China imports less glutinous rice from Vietnam

  • The proportion of glutinous rice in total rice exports to China has fallen from 74 percent to 48 percent.

    The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (MOIT) statistics show that China’s import of glutinous rice from Vietnam keeps falling.

    Vietnam is the biggest glutinous rice exporter to China, and China is Vietnam’s biggest market for Vietnamese glutinous rice. China’s maintenance of its ‘zero-Covid’ policy has significantly affected its demand for glutinous rice.

    Vietnam’s rice exports to China in January-July 2022 dropped by 27.5 percent in quantity and 28.2 in value compared with the same period last year to 466,225 tons and $242.74 million. Meanwhile, export of glutinous rice was 223,464 tons, a fall of 53 percent year on year. 

    However, China has increased imports of fragrant rice, especially ST21 and ST24 from Vietnam. Fragrant rice exports to China rose by 58.6 percent to 188,459 tons in this period. 

    Reuters quoted sources from the Chinese agriculture ministry saying that some areas in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces have been severely affected by hot weather. 

    The situation has cooled after recent rains, but rainfall has been unevenly distributed and drought is still occurring in some areas. These provinces made up 11.5 percent of grain production in 2021.

    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), in its August 2022 report, predicted that China’s consumption of rice in 2022/23 would be 156.6 million tons, a slight increase of 156.29 million tons compared with the previous crop.

    China is expected to continue to be the world’s largest rice import country with 6 million tons in 2023. China’s rice inventories are predicted to drop by 4 million tons in the 2022/23 crop to 109 million tons.

    According to Chinese customs, with the reduction of 27 percent in export volume, Vietnam has fallen to the third position for rice supply to China from the first position in 2021. Vietnam’s market share in China has also dropped from 22.5 to 11.5 percent.

    India has replaced Vietnam to become the biggest rice exporter to China with 1.5 million tons, up 2.6 times year on year, accounting for 36.9 percent of China’s rice imports.

    Meanwhile, China’s rice imports from Pakistan and Thailand increased by 72 percent, and Laos by three times.

    So far this year, China has boosted imports of broken rice from India and Pakistan for animal feed as wheat and barley prices have increased.

  • Rice prices set to rise as high input costs dampen farm output

  • A RICE shortage is looming if the government does not address rising input costs and low farmer incomes, rice industry analysts and representatives said.

    “There is a threat that we might be lacking in rice. For us farmers, the first reason is because of low prices of palay (unmilled rice) and high input costs. Because of this, the harvest is not good. There is no motivation to harvest because farmers earn so little,” Teodoro C. Mendoza, agronomist and a retired professor affiliated with the Institute of Crop Science at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, said in an online forum on Wednesday.

    “Expect rice prices to increase. We are conditioning people to expect that rice prices will increase,” he added.

    The Alliance for Resilience, Sustainability and Empowerment (ARISE) in a statement called for an increase in the farmgate price of cleaned palay to P22 per kilogram and P25 for dried palay.

    “Farmers would lose if their palay is bought at P19 per kilogram, which is the National Food Authority’s (NFA) current buying price,” it said, adding that the NFA price does not adequately compensate them for their labor.

    Mr. Mendoza said that rice production has also been hampered by weather conditions and the conversion of farmland to roads or infrastructure.

    “Farmers are not applying sufficient fertilizer due to its very high price. Even if there wasn’t a typhoon, prices would still rise because farmers could not put in sufficient fertilizer,” he said.

    The price of a bag of urea fertilizer has risen to P2,850 from P1,000 pre-crisis, Mr. Mendoza said.

    International rice prices have risen for the fifth straight month to a 12-month high, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index.

    “The supply of rice is very tight. India usually supplies 21 million metric tons to over a hundred countries in the world. But now India won’t export rice because they were caught by the drought. Their policy is that the buffer stock is for one year. Here, it is for six days,” Mr. Mendoza said.

    He also said land planted to rice is declining.

    “How to stop land hemorrhage? Pass the National Land Use Act, implement the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997, amend the local government code, and increase rice farmers’ income,” he said.

    He said the availability of irrigation water is out of sync with the planting season.

    “Farmers plant from early May to the first week of June. But they cannot plant early because rain is not sufficient to prepare the land, which is why fields need to be irrigated. We (should) criminalize the conversion of irrigated rice land,” he said.

    “We are in the climate change era. We have to adjust planting times due to climate change. Strong typhoons are happening in September. By mid-September, rice should have been harvested,” he added.

    According to ARISE, rice imports are projected to hit 3.9 million metric tons (MT) this year if the government does not intervene.

    “The NFA’s recent pronouncement that it will raise its palay buying price to P21 per kilogram is a welcome move for many farmers. However, this needs to be followed up with concrete action from top to bottom,” the group said.

    “The NFA has called for the support of legislators and (has asked) local government units (LGUs)… to engage in palay procurement. But NFA has also to increase its (procurement funds) capital and prepare the logistical support to enable LGUs to readily procure from farmers,” it added.

    “We must save the rice industry. Saving the industry saves the rice farmers,” Mr. Mendoza added.

    In a statement, the Department of Agriculture (DA) National Rice Program projected this year’s palay production at 19.5 million MT.

    As of Sept. 15, the DA’s 2022 rice supply outlook estimated supply in the year to date at 17.36 million MT and consumption at 15.14 million MT.

    “There will be an ending stock of 2.228 million MT equivalent to 60 days. The expected imports are 2.75 million MT for the first three quarters of the year,” the DA said.

    “While all of the remaining issued import clearances by the Bureau of Plant Industry will only be valid until the third quarter and imports are yet to be estimated for the last quarter of this year, based on historical trends, import arrivals start to decline by the fourth quarter (to coincide with) the peak harvest from October to November,” it added.

    The department said it is “confident” rice supply will be sufficient for the holidays.

    According to the DA, the prevailing retail price for imported well-milled and regular-milled rice remain at P39 and P38 per kilogram, respectively. Domestically produced well-milled and regular-milled rice fetch P40 and P38 per kilogram, respectively.

    For 2023, the DA said it is targeting production of 20.24 million MT of palay.

    Separately, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said it is promoting drone technology in rice farming to improve pest and nutrient management.

    “Agricultural drones are used in aerial spraying of pesticides, fungicides, foliar fertilizers, and nutrients. Based on studies, using drone sprayer can reduce pesticide volume by up to 30-40%, minimize pilferage of chemicals, and save water up to 90%,” PhilRice said in a statement.

    The agency also recommended drum seeders to improve farmers’ field practices and applications that aid in weed identification which also make crop management recommendations. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

  • Govt allows export of broken rice shipments in transit till Oct 15

  • Broken rice in transit with certain conditions will now be allowed for exports till October 15, a new notification by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said late on Tuesday.

    The conditions include that where loading of broken rice on the ship commenced before the initial ban order came into effect, where the shipping bill is filed and vessels have already berthed or arrived and anchored in Indian ports and their rotation number has been allocated, and where broken rice consignment has been handed over to the customs and is registered in their system. Earlier, it was extended till September 30.

    On September 9, the government banned the export of broken rice with immediate effect. The export policy for the commodity was revised from “free” to “prohibited”.

    The ban assumes significance as it appeared that the overall sown area under paddy this kharif season could be lower than that of last year. This can have an impact on both crop prospects as well as prices going forward. — ANI

    Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution had said an abnormal rise in exports and lower availability of broken rice in domestic markets pushed the central government to put a ban on its trade.

    Pandey said the price of broken rice which was around Rs 15-16 (per kg) increased to Rs 22 and its exports rose three times. As a result, broken rice was neither available for poultry feed nor for ethanol manufacturing.

    Broken rice is widely used as feed in the poultry sector.

    “The contribution of the feed is about 60% as cost on input to the poultry sector. So the prices will get pushed,” Pandey had said.

    This kharif season, the area under paddy cultivation is around 5-6% lower than the previous season. Kharif crops are mostly sown during monsoon — June and July, and the produce is harvested during October and November.

    The primary reason for the decline in the sown area could be attributed to the slow advancement of the monsoon in June and its uneven spread in July in some growing key regions in the country. Crop diversification could possibly be another reason.

    Secretary Pandey had further said India’s kharif rice production, in the worst-case scenario, could fall by 10-12 million tonnes.

    Also, the Centre imposed a 20% export duty on non-basmati rice, except for parboiled rice, to boost domestic supplies. The export duty had come into force from September 9. — ANI

    DGFT notification

    • The shipments where loading of broken rice on the ship commenced before the initial ban order came into effect and where the shipping bill is filed and vessels have already berthed or arrived would be allowed
    • On September 9, the government banned the export of broken rice with immediate effect
  • Why millets are better than rice, wheat or your breakfast cereal for diabetes, heart and weight loss

  • Not for nothing are millets being called the next superfoods. Experts break down what makes them the perfect recipe for future-proofing our lives

    One of the many benefits of millets is that they are gluten free and ideally suited for people with gluten allergy and irritable bowel syndrome. (Representative image of millets/Pexels)

    Replacing your white rice with bajra rotis and switching your breakfast bread and cereal with a ragi uttapam can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check, lose weight and prevent heart damage. And come to think of it, they can easily agree with our systems, considering that they were traditionally used in our diet quite liberally during the bronze age.

    “As we became an agricultural society, millets became relegated to being an animal food. We have about 300 varieties of millets in our country and in climate-conscious times, these use less water, are heat-resistant and still nutrient-dense. Besides, they can soak up maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen. So, they are environmentally-resilient and grow abundantly to be everybody’s superfood. They are a super cocktail of body-friendly nutrients,” says Dr Anuja Agarwala, former senior dietitian, Department of Paediatrics, AIIMS. With the government promoting the use of millets and documenting their heritage, and the United Nations declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, let’s look at our superfood.

    (1) Low Glycaemic Index: Millets like jowar, bajra and ragi have a much lower glycaemic index – a measure of how much a food increases your blood glucose levels – as compared to rice and wheat flour. “When we suggest any food item to diabetics, we look at its glycaemic index. For bread, this is a very high 90, for dalia it is around 30 or 40. The glycaemic index of all millets is below 50, making them a food of choice,” says Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head, Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics at Max Super Speciality Hospital.

    (2) High-fibre ensures there is never hyper or hypoglycaemia: Not only are millets low in glycaemic index, the amount of fibre they contain is also higher than what is found in rice, wheat flour, maida or cornflakes. The high fibre content means they help in achieving satiety faster, thereby reducing the amount that people consume. “They slow down sugar spikes as the glucose gets released very gradually into the bloodstream. This stabilises blood sugar levels. They are never high, nor do they fall below desired levels,” says Dr Agarwala. “In this respect, millets are better than cereals, which are sometimes available in refined and processed forms. Millets are coarse and complex, taking time to be broken down,” she adds. Dr Swatee Sandhan, senior dietician at Jupiter Hospital, Pune, says, “The indigestible portion (insoluble fibres) of millets further works to slow down and regulate the absorption of carbohydrates and fats, thus maintaining blood sugar levels. Further, an increase in adiponectin concentration may improve insulin sensitivity for diabetics.”

    How are millets good for heart health?

    According to Dr Agarwala, millets contain good fats and can significantly control triglycerides and cholesterol. How does this happen? As Dr Sandhan says, “The Niacin or vitamin B3 content in millets is effective in lowering oxidative stress and high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides that are risk factors for heart diseases.”

    The risk of developing cardiovascular diseases can be diminished by a regular consumption of millets, according to a study led by Hyderabad’s International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. Participants were given 50 to 200 g of millets per day for about four months. They reduced cholesterol by eight per cent, LDL or bad cholesterol by 10 per cent and lessened the load of triglycerides. These contributed to almost seven per cent decrease in body mass index (BMI) of the participants. Moreover, millets pushed down diastolic blood pressure readings by 5 per cent.

    How do millets improve gut health?

    (1) Gluten-Free: One of the many benefits of millets is that they are gluten free and ideally suited for people with gluten allergy and irritable bowel syndrome, says Samaddar. Dr Sandhan adds, “Besides, millets stimulate the growth of probiotics within the microbiome which play a role in gut health and micro nutrient absorption.” This greatly helps those with celiac diseases, according to Dr Agarwala.

    (2) “The fibre content in millets contributes to digestive health and helps regulate bowel movements, flushing out toxins,” says Dr Sandhan.

    Good for proteins, vitamins and minerals: Dr Agarwala says that millets are repositories of “high proteins, vitamin A, C (helps in the absorption of iron) vitamin B complex, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.” Samaddar says ragi is high in calcium content, while bajra and jowar have a high iron content that can improve their deficiencies.

    So, how do millets help in managing weight loss?

    Obesity is one of major risk factors for hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases. Millets promote weight-loss as their fibre density and protein guarantee satiety over a long time. Besides, the Little millet contains 5.2 grams of mostly unsaturated fat that ensures a healthy metabolism. That in the end helps you drop body fat.

    How can you integrate millets in your diet?

    “The best thing about millets is that you can make them a part of your breakfast, your main meal as well as snacks,” says Samaddar. “The morning bowl of cornflakes or bread can easily be replaced by ragi porridge or uttapam. For the main course, bajra can be integrated in the form of khichdi or jowar can be used to make rotis. As for snacks, it is better to substitute biscuits or fried stuff with makhanas. The best thing about millets is that they are readily available at reasonable prices because they are grown locally. So, they are no-fuss and safe,” she adds.

    A word of caution from her, though, is that millets, despite their good qualities, still have calories just like rice and rotis. “Portion control remains important even with millets. We cannot overdo anything just because they are healthier.”

  • SENEGAL TO SEEK TALKS WITH INDIA OVER RICE EXPORT BAN

  • DAKAR, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Senegal plans to hold talks with India to secure a much-needed rice supply after India banned exports of broken rice globally and imposed tariffs on some other types, the West African nation's president told business leaders late on Monday.

    India and Pakistan are Senegal's two top sources of rice, a major food staple in the country. Senegal grows only about half the rice it consumes.

    India, the world's biggest rice exporter, banned exports of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other types on Sept. 8 as it tries to boost local supplies and calm prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting.

    The ban could have a severe impact on countries particularly in the West and Central Africa region that depend on imports to make up for the shortfall in their local production.

    "We must open negotiations with the Indian and Pakistani government on broken rice imports," Senegal's President Macky Sall told a meeting with business leaders to discuss measures to curb rampant food inflation.

    "I want to remind everyone that Senegal is an exporter of phosphoric acid which allows India to make its fertilizer," Sall added, saying Senegal should get some exemption for that reason.

    Although Senegal has increased its local rice production to more than 1.2 million tonnes annually from around 200,000 tonnes in 2007, it still needs to import over a million tonnes a year to meet local demand, which is more than 2 million tonnes, according to government data.

    West Africa has faced its worst food crisis on record this year, with millions going hungry due to poor harvests and insecurity, while the war in Ukraine has made the region especially vulnerable to food price hikes and shortages. (Reporting by Diadie Ba Writing by Bate Felix Editing by Nellie Peyton and Bill Berkrot)

  • Three new basmati rice varieties show high yield

  • IARI had provided seeds of new basmati varieties to around 10,000 farmers in key growing regions in three northern states for helping in seed multiplication from the next season onwards.

    Three new basmati rice varieties, which possess in-built resistance to bacterial blight and blast diseases, thus ensuring lesser usage of pesticides, sown for the first time by farmers of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh this kharif season, have shown promise.

    Just a few weeks prior to harvesting, the crop conditions look robust and yields are expected to be higher this season, according to preliminary assessment by Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Pusa, Delhi.

    AK Singh, director, IARI, which supplied seeds to farmers of improved PB1847, PB1885 and PB1886 rice varieties this kharif season, there has not been any reports of diseases and pests so far in the standing crops.

    “Increase in adoptability of new basmati rice varieties amongst farmers in the next couple of seasons, would help recapitulate the country’s basmati rice exports to European Union (EU) which had been hit by several rejection of export consignments due to presence of pesticide residue,” Singh of IARI, an institute affiliated to the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, told FE.

    Exports of aromatic and long grain rice to the EU have declined to 0.2 million tonne (mt) annually from 0.5 mt a few years back.

    IARI had provided seeds of new basmati varieties to around 10,000 farmers in key growing regions in three northern states for helping in seed multiplication from the next season onwards. The varieties have been sown in around 5,000 acres in the current kharif season.

    “There has not been any pest attack so far and the crop condition of PB1847 variety is far better than other varieties,” Harpreet Singh, a farmer from Sangrur district, Punjab, who has sown the rice variety in 1.5 acre of his 10 acre of land, said.

    According to IARI scientists, new varieties would gradually replace the existing basmati rice varieties PB1121, PB1509 and PB6, which are cultivated in more than 90% of the about two million hectares of aromatic and long-grain rice-grown area.

    “Existing key varieties over the years have been susceptible to bacterial blight and blast diseases, leading to excessive use of pesticides by farmers, thus increasing reports of rejection of export consignments due to presence of pesticide residue,” Singh of IARI said.

    Scientists say that for managing bacterial blight disease and blast, farmers use antibiotics and fungicides, which is not a sustainable approach

    “Newly-introduced basmati rice varieties are expected to hugely reduce pesticide consumption and improve the quality of rice,” Vijay Setia, former president of the All India Rice Exporters Association and an exporter, said.

  • Chinese agriculture company to donate hybrid rice seeds to Pakistan

  • BEIJING: Chinese developer and provider of hybrid seeds based in Wuhan, China will donate hybrid rice seeds to support Pakistan in its relief efforts in flood-stricken areas.

    “To support Pakistan in its fight against the floods, we will donate some seeds of hybrid rice to Pakistani farmers. We will also send more technicians to the country to support post-flood reconstruction,” said Zhou Xusheng, Director of Pakistan Business Department, Wuhan Qingfa Hesheng Seed Co, Ltd.

    The company has been providing hybrid seeds of rice, canola and vegetables to Pakistan for nearly twenty years. In particular, it registered the first hybrid rice variety -QY0413 in the history of Pakistan.

    Zhou told China Economic Net (CEN) that North Sindh, home to 60% of the hybrid rice in Pakistan, is one of the worst-hit areas in the floods. It is expected that the export of rice, which is an important means for Pakistan to earn foreign exchange, will suffer greatly.

    “It may take three years for the rice production and export in Pakistan to recover”, Zhou informed.

    “By sending more technicians to the rural areas, we aim to improve the effective use of fertilizers and pesticides to achieve maximize production with minimum cost”, he said.

    “As extreme weather conditions have become more frequent, the company has laid out a blueprint to minimize losses from natural disasters.”

    “First of all, the resistance of crop varieties should be improved. For example, in China, our rice varieties have performed well in the usual heat wave this year. For floods, too, the varieties can be improved”, he said.

    “Second, the production of seeds can be carried out both in Pakistan and China so that they can complement each other in case of extreme weather. Test stations can also be more scattered in different cities in to spread the risk.

    “Zhou also mentioned the importance of the repair of irrigation canals and ditches and road infrastructure. “It would be devastating for farmers if they could not sow normally in the coming months.”

    “Efforts are also required in the maintenance of soil fertility, land levelling, and prevention of diseases,” he added.

  • Major rice traders admit to duping consumers by selling fake Miniket…

  • Major rice traders admit to duping consumers by selling fake Miniket, Najirshail rice

    The Competition Commission last week sued 44 companies producing and distributing essential commodities on charges of destabilising the market by raising prices abnormally.

    Representatives of major rice suppliers in the country have admitted to selling over-polished coarse varieties of rice by rebranding them as popular varieties like Miniket and Najirshail. 

    The admission came on the second day of a public hearing at the Bangladesh Competition Commission. A four-member panel, led by the commission’s Chairperson Md Mofizul Islam, conducted Tuesday’s hearing. 

    The commission, an autonomous judicial authority which ensures fair competition in the market, organised the proceedings to hear from the representatives of six firms, involved in the production and marketing of rice, flour, egg, chicken and toiletries, on charges of “destabilising the market by abnormally raising prices of essential commodities with the intention to profiteer”. 

    The firms are Bangladesh Edible Oil Limited, Rashid Agro Food, Belcon Group, City Group, Paragon Poultry and Unilever Bangladesh. 

    The representatives, however, have sought extensions to come up with information regarding operating and production costs and methods they follow to set retail prices the panel asked for at the hearing.

    A government study last year found that all varieties of Miniket rice and most of the Najirshail varieties found on the market across Bangladesh are over-polished coarse varieties of rice. 

    The traders and millers collect different varieties of coarse paddies or rice and polish them before marketing them as Miniket and Najirshail varieties, capitalising on people’s preference for fine white rice, the study concluded. 

    The Competition Commission last week sued 44 companies producing and distributing essential commodities. Apart from ensuring fair competition, the commission has the authority to register cases at production, supply, retail or consumer levels, or file cases on its own in line with the law. 

    BANGLADESH EDIBLE OIL COMPANY

     The representative of the firm, widely known as a cooking oil company, conceded that the company over-polishes BR 28, BR 29 and Kataribhog varieties of rice and sells those as Miniket varieties since the name Miniket has “market value.” 

    The company, according to the representative, markets two brand names, Veola and Rupchanda. The Rupchanda brand, according to the company, is for high-end consumers. 

    The representative was asked if he could confirm which variety of rice they market under each brand, but he failed to come up with an answer.

    In its defence, however, the company said they are essentially acting as a distributor as they collect rice from the millers, package it and sell it in the retail market as the company was issued a licence to sell rice. 

    The panel asked the company to come up with more information about their production costs and retail costs by Oct 13.

     RASHID AGRO FOOD 

    Rashid Agro’s National Sales Manager Shaikh Shahiduzzaman represented the company at the hearing. 

    Confirming that the company holds a 5 percent share in the rice market, Shahiduzzaman admitted they sell BR 28 breed of rice in Cumilla region as BR 28 while the same rice is sold in Gazipur as Njirashail. 

    “We do it because consumers in different regions are familiar with different names they prefer,” he said at the hearing. 

    Shahiduzzaman also conceded that the commission’s allegation about abnormally raising prices of rice is somewhat true, but he defended the move citing growing dependency on power generators due to intermittent power cuts and a rise in transportation costs due to recent fuel price hikes. 

    The panel asked Shahiduzzaman to come up with more information about the company’s sales on Oct 13. 

    BELCON GROUP 

    Jafrul Alam, an executive officer of the Belcon Group, represented the company at the hearing. 

    The company, which sells rice under the Rajanigandha brand, failed to produce any supporting evidence in favour of its rice price hike. The panel also asked the group to produce more information on Oct 13. 

    Belcon Group has also been asked to open their books for the last three fiscal years and submit specimens of different varieties of rice they market. 

    CITY GROUP 

    The company, which sells Miniket, Najirshail and Kataribhog varieties under the Teer brand, has failed to produce any corroborating evidence to justify its recent price hike. 

    The panel also asked the group’s representative Bishwajit Saha to present more information on Oct 13. 

    The company also received an identical extension in another case of price manipulations of flour. 

    Meanwhile, Unilever Bangladesh, too, was given an extension until Oct 16 to provide more information after the company’s legal representative Mostafizur Rahman Khan asked for more time. 

    The commission opened the hearings on Monday with Kazi Farms, which is accused of destabilising the egg and chicken markets. 

    Kazi Farms failed to provide necessary information during the hearing and it got until Oct 6 to prepare the records. 

    Commodity prices have increased rapidly across the globe due to the Russia-Ukraine war amid heightened demand during the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. 

    In Bangladesh, the prices of rice, soybean oil, sugar, cosmetics and toiletries, egg, chicken and other commodities have surged abnormally, prompting the authorities to check whether the companies raised the prices for proper reasons. 

    The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection found irregularities leading to price hikes of some products. It held meetings with representatives of the companies and merchants. 

    The commission looked into the irregularities spotted by the directorate and reports of market manipulation before filing 44 cases. 

    Most of the cases were filed against businesses involved in the rice trade, including 11 big organisations and eight corporate firms. 

    The others include eight involved in flour production and supply, six in egg production, six in broiler chicken production and marketing, and six in the production and marketing of soap and detergent. 

    OTHERS ON THE LIST 

    The others named in the cases over rice prices include Md Abdul Hannan of Zahura Auto Rice Mill in Dinajpur, Md Erfan Ali of Erfan Group in Chapainawabganj, Golam Kibria Bahar of Kibria Agro Industries Ltd in Bogra, Toufiqul Islam Babu of Mofizuddin Automatic Rice Mill in Naogaon, Alal Ahmed of Alal Agro Food Products in Bogura, Zahirul Khan Islam, proprietor of Nurjahan Agro Foods industries Ltd in Brahmanbaria, Putu Mia of Auto Rice Mill, Arshad Ali of Dada Auto Rice Mills in Kushtia and Brajen Majumder of Majumdar Auto Rice Mill in Naogaon. 

    Those named in the cases over rice prices also include the chairmen of Square Food & Beverage Ltd, ACI Limited and Mabco High-tech Rice Industries Ltd, the chairman or managing director of BRAC Seed and Agro Enterprise and City Auto Rice & Dal Mills Ltd of Narayanganj, the managing director and CEO of PRAN Foods Ltd. 

    The managing director of Meghna Group of Industries, the chairman of Akij Group, and the managing directors of Bashundhara Group, ACI Limited, TK Group, Nurjahan Group and S Alam Refined Sugar Industries Limited will face hearings for an abnormal hike in flour prices. 

    The CEO of CP Bangladesh Co Ltd, the managing director of Diamond Egg Ltd, and the proprietor of Peoples Poultry Feed Limited are named in cases related to the egg business. 

    The director of Suguna Food and Feeds Bangladesh Private Limited, the managing director of Alal poultry and Fish Feed Ltd, the director of Nourish Poultry Hatchery Limited, and the president of CP Bangladesh Co Ltd, who are associated with the chicken business, have been sued over chicken prices. 

    Those sued for the hike in the prices of toiletries or soap and detergent are the chairman of ACI Limited, the chairman or managing director of Square Group, and the chairmen or managing directors of Kohinoor Chemical Company (Bangladesh) Limited and Keya Group.

  • Indian rice exporters urge to extend export ban deadline to avoid losses

  • by Pankaj Yadav

    NEW DELHI, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- India's rice exporters are a disgruntled lot these days as their stocks are lying in queue at several ports, as uncertainty looms large as to whether they will be able to send their consignments amid a government ban on rice export.

    The exporters are of the opinion that the federal government should have given them ample time, allowing the export of those consignments which had already been booked from the agriculture fields and were lying in warehouses for shipment.

    Senior Executive Director of All India Rice Exporters Association Vinod Kaul said that the estimated losses to be suffered by rice exporters due to the export ban is around 60 billion Indian Rupees (736 million U.S. dollars).

    The ban that took effect on Sept. 9 on rice exports, particularly broken rice, is intended to address a shortage in the domestic market as less rice production is expected in the coming season.

    Initially the federal government had given the deadline of Sept. 15 for clearing all stocks of rice lying at the ports for export. On Sept. 21 the deadline was extended till the month's end.

    Rice exporters are of the view that the deadline should be further extended so that all the stocks lying at ports or in warehouses would be loaded onto vessels.

    Incessant rains in certain areas in the country this year, along with a lack of rains in some other areas, has led to a decrease in the sowing of rice crops. It is expected that the rice yield, particularly the broken rice output, will reduce, leading to a possible scarcity in domestic markets.

    Preliminary estimates indicate that rice would not be sown in nearly 13 percent of the paddy fields. "Area sown under rice was 30.98 million hectares as compared to 35.36 million hectares of the corresponding period of last year," the Crop Weather Watch Group (CWWG) under the federal agriculture ministry reported at its meeting held on Aug. 12.

    Official data showed India's broken rice exports increased by more than 43 times in the past four years. Prices of broken rice have risen significantly in the current year, and are expected to continue the uptrend amid the likelihood of a 6 percent shortfall in rice production this season in India.

    Kaul said consignments of around 3.9 million tonnes of broken rice had already been procured by exporters, and that most stocks were now lying at ports or in warehouses, including private warehouses.

    He further said that shipping bills in respect of most of these stocks had already been made, and the ban was imposed before they could be handed over to the customs department for export.

    According to Kaul, the whole process of procurement from farmers to exporters takes around two to four months. "This sudden ban on broken rice exports has put the exporters in a difficult situation. They are bound to suffer huge losses if the deadline of exporting (till Sept. 30) is not extended further. We have approached the Indian government to consider our request for extension of the deadline. The response is awaited," he said.

    Denying a possible shortage of rice in domestic markets, Narindra Miglani, a leading rice exporter in the northern state of Haryana, said that fresh crops of rice will be available soon, and the output could be sufficient to meet domestic demands.

    "We had procured stocks of rice for exports as per our contracts with importers overseas. Now, we have to return them back to the commission agents or the farmers. In such a situation we have no option but to compensate for their losses from our pockets. We can't leave them stranded. Hence, we, the exporters, are the net sufferers," he said.

  • India’s control on rice exports, new orders from Iraq a boon for Thai rice industry

  • The Thai Rice Exporters Association said on Sunday that thanks to these developments, Thailand’s total rice exports could reach 8 million tonnes.

    Chukiat Opaswong, the association’s honorary chairman, said India’s recent ban on the export of broken rice and imposition of a 20 per cent duty on shipments of white and brown rice could benefit Thailand as it would bring the price of Indian rice close to that of Thai rice.

    “This will encourage customers to switch to Thai rice due to superior quality and on-time delivery,” he said.

    Chukiat added that Indian white rice, which went for US$340 per tonne, now costs $390-$400 per tonne, while Thai white rice is priced at $420 per tonne.

    He said India has imposed these measures to curb exports because rice harvests in the country have plummeted due to a severe drought and there may not be enough rice for domestic consumption.

    The association had initially estimated Thailand’s total rice export this year at 7.5 million tonnes, up from 6.1 million tonnes in 2021.

    “With India’s new measures in effect, we expect their rice export to drop to 17 million tonnes from 21 million tonnes recorded last year. This missing ratio will go to other exporters like Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand,” he said.

    “This could bring our rice exports this year up to 8 million tonnes worth approximately 150 billion baht.”

    Chukiat said another factor contributing to the surge in rice export this year is that Iraq has resumed buying rice from Thailand since late last year. Iraq had banned the import of Thai rice for nearly nine years because it failed to meet standards.

    “Thanks to the Commerce Ministry’s negotiations and continued marketing campaigns, Iraq is now importing as much as 100,000 tonnes of Thai rice monthly and will therefore contribute 1.2 million tonnes of total rice export this year,” Chukiat added.

    As of August 20, Thailand has exported 5.35 million tonnes of rice worth 9.57 billion baht, up 46.46 per cent and 40.11 per cent year on year respectively.

  • Asia rice india rates near 18 month high

  • September 26, 2022: India’s prices for rice exports were near a 1-1/2 year high this week as traders struggled with logjams at ports due to recent curbs on overseas shipment, while buyers hunted for cheaper supply from other hubs.
    Prices for the top exporter’s 5% broken parboiled variety were unchanged from last week at $385-$392 per tonne, their highest since April 2021. Some buyers were willing to pay higher prices, but most were waiting for prices to stabilize, said an exporter from Kakinada in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Rice loading has stopped at Indian ports, holding up shipments of nearly 1 million tonnes of grains, as buyers are refusing to pay the government’s new 20% export levy on top of the agreed contract price.
    The restrictions also forced buyers to switch to rival suppliers. Vietnam’s 5% broken rice rates were also unchanged at $400-$410 per tonne.
    Traders said domestic rice prices had risen recently as exporters were boosting purchases from farmers, anticipating higher export rates.
    “Domestic supplies are running low as the summer-autumn harvest has ended and we’ve to wait for at least two more months before another harvest begins,” a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said.
    Meanwhile, Vietnam’s agriculture minister Le Minh Hoan said the country was not in a deal with Thailand to jointly raise rice prices in the global market, after a Thai official recently hinted at such an agreement.
  • Razzaque calls for increasing rice production to meet domestic demand

  • Allocation of Tk660 crore which is topmost during this year has been earmarked for farm mechanization

    Agriculture Minister Dr M Abdur Razzaque on Sunday called upon the agricultural scientists, extension workers and officials concerned to increase rice production to meet the growing demand of the country.

    "The country's annual rice production is not enough to meet the demand of local people. We have to increase rice production to achieve self-sufficiency in food production," he said.

    The minister said this while addressing a review meeting of Annual Development Programme (ADP) at the ministry conference room in Dhaka. Agriculture Secretary M Sayedul Islam moderated the function.

    "We need to achieve self-sufficiency in food production in order to curb rice imports to meet demand for the staple food," said the minister.

    Project directors including different body chiefs and senior ministry officials, among others, attended the meeting.

    Calling upon the concerned officials to take massive initiative for raising production of different crops including rice on the saline land of the southern region, Dr Razzaque said: "The country's saline-prone southern region has huge potential for raising production."

    "We have saline-tolerant crop varieties and latest technology,'' said the minister, adding: "So, we have to extend production of those varieties to that region."

    Along with innovation of crops and new technology, he said: "We have to keep under consideration how many technologies have been executed at the field level."

    In 2022-23 FY, the government earmarked Tk4,138 crore under ADP for the agriculture ministry for implementing 72 projects.

    Allocation of Tk660 crore which is topmost during this year has been earmarked for farm mechanization.

  • Rice Market Update:

  • Rice Market Update: Solid Early Field Results for Arkansas, Milling Numbers Largely Unknown

    Field reports coming in from Arkansas are mixed in a good way; some are seeing average, while others are reporting above average. Reports of below-average are starting to sneak in, but they are few and far between with early reports being solid. Harvest is just about 5% behind last year, but 9% behind the five-year average.

    The expectation is that things will catch up relatively quickly in the next two weeks, where we will get an initial read on millings as well. With old crops still in first hands, we could see an interesting price dynamic emerge for on-farm pricing as the market will begin deciphering old crops from new crops.

    Mississippi, like Arkansas, is still in the middle of harvest with 60% cut, which is right in line with last year and the five-year average. It was a small crop this year, and initial reports have not been so bright with some milling results coming in with head rice in the low 50’s.

    Domestic millings remain steady, but the high prices may be bumping against a ceiling. In the most recent months, red-hot inflation provided the cover fire (and justifiably so) for increasing prices. Now that inflation is resting at over 8%, price increases aren’t being so readily accepted in the market.

    This doesn’t necessarily signal a price decrease coming anytime soon for US long grain rice, but it should make growers who are holding paddy consider selling at current prices before the domestic market gets covered and the market turns to depend on exports.

    The 20% tariff on Indian rice exports is still having muted impact on Thai and Viet prices, but we expect to see them augment in the coming weeks. In years past, announcements like the ones India just made have jolted markets and prices into a panic—we are happy to see that level heads are prevailing this time.

    Buyers are discerning their way to dependable suppliers despite the tariff. And it can’t be overlooked either, that rice prices in the Middle East and far east haven’t risen like other grains have in the past six months, so on a parity basis, Indian rice, even with a 20% tariff, is still cheap in a relative sense. Thai prices are at $445 pmt, Viet prices at $410 pmt, and Indian Prices now rising to $390 pmt.

    The USDA Export Sales report is finally back online, showing sales of 30,200 metric tons. Highlights are that 15,500 mt were long grain rough, and Saudi Arabia bought 8,800 mt milled. Exports for the week registered at 19,800 mt, with long grain milled in the amount of 8,500 mt to Saudi Arabia taking the lion’s share.

    In the futures market, average daily volume dropped by 22% down to 351, and open interest bumped 2.65% to 9,040. It would appear that the market is poised for a slight pullback, but there may still be some legs in the current action. Reports are indicating strength through harvest and the end of the year, but things can change quickly.

  • Haryana: Farmers suffer as Arhtiyas hold an indefinite strike against transparency in procurement of paddy.

  • The strike has disrupted procurement operations at local mandis and caused inconvenience to the farmers.

    On September 19, the arhtiyas (middlemen) went on an indefinite strike after the Harayana government announced the trading of basmati rice varieties on the National Agriculture Market (eNAM) portal.

    The strike has disrupted procurement operations at local mandis and caused inconvenience to the farmers. While speaking to news agency ANI on Friday (September 23), a farmer in Haryana’s Karnal informed how he was forced to leave his paddy in the open despite the incessant rain.

    “Paddy produce lies in the open amid rains in Karnal as procurement is hindered due to strike by ‘arhtiyas’ (23.09). It’s raining constantly & we can’t sell our produce as arhtiyas are on strike. Govt is yet to take action on the issue,” he emphasised.

    The arhtiyas had sought support from the farmers and asked them to not visit mandis for procurement until the government gives in to their demands. According to the Haryana State Anaj Mandi Arhtiyas (HSAMA), the procurement through e-NAM portal has increased the burden of the middlemen and the producers.

    It claimed that uploading details of the procurement on the portal, meant to provide transparency in the process, would be time-consuming. President of HSAMA, Ashok Gupta, alleged that farmers were unable to sell early maturing varieties of parmal rice in mandis after the government did not advance the date of procurement.

    With arhtiyas having refused to purchase a single grain until their demands are met, Basmati rice farmers are in a state of dilemma. In its defence, a Haryana State Agriculture Marketing Board (HSAMB) official said that procurement through e-NAM portal would impose a levy of 6.5% on arhtiyas and bring transparency.

    Meanwhile, the Haryana government is holding meetings with representatives of HSAMA to resolve the issue at the earliest.

    Direct Benefit Transfer is changing the lives of farmers in Punjab

    In April last year, the Modi government procured 18.24 lac tonnes of wheat from Punjab at the Minimum Support Price (MSP). The Centre had transferred a total of ₹13.71 crores to the account of farmers in Punjab through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) at MSP (Rs 1,975 per quintal).

    It must be mentioned that since 2018, Punjab sought exemption from DBT implementation in the State. As such, 2021 was the first time that farmers in Punjab received the payment for their produce (at MSP) directly into the accounts.

    While speaking about the matter, a 39-year-old farmer named Dalip Kumar said that he was the happiest since he started farming 15 years ago. He had received ₹1.90 lac and ₹1.48 lac directly into his bank account for 171 quintals of wheat sold at the Rajpura mandi.

    He said that this was the first time he received such a large payment at once. “This is the best system. What could be better than getting paid for our crop in our account? Earlier, arhtiyas gave us a cheque. After we took our crop to the mandi, everything was in the hands of the agent,” he said.

    “The final settlement of accounts took time, as the arhtiya always found an excuse to defer the payment even after the farmer had repaid any debts he might have had,” the farmer recounted.

  • No viable options: farmers in Punjab forced to persist with paddy, go against the grain

  • Farmer Baljinder Singh showing poor quality water used for farming at Dhaula Village, in Punjab. File | Photo Credit: R.V. MOORTHY

    Rice growers in the State are keen on cultivating other crops but lack an assured market and guaranteed returns

    Pruning poplar trees on his three-acre field that stands on the banks of the Sutlej river in Punjab’s Maniewal village, about 30 km from Ludhiana, Raghvir Singh, 53, explains why he stopped cultivating paddy.

    A change in the flow plan of the Buddha Nullah, which merges with the Sutlej, seems to have been the cause. It had led to industrial effluents from Ludhiana entering the canal and pollute the water used for irrigation. “Several farmers like me were forced to make the switch from rice cultivation owing to the dearth of clean water. I planted the (poplar) trees three years ago,” he says.

    A poplar tree, whose wood is used in the plywood industry, provides about five quintals of wood over five to 10 years. Each quintal fetches ₹500 to ₹700, he says. “This can compensate for the shift from paddy to an extent but demand for the wood is uncertain. We don’t have an assured market and have to depend on private traders and agents. But in the case of paddy, we feel safe as the government procures the produce at the minimum support price (MSP),” he says.

    Rice growers in the State say they are keen on shunning the water-guzzling crop and cultivating alternative crops that will curb the depletion of groundwater, reduce input costs and prevent stubble burning. However, the lack of assured procurement and guaranteed returns are forcing them to persist with paddy.

    Demand for MSP

    Traditionally, Punjab was not a rice producing State. However, farmers began cultivating paddy during the green revolution, helping fill the godowns of the Food Corporation of India and ensuring food security in the country.

    Out of the 881.32 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of paddy procured in the ongoing kharif season, as of August 31 this year, 125.48 LMT have come from Punjab. In the previous seasons, too, Punjab topped the list of contributors to the nation’s granaries. Around 31.33 lakh hectares of land in the State is under paddy cultivation.

    To produce a kilogram of rice and wheat, 5,000 litres and 2,500 litres of water is required, respectively, leading to the overexploitation of groundwater. Several farmers’ organisations have been supporting the efforts of the Centre and the State to implement crop diversification and demand that the crops that replace paddy be procured at MSP.

    “Along with paddy cultivation, a system of agriculture was imposed on us. Farmers had to buy new machinery, fertilisers and pesticides. A new market system was also introduced. Now, farmers can’t go back to growing other crops,” says Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), one of the largest farmers’ groups in the State.

    ‘Sowing of wheat hit’

    Dr. Ajmer Singh Brar, principal agronomist (water management), Punjab Agriculture University, says water shortage owing to overexploitation of groundwater poses the biggest threat to paddy cultivation. He says despite efforts to implement crop diversification, cultivation of paddy has been on the rise since 1974. He says adoption of less water-intensive crops such as maize, cotton and certain fruits would be possible only with financial and technical support from the government.

    Dr. Brar says paddy cultivation is affecting the sowing of wheat too. “In several fields, the formation of hardpan is impairing plant growth as it prevents roots from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. Specific tractors have to be used to break the hardpan before sowing wheat. This adds to the farmers’ input cost.”

    No takers

    In Fazilka, once known as the ‘California of Punjab’ for its rich varieties of cotton, fruits and grains, farmers growing cotton, fruits and sugarcane are not finding any takers.

    Jagtar Singh, a farmer near Abohar, says, “I tried growing vegetables without success. I grew radish on three acres, but the crop failed due to a disease. I incurred a loss of around ₹2 lakh last year. My father had made the shift from paddy to vegetables in 2005, but he also suffered losses. Debts are mounting. We are forced to cultivate paddy.”

    Mr. Singh adds that cotton growers are also finding it tough to sell their produce as two private cotton mills have moved out of the district. “The Cotton Corporation of India is also not regular in making procurement,” he says.

    Harminder Singh Sekhon, a farmer from Dharang Wala village, who cultivates paddy on nine acres of land, says the lack of a planned irrigation system has left large tracts of land infertile. “Cotton cultivation had become a loss-making endeavour owing to frequent pest attacks. We made the shift to paddy in 1998, but now most of our land lies barren. We can’t return to cultivating cotton or sugarcane even if we want to,” he says.

    'No procurement yet'

    Baljinder Singh, who owns a farm near Barnala, has been fighting against the discharge of effluents into farms. “Effluents have polluted the groundwater. We used to harvest about 3,500 kg of rice from one acre. Now we get just half of it. Plants have become unhealthy. The water in around 25 bore wells is polluted,” he says.

    Efforts to grow fruits, vegetables and cotton have proved economically unviable, Mr. Singh says. “We even cultivated green gram as the government promised to buy it. No procurement has taken place yet.”

  • Don’t go for blanket duty levy on non-basmati rice exports: FTCCI

  • FILE PHOTO: Rice samples are seen demonstrating for export at a rice processing factory. | Photo Credit: KHAM

    Exempt high-value non-basmati rice exports from duty levy; levy will make India uncompetitive in rice export

    The Federation of Telangana Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FTCCI) has appealed to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Commerce Minister and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal to reconsider and withdraw the decision to levy duty on export of non-basmati rice.

    “With this duty, Indian rice shipments will become uncompetitive in the world market. Buyers will shift to Thailand and Vietnam” the association said in a memorandum submitted to the Union Ministers.

    A big family of rice species

    It argued that non-basmati is not one variant of rice but a very big family of rice species.

    “India’s agricultural biodiversity and heritage deserve recognition and respect. The blanket duty on non-basmati rice must be reversed. Otherwise, there will be a devastating impact on Indian exports,” Anil Agarwal, President of FTCCI, said in the memorandum.

    “There are several hundred varieties of non-basmati rice in India. Some of these sell for a much higher price than basmati rice. Some non-basmati variants sell for $700 up to $1,400 a tonne,” it pointed out.

    Levying a duty on these variants will prove very expensive and will have many adverse outcomes for India in the long term, it argued.

    Loss of market

    “If the blanket duty is imposed, Indian rice exporters will not be able to capture new markets in premium non-basmati segments. Lack of price competitiveness with exporters from other countries will destroy them,” it said.

    Also, farmers and exporters from rice surplus states will be affected severely due to loss of market for their competitors from other countries.

    “The decision comes at a time when the government is making serious efforts to promote Indian exports. We rely on the administration to make well-informed decisions. Exporters need their support and understanding,” it said.

    The association said the country was the world’s biggest rice exporter, touching 21.5 million tonnes in 2021. This was more than the combined shipments of the world’s next four biggest rice exporters - Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the United States.

    “India accounts for more than 40 per cent of global rice shipments and competes with Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Myanmar in the world market,” it pointed out.

    Incorrect data by DFPD

    “The reasoning given by the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) is that the export price of non-basmati rice is ₹28-29 per kg, which is higher than the domestic price. We submit that this information is misleading and the duty is based on incorrect data,” it contended.

    The DFPD has assumed that all non-basmati rice variants put under a single HS Code (HS-10063090) sell for ₹28-29 per kg. But in reality, there are several non-basmati premium varieties that have a huge international market selling at 3-4 times higher than the variety quoted,” it observed.

    A blanket imposition of 20 per cent duty, not taking into account the variety, quality, standard, demand, and price, would cripple non-basmati exports from the country.

    “We, at FTCCI, appeal to you to look into the various aspects presented here and support the Indian rice exporters and protect the international market of India in rice for the benefit of farmers, exporters, government, and the country as a whole,” the association said.

    Solution

    The association comes out with a suggestion to tackle the challenge of likely non-availability of the commodity in the country.

    “Since the shortage is envisaged for varieties of rice that are meant for PDS and PMGKAY, we suggest imposing duty according to the export price of rice, and a blanket duty on all non-basmati rice variants must be avoided,” it suggested.

    A blanket duty will make it difficult for exporters to promote Sona Masoori, Wada kolam, Jeera Sambha fragrance rice, Ponni Rice, black rice, and red rice, which have a huge demand abroad.

    Suggested duty slabs

    Export price rangePercentage of duty
    $301-400 per MT20%
    $401-500 per MT10%
    $501-600 per MT5%
    Above $601 per MT0%
  • Bangladesh, Cambodia table idea of free trade deal to boost rice export

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen meets with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly in the US' New York City on September 23. SPM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has invited Bangladeshi companies to invest in rice processing warehouses and rice mills in Cambodia for export to Bangladesh, while also encouraging the South Asian country to increase imports of the Kingdom's rice.

    The premier met with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on September 23 on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA) in the US' New York City.

    Hun Sen said that Bangladesh has imported about 200,000 tonnes of rice from Cambodia.

    “What I suggested during our discussion is to increase rice exports from Cambodia to Bangladesh. I also invited Bangladeshi companies to invest in rice processing warehouses and rice mills – for export to Bangladesh,” he said, in a social media post.

    According to the post, Hasina has asked the private sector of Bangladesh to invest in Cambodia in the agricultural sector, especially in rice production and processing. She told Hun Sen that Bangladesh has a large population but has a small land mass, which is not favourable to farming due to flooding risks, hence the need to buy rice from other countries.

    “We can find agreement with each other, and have worked together to be able to develop and strengthen mutual trade,” the post quoted Sheikh Hasina as saying.

    She intended to push for a free trade agreement between the two countries to boost exports and increase opportunities.

    Hun Sen agreed that it is necessary to start negotiations on a free market agreement to boost trade growth between the two countries.

    “We already have free market agreements with China and South Korea. Through this potential agreement, we could increase the trade volume of our two countries. It is also an opportunity for Bangladesh to develop and strengthen relations with ASEAN,” he added.

  • Govt asked to halt rice imports as local harvest starts in Oct

  • FARMERS' group Samahang Industriyng Agrikultura (SINAG) appealed to the government to halt rice importation as local harvest starts in October.

    SINAG President Rosendo So said that farmers will suffer further loses if the millers continue to refuse to buy palay in bulk.

    "Our harvest time will start in October so the government should slowdown the entry of rice imports. There is now a movement in the prices of palay and the millers are not buying in big volume. This will certainly affect the prices of palay and the farmers will suffer," So said.

    Total imports of the staple food has reached 2.52 metric tons in the first three quarters of 2022.

    The Central Luzon Farmers' Cooperative complained that the buying price of palay has dropped to P13 per kilo, P6 lower that the P19 per kilo set by the National Food Authority (NFA).

    "The importation should be stopped to at least encourage local millers to buy the palay of our farmers," So added.

    So said that the price of imported rice in the world market has increased to $10 per metric ton.

    "We expect the price of imported rice to further go up in the coming weeks, so expect higher prices of imported rice," he said.

    Based on the data from the Department of Agriculture (DA), at least 930,000 metric tons, 950,000 metric tons and 640,000 metric tons of rice arrived in the first, second and third quarters of the year, respectively.

    The DA said the total rice supply for this year is pegged at 17. 14 million metric tons while the total demand is expected to reach 15.43 million metric tons.

  • Domestic Rice Prices May Continue To Increase …

  • Domestic Rice Prices May Continue To Increase Due To Low Production Forecast, High Demand, Says Govt The retail price of rice showed an increase of 0.24 per cent over the week, 2.46 per cent over the month and 8.67 per cent over the year as on September 19

    India is the world's second-largest rice producer after China. (Representative image/Shutterstock)

    As the paddy acreage this kharif season is lower as compared with the last year, the food ministry has said domestic prices of rice are showing an increasing trend and it might continue to increase. The rice production is forecast to be lower by about 6 million tonnes this year and non-basmati export sees an 11 per cent year-on-year increase.

    “The retail price of rice showed an increase of 0.24 per cent over the week, 2.46 per cent over the month and 8.67 per cent over the year as on September 19, 2022. There is an increase of 15.14 per cent on an average of five years," the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said in a statement on Thursday.

    It added that the likely shortfall in area and production of paddy for the kharif season 2022 is 6 per cent. In domestic production, 60-70 LMT (lakh metric tonnes) estimated production loss was earlier anticipated.

    “Now, production loss of 40-50 LMT is expected and production output is not expected to be higher this year but only at par with previous year," the ministry said.

    It also said there has been a rise in global demand for broken rice due to geopolitical scenario, which has impacted the price movement of commodities including those related to animal feed. Export of broken rice has increased by more than 43 times in past four years (21.31 LMT exported from April-August 2022 compared to 0.51 LMT in the same period in 2019) with a significant jump in 2021-22 over last year. In the year 2021, the quantity exported was 15.8 LMT (April-August 2021). Prices of broken rice rose significantly in the current year.

    “Domestic price of broken rice, which was Rs 16 per kg in the open market, has increased to about Rs 22 per kg in states. The poultry sector and animal husbandry farmers were impacted the most due to price hike of feed ingredients as about 60-65 per cent inputs cost for poultry feed comes from broken rice," the ministry said.

    It said any increase in prices of feedstock are reflected in price of poultry products like milk, egg, meat, etc. adding to food inflation.

    “The domestic prices of rice are showing increasing trend and it may continue to increase due to low production forecast by about 6 MMT (million metric tonnes) of paddy and 11 per cent increase in export of non-basmati compared to the corresponding period of last year," the ministry added.

    This year, Jharkhand witnessed a lower paddy coverage by 9.37 lakh hectares, followed by Madhya Pradesh (6.32 lakh hectares), West Bengal (3.65 lakh hectares), Uttar Pradesh (2.48 lakh hectares) and Bihar (1.97 lakh hectares) on account of poor rainfall.

    India is the world’s second-largest rice producer after China and commands a 40 per cent global market share.

  • 20% duty on non-basmati rice variants will hit exports: FTCCI 

  • (Representational image) In a representation to the Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, FTCCI President Anil Agarwal said the blanket imposition of 20 percent duty irrespective of the variety, quality, standard, demand and price of rice would cripple non-basmati exports from India.

    Hyderabad: The 20 per cent duty imposed by the Government of India on exports of non-basmati rice will result in rice shipments becoming noncompetitive in the world market and importers shifting to Thailand and Vietnam, said industry body FTCCI.

    In a representation to the Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, FTCCI President Anil Agarwal said the blanket imposition of 20 percent duty irrespective of the variety, quality, standard, demand and price of rice would cripple non-basmati exports from India.

    On September 14, the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance notified the slapping of a 20% duty on exports of rice. It excluded parboiled and basmati rice. This would have covered all raw non-basmati rice shipments, whether of full or broken grains. However, another notification from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade ( Ministry of Commerce and Industry) imposed a blanket ban on broken rice exports. It implies that only export of full grain consignments would be permitted on payment of 20% duty.

    FTCCI said India is the world’s biggest rice exporter and its rice exports have touched 21.5 million tonnes in 2021, more than the combined shipments of the world’s next four biggest rice exporters – Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States. India accounts for more than 40 per cent of global rice shipments and competes with Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and Myanmar in the world market.

    The Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) had said the export price of non-basmati rice was 28-29 per kg, which was supposedly higher than the domestic price. FTCCI said this information was misleading and the duty imposed was based on incorrect data. The DFPD had assumed that all non-basmati rice variants put under single HS Code (HS-10063090) sell for 28-29 per kg.

    But in reality, there are several varieties of non-basmati rice including Sona Masoori, Wada Kolam, Jeera Samba, Ponni, black and red rice, and others. Some of these sell for $700-1,400 per metric tonne (MT). Levying a duty on these variants would have many adverse outcomes for India in the long term, according to Agarwal.

    Indian rice exporters will not be able to capture new markets in premium non-basmati segments due to the 20% duty. Lack of price competitiveness will destroy them. Also, farmers and exporters from the rice surplus states like Telangana will be affected severely as they would lose the market to competitors from other countries.

    As shortage is envisaged for varieties of rice that are meant for public distribution system and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, Agarwal suggested imposing duty according to the export price of rice and avoiding a blanket levy. Long Grain and Swarna are varieties that sell for $300-400 per MT were fit candidates for the levy. He suggested that export prices between $301-400 per MT can have a duty of 20%, between $401-500 per MT 10%, between $501-600 per MT 5% and export price above $601 per MT zero per cent duty.

  • Diffculties in rehabilitating farmland after floods:

  • Diffculties in rehabilitating farmland after floods: Water-loving crops, changes in farming practices proposed

    LAHORE: Stakeholders claiming that flooded soils present significant obstacles in rehabilitation of the agricultural lands have proposed that the provincial agriculture departments must introduce water-loving improved crop varieties and changing agricultural practices which can help realize potential production gains.

    “Some crop varieties are better suited for flood-based farming systems, such as very fast growing floating rice varieties, which are grown in areas as varied as Mali and Myanmar. Grasses can also be grown as flood pastures to meet livestock feed. The productivity of flood-based farming systems can also be boosted by fisheries, for example, fishponds and aquaculture which can supply local communities with protein, while requiring fewer inputs than other agricultural practices,’ said Dr. Adnan Arshad, an environmentalist and Director Climate Smart Agriculture programme at Potohar Organization for Development of Agriculture (PODA-Pakistan) and Aamer Hayat Bhandara Co-founder Agriculture Republic while talking to Business Recorder on Tuesday.

    They said floods also trigger the runoff of agricultural topsoil and flooded soil syndrome; the loss of useful fungi that mobilize plant nutrients from the soil. Erosion can result in the loss of essential plant-available nutrients and organic materials. In addition, the deposition of flood sediments may raise the soil’s NPK and Zn levels.

    Flooding can also limit the amount of available phosphorus; hence, diminishing the populations of microbes important for enhancing phosphorus availability. They were of the view that soil health, including soil texture, structure, water-holding capacity, and nutrient availability should be recovered after flooding for enhanced agricultural productivity. The farming community must; therefore, prepare for the gradual restoration of their agricultural soils. Multiple recovery procedures are employed to manage the soil following flooding.

    Dr. Adnan Arshad said there is a need to minimize limitations to crop production and manage deposition in fields, farmers must evaluate if the material and objects may be tilled into the ground or whether they must be physically removed. Due to the size of the debris and the travel distance, physical removal is expensive. Additionally, certain laws forbid the addition of sediments to the river.

    He said promoting microbial and fungi activity in the soil is also essential. Symbiotic fungi called arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) develop inside and on the roots of plants. Fungi penetrate roots without causing any harm to the plant. As a result, the plant gives the fungi nourishment in the form of carbohydrates, whereas the fungi give plant nutrients, particularly phosphorus, Dr. Adnan Arshad added.

  • Rice dwarfing virus threatens Indian yields

  • Officials fear up to seven per cent crop losses as a plant virus surfaces in India’s main rice-producing states.

    A plant virus disease first identified in China has been detected in north Indian paddy fields causing fears of reduced crop yields at a time when extreme weather events have already hampered grain production.

    Rice plants infected with the Southern Rice Black-Streaked Dwarf Virus (SRBSDV) exhibit dwarfism, stiffness, and darkening of leaves.

    The virus — transmitted by the white-backed planthopper (Sogatella furcifera) when it sucks on the sap of young plants — interferes with root development and plant growth.

    Detected in Guangdong Province in 2001, the disease was confined to China for the next few years before spreading to other countries such as Vietnam and Japan. A research paper shows that it can cause a 30 to 50 per cent reduction in rice yields.

    The Indian government fears that the outbreak might add to losses caused by erratic southwest monsoon rainfalls. The area under paddy cultivation has been six per cent lower this August compared to the same period last year. Rice accounts for 40 per cent of India’s total food grain basket.

    “Laboratory analysis showed the presence of virus in both the infected young plants and the body of the vector after the RNA was isolated,” Rajbir Singh, director, Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute, Ludhiana, Punjab told SciDev.Net.

    However, the virus was not found in the infected plant’s seeds and grains, said Singh, who heads an eight-member committee of experts formed 22 August by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare to assess the extent and severity of the disease. The team visited the 24 fields located in the three worst affected states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand.

    Punjab has 2.7 million hectares under paddy, Haryana has more than 1.5 million hectares and Uttarakhand has around 2.8 million hectares. Punjab and Haryana alone contribute around 16 per cent of India’s total rice production.

    Collected samples sequenced in the laboratory showed the virus’s association with stunting symptoms. The team found that between two and ten per cent of rice plants were affected although in some fields the rate of infection was as high as 50 per cent.

    The team observed that most infected plants were those grown in waterlogged conditions where hybrid seed crops were planted early. “The incidence was mostly reported from crops planted in June while crops planted in July didn’t show signs of infection,” said Singh. “We also observed that the disease mostly affected hybrid seed crops.”

    Farmers have been advised not to flood their paddies with water and to monitor the plants for the presence of the vector on a weekly basis. They have also been asked to remove weeds and avoid the indiscriminate use of pesticides and fertilisers.

    When large numbers of the insect pests are spotted, pesticides such as triflumezopyrim, dinotefuran or pymetrozine may be sprayed at the base of affected rice stalks, officials say.

    The virus was found to be affecting both basmati (aromatic) and non-basmati varieties of rice. Investigations are underway to discover how the virus arrived in India and how it works against rice plants.

    “Currently, we assume that the vector is ‘long-range migratory’ in nature, which would probably come through human routes,” said Gopala Krishanan, principal scientist at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute, India’s premier agriculture research institution. “We are trying to decode the whole mechanism of the spread of the virus.”

    While it is known that infected paddy plants die, hitting crop production, neither officials nor scientists are ready to estimate the extent of possible loss.

    “Loss is certain, but we have no figures yet — it is still under monitoring and assessment,” said a scientist and member of the investigating committee, asking not to be named.

    Rice traders, however, expect that the virus could substantially cut crop production in Punjab and Haryana, often called the rice granaries of India. “Our assessment shows that the production of rice can be reduced by as much as seven per cent,” said Ashok Kumar Gupta, vice-president of Haryana Rice Millers Association.

  • Rice, Wheat Push Up The Inflation

  • Rising prices of food articles and certain manufactured items pushed up inflation past the one per cent mark to 1.21 per cent for the week ended Sept 10 from 0.92 per cent in the previous week

    Rising prices of food articles and certain manufactured items pushed up inflation past the one per cent mark to 1.21 per cent for the week ended Sept 10 from 0.92 per cent in the previous week. While food commodity prices have softened, wheat and rice could still cause concern for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) ahead of its Monetary Policy Committee meeting.  

    Core Concern:

    Indian wheat prices jumped to a record high, despite a ban on exports, amid strong demand and dwindling supply from a crop damaged by heat wave. On the other hand, the Russia-Ukraine war disrupted the global supply chains and sent commodity prices soaring. This provided India, the world’s second largest wheat producer, with an opportunity to capture the void in wheat supply caused by the war ,Ukraine accounted for 12 percent of the total wheat exports in the world.

    Why Is Wheat Production Impacted:

    Several stakeholders and experts raised concerns that India’s own production and procurement this year was impacted by the heat wave seen across the country. But the government went ahead and allowed export of wheat by the private sector. The decision reportedly fetched farmers 10 per cent higher price than the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat.

    But India’s own staggering food inflation soon forced the government to reverse its decision on May 14.  June’s retail inflation was at 7.01 per cent, above the RBI’s target range of 2-6 per cent — India’s retail inflation has been beyond 6 per cent for the sixth consecutive month now. While curb on export of food commodities and softening of edible oil prices slightly eased inflation, it has not been enough to control food inflation. In the food basket, inflation in cereals and products was at 5.66 per cent, meat and fish at 8.61 per cent, and vegetables at 17.37 in June. 

    Factors Responsible:

    The soaring inflation caused by a cocktail of global and domestic factors was not enough, a heat wave in March further worsened the price situation for wheat. On July 27, wheat prices in local markets reached a record high of Rs 23,547 per tonne, up almost 12 per cent from the lows it reached recently due to the government’s export ban.

    The government had an estimate of 106.41 million tonnes of supplies this year — in 2021, India harvested 109.59 million tones of the crop — but according to traders, the supply is much low at about 95 million tonnes. The US’ Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service has estimated supply to be at 99 million tonnes. The impact of the March heat wave is also reflected in government’s wheat procurement, which is down 57 per cent this year compared to a year ago, at 18.8 million tonnes. The government had wrongly estimated excess production which was mainly due to inaccurate intelligence on wheat production and analytics, thereby resulting in misplaced policy decisions such as allowing of exports and eventually banning it.

  • Sri Lanka mulls using imported rice for animal feed to keep farmgate prices up

  • ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has suggested using imported rice stocks for animal feed as farmers who cultivated a record extent in the current season call for higher farmgate prices for paddy.

    “There was a need to import rice some time ago,” Minister Amaraweera said. “But this (Yala) season farmers have cultivated more paddy than in seasons when fertilizer was given free.”

    “This season farmers have cultivated 512,000 hectares. Now our problem is to ensure that the paddy is purchased. There is no longer any need to import rice. But it is alright to import rice for animal feed.”

    Sri Lanka’s Consumer Affairs Authority whose coercive interventions and price controls disrupt agriculture and food markets banned the use of rice for animal feed in June 25.

    The CAA can issue disruptive gazettes at midnight while the population is sleeping.

    It has also created a crisis among poultry farmers who have no political clout with a price control on eggs, while rice farmers are calling for higher prices. Poultry feed prices are high due to controls on maize imports.

    Imported rice is selling for around 190 rupees while domestic rice prices are controlled by several large millers who have silos sell for around 220 rupees.

    Sri Lanka rice prices soared after the rupee collapsed from 182 to 360 to the US dollar after the central bank printed money for two years to supress interest rates.

    There have been calls to restrict the agency’s independence to print money (open market operations) to stop currency depreciation, impoverishment of the population and social unrest.

    Minister Amaraweera has come under fire from some quarters for suggesting that rice be used for animal feed.

    Sri Lanka authorities promised 120 rupees a for a kilogram of rice through the state-run Paddy Marketing Board up from around 50 to 55 rupees last year but are awaiting cash from the government.

    Private millers are now buying rice for around 100 rupees or less but farmers want the promised rate.

    Farmers say cultivation costs have doubled. Tractor fees for preparing land has doubled from 12,000 rupees to 20,000 to 24,000 and combine harvesting costs have also similarly gone up to around 25,000 rupees they say.

  • Rice dwarfing virus threatens Indian yields

  • Officials fear up to seven per cent crop losses as a plant virus surfaces in India’s main rice-producing states.

    Women harvest wheat in central India.Image: World Bank Photo Collection, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Flickr.

    A plant virus disease first identified in China has been detected in north Indian paddy fields causing fears of reduced crop yields at a time when extreme weather events have already hampered grain production.

    Rice plants infected with the Southern Rice Black-Streaked Dwarf Virus (SRBSDV) exhibit dwarfism, stiffness, and darkening of leaves.

    The virus — transmitted by the white-backed planthopper (Sogatella furcifera) when it sucks on the sap of young plants — interferes with root development and plant growth.

    Detected in Guangdong Province in 2001, the disease was confined to China for the next few years before spreading to other countries such as Vietnam and Japan. A research paper shows that it can cause a 30 to 50 per cent reduction in rice yields.

    The Indian government fears that the outbreak might add to losses caused by erratic southwest monsoon rainfalls. The area under paddy cultivation has been six per cent lower this August compared to the same period last year. Rice accounts for 40 per cent of India’s total food grain basket.

    “Laboratory analysis showed the presence of virus in both the infected young plants and the body of the vector after the RNA was isolated,” Rajbir Singh, director, Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute, Ludhiana, Punjab told SciDev.Net.

    However, the virus was not found in the infected plant’s seeds and grains, said Singh, who heads an eight-member committee of experts formed 22 August by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare to assess the extent and severity of the disease. The team visited the 24 fields located in the three worst affected states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand.

    Punjab has 2.7 million hectares under paddy, Haryana has more than 1.5 million hectares and Uttarakhand has around 2.8 million hectares. Punjab and Haryana alone contribute around 16 per cent of India’s total rice production.

    Collected samples sequenced in the laboratory showed the virus’s association with stunting symptoms. The team found that between two and ten per cent of rice plants were affected although in some fields the rate of infection was as high as 50 per cent.

    The team observed that most infected plants were those grown in waterlogged conditions where hybrid seed crops were planted early. “The incidence was mostly reported from crops planted in June while crops planted in July didn’t show signs of infection,” said Singh. “We also observed that the disease mostly affected hybrid seed crops.”

    Farmers have been advised not to flood their paddies with water and to monitor the plants for the presence of the vector on a weekly basis. They have also been asked to remove weeds and avoid the indiscriminate use of pesticides and fertilisers.

    When large numbers of the insect pests are spotted, pesticides such as triflumezopyrim, dinotefuran or pymetrozine may be sprayed at the base of affected rice stalks, officials say.

    The virus was found to be affecting both basmati (aromatic) and non-basmati varieties of rice. Investigations are underway to discover how the virus arrived in India and how it works against rice plants.

    “Currently, we assume that the vector is ‘long-range migratory’ in nature, which would probably come through human routes,” said Gopala Krishanan, principal scientist at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute, India’s premier agriculture research institution. “We are trying to decode the whole mechanism of the spread of the virus.”

    While it is known that infected paddy plants die, hitting crop production, neither officials nor scientists are ready to estimate the extent of possible loss.

    “Loss is certain, but we have no figures yet — it is still under monitoring and assessment,” said a scientist and member of the investigating committee, asking not to be named.

    Rice traders, however, expect that the virus could substantially cut crop production in Punjab and Haryana, often called the rice granaries of India. “Our assessment shows that the production of rice can be reduced by as much as seven per cent,” said Ashok Kumar Gupta, vice-president of Haryana Rice Millers Association.

  • Govt extends deadline for export of broken rice to ease port congestion

  • Official estimates suggest that rice sowing is down by 3.8 million hectares and the loss of production may be 10-12 million tonnes this year due to a variety of factors, including deficient rainfall. (Mint)

    The central government extends the period for exports of broken rice from 15 Sept till 30 Sept

    In a move that could ease tension at the ports, the union government on Tuesday allowed the export of broken rice that was in transit till September 30. India banned exports of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other types on September 8 over food security concerns. 

    The Directorate General of Foreign Trade had earlier allowed rice exports till 15 September, if loading began prior to the order, and in cases where the shipping bill has been filed and vessels have arrived at their destination. 

    “The central government in exercise of powers conferred by Section 3 read with section 5 of the 

    foreign trade Act 1992 as amended, read with Para 1.02 and 2.01 of the Foreign Trade Policy, 2015-20, hereby extends the period for exports of broken rice from 15 September 2022 till 30 September.

    All other conditions as contained in Notification No 31 dated 8.09.2022 remain the same. Export of consignment of broken rice as permissible under Notification No 31 dated 8.09.2022 has been extended till September 30," the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) notification read. 

    Mint had earlier reported that exporters have sought a relaxed deadline for the clearance of around one million tonnes of rice stuck in transit after the government imposed a 20% export duty.

    “We welcome this decision of the government, it will surely help to clear the vessels & broken rice cargo stuck at various ports across Indian ports. We also request the government a similar relaxation to be issued for duty levied on exports of permitted non-basmati rice," Raajesh Bhojwani, CEO & MD, RBB Ship Chartering Pte Ltd Singapore said. 

    Foodgrain stocks with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) are at their lowest in five years. As of 16 August, combined rice and wheat stocks in the central pool stood at 52.3 million tonnes. Earlier this year, the Center had started replacing rice with wheat for its free food programme since wheat production suffered from extreme heat waves in March.

    Official estimates suggest that rice sowing is down by 3.8 million hectares and the loss of production may be 10-12 million tonnes this year due to a variety of factors, including deficient rainfall.

  • Following Rice Export Ban, Over 20 Shipments Stuck At Ports: Report

  • Following Rice Export Ban, Over 20 Shipments Stuck At Ports: Report

    India exports rice to more than 150 countries (File)

    New Delhi: 

    At least 20 ships are waiting to load around 600,000 tonnes of rice at various ports as India's surprise export restrictions have trapped cargoes for nearly a fortnight, forcing sellers to pay demurrage charges, industry officials told Reuters.

    India banned exports of broken rice and imposed a 20 per cent duty on exports of various other types on September 8, as it tries to boost local supplies and calm prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting.

    The surprise move trapped cargo that was moved to the ports or was in transit before the government made the announcement, said BV Krishna Rao, president of The Rice Exporters Association (TREA).

    "We have requested the government to provide concession to this transitional cargo as we are paying hefty demurrage charges," he said.

    Apart from 600,000 tonnes rice that is waiting for the loading at berthed vessels, a further 400,000 tonnes of rice is stuck at port warehouses and container freight stations (CFS) even though contracts are backed by letters of credit (LCs), he said.

    Broken rice shipments are stuck because of the ban, while in the case of white rice buyers and sellers are not willing to pay the 20 per cent duty over the agreed price, dealers said.

    "When contracts were signed there wasn't any tax on the exports. Since exports now attract the tax, there is dispute who will pay the tax over the agreed price," said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading firm.

    In similar circumstances, India has in the past provided exemptions for contracts backed by LCs, or payment guarantees, issued until the day the government made a policy change. But that has not happened this time.

    Stuck broken rice shipments were heading to China, Senegal, Senegal and Djibouti, while other grades of white rice were bought by buyers in Benin, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, exporters said.

    India exports rice to more than 150 countries and any reduction in shipments would increase upward pressure on food prices, which are already rising because of drought, heatwaves and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

  • Rice prices may increase by P4 per kilogram or higher, farmers group says

  • Prices of rice may go up by P4 per kilogram or higher, according to projections of the Federation of Free Farmers Cooperative.

    This is due to an increase in fuel prices, which adds to the delivery cost of rice, according to a report by Bam Alegre on GMA News' Unang Balita on Tuesday.

    The rising cost of fertilizer is also an added burden, the cooperative said.

    Last month, the cost of fertilizers increased by P12,000 to P15,000, thus driving up the rice production cost by P3 per kilo, the group said. This would lead to a profit margin of only P4 per kilo.

    Some rice vendors have already raised the product's prices since last month.

    However, due to consumer complaints, they could not maximize the price increase.

    Instead, vendors are just banking on the number of consumers who will buy the staple food.

    Local rice variants' prices currently range from P38 to P40 per kilogram. —Sherylin Untalan/KG, GMA News

  • Cambodia earns over 544 mln USD from exports of rubber, rice in first 8 months

  • PHNOM PENH, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia had made a total of 544.1 million U.S. dollars from the exports of dry rubber and milled rice during the first eight months of 2022, according to official reports on Tuesday.

    A report from the General Directorate of Rubber showed that the Southeast Asian nation exported 194,014 tons of dry rubber during the January-August period this year, a slight rise of 1 percent from the same period last year.

    The country earned 301.3 million dollars from the exports of the commodity in the first eight months of this year, down 6.4 percent year-on-year, the report said.

    "A ton of dry rubber averagely cost 1,553 U.S. dollars during the first eight months of 2022, about 119 dollars lower than that of the same period last year," Him Oun, director general of the General Directorate of Rubber, said in the report.

    Meanwhile, the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) said the country exported a total of 389,000 tons of milled rice to 56 countries and regions during the first eight months of this year, up 13.2 percent year-on-year.

    The CRF said the kingdom made 242.8 million dollars in revenue from the exports of milled rice from January to August this year.

    Rubber and rice are among the kingdom's potential cash crops.

    Cambodian Ministry of Commerce's Undersecretary of State and Spokesman Penn Sovicheat said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement, which took effect earlier this year, had contributed to this growth.

    "The RCEP trade deal has given and will continue to give a big boost to our export growth for the long term," he told Xinhua. "It has provided us larger market access, especially for our potential agricultural products."

  • Rice farmers urge restoration of NFA’s regulatory powers.

  • Rice farmers have pleaded to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to restore the regulatory powers of the National Food Authority to ensure ready market for their produce at higher rate while also assuring lower price for the poor.

    In a statement, the Mabandi Multi Purpose Cooperative (MPC) in Pulong Bayabas, San Miguel, Bulacan and the Federation of Central Luzon Farmers Cooperative (FCLFC) also asked the president to raise farmgate price of clean and dry palay (unmilled rice) to P23 per kilo.

    Palay buying direct from farmers used to be a major intervention of NFA prior to the of this function under the Rice Tariffication Law.

    While “ayuda” (financial assistance) is given in cash, the farmers insisted they prefer to be treated with fairness and in a more business-proper manner. Ayuda is only given arbitrarily.

    “Not everyone gets to receive ayuda. Only those that are close to those in power. But when palay price is raised to P23 per kilo at farmgate, that benefits all farmers,” said Atanacio Santos of the Mabandi MPC. Only 75 percent of farmers get to receive ayuda, said Santos.


    The Philippines’ food security problems can be significantly solved if government assures farmers of this palay market. Providing a stable farmers’ market is a function that has been practiced by countries with progressive and profitable agriculture sector.

    “Marcos should immediately implement the price increase, or ignoring farmers’ plea signals death of the rice sector. More farmers will be impoverished, and consumers will run out of food,” said Santos.

    The increase to P23 per kilo already covers all costs of production including those for seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, according to Simeon Sioson, FCLFC chairman. Farmgate price has dropped to P18 to P19 per kilo and even hit a very low level at P10 to 14 per kilo. This has caused huge losses on farmers and compelled many farmers to give up tilling the land.

    “The P23 per kilo farmgate price will cover all increases in costs in the market including those for the higher price of fertilizer now, diesel, and pesticides,” said Sioson.

    But aside from farmers, the government will also be a big beneficiary since government can collect additional value added tax (VAT). Such additional VAT may then be used to subsidize the cost of rice for consumers. Prior to the RTL, the poor used to depend on cheap NFA rice for their staple.

    “Now there is no more P27 per kilo NFA rice.”

    Trade liberalization advocates stress NFA’s rice subsidy function for consumers renders it bankrupt, dependent on huge loans, and incompliant to free market principles.

    But Danilo V. Fausto, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. president, said NFA is not supposed to be profit-making like private companies.

    “NFA’s purpose is not to make a profit (but intervene and assist rice sector),” said Fausto.

    But with the P23 per kilo farmgate price, government will even hit its targeted P20 per kilo price at consumers’ market– given government subsidizes rice price for all using the additional VAT it collects.

    Sioson said government should strictly monitor the Philippines’ rice shortfall. This will prevent any excess in domestic rice volume that causes further rice competition to farmers.

    “Importation only benefits farmers in Vietnam and Thailand. We should rather protect our farmers. Only the shortfall should be imported,” Sioson said.

    Even government’s buffer stocking function for the lean months, with inventory level required is at 30 days, will be addressed through higher production from incentivized farmers.

    Our rice sector will flourish. Everybody will be benefitted,” said Sioson.

    Mabandi MPC and FCLFC also said government should take into consideration the many climate disturbances adversely are affecting farming.

  • Rice imports as of Sept. 8 exceed 2021 volume

  • A total of 137 eligible rice importers brought in rice from Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam from January 1 to September 8.

    The Philippines’s rice imports as of September 8 breached the 2.8-million metric ton (MMT) mark and surpassed last year’s volume of 2.771 MMT, the latest government data showed.

    Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) data indicated that total rice imports from January 1 to September 8 reached 2.806 MMT, or 1.26 percent higher than the 2.771 MMT of rice imported by the country in 2021.

    BPI data showed that Vietnam accounted for 82.18 percent or about 2.306 MMT of the total volume of rice imported during the period. Vietnam was followed by Myanmar with 202,319.280 metric tons (MT) and Thailand with 140,171.375 MT.

    A total of 137 eligible rice importers brought in rice from Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam from January 1 to September 8. The importers used a total of 3,155 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPS-IC), according to BPI data.

    BPI data showed that NAN Stu Agri Traders led all rice importers with a total import volume of 141,620 MT followed by Manus Dei Resources Ent. Inc. with 136,881 MT, and Lucky Buy and Sell with 127,483 MT.

    Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. President Danilo V. Fausto said the increase in rice imports may dampen local unmilled rice prices as the market is “overflowing with supply.”

    “Palay prices being harvested today and next month would be affected. Farm-gate prices will not go up,” Fausto told the BusinessMirror.

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) earlier revised upward its total rice import forecast for the Philippines this year to a record level of 3.4 MMT, from an earlier estimate of 3.2 MMT.

    In its monthly global grain report, the USDA increased its total rice import forecast for the Philippines this year by 200,000 MT due to “large purchases from Vietnam.”

    The new import forecast for the Philippines, the world’s second-largest buyer of rice, is 15.25 percent higher than the 2.95 MMT of rice it imported last year, based on USDA data.

    If the forecast materializes, this would be the first time in the Philippines’s history that it would import more than 3 MMT of rice, according to historical USDA data.

    The Philippine Statistics Authority reported last month that the value of the country’s agricultural output in the first half contracted by 0.4 percent, mainly due to the anemic performance of the crops and fisheries subsectors.

    Data released by the PSA showed that the value of farm output in January to June (at constant 2018 prices) reached P853.087 billion, lower than last year’s P856.66 billion.

    In terms of volume, the country’s unmilled rice production contracted by 0.63 percent to 8.743 MMT in January to June, from last year’s 8.799 MMT. Corn output, however, rose by 1.1 percent year-on-year to 3.926 MMT. Palay and corn account for the bulk of the crops subsector’s output.

  • India’s rice export ban: The Asian countries set to be hit hard — and those that’ll profit

  • Rice production in India has fallen by 5.6% year on year as of September in light of below-average monsoon rainfall, which has affected harvest, Nomura said.

    India, the world’s largest rice exporter, has banned shipments of broken rice — a move that will reverberate across Asia, according to Nomura.

    In a bid to control domestic prices, the government banned exports of broken rice and slapped a 20% export tax on several varieties of rice starting Sept. 9. 

    Nomura said the impact on Asia will be uneven, and the Philippines and Indonesia will be most vulnerable to the ban. 

    India accounts for approximately 40% of global rice shipments, exporting to more than 150 countries.

    Exports reached 21.5 million tons in 2021. That’s more than the total shipment from the next four biggest exporters of the grain — Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States, Reuters reported. 

    But production has decreased by 5.6% year-on-year as of Sept 2. in light of below-average monsoon rainfall, which affected harvest, Nomura said.

    For India, July and August are the “most crucial” months for rainfall, as they determine how much rice is sown, said Sonal Varma, chief economist at the financial services firm. This year, uneven monsoon rain patterns during those months have reduced production, she added.

    Big rice-producing India states such as West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are receiving 30% to 40% less rainfall, Varma said. Although rainfall increased toward the end of August, “the more delayed the sowing [of rice] is, the greater is the risk that yield will be lower.” 

    Earlier this year, the South Asian nation curbed wheat and sugar exports to control rising local prices as the Russia-Ukraine war sent global food markets into turmoil.

    Most affected

    The Indian government recently announced that rice production during the Southwest monsoon season between June and October could fall by 10 to 12 million tons, which implies that crop yields could dip by as much as 7.7% year on year, Nomura said.

    “The impact of a rice export ban by India would be felt both directly by countries that import from India and also indirectly by all rice importers, because of its impact on global rice prices,” according to a report by Nomura released recently. 

    Findings from Nomura revealed that the cost of rice has remained high this year, with the increase in prices in retail markets hitting around 9.3% year on year in July, compared with 6.6% in 2022. Consumer price inflation (CPI) for rice also spiked 3.6% year-on-year as of July, up from 0.5% in 2022. 

    The Philippines, which imports more than 20% of its rice consumption needs, is the country in Asia most at risk of higher prices, Nomura said.

    As Asia’s biggest net importer of the commodity, rice and rice products account for a 25% share of the country’s food CPI basket, the highest share in the region, according to Statista.

    Inflation in the country was at 6.3% in August, data from the Philippines Statistics Authority showed — above the central bank’s target range of 2% to 4%. In light of that, India’s export ban would come as an additional blow to the Southeast Asian nation.

    Similarly, India’s rice export ban will be detrimental to Indonesia as well. Indonesia is likely to be the second-most affected country in Asia.

    Nomura reported that the country relies on imports for 2.1% of its rice consumption needs. And rice makes up about 15% of its food CPI basket, according to Statista.

    For some other Asian countries, however, the pain is likely to be minimal.

    Singapore imports all of its rice, with 28.07% of it coming from India in 2021, according to Trade Map. But the country isn’t as vulnerable as the Philippines and Indonesia as “the share of rice in the [country’s] CPI basket is quite small,” Varma noted. 

    Consumers in Singapore tend to spend “a greater chunk” of their expenses on services, which typically seems to be the case for higher-income countries, she said. Low- and middle-income countries, on the other hand, “tend to spend an even larger proportion of their expenses on food.” 

    “The vulnerability needs to be seen from the perspective of both the impact on expenditure for consumers and how dependent countries [are] on imported food items,” she added. 

    Countries that will benefit 

    On the flip side, some countries could be beneficiaries.

    Thailand and Vietnam will most likely to profit from India’s ban, Nomura said. That’s because they’re the world’s second- and third-largest exporters of rice, making them the most likely alternatives for countries looking to fill the gap.

    Vietnam’s total rice production was approximately 44 million tons in 2021, with exports bringing in $3.133 billion, according to a report published in July by research firm Global Information found.

    Data from Statista showed that Thailand produced 21.4 million tons of rice in 2021, an increase of 2.18 million tons from the previous year.

    With the increase in exports, and India’s ban placing an upward pressure on rice prices, the overall value of rice exports will increase and these two countries will benefit from it. 

    “Anybody who’s currently importing from India will be looking to import more from Thailand and Vietnam,” Varma said. 

  • China’s rice imports jump over 42% in Jan-Aug amid low prices

  • Aerial photo taken on Sep 15, 2022 shows rice fields in Gannan County of Qiqihar, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. Photo:Xinhua

    China's cumulative imports of rice showed rapid growth during the first eight months of this year, customs data showed on Sunday. The rise in rice imports, which are expected to be mainly used as feed grain, mainly reflected low global prices and does not reflect changes in domestic output due to drought, experts noted.

    China's General Administration of Customs (GAC) said that from January to August, total rice imports reached 4.56 million tons, up 42.5 percent year-on-year. 

    "China increased rice imports because global supplies were plentiful and prices were low compared with other grain crops such as wheat," Li Guoxiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

    According to the GAC, the average price of China's rice imports in July reached $400.86 per ton, down 11.76 percent year-on-year.

    In August, China imported 480,000 tons of rice, an increase of 34.8 percent year-on-year; while in July, imports rose 73.7 percent year-on-year to more than 499, 000 tons, customs data showed.

    A new survey by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs showed that more than 170 million mu (11.3 million hectares) of the nation's autumn grain crops have harvested, or 13.3 percent.

    "The rise in rice imports had nothing to do with natural disasters like drought this year, as China was already increasing imports of the grain from January this year," Jiao Shanwei, editor-in-chief of industry news website cngrain.com, told the Global Times on Sunday, noting that the drought in the south this summer had limited impact on China's autumn harvest this year.

    Li noted that the main production area of rice in China is in the northeast, which had sufficient rainfall this year, while the south experienced drought, so China's output doesn't reflect the impact of the natural disaster.

    "The bulk of imported crops are expected to be used as feed grain. It's a sector where the country has seen expanding demand in recent years," Jiao said.

  • Eating rice will be expensive! Due to less sowing, the production of rice is expected to be less by about 60-70 lakh tonnes.

  • Kharif season Rice prices may increase amid fears that rice production will be lower by about 60-70 lakh tonnes due to less sowing of paddy. In such a situation, the inflationary pressure on the already sluggish economy will increase. Retail inflation, which has been showing a declining trend for three months, started rising again and reached 7 per cent in August as prices of all food items, including cereals, rose. Along with this, the wholesale inflation was also under pressure from the prices of food items including food grains. Experts and analysts expect inflation to remain at higher levels in the times to come. At the same time, due to erratic rains in June-September and the south-west monsoon yet to depart, concerns have increased regarding the paddy crop.

    Rice production stood at 1329 million tonnes

    India’s rice production stood at 132.29 million tonnes in the 2021-22 crop year, up from 1243.7 million tonnes a year earlier. The Food Ministry has estimated that rice production in this year’s Kharif season will be less by 60-7 million tonnes. The kharif season accounts for about 85 per cent of the country’s total rice production. However, according to some experts, the reduction in rice production is not a cause for concern as the stock already with India is sufficient to meet the demand of the Public Distribution System (PDS). Besides, the government’s decision to ban the export of broken rice and levy 20 per cent duty on non-basmati exports will help in handling the situation.

    Food price pressure rises

    An article published in a recent bulletin of the Reserve Bank of India said that despite relief in fuel and basic components prices, food prices have been under pressure due to rising food prices. A report by the Finance Ministry on Saturday underlined the need for efficient management of agricultural commodity stocks in view of the low crop sown area during the Kharif season. However, it added that one has to avoid being anxious on the inflation front. NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand said, “There is no immediate threat to domestic inflation due to rice. The increase in prices was due to increase in MSP and prices of other commodities like fertilizers and fuels. When the prices of which are increasing, there will definitely be some increase.

  • Explained | The ban on the export of broken rice

  • The lower the supply of a commodity, the higher would be its price. | Photo Credit: PTI

    How is the ethanol blending programme connected to the rice export ban?

    The story so far: On September 9, the Centre instituted a ban on the export of broken rice. Additionally, it mandated an export duty of 20% on rice in husk (paddy or rough), husked (brown rice) and semi-milled or wholly-milled rice. The measures do not affect export of basmati or parboiled rice. The Secretary at the Department of Food and Public Distribution Sudhanshu Pandey stated that the measures would ensure adequate availability of broken rice for consumption by the domestic poultry industry and for other animal feedstock. Additionally, it would sustain production of ethanol that would further assist the successful implementation of the Union government’s Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP). However, the measures may affect countries dependent on Indian food exports in the face of a lost ‘breadbasket’ in Ukraine owing to the Russian conflict.

    What does it have to do with inflation?

    The lower the supply of a commodity, the higher would be the price of a product, which results in inflationary pressures. The adequacy of rice stocks in the country would ensure that markets do not experience excess demand and thus, trigger an abrupt price rise. For seven consecutive months, inflation has been above the Reserve Bank of India’s 6% tolerability threshold. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), or retail-based inflation, stood at 7% in August this year with rural and urban inflation scaling 7.15% and 6.72% respectively. This was furthered by an uptick of 7.62% in food prices during the same period.

    The COVID-19 pandemic also had an impact on India’s previously held surplus. As a reaction to the distresses caused by the pandemic to the vulnerable sections the Union Cabinet had introduced a food security program, called the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) in March 2020. The scheme provisions an additional 5kg ration per person each month in addition to their normal quota of foodgrains under the National Food Security Act. In March, the scheme was extended for another six months until September 2022.

    The Hindu Businessline had reported this week that foodgrain stocks (including rice, wheat and unmilled paddy) in the Food Corporation of India (FCI)’s central pool had dropped 33.5% on a year-over-year basis to 60.11 million tonnes as of September 1 — prompting doubts on the continuation of the scheme. Research analysts at Nomura observe that on the whole, though rice stocks should remain above buffer levels, the current export restrictions may not necessarily improve the demand-supply situation materially, implying, that there remains an upside risk to the price of rice. “As such, we believe there is a risk that further curbs on rice exports could be imposed, particularly in categories still exempted,” it states.

    What happened to rice production?

    The major rice cultivation season in India is the Kharif season, that entails sowing the crop during June-July and harvesting them in November-December.

    It is imperative to note that rice is a water-intensive crop which also requires a hot and humid climate. Thus, it is best suited to regions which have high humidity, prolonged sunshine and an assured supply of water. It is for this reason that the eastern and southern regions of the country, with sustainable humidity and suitable mean temperatures are deemed favourable for the crop. While the two regions are able to grow paddy crops throughout the year, higher rainfall and temperature prompt the northern regions to grow only one crop of rice from May to November. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are among the rice producing States in India.

    A perusal of Indian Meteorological Dept’s data, between June 1 and September 14 illustrate that Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab and Bihar have experienced deficient rainfall. The latter refers to rainfall being 20-59% below normal in a particular region. Although West Bengal, the country’s largest producer, has overall experienced a normal rainfall, its major productivity areas such as Nadia, Burdwan and Birbhum have had deficient rainfall. This indicates a potentially lower produce this year.

    What are the concerns on ethanol blending?

    Ethanol is an agro-based product, mainly produced from molasses, which is a by-product of the sugar industry. The EBP endeavours to blend ethanol with vehicular fuels as a means to combat the use of fossil fuels and in turn, rising pollution. As per the government, sugar-based feed stocks alone would not be able to meet its stipulated target of 20% ethanol blending by 2025.

    In the 2018-19 Ethanol Supply Year (ESY), the government had allowed the FCI to sell surplus rice to ethanol plants for fuel production. The idea was to have in place an insurance scheme and an emergency provision for distillers.

    However, in the ongoing ESY, because of supply constraints there has been an uptick in the procurement of rice from the FCI. The total ethanol produced from rice lifted from the FCI stood at 26.64 crore litres whereas that from damaged food grains outside the FCI purview stood at 16.36 crore litres. This means that the production accruing from FCI rice has increased 10-fold from the 2.2 crore litres used in a full ESY. At the same time, production from damaged foodgrains stands at half.

    Thus, the export ban would endeavour to catch-up with this supply and additionally, unburden the FCI from provisioning to distillers.

    What are the likely after-effects of the ban?

    Geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine have unsettled global food supply chains. With trade disrupted in the Black Sea region, Bloomberg reported in March that prices of rice are surging because traders are betting it will be an alternative for wheat which is becoming prohibitively expensive.

    India accounted for 41% of the total rice exports in the world in 2021 larger than the next four exporters (Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and United States) combined.

    As for broken rice, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that India accounted for more than half of the commodity’s global exports in the first half of 2022. As per government figures, between April and August this year, broken rice’s share in the overall rice export mix (of India) was 22.78% compared to 18.89% in FY 2021.

    In descending order, China, Senegal, Vietnam, Djibouti and Indonesia are the biggest importers of India’s broken rice.

    Senior Executive Director at the All-India Rice Exporters Association Vinod Kumaar Kaul told The Hindu, “Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan would gain should we happen to lose this market. Once lost, regaining the market would be a task.”

    Mr. Kaul pegs the losses to the exporters from the ban to be around ₹5,600 crore for the full year.

  • India’s broken rice export ban criticised by the US, EU, Senegal at WTO

  • New Delhi argues that prohibition due to sharp increase in exports that affected domestic market

    India’s recent ban on export of broken rice and imposition of export duties on other non-basmati rice has been criticised at the WTO by members such as the US, the EU and Senegal, which raised questions on its adverse effect on an already fragile global market, a Geneva-based trade officialsaid.

    “New Delhi clarified that export prohibition was only on broken rice that is used in India’s poultry feed and it was in response to a sharp increase in its exports in the recent month which had put pressure in the domestic market,” the official said.

    Concerns on India’s export restrictions and prohibitions on rice, wheat and wheat flour were raised at the Committee on Agriculture meeting of the WTO on September 14 and 15.

    India banned the export of broken rice and imposed a 20 per cent duty on export of all varieties of rice, except basmati and parboiled rice, with effect from September 9.

    Earlier, on May 13, it had banned export of wheat while orders prohibiting exports of wheat flour, maida, semolina and wholemeal aata were issued on August 27. The restrictions were imposed following concerns of domestic shortage and price rise due to the wheat crop getting affected by a strong heat wave.

    Posing uncertainities

    The Indian representative argued that members’ position on India’s food export was contradictory as one minute they raised concerns on India exporting too much while the next, they were upset about export prohibitions, the official pointed out.

    Washington complained that the constant changes in India’s export policy only posed uncertainties while the EU said that although India was entitled to impose export restriction, it also was bound by the duty to make a notification. 

    “Senegal, which is a significant importer of India’s broken rice and other rice products, said it was majorly affected by India’s export ban and urged the country to keep trade open to ensure food sufficiency,” the official said.

    India underlined that its export restrictions were necessitated by food security needs. It added that the government will consider the requests of other governments for exemptions as India was committed to support the needs of neighbouring and vulnerable countries adversely affected by sudden changes in the global market for wheat.

    While New Delhi said the measures were temporary in nature and under continuous monitoring, the official said that there was no mention of how long the ban will stay in place.

  • Sri Lanka may halt rice imports to maintain farmgate paddy prices: Minister

  • ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will gradually reduce and halt imports of rice to maintain paddy (rough rice) prices amid complaints from farmers about lower than expected prices, Plantations Industries Minister Ramesh Pathirana said.

    “Due to fears that there will be a reduction in food stocks we imported some rice in the past,” Minister Pathirana said referring to a discussion at the cabinet of ministers.

    “We decided to progressively reduce it and halt imports.”

    “We have got a reasonable harvest in Yala for season. We expect to receive fertilizer for the Maha season. Given that backdrop we do not think there will be a food scarcity in the country.”

    Sri Lanka’s farmers are estimated to have grown 512,000 hectares of rice in the minor Yala cultivation season amid good rains and high paddy prices, which is a record.

    However the yield at some farms may be lower than usual due to the use of organic fertilizer and not getting chemical fertilizer in time. As a result the harvest may not be a record.

    Sri Lanka’s rice prices however are around double the previous year after the central bank printed money and the rupee collapsed from 182 to the 360 to the US dollar in a float failed by too low interest rates and a surrender requirement.

    Though there is no shortage foods is not unaffordable to lower income segments with inflation outpacing the value of salaries.

    Sri Lanka retail prices are now around 220 rupees which is higher than global prices.

    Farmers were expecting around 120 rupees a kilogram after the state Paddy Marketing Board promised to buy paddy at the price.

    “The farmer are complaining about the price,” Minister Pathirana said. “They are getting about 100 rupees per kilogram for paddy.

    “They are expecting a higher price than that. If we continue to import from other countries they will not get a good price.”

    Sri Lanka’s farmers do not grow internationally traded grades of rice unlike farmers in Pakistan and India. They have also been given years of import protection at the expense of the nutrition of the poorer sections of society.

    After the currency collapse, farming costs shot up. This season tractor hire to prepare fields went up from around 12,000 rupees an acre in the last season to 22,000 to 24,000 rupees an acre with a steep rise in diesel prices.

    Sri Lanka authorities promised farmers around 120 rupee a kilogram floor price through the state-run Paddy Marketing Board.

    However the state agency has not been able to buy rice at all locations and the private sector is buying around 100 rupees, farmers have said.

    The government is looking at boosting funds for the PMB, Minister Pathirana said.

    “The Paddy Marketing Board PMB has asked for more credit from banks to buy rice. But there is a problem of credit limits at banks,” Minister Pathirana said.

    “We will discuss this at the cabinet sub-committee on cost of living and find an early solution and solve the problems of farmers.”

  • The math behind the rice export ban

  • As on 9 September, aggregate sowing was nearly 5% less than the same time last year. Photo: Mint

    Last week, the Indian government imposed several restrictions on rice exports. It banned the export of 100% broken rice, which is predominantly used as cattle feed, and imposed a 20% export duty on several other grades of rice. This was seemingly in response to both a rise in domestic prices and decreased sowing in several key rice-producing states because of a sluggish monsoon.

  • India’s rice exports set to fall as duty makes shipments expensive

  • MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: India’s rice exports could fall by around a quarter this year as New Delhi’s restrictions force buyers to switch to rival suppliers which are offering the grain at a cheaper price, trade and industry officials said.

    Late last week, the world’s biggest exporter of the grain banned shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other grades as the country tries to boost supplies and calm prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting.

    “The duty has made Indian rice expensive. Exports would drop by at least 5 million tonnes,” B.V. Krishna Rao, president of The Rice Exporters Association (TREA), told Reuters.

    That would leave exports this year at around 16.2 million tonnes. Rice shipments reached a record 21.2 million tonnes in the 2021/22 fiscal year, more than the combined shipments of the world’s next four biggest exporters of the grain: Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States. New Delhi has imposed the duty only on white rice, which could prompt some buyers to switch to parboiled rice, which is exempted from export duties, Rao said.

    Rice exports had jumped to 9.36 million tonnes in the first five months of the current fiscal year that began on April 1, up from 8.36 million tonnes in the same period a year ago, according to government data.

    “A lot of rice has already been shipped out so far in the current fiscal year, but we expect shipments to fall sharply in the coming months due to the recent policy decisions,” said Dev Garg, the director of ViExport, a New Delhi-based exporter.

    Lower supplies from India have been prompting rival suppliers to raise prices and this would make Indian rice competitive in due course, said Nitin Gupta, vice president for Olam India’s rice business.

    Thailand, Vietnam and other suppliers have raised prices of white rice after India imposed curbs the last week. “India was the cheapest supplier of white rice. With the duty, Indian rice would be expensive or at par with the other suppliers,” said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India’s biggest rice exporter.

  • India’s rice exports set to fall 25% as levy make shipments expensive

  • MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: India’s rice exports could fall by around a quarter this year as New Delhi’s restrictions force buyers to switch to rival suppliers which are offering the grain at a cheaper price, trade and industry officials said.

    Late last week, the world’s biggest exporter of the grain banned shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other grades as the country tries to boost supplies and calm prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting. “The duty has made Indian rice expensive. Exports would drop by at least 5 million tonnes,” B.V. Krishna Rao, president of The Rice Exporters Association (TREA), told Reuters.

    That would leave exports this year at around 16.2 million tonnes. Rice shipments reached a record 21.2 million tonnes in the 2021/22 fiscal year, more than the combined shipments of the world’s next four biggest exporters of the grain: Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States.

    New Delhi has imposed the duty only on white rice, which could prompt some buyers to switch to parboiled rice, which is exempted from export duties, Rao said.

    Rice exports had jumped to 9.36 million tonnes in the first five months of the current fiscal year that began on April 1, up from 8.36 million tonnes in the same period a year ago, according to government data.

    “A lot of rice has already been shipped out so far in the current fiscal year, but we expect shipments to fall sharply in the coming months due to the recent policy decisions,” said Dev Garg, the director of ViExport, a New Delhi-based exporter.

    Lower supplies from India have been prompting rival suppliers to raise prices and this would make Indian rice competitive in due course, said Nitin Gupta, vice president for Olam India’s rice business.

    Thailand, Vietnam and other suppliers have raised prices of white rice after India imposed curbs the last week. “India was the cheapest supplier of white rice.

    With the duty, Indian rice would be expensive or at par with the other suppliers,“ said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India’s biggest rice exporter.

  • Hyderabad: FP shops selling only rice to cash in on growing demand

  •  FP shops selling only rice to cash in on growing demand 

    Rajendranagar: As the PDS rice is in high demand in the black market, the Fair Price Shops (FPS) dealers in Rajendranagar under Saroornagar section are procuring only rice, making light of the poor people who prefer wheat over rice as their staple food.

    It is said that most dealers in Rajendranagar are procuring only rice from the godowns every month which is being provided by the government for free and seldom rush to procure wheat as the grain is having no demand in black market.

    "We are having regular stocks of wheat alongside the rice but most of the dealers are asking only for rice while a handful of them go for wheat. Ninety per cent of them procuring only rice meant for free distribution," informed an official at a State-run Rice Godown.

    Procuring PDS rice, reportedly ensures the dealers a double return wherein the government pays them 75 paisa commission per quintal while the black market lends them a good price of the PDS rice. Though there is a provision of wheat supply from the government to ensure nutritional balance among the masses, the FP shop dealers largely avoid procuring the spelt, finding that the grain lacks a question in the murky trade.

    As most of the time only rice is being sold through the FPS, poor people are forced to sell the grain back to the agents for a paltry amount while the grain is being sold on upward prices in neighbouring States like Maharashtra, Karnataka etc, through a safe route. The smugglers involved in PDS rice smuggling generally use underage children from poor families to transport the grain and provide them old or obsolete vehicles to avoid police checks.

    Most of the illegal PDS transportation cases are from Rajendranagar areas where police often catch the illegal rice transporters mainly children from areas such as Hassannagar, Sulemannagar, Chiltelmet, Katedhan, Tatanagar, Attapur and Kishanbagh. There is an element of plausibility in poor people selling back the extra rice to the agents. Unable to put up with regular rice supply being provided to them for free from FP shops, the people often sell them back to the dealers and get the wheat from the retail market by paying the price they get from the dealers in return.

    However, some people who use wheat as well as rice to feed themselves, are now venting frustration over the government for providing only rice from FP shops without knowing that the grain is identically available along with the rice at the state run godowns. It is the agents who are not procuring wheat simply for their own benefit despite there is demand for the spelt in several areas. "We were fed up with the replies of the agent that there is no wheat this time from the government. As only rice is being supplied from the shops for free, what else can we do except to return it back to the dealer on a paltry return," said Laxhmamma, an old lady from Rajendranagr. Affirming the murky affair being prevalent in Rajendranagar, one of the official from assistant supply office saroor nagar section at Rajendranagar said, "Though we are receiving complaints that FPS agent are not providing wheat to the people, but this is how the case is."


  • Soldiers dispatched to harvest rice in flooded areas

  • Soldiers harvesting rice from a flooded field. Nokorwat News Daily

    As farmers in Banteay Meanchey continue to suffer from heavy floods, more soldiers have been dispatched to help harvest the rice in Banteay Meanchey’s flooded rice fields.

    Brigadier General Sing Tum, Commander of the 51st Infantry Brigade located in Banteay Meanchey, ordered the soldiers to provide assistance today. The soldiers were instructed to harvest rice in the flooded fields at Makak Village, Makak Sangkat, Serei Saophoan City.

    The unit has helped farmers on several occasions as the province’s farmers continue to grapple with the negative effects of the severe flooding reported around the province. The soldiers were able to harvest rice from 1.5 hectares of rice fields.

    Cambodians were instructed to brace for more days of rain and possible flooding. The extended effect of the low-pressure area continues to affect the Kingdom’s weather. Several provinces have reported flooding in their rice fields and cultivations have slowed down due to the rain.

  • Rice jumps 5pc after Indian export curbs

  • MUMBAI: India’s restrictions on rice exports have paralysed trading in Asia, with buyers scouring for alternative supplies from Vietnam, Thailand and Mya­nmar where seller are holding off on deals as prices rise, industry officials said.

    India, the world’s biggest exporter of the grain, banned shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20 per cent duty on exports of various other types on Thurs­day as the country tries to boost supplies and calm prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting.

    Rice prices have jumped 5pc in Asia since India’s announcement and are expected to rise further this week keeping buyers and sellers on the sidelines.

    “Rice trading is paralysed across Asia. Traders don’t want to commit anything in a hurry,” said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India’s biggest rice exporter.

  • KRBL surges 17% in two days on heavy volumes; stock hits over 3-year high

  • Last week, the government imposed 20 per cent export duties on various grades of rice like non-basmati, unmilled, semi-milled or totally milled, and husked brown.

    Shares of KRBL hit over three-year high of Rs 355.60 on the BSE, as the stock soared 11 per cent in Tuesday’s intra-day trade, amid heavy volumes.

    The stock surpassed its previous high of Rs 337.45 that it had touched on October 14, 2021. It traded at its highest level since June 2019. Earlier, the stock had hit a record high of Rs 673 on December 21, 2017.

    In the past two trading days, the stock of the world's leading basmati rice producer surged 17 per cent. On the other hand, the stock price of KRBL zoomed nearly 70 per cent in three months, as against 14 per cent rise in the S&P BSE Sensex.

    At 11:50 am; KRBL traded 10 per cent higher at Rs 353.45, as compared to 0.67 per cent rise in the Sensex. The average trading volumes on the counter doubled as a combined 3.6 million equity shares changed hands on the NSE and BSE.

    KRBL is one of the largest exporters of Basmati rice from India. The company is known for globally renowned brands - ‘India Gate’, ‘Unity’ and ‘Nur Jahan’, which has marked its presence across the entire value-chain of the rice industry. Currently, KRBL’s flagship brand ‘India Gate’ is synonymous with the best quality Basmati rice in domestic as well as international market. Over the years, ‘India Gate’ has emerged as the most preferred packaged rice brand in many countries, including India.

    Last week, the government imposed 20 per cent export duties on various grades of rice like non-basmati, unmilled, semi-milled or totally milled, and husked brown. A blanket ban on broken rice, too, was imposed as domestic supplies dwindled, after below-average monsoon season. However, parboiled and basmati rice were exempted from export duties. 

    According to data published by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS), India registered 27 per cent growth in export of non-basmati rice to touch $6.12 billion in 2021-22, compared to $4.8 billion in 2020- 21, and $2.01 billion in 2019-20. Since 2013-14, India’s non-basmati rice exports have gone up by 109 per cent from $2.92 billion.

    However, the exports of Basmati rice saw fall over the previous year in value terms for the third consecutive year. In 2021-22, India exported $3.53 billion worth of Basmati rice, the lowest seen since 2019-20. According to experts, one of the key reasons for the decline is the loss of the traditional market of Iran because of the US sanctions.

    India is the main exporter of basmati rice to the international markets. India exports basmati rice across the world - Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, the UK, Yemen Republic, USA, Canada, and Oman.

  • India Restricts Rice Exports

  • India has raised export tariffs on rice and shut off exports of broken rice entirely, in a move that will probably raise global rice prices.

    India, the world’s leading rice exporter, announced earlier this month that it will start charging a 20% duty on exported white and brown rice. In addition, exports of broken rice, a cheaper grade that is often used for commodities like rice flour, have been shut off entirely. Exports of basami and parboiled rice will be unaffected.

    India’s exports represent some 40% of the global rice trade, according to exporters cited by the Wall Street Journal. Authorities characterized the measure as a reaction to the prospect of poor rice crops due to heat and other weather problems, necessary to ensure the country’s domestic food supply.

    India restricted exports of wheat and sugar in May, citing similar concerns.

  • As Pakistan floods and India curbs rice exports, Africa braces for high prices

  • ISLAMABAD: The devastating floods in Pakistan, which plunged great swaths of agricultural land under water — coupled with India’s decision to curb its rice exports — risk exacerbating food insecurity in the African countries most dependent on imports from Asia.

    The war in Ukraine, which sparked soaring wheat and corn prices, has hit the continent of Africa hard over the past six months. Now, a new food crisis looms as the continent faces a likely rise in the price of rice, a staple on many African tables.

    The recent devastating floods in Pakistan plunged great swaths of paddy fields under water, decimating the standing monsoon harvest and threatening to disrupt the upcoming winter harvest.

    Last week, India — the world’s biggest rice exporter — banned shipments of broken rice (rice fragments broken in the field or during transport or milling) and imposed a 20 percent duty on exports of other types as the country tries to boost supplies and calm prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting.

    Exports could plummet by 25 percent in the next few months, according to Himanshu Agarwal, executive director of Satyam Balajee, India’s biggest rice exporter. “The prices of all grains had been rising, except rice. Now it will join this trend,” said Agarwal in an interview with Reuters.

    Meanwhile, Thailand and Vietnam have agreed to raise rice prices to better remunerate their farmers.

    “There are going to be major strains on food security in many countries,” warned Phin Ziebell, an agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank.

    Africa’s rice dependency

    The recent floods in Pakistan are likely to lead to a spike in global rice prices, warned Nicolas Bricas, UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems, in an interview with FRANCE 24.

    “Pakistan is a major rice exporter. However, a third of the country is underwater and therefore there is a risk of an increase in the price of rice on the international market,” he said.

    Finally, an increased Chinese demand for broken rice to replace corn, which has become too expensive to feed livestock, has also driven up prices in recent months.

    This is more bad news on the food security front for sub-Saharan Africa, which depends heavily on rice imports from Asia. Africa this year could absorb 40 percent of the world rice trade, or a record 20 million tonnes, according to Radio France Internationale.

    “The problem of this dependence on rice imports is chronic and will continue,” explains Patricio Mendez del Villar, an economist at the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development.

    “Local production cannot keep up with the demand curve, which is increasing with population growth and urban growth. In Africa, rice is preferred by urban dwellers because it is a ready-to-use product, unlike traditional cereals such as millet and sorghum, which require preparation.”

    New harvest could ease pressures

    Although food security in sub-Saharan Africa does not rely solely on rice, it remains the second-most-consumed cereal after corn. A surge in prices would be a further blow to populations already weakened by the rise in the price of foodstuffs.

    The situation is particularly critical in the Horn of Africa, which is experiencing a historic drought. More than 22 million people from southern Ethiopia to northern Kenya and Somalia are threatened by hunger, according to the UN.

    Despite these concerns, rice prices are not yet soaring and a price increase should remain “contained” and short-lived, according to Mendez del Villar.

    “The main harvest in the major producing and exporting countries (India, Thailand and Vietnam) will start in a few weeks. All this rice will be added to stocks that will be at their maximum, which will push these countries to sell the old crop to make storage room. This should ease the pressure on the market. If it were March or April, it would be much more problematic,” explained Mendez del Villar.

    As for Pakistan, it only exports 4 million tons of rice per year, compared to India’s 21 million tonnes. “The market should, therefore, be able to withstand the shock even if Pakistan limits its exports,” said Mendez del Villar.

  • India’s rice export curbs paralyse trade in Asia as prices rise

  • This file photo shows a woman spreading paddy crop for drying at a rice mill on the occasion in Agartala, India on March 8, 2018. — Reuters/File

    India’s restrictions on rice exports have paralysed trading in Asia, with buyers scouring for alternative supplies from Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar where seller are holding off on deals as prices rise, industry officials said.

    India, the world’s biggest exporter of the grain, banned shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20 per cent duty on exports of various other types on Thursday as the country tries to boost supplies and calm prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting.

    Rice is the latest in a string of commodities that have faced export curbs this year as governments struggled to raise supplies and fight inflation amid trade disruptions triggered by the Ukraine war.

    Rice prices have jumped 5pc in Asia since India’s announcement and are expected to rise further this week keeping buyers and sellers on the sidelines.

    “Rice trading is paralysed across Asia. Traders don’t want to commit anything in a hurry,” said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India’s biggest rice exporter.

    “India accounts for more than 40pc of global shipments. So, nobody is sure how much prices will rise in the coming months.”

    Rice is a staple for more than 3 billion people, and when India banned exports in 2007, global prices shot to record highs of around $1,000 per tonne.

    India’s rice exports reached a record 21.5m tonnes in 2021, more than the combined shipments of the world’s next four biggest exporters of the grain: Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States.

    Loadings halted

    Rice loading has stopped at Indian ports and nearly one million tonnes of grain are trapped there as buyers refuse to pay the government’s new 20pc export levy on top of the agreed contract price.

    Though there are some buyers ready to pay higher prices for new contracts, shippers are currently sorting out pending contracts, Nitin Gupta, vice president for Olam India’s rice business.

    As Indian exporters stopped signing new contracts, buyers are trying to secure supplies from rival Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, which have raised the price of 5pc broken white rice by around $20 per tonne in the past four days, dealers said.

    But even these suppliers are reluctant to rush for contracts as they are expecting prices to strengthen.

    “We expect prices to rise further over the coming weeks,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    Vietnam’s 5pc broken rice was offered at $410 per tonne on Monday, up from $390-$393 per tonne last week, traders said.

    China, the Philippines, Bangladesh and African countries such as Senegal, Benin, Nigeria and Ghana are among leading importers of common grade rice, while Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia import premium grade basmati rice.

    Supply disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently the Russia-Ukraine war has jacked up the prices of grains but rice has largely bucked the trend due to bumper crops and ample inventories at exporters over the past two years.

    Buyers now fear India’s move could boost rice prices and make the staple expensive like wheat and corn, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.

  • Why India’s food bowl is struggling to abandon chemical farming

  • The transition will require a sea change in Punjab’s agricultural pattern.

    Sher Singh at his farm at Mirpur village in Jalandhar district on August 2. Singh is an organic farmer but faces several challenges when compared to farming using chemicals. | Gurdeep Dhaliwal via IndiaSpend.com

    When Ashok Kumar, 63, started doing organic farming on three acres of his farm in Sohangarh Rattewala village in Punjab’s western Ferozepur district in 2012, the benefits of good health and a cleaner environment were foremost on his mind.

    Besides growing food for his family, he was also able to sell the surplus to customers who sought organic produce. By 2016, he had decided to grow chemical-free fruit, vegetables, grains and oilseeds on his entire 16 acres, but the scaling up did not yield expected returns.

    “I opened a shop in [nearby] Muktsar town in collaboration with six other organic farmers. We also took our produce to a weekend organic market in Jalandhar [three-and-a-half hours away by road], but despite putting in so much effort and money, we continued to make losses,” he recalled. There just were not enough customers, he told IndiaSpend.

    “We had to shut down the shop and I eventually reduced the area under organic farming back to three acres, for my own family’s consumption. The rest of the land is now given on lease to another farmer, who uses chemical fertilisers and pesticides.”

    Kumar’s story is not reflective of all farmers who are trying to do chemical-free farming in Punjab, but many would relate to his predicament. Their passion for chemical-free, natural farming runs contrary to the longstanding farming culture of the state, our reporting found. The terms “organic” and “natural” farming are used interchangeably in India, with farmers using a mix of methods.

    In natural farming, if defined strictly, the focus is on the use of bio-inputs prepared from farm and local ecosystems, instead of purchasing these. Organic farming is defined more from a perspective of product certification and marketing (read more in IndiaSpend’s July 2022 explainer on natural farming). On the ground, these terms are used more fluidly.

    This is the second in our series on natural farming, and explores why it is hard for farmers in Punjab, the food bowl of India, to move to chemical-free farming, now being pushed by the Union government and through policy.

    “The whole [agricultural] ecosystem in Punjab is built around chemical farming, compared to other parts of India, because we were the frontrunner state during the green revolution. This model is supported both by the state and the market through research, extension services, machines, seeds and assured procurement of wheat and rice. So, it’s much easier and remunerative to do chemical farming here,” farmer Kamaljeet Hayer, who had partnered with Kumar in setting up the organic produce shop, told IndiaSpend. “Organic farming requires at least 10 times more effort than chemical farming because it’s labour-intensive and the returns are modest.”

    Among states outside of the northeast, the area under organic farming in Punjab is one of the lowest, official data show.

    Legacy of the green revolution

    Green Revolution” is the name given to the period in the 1960s-’70s when India imported new hybrid seed varieties to increase the production of wheat and rice, which could then be supplied at subsidised rates through the public distribution system.

    Punjab was chosen to be the first site to try new varieties because of higher water availability from its rivers and its fertile soil. The new seeds required adequate doses of chemical fertilisers and water to give the promised yields.

    The Indian government started subsidising the inputs, besides establishing the research and extension services to improve the new seeds and also take the practices to the people. The assured procurement for the public distribution system further enthused farmers to participate.

    Today, after around 60 years of intensive agriculture, Punjab has grown economically, but stares at an agro-ecological crisis. There is excessive use of agro-chemicals causing environmental toxicityhigh dependence on wheat-rice crop cycle impacting biodiversity and soil health, and costly machinery which made farming easier but also led to high indebtedness.

    Though the average farm income in Punjab remains one of the highest in the country, per the National Statistical Organisation’s Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households and Land and Livestock Holdings of Households in Rural India (SAS) 2019 survey, its growth has slowed at a higher rate than the national average since 2013-’14, per government data. There is, however, no disruption yet in the way agriculture is practised, our reporting found.

    Punjab accounts for 4% of the country’s cropped area but for 8% of all chemical pesticides used. A 2005 study by the Centre for Science and Environment, referenced by a Parliamentary standing committee on agriculture report in 2016, found residues of six to 13 pesticides in the blood samples of Punjab villagers.

    Punjab also has one of the highest chemical fertiliser consumption rates in India at 213 kg per hectare, compared to the national average of 128 kg per hectare.

    Further, there is an imbalance in fertiliser use. Against the desirable ratio of 4:2:1 of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, Punjab’s ratio is as high as 31:8:1, the committee report said.

    “Inadequate use of micronutrient fertilisers is aggravating trace element deficiencies in soils in many areas. The crops grown on these soils are, generally, deficient in micronutrients. These deficiencies are linked with malnutrition and health disorders in humans and animals,” the report added.

    Excessive use of nitrogenous fertilisers in Punjab also lead to higher levels of nitrates in the state’s groundwater, which has been linked to cancer and blue baby syndrome (when haemoglobin in the blood loses its capacity to carry oxygen, resulting in asphyxia and death), a 2009 Greenpeace study had said.

    Around 20% of all sampled wells in three districts of Punjab had nitrate levels above the safety limit recommended by the World Health Organization, the study had found. This nitrate pollution was clearly linked with the usage of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers as the study found higher nitrate levels in farms which had higher application of fertilisers.

    The 2018 draft Punjab State Farmers’ Policy had proposed an annual reduction of 10% in use of agro chemicals.

    Kamaljit Hayer on his farm which integrates poultry and a herbal garden with crop cultivation and promotes farm tourism, in Sohangarh Rattewala village, Ferozepur district in Punjab on August 3. Credit: Gurdeep Dhaliwal via IndiaSpend.com

    Problems with transitioning

    The area certified under organic farming in India rose from about 345,000 hectares in 2011-’12 to 2.66 million hectares in 2020-’21. The practice, however, is not easy. Major problems are a drop in crop yield, infestation of weeds and paucity of farm labour, agriculturalists told us.

    “Despite several benefits to health and environment, organic farmers face multiple challenges. A land used to chemical fertilisers for decades would require at least three years to recover its fertility,” Umendra Dutt, executive director of Kheti Virasat Mission [KVM], a non-profit organisation based in Jaito, Faridkot district, campaigning for organic farming in Punjab, told IndiaSpend.

    “An organic farm would have a greater need for manual labour and the work is also very intensive. From treatment of seeds to preparation of green manure, optimum selection of crop pattern, regular monitoring, de-weeding, mulching, composting and careful harvesting are just some of the basic requirements for chemical-free farming. This [labour-intensive process] makes it difficult to find people who are willing to work in these fields.”

    Further, big machinery does not suit organic farms because these usually grow mixed crops while most machines are designed for mono-cropped wheat and rice fields. There is also a chance of contamination.

    “I can’t hire a combine harvester which has also harvested a crop from a chemical farm because grains from those farms can enter my fields. I have to maintain the purity of my seed,” said Rahul Sharma, an IT engineer-turned farmer who grows organic produce on 11 acres in Kapurthala and Patiala districts.

    “This means I have to hire manual labour because smaller, handheld power-operated machines are either not available or don’t enjoy the subsidies the big machines do.”

    Babban, a farm worker, de-weeding and preparing the soil at an organic farm in Chandigarh on August 13. Credit: Manu Moudgil via IndiaSpend.com

    Sher Singh of Mirpur village in Jalandhar district finds it difficult to manage weeds on his six-acre farm, especially during the rainy season.

    “I use sprinklers for irrigating my vegetables because that helps control the weeds but when it rains, the infestation grows many folds. Someone practising chemical farming would just throw some herbicide and get done with it while I have to hire manual labour. Organic farming is not only a slower process but also costlier,” he said. “This labour shortage can be met if the government allows workers under MGNREGA [the rural job guarantee programme] to assist on organic farms. We can pay the government a part of the daily wage of these workers.”

    Of the total workers in Punjab, only 35% are engaged in agriculture while the national average is 54.6%. One reason for this is heavy use of machines in the state; Punjab is home to nearly 450,000 tractors, one tractor for every nine hectares of cultivated land, compared with the national average of one per 62 hectares.

    Between 2000 and 2019, the number of harvester combines in Punjab nearly tripled to 800,000. The investment in big and costly machinery has, however, led to high indebtedness, per a 2014 study by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

    Farm households in Punjab are among the most heavily indebted in India, per the SAS 2019 survey. Around 54% of farming households are indebted in the state, with average debt of Rs 2.03 lakh.

    Loans taken for farm inputs like agrochemicals and machinery formed 52% of the total debt incurred by farmers, the Punjab Agricultural University study had found. For small farmers, the share went up to 68%, which reduced their borrowing capacity for other purposes like healthcare and social ceremonies.

    Unsustainable crops

    The “Green Revolution” also oriented Punjab towards wheat-rice crop rotation through assured procurement at minimum support price. Rice is neither a staple of Punjab’s diet nor suited to the agro climatic character of the region.

    India must shift rice growing east from Punjab and Haryana while encouraging wheat cultivation in the rice-growing regions of Punjab and Haryana, to help prevent an impending water crisis by 2030, IndiaSpend reported in June 2019.

    About 4,118 litres of water is required to grow one kilogram of rice in Punjab, compared to 2,169 litres in West Bengal, a natural habitat for the crop, estimates by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices show.

    In 1960-’61, 4.8% of the total cropped area in the state was under rice. By 2019-’20, the share of rice had increased nearly 10-fold to 40.1%, per Punjab Directorate of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare data, quoted in the Punjab Economic Survey 2020-’21.

    The area under wheat went from 27.3% to 45% in the same period. Thus, between them, rice and wheat accounted for 85% of the cropped area in the state at last count. This shift towards mono cropping was brought about by assured procurement and price support, and came at the cost of maize, millets, barley, pulses and oilseeds, said the survey.

    “Overemphasis on wheat-rice rotation has made our ecosystem unstable not only in terms of groundwater depletion…Diseases and pests can spread easily through swathes of mono cropped fields with no biological controls. Mixed cropping can prevent that,” Ramesh Arora, former professor of entomology at Punjab Agricultural University, told IndiaSpend.

    “Farmers should rotate crops on their fields every two-three years to prevent pests and pathogens becoming habitual to the land. Also plant more trees which provide habitat to birds who are the most effective biological controls against pests. Pesticides should be our last line of defence but sadly it has become the first priority.”

    Continuous cultivation without any crop rotation also depletes soil nutrients, resulting in weaker crops highly dependent on chemical fertilisers and pesticides. “Organic farmers know the importance of soil health and tend to rotate crops to maintain yields. They use natural methods of pest control and fertilise the soil regularly by growing green manure or nitrogen fixing crops,” Seema Jolly, an organic farmer and coordinator of an organic market near Chandigarh, told IndiaSpend.

    The state government has been promoting crop diversification, asking farmers to grow crops other than rice but with little success. Even after spending Rs 274 crore on a crop diversification programme during 2014-1’9, the sown area of rice increased by 7.18% in Punjab at the cost of other crops, found an audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

    This year, the Punjab government reportedly asked farmers to grow moong (green gram) as the third crop in the (summer) window between wheat harvesting and growing rice.

    The government promised to procure the produce at the minimum support price if the moong crop is followed by Basmati or PR 126 variety of rice, both of which take less time to grow and require less water compared to long duration rice. The announcement led to the cultivated area under moong rising by 77% over the previous season.

    While the announcement was mainly seen as a move to increase farmers’ income and to reduce the state’s dependence on import of pulses, it will also reduce use of fertilisers in the subsequent rice crop. Moong fixes nitrogen in the soil, thus reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilisers. However, the harvesting of the moong crop saw rampant use of weedicides.

    Jagmohan Singh in Patiala town, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda), one of the farm unions which participated in the 2020-’21 farmers protests against the three farm bills, feels crop diversification can be the first step towards sustainable agriculture.

    “Currently, most agro chemicals are used on wheat and rice. Once the government starts promoting alternate crops, the use of chemicals will reduce automatically. The crops which are introduced as replacement, however, should fetch the same profit as these two crops,” he told IndiaSpend.

    Organic farmers feel the state government needs to push for millets.

    “Millets would yield much greater benefits because they are known to be rich sources of nutrition, require less irrigation, grow without agro chemicals and leave no waste. Just shifting 10% of rice area to millets can bring a huge change,” said Rahul Sharma, the IT engineer-turned farmer.

    “The produce can be provided to children under the mid-day meal scheme. So with one move, you can solve problems of malnutrition, groundwater depletion, food toxicity, and straw burning, besides conserving biodiversity.”

    Government support

    One of the issues farmers face when they shift to organic is drop in crop yield.

    “I suggest new farmers start with small plots. If they stop using chemical fertilisers at one go, there will be a big loss of yield which will dishearten them,” said farmer Sher Singh. “After a few years of using green manure and bio-fertilisers, the soil regains its natural fertility and the production picks up while farmers get used to the new market.”

    Dutt, the social activist, feels the farmers not only need hand-holding but also financial assistance. “Besides the assured price and procurement of alternate crops, farmers need a transition package. If governments made them go for chemical farming during the Green Revolution, it’s their duty to get them out as well by supporting organic farmers.”

    Organic (and natural) farmers should also get assistance, which chemical farms get in the form of indirect subsidy on fertilisers and farm machines or research and extension services, he said.

    The all-India fertiliser subsidy is expected to touch Rs 2.15 lakh crore this year, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on May 21. This would be a 64% increase over fertiliser subsidy expenditure in 2020-’21.

    A transition package could also be linked to ecosystem services.

    “The government is currently supporting a system that’s harmful for everyone. On the other hand, our organic farming uses less water and power, causes no chemical pollution, no straw burning, promotes biodiversity, provides more nutrition while also sequestering more carbon in the soil thus mitigating climate crisis. We should be rewarded for providing all these ecosystem services,” said farmer Rahul Sharma.

    “Such incentives will also make organic food more affordable to poor and middle class families rather than being accessible only to the elite consumers.”

    Food and trade policy expert Devinder Sharma feels Punjab needs to breed new crop varieties that respond well to organic inputs rather than agro chemicals. “If Punjab could be the seat of the green revolution, it can also be the seat of the evergreen revolution but this would require a policy shift and research,” he told IndiaSpend.

    The existing infrastructure and marketing network needs to be reorientated towards organic, Sharma said, adding that the government can learn from Andhra Pradesh, where around 700,000 farmers have shifted to organic farming because of state government support, and research and extension services for them. [More in IndiaSpend’s next story on natural farming in Andhra Pradesh.]

    We requested a comment from the director of agriculture, Gurvinder Singh, on how the state is supporting organic farming. He asked us to contact Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited, the nodal government agency for organic farming in Punjab.

    Tarun Sen, a manager from Punjab Agro, said that they support farmers through training and awareness camps on organic farming. They also have a distribution channel for marketing of organic products.

    “Government of Punjab through Punjab Agri Export Corporation Limited [Pagrexco] is implementing the Organic Program by providing institutional support to the organic farmers of the State,” the general manager of Pagrexco, a subsidiary of Punjab Agro, said in an email response.

    They also train farmers for “Organic Farm Management as per organic certification standards and facilitating third-party certification”, as per the email.

    Pagrexco also buys organic produce directly from its certified organic farmers at remunerative prices and markets the produce for the domestic and foreign market. They also help farmers in getting a “dedicated space allocated in government marketing yards/offices in cities for organic produce”.

    Pagrexco is running an “Organic Hut” in Chandigarh, and that model will be replicated in other cities, the general manager wrote in the email.

    Markets and consumers

    An organic market at Kaimbwala village near Chandigarh on August 13. Credit: Gurdeep Dhaliwal via IndiaSpend.com

    In absence of substantial state support, farmers and concerned citizens have themselves tried to set up models of marketing and social support.

    They got together to organise weekly organic markets in which farmers brought their produce to central spots of major cities in Punjab for sale. This model worked well, but the pandemic and lockdown disrupted the whole set up.

    “I was taking my produce to a private school in Jalandhar where the organic market was held every Sunday. After the lockdown, however, the market did not pick up and we also suffered heavy losses because the produce was not sold,” said Sher Singh. “Now, I am just left with the 15-20 customers who are regulars for the last 12 years.”

    At the weekend organic farmers’ market organised for two hours at a football academy in Kaimbwala village near Chandigarh, organisers were worried about the low footfall.

    “We are just getting around 25 customers which is not promising. Before Covid lockdown, we would have around 100-150 buyers. Maybe people have just turned to the online medium and are buying branded organic,” said Seema Jolly, one of the coordinators of the market.

    “I think the government needs to step in and provide a space where the produce can be sold. We are trying to run this market since 2015 moving from one spot to another because there is no permanent place.”

    After making losses in the shop he opened in collaboration with other organic farmers, Kamaljeet Hayer has now taken to farm tourism. He has rabbits, parrots, ducks and hens besides a herbal garden, fruit trees and rooms made with traditional architecture which attract people from cities, who want to experience rural life.

    “I have also stopped dealing in vegetables and started processing perishable items to increase their shelf lives. The produce, including dry ration, oil and pickles, now gets picked up from the farm thus saving me the money on transportation. The farm has become profitable this year but it’s still not substantial and can’t sustain my family,” Hayer said.

    Rahul Sharma, who has built a steady customer base in and around Chandigarh, is keen on taking the business online.

    “Nobody has cracked the organic code yet. I am able to experiment because farming is not my main source of income. For an individual farmer to sell online, they need to set up a consistent production, processing and supply chain, get a GST [Goods and Services Tax] number, approval from FSSAI [the food safety and standards authority], prepare packaging material and negotiate other procedural hurdles,” he said.

    “Once that’s done, they will find that shipping heavy packages like a 10 kg wheat flour pack does not make economic sense. Those who are able to do it either have deep pockets or bulk orders. I have no choice but to focus on items that can be sent in small packets like dalia.”

    Ashok Kumar of Sohangarh Rattewala village is thinking of getting back to farming after buying farm equipment. “I had sold off all those machines because they were of no use in organic cultivation,” he said. “Will slowly procure them again and get back to the land. There is nothing else I know besides farming. But not organic this time.”

    This article was first published on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

  • This Scheme Will Allow Distribution of Fortified Rice Under PDS

  • Fortification is described as "deliberately raising the quantity of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve nutritional quality of food and to give public health benefit with little danger to health" by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

    According to Tirkey, all of the mills will gradually install blending units.

    The Jharkhand government is about to launch a program to distribute fortified rice through PDS across 24 districts in an attempt to solve malnutrition and anaemia among women and children in the state, officials said on Sunday.

    Food rights activists, however, expressed worry about the "Rice Fortification Scheme (RFS)," claiming that the health impacts of consuming fortified rice, particularly on individuals who have sickle cell and thalassemia disorders, have not been adequately examined.

    State food and public distribution department head Dilip Tirkey told PTI that they are waiting for an official letter from the government to carry out the plan.

    Of the 65 rice mills in the state, blending units have been placed at 44 facilities, according to him. "It is a part of a national program. We are prepared to carry out the plan across 24 districts of Jharkhand," he added.

    According to Tirkey, all of the mills will gradually install blending units.

    Fortification is described as "deliberately raising the quantity of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve nutritional quality of food and to give public health benefit with little danger to health" by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

    On September 1, the Jharkhand cabinet authorized the program for distributing fortified rice through the public distribution system to participants in the national food security program. The fortified rice would be combined with iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12.

    According to Tirkey, the program's primary goal is to fight anaemia and chronic malnutrition in the state.

    According to the national family health survey, 39.6% of children in Jharkhand under the age of five have stunted growth, which means they have been malnourished (NFHS-5).

    According to the poll, 67.5 percent of children aged six to 59 months and 65.3 percent of women in the age range of 15 to 49 are anemic.

    The department had taken up a pilot scheme last year in two blocks -Dhalbhumgarh and Chakulia - in East Singhbhum district nine months.

    Another official stated, "The trial project was effective in the two blocks, but food rights activists have expressed alarm over the scheme's execution.

    The department of food and public distribution has made the decision to organize a workshop in Jamshedpur on September 16 to address the problems brought up by the NGOs.

    In order to shed light on different concerns relating to fortified rice, a senior doctor from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, has also been invited to the workshop, according to Tirkey.

    On October 1st, 2015, the National Food Security Act (NFSA) went into effect in the state. Approximately 57 lakh families, or 2.63 crore people, or 80% of Jharkhand's population, have received rice under the scheme at the rate of Re 1 per kilogram.

    In addition, the state government launched the Jharkhand State Food Security Scheme, enrolling 15 lakh NFSA-eligible individuals.

  • India’s rice export curbs paralyse trade in Asia as prices rise

  • MUMBAI, Sept 12 (Reuters) - India's restrictions on rice exports have paralysed trading in Asia, with buyers scouring for alternative supplies from Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar where seller are holding off on deals as prices rise, industry officials said.

    India, the world's biggest exporter of the grain, banned shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other types on Thursday as the country tries to boost supplies and calm prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting. 

    Rice is the latest in a string of commodities that have faced export curbs this year as governments struggled to raise supplies and fight inflation amid trade disruptions triggered by the Ukraine war. Rice prices have jumped 5% in Asia since India's announcement and are expected to rise further this week keeping buyers and sellers on the sidelines.

    "Rice trading is paralysed across Asia. Traders don't want to commit anything in a hurry," said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India's biggest rice exporter.

    "India accounts for more than 40% of global shipments. So, nobody is sure how much prices will rise in the coming months."

    Rice is a staple for more than 3 billion people, and when India banned exports in 2007, global prices shot to record highs of around $1,000 per tonne.

    India's rice exports reached a record 21.5 million tonnes in 2021, more than the combined shipments of the world's next four biggest exporters of the grain: Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States.

    LOADINGS HALTED

    Rice loading has stopped at Indian ports and nearly one million tonnes of grain are trapped there as buyers refuse to pay the government's new 20% export levy on top of the agreed contract price.

    Though there are some buyers ready to pay higher prices for new contracts, shippers are currently sorting out pending contracts, Nitin Gupta, vice president for Olam India's rice business.

    As Indian exporters stopped signing new contracts, buyers are trying to secure supplies from rival Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, which have raised the price of 5% broken white rice by around $20 per tonne in the past four days, dealers said.

    But even these suppliers are reluctant to rush for contracts as they are expecting prices to strengthen.

    "We expect prices to rise further over the coming weeks," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    Vietnam's 5% broken rice was offered at $410 per tonne on Monday, up from $390-$393 per tonne last week, traders said.

    China, the Philippines, Bangladesh and African countries such as Senegal, Benin, Nigeria and Ghana are among leading importers of common grade rice, while Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia import premium grade basmati rice.

    Supply disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently the Russia-Ukraine war has jacked up the prices of grains but rice has largely bucked the trend due to bumper crops and ample inventories at exporters over the past two years.

    Buyers now fear India's move could boost rice prices and make the staple expensive like wheat and corn, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.

  • Cambodia’s rice exports up over 13 percent in first eight months and more than $242.80 million in revenue

  • Cambodia exported 389,000 tonnes of milled rice from January to August 2022, netting more than $242.80 million.

    The update was shared yesterday by the Cambodia Rice Federation, stressing that the total milled rice export increased over 13 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

    Of the Cambodian milled rice exported, 65.8 percent were all kinds of fragrant rice, while white rice accounted for almost 30 percent, parboiled rice and organic rice for over 2 percent each.

    China remains the biggest market importing 44 percent, followed by France purchasing 15 percent, Malaysia 6 percent, the Netherlands 4 percent, Italy, Gabon, and Brunei at 3 percent each, and the rest 22 percent covered by 48 countries.

    During the period, Cambodia also shipped 2,269,210 tonnes of paddy rice to Vietnam. Phal Sophanith – AKP

  • J’khand govt to roll out scheme to distribute fortified rice under PDS; rights activists raise concern

  • Ranchi, Sep 11 (PTI) In a bid to deal with malnutrition and anaemia among women and children in the state, the Jharkhand government is all set to launch a programme to distribute fortified rice through PDS across 24 districts, officials said on Sunday.

    Food rights activists, however, raised concern over the ‘Rice Fortification Scheme (RFS)’, alleging that health impacts due to the consumption of fortified rice, particularly on those who are suffering from thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia diseases, have not been studied properly.

    State food and public distribution department director Dilip Tirkey told PTI that they are waiting for an official letter from the government to roll out the scheme.

    “It is part of a national programme. We are ready to roll out the scheme across 24 districts of Jharkhand. Of the 65 rice mills in the state, blending units have been installed at 44 facilities,” he said.

    Blending units will be set up at all the mills in a phased manner, Tirkey said.

    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has defined fortification as “deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve the nutritional quality of food and to provide public health benefit with minimal risk to health”. The Jharkhand cabinet had on September 1 approved the programme for distribution of fortified rice, blended with iron, folic acid and vitamin B12, among beneficiaries enrolled under the national food security scheme through the public distribution system.

    “The main objective of the programme is to fight against chronic malnutrition and anaemia in the state,” Tirkey said.

    Around 39.6 per cent of children under the age of five years in Jharkhand are stunted, which indicates that they have been undernourished, as per the national family health survey (NFHS-5).

    Jharkhand’s 65.3 per cent of women in the age group of 15 to 49 years and 67.5 per cent of children between six and 59 months are anaemic, according to the survey.

    The department had taken up a pilot scheme last year in two blocks -Dhalbhumgarh and Chakulia – in East Singhbhum district for nine months.

    “The pilot project was successful in the two blocks but food rights activists have raised concern over the implementation of the scheme,” another official said.

    In a bid to find out the impact of fortified rice on people in the blocks, where the pilot project was implemented, two civil society organisations — Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA-Kisan Swaraj) and Right to Food Campaign — carried out a study and found “violation of government guidelines for distribution of fortified rice as the programme did not include officials of health department”, rights activists claimed.

    Right to Food Campaign member Balram told PTI, “The Centre’s regulations say that sickle cell anaemia and thalassemia patients must not consume iron-fortified food. But, we found that no separate arrangement was made for such beneficiaries in PDS stores.” PDS dealers, frontline functionaries and elected representatives in the two blocks were not aware of various aspects of fortified rice, he said, adding that several doctors expressed their concern over the implementation of the scheme.

    A fact-finding team urged the Jharkhand government to “reject rice fortification in food schemes as an approach to tackling malnutrition”.

    The food and public distribution department has decided to hold a workshop on issues raised by the NGOs on September 16 in Jamshedpur.

    “A senior doctor from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, has also been invited to the workshop to throw light on various issues related to fortified rice,” Tirkey said.

    The National Food Security Act (NFSA) was rolled out in the state on October 1, 2015. Around 57 lakh households covering 2.63 crore people, around 80 per cent of Jharkhand’s population, have been provided with rice at Re 1 per kg under the scheme.

    The state government had also rolled out the Jharkhand State Food Security Scheme under which 15 lakh people, deprived of NFSA, have been enrolled.

    The government has recently decided to add five lakh more beneficiaries under the state scheme. PTI SAN BDC BDC

    This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

  • World rice prices feared to soar as Indian exports capped’

  • SINGAPORE: India's decision to curb rice exports is expected to lift world prices of the staple and trigger a rally in rival wheat and corn markets, deepening concerns over food inflation.

    Rice prices in key exporters India, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar are set to rise, traders and analysts said, hitting food importers already suffering from higher costs due to adverse weather and the Russia-Ukraine war.

    India banned exports of broken rice and imposed a 20 percent duty on exports of various grades of rice on Thursday as the world's biggest exporter of the grain tries to augment supplies and calm local prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting.

    "There is going to be substantial stresses on food security across many countries," said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist at National Australia

    Bank. "Global fundamentals could see further upside across the grains complex."

    Chicago wheat prices rose on Friday, poised for a third straight weekly gain, as India's move and talk about Russia's restrictions on Ukrainian grain shipments underpinned the market.

    "This is an inflationary move for food prices," said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at agriculture brokerage IKON Commodities in Sydney. "This could trigger a rally in wheat and corn prices."

    India accounts for more than 40 percent of global rice shipments and competes with Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and Myanmar in the world market.

    "Myanmar prices should go up by $50 a tonne while suppliers in Thailand and Vietnam will be quoting higher prices," said one Singapore-based trader.

    Five percent broken rice in Myanmar was quoted around $390-$395 a tonne, free on board, before India's decision on export restrictions. In India, 5 percent broken white rice prices were quoted around $348 a tonne.

    The decision will impact trade flows as India's white rice prices of the variety are about $60-$70 per tonne cheaper than Thailand's, Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters.

    "More orders will flow for Thai and Vietnamese rice," he said.

    "We have to wait and see how long this policy from India will go on for, if it is longer, it will increase demand for Thai rice exports..."

    The world's top rice importers China and the Philippines are likely to take an immediate hit with higher rice prices.

    China, one of the biggest importers of Indian broken rice for use in animal feed, is expected to shift to corn, traders said.

    "We expect import volumes will decrease with this ban...the new Chinese corn crop is coming to market soon and there are large volumes of other imported grains," said Rosa Wang, analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co Ltd.

    "In fact there is news already about an alliance of Thailand and Vietnam planning to increase export prices. We are analysing the possible impact of these possible moves," Mercedita Sombilla, undersecretary for policy, planning and regulations at the Philippines' Department of Agriculture, told Reuters.

    Thailand and Vietnam have agreed to cooperate on raising prices, a move aimed at increasing their leverage in the global market and boosting farmers' incomes. —News Desk

  • Global food supply faces turmoil with rice set to climb: Reports

  • The restrictions are threatening to ignite inflation for yet another key commodity, and may deprive some of the globe's poorest nations of a crucial element of their diet.

    Food supply, already squeezed by shortages in wheat, corn and cooking oils, is at risk of even more disruption, this time from the rice market.

    India is clamping down on exports of the staple for half the world’s population, with the market’s focus now turning to the capacity of other major producers including Thailand and Vietnam to fill the gap. The restrictions are threatening to ignite inflation for yet another key commodity, and may deprive some of the globe’s poorest nations of a crucial element of their diet.

    India is the single largest exporter with a 40 per cent share of global rice trade. The government has imposed a 20 per cent duty on shipments of white and brown rice, and banned broken rice sales abroad. Those varieties mainly go toward feeding Asia and Africa and affect roughly 60 per cent of India’s overall rice exports.

    “Such severe disruptions in global supplies, combined with a record level of consumption worldwide, should supercharge” prices and further fuel food inflation, said Sabrin Chowdhury, head of commodities at Fitch Solutions. When the war in Ukraine sent agricultural prices skyrocketing earlier this year, rice escaped the frenzy, keeping Asia and some Middle Eastern and African nations insulated from a bigger food crisis. The surge in corn and wheat encouraged some substitution away from these more expensive grains toward cheaper alternatives like rice. That may be about to change.

    India’s policy will drive up its export prices to levels similar to white rice grades from rivals Thailand and Vietnam, prompting buyers to shift toward those suppliers instead, according to Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

    When that happens, it will push up Thai and Vietnamese prices as well, dealing a blow to importing nations in Asia and Africa that consume the grain as a main staple, Chookiat said. “Imposing a 20 per cent levy is a big deal,” he said. “This move will cause global rice prices to rally.”

    Thailand’s benchmark 5 per cent white rice was quoted at $431 a ton this week by the exporters association, while the same grade from Vietnam was around $393-$397 a ton. India’s prices were well below that at around $338-$342.

    While Thailand and Vietnam recently agreed to cooperate on boosting prices, without providing details, Chookiat said Thailand is unlikely to restrict exports as the country has a surplus and there are no worries about local supplies.

    Thailand usually produces about 20 million tons of milled rice a year, of which 11 million is consumed and the rest exported.

    Chookiat said it’s impractical to curb overseas sales as the surplus, if left unsold, would hurt domestic prices and burden the government with storage costs and farmer subsidies. Back in 2007-08, a global food crisis was triggered when both India and Vietnam restricted exports of rice. Prices soared above $1,000 a ton, more than double the level now, amid a panic over supplies.

    Nguyen Nhu Cuong, head of Vietnam’s agriculture ministry’s crop production unit, declined to comment on whether the country would curb exports, but said domestic supply and national food security must be taken into consideration when mulling such a move. Vietnam is able to ship 7 million tons of rice this year, up from an earlier forecast of about 6.7 million tons, he said.

    Globally, output in several regions has been hit by bad weather. Besides India, which saw planting drop on lack of rain, China’s harvest is at risk from heat. Europe’s output is forecast to be the lowest since 1995-96 on severe drought in Italy and Spain, while a similar trend is seen in the US, Chowdhury said.

  • How Rice Afrika is using technology to increase rice yield

  • Anand Laishram
    We, in Manipur love rice. We greet people by asking if they had had rice. Most of the people in Manipur are farmers. Most of the farmers are involved in farming rice.We have our own unique types of rice. In short, rice is an indispensable part of life in Manipur.
    And yet, when it comes to rice production, we aren’t very good at it.
    According to statistics from the ICAR, Manipur’s rice production per hectare is about 2.5 metric tons, which is well below that of states like Punjab, with yields of about 4 metric tons per hectare.
    And that is just in India. Countries like China (6.5 metric tons/ hectare) and Vietnam (about 6 metric tons/ hectare), for instance, have achieved way higher yield.
    The lower yield points to the inefficiencies in the rice production system in Manipur.
    In this week’s article, we will look at one company in Nigeria, which is tackling the same problemof low rice yield, by employing an integrated, tech-enabled approach.
    Nigerians are also highly fond of rice and rice farming is a major occupation in that country.
    However, the rice yield per hectare is a meagre 2 metric tons/ hectare.
    The main cause for the lower yield is inefficiency, due to a lack of mechanization.
    Mechanization in the rice farming sector in Nigeria is a paltry 0.3 horsepower/ hectare. India’s is 2.6 hp/ha and China’s is 8.2 hp/ha.
    Due to lack of mechanization, manual harvesting is the only option left to farmers.
    It requires 100 to 150 person-hours to harvest one hectare of rice field.
    The reliance on manual harvesting also increases the cost of production.
    In Nigeria, the cost for harvesting 1 hectare of rice field is $100.
    In a country like Nigeria, where 90 percent of the population is below the poverty line and 60 percent of household income is spent on food, such a high cost of production is very problematic.
    By contrast, if combine harvesters are used instead, the results are drastically improved. Cost of production can be significantly brought down, which will create enormous value for the Nigerian public.
    A combine harvester is 60000% more efficient than manual harvesting.
    1 acre of land requires about 30 workers to work for 15 hours. 1 combine harvester can do the same job in less than 1 hour.
    The cost of harvesting 1 hectare falls down to $35 to $40 with a combine harvester.
    Mechanization, in short, can go a long way in boosting rice production yield and freeing up a lot of person-hours, which can be utilized in other productive avenues.
    In order to solve this issue, Rice Afrika Technologies was started in 2020.
    It employs a multi-pronged approach to solve the problem of lower rice production yield:
    1) Harvester hiring service
    It allows farmers to hire combine harvesters.
    The company sources the harvesters from manufacturers in China and Japan.

    They train local youth to operate and service these combine harvesters.
    This not only allows farmers to utilize the harvesters, thereby resulting in increased productivity, but also creates local jobs (such as harvester operators, harvester mechanics, harvester booking agents).
    2) Precision farming solutions for the farmers
    Rice Afrika provides farmers with services such as weather reports, soil analysis, climate analysis, IoT (Internet of Things) driven insights, informed crop management decisions, techniques for increasing yield etc.
    This helps farmers make better farming decisions and utilize better farming practices, which help them improve their yield.
    3) Guaranteed off-take of produce at the farm gate
    Rice Afrika purchases rice from the farmers they partner with.
    Their ability to aggregate demand from the farmers and understand supply better, allows them to offer the farmers a premium price for their rice.
    They then use the rice to sell their premium packaged brand of parboiled rice.
    People can buy this rice from Rice Afrika through their website or mobile app among others.
    Rice Afrika also employs a flexible payment mechanism, wherein farmers can pay for the company’s services with their rice produce, in case they aren’t able to pay money at the time.
    The company has also developed RiceID, a crop identification and management system, which allows customers to track the source of rice. This helps ensure that farmers and customers aren’t affected by counterfeiters.
    Rice Afrika is also developing a mobile agency banking system, in order to facilitate frictionless financial transactions among the stakeholders in the rice value chain, viz. the farmers, the buyers/ customers etc.
    Till date, Rice Afrika has hired out harvesters to more than 5000 farmers. Farmers who have worked with Rice Afrika have been able to increase productivity by 50% and decrease fertilizer usage by 40%.
    They have also processed more than 2000 metric tons of Rice.
    For their efforts, Rice Afrika recently won the World Economic Forum’s Circulars Accelerator Cohort 2022, which awards circular economy innovators.
    Their integrated approach, which goes beyond just purchasing farming machines and providing it to farmers, is a step in the right direction when it comes to solving food production issues and increasing production yield.
    We, in Manipur, may have an insight or two to pick up from them.

  • Govt imposes 20% export duty on non-basmati rice shipments, to hit overall rice exports in current fiscal

  • Rao said imposition of export tax will definitely reduce the volume of rice export this fiscal and make rice from India costlier.

    The government on Thursday imposed a 20% export duty on non-basmati ‘white’ rice exports which is expected to hit overall volume of exports in the current fiscal.

    According to a finance ministry notification, the export tax will be applicable from Friday.

    Exporters say that out of total non-basmati rice exports of 17 million tonne (mt) in 2021-22, share of white rice was around 60% and the rest of the shipments were par-boiled rice which has been exempted from export duty.

    “Our concern is whether this export duty will be applicable to around 2 mt white rice consignment in the transit,” V Krishna Rao, president, All India Rice Exporters Association, told FE.

    Rao said imposition of export tax will definitely reduce the volume of rice export this fiscal and make rice from India costlier.

    Currently, India is exporting non-basmati rice at around $360 a tonne.

    The finance ministry also imposed a 20% export duty on rice in husk (paddy)and husked brown rice.

    India has been the world’s largest rice exporter in the last decade — export earnings stood at $8.8 billion in 2020-21 and $9.6 billion in 2021-22.

    According to the commerce ministry data, India’s value of rice exports rose 12% to $2.6 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal compared to previous year.

    “It will make the exports costlier thereby ensuring affordability of rice to the common masses,” Saurab Agarwal, tax partner, EY said. Because of 5% decline in paddy sowing this kharif season because of deficient rainfall in key paddy growing areas of West Bengall, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, rice production is expected to decline 2022-23 crop year (July-June) from a record 130 mt achieved in 2021-22 crop year.

    The United States department of agriculture (USDA) in its rice outlook for August had stated that India’s rice exports are projected to increase to a record 22 MT in 2022-23. USDA has projected that country’s projected exports exceed the combined shipments of the next three-largest exporters — Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan.

    Out of the 21 mt of rice shipment in 2021-22, India exported more than 17 mt of non-basmati rice and the rest of the volume was aromatic and long grain Basmati rice. In terms of volume, Bangladesh, China, Benin and Nepal are five major export destinations of rice.

  • India, the world’s top rice exporter, just slapped a 20% tax on some rice exports. It could further fuel food inflation

  • India — the world's top rice exporter — has slapped a 20% tax on shipments of some rice grades in a move that could worsen the food crisis.

    The new export tax that affects some rice grades will take effect Friday, according to an announcement from India's finance ministry on Thursday. India also banned the exports of 100% broken rice, which is mostly used for animal feed, Bloomberg and Reuters reported, citing government notices.

    The developments come as rice plantings in India have been impacted by a lack of rainfall in some areas this year, per the news agencies.

    India accounts for about 40% of global rice exports, according to the US Department of Agriculture, or USDA. The country's moves to levy a 20% tax on some rice grades while restricting broken rice are expected to push up prices of the staple grain amid a surge in food prices worldwide.

    China and the Philippines are the world's top two importers of the staple grain, according to the USDA.

    As the prices of wheat and corn rallied this year on the back of the Ukraine war, rice prices remained relatively stable, giving inflation-weary consumers some reprieve. But India's latest move may change that, and shift demand from India to its competitors.

    "With this duty, Indian rice shipments will become uncompetitive in the world market. Buyers will shift to Thailand and Vietnam," B.V. Krishna Rao, the president of the India Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters. The two Southeast Asian countries are the world's second- and third-largest rice exporters globally.

    After wheat and sugar, rice is now the third major agricultural commodity in India to face export restrictions this year. The wave of food protectionism comes amid supply concerns and inflation fears.

  • Climate change is hurting India’s rice crop

  • With extreme weather events affecting cropping patterns, growers need to be equipped with new farming methods.

    In parts of India, crops have been destroyed by both incessant rain and by the lack of it [File: Yirmiyan Arthur/AP Photo]

    In Haryana’s Bithmara, about 200 kilometres (124 miles) northwest of the capital New Delhi, 37-year-old Satish Jangra is distraught after seeing his paddy crops destroyed due to untimely and incessant rainfall in early August.

    “I am compelled to leave farming. The cost is much more than the output and I am falling into a debt trap,” he said.

    Each year, Jangra would till 3 hectares (8 acres) of his neighbour’s land in which he cultivated mostly paddy and other grains like wheat and millets. That has now been reduced to 1 hectare (3 acres). He is thinking of either changing the paddy field to another crop variety or stopping tilling the land altogether so that he does not have to worry about the losses each year.

    “You spend thousands on different fertilisers, diesel, water etc and when it’s time for output for paddy especially, you just get into losses,” he told Al Jazeera.

    Traders pay according to the quality of the rice, but over time farmers say, the quality has decreased.

    He still has to pay a $600 loan to the bank and for that, he is now looking for an alternative.

    “I have started working in a small furniture shop because I cannot be dependent on just farming,” he said.

    In eastern India’s Jamui Bihar village, farmer Rajkumar Yadav’s troubles are the opposite of Jangra’s as he waits for rainfall so that his paddy crops do not dry up.

    Each morning and evening, the 55-year-old’s family takes water from their well to sprinkle on the crops. He says his family can no longer rely on the monsoon.

    “In our area only 10 percent sowing of crops has happened so far because there is no rainfall. We all are dependent on the Tubewell [used to pump groundwater], which is also drying due to high temperatures,” he said.

    Researchers say that the production of rice in India is constrained by both droughts and heavy rains which can flood the fields.

    About 68 percent of the total cropping area in India is rainfed. Of the roughly 40 million hectares (100 million acres) of the rice-harvested area in India, 60 percent is irrigated leaving the rest dependent upon rainfall, and hence susceptible to drought.

    Aditi Mukherjee, principal researcher at International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a nonprofit research organisation, said overall, climate change has increased the probability of extreme events.

    While “impacts of droughts can be somewhat mitigated through access to irrigation, parts of India [such as eastern India which is a major rice basket], do not have adequate affordable irrigation, and depend mostly on expensive-to-operate diesel pumps,” she said.

    This year paddy sowing has been affected in key rice-producing states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, resulting in a 13 percent lag in area under paddy.

    A ban on rice exports?

    IWMI’s Mukherjee told Al Jazeera that it is going to be a hard year for farmers.

    “Heat waves, followed by drought-like conditions due to late arrival of monsoons, have impacted two main crops, wheat in the previous season, and now rice,” she said, adding that such late sowing of paddy is likely to affect yield, and also delay the next cropping cycle.

    And while it is not clear as yet what sort of shortage that will result in when the harvest finally comes, the United States Department of Agriculture has estimated that rice production may reduce by 0.9 per cent, the first decline since 2015. That leads experts to say they need to monitor the situation closely, especially if the government decides to ban or limit its exports as it did in May for wheat.

    Tavseef Mairaj Shah, who works in agroecology, warns that while a ban on rice exports would be catastrophic for the global food supply, such a move is not currently expected, although a rise in rice prices is not off the cards.

    The threat to India’s rice production also comes at a time when countries are already grappling with soaring food costs. The decline in production that farmers foresee could make India’s battle against inflation more difficult and lead to export restrictions.

    In India, rice is a staple food for more than half the population. Bangladesh, China, Nepal, and certain Middle Eastern nations are among some of its top clients, as India exports rice to more than 100 countries.

    “India has to take in consideration the domestic food security aspect. While we currently have grain stocks, we may have to buffer in case the Ukraine war continues,” said Srinath Sridhan, an independent markets commentator.

    Reimagine farming

    Congress party supporters shout anti-government slogans during a rally in New Delhi, India.
    Reimagine farming

    But eventually, to ensure food security, India needs to reimagine its agricultural practices, scientists say.

    “The unprecedented change in rainfall patterns, droughts and extreme heat is a stark reminder that India needs to uphold and promote a transition from mono to multi-cropping systems,” said Rohin Kumar, senior agriculture campaigner at Greenpeace India.

    Monoculture kills all the nutrients from the earth, weakening the soil, which in turn inhibits healthy plant growth.

    With the effects of climate change and the extreme weather expected to aggravate in coming years, India also needs to create adequate demand and supply of many local indigenous grains, vegetables and fruits, with urban communities stepping in to support farmers by directly buying from farmers, Kumar said.

    Agroecologist Shah agrees that there is an “urgent need” to transition to sustainable methods of rice cultivation to improve water use efficiency, farmers’ livelihoods, and make them capable of adapting to changing weather patterns and extreme weather events.

    While a government push to make any of these suggestions a reality is currently not on the table, farmers like rain-starved Yadav have already switched to cultivating different crops to make a living.

    “We have started cultivating coriander, and I think that that helps me a bit to sell it in my village,” he said.

    In Jamuai village, where Yadav lives, besides growing paddy and other crops, farmers have been doing organic farming, shunning the use of chemicals. And while they have been at it for half-a-dozen years, they are yet to find people willing to pay the premium prices that this process demands.

    “We have been trying to raise awareness about organic products but that is not happening much. When it comes to profit, no one thinks about the farmer,” he said.

  • Thailand targets higher rice exports of 7.5 mln tonnes this year

  • BANGKOK, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Thailand is aiming for rice exports of 7.5 million tonnes this year, up from a previous target of 7 million tonnes, due to increased output and a weak baht amid global food insecurity, a government spokesperson said on Thursday.

    Thailand, the world's third-largest rice exporter after India and Vietnam, exported 4.09 million tonnes of rice in the January-July period, up 54% from a year earlier, Rachada Dhnadirek said in a statement.

    The country's favourable weather has boosted its rice production while a weak baht has kept Thai rice prices competitive, she said. The Thai currency was hovering near its weakest level in more than 15 years against the dollar.

    Thailand has seen higher demand for its rice as countries seek to ensure food security and replace wheat and corn in the animal feed industry, Rachada said.

    The agriculture ministry expected paddy rice output of 26.92 million tonnes in the 2022/23 crop year, up 2.09% from a year earlier, she said.

  • Top Rice Exporter India Curbs Shipments in Threat to Inflation

    • Government bans broken rice exports and taxes other varieties
    • Move will send shock waves through global agricultural market.

    Workers bag rice paddy at a wholesale market in New Delhi, India.Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg

    India, the world’s biggest rice shipper, restricted exports of key varieties that mainly go toward feeding Asia and Africa, threatening to rattle global crop markets and exacerbate food inflation and hunger. 

    The government has imposed a 20% duty on shipments of white and brown rice, and banned broken rice sales abroad. The curbs apply to roughly 60% of India’s overall rice exports, according to Bloomberg calculations. 

    The moves by India, which accounts for 40% of the global rice trade, will put further pressure on countries that are struggling with worsening hunger and soaring food inflation. Rice is a staple food for about half of the world’s population, with Asia producing and consuming about 90% of global supply. 

    Rice is now the third major agricultural commodity in India to face restrictions on overseas sales this year. The South Asian nation has already curbed wheat and sugar exports, adding to a spate of food protectionism that’s exacerbated chaos in global food markets brought on by the war in Ukraine. 

    In contrast to the surge in wheat and corn prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rice has been subdued due to ample stockpiles, helping to ward off a bigger food crisis. With India’s latest move, that may be about to change.

    The restrictions apply to unmilled and husked brown varieties, the government said late Thursday. Semi-milled and wholly-milled rice -- or white rice -- will incur a similar duty. Parboiled and Basmati rice are excluded from the curbs. 

    The variety that now attracts the export tax accounts for about 60% of India’s non-basmati rice shipments, according to B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association. The restriction will benefit rival suppliers Thailand and Vietnam, he said, which are cooperating to shore up rice prices. 

    India Accounts for 40% of Global Rice Trade

    Rice exports for the year 2021-22

    Source: US Department of Agriculture

    “The government’s move will boost global rice prices,” Rao said, estimating that export prices of white rice may exceed $400 a ton from as much as $350 currently on a free-on-board basis. 

    Exporters will ask the government to waive taxes on about 2 million tons of rice that have been contracted but not yet shipped, he added. 

    Broken rice, which is banned for overseas sales, is mainly used for animal feed. Prices have jumped this year on increased export demand. Top buyers include China, which uses it for livestock feed, and some African countries that import it for food. It accounts for almost 20% of India’s shipments abroad. 

    India’s rice planting has shrunk 5.6% this season due to a lack of rainfall in some areas. Monsoon showers have been more than 25% lower than average in major growing states of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar. Overall, the country has received 5% above normal precipitation during the period. 

    The trade restrictions will create supply concerns given that India is the single largest rice exporter, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Alvin Tai. “Definitely won’t help global food inflation but depends how long they keep it up.” 

    — With assistance by Anirban Nag

  • Pakistan’s rice paddies face ‘extreme’ heat stress risk by 2045: report

  • Countries growing 70% of world's food also set to suffer

    Blistering crop-withering temperatures that also risk the health of agricultural workers could threaten swathes of global food production by 2045 as the world warms, an industry analysis warned Thursday.

    Climate change is already stoking heatwaves and other extreme weather events across the world, with hot spells from India to Europe this year expected to hit crop yields.

    Temperature spikes are causing mounting concern for health, particularly for those working outside in sweltering conditions, which is especially dangerous when humidity levels are high.

    The latest assessment by risk company Verisk Maplecroft brings those two threats together to calculate that heat stress already poses an “extreme risk” to agriculture in 20 countries, including agricultural giant India.

    Pakistan, whcih is a major Asian rice producer along with Vietnam, makes the list of 20 locations where “agriculture faces extreme heat stress risks in current climate conditions.”

    Other countries to make the list include sub-Saharan African countries such as sesame producer Sudan and shea producer Burkina Faso – which account for 11 of the 20 locations where agriculture faces extreme heat stress.

    But the coming decades are expected to expand the threat to 64 nations by 2045 – representing 71% of current global food production – including major economies China, India, Brazil and the United States.

    “With the rise in global temperatures and rise in global heat stress, we’re going to see crops in more temperate countries as well start being affected by this,” said Will Nichols, head of climate and resilience at Verisk Maplecroft.

    Rice is particularly at risk, the assessment said, with other crops like cocoa and even tomatoes also singled out as of concern.

    Growing risk

    Maplecroft’s new heat stress dataset, using global temperature data from the UK Met Office, feeds into its wider risk assessments of countries around the world.

    It is based on a worst-case emissions scenario leading to around 2 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels as soon as 2045.

    However, the authors stress that in projections to mid-century, even scenarios that assume higher levels of carbon-cutting action could still result in temperatures nearing 2C.

    India – responsible for 12% of global food production in 2020 and heavily reliant on outdoor labour productivity – is already rated as at extreme risk, the only major agricultural nation in that category at current temperatures.

    “There’s a very real worry that people in rural areas, which are obviously highly dependent on agriculture, are going to be much more vulnerable to these kinds of heat events going forward,” Nichols told AFP.

    That could impact productivity and in turn exports – and have potentially “cascading” knock-on effects on issues such as the country’s credit rating and even political stability, he said.

    By 2045, the list grows much longer.

    Nine of the top ten countries affected in 2045 are in Africa, with the world’s second largest cocoa producer Ghana, as well as Togo and Central African Republic receiving the worst possible risk score.

    The top 20 at-risk countries in the coming decades include key Southeast Asian rice exporters Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, the authors said, noting that rice farmers in central Vietnam have already taken to working at night to avoid the high temperatures.

    The assessment highlights that major economies like the US and China could also see extreme risk to agriculture in 2045, although in these large countries the impacts vary by region.

    Meanwhile, Europe accounts for seven of the 10 countries set to see the largest increase in risk by 2045.

    “I think what it reinforces is that, even though a lot of us are sort of sitting in sort of Western countries, where we might think we’re a bit more insulated from some of these threats, actually we are not necessarily,” Nichols said.

    “Both in terms of the sort of physical risks that we’re facing, but also in terms of the kind of knock on effects down the supply chain.

  • North Korea Turns to India for Rice Amid Food Shortages

  • FILE - Parched rice plants on a farm field on the outskirts of Chonqing, China, Aug. 21, 2022.

    WASHINGTON — 

    Pyongyang appears to be seeking rice donations from India as the regime of Kim Jong Un alerted the nation to prevent flood damage to farmlands from a typhoon passing across its eastern coast.

    The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday that cities and counties in North Hwanghae province, south of Pyongyang, took measures "to minimize the damage to crops nearing harvest" as Typhoon Hinnamnor approached North Korea's eastern coast after making the landfall in South Korea on Tuesday

    The same day, Kim held a meeting calling for efforts "to prevent disaster" and protect "the prosperity and development of the state."

    How the typhoon will affect North Korea's unharvested crops is unclear. But food shortages are expected to grow worse due to the flooding of farmlands in August and Pyongyang's strict COVID-19-related border closings.

    "With flooding again destroying crops, similar to last year, and North Korea's continued border restrictions, there are reasons to believe the access to food is tighter than prior to the pandemic," said Troy Stangarone, senior director at the Korea Economic Institute.

    Seeking help from India

    VOA's Korean Service has learned that Pyongyang has turned to India for rice, its staple food, which it usually imports from China.

    Manpreet Singh, executive president of the Indian Chamber of International Business, an organization that helps small to midsize Indian companies expand globally, told the Korean Service in an August 30 email that North Korean Embassy officials visited the organization in New Delhi.

    "We have been approached by the Embassy to look at possibilities for donations of rice" as "floods destroyed most of the crop," said Singh.

    North Korea's U.N. Mission in New York City did not respond to VOA Korean Service's questions about its food situation and whether it is seeking outside aid. North Korea has dismissed South Korea's offer of economic aid in exchange for its denuclearization, a deal outlined in South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol's "audacious initiative," introduced August 15.

    Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of the North Korea's leader, responded on August 19, saying, "No one barters its destiny for corn cake."

    Bradley Babson, a former World Bank adviser and current advisory council member of the Korea Economic Institute of America, said Pyongyang sought out the Indian business group instead of humanitarian organizations because, for health or political reasons, it probably wants to avoid requirements for accepting aid workers into the country to monitor aid distribution.

    "It might get a few thousand tons from a country like India or Vietnam that won't insist on monitoring requirements," Babson said.

    VOA's Korean Service also learned on August 26 about an ad seeking a vessel to transport 10,000 tons of rice from Vizag Port in eastern India to North Korea's Nampo Port between September 25 and 30. The ad is circulating via email in the global shipping industry.

    A source with knowledge of the ad told the Korean Service that the party exporting the rice wanted to ship the long-grain variety commonly grown in India, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. North Korea grows and consumes short-grain rice.

    Whether Pyongyang's inquiry to the Indian Chamber of International Business about rice donations and the Indian exporter's attempt to ship rice to North Korea are related remains to be seen.

    "The 10,000 tons of rice is not a lot of rice" considering North Korea's food deficit, Babson said. "I see these as largely symbolic and not really a solution to [its] food problem, which I think is extremely severe this year."

    'WFP remains committed'

    According to a 2021 report by the U.N.'s World Food Program, North Korea suffers from "chronic food insecurity and malnutrition" despite "the government's efforts to mitigate the effect of food deficits."

    Kun Li, spokesperson for WFP's Asia and Pacific regional office in Bangkok, told the Korean Service on Wednesday that WFP and other international humanitarian organizations that left North Korea at the beginning of the pandemic cannot return to resume aid operations because of its border closures.

    "WFP remains committed to the people of DPRK who need assistance and looks forward to being able to resume operations as soon as borders reopen to international personnel and cargo," Li said.

    North Korea needs about 5.7 million tons of food for its population of about 26 million people, according to the Seoul-based Korea Development Institute. In 2021, the country was about 860,000 tons of food short, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.

    Stangarone said Pyongyang might be importing rice from India because "North Korea does not want to become too dependent on China for its imports." However, he added, "India may soon restrict rice exports due to some areas of India seeing less rain. It potentially faces its own shortages as rice planting is down 13%."

  • UP govt seeks report  on shortfall in sowing  of paddy, other crops

  • The Uttar Pradesh government has sought reports from all the 75 district magistrates about the rainfall deficiency leading to shortfall in paddy sowing and other crops during the current kharif season. The government maintains only a 10 per cent shortfall in sowing of kharif crops, which also includes paddy, while as per the estimates of the state agriculture universities, the shortfall in paddy sowing is above 60%.

    “I admit that there is rainfall deficiency. We hope there will be sufficient rainfall in the remaining days of this month (September). The state government has sought reports from all the 75 district magistrates and after studying the report, appropriate decision will be taken as per rules and standards,’’ Finance Minister Suresh Khanna said here on Monday.

    According to IMD, the pan-India rainfall is above normal so far but there is a deficit in eastern India and northeast. 

    Rainfall deficiency in UP is as high as 44%, Uttarakhand 11%, Bihar 38%, West Bengal 18% and Jharkhand 26%. The rainfall deficiency in these states has hit paddy sowing and may impact kharif production. As per IMD data, central India and south peninsula have received more than normal rainfall so far. IMD has predicted above normal rainfall pan-India but below normal in east and northeast.

    The rainfall deficiency in Uttar Pradesh and other eastern states, which account for one-third of India’s total rice production, has forced changes in the sowing patterns, leading to a decline in paddy cultivation. Less rains will also impact livestock and take a heavy toll on farmers’ livelihoods.

    UP had achieved record paddy production in 2021. With acreage under paddy increasing to 60 lakh hectares in 2021 against 58.92 lakh hectares in 2020, the total paddy production was estimated to be 2.5 crore MT.

    The rainfall deficiency is likely to cause loss of close to 30 lakh MT in the production of paddy this year.

    An official of UP’s Agriculture department said: “Uttar Pradesh will have massive problems with its kharif crop, forcing the farmers to begin sowing other crops. In the areas of Bundelkhand, it would mean the sowing of dalhan (pulses) crops.”

    Kharif crops are sown before the beginning of the monsoon season — around May-end to early June — and harvested after the monsoon ends in October. Rice, maize, pulses such as urad, moong dal and millets are among the key kharif crops.

    The agriculture sector in India employs almost half of the labour force of the country. India is also the world’s second-largest producer of rice, of which a substantial amount is grown under rain-fed conditions during the kharif season. Thus, the deficiency in rainfall and resultant changes in rice cultivation patterns are likely to substantially affect farmers’ livelihoods and have considerable social impact. The paddy deficiency stands at about 8% today and the overall acreage is down by 5-6%.

  • Ample world rice supplies to cushion impact of Pakistan, China crop losses

  • 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/Thomas Peter

    SINGAPORE, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Abundant rice supplies in key exporters may largely offset an expected drop in output after floods in Pakistan and severe heatwave in China damaged crops, capping any gains in prices from steady Asian demand.

    Pakistan, the world's fourth-largest rice exporter, suffered extensive damage to agriculture, including rice, as floods ravaged large swathes of its farmland, while extremely high temperatures in parts of China at the end of August have taken a toll on rice output in the world's biggest importer of the staple.

    However, global rice stockpiles are pretty comfortable and an improving Indian crop outlook should quell any supply concerns and limit any price increases from recent strong demand that has emerged from Bangladesh, said a Singapore-based trader at one of the world's top rice trading companies.

    Pakistan is forecast to have lost around 10% of its 2022 estimated rice production of around 8.7 million tonnes, while China has suffered some damage, although the extent of crop losses is not clear, traders said.

    Food prices have soared in markets across Pakistan as devastating rains ruin crops and disrupt supplies, an early sign of how the worst floods in decades are creating food shortages at a time of financial crisis.

    "Pakistan's rice output has been really good over recent seasons," Peter Clubb, a market analyst at the International Grains Council said. "While any large production loss is obviously bad, that improvement in production over recent seasons gives a bit of leeway."

    China's Agriculture Minister Tang Renjian expressed concern that high temperatures and drought have hit rice production in the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Anhui.

    "It is too early to say exactly how poor yields (in China) may be," Clubb said. "A general point, stocks in China are still very ample."

    MONSOON BOOSTS INDIAN CROP PROSPECTS

    Monsoon rains, which were delayed in parts of India's northern and eastern rice producing regions, have improved over the last couple of weeks, boosting crop prospects in the world's largest rice supplier, traders said.

    India had earlier been examining a need to restrict exports of 100% broken rice mainly used for feed purposes. 

    But an improvement in rainfall over Indian rice growing areas has ended any discussion of government restrictions on exports, said a second trader in Singapore who sells Indian rice to buyers in Asia and Africa.

    The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's world price index fell for a fifth month in August, after hitting a record in March after Russia invaded Ukraine, as a resumption of grain exports from Ukrainian ports contributed to improved supply prospects.

    However, strong demand from Bangladesh has underpinned rice prices in recent weeks.

    Bangladesh plans to import around 1.2 million tonnes of rice over the next few months to shore up reserves and cool high domestic prices.

    A senior Bangladeshi food ministry official said the country is buying 530,000 tonnes of rice from India, Vietnam and Myanmar under government-to-government deals and is in talks with major producers India, Vietnam and Thailand.

    Indian rice prices last week climbed to their highest in more than a year at around $383 per tonne , although the market is well below the 2021 high of $405 and 2020 peak of $427.50.

    Thailand and Vietnam, the world's second- and third-largest rice exporters respectively, have agreed to cooperate on raising prices, a move aimed at increasing leverage in the global market and boosting farmers' incomes.

  • Prices of rice and pulses increase in Peshawar

  • Traders halt transport of goods fearing attacks by looters 

    ISLAMABAD: The prices of rice and pulse prices in Peshawar have skyrocketed within a span of three months and are expected to rise further as the effects of the floods become more clear. 

    Speaking with Profit, Traders on Ashraf Road, Peshawar’s main commodity market, said that people in the province are already bearing the high cost of flour and will now also have to pay higher prices for other dietary staples.  

    They informed this scribe that a bag of 24.50 kg rice which was available for Rs4,500 three months ago  has risen by Rs1,750 in three months, taking the price in Peshawar to Rs6,250. Similarly, a 45 kg bag of matta rice which was available for Rs2,500 has increased to Rs4,000 while a bag of 49 kg super fine rice which used to be for Rs3,000, is now being sold for Rs5,000.

    Informing that beans are imported from Tajikistan in Peshawar, they said the price of a 50kg bag of beans which was Rs8,000 in January, has increased to Rs13,000. Similarly, masoor dal which was available for Rs7,000 per 49 kg bag in January, has now increased to Rs14,000.

    Gram is imported from Vietnam and Sudan. In January, a 49 kg bag of 10 mm gram was available for Rs8,000 which has now increased to Rs15,000.

    The traders said that since trucks carrying relief goods for flood victims are being looted, most of them have stopped transporting goods from other parts of the country, due to which there is a risk that the prices of food commodities will see a further hike within the next few weeks.

    They said that over the course of a year, prices of most commodities have increased by 100 per cent whereas the devastating floods are also likely to negatively influence the prices.  

  • Capacity building in modern rice cultivation for Katsina farmers

  • As a way of boosting local rice production, another set of 70 rice farmers participated in a three-day training programme on modern ways of cultivating the commodity on a large scale in Katsina State.

    The participants are part of about 32,000 farmers being trained in batches, on effective ways of cultivating the produce for optimal harvest, and economic gain. 

    The training, held for the selected farmers from Raddawa community, Matazu Local Council, was organised by a South Korean foundation, Saemaul Undong, in collaboration with the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), and Katsina State Government. 

    The word ‘Saemaul’ stands for ‘New Village Movement’ that is guided by over 50 years of experience is present in 16 countries, and aims at rural development by examining their weaknesses and strengths in a bid to improve their productivity and self-reliance.

    The training on modern rice farming method first entails the cultivation of quality rice product in a nursery, then transplanting same on farmlands. 

    According to experts, the process is believed to boost commodity yield, and is the same system the Republic of Korea has been using and achieving outstanding rice production output. 

    The Director, Seamaul Undong foundation, Mr. Lee Kyungbok said the training would not just improve rice production, but would also improve their economic wellbeing as well. 

    Kyungbok said the foundation’s aim is to increase the income revenue of the farmers, and create a better life system for them and their family members.

    He said the foundation has been partnering with the state government for the past three years, even as he called on participants to give attention to what they were taught so that they can effectively replicate it on their farmlands.

    Before now, two batches of famers numbering over 70, have been trained in similar modern rice farming methods, and they have gone to cultivate large farmlands of the commodity in their various communities. 

    The state government, in collaborating with the foundation, had donated 100 hectares of land to the previously trained farmers, to cultivate the produce on a large scale. 

    Of the 100 hectares, 60 hectares was given to trained farmers at Makera village, in Dutsinma council area, and rest 40 hectares to farmers at Raddawa community, in Matazu council. 

  • Valuable crops of rice, cotton, vegetables destroyed, says Memon

  • Damage to crops causes loss in exports, fear of food shortage

    According to the finance ministry, assessment of crop damages is in progress by provinces, however, significant losses can be witnessed. photo: file

    KARACHI:

    Sindh Minister for Information, Sharjeel Inam Memon has said that crops spread on 4,420,484 acres have been destroyed by recent rains and floods in the province. The valuable crops of cotton, rice, vegetables have been destroyed 100%, which will cause a huge loss in exports and there is a fear of food shortage in the future.

    He said that 100% of the date crop has been affected. If the water situation remains same for the next one month, mango and orchards will also be affected. A mango tree takes eight years to give fruit.

    At a press conference, he said that in the current situation the nation needs unity. The minister has emphasised on mutual communication between the philanthropists, NGOs and the government of Sindh and has appealed that the philanthropists and non-governmental organisations should stay in touch with PDMA to deliver aid to every affected person so that the aid can reach people in remote areas.

    Sharjeel said that so far 559 people have lost their lives and 21,891 are injured. Also, 1,465,941 houses have been affected by the floods, of which 556,120 have been completely destroyed, while the rest have been partially damaged. He further said that 9,788,969 people of 1,675,817 families have been affected, 6,278,007 are homeless.

    In addition, 6,278,007 people have been shifted to relief camps, where they are being provided standard cooked meals and health facilities.

    Memon said that people living in villages have lost 103,066 cattle. He said that the Sindh government has also started vaccination to protect cattle from diseases. The provincial information minister said that the first priority of the Sindh government is to save the lives of the people in the affected areas and in the second phase, complete rehabilitation of the victims will be started.

  • India May Limit Rice Exports. Bad Idea.

  • A few months ago, when India restricted wheat exports following a heatwave, rumbles ran through the world’s food markets. Still, while India is a giant consumer of wheat, it’s not as big an exporter. The real fear was that New Delhi might cut off rice shipments as well: India is the world’s largest exporter by far.

    Fortunately, rice prices in India hit a five-year low around then, depressed by ample global supply and a weak rupee. Things are very different today. First, Indian rice crops have been struck by a mystery “stunting” disease caused by a virus first observed in China in 2001. Even worse, rainfall in three major rice-producing states in the country’s north and east has been low or erratic.

    There’s talk that Indian officials — worried about shrinking supplies and domestic inflation — are now considering restricting rice exports, too. A wholesale ban of the sort that New Delhi usually imposes would be a dire mistake — for the world and for Indian farmers.

    The last time India blocked grain exports, in 2007 and 2008, the decision precipitated a years-long food-security crisis. Repeating that ban would be both irresponsible and unproductive. Irresponsible, because higher rice prices globally would hit developing nations — already struggling as the Ukraine war has driven up costs for food, fuel and fertilizer — when they can least afford it. An India that aspires to lead the developing world cannot deliberately harm those for whom it claims to speak.

    Nor would an export ban lower inflation at home or meaningfully improve India’s food security. In August, the government had 28 million metric tons of rice in its warehouses (well above its mandated buffer stock of 11 metric tons), so we’re not running out any time soon. Meanwhile, the agricultural economists Ashok Gulati and Ritika Juneja have pointed out that inflation in India is mainly being driven by the prices of fuel and vegetables; rice prices accounted for than 2% of the rise in the consumer price index last month.

    Moreover, export bans are not just bad for other poor countries; they’re bad for India’s own farmers, who are missing out on high prices overseas. While officials from New Delhi have often torpedoed consensus at global summits in the name of defending India’s millions of marginal farmers, their actions when it comes to agricultural trade policy show that they’re more concerned about urban food prices, not farm profits. Farmers in India are accustomed to a one-sided bet: They are exposed to the downside when global prices crater and don’t benefit when they rise, if the government blocks exports.

    Some of the sustained criticism India received after the wheat export ban seemed designed to prevent a repeat of that mistake with rice. If so, it may have had some effect. The government seems to be focusing for now on limiting exports of “100% broken” rice, a low-quality grade often used for animal feed and exported especially to China.

    In that case, the main impact would be on margins for Chinese pig farmers. This isn’t a negligible concern: Low margins have already pushed many of them out of the business, causing China’s pig herd to shrink. That’s sent pork prices up by over 20%, driving overall consumer inflation in China to a two-year high.

    But that’s nothing compared to the chaos that a full-scale rice ban would cause. If India shuts down exports, Vietnam and Thailand, the second- and third-largest exporters, might well do the same. Hopefully the Indian government will retain its newfound sense of responsibility until the current crisis is past.

    It should also look closely, however, at what this rice crisis means for India’s agricultural sector. Simply put, while India may be the world’s rice bowl, it’s also remarkably unproductive.

    Rice in particular still depends far too much upon the monsoon. West Bengal, Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh — the regions where rainfall and therefore rice production is below par — are also the same parts of the country that have failed to develop proper irrigation systems. As a result, farmers in those states struggle to produce consistent crops.

    A lack of irrigation, together with poor agricultural practices, has resulted in yields that are stunningly low. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, India’s paddy yield in 2020 was under four tons per hectare; it was nearly six tons a hectare in Vietnam. Even Bangladesh manages 4.8 tons a hectare, which is about the Asian average.

    The biggest step that India could take for the world’s food security — and its own — would be to grow rice more efficiently. That’s where the government’s energies should be focused, not on making life more difficult for India’s friends and farmers.

    More From Other Writers at Bloomberg Opinion:

    • To Tackle Hunger, We Need to Fix Food Subsidies: David Fickling

    • Three Lessons on Food Security From the Ukraine War: Amanda Little

    • The Worst Way to Respond to a Global Food Crisis: Editorial

    This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    Mihir Sharma is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. A senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, he is author of “Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy.”

  • Steps being taken to distribute single boiled rice: Puducherry Minister.

  • The government intends to distribute rice to ration card holders instead of remitting money to the accounts of beneficiary

    Steps are being taken to start distribution of single boiled rice through Public Distribution Outlets instead of remitting money to the account of beneficiaries, Puducherry Minister for Civil Supplies A. K. Sai J. Saravanan Kumar has said.

    A statement from his office said the government intended to distribute rice to ration card holders instead of remitting money to the accounts of beneficiary. 

    “The government is keen on distributing rice instead of following the existing Direct Beneficiary Transfer mode for free rice scheme. The government is consulting the Union Government on reversing the implementation process of the scheme,” the Minister said.

    The government has also decided to issue more red ration cards to eligible persons belonging to the Below Poverty Line category.

    The Civil Supplies Department would also start distribution of green colour ration cards to economically well off persons . Branch offices of Civil Supplies would be established at Villianur and Embalem.

    Steps would be taken to address the grievances of legislators related to ration cards. On the second of every month, a meeting would be organised at the Civil Supplies Department to hear to the grievances of legislators, he said.

    Steps were being taken to revive the functioning of Puducherry Agro Products, Food and Civil Supplies Corporation Limited, the Minister said.

    The budget for 2022-23 has set aside provision to fill vacancies in the Fire Service Department. Several vacancies are to be filled in the department for about 15 years,

    For better operational requirement, the government has decided to create three Additional Divisional Fire officer’s posts in the Union Territory. More gadgets used for firefighting would be procured to equip the force to deal with major accidents, he said.

    The budget has also set aside sufficient amount to provide revolving fund of 5 lakh each to 50 self-help groups, the Minister said.

  • Subsidised rice for 1.5cr poor

  • Sale under OMS, Food Friendly Programme begins today; Govt okays import of 8.3 lakh tonnes of grains

    The government today starts selling rice at subsidised prices in an effort to give respite to the poor and low-income earners and bring stability to the volatile rice market.

    The food ministry plans to sell 7.65 lakh tonnes of rice to more than 1.5 crore people in three months.

    Of the beneficiaries, one crore will get the staple for Tk 30 a kg under the Open Market Sale (OMS) and 50 lakh special cardholders for Tk 15 per kg under the Food Friendly Programme (FFP).

    Yesterday, the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase approved the import of five lakh tonnes of wheat from Russia and 3.3 lakh tonnes of rice from Vietnam and India at a total cost of $378 million (Tk 3,590 crore) under G2G arrangements.

    Besides, Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Myanmar for importing another two lakh tonnes of rice.

    "We now have a huge stock of rice. But a large portion of it will be sold in the next three months under the OMS and the Food Friendly Programme … The government is importing rice to replenish the stock," Shakhawat Hossain, director general at the Directorate General of Food, said yesterday.

    According to the food ministry, the government had stocks of 17.5 lakh tonnes of rice and 1.4 lakh tonnes of wheat till August 30.

    The move comes at a time when the poor and low-income earners are struggling to cope with the soaring prices of essentials.

    In the middle of last month, the prices of all varieties of rice rose by Tk 2-5 per kg. The prices began to fall after the government reduced import duty on rice to 15.25 percent from 25 percent on August 28.

    According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), fine rice was sold for Tk 75 per kg yesterday, semi-coarse rice for Tk 60 a kg and coarse rice for Tk 56 per kg.

    A week ago, the price of per kg fine rice was Tk 80, semi-coarse rice Tk 60 and coarse rice Tk 58.

    WHEAT, RICE IMPORT

    Yesterday, the cabinet committee approved the import of five lakh tonnes of wheat from Russia for $214.94 million (Tk 2,042.5 crore). The import cost of wheat will be Tk 40.85 per kg.

    A food ministry official said one lakh tonnes of wheat will be brought by ships every month from September to January next year.

    The government will also import 3.3 lakh tonnes of rice -- 2.3 lakh tonnes from Vietnam and one lakh tonnes from India -- for $162.94 million (Tk 1,548 crore).

    The average import cost of per kg rice will be Tk 42.13.

    Officials said the government is considering importing another one to two lakh tonnes of rice from India.

    SALE UNDER OMS, FFP

    Shakhawat Hossain said the government will sell rice under the OMS and the FFP to protect the poor and low-income earners from price shock and bring stability to the rice market.

    "There will be two separate queues for TCB cardholders and general customers … The TCB cardholders will get priority," he said, adding that each cardholder will be allowed to buy 5 kg rice at a time for Tk 30 a kg.

    A cardholder will be able to buy up to a maximum of 10 kg rice a month, he mentioned.

    A total of 3.15 lakh tonnes of rice will be sold at 2,363 OMS centres in three months. However, there will be no sales at weekends.

    Asked whether poor people without TCB cards will be deprived of the benefit, Shakhawat said anyone can buy rice from OMS centres by showing National Identity (NID) card.

    Contacted, TCB Chairman Brig Gen Ariful Hassan said there are more than one crore TCB cardholders in the country.

    "They will be able to buy rice at the subsidised price of Tk 30 per kg from the OMS centres. Apart from this, sale of oil, sugar, onion and lentil by the TCB will continue simultaneously," he said.

    Under the FFP, 50 lakh special cardholders will be able to buy 30 kg rice for Tk 15 a kg per month from 10,110 dealers across the country.

    The food ministry will provide 4.50 lakh tonnes of rice for the FPP for three months. 

  • Lack of finance prevents Bangladesh farmers from diversifying their rice crops

    • About 15 million farmers in Bangladesh grow just five to six rice varieties, despite the availability of more than 130 different rice varieties, giving rise to an effective monoculture that leaves farmers at higher risk from pests and diminishing yields.
    • Observers attribute this to a lack of support from the government to help farmers explore other rice varieties, which typically have lower yields and fetch lower prices than the most popular varieties.
    • Lack of financial support means many farmers have to take out high-interest microcredit loans for their operational expenses, which in turn compels them to grow the most profitable rice varieties, locking them in a vicious cycle.
    • Observers have called on the government to do more to incentivize farmers to diversity their rice crops, pointing to long-term benefits in the form of improved soil health and resilience to pest attacks

    Bangladesh is home to more than 130 different rice varieties, but a lack of economic incentives means farmers here grow only a handful of the higher-yielding types. This has given rise to a virtual monocrop system, which farmers and experts say threatens both long-run production and soil quality.

    Most farmers, meanwhile, blame a vicious cycle of dependence on high interest micro-credit for agro-input, which leaves them overdependent on high yield varieties, and little room to experiment with other varieties.

    Abdur Razzak,a 48-year-old farmer in the northern district of Dinajpur, has for the past 15 years grown the most popular varieties — known as BRRI-28 and BRRI-29 — which yield around 6 metric tons of rice per hectare of land, or about 2.7 short tons per acre.

    “A couple of years back we tried BRRI-35,” he says. “[We] dropped it the next year as it yielded only about 3 [metric] tons per hectare,” or 1.3 short tons an acre. Making matters worse, the market price of BRRI-35 and other lesser-known varieties is lower than that of the popular varieties because of the lack of demand.

    Like Razzak, some 15 million farmers in Bangladesh depend just on five to six rice varieties in an effort to maximize their output, cultivating them on 8.6 million hectares (21.3 million acres) of land. That’s made Bangladesh the fourth-highest rice-producing country in the world, churning out 36 million metric tons of rice annually to feed its 170 million people.

    A paddy field in Bangladesh.
    A paddy field in Bangladesh. A cycle of dependence on high interest micro-credit for agro-input leaves farmers overdependent on high yield rice varieties, and little room to experiment with other varieties. Image by Abu Siddique/Mongabay.

    Other popular varieties are BRRI-58, 50, 63 and 74, all named after the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute that developed them. But it’s BRRI-28 and 29 that dominate, accounting for around 50% of all the rice grown in the country, because of their better yields and market price.

    Both farmers and researchers say the return on investment is the main reason for this practice, which has given rise to an effective monoculture. The high cost of production — ranging from irrigation and labor to fertilizers and pesticides — as well uncompetitive prices mean farmers have no incentive to explore beyond the dominant varieties.

    Lack of access to affordable financing

    In a country where agriculture is a mainstay of the economy and farmers play the chief role in ensuring food security, farmers have little formal access to low-cost financing for their operational needs.

    Generally, there are three sources of financial support available to Bangladeshi farmers. First, there are dadon, local lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates on loans that must be paid back in weekly installments. Then there are nongovernmental organizations that provide microcredit loans, followed by state-owned banks.

    Although the latter, with their lower interest rates, would be the ideal option for farmers, most shy away from banks because of the convoluted bureaucracy. The government established the Bangladesh Krishi Bank in 1973 with the aim of supporting farmers, but even today it hasn’t gained much traction.

    “Unfortunately, bureaucratic tangles, involvement of third parties in the loan disbursement process, and political intervention has made the bank ineffective,” said Fazle Rabbi Sadeque Ahmed, deputy managing director of the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF).

    Between the dadon and the NGOs, farmers tend toward the latter. But even here, the loans aren’t cheap: the average annual interest rate is 31%.

    “We are forced to sell the paddy at a low price immediately after harvest to repay our loans,” said Dilip Kumar, a 40-year-old farmer from another northern district, Lalmonirhat. “If we wait to sell it, the interest on our loan will go up.”

    The high cost of production — ranging from irrigation and labor to fertilizers and pesticides — as well uncompetitive prices mean farmers have no incentive to explore beyond the dominant varieties. Image by Abu Siddique/Mongabay.

    Risks of monocrop culture

    “If farmers cannot get a fair price for their produce and cannot access finance to meet their [production] needs on time, they will definitely go for varieties that have the best yield,” said Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, a researcher on environment and climate change issues.

    He said that makes the predominance of monoculture the fault of the government, as it has failed to address the farmers’ interests by making it feasible for them to explore other rice varieties.

    A 2019 study suggested that adopting alternative varieties of rice could help Bangladeshi farmers avoid risks such as pest attacks and low yields in the long run — risks that grow the greater the overdependence on a few varieties.

    Repeated monocropping also degrades soil health, which Ahsan Uddin, who is a member of the Green Climate Fund’s Independent Technical Advisory Panel of the Green Climate Fund, also blamed on the government.

    “The farmers are not liable for the damage to soil health. It’s the state’s responsibility to ensure availability of technology, finance and cultivable varieties. The government has failed in this regard,” he said.

    “The government should introduce a mechanism so that farmers get a fair price for their production,” said  Jibon Krisna Biswas, a former director-general of the BRRI. “Otherwise, they will continue to grow varieties like BRRI-28 and BRRI-29. This is leading to the monocrop culture, which will bring ecological ruin in the long run.”

  • Centre has no plans as of now to curb rice exports, says report

  • The government has no plans as of now to impose any restrictions on exports of rice and there are adequate buffer stocks to meet the domestic requirements, according to an official source.

    The government has no plans as of now to impose any restrictions on exports of rice and there are adequate buffer stocks to meet the domestic requirements, according to an official source.

    There were some discussions on imposing curbs on rice exports but no decision has been taken yet. The government is unlikely to put in any place restrictions, the source said.

    India, the world's second largest rice producer after China, commands 40 per cent share in the global trade.

    The country exported 21.2 million tonnes of rice in 2021-22 fiscal year, of which 3.94 million tonnes were basmati rice. It exported non-basmati rice worth USD 6.11 billion in the same period, as per official data.

    The country exported non-basmati rice to more than 150 countries in 2021-22.

    With area under coverage for paddy down by 6 per cent to 367.55 lakh hectares so far this kharif sowing season due to less rains in some states, there are concerns that production of rice may fall in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June).

    Traders fear that the current situation might force the Centre to impose some restrictions on exports of rice as is now the case with wheat.

    Till August 26 of the current kharif season, less paddy area has been mainly reported from Jharkhand 10.51 lakh hectares (ha), West Bengal (4.62 lakh ha), Chhattisgarh (3.45 lakh ha), Uttar Pradesh (2.63 lakh ha), Bihar (2.40 lakh ha), and Odisha (2.24 lakh ha).

    Paddy is the main kharif crop, sowing of which begins with the onset of the southwest monsoon from June and harvesting starts from October onwards.

    Rice production rose to record 130.29 million tonnes in the last crop year as against 124.37 million tonnes in 2020-21.

    On the back of bumper production and high procurement in the last few years, the Centre is sitting on a stock of 47 million tonnes of rice, including rice equivalent of unmilled paddy, as on July 1. The buffer stock requirement is to have 13.5 million tonnes of rice as on July 1.

    Already, the Centre is supplying more rice instead of wheat through ration shops as its procurement of wheat fell sharply to 19 million tonnes this marketing year compared to 43 million tonnes in the year-ago period.

    Wheat marketing year is from April to March but almost the entire quantity of the grain is procured by the end of June.

    Currently, the government is providing wheat and rice for Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kilogram, respectively, under the National Food Security Law (NFSA). These food grains are provided free of cost under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to around 80 crore people.

    The Centre is providing 5 kg of food grains (wheat and rice) per person per month under the NFSA and another 5 kg per person per month under the PMGKAY.

    The PMGKAY scheme is valid till September and the government is yet to take a decision on whether to extend the welfare programme amid the tight stock situation with respect to wheat and likely fall in rice output.

    (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.)

  • Centre has no plans as of now to curb rice exports, says report

  • The government has no plans as of now to impose any restrictions on exports of rice and there are adequate buffer stocks to meet the domestic requirements, according to an official source.

    The government has no plans as of now to impose any restrictions on exports of rice and there are adequate buffer stocks to meet the domestic requirements, according to an official source.

    There were some discussions on imposing curbs on rice exports but no decision has been taken yet. The government is unlikely to put in any place restrictions, the source said.

    India, the world's second largest rice producer after China, commands 40 per cent share in the global trade.

    The country exported 21.2 million tonnes of rice in 2021-22 fiscal year, of which 3.94 million tonnes were basmati rice. It exported non-basmati rice worth USD 6.11 billion in the same period, as per official data.

    The country exported non-basmati rice to more than 150 countries in 2021-22.

    With area under coverage for paddy down by 6 per cent to 367.55 lakh hectares so far this kharif sowing season due to less rains in some states, there are concerns that production of rice may fall in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June).

    traders fear that the current situation might force the Centre to impose some restrictions on exports of rice as is now the case with wheat.

    Till August 26 of the current kharif season, less paddy area has been mainly reported from Jharkhand 10.51 lakh hectares (ha), West Bengal (4.62 lakh ha), Chhattisgarh (3.45 lakh ha), Uttar Pradesh (2.63 lakh ha), Bihar (2.40 lakh ha), and Odisha (2.24 lakh ha).

    Paddy is the main kharif crop, sowing of which begins with the onset of the southwest monsoon from June and harvesting starts from October onwards.

    Rice production rose to record 130.29 million tonnes in the last crop year as against 124.37 million tonnes in 2020-21.

    On the back of bumper production and high procurement in the last few years, the Centre is sitting on a stock of 47 million tonnes of rice, including rice equivalent of unmilled paddy, as on July 1. The buffer stock requirement is to have 13.5 million tonnes of rice as on July 1.

    Already, the Centre is supplying more rice instead of wheat through ration shops as its procurement of wheat fell sharply to 19 million tonnes this marketing year compared to 43 million tonnes in the year-ago period.

    Wheat marketing year is from April to March but almost the entire quantity of the grain is procured by the end of June.

    Currently, the government is providing wheat and rice for Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kilogram, respectively, under the National Food Security Law (NFSA). These food grains are provided free of cost under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to around 80 crore people.

    The Centre is providing 5 kg of food grains (wheat and rice) per person per month under the NFSA and another 5 kg per person per month under the PMGKAY.

    The PMGKAY scheme is valid till September and the government is yet to take a decision on whether to extend the welfare programme amid the tight stock situation with respect to wheat and likely fall in rice output.

    (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.)

  • N. Korea to buy 10,000 tons of rice from India

  • North Korea is allegedly planning to import 10,000 tons of rice from India. While publicly criticizing the Yoon Suk-yeol administration for its ‘audacious plan’ containing a measure to provide massive food aid to the North, North Korea is now moving to buy rice from India after China last month. Some analyze that COVID-19 and floods in North Korea may have deepened the economic difficulties, causing a severe food shortage in the country.

    Voice of America (VOA) reported on Monday that it recently attained the ‘ship arrangement guide’ released to the delivery industry, according to which North Korea is now moving to ship 10,000 tons of rice from Visakhapatnam Port, the Eastern side of India to its Nampo Port. The guide introduced the desired departure date to be between Sept. 25 and 30. The guide is sort of a notice that contains the type of freight, departure and arrival locations, offered by a freight owner to find a vessel to ship its freight. An insider of the shipping industry told VOA, “It seems that North Korea wants to import ‘long grain’ produced in India, Pakistan and Thailand rather than ‘short grain’ that it commonly consumes.”

    VOA pointed out that the guide didn’t include the supporting organization’s name, which is commonly presented in the case of humanitarian food aid from international organizations. It shows the possibility of North Korea coming out itself to import rice from India apart from humanitarian aid. Rice was out of the list of items sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council’s resolution against North Korea, as it is categorized as a humanitarian one.

    During his remarks to commemorate National Liberation Day, South Korean President Yoon revealed his plan of providing food support to North Korea in exchange for the North’s mineral resources in case North Korea comes to the negotiating table for denuclearization. Against this, Kim Yo Jong, vice director of the North Korean Workers’ Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department, criticized Yoon’s offer saying it is nothing but a ‘hollow dream.’

    In the report ‘International Food Security Assessment,’ the Economic Research Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that some 16.3 million people in North Korea, or 63.1 percent of the nation’s total population, are identified to be suffering from food shortage. Some voiced concerns that the food crisis may even worsen due to the pandemic that went widespread around June, the rice-planting season, and a series of flood damages. North Korea imported about 10,000 tons of rice from China last month.

  • Bangladesh to import rice from Vietnam and India to replenish reserves

  • DHAKA: Bangladesh is finalising deals with Vietnam and India to import a total of 330,000 tonnes of rice as it races to replenish reserves and cool domestic prices, two officials with direct knowledge of the matter said on Monday.

    Soaring prices of the staple grain for the country’s 165 million people pose a problem for the government, which plans to expand cut-price rice sales to help people hard-hit by high costs.

    The south Asian country will buy 100,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from an Indian public sector firm and 200,000 tonnes of parboiled rice and 30,000 tonnes of white rice from Vietnam, the government officials said.

    The price for the parboiled rice from Vietnam will be $521 a tonne and white rice $494 a tonne, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deals have not been made public.

    The price for rice from neighbouring India will be $443.50 per tonne via seaports and $428.50 per tonne via railways, the officials said. All the prices included freight, insurance and unloading costs, they said.

    “Preparations are underway to sign the deals soon,” one of the officials said, adding the rice would be delivered within two to three months after the signing.

    The Bangladesh government is also holding talks with Myanmar to import rice, the officials said, putting aside a rift over the Rohingya refugee crisis.

    Bangladesh this week slashed import duty on rice to 15% from 25%, cutting it for the second time since July in a bid to boost private imports.

    Its private rice import plan, however, faces a setback with only 36,000 tonnes bought since July, after the government allowed private traders to import nearly 1 million tonnes of the staple grain after slashing duty to 25.0% from 62.5%.

    The government will begin selling rice at a cheaper rate for 5 million poor families and expand such sales from September, in an effort to rein in surging domestic prices, which saw yet another uptick after it hiked domestic oil prices early this month.

    Bangladesh, traditionally the world’s third-biggest rice producer with around 35 million tonnes annually, uses almost all its production to feed its people. It still often requires imports to cope with shortages caused by floods or droughts.

  • What’s behind rice stunting in India? Researchers pin down virus first found in China 21 yrs ago

  • Stunting is being caused by Southern Rice Black-streaked Dwarf virus, which has previously led to yield losses in China, Vietnam & Japan, finds Indian Agricultural Research Institute.

    New Delhi: A research team from the premier Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Delhi, has found that the severe stunting that’s being reported in rice crops in India’s Green Revolution bowl was caused by a virus that was discovered in China over 20 years ago. 

    First reported in Guangdong, China, in 2001, the Southern Rice Black-streaked Dwarf virus has led to yield losses in Asian countries including China, Vietnam, and Japan. 

    Typical symptoms include pronounced stunting, darkening of leaves, and white waxy or black-streaked swellings along the veins on stems of rice plants, according to a research paper published in the journal Plant Pathology.

    However, the IARI report has found a limited incidence of the disease in the areas surveyed during its field investigation in northwestern India. 

    “On an average, there was around 1 per cent incidence of stunt disease in rice across the surveyed locations… in the affected fields, the disease incidence varied from 2-10 percent,” a summary of the investigation report seen by ThePrint said.

    The stunting is severe, with the affected plants reaching up to a quarter of the height of a normal plant.

    The stunting is severe, with the affected plants reaching up to a quarter of the height of a normal plant.

    “We have confirmed beyond doubt that the Southern Rice Black-streaked Dwarf virus is the cause of stunting. The vector (which transmits the virus) is the white-backed planthopper,” A.K. Singh, the director of IARI, told ThePrint.

    Planthoppers are a group of small jumping insects that feed on a wide variety of plants. 

    “Farmers have been advised to use insecticides to effectively control planthoppers… Milky grains from infected plants were also subjected to tests which ruled out the possibility of seed transmission,” Singh added.

    How the virus was found

    The IARI conducted a survey of the affected fields in Sonepat, Panipat, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ambala, and Yamunanagar districts in Haryana.

    Researchers found that the diseased plants have poorly-developed root systems, which affect nutrient delivery from soils. 

    The IARI has advised farmers and seed growers against using the infected crop to sow seeds for next season’s crops. State governments have also been advised not to allow infected plots for seed certification purposes.

    According to the IARI report, a comprehensive investigation using three independent methods — transmission electron microscopy, RT-PCR, and real-time RT-PCR — was carried out to help detect the virus.

    The infection was confirmed in 12 different varieties of both basmati and non-basmati rice. These include PB1962, PB1121, PB1509, PR114, PR136, PR130, PR131, Pioneer Hybrid, Swift Gold (manufactured by Bayer), and CSR 30.

    “This is conclusive evidence of the association of Southern Rice Black-streaked Dwarf virus with rice stunt disease and its presence in white-backed planthopper vectors. Further, the absence of virus in seeds of infected plants revealed that it is not seed-transmitted,” IARI said in the summary report of the investigation.

    According to the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, the stunting disease was first reported mid-July across several districts in Punjab — including Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, and Mohali.

    The university has advised farmers to inspect fields and spray insecticides to kill planthoppers that could transmit the virus to healthy plants.

  • Drones are reshaping how rice is farmed in Vietnam

  • Vietnam is the world’s second-largest rice exporter, and XAG says its agricultural drones have become the “new favorite” of farmers that grow the crop.

    The drone manufacturer, which has been actively pushing out its products in the Southeast Asian nation since the start of the monsoon, said drones have found takers even among those farmers who have been growing rice in the traditional way for over 40 years.

    Lê Thành Nguyên, at 62 years old, is one of the early adopters of agricultural drones in Vietnam. This year, he used drones on his seven-hectare rice farm for crop spraying, fertilization, and direct seeding by ordering the service from a local pilot team.

    Nguyên says he was driven to try out the new technology because he has been having difficulties hiring labor for manual jobs. The labor shortage has also led to an increase in costs, with the price of hiring agricultural workers reportedly jumping as much as 40% in just three years.

    “The drone eases the burden and greatly improves the efficiency,” Nguyên said. “In the past, I had to pay four workers to carry and spread one ton of fertilizers on my field from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and they were exhausted. The drone has the benefits of large-volume, uniform distribution, and high spray penetration, which can help me with better pest control and nutrition management.”

    The agriculturist also points out that when feeding nutrients to the rice seeds sown, 100% absorption is achieved by drone spraying, whereas only six or seven seeds out of 10 were able to take in the nutrition when sprayed manually.

    Meanwhile, according to XAG’s local distributor DigiDrone, agricultural drones can spray crops four times faster than manual labor while improving yield by 14% compared to traditional farming.

    XAG is confident that the number of farmers using drones for autonomous operations will only increase in the future. “Drones designed for agricultural use can reduce seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers without affecting crop yields through precise, effortless operation,” the company said.

  • India In-Focus — India considers curbs on exports of 100% broken rice; Talks with Russia over LNG supply resumption

  • India is in talks with Russia to resume gas supplies under the long-term import deal between Gazprom and GAIL India Ltd. (Shutterstock)

    RIYADH: India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, is considering whether to restrict exports of 100 percent broken rice, government and industry officials said on Friday, after paddy areas reduced due to a lack of rainfall.

    The potential export curbs could see rice prices rising globally because India accounts for more than 40 percent of the world’s rice shipments. It could also hit a few poor African countries that import 100 percent broken rice for human consumption, though broken rice, rice grains that are damaged during harvesting, milling or transportation. is mainly used for feed purposes.

    “We have been discussing whether we need some sort of curbs on 100 percent broken rice exports,” said a senior government official involved in the decision process.

    India is more than comfortable in terms of both private and government rice stocks, so there is no point considering any curb on overall rice exports, the official said, adding that the discussions are confined to broken rice.

    The state-run Food Corporation of India held 41 million tons of milled and rice paddy stocks as of Aug. 1, far above the government’s requirement of 13.5 million tons by July 1.

    Below-average rainfall in key rice-producing states such as West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh prompted the latest discussions in a country that has already banned wheat exports and restricted sugar shipments this year.

    India in talks with Russia over LNG supply resumption, GAIL says

    India is in talks with Russia to resume gas supplies under the long-term import deal between Gazprom and GAIL India Ltd., the state-run Indian company’s chairman said at an annual shareholder meeting on Friday.

    GAIL, India’s largest gas distributor and operator of pipelines, has not received the agreed imports since May and has had to cut supplies to clients as a result. 

    “There are some immediate issues which we are trying to tackle both at the company level and also at G2G (government to government) level,” said GAIL Chairman Manoj Jain, adding that supplies under the Gazprom deal have been hit by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

    Volumes under the deal were about a fifth of GAIL’s overall overseas gas portfolio of 14 million tons a year, including supplies from the United States, Qatar and Australia, Jain said.

    “So overall it is not affecting us in a significant way. The only effect is to the extent of 10-15 percent,” he added, pointing out that the addition of domestic gas reduces the impact on local supplies to about 7-8 percent.

    He said GAIL is scouting for more long-term gas import deals to prepare for “such eventualities in future.”

    (With input from Reuters)

  • Paddy acreage deficit goes down from 15% to 6% in a span of 14 days

  • The saving grace is that unlike wheat, rice stocks in the central pool are much higher than required

    A strong pick up in paddy acreage might also have an impact on any move to impose export restrictions

    The shortfall in the area under paddy cultivation for the week ended August 26 over the same period last year has narrowed to 5.99 per cent from 8.25 per cent in the previous week due to a pick-up in rain in West Bengal and Jharkhand.

    This could ease some concern about a big drop in final output. However, a final analysis on output will be possible only when the harvest starts because much of the sowing in eastern India is happening after the ideal planting time, market participants said.

    According to the latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture, during the week ended August 26, paddy was sown in around 36.75 million hectares as against 39.09 million hectares during the same period last year.

    Till last week, paddy acreage across the country was 34.37 million hectares. Up to July 29, sowing was completed in just around 58.31 per cent of the normal area. This had risen to 92.5 per cent by August 26.

    “Normal area” is the average covered in the last five years -- 39.70 million hectares.

    The narrowing of the deficit could have an impact on prices, which have risen by 5.5-12 per cent between July 1 and August 15 for some common varieties in select markets of the country. It could also influence the decisions of a meeting -- scheduled for next week -- of a high-powered panel of officials of the Central and state governments.

    The meeting will take stock of the progress in sowing and price situation in order to finalise the procurement strategy for the next crop season, which will start on October 1, 2022. A strong pickup in acreage might also have an impact on any move to impose export restrictions.

    India, the world’s second-largest producer and top exporter of rice, commands a 40 per cent share in the global rice trade. The country exported 21.2 million tonnes in 2021-22. Of that 3.94 million tonnes was basmati.

    A Reuters report though said the government might consider imposing some restrictions on export of 100 per cent broken rice, which is less than 20 per cent of the country's total annual rice export.

    Meanwhile, the data showed that the kharif coverage of all crops also went up during the week ended August 26 and around 104.51 million hectares has been brought under cultivation -- just 1.58 per cent less than in the same period last year.

    In Gangetic West Bengal, the data sourced from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows that the cumulative monsoon deficit between June 1 and August 26 has narrowed to 27 per cent from a high of 46 per cent between June 1 and July 29.

    In Gangetic West Bengal, the data sourced from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows that the cumulative monsoon deficit between June 1 and August 26 has narrowed to 27 per cent from a high of 46 per cent between June 1 and July 29.

    The latest data shows till August 26, the major states that showed a deficit in paddy sowing over last year are Jharkhand (-1.05 million hectares), West Bengal (-0.46 million hectares), Chhattisgarh (-0.34 million hectares), Uttar Pradesh (-0.26 million hectares), Bihar (-0.24 million hectares), and Odisha (-0.22 million hectares).

    “Rainfall levels remain broadly normal, with no material shift in the regional distribution. Still, a potential shortfall in paddy crop sowing and output may create concern, especially for countries importing rice from India,” said Rahul Bajoria, managing director and chief India economist at Barclays in a note.

    The saving grace is that unlike wheat, rice stocks in the central pool are much higher than required. As on July 1, 2022, rice stocks in the Central pool are almost 134 per cent more than the buffer and strategic requirement.

  • “Drought, Watchword of the Week,” While India May Curb Some Rice Exports, and Black Sea Exports Continue

  • Kirk Maltais reported today at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “The worst drought in a decade is posing fresh challenges to farmers in the Corn Belt who already are struggling with surging costs, the dark side of a post-Covid commodities boom.

    Crop damage from South Dakota and Nebraska to Iowa and Illinois was evident this week in surveys by this year’s Professional Farmers of America Inc. Midwest Crop Tour, in which farmers, traders and others in agricultural industries evaluated corn and soybeans growing in fields across seven states.

    “Pro Farmer this month cut its outlook for corn yields by 13% in Nebraska and 22% in South Dakota, relative to levels in its survey last year. The reductions helped fuel a rebound in the prices of many grains this past week, adding to the volatility in futures trading on the Chicago Board of Trade.”

    U.S. Agriculture in Drought. USDA- Office of the Chief Economist (August 25, 2022).

    The Journal article noted that, “The Plains drought is only the latest weather-related hit farmers have suffered this year. A string of hailstorms hammered Nebraska crops in June, with hail coverage claims ranking among the most ever seen by crop insurer Rural Community Insurance Services, said Jason Meador, head of the insurer, which is a division of Zurich North America.

    “In Nebraska, projected crop yields dropped even in fields with irrigation systems, an unusual turn of events that reflects just how hot and dry the weather has been this summer in the Midwest.”

    Maltais explained that, “The implications are global. Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Bunge Ltd. forecast last month that Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and poor weather in South America, the EU and China would keep world grain supplies tight.”

    The Journal article indicated that, “To be sure, the news from the farm isn’t all bad. Crop stress in the western Corn Belt is being balanced in part by wetter crops in the east. In its most recent supply and demand report this month, the U.S. Agriculture Department said that it expects domestic corn production to total 14.4 billion bushels—down only slightly from its projection in July.

    “Additionally, the agency revised its soybean-production projections higher in its August report, to 4.5 billion bushels. ”

    And yesterday, Bloomberg writers Tarso Veloso Ribeiro and Kim Chipman reported that, “Drought was the watchword of the week: dry soils plagued the [Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour] participants throughout the western crop belt. Even in the east, where plants received more rain, yields were still looking a bit mediocre. Some evidence of crop disease and pest infestations also added to the woes.”

    More broadly, Christian Shepherd and Ian Livingston reported in today’s Washington Post that, “The unprecedented heat wave that has engulfed China this summer has dried up rivers, wilted crops and sparked forest fires. It has grounded ships, caused hydropower shortages and forced major cities to dim lights. Receding waters have revealed long-submerged ancient bridges and Buddhist statues.”

    The Washington Post (Page A8 – August 26, 2022).

    “At 73 days and counting, the heat wave has easily surpassed China’s record of 62 days in 2013. All-time highs are being broken, often only to be re-broken days later,” the Post article said.

    Elsewhere, Bloomberg writer Pratik Parija reported today that,

    India, the world’s biggest rice shipper, will likely restrict some exports as domestic supply is under threat, according to people with knowledge of the matter, a move that risks adding to the chaos in global food markets.

    “The government is discussing curbs on broken rice exports, which account for almost 20% of India’s shipments abroad, as local prices have soared, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Talks are in advanced stages and a decision may be announced soon, the people said.”

    The Bloomberg article explained that, “Unlike wheat and corn prices, which surged after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rice has been subdued due to ample stockpiles, warding off a bigger food crisis. Back in 2008, prices soared above $1,000 a ton, more than double the level now, as India and Vietnam banned exports, causing panic over supplies.
    Broken rice is mainly used for animal feed or to produce ethanol in India. Prices have jumped this year on increased export demand. Top buyers include China, which uses it mostly for livestock feed, and some African countries, which import the grain for food.”
    And Reuters News reported today that, “India, the world’s biggest exporter of rice, is examining whether there is a need to restrict exports of 100% broken rice mainly used for feed purposes, government and industry officials told Reuters on Friday.
    “The curbs on exports by India could lift rice prices in the world as the south Asian country accounts for more than 40% of global rice shipments.”
    Also today, Reuters .News reported that, “Germany’s grain and rapeseed harvest is better than expected after a heatwave and drought but damage is expected to maize (corn) and sugar beet crops, the German agriculture ministry estimated on Friday.”
    Europe is facing its worst drought in about 500 years, with crops in several countries suffering, especially maize,” the Reuters article said.
    In other news, Bloomberg writer Michael Hirtzer reported yesterday that, “Merchant vessels have a new route to reach three ports in war-torn Ukraine, a move that could further boost shipments of food out of the Black Sea where disruptions earlier this year sent wheat prices to a record.
    The new 320-nautical-mile route connects Ukraine’s ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi/Yuzhny with inspection areas inside Turkey’s territorial waters, according to a press release Thursday from the Joint Coordination Centre. The group includes representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations with a mission to ensure the safe transportation of food and fertilizer.”

  • India considers curbs on exports of 100% broken rice

  • MUMBAI, Aug 26 (Reuters) - India, the world's biggest rice exporter, is considering whether to restrict exports of 100% broken rice, government and industry officials told Reuters on Friday, after the paddy area has been reduced by a lack of rainfall.

    The potential export curbs could lift rice prices globally because India accounts for more than 40% of the world's rice shipments. It could also hit a few poor African countries that import 100% broken rice for human consumption, though that variety is mainly used for feed purposes.

    "We have been discussing whether we need some sort of curbs on 100% broken rice exports," said a senior government official involved in the decision process.

    India is more than comfortable in terms of both private and government rice stocks, so there is no point considering any curb on overall rice exports, the official said, adding that the discussions are confined to broken rice.

    The state-run Food Corporation of India held 41 million tonnes of milled and rice paddy stocks as of Aug. 1, far above the government's requirement of 13.5 million tonnes by July 1.

    Below-average rainfall in key rice-producing states such as West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh prompted the latest discussions in a country that has already banned wheat exports and restricted sugar shipments this year. 

    India's farmers have planted paddy on 34.37 million hectares, down 8.3% from a year ago, farm ministry data showed last week.

    India usually exports 5% and 25% broken rice, but demand for 100% broken rice has risen sharply in recent months, particularly from drought-hit China, exporters said.

    "The local cattle feed industry has been demanding a restriction on exports of 100% brokens so they can have more supplies," said one exporter based in Andhra Pradesh.

    In 2021 India exported 21.5 million tonnes of rice, including 3.6 million tonnes of broken rice.

    China was the biggest buyer of broken rice, with purchases of 1.1 million tonnes in 2021, while African countries such as Senegal and Djibouti bought brokens for human consumption.

    "Instead of banning, the government should impose duty on the exports. This will help India keep a presence in the market and allow African countries to import,” said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association.

    The price difference between 100% broken and 5% broken has dropped to $15 a tonne from more than $70 a year ago, exporters said.

    India's 5% broken white rice was quoted around $340 a tonne this week, against $325 for 100% broken white rice, they said.

  • Reducing ASEAN’s food import dependency

  • The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the Russia–Ukraine conflict have exacerbated global food insecurity. The current crisis has highlighted the reliance of many ASEAN states on staple food and animal feed imports, as well as ASEAN’s lack of coordinated strategy for food production. ASEAN needs to reduce import dependency to minimise the impact of global market fluctuations on regional food security.

    While ASEAN’s staple food is rice, there has been increased demand for wheat, soybean and maize over the past decade — an increase that ASEAN production cannot meet. Soybean and maize have become particularly important as animal feeds needed to support an exponential growth in livestock demand. Meeting this demand requires large imports from outside ASEAN.

    Food insecurity has highlighted ASEAN’s vulnerability to disruptions in the importation of foodstuffs. Several states are now prioritising localised production and shorter, more reliable supply chains. The ASEAN Secretariat estimated that ASEAN imported US$61 billion worth of agricultural commodities from outside ASEAN in 2020. ASEAN states are among the world’s largest importers of wheat and import significant amounts of soybean and maize.

    This reflects ASEAN’s insufficient production of the region’s main foodstuffs. ASEAN member states differ widely in their production capacities of rice, wheat, soybean, maize, vegetable oil and livestock. In 2020, ASEAN produced an underwhelming 46 million tonnes of maize, 735,000 tonnes of soybean and 113,400 tonnes of wheat. ASEAN maize production meets about 75 per cent of the region’s needs because of the relatively low production compared to the major maize exporting countries in North America, South America and Europe.

    ASEAN produces less than a tenth of its soybean needs. ASEAN soybean production is concentrated in Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Between 2018 and 2019, ASEAN member states imported about 7.5 million tonnes of soybean for animal feed and food. Soybeans have the largest dollar value of any ASEAN food import and imports exceed local production by a ratio of 10:1.

    ASEAN accounted for 15 per cent of global wheat imports in 2021. Wheat imports exceed production in ASEAN by a whopping ratio of 244:1. The majority of imported wheat is from Ukraine, so the Russia–Ukraine war has unsurprisingly disrupted the export of wheat to Southeast Asia and caused prices to spike.

    Indonesia is the biggest wheat importer in ASEAN. In 2021, Indonesia imported US$3.5 billion worth of wheat. Wheat imports are used to produce Indonesia’s staple foods, including noodles, bread and baked goods. The country has total reliance on wheat imports for its food and animal feed.

    Rice is the only staple food that ASEAN produces a surplus of. In 2020, ASEAN grew 48 million hectares of paddy rice, which harvested 191 million tonnes of rice. Rice production takes up about 66 per cent of the total arable land area in ASEAN. But many ASEAN states are still net rice importers, with Indonesia and the Philippines importing the most.

    In 2020, ASEAN states imported 76.5 per cent of their rice from other ASEAN member states. ASEAN countries clearly need to work together and to develop a coordinated strategy to reduce the region’s dependency on food imports. Increasing rice production may enable the region to become a net exporter of rice, strengthening its position in the face of another food security crisis.

    Increasing rice production will require a combination of technological innovations. This includes transitioning to biotechnology-improved rice, increasing on-farm yields of preferred rice varieties, infrastructural improvements, input financing and improved smallholder farmer management skills.

    But the large area taken up by rice production and the need to increase rice production raise concerns about its environmental impact. Rice crop lands are the largest contributors to ASEAN’s methane emissions. Policymakers must balance the need to reduce global warming with increased rice production.

    Soybean and wheat crop lands are still relatively scarce in ASEAN, making the gap between imports and production very large. Increasing crop lands and yields will require a coordinated strategy. There must be significant investment in the tropical soybean and wheat agronomy, including breeding and crop pest management. New soybean and wheat varieties need to be made available expeditiously by implementing innovative breeding technology and improving pest management.

    A well-resourced, ASEAN-wide initiative may increase the region’s wheat, soybean and maize supply resilience. This will enable ASEAN to capitalise on its biodiversity and under-utilised native plants to reduce its reliance on imported staple food and feed crops.

    Paul Teng is Adjunct Senior Fellow and Food Security Adviser at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

    A version of this article was first published here in the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies Commentary.

  • Nepal’s rice farmers brace for loss over lack of rains, fertilisers

  • A senior government meteorologist says it’s still too early to link the lateness of the monsoon to climate change

    The fertile plains in southern Nepal is known as the country’s rice bowl. Thousands of farmers here are currently facing a double whammy of a fertiliser shortage and inadequate monsoon rains.

    This is likely to affect production of the country’s staple grain, which also contributes around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product and provides employment of at least six months for a large proportion of the population.

    “Paddy has been planted only in around 75% of the fields as of end of July,” said Suma Karki, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture. “Last year this time, the figure was around 88%.”

    The monsoon clouds, which originate in the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean, are obstructed by the Himalayan mountain range when they try to move north. They then form a low-pressure band, shedding their moisture in the form of rain in the foothills of the mountains as well as the Gangetic plain that runs through Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The band, known as the monsoon trough, moves between the foothills of mountains in the north and the Indian plains in the south bringing rain wherever it goes.

    “This monsoon season, the trough has remained in the Indian plains for a longer period than we’d expect it to,” said senior government meteorologist Indira Kandel. This is why Nepal’s southern plains haven’t received adequate rains for rice farmers this year, she added.

    The monsoon rains account for 60-90% of Nepal’s total annual precipitation, and are crucial for the farmers who grow rice on around 1.4 million hectares (3.5 million acres) of land, 75% of which lie in the southern Terai plains. Most of the farmers are dependent on the rains as the irrigation system in the country can’t cater to all their needs.

    “Due to lack of adequate rain, the rice fields have developed cracks and the plants have dried up,” said Ranju Sharma, a farmer from the rural municipality of Katahari in Nepal’s Morang district, near the border with India.

    Farmers such as Sharma are already under stress as large numbers of Nepali workers seek jobs abroad in India and the Middle East. This makes it difficult to plant rice on time as the traditional cultivation practices are labour intensive. In addition, unexpected issues pop up virtually every year that forces the farmers to bear huge losses.

    Farmers work at a paddy field in Nepal.

    This year, the farmers had anticipated that the main challenge would be a shortage of chemical fertilisers. The government, which used to supply fertiliser to farmers ahead of the monsoon season, failed to do so this year as the fertiliser couldn’t be imported in time. But the lack of rainfall has created more trouble.

    “We were already worried that the output would go down this year due to lack of fertiliser, now the rainfall problem has added to our woes,” Sharma said.

    The change in rainfall patterns in Nepal’s plains come as record heat waves, attributed to climate change, recently engulfed much of the Northern Hemisphere, including India. “It would be too early to say that the heat waves had anything to do with the behaviour of the monsoon trough. But we can’t rule out that possibility,” Kandel said.

    What is known is that a changing climate has changed the long-term precipitation patterns in Nepal. A report by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology suggests that although the volume of total rainfall hasn’t changed much, the intensity has. This means rainfall patterns have become hard to forecast, and the chances of flash floods have increased.

    Many farmers say they still remember all too well the flash floods during last year’s monsoon, just as they were preparing for what they thought would be a good harvest. The monsoon, which typically leaves Nepal in late September, stayed longer last year, bringing unexpected rains in the second week of October. According to government figures, which usually underestimate damages, farmers suffered losses amounting to Rs. 11.87 billion rupees ($93 million).

    As the monsoon trough moves north again, farmers say they hope it brings adequate rain this time before it heads back south again. “The rains should stop when they are supposed to stop,” Sharma said. “If it doesn’t, we might have to abandon rice farming altogether as we can’t take losses year after year.”

    Nepal’s import-dependent economy, which is already under huge pressure due to rising fuel prices, could take another hit if rice production takes yet another major hit this year. The country, which only has sufficient foreign currency reserves to finance around seven months of imports, could face severe problems if the food import bill also rises, economists warn.

  • T. Narsipura farmer to display rice varieties at Delhi expo

  • Srinivas of Siddanahundi in T. Narsipura taluk of Mysuru district cultivates different varieties of rice in his field. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

    Srinivas, who won the Gene Saviour award for 2016-17 in recognition of his work, has over 250 varieties of rice in his collection and has created a ‘gene bank’.

    A farmer and rice breeder from Siddanahundi in T. Narsipura taluk will represent Mysuru district at a national-level exhibition that will showcase different varieties of rice conserved by farmers from across the country.

    Mr. Srinivas, who won the Gene Saviour award for 2016-17 in recognition of his work, has over 250 varieties of rice in his collection and has created a ‘gene bank’.  This includes about 240 varieties from different parts of India and 10 varieties from other countries.

    Some of the exotic varieties which Mr. Srinivas has conserved and grows exclusively include Rajamudi, Ratnachudi, Jeerige Sanna, Gandhasale, Sidda Sanna etc. from Karnataka; Burma Black from Myanmar, Jasmine from Thailand, Lanka 1 and Lanka 2 from Sri Lanka from other countries.

    Among his exotic collection of rice varieties from other States are Jugal from West Bengal and JP 11 developed by a farmer from Varanasi.

    Mr. Srinivas said that he toured different parts of the country including Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, etc., and met like-minded farmers who too were conserving indigenous varieties of rice. This interaction helped him to procure small quantities of different varieties of rice which he cultivated – not for consumption – but to sell it to fellow farmers who were keen to preserve and propagate the rare varieties by cultivating it on a large scale.

    ‘’Most of the rice varieties are on the verge of extinction and are not cultivated as the market prefers the polished and hybrid white rice. If the indigenous varieties are not conserved they will become extinct and with it we will lose a slice of our agricultural heritage,” said Mr. Srinivas.

    Though he had a large swathe of land till recently, the agricultural plot had to be divided among his brothers and so Mr. Srinivas is now left with just 1 acre. But this has not dissuaded him from taking up rice conservation. ‘’I cultivate on a portion of the land and grow crops and vegetables for domestic consumption and the rest is meant to grow different varieties of rice for distribution to other farmers,” he said.

    All 250 varieties cannot be cultivated at one go given the small size of plot. So Mr. Srinivas takes about 30 varieties each year and cultivates them on a rotation basis. ‘’There is great demand for different varieties from like-minded farmers and hence income is also assured,” he added.

  • RPT-ASIA RICE-SUPPLY CONCERNS LIFT INDIAN RATES;

  • RPT-ASIA RICE-SUPPLY CONCERNS LIFT INDIAN RATES; VIETNAM LOSES OUT TO COMPETITION

    * Thailand prices slip to $416-$420/t

    * China, Philippines have cut rice purchases from Vietnam - trader

    By Bharat Gautam

    Aug 19 (Reuters) - Indian rates for rice exports rose this week as lower planting fuelled concerns over supplies from the new season, while Vietnamese prices and quality of the grain lagged peers.

    Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted at $365-$371 per tonne, up from last week's $360-$366.

    "Weather is not supporting crop in eastern and northern India. Traders have started quoting higher prices for paddy assuming lower production from the new crop," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

    Neighbouring Bangladesh will begin selling rice at a cheaper rate for 5 million poor families and expand such sales from September, in a bid to rein in soaring domestic prices, which saw yet another uptick after the government hiked domestic oil prices.

    "I hope domestic rice markets will be stable after the beginning of the sales," Bangladesh Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said, adding that the country has adequate stock.

    Meanwhile, Vietnam's 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> were unchanged from the previous week at $390-$393 per tonne on Thursday.

    Vietnamese prices are lower than Thailand's due to weak demand and strong supplies from the summer-autumn harvest, a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said.

    The country's two key export markets, China and the Philippines, have reduced purchases, with buyers from the Philippines more interested in low-priced rice, the trader said.

    Prices have also fallen behind because the quality of rice from the summer-autumn harvest was not better than the grain from competitors, traders said.

    Thailand's 5% broken rice prices <RI-THBKN5-P1> dipped to $416-$420 per tonne from $420-428 last week. Despite declining shipping costs, there haven't been large orders, a trader said.

    Internal trade has kept domestic prices supported, another trader said, adding that there has been trading activity between the Middle East and Europe through Thailand, with continuous supply due to good rain and favourable weather. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Chayut Setboonsarng in Bangkok and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; editing by Uttaresh.V)

  • Asia rice: Supply concerns lift Indian rates

  • MUMBAI/HANOI/BANGKOK/DHAKA: Indian rates for rice exports rose this week as lower planting fuelled concerns over supplies from the new season, while Vietnamese prices and quality of the grain lagged peers.

    Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $365-$371 per tonne, up from last week’s $360-$366.

    “Weather is not supporting crop in eastern and northern India. Traders have started quoting higher prices for paddy assuming lower production from the new crop,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

    Neighbouring Bangladesh will begin selling rice at a cheaper rate for 5 million poor families and expand such sales from September, in a bid to rein in soaring domestic prices, which saw yet another uptick after the government hiked domestic oil prices.

    “I hope domestic rice markets will be stable after the beginning of the sales,” Bangladesh Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said, adding that the country has adequate stock.

    Meanwhile, Vietnam’s 5% broken rice were unchanged from the previous week at $390-$393 per tonne on Thursday.

    Vietnamese prices are lower than Thailand’s due to weak demand and strong supplies from the summer-autumn harvest, a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said.

    The country’s two key export markets, China and the Philippines, have reduced purchases, with buyers from the Philippines more interested in low-priced rice, the trader said. Prices have also fallen behind because the quality of rice from the summer-autumn harvest was not better than the grain from competitors, traders said.

  • Centre projects record production of rice

  • While the estimate of foodgrains production is 315.72 million tonnes, the production of rice is expected at 130.29 million tonnes. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

    Maize, gram, pulses, rapeseed and sugarcane could also witness high yields, says Agriculture Ministry

    The Union Agriculture Ministry released on August 17 the fourth advance estimates of production of major agricultural crops for 2021-22. The Ministry said the production of foodgrains in the country is estimated at 315.72 million tonnes which is higher by 4.98 million tonnes than 2020-21.

    A government release said the production during 2021-22 is higher by 25 million tonnes than the previous five years’ (2016-17 to 2020-21) average production of foodgrains. "Record production is estimated of rice, maize, gram, pulses, rapeseed and mustard, oilseeds and sugarcane," it said. Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the record production of so many crops is the result of the farmer-friendly policies of the Centre and the hard work of the farmers and the diligence of the scientists.

    While the estimate of foodgrains production is 315.72 million tonnes, the production of rice is expected at 130.29 million tonnes, which, according to the Centre, is a record. Wheat production could touch 106.84 million tonnes and for nutri/coarse cereals it could be 50.90 million tonnes.

    "Total production of Rice during 2021-22 is estimated at record 130.29 million tonnes. It is higher by 13.85 million tonnes than the last five years’ average production of 116.44 million tonnes. Production of Wheat during 2021-22 is estimated at 106.84 million tonnes. It is higher by 2.96 million tonnes than the last five years’ average wheat production of 103.88 million tonnes," the release said.

    “The assessment of production of various crops is based on the data received from States and validated with information available from other sources,” the Ministry said.

  • Rice might pricier as erratic rains hold back sowing across states

  • Rice may get even more expensive in the times to come as low rainfall has impacted paddy sowing in key rice producing Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

    According to a recent report by Yes Bank, paddy sowing in India is now down by 13%. This could have global implications too as India is the second largest exporter of rice in the world. Overall, only 866 lakh hectares of field has been sown this kharif season, representing a dip of 4 lakh hectares from last year.

    “Even as production trends in India and the globe need to be monitored, we do not think it is of a huge concern immediately and the government need not have to immediately consider clamping down on the exports of rice as they had done for wheat,” said Yes Bank.

    Kharif CropsArea sown as of August 5, 2021Area sown as of August 5, 2022
    Rice267 lakh hectares232 lakh hectares
    Pulses119 lakh hectares116 lakh hectares
    Coarse Cereals154 lakh hectares160 lakh hectares
    Oilseeds174 lakh hectares175 lakh hectares
    Sugarcane54 lakh hectares55 lakh hectares
    Jute & Mesta7 lakh hectares7 lakh hectares
    Cotton114 lakh hectares121 lakh hectares
    Grand Total890 lakh hectares866 lakh hectares

    Source: PIB, CEIC, Yes Bank Economics Research

    There has been a global shortage of rice right now too due to adverse weather conditions across top rice suppliers in Asia. If the production of rice is impacted in India, it would lead to a limited export capacity for the country especially amid the supply chain disruptions caused by Russia-Ukraine war and climate change.

    To draw a parallel, India had to stop all exports of the wheat staple this May to address shortages in the country. The ban reduced the price of wheat in India by at least 5% in the first 10 days, compared to the record high it reached at the start of May before the ban.

    However, the ban did leave large importers of wheat like Bangladesh and UAE in a lurch.

    Bangladesh decided to learn from the past and made some policy changes in the month of June to prevent this situation from happening again with another staple, rice. The country reduced its import duty and tariff to 25%, from the previous 62.5%, in June 2022 when India witnessed its first dip in paddy sowing. It also allowed the import of non-basmati rice till October 31.

    The revised import policy had prompted more Indian traders to export rice out of India to clock in more income, which led to a 10% jump in rice prices in the first five days of the announcement.

    According to media reports, rice prices in India have increased 30% since June. Now it is too

    early to say whether rice can see the same trajectory as wheat, but their situation needs to be closely monitored.

    “At the current juncture, procurements are proceeding smoothly while the FCI stocks are largely comfortable when compared to the buffer norms. Though not of an immediate concern, the evolving situation needs to be watched carefully,” Yes Bank said in its recent report.

    It is important to note that 10 countries account for nearly 85% of the world’s rice production, with China and India being the top two producers. China has already witnessed a decline in rice yield due to pest issues, whereas other rice producing countries like Thailand and Vietnam have reported a decline in crop yields too along with increased cost of production.

    “The shortfall in kharif sowing of paddy, however, needs to be watched closely, although buffer stocks are quite large. Household inflation expectations have eased, but they still remain elevated,” Shaktikanta Das, governor of the Reserve Bank of India, said earlier this month in his credit policy statement.

  • Rice exported from Guyana free of pesticides – Agri Minister asserts amid EU concerns

  • Amid worry over pesticide residue in rice, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha says the product is monitored by food seevral bodies locally to ensure safety standards are met.

    The concerns over the safety of exported rice were raised after an analysis by the European Union (EU) was conducted in 2020. Among the findings was that several foods, including brown rice, have traces of pesticide residue.

    The EU is currently Guyana’s largest export market for rice with a 48 per cent rate recorded in 2021.

    For the year thus far, the rate has already exceeded last year at 52 per cent. Portugal is one of the main destinations of Guyana’s rice for EU countries, bringing in US$32.3 million.

    Rice cultivation in Guyana

    Since the EU’s report, farmers have raised concerns about the quality of fertilizer being supplied locally.

    The Agriculture Minister was contacted by the News Room on Tuesday; during the telephone interview he said that the rice exported from Guyana is monitored by several bodies to ensure it is safe for consumption.

    “Our rice does not have pesticides, we don’t do that,” the Agriculture Minister said.

    He further ensured, “we take a lot of caution in ensuring that the pesticide and toxic chemicals control work closely with the GRDB [Guyana Rice Development Board].”

    According to the EU, in 2020, analyses samples randomly collected from 12 food products, including brown rice, were found with pesticide residue. As a response to this finding, the GRDB last month held a conference on “Pesticide residue in rice’, when Plant Pathologist, Dr. Rajendra Persaud said the EU has been clamping down with legislation on safety limits of agrochemicals (pesticides) in rice and other imported food products.

    Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha

    As such the GRDB said it is conducting a study of paddy bugs to reduce their impact on rice cultivation here. Dr. Persaud explained that the study is being done on the paddy bug because it is the most important rice pest. Rice farmers utilise insecticide to control pests.

    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.

    As such the EU have taken steps to put regulations in place to limit the use of pesticide.

    However, the GRDB has said a National Monitoring and Surveillance Strategy was established here. It is also evaluating new insecticides.

    Additionally, it must be noted that samples of rice were sent to the CABI Center of Agriculture and Bioscience International in the United Kingdom for a detailed analysis. The report from that analysis found the samples were discoloured as a result of several fungal and bacterial microorganisms.

    However, the samples were taken from “illegal” varieties of rice being cultivated in Regions Two, Three, and Five.

  • Indonesia’s rice reserves secured until year’s end

  • Indonesia is no longer importing rice for consumption due to an abundant supply of rice, according to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture.

    Jakarta (VNA) — Indonesia is no longer importing rice for consumption due to an abundant supply of rice, according to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture.

    With current rice consumption, Indonesia's rice stock will be secured until the end of this year, said Kuntoro Boga Andri, head of the ministry's Public Relations and Information Bureau.

    Results of the 2022 national rice reserve survey showed that the country’s rice stock reached 9.11 million tonnes by the end of March.

    Indonesia has stopped importing rice for domestic consumption, namely medium-type rice, Kuntoro said, citing data from the Central Bureau of Statics (BPS). However, the country still imports rice for industrial purposes.

    Indonesia imported 444,510 tonnes, 356,290 tonnes and 407 tonnes of rice in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. Up to 99% of imported rice is in the form of broken rice as industrial raw materials.

    Previously, BPS Deputy for Production Statistics M Habibullah said the country's rice reserve hit 9.71 million tonnes as of June 2022.

    “Our rice stock is sufficient and will continue to grow along with the monthly harvest until the end of December 2022,” Habibullah was quoted by Antara news agency.

    He said rice stock in June 2022 was mostly in household institutions which reached 6.6 million tonnes, then 1.04 million tonnes in traders, 1.2 million tonnes in Bulog warehouses, and 0.69 million tonnes in mills and in hospitality.

  • New rice variety released to farmers

  • Deputy Director of Ambalantota Rice Research Institute Harshini Siriwardena said that the Institute has taken steps to release the A T 378 Sudu Kekulu new rice variety to the farmers.

    A potential yield of 180 bushels per acre can be obtained through this new variety of rice which can be harvested in three and a half months. She also mentioned that the weight of a bushel of paddy is almost 21 kilograms. After a trial period of 13 years, this new rice variety has been cultivated by farmers in the Hambantota, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Matara, Galle, Ratnapura Districts and is suitable for cultivation in any region of the country.

    As this type of paddy plant is strong and does not fall during natural calamities. Cooked rice is very tasty and rice-based products can also be prepared from this variety of rice.

  • Boiled rice delivery permitted from Telangana

  • Sonepat: Labourers stacking bags of wheat at an open FCI godown at Sonepat in Haryana on Sunday. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma(PTI5_9_2010_000080B) | Photo Credit: cueapi

    In some relief to the State which is grappling with huge stocks of paddy at rice mills and given the Food Corporation of India’s reluctance to procure boiled rice that was generally produced in rabi, the Centre has agreed to lift eight lakh tonnes of boiled rice. 

    The State had a production of 50.39 lakh tonnes of paddy in rabi of 2021-22 and, at 67% recovery of rice, the yield of rice was expected to be 33 lakh tonnes. But, the Centre had insisted that the State that it deliver the entire 33 lakh tonnes as raw rice. However, the State government expressed helplessness because the yield of raw rice out of paddy of rabi was not expected to be more than 55% per quintal. Due to the presence of a large quantity of broken rice, the State government wanted to deliver only boiled rice.  

    The latest decision of the Centre to procure eight lakh tonnes of boiled rice will be in addition to another 6.05 lakh tonnes of boiled rice and about three lakh tonnes of boiled fortified rice permitted earlier out of the stock of 50.39 lakh tonnes pertaining to rabi of 2021-22. The fortification of rice was allowed for paddy that was damaged due to exposure of stocks at rice mills to rain.  

  • Non-basmati rice sown on 96% area under paddy cultivation in Ludhiana district

  • Less than 3% basmati, 1% direct seeding of rice technique in 2.59 lakh-hectare cultivated area

    A whopping 96 per cent of the total area put under paddy in Ludhiana district was cultivated with non-basmati rice as the current Kharif sowing season 2022-23 concluded here on Wednesday, the administration has confirmed.

    While less than 3 per cent of the cultivated area was sown with basmati rice, little over 1 per cent of the total 2.59 lakh hectares, which was maximum area put under paddy cultivation in the state, was cultivated through the direct seeding of rice (DSR) technique, in which seeds are sown in the field rather than by transplanting seedlings from the nursery, the official figures have revealed.

    Deputy Commissioner Surabhi Malik told The Tribune here on Wednesday that a total of 2,58,600 hectares area was put under paddy cultivation in the district, of which 2,48,253 hectares were sown with non-basmati rice, which accounted for 96 per cent, 7,550 hectares with basmati, accounting for 2.92 per cent, and 2,797 hectares of area was cultivated through the DSR technique, which was 1.08 per cent of the total area.

    She said the district administration ran an extensive awareness and education drive to motivate farmers to opt for the DSR, for which Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had given a clarion call to save water and natural resources in the agrarian state.

    Divulging block-wise paddy sowing figures, Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO) Amanjit Singh said the Sidhwan Bet block had topped the district, with the maximum of 33,294 hectares of area put under paddy cultivation while the Ludhiana block has witnessed the minimum paddy sowing in 13,701 hectares.

    He said the Sidhwan Bet block had cultivated 32,800 hectares with non-basmati rice, 200 hectares with basmati, and 294 hectares of area was sown through the DSR.

    Among other blocks, Ludhiana has cultivated 13,300 hectares with non-basmati rice, 200 hectares with basmati, and 201 with the DSR, Mangat with 31,000 hectares non-basmati, 103 hectares basmati, 331 hectares DSR, Pakhowal 22,100 hectares non-basmati, 100 hectares basmati, 243 DSR, Sudhar 28,145 hectares non-basmati, 650 hectares basmati, 312 hectares DSR, Jagraon 27,900 hectares non-basmati, 3,280 hectares basmati, 457 hectares DSR, Dehlon 20,040 hectares non-basmati, 126 hectares basmati, 171 hectares DSR, Doraha 18,789 hectares non-basmati, 91 hectares basmati, 153 hectares DSR, Khanna 18,439 non-basmati, 1,050 hectares basmati, 129 hectares DSR, Samrala 12,940 hectares non-basmati, 850 hectares basmati, 182 hectares DSR, and Machhiwara block has put 22,800 hectares under non-basmati, 900 hectares basmati, and 324 hectares was sown with the DSR technique.

    Of the total DSR paddy cultivation in 2,797 hectares, 2,751 hectares, which accounted for 98.36 per cent, were sown with non-basmati rice and 46 hectares, accounting for 1.64 per cent per cent, was put under basmati variety.

    The CAO added that 1,264 farmers have cultivated their land with the DSR technique and their applications were being verified for releasing them financial assistance of Rs 1,500 per acre as announced by the state government.

    He said Manpreet Singh of Talwara village in Sidhwan Bet and Lakhvir Singh of Gobindgarh village in Sudhar had sown 35 acres each through the DSR, followed by Mahinder Singh of Bhairomuna village 34 acres, Shingara Singh of Swaddi Khurd village 31 acres, Sukhwinder Singh of Uchai Daud village 27 acres, Lakhwinder Singh of Sehjomajra village and Balvir Singh of Goansgarh village 25 acres each, Jarnail Singh of Hans Kalan village and Sukhwinder Singh of Ismailpur village 20 acres each, and Jagdeep Singh of Jhamat village in the Ludhiana block has put his 18 acres under the DSR cultivation.

  • Impending Food Crisis? Rice Acreage Down 13% This Kharif Season

  • India's export accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the world's rice granary. Therefore, any deficiency in rice production in India, the world's largest exporter, is going to adversely affect the world work.


    New Delhi: Rice sowing in the current kharif season has come down by 13% till August 5 due to rainfall deficiency in main paddy-producing states. This crisis is even more concerning as it’s happening in a year when wheat output has fallen and the government’s own procurement of the cereal has dropped drastically.Also Read - West Bengal Likely To Face Famine-Like Situation As Rainfall Deficit Recorded Above 45%
    According to data released by agriculture ministry on Monday, the area covered under paddy stood at 274.30 lakh hectare as on August 5, against 314.14 lakh hectare in the corresponding period last year. This decreased paddy acreage is reported in large paddy-producing states such as West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana. Also Read - Basmati rice exports up 11.54% in Apr-Oct this fiscal: Comm Min

    According to data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), western Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a rainfall deficiency of 36% as on August 8, eastern UP has a deficiency of 43%. Bihar and Jharkhand have rainfall deficiency of 38% and 45% respectively. It also says the Gangetic West Bengal has witnessed 46% less rainfall. Also Read - Can't procure groundnut from Guj this Kharif season: NAFED

    India, which is the largest exporter of rice, commands a 40% share in the global market. If the situation goes bad and there’s a shortfall in rice production, it will affect worldwide trade, especially in a year when wheat production has dropped.

    Rice output stood at a record 129.66 million tonne in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June). India exported 21.2 million tonne of rice in 2021-22 fiscal year. The Centre has a stock of 47 million tonne of rice as on July 1 as against the buffer norm of 13.5 million tonne.

  • India Reassures Gulf Countries of Rice Availability

  • Rice is one of the most consumed food commodities in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

    Riyadh - Bandar al-Mosalam

    The head of the National Committee for Food Supply in the Federation of Saudi Chambers said Indian rice producers have conveyed a message of reassurance that Basmati rice - the most sought-after variety in the region – would not be affected by drought and lack of rainfall, currently affecting India and threatening its agricultural crop season.

    Abdullah Balsharaf told Asharq Al-Awsat that Basmati rice farms are located in areas that have seen normal rain levels, pointing to an abundance of stocks in the Saudi market.

    Consumers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have expressed fear over the possibility of a decrease in rice stocks in the region due to weak production levels in India, which could lead to a rise in prices.

    But Balsharaf stressed that the areas where the Basmati rice is grown have not seen drought, ruling out any significant impact on the stock.

    He revealed that there were 800,000 metric tons of rice stock in the Saudi market, according to figures released by the relevant authorities.

    Moreover, he explained that producers in India were expected to start the season at low prices due to the lack of high demand from competing countries, such as Iran and Iraq, and Europe.

    According to a recent report by the World Bank, Saudi Arabia ranked fifth among the largest importers of rice globally, as the average consumption per capita increased by 30 percent from 33 to 43 kilograms.

    It imported about 1.5 million tons of rice in 2021, compared to 1.6 million tons in 2020, bringing the average per capita consumption to about 43 kilograms.

    Saudi Arabia’s food security authorities recently began implementing the government support approved by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz to deal with the effects of the global price hike, allocating about SR9.5 billion (USD2.5 billion) to support strategic stocks of wheat and barley.

  • Agricultural and processed food products exports raised by 31%

  • A slowdown in India’s rural economy deepened in January, reflecting a crunch on spending by agricultural workers.

    Exports of agricultural and processed food products rose by 31% in the first three months of the current fiscal on a year-on-year basis.

    The overall export of agri products have increased to $7.408 billion in April-June 2022 from $5.663 billion over the same period of the last fiscal, according to the commerce department data. It also exceeded the export target for April-June 2022-23 at $5.890 billion.

    “The initiatives taken by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) that works under the ministry of commerce and industry have helped the country in achieving 31% of the total export target in the first quarter of the current fiscal," the department of commerce said in a release.

    For the year 2022-23, an export target of $23.56 billion has been fixed by APEDA for the agricultural and processed food products basket.

    As per the data, fresh fruits & vegetables registered a 4% growth, while processed fruits and vegetables recorded a significant growth of 59.71% in Q1 compared to corresponding months of the previous year.

    Also, processed food products like cereals and miscellaneous processed items reported a growth of 37.66% in Q1.

    Basmati Rice exports witnessed a growth of 25.54% in the first three months of FY 2022-23 ,while the export of non-Basmati rice registered a growth of 5% in Q1 of current fiscal

    “We continue to provide technical and financial assistance to various stakeholders in the agricultural goods value chains for boosting exports of unique products from the country," said APEDA chairman M. Angamuthu.

    India’s agri products exports had grown by 19.92% during 2021-22 to touch $50.21 billion, higher than 17.66% growth achieved in 2020-21, “despite unprecedented logistical challenges in the form of high freight rates and container shortages, etc.," said the department of commerce.

    “Through creating a necessary eco-system of exports along with collaboration with key stakeholders in the agri-exports value chains, we are aiming to sustain the growth in India’s agricultural and processed food exports in the current fiscal as well," Angamuthu said.

  • How India’s Droughts Could Affect Rice Across The Globe

  • Climate change has directly impacted the production of some of the world's most popular crops — from coffee beans to wine grapes (via New York Times) and now rice. Not long after the first shipment of Ukrainian grain left the country, signifying a breakthrough in the global food crisis, rain shortages in India are impacting the production of what is arguably the world's most important crop. As a staple food for more than half of the global population, The New Humanitarian says that the availability of rice is congruent with food security and political stability, particularly in the Eastern world.

    In India, a country that provides 40% of the world's global rice supply to more than 100 different countries (via Bloomberg), farmers depend on the summer monsoon season. According to The Washington Post, temperatures ordinarily cool during the late spring as winds bring in moisture, leading up to the monsoon season. In the four months between then and September, India receives nearly 70% of its annual rainfall (via Reuters), but last month, India received its lowest recorded rainfall in more than 120 years, kicking off the season with 44% less rain than usual (via Down to Earth).

    The consequences
    As a result, Bloomberg says that the lack of rainfall has caused farmers in India to plant less rice — decreasing the amount of the country's rice-planted land by 13% and fueling the inflation of some rice varieties by 30% since June. Some farmers are optimistic they'll make up for it with higher crop yields in the coming months, when Reuters says rainfall is predicted to return to average. However, experts aren't quite as confident. While rice stockpiles have kept a world food crisis at bay, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University told Bloomberg, "Rarely any sowing happens after mid-July, so the hope that it will recover is unlikely to be the case."

    Today, the planting area of rice in India is the smallest it has been in three years and traders are concerned that the drop in production could trigger export restrictions — a move that could threaten the 3.5 billion people around the world who depend on rice as a food staple (via National Geographic). For now, India's public rice reserves are ample enough to fulfill distribution, but the decision to place limitations on exports is dependent on the weather. Bloomberg says that if rainfall doesn't return to average rates in the final months of the monsoon season, prices could jump, and export restrictions will most likely come, potentially spurring other rice-producing countries to do the same.

  • Rain shortage may dampen India’s battle against inflation – here’s why

  • India's ability to produce rice is in danger. Photo: AFP 

    In the past two weeks, prices of several varieties of rice have increased by more than 10% in important rice-growing states including West Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

    India, by far the world's largest exporter, has had a lack of rain in some areas. As a result, planting fields for rice have shrunk to their smallest size in almost three years. This could provide a new challenge for the world's food supply.

    At a time when nations are struggling with skyrocketing food prices and rife inflation, India's ability to produce rice is in danger. Due to a shortage of rainfall in some areas, particularly West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, which account for a quarter of India's output, the total area planted with rice has decreased by 13% thus far this season.

    With Bangladesh, China, Nepal, and certain Middle Eastern countries among its top clients, India exports rice to more than 100 countries. In the upcoming weeks, the US is expected to produce a bountiful harvest of wheat, and Ukraine has sent its first grain shipment since Russia's invasion.

    Traders are concerned that a decline in rice production could make India's battle against inflation more difficult and lead to export restrictions. For the billions of people who depend on the food staple, such a decision will have significant ramifications. In order to protect food security and maintain local prices, the government has already restricted wheat and sugar exports from India, which accounts for 40% of the world's rice trade.

    Meanwhile, India's rice prices have increased, which reflects worries over production. Due to insufficient rain and increased demand from Bangladesh, prices of some types have jumped by more than 10% in the past two weeks in major growing states like West Bengal, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh, according to Mukesh Jain, a director of rice shipper Sponge Enterprises Pvt. According to him, free-on-board export pricing could increase to $400 per tonne by September from as much as $365 at the moment.

    Asia produces and consumes the majority of the world's rice, making it essential for the region's political and economic stability. Rice prices have been moderated as a result of plentiful production and stockpiles, in contrast to the spike in wheat and corn prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has helped prevent a worsening of the food crisis.

    The success of the monsoon and the Indian rice crop will have a significant impact. According to some agricultural specialists, there is still time to plant more crops and make up part of the gap. August through September are expected to have typical rainfall, which could increase crop production.

    Farmers are less upbeat. Rajesh Kumar Singh, 54, a grower in Uttar Pradesh, said he planted rice on only half of his seven acres (2.8 hectares) of land due to a lack of rain in June and July. “The situation is really precarious," he said.

    Rice prices are feeling the pressure, said Himanshu, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who goes by only one name. “Rarely any sowing happens after mid-July, so the hope that it will recover is unlikely to be the case," he said, adding that a drop in output is a risk to inflation.

    Rice may provide a new obstacle in India's fight against inflation. This year, consumer prices continued to exceed the Reserve Bank of India's tolerance level of 6 percent, which caused a dramatic increase in interest rates. As the impact of declining commodity prices, such as those for fuel and vegetable oils, is somewhat countered by a weakening rupee this week, the central bank may raise borrowing costs further.

    If geographic disparities in rainfall persist, it could have a detrimental impact on crop production, negatively impacting economic growth and inflation, according to Sonal Varma, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc.

    With India’s paddy output poised to decline in several states, the government should consider reviewing its policy of allocating rice for ethanol production, according to Siraj Hussain, a former secretary of India’s agriculture ministry.

    India seeks to boost ethanol production using surplus sugar and rice as part of efforts to cut its fuel costs. Surging food prices following the war in Ukraine have increased the risk of hunger and sparked a “food versus fuel" debate.

    “At this point of time, it is difficult to estimate the exact level of production loss," Hussain said. But at current prices, there’s hardly any justification in allocating rice for ethanol output, he added.

  • India’s faltering rice output can cause a new food crisis

  • Threat to the output of the world’s biggest rice exporter comes when food costs are soaring, inflation rampant globally.

    A shortage of rain in parts of India has caused the rice planting area to shrink [File: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg]

    Rice could emerge as the next challenge for global food supply as a shortage of rain in parts of India, by far the world’s biggest exporter, has caused planting area to shrink to the smallest in about three years.

    The threat to India’s rice production comes at a time when countries are grappling with soaring food costs and rampant inflation. Total rice planted area has declined 13% so far this season due to a lack of rainfall in some areas, including West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, which account for a quarter of India’s output.

    Traders are worried that a drop in rice production will complicate India’s inflation fight and trigger restrictions on exports. Such a move will have far-reaching implications for the billions of people that depend on the staple. India accounts for 40% of global rice trade, and the government has already curbed wheat and sugar exports to safeguard food security and control local prices.

    The jump in India’s rice prices reflect concern about output. Prices of some varieties have soared more than 10% in the past two weeks in major growing states such as West Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh due to deficient rain and increased demand from Bangladesh, said Mukesh Jain, a director at Sponge Enterprises Pvt., a rice shipper. Export prices may climb to $400 a ton by September from as much as $365 now on a free-on-board basis, he said.

    Most of the world’s rice is grown and consumed in Asia, making it vital for political and economic stability in the region. In contrast to the surge in wheat and corn prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rice has been subdued due to ample production and stockpiles, helping to ward off a bigger food crisis.

    Much is riding on the rice crop in India and the monsoon’s progress. Some agricultural scientists are optimistic that there’s still time to continue planting and make up for some of the shortfall. Rain is forecast to be normal for August to September, which may improve crop output.

    Farmers are less upbeat. Rajesh Kumar Singh, 54, a grower in Uttar Pradesh, said he planted rice on only half of his seven acres (2.8 hectares) of land due to a lack of rain in June and July. “The situation is really precarious,” he said.

    Rice prices are feeling the pressure, said Himanshu, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who goes by only one name. “Rarely any sowing happens after mid-July, so the hope that it will recover is unlikely to be the case,” he said, adding that a drop in output is a risk to inflation.

    Rice could present a fresh challenge to India’s inflation fight. Consumer prices have maintained above the Reserve Bank of India’s tolerance limit of 6% this year, prompting a sharp rise in interest rates. The central bank may increase borrowing costs further this week as a weakening rupee offsets the impact of falling commodity prices such as fuel and vegetable oils.

    If geographic disparities in rainfall persist, it could have a detrimental impact on crop production, negatively impacting economic growth and inflation, according to Sonal Varma, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc.

    Top Customers

    India supplies rice to more than 100 countries, with Bangladesh, China, Nepal and some Middle Eastern nations among its largest customers. For the world at large, there are some bright spots when it comes to food security. The US is poised to deliver a bumper wheat crop in the coming weeks, while Ukraine made its first grain shipment since Russia’s invasion.

    With India’s paddy output poised to decline in several states, the government should consider reviewing its policy of allocating rice for ethanol production, according to Siraj Hussain, a former secretary of India’s agriculture ministry.

    India seeks to boost ethanol production using surplus sugar and rice as part of efforts to cut its fuel costs. Surging food prices following the war in Ukraine have increased the risk of hunger and sparked a “food versus fuel” debate.

    “At this point of time, it is difficult to estimate the exact level of production loss,” Hussain said. But at current prices, there’s hardly any justification in allocating rice for ethanol output, he added.

  • Traditional Thai buffalo race kicks off rice growing season

  • Thai farmers raced their water buffaloes at a muddy annual race on Sunday to mark the beginning of the new rice growing season at the start of the monsoon weather, in a tradition dating back to the 1800s which celebrates the beasts of burden. Scores of spectators watched the racing on a 200 meter-long dirt track in the seaside province of Chonburi, some 80 km (50 miles) southeast of the capital, Bangkok. The race, which sometimes takes place at the end of the monsoon, was paused during the coronavirus pandemic but returned last year. Most Thai farmers no longer use water buffalo for farming but many are still keen to keep the animals. “Today, it doesn’t matter for for me if I win or lose. I wanted to preserve this tradition,” said Somchai Kamchab, 58, who owns a buffalo competing in the race.

  • Demand for India’s rice likely to shoot up in global market as floods hit crop in Southeast Asian nations

  • Demand for Indian rice is expected to increase amid heavy flooding in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, which have been dominant players for this staple grain in the global export market. The heavy floods along the Mekong River belt have caused severe damage to crops in the two Southeast Asian countries. The paddy fields have been particularly washed away giving rise to concerns over food security amid surging global food prices driven by the Russia-Ukraine war.

    Even as sowing of the grain in India this year is estimated to be 17 per cent lower due to inadequate rains in states such as Bihar and Orissa, analysts said that there is no cause for any worry as the country is sitting on adequate stocks from last year.  However they maintained that New Delhi must refrain from taking any "sudden decisions."

    "Such adhoc and knee jerk reaction and banning of outbound shipment create problems for Indian exporters, they find it difficult to get orders in the future,"  Anil Ghanwat, senior leader of Shetkari Sangathana, a Maharashtra based farmers union earlier told India Narrative.

    India accounts for about 40 per cent of the global rice supply.

    “India's rice #exports to benefit & rise to ~$10-12 bn as key competitors ie Thailand & Vietnam suffer from loss in yields & cost surge. #India likey to #export 22 out of the 53 MT #rice demanded globally with market share of 40% in 2022,” Sachchidanand Shukla, Chief Economist, Mahindra Group said in a tweet.

    Indian rice is also less expensive compared to the grain sold by Thailand and Vietnam.

    According to World Grain, an analysis website, shrinking the price spread with Thailand and Vietnam, Pakistani quotes rose $40 to $420 per tonne amid steady demand from China. “Indian quotes rose minimally by $5 to $350 per tonne and remain the lowest globally with large supplies,” it said.

    Even as the price of Thai rice fell amid the uncertainties, it was more than the Indian rate.

    The problem of flooding is not specific to Southeast Asia. Even Bangladesh and parts of India – especially the northeast have been in the grip of floods. But at the same time there are states which have received less rain.

    “Sowing of paddy has been lower this year but a 17 per cent less sowing is nothing to cause any alarm. We have ample stocks, left from the last year’s yields…in fact due to large stocks, many farmers in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are also considering whether or not to sow paddy as then there will be problems related to storing. Our stocks are more than enough to feed our own people and export,” Ghanwat said.

    Meanwhile, news organisation , Vietnam Plus as the Mekong River water level is rising steadily and people living along its two banks in Thailand have been warned to be ready for dealing with floods that can happen at any time.

    The Mekong River belt is crucial for multiple crops. Besides paddy, beans, leafy vegetables, watermelon, chilies, various herbs, and many other varieties of vegetables are grown.

  • Basmati Rice is under Threat in Export Market due to EU’s Stricter Pesticide Residue Standards

  • The basmati industry is also concerned that the proposed FSSAI MRL standards, which are even stricter than the Codex standards that are normally followed globally, will halt basmati exports. The All-India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has urged the government not to implement the proposed rice MRL.

    Basmati rice varieties, including the world's longest grain developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), are under threat in the export market after countries such as Qatar and Jordan began adhering to the European Union's maximum residue limit (MRL) standards.

    However, IARI's new disease-resistant varieties and FSSAI's proposed domestic standards may help India offer the world's safest aromatic rice.

    The basmati industry is also concerned that the proposed FSSAI MRL standards, which are even stricter than the Codex standards that are normally followed globally, will halt basmati exports. The All-India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has urged the government not to implement the proposed rice MRL.

    Due to quality restrictions, basmati rice exports to the European Union fell 35% to 2.2 lakh tonne (lt) in 2021-22 from the previous year, while overall aromatic rice exports to all countries fell 15% to 39.5 lt. Though exports to the UAE and Lebanon increased in the last fiscal year, they remain lower than previous highs. According to sources, three main varieties — Pusa Basmati (PB) 1121 (the world's first most elongated rice after cooking), PB 1509, and PB 1401 — account for roughly 90% of basmati exports.

    For example, exports to the UAE were approximately 2.6 lt last year, compared to approximately 3 lt in 2018-19. Similarly, exports to Lebanon fell by a quarter in 2020-21, but increased marginally last year to around 9,300 tonnes. Despite industry concerns about Egypt, which has begun to follow EU MRL standards, it has been increasing every year for the last five years. Last year, the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, and the EU together accounted for 16% of India's total Basmati export.

    The FSSAI MRL norms were first notified in December 2018, and a draught notification was published in August 2020, in which MRLs for some pesticides were made extremely stringent. FSSAI has proposed changing MRLs for 18 pesticides used in the paddy crop (including Basmati). According to sources, Acephate and Chlorpyriphos are two of the nine pesticides that have raised concerns in the EU.

    According to the 2018 FSSAI notification, the MRL for carbendazim and cypermethrin is 2 (mg/kg), which has been proposed to be reduced to 0.05 and 0.01, respectively. "We are unable to meet even the FSSAI's 2018 standards." If the revised 2020 notification is implemented, pesticide residue standards will become more stringent, resulting in a much higher drop in future exports," said an industry representative to the government.

    "If the 2020 notification is implemented, not a single grain of Basmati rice produced will be compliant with norms," an exporter explained. "Residue problems have plagued Indian Basmati since 2012." Ad hoc approaches to residue issues in the past have jeopardized exports," said S Chandrasekaran, a trade policy analyst.

    Chandrasekaran suggested that exporters work with specific backward linkages systems until individual farmers are the solution and that the government should release varieties after appropriate scrutiny in accordance with emerging SPS standards. He also stated that the draught FSSAI standards may be the impetus for finding a permanent solution to this problem.

    However, AK Singh, director of IARI and inventor of PB 1509, stated, "It is not that the problem has arisen as a result of PB 1121 or PB 1509." (both of which are grown in 6 lakh hectare area, each). The earlier varieties were also susceptible to disease. The disease appears over time as an area under a particular variety grows, which is a natural phenomenon.”

    Singh stated that IARI has developed three improved varieties to combat bacterial blight and blast diseases: PB 1509 will be replaced with PB 1847, PB 1401 will be replaced with PB 1886, and PB 1121 will be replaced with PB 1885.

    During the most recent kisan mela in March, IARI distributed 20 quintals of these seeds to 2,000 farmers for multiplication (1 kg can produce 2 quintal seeds) in this kharif season, Singh said, adding that in 2-3 years, these would be able to address some concerns, particularly about Tricyclazole. "Right now, we're working on developing some varieties to combat the Brown planthopper, another common pest in paddy," Singh explained.

  • Rice import from India resumes after 10 months

  • A total of 512 metric tonnes of rice entered Bangladesh on Thursday and Sunday

    Rice being sold at market Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

    Rice import from India resumed at Benapole land port after 10 months, following a ban from Bangladesh government to ensure fair prices at domestic markets. 

    A total of two consignments, consisting of 512 metric tonnes of Rice entered Bangladesh on Thursday and Sunday. 

    Each tonne of rice is being imported at Tk30,650 ($340). For every kilogram of rice, Importers are paying Tk9.90 at 27.5% import duty.

    Imported parboiled Swarna rice is said to be sold at Tk47-48 per kg in the domestic market.

    Md Matiar Rahman, director of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce said on August 31 last year, Bangladesh barred rice imports from India to ensure better market price for locally produced products.

    “Nevertheless, as domestic crops were drastically damaged by the floods in the country's northern regions, the food ministry allowed 95 importers to import 4,09,000 tonnes of rice from India on June 30,” he added.

    He further mentioned that 379,000 metric tonnes of boiled rice and 30,000 metric tonnes of Atap rice are among the imported products. “The ministry also has directed to complete marketing of the imported rice by August 11.”

    Mamun Kabir Tarafdar, deputy director (Traffic) of Benapole Port, said rice would be released within 24 hours so traders can clear the rice quickly from the port. 

    On the other hand, a request has also been made to ensure that the trucks are not stuck at the Indian border for a long time, he added.

    Meanwhile, buyers have complained that the price of imported rice is high. 

    Mintu Mia told the Bangla Tribune: “Swarna coarse rice is being sold at Tk45 per kg. I was hoping that when Indian rice imports start, the prices will drop in the domestic market.”

  • India’s rice exports to surge on global crunch

  • Key competitors Thailand and Vietnam facing cost pressures, robust kharif crops also to boost shipments

    The decline in rice crop yields in Thailand and Vietnam and their increased costs of production may turn out to be bonanza for India’s rice exports in the current fiscal year, trade sources said. India is exporting rice at around $360 a tonne to key markets at present while Thailand and Vietnam are offering the grain at around $ 420 a tonne. The gap, according to the sources, is expected to widen in the coming months. Besides, prospects of a reasonably strong kharif crop could enable Indian exporters to fetch higher realisations. Even in volume terms, India’s rice exports in the current year could match or slightly exceed last year’s record level of 21 million tonne, according to V Krishna Rao, president, All India Rice Exporters Association.

    The prospects of another record in rice shipments come at a time when the country has imposed strict curbs on export of wheat due to depleting domestic stocks.
    According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rice outlook report released in June, the global rice trade in 2022 calendar year are projected at a record 54.3 mt. “India’s exports are projected to a record 22 mt and account for almost 41% of global shipments,” said the report. The USDA also stated that India’s projected rice exports are likely to exceed the combined shipments of the next three-largest exporters—Thailand, Vietnam, and Pakistan this year.

    Trade sources said major rice producers such as Vietnam, China and Thailand have been raising the issue of high production and freight costs which would make their rice much costlier than what India offers. Exports in value terms this year could be $10-12 billion, an all-time high.

    India has been the world’s largest rice exporter in the last decade — export earnings stood at $ 8.8 billion in 2020-21 and $9.6 billion in 2021-22.

    According to commerce ministry data, India’s value of rice exports rose by 12% to $ 2.6 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal.

    “We will sustain the momentum in rice exports in the current fiscal through shipment of quality rice,” M Angamuthu, Chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said.

    The Food Corporation of India (FCI) as of July 1, 2022, had rice stocks of more than 31.7 MT against the buffer norm of 13.54 mt. However, this stock excludes 15 mt of rice yet to be received from the millers by FCI.

    An agriculture ministry official said widespread monsoon rains especially in the key rice growing states since the beginning of the month is expected to give a boost to rice production which is predominantly a kharif crop. The official said rice sowing, which was lagging behind by more than 22% last week compared to last year, has picked up pace and rice sowing will reach normal levels soon.

    “India is in a position to cater to the world market in a big way and exports are expected to pick up pace after two months, currently earlier orders for shipments are being executed,” Vijay Setia, former president of All India Rice Exporters Association and an exporter, said.

    As per DGCIS data, India exported rice to over 150 countries in 2021-22. “It indicates the diversification of India’s rice export over the years,” a commerce ministry official said.

    Out of 21 MT of rice shipment in FY22, India exported more than 17 MT of non-basmati rice and the rest of the volume was aromatic and long grain Basmati rice. In terms of volume, Bangladesh, China, Benin and Nepal are five major export destinations of rice.

    As per third advance estimates for 2021-22 crop year (July-June), the rice production is estimated at a record 129.66 mt against the last five years’ average production of 116 mt.

  • Asia Rice: Strong demand props up India export rates

  • Indian rice export prices rose this week buoyed by strong demand as the rupee weakened, while Bangladesh allowed traders to import 700,000 tonnes of rice.

    India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $361 to $366 per tonne, up from the last week’s $355 to $360.

    Indian rice is trading at a hefty discount compared to Thai rice because of depreciation in the rupee, which has increased traders’ margin from overseas sales, said an exporter based at Kakinada in southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

    India’s rice farmers have planted 4.3 million hectares with the grain so far this season, government data showed, down 27% from the same period last year.

    Bangladesh will be importing most of the rice from India due to competitive prices and proximity, traders said.

    Last month, the government slashed import duty to 25% from 62.5% amid a spike in rice prices in Bangladesh after widespread destruction of crops due to flooding.

    While Bangladesh is the world’s third-biggest rice producer, it often requires imports to cope with shortages due to natural disasters.

    Vietnam’s 5% broken rice were offered at $415-$420 per tonne, unchanged from last week.

    “Domestic supplies continue to build up as farmers in the Mekong Delta have harvested around 30% of the summer-autumn crop,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    “However, traders are slowing down their purchases of paddy from farmers, waiting for domestic prices to ease because logistics costs remain very high for us.”

    Meanwhile, traders said global demand for Vietnamese rice is expected to remain strong during the rest of the year due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices rose to about $420 per tonne from $412-$415 last week.

    “Demand and price have been stable even though the currency has been weak. This is because Thai rice is priced higher than India and Vietnam,” a Bangkok-based trader said.

  • Humble rice bran becomes hot commodity as India scours for edible oils

  • Rice bran oil is the nutritional oil extracted from the bran of the rice kernel. It is naturally rich in vitamin E – a mix spectrum of tocopherol and tocotrienol.

    MUMBAI:Rice bran has become a sought-after commodity in India as the world's biggest importer of vegetable oils tries to overcome an edible oil shortage caused by global supply disruptions.

    A by-product in rice milling, rice bran has been traditionally used for cattle and poultry feed. In recent years, oil mills have started extracting rice oil, which is popular among health-conscious consumers but historically more expensive than rival oils.

    Rice bran oil accounts for a small portion of overall vegoil consumption in India but is one of the fastest-growing among edible oils, industry officials say, and production and imports are set to increase to meet the demand.

    The recent rally in global edible oil prices fuelled by Indonesia's restrictions on palm oil exports and disruptions to sunflower oil shipments from Ukraine has wiped out rice bran oil's traditional premium over rival oils. That has triggered a surge in demand for bran oil which has similar taste properties to sunflower oil.

    As sunflower oil imports plunged from Ukraine, consumers started replacing it with rice bran oil, said B.V. Mehta, secretary general of the International Association of Rice Bran Oil (IARBO). India usually fulfills more than two-thirds of its sunflower oil requirements through imports from Ukraine.

    "Because of COVID-19, I was looking for healthier food options. I first used rice bran oil for health benefits six months ago and since then I've been using it," said Aditi Sharma, a Mumbai-based homemaker, who switched to rice bran oil from sunflower oil.

    "It tastes good and is good for health as well," Sharma said, referring to the oil's cholestrol-lowering and anti-oxidative properties.

    In India, rice bran oil is now trading at 147,000 Indian rupees ($1,879) per tonne compared with sunflower oil at 170,000 rupees.

    Rice bran oil usually commands around a 25% premium over other oils, but in recent months has been cheaper than imported vegetable oils, making it more affordable for the masses, according to data compiled by Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA).

    Competitive prices boosted rice bran oil consumption since March and has encouraged companies to extract more oil.

    Sharma said that even if premiums returned, she would still buy rice bran oil for her family of four.

    FROM BY-PRODUCT TO MAIN

    The demand for rice bran oil has become so strong that it has flipped the economics for rice millers, who are now prioritising bran oil output.

    "For rice mills, instead of by-product, now rice bran has become a main product," said Puneet Goyal, chief executive officer at Ricela Group, the country's biggest producer of rice bran oil.

    To meet rising demand Ricela is planning to increase oil refining capacity to 750 tonnes per day in the next two months from 600 tonnes, Goyal said.

    With a vegetable oil shortage, oil mills are ready to pay record high prices for bran, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association.

    Rice bran prices have jumped to 30,000 rupees to 36,000 rupees per tonne compared with paddy prices of around 19,000 rupees, which is milled for rice extraction.

    However, a shortage of oil processors in all rice milling areas remains a key limiting factor on bran oil supply, as rice bran must be processed into oil within 48 hours of being separated from chaff in order to be fit for human consumption.

    Only 55% of bran is currently processed, with the remainder going to the lower priced feed market.

    Even so, with several oil processors maximising output, the country is on course for record bran oil production of 1.05 million tonnes this year, up from around 950,000 tonnes in 2021, which should help India reduce imports of rival oils.

    GROWING DEMAND

    Edible oil consumption in India trebled over the past two decades as the population rose, incomes increased and people started to eat out more.

    The country consumes around 23 million tonnes of vegetable oil per annum, with nearly 13 million tonnes coming from imports. Locally-produced bran oil can meet about 5% of overall vegoil consumption.

    Companies such as Adani Wilmar ADAW.NS, Emami EMAM.NS and Cargill's Indian unit have launched their own rice bran oil brands to meet rising urban demand.

    Rice bran oil brands have become popular and consumer acceptance has been rising, said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India's biggest rice exporter.

    "This new segment is just growing," Agarwal said, adding that companies previously offering mainly palm, soybean, sunflower and rapeseed oils were now launching rice bran oil products.

    Even institutional buyers such as PepsiCo PEP.O and Haldirams are increasing use of bran oil for frying, said Goyal of Ricela.

    But local supplies are not enough to cater to rising demand.

    "A few companies are importing rice bran oil from Bangladesh, but even Bangladesh has limited surplus for the exports," said IARBO's Mehta.

    ($1 = 78.2320 Indian rupees)- Reuters

  • Ninety three lakh tonnes of paddy lying idle at rice mills

  • Refusal of Food Corporation of India to lift stocks

    Custom milling of 93.5 lakh lakh tonnes of paddy had stopped abruptly at rice mills after two months of uninterrupted operations since June 7 due to the refusal of the Food Corporation of India to lift stocks primarily because the State government has not implemented the sixth phase of Prime Minister’s Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme of free supply of rice to poor due to COVID from April.

    The sixth phase was spread over April to September this year but the government drew its quota of free rice from the FCI promptly in April and May and did not supply. It began the distribution only this month with the assurance to extend the same till November to make up for the loss of initial two months. However, the Centre was not convinced not only about free rice but figures about storage of rice at mills, paddy procurement audit and failure of mills to cooperate with physical verification of stocks by the FCI. 

    As a result of suspension of milling for the last eighteen days, the paddy stocks at mills were exposed to damage due to rain and sprouting of weeds from within gunny sacks.   

    There was no response from Centre to repeated pleas of State government to resume the procurement of custom milled rice as it had committed to extend the distribution of free rice under PMGKAY by two months. A recent enquiry from the Centre whether the distribution had indeed started this month had given a glimmer of hope to the State of positive tidings. In this backdrop, the government had decided to wait till Tuesday before taking further action.  

    In the event of continued reluctance of Centre to buy rice from the State, the government was said to have considered a few alternatives like e-tendering by letting millers buy the stocks at their own mills at reduced prices to compensate for damage. If so, what should be the basic price?. The government was reportedly considering a selling price of ₹1,700 to 1,750 per quintal though it procured at the minimum support price of ₹1.960 a quintal which went up to ₹ 2,200 a quintal factoring in transportation, cost of gunny sacks and commissions. 

    The government had procured 50.12 lakh tonnes of paddy in rabi of 2021-22 which was yet to be milled and awaiting custom milling of pending 38 lakh tonnes pertaining to kharif of the same year and 5.5 lakh tonnes of rabi in 2020-21. With a yield of 67 kg of rice per quintal of paddy, the FCI was supposed to lift 33.58 lakh tonnes for rabi of 2021-22 alone and 62.2 lakh tonnes of rice on the whole for three seasons. The value of the stocks was worth about ₹19,904 crore. 

    On the other hand, the government had taken a loan of ₹22,000 crore to procure paddy in kharif and rabi of 2021-22 at an interest of ₹110 crore per month. Therefore, it was felt the FCI’s purchase of stocks to the tune of ₹19,904 crore would bail out the State government to a large extent. But, the Centre had given no indication of this. Ministers T. Harish Rao and G. Kamalakar and Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar discussed the issue elaborately on Friday and decided to wait for the next move till a final word from the Chief Minister next week.   

  • Asia rice: India rates dip on rupee plunge, floods destroy BD crop

  • HANOI/BANGKOK/MUMBAI/DHAKA: Indian rice export prices fell this week despite robust demand as the rupee hit a record low, while widespread flooding laid waste to crops in Bangladesh.

    Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $355-$360 per tonne, compared with last week’s $357-$362. On Wednesday, the rupee touched a record low of 78.39 against the dollar, increasing exporters’ margin from overseas sales.

    But demand for Indian rice, especially for the broken white variety, is strong as prices are more competitive than rival exporters, said an exporter based at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.

    India’s surprise ban on wheat exports last month has prompted rice traders to increase purchases and place unusual orders for longer-dated deliveries, fearing further curbs.

    Meanwhile, deadly floods have damaged 75,000 hectares of paddy in Bangladesh, agriculture ministry official Humayun Kabir said. “The devastation is huge. More crops could be damaged as new areas are being flooded.”

    Bangladesh, traditionally the world’s third biggest rice producer, relies on imports to cope with shortages caused by natural disasters. Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices eased to $420-$425 per tonne from $430-$440 last week due to weakness in the baht, trading near a five-and-a-half year low against the dollar on Thursday, and pressure from rising oil prices.

    “Prices dropped because the baht was weaker while demand is not exciting,” a Bangkok-based trader said, adding higher oil prices have increased transportation costs.

    Vietnam’s 5% broken rice also slipped to $418-$423 per tonne from last week’s $420-$425. “Supply is building up but demand is not as strong as a week ago,” said a trader in the Mekong Delta.

    “Customers are now approaching just to update prices, not to seal the deal. Some already stocked up enough from the winter-spring crop,” the trader said, adding China and the Philippines were still the biggest markets for Vietnamese rice.

  • RPT-ASIA RICE-INDIA RATES DIP ON RUPEE PLUNGE, FLOODS DESTROY BANGLADESH CROP

  • June 23 (Reuters) - Indian rice export prices fell this week despite robust demand as the rupee hit a record low, while widespread flooding laid waste to crops in Bangladesh.

    Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted at $355-$360 per tonne, compared with last week's $357-$362.

    On Wednesday, the rupee touched a record low of 78.39 against the dollar, increasing exporters' margin from overseas sales.

    But demand for Indian rice, especially for the broken white variety, is strong as prices are more competitive than rival exporters, said an exporter based at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.

    India's surprise ban on wheat exports last month has prompted rice traders to increase purchases and place unusual orders for longer-dated deliveries, fearing further curbs.

    Meanwhile, deadly floods have damaged 75,000 hectares of paddy in Bangladesh, agriculture ministry official Humayun Kabir said. "The devastation is huge. More crops could be damaged as new areas are being flooded."

    Bangladesh, traditionally the world's third biggest rice producer, relies on imports to cope with shortages caused by natural disasters.

    Thailand's 5% broken rice prices <RI-THBKN5-P1> eased to $420-$425 per tonne from $430-$440 last week due to weakness in the baht, trading near a five-and-a-half year low against the dollar on Thursday, and pressure from rising oil prices.

    "Prices dropped because the baht was weaker while demand is not exciting," a Bangkok-based trader said, adding higher oil prices have increased transportation costs.

    Vietnam's 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> also slipped to $418-$423 per tonne from last week's $420-$425.

    "Supply is building up but demand is not as strong as a week ago," said a trader in the Mekong Delta.

    "Customers are now approaching just to update prices, not to seal the deal. Some already stocked up enough from the winter-spring crop," the trader said, adding China and the Philippines were still the biggest markets for Vietnamese rice.

    (Reporting by Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi, Chayut Setboonsarng in Bangkok, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

  • Sri Lanka import 50,000 Mt rice under Indian credit line: Wickremesinghe

  • Crisis-hit Sri Lanka has decided to import 50,000 metric tonnes of rice under the Indian credit line to curb an abnormal rise in rice prices, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Thursday

    Crisis-hit Sri Lanka has decided to import 50,000 metric tonnes of rice under the Indian credit line to curb an abnormal rise in rice prices, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Thursday, as the island nation is grappling with an impending food shortage.

    The decision was taken after a discussion held at the Prime Minister's Office to allocate funds to the State Trading Corporation under the Indian loan assistance programme, news portal EconomyNext reported.

    This is expected to avert a possible rice shortage in the future and to curb the abnormal rise in rice prices, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement on Thursday.

    In March, India extended a USD 1 billion credit line to the cash-strapped Sri Lankan government to tide over the current economic turmoil as well as in dealing with the food shortage.

    After an agreement to extend the line of credit was inked, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India has always stood with the people of Sri Lanka and will continue to extend all possible support to the country.

    In April 2021, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced a ban on chemical fertilisers, which led to a crippling blow to the production of rice and other essential food items.

    Prior to the fertiliser ban, Sri Lanka was self-sufficient in rice production.

    The situation was exacerbated by an acute scarcity of foreign exchange reserves, which meant that the Sri Lankan economy would head into a tailspin.

    The UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy had said that nearly 4.9 million are currently in need of food assistance, making up for nearly 25 per cent of the country's population.

    With Sri Lanka in the throes of an impending food shortage, Wickremesinghe has invited David Beasley, the Executive Director at the United Nations World Food Programme to visit Sri Lanka.

    The nearly bankrupt country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.

    Sri Lanka's total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.

    (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.)

  • India holds ample rice stocks, no plans to curb exports

  • NEW DELHI: India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, has ample stocks of rice and there is no plan to restrict exports, the top official at the food ministry said on Monday.

    India banned wheat exports in a surprise move last month.

    Asia rice: India rates rise as fears of export curb accelerate demand

    “We have more than sufficient stocks of rice, so there is no plan to consider this,” Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said responding to a question whether India would consider any curb on rice exports.

  • Why India holds the key to global rice market outlook

  • MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: India’s surprise decision to ban wheat exports has raised concerns about potential curbs on rice exports as well, prompting rice traders to step up purchases and place atypical orders for longer-dated deliveries.

    Government and trade officials have said India, the world’s biggest exporter of rice, does not plan to curb shipments for now, as local prices remain low and state warehouses hold ample supplies.

    That’s a relief for import-dependent countries already grappling with surging food costs, but most of India’s rice growing season lies ahead and any change in prospects for the harvest could alter its stance on exports of the staple grain.

    Monsoon rains determine the size of India’s rice crop, and plentiful rains this year would help it maintain its pre-eminent position in the global rice trade.

    Patchy monsoon rains, however, would stunt the crop and cut yields and that might lead to a drawdown in state inventories that would trigger export curbs to ensure sufficient supplies for the country’s 1.4 billion people.

    WHY IS INDIA SO CRUCIAL FOR GLOBAL RICE SUPPLIES? India’s rice exports touched a record 21.5 million tonnes in 2021, more than the combined shipments of the world’s next four biggest exporters of the grain: Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States.

    India, the world’s biggest rice consumer after China, has a market share of more than 40% of the global rice trade. High domestic stocks and low local prices allowed India to offer rice at deep discounts over the past two years, helping poorer nations, many in Asia and Africa, grapple with soaring wheat prices.

    India exports rice to more than 150 countries, and any reduction in its shipments would fuel food inflation. The grain is a staple for more than 3 billion people, and when India banned exports in 2007, global prices shot to new peaks.

    WHO WILL SUFFER THE MOST IF INDIA RESTRICTS RICE EXPORTS?

    Any move to restrict exports from India would hit almost every rice importing country. It would also allow rival suppliers Thailand and Vietnam to raise prices that are already more than 30% above Indian shipments.

    Other than serving Asian buyers like China, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines, India supplies rice to countries such as Togo, Benin, Senegal and Cameroon.

    WHAT’S THE ROLE OF INDIA’S MONSOON?

    India’s summer-sown rice accounts for more than 85% of the country’s annual production, which jumped to a record 129.66 million tonnes in the crop year to June 2022.

    Millions of farmers start planting summer rice in June, when the monsoon lashes India. The monsoon, which delivers about 70% of India’s annual rainfall, is crucial for water-thirsty rice. Indian farmers rely on monsoon rains to water half of the country’s farmland that lacks irrigation. In 2022, India is forecast to receive an average amount of rainfall.

    But since June 1, when the four-month monsoon season began, rains are 41% below average. The rains are expected pick up by mid-June and spur the sowing of rice. Three years of average or above-average rains, and new, modern farming practices have ramped-up rice output.

    SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT WORRY ABOUT RICE SUPPLIES?

    India at present has more than sufficient stocks of rice, and local prices are lower than the state-set prices at which the government buys paddy rice from farmers.

    Rice export prices are also trading near the lowest in more than five years. Meanwhile, milled and paddy rice stocks at government granaries of 57.82 million tonnes are more than quadruple a target of 13.54 million tonnes. Unlike for wheat, India did not see a surge in rice exports after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, as the Black Sea region is not a major producer or consumer of rice.

  • Philippines keeps Indian rice import tariffs at 35%: Here’s why

  • Move aimed at curbing inflation, cushioning low yields, possible price hike

    • The Philippines is one of the world's biggest importers of rice.
    • Rice is a staple in the Asian country, which has seen spikes in inflation. 
    • The tariff cuts to 35% (from 50%) for rice imports from India extended till end-2022.

    Manila: Why is the Philippines extending the 35% tariff level for rice imports from India (from the original 50%) until end-2022?

    The move was made through an executive order that lowers the tariff rate for rice imported from outside Southeast Asia.

    What triggered the move? A number of reasons, but primarily three: inflation, lower yields, impending price hikes.

    Price of rise has been steadily rising

    In the last two decades, the FAO Rice Price Index (a measure of the monthly change in international rice prices), doubled between the year 2000 and 2020.

    Recently, Philippine inflation spiked to 3-year high as the country’s central bank reported that it accelerated to 5.4 per cent in May — the highest since December 2018 — owing to higher transport cost.

    Lower yields due to climate, economic and geopolitical factors also form part of the reason. Rice is the daily staple of the country’s more than 109.6 million inhabitants (and also of about 3.5 billion people globally).

    As for cartelisation, Thailand and Vietnam have both announced plans to set up a rice supplier group. On May 30, Thailand’s government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, said Bangkok and Hanoi planned to hike the prices of the grain to double farmers’ income and obtain bargaining power in the international market.

    Thanakorn said that one reasons behind the plan is that food grain prices have been flat for almost 2 decades now even as the production cost has increased.

    Southeast Asia accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s rice exports.

    More affordable rice from India

    Indian rice stays highly competitive in the global market — its 25% broken white rice was quotes at $342 per tonne over the weekend, according to the International Grains Council (IGC).

    The price slid further to $327/tonne on June 8. On the other hand, Vietnam quotes $421 for its 5% broken white rice and Thailand $449 for the same grade.

    Booming rice exports

    The move to keep the tariff cuts could give Philippine consumers a breather from rising inflation.

    This also gives Indian producers a good chance to boost exports.

    M Madan Prakash, President of Agri Commodity Exporters Association was quoted as saying: “Rice exports from India are booming now. We are quoting at least $100 a tonne less than Vietnam and Thailand. China, Vietnam, and the Philippines are purchasing good volumes.”

    He added: “The government in Manila is looking for government-to-government exports since private traders importing rice are selling it at a higher price.”

    Ricebowl status

    Rice is the main food crop in Asia — which includes the world’s two largest producers, China and India, and the three largest exporters, [India, Vietnam and Thailand].

    But as rising demand of the tiny seed hangs in the balance amid environmental challenges, Asean’s rice bowl economy faces new challenges.

    Among the world’s food staples, the amount of rice available for export trade is among the lowest — typically under 10 per cent of global production each year.

    The reason: rice is mostly consumed where it is produced, according to Paul Teng, senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. A shortfall in production could affect the rice security of millions.

    Rice
    The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that rice production must increase by 5 million tonnes per year to keep up with demand from increasing populations.

    Underinvestment, climate, low yield

    The Philippines suffers from underinvestment in agriculture and is frequented by strong typhoons, making it vulnerable to supply shortfalls.

    In April, with record rainfall, flood alerts were up in at least 6 Philippine regions comprising more than 20 provinces, due to a low-pressure area (LPA) at the tail-end of the so-called “La Niña” phenomenon, which dumped heavy rains on several regions in the country’s east and south-east.

    A March report in the journal Nature warned that Southeast Asia’s “rice bowl” status is under “severe threat”.

    The yield gaps are increasing when farmers are only able to obtain about half the yields they should get from their seeds, the journal reported.

    To narrow yield gaps, the study warns of the urgency for Southeast Asia rice producers to take action “now”, in order for the region remain a major rice bowl for import-dependent countries like Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.

    Is there enough rice for everyone?

    Then there’s the bigger picture: the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that rice production must increase by 5 million tonnes per year to keep up with demand from increasing populations.

    This poses a challenge due to continuing reduction of rice lands, industrial and urbanisation use, declining freshwater resources and farm labour pose hurdles.

    India: the largest rice exporter

    India is the world’s largest rice exporter, accounting for about 40 per cent of global exports. In 2021, rice shipments from the India topped 21.3 million tonnes, including Basmati rice.

    The Philippines imposes a 50 percent duty on rice imports from non-Asean countries, thus giving a most preferred nation (MFN) status to its two Asean neighbours. Given Manila’s recent move, this preferential treatment won't holding for now, at least till the end of the year.

  • Here’s why world’s largest basmati rice exporter has its eyes on non-basmati space

  • KRBL, world's largest basmati rice exporter, is focusing on enhancing its presence in the non-basmati space with its plans to set up three plants in Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Of these, the plant in Karnataka would exclusively produce non-basmati rice.

    “The idea behind this is that the India Gate brand and the overall India Gate platform offer significant benefits to consumers, which we now want to sort of port onto the non-basmati space,” said Ashish Jain, CFO at KRBL, in an interview with CNBC-TV18.

    Jain added that while Gujarat and Karnataka plants would be operational by FY24, the Madhya Pradesh plant would be ready by FY25.

    Data released by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS) in April showed that export of non-basmati rice was the top forex earner across all agri-commodities during the last financial year. India exported non-basmati rice worth $6,115 million in 2021-22, up 27.4 percent against $4,799 million recorded in the previous year.

    While the Indian rice market is primarily dominated by unorganized players, the organized sector – which targets the Tier 1 and 2 cities – is primarily run by KRBL, LT Foods, Kohinoor Foods, Adani Wilmar, Amir Chand Jagdish Kumar, among others. The leading packed rice brands are India Gate, Dawaat, and Kohinoor.

    According to a report by KRBL, world's largest rice miller and exporter, the company’s volume market share in the basmati space stood at 35 percent, compared to 19 percent of LT Food, 5 percent of Adani Wilmar and 3 percent each of Aroma and Shree Jaina in Q3FY22. Non-basmati rice market is mainly controlled by localised players.

    KRBL had last week reported a weak set of numbers for the fourth quarter of financial year 2022 with its gross margin falling to 31 percent against 32.8 percent last year. Revenue rose slightly by 1.38 percent at Rs 987 crore against the Rs 974 crore for the same period last year.

    EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization stood at Rs 163 crore, down from last year’s Rs 209 crore while net profit was at Rs 109 crore against the Rs 138 crore last year.

    The numbers were weak for the full year as well with gross margins down to 28 percent against 31.3 percent, EBITDA down to Rs 705 crore against Rs 846 crore and net profit down to Rs 460 crore from Rs 560 crore. Revenue was up by 5 percent to Rs 4,211 crore.

    The company’s rice realization increase — 22 percent over Q4FY21 — was offset by 25 percent increase in input cost, impacting gross margins while the inventory was lower as paddy purchase went down in the third quarter.

    However, Jain says that the company looks forward to a positive FY23 as the domestic demand remains strong and the challenges no longer remain in exports.

    Speculations had risen in the last two weeks that the government was looking to ban rice export like wheat and sugar exports. However, reports now say that the Centre has started pushing rice export with no expectations of restrictions anytime soon owing to a large domestic harvest and relatively lower global demand.

    According to Jain, the three principal drivers of performance in the rice space are volume, sales mix and efficiency in buying. Distribution is only a short term variable, he says.

    “The first is, of course, your volume sales. That's critical to sort of keep a steady pace on because rice is an inventory based business… The second key area to keep in mind is the sales mix, which determines the overall realization… And the third, of course, is the efficiency in buying,” said Jain.

    India is the second-largest producer of milled rice after China. It is the largest shipper of rice globally with 35.8 percent of world’s total rice exports, as per data from Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC).

    In 2020, India exported rice worth $8.21 billion, followed by Thailand ($3.88B), Vietnam ($2.74B), Pakistan ($2.14B), and United States ($1.92B).

  • Centre has no plans to ban or curb exports of basmati, non-basmati rice

  • India exported non-basmati rice to more than 150 nations in 2021-22.

    This comes amid reports of regulating overseas sale of rice after India banned wheat exports and capped shipment of sugar at 10 million tonnes in the ongoing 2021-22 marketing year (October-September) as a precautionary step to check local prices

    The Central Government has no plans to ban or impose curbs on export of either basmati or non-basmati rice as India has sufficient supplies and prices are under control.

    This comes amid reports of regulating overseas sale of rice after India banned wheat exports and capped shipment of sugar at 10 million tonnes in the ongoing 2021-22 marketing year (October-September) as a precautionary step to check local prices.

    "There is no move to regulate export of any kind of rice. There is enough supply in our godowns and even with private traders. Domestic prices are also under control as of now," a senior government official told PTI on Tuesday.

    Earlier today, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has directed regional authorities to physically verify all documents of applicants for the export of wheat before issuing registration certificates (RCs).

    In order to plug the loophole, it has been decided that the regional authorities will do a physical verification of all Letters of Credit, whether already approved or under process. Wherever necessary, the help of a professional agency may be taken for such verification, the ministry said in a statement.

    India has also received requests for the supply of over 1.5 million tonnes of wheat from several countries that need the staple to overcome shortages triggered by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

    "More than half a dozen countries have approached India for more than 1.5 million tonnes of wheat and we will see how to go about these requests," said a government official.

    "India is keen to help vulnerable countries and anyone who needs wheat," said the official involved in decision making.

    India, the world's second largest rice producer after China, had exported non-basmati rice worth $6.11 billion in 2021-22, up from $4.8 billion in 2020-21, official data reports.

    India exported non-basmati rice to more than 150 nations in 2021-22.

  • The Global Food Crunch: Will Rice Be Next?

  • A scientist shows "Golden Rice" (R) and ordinary rice at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

    In the most recent Capital Letter I have written about how disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine were triggering export bans by some food-producing nations (and risked triggering more), something made more dangerous by the way that, in a era of global food markets, the aim of self-sufficiency had been replaced by specialization. That works very well until it doesn’t.

    Rice may be India’s next food protectionism target after it restricted wheat and sugar exports, analysts say, a move that could have a devastating impact on global food security as it’s an important staple.

    India’s curbs on wheat and sugar exports sent shock waves through global markets as it marked an escalation in food protectionism that’s seen countries choke off flows of locally-grown supplies to the world. A similar move on rice by the No. 1 exporter at a time when crops like wheat and corn are soaring would threaten to plunge millions more into hunger and boost inflation risks.

    India is the world’s largest exporter of rice (accounting for about 40 percent of global trade).

    An export ban still seems unlikely, at least for now  There’s plenty of rice in the country, but it seems that the government will also be watching carefully what happens to the rice price (inflation has risen sharply in India, and is running at an eight-year high). Price appears to have been a major factor in India’s decision to introduce export restrictions on wheat (where a heatwave is hitting output, adding domestic to international pressure).

    If India does restrict exports, it will add to the growing global food crunch.

    Rice has been the one staple grain that’s helping to keep the world food crisis from getting worse. Unlike wheat and corn, which have seen prices skyrocket as the war in Ukraine disrupts supplies from a major breadbasket, rice prices have remained subdued due to ample production and existing stockpiles.

    That outlook can change if India decides to curb rice exports. It may spur other countries to follow a similar playbook, as it did during the 2008 food crisis, when Vietnam also restricted rice shipments.

    Thailand and Vietnam should jointly raise rice prices to boost their bargaining power in the global market, according to Thai premier Prayuth Chan-Ocha, a move that threatens higher food costs for consumers worldwide.

    Such a step will benefit millions of rice farmers in the two countries who have struggled with rising costs while prices of the grain have remained subdued, Prayuth’s spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said in a statement. Vietnam’s Deputy Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Tran Thanh Nam met with Thai officials Thursday to discuss a framework for cooperation.

    For now, there is enough rice in the market to suggest that, even if the two countries try to increase prices in a coordinated move, they are likely to struggle, but that, of course, would change if India changed its position.

  • Weak rupee, plentiful stocks drag Indian rice prices to over 5-year low

  • HANOI/MUMBAI/BANGKOK/DHAKA: Indian rice export prices extended losses to their lowest in more than five years this week, hurt by a depreciation in local currency and as supply in top exporting nations remained abundant. India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $350 to $354 per tonne, down from last week’s $351 to $356 per tonne.

    “Demand is there but supplies are also ample. Many buyers are looking for 100% broken rice to replace expensive corn in animal feed,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The Indian rupee plunged to a record last week against the dollar, increasing exporters’ margin from overseas sales.

    Rice prices in neighboring Bangladesh rose again this week, despite good stocks, which traders blame on the rise in global markets. “We’re hearing India could restrict rice exports. Prices will go up again if they do so,” a Dhaka-based trader said.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $450 per tonne, up from $430-$445 last week, on strengthening of the domestic currency and rising cost of production.

    “Supply remains ample, but rice prices have gone up due to higher prices of fertilizers,” a Bangkok-based trader said. Demand has been muted in the past several weeks as higher prices have deterred potential buyers, another trader said.

    Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $415-$420 per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from a week ago.

    “The Philippines will continue to be Vietnam’s largest export market, but shipments to the European Union are expected to witness the fastest growth backed by the EU-Vietnam free trade agreement,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    Preliminary shipping data showed 369,882 tonnes of rice is to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City port from May 1 to May 28, with most of the rice heading to the Philippines, Africa and Cuba.

  • ASIA RICE-INDIA’S EXPORT PRICES DIP ON RUPEE DIVE, AMPLE DOMESTIC SUPPLY

  • * India rates at $351-$356 per tonne vs $357-$361 last week

    * Bangladesh has no plan to import rice this year - official

    By Roshan Abraham

    May 19 (Reuters) - Rice prices from top exporter India extended losses this week, pressured by ample domestic supplies and the rupee's dive to record lows.

    India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted at $351 to $356 per tonne, down from last week's $357- $361 range, as the rupee hit an all-time low at 77.79 versus the dollar this week.

    "The government is releasing more and more rice to feed poor people. The release has been putting pressure on the local prices," said an exporter based at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.

    A weaker rupee increases traders' margins from overseas sales, allowing them to cut export rates.

    Neighboring Bangladesh, traditionally the world's third biggest producer, which often resorts to imports to cope with shortages caused by natural disasters, has no plan to import rice this year, a food ministry official said, despite a rise in domestic prices again this week.

    "We have good stocks and good crops this time and we expect that our local procurement target will be fulfilled. There is no plan to import rice," the official said.

    Vietnam's 5% broken rice prices <RI-VNBKN5-P1> were unchanged at $415-$420 per tonne.

    "Domestic supplies are running low while trading activity remains weak," a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said.

    Preliminary shipping data showed 306,870 tonnes of rice is to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City port from May 1 to May 24, with most of it heading to the Philippines, Africa and Cuba.

    Meanwhile, Thailand's 5% broken rice prices <RI-THBKN5-P1> slipped to $430-$445 per tonne from $450 last week.

    Bangkok-based traders said markets have largely been muted since last week and the weak baht has made export prices attractive.

    The country exported 1.74 million tonnes between January and March, up 48.5% from the same period last year, according to data from Thailand's commerce ministry released earlier this week. (Reporting by Roshan Abraham in Bengaluru, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok and Ruma Paul in Dhaka Editing by Mark Potter)

  • A bowl of organic rice a day to keep the doc at bay

  • Speaking to DT Next, she gives us a lowdown on lesser-known rice varieties rich in nutrients required for the body.

    CHENNAI: We are the bridge that connects farmers and consumers. We are the middlemen so to speak,” Dr. Vijayalakshmi, Director of Sempulam Sustainable Solutions laughs.

    Sempulam Sustainable Solutions is a 30-year-old company that offers consultancy services to individuals keen on embarking upon sustainable and organic farming, at any scale.

    Vijayalakshmi is backed by a team of researchers, scientists, and farmers aiming to produce healthy and organic rice varieties.

    Speaking to DT Next, she gives us a lowdown on lesser-known rice varieties rich in nutrients required for the body.

    Arbutham Kuruvai:

    This rice variety is a short-term variety of rice that is cultivated in 60-70 days and hence the name. Arbutham Kuruvai is normally cultivated during the period Dec 15 to Mar 15 (Navarai and Kuruvai). This rice variety is rich in proteins, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Dishes like idli, dosa, idiyappam, puttu, porridge, and kozhukattai can be made with this rice variety. Since each variety has different cooking points, the method to cook this rice is a 1:2 rice to water ratio with three whistles on a pressure cooker.

    Raktashali:

    It is dark red in colour with normal texture. Other than it being used for cooking, this rice variety has medicinal properties and is considered nearly an extinct variety of medicinal rice. Ayurveda uses this rice to cure bodily imbalances, purify the blood, and also act as an immunity booster because of the high zinc content. This rice is recommended for lactating mothers. To cook this rice, it is recommended to soak the rice for a couple of hours and use the same water for cooking.

    Anandanoor Sanna:

    This rice gets its name from the region, Anandanoor where it is grown. Sanna which means fine and thin in Tamil indicates the quality of rice. It is generally cultivated from July 15 to January 14 (Samba) since the preferred soil for cultivation must be clayey in texture. The rice to water ratio is 1:2 with four whistles on the pressure cooker. It is rich in magnesium, phosphorus, and protein.

    Iravai Pandi:

    This rice variety is named after a king. It is usually cultivated from July 15 to January 14 (Samba) and needs sandy clay soil. This rice variety is most suitable for South Indian dishes. Soak the rice five hours before cooking. The rice to water ratio is 1:3 with four whistles. It is rich in calcium, potassium, and zinc.

    Karuthakaar:

    This rice variety is cultivated during Samba and is used by people with diabetes. It majorly helps the body build immunity to jaundice. It can be used to make idli, dosa, and other meals. Soak the rice four hours before cooking. The rice to ratio is 1:3 with four whistles. The texture of the cooked rice is coarse.

  • Prices of fertilizer soar, threatening Asian rice output

  • From India to Vietnam, cutbacks in nutrients could lead to food crisis 

    Freshly harvested rice in the Philippines, on April 10. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Veejay Villafranca.

    Soaring fertilizer costs have rice farmers across Asia scaling back their use, a move that threatens harvests of a staple that feeds half of humanity and could lead to a full-blown food crisis if prices aren't curbed.

    From India to Vietnam and the Philippines, prices of crop nutrients crucial to boosting food production have doubled or tripled in the past year alone. Lower fertilizer use may mean a smaller crop. The International Rice Research Institute predicts that yields could drop 10% in the next season, translating to a loss of 36 million tons of rice, or the equivalent of feeding 500 million people.

    That's a "very conservative estimate," said Humnath Bhandari, a senior agricultural economist at the institute, adding that the impact could be far more severe should the war in Ukraine continue.

    Fertilizer prices have been rising globally due to supply snags and production woes. More recently. the war has disrupted trade with Russia, a big supplier of every major type of crop nutrient. The surge in fertilizer costs is threatening to stoke food inflation if farmers continue to cut back and crop yields suffer. If that happens, global supply chains are likely to take a major hit: Practically every plate of food makes it to the dinner table with the help of fertilizers.

    Rice farmers are particularly vulnerable. Unlike wheat and corn, which have seen prices skyrocket as the war jeopardizes one of the world's major breadbaskets, rice prices have been subdued due to ample production and existing stockpiles. That means rice growers are having to deal with inflated costs while also not getting more money for their grains.

    Nguyen Binh Phong, the owner of a fertilizer and pesticide store in Vietnam's Kien Giang province, said the cost of a 110 pound sack of urea -- a form of nitrogen fertilizer -- has jumped three-fold over the past year. He said some farmers have slashed fertilizer use by 10% to 20% because of soaring prices, leading to a lower output.

    "When the farmers cut fertilizer use, they accept that they will get lower profit," he said.

    Governments in Asia, where much of the world's rice is harvested, are keen to avoid this scenario. Keeping prices under control is important for politicians, given rice's importance as a staple for hundreds of millions of people, especially lower income groups. Many nations provide fertilizer subsidies to increase yields of improved varieties of cereal crops.

    The fertilizer rally is increasing their fiscal burden. India, which relies heavily on fertilizer imports, is set to spend about $20 billion to shield farmers from higher prices, up from about $14 billion budgeted in February. The South Asian nation is the world's second-biggest producer of rice and exports to countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nepal and Bangladesh.

    Somashekhar Rao, 57, a farmer who grows rice on a 25-acre plot in Telangana, in southern India, said he's struggling with the increased cost of fertilizer. He expects yields to fall by 5-10% for his winter-sown crop because of the delay in securing enough supplies. Fertilizer is most effective when used on plants at their peak growing cycle.

    The crunch is not all bad. Overuse of chemical fertilizers is rife in the region. The surge in prices is encouraging farmers to use resources more efficiently, according to the International Rice Research Institute, which is working with growers to achieve optimal results. Solutions include utilizing a combination of chemical and organic inputs to maintain yields while improving soil health.

    Still, these steps will take time to implement. And as the war in Ukraine continues to disrupt economies across the world, farmers and the rice institute say the hardest days are perhaps yet to come.

    "If this continues, then it's inevitable" that prices will go up, Bhandari said. "It has to be reflected somewhere."

  • 40,000 MT of rice from India to reach SL

  • 40,000 MT of rice from India to reach SL COLOMBO (News 1st); The Ministry of Trade said that another 40,000 MT of rice imported via the Indian Line of Credit will reach Sri Lanka on Monday (11). The secretary to the Ministry of Trades, Bhadrani Jayawardena stated that the stock will be sold through Sathosa outlets as soon as it is received. 1kg of Nadu and Kekulu rice is sold at Rs.110/- and 1kg of Samba is sold at Rs.130/- through Sathosa. Meanwhile, the Association of Importers of Essential Commodities said that all essential commodities required by the people during the New Year season have been distributed throughout the island. The spokesman of the Association of Importers of Essential Commodities, Nihal Seneviratne said that there could be a slight shortage of milk powder. He also said that the prices of essential commodities will be reduced in the future.
     
     
     
     
  • India’s agri exports cross $50 bn in Covid-hit year; rice is top forex earner

  • According to the DGCI&S data, the export of wheat touched an all-time high at $2,118 million in 2021-22, growing 273% from the previous fiscal’s $567 million. agricultural reforms, Essential Commodities Act, farmers, agriculture sector India’s agricultural exports increased by about 20% to cross $50 billion for the year 2021-22, despite logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of high freight rates, and container shortages, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), which works under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has scripted history by exporting agricultural and processed food products to the tune of $25.6 billion, which is 51% of India’s total agriculture exports of $50 billion, the ministry said. It has also surpassed its own export target of $23.7 billion for the financial year 2021-22 by registering shipments of $25.6 billion. Major exporting destinations were Bangladesh, UAE, Vietnam, USA, Nepal, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, and Egypt. “The rise in export of agricultural and processed food products has been largely due to the various initiatives taken by Centre through APEDA such as organising B2B exhibitions in different countries, exploring new potential markets through product-specific and general marketing campaigns with the active involvement of Indian Embassies,” the ministry said. As per the ministry statement, the government organised more than 300 outreach programmes in collaboration with state governments for enhancing the exports of agricultural produce. “We have also created a products matrix for 50 agricultural products which have good scope for expanding our exports portfolios,” said Dr. M Angamuthu, Chairman, APEDA. As per the provisional figures released by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S), the agricultural exports have grown by 19.92% during 2021-22 to touch $50.21 billion. The growth rate is over and above the growth of 17.66% at $41.87 billion achieved in 2020-21. The cereal sector in APEDA exports contributes more than 52% share in 2021-22. Livestock products and other processed foods contribute 17 and 15% to APEDA export respectively in 2021-22.
    Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
    According to the DGCI&S data, the export of rice was the top forex earner at $9,654 million during 2021-22, growing 9.35% from the previous year when it was $8,829 million. The export of wheat touched an all-time high at $2,118 million in 2021-22, growing 273% from the previous fiscal’s $567 million, while other cereals registered a growth of 53% by fetching $1,083 million in 2021-22 compared to the previous financial year when it was $705 million. Export of pulses reported a growth of 34% touching $358 million in 2021-22 from $265 million in 2020-21. Dairy products grew by 96% standing at $634 million in 2021-22 from $323 million in 2020-21, while buffalo meat registered a growth of just 4% as export of bovine meat increased from $3,171 million in 2020-21 to $3,303 million in 2021-22. Export of poultry products rose to $71 million in 2021-22 from $58 million in the previous year and sheep/goat meat export was up by 34% to $60 million in 2021-22 from $44 million in the previous year. Fruits and vegetables exports were up by 12% to touch $1,676 million in 2021-22 against $1,492 million in 2020-21, while processed fruits and vegetable exports were up by 7% to reach $1,202 million in 2021-22 against $1,120 million in the previous year. Exports of other processed food items grew by 34% during 2021-22 to touch $1,164 million against $866 million in 2020-21. The cashew exports also grew by 7% to $452 million in 2021-22 from $420 million in the previous year. Floriculture products reported a rise of 33% when they touched $103 million in 2021-22 from $77 million in 2020-21.
  • Nearly 25% increase in rice export bring relief to Haryana farmers, exporters

  • After heavy slump in export of rice in past about one and half years due to epidemic outbreak now farmers as well as rice exporters in Haryana state are having relief due to nearly 25% increase in rice export in past few weeks due to worldwide unrest as a result of war between Ukraine and Russia causing increase in demand of Indian rice. Information reveals, during year 2020-21nearly 16% drop in export of rice to various countries was witnessed. Farmers in Haryana grain markets are selling 1121 variety rice at the rate of Rs 4400 per quintal, Basmati rice at the rate Rs 4000 per quintal and 1509 variety rice at the rate ranging between Es 1600-1700 per quintal which is being sold at the rate ranging between Rs 3200-3300 per quintal at present. President of India Rice Exporters Association Vijay Setia told that Haryana state had export between 16 to 17 lakh ton rice of value worth Rs 16000 crore last year since there was nearly 16% drop in export due to unavoidable circumstances, whereas 25% growth in export has now been identified. Setia said in case Haryana state government had reduced market fee from 4% to 1% similar to being charged in Ghaziabad and Narela grain markets the export of rice would have increased to 20000 ton this year. Chairman of Haryana Rice Millers Association Jwail Singh told that demand of Basmati, 1121 and 1509 varieties rice has suddenly increased all over in the world due to present Ukraine-Russia war. Districts situated on G.T. Road belt which including Kurukshetra, Karnal, Kaithal, Panipat and Sonipat districts in Haryana are famous for production of paddy crop in the state in which Kuruksetra and Karnal districts are producing maximum quantity of Basmati, 1121 and 1509 variety rice being exported to large number of countries across the world including Saudi Arab, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Muscat, Dubai, Africa and Australia. Singla told that Saudi Arab is biggest buyer of all types of rice from our country. He said, the prices of Basmati being sold earlier at the rate Rs 3300-3500 per quintal is now being sold at the rate Rs 4400 per quintal, whereas 1121 variety rice earlier sold at the rate Rs 3500-3700 per quintal  presently being sold at the rate Rs 4100 per quintal. Similarly, 1509 variety rice earlier sold at the rate Rs 2500-2700 per quintal is available at the rate Rs Rs 4200 per quintal at present. In view of fast declining water level in underground in Haryana state government is offering beneficial schemes in case of change of crop pattern from paddy requires huge quantity to alternate crops consuming less quantity of water offering incentive of Rs 7000 each acre area.  
  • Rice Market Update: Uncertainty Remains Key Factor

  • The true nature of long grain plantings continue to be debated in the U.S., with the USDA showing flat to last year, and the industry being confident of a 10-15% cut. Time will tell, but futures prices are showing a suspected cut in acreage, and paddy prices would support the same. Uncertainty of both the market and weather continue to hover over farmers. Meterorologists at Colorado State University are predicting an “above average” 2022 hurricane season that begins June 1. Nineteen storms are forecast for the Atlantic basin. Above-average sea surface temperatures and the lack of El Nino developing that would suppress hurricane activity by increasing vertical wind shear is the contributing factor.

    Prices for long grain milled are priced at or just above $650 pmt, whereas prices in South America are at least $100 pmt below that. South America is in the peak of their harvest season, with several questions swirling around the drought situation in Brazil. We know that Uruguay has crested the high point, and is on the downhill slope of the last 20% of their crop. Argentina is just ahead of them. Brazil and Paraguay are the big swings that will be coming to light in the next few weeks.

    In Asia, prices have held steady despite the inflationary rise that so many other commodities have seen. For more than a quarter now, prices in Thailand and Vietnam have oscillated around $400 pmt, while India and Pakistan have been around $360 pmt. This can in large part be attributed to India, who hasn’t slowed exports over the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been responsible for its third record crop in as many years.

    India’s farm subsidies, which many speculate have led to their record crop, has blunted the inflationary impacts of rice world-wide. With rice being the most basic food calorie for human consumption that prevents hunger for the poorest nations, this can be viewed as a positive in the global environment. However, India’s rice subsidy violations have put a burden on many rice producers around the globe; these violations were front-and-center this week with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    India has been called out by the U.S. rice industry and others to stop creating an unfair playing field with their rice subsidy program. It is making rice from the United States and other origins uncompetitive on a global scale, and can have severe detrimental impacts on food security world-wide in the future.

    Prices on the ground show Texas in the lead at $17/cwt. Louisiana is strong at $15.25/cwt, while prices in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri are fluctuation between $14.75-$15.75 based on variety and qualities.

    The weekly USDA Export Sales report shows net sales of 8,300 MT this week, a marketing-year low, down 51% from the previous week and 81% from the prior 4-week average. Increases primarily for Mexico (13,700 MT), Haiti (7,300 MT), Jordan (4,000 MT), the Dominican Republic (2,000 MT), and Honduras (1,500 MT), were offset by reductions primarily for Colombia (22,000 MT).

    Exports of 80,300 MT were up noticeably from the previous week and up 98% from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were primarily to Mexico (32,700 MT), Colombia (22,300 MT), Haiti (15,300 MT), El Salvador (4,100 MT), and Canada (2,000 MT).In the futures market, May 22 prices are down just over 1% this week to $16.010. May 23 contracts are about flat from last week, now at $16.615. Average Daily Volume registers at 411, down 23% from last week, while open interest is flat at 9,701.

  • Sri Lanka crisis: India begins shipment of rice to crisis-hit island nation

  • The rice is being offered under a credit line of $1 billion to Sri Lanka announced by India recently towards the purchase of food, medicine and other essential commodities. Of this credit line, $150 million is earmarked for rice supplies to Sri Lanka.

    India begins shipment of rice to crisis-hit Sri Lanka India has commenced shipment of around 40,000 tonne of rice to Sri Lanka to help ease shortage of essential food commodities in the country facing an acute fiscal challenge and economic turmoil. According to B V Krishna Rao, president, Rice Exporters Association, India will provide 0.3 million tonne (mt) of rice to Sri Lanka over the next six months. “All the rice shipments to Sri Lanka will be carried out through ports such as Kakinada, Tuticorin, Chennai and other posts in the southern region,” Rao told FE. The rice is being offered under a credit line of $1 billion to Sri Lanka announced by India recently towards the purchase of food, medicine and other essential commodities. Of this credit line, $150 million is earmarked for rice supplies to Sri Lanka. “As of now, supply of around 40,000 tonne of rice to Sri Lanka has been finalised under the credit line. The first consignment of rice under this framework is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka in the coming days,” according to a statement by the High Commission of India, Colombo. Trade sources said India can ship rice to Sri Lanka within days while for other countries it would at least take a few weeks to export rice. This rice shipment from India is expected to bring down the price of grain in the island nation ahead of Sinhalese New Year, which will be celebrated on April 14. India is also expected to supply other agricultural commodities such as sugar and wheat to Sri Lanka in the coming months. According to a senior official, this assistance in terms of rice shipment is seen as ‘humanitarian measure to help the Sri Lankan people during a difficult time’. Sri Lanka has become a net importer of rice as its production sharply fell after it banned all chemical fertilisers in May 2021 for making the island nation’s agriculture sector to 100% organic cultivation. Following reports of a drop in production of various agricultural commodities because of the banning of fertiliser use, the Sri Lankan government partially lifted a ban on imports of fertiliser and allowed the private sector to import it. India has been the world’s largest rice exporter in the last decade — export earnings stood at a record $8.7 billion in 2020-21 and crossed $9.6 billion in 2021-22. India exported agricultural commodities such as onion, wheat, pulses, basmati rice and processed fruit products worth of $150 million to Sri Lanka in 2020-21.
  • Rice exporters face twin challenges after record 17-mt shipment

  • The number of vessels docked at Kakinada port, a major rice loading point on the eastern coast, fell to three from 10 last year (file image)

    Higher freight, return of Thailand to international market weigh on supplies from India

    Exporters of Indian non-basmati rice, after shipping close to 17 million tonnes in 2021-22, are facing the twin challenges of higher freight cost and the return of Thailand, a major supplier, to the international market in the current financial year. This may lead to a decline of 10-15 per cent in shipments, exporters said. As per the latest official data available till end-February for the financial year 2021-22, non-basmati shipments grew by around 40 per cent to 15.61 million tonnes, from 11.17 million tonnes a year ago. In dollar terms, non-basmati rice shipments were up 35.2 per cent at $5.551 billion in April-February 2021-22 against $4.105 billion a year ago. “We will be touching close to 17 million tonnes for fiscal 2021-22, a new record over the previous year’s 13 million tonnes,” said BV Krishna Rao, President, The Rice Exporters Association. The export data for March comes with a lag. The target for the year was 16 million tonnesr. On the outlook for the new financial year, Rao said high freight costs remain a concern and supplies from Thailand have resumed, posing a challenge to Indian exporters.

    Govt needs to help

    “Last year, Thailand did not have a good crop due to bad weather. But this year, they have made a comeback and are giving a good fight,” Rao said, adding that Indian shipments will be lower this year by 10-15 per cent. “We are unlikely to maintain 17 million tonnes unless the Government helps other countries buy more rice, like it did for Sri Lanka,” Rao added. Freight rates have moved up from last year as fuel costs have surged, triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Rao said the higher vessel rates have forced buyers, mainly in Africa, to adopt a wait-and-watch approach. Freight rates have gone up from around $90 per tonne to around $140, while rice prices are largely stable. “The buyer is not keen on paying the extra $50 and would wait for vessel prices to come down,” Rao said. This is reflected in the decline in the number of vessels docked at the Kakinada port, one of the major rice loading points on the eastern coast. “Usually, at least 10 vessels in Kakinada were being loaded last year around this time. Now there are only three.” Trade sources said Indian rice shipments are already slowing, going by the numbers in February, when non-basmati shipments fell 1.4 per cent to 1.618 million tonnes (1.641 million tonnes a year ago). Free-on-board (FOB) parboiled rice from Indian ports is quoted at $365 per tonne ($370-380) . White rice prices are hovering at $335-340 per tonne, at around last year’s levels. Broken rice prices have moved up from $270 per tonne FOB to $315-320. “Only broken rice prices have moved up as it is witnessing good demand due to high corn prices,” Rao said. The demand for brokens, which is used for feed ingredients, is from China, Indonesia and Africa among other regions.
  • Food grains heading to rice mills in the midst of uncertainty

  •  
    In the face of uncertainty over procurement of paddy cultivated in the ongoing rabi by the government, farmers have already started moving the harvested crop to private rice mills and selling it well below the minimum support price of ₹1,960 a quintal for fine variety that was more easily marketable. The movement of stocks was only in the case of early crop, which was sown immediately after the season began, while the harvest of late sowings will take another week, sources said.  They added that the millers came forward to purchase the fine variety at over ₹2,000 a quintal initially but the rates dropped to less than ₹1,900 in the last couple of days. At some places, it was even ₹1,750 a quintal.
     

    Drop in prices

    The drop in prices was attributed to stepped up arrivals at mills which resulted in farmers waiting for their turn for two or three days to dispose of the stocks. The initial arrival of crops that were harvested a fortnight ago which were in smaller quantities fetched good prices for farmers. On the other hand, the Food Corporation of India has refused to accept custom milled rice of 2020-21 rabi season after March 31 though the State government wanted the deadline to be extended by two months.
     

    Union Minister of State for Tourism G. Kishan Reddy said that the State government was yet to meet its target of 2020-21 rabi despite several reminders. The Centre will keep its commitment to the State for 2020-21 rabi but not the corresponding season which has triggered the stand-off with the State.

  • India invokes peace clause for 3rd time as rice subsidies exceed cap

  • India has for the third time invoked the peace clause for exceeding the 10% ceiling on support it offered its rice farmers. The country informed the WTO that the value of its rice production in 2020-21 was $45.56 billion while it gave subsidies worth $6.9 billion, which comes out to 15.14% as against the permitted 10%. The peace clause protects India's food procurement programmes against action from WTO members in case the subsidy ceilings are breached. New Delhi had first invoked the clause in 2020 when it became the first country to do so. New Delhi told the WTO on Friday the stocks under the programme are acquired and released to meet the domestic food security needs of India's poor and vulnerable population, and not to impede commercial trade or food security of others.
  • Cuba & Chile to buy Basmati Rice from Haryana

  • Latin American countries Cuba and Chile have expressed interest to purchase Basmati rice from Haryana. For this, a delegation of Cuba will visit Haryana next month. While giving this information on Saturday, a spokesperson of the Foreign Cooperation Department said the chairman of HAFED  Kailash Bhagat, managing director A Sreenivas and adviser to the department of foreign cooperation Pawan Choudhary held a meeting with Ambassador of Cuba to India, Alejandro Simancas Marin and Ambassador of Chile, Juan Angulo to discuss mutual cooperation with Haryana in various fields. During the meeting, Cuba and Chile have expressed interest to procure Basmati rice from Haryana. In addition, opportunities for cooperation in information technology, pharma and aviation will also be explored by Cuba. Therefore, a delegation from Cuba will visit Haryana next month. The export graph of the state will increase with the purchase of Basmati rice from Haryana by Cuba and Chile and the trade and bilateral relations of Haryana with these countries will also get strengthened, the spokesperson said. He said  the Ambassadors of Cuba and Chile also appreciated the thinking and vision of the Chief Minister Manohar Lal and said the initiative taken by the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for Heart to Heart Connect relationship is unique and commendable in itself. The Ambassador of Chile,  Juan Angulo said,”We are already working closely with the Government of India and we are glad that Haryana has contacted us. Certainly Cuba will take forward its relations with Haryana,”. The spokesperson said that the Haryana Government is continuously making consistent efforts to promote bilateral relations with other countries. In this episode, Haryana-Africa Conclave Series-1 was organized with African countries and a meeting was also held with the delegation of Latin America and Caribbean countries on March 27, 2022 at Surajkund, Faridabad, in which delegations from 11 countries had participated.
  • Asia rice: India rates unchanged, Vietnam prices fall on rising supplies

  • BENGALURU/BANGKOK/HANOI/MUMBAI/DHAKA: Export prices of rice in India were unchanged this week amid prospects of increased supplies and an appreciation in the rupee, while an increase in stocks weighed on rates in Vietnam. Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $367 to $370 per tonne this week, unchanged from the last week. “Since the government has extended subsidised food grain distribution by six months, local supplies will rise and prices will remain under pressure,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $400-$415 per tonne on Thursday, down from $415-$420 per tonne a week ago. “Domestic supplies are rising thanks to output from the winter-spring harvest,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said, adding that quality has been affected due to prolonged rain during the harvest time. Preliminary shipping data showed 72,000 tonnes of rice were scheduled to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City port during the first week of April, with most of the grains were heading to the Philippines and Africa. Vietnam’s rice exports in the first quarter are estimated to have increased 24% from a year earlier to 1.475 million tonnes, raising revenue by 10.5% to $715 million. Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices narrowed to $408-$410 per tonne this week, from $408-$412 quoted a week ago. Overseas demand for Thai rice has been muted due to insufficient ships and high freight rates, traders said. Prices, however, remained high on domestic demand for broken rice used for animal feed due to logistic problems with imports, a Bangkok-based rice trader said. The supply situation remains unchanged with the new harvest entering the market this week, traders said. In Bangladesh, domestic prices of rice rose for the week, despite good crop and reserves, as inflation in February hit the highest since October 2020.
  • FCI won’t procure parboiled rice, States can do so: Centre

  • The Centre, however, clarified that the States could procure parboiled rice for consumption within the State. Image for representational purpose only. (File Photo) HYDERABAD: Dashing all hopes of the State government, the Centre has once again made it clear that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) would not procure parboiled rice from any State, including Telangana. The Centre, however, clarified that the States could procure parboiled rice for consumption within the State. In a written reply to BJP MP Dushyant Singh on procuring surplus parboiled rice during Question Hour in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti said that after meeting State’s requirement for Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and Other Welfare Schemes (OWS), only the excess/surplus stocks procured by the State government/its agencies were handed over to the FCI in central pool in the form of raw or parboiled rice to meet the overall consumption requirement of the country as per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Central government and Decentralised Procurement (DCP) States. “Due to burgeoning stock level of parboiled rice in the central pool, the States were informed that FCI will not be in a position to accept parboiled rice during Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) 2021-22. However, a State can procure parboiled rice for consumption within that State. In the last few years, procurement of parboiled rice in the deficit parboiled consuming States like Jharkhand, Kerala and Tamil Nadu has increased resulting in lesser movement of parboiled rice from surplus to deficit States,” the Minister said. Ethanol policy In its action plan for Rabi Marketing Season 2022-23, the FCI suggested the State govt to adopt a good ethanol policy as broken rice is suitable for the production of ethanol. The FCI also asked the State to enhance its storage capacities like Punjab and Haryana. 
  • Despite rising recognition, Pokkali farmers seek help

  • Pokkali rice from central Kerala, a grain variety that has a geographical indication (GI) tag in 2007, has now become a part of India’s postal stamps.
    Express News Service
    KOCHI: Pokkali rice from central Kerala, a grain variety that has a geographical indication (GI) tag in 2007, has now become a part of India’s postal stamps. In an event organised by Kadamakudy Nellulpathaka Padasekhara Samithi in Kochi, the stamp was released to the public in the presence of Vypeen MLA K N Unnikrishnan, District Collector Jafar Malik and Post Master General of Central Kochi Mariamma Thomas.  The move will help popularise pokkali, a unique rice variety that can grow in saline waters, said K A Thomas, secretary of Kadamakudy Nellulpathaka Padasekhara Samithi. He said the organisation will submit a memorandum to the MLA and the collector detailing the struggles and demands of paddy farmers.  “Pokkali rice is grown without any fertilisers or pesticides — be it organic or chemical. That is what makes pokkali rice unique and highly nutritious. But now, pokkali farmers are struggling to stay afloat. Moreover, the number of paddy fields and farmers producing pokkali has also come down drastically,” said Thomas. The base price set by Supplyco for the rice is Rs 28 per kg. “It is to be noted that many organic varieties are sold at over Rs 100 per kilo. It’s difficult for the farmers to survive when our crops are so underpriced,” Thomas said.   The reduction in the price of prawn varieties, which are farmed in waterlogged pokkali fields after harvest, has made things worse for these farmers. “In 1995, we used to earn nearly Rs 300 per one kilo white shrimps. Now, we get only around Rs 200 even for the highest quality prawns. Pokkali farmers used to depend on prawn farming to survive. But right now, neither of them is fetching us enough money. If we spend around Rs 45,000 for farming pokkali, we earn only around Rs 25,000,” he said. To survive, the organisation has demanded the government revise the base price to Rs 120 per kg. Demands Increase the base price of pokkali rice to I120 Help farmers with basic cultivation needs Help to remove silt from farms Adding pokkali to super-speciality rice category  A governemnt master plan to help the prawn and pokkali farmers
  • Rice worth Rs 3,300 crore yet to be lifted from Telangana by FCI

  • HYDERABAD: The procurement status of 70 lakh metric tonnes of paddy ready for the current yasangi (rabi) season is in limbo due to a dispute between the state and central governments. But, that is not all. As a result of unsolved issues between the state and the Centre, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) still has to lift Rs 3,300 crore worth rice from Telangana. Eleven lakh metric tonnes of custom milled rice (CMR) is yet to be lifted from the purchase season of April and September 2021. According to sources, the cost of this 11 lakh metric tonnes of paddy is Rs 3,300 crore at the rate of Rs 30 per kg. rice, Interestingly, rice mills have exceeded their capacity in milling 50 lakh metric tonnes of paddy during the same season. Approximately, 93 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was cultivated between October 2020 and March 2021 (kharif) season. This crop’s milling had resulted in 62 lakh metric tonnes of rice (purchase period was April-September 2021), while 11 lakh metric tonnes remains to be lifted. Union food minister Piyush Goyal’s charge that the state did not deliver the rice as promised pertains to this 11 lakh metric tonnes between October 2020-March 2021. Following the state’s request for purchasing extra parboiled rice, the Centre agreed to take three lakh metric tonnes of rice from the balance of 11 lakh metric tonnes but the commitment has not been kept. The state government accuses the Centre of causing transportation problems by failing to clear railway rakes and failing to provide storage space. There are approximately 3,000 rice mills in the state, with approximately 900 catering to parboiled rice and the remaining mills being small and fine rice mills. All these mills have the capacity to grind 50 lakh metric tonnes of rice in every cultivation season and receive 35 lakh metric tonnes of rice in return. “We have a heavy burden on the rice mills. Contrary to popular belief, we are still holding paddy and rice stocks. We have increased our capacity by 20%, but some rice is still not lifted,” said Gampa Nagender, president of the Telangana State Rice Mills Association.
     
     
  • Rice millers to min: Stop pilferage of paddy

  • Chandigarh: Punjab food, civil supplies and consumer affairs minister Lal Chand Kataruchak on Saturday said a policy catering to the interests of rice millers would be formulated soon “Transparency would be the hallmark of my working,” he said as representatives of Punjab Rice Millers Association (PRMA) met the minister at his office on Saturday. PRMA representatives, led by their organisation’s chief and All India Rice Miller Association president Tarsem Saini, also made a case for stopping the pilferage of paddy, which is stored in rice mills for custom milling, as this causes a huge loss to the state exchequer. Distribution of paddy amongst rice millers must be fair and equitable besides representation should be given to rice industry in the the district allotment committees, demanded the association delegation. The minister assured the delegation of all cooperation to the rice milling sector. The delegation included representatives of the Rice Miller Association from Patiala, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Ropar, Mansa, Fatehgarh Sahib and Gurdaspur.
     
     
     
  • Adani Wilmar plans acquisition of brands and processing units in mass rice segment

  • Country's largest commodity company Adani Wilmar is betting big on staples and scouting for acquisition of regional rice brands and processing units in several states of the country, a top company official said. The company will launch branded daily-use rice under the fortune brand beginning with West Bengal from early April. Staple is just 11 per cent of the company's topline. Adani Wilmar had acquired a sick rice processing unit in West Bengal to mark the journey in the segment which is 30-35 million tonne per annum in size.
     "We are targeting to grow fast in the daily-use rice segment which is 30-35 million tonne per annum apart from public distribution foodgrain. We are scouting for acquisitions of brands and rice processing units in several states for fast growth. We have done first from West Bengal taking over a sick unit," Adani Wilmar MD & CEO, Angshu Mallick told PTI.
    Acquisitions allow quicker rollout and rapid growth. Greenfield will take at least two years to begin operation, he said. "We are already into Basmati but it is only 10 per cent of rice consumption so we cannot ignore regional local rice used for daily consumption which is a huge untapped market," Mallick said. "We will launch packaged local rice based on regional preference. In Bengal, we will launch Baskati and miniket rice which is common here. Sona masuri in Uttar Pradesh and Kolam rice in South India," he added. The company which hit the capital market recently had earmarked Rs 450-500 crore for acquisition and atta and rice is major focus area in the staples segment.
    Adani is scouting for more rice units and brands in North India and South India. "We will ideally have one unit each in states first and then gradually scale up. We will procure paddy from farmers, mandis and brokers," Mallick said. Adani Wilmar has 22 own factories in total and has sourcing arrangement products from 28 more plants across the country.
    Staple contributes 11 per cent to Adani Wilmar's topline while the rest is from edible oil and industry essentials. "We are aiming at 30 per cent growth in the food segment and 6-7 per cent in edible oil in volume terms," Mallick said. The company was also looking at inorganic space to expand its food basket.
    The company reported a 66 per cent rise in its Q3 consolidated net profit at Rs 211 crore as compared to Rs 127 crore in the year-ago quarter. The company's revenue from operations rose over 40 per cent to Rs 14,379 crore from Rs 10,229 crore in the same quarter last year.
     
  • India’s natural, organic farming strategy for rice and wheat

  • This can help in targeting global export market, thereby feeding the world population and getting valuable foreign exchange for the country India’s natural, organic farming strategy for rice and wheat Photo: iStock India is predominantly agrarian — 80 per cent of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. Rice and wheat are the staple for 90 per cent of the country’s people.  Till the early 1960’s, the predominant mode of cultivation was what is now called “organic farming”, with no synthetic fertilisers or pesticides available or known.  At that time, farmers relied on cow dung, twigs of leguminous plants like Crotalaria junceaTephrosianeem and jeelugu. These materials mulched the fields ploughed for rice plantation. Oil cakes of groundnut, castor, neem were also used which is a good source of nitrogen.  Since the use of urea from the beginning of the 1960s, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium-based fertilisers became available after the establishment of industrial plants at Sindri (Bihar) Udyog Mandal (Kerala).

    Fortunately, in this decade, synthetic pesticides like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), endrin, and others entered the market. Another spectacular discovery was that of the high-yielding hybrid wheat and rice. The high-yielding wheat was discovered by Norman Borlaug (Nobel Prize winner) and was rapidly adopted by India largely due to the pioneering work of Dr Swaminathan and MV Rao. 

    Swaminathan is remembered as the ‘father of Green Revolution’ and Rao as the “wheat man of India”. With hybrid varieties and synthetic fertilisers and insecticides, the production of rice per acre increased to 40 quintals from 10 quintals, a tremendous victory in fighting hunger. There were also some setbacks during the 1960s and 70s. India’s budget (read agriculture) is dependent on the monsoon season, as George Curzon pointed out in 1905.  Due to drought from 1964-70, India had to import food and became heavily dependent on the United States for wheat supplies under the Public Law 480 agreement. At one time, we were eagerly waiting for the arrival of a ship full of wheat at the Mumbai port. The late former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri gave a call to “miss a meal” on Monday nights as a part of the Jai Kisan movement.  Green Revolution Ultimately, the Green Revolution was initiated. The theme of the initiative was to boost food grains production of rice and wheat using any method and at any cost. Success followed many setbacks. Biologist-turned-science-writer Rachel Carson published a seminal book called Silent Spring, focused on the harmful effects of pesticides, primarily DDT on our health and environment.  DDT was found to be non-biodegradable and its remnants were traced everywhere — in our body, soil and water. Studies showed its effects on liver and kidneys, including causing cancers.  Scientists rapidly found alternatives and advocated Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a need-based use of pesticides, alternating crops, intercropping as well as usage of bird perches where birds rest, detect insects on crops and eat them.  After DDT, other insecticides like monocrotophos, metasystox, cypermethrin came into use but these are equally harmful to humans, livestock and fish. The “turn to nature” to get pesticide-free food has become a priority. The order of the day is organic farming — natural farming or zero-budget agriculture — which is welcome and most wanted in the agriculture sphere. 

    Not without setbacks

    The first and foremost sound solution is the usage of organic manures from compost, cow dung and ploughing and mulching of leguminous plants. Several plant-based botanical pesticides were discovered. Neem oil, neem kernel extracts, which contain azadirachtin, is the active principle discovered by Germans, the United Kingdom and US.  Neem revived the hope of using harmless pesticides but its availability is very low. Several commercial formulations were available in India. Karanj oil (Karanjin active principle), several leaf extracts like Adathoda and garlic-buds aqueous extracts are found to be effective to some extent as active repellants but they cannot replace synthetic pesticide. There is a growing awareness in India to cultivate the crops by natural fertilisers such as cow dung, leguminous green manures, compost, vermicomposting and biopesticides fungi, bacteria and virus-based  pesticides like Bacillus thuringiensisPseuedomonas aegleTrichoderma verdi.  These bio-pesticides are chiefly produced from diseased insects and soil, among other things. However, it only has limited use on too few fruit and vegetable crops. The problem with the bio-pesticide production is that it is confined to a small industry with no standardisation and doubtful efficacy. Several symposia are held by non-governmental organisations, ideal farmers and governments. Many agricultural magazines hail the miracles of higher yields from organic farming. Particular mention should be made about jeevamrutham — a recently designed concoction called Ramabanam, which gained prominence. These concoctions are made from jaggery, ginger, cow milk, cow curd, cow dung, cow urine, asafoetida. All the ingredients are mixed and fermented for a week, diluted and sprayed on crops.  It is claimed that the product can be used as a fertiliser and a pesticide. The farmers who experimented were quick to endorse the products. Their studies on organic farming presented in symposia on organic farming, however, were confined to few vegetables like tomatoes over a limited area. The yield, the farmers said, is high but not quantified with randomised block design studies.   The active principle of such concoctions is unknown and doesn’t stand scientific security. Moreover, the cost of these concoctions is as high as pesticides and starting products like cow dung are not available in plenty as of today.  For about 90 per cent Indians, rice or wheat are almost exclusively the staple food. So, encouragement of organic farming in a country like India will be meaningful, if applied for rice / wheat. Studies on these crops should also be prioritised. The inconvenient truth, as many farmers put it, is that the land is infertile now without urea in the first few days of rice plantation, and with no application of synthetic pesticides, the entire crop is prone to pests resulting in no yield. The challenge for agriculture scientists is how to maintain the current volume of yield (40 quintals per acre) with organic farming. We need to take with caution some sporadic success stories of organic farming on vegetables and fruits grown in an acre or two. Thus, all the available tools we have with us, like bio-fertilisers, bio-pesticides, green manure and vermicompost, their limitation is discussed herein. Constraints of sustainable organic farming are: None of the organic farming tools are available, especially for organic farming of rice that is the staple food in India. Importantly, the whole organic farming depends on cow dung, which is dwindling even as we are particular about their protection (gosamrakshana).  The staple food for cattle is rice straw. While we claim rice production is high and in surplus, the cost of rice remains very high and is not affordable for the poor man. Thus, the increase of cattle population is linked to paddy by rice production. Both are interlinked. Quantification for pesticide residues in food should be done by High Performance Liquid Chromatography / Mass Spectra / Mass Spectra (HPLC / MS / MS) method. The sophisticated method has been adopted by advanced countries but is still not in use in India.  The real structure of crop production is dependent on high-yielding hybrid seeds. Continuous research on high yielding varieties by cross breeding with pest resistant wild varieties is essential.

    Compost from urban areas and vermicompost, in particular, don’t seem to have been examined for pesticide residues and harmful trace elements such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead is needed by using HPLC /MS / MS method and atomic absorption spectroscopy. 

    Introduction of transgenic varieties is not recommended for organic and natural farming. Therefore, it is wise to use the first three sprays on crops with natural organic materials and the last two sprays with synthetic pesticides. Research on organic farming should be done using robust scientific methods only. Surprisingly, rice was found to contain high pesticides and trace elements.  This technique should be standardised in India. Our slogan should be “natural and organic farming with high yields at an affordable price to the common man”. India’s wheat exports surpassed $872 million (2021-22) and rice exports in 2021-22 is likely to surpass the record $10 million, according to the agriculture department of the Government of India. 
  • Prices rise across major hubs on higher demand for rice

  • Prices of rice exported from top Asian hubs jumped this week on solid demand, while Vietnamese traders also flagged high shipping costs due to the Ukraine crisis. Thailand's 5% broken rice prices rose to $415-$428 per tonne, on average a peak since late June, from $400-$403 a week ago. As corn and wheat prices rise, animal feed makers were looking to use more broken rice, pushing up prices across the board, Bangkok-based traders said. Another trader said he recently received interest from buyers in Europe, the United States, Iraq and Iran for different grades of Thai white rice. Demand from Hong Kong has also increased, the trader said, with concerns over plans for a city-wide lockdown sparking panic buying by residents. Thailand exported 459,752 tonnes of rice worth $234 million in January, up 8.92% from the same period last year, the commerce ministry said. Rates for top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety rose to $371-$378 per tonne from last week's $370-$376, also a peak since mid-June. "Consumers are trying to build stockpile due to the rally in wheat and corn prices. Demand is improving for rice," said an exporter based at Kakinada in southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Vietnam's 5% broken rice prices rose to their highest since December at $410-$415 per tonne on Thursday, versus $400 last week, amid higher demand, traders said, with the Ukraine-Russia conflict prompting buyers to place more orders from elsewhere in Asia. Another trader said shipping costs had surged since the Ukraine-Russia conflict began, with international freight costs rising 50% and domestic freight costs climbing 70%-80%. "We're concerned costs will keep rising if the conflict continues," the trader said. Traders said farmers in the Mekong Delta had harvested 20%-25% of the winter-spring crop. Domestic rice prices in Bangladesh remain high despite good crops and reserves, traders said, adding that the global market was seeing a hike due the Ukraine-Russia conflict. "It is very much unlikely that local prices will come down soon," a trader said.
  • Odisha government to work on export plan for aromatic rice

  • The State government is exploring the possibility of exporting rice of traditional aromatic varieties beyond basmati to further enhance the income of the farmers. PDS rice BHUBANESWAR:  The State government is exploring the possibility of exporting rice of traditional aromatic varieties beyond basmati to further enhance the income of the farmers. The Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment department has been asked to constitute a resource team and frame a realistic work plan for giving a boost to rice export. Chairing a high-level meeting with different stakeholders for promoting export of rice from the State, Chief Secretary Suresh Mahapatra asked the Agriculture department to identify agro-climatic zones more suitable for cultivation of non-basmati aromatic varieties of paddy in cluster approach. The government has decided to send a team to Andhra Pradesh for gaining firsthand knowledge on the actual practices adopted there in export of aromatic varieties of rice. The Chief Secretary directed the department to frame a realistic work plan with the suggestions from technical sessions of the seminar, and inputs from the resource team so that those could be carried forward. “The State government is committed to enhance farmers’ income by boosting the rice export and the State will provide all possible support for the purpose,” Mahapatra added. Principal Advisor to Chief Minister Asit Tripathy said the rice aggregators in the State need to be mobilised, trained and given handholding support for export-oriented operations.  
  • Admin helps farmers grow aromatic rice in Simdega

  •   Gumla: Simdega administration has rolled out an innovative project to help farmers grow scented rice, package their products and sell them under its Kurdeg rice brand. Kurdeg is a block in the district which is known for its rice cultivation. Titled as aromatic rice bowl project, officials said that the idea is to help the farmers get proper market linkage of their products. “Around 1,000 fathers from 11 blocks in the district were provided seeds of traditional aromatic rice varieties, like kala jeera, jeera ful, gobind bhog, bhukta, mansuri and sambha mansuri, for cultivation. Over the period of time, canals were renovated and others methods of irrigation have been made operational to ensure water supply for irrigation,” said an official. A semi-automatic rice mill has been installed for value addition and it will start milling soon. Officials said that a farmers’ producer organization named Sankh Aroma Trust has been set up for overall operation of rice milling, packaging and branding. The project is the brainchild of Sushant Gaurav, who served as DC of Simdega until last week before his transfer. Speaking to TOI on the project before his transfer, Gaurav said, “A high percentage of population here depends on farming but it is mainly dependent on rainfall. The district administration identified the potential of adding value to the produce and hence, the project was initiated.”
  • Two Basmati rice varieties help boost export.

  • Two Basmati rice varieties help boost exports, farmers’ income

    Both the varieties, developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Pusa, Delhi, fetch farmers like Singh financial benefits in the range of Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per acre, after taking into account cost of cultivation as well as lease rental for the land.

    basmati-rice Pritam Singh, who farms on 110 acres, including some land taken on lease, at Urlana Khurd village of Haryana’s Panipat district, has just sold his harvest of Basmati rice varieties — PB 1121 and PB 1509 — at the local mandi at Rs 3,800 and Rs 3,500 a quintal, respectively. Both the varieties, developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Pusa, Delhi, fetch farmers like Singh financial benefits in the range of Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per acre, after taking into account cost of cultivation as well as lease rental for the land. “Since the introduction of high-yielding varieties like PB1121 and PB1509, the production as well as quality in terms of size of the Basmati rice grain increased thus bringing economic benefits to us,” Singh told FE. Singh said prior to the introduction of these two varieties, the yield of traditional varieties was in the range of 12 –13 quintal per acre, while the PB1121 and PB1509 varieties have an average yield of 24 quintal and 26 quintal per acre, respectively. While the high-yielding and larger-grained PB1121 variety was certified as Basmati rice in 2008, the PB1509, which takes fewer weeks for maturity, was released in 2013. Two Basmati rice varieties developed by IARI have contributed 70% of the total value of cumulative exports of long-grain aromatic rice from India worth Rs 2.38 lakh crore between 2010 and 2019, thus bringing benefit to farmers. India exported on an average 3.74 million tonne (mt) of Basmati rice annually during the stated period, of total production of around 5 mt. According to an analysis by IARI of the economic value accrued because of Basmati rice, Rs 1.66 lakh crore worth of export earnings between 2010 and 2019 was from the shipment of PB1121 and PB1509 rice varieties, while domestic sales were to the tune of Rs 51,501 crore in the same period. After deducting the cost of production, the IARI assessment has stated that Rs 1.34 lakh crore has been accrued as earnings to estimated 10 lakh farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, who grow two varieties of aromatic and long grained rice. “Improved Basmati varieties have brought prosperity to millions of Basmati farmers by improving their standards of living, better education for children and best health care for family members,” Ashok Kumar Singh, director, IARI, told FE. During 2010-2019, annually, Basmati rice was grown in 18.34 lakh hectares on an average, out of which PB11121 and PB1509 was grown in 67% and 10% of the area, respectively. The rest of the varieties grown by farmers include PB1, PB6 and PB1718, which are also developed by IARI. ajor export destinations of India’s Basmati rice include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and the UAE, besides some European countries. India exported Basmati rice worth Rs 29,849 crore ($4018 million) in 2020-21. Recently, IARI has released improved varieties PB1847, PB1885 and PB1886; these are improved varieties with inbuilt resistance to bacterial blight and blast diseases. “These varieties would reduce the use of pesticides significantly in basmati cultivation,” Ranjith Kumar Ellur, scientist, rice section, division of genetics, IARI, said.
  • Rice Price to Stabilize on Adequate Supply

  • Rice Price to Stabilize on Adequate Supply and Low-Cost Shipments from India rice This year, rice prices are forecast to ease, thanks primarily to rising production and exports from India, Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Pakistan. India dominates global trade, more than doubling its supplies at a competitive cost over the past two years. Rice prices are predicted to drop this year with sufficient supply worldwide, a new report published by IndexBox states. According to USDA data, global milled rice production is forecast to remain stable, totalling 510M tonnes. World’s total exports will reach 51M tonnes, which includes paddy, milled, semi-milled and broken rice, staying at the previous year level. Sufficient exports from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Pakistan, and low-cost rice supplies from India are set to provide price stability this year. According to the World Bank forecast, the average price for white rice from Thailand (5% broken, FOB, Bangkok) will drop by 12% y/y to near $400 per tonne in 2022. Last year, the prices for Thailand’s rice fell by approx. 8% y/y, while Vietnamese white rice (5% broken, FOB, Hanoi) rose in price by 4% y/y to $446 per tonne. India dominates global trade, boosting total rice exports twofold to over 20M tonnes during the past two years. Due to increasing Minimum Price Support (MSP) for rice, India managed to sharply expand the harvested area and ramp up output and exports, offering the product at competitive prices on the global market. India has also invested massive funds in its deep-water ports to ship in bulk in addition to the typical containers. Global Rice Exports by Country Global rice exports were estimated at 46M tonnes in 2020, rising by 9.8% on the previous year. In value terms, supplies expanded notably to $25.2B (IndexBox estimates). India represented the major exporting country with an export of around 15M tonnes, which accounted for 32% of total exports. It was distantly followed by Thailand (5.7M tonnes), Viet Nam (5.6M tonnes), Pakistan (4M tonnes), the U.S. (3.3M tonnes) and China (2.3M tonnes), together constituting a 45% share of total exports. Myanmar (2M tonnes), Brazil (1.4M tonnes), Uruguay (1M tonnes), Paraguay (0.9M tonnes), and Italy (0.8M tonnes) occupied a minor share of total exports. In value terms, India ($8B) remains the largest rice supplier worldwide, comprising 32% of global exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Thailand ($3.7B), with a 15% share of global exports. It was followed by Viet Nam, with an 11% share. From 2018 to 2020, the average annual growth rate in terms of value in India amounted to +4.2%. In the other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: Thailand (-18.7% per year) and Viet Nam (+3.2% per year).
  • Agriculture Department to set up mini rice mills

  • Agriculture Minister P. Prasad inaugurating the harvest of paddy cultivated by a doctor at Kanjikuzhy in Alappuzha on Saturday.
     
    The Agriculture Department will contemplate setting up modern mini rice mills to process paddy harvested from upland fields in Kanjikuzhy and nearby areas. Inaugurating the harvest of Rakthashali, Jaya and Basmati rice varieties cultivated on an experimental basis in Kanjikuzhy grama panchayat, Agriculture Minister P. Prasad said that steps would be taken to promote upland rice cultivation in the region.
     
    The rice varieties were cultivated by Sreekanth, a dental doctor, on 4.5 acres at Kundelattu paddy polder. "The cultivation of different rice varieties has turned out to be a success. The Agriculture Department will take steps to extend paddy cultivation on upland fields in the region. To address the issue of processing the harvested paddy, the department will consider setting up modern mini rice mills," Mr. Prasad said. Kanjikuzhy is known for its organic vegetable farming. The grama panchayat officials said that several farmers in the region were now gearing up for commercial rice production.
     

    Of the three varieties cultivated at Kundelattu, Rakthashali with red husk and grain is considered uneconomical compared to some high yielding rice varieties. But the nearly-extinct variety of rice with high medicinal value has properties to cure many ailments. Dr. Sreekanth bought the Rakthashali seeds from Narayanan, a farmer and Basmati seeds from an online marketplace.

    Kanjikuzhy grama panchayat president Geetha Karthikeyan presided. Grama panchayat vice president M. Santhosh Kumar, agriculture officer Janeesh and others spoke.
  • Ukraine war: Amritsar rice exporter in a fix as stock stuck midway

  • Punjab millers’ Assn seeks Centre’s intervention Ukraine war: Amritsar rice exporter in a fix as stock stuck midway Amritsar, February 26 Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more than two dozen containers of rice stock of a local exporter have been stuck midway. This development is expected to cost him crores of rupees. Containers of basmati rice were recently despatched to Ukraine by Arvinderpal Singh, a prominent basmati rice exporter. Some containers were despatched on the day the war broke out while others are en route to Ukraine. Arvinderpal said six containers had landed at a Ukrainian port on the day when the war broke out. “Due to the current situation, about half a dozen en route containers have now been diverted to other countries.” He fears a loss worth crores of rupees. Meanwhile, the Punjab Rice Millers and Exporters Association has sought the Centre’s immediate intervention into the matter to protect their interests.
  • Asia rice: Thai rates slip on weak baht; India’s demand

  • BENGALURU/HANOI/ BANGKOK/MUMBAI/DHAKA: Rice export prices in Thailand fell to an over 1-1/2 month low this week due to a weaker baht, while an uptick in overseas buying boosted rates in leading exporter India. Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $400 per tonne this week, down from $410-$420 a week ago. The baht weakened to 32.68 against the US dollar on Thursday, or by nearly 1.6% from a week ago and 1.3% from Wednesday, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Prices eased in line with the baht weakening, which is an effect of Russia’s invasion,” a Bangkok-based trader said, adding that domestic rice prices still remained stable. India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $370 to $376 per tonne this week, up from the last week’s $368 to $374. “Despite the depreciation in rupee, exports prices are moving higher. Demand is good from African and Asian buyers,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Indian farmers are likely to harvest a record 127.93 million tonnes of rice against 124.37 million tonnes produced the year before. In neighbouring Bangladesh, domestic rice prices stayed elevated despite good crops and reserves, officials said. The country’s rice stock at government warehouses surged to 1.7 million tonnes this month, according to the data from the food ministry. Vietnam’s 5% broken rice were offered at $395-$400 per tonne, compared with $400 per tonne a week ago. “Importers are buying moderately, waiting for prices to fall when the winter-spring harvest peaks,” said a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City. “Exports will increase from next month, with the key markets being the Philippines and Africa,” the trader said. Preliminary shipping data showed 219,000 tonnes of rice is to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City port in February, with most of the rice heading to the Philippines.
  • Asia rice: Vietnam rates rise as activity picks up, India market subdued

  • SINGAPORE: Prices of rice exported from Vietnam rose to a two-month high this week as market activity picked up again following the holidays, while low demand kept Indian rates near a one-month low. Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $400 per tonne on Thursday, the highest since mid-December and up from $395 a week ago. “Prices have edged up slightly as trading activity is resuming following the Lunar New Year Holiday and demand is seen picking up,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said, adding that traders were buying moderate amounts from farmers ahead of the upcoming winter-spring harvest. Some traders said they will be joining a tender issued by South Korea’s state-backed Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp to purchase an estimated 72,200 tonnes of rice. Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was unchanged at $368-$374 per tonne, holding near the lowest in more than a month as demand was muted from key buyers. “White rice buyers are shifting to Myanmar and Pakistan because of lower prices,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm. Indian farmers are likely to harvest a record 127.93 million tonnes, compared with 124.37 million tonnes the year before. Meanwhile, rain-fed rice output in neighbouring Bangladesh is expected to rise to 15 million tonnes this year, as farmers raised acreage to cash in on higher prices and favourable weather, according to the country’s Agriculture Ministry. But despite the good crops and reserves, Bangladesh has been battling high domestic prices of the staple. Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $410-$420 per tonne, up from $407-$415 last week, mainly due to a change in the exchange rate, traders said, with the baht having gained 1.7% versus the dollar from Feb. 11 till Thursday. But a Bangkok-based trader said prices could soon weaken as the off-season harvest begins.
  • State goes slow on paddy purchase, milled rice delivery

  • BHUBANESWAR: Even as the farmers are crying foul over delay in procurement of paddy leading to lapse of tokens, the Odisha government is lagging behind in both purchase of paddy under minimum support price system and delivery of custom milled rice to the Food Corporation of India (FCI). In the ongoing kharif marketing season (KMS), the State government agencies have procured 36.33 lakh tonne of paddy under the decentralised procurement system as against 43.98 lakh tonne during the same period last year. 
     
    In the delivery of custom milled rice (CMR), the State is way behind last year’s achievement. As per FCI procurement data, the State has so far delivered 12,313 tonne of custom milled rice to the Central agency against the last year’s figure of 4.56 lakh tonne. However, the progress in milling rice for distribution under different food security schemes is comparatively better than last year. The Odisha State Civil Supply Corporation (OSCSC), the government agency mandated for paddy procurement and supply of rice under public distribution, has received over 2.87 lakh tonne of rice against 2.51 lakh tonne during the corresponding period last year. The total rice procurement till end of January 2022 was 2.99 lakh tonne against 7 lakh tonne last year. As the blame game over lifting of parboiled rice between the State and Centre continues, the rice millers who are benefitting the most out of it are going slow as they are not keen to supply raw rice to the FCI. “We have sufficient stock of parboiled rice in our warehouse. As FCI refused to lift parboiled rice from this kharif marketing season, there is hardly any space to accommodate paddy and rice at the same time,” said a rice miller from Western Odisha. The Department of Food Distribution and Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Food, had intimated the State government on August  3, 2021 that the FCI will not lift parboiled rice from Odisha from the next KMS (2021-22). The issue was raised by BJD MPs in the Rajya Sabha last week. The State government has targeted to procure 63 lakh tonne of paddy (nearly 42 lakh tonne rice) in the kharif season and 14 lakh tonne paddy (around 10 lakh tonne rice) in rabi season.  
  • Experts advise growing more low GI rice to fight spurt in diabetes

  • Experts advise growing more low GI rice to fight spurt in diabetes ‘Increasing shift to sedentary lifestyle driving up cases' With sedentary lifestyle increasingly becoming the norm in India — more so in view of the Covid-19 induced work-from-home trend — driving up the number of diabetes cases, scientists from ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition and ICAR-Indian Institute of Rice Research have favoured large-scale cultivation of the low Glycemic Index (GI) rice as a fit diet for diabetic people in the country. Any variety of rice with less than 55 GI is considered diabetic-friendly, according to scientists. A low GI diet helps curb cravings and prevent sugar levels from spiking, reduces heart risks, and aids weight  loss. “Considering increased shift towards sedentary lifestyle in majority of the population, necessary policy changes are to be made at various levels to increase the cultivation of low-GI rice in the country,” lead author of the study, D Sanjeeva Rao from IIR said. His colleagues J Aravind Kumar, V Ravindra Babu and R M Sundaram and Ananthan and  T Longvah, both from ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition co-authored the study published in the latest edition of journal Current Science. Most rice varieties in India are of high GI, a food quality said to contribute to the health problems surrounding high-calorie intake and dysregulated glucose metabolism. Manipulation of GI through various approaches is considered to significantly help in the fight against diabetes and related diseases. The scientists also noted that paddy procured from the farmers is processed to milled rice and sold in the market under various brand names, and often the varietal purity is compromised. Hence, they emphasized that it is equally important to indicate the original name of the variety, GI value and available carbohydrate value on the label to translate the advantages of this research to society. The IIRR has already identified three rice varieties with low GI values which are considered suitable for diabetic patients. These are Lalat (GI=53.17), BPT 5204 (GI=51.42) and Sampada (GI=51). Also, named the ‘Telangana Sona’, yet another low GI rice variety has been developed by researchers at Professor Jayaprakash Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU).  India is known as the Diabetes capital of the world with above 77 million adults suffering from diabetes, this number is expected to increase to 134 million by 2045. According to the World Health Organisation, diabetes mellitus is considered as one of the major causes of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower-limb amputation.
  • From Plate to Plough: Fix rice farming to avoid a bumper emissions harvest

  • The amount of methane emitted from paddy fields of India is 3.396 teragram per year, which is 71.32 mt CO2e. By Ashok Gulati & Reena Singh Against the ‘carbon neutrality by 2070’ target set by India at CoP26, Budget FY23 lists “climate action” and “energy transition” as priorities for the “Amrit Kaal”. The announcement of an additional allocation of Rs 19,500 crore for solar PV modules, co-firing of 5-7% of biomass pellets in thermal power plants, “sovereign green bonds, and “battery-swapping policy” was made in the context. These are steps towards making energy and transport sector less polluting. But in the case of agriculture, Budget announcements have been rather limited. We know that agriculture contributes 73% of country’s total methane emissions. India has kept itself away from recent EU-US pledge to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030, despite it being the third-largest emitter of methane globally. It is in this context, one has to see the Budget announcement of chemical-free natural farming within a 5-km-wide corridor along the Ganga, support for millets, increased domestic production of oilseeds, kisan drones, etc. While these are welcome steps, they do not give enough comfort on overcoming the environmental damage already done by this sector as a result of subsidies on urea, canal irrigation, and power for irrigation, along with minimum support prices (MSP) and procurement policies that are concentrated in a few states and largely on two crops, rice and wheat. On January 1, the country had stocks of wheat and rice in the central pool that were 4X higher than the buffer stocking norms. In fact, rice stocks with the FCI are an astounding 7X higher than the buffer norms. This is despite record distribution of rice in PDS and record exports of rice (17.7MMT) in 2020-21! The financial value of these excessive grain stocks is Rs2.14 lakh crore, out of which Rs 1.66 lakh crore is just because of the excess rice stocks, estimated at economic cost of rice and wheat as given by FCI. Interestingly, the Economic Survey 2021-22, pegs the economic cost of rice and wheat as being higher than those reported by FCI. If one uses Economic Survey costs, then the value of excess stocks jumps to Rs 2.56 lakh crore, with rice accounting for approximately Rs 2 lakh crore. It is not just inefficient use of scarce capital locked up, the excess stocks are also reflective of a large quantum of greenhouse gases (GHG) embedded. As per the national GHG inventory, agriculture emits 408 million tonnes (mt) of carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2e), and rice cultivation is the third-largest source (at 17.5%) within Indian agriculture, after enteric fermentation (54.6%) and fertiliser use (19%). Paddy fields are anthropogenic sources of atmospheric nitrous oxide and methane—273 and 80-83 times more powerful than CO2 in driving temperature increase in 20 years, respectively. The amount of methane emitted from paddy fields of India is 3.396 teragram per year, which is 71.32 mt CO2e. Two important points need to be noted here: First, India is not reporting nitrous oxide emissions in its national GHG inventories. There is scientific evidence that intermittent flooding reduces water and methane emissions, but increases nitrous oxide emissions. Thus, lowering methane emissions through controlled irrigation does not necessarily mean net low emissions. Second, there are emissions due to burning of rice residues, application of fertilisers, production of fertilisers for rice, energy operations like harvesting, pumps, processing, transportation, etc, which are not being accounted in GHG emissions by rice production. A study by Vetter et al (2017) used Cool Farm Tool (CFT) model to estimate annual GHG emissions associated with crops, from production to the farm gate. This study reported emission of 5.65 kg CO2e GHG per kg of rice. Furthermore, rice cultivation requires about 4,000 cubic metres of water per tonne. Even if half of this percolates back to the ground, the excess stocks of 46 mt of rice embed about 92 billion cubic metres of water as well as 260 mt CO2e. According to the IMF, the world needs a global carbon tax of $75 per tonne by 2030 to reduce emissions to a level consistent with a 2°C warming target. India does not have an explicit carbon-price yet, but many countries have instituted carbon pricing, with Sweden leading the pack, at as high a rate as $137 per tonne of CO2e while the EU is at $50/t of CO2e. It is high time that India announced indicative carbon pricing and create a vibrant carbon market to incentivise ‘green growth’ in Amrit Kaal. Economic Survey 2021-22 points out that India is over-exploiting its groundwater resources, particularly in its northwestern and southern reaches. This is primarily due to paddy cultivation on 44 million hectares. Paddy helped achieve food security, but now is the time to save groundwater and the environment. It calls for revisiting policies on subsidising power and fertilisers, MSP, procurement, etc. Farmer groups and the private sector can be mobilised for developing carbon markets in agriculture, both at the national and international levels, which can reward farmers for switching from carbon-intensive crops such as rice to low carbon crops, or for improving farming practices in rice to lower GHG emissions. Moving towards ‘net-zero’ agriculture will give India ‘climate smart’ agriculture. And if we can protect productivity levels with a low carbon footprint, it will help India access global markets too. Respectively, Infosys Chair professor for agriculture, and senior fellow, ICRIER
  • India’s basmati rice exports hit 4-yr low as Iran trims buying

  • Workers lift a sack of rice to load onto a truck at a wholesale grain market in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh February 9, 2012. REUTERS/Ajay Verma/File Photo  

    MUMBAI, Feb 11 (Reuters) - India's basmati rice exports plunged a fifth from a year ago to the lowest level in four years in 2021 as top buyer Iran slashed purchases after its rupee reserves dwindled, government and industry officials said.

    The country's basmati rice exports in 2021 fell 20% from a year ago to 4 million tonnes, the lowest since 2017, according to government data.

    Shipments to Iran, the biggest buyer of India's basmati rice, plunged 26% from a year ago to 834,458 tonnes, the data showed.

    "Iran wasn't active in the market for a few months last year after its rupee reserves with Indian banks depleted," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading house.

    Iran previously had a deal to sell oil to India in exchange for rupees, which it used to import critical goods, including agricultural commodities, but New Delhi stopped buying Tehran's oil in May 2019 after a U.S. sanctions waiver expired.

    Tehran continued using its rupees to buy goods from India, but without crude sales, which brought down Iran's rupee reserves. read more

    There was slowdown in exports in the middle of 2021 but in the last two-three months buying from Iran, Saudi Arabia and other key buyers have picked up, said Vijay Setia, former president, All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA).

    India, the world's biggest rice exporter, mainly exports non-basmati rice to African countries and premier basmati rice to the Middle East.

    The country total rice exports jumped nearly 46% in 2021 from a year ago to a record 21.42 million tonnes as Bangladesh, China and Vietnam increased purchases.

    Basmati rice production in 2021 fell around 15% from a year ago because of lower area and untimely rainfall during harvesting season, Setia said.

    "Export prices of basmati rice have gone up by 20% because of lower production, but still demand is robust for February and March shipments," Setia said.

     

  • Fortified rice in 14 districts from April

  • Ahmedabad: Officials of state civil supplies department on Thursday said the state will start distribution of fortified rice in 14 districts through the public distribution system (PDS). Before the launch, the department along with Food Research Laboratory (FRL) of the Directorate of Forensic Sciences (DFS) carried out an awareness programme to dispel myths about ‘plastic rice’. Officials said fortified rice is made with rice flour mixed with micronutrients — folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron. Thus, it’s colour and shape is sometimes different from rice grains. According to national standards, fortified rice has one such pellet mixed per 100 grains of rice. G P Darbar, technical officer at FRL, said there are multiple tests through which citizens can determine whether the rice in question is ‘plastic’, including soaking it in water (the pellet will fall to the bottom, while a plastic grain will float) and burning (a plastic one will smell). H P Sanghvi, director of DFS, said they regularly receive samples where citizens call the pellets ‘plastic rice’.
  • Modern rice mill to come up at Chinnamanur, says Minister

  •  
    Whenever the DMK came to power in Tamil Nadu, temples across the State had been given a facelift and kumbabishekams were performed, said Minister for Cooperation I Periasami here on Thursday. Speaking at a meeting at Chinnamanur Uzhavar Sandhai, he said that soon after the DMK assumed office in May 2021, the government swung into action and retrieved thousands of acres of lands from encroachers. On the one hand, the government has been fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic while on the other side, it focused on development. Very recently, Vadapalani Murugan Temple witnessed kumbabishekam. Despite several odds, the officials and temple staff performed the rituals without compromising on the agama sastras, he said and informed that the Sivakami Amman - Poola Nandeeswarar Temple here would witness kumbabishekam soon.

    Quality rice

    The DMK government had promised to supply quality rice through PDS outlets. It had been decided to set up a state-of-the-art rice mill at Chinnamanur for this purpose. It would procure paddy from farmers and send the rice to ration shops from here directly. This is going to be a reality soon, he said and added that the modern rice mill would come up on an outlay of ₹ 108 crore. For the benefit of the plantain growers, the government had established a cold storage facility. It has a great impact so that they would establish more such facilities in different locations in Theni district including Uthamapalayam, Bodi and Cumbum.

    The government strived hard to maintain the storage level in Mullaperiyar reservoir at 142 feet. He recalled the legal battle undertaken by the DMK government and assured the farmers that the Chief Minister M.K. Stalin would not let them down at any cost.

    The party MLAs Cumbum N Ramakrishnan and Andipatti Maharajan were present. Earlier, Mr Periasami introduced the candidates to the voters. He also addressed meetings at different locations in Theni district.
  • Substantial rise in FCI allocation of rice for ethanol production

  • image caption

    No diversion of foodgrain from cental pool buffer stock, says Piyush Goyal

    Allocation of rice from FCI (Food Corporation of India) for the production of ethanol has been raised by 466 per cent during the ethanol supply year (ESY) December 2021- November 22. To a query in Lok Sabha on the details of the quantum of foodgrains diverted from the buffer stock of FCI for the production of ethanol, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said there is no diversion of foodgrains from the buffer stock in the Central pool. “With a view to increasing production of fuel-grade ethanol for blending with petrol, the government enables distilleries to produce ethanol from surplus rice available with FCI,” he said. For ESY 2020-21, the government had allocated 81,044 tonnes of FCI rice to distilleries for production of ethanol. Rice was priced at ₹20 per kg ex-FCI godown. Of this, distilleries in the country had lifted 49,233 tonnes of FCI rice for the production of ethanol during the ESY 2020-21. During the current ESY 2021-22, the government has allocated 4,58,817 tonnes of rice for the production of ethanol at a price of ₹20 per kg ex-FCI godown. Of this, the distilleries in the country have already lifted 19,929 tonnes of FCI rice till January 27.

    Wheat, rice procurement

    In a separate reply to a query on the quantum of procurement of wheat, rice, sugarcane and other kharif crops, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said 433.44 lakh tonnes (lt) of wheat have been procured in 2021-22. Added to this, 601.85 lt of rice and 2996.37 lt of sugarcane have been procured in 2020-21. On the number of farmers benefited from the procurement, he said in the reply that 49.19 lakh wheat farmers got the benefit during the rabi marketing season 2021-22 as against 43.35 lakh farmers in 2020-21. Apart from this, 1.31 crore paddy farmers got the benefit during the kharif marketing season of 2020-21 as against 1.24 crore in 2019-20. To another query, Choubey said 426.98 lt of covered storage (owned and hired) capacity was available with FCI for storage of foodgrains as on on January 1. The stock position of FCI was at 290.46 lt as on January 1. “No food grains got rotted in FCI due to shortage of godowns in the last three years,” he said.

    Cotton purchase

    Replying to a separate question on whether the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) had entered the market to purchase cotton, Darshana Jardosh, Union Minister of State for Textiles, said CCI is mandated to procure raw cotton, if prices of raw cotton fall below Minimum Support Price (MSP). “Since market price of raw cotton has been ruling above MSP right from the beginning of the current cotton year, there has been no need for CCI to undertake MSP operations. However, CCI has deployed adequate manpower at procurement centres to keep a close watch on kapas arrivals, market rates, and to meet any eventuality to undertake MSP operations wherever required,” the Minister said. A note in the reply said that seed cotton prices for FAQ grade are ruling much above MSP level since the beginning of current cotton season 2021-22, and farmers are getting higher prices. Thus, farmers do not require market intervention by CCI in current cotton season so far, as they are getting 65 per cent to 70 per cent higher above MSP rates by market forces itself, the note said.
  • Non-Basmati rice exports likely to cross 17 MT this financial year: BV Rao, president, Rice Exporters Association

  • non basmati rice Exports of non-Basmati rice are poised to cross 17 million tonne (mt) for the current financial year. Exports have already crossed 12.53 mt for the current season against 13 mt for the entire 2020-21 season, BV Rao, president, Rice Exporters Association (REA), told FE. According to data released by the association, non-Basmati rice exports have recorded a 51.8% rise between April and December last year, over the previous year’s corresponding period, due to high purchases made by China and Bangladesh. Non-basmati rice shipments crossed 12.53 mt over April-December 2021, compared to 8.25 mt in the same period last year. In value terms, the non-basmati rice shipments were up by 46% at $4.48 billion compared to $3.07 billion same time last year. In the April to December 2021 period, Bangladesh imported 1.58 mt in the current year, as against 13,811 tonne for the same period the previous year. In value terms, this translates to $596 million for the April-December 2021 period as against $13.47 million for the April to December 2020 period. Rao said that although Bangladesh has been the largest purchaser of non-Basmati rice from India in the 2021 period, the country has not been buying from India for the last four months since their purchases are largely determined by government decisions. China has imported 0.9 mt from India in the April to December 2021 period valued at $275 million, while the imports from the April to December 2020 period were 33,705 tonne and the shipments were worth $ 10,29 million for this period. Rao stated that China may continue to purchase rice from India and the shipments from India are likely to cross 1.5 mt for the entire year. Other major buyers of Indian rice include Nepal, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Senegal, Somalia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Togo, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Russia, among others. Recently, the agriculture ministry said that the country’s exports of Basmati and non-Basmati rice are likely to touch 21-22 mt for the current fiscal.
  • Rising freight rates impact India’s basmati exports to West Asia

  • Doubling of freight rates for shipments to West Asia from the beginning of February has started impacting basmati rice exports to the region. As a result, basmati exports are likely to decline more than 10% year-on-year in this financial year, said industry executives. West Asia has traditionally been the largest buyer of Indian basmati rice, accounting for 85-90% India’s basmati exports. “In the first nine months of the current financial year, basmati exports were down by 38% compared to the same period last financial year,” Vinod Kaul, executive director, All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA), told ET. “The trade was expecting exports to go up in the fourth quarter of FY22 as the Ramadan month of April was coming when the Middle East buys good quantities of basmati rice.” The surge in freight rates will hurt exports, said Kaul. “The freight cost has more than doubled in the last ten days beginning February. The freight rate was $1,100 per container at January-end which has shot up to $2,300 per container now,” he said. India exported 4.6 million tonnes of basmati rice in 2020-21. But this fiscal, exports are unlikely to cross 4.1 million tonnes, said Kaul. “The payment problem with Iran continues, though some exports are happening through third currency payments which are permitted by the Reserve Bank of India,” he said. However, while basmati rice exports are reeling under rising freight rates and exporters have no choice to send the rice to other destinations, non-basmati rice exports are doing exceedingly well. Exports of non-Basmati rice are expected to cross 17 million tonnes this fiscal, said BV Rao, president, Rice Exporters Association. Exports crossed 12.53 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2021-22, as against 13 million tonnes in the entire 2020-21. Non-basmati rice exports increased 51.8% year-on-year between April and December last year due to higher purchases made by China and Bangladesh.
     
     
     
  • PDS beneficiaries will get fortified rice: Bihar govt

  • PATNA: The state cabinet on Tuesday gave its clearance to the government’s decision to supply ‘poshanyukt chawal (fortified rice)’ to the public distribution shops (PDSs) in the state to overcome the problem of malnutrition in the large chunk of population both in the rural and urban areas. In this regard, the Bihar State Food and Civil Supply Corporation (BSCSC) has been authorized to select the agencies required for the supply of fortified rice to the PDSs. The selection will be done through a proper tendering process, cabinet secretariat department additional chief secretary Sanjay Kumar said. The agencies concerned will also be authorized to procure fortified rice kernel (FRK) that has to be mixed with rice to prepare the fortified rice. It would require mixing of 1kg of FRK with 99kg rice. The proposal for the cabinet clearance had been moved by the food and consumer protection department. As its target people, the scheme will cover 85% of rural population and 75% of those living in the urban areas. The cabinet also sanctioned Rs72.82 crore for the construction of buildings with their specifics at Bagaha and Valmikinagar in West Champaran district to house the offices meant for Mahila Swabhiman Vishesh Sashastra Bal.The sanction was also given to the proposal of the health department for the creation of 32 posts to man Bihar Health Science University, Patna. The building construction department has been authorized to select representatives from Bihar School of Yoga Darshan or those authorised by it, to prepare the curriculum required for the Free Yoga Kendra at Shastri Nagar in Patna.
  • Pune: Rice Mahotsav draws good response from farmers, customers

  • By Swarali Joshirao
    From Indrayani, Ambemohar and Ghansal from Western Ghats to black and red rice recognised for their health benefits, a variety of rice were available for sale during the Rice Mahotsav organised from February 1 to 6 at Maha FPC yard, Pune. Maha Farmers Producer Company (FPC) and NAFED e-Kisan Mandi had organised the festival with the aim to increase farmers’ profit by cutting various expenses incurred by them in delivering farm goods to consumers. As the product directly comes from farm, quality is guaranteed, an official said. Besides FPCs, self-help groups and individual farmers participated in the festival. “When I came to know that some farmers from Maval are facing difficulty in selling their rice, this idea struck my mind. With the help of NAFED e-Kisan Mandi, we have tried to apply Business-to-Consumer model, wherein farmers can earn approximately double their regular income,” said Yogesh Thorat, Managing Director, Maha FPC. “We received commendable footfall. People appreciated our initiative. This can be called a pilot project,” Rahul Godhse, Operations Team, Maha FPC, said. Aajra FCP (Kolhapur), Raigad Farmers Agricultural Producer, Donu Aaee Krushi Gat (Pune), Aandar Mava FPC (Pune), Ganpat Gangaram Kank (Pune), Jay Malhar Krushi and Organic Rice Producer Gat (Pune), Dhondidev Agro Foods (Kolhapur), and Chouras FPC (Bhandara) sold their produce at the festival. Jyoti Sahane, a customer, came all the way from Manchar to buys 250 kilograms of Indrayani rice. “We usually get low-grade Indrayani or a mixed product. I come from a farmer’s family and could easily understand that the product (being sold at the festival) is original. I feel this is a fantastic start. They should conduct such fairs often and for various other products,” she added.
  • Large quantity of rice imported from India last year to fulfil export commitments

  • -Agriculture Minister, GRDB unaware

    Indian High Commissioner Dr KJ Srinivasa has said that a large quantity of rice was imported from India during 2021 by local businessmen in order to meet export commitments.
     
    He made the revelation during a recent interview with the Stabroek News. “In fact, last year when the interesting thing happened, if you see the Indian exports to Guyana, rice became a big export. What happened was there was some Guyanese businessman who needed to get rice from India [because] there was some shortfall somewhere in Brazil or something,” the High Commissioner disclosed.
  • Asia Rice: India rates slip on weak demand, other hubs muted on holidays

  • Rice export prices in India fell for a second straight week as buyers opted for cheaper offers from elsewhere, while activity in other Asian hubs remained relatively quiet due to the Lunar New Year holidays. Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $370 to $376 per tonne this week, down from last week's range of $372 to $379. "Myanmar and Pakistan have been offering rice at a competitive price. Some buyers are moving to these destinations," said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at leading exporter Satyam Balajee. Freight train availability is still limited, and that has been delaying shipments for deals signed last month, he said. Thailand's 5% broken rice prices were little changed at $408-$417 per tonne on Thursday, compared to $408-$415 last week. Thailand aims to ship 7m tons of rice in 2022 as outlook improves One Bangkok-based trader said the market was still muted from the Lunar New Year holidays and most businesses have not resumed. Some orders made before the new year were fulfilled last week and some new deals have been made with buyers from Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, another trader said. Thailand aims to export 7 million tonnes of rice this year, 14.6% more than 2021. Markets in Vietnam were closed for the Lunar New Year holidays this week. In Bangladesh, domestic rates for the staple were high despite good crops and hefty reserves, hitting consumers. "Prices of food grains has increased in the international market. People are eating more rice to cope with the high global prices of wheat. That is affecting rice prices," the country's agriculture minister Abdur Razzaque told reporters.
  • Organic black rice finds few takers in Anantapur

  • Enthused by the wide publicity given by the State government to the Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) a couple in Dharmapuri village near Dharmavaram in Anantapur district took to organic farming without using chemical pesticides or fertilizer and has been reaping goodyields. Polepalli Revathi and Kondarajugari Seetaramaraju, owning justtwo acres of land in this nondescript village, are seen as ‘different’ as they do not resort to farming in the way other villagers do, and use neem and castor cake in the soil, Jeevamrutham and neem oil for fertilizer and pest control and once their crop comes to harvest stage, they use fermented curd. However,while they have more than 550 kg of processed and packed black rice with them, they are struggling to findtakers. “We expected some NGOs or government agencies to show ushow to market it, but getting back our investment of ₹30,000 per acre looks difficult,” Mr. Seetaramaraju told The Hindu. Things have come to such a pass that at a time when organic black rice is sold at an average of ₹250 to ₹300 a kg in stores, entrepreneurs are asking for the stock for prices lower than the normal white BPT rice. The State government’s agriculture departmentis not providing any support, they lament
     
    “We have reaped very good results for the past three years and got enough seed for our use in the first year in 2019 and used BPT-2841 variety of black rice seeds sourced from Haripuram in Sangareddy, which gave us a healthy crop in 2020 Kharif,”said Ms. Revathi, who also doubles as a tailor at home toboost the family income. Describing the health advantages and nutritional values of black rice, Ms. Revathi said 100 grams of it containsnine grams of protein, as againstseven grams in brown rice. It’s also a good source of iron, and several nutrients, protein, and fiber. Scientists at Agriculture Research Centre at Rekulakunta said thatblack ricehas over 23 types of antioxidants and has the highest antioxidant activity of all rice varieties. The couple can be reached over phone at 8147467521.
  • EXCLUSIVE Indian rice traders stop new export deals as freight train shortage blocks shipments

  • Workers lift a sack of rice to load onto a truck at a wholesale grain market in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh February 9, 2012. REUTERS/Ajay Verma/File Photo

    MUMBAI, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Nearly a third of India's rice exports for this month are stuck due to a shortage of freight trains and most traders have stopped signing February export contracts to avoid demurrage charges, industry officials told Reuters.

    The slowdown in exports from India, the world's biggest rice exporter, has allowed rival suppliers such as Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam to increase overseas sales at higher prices.

    Slowing exports could force the Indian government to increase procurement from farmers.

    Shipments of more than 500,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice that need to be transported to ports on India's east coast from the central state of Chhattisgarh have been stuck due to the shortage of freight trains, dealers said.

    They are part of around 1.5 million tonnes of rice that India had planned to export this month.

    "Cargoes cannot move from producing centres to ports because of freight train scarcity," said Nitin Gupta, vice president of agricultural commodities trader Olam India's rice business.

    "There is no clarity on the availability of trains so nobody is offering fresh cargoes."

    Railway authorities have diverted wagons to ship fertilizers and to serve thermal coal power plants to ensure adequate power supply this winter after power plants ran out of coal a few months ago.

    The delay in Indian shipments is hitting exporters hard as vessel rates have risen to $30,000 per day and some exporters need to pay as much as $500,000 in demurrage charges, wiping out their entire margin, said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India's biggest rice exporter.

    Traders have started quoting higher prices for overseas shipments to cover higher demurrage charges, and prices for India's 5% broken parboiled variety of rice have risen to $380 per tonne, the highest in six months.

    Higher prices and shipping delays are prompting some buyers to switch to rival suppliers such as Thailand and Myanmar, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of India's Rice Exporters Association.

    International rice prices turn higher on Indian export delays

    Thailand's 5% broken rice prices rose last week to their highest since mid-July 2021 at $404-$405 per tonne.

    "We have requested the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to help us by increasing railway wagons' availability," Rao said.

    India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Railways did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

    In the past traders use to switch to road transport in the absence of railway wagons, but truckers have substantially raised freight charges in the past six months after diesel prices jumped to a record high, said a dealer with a global trading firm.

    "At least for near-month shipments, Asian and African buyers are switching to Thailand, Myanmar and Pakistan. Indian exports could fall in the March quarter," he said.

    India cornered nearly half of global rice shipments in 2021 as its exports surged 45% from 2020 to a record 21.4 million tonnes, or more than the combined exports of the next three largest exporters Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan, according to provisional government data.

    India's rice production has jumped to a record high in the current year and prices are still competitive, but logistics' bottlenecks are limiting exports, said Himanshu of Satyam Balajee.

     

  • Basmati prices on upswing in Punjab, with reduction in area hitting supply

  • Chandigarh With basmati supplies expected to be constrained with area under its cultivation falling this season, the aromatic variety has seen an upward swing in the prices, crossing over 4,000 a quintal, over the past ten days Punjab has seen basmati prices on upswing as there has been a 26% reduction in area under cultivation of the crop; the dynamics of the crop changes every year based on export demand. (HT FILE PHOTO) Punjab has seen basmati prices on upswing as there has been a 26% reduction in area under cultivation of the crop; the dynamics of the crop changes every year based on export demand. Chandigarh With basmati supplies expected to be constrained with area under its cultivation falling this season, the aromatic variety has seen an upward swing in the prices, crossing over 4,000 a quintal, over the past ten days. Last season’s peak season rates ranged between 2,500 and 2,600 in mandis of Kotkapura, Amritsar, Muktsar, Batala, Fatehgarh Churian and Batala. Punjab Mandi Board figures show that to date, 8.35 lakh tonne basmati has arrived in mandis against last year’s corresponding figure of 10.75 lakh tonne. “Prices are expected to cross 4,500 per quintal, with total arrivals expected to be between 13 lakh tonne and 14 lakh tonne. “This upswing in prices has come after years and is good for growers, especially when the area under the crop has reduced by 26% over previous season,” said Ashok Sethi, director, Basmati Exporters Association. The area under premium paddy variety basmati this season has shrunk by one-fourth over the previous seasons. Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC) figures show that this season, basmati was sown over 4.4 lakh hectare against last year’s area under of 6 lakh hectare, witnessing a steep fall of 26%. The Centre has been studying the cropping pattern over the past four-five years. Fall in area is attributed to poor economics attached with the premium crop forcing the basmati growers to shift to the Parmal paddy covered under MSP, with 26 lakh hectare is under Parmal. Now, paddy crop sown June-July has matured and is being harvested. “An acre of basmati yields 18-20 quintal, which is sold at price of 2,500 a quintal, for a total sale of 48,000. While the yield of an acre of Parmal variety is 30-32 quintal which sells at a fixed price of 1,940 per acre,” said an official with state’s food and civil supplies department. He adds that parmal fetches per acre value between 58,000 to 62,000 per acre witnessing a benefit of Rs. 10,000 to 12,000. “Prices are expected to see an upward trend this week. There is needs a system to regulate and stabilise prices offered for basmati, so that farmers are not fleeced,” said Surinder Singh, a basmati grower from Batala. According to Sethi, the fall in prices is due to closure of business with Iran which used to export grain worth 12,000 crore from the state. “We hope for more upward swing in the basmati market, once sanctions imposed on Iran by the US are removed; India had also followed the US,” he added. Annually, basmati export from India is worth 34,000 crore, out of with Punjab contributes 40%. The quantum of Indian basmati rice consumed in Saudi Arabia is 50% of import to middle-east; the region itself forms 70% of our country’s export market.  
  • India-Pakistan tug of war over GI tag for Basmati rice takes a new turn

  • India-Pakistan tug of war over GI tag for Basmati rice takes a new turn
    A recent judgement of a European Union court has misled Pakistan into believing that its geographical indication (GI) rights over Basmati rice have been upheld. The judgement gains significance in view of the tussle over GI rights between India and Pakistan.
    India and Pakistan have been in a tug of war over exclusive trademark rights on long-grain Basmati rice. India applied to the EU for protected geographical indication (PGI) status for Basmati rice last year. Pakistan opposed the move as it would deal an adverse blow to the country’s exports to EU. India and Pakistan are the only two countries that export Basmati rice to the world.
    Pakistan’s claim that the latest judgement upholds its rights over Basmati rice is unsubstantiated, S. Chandrasekaran, author of the book, Basmati Rice: The Natural History Geographical Indication, told The Hindu BusinessLine.
    The case
    In October 2017, the UK-based Indo European Food Ltd appealed to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) against registration of the trademark by Venice-based distributor Hamid Ahmad Chakari. Chakari is a distributor in the EU who buys rice from Pakistan, while Indo European Food Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of India’s Kohinoor Foods Ltd that markets Basmati rice.
    Chakari had obtained the non-registered trademark for rice flour, rice cakes, rice-based snacks, extruded food products made of rice, rice pulp for culinary purposes and rice meal for forage.
    According to Indo European Food Ltd, the trademark relied upon the goodwill associated with the name Basmati.
    The UK firm also said use of the words, ‘Abresham Super Basmati Selaa Grade One World’s Best Rice,’ indicated that the product was Basmati rice and if the rice used was of any other type, it would lead to misrepresentation. This would damage the goodwill of the Basmati rice brand.
    The EUIPO rejected the arguments by Indo European Ltd in April 2019, saying it failed to provide sufficient evidence that the registration of the trademark caused loss to the firm.
    “There was no argument to explain how use of the mark applied for could affect the distinctiveness of the name ‘basmati’,” the EUIPO board of appeal had said.
    What is the EU court judgement?
    The ruling by the Court of Justice of EU came on an appeal filed by Indo European Food Ltd against the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) judgement.
    The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice upheld the registration of  ‘Abresham Super Basmati Selaa Grade One World’s Best Rice’ in the EU and said Indo European Ltd “failed to demonstrate” how the trademark would result in misrepresentation of the name Basmati.
    However, it agreed that a small part of the public could believe that the goods were in some way associated with Basmati rice.
    The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan hailed the judgement and said it “successfully” crushed the Indian application of GI tag for its Basmati rice in the EU.
    India still in the race
    Chandrasekaran said Pakistan is wrongly under the impression that the Court of Justice recognised its Basmati variety.
    Since 2017, the Indian Patent Office has given GI tag for Basmati rice, thereby protecting the exclusivity of the long-grain fragrant rice across the world.
    As the 2017 case revolved around a non-registered product, the Indian registration supersedes such a claim, the expert said. It is now an internationally settled law.
    With the domestic GI tag, India has the legal means to challenge any registered or non-registered trademark post-2017, Chandrasekaran said.
  • A.P. organic rice set to tap world market

  • Export body to give it a makeover to help it face competitors from Southeast Asia

    Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) Chairman M. Angamuthu has said that the authority has prepared a road map to export organic rice varieties from Andhra Pradesh to meet the growing demand in the European Union, Middle East and East Asia. Mr. Angamuthu told The Hindu here, “Post COVID-19, many countries, including the European Union are looking for rice varieties grown through organic farming methods in India. We have chosen Andhra Pradesh to source such rice for export.” “The APEDA under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will be the facilitator between the importer and the exporter, and help the latter obtain necessary certification for export. Decks will be cleared for export once organic rice varieties are certified,” said Mr. Angamuthu.

    ‘Branding needed’

    “Despite India being a major rice exporter to 170 countries across the globe, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines remain the prime competitors as India continues to export rice without any key features - branding, promotion and value addition,” explained Mr. Angamuthu. “In a war-footing initiative, a strategy has been prepared to brand the Indian rice varieties with value addition. However, product diversification will be the key strategy to face the challenge from our global competitors,” he added
     

    The senior IAS officer said that the APEDA is all set to groom a group of 100 progressive farmers or Farmers' Producer Organisations from Andhra Pradesh and connect them to the global market to export their respective products including horticulture crops and maize.

  • Don’t tax branded rice under GST, cut taxes on procurement:

  • Don’t tax branded rice under GST, cut taxes on procurement: Vijay Setia, president, AIREA

    Vijay Setia, president, All Indian Rice Exporters Association (AIREA), spoke on critical issues currently impacting the exporters and millers.

    tax branded rice, GST, GST rule, new GST rules, taxes on procurement, rice procurement, AIREA, rice exporters in India, GST council, GST regime, basmati rice shipment India’s basmati rice exports have seen fluctuations in fortune in the last couple of years because of factors such as slowing down in shipment to Iran. (Image: Reuters) India’s basmati rice exports have seen fluctuations in fortune in the last couple of years because of factors such as slowing down in shipment to Iran, the country’s biggest export destination for aromatic long-grained rice, and delay in settlement in payments from importers. Vijay Setia, president, All Indian Rice Exporters Association (AIREA), spoke to FE’s Sandip Das on critical issues currently impacting the exporters and millers. Edited excerpts: What are the key issues rice exporters and millers would be facing post GST scenario? Although the GST council has recommended 5% taxes on branded rice while exempting the cereals from taxes, we feel that it would make rice sold to economically weaker section costlier. In the current scenario, the processor has to put several information such as name of the company, date of packing etc. as per requirement of weights and measures department and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India on the rice pack. This would make the rice pack as ‘branded’ thus inviting taxes. The next GST council meeting must address the issue as the government has already promised zero tax on rice under GST regime. States with high local taxes such as mandi fees, arthia (commission agents) commission – 2%, rural development cess (2%) etc. on grain trade mostly prevalent in Punjab, Haryana and others. It should be reduced drastically in the post GST roll out. Because of higher taxation, processors or millers are not willing to set up units in these key producing states. You have been pitching for stopping prevalent practice of documents against acceptance (DA) in non-basmati rice exports while in case of basmati rice shipment, DA has been stopped by the commerce ministry. What are the measures AIREA proposes for exporters to follow so that there are no delays in settlement of payment for rice exported? Because of the prevalence of DA, mostly resorted by small sized basmati rice exporters had become a buyers’ market. Often, consignments are not lifted from the port by importers, and thus, the price has to be renegotiated leading to lower realisation. In a fiercely competitive basmati rice exports trade, small players in order to increase the volume of shipment often send rice consignment to importers who use this unsecure credit to their advantage. We feel that because of the practice of DA, the country’s basmati rice shipment has seen a 29% fall to Rs 22,714 crore in FY16, from a record Rs 29,291 crore reported in FY14. However, the volume of basmati exports has risen from 3.7 million tone (MT) to more than 4 MT in the same period. In FY17, despite lower shipment to Iran, our exports declined to around 5% to Rs 21, 605 crore in comparison to previous fiscal. Thus we has urged government to end the practice of DA in exports of non-basmati rice as well. Basmati rice exporters are currently following two modes – cash against document (invoices are delivered to the importer only against payment) and letter of credit (importers instruct their bank to pay exporters as per the specified conditions mentioned in the original documentary credit). These two methods which are followed widely globally.
     
    After a sharp fall in basmati rice exports in the last couple of years, what is the prospects of aromatic rice shipment in the current fiscal? In the current fiscal, the realisation from basmati rice exports are set to increase compared to last few years. We have been looking at new market for shipment of basmati rice. Overall in the current fiscal the outlook for exports is quite bright.
  • PDS rice worth Rs 3 crore seized in raids across Telangana

  • HYDERABAD: The raids conducted by the enforcement task force of the civil supplies department in the past three months have thwarted diversion and illegal transportation of huge quantities of PDS rice worth over Rs 3 crore. The crackdown was carried out in 179 areas in the state and criminal cases were registered. The enforcement wing has five task force teams comprising 20 retired police officers and officials of the revenue, commercial tax and civil supplies departments as well. Civil supplies commissioner CV Anand claimed the raids helped check the illegal transportation of rice worth Rs 3,16,73,701. The task force seized 3,507 quintals worth of commodities. Paddy worth Rs 1 crore, sugar worth Rs 2.15 core, LPG cylinders, kerosene and 937 quintals of rice meant for sale at fair price shops through Public Distribution System (PDS) were seized.  The frequent raids, in turn, have pushed up the performance of mandal-level stock (MLS) points and FP shops across the state, officials said.
    The department has also stepped up vigil at TS borders to check illegal transportation of PDS rice to other states. In the 2015-16 Kharif season the department recovered 4,525.701 tonnes of rice from illegal trade but only 1,192 tonnes in the 2016-17 season, said officials.
  • Direct procurement scheme to reduce rice prices across Kerala

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    Image for representational purpose only.
    KOCHI: Once cooperative societies and the Consumerfed implement their plan to purchase rice from other states directly, rice will be available at prices lower by `10 than the current market price in Kerala. The consumption pattern shows ‘matta’ rice continues to be the favourite of Malayalis, followed by Jaya and Kuruva. The state government plans to form a consortium of Consumerfed and primary cooperative societies, which will raise a capital of Rs 100 crores. According to Cooperation Department special secretary P Venugopal, a pilot project will be launched using the fund raised by the consortium. “A special purchase committee comprising members of cooperative societies, which procure rice from other states, has been formed. “It will hold talks with rice mill owners and paddy procuring societies in states like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Since profit is not the motto, consumers can be sure of getting rice at lower prices,” said Venugopal. Two types of matta rice is sold in Kerala - long grain matta and short grain matta. Long grain matta is procured from private mill owners and sold at `48-50/kg, while short grain matta is priced between `35 and `39/kg. The Jaya variety, which is another favourite of Keralites, is priced at `45-47/kg, while Kuruva is sold for `32-36/kg. Usually, private rice mills in the state procure paddy from other states, including Karnataka, at `28/kg. When milling charge and retail margin are added, the rice costs `20 more in the retail market. “Cooperative societies and the Consumerfed have not finalised the selling price of rice. We plan to procure processed rice and sell it through the Consumerfed outlets and cooperative societies without profit margin,” he said.