more expensive, new orders have started to slow. Buyers in China and Malaysia are switching to cheaper options, and prices may start easing around March

    when the new crop hits the market, Chookiat said.

    Even then, the Thai price would be higher than a similar Vietnamese grade, he said. The Thai benchmark was last quoted at $523 a ton, the highest since March 2021. Vietnam prices were more than 10% cheaper at about $458-$462.

    The association cut its forecast for Thailand’s rice exports this year to 7.5 million tons from 8 million, according to Chookiat. Shipments reached 7.7 million tons last year, the highest in four years, according to preliminary data.

    Read more at:


  • Exports dip for third month in a row in December

  • Exports dropped for a third straight month in December, falling by 14.6% year-on-year, leading to annual growth of 5.5% in 2022.

    The Commerce Ministry reported yesterday the customs-cleared value of exports contracted 14.6% to US$21.7 billion last month, while imports decreased by 12% to $22.8 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $03 billion.

    Exports of agricultural and agro-industrial products declined for three consecutive months, contracting 11.2% year-on-year in December to $3.59 billion.

    Products that registered a decrease included rice (-4.1%), cassava products (-12.4%), rubber (-47.7%), canned and processed fruits (-20.5%), and sugar (-45.4%).

    Industrial product exports also dipped for a third consecutive month, falling by 15.7% from December last year to copy7.2 billion.

    Products that decreased included automobiles, equipment and parts (-17.1%), oil-related products (-25.7%), computers and equipment (-24.3%), and gems and jewellery (excluding gold) (-12.4%).

    The export contraction last month was attributed mainly to the slowdown in the global economy and weak consumer purchasing power, especially in major markets such as the US, the EU, China and Japan. Other Asian countries also reported a drop in exports.

    The ministry cited some positive factors, including the continued decline in freight rates, the implementation of the ministry's shipment strategies and the recovery of international tourism, which resulted in higher exports of related products.

    For 2022, exports expanded by 5.5% to $287 billion, while imports rose by 13.6% to $303 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of 16.1 billion.

    "The export growth of 5.5% exceeds the ministry's target of 4%," said Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit. "This stems from the ministry's efforts to facilitate and stimulate exports, including a successful attempt to lower border trade obstacles by negotiating with neighbouring countries and working with both public and private sectors in central and provincial areas."

    According to Mr Jurin, the meeting of the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee on Commerce, which includes the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Industries and the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC), agreed to set an export growth target of 1-2% this year.

    In a related development, Chaichan Chareonsuk, president of the TNSC, said the Bank of Thailand has been asked to help tackle the baht's appreciation as a strong baht will adversely affect the pricing and competitiveness of exports compared with competitors' goods priced in weaker currencies.

  • India, Bangladesh, Myanmar ‘paddy diplomacy’

  • Bangladesh has offered over $40 a tonne more to Indian cooperatives to import 2.5 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice in a government-to-government deal compared with prices quoted by the private trade in a global import tender. The import deal will be through NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers Federation) and Kendriya Bhandar in two tranches with Dhaka getting rice at $443 and $443.5 a tonne each, according to media report.

    Two Indian co-operatives will export 2 lakh tonnes of rice under government-to-government deal to Bangladesh, which will also buy another 50,000 tonnes from private traders in India. The G2G deal has taken place at 11 % higher than the tender price of the private trader. “The two co-operatives will get a huge premium of $40/tonne over the private trade, which will earn a huge profit for the government. The private trade has been in losses by undercutting each other in fierce competition,” said an exporter, who requested not to be identified.

    New Delhi-based Kendriya Bhandar (Central Government Employees Consumer Co-operative Society) will supply 1 lakh tonnes of non-Basmati par-boiled rice within 75 days from the date of opening of letter of credit at $ 433.50/tonne. Kendriya Bhandar will have to ship 70% of the total contracted quantity by ship and the remaining 30% by train. National Cooperative Consumers Federation of India will supply another 1 lakh tonnes of par-boiled rice to Bangladesh at $ 433.60/tonne within 70 days from the date of opening of the letter of credit.

    According to trade sources, Raipur-based rice exporter has bagged the tender to supply 50,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh at $ 393.30 per tonnes. India has banned export of broken rice on concerns about its kharif rice output, while it has put a duty of 20% on export of rice. Meanwhile, the rice exporters from India had requested the commerce ministry to take up the issue of transparency in Government-to-Private (G2P) trade with Bangladesh during a delegation level discussion of commerce minister Piyush Goyal with Bangladesh commerce minister Tipu Munshi.

    “Many times, we face rejection when our goods reach Bangladesh ports. In case of the trade taking place through the land border, our trucks get stranded for 4/5 days to get clearance to cross the border,” said another rice exporter, who did not wish to be identified. It is heard the term ‘Myanmar-Bangladesh rice diplomacy recently through media platforms. The use of rice as a diplomatic tool has received global media coverage (the sun daily , modern diplomacy , eurasia review, pakistan today , burma news international , counter review) despite Myanmar-Bangladesh tensions. There is nothing new to say about the influence of food on politics. It is really appreciable that Myanmar and Bangladesh have already started rice diplomacy to mend the ties. Now, time will say how fruitful Myanmar-Bangladesh rice diplomacy would be.

    In ancient times, many kings used food as a diplomatic tool to entertain their guests. The tradition continues in the modern political world. Many leaders of political parties and presidents have used and continue to use food diplomacy to strengthen relations between allies or diffuse tensions with opponents. According to an English report, Rice appears to have emerged as a favourite diplomatic tool for building strong ties with neighbouring Myanmar and Bangladesh. It is said that the product is a staple food for most people in countries like Indonesia and Thailand and neighbouring countries like China and India. The agriculture sector is one of the most important and strategic sectors for the survival of a country. Without food, the country can experience chaos and bankruptcy. Bangladesh government relies on various measures to maintain rice availability. The most popular way is to import rice. This import policy causes a lot of damage because Bangladesh is an agricultural country or country that mainly has rice.

    Although Bangladesh’s agricultural sector is one of the best sectors, the country continues to import rice. Due to the current state of the world facing a global food crisis due to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, many countries have closed their doors to exports to maintain their domestic reserves. Rice is an essential product in the life of the people of Bangladesh. Dhaka, which imports about a million tonnes of rice every year, has ordered imports from Myanmar despite tensions between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    Since agriculture and livestock are the backbone of Myanmar’s economy, it earns foreign exchange from rice exports beyond self-sufficiency. The state is helping stockholders including farmers and investors to bring business opportunities. According to a memorandum of understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the rice trade, two lakh tonnes of white rice will be exported from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

    For the first time, 2,650 tons of rice will be sent directly to Bangladesh in January 2023. According to data from the ministry of commerce of Myanmar, according to the government-to-government agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Myanmar sent 150,000 tons of white rice to Bangladesh in 2022. Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice trade on September 8 this year.

    According to this MoU, Bangladesh has agreed to buy 250,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027. According to the memorandum of understanding, the food directorate of Bangladesh and the Myanmar Rice Federation signed an agreement to sell 200,000 tons of Myanmar white rice for export to Bangladesh. According to the sales agreement, Myanmar has exported around 15,000 tonnes of white rice to Bangladesh till 19 December 2022. The remainder will be delivered within the deadline. According to the Government-to-Government pact between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Myanmar has sent over 174,000 tonnes of white rice to Bangladesh by sea, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

    Myanmar and Bangladesh inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice trade on 8 September this year. As per the MoU between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the rice trade, 48 companies, under the supervision of the Myanmar Rice Federation, are to export 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh with Chinese yuan payment between October 2022 and January 2023. Under the contract, white rice (ATAP) GPCT Broken STX variety will be delivered. The FOB prices were 2.78856 Yuan per kilogramme and 2788.56 Yuan per tonne.

    Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Food and MRF signed the sales contracts as per the MoU and Myanmar sent 100,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh each in 2017 for the first time and 2021 for the second time, as per the sales contract. Myanmar and Bangladesh have started practicing their rice diplomacy. Myanmar supplies to Bangladesh will deepen their ties. This can be a great effort by both sides to build good relations with the Bangladeshi and Myanmar governments. It will also build good bilateral relations between the people of Bangladesh and Myanmar. In the short term, the new generation on both sides wants better relations in terms of economy, tourism, etc.

    There may be some problems between Bangladesh and Myanmar. However, these issues (Rohingya refugees and border issues) should be properly addressed by both sides. Bangladesh is going to become the economic miracle of South Asia. Bangladesh is praised by the international community in every international forum. Ping-pong diplomacy led by China and the United States was set up to strengthen their relationship. We can also expect another application of ping-pong diplomacy similar to rice diplomacy. Paddy’s diplomacy is a small initiative but its significance is huge. This small initiative will turn into a great achievement for both parties. A high-level official visit could be a step to strengthen ties. The two prime ministers may exchange visits to normalize relations. This is good news for Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    The writer is a London-based Bangladeshi expatriate who is a Bangladesh and Myanmar affairs observer, analyst, and researcher

  • 133K metric tons of imported rice arrive

  • AT least 132,798 metric tons of imported rice have arrived amid the increasing retail prices of the staple food in the country.

    Based on the data from BPI, as of Jan. 19, 2023, the bulk of the rice imports came from Vietnam with 110,686 MT; followed by Thailand, 10,225 MT; Myanmar, 10,920 MT; Pakistan, 1,067 MT; and India, 80 MT.

    The BPI added that fresh rice imports were covered by the 152 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs).

    According to the BPI, at least 39 accredited importers brought the grains.

    Based on the monitoring of the Department of Agriculture in the local markets, the retail prices of local regular milled rice ranged from P34 to P40 per kilo; local well-milled rice, P38 to P44 per kilo; local premium rice, P42 to P49 per kilo; and local special rice, P48 to P60 per kilo.

    The DA added that the imported regular milled rice was pegged between P37 and P38 per kilo; imported well-milled rice, P40 to P45 per kilo; imported premium rice, P43 to P52 per kilo; and imported special rice, P46 to P55 per kilo.

    Farmers' group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) President Rosendo So has said that the retail prices of rice have increased.

    So added that the upward trend is expected to continue this year.

  • Paddy farmers are helpless as rice plants turn yellow.

  • COLOMBO (News 1st) – Sri Lankan rice farmers who feed the nation are in a situation where they cannot even afford their own meals.

    This can be attributed to the diseases that is turning rice plants yellow, which is spreading across a plethora of paddy lands in the country.

    Farmers from Henkola Wewa that falls under the Mahasen Bedum Ela Agrarian Organization in Polonnaruwa commenced the Maha Season cultivation with high hopes.

    However, their dreams of a rich harvest were shattered by the disease that is turning rice plants to yellow.

    Farmers claim that around 800 acres of rice fields have been affected, leaving the farmers at a massive loss.

    Farmers also said that they immediately informed the authorities when they noticed the disease in the initial stages, however, the relevant officials turned a blind eye to the issue.

    In addition, over 100 acres of rice fields in the Weligepola area in Ratnapura have also been affected  by the disease that is turning rice plants to yellow.

    Another 6,000 acres of paddy land in the Rajanganaya Agrarian Settlement have been destroyed by the same disease.

    The same fate had befallen many other rice cultivations across the country.

    The Rice Research and Development Institute (RRDI) in Bathalagoda said that tests have revealed that organic fertilizer was NOT a cause for rice plants to turn yellow.

    Director of the Rice Research and Development Institute (RRDI) Dr. Jayantha Senanayake told News 1st that the samples obtained from paddy lands and organic fertilizer samples obtained from the possession of farmers, are being subject to tests.

    He added that remedies are available to address the situation.

  • European Rice to participate at Gulfood 2023.

  • The mega trade fair will be held in Dubai at the World Trade Center from 20th to 24th February 2023.

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates: European Rice, an EU-funded promotional program has announced its participation at the upcoming Gulfood 2023. The mega trade fair will be held in Dubai at the World Trade Center from 20th to 24th February 2023.

    European Rice aims to spread awareness among consumers in targeted countries and among professionals such as food experts, distributors and wholesalers about the authenticity and unique production quality of European rice produced in Greece at ZA'ABEEL HALL Z5-160. At Gulfood 2023, European Rice will showcase its unique product in front of the global food industry and guests will have the opportunity to taste the European rice from Greece!!

    “We are very excited to be a part of Gulfood 2023. We have been regular participants of the biggest trade show in Middle East and are confident that this year’s show will be another stellar performance. Gulfood is not only an opportunity for us to connect and network with peers from the industry, but also serves as an important platform to share and discuss best practices,” said Mr Konstantinos Giannopoulos, general manager of EASTH, the union of co-operatives that is in charge for the European Rice program.

    European Rice found fertile soil in Mediterranean Europe and was grown, loved and became part of European culinary tradition since then. European rice is today distinguished for its quality and nutritional value. It is rich in B-complex vitamins, such as Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin and Selenium, while the carbohydrates contained in its endosperm constitute an important source of energy for the human organism.

    “European Rice is the finest quality of rice, with rich nutrition value. At Gulfood 2023, our aim is to share and create more awareness about our production of rice, which is driven through high and sustainable tech solutions. While this platform will enable us to create more credibility and awareness about European Rice, we are optimistic that this edition will be a game changer for us to highlight the uniqueness of our products,” added Mr. Christos Tsichitas, president of EASTH.

    The European Rice Market is sub-divided in two different segments, namely, INDICA RICE a long grain variety which represents around 25% of EU rice production and JAPONICA RICE, a short and medium grain variety which is the traditional European rice and represents around 75% of EU rice production.

    Driving creativity and change, the 28th edition of Gulfood will continue to unite food and beverage communities around the world, and act as an industry trend springboard and a global sourcing powerhouse. The event is expected to host over 5000 companies from more than 120 countries, a line-up of industry thought leaders, and the world's greatest chefs chart the way forward and inspire industry-wide transformation for the good of the entire ecosystem.

  • Indian rice export prices soar to near 2-1/2-year high

  • Traders compete with FCI for stocks; currency movements, too, sway prices

    Export prices of Indian white rice have increased by over 10 per cent over the past fortnight to nearly a 30-month high. The surge in prices is in view of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) procuring more rice for the central pool and global currency movements, exporters and traders said.

    The Centre’s decision to end the distribution of free grains under Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), which is in addition to the normal supply under various welfare schemes, has also resulted in the prices rising, they said. 

    This is because those who were getting rice under the scheme are now seeking rice from the open market. 

    Near MSP levels

    “Exporters have to compete with the FCI to get rice. This has pushed up rice prices. Once it ends procurement, we could see some correction,” said New Delhi-based exporter Rajesh Paharia Jain.

    FCI procurement of kharif rice is 20 per cent higher year-on-year, he said. 

    “Parboiled prices have increased by 30 per cent in the past couple of weeks to ₹29,000 a tonne from ₹22,000. Talks of Bangladesh buying rice under a government-to-government deal have pushed up the price,” said VR Vidya Sagar, Director, Bulk Logix.

    According to data from the Agmarknet portal, a unit of the Agriculture Ministry, paddy prices were up at ₹2,419.46 a quintal last week compared with ₹2,054 a year ago. This year, the MSP for paddy has been fixed at ₹2,040 for the current crop year to June. 

    Data from the Consumers Affairs Ministry show that the average wholesale price of rice is currently ₹3,328.43 a quintal, up 9.12 per cent year-on-year. 

    Most of the rise in the price happened in the past week, he said. 

    “Rice prices have increased to near minimum support price (MSP) levels and this has resulted in export prices surging,” said BV Krishna Rao, President, The Rice Exporters Association. 

    Still competitive 

    According to the Thai Rice Exporters Association, India’s 5 per cent broken white rice price has increased by $40 a tonne since the third week of December to $443-47 a tonne. The price of 25 per cent broken white rice has gone up by $50 to $428-32.

    Only parboiled rice has not witnessed such a rise, though its prices have risen by $15 to $388-92 a tonne. Despite the surge in prices,  Indian rice is still the most competitive. However, the Indian cereal currently holds only a $15/tonne advantage over Vietnam. 

    “Indian white rice prices will top $450 in a week’s time once the markets open up abroad after the Chinese lunar New Year. We have to see how the Vietnam market opens on February 1,” said Bulk Logix’s Sagar. 

    Good for sector

    Exports to Africa are taking place, though there is a general shortage of supplies in the market, he said. 

    TREA’s Rao said the increase in rice prices is good for the industry since only “actual millers” are buying in the domestic market. “Various States such as Tamil Nadu are buying rice from the open market, pushing up prices,” he said.

    “Prices have increased despite the arrival of new crop in West Bengal. We are exporting rejected grains from parboiled sortex,” said M Madan Prakash, President of the Agricultural Commodities Exporters Association.

    Even prices of such grains have increased to nearly $320 free-on-board (f.o.b). 

    Set to cool

    However, the current trend may not hold for long since “the surge” is not sustainable, said Sagar. 

    “Prices are likely to correct once the Vietnam market opens,” he said. 

    “The market is caught between two rice seasons in Thailand. Once the new crop arrives there, prices will cool down,” said Rao. 

    “Once FCI ends its procurement, it will be only traders in the market. It will bring down prices,” said Jain. 

    But a trade analyst, who did not wish to be identified, was sceptical saying, “the market sentiments are based on physical supplies. Looks like the data on production may not be right.”

    Rice prices are up since the production during the kharif season has been estimated lower at 104.99 million tonnes (mt) this year compared with 111.76 mt last year. This was because paddy sowing was affected by deficient rains in West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. 

    According to data from FCI, rice stocks are at an 8-year low of 12.35 mt as of January 1 but unmilled paddy stocks are at a record high of 47.62 mt (31.9 mt of rice). 

  • Ministry targets rice production of 54.5 mln tons this year

  • Illustration—The target for rice production in 2022 was 54.5 million tons, with the realization reaching 55.44 million tons. (ANTARA PHOTOS/Dedi/my)

    Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Agriculture Ministry has said that the production target for rice this year is 54.5 million tons, the same as the target set last year.

    “(The production targets for other commodities include) Corn with a moisture content of 27 percent of 23.05 million tons, soybeans with 370 thousand tons, and chilies 2.93 million tons," secretary general of the ministry Kasdi Subagyono said during a meeting with Commission IV of the House of Representatives, which was followed from here on Tuesday.

    The target for shallots is 1.71 million tons, garlic 45.45 thousand tons, coffee 810 thousand tons, cocoa 780 thousand tons, sugarcane 37.15 million tons, coconut 2.99 million tons, beef 465.15 thousand tons, and chicken meat 3.87 million tons.

    Most of the production targets for agricultural commodities in 2023 are not much different compared to those set in 2022.

    The target for rice in 2022 was 54.5 million tons, with the realization reaching 55.44 million tons.

    The target for corn production was 23.1 million tons, with the realization reaching 25.18 million tons; soybeans 280 thousand tons, with the realization recorded at 300 thousand tons; shallots 1.64 million tons, with the realization registered at 1.72 million tons.

    The chilies production target was 2.87 million tons, but the realization was only 2.73 million tons. The target for sugarcane was 34.99 million tons, coffee 790 thousand tons, beef/buffalo meat 440 thousand tons, and chicken meat 3.54 million tons, with the realization reaching 3.77 million tons.

    He informed that the main efforts to increase agricultural productivity in 2023 will cover the food crop, horticulture, plantation, and livestock sectors.

    "For the Directorate General of Food Crops, (the efforts will include) the optimization of rice planting index improvement, development of biofortified rice, development of corn areas, development of soybeans, and development of integrated farming," he elaborated.

    Then, in the horticulture sector, the ministry will develop horticultural villages, agro-industry, seed production, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and sustainable food yards.

    “(The other efforts will cover) Plantations, smallholder household corporations, seed production of 15 million stems, and development of coffee, coconut, cashew, cocoa, and areca nut areas," Subagyono informed.

    The efforts will also cover improving the downstreaming of areca nut exports, developing farmer-cooperation-based sago, pushing for self-sufficiency in sugar consumption, and developing non-cane sugar, stevia, palm sugar, and coconut.

    As for livestock, the ministry will optimize the reproduction and handling of foot-and-mouth disease, development of goat and sheep cooperatives, swallow’s nests, beef cattle based on grazing, and the integration of cattle and palm oil, as well as the development of corporate cattle villages, and the optimization of reproduction and handling of PMK.

    The ministry's program for those developments will be supported by Rp15.32 trillion in the 2023 budget ceiling, plus an additional automatic adjustment of Rp1.05 trillion.

  • Kellogg’s Environment Project With Rice Farmers Reports Progress

  • A five-year partnership between Kellogg's InGrained and Lower Mississippi River Basin rice farmers to help reduce climate impact, is witnessing early positive results.

    According to Kelloggs, during the pilot year of the programme, InGrained helped farmers implement climate-smart irrigation practices that achieved a reduction of more than 1,600 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This would be the equivalent of taking more than 345 gasoline-powered cars off the road for one year.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that rice production emits several greenhouse gases, most significantly, methane. Methane contributes approximately 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions and is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    Financial And Technical Support

    Kellogg piloted the programme in Northeast Louisiana along with agricultural greenhouse gas measurement firm Regrow Ag, rice producers, Kellogg supplier Kennedy Rice Mill LLC, and agribusiness firm Syngenta.

    Kellogg said it will make adjustments as the partnership transitions into the second year of the programme, while ensuring both financial and technical support continue to help farmers with these new practices.

    Kellogg also plans to expand the programme to include various regions with different weather patterns and soil types to determine if similar positive impacts are found.

    Timetable In Place

    "Kellogg's Better Days environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy is committed to supporting 1 million farmers and reducing Scope 3 GHG emissions across our value chain by 15% by the end of 2030," said Janelle Meyers, Kellogg company's chief sustainability officer.

    "Programmes like Kellogg's InGrained contribute to this ambitious goal, create positive impacts on the planet and support the livelihoods of farmers who grow the rice for some of our most iconic foods."

    © 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest A-brand news. Article by Robert McHugh. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

  • Rice procurement: inelastic borrowing?

  • In its monetary policy statement announced on Monday, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) noted a “moderation in working capital loans to the private sector”. The rice processing industry –a subsegment of food product manufacturers - disagrees. According to the monthly disaggregated private sector credit snapshot published by the central bank for Dec 2022, rice market players have been borrowing like there is no tomorrow; as if the markup on loans has peaked at historic levels.

    There is little by way of explanation to offer. USDA latest monthly update shows that the Ag-agency is standing steadfast with its initial prediction, forecasting national output of just 6.6 million metric tons (MMT) for the marketing year 2022-23, with 4MMT in exports. Yet, despite warnings of nearly one-third of national production being washed away, borrowing has followed in the footsteps of last year, when national production touched a record production of 9.3MMT.

    In fact, based on SBP data, working capital lending to rice processors has effectively risen at the same pace as last year’s since the marketing season began at the end of Kharif 2022. By Dec 2022 close, working capital loans to rice processors rose by 62 percent over the Sep close (end of marketing year), against 65 percent during the corresponding period last year.

    The rice export report card also offers little in the way of answers. Export volume declined at a record pace during 6M-FY23, falling by 23 percent over the corresponding period last year. Although basmati export volume has seen worse years, this is the first time in a decade that coarse rice exports suffered such a massive setback, which is in line with the destruction of the crop in the southern parts of the country. Total rice export barely managed 1.6MMT during 6M-FY23, against 2.2MMT in 6M-FY22. At this rate, USDA’s export forecast of 4.8MMT for FY23 appears to be a distant dream.

    Significant support, however, was received by the upsurge in prices in the export market. Both basmati and coarse varieties averaged the highest unit prices in over a decade, muting the value impact of dwindling exports. Export revenue during the first half of the fiscal fell by just 13 percent year on year, raising hopes that two billion dollars in full-year export proceeds may still happen. Interestingly, however, the basmati export unit price fell during Dec 2023 despite the continued upsurge in the international market, giving credence to the theory that exporters are holding back on proceeds realization on account of anticipated depreciation in the currency.

    With the weak export volume and even weaker supply, it remains unclear what’s behind the borrowing drive by rice processors. The margins in the commodity export market must be mouthwatering if market players are willing to make a play at a 20 percent borrowing rate, never mind the downside risk of a crash in international prices. Let’s see if the bet pays dividends!

  • The Rice Crop in Cuba Fails, Providing Less than 30% of Domestic Consumption

  • 14ymedio, Madrid, 16 January 2023 — Cuban authorities have not revealed the bad results of the 2022 rice production, but a note published on Sunday in Granma, the official daily, leads us to believe that is worse than expected. In February of that year, the harvest was 120,000 tons and they set a target for the following year of 180,000, a tiny portion of the nearly 700,000 needed for domestic consumption. Not even that was achieved, but official data are not available; an official stated that 2022 production was “a real sinkhole, the volume of food declined considerably.”

    Oslando Linares Morell, director of the Rice Technology Division of the state run Agriculture Business Group, explains that in 2012, a program was created to develop this cereal which, in addition to being culturally a staple food in the Cuban diet, possesses several qualities which make it ideal for the situation on the Island, from its simple storage without processing to its high caloric value. The plan was to achieve complete self sufficiency in 2030 to suppress imports, but the failure has been monumental.

    Cuba needs, the report states, 600,000 tons for the rationed food baskets and social consumption. The data are striking when in the last several years, including 2022, the amount required had been 700,000, which could suggest some relief following the exit of at least a quarter of a million people in the last 12 months.

    To achieve self sufficiency, they’d need to sow 200,000 hectares annually, with a yield of six tons per hectare and 1,200,000 tons of wet cereal production, which would result in the desired 600,000. But, reality clashes with the dream.

    “The plans created for 2023 are still quite low, with around 40% of what was expected at this stage of the development program. This means that we should sow 140,000 hectares, and this calendar year we’ve only managed to plant 68,000, a very poor number,” he said. With that they might manage to obtain, at best, 204,000 tons if we use official figures, which would still require importing at least 400,000 tons if everything turned out well.

    The price of rice on the international market has increased in the past years and in Vietnam, the price per ton was at $437 the first week of 2023, which would require Cuba to spend $174.4 million to purchase the 400,000 tons from there. And this is if the expected results are achieved, which seems far from likely seeing that rice production continues to sink. In 2022, the Island should have used more than $300 million to purchase the product and to all these costs, one must add transport, since it “does not exactly [arrive] from nearby countries,” as Linares Morell reminds us.

    In 2018, the national rice plans were marching along appropriately and although they were far from achieving the goal of self-sufficiency, the progress was good, until it reached an historic record that year of 304,000 tons. The collapse began in 2019 with 246,700 tons and later, with the pandemic, came the worst: 162,965 tons in 2020 and 120,000 in 2021.

    The official spoke of the influence of COVID-19, the hardening of the embargo, the “spurious inclusion of Cuba on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism,” and the war in Ukraine as reasons for the thwarted plans. In addition, he highlighted that there are limitations on the Island’s ability to obtain pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer and fuel for the air and land machinery.

    Despite all of this, Linares was optimistic and believes that in 2023 a new recovery could begin, especially if they use “science, technology, and innovation,” although when it comes to exposing what that would consist of, it did not go beyond the usual volunteerism and the “we must.”

    “We rice growers have to get used to the new work conditions, use less chemical products and use a considerably larger number of bioproducts,” he added. The only tangible processes he explained were the development of four seed varieties, in addition to the 12 that exist with support from Vietnam and Japan — with shorter cycles that rely on fewer inputs.

    In the Cuban markets, meanwhile, the price of rice does not cease to increase, when you can find it. The official inflation data indicates that in October the price of that product increased more than 4% and in November it once again increased more than 3.4.%

    The so-called creole rice, domestically produced, does not have a good reputation among Cuban kitchens. The methods of harvesting, transport and storage make for a final grain product that is frequently broken and its cooking unsatisfactory. Consumers prefer products imported from Brazil or Uruguay, from where a more whole grain rice come, that expands when cooked and has a better flavor.

    The rice from Vietnam is not very highly valued because it has been sold on the Island in the rationed markets and the percentage of broken grain is high and it is difficult to achieve a separated grain when cooked, one of the characteristics sought after in the Cuban culinary tradition, which rejects a product that is sticky or clumps.

  • Rice firm plans Mondulkiri expansion

  • Farmers harvest rice in Rokar Kong commune in Mok Kampoul district in 2021. Heng Chivoan

    Prominent locally-owned rice miller and exporter Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd plans to set up facilities in Mondulkiri province, sourcing the grain required for production from nearby smallholder farmers to ensure remunerative prices for the staple crop, according to the company’s founder and director-general Song Saran.

    “We plan to set up rice mills and drying silos in Mondulkiri to ensure better prices for the paddy grown by farmers [there and in Ratanakkiri], Kratie and Stung Treng provinces,” Saran told The Post on January 22.

    He explained that the company works with farmers through “contract farming”, based on principles of environmental protection and climate resilience, to promote sustainability and inclusion as well as to ensure that its products are up to par.

    “Contract farming” refers to entry into pre-harvest agreements between buyers and farmers on agricultural production with established conditions, generally regarding product types, prices, quantities, quality and other standards.

    Saran noted that contracts can entail training in, among other things, standards in agricultural practices; organic farming; environmental protection as well as climate change mitigation and resilience; novel technologies and techniques; planning and management; marketing; internal auditing; financial recordkeeping; and entrepreneurship.

    He shared that more than 30,000 smallholder farmers nationwide are now producing organic rice through such contracts with Amru Rice, after nearly a decade of following the business model. Saran assured that these growers have stable incomes and guaranteed buyers for their crop.

    Through contract farming, the company aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve soil quality, and otherwise chip in towards the government’s carbon neutrality goals, he said.

    Last year, the firm considerably stepped up its number of farming contracts in several provinces, especially in Preah Vihear, where it has partnered up with 21 agricultural cooperatives (AC) on organic rice agreements covering a production area of 11,400ha and involving 3,500 households, he added.

    In the highlands, specifically in Mondulkiri, Amru Rice has teamed up with five ACs involving 3,500 households, as well as 13 ACs in the southwestern provinces involving 1,300 households in Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Takeo and Kampot provinces through a subsidiary Cambodian Agriculture Cooperative Corp Plc (CACC), Saran said.

    Amru Rice is also working with Preah Vihear Meanchey Union Agricultural Cooperative (PUMAC) on contract farming to increase its reach, and boost supplies of organic rice for the company to export, he said.

    And with support from multinational climate adaptation and mitigation programme Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD), Amru Rice is set to incorporate new regenerative and conservation agriculture practices into everyday farming, he noted.

    These practices, he claimed, will increase smallholder farmers’ yields and incomes as well as reduce their vulnerabilities.

    The Cambodia Rice Federation reported that the Kingdom exported a total of 637,004 tonnes of milled rice and 3,477,886 tonnes of paddy rice (also cited as “3,467,886” in the same document) respectively valued at $414.29 million and $841.09 million.

  • FG to boost food sufficiency with new rice, 20 other crops varieties

  • The Federal Government has released a new rice variety known as FARO68 and 20 other crop varieties for farmers as part of efforts to make Nigeria food-sufficient in crop production.

    The Chairman, National Varieties Release Committee (NVRC), Chief Oladosu Awoyemi, who made this known in Ibadan recently at the 31st Meeting of National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties, Livestock Breed/Fisheries said the varieties were released to the farmers through his committee.

    The meeting was held at the Conference Hall, Secretariat of the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), Moore Plantation, Ibadan.

    At the meeting attended by many agriculture experts, researchers, breeders, seed companies and other relevant stakeholders, Awoyemi said that a total of 25 crop varieties were submitted for registration but 21 were approved and subsequently released.

    He explained that the new rice variety was bred by the National Cereal Research Institute, Badeggi in Niger. According to him, the lowland rice genotype is registered and released based on its early maturity and high grain yield.

    “Other released crop varieties include three new millet varieties with high iron and zinc content; high grain yield and presence of long bristles on panicle, namely LCIC MV5; LCIC MV6 and LCIC MV7.

    “Yam variety: UMUDa35-Delight; UMUDr33-Blessing and UMUDr34-Sunshine. These yam varieties were released based on high yield, good boiling and pounding qualities.

    “Six hybrid maize varieties, namely VSL 2201; PAC 740; SAMMAZ 69; SC 424; SC 555 and Oba Super 8. These new maize varieties were released based on high grain yield, tolerance to fall army worm, to major foliar diseases, to multiple stresses, to striga, drought and low nitrogen,” Awoyemi said.

    The NVRC chairman also announced the release of three new sorghum varieties, namely SORGHUM 52; SORGHUM 53 and SORGHUM 54.

    Awoyemi said the sorghum varieties were released because of high yield and biomass; earliness; high iron (fe) content and dwarfness and their tolerance to striga.

    Five tomato varieties were also released during the meeting, which include HORTITOM 1; HORTITOM 2, HORTITOM 3; PS TOM 1 and PS TOM 2.

    According to him, the committee released the tomato varieties based on their “tolerance to fusarium wilt and meloidogyne in cognita. They contain good nutritional qualities and resistance to early blight.”

    He said the varieties released were per with what were released in US, Kenya and other agricultural countries, adding that the exercise would make agriculture sector not to become stagnant.

    Awoyemi, who has been chairman of NVRC since 1991, used the opportunity of the meeting to announce his resignation from the committee don grounds of old age.

    The 88-year old man, urged agriculture stakeholders to continue to be dedicated to the development of Nigeria, “particularly in agriculture, being the backbone of the nation’s economy.

    “So, the frontiers of knowledge must continue to expand so that we come abreast with the developed world,” he said.

    In his remarks, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, the Director General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said that release of the 21 crop varieties would contribute immensely to the development of crop section for the overall development of farming system in the country.

    According to Mustapha, when farmers plant these new crop varieties, the seeds will give them high and quality yields, resistance to diseases, drought and free of other constraints. He encouraged farmers to ensure that they get the right seeds for planting.

    On uniqueness of the new rice variety, a plant breeder, who specialised in rice breeding at the National Cereal Research Institute, Badeggi in Niger, Mr. Mohammed Bashir, said that presentation of the new rice variety would contribute significantly to food security in the country.

    Bashir said the FARO68 rice would give a better yield than the existing commercial varieties in the country.

    He added that the new rice variety could give about 11.6 metric tonnes per hectare under good management by Nigerian farmers, better than the four to eight metric tonnes per hectare being given by the existing varieties.

  • Lagos Commodities onboards Imota Rice receipts for trading

  • By Peter Egwuatu

    As part of its organic growth strategy, Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE), has concluded arrangements to onboard the trading of electronic receipts of rice and its derivatives of Imota Rice Mill as the Company is scheduled for inauguration tomorrow by President Mohammadu Buhari.  

    Imota  Rice Mill, promoted by the Lagos State Government, is the largest in Africa and the third largest in the world, with  installation capacity of 32 Metric Tonnes per hour. It  is located at Imota area of Ikorodu division owned by the Lagos State Rice Company Limited to drive development of the Rice Value Chain and meet the rice demand needs of the nation.  

    The Mill requires about 200,000 Metric Tonnes of Paddy Rice annually, to produce head rice of about 120,000 metric tonnes and other derivatives. It is estimated to generate 1, 500 direct jobs and 254, 000 indirect jobs.

    The LCFE’s Managing Director, Akin Akeredolu-Ale said, “Our Exchange is proud to partner with  Imota Rice Mill to fulfil its objectives for the development of the commodities ecosystem to meet demand for rice in Nigeria and drive the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) through the Commodities ecosystem. This partnership will promote an enabling environment for the alignment of all stakeholders in the rice production value chain and the capital market.” The onboarding of  Imota Rice Mill on the Exchange is expected to drive steady flow of Paddy to the Mill and ensure effective trading of rice contracts on the Exchange.   

  • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund crosses Rs.30,000 Cr mark of capital mobilisation

  • AIF is providing financial support to the farmers, agri-entrepreneurs, FPOs, SHGs, JLGs and many others to create post-harvest management infrastructure and build community farming asset throughout the country

    Within two-and-a-half years of the implementation of the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), the scheme has mobilised more than Rs.30,000 crore for projects in the agriculture infrastructure sector with a sanctioned amount of Rs.15,000 crore under AIF. With the support of 3 per cent interest subvention, credit guarantee support through CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises) for loans of up to Rs.2 crore and facility of convergence with other Central and state government schemes, AIF is providing all-around financial support to the farmers, agri-entrepreneurs, farmer groups like farmer producer organisations (FPOs), self-help groups (SHGs), joint liability groups (JLGs) and many others to create post-harvest management infrastructure and build community farming asset throughout the country, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India said today.

    Success stories of Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

    Understanding the demand-supply gap between the need of the consumers and the supply of primary processed vegetables from the farmers, Yogesh CB from Mandya district of Karnataka was looking to set up a primary processing centre for vegetables. While looking for the support available from the government, he came across the AIF scheme in the year 2020. He applied for a loan of Rs.1.9 crore on AIF portal, which got verified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and sanctioned by Bank of India in December 2020. He was able to ground his vision with the help of AIF and Ariant Veg came into the existence. Through the interest subvention provided under AIF, he was able to secure the finance at an effective rate of interest (RoI) of just 5.45 per cent which is much lower than the open market rate. At present, Ariant Veg supports more than 250 local farmers by providing them with seeds and the technology to grow quality vegetables, then they collect the yield from the farmers at a fair price which is then cleaned, sorted, graded, and packed in the processing centre before reaching to the end consumer on a daily basis.

    Similarly, Anand Patel, a farmer from Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh realised the importance and need for mechanisation in agriculture, especially for small and marginal farmers for whom agriculture machinery is not affordable. He then established a hi-tech hub where agricultural machineries are provided on a rental basis to the local farmers. This hi-tech hub has 12 farm machinery including combine harvester, thresher, laser land leveller, tractors, zero till seed cum fertiliser drill and mulcher that costs around Rs. 60.82 lakhs which seemed a lot for a farmer like Patel. But through the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund and its feature of convergence with other Central and state government schemes, Patel was not only able to secure a loan of Rs. 45.62 lakhs at an interest rate of 5.4 per cent but also got the benefit of a capital subsidy of 40 per cent of the total project cost under Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanization (SMAM) scheme of MoA&FW. Now he is providing services of these machines to more than 100 small and marginal farmers which helped them in saving a lot of effort, time and money.

    Yogesh and Anand are two of more than 20,000 beneficiaries of AIF, whose dream to diversify their profile and take a forward leap in agricultural development has come true through AIF support. AIF is silently changing the landscape of Indian agriculture through the creation and modernisation of much-needed agriculture infrastructure. These infrastructure projects are helping in reducing post-harvest losses, modernising agriculture packages and practices and moreover helping farmers in better price realisation of their produce.

    Agriculture Infrastructure Fund is a financing facility launched on July 8, 2020, for the creation of post-harvest management infrastructure and community farm assets. Under this scheme, Rs 1 lakh crore is to be disbursed by the financial year 2025-26 and the interest subvention and credit guarantee assistance will be given till the year 2032-33. In order to create awareness about AIF amongst various stakeholders, MoA&FW has been organising multiple conclaves and workshops.

    Source: All success stories are provided by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare

  • Nigeria inches closer to rice sufficiency as Buhari commissions Imota Mill

  • President Buhari at the commissioning of the Imota Rice Mills

    Nigeria’s capacity for rice production got a boost on Monday as the Lagos State Imota Rice Mill production facility in Ikorodu was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari.
    The mill is expected to improve the country’s capacity for producing local parboiled rice. The mill also targets becoming the leading producer of premium brands in the market.

    It will contribute towards eliminating importation and smuggling of imported parboiled rice as the country eyes sufficiency in the production of the grain, which according to the United States Department of Agriculture has reached five million tons in 2022.

    With this production figure, Nigeria still has a deficit of two million tonnes per annum with demand at seven million tonnes. Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial centre, consumes two million metric tonnes of rice annually.

    “The Imota Rice Mill is an effort by Lagos State to support the country’s rice revolution,” Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State said at the commissioning. “It will create jobs and help drive sustainable growth and we are glad to be part of the country’s agricultural revolution.”

    The rice mill, standing on an area of 8.5 hectare of land has been built with an annual paddy requirement of over 240,000 metric tonnes to produce 2.5 million bags of 50kg bags of rice yearly, while generating 250,000 direct and indirect jobs to Lagosians.

    Imota Rice Mill is the largest in Africa and the third largest in the world, with an installed capacity of 32 metric tonnes per hour.

    Rice production has dominated the discourse in the Buhari led administration’s agricultural sector revolution since coming into power in 2015.

    The sector is critical to the economic growth and development of Nigeria as it will not only enhance the diversification and integration of the economy, but also become a major source of foreign exchange earner for the country.

  • Kellogg helps rice farmers reduce emissions

  • BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN, US — A Kellogg’s program to help rice farmers reduce climate impact is showing early positive results, the company reported.

    In the pilot year of the InGrained program, farmers implemented irrigation practices that achieved a reduction of more than 1,600 tonnes of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of taking more than 345 gasoline-powered cars off the road for one year.

    Kellogg piloted the program in northeast Louisiana in collaboration with leading agricultural greenhouse gas measurement firm Regrow Ag, rice producers, Kellogg supplier Kennedy Rice Mill LLC and agribusiness firm Syngenta.

    Rice production emits several greenhouse gases, most significantly, methane. Methane contributes approximately 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions and is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    "Not only are we helping farmers implement new practices on their farms, but farmers are telling us that just as importantly, the quality of their rice was not affected by the adjusted irrigation practices," said Stacey Shaw, Syngenta's senior sustainability lead.

    Much of the rice sourced from the Louisiana River Basin is used in iconic foods like Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal and Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats.

    "Kellogg's Better Days environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy is committed to supporting 1 million farmers and reducing Scope 3 GHG emissions across our value chain by 15 percent by the end of 2030," said Janelle Meyers, Kellogg Company's chief sustainability officer. "Programs like Kellogg's InGrained contribute to this ambitious goal, create positive impacts on the planet and support the livelihoods of farmers who grow the rice for some of our most iconic foods."

    Kellogg and its InGrained partners are making adjustments as they transition into the second year of the program, while ensuring both financial and technical support continue to help farmers with these new practices. Kellogg is also exploring expanding the program to include various regions with different weather patterns and soil types to determine if similar positive impacts are found. 

  • 10,000 Years Ago – Ancient Stone Tools Provide the Earliest Evidence of Rice Harvesting

  • Rice is one of the oldest and most important food crops in the world. It has a long and rich history, dating back to ancient civilizations in Asia.

    The presence of striations and residue reveal the techniques used in harvesting.

    A study led by Dartmouth has uncovered the earliest evidence of rice harvesting, dating back to 10,000 years ago in southern China. The research team analyzed stone tools and found evidence of two methods used for harvesting rice, which helped initiate the domestication of the crop. The findings were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

    The distinction between wild and domesticated rice lies in their seed dispersal pattern; wild rice sheds its ripe seeds naturally, causing them to shatter on the ground when mature, whereas cultivated rice retains its seeds on the plant upon maturity.

    To harvest rice, some sort of tools would have been needed. In harvesting rice with tools, early rice cultivators were selecting the seeds that stay on the plants, so gradually the proportion of seeds that remain increased, resulting in domestication.

    Rice Husk and Rice Leaf Phytoliths

    Phytolith recovered from stone flakes from Shanghsan and Hehuashan flakes: rice husk phytolith (on left) and rice leaf phytolith. Credit: Jiajing Wang

    “For quite a long time, one of the puzzles has been that harvesting tools have not been found in southern China from the early Neolithic period or New Stone Age (10,000 – 7,000 Before Present) — the time period when we know rice began to be domesticated,” says lead author Jiajing Wang, an assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth. “However, when archaeologists were working at several early Neolithic sites in the Lower Yangtze River Valley, they found a lot of small pieces of stone, which had sharp edges that could have been used for harvesting plants."

    “Our hypothesis was that maybe some of those small stone pieces were rice harvesting tools, which is what our results show.”

    In the Lower Yangtze River Valley, the two earliest Neolithic culture groups were the Shangshan and Kuahuqiao.

    The researchers examined 52 flaked stone tools from the Shangshan and Hehuashan sites, the latter of which was occupied by Shangshan and Kuahuqiao cultures.

    Rice Harvesting Methods

    The stone flakes are rough in appearance and are not finely made but have sharp edges. On average, the flaked tools are small enough to be held by one hand and measured approximately 1.7 inches in width and length.

    To determine if the stone flakes were used for harvesting rice, the team conducted use-wear and phytolith residue analyses.

    For the use-wear analysis, micro-scratches on the tools’ surfaces were examined under a microscope to determine how the stones were used. The results showed that 30 flakes have use-wear patterns similar to those produced by harvesting siliceous (silica-rich) plants, likely including rice.

    Fine striations, high polish, and rounded edges distinguished the tools that were used for cutting plants from those that were used for processing hard materials, cutting animal tissues, and scraping wood.

    Stone Flake Tools From China

    A selection of stone flake tools from the Shangshan ((a)-(h)) and Kuahuqiao ((i)–(l)) cultures. Red dots delineate the working edge of tools. Credit: Jiajing Wang

    Through the phytolith residue analysis, the researchers analyzed the microscopic residue left on the stone flakes known as “phytoliths” or silica skeletons of plants. They found that 28 of the tools contained rice phytoliths.

    “What’s interesting about rice phytoliths is that rice husk and leaves produce different kinds of phytolith, which enabled us to determine how the rice was harvested,” says Wang.

    The findings from the use-wear and phytolith analyses illustrated that two types of rice harvesting methods were used — “finger-knife” and “sickle” techniques. Both methods are still used in Asia today.

    The stone flakes from the early phase (10,000 – 8,200 BP) showed that rice was largely harvested using the finger-knife method in which the panicles at the top of the rice plant are reaped. The results showed that the tools used for finger-knife harvesting had striations that were mainly perpendicular or diagonal to the edge of the stone flake, which suggests a cutting or scraping motion, and contained phytoliths from seeds or rice husk phytoliths, indicating that the rice was harvested from the top of the plant.

    “A rice plant contains numerous panicles that mature at different times, so the finger-knife harvesting technique is especially useful when rice domestication was in the early stage,” says Wang.

    The stone flakes however, from the later phase (8,000 – 7,000 BP) had more evidence of sickle harvesting in which the lower part of the plant was harvested. These tools had striations that were predominantly parallel to the tool’s edge, reflecting that a slicing motion had likely been used.

    “Sickle harvesting was more widely used when rice became more domesticated, and more ripe seeds stayed on the plant,” says Wang. “Since you are harvesting the entire plant at the same time, the rice leaves and stems could also be used for fuel, building materials, and other purposes, making this a much more effective harvesting method.”

    Wang says, “Both harvesting methods would have reduced seed shattering. That’s why we think rice domestication was driven by human unconscious selection.”

    Reference: “New evidence for rice harvesting in the early Neolithic Lower Yangtze River, China” by Jiajing Wang, Jiangping Zhu, Dongrong Lei and Leping Jiang, 7 December 2022, PLOS ONE.

  • Indian rice prices hit 9-month high

  • MUMBAI, HANOI AND BANGKOK: Indian rice export prices rose to their highest levels since April 2021 this week boosted by limited supplies and a stronger rupee, while firm local currency and demand sent Thai rates higher. Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $387-$395 per tonne this week, up from last week’s $375-$382 per tonne. White rice prices rose to $435-$440 per tonne from $398-$405 per tonne a week ago.

    The Indian rupee rose to a one-month high this week, trimming exporters’ returns from overseas sales. Demand is weak as local prices jumped after the government curtailed free-food grain distribution, said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, an exporter.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice was quoted at $500-$502 per tonne - the highest since March 2021 - up from $495 per tonne last week, which traders attributed to the strengthening of the baht and robust domestic demand.

    A stronger baht translates to higher export prices in US dollars. “Many rice traders and buyers are now adopting a wait-and-see approach to the market due to the strong baht,” a Bangkok-based trader said.

  • Bulog disburses 100 thousand tons rice to tackle price hike

  • Illustration of worker unloading rice imported from Vietnam belonging to Bulog at the Tanjung Priok Port, Jakarta. (ANTARA PHOTO/Galih Pradipta/nym/rst)

    Jakarta (ANTARA) - State Logistics Agency (Bulog) distributed 100 thousand tons of rice through the Food Supply and Price Stabilization Program (SPHP), or called market operation, in early January 2023 to reduce soaring rice prices in the market.

    "We ask the public to not worry because Bulog guarantees that the people's needs for rice will be met at affordable prices, even though there are price increases in the market," President Director of Bulog Budi Waseso stated in Jakarta on Thursday.

    He remarked that the increase in the price of rice was caused by the current conditions that had not entered the main harvest season. Thus, the availability of goods in the market is decreasing and causing a slight increase in prices.

    In order to maintain price stability, the president had issued directions and instructed all related elements to ensure market operations (SPHP Program), which has been running since 2022, to be intensified again to reduce price fluctuations in the market.

    In addition, Bulog issued a policy to import 500 thousand tons of rice as an effort to control the increasing prices of rice. With rice imports and the supply of Government Rice Reserves (CBP) fulfilled, the price of rice in the market will certainly be under control, Waseso remarked.

    He emphasized that the arrival of imported rice had brought CBP stocks at Bulog to 683 thousand tons. The additional imported rice can only strengthen national rice reserves until the main harvest season arrives in March 2023.

    "This amount is sufficient for distribution until the main harvest session," he stated.

    Apart from receiving additional stocks of imported rice, Bulog will also continue and be active in maximizing absorption during the next harvest. Waseso hopes that all CBP stocks this year would be fulfilled from domestic production.

    Bulog also continues to coordinate with the central and regional governments to maintain rice prices in stable condition and try to avoid high spikes in prices. 

  • Olivari leads Rice against North Texas

  • Rice Owls (13-5, 4-3 C-USA) at North Texas Mean Green (15-4, 6-2 C-USA)

    Denton, Texas; Thursday, 8 p.m. EST

    FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: North Texas -10; over/under is 131.5

    BOTTOM LINE: Rice takes on the North Texas Mean Green after Quincy Olivari scored 30 points in Rice’s 88-81 overtime victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

    The Mean Green are 6-1 on their home court. North Texas is eighth in C-USA shooting 33.6% from downtown, led by Tylor Perry shooting 47.0% from 3-point range.

    The Owls are 4-3 in conference play. Rice is the C-USA leader with 27.3 defensive rebounds per game led by Max Fiedler averaging 5.4.

    The Mean Green and Owls meet Thursday for the first time in conference play this season.

    TOP PERFORMERS: Perry is averaging 17.6 points for the Mean Green. Kai Huntsberry is averaging 11.3 points over the past 10 games for North Texas.

    Travis Evee is shooting 39.0% from beyond the arc with 2.7 made 3-pointers per game for the Owls, while averaging 16.6 points. Olivari is shooting 42.2% and averaging 19.1 points over the past 10 games for Rice.

    LAST 10 GAMES: Mean Green: 8-2, averaging 63.7 points, 30.1 rebounds, 11.0 assists, 7.2 steals and 2.9 blocks per game while shooting 42.5% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 56.8 points per game.

    Owls: 7-3, averaging 86.6 points, 39.0 rebounds, 18.8 assists, 6.7 steals and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 49.6% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 74.5 points.

  • New rice variety with 2-3 times annual farming option launched

  • Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has launched a new rice variety called ‘Champei Sar 70’. Dith Tina

    The Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has launched a new rice variety with a farming option of two to three times a year and a yield of 4.5 tons per hectare.

    Named ‘Champei Sar 70’ with nine years of research, the new rice variety allows cultivation in a short time and is resistant to weather.

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, through CARDI, released a new rice variety, fragrant rice, in late 2022, said CARDI official Orn Chhour.

    It is a good quality rice, similar in length to Romduol fragrant rice variety and with an aromatic fragrance, he said.

    The rice variety has been bred from the Romduol fragrant rice variety for nine years of research, which was started in 2013 and released in 2022.

    “Farmers can do it two to three times a year, which can supply the market for a whole year, unlike the romduol variety, which can only be done once a year,” he said.

    The CARDI is now working to supply the seeds to the community, Chhour said.

    Although the rice variety of Champei Sar 70 has not yet been produced for sale, CARDI encouraged farmers to choose this rice variety to grow because of its weather and insect-resistant qualities and planting in the short term, which will make farmers reduce costs, including that of fertilizers.

    “Based on experiments, this rice variety has a yield from 4 tons to 4.5 tons per hectare,” he said.

    This new rice variety will be supported by consumers both in the country as well as the international market, as it provides standard rice that meets the needs of the international market, according to CARDI.

    CARDI will start supplying new rice varieties nationwide through farmers, mills and farming communities.

    In a visit to CARDI on Monday, Agriculture Minister Dith Tina applauded CARDI’s effort in rice research and development, saying that despite some difficulties, CARDI is still able to develop a new rice variety that is good and important for farmers.

    “The development of this new variety can be considered a great achievement for the Institute and the agricultural sector, as well as the image of Cambodia,” Tina said.

    Cambodia exported 637,004 tons of milled rice to international markets in 2022, up 3.2 percent, from 617,069 tons a year earlier, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation.

    Cambodia bagged around $414 million in revenue from exports to 59 countries and regions last year.

    Exported milled rice varieties included premium aromatic rice, fragrant rice, long grain white rice, parboiled rice, organic rice and glutinous rice, CRF said.

  • Modern machinery improves rice seed planting in Laos

  • Pany Yathotou, Dr Vilayvong Bouddakham and senior officials visit a rice mill in Champassak province on Jan 17. - Pathetlao

    VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): A bridge and road construction and electricity installation enterprise is supplying modern machinery for use in the planting of rice seed in both the wet and dry seasons.

    The equipment is being used to plant rice seed on 350 hectares of land in Mounlapamok district, Champassak province.

    Vice President Pany Yathotou, the Governor of Champassak province Dr Vilayvong Bouddakham and senior officials on Tuesday visited the enterprise, where staff reported on the success of their work.

    The mechanised seed planting system is labour saving, cost efficient and ensures the seeds are properly distributed in the ground.

    Rice crops were planted in 2022 and early this year using this method, which also requires less water.

    Enterprise staff say they expect the crop harvested on this land to yield about 4 tonnes of rice per hectare. The company also has a modern rice mill that can husk about 2 tonnes of rice in one hour.

    The processed rice will be distributed to military personnel and police officers in southern and central Laos for their consumption, while some will be sold in markets around the country.

    During their visit, the Vice President and her delegation also visited other places of significance in Mounlapamok district.

  • Bulog Claims Quality of Govt’s Rice Reserve is Good

  • TEMPO.COJakarta - State Logistics Agency (Bulog) claims that the quality of the government’s rice reserve stocks (CBP) stored in 2022 is good so they do not need to be released and sold below market prices, an official said.

    "This condition (release of CBP at a low price) is possible. However, with utmost care and maintenance carried out by Bulog, the condition of the stored 2022 rice is all of good quality," head of public relations and institutional affairs at Bulog Tomi Wijaya said here on Wednesday.

    He informed that based on the Agriculture Minister's Regulation Number 38 of 2018 on the management of CBP, the release of rice reserve stocks can be carried out if they have exceeded the shelf-life limit of at least four months and/or have the potential for or have experienced a decline in quality.

    Rice reserves have the potential for or can experience a decline in quality if they meet the criteria of at least a milling degree below the minimum threshold and contain broken grains and water above the maximum threshold.

    Article 7 of the Minister of Agriculture's Regulation Number 38 of 2018 states that the release of CBP can be carried out by Bulog through sale, processing, exchange, and or grants.

    Article 8 of the regulation states that the sale can be carried out by selling CBP below the retail price ceiling (HET) of rice.

    Earlier, during a working meeting with Commission IV of the House of Representatives (DPR) on Monday (January 16, 2023), Bulog president director Budi Waseso said that the National Food Agency had proposed that Bulog's CBP stock in 2023 be increased to 2.4 million tons from the initial plan of 1 million tons.

    To maintain the quality of CBP, rice that has been stored for four months at Bulog warehouses can be sold at a price below the purchase price, with the difference in price compensated by the government.

    With that plan, he said he believes that there would be no Bulog rice of reduced quality as a result of being stored in warehouses for too long.

    The plan could be carried out, but since the CBP throughout 2022 was maintained in good quality, there is no further plan to release CBP at a price below the HET, he said.


  • Brazilian rice exports jumped 85% during 2022 compared to 2021

  • Brazilian exports of rice in 2022 totaled 2.11 million tons, 85% higher than in 2021, according to the Brazilian Association of the Rice Industry (Abiarroz)

    As Brazil continues to expand its agriculture frontiers and farming techniques, two cereals of which the country has been historically an importer are becoming increasingly self-sufficient. This is particularly true for wheat and rice, with most crops in the southern states of the country.

     In effect Brazilian exports of rice in 2022 totaled 2.11 million tons, with an 85% increase over the volume exported in 2021, according to the Brazilian Association of the Rice Industry (Abiarroz), which released a market update with data from the Ministry of Development, Industry, Commerce, and Services (MDIC).

    In December 2022, shipments of rice reached 291,500 tons, with revenues equivalent to US$ 89.6 million. In December 2021, exports reached 161.700 tons and revenue was US$ 42.7 million.

    According to the industry association, the increase in sales abroad was caused by the return to normalcy in global trade after overcoming the obstacles caused by the covid-19 pandemic, as well as promotional actions promoted by rice producers in strategic markets through the Brazilian Rice project, which was developed in collaboration with ApexBrasil.

    Processed rice exports, a product with more added value, also grew in 2022. The volume increased 34% compared to the previous year, to 588.200 tons while revenue from shipments rose 14% to US$ 190.6 million.

    Last year, the ten leading importers of Brazilian processed rice were Senegal, Cuba, Peru, Gambia, Venezuela, the United States, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Algeria.

    Additionally nine new markets received Brazilian processed rice for the first time: Honduras, El Salvador, Libya, Kenya, Lithuania, Guadeloupe, Oman, Benin, and Gabon.

    Brazil has historically been a net importer of rice, with Mercosur associates, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay the main suppliers.

  • 64,943 MT of imported rice arrive in PH

  • THE Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) said at least 64,943 metric tons (MT) of imported rice arrived despite a warning from farmers and rice watch groups that the retail prices of the staple food will continue to increase.

    Based on the latest data from the BPI as of Jan. 12, 2023, a bulk of the fresh imports came from Vietnam with 55,303 MT; followed by Thailand, 8,080 MT; Myanmar, 1,040 MT; and Pakistan 520 MT.

    According to the BPI, the rice imports were covered by 73 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs).

    In 2022, the total imported grains reached 3.8 million MT.

    On Monday, rice watch group Bantay Bigas Spokesman Cathy Estavillo warned that retail prices of the staple food will further increase this first quarter of 2023 amid the low palay production and the failure of imported grains to bring down the prices despite the flooding in the local markets.

    On the other hand, Farmers' group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) President Rosendo So said there was a P2 per kilo increase in the retail prices of rice in December 2022.

    So added that while he expects a stable supply of the staple food, movement in the cost of the grains should be expected amid the increase in the farmgate price of palay.

  • Continued surge in rice price seen

  • A RICE monitoring group on Monday predicted that retail prices of the staple will further rise in the first quarter of this year because of poor palay production and despite imported rice flooding the market.

    In a radio interview, Bantay Bigas spokesman Cathy Estavillo said the P39 and P40 per kilo of rice are no longer available in local markets, and what remains is the P38 a kilo of regular milled rice, which has a bad smell and taste.

    "As early as last year, we already feared the increase in the retail prices of rice. There is a low palay production and while we are being flooded with imported rice, it did not help bring down the prices," Estavillo said.

    In 2022, the government imported 3.8 million metric tons of rice.

    "Retailers retained the P38 price just to show that consumers have access to cheap rice," Estavillo said.

    A kilo of palay ranges between P16 and P17, she said. "Traders buy palay from our farmers at very low prices despite the high cost of production, and there are fears from our farmers that the P16 to P17 per kilo will further go down amid the rains being experienced in the country."

    Farmers are also beset by the high cost of fertilizer, which sells by as much as P3,500 a bag.

    A bag of fertilizer last year sold at between P950 and P1,000, Estavillo said.

    On Monday, several militant groups picketed the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Quezon City to protest the soaring prices of agricultural products.

    Agriculture deputy spokesman Rex Estoperez said the department is closely monitoring rice prices.

    The DA also has to contend with the soaring price of onions.

    On Monday, Sen. Maria Josefa Imelda "Imee" Marcos said the shortage of onions in the country, which triggered the price hike, could have been averted had the DA made a "timely" and "well-projected" minimal importation.

    Marcos said the price of onions "had taken us on this mad roller coaster ride during the last few months. It is apparent that there is an abject lack of planning [on the part of DA]."

    Another senator, Cynthia Villar, said that the DA's onion supply and demand data show there is no shortage.

    Villar, whose Committee on Agriculture is holding hearings on the surge in onion price, said that even if there was a shortage of more than 2,000 MT of onions in 2022, there was a surplus of 53,202 MT in 2021.

    "So, we could say that we really don't have a shortage to cause an increase in price. That is why we're calling this hearing for the people to be able to explain what is happening. They have to explain to us what is happening in the DA and, of course, in the Bureau of Customs," she said.

    Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel 3rd asked the DA to explain the unmet demand of almost 4,000 MT of onions in 2022 despite a reported surplus in 2021.

    Pimentel wondered why the DA reported the shortage despite claiming that 11,000 MT of onions were stored in cold storage facilities which were part of a total of 53,000 MT of supposed supply in 2021.

    Another farmers' group on Monday said the arrival of imported onions will depress its farmgate prices.

    In a radio interview, Federation of Aritao Farmers of Onion, Garlic and Ginger Growers Association Nueva Vizcaya President Ulysis de Lara said the importation comes during the peak of the onion harvest season. As a result, the farmgate prices of onions.

    The prevailing farmgate prices of onions are between P250 and P280 a kilo.

    De Lara said onion farmers can meet the growing demand, so "there is no need to import."

    Agriculture spokesman Kristine Evangelista said the DA is looking at the possibility of buying directly from onion farmers who want the farmgate price pegged at not lower than P100 a kilo.

    Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura President Rosendo So said the DA should make sure the imported onions arrive on or before January 27.

    So also urged the DA and the Bureau of Customs to confiscate imported onions that will arrive after that date.

  • Over 2.5K quintals of paddy ‘missing’ at 35 rice mills

  • Kaithal Deputy Commissioner formed teams to probe bogus procurement

    Kaithal, January 16

    The physical verification conducted by 17 teams constituted by Deputy Commissioner Sangeeta Tetarwal found that 2630.82 quintals of paddy was short in the stock of 35 rice mills in Kaithal district. The teams were constituted after reports appeared in the media that there were bogus procurement of paddy on fake gate passes and the paddy was arriving from other states.

    These teams conducted physical verification in November and December at 165 mills of the district. The team members also verified the stock available in the mills with the issuance of paddy by the procurement agencies along with the quality of custom-milled rice (CMR).

    “I have constituted 17 teams to conduct physical verification. The teams will check the stock of the paddy and the custom-milled rice along with the quality of rice. The team members conducted physical verification and we have submitted our report to the Director, Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department. Further action will be initiated after the directions from the department,” said Sangeeta Tetarwal, DC, Kaithal.

    “We have allocated 82,40,812.560 quintals of paddy to 165 mills. The team members found 2,630.82 quintals of paddy short in the stock. As much as 14.61 quintals of rice was found short in the stock,” she added.

    District Food and Supply Controller Pardeep Kaushik said millers had to return 45 per cent of custom-milled rice by the end of January, of which they had delivered around 31 per cent so far.

  • BUDGET 2023: Gov’t hopes to improve rice yields, fight pests with $300M injection

  • Several varieties of rice at the Burma Rice Research Station, Region Five

    Rice is one of Guyana’s key products and Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh announced that the government will spend some $300 million to boost production and productivity in this sector.

    The Finance Minister is currently presenting the 2023 National Budget at a sitting of the National Assembly held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown.

    And as he talked about the government’s continued focus on the agricultural sector, he said that the $300 million sum will be spent on improving yields and efforts to control the paddy bug problem.

    Further, two new drying floors will be constructed in Regions Three and Five.

    The government is also expected to explore new rice varieties and new markets for production.

    Defending this allocation, Dr. Singh said rice is a “dominant” contributor to the local economy and a staple in Guyana’s diet.

    Earlier in his budget presentation, the Finance Minister said the rice sector recorded an expansion of 8.1 per cent with a total production of 610,595 tonnes.

    Because of global challenges, Dr. Singh projects that rice prices will fall by some 0.4 per cent this year.

    This National Budget being read by the Finance Minister is the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) mid-term budget. It is crafted under the theme ‘“Improving Lives Today, Building Prosperity for Tomorrow.”

  • Genetically modified rice to tackle climate-induced food shortages

  • Genetically modified rice could be used to lessen food shortages caused by climate change, as salt tolerance allows it to grow in warmer conditions

    As climate change affects rising sea levels, many places are struggling with seawater inundation – where salt water from the sea is flooding further inland and destroying crops which can’t cope with the increased salinity. Genetically modified rice could be the answer.

    Rice is arguably the most important food crop on earth – it is relied on by 3.5 billion people every single day, and 30% of the world’s freshwater supply is used to grow the crop.

    By engineering the rice, researchers can reduce the number of stomata that rice has, making them more tolerant to salt water.

    The researchers from the University of Sheffield, working alongside the High Agricultural Technology Research Institute (HATRI) in Vietnam, studied 72 rice varieties, both natural and genetically modified.

    Investigating whether they can make dwarf rice varieties – which produce the highest crop yields – researchers are looking to make crops more heat-resistant.

    As sea levels rise, seawater is causing increasing damage to crops

    Reducing the number and size of stomata could make rice harder to grow in extremely hot temperatures. As rice with fewer stomata is more drought resistant – needing up to 60% less water – researchers have also shown that the same plants are also able to grow in salty conditions.

    Rice, being the most important crop, is also one of the worst affected crops – in countries like Vietnam it is becoming harder and harder to grow due to increasing seawater interference.

    Aerial view of the green rice fields
    © Kittichai Boonpong

    Genetically engineering rice to have better salt tolerance could allow it to be grown in places it would otherwise fail.

    Stomata are openings that most plants have which regulate carbon dioxide uptake for photosynthesis, along with the release of water vapour. This is extremely beneficial in places prone to drought.

    Rice with larger stomata could be better suited to growing in extremely warm temperatures

    This entails that rice can be adapted to survive in environments that are becoming harsher due to climate change, which will help in tackling food insecurity around the globe.

    As a result, to make sure that rice can grow as effectively as possible in different countries and environments, different modifications will need to be made.

    “…integral to feeding a growing population that is projected to reach 10 billion in 60 years’ time”

    Dr Robert Caine, Lead Author of the study from the University of Sheffield’s School of Biosciences, said: “Rice is a hugely important food crop eaten by over half the world’s population on a daily basis. Ensuring that it can survive in harsher conditions caused by climate change will be integral to feeding a growing population that is projected to reach 10 billion in 60 years’ time.

    “Our findings reveal how rice can be modified to grow as effectively as possible in different climates – varieties of rice that have less stomata can survive with less water and in places with salt water. Meanwhile, natural rice varieties with fewer, bigger stomata are able to thrive in hotter temperatures.”

  • Researchers peg genetically modified rice as key to…

  • Researchers peg genetically modified rice as key to tackling food shortages caused by climate change

    16 Jan 2023 --- Scientists at the University of Sheffield have discovered that genetically engineered rice with fewer stomata has better salt tolerance, allowing it to be grown in places it would otherwise fail. 

    The findings and new results that explore the number and size of stomata have been published in the New Phytologist. As concluded by the researchers, rice can be adapted to survive in environments that are becoming harsher due to climate change, which will help in tackling food insecurity around the globe.

    Demand for rice 
    Rice is arguably the most essential food crop on earth – it is relied on by 3.5 billion people every day and 30% of the world’s freshwater supply is used to grow the crop. 

    As sea levels rise due to climate change, more and more places worldwide are struggling with seawater inundation – where salt water from the sea is flooding further inland and destroying crops that can’t cope with the increased salinity.

    As sea levels rise, seawater reaches places it previously wouldn’t, causing increasing crop damage.

    Rice is one of the worst affected crops – arguably the most important carbohydrate on earth – but in countries like Vietnam, it is becoming harder to grow due to increasing seawater interference.

    Dr. Robert Caine, lead author of the study from the University of Sheffield’s School of Biosciences, says: “Rice is a hugely important food crop eaten by over half the world’s population daily. Ensuring it can survive in harsher conditions caused by climate change will be integral to feeding a growing population that is projected to reach 10 billion in 60 years.”

    “Our findings reveal how rice can be modified to grow as effectively as possible in different climates – varieties of rice with fewer stomata can survive with less water and in places with salt water.”

    The number of stomata is key
    However, findings from the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food have revealed that genetically modifying rice to reduce the number of stomata it has – tiny openings used for water loss – makes it more salt-resistant. 

    Stomata are openings that most plants have which regulate carbon dioxide uptake for photosynthesis and release water vapor. 

    Several years ago, Sheffield scientists revealed that reducing the number and size of stomata rice plants have allowed them to use up to 60% less water, making them hugely beneficial in places prone to drought.

    The researchers also discovered, however, that reducing the number and size of stomata could make rice harder to grow in extremely hot temperatures. As a result, to make sure that rice can grow as effectively as possible in different countries and environments, additional modifications will need to be made. 

    For example – rice with fewer, larger stomata could be better suited to growing in hot temperatures.

    “Meanwhile, natural rice varieties with fewer, bigger stomata can thrive in hotter temperatures,” explains Caine.

    The researchers from the University of Sheffield, working alongside the High Agricultural Technology Research Institute in Vietnam, studied 72 natural and genetically modified rice varieties. 

    They are now planning to investigate whether they can make dwarf rice varieties, which produce the highest crop yields, more heat-resistant.

    Rice spotlighted
    The food staple is a vital commodity across global food markets and continues to be in the F&B industry news spotlight.

    A 29% increase in prices for long rice started last December, with price increases set to continue through 2023, according to UK’s Eurostar Commodities. Severe drought in the Northern Hemisphere hit the commodity hard. 

    Meanwhile, as risks to food security continue to weigh down economies, authorities have promoted caloric-dense rice as an alternative to inflation-impacted food staples. 

    Scientists are researching how to make the crop more resistant to climate adversity, and formulators’ interest in the ingredient regains intensity.

    Edited by Elizabeth Green

  • Why there is a case for Basmati as a paddy replacement in Punjab — despite no MSP and lower yield

  • In Punjab, nearly 30-31 lakh hectares (74 to 76 lakh acres) are dedicated to the rice crop (kharif season), out of which 25-26 lakh hectares come under paddy.

    The area under Basmati crop has remained around 5 lakh hectares over the last several years. File

    Crop diversification is a key issue in Punjab. The state has large areas under the water-guzzling paddy crop mainly on account of the assured returns to farmers in the form of Minimum Support Price (MSP) from the government and the high yield it offers. But the aromatic Basmati rice, which has fluctuating prices and no MSP, still offers hope as the best alternative to paddy. Here’s a look at the economics of growing Basmati.

    How much area could be increased under Basmati?

    In Punjab, nearly 30-31 lakh hectares (74 to 76 lakh acres) are dedicated to the rice crop (in the kharif season), out of which 25-26 lakh hectares come under paddy. The area under Basmati crop has remained between 4-5 lakh hectares over the last several years. Basmati’s early and late varieties are sown between June and July, and harvested in September and October.

    Rice exporters say there is a huge demand for Basmati, and the state has the potential to grow it in vast areas. It is estimated by experts that at least 10 lakh hectares could easily be brought under the Basmati crop in the state, which will help reduce the area under paddy.

    What is the yield of Basmati as compared to paddy?

    Punjab grows both short-duration and long-duration paddy varieties. The average yield of short and long-duration paddy varieties is around 28 and 36 quintals per acre, respectively. Basmati, too, has long and short-duration varieties. The average yield of these varieties is between 20 and 25 quintals per acre — which is 8-10 quintals less per acre as compared to paddy.

    The market for the crops

    Paddy is procured by the Union government on MSP for distribution under the Public Distribution System. Basmati is neither procured by the government nor has any fixed price. It is procured by traders and exporters as Indian Basmati has large demand abroad.

    What is the profit margin for each crop?

    The MSP of paddy was Rs 2,060 per quintal in the 2022-23 kharif marketing season. The Basmati rate remains between Rs 3,200 to Rs 4,000 per quintal during September (for early varieties) and October-November (for late varieties).

    Currently, its rate is Rs 4,600 per quintal as some farmers, who had held back some crops after harvesting, are now bringing it to the market, said Vinod Gupta, a Fazilka Mandi-based commission agent. He said that Basmati’s demand hardly goes down and its rate remains good. But, he added that local traders form cartels to give less to farmers and that the government must check such practices.

    As per the MSP of paddy, a farmer could sell paddy worth Rs 57,680 to Rs 74,160 per acre depending on yield, Basmati could be sold for between Rs 64,000 to Rs 1 lakh per acre despite the lower yield. Last year, the average rate of Basmati remained between Rs 2,500 to 3,500 per quintal.

    What are the benefits of the Basmati crop?

    Experts say that 4,000 litres of water are required to grow a kilo of paddy. Basmati cultivation, on the other hand, is largely dependent on rainwater as it takes place during the main monsoon season. Even if some early varieties are sown in June, they are harvested at least a month before the main basmati and paddy varieties, thus saving water. Basmati cultivation can also reduce stubble burning — farmers use its stubble for fodder.

    “It hardly needs any pesticides. The state government bans the sale of around 10 pesticides during the Basmati-growing season for the past five years, which indicates that it does not need those chemicals. According to an estimate by the Punjab Agriculture Department, farmers spent Rs 200 to 250 crore less on pesticides on Basmati over the past five years since 2017-18 years. This is a big cut in costs,” said Ashok Sethi, Director of the Amritsar-based Punjab Rice Millers & Exporters Association, in an interaction with Basmati farmers.

    What is the role of Punjab’s Basmati in the export market?

    Basmati is a premier and heritage product of Punjab. It is known for its flavour, length and taste due to Punjab’s excellent weather, soil and irrigation (through river and canal water). Also, Punjab is among the states and Union Territories (Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are the others) that have a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Basmati.

    The annual Basmati rice export from India is around 4 million tons (worth Rs 36,000 crore), out of which Punjab contributes between 35 to 40 per cent.

    Is there any hurdle Punjab’s Basmati faces in the export market?

    Experts said that despite the government’s efforts to ban pesticides during the basmati-growing season, several farmers have indulged in unnecessary and excessive usage of chemicals combined with fertilisers. Several shipments of such crops are rejected after landing on US and European shores, owing to strict health regulations.

    How can the government increase the Basmati area in Punjab?

    Some experts say the Union and state governments must encourage farmers by giving them a bonus of Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per acre. Haryana gives bonuses to those who are growing crops other than paddy. They suggest several other measures: Good quality seeds, rice exporters’ collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, strengthening of canal/river water, and setting up of solar panels.

    A testing lab has already been set up in Amritsar to help farmers. The government can help educate farmers about the judicious use of only authorised pesticides. Exporters also said that pesticides unregistered in the EU and the USA are freely available for sale in India, which needs to tighten regulatory control over the sale and distribution of such products.

  • Farmers warn of low yield

  • LAHORE: Farmers have demanded the government should ensure opening of letters of credit (LCs) of farm inputs to make the country food secure and prevent food inflation.

    “The government should direct the State Bank of Pakistan to make arrangement for opening of the LCs for import of pesticides, seed, agriculture machinery and [related] parts right away to ensure food security of the country and prevent inflation likely to be caused due to shortage of wheat, rice, maize, fruits and vegetables, as a result of decline in their yield because of unavailability of farm inputs, especially seed,” Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) president Khalid Mahmood Khokhar says in a statement here on Sunday.

    He says the agriculture is a time-bound activity and any action will be of no use if not taken at an appropriate time. Hence, he says, availability of farm inputs at right time has utmost importance for the sector. Fertilisers like DAP and other phosphate nutrients etc are also imported and require timely opening of their LCs, he adds.

    Mr Khokhar says Pakistan also imports insecticides and fungicides to manufacture pesticides locally, and it takes four to six months from import to manufacturing of the products to be available in the market.

    The farmers’ representative warns that any delay in import of pesticides will affect the Kharif crops in terms of pest management. Such delay, he says, will especially hit cotton, which provides raw material for 60 percent export goods, as over 80pc of the insecticides are exclusively used on this crop. Other crops that will suffer because of non-availability of appropriate insecticides, include rice, maize, sunflower, besides mango, citrus and vegetables etc, that are vital for national food security and earning foreign exchange through exports, Mr Khokhar stressed.

    Referring to poor agriculture research in the country, he says due to insufficient investment local research institutes could not develop any hybrid seed so far and most of the indigenous crops relied on imported seeds.

    He says the delay in opening of LCs will also impact many industries, like those of edible oil, solvents, poultry and animal feed, fruit processing etc, that will have to reduce their production leading to unemployment and inflation in the country.

    PKI head adds that agriculture machinery is also needed for mechanised production and efficient operation, and if LCs of related imports are not opened, repair and maintenance of the existing equipment could not be carried out.

  • ‘Biochar’ increases rice yield in Nueva Ecija

  • "Amending" the soil, a suggestion from the Singapore-based Alcom Pte. Ltd. for greater rice yields, worked for Filipino growers like Lauro Medina.

    A farmer from Nueva Ecija, which is widely acknowledged as the "Rice Granary of the Philippines," Medina took the "green" company up on its recommendation to try biochar, which the latter pushes as a green soil amendment.

    Biochar has proved to be a revelation to the local farmer.

    He observed that rice seedlings planted on the "amended" soil are "shock-resistant and germinate quickly," with their leaves turning green "immediately" unlike in the past when he just relied on additives that were available.

    Medina said biochar also makes rice "more robust" when employed on the growing grains.

    He added that he noticed that the plants were "significantly larger" than those that were untreated with what the producer of biochar has described as a breakthrough in sustainable agriculture.

    Also, according to Medina, "grain stalks were larger and the grains were fuller" when enhanced with biochar.

    This year and thanks to biochar, he eventually produced 24 cavan of rice from 2,644 square meters to which the crop had been planted with an average of 59.00 kilos per cavan.

    "In the past and based on my long years of farming, I only made 21 cavan of rice with an average of 50.75 kilos from a 2,900 square-meter plot," Medina said.

    "So, I truly believe that using biochar in my farm helped increase the yield by almost one metric ton per hectare," he added.

    The biochar maker, Alcom Carbon Markets Philippines is a subsidiary of Alcom Pte. Ltd., a renewable energy firm with headquarters in the Lion City that specializes in carbon-removal projects.

    It has partnered with the provincial government of Nueva Ecija to produce biochar in the province and possibly promote the product later in other rice-producing parts of the country as well.

    Biochar, according to Alcom Carbon Markets Philippines, is an environment-friendly soil amendment made from rice husks or "ipa" that locally are being disposed of mainly through indiscriminate burning outside rice mills or left to rot elsewhere.

    In 2021, the Philippines was reported to have produced 19.96 million metric tons of rice, indicating an increase over the previous year.

    With this great amount of the grain comes an equally huge quantity of rice husks that are a by-product of the harvest and a big issue for the industry.

    Jefrey Disameto, another Nueva Ecija farmer, has noted that his fellow growers just leave the rice husks outside rice mills and the husks are usually burned shortly by millers in order to decongest their plants.

    Dr. Claro Torres, chief agriculturist of biochar maker Alcom Carbon Markets Philippines, said burning involves oxygenation that produces a by-product that is basically ash.

    "During the process, we can expect that elemental components of the rice husks are converted into gases that enter the atmosphere. With complete burning, you release carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to heating of the atmosphere leading to climate change," he added.

    Rice husks are made up of carbon, water, silica, cellulose and lignin.

    According to Torres, "global environmental and health issues" are brought by the burning of the rice husks, an approach that is deemed cost-effective by many farmers and millers but, he pointed out, not only produces smoke but also breathes out "health-hazardous chemicals."

    Alcom said it has been recommending biochar not only for rice but also onion and calamansi (Philippine lime) farms, also observing that limes cultivated in soil infused with biochar grow 30 percent larger than those without it.

    With the mission of protecting the environment from global warming and climate change, according to Alcom Pte Ltd. founder Prateek Tiwari, the company said it at the same time helps local communities in the Philippines by providing jobs to farmers and teaching them sustainable agricultural practices.

    Indeed, such practices have been adopted by Lauro Medina, getting positive results from them.

    He said biochar has proved to be effective in reducing adverse effects of heavy metals in plants, increasing water retention three to five times and improving soil permeability and aeration.

    Concluding that biochar is an eco-friendly soil enhancer and a sustainable nature-friendly soil amendment, Medina pointed to his increased rice harvest that he said would not have been made possible by commercial fertilizers in the market today.

    This output, according to Rodeo Nunez Jr., lawyer and managing director of Alcom Carbon Markets Philippines, "demonstrated that using biochar widely and extensively is highly advantageous for both agricultural and climatic systems, making it a viable tool for regenerative agriculture."

  • Basmati Rice in your plate might be mixed with artificial colour! Know Govt’s latest rule to stop adulteration

  • It has regulated standards to maintain the natural aroma and quality of basmati rice. The comprehensive regulatory standards will be enforced from August 1. 

    Adulteration of food has become a big cause of concern amid ever-growing competition between the corporates. In recent days, it has been observed that some of the corporates, in order make their fast moving consumer products (FMCGs) more sellable, have resorted to unfair memes like adding artificial odour and colour to the food grains

    Basmati rice - considered as the most popular rice form in the country - has also suffered adulteration. 

    Taking note of some recent complaints, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has specified the identity standards for basmati rice - It has regulated standards to maintain the natural aroma and quality of basmati rice. The comprehensive regulatory standards will be enforced from August 1. 

    What are the regulatory standards?

    As per the standards, the natural aroma of basmati rice has to be maintained. Any kind of artificial coloring and fake fragrance cannot be added to Basmati rice. These standards apply to brown basmati rice, milled basmati rice, parboiled rice, milled basmati parboiled brown basmati rice. 

    The standards also specify various identity and quality parameters for basmati rice such as average size of grains and their elongation ratio after cooking, maximum limits of moisture, amylose content, uric acid, defective/damaged grains and incidental presence of other non-basmati rice.

    India is the largest exporter of Basmati Rice

    India is the largest exporter of Basmati rice worth about Rs 30,000 crore every year. New Delhi has also applied for GI tag for Basmati in European Union. 

    What is Basmati Rice?

    Basmati is long aromatic rice grown traditionally in the Himalayan foothills, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarkhand. Its speciality is that it has extra long grains and has more soft and fluffy texture upon cooking. Basmati rice is unique among other aromatic long-grain rice varieties.   

  • Payment fact sheet available to rice farmers

  • Rice farmers with questions about funding contained in the omnibus bill signed last month by President Biden can find answers in a fact sheet released Friday by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

    The Fiscal Year Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes $250 million in funding for a one-time payment to rice producers to help them offset high costs faced by the industry. Drivers of those costs include weather, war and other factors, said Hunter Biram, extension economist for the Division of Agriculture.

    “We knew there would be a lot of questions and we wanted to have ready information for Arkansas rice farmers to make sound decisions for the 2023 growing season,” Biram said.

    The fact sheet is available for download at

    Biram authored FSA68 along with Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture and Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center.

    “Rice producers in particular were impacted heavily by major increases in production costs in 2022, more so than other crops,” Hardke said. “Hopefully these payments ensure that rice farms are able to stay in operation moving forward and the economic outlook improves.”

    Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center said the ad hoc funding “was a huge legislative lift and a significant help to rice producers in Arkansas and beyond.”

    Both Biram and Hardke urged rice growers to exercise caution where the payments are concerned.

    “While this assistance will be key to growers remaining profitable, caution should also be exercised regarding expectations about how much each grower will receive and how that impacts their planning and operation for the 2023 season,” Hardke said.

    Farmers should be sure to read the FAQs in the fact sheet and urged them to “not make any decisions until you get a check in the mail,” Biram said.

  • FCI procures 17.5 LMT of fortified rice in 2021-22 in Andhra Pradesh

  • It has been distributed in some southern States

    A total quantity of 17.59 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) of fortified rice was procured by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) during Kharif Monsoon Season (KMS) 2021-22 in Andhra Pradesh. Out of this, the FCI has dispatched about 5 LMT of fortified rice to consuming States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka by December 2022. The procurement includes 6.52 LMT through FCI and 11.07 LMT through the State Civil Supplies Corporation (CSC).

    A quantity of 6.15 LMT fortified rice has been distributed in high burden and aspirational districts under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) as well as PM Poshan and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) schemes in Andhra Pradesh, Chandra Shekhar Joshi, General Manager, Andhra Pradesh Region, FCI, told The Hindu.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address in 2021 said fortified rice would be supplied through the government schemes to ensure nutrition. Accordingly, the Centre approved the supply of fortified rice through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under the NFSA and ICDS, PM POSHAN and other schemes in all States and Union Territories (UTs) in a phased manner.

    Mr. Joshi said under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana about 30.08 LMT foodgrains were issued to beneficiaries in the Andhra Pradesh region through the FCI.

    Under multi-modal transport, 41,320 MT of foodgrains were moved to Kerala through the riverine movement, during 2021-22. 

    A quantity of 32,642 MT and 23,234 MT of foodgrains were despatched to Andaman & Nicobar Islands through coastal movement during 2020-21 and 2021-22 respectively.

    He said, “To ameliorate the hardships faced by the poor due to economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to minimise the impact of the pandemic on food security, the Government in March 2020 had announced the distribution of additional foodgrains (rice/wheat) free of cost to about 80 crore population under the NFSA {Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Households (PHH)} at the rate of 5 kg per person per month under the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY). So far, under the scheme, the department had an offtake of about 30.08 LMT of foodgrains from the A.P. Region. Currently, Phase VII (October-December 2022) of PMGKAY is operational in all States and Union Territories.

  • As Buhari Exits, Questions Over Rice Pyramids Linger

  • President Muhammadu Buhari launched 13 rice pyramids in Abuja in January, 2022, in a ceremony that received international media attention and elevated Nigeria to the…

    President Muhammadu Buhari launched 13 rice pyramids in Abuja in January, 2022, in a ceremony that received international media attention and elevated Nigeria to the position of top rice producer in Africa. 

    The launch was to showcase the successes of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) driven by the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and to announce a crash in the price of the crop.

    However, one year after the debut, the price of rice increased to N40,000 per 50kg in December, 2022, up from N26,000 before the fiesta, leaving Nigerians wondering if the event was stage-managed to make the president believe the billions of naira put into the production were worth it.

    Prior to 2015, about N600bn worth of rice was imported each year to close the demand-supply mismatch for milled rice.

    With only six operational integrated rice mills and a national paddy output of roughly 4.5 million metric tonnes at the time, the Nigerian rice business was unattractive to both farmers and millers because imported rice predominated the Nigerian market.

    However, a game-changing scheme, the ABP, was launched in November, 2015, starting with the financing of smallholder farmers of rice and wheat.

    Through the provision of inputs in kind, biometric identification of farms and farmers, extension services, secured markets through well-established offtake contracts and additional connections to the agro-processors to ensure the transmission of the benefits from primary production to other nodes of the value chain, ABP created a dynamic ecosystem among all stakeholders.

    As at February, 2022, the CBN had disbursed N975.61bn to 4.52 million smallholder farmers across the country under ABP.

    Productivity per hectare increased to an average of four to five metric tonnes, integrated rice mills grew astronomically to over 50 in 2021 and national output to over nine million metric tonnes.

    For many Nigerians, the billions of naira did not translate to cheap rice; instead, they are spending more to eat rice.

    “Finding cheap rice is a worry for me as a customer. I don’t understand why the government would claim that after spending billions on rice cultivation we cannot afford it,” said Mr Akin Tunde in Abuja.

    For two seasons now the ABP has stopped due to bad loans and as Buhari exits in the next four months stakeholders fear the success may be reversed.

    Rice production in W/Africa grew by 44%

    Region still imports 8m tons

    Dr Boladale Adebowale, the Executive Secretary of the ECOWAS Rice Observatory, speaking recently in Abuja, stated that in the 14 of the ECOWAS member states rice played a very important and increasing socio-economic role. 

    She said the consumption of rice had experienced an exponential demand growth since the second-half of the 70s due to an increasing population that was nearly doubling every 25 years. 

    Dr Boladale said, “The regional production increased by 44 per cent between 2008, when we were only producing 6.9 million metric tonnes in the region to 13.8 million metric tonnes recorded for 2020 alone. 

    “However, demand has not been met from local production, no matter how much we try to shy away from that. The region has relied on importation from Asia to meet this shortfall. In 2020 alone as I mentioned earlier, over eight million tons of milled rice was imported by West Africa. And the bill was over $3.4bn. This did not only deplete the scarce foreign reserves that we have, but what it has done is to undermine the indigenous capabilities that we have in the production of rice and the development of the rice value chain as well. 

    “In West Africa, local production of rice covers only 62 per cent of current demand, and it is a fact. In Nigeria it covers only about 72 per cent. That is also a fact.”

    Troubled CBN, dead ABP leave farmers in limbo

    Muhammed Ali Baba of RIFAN, during the launch of a rice policy in Abuja, said, “The greatest challenge we have had so far with the ABP is repayment. It is what has killed it.

    “These past two seasons we didn’t have ABP because repayment was abysmal,” adding that the value chain players, especially those at the lower level, must be sensitised if such intervention must be sustained.

    For some time now the CBN has been facing criticism over the huge amount (about N1trn) spent in the programme with rice still unaffordable.

    Although the ABP recorded some successes in the sector, some stakeholders believe that most of the funds ended up in the hands of people who are not real farmers, adding that increased local production is due to import ban and border closure.

    “A lot of people got rich through a number of interventions because of corruption in the system. Some people forced themselves to become leaders of some commodity associations just to tap into the funds. These people don’t have farms but because they know those who are in charge of administering these funds.

    “That’s why output will never commensurate the amount claimed to have been spent on production,” Ali Barde, a farmer said.

    Dr Fatima Aliyu, the focal person for rice at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, while speaking on rice transformation in the country recently  said that by 2018, Nigeria had achieved 70 per cent self-sufficiency.

    “No matter what people say, Nigeria has made gigantic progress in the production of rice in Africa. People don’t notice it because we have a very large population. But whatever the case, when our borders were closed, when there was a shutdown of everywhere during the COVID-19 pandemic, the exporters were not exporting, so there was nothing to import, but there was rice in Nigeria,” she said.

    Gov Bagudu speaks 

    Governor Atiku Bagudu Abubakar of Kebbi State, who is the Vice Chairman of the National Food Security Council and also Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Rice and Wheat, also believes a lot has been done. 

    He said, “We have done well, there’s no doubt about it, in the rice sector, the increase in production, the mobilization of private investments, the coming together of financiers,  scientists and  policy makers under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has  produced monumental results above 15 million tons. 

    “But that we have done well does not mean we cannot do better, and that again needs to be appreciated.  The goal of doubling rice production by 2030 to 30 million metric tons is even modest. And in terms of the fact that we have seen rapid increases in yield, we have seen revolution at the lowest level, meaning at the farmer level and most of our farming communities today, you find farmers transiting and willing to embrace agronomic practices, which in a while ago they were very reluctant to embrace. They are now willing to invest in seedling and or even appreciate the value of adequacy of inputs and so on and so forth. 

    “So this transformation is achieving a critical mass which we believe will bring to bear how easy it is for us to go to the next level in terms of achieving that 30 million tons. And it makes sense because the former known Western states which include Niger, Sokoto. Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara, have a landmass of about 149,000 square kilometres, slightly bigger than Bangladesh. Bangladesh is 147,000, but yet Bangladesh, even with 170 million people occupying that land, produces about 35 million metric tons of rice. So if we ask to support even one part of the country. We can see why the 30 million goal is not too ambitious. So it’s not out of a dream, especially given the fact that all the 36 states in Nigeria and FCT have potential for rice production.” 

    But with Buhari’s tenure coming to an end, CBN under search light and commercial banks’ interest rate going beyond smallholder farmers, the future is unpredictable. 

    Currently, farmers are battling low productivity, high cost of production, poor rural infrastructure, land tenure issues, climatic factors, little access to irrigation services, banditry and insurgency.

  • Panchamrutha launches unique fortified rice

  • MARGAOPanchamrutha Industries, a well-known name in the field of food products, has on Thursday launched "Panchamrutha Fortified Rice" in Goa at Margao.
    Panchamrutha Director Jambulingappa Hosmani informed that Panchamrutha Fortified Rice is unique and unprecedented in the sense that the rice is enriched with vital vitamins and minerals to improve its nutritional content.
    “Panchamrutha was launched in 2002 in Goa. Our mantra was 'Ghar Ghar Mey Panchamrutha'. Since then we have gone ahead in a big way. The uniqueness of Panchamrutha is that there is consistency in quality, consistency in price, and consistency in supply,” he said.
    He pointed out that the Union government in 2015 had announced the need of producing fortified products to combat malnutrition in the country, Hosmani said “we took it up as a challenge, fortified our rice, and strengthened our network throughout the State.”
    He added: “The advantages of this new Fortified Rice are that it improves haemoglobin content, fights anaemia, builds robust immune system and strengthens metabolism. When people purchase Panchamrutha rice, they can see some yellow grains present in the pack. It is because of that yellow grain the rice gets fortified. We have studied the advantages of this yellow grain after subjecting it to various tests.”
    He said Panchamrutha Fortified Rice has all the potential to increase the physical health and fitness of the people and thus lead to a healthy society.   

  • No broad-based decline in food inflation yet

  • Spices inflation was 20.35% in December 2022 as prices of jeera (cumin seeds), dhania , turmeric and black pepper rose by 25.25%, 22.53%, 7.7% and 10.18% respectively on year.

    Nomura's price trackers for pulses, vegetable oils and sugar also show a further contraction in January; cereal prices are moderating, while momentum remains strong for eggs and milk prices. (IE)

    While food inflation fell to 4.19% in December, the lowest since January 2022, thanks to a sharp fall in prices of vegetables, edible oils, meat products and pulses, the prices of several commodities such as spices, cereals and dairy products continued to be at elevated levels amid supply contraints.

    While stating that sharp corrections in vegetable prices eased up food inflation, Crisil said prices of most other food groups rose year-on-year. Cereals, which contributed majorly to inflation zooming past 7% for most of the first half of this fiscal, saw prices going up by 13.8% in December.

    “It is not a broad based decline in food inflation, the fall is due to the most volatile part of the basket, that is vegetables,” DK Joshi, chief economist, Crisil told FE. Joshi said there remains stickiness in other components such as cereals where the wheat crop got hit last year while rice production is likely to decline this year. Wheat and rice inflation was at 22.2% and 10.49% respectively in December 2022 on year.

    As per agriculture ministry, wheat output in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) declined by around 3% on year to 106.8 million tonne (MT) because of heat waves during the flowering stage of the crop in March last year. India’s rice production in the current kharif season for the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) is expected to decline by around 6% to 104.99 MT against 111.76 MT in 2021-22.

    In May 2022, India banned wheat exports for ensuring domestic supplies while in September 2022, the government also banned broken rice exports as well and put additional export duties of 20% on the certain varieties of non-basmati rice exports.

    Spices inflation was 20.35% in December 2022 as prices of jeera (cumin seeds), dhania , turmeric and black pepper rose by 25.25%, 22.53%, 7.7% and 10.18% respectively on year.

    Nomura said in a report that while the fall in vegetable prices in December 2022 is in line with seasonal trends, “the size of the contraction is surprising in view of the variations observed in daily market prices.”

    “Early data for January suggest that vegetable prices have continued to fall in line with seasonal trends (our tracker for tomato, onion and potato prices is down -7.1% m-o-m from -10.5% in December), which is likely to continue having an outsized effect on headline inflation,” it said. Nomura‘s price trackers for pulses, vegetable oils and sugar also show a further contraction in January; cereal prices are moderating, while momentum remains strong for eggs and milk prices.

    Milk and egg inflation in December was at 8.23% and 6.91% respectively.

    On rise in milk price this year, Meenesh C Shah, chairman, National Dairy Development Board had said that, in the last one year fodder and feed costs have increased by 25% and there was ‘some drop in milk production in few pockets because of the spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD) amongst livestock population’. Mother Dairy, a fully owned subsidiary of NDDB, a major milk supplier in NCR-Delhi region, had announced the fifth round of increase in milk prices this year.

    HSBC said in January, vegetable prices continue to ease, particularly that of tomato and potato. “Strong sowing bodes well for wheat production, and if all goes well, food inflation could fall further in the coming months,” it stated.

    According to agriculture ministry data on Friday, wheat sowing this season has been reported at record 33.71 million hectare.

  • Asia rice: strong baht, demand props up Thai export prices

  • MUMBAI/HANOI/ BANGKOK: Export prices of rice from Thailand rose this week to their highest level in nearly two years on a stronger baht and sturdy demand, while Vietnam rates fell to a six-week low as activity slowed ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice rates rose from $480 per tonne last week to $495 per tonne on Thursday - its highest since March 2021 - helped by a strong baht and more regional demand, traders said.

    “Prices are the highest in 3-4 years because of the strong baht and demand coming in from Indonesia,” said a Bangkok-based trader, adding prices could reach $500. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $445-$450 per tonne, free on board, down from $458 per tonne a week ago. “Trade is slow as the Lunar New Year holiday is nearing,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    “Exporters are focusing on delivery for the signed contracts,” the trader said, adding that domestic supplies are low after strong shipments in 2022.

    Traders said the winter-spring harvest, the largest crop of the year, will begin in February and peak from mid-March.

    Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $375-$382 per tonne, unchanged from last week. White rice prices in India rose to $398-$405 per tonne from $394-$400 per tonne a week ago on good demand.

    “Buyers are giving preference to Indian rice despite export duty.

    Indian supplies are at least $50 per tonne cheaper than other destinations,” said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading firm.

  • Ban on Rice Imports Lifted.

  • Rice imports have been banned since early November and no kind of rice can go through customs clearance`

    Iran has lifted restrictions it recently imposed on rice imports, according to the director general of the Commerce Bureau of the Agriculture Ministry.

    “There is currently no ban on placing order [for rice imports],” Shahyad Aabnar was quoted as saying by Iran Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, adding that order has been placed for the import of 100,000 tons of rice in the past 24 hours.

    His comments came after the head of Rice Importers Association of Iran announced that rice imports have been banned since early November and no kind of rice can go through customs clearance.

    “Responsible officials have cited ‘balancing out bilateral trade’ as the reason why they have banned rice imports from the countries we normally purchase the grain from,” Karim Akhavan-Akbari was quoted as saying by the news portal of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.   

    It was earlier announced that only Indian rice imports were banned.

    Akbari said the government decision would cause shortage in the domestic market, since local production cannot meet domestic demand for rice.

    “So far this year, close to 1.27 million tons of rice have been imported. Our annual import demand stands at around 1.5 million tons. Therefore, we need to purchase nearly 250,000 tons of the grain by the end of the year [late March],” he said.

    He noted that year-on-year inflation for top quality Iranian rice stands at 123.1%, adding that for high-quality foreign rice the rate stood at 45.9% in the month ending Dec. 21.

    “The first six deciles of the country consume imported foreign rice, due to their more reasonable prices. The ban set on imports can result not only in a shortage of rice, but an increase in prices. In our country, rice is a staple food, coming in second after wheat in the list of the most consumed grains. Therefore, this measure can impact a large number of the population, particularly the ones with more modest means,” he said.    

    His remarks came after Salar Saket, the deputy head of Rice Importers Association of Iran, echoed similar concerns.

    “Indian rice accounts for the highest proportion of imported rice due to its high quality and reasonable price. Iranians prefer Indian rice over other foreign types of rice and importers trade commodities for which there is demand in the market. The rice we purchase from India meets the needs of six underprivileged income deciles and also balances the price of Iranian rice. So, it is only obvious how this ban on imports can damage the market,” he said.

    The ban also applied to import of tea from India.

    “It will be lifted as soon as bilateral trade is balanced out or registers surplus,” secretary of Iran’s Rice Suppliers Commission, Masih Keshavarz, was quoted as saying earlier.

    A total of 1.75 million tons of rice were imported into Iran during the last Iranian year (March 2021-22). The import volume set a ten-year record high, according to the secretary of Iran Rice Association.

    “Last year’s imports was more than twice the volume the country needed to make for the domestic production deficiency,” Jamil Alizadeh Shayeq was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

    A total of 2.25 million tons of rice were produced in Iran during the last Iranian year (March 2021-22), according to the deputy head of Iran Rice Union, Ahmad Eshraqi.

    Rice consumption in Iran currently stands at 3 million tons per year, about 70% of which are supplied through domestic production, according to Alireza Mohajer, a deputy agriculture minister.

    India has long been a major exporter of rice to Iran. Other exporters include Pakistan, the UAE, Thailand, Turkey and Iraq.

    The three northern provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan produce are Iran’s rice production hubs.

    Contract-Based Production

    Contract-based cultivation of rice was launched in Iran in April 2022 for the first time.

    More than 6,322 hectares of paddy fields have joined the scheme so far, the CEO of the Central Organization for Rural Cooperatives affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture said back then.

    “We estimate that a total of 15,805 tons of rice will be produced under the scheme which is being carried out in the northern provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan. Up until now, we have distributed over 1,100 tons of seeds among farmers taking part in the plan,” Esmaeil Qaderifar was also quoted as saying by ILNA.

    Agricultural Production Insurance Fund, he added, has made sure all of these contracts are insured.

    “Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides are provided for farmers as part of the contract-based production scheme. The government plans to expand the scheme to all strategic agricultural products,” he said.  

    FAO Forecast

    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations expects Iran’s rice production to reach 3 million tons in 2022, down from 3.1 million tons last year. Five-year average output has been put at 3.5cereal million tons.

    In its biannual report on global food markets, FAO said Iran imported an average of 1.3 million tons of rice during the 2018-20 period.

    The 2018-20 average production has been put at 2.5 million tons.

    Consumption is forecast to slightly increase from 3.6 million tons in 2021 to 3.7 million tons in 2022.

    Average utilization during crop years 2018-19 to 2020-21 stood at 3.6 million tons.

    2022-23, 2021-22, and 2018-19 to 2020-21 average closing stocks have been put at 0.6, 0.5 and 0.7 million tons respectively.

    The 2018-19 to 2020-21 average per capita has been put at 38.2 kilograms.

    Limited availabilities of water for irrigation cloud rice production outlook for Iran, the report noted.

    “International trade in rice is predicted to register its third successive annual increase in 2022 (January–December), with volumes exchanged across the world forecast to reach 53.1 million tons, up 3.0 percent from the 2021 all-time high. With the exception of the Asian Far East, most regions are anticipated to step up their imports over the course of the year, often aided by state efforts to contain inflationary pressure. Such steps have taken the form of import duty remissions in various African and Latin American countries, or of an acceleration of government-contracted imports, as has been most notably the case of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

  • Rice farmers cushion losses with resilient farmer-bred variety

  • Kabuhian Communal Farm (Photo by Angeliza Arceno)

    The PBB 401 rice variety stands out because it has repeatedly shown its resilience to floods, including those induced by extreme weather events.

    HINIGARAN, Negros Occidental — A farmer-bred rice variety never leaves farmers from barangay Calapi in Hinigaran town in mid-southern part of this province empty handed.

    “With PBB 401 variety, there’s always something to harvest,” said Ruben Laquita, member of a small peasant group in Hinigaran.

    Farms in this coastal town are frequently flooded following heavy rains, which Laquita described as an unfortunate experience in the last three cropping seasons. “We used to plant other rice varieties [through organic farming], but floods completely destroyed them.”

    The PBB 401 rice variety, on the other hand, stands out because it has repeatedly demonstrated its resilience to floods. Extreme weather events, also known as conditions beyond average weather and climate patterns, have become more common because of climate change.

    Over the last two decades, the country has had the highest occurrence of extreme weather events, particularly tropical typhoons, among Asian developing countries included in this study, with flooding being one of the major agricultural damage-causing hazards. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, these unmitigated disasters have cost the agriculture sector the most, with 63 percent damage or P290 billion pesos recorded from 2010 to 2019, further impoverishing the poorest members of this already vulnerable sector, the majority of whom significantly contribute in their local economies’ food production as a big part of rural population.

    As a result, farmers like Laquita prefer the PBB 401 because preventing total production losses is “better than nothing.”

    What is PBB 401?

    PBB 401 is an organic white rice variety developed by the late Pepito Babasa, a farmer-breeder from Camarines Sur in the Bicol region. Babasa used two parent materials for breeding: native red rice Bulao and salinity-resistant M115-1. This resulted in a slightly “blonde” husk, droopy flag leaf, a not-too-slender/elongated grain which ripens before the leaves. It can reach a height of one meter.

    “Here in our place [in Bato town] there’s no irrigation system. Upland farms are rainfed, and farmers can only plant once per year. Those in the lowlands pumped water from the river, which can also flood their riceland during heavy rains,” Babasa said.

    According to him, the PBB 401 is drought-resistant due to its deep-penetrating roots, and farmers in other Philippine provinces such as Negros and Cotabato in Mindanao, where irrigation is also scarce, attest to its productivity amid extreme drought, even without using chemical fertilizer.

    But while the PBB 401 was made as drought-resilient, its adaptors also found it flood-resistant, including the Hinigaran farmers. Their most recent experience was when super typhoon Odette (Rai), the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 2021 and the first to develop strength beyond tropical storms in December since typhoon Nina in 2016, flooded their communal farm. It is also the second most damaging after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, which a study published in Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology estimated to have a return period of 13 years for affected rice farmers, adding 12.5 million tons of rice have been lost to typhoons since 2001.

    Despite the severe flood, the Hinigaran farmers were still able to harvest 35 cavans of rice, compared to their normal harvest of 95 to 100 cavans, while the Rc10 variety was completely destroyed.

    In a phone interview, Ronald Labrador, who obtained a salinity-resilient PBB variety called 410 for a coastal communal farm that he used to manage in Albay province, said these varieties are highly adaptable. According to him, the communal farm was established in response to saltwater inundation of ricelands, an environmental hazard that has become more common with the rapid climate-induced sea-level rise.

    Moreover, Babasa said his farm is along Lake Bato, one of the largest in the country and is part of the lake system in Camarines Sur. It overflowed after heavy rains, causing flooding that could last two weeks.

    Trial farming

    Laquita is a member of the Barangay Calapi Daat Small Farmers Association (CADASFA), a Hinigaran peasant organization made up of beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform program (CARP). The CARP is a government program that provides agricultural lands to landless farmers such as agricultural tenants and lessees, regular and seasonal farmhands, and other farm workers.

    After obtaining their Certificate of Land Ownership, the CADASFA started to grow rice varieties, including the PBB 401 in the .75 square meters of trial land. A trial land is a communal land where farmers grow farmer-saved rice varieties to test their adaptability to local conditions. Prior to harvest, participating farmers select varieties that are compatible with their farm ecologies and hazards. The ten most picked will be mass produced at the trial farm and distributed for free.

    PBB 401 has a “strong body,” according to CADASFA farmers, and produces a lot of yields, especially when not sprayed with chemical pesticides. “If you do not add poison (commercial pesticides), the plant will grow strong and will not be attacked by pests,” Laquita said.

    At the trial farm, these farmers practice organic farming to save money while maintaining the soil’s microbial health. “Why buy when you have natural materials around you? If you have it, use it. The plants remain healthy,” said CADASFA member Roger Noblezada.

    CADASFA farmers typically use natural pesticides derived from vermicompost and a blend of madre de cacao, tobacco, peppers, lemon grass, and makabuhay — all of which can be found on the farm.

    “We never had problems with organic pesticides,” Noblezada said, adding “commercial pesticides are expensive and we know what happens when we use it.” Excessive use of chemicals, according to him, “causes soil acidity, results in pesticide-resistant insects, and increases health risks to farmers.” Unlike organic farming, inorganic farmers have to buy chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and even seeds.

    But while both organic and inorganic fertilizers contain nitrogen, which crops do not absorb entirely, the latter is more prone to leaching and surface runoff. As a greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide can warm the atmosphere 300 times more than carbon dioxide. Fertilizers must be used and produced strategically in light of their potent emission impacts, which organic and pastoral farmers have been doing. Furthermore, the production of inorganic fertilizers contributes to the increased use of fossil fuels such as methane gas. Agriculture, along with forestry and land use, are second to the energy sector in terms of global human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which caused the climate crisis.

    Argene Seron, Kabuhian Association chairperson, believes that an adaptable seed is critical to cultivating climate-resilient crops. KABUHIAN is a farming association of CARP beneficiaries from Kabankalan City that also planted PBB 401 in their trial farm and saw similar yield results.

    Trial farming shows them that climate-resilient seeds are locally-adapted, diverse and rely on fertile soil. As Babasa put it, a resilient seed in one place may not be the same in another. Thus, the need for on-farm testing, which farmers can do if they have control over their food production practices, such as choosing what seeds to plant and cultivating and exchanging them for diverse varietal lines without the legal constraints of patents, among other things.

    Farming support network

    The CADASFA farmers have been working closely with the non-governmental peasant organization Paghida-et sa Kauswagan (Peace in Development Group/PDG) and its partner Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development/MASIPAG), both of which assist them in having control over their food production. The PDG through ensuring land rights, and MASIPAG (with its progressive scientist members) by encouraging agricultural biodiversity of staple crops, particularly rice, through localized food systems.

    PDG focuses on peasant communities, including CARP beneficiaries’ struggles, whereas MASIPAG works with its network of 50,000 marginalized Filipino farmers to ensure access to farmer-saved seeds and training on how to cultivate them without being tied to the costly monocrop, chemical-based farming prioritized by the Green Revolution. The latter’s exclusionary nature resulted in agro-biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, and debt-overwhelmed rural subsistence farmers — the same reasons that prompted the formation of MASIPAG to combat these threats.

    CADASFA farmers obtain their seeds from the PDG and MASIPAG seed libraries, which currently contain 2,000 rice varieties, including 600 traditional varieties, 1,299 MASIPAG rice, and 506 farmer-bred rice. Its 188 trial farms spread across the country keep at least 50 traditional seed varieties.

    Babasa used a MASIPAG line, the M115-1 variety, to produce the PBB 401. The organization was also able to save Philippine native rice varieties, like the Bulao, and has served as its custodian since.

    PDG coordinator Gilberto Premediles also attested to PBB 401’s resilient characteristics. “For example, if rainfed irrigation becomes clogged, PBB varieties like 407, 436, and especially the 401, have resistance to flooding and also drought. This is based on my experience with other farmers in Negros.”

    According to Premediles, Hinigaran farmers have been growing this rice variety for over two years and it has greatly aided their harvest. This is because it is a F7 crop that underwent (more or less than) three years and seven croppings of testing to become a pureline using MASIPAG’S breeding process. As a result, an established variety emerges (based on the breeder’s goals) that is distinctly superior from its parent materials.

    “Usually when you plant something successfully the first time, there is no guarantee that the next production will still have good seeds, sometimes a variation occurs,” Premediles said.

    This is also why farmers who grow commercial seeds (often hybrids) buy every planting season because hybrids revert to the traits of one of the parent materials. As a result, replanting does not guarantee the same qualities. Whereas based on Negros farmers’ experience with PBB 401, the second production will be just as good as the first.

    Other associations planted the PBB 401 and experienced the same positive results, including a good eating quality for having a fragrant smell, according to Premediles. Farmers from southern Negros Occidental towns, particularly Kabankalan City, are among them. He adds that all the grains must be ripe before harvesting in order to maximize yields.

    Core challenge: land rights

    Peasants are benefiting from the PBB 401 rice variety thanks to trial farming, which would have been difficult without access to land. Farmers can test rice varieties before planting them on their own farms by using communal lands as trial farms.

    According to Premediles, they usually grow a variety of rice seeds per gram and spread them on a small area of the rice bed that can hold at least 50 pieces of seeds. When those begin to grow, they observe and document how they perform, whether they are healthy or if they have any defects.

    Landless farmers, instead, grow what their landlords prefer, which is often inorganic crops, because the government prioritizes them for subsidies. That is the same reason why smallholder farming families continue to practice chemical farming despite knowing its economic impact on them and its environmental tolls.

    In 2022, the government’s budget allocation for fertilizer and oil price hike subsidies amounted to P20 billion pesos. Farmers qualified for such subsidies are those that receive chemical-dependent, high-yielding rice seeds from the government and those registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), which, according to the Department of Agriculture, “contains basic information of legitimate farmers, farm laborers and fishers.”

    Because of this, as well as the lack of support for farmers to organize, including CARP beneficiaries, Premediles laments how, despite the PBB variety’s success in reducing losses from extreme weather events, it is not widely used by Filipino farmers.

    Trial farming is a systematic activity that people’s organizations mobilize on the ground. Its members voluntarily participate in organic farming training provided by MASIPAG, attend regular meetings in their localities for the exchange of agricultural knowledge, and are willing to provide MASIPAG with a copy of their bred seeds, which will be distributed for free to its trial farms nationwide.

    According to Premidiles, “aside from simply granting them land, it would be preferable if the government would assist new beneficiaries in better managing their lands.”

    This is one of the reasons the CARP and its various iterations have failed to deliver on their promise of closing the gap between landless farmers and land ownership, despite having reportedly distributed 4.9 million hectares (out of 5.4 million hectares designated for CARP) since 2005. CARP beneficiaries struggle to keep their lands because farming is a capital-intensive and high-risk endeavor, especially inorganic farming, and many farmers end up giving up because of debt. In other cases, they suffered from and struggled against intimidation and harassment.

    While the CADASFA farmers had a smooth turn over and have no issue of land grabbing on their end, others are not as fortunate. The former are currently holding individual lands as well as eighty five square meters of communal land, which includes the trial land.

    Nancy Vingno, a peasant farmer from KABUHIAN Association in Kabankalan, said it took years to process their certificate of land ownership award (CLOA). “Having it for 24 years now is also 24 years of never ending struggle against land grabbing and constant harassment by landlords and the military when we simply would like to focus on farming and to be able to farm in peace,” she said.

    This is also happening in other parts of the country where land disputes have resulted in human rights violations of farmers, indigenous groups and environmental defenders. In June this year, members of the Philippine National Police illegally and violently arrested agrarian reform beneficiaries in Tarlac for rightfully claiming their land rights in favor of a local politician claiming ownership of the land.

    Other challenges

    Furthermore, there are no monetary funds to invest in the trial farms, which are managed locally and must be organized to obtain funding through donations or grants. Because their seed libraries are housed in simple huts, they are vulnerable to typhoons, as was the case in Kabankalan.

    Prior to typhoon Odette, farmers from Negros provided seed to typhoon-affected MASIPAG farmers, while those from Albay held feeding activities for farming families who were affected by movement restrictions during the lockdown.

    Still, the available seeds are limited, so CADASFA farmers had to make do with a non-flood resistant RC10. “We’d like to have a more consistent operation of the trial farm on our communal land, but it’s currently empty because we don’t have the money to maintain it,” Laquita said.

    Developing locally adapted rice varieties like the PBB 401 also takes years, and some members may become inactive along the process due to lack of adequate support. This is happening now with some CADASFA members.

    “Sometimes it is not just about the money but also about other resources. Owning our own land gives us control over our time and food production, and receiving the necessary support for land improvement activities and management constitutes true agrarian reform,” said Cutie Dalumpines, PDG coordinator for CADASFA. (JJE, RVO) 

  • India’s basmati exports surge on short-supply from Pakistan

  • Growers benefit in turn as the fragrant variety’s paddy sells above ₹4,250/quintal.

    Basmati rice exports from India have gained in value and volume following short-supplies from Pakistan, the only other competitor in the global market for the long-grained rice.

    Data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) show that basmati shipments during April-November of the current fiscal have increased to 2.73 million tonnes (mt), a 13 per cent jump over 2.4 mt in 2021-22. 

    The value of exports, on the other hand, has increased to $2.87 billion from $.2.06 billion. This is in view of the unit value rising 39 per cent during April-November to $1,051 a tonne from $860 for the entire 2021-22.

    More room for a hike

    In rupee terms, the rise in value is 48.6 per cent. Though data are available only till November, the picture has changed dramatically since then with Pakistan basmati exports dropping 44 per cent during the July-December period.

    Since then, basmati rice prices have increased further. Currently, the fragrant rice from India is quoted at $1,450 a tonne, while the Pakistan variety is offered at $1,350. 

    The buoyant exports have resulted in basmati farmers fetching 60 per cent higher price this fiscal. According to data from Agmarket, an arm of the Agriculture Ministry, the weighted average price of basmati paddy is ₹4,326 a quintal against ₹2,688 a year ago. “There is room for India to increase basmati prices further in view of the shortage in Pakistan,” said S Chandrasekaran, who has authored the book “Basmati Rice: The Natural History and Geographical Indication” and is a trade analyst.

    Wettest August in 61 years

    Pakistan has been badly hit by the wettest August in 61 years it witnessed last year. The neighbouring country’s agricultural production, mainly basmati and non-basmati paddy, has been badly affected by floods. 

    Despite the damage, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not projected any major setback to agricultural production. However, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan has been quoted by the media that basmati production had declined 40 per cent in the Sindh province due to floods.

    On the other hand, India’s basmati production is expected to be higher but details are awaited. Trade sources said Pakistan is going through a turbulent period due to a shortage of US dollars that is preventing it from importing commodities. The drop in basmati exports will further affect Islamabad’s balance of payment problem. 

    Damage to rail link

    Pakistan is currently witnessing skirmishes for food with social media flooded with such incidents. Last year, its wheat crop suffered due to a heatwave and currently, it is having to look at imports to overcome the shortage in the domestic market.

    Chandrasekaran said during the August-December period, there would have been at least 50,000 tonnes shortfall in Pakistan basmati supplies in the global market each month. “The historic floods have damaged the Karachi-Lahore rail link. It is another reason for Pakistan’s basmati exports to be affected,” he said. Differences between Pakistan and China over Main Line railway project under China Pakistan Economic Corridor have delayed the work to restore the link.

    India, on the other hand, has gained with Iran buying 6.28 lakh tonnes (lt) of basmati rice during the first half of the current fiscal. This is two-thirds of its total basmati imports last fiscal. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are the next big buyers of Indian basmati, importing 4.45 lt and 1.8 lt respectively in the first half.

  • BRS, BJP lock horns over 5-kg free rice scheme

  • The BJP leaders said the BRS government has been implementing 6kgs rice per head at the rate of Rs 1 per kg all these years. (Image: PTI)

    HYDERABAD: The ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) of K.Chandrasekhar Rao and the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are embroiled in a new conflict over a 5-kg free rice scheme that would be extended to ration card
    users across the state beginning this month.

    The BJP-led government in New Delhi recently decided that it will offer 5-kg
    of rice per person in each ration-card-holding family across the country for
    a year from January to December 2023 to those covered by the National Food
    Security Act, 2013. In addition to the Centre's 5-kg rice scheme, the Telangana government said on Wednesday that it will  begin distributing 5kgs of rice per person per family with ration cards immediately. Civil supplies minister Gangula Kamalakar made the announcement on Wednesday. This provoked a war of words between the BRS and BJP leaders. The BJP leaders claimed that the BRS government was forced to implement this scheme after the Centre announced a free rice scheme.

    The BJP leaders said the BRS government has been implementing 6kgs rice per
    head at the rate of Rs 1 per kg all these years and when the central government announced 5kg free rice scheme from January, the BRS government decided to scrap its scheme and implement the Centre's free rice scheme to reduce its subsidy burden. When the BJP leaders threatened to hold agitation programmes, the BRS government backtracked and announced a 5-kg free rice scheme.

    The BJP claimed that the state government's decision to distribute free rice
    was a result of its state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar demanding the same.
    The party, in a news release said the government's decision was forced after
    Sanjay wrote a letter to the CM on Tuesday asking if the Telangana
    government wanted the poor to be on empty stomachs during the harvest
    festival of Sankranti.

    Gangula Kamalakar claimed that his department had to change a software system in order to implement the Centre's free rice scheme at all ration shops, resulting in delay in distributing free rice to beneficiaries for a week. The plan to supply free rice from Wednesday has nothing to do with the BJP threatening agitation programmes.

     "Telangana has 55 lakh ration card holders covered under the Centre's NFSA
    while the state government issued an additional 35 lakh ration cards on its own to cover more beneficiaries by increasing income ceiling. The Centre is giving free rice to only 55 lakh ration card holders while we are bearing additional expenditure on another 35 lakh beneficiaries. We are supplying free rice to all these beneficiaries with our own funds. This shows the humane approach of CM KCR towards the poor," Kamalakar said.

  • First batch of imported rice in 2023 arrives

  • AT least 12,417 metric tons of imported rice have arrived in the country, the first batch of importation for the staple food in 2023, according to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

    The BPI also said that the total imported grains in 2022 reached 3.8 million metric tons (MMT).

    Based on the report of BPI, as of Jan. 5, 2023, at least 6,500 metric tons of the imported grains came from Thailand and 5,917 metric tons were sourced from Vietnam.

    According to the BPI, the fresh rice imports were covered by at least nine sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs).

    The BPI added that total rice imports in 2022 reached 3,826,238 MT, more than double the total importation in 2019 of 1.857MMT.

    The bulk or 83 percent of the rice importation in 2022 came from Vietnam with 3.178MMT. This was 817,789 MT or 26 percent bigger compared to the 2.4 MMT total imports from Vietnam in 2021.

    The country's total importation in 2022 was 1.05MMT or 28 percent bigger compared to the 2.8MMT rice imports in 2021.

    Other sources of rice importation last year included Myanmar, 244,738 MT; Pakistan, 198.912 MT; Thailand, 183,230 MT; India, 10,095 MT; China, 9,328 MT; Singapore, 822 MT; Korea, 400 MT, Japan, 303 MT; and Spain, 4.96 MT.

    Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla had said the DA expects 2.5 MMT of rice imports in 2023, lower than last year's 3.8 MMT.

    Sombilla blamed the typhoons that hit the country in 2022 for the spike in the rice imports.

    She added that the BPI was tasked to manage the issuance of SPSICs under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

    According to Sombilla, the DA targets 20 million metric tons of local palay production in 2023.

    According to Sombilla, a big chunk of the budget for 2023 will be for the subsidy for the farmers.

    For his part, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa attributed the decline in palay production to the increase in the cost of farm inputs, particularly fertilizer.

  • Bangladesh to buy rice from Indian govt traders at higher rate

    • Price of rice at the two private companies is $393 and $397 per tonne
    • Govt-run companies selling at $433 and $436 per tonne
    • Govt-run traders earning Rs 330 million more per 100,000 tonnes
    Rice sacks at the market

    The ministry of food in Bangladesh has started the process of importing 300,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from India. The government will purchase two-thirds of the rice directly from the Indian government in a government-to-government (G2G) transaction. The remaining 100,000 tonnes of rice will be bought through a global import tender.

    The ministry will procure the rice from four Indian companies and the import process is in its final stage. However, Bangladesh is spending nearly US $40 more per tonne when buying from government-run Indian companies compared to the private traders.

    A number of Indian media outlets have already ran stories on the discrepancy of the price between government and private companies.

    A source at the food ministry said the rice the two private companies in India are selling at $393 and $397 per tonne is priced at $433.6 and $436.5 by the two government-run companies.

    Bangladesh will buy 100,000 tonnes of rice each from the government-run companies and 50,000 tonnes from each of the two private companies. The food ministry and cabinet committee on public procurement has already approved the import order.

    When the country is going through a dollar crisis, the government should purchase rice at the cheapest rate possible. If the price of rice is going down then they should wait for a bit and then buy rice

    AMM Shawkat Ali, Former agriculture secretary

    Food ministry secretary Mohammad Ismail Hossain told Prothom Alo, “The cost of rice fluctuates in every country. The talks to purchase rice through a governmental transaction began in last October. The talks were finalised in mid-December. The rate was fixed according to the export prices at the time. The global import tender was issued last December. By then, the price of rice had fallen. That’s why we could purchase rice at a lower price.”

    In December last year, a six-member team led by food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder and Mohammad Ismail Hossain toured Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to seek traders to import rice at a lower rate. But the team couldn’t secure a deal to import the requisite amount. So, the food ministry resumed the process of importing rice from India.

    A source at the food ministry said that very soon the ministry will sign a deal with India’s National Co-operative Consumer Federation (NCCF) and their central reserves to purchase 100,000 tonnes of rice from each.

    The directorate general of food issued a letter of intent (LoI) to both the companies on 21 December. Around 70 per cent of the imported rice will be brought via the Chattogram and Mongla ports. The remaining rice will come in trains. The companies are contractually obligated to deliver the rice within 70 days of the signing the agreement.

    The talks to purchase rice through a governmental transaction began in last October. The talks were finalised on mid-December. The rate was fixed according to the export prices at the time

    Mohammad Ismail Hossain, food ministry secretary

    In the global import tender, the two Indian private companies proposed the lowest quotations and were given the contract. The companies are the Singapore-based Agro-Crop International Limited and Bagadiya Brothers.

    Business Line, a newspaper owned by Indian media house the Hindu group, ran a report on 21 December on the difference of price between the government and private traders. They expressed shock at Bangladesh choosing to buy from the government traders over the private ones.

    The report said the Indian co-operative traders are getting Rs 330 million more per 100,000 tonnes of rice. In total, the co-operatives will earn an extra Rs 660 million.

    The report claimed that the government and private traders from India are selling rice at the lowest rate in the current global market and traders in Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar traders are selling at a higher rate in comparison.

    Former agriculture secretary AMM Shawkat Ali told Prothom Alo, “At a time when the country is going through a dollar crisis, the government should purchase rice at the cheapest rate possible. If the price of rice is going down, then they should wait for a bit and then buy rice.”

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), India will be the biggest global exporter of rice in the running fiscal year. China will buy 1.35 million tonnes of rice from India and Philippines and middle-eastern countries are also showing interest to buy rice from India.

    As per the food ministry, currently around 1.4 million tonnes of rice is stored at government food reserves. The government distributes nearly 200,000 tonnes of rice every month as part of its social security programmes.

    After the price of rice spiked in the country, the distribution amount was increased to 300,000 tonnes. That’s why, the government is trying to purchase from external sources to replenish the reserve.

    *This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy

  • Rice breeding breakthrough to feed billions

  • Summary:

    An international team has succeeded in propagating a commercial hybrid rice strain as a clone through seeds with 95 percent efficiency. This could lower the cost of hybrid rice seed, making high-yielding, disease resistant rice strains available to low-income farmers worldwide.

    An international team has succeeded in propagating a commercial hybrid rice strain as a clone through seeds with 95 percent efficiency. This could lower the cost of hybrid rice seed, making high-yielding, disease resistant rice strains available to low-income farmers worldwide. The work was published Dec. 27 in Nature Communications.

    First-generation hybrids of crop plants often show higher performance than their parent strains, a phenomenon called hybrid vigor. But this does not persist if the hybrids are bred together for a second generation. So when farmers want to use high-performing hybrid plant varieties, they need to purchase new seed each season.

    Rice, the staple crop for half the world's population, is relatively costly to breed as a hybrid for a yield improvement of about 10 percent. This means that the benefits of rice hybrids have yet to reach many of the world's farmers, said Gurdev Khush, adjunct professor emeritus in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. Working at the International Rice Research Institute from 1967 until retiring to UC Davis in 2002, Khush led efforts to create new rice high-yield rice varieties, work for which he received the World Food Prize in 1996.

    One solution to this would be to propagate hybrids as clones that would remain identical from generation to generation without further breeding. Many wild plants can produce seeds that are clones of themselves, a process called apomixis.

    "Once you have the hybrid, if you can induce apomixis, then you can plant it every year," Khush said.

    However, transferring apomixis to a major crop plant has proved difficult to achieve.

    One Step to Cloned Hybrid Seeds

    In 2019, a team led by Professor Venkatesan Sundaresan and Assistant Professor Imtiyaz Khanday at the UC Davis Departments of Plant Biology and Plant Sciences achieved apomixis in rice plants, with about 30 percent of seeds being clones.

    Sundaresan, Khanday and colleagues in France, Germany and Ghana have now achieved a clonal efficiency of 95 percent, using a commercial hybrid rice strain, and shown that the process could be sustained for at least three generations.

    The single-step process involves modifying three genes called MiMe which cause the plant to switch from meioisis, the process that plants use to form egg cells, to mitosis, in which a cell divides into two copies of itself. Another gene modification induces apomixis. The result is a seed that can grow into a plant genetically identical to its parent.

    The method would allow seed companies to produce hybrid seeds more rapidly and at larger scale, as well as providing seed that farmers could save and replant from season to season, Khush said.

    "Apomixis in crop plants has been the target of worldwide research for over 30 years, because it can make hybrid seed production can become accessible to everyone," Sundaresan said. "The resulting increase in yields can help meet global needs of an increasing population without having to increase use of land, water and fertilizers to unsustainable levels."

    The results could be applied to other food crops, Sundaresan said. In particular, rice is a genetic model for other cereal crops including maize and wheat, that together constitute major food staples for the world.

    Khush recalled that he organized a 1994 conference on apomixis in rice breeding. When he returned to UC Davis in 2002, he gave a copy of the conference proceedings to Sundaresan.

    "It's been a long project," he said.

    Coauthors on the paper are: Aurore Vernet, Donaldo Meynard, Delphine Meulet, Olivier Gibert, Ronan Rivallan, Anne Cecilé Meunier, Julien Frouin, James Tallebois, Daphné Autran, Olivier Leblanc and Emmanuel Guiderdoni, CIRAD and University of Montpellier, France; Qichao Lian and Raphael Mercier, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany; Matilda Bissah, CSIR Plant Genetics Resources Research Institute, Ghana; and Kyle Shankle, UC Davis. Khush is not an author on the new paper.

    The work was supported in part by funding from the Innovative Genomics Institute and the France-Berkeley Fund.

  • Months designated to highlight agriculture in the Philippines


    The Philippines celebrates the wonders of the country’s agriculture every year through different national month-long celebrations and festivals. From rice to fish, there is a lot to celebrate and appreciate around the country.

    Here are the official month-long celebrations designated to appreciate the contributions of the agricultural sector to the country’s development:

    Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month


    Celebrated every January, Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month aims to promote the use of indigenous textiles and raw materials, such as abaca, banana, and pineapple leaves, being produced in the country. Under Presidential Proclamation No. 313, series of 2012, the government, led by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), crafts programs to sustain increased interest and active participation of Filipinos in local tropical fabric developments.

    One of the local companies taking part in promoting indigenous textiles is LARA in the municipality of Basey in Samar. LARA remasters the traditional art of weaving while empowering local women weavers.

    Countryside Development Month


    Through the virtue of Presidential Proclamation 212, series of 2016, the Countryside Development Month aims to promote national economic decentralization through a series of activities that will highlight countryside products among local consumers and increase public-private market linkages.

    One of the groups actively promoting and helping in countryside development is Green Rescue Organic Association Inc (GRO). Through the group, Arcely ‘Cely’ Lagardo, a former worker in Manila was able to grasp more opportunities in the countryside by learning organic farming with GRO.

    Farmers’ and Fisherfolks’ Month


    Throughout the country’s history, the agricultural sector has contributed a lot to shaping the national economy and culture. The month of May is proclaimed as Farmers’ and Fisherfolks’ Month through the virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 33, series of 1989, to recognize the role of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk in helping the country achieve food security and sustainability.

    One of the fisherfolks leading in the mission of making the fisheries sector more sustainable is Roberto Ballon, a fisherman from Zamboanga Sibugay. Together with his 30 other colleagues, he started Kapunungan sa Gamay Nga Mangingisda sa Concepcion (KGMC) which aims to promote mangrove reforestation to revitalize marine ecosystems.

    Nutrition Month


    In a bid to increase awareness and help in alleviating the problem of malnutrition in the country, the government designates July as Nutrition Month through the virtue of Presidential Decree No. 491, series of 1974. The series of activities during Nutrition Month aims to promote the importance of nutrition among Filipinos, especially children. The month also highlights the role of agriculture in ensuring a healthy population.

    Developing the agriculture sector is essential to reaching the community’s nutrition goals. Promoting sustainable agriculture and combating malnutrition is the mission Cherie Atilano, president and founder of social enterprise Agrea, aims to continue as a high-level ambassadress for the United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.

    Bamboo Month


    Bamboo is a fast-growing grass known for having a variety of uses. In recognition of the many uses of bamboo and its potential to help in developing communities, the month of September is designated as Bamboo Month through the virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1401, signed just last 2022. The month-long series of activities aims to strengthen the local bamboo industry by promoting the product development of bamboo and enhancing market access to bamboo products.

    One of the companies recognizing the value of bamboo is Bambu Salubre in Bulacan. The company’s six-hectare farm in the town of San Jose Del Monte is home to more than 80 species of bamboo being utilized to produce essential oils and hydrosols.

    National Rice Awareness Month


    Rice is life for many Filipinos, shaping not just the local cuisine, but also the country’s economy. Despite being a staple food in the country, problems in the supply of rice continue to bug the local industry and are further aggravated by the problem of food waste. Through the virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 524 Series of 2004, National Rice Awareness Month every November aims to raise public awareness of the importance of rice, combat malnutrition and poverty, and promote rice self-sufficiency. During this month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) also highlights the need for responsible consumption of rice.

    More than appreciation, Filipinos are called upon to support local rice farmers. From patronizing local rice to more active community involvement, there are several ways to support Filipino farmers.

    Organic Agriculture Month


    Highlighting the importance of organic agriculture in ensuring food security with environment-friendly practices, Presidential Proclamation No. 1030, series of 2015, designates November of each year as Organic Agriculture Month. The series of activities during the month aims to promote the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines as an effective tool for rural development, ecological conservation, and health protection of farmers and consumers.

    After changing careers, farmer Emma Tolentino is now helping her community in Victoria, Tarlac through organic farming. Her Eco Natural Integrated Farm is home cultivating guava apples, organic rice, mushroom, and other herbs and spices.

    The monthly agriculture celebrations not only remind Filipinos of the abundance and contribution of the local agricultural sector but also highlight the need for it to be further developed amidst the country’s glaring problems on food security and sustainability.

  • Vietnam’s ethnic farmers go green with organic farming

  • Under People-Led Development Program, farmers can find real solutions to their own problems

    Participants receive tips on organic farming at the two-day event at the Pastoral Center in Da Lat in Vietnam on Jan 5 (Photo supplied)

    Bitter weather did not prevent hundreds of ethnic farmers in Vietnam from joining hands to promote organic farming.

    Some 160 farmers in Da Lat Diocese attended the two-day gathering on Jan.5, organized by the local arm of Caritas at the Pastoral Center in Da Lat, capital of Lam Dong province.

    They brought over 100 kinds of seeds of rice, beans, vegetables, and chili. Most of the seeds were locally produced and some were gifts from farmers in Nepal and the Philippines.

    “This is the first time I have tasted various traditional dishes from indigenous groups,” said Simon Long Ding Haonh from the Chin ethnic group in Dung K’noh Parish.

    The 35-year-old father of four, who cultivates coffee and gathers honey from forests for a living, said local preparation methods should be passed on to younger generations to preserve ethnic traditions. 

    Under the People-Led Development Program, volunteers from Caritas imparted lessons on climate change and on the mass extinction of plant species. 

    The program, initiated by Caritas Da Lat in 2014, encourages local farmers to find real solutions to their own problems.

    Under the program, over 10 communities from Chau Ma, Chin, Chu Ru, K'hor and Mnong ethnic groups are participating in sustainable farming by using compost instead of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

    Before they exchanged seeds to propagate them in their areas, they prayed in their own languages. The meeting also discussed organic farming activities as a way to protect the environment.

    They also took part in traditional competitive games, including pounding rice in the compound. They prepared over 100 traditional simple dishes from fish, vegetables, fruits and roots which they collected from their local areas. 

    At the event, participants performed folk dances in traditional costumes.

  • Study IDs gene that may reduce chalkiness of heat-stressed rice


    Welcome to Pocket Science: a glimpse at recent research from Husker scientists and engineers. For those who want to quickly learn the “What,” “So what” and “Now what” of Husker research.


    Oppressive temperatures can curb the growth and yields of multiple cereal crops, including rice, which is eaten by some 3.5 billion people worldwide. Though much of the research into heat stress has investigated its effects on quantity, it can degrade grain quality, too. Heat stress is especially known for introducing chalkiness to the interior of a rice seed, which, by complicating the milling process and making the grain less palatable to consumers, also lowers its market price.

    Still, researchers know less about the genetic contributors to that stress-driven chalkiness — and how to counteract it — than they do yield and other outcomes.

    So what?

    Nebraska’s Harkamal Walia and colleagues recently aimed to both identify genes linked with chalkiness and determine a faster, more efficient way to compare that chalkiness among different varieties of rice. The researchers began by exposing 229 genetically diverse rice plants to heat stress for five days, then collected and scanned grains from each of those plants. With the aid of SeedExtractor, a Husker-developed imagery analysis program, the team found that the ratio of red vs. green wavelengths reflected from the seeds could help estimate the amount of chalkiness within.

    After incorporating that red-green ratio into a genetic analysis of the rice plants, the team pinpointed one particular gene, OsCG5, that seemed especially active in the face of heat stress. The number of proteins originating from OsCG5 — a measure of gene expression — rose sharply not long after the researchers turned up the heat. That rise in gene expression also correlated with less chalkiness in the stressed rice seeds. Rice plants lacking OsCG5, meanwhile, responded to heat stress with more chalkiness than did plants containing the gene. Seeds from the OsCG5-absent plants grew 11-17% shorter, too.

    Now what?

    Learning more about OsCG5 could inform the development of rice varieties that yield less-chalky seeds amid the heat waves of a still-warming planet, the researchers said. Incorporating the team’s red-green pixel analysis might also speed the identification of other chalk-relevant genes in rice and related cereal crops.

    Nebraska’s Harkamal Walia and colleagues have described a novel form of a gene obtained from wild wheat that has the potential to improve drought tolerance in cultivated wheat. Craig Chandler | University Communication

    Nebraska's Harkamal Walia, professor of agronomy and horticulture.

  • Liberia: LIFE Liberia Supports Farmers to Cultivate 76 Acres Lowland Rice

  • A partial view of the LIFE Liberia lowland rice project in Nimba County

    In an effort to buttress the Liberian government’s food security drive, the Liberian Initiative for Feeding Everyone (LIFE Liberia), a Christian local non-governmental organization (NGO), has supported several smallholder rice farmers to develop 76 acres of lowland with an improved rice variety.

    The lowland rice project, which is now mature for harvest, is situated in Dokodan Camp Number One, Bain-garr Administrative District, Electoral District # 2, Nimba County.

    The founder of Life Liberia, former Lutheran Bishop Rev. Dr. D. Jensen Seyenkulo, told the Daily Observer last week in an exclusive interview during a one-day visit on the farm that the rice, when harvested, will be processed and sold on the local market at affordable prices.

    The project comes at a time when the nation is still struggling to increase domestic rice production. Liberia spends nearly US$200 million annually to import rice to ensure food security for its citizens. In 2022, there was an acute shortage of rice on the market for several weeks. And currently, the price of imported rice on the local market has increased due to the global food crisis. .

    The establishment of LIFE Liberia

    In September last year, the Lutheran church in Liberia (LCL) partnered with three other ecumenical denominations, Episcopal, Methodist, and Baptist to sign a memorandum of understanding that launched the LIFE Liberia project.

    The main goal of the project is to help reduce Liberia’s dependency on rice.

    Former Lutheran Bishop, Rev. Dr. D. Jensen Seyenkulo’s recent visit to the LIFE Liberia project.

    “Now it is time we can feed ourselves and the nation. We have rich soil, abundant rainfall, and enough sunshine. We are too old to continue to let other people decide what we eat, and when to eat it,” says former Lutheran Bishop Seyenkulo, during the launch of the project last year in Monrovia.

    Rev. Fr. Wozeyan Bazzie, Chairman for the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church of Liberia, says Liberia’s continuous importation of vegetables and other food crops is sad.

    “It’s enough that we take action. With the coming of this project, there will be employment for many rural citizens. Though there will be challenges, let us not be deterred,” Rev. Fr. Bazzie said.

    LIFE’s partnership with Dokodan farmers

    The project initiated by LIFE Liberia is designed to support smallholder rice farmers who are members of the Dokodan Cooperative and other farmers in the future with improved rice seed varieties, fertilizers, and other farming inputs, as well as to ensure that the rice produced by the farmers is purchased, processed, and sold on the local market.

    The Dokodan Cooperative has turned over the rice processing facility donated to them by international partners to LIFE Liberia to manage, through a formal agreement to ensure processing opportunities for the farming communities.

    The facility is housed in a building with integrated rice milling equipment procured with funding from USAID. The equipment has the capacity to produce 1 metric ton of rice per hour. It is one of several industrial rice milling facilities that the country can now boost to ensure the availability of local rice for the market.

    According to the vision bearer of LIFE Liberia, Bishop Seyenkulo, LIFE Liberia is currently piloting the rice project for a period of three years and will extend the agreement based on the success of the current intervention.

    Seyenkulo said they were targeting 2,000 acres but were only able to cultivate 76 acres at the moment, and they also intend to work with other farmers in the nearby communities to purchase their rice for processing.

    “We support the farmers with seed, fertilizers, and other farming tools, and the farmers grow the rice, which we will buy to process for the market. We also intend to work with other farmers in the nearby communities,” he explained.

    He said they intend to supply quality processed local rice in market places like Ganta, Sanniquellie, and Gbarnga. 

    “We want to own a share of the market and grow fast enough to compete with the imported rice. We can’t stop the sale of imported rice on those markets now because we still lack the means. But it is disastrous that we can’t feed ourselves. Therefore, we hope that this project will help contribute immensely toward the improvement of food security,” the Bishop stated.

    However, he mentioned that the greatest challenge that he sees about agriculture in Liberia is the doubtfulness of many Liberians that the country could feed itself.

    “Our greatest challenge is the doubt by many that we can feed ourselves. But we hope that those who have the means can support us. People need to believe that the private sector is capable of the transformation we need for agriculture,” the former Lutheran Bishop explained.

    “We, as the church, God has not only mandated us to preach to the world, but we are here to meet the needs of the people in a holistic way,” he added.

    The Bishop has meanwhile called on the entire Christian community to join the government to solve the food problem facing the country.

    Dokodan farmers’ impression about the project

    Beneficiaries of the project have expressed great enthusiasm about the LIFE Liberia project within the community. They told this reporter that the project was introduced at a time when they were faced with the challenge of accessing inputs and marketing their paddy rice.

    “We are very happy about the introduction of this project because we have someone to buy our rice to get money to support our families. I have cultivated one acre. Before, we had a lot of challenges. But this project has provided us with cash to cultivate our farms, and they are going to buy the rice we have grown. We were provided with fertilizer and seed,” said Nya Quee, a farmer.

    However, Nya noted that there was a need for the project to ensure that farming inputs, particularly the provision of seed and cash to farmers, are done in a timely manner to avoid late planting.

    The Dokodan Farmers’ Cooperative Society is one of the oldest cooperatives in the country. Since the end of the Liberian civil war, members of the cooperative have benefited from a lot of assistance from international partners, but it seemed as though the interventions were not sustainable.

    The rice field is still not well irrigated, thus bringing about the problem of flooding during the farming season that negatively affects the yield of the farmers.

    Over the years, many calls have been made by the farmers to the government to see reason to reconstruct the dam so as to enable them to produce rice in two cropping seasons, but such an appeal has yet to come to fruition.

    Marcus Kerkula, an experienced youth farmer, underscored the need for the government to support LIFE Liberia in achieving its goal of feeding the nation.

    “We want the government to support LIFE Liberia to rehabilitate the dam. This dam has been damaged for a very long time. Because the dam is not yet reconstructed we have a problem with not producing more rice for the market. Many times, due to the climatic conditions, we experience heavy floods that damage most of the rice during the farming season. We also want the government to support the organization with equipment to enable us to mechanize to feed the mill,” Macus said.

  • Komal Rice: All You Need to Know About The Magical Rice of Assam

  • Are you in search of a new and flavorful way to add nutrition to your meals? Look no further than Komal rice, a type of aromatic rice that is native to the Assam region of India and widely used in Indian cuisine.

    Known for its distinct flavor and fragrance, Komal rice is a popular choice for traditional dishes like biryani and pulao. In this article, we will delve into the various health benefits of Komal rice and how it can be easily incorporated into your daily meals. So, if you want to add some flavor and nutrition to your meals, keep reading to learn more about this rice variety.

    Elevate Your Meals with the Soft, Fluffy Texture of Komal Rice.

    One of the unique characteristics of Komal rice is that it can be cooked using a method called "soaking." To prepare Komal rice using this method, you simply need to rinse the rice and then soak it in water for a few minutes. After soaking, the rice can be drained and used in a variety of dishes. This method of cooking Komal rice results in a soft, fluffy texture and allows the rice to retain more of its nutrients and flavor compared to other cooking methods.

    Komal rice is not just good for your taste buds, but good for the planet too!

    What really sets Komal rice apart is its farming methods. Unlike other types of rice that are grown using modern, industrial techniques, Komal rice is often grown using traditional methods that involve natural fertilizers and no chemical pesticides or herbicides. This results in a rice that is more flavorful, nutrient-rich, and better for the environment. And it's not just good for the planet - these traditional methods also help support local communities and economies by providing employment and income for small farmers.

    In addition to its delicious taste and versatility in the kitchen, Komal rice is also a healthy choice.

    Komal rice is a good source of complex carbs, which provide sustained energy and help regulate blood sugar levels. It is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, iron, and niacin. And with its low fat and cholesterol content, Komal rice is a wise choice for those looking to maintain a balanced diet.

    Just like every good thing out there, Komal rice does not come without its challenges.

    As mentioned before, the grains of Komal rice are thin and delicate, which can make it difficult to handle and cook. It is also more prone to damage and breakage compared to other types of rice. Additionally, Komal rice is more expensive than many other types of rice, which can be a barrier for some consumers. However, despite these challenges, the end result of cooking Komal rice is well worth the effort.

    Did we tell you? Komal rice is not just popular in the Assam but all over the world.

    It is also gaining popularity around the world and can be found in many international restaurants. So why not add some global flair to your dinner tonight with a dish featuring Komal rice? Trust us, your taste buds (and the planet) will thank you for choosing this delicious and sustainable option.

  • Satisfied with Karawang rice output: Minister

  • Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo and deputy head of Karawang, Aep Syaepuloh, during rice harvest in Karawang. (ANTARA/HO-Pemkab Karawang)

    Karawang, West Java (ANTARA) - Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo has expressed satisfaction over the rice production recorded in Ciptamarga village, Jayakerta sub-district, Karawang, West Java, during this year’s harvest period.

    "Rice production at the beginning of this year ensures that production in Karawang is really good," Minister Limpo noted after the rice harvest in Karawang on Monday.

    He informed that the harvest at the beginning of this year was one of the measures taken by the Agriculture Ministry and Karawang government to ensure that national rice production was met.

    On a plantation area of around 2 thousand hectares, the village managed to produce 8 tons of rice per hectare, he noted.

    "Of course, this ensures that if production in Karawang is good, then production in other areas will also be good. Because Karawang is a gauge to the success of Indonesia's rice production," the minister said.

    According to him, the production target could reach 4 million tons and cover an area of 1.4 million hectares in the period from March to April 2023. This bodes well for national food resilience, he said.

    He further said he expected farmers to plant rice and secondary crops three times a year. Moreover, efforts are on to improve the food logistics system.

    Deputy head of Karawang, Aep Syaepuloh, said that the farmers have expressed their gratitude for the generous amount of agricultural aid provided to Karawang in 2022.

    “Today (Monday), there is aid of 500 hectares of rice seeds, a power thresher machine," Syaepuloh added.

    In January, the rice harvest area in Karawang spanned 18,103 hectares, with productivity reaching 8 tons per hectare. The price of grains was quite profitable for farmers at Rp6,000–Rp6,100 per kilogram.

  • The challenge of shrinking farm sizes

  • Countries in South Asia, including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, have been experiencing a decline in agricultural farm sizes because of increasing population and division of land among family members in successive generations. In particular, landholding has decreased rapidly in the areas that have a high population growth with dense populations. Pakistan is no exception to this.

    In Pakistan, the average farm size has steadily declined from 5.3 hectares in 1971 to 3.1 hectares in 2000 and then subsequently to 2.6 hectares in 2010 (Agricultural Census 2010). As a result, the agriculture sector is now dominated by smallholders. Over 90 per cent of farms are smaller than 12 acres, out of which 67pc are below even five acres (two hectares).

    The majority of farms have become so small due to successive land divisions that they are no longer economically and operationally viable. Small size is a major limiting factor for increasing labour and land productivity, mechanisation of farms, optimal application of quality farm inputs, and adoption of advanced agricultural practices and technologies.

    At the same time, more than 8.2 million farms pose a serious challenge for the government to provide extension services, offer credit facility to all farmers, enhance their effective access to the market and even implement government programmes for farmers, primarily due to the high transaction costs involved. All these challenges translate into higher production costs and, in turn, a lack of competitiveness. As a result, farmers demand farm subsidies, putting additional pressure on the country’s scarce financial resources.

    In Pakistan, the average farm size has steadily declined from 5.3 hectares in 1971 to 2.6 hectares in 2010

    Interestingly, in East Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, instead of shrinking, farm sizes are increasing. In fact, thriving manufacturing and service sectors have provided lucrative employment opportunities, resulting in labour migration from agriculture to non-agriculture sectors.

    Many research studies have explored and proven the inverse relationship between farm size and crop yields. In Pakistan, the solution undeniably lies in consolidating agricultural holdings into somewhat larger and more efficient farms. But the real challenge is to devise and execute effective policy measures. Among the options explored, cooperative farming and corporate farming are often the most cited.

    Cooperatives (associations of persons united voluntarily) have been successful in many countries in empowering farmers to pool in multiple lands together, use collective bargaining to buy agricultural inputs and sell their produce, and collectively undertake value addition to attain greater efficiencies. Their success can be gauged from the fact that cooperatives in Europe have over 40pc market share in agri-food supply chains, whereas, in the USA, around 75pc of the country’s milk is marketed by dairy cooperatives.

    Due to the peculiar socio-cultural context of our rural areas, particularly in Punjab and Sindh, people do not exhibit an inclination towards working together for common needs and aspirations. Therefore, cooperatives in the agriculture sector could not reap the desired results. In Pakistan, cooperatives often do not hire professional managers. Therefore, when the majority of members lose interest in managing the organisation due to one reason or another, a small group takes control and manages it for their own gains and interests.

    Another widely mentioned option is corporate farming (large-scale agriculture by large companies). The arguments in favour include companies’ greater capacity and financial muscle to introduce mechanisation and new technologies, undertake effective marketing of farm produce, develop linkages with national and international value chain players, and improve farm and area infrastructure. All these factors result in higher productivity and competitiveness.

    However, the major issue is the availability of large areas of land for prospective companies. In Pakistan, however, millions of acres of land are lying uncultivated in Cholistan, Thal, and other regions, which can be leased to local companies for 10-15 years for development and cultivation under high-efficiency irrigation solutions, ideally suitable for water-scarce areas.

    Another option is reverse leasing, which is contrary to the historical rural tenancy system where landlords used to lease out their lands to small farmers for a fixed payment or crop sharing. Companies may get land from small farmers on a long-term lease in lieu of biannual payments or by making them shareholders in the business or/and by providing employment. However, its successful implementation requires intense social mobilisation to educate and coordinate with the farmers.

    We should be cautious and circumspect about lessons learned from other countries. For example, Ethiopia encouraged foreign investment and foreign companies to transform its agriculture sector, but this drive led to large-scale land grabbing — partly illegitimate appropriation of lands by corporate investors — that has been largely supported by the government in the name of public interest/public purposes. The whole strategy dispossessed and displaced farmers and forced them to seek jobs either in urban centres or with agribusinesses.

    Another point of view, expressed by a significant number of labour market experts, is that the issue of shrinking farm sizes would automatically be resolved without any external intervention by developing export-oriented manufacturing and service sectors.

    Alternative sources of income generation in non-agriculture sectors would decrease peoples’ reliance on the land and help reduce the high rates of underemployment and disguised employment, which does not affect aggregate economic output in Pakistan’s agriculture sector. Several countries like China, Bangladesh, and Indonesia have experienced similar structural transformations in their labour markets.

    However, along with developing manufacturing and service sectors, two policy measures are essential. Firstly, a special credit facility with low-interest rates is required, enabling small farmers to buy land, available-for-sale, adjacent to their farms or family members’ share of the inheritance.

    Secondly, the government must take appropriate measures to reduce the cost and time required for land purchase, leasing in, and leasing out, as land purchase currently entails high transaction costs. Already, Japan and China have successfully implemented such policies aimed at land consolidation.

    Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 9th, 2023



    HANOI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Vietnam's rice exports in December fell 26.1% from the previous month to 434,611 tonnes, government customs data showed on Monday.

    Rice shipments from Vietnam in 2022 rose 13.8% year on year to around 7.1 million tonnes valued at $3.5 billion, it said. (Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Martin Petty).

  • Rice acres and yield down in 2022 due to weather input costs, other factors

  • Market pressures and less-than-ideal weather are partly to blame for a drop in rice acreage in Arkansas in 2022.

    Arkansas rice farmers were hit with a number of dramatic challenges as the planting and growing season unfolded during 2022. Weather patterns shifted from too wet to drought. Input costs for fuel, fertilizers, and others rose dramatically.

    Agronomist Jarrod Hardke has a word for the 2022 rice season — erratic.

    “The year began with dramatically higher input costs, especially for fertilizer and diesel fuel,” said Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

    Average yields are down from last year’s record average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimate, Hardke said. “Average yield is estimated at 165 bushels per acre, down from almost 170 bushels an acre in 2021.”

    While the average yield is lower this year, Hardke said — and he expects it to be a little lower when the final data is in — it’s not far off the previous years of 2017-2020.

    Arkansas accounts for nearly half the rice grown in the U.S. In 2020, rice contributed more than $1.1 billion to the state’s agricultural economy, according to the 2022 Agricultural Profile published by the Division of Agriculture. Planted acreage this growing season topped 1.11 million acres, according to NASS.

    All rice production for the state is forecast at 81.2 million hundredweight, down 5% from the August forecast and down 11% from last year’s production of 91.1 million hundredweight, NASS reported. The all-rice yield for 2022 is forecast at 7,500 pounds per acre, down 50 pounds from August and down 130 pounds from last year.

    Rice prices began to rise around planting time, Hardke said, holding out hope that farmers might recoup their input costs in the end. But 2022 was the fourth or fifth wet spring in a row, and that delayed field preparation and planting, making those projected prices shaky.

    “The rains stabilized a bit around May,” he said. “And then in June, it was like someone threw a switch, the rain stopped, and temperatures got up in the 90s. It got hot and dry, and everything just dried up really fast.”

    The dry weather in June, when it was time to fertilize and flood rice, put a lot of strain on irrigation systems.

    “Rice is very hardy in the face of extremes,” Hardke said. “So, in June, the rice was growing so fast it was soaking up all the water. A lot of growers were late getting nitrogen incorporated into the soil, and it took much longer to put a flood on the rice. Fields that might take three to four days to flood were taking 10 or 14 days.”

    Irrigation pumps were running non-stop, Hardke said. “Growers experienced a lot of problems with wells going down because they were running so hard. And then, they had issues with replacing parts because of supply chain shortages.”

    “These problems just nagged us all season,” Hardke said. “But rice is resilient, and when it needs help, it will kind of wait on you, so there was a bit of an escape for us. But it will only wait for so long.”

    Hardke said milling yields were average for the year. “That’s better than last year when we had record rough rice yields, but milling yield was low,” he said. “That’s not a big gain for farmers, but it helps to get a little of that value back from a lower yield.”

    Hardke said the NASS yield estimate doesn’t paint a complete picture of this year’s rice crop.

    “The story is about the variability of success from field to field,” he said. “Yields were erratic because of the weather extremes and other problems growers faced in 2022.”

    Dry weather kept disease pressure low, Hardke said. But late rains in some areas in August revived disease problems in those fields until hot, dry weather returned. On the other hand, the dry weather during harvest was a bonus.

    “This year was the smoothest, driest harvest anyone could remember,” Hardke said.

    The extended dry weather also allowed many growers to prepare fields for next year, work that usually has to wait for a dry window between August and April. And those windows of opportunity have been few in recent years.

    “The speed that farmers were able to move through their fields meant that a ton of fall field work got done, especially in northeast Arkansas,” Hardke said. “A lot of fields are basically ready to plant next year.”

    Rice producers who had losses this last season will receive some aid from the federal government.

    The U.S. House and Senate passed a year-end spending package in late December. Included in the bill was $250 million in assistance for domestic rice farmers to help combat major losses due to record high input costs.

    U.S. Sen. John Boozman said he helped get the aid included in the spending bill.

    “It has been a difficult year for rice producers,” said Boozman, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “Soaring input costs have hurt producers of every commodity, but—as documented by two separate studies out of Texas A&M University—had a disproportionate impact on rice producers. I am pleased we came together to address this challenge in the year-end bill.”

    David Gairhan, chair of the Arkansas Rice Federation, said the aid is much needed.

    “The Arkansas rice community greatly appreciates Sen. Boozman’s successful efforts to provide support during a time of record high input costs. The timing of this assistance is crucial as farmers consider options for the upcoming planting season. Our state benefits from his leadership and we look forward to continuing to work with him and his staff in the new year on the next Farm Bill and other issues of concern,” he said.


  • Bangladesh to buy 100,000 tonnes of rice in tenders


    Some buyers favour cheaper Indian variety


    Thai rates rise to $480 a tonne this week

    By Brijesh Patel

    Jan 5 (Reuters) - Thailand rice export prices rose to their highest since May 2021 this week, helped by a stronger baht and domestic buying, while firm demand kept prices near multi-month highs in other top exporting Asian countries.

    Thailand's 5% broken rice <RI-THBKN5-P1> was quoted at $480 per tonne on Thursday, up from $452 to $465 per tonne quoted last week due to the strength of the local currency, traders said.

    "There are lots of demand for rice in the domestic market, while exporters continue to buy rice for shipment to Indonesia," a Bangkok-based trader said.

    Traders said Indonesia ordered "hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rice" in mid-December.

    Meanwhile, Vietnam's 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> was offered at $458 per tonne free-on-board on Thursday, unchanged from last week when they hit the highest since mid-July.

    "Trade is slow amid the holiday season," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said, adding that some traders were already off for the Lunar New Year holiday.

    State media cited the Vietnam Food Association as saying strong demand for Vietnamese rice had supported prices over the recent days, noting that the Philippines, Vietnam's largest buyer, had refrained from raising its rice import tariff to tame inflation.

    It said other buyers, including Indonesia and Bangladesh, had also announced their rice purchase plans, without elaborating further.

    Bangladesh has approved purchases of 100,000 tonnes of rice in tenders, officials said, as it seeks to build reserves to control domestic prices. The government is also looking to buy rice from India through state-to-state deals.

    Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> remained unchanged from last week at $375 to $382 per tonne - highest since late-November.

    "Orders are getting diverted to India from Thailand and Vietnam because of lower prices," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Additional reporting by Brijesh Patel; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

  • What Rice-Farming Cultures Can Teach Us about Pandemic Preparedness

  • Societies that farm rice over wheat tend to be more tight-knit and interdependent, which could protect them from pandemic viruses like the one behind COVID

    Paddy fields in Vietnam with people transplanting rice. Credit: Dave Mckay/Alamy Stock Photo

    Rice farming is hard. It’s complicated. Traditional rice farming takes twice the amount of labor as crops like wheat, corn and potatoes. Paddy rice was built on irrigation networks that forced farmers to cooperate with each other. Rain falls on the fields of both rogue and cooperative wheat farmers, but irrigation networks flood paddy fields only if farmers work together to build them and manage to keep them working. In short, rice required a lot more social coordination compared with crops such as wheat, which the West was built on.

    Rice farming might seem far removed from the COVID-19 pandemic. But research from my lab finds that some of the cultural traits of rice-farming communities are more important for handling pandemics than hard assets like health care dollars and hospital beds. Cultural traits around social norms and relationship networks can explain why rice-growing nations, including some of the world’s poorest, suffered death rates that were 3 percent those of non-rice-growing nations, including some of the world’s wealthiest. This theory suggests that, when the next highly transmissible infectious disease emerges,