Chaman Lal Setia Exports zooms 17% on strong Q3 operational performance

  • EBITDA margin increased by 430 bps to 14.5 per cent compared to 10.2 per cent last year on account of superior realisation and moderation in the freight cost.

    Shares of Chaman Lal Setia Exports (CLSEL) zoomed 17 per cent to Rs 155.2, hitting multi-year high on the BSE in Monday’s intra-day trade in an otherwise weak market, after the company reported a strong operational performance in December quarter (Q3FY23).

    The stock surpassed its previous high of Rs 145.75 touched on January 19, 2023. It traded at its highest level since May 2018. At 11:48 AM, CLSEL was up 15 per cent at Rs 152 as compared to a 0.69 per cent decline in the S&P BSE Sensex. The average trading volumes on the counter jumped over 10-fold today. A combined 1.42 million equity shares, representing 2.75 per cent of total equity of the company, had changed hands on the NSE and BSE.

    For Q3FY23, earnings before interest, depreciation, tax and amortization (EBIDTA) was up 130 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs 51 crore, supported by moderation in freight expenses and the company’s efforts towards operational efficiency. EBITDA margin increased by 430 bps to 14.5 per cent compared to 10.2 per cent last year on account of superior realisation and moderation in the freight cost.

    Revenue was up by 62 per cent YoY to Rs 354 crore for Q3FY23 due to market share expansion in key geographies and further strengthening of distribution network. Consequently, the net profit also increased by 134 per cent YoY to Rs 37.5 crore in Q3FY23 compared to Rs 16.0 crore in Q3FY22.

    For Q3FY23, the export volume grew by 44 per cent YoY and export sales grew by 66 per cent YoY to Rs 312.4 crore. Average export realization in the period increased by 15 per cent YoY, the company said.

    CLSEL is one of India’s largest basmati rice exporter. It has processing facilities in Karnal (Haryana) and Kandla (Gujarat). The company exports under its flagship brand “Maharani” apart from private labels to more than 90+ countries and has 440+ distributors spread across the world.

    In November 2022, CRISIL Ratings had upgraded its rating on the long-term bank facilities of CLSEL to ‘CRISIL A’ from ‘CRISIL A-‘and revised the outlook to ‘Stable’ from ‘Positive’.

    The upgrade reflects sustained improvement in the business risk profile of the company, as indicated by 8 per cent revenue growth in FY22, which is supported by healthy demand from exports leading to growth in volumes sold, better price realisation and geographically diversified operations with customer presence in more than 90 countries.

    The rating also reflects continuous improvement in the financial and liquidity risk profiles of the company. The financial risk profile continues to remain healthy with strong networth and comfortable capital structure in the absence of long-term debt in the books. Liquidity is supported by robust cash accrual and healthy unencumbered cash and bank balance of Rs 258 crore as on September 30, 2022, it added.

    The company has maintained healthy unencumbered cash and bank balance of Rs 258 crore as on September 30, 2022. Promoters’ support in the form of unsecured loans will continue to aid the liquidity profile of the company. Current ratio was healthy at 4.72 times as on March 31, 2022 and is expected to be 5-6 times over the medium term. The rating agency believes CLSE will continue to benefit from its strong presence and healthy relationships with clients.

  • Negri Sembilan to expand padi cultivation

  • SEREMBAN: The Negri Sembilan government will expand the area for padi cultivation up to 20.23ha in Londah here to boost the state's production, thus reducing the import of rice.

    State Agriculture and Food Security Committee chairman Datuk Bakri Sawir said the state government was in the irrigation planning process with the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, and the land-clearing work would commence soon.

    "This is in line with the government policy of 75 per cent local padi production. I think we will be able to complete the land-clearing work this year.

    "We are also looking at the sustainability of the water supply for the crop because we are worried that when all the facilities are built, the water source to irrigate the crop will not be sufficient. So we need to look into permanent water sources and expand food production areas," he said at his office at Wisma Negeri here.

    He added that opening new areas for padi cultivation would not only boost food security and create jobs for the locals, but also enable Negri Sembilan to fulfil its goal to become one of the rice-producing states.

    On the abandoned padi fields in Jelebu, Kuala Pilah and other districts, Bakri said this might be caused by irrigation issues due to forest clearing for developmental plans, weather problems, as well as issues concerning financial and development of other sectors.

    Meanwhile, he said the state government would create a permanent food production park for vegetables, cash crops and napier grass on a 40.5ha land in Gemas to encourage large-scale, commercial and high-technology agriculture activities.

    He also said that the state government was ready to find land or an old warehouse to be used for vertical farming as an alternative to cover food needs in the future.

    He said the move could be implemented in the future if the land area became smaller due to development.

    "It (vertical farming) is not a new method, but it can be considered to be implemented in this country. This method is also popular in Singapore because it saves space," he said. – Bernama

  • ‘Abeyance’. Bangladesh scraps parboiled rice…

  • ‘Abeyance’. Bangladesh scraps parboiled rice G2G import deals with Indian co-op agencies

    With the deal not going through, domestic parboiled prices drop 10%

    Bangladesh has cancelled its orders to import two lakh tonnes of parboiled rice from two Indian cooperative agencies through government-to-government (G2G) deals after having kept them in “abeyance” for a few weeks.

    Trade sources said Bangladesh, which began dragging its feet after getting a couple of offers offering the rice at lower prices, has returned the “bid bonds” submitted by the two cooperative agencies during negotiations.

    The return of the “bid bonds” is a confirmation of Dhaka cancelling its plans to import the rice as part of its efforts to buy five lakh tonnes for its public distribution system.

    According to media reports in Bangladesh, the Sheikh Hasina Wajed government decided to “suspend the process of buying over-priced rice” from the two agencies — NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers Federation of India Ltd) and Kendriya Bhandar — last weekend.

    Impact on India

    The impact of the deal is being felt in the Indian domestic market with prices of parboiled rice dropping at least 10 per cent after having increased 30 per cent in January to ₹29,000 a tonne. Prices had surged on expectations of the G2G rice deals with Bangladesh going through.

    “Even as we were loading parboiled consignments for African destinations, millers called us offering more rice at lower prices,” said VR Vidya Sagar, Director, Bulk Logix.

    Dhaka’s plans to enter into G2G deals to import parboiled rice ran into rough weather after it face criticism of paying a higher price than what some private Indian exporters had quoted in a global tender to import 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice.

    The Wajed government was also facing problems concerning foreign exchange, which added further pressure on going ahead with the deal.

    Global import tenders

    In December, NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar offered to supply the two lakh tonnes under G2G deals at $433.60 and $433.50 a tonne, respectively.

    Accepting the offer, Bangladesh’s Food Ministry issued letters of intent for the purchases of one lakh tonnes each from the two cooperatives before putting them on hold its decision.

    At that time, the offers made by the two cooperatives were $35/tonne higher than what private traders offered in two global import tenders.

    In a tender opened on December 21, India’s Bagadiya Brothers was the lowest bidder offering the foodgrain at $393.90/tonne. In the next tender opened on December 27, Singapore’s AgroCorp International offered the most competitive rate of $397.03.

    Playing hide & seek

    Official sources said they had charged more for the supplies since Bangladesh asked for the new crop besides wanting the consignments to be delivered in two months. Still, a couple of offers were made from the Indian side lowering the price by a few dollars.

    “Had it given more time and opted for an older crop, it could have got the rice at a cheaper rate,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

    Trade sources said some of the Indian exporters who took part in Bangladesh’s global import tenders had quoted higher prices when the cooperative agencies approached them for the G2G deals.

    “Practically, they played hide and seek with us by cutting prices for the Bangladesh tender and raising it when the agencies sought rice for the G2G deals,” said a trader, who did not wish to be identified.

    Dhaka, the loser?

    After receiving the LOI, the Indian cooperatives were to furnish bank guarantees. But they got delayed by six days and Bangladesh utilised the opportunity to drag its feet before finally calling them off.

    A trader said: “If it wanted, Bangladesh could have accepted the guarantee.” This was because Bangladesh Food Ministry and its Cabinet Committee had cleared the G2G deals.

    Traders said Bangladesh would be the loser in deciding to not sign the deals as rice prices have increased by at least 10 per cent since the start of the year.

    According to Thai Rice Exporters Association data, Thailand, India’s main competitor in the global market for parboiled rice, is offering the cereal at $517/tonne and Pakistan, which is facing short supplies, is offering it at $496-500.

    India’s parboiled rice is quoted at $395-399.

    “India’s offer is lower by at least $100 a tonne. Where can Bangladesh get rice at such a price? Even if it were to pay higher than the bids made in its global tender, it will still be over $60 a tonne lower than other origins,” said a trader.

    Low output, stocks

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, rice prices zoomed to their highest since November 2011 in January, though they have declined a tad recently.

    In India, the top global exporter, rice prices have increased with the Ministry of Agriculture estimating the Kharif crop this crop year to June lower at 104.99 million tonnes against 111.76 mt last year.

    The procurement of rice by the Food Corporation of India has been tardy. Rice stocks in the central pool have dropped by 43 per cent compared with the year-ago period to an 8-year-low of 12.54 mt.

    However, unmilled paddy stocks are higher than last year at 47.62 mt (31.91 mt rice).

  • N. Koreans receive long-grain rice imported last year

  • Ordinary people received nothing, while food-poor households struggling the most received three kilograms of “long white rice,” with elderly households getting priority

    North Koreans have recently received the long-grain rice the country imported in large quantities late last year, Daily NK has learned.

    However, some North Koreans have sold their long-grain rice in local markets to buy other kinds of rice, complaining that they dislike how the long-grain variety tastes.

    A source in North Hwanghae Province said Thursday that to mark the Lunar New Year, grain shops in Sariwon sold mixed grains and white rice on a eight-to-two ration for half the price of markets.

    “Families of three received 10 kilograms, but they received rice that looked like long-grain rice,” he said.

    Voice of America reported in late January that North Korea imported large quantities of long-grain rice from China from October to December of last year.

    The authorities appear to have provided the rice to people at the start of the year to soothe public discontent.

    However, public reaction to the long-grain rice has been less-than-enthusiastic.

    The source said Vietnamese rice flies off when you blow on it and needs to be eaten hot.

    “It crumbles if it cools just a little, so it feels like your chewing sand, and it doesn’t stick together in either soup or mixed grains,” he said.

    “When you make porridge, it’s better to use unglutinous rice, corn flour or corn mixed with rice.”

    The source said the first rice he ate during the Arduous March era was Vietnamese rice.

    “Many people complained how they received that sort of rice after helping the agricultural villages like it was a national uprising, and asked why they were being made to eat rice they ate during the Arduous March of the 1990s when [the authorities] said agriculture turned out fine [this year],” he said.

    SELLING UNWANTED RICE INTO THE MARKETS

    Some people have responded by selling the rice they received on the market to buy glutinous rice.

    The source said while well-off people are trying to buy good rice, people unable to purchase the good rice are keeping their long-grain rice, making due on two meals a day.

    “Some people say even if it’s unglutinous rice, if they give you a lot and it fills you up, they can’t ask for anything more,” he said.

    In other regions, cadres reportedly received the long-grain rice.

    A source in North Hamgyong Province said cadres, legal officers and military families received Vietnamese rice on Lunar New Year.

    “They received between seven to 10 kilograms, depending on the agency,” he said.

    Ordinary people received nothing, while food-poor households struggling the most received three kilograms of “long white rice,” with elderly households getting priority.

    “Long white rice” appears to mean a long, thin kind of long-grain rice.

    This means that while everyone is struggling with economic problems, the really vulnerable — the elderly — received long-grain rice.

    “People who got the rice are happy, saying it’s better than nothing, given that people aren’t doing well enough to be picky,” said the source.

    “Some people are dumping their long-grain rice on the market to buy unglutinous rice, perhaps because they think it’s much better to eat rice mixed with corn, while others are keeping it and mixing it with unglutinous rice,” he added.

    Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

    Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

  • Sri Lanka’s Awful Agronomic Romance: Is it consequential to say no more organic agriculture?

  • Officially known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, it is a South Asian country possesses GDP of about $ 85 billion according to the statistics of world bank. Over the past few years, the contribution of agriculture sector in Sri Lana’s GDP has experienced a rising trend. According to the latest report of statista, agriculture sector accounts for approximately 9 percent of Sri Lanka’s total GDP. Major crops are rice, tea, coconut, rubber, maize, wheat, potatoes, chili and beans. 52 percent of the total exports are based on garments and textile products. Tea accounts for 17 percent of total exports and 53.3 percent of agricultural exports. It contributed annually about $ 1.3 billion to country’s exports before the arrival of economic crises in Sri Lanka. Rest of the exports volume is distributed among fish, rubber, gems and spices etc. However, the decision to go for organic agriculture has stalled the production of multiple agricultural crops which has further exacerbated the economic difficulties for Sri Lanka. Therefore, the purpose of this case study is to examine whether organic agriculture itself is a technique that leads to adverse economic consequences on a country or there is something wrong with the planning and strategies which made organic agriculture ineffective for Sri Lanka so that it can be determined that organic agriculture is still useful or not in today’s living habits after what it has done to Sri Lanka.

                In June 2022, the then prime minister of Sri Lanka acknowledged the collapse of country’s economy before the Parliament leaving it insufficient to afford for the essentials. Later on after investigation of this economic catastrophe, various reasons were identified for pushing the country in to economic turmoil. One of the main reasons was organic agriculture. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had an ambitious goal of transforming Sri Lanka into first country having 100 percent organic agriculture. He used this motto in his election campaign of 2019. Few months after he became the president of Sri Lanka in November 2019, he imposed a complete ban on the imports of pesticides and synthetic fertilizer on April 26, 2021. An year later, country was facing the crises of supply shortage. The production of rice dropped to 20 percent which compelled Sri Lanka to import rice by spending $ 450 million to meet the demand. Moreover, the prices of rice rose up to 50 percent. Tea industry being the major source of Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange suffered the financial loss of $ 450 million. Government had to pay significant amount to farmers and in subsidies to compensate the loss of low productivity. According to a report of foreign policy, about half million Sri Lankans had to sunken below the line of poverty after COVID-19 and Sri Lanka’s economic crises which was intensified by agricultural crisis. Moreover, according to WFP (World Food Programme) report of July 2022, on average three out of ten persons in Sri Lanka are  insecure to food which cruises to a total of approximately 6.26 million people of total population.

                Many commentators blame organic agriculture for economic crises in Sri Lanka, however there are number of underlying reasons including mismanagement by government, tourism, interference of China, economic crimes, violation of human rights and scarcity of foreign reserves behind this economic default.

              The President Gotabaya Rajapaksa banned the import of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on April 26, 2021. He decided it overnight in a hurried manner without listening to the concerns of farmers. During his election campaign, Gotabaya kept highlighting his pure intentions to go for organic agriculture but he would argue that such a transition from conventional to organic agriculture would take place under a steady period of ten years so that all the farmers can have enough amount of time to adjust into organic agriculture. Moreover, he believed that agricultural chemicals and pesticides were steering the country towards the challenges of health and environment. There was a perception that a kidney disease named as Konketiyawa killing 20,000 farmers in Sri Lanka during last two decades was chiefly because of  impure chemical based availability of agricultural food products. Gotabaya argued that industrially manufactured agrochemicals were against the Sri Lanka’s legacy  of having sustained systems of food. Gotabaya wanted to save $ 400 million which country used to spend on the imports of agricultural chemicals and pesticides. Therefore, he considered it appropriate to take the overnight decision of shifting towards organic agriculture. So, millions of farmers had no choice but to opt for organic means for cultivation. The production of natural fertilizers at domestic level was not sufficient to compensate all the farmers. The matter did not finish there. Government did not import extra nutrients to meet the requirements of farmers for organic transition and it also put complete ban on the imports of fertilizers. Consequently, farmers were confronting the scarcity of fertilizers and pesticides in growing crops and the results were immediately witnessed in shape of serious ruination of crops productivity. Therefore, the root cause behind agricultural collapse was not organic agriculture itself, indeed it was due to the improper implementation techniques including insufficient arrangements for organic agriculture.

                  Being sustainable form of cultivation, organic agriculture finds its importance owing to the economic and ecological reasons. Notable surge in organic cultivation has been witnessed  during the last decade across the world. 20% food market of USA and Canada, and 7.8% food market of Europe is based upon organic food. IFOAM (International federation of organic agriculture movement) issues guiding principles for the countries to opt organic agriculture. Organic agriculture is useful in reducing erosion of soil, requires lesser use of pesticides, reduces the leaching of nitrate into groundwater, and endorses recycling of animal waste for the nutrients purposes to the crops. It contributes in improving health of soil and biodiversity.

                 Besides number of benefits of organic agriculture, it is argued that organic agriculture decreases the productivity of crops. Dalhousie University of Canada’s  research demonstrates that output productivity gap between conventional and organic agriculture is rapidly closing. In some cases, output productivity of organic agriculture exceeds the productivity of conventional agriculture. 40 years of research conducted by Rodale Institute, America’s largest side by side comparison between conventional and organic agriculture, unveils the fact that after five years of transition, yields through organic agriculture equalizes conventional agriculture. Because of its low production costs, it yields 3 to 6 times greater profit for farmers as compared to conventional agriculture. 45% less energy is consumed and it leaches no toxic chemicals to waterways. Therefore, organic agriculture if implemented properly, leads to sustainable, sufficient and profitable means of production.

                 The world is confronting severe environmental effects in form of melting glaciers, changing raining patterns, scorching summers, floods, forest fires, storms and tornadoes. Shifting towards sustainable means of production and consumption is one of the major weapons that can be utilized in order to address these dilemmas. As organic agriculture is one of the sustainable means of production, therefore it should be experimented at first in those regions having lesser population and are economically developed so that in case of low productivity, states may not have to face food crises. Secondly, It should be adopted in phases after analyzing the outcomes in a certain area instead of immediately forcing entire country into rapid transition as in case of Sri Lanka. In areas of drought, organic agriculture should be given priority over conventional agriculture because of its high productivity. So, due to Sri Lanka’s terrible experience with organic agriculture, the significance of organic agriculture has not minimized in modern world. Therefore, pertaining to all these significantly affirmative aspects of organic agriculture, it is not wise to say no more organic agriculture in modern living habits. In fact, organic agriculture is need of the modern world for environmental friendly and healthy lifestyle.

  • Mechanisation to up Aus output: Experts

  • Following fall in Aus rice production last season, the government is focusing on raising the grain's output this season. To do so, it is emphasising mechanisation to increase per hectare crop yield in Aus season, said speakers at a workshop.

    The observation came at the mid-term workshop of the project -"Enhancement of Farm Machinery Research Activities for Mechanised Rice Cultivation (SFMRA)" - organised by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) at its head office in Gazipur on Saturday.

    According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), rice production in Aus season declined to 3.0 million tonnes in the last financial year (FY), 2021-22, which was 3.28 million tonnes in FY 21. The production might decline further in FY 23, as per primary projection of the BBS.

    Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) Secretary Wahida Akhter, while speaking at the workshop, said mechanisation should be given importance to boost production as well as to minimise cost.

    She noted that the country's food security largely depends on availability of the staple grain, and also focused on increasing cultivation and production of rice in Aus season.

    "Therefore, the mechanisation process should be carried forward in coordination with the institutions that manufacture agricultural machinery for production," she added.

    BRRI Director General Dr Md Shahjahan Kabir presided over the programme. Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) Sheikh Mohammad Bakhtiar, Director General of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) Debashish Sarkar, MoA Additional Secretary (Planning Division) Mahbubul Haque Patwari, Additional Secretary (Extension) Rabindra Sree Barua, BRRI Director (Research) Dr Mohammad Khalequzzaman, and BRRI Higher Education and Research Coordinator Dr Munnujan Khanam also spoke on the occasion, among others, said a press release.

    BRRI SFMRA Project Director and Chief Scientific Officer Dr A K M Saiful Islam presented the keynote.

    He said under this project four agricultural machineries, including BRRI seed-sowing machine, whole feed combine harvester, solar light trap, and rope twister, have been developed and expanded.

    Apart from this, development of eight other machineries, like BRRI manual rice transplanter, power weeder, etc, is also in progress.

    The SFMRA is an ongoing project, being implemented in 12 upazilas under 12 districts of the country from July 2019 to June 2024.

    BRRI Director General Dr Kabir said if the benefits of this project can be taken to the farmers, there would be a revolution in agricultural mechanisation in the future.

    The main objective of the SFMRA project is to strengthen research activities on farm machinery for their development and modernisation, suitable for sustainable rice cultivation, he added.

  • Global rice prices hit 12-year high in Jan: FAO

  • BD's private sector imports halted in recent weeks

    The world rice prices hit a 12-year high in January 2023, raising further concern for the importing countries, according to a latest report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO).

    Bangladesh's private sector imports have also almost stopped notably in recent weeks, indicating a gloomy prospect for the domestic rice market in coming months following the persisting volatile situation in the global commodity market, said market experts.

    FAO All Rice Price Index increased to 126.4 points in January which is 6.2 per cent higher than that of December 2022 and a 12-year high, according to the FAO monthly report on the food grain, published on Friday.

    The prices of Indica species, consumed mostly by South Asians, witnessed the highest surge as its index reached 127 points in January, uppermost level since 2011, said the FAO report.

    Price of exportable parboiled rice of India reached $388-$ 419 a tonne while Pakistani and Vietnamese rice traded at $430 to $ 466 a tonne.

    Thai parboiled rice, suitable for the South Asians, was traded at $ 473 to $ 523 a tonne in January. (FAO report documents FOB prices, freight charges are excluded here).

    Gradual appreciation of Asian currencies against US dollar, rising demands in Indonesia, lesser exports by Pakistan amid a flood-induced low output, the lunar year celebration across the far-east Asia and a record pace of government domestic procurement by India despite a decline in output were some major reasons behind such tectonic hike in rice prices, said the FAO report.

    Meanwhile, import by Bangladeshi traders almost stopped in recent weeks amid the rocketing global prices as well as obstacle to sourcing US dollar for opening L/Cs, Shamsul Hoque, a Rangpur-based importer, said.

    He said cost for imported Indian coarse rice would be minimum Tk 57 a kg now considering the minimum price of $390 a tonne, duties of 15.2 per cent and freight charges.

    Most of the importers are trying to bring medium varieties of rice like Ratna, BRRI dhan 28, Swarna-5 and finer quality like Nazersail, Miniket from West Bengal, Hariana and Punjab in India to make some profits.

    A food ministry official told the FE that private sector has been permitted to bring 1.45 million tonnes of rice from the foreign sources this financial year but they could bring only 0.409 million tonnes so far.

    He said the government has brought above 0.45 million tonnes of rice so far this FY while another 0.5 million tonnes would be imported (by the government).

    He said the public warehouses have now a handsome amount of 1.95 million tonnes of food grains of which rice is 1.6 million tonnes; Aman rice procurement is also going on.

    There will be no shortage of rice until the next Boro harvest, he added.

    Economist and value chain expert Prof Dr Md Moniruzzaman said though coarse rice prices showed a slight decline in recent weeks, medium and finer rice prices have surged even during the Aman harvesting season.

    There is no sign of relief as production cost in the ongoing Boro season has also been rising to a record high this year.

    Rising import costs will be a matter of concern from the later days of March when the stock of Aman crop would start to decrease, he continued.

    The government would have the preparation for those off-peak months, he said.

    According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and the city groceries, coarse rice prices are static at Tk48-52 a kg but medium and finer varieties of rice witnessed a further Tk2.0-3.0 hike per kg in a month in Dhaka city as those were retailing at Tk62-68 and Tk 75-98 a kg respectively.

    The current prices are 6.0-12 per cent higher than that a year ago.

    tonmoy.wardad@gmail.com

  • Cambodia to export rice to PH

  • Cambodia is exploring the possibility of exporting rice directly to the Philippines, according to Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

    Pascual yesterday met with delegates of the Green Trade Co. and the Rice Federation of Cambodia who initiated talks on the possible purchase by the country of rice instead of buying everything from Vietnam, which also sources some of the rice from Cambodia.

    Pascual said Cambodia can supply the Philippines as much as 3 million metric tons, which is about the volume the country imports per year.

    He said half of Cambodia’s rice production is surplus.

    Initial indicative price of long grain rice from Cambodia is P33 per kilogram, CIF.

    The Philippines and Cambodia started preliminary talks on the rice trade at the sidelines of the Asean Summit.

    Delegates led by Chan Sokey Secretary of State in charge of Green Trade and Okhna Chan Sokheang, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, were in Manila for a fact-finding on how Cambodia can secure a market from the Philippines through the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), DTI’s trading arm.

    Rice under Asean is pegged a tariff of 35 percent and is open for private sector importation under the Rice Tarrification Law. – Irma Isip

  • Kellogg sees positive results from sustainable rice farming pilot

  • Rice farming produces 1.5% of the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Wildlife Fund, but Kellogg sees a path toward diminishing the crop’s negative impact by working directly with farmers.

    The cereal giant said its InGrained rice partnership with farmers in the Lower Mississippi River Basin region — which aims to grow the crop with reduced methane emissions — yielded positive early results after the pilot year of the program.

    Kellogg invested $2 million in implementing irrigation practices over the past year. The company said that during a five-year period, it is paying producers $20 per ton of greenhouse gas they abate through introducing climate-friendly practices to their farming operations.

    Over the first year, Kellogg said, these practices garnered a reduction of over 1,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases, equal to removing 345 gasoline-fueled cars from the road.

    Janelle Meyers, chief sustainability officer at Kellogg, told Food Dive working with farmers on establishing the new agricultural practices has led to success with the project thus far. The farmers, she said, shared with Kellogg that the quality of their rice was not impacted by the new methods.

    “What we’re trying to understand is, what are the practices that can deliver greenhouse gas reduction or water conservation as a collective between those different partners?” Meyers said. “Practices were identified based off of both technical recommendations and the suggestions from the different suppliers and growers as well.”

    One practice, she said, is alternate wet and dry irrigation, in which rice fields are not kept continuously irrigated but are allowed to dry at specific intervals during the rice growing stage, according to research published by the Journal of Agricultural Science, which has been shown to mitigate emissions.

    Kellogg sources rice, a key ingredient for its Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Treats brands, from growers in Northeast Louisiana. The company collaborated with emissions tracking group Regrow Ag for its calculation.

    The cereal giant believes the rice endeavor, which is part of Kellogg’s Origins sustainability program, will further its 2030 sustainability goals. These include lowering its Scope 3 emissions — which derive from food commodity production and transportation — by 15%, and engaging over one million growers in its environmental projects by 2030. As of 2021, the company had invested in 445,000 farmers.

    Meyers said the company has a particular interest in investing in women-owned farmers. A 2019 study from AgFunder reports that only 3% of agri-food tech investment dollars go to women.

    Kellogg identified 15 priority ingredients that need particular environmental, social or animal welfare needs, which it is rolling out and planning sustainabile agriculture projects for, Meyers said. “We’re working on corn in Mexico, wheat in Australia, potatoes in Europe, and there’s multiple others.” 

    Rice production results in emissions of several greenhouse gases, including methane, which is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

    The Environmental Defense Fund reports that global production of the crop is doing as much harm to the environment as 1,200 coal power stations.

    Rice production in the U.S. declined in 2022 because of persistent rainfall last spring that prevented the crop from being planted in parts of the South, according to USDA data. Yields for the 2022-2023 are projected to be lower in all growing states, the government department said, because of droughts in the Southwest region.

    With its rice project, Kellogg aims to apply some of the principles it learns to other regions, but Meyers noted that strategies will differ based on the location and climate of the project.

    “We take those learnings and try to apply them as we try to build out similar commodity projects in different regions,” she said.

  • Iraq buys 88,000 metric tons of U.S. rice

  • U.S. rice exports are expected to total around 3 million metric tons in the 2022-23 marketing year.

    U.S. rice exports are expected to total around 3 million metric tons in the 2022-23 marketing year.FARM PRESS

    Al Awees, the private company that took over much of the food purchasing for the government of Iraq in 2021, made two purchases of 44,000 metric tons each of U.S. rice as the 2022 calendar year ended.

    The total of 88,000 metric tons may not seem like much given that U.S. rice exports are expected to total around 3 million metric tons in the 2022-23 marketing year, but the symbolism may be more important than the actual amount.

    Questions had been raised about whether Al Awees would honor the 2022-23 Memorandum of Understanding signed by the governments of the United States and Iraq that calls for Iraq to purchase 200,000 metric tons of U.S. rice. Al Awees’ initial rice purchases in the summer of 2021were from Uruguay.

    Rice trade

    Iraq was once a major market for U.S. rice, but the rice trade between the two countries has been limited to nonexistent over the last three decades. Iraq imports nearly 90% of the rice it needs, and its purchases have been increasing.

    “Iraq’s rice imports averaged 1.1 million to 1.2 million tons a few years ago but have now surged to nearly 2 million tons,” said Sarah Moran, vice president, international, who manages the USA Rice Federation’s international marketing programs.

    Moran said rice production in Iraq has increased from 120,000 tons to 250,000 in the past year, but domestic consumption of rice has risen from 1.3 million metric tons to 1.7 million metric tons in 2022.

    “Iraq operates a public distribution system where the government provides certain essential food products, such as rice, oil, wheat flour, sugar, and milk,” she said. “Nearly 90% of Iraqi households receive ration cards for subsidized food commodities. The amount of rice in these ration cards has increased from 12 kilograms per person (26 pounds) to 33 kilograms per person in 2022.”

    India and Thailand

    A chart displayed by Moran showed India and Thailand have accounted for the bulk of Iraq’s rice imports in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Prices of rice in those two countries are typically $200 per ton below U.S. prices due, in part, to government subsidies for rice farmers in India and Thailand.

    The price disparity has played a role in the reduced outlook for U.S. exports worldwide. In January, USDA’s Economic Research Service lowered its forecast for U.S. 2022-23 all-rice exports to 66 million hundredweight or about 3 million metric tons, the lowest since the 1985-86 marketing year. “The downward revision was largely based on sales and shipments through late November, expectations regarding shipments for the remainder of the market year, and uncompetitive prices,” said Nathan Childs, coordinator of the USDA Economic Research Service’s Rice Outlook Report.

    Export forecast

    In it, the U.S. rough-rice export forecast was again lowered 2.0 million cwt and is now projected at 23.0 million cwt., or about 1 million metric tons. Rough-rice imports are projected to be almost 19% below a year earlier and are the lowest since 2000/01.

    “Long-grain shipments to Latin America are expected to again account for the bulk of these exports,” Childs said. “However, the United States is facing increasing competition from South American suppliers in the region, especially in Mexico, the top U.S. rough-rice export market, as well as in several Central American markets.

    U.S. 2022-23 milled-rice exports remain forecast at 46.0 million hundredweight, nearly 15% below a year earlier and the smallest since 1965/66. United States sales through late November to both Haiti—the largest market for U.S. long-grain milled rice—and Japan—the largest market for U.S. medium- and short-grain milled rice—were well below a year earlier.

    U.S. rice shipments to Mexico have been declining by about 100,000 metric tons per year over the last two-and-a-half years, according to Dwight Roberts, senior advisor to the U.S. Rice Producers Association.

    “In 2021, the U.S. exported 765,000 metric tons of rice to Mexico; in 2022, it was 625,000 metric tons; and as of September, it was 373,000 metric tons,” he said. “Mexico now accounts for 60 % of Brazil’s paddy exports, a statistic that was unfathomable only a few years ago.” (Brazil could ship 900,000 metric tons of rice to Mexico this year, he notes.)

    Numbers like these make the Iraqi agreement to buy 200,000 metric tons and any other sales U.S. shippers can make more important than ever.

  • Vietnam’s rice export forecast to enjoy another successful year

  • HANOI: Vietnam’s rice export is forecast to continue reaping successes this year as the world’s rice prices remain high at least in the short term as global economic and political uncertainties have resulted in high demand for rice reserves, according to experts.

    According to the Vietnam Food Association, by the middle of last month, Vietnam earned nearly US$115 million from exporting more than 226,000 tonnes of rice, an increase of over 41 per cent in terms of both volume and value compared to the same period last year, reported VNA (Vietnam News Agency).

    The country exported ST24 and ST25 rice to the Middle East region with a record-high price of US$1,000 per tonne, doubling the price of normal white rice.

    Vietnamese rice further penetrated demanding markets like Japan and the EU.

    According to experts, more than 80 per cent of rice varieties in Vietnam are fragrant high-quality rice, which is an important factor that helps increase Vietnamese rice’s value and accessibility to markets.

    This year’s rice prices are forecast to return to their peak in 2019 thanks to periodical factors and increasing demand for rice reserves in countries, including such populous nations as China and India.

    Moreover, Vietnamese rice exporters are taking advantage of free trade agreements.

    Pham Thai Binh, General Director of Trung An Hi-tech Agriculture Joint Stocks Company, said that before the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect, Vietnamese rice exported to the EU was taxed at high rates, from 5 per cent to 45 per cent, depending countries.

    As the result, it was difficult for Vietnamese rice to compete with those from Cambodia and Myanmar as the EU has exempted import taxes for those countries.

    Meanwhile, although Thailand’s rice is heavily taxed branding is strong and long-lasting, resulting in its high competitiveness, Binh said.

    According to analysts from BIDV Securities Company (BSC), unfavourable weather conditions make major rice exporters like India and Pakistan reduce export volumes while major rice importers like China to increase imports.

    Vietnam and Thailand are expected to hold negotiations to discuss rising rice prices in the context of increasing prices of input materials.

    Last year, Vietnam exported nearly 7.2 tonnes of rice, gaining US$3.49 billion. -Bernama

  • Indian rice export prices stay high on strong demand

  • MUMBAI/ HANOI/ BANGKOK/DHAKA: Rice export prices from India rose to their highest level since April 2021 this week, aided by firm demand and tight supplies, while elevated rates in Thailand kept buyers at bay. Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $393 to $398 per tonne this week, up from last week range of $387-$395.

    “Government has made record purchases of unmilled rice from farmers this year. Limited amounts of supplies are available to private players for the exports,” a New-Delhi-based dealer with a global trade house said.

    India’s rice exports in 2022 jumped to a record high despite the government’s curbs on overseas sale, as buyers continued to make purchases because of competitive prices, according to government and industry officials.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices eased slightly to $495 per tonnes, from $500 per tonne. Traders attributed the small price drop to a slow down in demand but blamed the lack of supply and the strength of the local currency for keeping prices high which they say deter buyers.

    A Bangkok-based trader said prices could change once new supplies enter the market at the beginning of March. High cost of freighter also contributed to muted supply and the rise in rice prices, another trader said. In Vietnam, 5% broken rice were offered at $445-$450 per tonne, free on board, unchanged from two weeks ago.

    “Traders are resuming their rice purchases from farmers to prepare for new contracts, following the holiday,” a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said. Vietnam exported 400,000 tonnes of rice in January, down 20.9% from a year earlier, government data released on Sunday showed.

    Bangladesh’s rice production in the marketing year to April has been revised upward to 35.8 million tonnes, the US Department of Agriculture said in its latest update.

  • 25,000kg of rice distributed to elderly homes, mosques in campaign to reduce hunger

  • Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong (centre) receiving the donation of 25,000kg of rice from Mr Lee Yik Hun (left) of DFI Retail Group and Mr Luke Siew of UOB. PHOTO: GIANT SINGAPORE

    SINGAPORE - Elderly homes, mosques and churches in Joo Chiat received 25,000kg of rice on Friday as part of a campaign to provide one million meals in two years to the less fortunate in Singapore.

    The 5,000 bags of 5kg Meadows Thai Fragrant Rice were distributed by DFI Retail Group, which operates supermarkets like Giant and Cold Storage, and and United Overseas Bank (UOB) in DFI’s Have You Eaten? project.

    The campaign, which began August last year, is a tie-up with non-profit The Food Bank Singapore to reduce hunger and increase food security for the less fortunate.

    The rice, which is equivalent to 62,500 meals, was distributed at the Siglap South Community Centre on Friday evening to the Joo Chiat Division of Marine Parade GRC, who will be giving out the bags to community partners who serve the elderly and vulnerable in the area.

    Attending the distribution event, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said that food is a key aspect of Singapore’s festive celebrations, and rice is central to the local diet.

    He said: “From nasi briyani to nasi lemak, from rice at tuan yuan fun (Chinese New Year reunion dinner) to rice we pair with curry debal (Devil’s curry), rice is about as Singaporean as you can get. But yet, there are some in our society who, for various reasons, might find it difficult to put rice on the table as often as they like.”

    He said that initiatives like these are important to providing community support to the less fortunate.

    In Singapore, for every 1kg of Meadows rice bought from any Giant, Cold Storage and CS Fresh store, 10 cents will be used to purchase the same brand at cost price, which will go towards feeding beneficiaries The Food Bank Singapore supports.

    DFI’s South East Asia marketing director for food and own brand Lee Yik Hun, who attended the distribution alongside UOB’s Singapore head of cards and payments Tan Min Yeow, said that the project aims to strengthen food security in Singapore.

    He said: “With rice as a staple in the Singapore diet, we often take that one bowl, or plate of rice for granted. We hope to raise awareness that there are still many among us in Singapore who may sometimes struggle to put food on the table.”

  • Food, rice seeds from Premier and First Lady donated to more than 200 families

  • Khoy Rida, Governor of Pursat, brought donations of rice seeds and food from Prime Minister Hun Sen and First Lady Bun Rany Hun Sen to 219 families of one of the communes of the province.

    The donations were handed out yesterday morning at the party headquarters of Svay Daun Keo commune and were distributed through the Cambodian Food Reserve System Committee to distribute to 219 families affected by the dry season floods from Otapong, Svay Daun Keo and Romlech communes, Bakan district.

    Rida brought a message from the Premier and First Lady and said that they constantly care for the safety and wellbeing of the people.

    The provincial governor said that once they get the rice seeds, they have to work hard to grow and rehabilitate the damaged rice fields.

  • Thai cabinet extends rice promotion campaign to September.

  • Government Spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said the program was initially due to expire at the end of the 2022 fiscal year, while noting that the Cabinet’s motion effectively added another fiscal year to the campaign’s duration.

    The Cabinet has resolved to extend a campaign to promote organic rice cultivation until September 2023. The program offers 94,888 participating farmers a subsidizing fund of 2,000 to 4,000 baht per rai at 15 rai per person for three consecutive years.
    The initiative involves nearly 847,400 rai of farmland for the organic rice plantation.

    Government Spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said the program was initially due to expire at the end of the 2022 fiscal year, while noting that the Cabinet’s motion effectively added another fiscal year to the campaign’s duration.

    The almost 9.7-billion-baht-budget program is expected to generate 400,000 metric tons of unmilled organic rice, empowering rice farmers while preserving the environment.

    Notably, the Rice Department was unable to distribute the subsidy fund in 2021, as most organic rice products are harvested during the November-December period. To address the issue, it was agreed that the payment will be delivered within the 2023 fiscal year.

    Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha stated at the Cabinet meeting that the project was in line with the Green Rice Project and the government’s Bio-Circular-Green Economy model.

    He also asked the Ministry of Commerce and relevant agencies to work towards enhancing the ability to export Thai products and promote Thai organic rice through all channels, including online trading.

    The premier said doing so would allow these products to reach consumers more directly. He noted that it is equally important to develop marketing and processing methods for organic rice products to meet the needs of consumers of all ages, both domestically and internationally. (NNT)

  • China is sending rice to space to create new varieties

  • Space breeding involves the production of a new variety of crops by sending seeds into space and exposing the seed to radiation and microgravity in the hope of inducing a mutation. Some preferred mutations for rice production are increased yield, early maturing, and resistance to pests.

    Hubei Jinguang Agricultural Technology Co is responsible for cultivating rice sent in this space mission. The seeds were sent to space for three months. Aside from rice, corn and rapeseed were also selected to be sent to space.

    The seeds sent back to Earth were evaluated for their mutations. After the selection, they were germinated in the Hainan province by China’s Space Breeding Achievement Transformation Center to produce more seeds.

    According to Gao Xuegang, the president of Hubei Jinguang Agricultural Technology Co in Wuhan, even without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the selected rice from space breeding has better quality than ordinary rice in terms of having sweeter fragrance and waxier texture.

    Space rice showed high drought resistance and was less affected by pests and diseases than ordinary rice. It is expected to address the issue of drought, pests, and diseases that widely cause significant loss of production in the country. Because of its resiliency and adaptability, space rice can be planted early or late in the planting season.

    Space is a unique environment to induce mutation. The conditions in space – high pressure, weightlessness, and high radiation are tough to replicate on Earth. Because of this, space breeding has become a tool for shortening the duration of regular breeding and creating new varieties.

    Some of the harvested space rice will be used for further research, and some will be marketed as an exclusive product. It will be available in the market for $27.46 per kilogram.

  • Southern Taiwan rice fields go fallow due to lack of rain

  • Slow start to year for farmers with no choice but to leave fields fallow

    TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Chiayi-Tainan Plain, one of Taiwan’s most important areas for rice cultivation, will mostly go unplanted this spring due to a lack of rainfall and low reservoir levels.

    According to the Council of Agriculture (COA), some 19,000 hectares in this area will be left fallow. The decision was made by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) on Dec. 9, 2022, when it announced a suspension of water irrigation rights for the first rice planting in the Chiayi-Tainan Plain.

    Rainfall in the second half of 2022 in the Chiayi-Tainan Plain area was only 40% of that compared to previous years. Furthermore, the main supplier of water to the area, the Tsengwen Reservoir, currently stands at 23.45% capacity, according to the Water Resources Agency.

    Farmers relying upon their own wells can continue to plant, but higher costs make such an undertaking prohibitive and only viable for organic and specialized rice planting.

    At a recent coordination meeting between government officials and farmers, most farmers agreed to let their fields remain fallow in exchange for government subsidies. Those planting high-quality rice qualify for a maximum subsidy of NT$96,000 (US$3,200) per hectare, while the maximum assistance for mechanized farming is NT$200,000 (US$6,600), per a News and Market report.

    Farmers at the meeting noted the talks were not bilateral, as it was only an instrument of the government to express unilateral policy. They also felt little recourse but to accept the fact that industrial water use took precedence over agricultural water use, with no discussion of increased water consumption by the Southern Taiwan Science Park.

    Area farmers and nurseries are once again feeling helpless when it comes to the suspension of irrigation. The Tainan area has experienced water shortages and cut-off irrigation beginning in 2021 with crop rotation encouraged in 2022, and once again no water at the start of 2023. Three consecutive years of uncertain water supply has angered farmers who note the "Water Act" stipulates that agricultural water supply cannot be sacrificed for industrial water supply.

    Furthermore, many young farmers who have been encouraged to return to their hometowns to take over family farms and ensure the nation’s food supply now feel cheated by an irrigation policy which is depriving them of the right to work, according to News and Market. They note that farming is not just relying on government subsidies.

  • “We Created A Rice Variety Having Three Times More Yield”

  • Hinging hopes and envisioning, New Agricultural and Educational Policy to revolutionize the agricultural output and agro-education in Jammu and Kashmir, Prof Nazir A Ganai, Vice Chancellor SKUAST-K, tells Khalid Bashir Gura about how technologically driven agriculture can help improve the output and how the varsity is upgrading itself. The 40-year-old is the sixth-best university in India with a better ATAL ranking

    KASHMIR LIFE (KL)With the population increase, food demand goes up. How is SKUAST-K contributing to tackling the demand surge?

    PROF NAZIR A GANAI (NAG): Our agricultural land is shrinking and getting fragmented. In Jammu and Kashmir, the land availability is less than half a hectare (0.5) and in Kashmir, it is 0.4 hectare. Marginal land holding limits the capacity to grow. That’s why we need a change in policies. We have to turn towards cultivating cash crops if we want to increase farm income and sustain farmer livelihood. We have to also introduce technology in our farming. Floriculture will be an important sector in future. Our traditional horticulture orchard system had low productivity with ten tons per hectare. The government and our university collaborated to introduce high-density plantations, which resulted in six times more productivity on one hectare. Similar initiatives were taken in livestock to boost productivity and bring them to a commercial scale with the help of technological intervention. To market produce from small land holdings, aggregation forms an important part. In collaboration with the government, we are aiming at creating 300 Farmer Produce Organizations (FPO’s) which will be helped in different phases of pre- and post-harvest to boost the economy.

    KLWill the newly introduced Agriculture Policy help with it?

    NAG: To address the different challenges in agriculture, the administration worked for one year and came up with a holistic agriculture policy. The policy has been drafted keeping the environment in consideration as during the past, especially in India, the green revolution helped tackle food deficiency but adversely impacted air, water and soil quality. We are ensuring that along with food security, nutritional and economic security is ensured. We also want to reach marginalized communities. Recently, the Lieutenant Governor rolled out a Rs 5013 crores policy, which aims at secondary agriculture, processing, aggregation, marketing, tackling seed chain challenges and bringing diversification. 50 per cent of land in Jammu and Kashmir is rain-fed where irrigation is not possible. We are mulling bringing this rain-fed land into diversified crop cultivation. Jammu and Kashmir’s agriculture Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is Rs 37000 crore and in the next five years, we want to take it to Rs 80000 crore. We aim at upgrading agriculture from subsistence to commercial level, which will create jobs for our youth and make them self-reliant.

    KLHow will climate change impact agriculture?

    NAG: Our glaciers which have been a source of perennial fresh water are receding at an alarming rate because of global warming. In future, we have to be ready for the water crisis as it is going to be scarce. To tackle the crises in future, we need to introduce technologies like micro-irrigation to save water. Climate change and resultant weather vagaries impact crop production adversely. Our new agriculture should be climate-smart and resilient agriculture. We have to introduce and grow crops which will be able to sustain weather vagaries and be tolerant to both biotic and abiotic stressors. We have developed a variety of maize Kishan Ganga (KG 2), which can be cultivated in high-altitude areas and it requires less water. However, its yield potential is four times more than normal maize. We have created another variety called high-quality protein maize. We have to keep introducing new varieties and also focus on reinvigorating our existing indigenous resilient crops.

    KLHow is the university benefiting farmers on the ground?

    NAG: Food production – rice, wheat and maize is an important concern. In the last few decades, we have developed hundreds of varieties of seeds but not all of them had the desired outcome. In the last four years, we created a rice variety Shalimar rice-4, which has a productivity level of 10 tons per hectare as it is three times more productive than any national variety. We also introduced Kashmir’s Basmati rice called Shalimar Sugand to alley perceptions that Kashmir cannot cultivate fragrant varieties. Presently we are in its seed production stage and next year we will make it available to farmers. Its national productivity also exceeds the national average with six tons per hectare and is more aromatic but is costlier than conventional rice. Similarly, our traditional indigenous Mushq budij infused with profuse aroma was almost extinct and the university played a pivotal role in its revival. We are also working on Red rice. We have also released the first variety of saffron in the world and its production is better. Our university is also working on almost six vaccines in livestock to help stakeholders in this industry.

    Prof Nazir A Ganai (SKUAST-K)

    KLWhat is the status quo and market conditions of Mushk Budji?

    NAG: Compared to basmati the indigenous Mushk Budji has a good aroma and with Red rice, it has nutritional benefits also. However, what dissuaded farmers from growing it was that it was infected with a fungal disease called Blast, which would destroy the crop. We developed a blast-resistant variety. Locally it sells at Rs 150-200 per Kg and we are still exploring the international market and overcoming different challenges. Similarly, other niche crops like walnut, saffron, almond, black cumin and honey are also facing international market problems as there is no certifying agency. The government has introduced a GI tag system to give a unique identity to these crops and we are working to give them a competitive edge to get into the international market.

    KLHas there been any initiative towards introducing organic farming?

    NAG: In order to protect our natural resources we have to promote organic farming. We have damaged the health of the soil through the intensive use of fertilizers and we need to reverse the trend with the help of science and technology. The new agriculture policy envisions holistic development of agriculture and it will lead towards an inclusive and sustainable agricultural revolution and organic farms. To reverse the damage, we have to use biocontrol agents, and biopesticides which are organically derived and promote agri activities, which can enhance soil health. At the Wadura campus of our university, we have developed more than twelve organic products. We are also educating and promoting the use of vermicomposting. We want to practice and promote zero-waste organic farming.

    KL: Is SKUAST conducting any research in medicinal and herbal plants? Has there been any research on anti-cancer drugs?

    NAG: Pesticides and fungicides are a major challenge. With the help of technology, we are aiming to reduce these carcinogenic elements. With technological intervention, like spraying pesticides on crops by drones, the exposure can be reduced by 80 per cent. This inevitably will also reduce human and environmental exposure to harmful chemicals.

    Nature has bestowed us with a tremendous diversity of medicinal plants in our forests; however, unfortunately, we have not been able to explore and sustainably exploit them. The holistic project will promote medicinal and aromatic plants. Our division of plant biotechnology is researching anti-cancer properties of herbs. Off late, one of the faculty members has explored a  herb’s anti-prostate cancer properties. After his paper was acknowledged globally, we made a food product. We are in collaboration with a start-up company and soon its products will be in the market. The northwestern Himalayan region has 50 per cent of the global diversity of medicinal plants. As we randomly extract these resources from forests, under the new project, we aim at educating our farmers and teaching them how to extract, cultivate and reap the health and economic benefits.

    KL: Which institution and countries have collaborated with SKUAST on the technology front?

    NAG: Our university cannot find solutions to diverse challenges in isolation so we have to collaborate with institutions within Jammu and Kashmir and outside. We have tie-ups with 10 international universities. This year our 12 students from SKUAST-K and foreign universities are in joint research. For this, our students get biannual scholarships. We are also starting a joint master’s programme with a university in Australia wherein the student will spend each year in their respective universities. It will be a dual degree.

    KLHas SKUAST planned any joint collaboration with technologically advanced Israel as well?

    NAG: As of date we don’t have any formal collaboration with Israel. But Israeli technologies are now available in the country like micro irrigation and drip irrigation. In future, drip irrigation in our orchards will be based on smart and sensor-based systems.

    KLHow is the University planning to implement National Education Policy?

    NAG: We first have to align our education system with NEP and then come up with the model of agro-education. We held a 21-day Foundation Programme suggesting students, who are entering any university, that need life and social skills. Our undergraduate degrees will be by design, and education should be choice based and flexible. The student should be able to design his own curriculum. During his degree, the student will be trained in core subjects and also in choice-based skills. Similarly, our master’s and PhD programmes will be pursued in collaboration with other universities. We are also stressing the role of innovations and start-ups.

    KL: How many start-ups and patents does the university have?

    NAG: We have 10 student start-ups and three faculty start-ups. We have seven patents and have applied for 40 more. Student start-ups need seed money, which we are not providing. They compete at different levels with different agencies to procure the funds. Similarly, our faculty is shunning norms and mandates of teaching and research. We have directed them to convert research ideas into innovations and those innovations into start-ups which eventually should help society.

    KLWhat is the future of AI and ICT in agriculture and where does SKUAST stand?

    NAG: We are aligning our education with the requirements of the twenty-first century and integrating it with the latest technologies. We are establishing one centre for artificial intelligence and machine learning. We have to teach our students the essence of these skills as people lagging will be rendered obsolete. KLOff late SKUAST has started offering admissions to foreign students also.

    NAG: Until now foreign students used to come through the Indian International Cultural Centre. There are around 12 students pursuing degrees. From 2023, we have formally opened our university to students and reached out to them through embassies. We want to open a new chapter of educational tourism in Kashmir. We believe that education should have been the best destination for education in India but unfortunately, we have missed the bus. But now we are taking the first leap and expecting sister universities to collaborate.

    KLWhat is the role and scope of agro-biotechnology?

    NAG: Some of these sciences like Information Communication Technology (ICT) have revolutionized the age. Lately, the government of India approved a big project, which will help in phenomics, genomics and advanced agro-biotechnology in developing the latest varieties and seeds and vaccines. Similarly, new technology; CRISPR-Cas genome editing technology has been introduced and we are working on it.

  • Export curbs fail to arrest India’s booming rice shipments -sources

  • India’s rice exports in 2022 jumped to a record high despite the government’s curbs on overseas sale, as buyers continued to make purchases from the South Asian country because of competitive prices, according to government and industry officials.

    The record exports allowed Asian and African countries to import the staple at a time when supplies of wheat and other grains were hit by drought and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, in September banned exports of broken rice and slapped a 20% export tax on some non-basmati varieties as erratic monsoon cut production.

    India’s rice exports in 2022 rose 3.5% from a year ago to 22.26 million tonnes, or more than the combined exports of the next four largest exporters Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and United States, a top government official told Reuters.

    He declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak with media.

    “Exports fell after government imposed the export duty, but very soon exports revived. In December, India managed to export more than 2 million tonnes,” the official said on Tuesday.

    In 2022, non-basmati rice shipments stood at 17.86 million tonnes, while premium basmati rice exports were 4.4 million tonnes, the official added.

    India exports non-basmati rice mainly to Africa and Asia, while basmati rice goes to the Middle East, the United States and Britain.

    An export duty on Indian non-basmati rice shipments spiked prices but buyers soon returned, as Thailand and Vietnam were offering rice at an even higher price, said Nitin Gupta, vice president of Olam India’s rice business.

    Indian rice is the cheapest and that’s why exports would remain strong in 2023, he said.

    India has been offering 25% broken white rice at around $430 per tonne, while Vietnam was offering the same grade at around $440 and Thailand at around $500, a dealer said.

    Despite higher exports, India has ample domestic stocks, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president, Rice Exporters Association of India.
    Source: Reuters (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

  • Paddy farming, organic versus agrochemical based methods.

  • Chandre Dharmawardana

    The amount, 3.2 metric tonnes/ha claimed in a Sinhala article by Upali de Sarem (Jan 2023) using modern fertilizer is still very low compared to the usual yields in Sri Lanka (4-5 metric tonnes/ha).

    Furthermore, if optimal agronomy is used (as in Batalagoda or MahaIlluppallama research stations), 6-8 metric tonnesor more  may be achieve with the right variety of seed, with less water and no-tilling or ploughing (but using benign herbicides) to remove weeds. 

    Comparisons of organic paddy and modern fertilizer-based farming outputs, costs etc., were done about a decade ago in the Agricultural Research Stations and also at Peradenitya University (Bandara et al).

    I discussed one of those in detail in Newspaper articles, and in the Colombo Telegraph in 2015. If I remember correct, various writers who are prominent in Lanka web, and linked with Ven. Ratana criticized me, and Mr. Dilrook Kannangara sided largely with them. He re-iterated his position when I criticized the Hiru-Govi Sangramaya sponsor by Hiru TV, eulogizing traditional agriculture.

    There too Dr. Ivan Amarasinghe (IA) stated how he even now cultivates his paddy lands in a traditional way using only “Gerikatu pohora (bone emal)” and “gendagam” (sulphur, a toxin used by organic farmers). The same line of thinking led them to claim that the Corona virus and the Covid-19 pandemic can be treated using traditional herbal cures. Jayasumana went on TV supporting the Dhammika Paeniya.

    IA used to end his email messages with the slogan Prof. Jayasmana will have the last laugh”.

    We don’t have to go to Egypt to learn about the best paddy cultivation practices. There are 24 booklets issued by the agriculture Dept. for the 24 districts, giving the best approach, depending on the soil type, based on recommendations from the Agricultural research Institutes.

     All the leading scientists of the world, be them from USA or Egypt or Japan and India, made pilgrimages to Maha Illuppallama and Batalagoda (as they were must vsit” places), until about the late 1980s, early 1990, as they had become world famous for their rice research.

    But in Sri lanka we don’t value the work of SL scientists, instead even a bit of idiocy, if it comes from somewhere else, is held to be better, esp. by the NGO green lobby. The research stations declined due to increasing lack of government support, with the JRJ government leaving everything to the Free Market.

    Then came the nationalists Ven. Ratana, Nalin de Silva, Jayasumana types talking about ancient agriculture and some other nationalists pushing “traditional seeds” claiming that they have “immense health and nutrient benefit” –  it is exactly that myth that people like Malinda Seneviratne had also picked up, at least in part.

    But one must by now see that these so-called huge nutritional benefits” are mere deviations of the order of a few percent found for in vitro chemical analysis, and NOT from clinical trials. At the food preparation level under heating, washing etc, and with several foods on the plate, these differences get wiped out even with rice being the staple. 

    What matters is the difference among raw rice, par-boiled rice, and polished rice, irrespective of the variety. The rice which is less polished and most fresh is nutritionally the better rice. The variations in fats, anti-oxidants, and carbohydrate level, vitamins etc., are too small to mount to anything significant in the overall diet unless strong fortification is used by genetic modification as in Golden rice, a GMO rice developed in India.

    Vanadana Shiva, the Indian equivalent of Nalin de Silva-Ratana cabal, prevented the use of Golden rice for decades, and at last it has been approved for use.

    Today, the controversial Arhath” Samanthabadhra with his followers have also popularized a false model, show casing Umandawa, where he claims that he can produce crops without fertilizers. It is this sort of nonsense that misleads ignorant politicians and even educated members of the public who may know little about agriculture, but think they know it as if by instinct!

    If tonnes of harvest (made up of nitrogen, phosphorous, carbon etc., are removed from the field, they should be put back if the soil is to remain productive. That is why fertilizers are added. If not, after a few harvests, the land has to be left fallow (for a significant length of time) for it to recover. In the olden days people left the land to fallow for a few years and opened up a new chena by burning up forest (that produced mineral fertilizer as ash), but today we don’t have land to engage in such wasteful types of agriculture.

    This ensures that soil nutrients are not washed off by water (used to flood the paddy fields to kill weeds, a practice used in organic and traditional farming. Filling up the kumbura” with water also encourages anaerobic microbial processes and produces excess Green House Gases like Methane which is 30 times worse than CO2. So organic farming is BAD for the environment, contrary what Eco-extremists and Western funded NGO, so-called “Environmental Justice” and MONLAR activists say. They are uncritically following the completely unscientific, politically motivated erroneous policies of the European Green Deal popular in the EU.

    Chandre Dharmawardana

  • Think tank moots cultivating unique rice in East Malaysia as cash crop

  • KRI deputy director of research Sarena Che Omar who is the lead author of the report said that Malaysia’s paddy and rice industry were dual in nature where one focused on the cheaper price controlled medium grained rice and the other was for speciality heirloom rice. – Malay Mail photo

    KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 31): The paddy and rice industry in Malaysia can grow exponentially and become a major source of revenue if farmers in Sabah and Sarawak were to cultivate speciality rice grains on a large scale, Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) said today.

    The think tank said there were around 500 unique rice varieties and that these seeds need to be preserved to prevent genetic loss of their unique characteristics; among them the Bario, Biris and Bajong.

    In just one village there can be multiple varieties of rice, KRI said in its report launched today titled “The Paddy and Rice Industry of Sabah and Sarawak: Status and Potential”.

    For example in Kampung Katagayan in Tambunan, Sabah there are several varieties of specialty rice like Padi Tamparuli, Tadong, Keladi Merah, Bukit Bulan, Keladi Putih and Seribu.

    KRI deputy director of research Sarena Che Omar who is the lead author of the report said that Malaysia’s paddy and rice industry were dual in nature where one focused on the cheaper price controlled medium grained rice and the other was for speciality heirloom rice.

    She said in order to grow this revenue channel, the government needed to update some laws and policies to improve the businesses acumen and competitiveness among paddy farmers in East Malaysia.

    One of the laws that needed updating is the Control of Padi and Rice Act 1994.

    “The Control of Padi and Rice Act 1994 (522) is an important act that’s there to regulate the prices of rice but it poses some challenges like the need for around RM200,000 in capital for three months to start cultivating rice, it requires one to get permission to export.

    “KRI acknowledges that Act 522 is an important Act to protect the supply and prices of cheap medium-grained rice with the goal of ensuring food security. Meanwhile, specialty rice has the potential to be commercialised and exported. These two rice segments have differing objectives which require separate policies and regulations,” she said in presenting her report.

    “Farmers we spoke to want to plant their own unique rice as they like the flavour profile and it gives them a different option but they also want to know how they can sell the excess and make some extra income but they don’t have the capacity to try and reach a high end market like selling to places like St Regis or a Hilton,” she added, referring to international upscale hotels.

    The difference between cheap and special rice is that cheap rice is sold at around RM1.60 to RM2.60 per kg, is high volume with a price ceiling, matures within 100 days and is valued at RM3.3 billion a year.

    Speciality rice is priced around RM5 to RM22 per kg, is low volume with premium pricing, has a long maturity rate at three to six months, has hundreds of varieties and the seeds are not certified (informal or heirloom) and the industry is valued at RM3.1 billion.

    “Given the low rice self-sufficiency for Sabah and Sarawak, it may be beneficial to explore alloptions for improving production, including the potential of rural specialty rice varieties as a means to assist in achieving that objective.

    “But, of course, achieving rice self-sufficiency alone is not the only goal we should be aiming for. Other holistic factors of food security include improving income of farmers (food affordability) and instilling sustainable, good agricultural practices,” former minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop who is incumbent KRI chairman, said at the report launch.

    Apart from that, KRI said the challenges faced by the industry were regulations that were designed solely for the purpose of security (in supply and prices).

    In an effort to promote the uniqueness of specialty rice to both local and international markets, the report suggests several policy considerations. These recommendations would serve to support small businesses producing specialty rice, as well as facilitate the distribution of rice beyond Sabah and Sarawak.

    The first suggestion to state governments would be to safeguard as many unique seeds and top introduce a universal naming system and to formally characterise these varieties.

    Federal government needs to recognise the big difference between cheap and specialty rice and not subject the latter to the same regulations as the former. Once these two rice groups are differentiated the report suggested to allow specialty rice to be exported without needing special permission from the Director General, allow rice to be transported across state, review input subsidies for growers of specialty rice meant for export and to lower the minimum working capital requirement for the relevant licenses for micro and small enterprises in this sector.

    By adopting these steps KRI hopes it will help alleviate the farmers from living in poverty as they can now expand their specialty rice business and market it to a bigger audience.

    The think tank hopes it would increase the overall income of the locals while boosting Malaysia’s food supply and reserves.

  • Punjab starts rajma rice in mid-day meal;…

  • Punjab starts rajma rice in mid-day meal; directs schools to implement immediately

    Rajma rice will replace dal rice on Tuesdays, and as per the order, the decision has been taken following the feedback received from schools during a social audit.

    According to the earlier menu, kids were being given dal (pulses) with vegetables and roti on Mondays. (File/Representational)

    To bring a change in the mid-day meal menu for children studying in government schools, the Punjab education department has issued an order to introduce rajma rice once a week.

    Rajma rice will replace dal rice on Tuesdays, and as per the order, the decision has been taken following the feedback received from schools during a social audit.

    The order further states that schools have to implement the menu change with immediate effect and now rajma rice should be served to students on Tuesdays without fail.

    According to the earlier menu, kids were being given dal (pulses) with vegetables and roti on Mondays, dal with rice on Tuesdays, black chana with potatoes and chapatis on Wednesdays, curry pakora with potatoes and rice on Thursdays, seasonal vegetables with chapati on Fridays and again dal with rice on Saturday. Also they were given kheer as dessert once a week.

    An official said that a social audit was conducted in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala and according to the feedback received from schools, children were finding it boring to eat pulses thrice a week and they also expressed their fondness for rajma rice. So, a change has been made in the menu and rajma rice has replaced dal rice for Tuesdays.

    The letter further directs school heads to ensure that only ISI marked pipes are used with gas cylinders while cooking in schools.

  • Kellogg’s sustainable rice farming pilot yields positive results

  • A Battle Creek-based breakfast food and snack maker recently shared an update on a new rice farming initiative.

    Kellogg Company last week reported early positive results from the pilot year of its InGrained program, a five-year partnership with Lower Mississippi River Basin rice farmers to help reduce their climate impact.

    According to Kellogg, the InGrained program in 2022 helped farmers implement climate-smart irrigation practices, which achieved a reduction of more than 1,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases — the equivalent of taking more than 345 gasoline-powered cars off the road for one year.

    “Kellogg has established itself as a committed partner to farmers in implementing climate-positive agricultural practices in important crops like rice,” said Steve Cahillane, chair and CEO of Kellogg Company.

    Kellogg piloted the program in northeast Louisiana, where much of the rice is used in foods such as Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies treats.

    The company worked in collaboration with agricultural greenhouse gas measurement firm Regrow, rice producers, Kellogg supplier Kennedy Rice Mill and agribusiness firm Syngenta.

    “Not only are we helping farmers implement new practices on their farms, but farmers are telling us that, just as importantly, the quality of their rice was not affected by the adjusted irrigation practices,” said Stacey Shaw, senior sustainability lead at Syngenta.

    Rice production emits several greenhouse gases, most significantly methane. According to World Resources Institute, methane contributes approximately to 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cites methane as 25 times more potent than carbon monoxide.

    Going forward, Kellogg and its InGrained partners plan to make adjustments as they transition into the second year of the program while ensuring financial and technical support continue to help farmers with these new practices.

    Kellogg also said it will explore the possibility of expanding the program to include various regions with different weather patterns and soil types to determine if similar positive impacts are found.

  • Agriculture: Food security through climate-smart agriculture

  • Climate change manifests itself through rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. It has enhanced the production risk of agricultural farming, a business which has already been inherently risky for farmers due to high dependency on favourable weather conditions and volatile prices of crops in the market.

    Even if we put aside the megaflood of 2022, Pakistan’s farmers already feel the full brunt of climate change. For instance, the extraordinary heat wave in March 2022 reduced wheat yield significantly because grains could not reach their full size due to early higher temperatures in the range of 40–42 Celsius.

    Likewise, this heat wave also impacted the flowering of mango trees, which in turn decreased mango production in 2022. Negative effects of climate change can be seen in 2023 as well, where severe frost in January has adversely affected the potato crop in Punjab’s major potato-growing districts. As a consequence of such production decrease, Pakistan’s current food security situation is worsening, and it is likely to be aggravated further in the future.

    To decrease the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture, international development agencies are pursuing an integrated approach called climate-smart agriculture (CSA), which is primarily comprised of three components; increasing agricultural productivity, building resilience to climate change (adaptation), and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change (mitigation).

    With one of the lowest crop-water productivity in the region, two to five times more water is used to get the same amount of produce

    In Pakistan, a clear consensus does exist amongst relevant stakeholders for making necessary changes to our agriculture system and improving the management of natural resources, as outlined by CSA. Considering the current vulnerability of our agricultural system to climate change, here are some broad areas for intervention, which are now becoming increasingly crucial for farmers as well as the country’s food security.

    The biggest challenge being faced by our agriculture sector is low crop productivity. With the exception of a few, yields of our most crops remain below the world’s averages. Due to rising temperatures, winters are getting shorter in Pakistan, which is affecting our winter crops, including wheat, the largest staple food in the country. Similarly, higher temperatures and irregular rains, especially at pollination and maturity stages, are adversely affecting the yields of Kharif crops.

    Such variability in climate necessitates the availability of climate-resilient crop varieties that must be high-yielding, short-duration, and heat tolerant. Along with this, they must be able to tolerate water stress and waterlogged conditions. Without such varieties, nothing concrete can be achieved to cope with the menace of climate change.

    Unfortunately, Pakistan’s public sector research centres have failed to meet the nation’s expectations due to inadequate agricultural research budgets and poor human and institutional capacity. As a result, imported seeds have captured a good market share in Pakistan, which especially includes hybrid seeds of maize, rice, canola, sunflower, vegetables, and other crops.

    Relying on intensive research, multinational companies have continuously introduced improved crop varieties of these crops to cope with climate variations. However, such ever-increasing dependency on imported seed is not a long-term and sustainable solution for a country like Pakistan, which has a large agriculture sector.

    Therefore, what the country desperately needs is an enabling policy environment coupled with the right incentives for the private sector that can boost in-country seed production at a large scale. Only local production can enhance the provision of affordable quality seed to smallholders.

    Water is a critical agricultural input and plays a central role in food security. Pakistan has one of the lowest crop-water productivity in the region. We use two to five times more water compared to other countries to get the same production. However, water availability is becoming increasingly uncertain in the country due to an increase in extreme weather events like dry spells (droughts) and heavy rainfall.

    All of this necessitates increasing water management through various resource conservation technologies (RCTs), improving on-farm irrigation practices, and introducing water-smart farming. The greater usage of suitable RCTs like precision land levelling, raised bed planting, and various types of high-efficiency irrigation solutions can conserve a great deal of water and, in turn, the energy required to pump groundwater. Such energy saving would also reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

    Another related issue is the drainage of excess rainwater from fields caused by greater intensity and frequency of precipitation — another manifestation of climate change. The problem of standing water is increasing, especially in low-lying fields, and it has a very damaging effect on those crops that can’t tolerate waterlogged conditions. It is imperative to improve the drainage of rainwater from fields and its storage for subsequent usage.

    In Pakistan, a substantial amount of agricultural produce is already lost to crop pests and diseases during the production phase. Climate change is impacting the biology and outbreak potential of crop pests, which may further increase crop loss. Therefore, to ensure food security, it is high time to introduce climate-smart pest management aimed at reducing pest-induced crop losses, but with a lesser application of pesticides.

    The manufacturing and application of chemical fertilisers also produce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, ammonia, and nitrous oxide. In Pakistan, urea (nitrogenous fertiliser) is the most widely used fertiliser. Crops hardly take up 50 per cent of applied nitrogen, while the remaining runs off into waterways or gets broken down in the soil, releasing nitrous oxide. Hence, an increase in fertiliser use efficiency would not only mitigate climate change but also decrease fertiliser costs for farmers, which is on the rise.

    In conclusion, Pakistan needs a productivity-centric and resilience-focused CSA that could increase its agricultural production while decreasing the agriculture sector’s vulnerability to climate change, thereby ensuring food security in the country.

    However, in view of the country’s economic and financial problems, the real challenge is to identify, rank (prioritise), and then execute the most relevant interventions, which must be cost-effective and sustainable, with a higher impact.

    Khalid Wattoo is a farmer and a development professional Sara Mehmood is a researcher in forestry and environmental sciences

  • Punjab farmers refuse to phase out water-guzzling paddy…

  • Punjab farmers refuse to phase out water-guzzling paddy despite rapid groundwater depletion

    The state is the highest extractor of groundwater in the country and 97% of it is being used in irrigation, mainly for paddy.

    Despite years of discussions to phase out paddy in Punjab, owing to its impact on groundwater, latest data shows that the paddy crop area still dominates agriculture in the state. Paddy is currently grown over 87% of the total area under kharif crops (June-October) in Punjab, according to data shared by the Punjab Agriculture department which notes that in the current 2022-’23 kharif season, the area under paddy, was 3.1 million hectares out of 3.5 million hectares under kharif crops.

    Over 35 years ago, in 1986, a government report on crop diversification, led by economist SS Johl, recommended at least 20% area under paddy and wheat, the dominant crops in Punjab, should be shifted to other crops for ecological sustainability, primarily prevention of groundwater depletion. The predicted impact of a large paddy area on groundwater has come true – currently 80% of the state is in the red zone due to the overexploitation of groundwater.

    Punjab is currently the highest extractor of groundwater in the country and 97% of it is being used in irrigation, mainly for paddy, as per Central Ground Water Authority’s last available Ground Water Estimation report 2020. The seriousness of the problem was apparent in a statement by the monitoring panel of the National Green Tribunal NGT under Chairman Justice Jasbir Singh (retired) when it stated in May that if the present rate of extraction continues, the state would be left with groundwater for 17 years, till 2039.

    Paddy is a water-intensive crop and needs around 5000 litres to grow a kg of rice. Punjab had a diversified agriculture landscape before two cereal crops – paddy and wheat – were promoted as part of the Union government’s thrust to attain food security, later pegged as Green Revolution.

    The area under paddy in the state, which was 0.2 million hectares in 1960-’61, had increased almost five times to 1.1 million hectares by 1980-’81, data taken from Punjab State Farmers’ and Farm Workers’ Commission’s 2018 report revealed. The report has been removed from the public domain by the Punjab State Farmers’ & Farm Workers’ Commission after a new panel was announced recently. At the time of Johl’s report in 1986, the paddy area kept increasing and touched 2 million hectares by 1990-’91, an addition of almost 1 million hectares in one decade.

    In an interaction with Mongabay-India, Johl, now 92, said he had advocated the promotion of alternative crops since he could foresee the fast depletion of Punjab’s underground water on which irrigation of paddy was mainly dependent.

    However, farmers have been incentivised to stick with paddy production because of a few reasons, note various experts and government officials: there is almost 100% procurement of paddy at Centre’s minimum support price; harvesting and sowing has become easier; and agriculture extension services have helped to increase per hectare production.

    With paddy being cultivated over 3.1 million hectares in the current kharif season (June-October) and wheat crop cultivated in 3.5 million hectares in the current rabi season (November-April), the two cereal crops occupy almost 84% of the total gross cropped area of 7.8 million hectares in the state.

    Impact on groundwater

    Punjab’s wheat-paddy cycle consistently contributed to the Centre’s food security needs for the last several decades. In the 2021-’22 procurement season, Punjab contributed more than 12.5 million tonnes or 20% of total rice procurement of 56.8 million tonnes to the central pool managed by the Food Corporation of India. Similarly, the state contributed around 53% of wheat to the central pool in 2022.

    However, this high cultivation of paddy is fast-depleting groundwater in the state. As per the Central Ground Water Authority’s data obtained under the Right to Information Act in January, 119 out of 138 blocks in Punjab are currently in the over-exploited category as far as groundwater depletion is concerned. According to the agency’s reply, the situation is more serious in central and southern parts, including Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa, Bathinda, Moga, Ludhiana and Jalandhar – where paddy is the dominant crop in the kharif season. The state’s average groundwater depth at which water is available has crossed 70 meters (200 feet). In the last decade (2011-2020), overall depletion was 2-4 metres.

    “There are areas in southern districts of the state where the groundwater is not available even at 150-200 metres (450-600 feet),” Punjab’s former irrigation secretary KS Pannu told Mongabay-India. He said if this trend is not reversed anytime soon, Punjab will be left with no groundwater to irrigate its crops. “If the water level drops below 300 metres in the next 18-20 years, water quality becomes highly contaminated and unsuitable for irrigation or drinking. Even the cost of extraction will be too high for farmers,” Pannu said.

    While quoting from Central Ground Water Authority’s groundwater estimation report 2020, Pannu explained that the state is over-extracting 14 billion cubic metres of groundwater annually. The annual extractable groundwater recharge in Punjab from different sources like rainfall, etc., is 20 billion cubic metres, but the state is using 34 billion cubic metres of groundwater, he said.

    A water channel passes through a rice field in Punjab. The state is heading towards severe groundwater depletion if it continues with the existing cropping pattern. Credit: Gill Prabhnoor/Wikimedia Commons

    Factors sustaining paddy

    Responding to a question by Mongabay-India, on why the state failed to phase out paddy despite its adverse impact on groundwater, Gurvinder Singh, director of the department of agriculture in Punjab, reiterates the reasons that farmers stick to paddy farming: 100% procurement of the paddy at centre’s minimum support price and consistent economic returns for the farmers.

    While procurement data for the 2022-’23 season is not officially available yet, the centre spent Rs 1.45 trillion on procuring 75 million tonnes of paddy in the 2021-’22 season, followed by 89 million tonnes of paddy at Rs 1.69 trillion in 2020-’21 season.

    Gurvinder Singh said in the 2018 and 2019 crop seasons, the department convinced a section of farmers in districts most-affected by groundwater depletion, to grow maize in place of paddy. But the farmers returned to paddy the next season as there was minimum support price for maize. “Even if the government starts procuring alternate crops like maize or pulses at minimum support price, it will still be insufficient to match the income farmers get from paddy,” he said. He explained that farmers’ current earnings from paddy are between Rs 45,000 and Rs 50,000 per acre. On the contrary, per acre income from pulses or maize, even after minimum support price realisation will be Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000. “The income gap is basically due to low yield in alternate crops and further lack of proper sowing and harvesting techniques,” Singh added.

    Another indirect reason that paddy has been able to sustain is that water for its irrigation is highly accessible at no cost. Punjab offers free power for agriculture since 1997, allowed farmers to extract as much water from the ground through tubewells for free. The data obtained from Punjab Electricity Corporation’s Engineers Association revealed that power consumption in the agriculture sector in Punjab has almost doubled in the past two decades, an increase from 6,049 million units in 1997-1998 to 11,226 million units in 2018-’19. This also increased the Punjab government’s subsidy bill from Rs 6.58 billion in 1997-’98 to Rs. 72 billion in 2022-’23, which is projected to touch Rs 75 billion in the current fiscal year, data revealed further.

    In 2017, Punjab State Farmers’ and Farm Workers’ Commission recommended the withdrawal of free electricity to medium and large farmers and the use the money saved on subsidies to start an income support programme to promote alternate crops. The move, as per a report, could save at least half of the subsidy bill of the state government. But, these recommendations have not yet been implemented.

    Economist SS Johl told Mongabay-India that free power was one of the major hurdles why Punjab could not phase out paddy. “It led to wastage of groundwater and increased its consumption manifold. This must stop before it is too late,” said Johl.

    “Punjab’s problem is severe. We do have solutions to overcome them. But we lack political leaders who have farsightedness and can gather enough political will to take hard and strong decisions,” said Johl.

    Past failures

    A contract farming programme launched by the Punjab government in October 2002 aimed to remove 10 lakh hectares from the wheat-paddy cycle over the next five years as part of the crop diversification programme as recommended by another Johl-led committee in 2002. A pilot project to divert area under wheat-paddy to other crops began on over 11,000 (29,000 acres) jointly by the Department of Agriculture, Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation and private companies.

    The Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation provided seeds purchased from reputed seed companies and promised to buy back the entire production at a fixed price agreeable to farmers and procurement agencies.

    But Sukhpal Singh, an agriculture expert from Indian Management Institute, Ahmedabad, wrote in a research paper in 2005 that towards the end of harvesting season for the contracted crops, the programme had run into rough weather. The contracted maize crop failed almost completely due to weather-related issues and poor-quality seeds. None of the companies procured the produce. After this failure, occasional efforts were made to promote maize as an alternate crop to paddy but these efforts were without any income support programme.

    Farmers in Punjab get free electricity for irrigation. Credit: Baljot.22/Wikimedia Commons.

    In September, a special committee of Punjab Vidhan Sabha came out with a series of recommendations to save Punjab’s groundwater, which includes conserving water by agricultural zoning of the state and by metering groundwater. The committee also recommended reviving the canal water system in Punjab to reduce dependence on tubewells for irrigation.

    Many such studies and recommendations have been periodically made regarding conservation of groundwater in Punjab.

    New panel

    The new Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab, which won the election last year in March on the agenda of badlaav (change), recently announced another panel to formulate a new agriculture policy. On January 17, the state agriculture minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal told media that the government is working on a new policy, aiming to save Punjab’s natural resources such as groundwater, soil health and geographical conditions. In this policy, aspects like crop diversification, agri exports etc., would get special attention.

    Former bureaucrat KS Pannu, criticising the announcement, told Mongabay-India that Punjab needs the right intention more than anything else. “There is no dearth of solutions. For instance, it can optimise areas under canal irrigation to reduce dependence on groundwater. The government can initiate an income support programme to gradually phase out paddy. It can push the food processing industry and align it with the purchase of diversified crops at minimum support price,” he added.

    Economist Kesar Singh Bhangoo, from Punjabi University, Patiala, told Mongabay-India that Punjab could not succeed in crop diversification without the active support of the central government but currently it cannot afford Punjab to phase out area under paddy. “Look at what happened last year when the union government had to ban wheat and paddy export just after a decrease in food grain production in the country due to climate conditions,” he added.

    On the contrary, economist Johl, who also served as vice chairman of the Punjab state planning board between 2002 and 2007, argues that Centre can be convinced to help Punjab in its diversification programme. “After my second diversification report in 2002, I collaborated with the Union Food ministry. I convinced them for promoting oilseed production in Punjab, for which an initial grant of Rs 1600 crore was also approved. But later, no one from Punjab pursued this matter,” he added.

    Meanwhile, Darshan Pal, a member of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, a joint body of the farmers union, told Mongabay-India that any diversification plan without assured returns would not work.

    This article first appeared on Mongabay.

  • State to implement action plan to boost farmers’ income

  • While in several sectors, farmers’ income has been doubled, the Odisha Government is on a move to boost farmers’ income further with a roadmap to 2030.

    Accordingly, in order to enhance farmers’ income in the State, multiple strategies have been suggested by the State Committee on Enhancing Farmer’s Income (SCEFI).

    SCEFI Chairman Sanjeev Kumar Chadha has recently submitted a Detailed Strategy Report to the State Government.

    Chadha is Principal Secretary Co-operation and Special Secretary, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

    The Report of Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI) headed by Ashok Dalwai says that farmers' income in various sub sectors have more than doubled in the State.

    Dr Dalwai is appreciative of Millet Mission areas that have registered over two and a half times increase in productivity and income.

    In fact, the Millet Mission is one of the flagship programmes of the Odisha Government spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment.

    The SCEFI has gone into details of the production, productivity, enhancement of resources, enterprise diversification, climate smart agriculture, organic farming, marketing strategy, credit support, insurance support, use of technology and other issues.

    While Odisha has gone much ahead in production and productivity, more is needed to achieve the national average.

    Take for rice production, yield per hectare is 2,475 kg, where as national average is 2,722 kg per hectare and Punjab produces 4,034 kg per hectare.

    So far as pulses are concerned, Odisha produces 544 kg per hectare, where as Gujarat produces 1,172 kg per hectare and the national average is 823 kg per hectare.

    Total food grain production per hectare yield is 1,862 kg, where as India average is 2,343 kg and Punjab yields 4,527 kg per hectare.

    So far as oilseed is concerned, yield of Odisha is 945 kg per hectare, where as Tamil Nadu's yield is 2,626 kg per hectare and the national average is 1,224 kg per hectare.

    Total vegetables production is 14,197 kg per hectare in Odisha, while the national average is 18,262 kg per hectare and Uttar Pradesh's yield is 19,431 kg per hectare.

    Total fruits production in Odisha is 8.31 Metric Ton per hectare, where as all India average is 15.07 MT/Ha and Andhra Pradesh yield is 23.41 MT/Ha.

    Under this backdrop, the SCEFI has suggested multiple strategies, which are needed for enhancing the farmers’ income and it is expected that soon the State Government will come up with the implementation of an action plan for enhancing the income to next level, said sources.

  • Lamentation as helpless flood victims cry over unfulfilled govt promises

  • The flood that ravaged many states last year has receded but its impact on affected farmers lingers. JOSEPHINE OGUNDEJI tells the stories of victims

    People living in lowland areas are not new to flooding, because it is a perennial occurrence.  However, last year’s flood which ravaged many parts of the country was unprecedented. Many roads were washed off and rendered impassable while the flood lasted. Many became homeless as their houses were taken over by the flood. Farmlands were submerged in water, leaving farmers who have invested their life savings to count their losses.

    Although the flood has receded, those affected, especially farmers, have yet to recover from the havoc it wreaked. The challenges of the flood victims were further compounded because they did not hedge against their losses. Most of those affected had no insurance coverage for their farms. Their fate was hanging in the balance as they looked forward to help from the government and other well-spirited Nigerians.

    Farmers’ Ordeal

    Mohammed Sule was full of optimism as the harvest period of his 60,000 fish drew near in the middle of October.

    “My clients who include hotels in Lokoja and Abuja, eateries, and roasted fish sellers had all been contacted and the October 15 date had been fixed for the first batch harvest,” the Kogi State Chairman of Fish Farmers Association, Mohammed Sule, told our correspondent in an interview.

    According to him, “I have a very large farm that can take up to 100,000 fish. This time around, I stocked it with 64,000 fish.  Before the flood, they were four to five months old. I was looking forward to the October 15 harvest date.  I had already contacted interested buyers. None of the fish was less than 900 grams. Unfortunately, the flood came. At first, I tried to cover the pod with a net, but within 24 hours, the farm was overtaken by flood. That was how I lost everything I had invested.”

    Sule estimated his loss to the flood to be between N3m and N4m. He said, “The flood also affected all the fish farmers in my locality because most fish farms are located in the riverine areas. There are people who lost more than I. So, from the report I got from my members, we collectively lost over N500m across the state.

    “We are not expecting any help from any quarter. We just have to start all over. We just have to start looking for money to go back into the business. The fishes we are producing are not even enough for consumption in Lokoja alone, let alone the whole state. That is why you see that fish are brought from Ibadan, Lagos, and other states. Before now, we have been battling with the high cost of fish and with the flood; you can imagine what the farmers would be going through. Some people even invested their feeding money, which has gone down the drain.”

    He claimed that the impact of the flood has been devastating on fish farmers in Kogi State. “Those of us who have invested so much were thinking that at the end of October, we would be smiling to the bank. It has become a mere wishful thinking. Up till now, I have not been able to return, though the flood has receded.”

    The Kogi State Chairman of Fish farmers Association also disclosed that he lost over N50m to the flood in Koton-karfe in Kogi Local Government Area of the state.

    Sule disclosed that he and members of his association have not received any help from the government, individuals or corporate organisations. Sule said aside from a bag of 10 kg rice sent by an organisation, which he did not collect, no help whatsoever has come from anywhere in spite of several attempts to seek for assistance.

    He said, “In my farm, I have a lot of people I was training. They included N-power, National Directorate of Employment and the Hydro Power Producing Areas Development Commission trainees. Each of them sent in 50 or more people to me for training. So, the government is fully aware of our activities, but no one has approached us with an offer of assistance.”

    Similarly, Hassan Jimgba Mohammed said he invested over N6m in his rice, corn, and cassava farms in Obangede village, Koton-Karfe.

    According to him, most of the fund was invested in a100-acre farm, which has gone down the drain.

    “As I speak, none of my children is in school as I cannot afford to pay their school fees. The banks are on my neck and there has not been any hope of getting any assistance either from the government, individual or corporate organisations. My family and I are in a terrible situation. We are calling on the government to come to our aid; otherwise, I may not be able to go back to farming because there is no hope anywhere.”

    He also disclosed that he invested N1.5m in rice and cassava farms. According to him, it was close to the harvest season that the flood wreaked havoc. “I lost everything as my farm was covered with water,” he stated.

    “Unless some miracles happen or if the government comes to my aid, I may not be able to return to farming.”

    TheKogi State Commissioner of Information, Kingsley Fanwo, explained relief materials have been dispatched to critically affected areas such as Ibaji, Lokoja and Koton-Karfe.

    “We have structured our intervention programme into three: pre-flood, during the flood, and post-flood intervention. Part of the post-flood intervention is to work for three international organisations. We have well-structured intervention plans with them to support victims and it had been working well. Quite a number of victims have been rehabilitated. May be those you spoke to have not been lucky enough to get theirs. I am assuring them that they are in the picture of our plans and would be captured.

    “Also, we also have plans with the Ministry of Agriculture charged with the responsibility of getting food to flood-prone areas such as Ibaji, Koto, and parts of Lokoja, where the impact of the flood was most pronounced,” he said.

    The commissioner disclosed that the Ministry of Finance has also been mandated to assist the farmers, liaising with banks with a view to renegotiating their loans.

    “You know that before you can do this, the farmers have to be profiled to know genuine victims. In the coming weeks, the profiling would have been completed. So, let us be patient. They would be attended to.

    “Apart from providing palliatives, we are also embarking on an aggressive enlightenment campaign to enable farmers to be adequately informed about the dangers of flood and how to prepare before it arrives.”

    Ortom

    In 2016, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom introduced a work-free day for workers in the state to enable them to engage in farming activities. The work-free day was always declared at the beginning of planting season from June to August and during the harvest period, which in most cases lasts between November and January. The policy has helped many workers to face the current economic downturn that has made the regular payment of salaries a major challenge in the state.

    Our correspondent learnt that based on this policy, many people including artisans and workers in private sectors within the state have embraced farming to cushion the effects of the current economic lull. In addition, it was gathered that many people also used the opportunity to obtain loans from financial institutions to invest in middle and large-scale farming.

    For the past few years, both professional and subsistence farmers have had good testimonies for their investment until this year when many hectares of farmlands were submerged by flood. Farmers were left to count their losses.

    The Nigerian Meteorological Agency had in September 2022 warned of a high amount of rainfall, which may trigger flooding in some states based on the rainfall distribution recorded in the country in July and August 2022.

    Benue State was among the states at a high risk of flooding in North Central. However, no one envisaged the magnitude of the havoc it eventually wrecked as many houses and peoples’ livelihoods within Makurdi and other 11 local government areas of the state were buried in the water. Statistics from the State Emergency and Management Agency showed that 14,040 hectares of farmland were reportedly washed away.

    Further checks revealed that rice farmers were the worst hit by this year’s flooding since the crops are mostly planted around swampy areas.

    Benue Farmers Lament

    Our correspondent spoke to some farmers in the state on the lamentation of the affected farmers and the havoc the flood wreaked on their farms as well as its devastating effects on their families, the state, and the country as a whole.

    One of the commercial farmers, Vitalis Tarnongo who planted rice behind the University of Agriculture, Makurdi in Guma local government area of the state is not a happy man having lost over N60 million worth of rice plantation to flooding.

    According to him, the rice crops had grown fast and were already yielding good seeds when the flood came and washed away about 170 hectares of rice farm leaving him to lick his wounds.

    “This year’s flooding was terrible and devastating because the whole 175 hectares of land where I planted rice was completely submerged.

    “The economics of production stand at N364,000 per hectare translating to the sum of N63,700,000, so you can see a great loss I have incurred and this is really affecting me,” Tarnongo said.

    Also lamenting the pain caused by the flood is the organizing secretary of the State Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Sam Yuwa who said that everything now was at standstill.

    Yuwa said that he lost 19.4 hectares of rice farm to the flooding having invested close to N7m and was on the verge of insuring it when the flood came and washed away the farm.

    At the moment, Yuwa is in a fix, he is running helter-skelter on how to pay the loan incurred and meet family needs.

    He said, “I had about 23 hectares of farm rice but 19.4 hectares were in deep swamps which were flooded, I was preparing to insure the crop because I had filled the form remaining to submit it and was preparing to pay the money when the flood came.

    When asked to quantify his loss in monetary terms, Yuwa said, “the economics of production was N355,000 per hectare, so if you multiply it is in millions that went down the drain.

    “At the moment, I don’t know what to do next because, if not for the flooding by now, I should start harvesting. But right now, I don’t know how to get money to pay back the loan I invested into the farm.

    “I cannot deceive you; it is quite tough for me now because paying fees for my children in the university, and meeting other pressing needs like maintenance of my vehicle and others have been so difficult. Everything is just at a standstill”, Yuwa lamented.

    On the part of Jila Barnabas, an artisan made use of the state government work free day policy to turn a farmer at Tse Tyohemba, Modern Market Ward, Makurdi Local Government Area, Benue State.

    Unlike the mechanised farmers who have access to loans and invested a huge amount of money in big-time farming, Barnabas only cultivates a few hectares of farms to support his family’s needs and to make little money.

    According to him, what he cultivated this year was about six hectares of farmland where he planted rice but lamented that everything was washed away.

    He said, “I ventured into farming due to the state government policy of work free day for workers, though am not a civil servant but with the harsh economy, and when I saw some of my colleagues going into farming and giving good testimonies of what they make after harvest I decided to go into farming three years ago to support myself.

    “Last year I planted about two hectares of rice and cassava and it yielded good seeds and made a lot of money after harvest, so this year I have to increase my farm size from two hectares to six and was excited when the crop grew very well and was expecting a good harvest.

    “Unfortunately, the flood came and washed away everything, making me lose not only my time but also my investment.

    Barnabas appealed to state and federal governments to come to their aid by granting them grants to cushion the effects of the flood.

    He noted that there may be severe hunger in the coming year following this year’s flooding that ravaged some states of the federation except that the government pays attention to dry season farming.

    The State chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigerian, Aondoana Saku, lamented the impact of this year’s flooding in the state and expressed concern about the possible hunger that may hit the nation next year except the government do the needful by assisting farmers during irrigation farming.

    “The reason some of us take to farming is to be able to pay our bills, we were contending with the herders’ problem and now flooding.

    “We have lost so much to this flood that we can not quantify for now but I will appeal to the government both at the state and federal level to help farmers if the government can make the grant available to us especially as we are going into the dry season and if the government can encourage irrigation farming,” the State AFAN chairman said.

    Farmers in Bayelsa State are bemoaning their losses to the recent 2022 floods, which devastated their means of livelihood. While some of them expected the disaster, others did not.

    Many of them lost several farms to the catastrophe. They are afraid that the overwhelming destruction of farms by the flooding incident will cause more hunger and poverty in the months ahead as feeding will be difficult.

    Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH, one of the farmers, Brighten Oku, said the floods gravely affected his cassava farms and plantain plantation. According to him, the damage caused by the massive floodwaters will worsen food insecurity and increase hardship in the society.

    He said, “I planted cassava and plantain. The floods came unexpectedly. It took me unawares and my farms were affected. We could not salvage all our crops. It was difficult for us to harvest many of them. So I lost more than half of my crops to the floods.

    “And I know that with the Nigerian situation, with the bad economy, almost all farmers depend on their farms for survival; and the cost of living is high; things are costly in the market and we will find a lot of difficulty in terms of foodstuffs, and getting money to buy things in the market is a serious problem. Worst still, you can’t even get your crops to eat. So, it’s a very difficult situation.”

     Quantifying his loss in monetary terms, Oku disclosed that he lost over N500,000 to the devastation, adding that he would not be able to recover the huge loss.

     “Though I am not a commercial farmer, I have lost over N500,000 worth of crops and it is difficult to recover from the loss. And I am not certain of getting any loan because it is not easy for a farmer like me to access loans in this country. In the Nigerian system, you know; loans are not given to farmers. As it is now, I have to seek financial assistance from relatives and also borrow on an interest basis to be able to buy cassava stems and plantain suckers, and other things I need to begin planting again.

    “It is, therefore, very necessary for the government to look into the suffering of farmers, not just myself. If you look around, everywhere was covered by the floods and everybody is suffering as of today.

    “So, we expect that the government should do something in terms of soft loans to farmers; they should help us form co-operatives to enable us access loans so that we can fall back on the government to sustain our farming occupation,” he added.

    Another farmer, Rita Etemu, said, “The flood affected me very badly. I lost everything on my farms. I am an applicant and I have four cassava farms. I could not harvest much after the floods submerged my farms. I harvested just a little.

    “Even the cassava that I was able to harvest with my family, we harvested them inside water and because we could not get a canoe or boat to take them away early, some of them got rotten inside the water and we could not carry them again. That’s how we lost a good quantity of our cassava.”

    She said she had started farming early in order for her to also carry out early harvest before the water level will rise in the next rainy season, lamenting that the signs of hunger were already noticeable.

    Etemu added, “There will be hunger. In fact, hunger has started. We are already feeling it. In some of my four cassava farms, I could not harvest anything. The four farms are more than two hectares of land, and that means I lost over N1m. Because if I am able to harvest one acre and the cassava tubers are big, I might sell an acre for more than N100,000.”

    Like Oku, she also appealed to the government to come to the aid of farmers so that the shortage of food caused by the floods can be solved.

    “If the government can assist farmers like us, it will be nice; I mean they should help farmers financially with loans to get farming materials and cassava stems. Government should come to our rescue.

    “Devoted farmers are ready to cope with farming despite the flood disaster that destroyed farms and crops, and we believe that as far as there is life, there is hope. We can’t give up on life. Only lazy people give up on life. I know that once there is life, if you plant, you will reap because I believe the floods cannot happen every year.”

    Also, Galilee Ade, said she was yet to come to terms with the loss she incurred as a result of the flood catastrophe that impacted her three farms.

    She said, “I don’t know how to describe the flood and how it affected my plantain plantation and cassava farms. Like this farm where we are, I could not harvest all the crops when the floodwaters covered it. I have another farm inside that got totally submerged and I could not pick anything away by way of harvesting.

    “I was discouraged (by the disaster) but people encouraged me to resume farming and have hoped that things will be better. I don’t have the power to do farm work. I have children and school fees to pay so I can’t sit down and fold my hands and watch them unable to go to school, keeping them at home.

    “I was hoping that this year, when I harvest my crops, I will be able to sell and get some money to give to them to go to school as (ASUU) strike has been suspended and the floods have receded for them to resume school. Now my plantain and cassava crops that I hoped I would have harvested and sold to sponsor the children have been destroyed by the floods. I am just encouraged to farm again, hoping on God.”

    When asked how she and her children are managing to survive in the midst of the losses, Ade said, “It is by the grace of God. This year, people that did not farm will cry over the lack of cassava flakes. Myself that also laboured will also cry for hunger.

     “But anyhow, as long as we are alive, we are hopeful. That’s why I am encouraging myself to work on my farms again after the floods dried up just to make sure we don’t suffer too much.”

    Enabling Solution

    Speaking on the issue, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, Tope Adaramole, said insurance is one of the ways by which risks are mitigated, and when looking at the extent of damage occasioned by flooding in several states of the federation, it calls for farmers to be more circumspect.

    He said, “Farmers should be more circumspect in ensuring their farm produce, as well as everything used for farming purpose because whatsoever would make you lose your sleep, it is best you insure it. However, for farmers to be able to maximise their insurance, there is a need for them to engage the services of registered insurance brokers.

    “A lot of people have horrible stories to tell because they do not patronize insurance brokers who are the professional intermediaries in the insurance value chain, they are the ones that unlock the technicalities of insurance to farmers, educating them about what they are supposed to insure, how they are supposed to insure, with whom you are supposed to insure, and when a loss occurs, how such farmer would make a claim.

    “Insurance brokers are like lawyers; this is my advice to farmers as a precaution against subsequent damages that may come as a result of weather, overflow of water, fire, drugs, and even outbreak of diseases. This is because, when talking about agriculture, you are talking about every department of it including agronomy and animal husbandry. Agric-insurance is a special type of insurance composed of specialised insurance experts, you necessarily do not need to know everything about insurance, but when you know a broker and are ready to go along with the broker, you will not just know insurance, you will be able to maximise insurance.”

  • PNG to Start Major Rice Project in Central Province

  • Papua New Guinea's Minister for International Trade and Investment Richard Maru is hopeful a major rice project in Kairuku in Central Province will get off the ground this year.

    He says the project though will have to get the blessing from the Central Provincial Government, Kairuku District Development Authority, Hiri-Koiari DDA, impact communities, and the National Government, who own the Manumanu land at Gabadi.

    Rice investors from the Philippines, who visited the project site at Gabadi recently, say millions of Kina will be needed to finance the growing of rice on a commercial scale.

    Former Philippines Department of Agriculture Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Pinol, who leads the investor team, says they will need 1, 200 hectares to start this investment. 

    The availability of state land and close proximity to the Hiritano Highway and electricity grid are some of the deciding factors.  

    This decision was reached by a group of Filipino Rice Investors, after the conclusion of a two-day field trip up the Hiritano and Magi Highways of Central Province recently.     

    It was all thumbs up, a gesture of confirmation that rice can be grown on a large scale in the country. 

    A group of investors, from the Philippines, were satisfied after visiting villages along the Hiritano Highway, from Brown River, Vanapa, Gabadi, and Agevairu, and the Rigo Rice Farm along the Magi Highway last Thursday.

    Minister Richard Maru in a media statement confirmed the investors have chosen Gabadi in the Kairuku District of Central Province as the ideal location for a large-scale rice investment, under the nucleus estate concept. 

    Mr. Maru says rice farming is not new to the area. 

    He added that large-scale rice investment will see the establishment of an 800-hectare estate rice model farm and train and support local village out-grower farmers under family-owned or rice-cooperative farmers from Brown River to Vanapa, and Gabadi all the way to Bereina.

    The land they are interested in to set up the 800-hectare model rice farm with all the processing facilities is the recently acquired Manumanu State land which was recently acquired by the Government through Kumul-Consolidated Holdings Limited for K34 million.

    NBC News / PNG Today

  • USDA attache sees Australia 2022/23 wheat crop at 37 million tons

  • Following are selected highlights from a report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) post in Canberra:

    “Australia is set for a third consecutive record grain crop, and strong exports. Wheat production is estimated to have reached a record 37 million metric tons (MMT) in marketing year (MY) 2022/23, while barley is estimated to achieve 13.5 MMT of production, the fourth largest on record. The wheat and barley results were strongly supported by near ideal conditions in Western Australia and South Australia, but this was partially offset by excessive rains in much of the grain-growing regions of New South Wales and Victoria in September and October 2022.

    Wheat exports in MY 2022/23 are forecast to reach a record 28 MMT. For the summer crops, sorghum production in MY 2022/23 is estimated to achieve 2.9 MMT and, if realized, would be the third largest on record. The rice production forecast has been severely impacted by excessive rains in the lead up to planting, resulting in only around half of the area planted from what was previously expected.”
    Source: Reuters (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago)

  • USDA revises up Bangladesh’s rice production forecast

  • Haor farmers in Sylhet are currently toiling away to plant boro paddy with an aim to harvest their crop ahead of the coming rains as much of the paddy grown last year was washed away by early flooding. The photo was taken from Gowainghat upazila recently. PHOTO: Sheikh Nasir

    The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revised upward its forecast regarding Bangladesh's rice production in the marketing year (MY) 2022-23 beginning from last May.

    Production of the staple grain is forecasted to be 3.58 crore tonnes in MY23, up from the USDA's official estimate of 3.56 crore tonnes, the agency said in its Grain and Feed Update on Bangladesh released by the end of last week.

    The USDA said it increased Bangladesh's rice harvested area and production forecast because of good Aman season rice harvest during the marketing year that begins with Boro and ends with Aman rice.

    The USDA said it hiked MY 2022-23 Aman season rice harvested area and production forecasts to 58.5 lakh hectares and 1.41 million tonnes respectively, which is higher than its estimates for MY 2021-22.

    The USDA said it increased Bangladesh's rice harvested area and production forecast because of good Aman season rice harvest during the marketing year that begins with Boro and ends with Aman rice.

    The USDA said it hiked MY 2022-23 Aman season rice harvested area and production forecasts to 58.5 lakh hectares and 1.41 million tonnes respectively, which is higher than its estimates for MY 2021-22.

    The agency estimates 1.97 crore tonnes of rice was produced during the last Boro season in MY23, which is 2 per cent higher than the 1.93 crore tonnes produced previously.

    However, cultivation of Aus season rice, which took place in March and April 2022 and was harvested in July and August, dropped 24 per cent from the previous year as severe floods affected the north and north-eastern parts of the country during planting.

    Yet, overall production was equal to the 3.58 crore tonnes estimated by the USDA for MY22 thanks to higher yields of Boro and Aman.

    And despite no change in overall production, prices of all types of rice prices remained high through the third and fourth quarters of 2022.

    "Usually, rice prices decline at harvest; however, higher production costs, high milling and transportation costs, appreciation of the US dollar, and high inflation were the major factors contributing to the high rice prices this year," the USDA report said.

    In December 2022, the average retail price of coarse rice reached Tk 50.55 per kilogramme, which was approximately 7 per cent higher than what it was during the same period the year before.

    This season, farmers harvested Aman rice in November and December 2022. The average retail price of high-quality nonaromatic (fine) rice hit Tk 75 per kilogramme last December, up by approximately 3 per cent compared to the same period the year prior, it added.

    While prices of wheat flour hit a record high in January 2023, the average retail price of unpacked coarse wheat flour, also called aata, hit a record of Tk 61.6 per kilogram, up approximately 70 per cent year-on-year, the USDA said.

    At the same time, the average retail price of fine quality unpacked wheat flour, called maida in Bangladesh, reached Tk 72 per kilogramme, which was also a record high.

    The USDA report said since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, all types of wheat flour prices have been rising due to supply chain disruptions and higher international prices.

    India's wheat export ban on May 13, 2022, and the appreciation of the US dollar against Bangladesh's taka aggravated the situation further as most wheat is imported.

    "Due to the high price of all types of wheat flour, demand has fallen significantly at the consumer level," the USDA said, citing industry contacts that high wheat flour prices would likely continue until the wheat harvest begins in Bangladesh in April 2023 and India allows exports again.

  • African scientists root for hybrid rice to beat climate-induced hunger crisis

  • The Large-scale adoption of hybrid rice, which has proved effective in withstanding climatic stresses, pests and diseases, is paramount to tackling Africa's hunger and malnutrition crisis, scientists have said.

    NAIROBI, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The large-scale adoption of hybrid rice, which has proved effective in withstanding climatic stresses, pests and diseases, is paramount to tackling Africa's hunger and malnutrition crisis, scientists have said.

    Emmanuel Okogbenin, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) director for program development and commercialization, noted that the introduction of improved rice varieties will boost food security and tackle rural poverty in the continent.

    "We are encouraging farmers to adopt hybrid rice that is adaptable to different ecologies and whose yield levels are high, which is key to food security and improved incomes for rural communities," Okogbenin said.

    The file photo shows farmers raising hybrid rice seedlings in Kihanga, Bubanza Province, Burundi, on Oct. 29, 2022. (Xinhua/Dong Jianghui)

    He spoke during a tour of the Mwea irrigation scheme in central Kenya, where AATF has facilitated the introduction of hybrid rice to test its resilience in the face of extreme weather events, invasive pests, and diseases.

    According to Okogbenin, hybrid rice introduced in central Kenya has registered a doubling of yields at the small-holder level besides boosting the socioeconomic status of farmers.

    He stressed that the unfolding climate crisis in Africa, coupled with the spread of voracious pests, diseases, and loss of soil fertility, calls for a shift from conventional to improved rice varieties.

    The file photo shows a farmer pollinating in a hybrid rice field in Kihanga, Bubanza Province, Burundi, on Oct. 29, 2022. (Xinhua/Dong Jianghui)

    Sheila Ochugboju, executive director of the Alliance for Science, called upon African governments, research institutions, and industry to facilitate the deployment of improved rice varieties to small-holder farmers as part of climate adaptation in the agriculture sector.

    Ochugboju added that extension services in Africa should be revamped to help farmers access information, improved seeds, fertilizer, and modern post-harvest storage facilities.

    She noted that hybrid rice is not only climate smart but is also rich in nutrients and ideal for tackling growing micronutrient deficiency among children in the continent.

    Ochugboju said friendly policies and regulations, farmers' training, and investments in modern storage facilities will be key to spurring greater adoption of hybrid rice in Africa.  

  • Punjab ‘mandis’ see 56% jump in basmati rice arrival

  • According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    Over a half-a-dozen districts have procured more than 1 lakh tonnes to 5 lakh tonnes of basmati this financial year. (Representational/File)

    After the three-month harvest season ended in November, Punjab’s agricultural market popularly called ‘mandis’ witnessed an increase in the arrival of basmati (aromatic fine-quality rice). The market saw a jump of 56 per cent (22.12 lakh tonnes) till January 24 as compared to last season.

    Moreover, the farmers are getting around Rs. 4,400 to Rs. 4,745 for one quintal of basmati this year, which is also quite high. Last year they were getting between Rs 3,000 to 4,000 per quintal rate.

    Last financial year, 14.17 lakh tonnes of basmati arrived in the ‘mandis’ which was 7.95 lakh tonnes less than the total arrival this year. Over a half-a-dozen districts have procured more than 1 lakh tonnes to 5 lakh tonnes of basmati this financial year.

    According to the Punjab Mandi Board, Amritsar district tops the list where around 5.55 lakh tonnes of basmati rice has been procured followed by Fazilka where 4.12 lakh tonnes arrived in the ‘mandis’.  Apart from this, Patiala recorded 1.98 lakh tonnes, Sir Muktsar Sahib 1.86 lakh tonnes, Tarn Taran 1.75 lakh tonnes, Sangrur 1.69 lakh tonnes, Faridkot 1.22 lakh tonnes and Gurdaspur around 1.22 lakh tonnes.

    Firozpur’s basmati arrival was recorded as 88, 174 tonnes, followed by Mansa (61, 843 tonnes), Kapurthala (42,092 tonnes), Ludhiana (35, 323 tonnes), Moga (19,083 tonnes), Bathinda (16, 178 tonnes), Jalandhar (7,062 tonnes), Nawanshahr (3,888 tonnes), and Mohali (1, 275 tonnes).

    Minor quantities of basmati also arrived from Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, and Fatehgarh Sahib where 343, 153, and 115 tonnes of basmati were recorded, respectively. According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    Like paddy crops, basmati is not procured by the government and mostly big exporters and traders purchase it. The rate is highly dependent on the demand of the private players. There is a big demand for Punjab basmati rice in foreign countries, particularly in West Asia.

    Ten varieties of basmati, including six recommended by Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, are grown in Punjab. The recommended variety of PUSA-1121 is cultivated in 43% of the total area this season, followed by Punjab Basmati 1718 and PUSA Basmati 1509.

    The crop was cultivated in around 4.50 lakh hectares of the area in Punjab this year. If the basmati area can be expanded to 10 lakh hectares it will help the state achieve its long-desired objective of diversification and save a huge amount of groundwater being consumed by water-guzzling paddy crop (non-Basmati Parimal rice) every year even though Punjab should not grow paddy on more than 14-15 lakh hectares. Currently, the area of paddy farming has almost doubled the required limit.

  • S.Korea’s rice consumption hits record low in 2022

  • SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Rice consumption in South Korea hit a record low last year due to the change in eating habits, statistical office data showed Friday.

    The per-capita rice consumption averaged 56.7 kg in 2022, down 0.4 percent from the previous year, according to Statistics Korea.

    It was the lowest since relevant data began to be compiled in 1962. Last year's rice consumption was about half of 112.9 kg tallied 30 years ago.

    The consumption of rice, the country's staple food, has been on the decline for the past decades amid the change in eating habits. The per-capita consumption of other grain, including barley, wheat and bean, declined 2.4 percent to 8.0 kg in 2022.

    Among food and beverage manufacturers, rice consumption grew 1.7 percent over the year to 691,422 tons in 2022 due to solid demand for ready-to-eat items. Enditem

  • Global rice supplies challenge could impact Caribbean food security situation

  • With predictions emanating from the global Analytics company, GRO Analytics Intelligence, regarding a likely sharp reduction in rice production in 2022/2023 (a projection with which the United States Department of Agriculture concurs), it would be instructive to attempt to assess the implications of this pronouncement for Guyana, the foremost rice grower in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

    GRO’s recent Intelligence Report made no mention of Guyana in its projection on the state of the global rice industry in the period ahead, its primary focus targeting some of the ‘heavy hitters’ in the sector, including India and China, never mind the fact that the fortunes of Guyana’s rice industry have an important bearing on the food security bona fides of other Caribbean territories. The causes of the projected underperformance of the global rice sector, according to GRO Analytics, range from “weather events in the rice-growing heartlands of Asia to crop diseases and consequential damaged harvests in other parts of the world.” The predicted production decline, GRO is quoted as saying, is hinged to “a reversal following consecutive years of increased rice harvests worldwide.” The GRO report also asserted that it was the previous plentiful supplies forthcoming from global rice giants like India, which, for the most part, had “helped to forestall even worse food security crises in those parts of the world that had been gripped by sustained famine.”...

  • Punjab ‘mandis’ see 56% jump in basmati rice arrival

  • According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    Over a half-a-dozen districts have procured more than 1 lakh tonnes to 5 lakh tonnes of basmati this financial year. (Representational/File)

    After the three-month harvest season ended in November, Punjab’s agricultural market popularly called ‘mandis’ witnessed an increase in the arrival of basmati (aromatic fine-quality rice). The market saw a jump of 56 per cent (22.12 lakh tonnes) till January 24 as compared to last season.

    Moreover, the farmers are getting around Rs. 4,400 to Rs. 4,745 for one quintal of basmati this year, which is also quite high. Last year they were getting between Rs 3,000 to 4,000 per quintal rate.

    Last financial year, 14.17 lakh tonnes of basmati arrived in the ‘mandis’ which was 7.95 lakh tonnes less than the total arrival this year. Over a half-a-dozen districts have procured more than 1 lakh tonnes to 5 lakh tonnes of basmati this financial year.

    According to the Punjab Mandi Board, Amritsar district tops the list where around 5.55 lakh tonnes of basmati rice has been procured followed by Fazilka where 4.12 lakh tonnes arrived in the ‘mandis’.  Apart from this, Patiala recorded 1.98 lakh tonnes, Sir Muktsar Sahib 86 lakh tonnes, Tarn Taran 1.75 lakh tonnes, Sangrur 1.69 lakh tonnes, Faridkot 1.22 lakh tonnes and Gurdaspur around 1.22 lakh tonnes.

    Firozpur’s basmati arrival was recorded as 88, 174 tonnes, followed by Mansa (61, 843 tonnes), Kapurthala (42,092 tonnes), Ludhiana (35, 323 tonnes), Moga (19,083 tonnes), Bathinda (16, 178 tonnes), Jalandhar (7,062 tonnes), Nawanshahr (3,888 tonnes), and Mohali (1, 275 tonnes).

    Minor quantities of basmati also arrived from Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, and Fatehgarh Sahib where 343, 153, and 115 tonnes of basmati were recorded, respectively. According to the Punjab Mandi Board, almost all the arrivals have been purchased by private players who are offering quite a high price for the crop this year.

    Like paddy crops, basmati is not procured by the government and mostly big exporters and traders purchase it. The rate is highly dependent on the demand of the private players. There is a big demand for Punjab basmati rice in foreign countries, particularly in West Asia.

    Ten varieties of basmati, including six recommended by Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, are grown in Punjab. The recommended variety of PUSA-1121 is cultivated in 43% of the total area this season, followed by Punjab Basmati 1718 and PUSA Basmati 1509.

    The crop was cultivated in around 4.50 lakh hectares of the area in Punjab this year. If the basmati area can be expanded to 10 lakh hectares it will help the state achieve its long-desired objective of diversification and save a huge amount of groundwater being consumed by water-guzzling paddy crop (non-Basmati Parimal rice) every year even though Punjab should not grow paddy on more than 14-15 lakh hectares. Currently, the area of paddy farming has almost doubled the required limit.

  • Investors pursue rice farming

  • The government is fulfilling its plan to importing less and developing more local agriculture industry by inviting investors to collaborate with the government and local people in developing large agricultural farms.

    This week Minister for International Trade and Investment, Richard Maru received one of the first groups of investors, the Number one Filipino Rice Farmer, Danilo Bolos and accompanied his delegates of technical people to parts of Kairuku district to pursue rice-farming prospects.

    On Wednesday 25 January, the team of Members of Parliament including Richard Maru, Vice Minister Kessy Sawang and Member for Kairuku, Peter Isoaimo, visited possible rice farming land in Kairuku district.

    They were accompanied by Philippines former Secretary for Department of Agriculture, Dr. Emmanul Pinol and Bolos, to talk with the landowners regarding land for rice farming.   

    “Councilor, these are investors and they will not put their money, their time and effort in any land where there will be dispute. That’s why the model farm must be on state land, not customary land. But you can plant up your own, after you get the training and support from the main model farm,” said Minister Maru. 

    The aim of the visit is also to check the soil samples as well as securing a state land that has ample land to build a rice farming mill site which will help improve the livelihood of the surrounding villages in terms of job opportunities and creating sustainable rice farming pathways for the locals.

    Dr. Pinol who made first contact with PNG government said the discussion about the possibilities of growing rice in PNG goes back to the former government under Peter O’Neill. 

    “Today I’m out of government and I come back to fulfill a promise to government. I made to Minister Maru and Prime Minister Marape that I will help even in my private capacity to achieve the dream of PNG to produce your own rice. I know that you have been told that you cannot grow your own rice you cannot plant rice in PNG. It is wrong. The truth is that PNG & Indonesia are two of the countries in the world with the most number of wild rice varieties,” Dr. Pinol said. 

    The investors have also plans to grow other crops as well if the rice project is successfully completed as they see PNG has the largest land mass that hasn't been occupied by large scale commercial farming compared to Philippines.

     

  • Soaring rice price shows food inflation still stalking the world

  • Rice prices are climbing, a sign that the food inflation shock that threw millions into poverty is still reverberating, even as the cost of wheat and other farm commodities has declined.

    Thai rice, a benchmark for Asia, has soared to the highest in almost two years. Strong demand lies at the heart of the rally, with some importers buying more of the grain to replace wheat after the war in Ukraine disrupted supplies. Some consumers have also been stocking up ahead of festivals, while a strengthening Thai currency has also helped to push up dollar-denominated prices.

    Rice is a staple for half the world, and while wheat soared to a record in March last year, rice was relatively subdued for most of 2022, constraining food inflation in Asia. Costlier rice now will be unwelcome news for billions of people from China to India and Vietnam. The United Nations has flagged the rise in prices as a risk, saying it’s important to stay vigilant on food security.

    Thailand, the second-biggest rice shipper, has seen strong demand from Iraq and Indonesia, said Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association. “Iraq has been diligently buying our rice every month,” he said. The Middle Eastern country was the single largest buyer last year.

    But as Thai rice prices get more expensive, new orders have started to slow. Buyers in China and Malaysia are switching to cheaper options, and prices may start easing around March

    when the new crop hits the market, Chookiat said.

    Even then, the Thai price would be higher than a similar Vietnamese grade, he said. The Thai benchmark was last quoted at $523 a ton, the highest since March 2021. Vietnam prices were more than 10% cheaper at about $458-$462.

    The association cut its forecast for Thailand’s rice exports this year to 7.5 million tons from 8 million, according to Chookiat. Shipments reached 7.7 million tons last year, the highest in four years, according to preliminary data.

    Read more at:
    https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/business/soaring-rice-price-shows-food-inflation-still-stalking-the-world/articleshow/97366962.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

    Read more at
    https://eco


  • Exports dip for third month in a row in December

  • Exports dropped for a third straight month in December, falling by 14.6% year-on-year, leading to annual growth of 5.5% in 2022.

    The Commerce Ministry reported yesterday the customs-cleared value of exports contracted 14.6% to US$21.7 billion last month, while imports decreased by 12% to $22.8 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $03 billion.

    Exports of agricultural and agro-industrial products declined for three consecutive months, contracting 11.2% year-on-year in December to $3.59 billion.

    Products that registered a decrease included rice (-4.1%), cassava products (-12.4%), rubber (-47.7%), canned and processed fruits (-20.5%), and sugar (-45.4%).

    Industrial product exports also dipped for a third consecutive month, falling by 15.7% from December last year to copy7.2 billion.

    Products that decreased included automobiles, equipment and parts (-17.1%), oil-related products (-25.7%), computers and equipment (-24.3%), and gems and jewellery (excluding gold) (-12.4%).

    The export contraction last month was attributed mainly to the slowdown in the global economy and weak consumer purchasing power, especially in major markets such as the US, the EU, China and Japan. Other Asian countries also reported a drop in exports.

    The ministry cited some positive factors, including the continued decline in freight rates, the implementation of the ministry's shipment strategies and the recovery of international tourism, which resulted in higher exports of related products.

    For 2022, exports expanded by 5.5% to $287 billion, while imports rose by 13.6% to $303 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of 16.1 billion.

    "The export growth of 5.5% exceeds the ministry's target of 4%," said Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit. "This stems from the ministry's efforts to facilitate and stimulate exports, including a successful attempt to lower border trade obstacles by negotiating with neighbouring countries and working with both public and private sectors in central and provincial areas."

    According to Mr Jurin, the meeting of the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee on Commerce, which includes the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Industries and the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC), agreed to set an export growth target of 1-2% this year.

    In a related development, Chaichan Chareonsuk, president of the TNSC, said the Bank of Thailand has been asked to help tackle the baht's appreciation as a strong baht will adversely affect the pricing and competitiveness of exports compared with competitors' goods priced in weaker currencies.

  • India, Bangladesh, Myanmar ‘paddy diplomacy’

  • Bangladesh has offered over $40 a tonne more to Indian cooperatives to import 2.5 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice in a government-to-government deal compared with prices quoted by the private trade in a global import tender. The import deal will be through NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers Federation) and Kendriya Bhandar in two tranches with Dhaka getting rice at $443 and $443.5 a tonne each, according to media report.

    Two Indian co-operatives will export 2 lakh tonnes of rice under government-to-government deal to Bangladesh, which will also buy another 50,000 tonnes from private traders in India. The G2G deal has taken place at 11 % higher than the tender price of the private trader. “The two co-operatives will get a huge premium of $40/tonne over the private trade, which will earn a huge profit for the government. The private trade has been in losses by undercutting each other in fierce competition,” said an exporter, who requested not to be identified.

    New Delhi-based Kendriya Bhandar (Central Government Employees Consumer Co-operative Society) will supply 1 lakh tonnes of non-Basmati par-boiled rice within 75 days from the date of opening of letter of credit at $ 433.50/tonne. Kendriya Bhandar will have to ship 70% of the total contracted quantity by ship and the remaining 30% by train. National Cooperative Consumers Federation of India will supply another 1 lakh tonnes of par-boiled rice to Bangladesh at $ 433.60/tonne within 70 days from the date of opening of the letter of credit.

    According to trade sources, Raipur-based rice exporter has bagged the tender to supply 50,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh at $ 393.30 per tonnes. India has banned export of broken rice on concerns about its kharif rice output, while it has put a duty of 20% on export of rice. Meanwhile, the rice exporters from India had requested the commerce ministry to take up the issue of transparency in Government-to-Private (G2P) trade with Bangladesh during a delegation level discussion of commerce minister Piyush Goyal with Bangladesh commerce minister Tipu Munshi.

    “Many times, we face rejection when our goods reach Bangladesh ports. In case of the trade taking place through the land border, our trucks get stranded for 4/5 days to get clearance to cross the border,” said another rice exporter, who did not wish to be identified. It is heard the term ‘Myanmar-Bangladesh rice diplomacy recently through media platforms. The use of rice as a diplomatic tool has received global media coverage (the sun daily , modern diplomacy , eurasia review, pakistan today , burma news international , counter review) despite Myanmar-Bangladesh tensions. There is nothing new to say about the influence of food on politics. It is really appreciable that Myanmar and Bangladesh have already started rice diplomacy to mend the ties. Now, time will say how fruitful Myanmar-Bangladesh rice diplomacy would be.

    In ancient times, many kings used food as a diplomatic tool to entertain their guests. The tradition continues in the modern political world. Many leaders of political parties and presidents have used and continue to use food diplomacy to strengthen relations between allies or diffuse tensions with opponents. According to an English report, Rice appears to have emerged as a favourite diplomatic tool for building strong ties with neighbouring Myanmar and Bangladesh. It is said that the product is a staple food for most people in countries like Indonesia and Thailand and neighbouring countries like China and India. The agriculture sector is one of the most important and strategic sectors for the survival of a country. Without food, the country can experience chaos and bankruptcy. Bangladesh government relies on various measures to maintain rice availability. The most popular way is to import rice. This import policy causes a lot of damage because Bangladesh is an agricultural country or country that mainly has rice.

    Although Bangladesh’s agricultural sector is one of the best sectors, the country continues to import rice. Due to the current state of the world facing a global food crisis due to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, many countries have closed their doors to exports to maintain their domestic reserves. Rice is an essential product in the life of the people of Bangladesh. Dhaka, which imports about a million tonnes of rice every year, has ordered imports from Myanmar despite tensions between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    Since agriculture and livestock are the backbone of Myanmar’s economy, it earns foreign exchange from rice exports beyond self-sufficiency. The state is helping stockholders including farmers and investors to bring business opportunities. According to a memorandum of understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the rice trade, two lakh tonnes of white rice will be exported from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

    For the first time, 2,650 tons of rice will be sent directly to Bangladesh in January 2023. According to data from the ministry of commerce of Myanmar, according to the government-to-government agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Myanmar sent 150,000 tons of white rice to Bangladesh in 2022. Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice trade on September 8 this year.

    According to this MoU, Bangladesh has agreed to buy 250,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027. According to the memorandum of understanding, the food directorate of Bangladesh and the Myanmar Rice Federation signed an agreement to sell 200,000 tons of Myanmar white rice for export to Bangladesh. According to the sales agreement, Myanmar has exported around 15,000 tonnes of white rice to Bangladesh till 19 December 2022. The remainder will be delivered within the deadline. According to the Government-to-Government pact between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Myanmar has sent over 174,000 tonnes of white rice to Bangladesh by sea, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

    Myanmar and Bangladesh inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice trade on 8 September this year. As per the MoU between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the rice trade, 48 companies, under the supervision of the Myanmar Rice Federation, are to export 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh with Chinese yuan payment between October 2022 and January 2023. Under the contract, white rice (ATAP) GPCT Broken STX variety will be delivered. The FOB prices were 2.78856 Yuan per kilogramme and 2788.56 Yuan per tonne.

    Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Food and MRF signed the sales contracts as per the MoU and Myanmar sent 100,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh each in 2017 for the first time and 2021 for the second time, as per the sales contract. Myanmar and Bangladesh have started practicing their rice diplomacy. Myanmar supplies to Bangladesh will deepen their ties. This can be a great effort by both sides to build good relations with the Bangladeshi and Myanmar governments. It will also build good bilateral relations between the people of Bangladesh and Myanmar. In the short term, the new generation on both sides wants better relations in terms of economy, tourism, etc.

    There may be some problems between Bangladesh and Myanmar. However, these issues (Rohingya refugees and border issues) should be properly addressed by both sides. Bangladesh is going to become the economic miracle of South Asia. Bangladesh is praised by the international community in every international forum. Ping-pong diplomacy led by China and the United States was set up to strengthen their relationship. We can also expect another application of ping-pong diplomacy similar to rice diplomacy. Paddy’s diplomacy is a small initiative but its significance is huge. This small initiative will turn into a great achievement for both parties. A high-level official visit could be a step to strengthen ties. The two prime ministers may exchange visits to normalize relations. This is good news for Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    The writer is a London-based Bangladeshi expatriate who is a Bangladesh and Myanmar affairs observer, analyst, and researcher

  • 133K metric tons of imported rice arrive

  • AT least 132,798 metric tons of imported rice have arrived amid the increasing retail prices of the staple food in the country.

    Based on the data from BPI, as of Jan. 19, 2023, the bulk of the rice imports came from Vietnam with 110,686 MT; followed by Thailand, 10,225 MT; Myanmar, 10,920 MT; Pakistan, 1,067 MT; and India, 80 MT.

    The BPI added that fresh rice imports were covered by the 152 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs).

    According to the BPI, at least 39 accredited importers brought the grains.

    Based on the monitoring of the Department of Agriculture in the local markets, the retail prices of local regular milled rice ranged from P34 to P40 per kilo; local well-milled rice, P38 to P44 per kilo; local premium rice, P42 to P49 per kilo; and local special rice, P48 to P60 per kilo.

    The DA added that the imported regular milled rice was pegged between P37 and P38 per kilo; imported well-milled rice, P40 to P45 per kilo; imported premium rice, P43 to P52 per kilo; and imported special rice, P46 to P55 per kilo.

    Farmers' group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) President Rosendo So has said that the retail prices of rice have increased.

    So added that the upward trend is expected to continue this year.

  • Thin margin. Rice exporters urge Centre to remove curbs on shipments…

  • Thin margin. Rice exporters urge Centre to remove curbs on shipments, withdraw duty.

    Rice exporters association says shippers margin have shrunk as the cereal is traded on ‘thin margin’

    Rice exporters have urged the government to ease restrictions on non-basmati rice shipments by removing the 20 per cent export duty on white (raw) rice and allowing the shipment of one million tonnes (mt) of broken rice. However, the Centre is unlikely to take a decision before March as it has to assess the procurement of kharif-grown paddy by the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

    In a letter to the Food Ministry, which proposed restrictions on export last year to ensure domestic availability and curb inflation, The Rice Exporters Association (TREA) said due to the 20 per cent export duty, exporters are facing stiff competition from Myanmar, Vietnam, Pakistan and Thailand.

    Exporters said ever since the duty was imposed, their margins have shrunk, though rice trade is done at a “thin margin”.

    Upbeat wheat outlook

    “The issue (export duty) should be relooked at now as the twin objectives of keeping inflation under check and taking procurement to a comfortable level have been achieved,” said B V Krishna Rao, President of TREA. He said as the wheat crop outlook is good and the pressure on rice has eased as the Government reallocated more rice in place of wheat under the public distribution system.

    On the issue of the total ban on fully broken rice export, Rao said TREA has suggested the allocation of one mt as there is a demand from Senegal and Indonesia for human consumption. This will help farmers to receive better rates for their paddy as other industry users such as poultry or ethanol might not pay adequate rates, he said.

    The Directorate-General of Foreign Trade on September 8 issued a notification prohibiting the export of broken rice (parboiled and basmati exempted). However, it allowed the consignments for which deals had been signed to be exported under specific conditions between September 9 and 15. It recently extended the last date to September 30 for those under transitional arrangements. The Centre imposed a 20 per cent duty on the export of all varieties of rice, except basmati and parboiled rice.

    The country exported 115.69 lt of non-basmati rice worth $4.11 billion (₹ 32,594 crore) in April-November against 109.49 lt worth $3.93 billion in the year-ago period.

  • Global ag markets substantially impact Mississippi

  • Even before global headlines seized on the fact that for the first time in a half-century, China’s mammoth population was in decline, Fiscal Year 2023 U.S. agricultural trade projections were down overall and specifically down with China. The latest information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service analysts offered this outlook: “U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year (FY) 2023 are projected at $190.0 billion, down $3.5 billion from the August forecast. This decrease is primarily driven by reductions in soybeans, cotton, and corn exports that are partially offset by gains in beef, poultry, and wheat. Soybean exports are forecast down $2.4 billion to $32.8 billion due to smaller production and increased competition from South America. Cotton exports are forecast down $1.0 billion to $6.0 billion based on lower unit values and subdued demand. Grain and feed exports are projected to decrease by $300 million to $46.2 billion.

    “Agricultural exports to China are forecast at $34.0 billion, down $2.0 billion from the August projection, due to lower export prospects for soybeans, cotton, sorghum, and pork. China is expected to remain the largest market for U.S. agricultural exports,” the report summarized. Why does that matter? China is the top U.S. agricultural export market with an export market value of $35.6 billion in 2021, according to USDA-FAS. Mississippi has a $9.72 billion agriculture industry. China is the third leading trading partner for Mississippi exports behind Canada and Mexico, with $759 million in value in 2020, representing a 63.8 percent increase over the previous year. With one-fifth of the world’s population at 1.4 billion as the world’s most populous country, China buys food and feedstuffs on global markets to offset the nation’s limited arable lands and the dual negative impacts of pollution and climate change.

    Chinese imports of soybeans, corn, rice, wheat and edible oils drive a great deal of the country’s global shopping lists as does an increasing national appetite for meat and poultry – with the widespread availability of meat (particularly for middle-class citizens) being a relatively recent development. But economic forecasting and trade projections were both shaken in recent weeks by verified reports from the National Bureau of Statistics of China that at the end of 2022, the population of mainland China had decreased by 850,000 over the previous year. That population decrease is believed to be the first such decline during the Chinese “Great Leap Forward” program that began in the late 1950s. Scholars saw the elimination of China’s notorious “one-child policy” in 2015 as an early signal that China’s long-term population strategy had gone awry.

    Now, forecasters see India overtaking China as the world’s most populous country — and soon.  The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs said: “India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country during 2023.” UN forecasts the global human population will reach 8.5 billion in 2030 and 10.4 billion in 2100. Agricultural trade development between the U.S. and India is not yet as substantial as it is with China — and the same is true for Mississippi ag exports to India. That, despite Mississippi’s prowess in soybean production and India’s status as the world’s largest importer of soybean oil. Those dual trade relationships are compounded by the fact that China and India are in direct conflict over which of the two nations will be the hegemon or dominant nation in Asia – and for that matter with Asia comprising more than half the global population, the global hegemon. Both China and India see themselves as competitors with the U.S. for that designation. For Mississippi’s agricultural economy, global trade is vital, and the world has had a clear lesson in Ukraine the impacts of regional military and economic conflict on large segments of the global economy. Whether considering markets for Mississippi poultry, timber, or soybeans — and the rest of our agricultural bounty — the world is smaller, our economic fortunes are more closely intertwined than ever, and risk is an inherent facet of reward. Global foreign and economic policy matters not just at the U.N. or the G8, but at the grocery store and the gas pumps where we live and work.

  • European Rice to participate at Gulfood 2023.

  • The mega trade fair will be held in Dubai at the World Trade Center from 20th to 24th February 2023.

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates: European Rice, an EU-funded promotional program has announced its participation at the upcoming Gulfood 2023. The mega trade fair will be held in Dubai at the World Trade Center from 20th to 24th February 2023.

    European Rice aims to spread awareness among consumers in targeted countries and among professionals such as food experts, distributors and wholesalers about the authenticity and unique production quality of European rice produced in Greece at ZA'ABEEL HALL Z5-160. At Gulfood 2023, European Rice will showcase its unique product in front of the global food industry and guests will have the opportunity to taste the European rice from Greece!!

    “We are very excited to be a part of Gulfood 2023. We have been regular participants of the biggest trade show in Middle East and are confident that this year’s show will be another stellar performance. Gulfood is not only an opportunity for us to connect and network with peers from the industry, but also serves as an important platform to share and discuss best practices,” said Mr Konstantinos Giannopoulos, general manager of EASTH, the union of co-operatives that is in charge for the European Rice program.

    European Rice found fertile soil in Mediterranean Europe and was grown, loved and became part of European culinary tradition since then. European rice is today distinguished for its quality and nutritional value. It is rich in B-complex vitamins, such as Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin and Selenium, while the carbohydrates contained in its endosperm constitute an important source of energy for the human organism.

    “European Rice is the finest quality of rice, with rich nutrition value. At Gulfood 2023, our aim is to share and create more awareness about our production of rice, which is driven through high and sustainable tech solutions. While this platform will enable us to create more credibility and awareness about European Rice, we are optimistic that this edition will be a game changer for us to highlight the uniqueness of our products,” added Mr. Christos Tsichitas, president of EASTH.

    The European Rice Market is sub-divided in two different segments, namely, INDICA RICE a long grain variety which represents around 25% of EU rice production and JAPONICA RICE, a short and medium grain variety which is the traditional European rice and represents around 75% of EU rice production.

    Driving creativity and change, the 28th edition of Gulfood will continue to unite food and beverage communities around the world, and act as an industry trend springboard and a global sourcing powerhouse. The event is expected to host over 5000 companies from more than 120 countries, a line-up of industry thought leaders, and the world's greatest chefs chart the way forward and inspire industry-wide transformation for the good of the entire ecosystem.

  • Indian rice export prices soar to near 2-1/2-year high

  • Traders compete with FCI for stocks; currency movements, too, sway prices

    Export prices of Indian white rice have increased by over 10 per cent over the past fortnight to nearly a 30-month high. The surge in prices is in view of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) procuring more rice for the central pool and global currency movements, exporters and traders said.

    The Centre’s decision to end the distribution of free grains under Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), which is in addition to the normal supply under various welfare schemes, has also resulted in the prices rising, they said. 

    This is because those who were getting rice under the scheme are now seeking rice from the open market. 

    Near MSP levels

    “Exporters have to compete with the FCI to get rice. This has pushed up rice prices. Once it ends procurement, we could see some correction,” said New Delhi-based exporter Rajesh Paharia Jain.

    FCI procurement of kharif rice is 20 per cent higher year-on-year, he said. 

    “Parboiled prices have increased by 30 per cent in the past couple of weeks to ₹29,000 a tonne from ₹22,000. Talks of Bangladesh buying rice under a government-to-government deal have pushed up the price,” said VR Vidya Sagar, Director, Bulk Logix.

    According to data from the Agmarknet portal, a unit of the Agriculture Ministry, paddy prices were up at ₹2,419.46 a quintal last week compared with ₹2,054 a year ago. This year, the MSP for paddy has been fixed at ₹2,040 for the current crop year to June. 

    Data from the Consumers Affairs Ministry show that the average wholesale price of rice is currently ₹3,328.43 a quintal, up 9.12 per cent year-on-year. 

    Most of the rise in the price happened in the past week, he said. 

    “Rice prices have increased to near minimum support price (MSP) levels and this has resulted in export prices surging,” said BV Krishna Rao, President, The Rice Exporters Association. 

    Still competitive 

    According to the Thai Rice Exporters Association, India’s 5 per cent broken white rice price has increased by $40 a tonne since the third week of December to $443-47 a tonne. The price of 25 per cent broken white rice has gone up by $50 to $428-32.

    Only parboiled rice has not witnessed such a rise, though its prices have risen by $15 to $388-92 a tonne. Despite the surge in prices,  Indian rice is still the most competitive. However, the Indian cereal currently holds only a $15/tonne advantage over Vietnam. 

    “Indian white rice prices will top $450 in a week’s time once the markets open up abroad after the Chinese lunar New Year. We have to see how the Vietnam market opens on February 1,” said Bulk Logix’s Sagar. 

    Good for sector

    Exports to Africa are taking place, though there is a general shortage of supplies in the market, he said. 

    TREA’s Rao said the increase in rice prices is good for the industry since only “actual millers” are buying in the domestic market. “Various States such as Tamil Nadu are buying rice from the open market, pushing up prices,” he said.

    “Prices have increased despite the arrival of new crop in West Bengal. We are exporting rejected grains from parboiled sortex,” said M Madan Prakash, President of the Agricultural Commodities Exporters Association.

    Even prices of such grains have increased to nearly $320 free-on-board (f.o.b). 

    Set to cool

    However, the current trend may not hold for long since “the surge” is not sustainable, said Sagar. 

    “Prices are likely to correct once the Vietnam market opens,” he said. 

    “The market is caught between two rice seasons in Thailand. Once the new crop arrives there, prices will cool down,” said Rao. 

    “Once FCI ends its procurement, it will be only traders in the market. It will bring down prices,” said Jain. 

    But a trade analyst, who did not wish to be identified, was sceptical saying, “the market sentiments are based on physical supplies. Looks like the data on production may not be right.”

    Rice prices are up since the production during the kharif season has been estimated lower at 104.99 million tonnes (mt) this year compared with 111.76 mt last year. This was because paddy sowing was affected by deficient rains in West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. 

    According to data from FCI, rice stocks are at an 8-year low of 12.35 mt as of January 1 but unmilled paddy stocks are at a record high of 47.62 mt (31.9 mt of rice). 

  • Ministry targets rice production of 54.5 mln tons this year

  • Illustration—The target for rice production in 2022 was 54.5 million tons, with the realization reaching 55.44 million tons. (ANTARA PHOTOS/Dedi/my)

    Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Agriculture Ministry has said that the production target for rice this year is 54.5 million tons, the same as the target set last year.

    “(The production targets for other commodities include) Corn with a moisture content of 27 percent of 23.05 million tons, soybeans with 370 thousand tons, and chilies 2.93 million tons," secretary general of the ministry Kasdi Subagyono said during a meeting with Commission IV of the House of Representatives, which was followed from here on Tuesday.

    The target for shallots is 1.71 million tons, garlic 45.45 thousand tons, coffee 810 thousand tons, cocoa 780 thousand tons, sugarcane 37.15 million tons, coconut 2.99 million tons, beef 465.15 thousand tons, and chicken meat 3.87 million tons.

    Most of the production targets for agricultural commodities in 2023 are not much different compared to those set in 2022.

    The target for rice in 2022 was 54.5 million tons, with the realization reaching 55.44 million tons.

    The target for corn production was 23.1 million tons, with the realization reaching 25.18 million tons; soybeans 280 thousand tons, with the realization recorded at 300 thousand tons; shallots 1.64 million tons, with the realization registered at 1.72 million tons.

    The chilies production target was 2.87 million tons, but the realization was only 2.73 million tons. The target for sugarcane was 34.99 million tons, coffee 790 thousand tons, beef/buffalo meat 440 thousand tons, and chicken meat 3.54 million tons, with the realization reaching 3.77 million tons.

    He informed that the main efforts to increase agricultural productivity in 2023 will cover the food crop, horticulture, plantation, and livestock sectors.

    "For the Directorate General of Food Crops, (the efforts will include) the optimization of rice planting index improvement, development of biofortified rice, development of corn areas, development of soybeans, and development of integrated farming," he elaborated.

    Then, in the horticulture sector, the ministry will develop horticultural villages, agro-industry, seed production, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and sustainable food yards.

    “(The other efforts will cover) Plantations, smallholder household corporations, seed production of 15 million stems, and development of coffee, coconut, cashew, cocoa, and areca nut areas," Subagyono informed.

    The efforts will also cover improving the downstreaming of areca nut exports, developing farmer-cooperation-based sago, pushing for self-sufficiency in sugar consumption, and developing non-cane sugar, stevia, palm sugar, and coconut.

    As for livestock, the ministry will optimize the reproduction and handling of foot-and-mouth disease, development of goat and sheep cooperatives, swallow’s nests, beef cattle based on grazing, and the integration of cattle and palm oil, as well as the development of corporate cattle villages, and the optimization of reproduction and handling of PMK.

    The ministry's program for those developments will be supported by Rp15.32 trillion in the 2023 budget ceiling, plus an additional automatic adjustment of Rp1.05 trillion.

  • Kellogg’s Environment Project With Rice Farmers Reports Progress

  • A five-year partnership between Kellogg's InGrained and Lower Mississippi River Basin rice farmers to help reduce climate impact, is witnessing early positive results.

    According to Kelloggs, during the pilot year of the programme, InGrained helped farmers implement climate-smart irrigation practices that achieved a reduction of more than 1,600 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This would be the equivalent of taking more than 345 gasoline-powered cars off the road for one year.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that rice production emits several greenhouse gases, most significantly, methane. Methane contributes approximately 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions and is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    Financial And Technical Support

    Kellogg piloted the programme in Northeast Louisiana along with agricultural greenhouse gas measurement firm Regrow Ag, rice producers, Kellogg supplier Kennedy Rice Mill LLC, and agribusiness firm Syngenta.

    Kellogg said it will make adjustments as the partnership transitions into the second year of the programme, while ensuring both financial and technical support continue to help farmers with these new practices.

    Kellogg also plans to expand the programme to include various regions with different weather patterns and soil types to determine if similar positive impacts are found.

    Timetable In Place

    "Kellogg's Better Days environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy is committed to supporting 1 million farmers and reducing Scope 3 GHG emissions across our value chain by 15% by the end of 2030," said Janelle Meyers, Kellogg company's chief sustainability officer.

    "Programmes like Kellogg's InGrained contribute to this ambitious goal, create positive impacts on the planet and support the livelihoods of farmers who grow the rice for some of our most iconic foods."

    © 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest A-brand news. Article by Robert McHugh. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

  • Rice procurement: inelastic borrowing?

  • In its monetary policy statement announced on Monday, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) noted a “moderation in working capital loans to the private sector”. The rice processing industry –a subsegment of food product manufacturers - disagrees. According to the monthly disaggregated private sector credit snapshot published by the central bank for Dec 2022, rice market players have been borrowing like there is no tomorrow; as if the markup on loans has peaked at historic levels.

    There is little by way of explanation to offer. USDA latest monthly update shows that the Ag-agency is standing steadfast with its initial prediction, forecasting national output of just 6.6 million metric tons (MMT) for the marketing year 2022-23, with 4MMT in exports. Yet, despite warnings of nearly one-third of national production being washed away, borrowing has followed in the footsteps of last year, when national production touched a record production of 9.3MMT.

    In fact, based on SBP data, working capital lending to rice processors has effectively risen at the same pace as last year’s since the marketing season began at the end of Kharif 2022. By Dec 2022 close, working capital loans to rice processors rose by 62 percent over the Sep close (end of marketing year), against 65 percent during the corresponding period last year.

    The rice export report card also offers little in the way of answers. Export volume declined at a record pace during 6M-FY23, falling by 23 percent over the corresponding period last year. Although basmati export volume has seen worse years, this is the first time in a decade that coarse rice exports suffered such a massive setback, which is in line with the destruction of the crop in the southern parts of the country. Total rice export barely managed 1.6MMT during 6M-FY23, against 2.2MMT in 6M-FY22. At this rate, USDA’s export forecast of 4.8MMT for FY23 appears to be a distant dream.

    Significant support, however, was received by the upsurge in prices in the export market. Both basmati and coarse varieties averaged the highest unit prices in over a decade, muting the value impact of dwindling exports. Export revenue during the first half of the fiscal fell by just 13 percent year on year, raising hopes that two billion dollars in full-year export proceeds may still happen. Interestingly, however, the basmati export unit price fell during Dec 2023 despite the continued upsurge in the international market, giving credence to the theory that exporters are holding back on proceeds realization on account of anticipated depreciation in the currency.

    With the weak export volume and even weaker supply, it remains unclear what’s behind the borrowing drive by rice processors. The margins in the commodity export market must be mouthwatering if market players are willing to make a play at a 20 percent borrowing rate, never mind the downside risk of a crash in international prices. Let’s see if the bet pays dividends!

  • The Rice Crop in Cuba Fails, Providing Less than 30% of Domestic Consumption

  • 14ymedio, Madrid, 16 January 2023 — Cuban authorities have not revealed the bad results of the 2022 rice production, but a note published on Sunday in Granma, the official daily, leads us to believe that is worse than expected. In February of that year, the harvest was 120,000 tons and they set a target for the following year of 180,000, a tiny portion of the nearly 700,000 needed for domestic consumption. Not even that was achieved, but official data are not available; an official stated that 2022 production was “a real sinkhole, the volume of food declined considerably.”

    Oslando Linares Morell, director of the Rice Technology Division of the state run Agriculture Business Group, explains that in 2012, a program was created to develop this cereal which, in addition to being culturally a staple food in the Cuban diet, possesses several qualities which make it ideal for the situation on the Island, from its simple storage without processing to its high caloric value. The plan was to achieve complete self sufficiency in 2030 to suppress imports, but the failure has been monumental.

    Cuba needs, the report states, 600,000 tons for the rationed food baskets and social consumption. The data are striking when in the last several years, including 2022, the amount required had been 700,000, which could suggest some relief following the exit of at least a quarter of a million people in the last 12 months.

    To achieve self sufficiency, they’d need to sow 200,000 hectares annually, with a yield of six tons per hectare and 1,200,000 tons of wet cereal production, which would result in the desired 600,000. But, reality clashes with the dream.

    “The plans created for 2023 are still quite low, with around 40% of what was expected at this stage of the development program. This means that we should sow 140,000 hectares, and this calendar year we’ve only managed to plant 68,000, a very poor number,” he said. With that they might manage to obtain, at best, 204,000 tons if we use official figures, which would still require importing at least 400,000 tons if everything turned out well.

    The price of rice on the international market has increased in the past years and in Vietnam, the price per ton was at $437 the first week of 2023, which would require Cuba to spend $174.4 million to purchase the 400,000 tons from there. And this is if the expected results are achieved, which seems far from likely seeing that rice production continues to sink. In 2022, the Island should have used more than $300 million to purchase the product and to all these costs, one must add transport, since it “does not exactly [arrive] from nearby countries,” as Linares Morell reminds us.

    In 2018, the national rice plans were marching along appropriately and although they were far from achieving the goal of self-sufficiency, the progress was good, until it reached an historic record that year of 304,000 tons. The collapse began in 2019 with 246,700 tons and later, with the pandemic, came the worst: 162,965 tons in 2020 and 120,000 in 2021.

    The official spoke of the influence of COVID-19, the hardening of the embargo, the “spurious inclusion of Cuba on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism,” and the war in Ukraine as reasons for the thwarted plans. In addition, he highlighted that there are limitations on the Island’s ability to obtain pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer and fuel for the air and land machinery.

    Despite all of this, Linares was optimistic and believes that in 2023 a new recovery could begin, especially if they use “science, technology, and innovation,” although when it comes to exposing what that would consist of, it did not go beyond the usual volunteerism and the “we must.”

    “We rice growers have to get used to the new work conditions, use less chemical products and use a considerably larger number of bioproducts,” he added. The only tangible processes he explained were the development of four seed varieties, in addition to the 12 that exist with support from Vietnam and Japan — with shorter cycles that rely on fewer inputs.

    In the Cuban markets, meanwhile, the price of rice does not cease to increase, when you can find it. The official inflation data indicates that in October the price of that product increased more than 4% and in November it once again increased more than 3.4.%

    The so-called creole rice, domestically produced, does not have a good reputation among Cuban kitchens. The methods of harvesting, transport and storage make for a final grain product that is frequently broken and its cooking unsatisfactory. Consumers prefer products imported from Brazil or Uruguay, from where a more whole grain rice come, that expands when cooked and has a better flavor.

    The rice from Vietnam is not very highly valued because it has been sold on the Island in the rationed markets and the percentage of broken grain is high and it is difficult to achieve a separated grain when cooked, one of the characteristics sought after in the Cuban culinary tradition, which rejects a product that is sticky or clumps.

  • Rice firm plans Mondulkiri expansion

  • Farmers harvest rice in Rokar Kong commune in Mok Kampoul district in 2021. Heng Chivoan

    Prominent locally-owned rice miller and exporter Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd plans to set up facilities in Mondulkiri province, sourcing the grain required for production from nearby smallholder farmers to ensure remunerative prices for the staple crop, according to the company’s founder and director-general Song Saran.

    “We plan to set up rice mills and drying silos in Mondulkiri to ensure better prices for the paddy grown by farmers [there and in Ratanakkiri], Kratie and Stung Treng provinces,” Saran told The Post on January 22.

    He explained that the company works with farmers through “contract farming”, based on principles of environmental protection and climate resilience, to promote sustainability and inclusion as well as to ensure that its products are up to par.

    “Contract farming” refers to entry into pre-harvest agreements between buyers and farmers on agricultural production with established conditions, generally regarding product types, prices, quantities, quality and other standards.

    Saran noted that contracts can entail training in, among other things, standards in agricultural practices; organic farming; environmental protection as well as climate change mitigation and resilience; novel technologies and techniques; planning and management; marketing; internal auditing; financial recordkeeping; and entrepreneurship.

    He shared that more than 30,000 smallholder farmers nationwide are now producing organic rice through such contracts with Amru Rice, after nearly a decade of following the business model. Saran assured that these growers have stable incomes and guaranteed buyers for their crop.

    Through contract farming, the company aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve soil quality, and otherwise chip in towards the government’s carbon neutrality goals, he said.

    Last year, the firm considerably stepped up its number of farming contracts in several provinces, especially in Preah Vihear, where it has partnered up with 21 agricultural cooperatives (AC) on organic rice agreements covering a production area of 11,400ha and involving 3,500 households, he added.

    In the highlands, specifically in Mondulkiri, Amru Rice has teamed up with five ACs involving 3,500 households, as well as 13 ACs in the southwestern provinces involving 1,300 households in Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Takeo and Kampot provinces through a subsidiary Cambodian Agriculture Cooperative Corp Plc (CACC), Saran said.

    Amru Rice is also working with Preah Vihear Meanchey Union Agricultural Cooperative (PUMAC) on contract farming to increase its reach, and boost supplies of organic rice for the company to export, he said.

    And with support from multinational climate adaptation and mitigation programme Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD), Amru Rice is set to incorporate new regenerative and conservation agriculture practices into everyday farming, he noted.

    These practices, he claimed, will increase smallholder farmers’ yields and incomes as well as reduce their vulnerabilities.

    The Cambodia Rice Federation reported that the Kingdom exported a total of 637,004 tonnes of milled rice and 3,477,886 tonnes of paddy rice (also cited as “3,467,886” in the same document) respectively valued at $414.29 million and $841.09 million.

  • FG to boost food sufficiency with new rice, 20 other crops varieties

  • The Federal Government has released a new rice variety known as FARO68 and 20 other crop varieties for farmers as part of efforts to make Nigeria food-sufficient in crop production.

    The Chairman, National Varieties Release Committee (NVRC), Chief Oladosu Awoyemi, who made this known in Ibadan recently at the 31st Meeting of National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties, Livestock Breed/Fisheries said the varieties were released to the farmers through his committee.

    The meeting was held at the Conference Hall, Secretariat of the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), Moore Plantation, Ibadan.

    At the meeting attended by many agriculture experts, researchers, breeders, seed companies and other relevant stakeholders, Awoyemi said that a total of 25 crop varieties were submitted for registration but 21 were approved and subsequently released.

    He explained that the new rice variety was bred by the National Cereal Research Institute, Badeggi in Niger. According to him, the lowland rice genotype is registered and released based on its early maturity and high grain yield.

    “Other released crop varieties include three new millet varieties with high iron and zinc content; high grain yield and presence of long bristles on panicle, namely LCIC MV5; LCIC MV6 and LCIC MV7.

    “Yam variety: UMUDa35-Delight; UMUDr33-Blessing and UMUDr34-Sunshine. These yam varieties were released based on high yield, good boiling and pounding qualities.

    “Six hybrid maize varieties, namely VSL 2201; PAC 740; SAMMAZ 69; SC 424; SC 555 and Oba Super 8. These new maize varieties were released based on high grain yield, tolerance to fall army worm, to major foliar diseases, to multiple stresses, to striga, drought and low nitrogen,” Awoyemi said.

    The NVRC chairman also announced the release of three new sorghum varieties, namely SORGHUM 52; SORGHUM 53 and SORGHUM 54.

    Awoyemi said the sorghum varieties were released because of high yield and biomass; earliness; high iron (fe) content and dwarfness and their tolerance to striga.

    Five tomato varieties were also released during the meeting, which include HORTITOM 1; HORTITOM 2, HORTITOM 3; PS TOM 1 and PS TOM 2.

    According to him, the committee released the tomato varieties based on their “tolerance to fusarium wilt and meloidogyne in cognita. They contain good nutritional qualities and resistance to early blight.”

    He said the varieties released were per with what were released in US, Kenya and other agricultural countries, adding that the exercise would make agriculture sector not to become stagnant.

    Awoyemi, who has been chairman of NVRC since 1991, used the opportunity of the meeting to announce his resignation from the committee don grounds of old age.

    The 88-year old man, urged agriculture stakeholders to continue to be dedicated to the development of Nigeria, “particularly in agriculture, being the backbone of the nation’s economy.

    “So, the frontiers of knowledge must continue to expand so that we come abreast with the developed world,” he said.

    In his remarks, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, the Director General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said that release of the 21 crop varieties would contribute immensely to the development of crop section for the overall development of farming system in the country.

    According to Mustapha, when farmers plant these new crop varieties, the seeds will give them high and quality yields, resistance to diseases, drought and free of other constraints. He encouraged farmers to ensure that they get the right seeds for planting.

    On uniqueness of the new rice variety, a plant breeder, who specialised in rice breeding at the National Cereal Research Institute, Badeggi in Niger, Mr. Mohammed Bashir, said that presentation of the new rice variety would contribute significantly to food security in the country.

    Bashir said the FARO68 rice would give a better yield than the existing commercial varieties in the country.

    He added that the new rice variety could give about 11.6 metric tonnes per hectare under good management by Nigerian farmers, better than the four to eight metric tonnes per hectare being given by the existing varieties.

  • Lagos Commodities onboards Imota Rice receipts for trading

  • By Peter Egwuatu

    As part of its organic growth strategy, Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE), has concluded arrangements to onboard the trading of electronic receipts of rice and its derivatives of Imota Rice Mill as the Company is scheduled for inauguration tomorrow by President Mohammadu Buhari.  

    Imota  Rice Mill, promoted by the Lagos State Government, is the largest in Africa and the third largest in the world, with  installation capacity of 32 Metric Tonnes per hour. It  is located at Imota area of Ikorodu division owned by the Lagos State Rice Company Limited to drive development of the Rice Value Chain and meet the rice demand needs of the nation.  

    The Mill requires about 200,000 Metric Tonnes of Paddy Rice annually, to produce head rice of about 120,000 metric tonnes and other derivatives. It is estimated to generate 1, 500 direct jobs and 254, 000 indirect jobs.

    The LCFE’s Managing Director, Akin Akeredolu-Ale said, “Our Exchange is proud to partner with  Imota Rice Mill to fulfil its objectives for the development of the commodities ecosystem to meet demand for rice in Nigeria and drive the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) through the Commodities ecosystem. This partnership will promote an enabling environment for the alignment of all stakeholders in the rice production value chain and the capital market.” The onboarding of  Imota Rice Mill on the Exchange is expected to drive steady flow of Paddy to the Mill and ensure effective trading of rice contracts on the Exchange.   

  • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund crosses Rs.30,000 Cr mark of capital mobilisation

  • AIF is providing financial support to the farmers, agri-entrepreneurs, FPOs, SHGs, JLGs and many others to create post-harvest management infrastructure and build community farming asset throughout the country

    Within two-and-a-half years of the implementation of the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), the scheme has mobilised more than Rs.30,000 crore for projects in the agriculture infrastructure sector with a sanctioned amount of Rs.15,000 crore under AIF. With the support of 3 per cent interest subvention, credit guarantee support through CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises) for loans of up to Rs.2 crore and facility of convergence with other Central and state government schemes, AIF is providing all-around financial support to the farmers, agri-entrepreneurs, farmer groups like farmer producer organisations (FPOs), self-help groups (SHGs), joint liability groups (JLGs) and many others to create post-harvest management infrastructure and build community farming asset throughout the country, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India said today.

    Success stories of Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

    Understanding the demand-supply gap between the need of the consumers and the supply of primary processed vegetables from the farmers, Yogesh CB from Mandya district of Karnataka was looking to set up a primary processing centre for vegetables. While looking for the support available from the government, he came across the AIF scheme in the year 2020. He applied for a loan of Rs.1.9 crore on AIF portal, which got verified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and sanctioned by Bank of India in December 2020. He was able to ground his vision with the help of AIF and Ariant Veg came into the existence. Through the interest subvention provided under AIF, he was able to secure the finance at an effective rate of interest (RoI) of just 5.45 per cent which is much lower than the open market rate. At present, Ariant Veg supports more than 250 local farmers by providing them with seeds and the technology to grow quality vegetables, then they collect the yield from the farmers at a fair price which is then cleaned, sorted, graded, and packed in the processing centre before reaching to the end consumer on a daily basis.

    Similarly, Anand Patel, a farmer from Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh realised the importance and need for mechanisation in agriculture, especially for small and marginal farmers for whom agriculture machinery is not affordable. He then established a hi-tech hub where agricultural machineries are provided on a rental basis to the local farmers. This hi-tech hub has 12 farm machinery including combine harvester, thresher, laser land leveller, tractors, zero till seed cum fertiliser drill and mulcher that costs around Rs. 60.82 lakhs which seemed a lot for a farmer like Patel. But through the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund and its feature of convergence with other Central and state government schemes, Patel was not only able to secure a loan of Rs. 45.62 lakhs at an interest rate of 5.4 per cent but also got the benefit of a capital subsidy of 40 per cent of the total project cost under Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanization (SMAM) scheme of MoA&FW. Now he is providing services of these machines to more than 100 small and marginal farmers which helped them in saving a lot of effort, time and money.

    Yogesh and Anand are two of more than 20,000 beneficiaries of AIF, whose dream to diversify their profile and take a forward leap in agricultural development has come true through AIF support. AIF is silently changing the landscape of Indian agriculture through the creation and modernisation of much-needed agriculture infrastructure. These infrastructure projects are helping in reducing post-harvest losses, modernising agriculture packages and practices and moreover helping farmers in better price realisation of their produce.

    Agriculture Infrastructure Fund is a financing facility launched on July 8, 2020, for the creation of post-harvest management infrastructure and community farm assets. Under this scheme, Rs 1 lakh crore is to be disbursed by the financial year 2025-26 and the interest subvention and credit guarantee assistance will be given till the year 2032-33. In order to create awareness about AIF amongst various stakeholders, MoA&FW has been organising multiple conclaves and workshops.

    Source: All success stories are provided by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare

  • Nigeria inches closer to rice sufficiency as Buhari commissions Imota Mill

  • President Buhari at the commissioning of the Imota Rice Mills


    Nigeria’s capacity for rice production got a boost on Monday as the Lagos State Imota Rice Mill production facility in Ikorodu was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari.
    The mill is expected to improve the country’s capacity for producing local parboiled rice. The mill also targets becoming the leading producer of premium brands in the market.

    It will contribute towards eliminating importation and smuggling of imported parboiled rice as the country eyes sufficiency in the production of the grain, which according to the United States Department of Agriculture has reached five million tons in 2022.

    With this production figure, Nigeria still has a deficit of two million tonnes per annum with demand at seven million tonnes. Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial centre, consumes two million metric tonnes of rice annually.

    “The Imota Rice Mill is an effort by Lagos State to support the country’s rice revolution,” Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State said at the commissioning. “It will create jobs and help drive sustainable growth and we are glad to be part of the country’s agricultural revolution.”

    The rice mill, standing on an area of 8.5 hectare of land has been built with an annual paddy requirement of over 240,000 metric tonnes to produce 2.5 million bags of 50kg bags of rice yearly, while generating 250,000 direct and indirect jobs to Lagosians.

    Imota Rice Mill is the largest in Africa and the third largest in the world, with an installed capacity of 32 metric tonnes per hour.

    Rice production has dominated the discourse in the Buhari led administration’s agricultural sector revolution since coming into power in 2015.

    The sector is critical to the economic growth and development of Nigeria as it will not only enhance the diversification and integration of the economy, but also become a major source of foreign exchange earner for the country.

  • Kellogg helps rice farmers reduce emissions

  • BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN, US — A Kellogg’s program to help rice farmers reduce climate impact is showing early positive results, the company reported.

    In the pilot year of the InGrained program, farmers implemented irrigation practices that achieved a reduction of more than 1,600 tonnes of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of taking more than 345 gasoline-powered cars off the road for one year.

    Kellogg piloted the program in northeast Louisiana in collaboration with leading agricultural greenhouse gas measurement firm Regrow Ag, rice producers, Kellogg supplier Kennedy Rice Mill LLC and agribusiness firm Syngenta.

    Rice production emits several greenhouse gases, most significantly, methane. Methane contributes approximately 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions and is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    "Not only are we helping farmers implement new practices on their farms, but farmers are telling us that just as importantly, the quality of their rice was not affected by the adjusted irrigation practices," said Stacey Shaw, Syngenta's senior sustainability lead.

    Much of the rice sourced from the Louisiana River Basin is used in iconic foods like Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal and Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats.

    "Kellogg's Better Days environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy is committed to supporting 1 million farmers and reducing Scope 3 GHG emissions across our value chain by 15 percent by the end of 2030," said Janelle Meyers, Kellogg Company's chief sustainability officer. "Programs like Kellogg's InGrained contribute to this ambitious goal, create positive impacts on the planet and support the livelihoods of farmers who grow the rice for some of our most iconic foods."

    Kellogg and its InGrained partners are making adjustments as they transition into the second year of the program, while ensuring both financial and technical support continue to help farmers with these new practices. Kellogg is also exploring expanding the program to include various regions with different weather patterns and soil types to determine if similar positive impacts are found. 

  • 10,000 Years Ago – Ancient Stone Tools Provide the Earliest Evidence of Rice Harvesting

  • Rice is one of the oldest and most important food crops in the world. It has a long and rich history, dating back to ancient civilizations in Asia.

    The presence of striations and residue reveal the techniques used in harvesting.

    A study led by Dartmouth has uncovered the earliest evidence of rice harvesting, dating back to 10,000 years ago in southern China. The research team analyzed stone tools and found evidence of two methods used for harvesting rice, which helped initiate the domestication of the crop. The findings were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

    The distinction between wild and domesticated rice lies in their seed dispersal pattern; wild rice sheds its ripe seeds naturally, causing them to shatter on the ground when mature, whereas cultivated rice retains its seeds on the plant upon maturity.

    To harvest rice, some sort of tools would have been needed. In harvesting rice with tools, early rice cultivators were selecting the seeds that stay on the plants, so gradually the proportion of seeds that remain increased, resulting in domestication.

    Rice Husk and Rice Leaf Phytoliths

    Phytolith recovered from stone flakes from Shanghsan and Hehuashan flakes: rice husk phytolith (on left) and rice leaf phytolith. Credit: Jiajing Wang

    “For quite a long time, one of the puzzles has been that harvesting tools have not been found in southern China from the early Neolithic period or New Stone Age (10,000 – 7,000 Before Present) — the time period when we know rice began to be domesticated,” says lead author Jiajing Wang, an assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth. “However, when archaeologists were working at several early Neolithic sites in the Lower Yangtze River Valley, they found a lot of small pieces of stone, which had sharp edges that could have been used for harvesting plants."

    “Our hypothesis was that maybe some of those small stone pieces were rice harvesting tools, which is what our results show.”

    In the Lower Yangtze River Valley, the two earliest Neolithic culture groups were the Shangshan and Kuahuqiao.

    The researchers examined 52 flaked stone tools from the Shangshan and Hehuashan sites, the latter of which was occupied by Shangshan and Kuahuqiao cultures.

    Rice Harvesting Methods

    The stone flakes are rough in appearance and are not finely made but have sharp edges. On average, the flaked tools are small enough to be held by one hand and measured approximately 1.7 inches in width and length.

    To determine if the stone flakes were used for harvesting rice, the team conducted use-wear and phytolith residue analyses.

    For the use-wear analysis, micro-scratches on the tools’ surfaces were examined under a microscope to determine how the stones were used. The results showed that 30 flakes have use-wear patterns similar to those produced by harvesting siliceous (silica-rich) plants, likely including rice.

    Fine striations, high polish, and rounded edges distinguished the tools that were used for cutting plants from those that were used for processing hard materials, cutting animal tissues, and scraping wood.

    Stone Flake Tools From China

    A selection of stone flake tools from the Shangshan ((a)-(h)) and Kuahuqiao ((i)–(l)) cultures. Red dots delineate the working edge of tools. Credit: Jiajing Wang

    Through the phytolith residue analysis, the researchers analyzed the microscopic residue left on the stone flakes known as “phytoliths” or silica skeletons of plants. They found that 28 of the tools contained rice phytoliths.

    “What’s interesting about rice phytoliths is that rice husk and leaves produce different kinds of phytolith, which enabled us to determine how the rice was harvested,” says Wang.

    The findings from the use-wear and phytolith analyses illustrated that two types of rice harvesting methods were used — “finger-knife” and “sickle” techniques. Both methods are still used in Asia today.

    The stone flakes from the early phase (10,000 – 8,200 BP) showed that rice was largely harvested using the finger-knife method in which the panicles at the top of the rice plant are reaped. The results showed that the tools used for finger-knife harvesting had striations that were mainly perpendicular or diagonal to the edge of the stone flake, which suggests a cutting or scraping motion, and contained phytoliths from seeds or rice husk phytoliths, indicating that the rice was harvested from the top of the plant.

    “A rice plant contains numerous panicles that mature at different times, so the finger-knife harvesting technique is especially useful when rice domestication was in the early stage,” says Wang.

    The stone flakes however, from the later phase (8,000 – 7,000 BP) had more evidence of sickle harvesting in which the lower part of the plant was harvested. These tools had striations that were predominantly parallel to the tool’s edge, reflecting that a slicing motion had likely been used.

    “Sickle harvesting was more widely used when rice became more domesticated, and more ripe seeds stayed on the plant,” says Wang. “Since you are harvesting the entire plant at the same time, the rice leaves and stems could also be used for fuel, building materials, and other purposes, making this a much more effective harvesting method.”

    Wang says, “Both harvesting methods would have reduced seed shattering. That’s why we think rice domestication was driven by human unconscious selection.”

    Reference: “New evidence for rice harvesting in the early Neolithic Lower Yangtze River, China” by Jiajing Wang, Jiangping Zhu, Dongrong Lei and Leping Jiang, 7 December 2022, PLOS ONE.

  • Indian rice prices hit 9-month high

  • MUMBAI, HANOI AND BANGKOK: Indian rice export prices rose to their highest levels since April 2021 this week boosted by limited supplies and a stronger rupee, while firm local currency and demand sent Thai rates higher. Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $387-$395 per tonne this week, up from last week’s $375-$382 per tonne. White rice prices rose to $435-$440 per tonne from $398-$405 per tonne a week ago.

    The Indian rupee rose to a one-month high this week, trimming exporters’ returns from overseas sales. Demand is weak as local prices jumped after the government curtailed free-food grain distribution, said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, an exporter.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice was quoted at $500-$502 per tonne - the highest since March 2021 - up from $495 per tonne last week, which traders attributed to the strengthening of the baht and robust domestic demand.

    A stronger baht translates to higher export prices in US dollars. “Many rice traders and buyers are now adopting a wait-and-see approach to the market due to the strong baht,” a Bangkok-based trader said.

  • Olivari leads Rice against North Texas

  • Rice Owls (13-5, 4-3 C-USA) at North Texas Mean Green (15-4, 6-2 C-USA)

    Denton, Texas; Thursday, 8 p.m. EST

    FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: North Texas -10; over/under is 131.5

    BOTTOM LINE: Rice takes on the North Texas Mean Green after Quincy Olivari scored 30 points in Rice’s 88-81 overtime victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

    The Mean Green are 6-1 on their home court. North Texas is eighth in C-USA shooting 33.6% from downtown, led by Tylor Perry shooting 47.0% from 3-point range.

    The Owls are 4-3 in conference play. Rice is the C-USA leader with 27.3 defensive rebounds per game led by Max Fiedler averaging 5.4.

    The Mean Green and Owls meet Thursday for the first time in conference play this season.

    TOP PERFORMERS: Perry is averaging 17.6 points for the Mean Green. Kai Huntsberry is averaging 11.3 points over the past 10 games for North Texas.

    Travis Evee is shooting 39.0% from beyond the arc with 2.7 made 3-pointers per game for the Owls, while averaging 16.6 points. Olivari is shooting 42.2% and averaging 19.1 points over the past 10 games for Rice.

    LAST 10 GAMES: Mean Green: 8-2, averaging 63.7 points, 30.1 rebounds, 11.0 assists, 7.2 steals and 2.9 blocks per game while shooting 42.5% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 56.8 points per game.

    Owls: 7-3, averaging 86.6 points, 39.0 rebounds, 18.8 assists, 6.7 steals and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 49.6% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 74.5 points.

  • Modern machinery improves rice seed planting in Laos

  • Pany Yathotou, Dr Vilayvong Bouddakham and senior officials visit a rice mill in Champassak province on Jan 17. - Pathetlao

    VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): A bridge and road construction and electricity installation enterprise is supplying modern machinery for use in the planting of rice seed in both the wet and dry seasons.

    The equipment is being used to plant rice seed on 350 hectares of land in Mounlapamok district, Champassak province.

    Vice President Pany Yathotou, the Governor of Champassak province Dr Vilayvong Bouddakham and senior officials on Tuesday visited the enterprise, where staff reported on the success of their work.

    The mechanised seed planting system is labour saving, cost efficient and ensures the seeds are properly distributed in the ground.

    Rice crops were planted in 2022 and early this year using this method, which also requires less water.

    Enterprise staff say they expect the crop harvested on this land to yield about 4 tonnes of rice per hectare. The company also has a modern rice mill that can husk about 2 tonnes of rice in one hour.

    The processed rice will be distributed to military personnel and police officers in southern and central Laos for their consumption, while some will be sold in markets around the country.

    During their visit, the Vice President and her delegation also visited other places of significance in Mounlapamok district.

  • Bulog Claims Quality of Govt’s Rice Reserve is Good

  • TEMPO.COJakarta - State Logistics Agency (Bulog) claims that the quality of the government’s rice reserve stocks (CBP) stored in 2022 is good so they do not need to be released and sold below market prices, an official said.

    "This condition (release of CBP at a low price) is possible. However, with utmost care and maintenance carried out by Bulog, the condition of the stored 2022 rice is all of good quality," head of public relations and institutional affairs at Bulog Tomi Wijaya said here on Wednesday.

    He informed that based on the Agriculture Minister's Regulation Number 38 of 2018 on the management of CBP, the release of rice reserve stocks can be carried out if they have exceeded the shelf-life limit of at least four months and/or have the potential for or have experienced a decline in quality.

    Rice reserves have the potential for or can experience a decline in quality if they meet the criteria of at least a milling degree below the minimum threshold and contain broken grains and water above the maximum threshold.

    Article 7 of the Minister of Agriculture's Regulation Number 38 of 2018 states that the release of CBP can be carried out by Bulog through sale, processing, exchange, and or grants.

    Article 8 of the regulation states that the sale can be carried out by selling CBP below the retail price ceiling (HET) of rice.

    Earlier, during a working meeting with Commission IV of the House of Representatives (DPR) on Monday (January 16, 2023), Bulog president director Budi Waseso said that the National Food Agency had proposed that Bulog's CBP stock in 2023 be increased to 2.4 million tons from the initial plan of 1 million tons.

    To maintain the quality of CBP, rice that has been stored for four months at Bulog warehouses can be sold at a price below the purchase price, with the difference in price compensated by the government.

    With that plan, he said he believes that there would be no Bulog rice of reduced quality as a result of being stored in warehouses for too long.

    The plan could be carried out, but since the CBP throughout 2022 was maintained in good quality, there is no further plan to release CBP at a price below the HET, he said.

    ANTARA

  • Brazilian rice exports jumped 85% during 2022 compared to 2021

  • Brazilian exports of rice in 2022 totaled 2.11 million tons, 85% higher than in 2021, according to the Brazilian Association of the Rice Industry (Abiarroz)

    As Brazil continues to expand its agriculture frontiers and farming techniques, two cereals of which the country has been historically an importer are becoming increasingly self-sufficient. This is particularly true for wheat and rice, with most crops in the southern states of the country.

     In effect Brazilian exports of rice in 2022 totaled 2.11 million tons, with an 85% increase over the volume exported in 2021, according to the Brazilian Association of the Rice Industry (Abiarroz), which released a market update with data from the Ministry of Development, Industry, Commerce, and Services (MDIC).

    In December 2022, shipments of rice reached 291,500 tons, with revenues equivalent to US$ 89.6 million. In December 2021, exports reached 161.700 tons and revenue was US$ 42.7 million.

    According to the industry association, the increase in sales abroad was caused by the return to normalcy in global trade after overcoming the obstacles caused by the covid-19 pandemic, as well as promotional actions promoted by rice producers in strategic markets through the Brazilian Rice project, which was developed in collaboration with ApexBrasil.

    Processed rice exports, a product with more added value, also grew in 2022. The volume increased 34% compared to the previous year, to 588.200 tons while revenue from shipments rose 14% to US$ 190.6 million.

    Last year, the ten leading importers of Brazilian processed rice were Senegal, Cuba, Peru, Gambia, Venezuela, the United States, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Algeria.

    Additionally nine new markets received Brazilian processed rice for the first time: Honduras, El Salvador, Libya, Kenya, Lithuania, Guadeloupe, Oman, Benin, and Gabon.

    Brazil has historically been a net importer of rice, with Mercosur associates, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay the main suppliers.

  • Paddy price drops but rice remains high

  • Aman season lacks consumer-friendly varieties

    Prices of paddy have declined 10-12 per cent in the last two weeks, which has hardly been reflected in the city rice market as most of the varieties remained almost in a static trend maintaining the previous highs.

    Medium and finer types of parboiled rice, which are mainly available in the city groceries, were still trading at between Tk 65 and Tk 98 a kg in Dhaka when paddy prices fell by Tk150-200 a maund, according to Bangladesh Auto Major Husking Mill Owners Association, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) and city groceries.

    Though prices of coarse varieties of rice showed a slight decline in the milling hubs, it is not reflected in the city as those were retailing at Tk50-54 a kg.

    And most of the city groceries had hardly any coarse-variety rice in Dhaka's Mohammadpur, Mirpur Sections 11, 6, 10, Agargaon, Farmgate, Azimpur, Plassey, Segunbagicha, Malibagh areas, forcing several thousand buyers to purchase rice at higher prices, the FE found visiting the areas in last one month.

    BAMHMOA secretary KM Layek Ali said coarse paddy witnessed a fall by a good margin as guti-swarna paddy price declined to Tk950 a maund from Tk1,150 in December.

    Swarna-5 paddy was trading at Tk1,000 against Tk1,200 a month back, he said.

    Finer varieties of paddy like Shampa-Katari and BRRI dhan 49 showed a slight decline---Tk50-60 a maund as those were selling at above 1,600 a maund.

    He said Aman season now is the source for the major volume of coarse rice.

    Swarna varieties occupied above 60 per cent of Aman fields in Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions, he added.

    Supply and value chain expert Prof Md Moniruzzaman said millers bought a large chunk of paddy at a much higher rate in November last with the beginning of Aman harvest.

    "So, they are now reducing prices at a much slower pace than that of decline in paddy rates", he said.

    "Besides, the lack of medium and finer rice varieties in the Aman season is also a major reason for such price disparity in a peak harvesting and trading season when the government is claiming that production is very good," said Prof Moniruzzaman, who teaches agribusiness and marketing at the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU).

    He said Aman season was once the key source for finer and aromatic rice which has almost altered.

    Millers are ultimate gainers of having a limited number of varieties both in Aman and Boro seasons, he added.

    The Aman season now provides the key coarse variety ---Swarna, a transboundary species.

    He said the government has declared that there is no rice name 'Nazirsail.' "Then which is now the key finer parboiled rice in Aman season," he asked.

    The government rice research and extension agencies concerned should introduce suitable farmer-consumer friendly rice varieties for Aman season to prevent such market imbalance, he added.

    Delowar Jahan, founder of Prakritik Krishi, a safe food outlet, said a near-variety of Kataribhog namely 'Shampa-Katari is sold as Nazirsail in the northern and western regions.

    The quality of the rice, which might have been developed by the farmers themselves, is very good but it hasn't been recognised by the government agencies, he said.

    He said two rice varieties, developed by the state-run rice agency long ago in 1993-94 are still dominating the Boro rice fields.

    It is the same for Aman season as apart from Swarna, only BRRI dhan 49 has been able to occupy above 10 per cent of land.

    Hundreds of varieties in the Haor and other lowlands have gradually been witnessing extinction which are highly suitable now when the climate is changing rapidly, he said.

    The agency should adopt or develop such varieties and should maintain their old name instead of any number, he said.

    Asked, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) director Dr Mohammad Khalequzzaman said the agency has developed few medium and finer varieties like BRRI dhan 49, 57, 70 and 80 for Aman season.

    Among them, BRRI dhan 49 has captured 15 per cent of land in last one decade, he said.

    He said BRRI developed similar varieties of Swarna namely BRRI dhan 93, 94 and 95, which are slowly gaining popularity.

    BRRI developed few dozens of Aman varieties which should be popularisied by the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation and Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), he added.

    DAE director general Badal Chandra Biswas said they are trying to popularise BINA dhan 17, BRRI dhan 75 and BRRI dhan 87-three finer varieties.

    He said DAE is insisting farmers on the varieties suitable for their areas.

    BADC general manager (seed) Pradip Chandra Dey told the FE that the organisation supplied 25,000 tonnes of seeds in Aman season which would increase to 28,000 tonnes next season.

    He said the Corporation has also been trying to raise production of newer varieties like BRRI dhan 95.

    "We are supplying seeds as per the requirement set by the DAE", he said.

    He said the DAE will have to work to popularise a specific rice variety.

    Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry is expecting 16.3 million tonnes of rice from the just-ended Aman harvesting season as the acreage increased to a record 5.9 million hectares as per their primary projection.

    Aman season provides 37-38 per cent of the total rice the country consumes.

  • 64,943 MT of imported rice arrive in PH

  • THE Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) said at least 64,943 metric tons (MT) of imported rice arrived despite a warning from farmers and rice watch groups that the retail prices of the staple food will continue to increase.

    Based on the latest data from the BPI as of Jan. 12, 2023, a bulk of the fresh imports came from Vietnam with 55,303 MT; followed by Thailand, 8,080 MT; Myanmar, 1,040 MT; and Pakistan 520 MT.

    According to the BPI, the rice imports were covered by 73 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs).

    In 2022, the total imported grains reached 3.8 million MT.

    On Monday, rice watch group Bantay Bigas Spokesman Cathy Estavillo warned that retail prices of the staple food will further increase this first quarter of 2023 amid the low palay production and the failure of imported grains to bring down the prices despite the flooding in the local markets.

    On the other hand, Farmers' group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) President Rosendo So said there was a P2 per kilo increase in the retail prices of rice in December 2022.

    So added that while he expects a stable supply of the staple food, movement in the cost of the grains should be expected amid the increase in the farmgate price of palay.

  • Continued surge in rice price seen


  • A RICE monitoring group on Monday predicted that retail prices of the staple will further rise in the first quarter of this year because of poor palay production and despite imported rice flooding the market.

    In a radio interview, Bantay Bigas spokesman Cathy Estavillo said the P39 and P40 per kilo of rice are no longer available in local markets, and what remains is the P38 a kilo of regular milled rice, which has a bad smell and taste.

    "As early as last year, we already feared the increase in the retail prices of rice. There is a low palay production and while we are being flooded with imported rice, it did not help bring down the prices," Estavillo said.

    In 2022, the government imported 3.8 million metric tons of rice.

    "Retailers retained the P38 price just to show that consumers have access to cheap rice," Estavillo said.

    A kilo of palay ranges between P16 and P17, she said. "Traders buy palay from our farmers at very low prices despite the high cost of production, and there are fears from our farmers that the P16 to P17 per kilo will further go down amid the rains being experienced in the country."

    Farmers are also beset by the high cost of fertilizer, which sells by as much as P3,500 a bag.

    A bag of fertilizer last year sold at between P950 and P1,000, Estavillo said.

    On Monday, several militant groups picketed the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Quezon City to protest the soaring prices of agricultural products.

    Agriculture deputy spokesman Rex Estoperez said the department is closely monitoring rice prices.

    The DA also has to contend with the soaring price of onions.

    On Monday, Sen. Maria Josefa Imelda "Imee" Marcos said the shortage of onions in the country, which triggered the price hike, could have been averted had the DA made a "timely" and "well-projected" minimal importation.

    Marcos said the price of onions "had taken us on this mad roller coaster ride during the last few months. It is apparent that there is an abject lack of planning [on the part of DA]."

    Another senator, Cynthia Villar, said that the DA's onion supply and demand data show there is no shortage.

    Villar, whose Committee on Agriculture is holding hearings on the surge in onion price, said that even if there was a shortage of more than 2,000 MT of onions in 2022, there was a surplus of 53,202 MT in 2021.

    "So, we could say that we really don't have a shortage to cause an increase in price. That is why we're calling this hearing for the people to be able to explain what is happening. They have to explain to us what is happening in the DA and, of course, in the Bureau of Customs," she said.

    Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel 3rd asked the DA to explain the unmet demand of almost 4,000 MT of onions in 2022 despite a reported surplus in 2021.

    Pimentel wondered why the DA reported the shortage despite claiming that 11,000 MT of onions were stored in cold storage facilities which were part of a total of 53,000 MT of supposed supply in 2021.

    Another farmers' group on Monday said the arrival of imported onions will depress its farmgate prices.

    In a radio interview, Federation of Aritao Farmers of Onion, Garlic and Ginger Growers Association Nueva Vizcaya President Ulysis de Lara said the importation comes during the peak of the onion harvest season. As a result, the farmgate prices of onions.

    The prevailing farmgate prices of onions are between P250 and P280 a kilo.

    De Lara said onion farmers can meet the growing demand, so "there is no need to import."

    Agriculture spokesman Kristine Evangelista said the DA is looking at the possibility of buying directly from onion farmers who want the farmgate price pegged at not lower than P100 a kilo.

    Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura President Rosendo So said the DA should make sure the imported onions arrive on or before January 27.

    So also urged the DA and the Bureau of Customs to confiscate imported onions that will arrive after that date.

  • BUDGET 2023: Gov’t hopes to improve rice yields, fight pests with $300M injection

  • Several varieties of rice at the Burma Rice Research Station, Region Five

    Rice is one of Guyana’s key products and Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh announced that the government will spend some $300 million to boost production and productivity in this sector.

    The Finance Minister is currently presenting the 2023 National Budget at a sitting of the National Assembly held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown.

    And as he talked about the government’s continued focus on the agricultural sector, he said that the $300 million sum will be spent on improving yields and efforts to control the paddy bug problem.

    Further, two new drying floors will be constructed in Regions Three and Five.

    The government is also expected to explore new rice varieties and new markets for production.

    Defending this allocation, Dr. Singh said rice is a “dominant” contributor to the local economy and a staple in Guyana’s diet.

    Earlier in his budget presentation, the Finance Minister said the rice sector recorded an expansion of 8.1 per cent with a total production of 610,595 tonnes.

    Because of global challenges, Dr. Singh projects that rice prices will fall by some 0.4 per cent this year.

    This National Budget being read by the Finance Minister is the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) mid-term budget. It is crafted under the theme ‘“Improving Lives Today, Building Prosperity for Tomorrow.”

  • Genetically modified rice to tackle climate-induced food shortages

  • Genetically modified rice could be used to lessen food shortages caused by climate change, as salt tolerance allows it to grow in warmer conditions

    As climate change affects rising sea levels, many places are struggling with seawater inundation – where salt water from the sea is flooding further inland and destroying crops which can’t cope with the increased salinity. Genetically modified rice could be the answer.

    Rice is arguably the most important food crop on earth – it is relied on by 3.5 billion people every single day, and 30% of the world’s freshwater supply is used to grow the crop.

    By engineering the rice, researchers can reduce the number of stomata that rice has, making them more tolerant to salt water.

    The researchers from the University of Sheffield, working alongside the High Agricultural Technology Research Institute (HATRI) in Vietnam, studied 72 rice varieties, both natural and genetically modified.

    Investigating whether they can make dwarf rice varieties – which produce the highest crop yields – researchers are looking to make crops more heat-resistant.

    As sea levels rise, seawater is causing increasing damage to crops

    Reducing the number and size of stomata could make rice harder to grow in extremely hot temperatures. As rice with fewer stomata is more drought resistant – needing up to 60% less water – researchers have also shown that the same plants are also able to grow in salty conditions.

    Rice, being the most important crop, is also one of the worst affected crops – in countries like Vietnam it is becoming harder and harder to grow due to increasing seawater interference.

    Aerial view of the green rice fields
    © Kittichai Boonpong

    Genetically engineering rice to have better salt tolerance could allow it to be grown in places it would otherwise fail.

    Stomata are openings that most plants have which regulate carbon dioxide uptake for photosynthesis, along with the release of water vapour. This is extremely beneficial in places prone to drought.

    Rice with larger stomata could be better suited to growing in extremely warm temperatures

    This entails that rice can be adapted to survive in environments that are becoming harsher due to climate change, which will help in tackling food insecurity around the globe.

    As a result, to make sure that rice can grow as effectively as possible in different countries and environments, different modifications will need to be made.

    “…integral to feeding a growing population that is projected to reach 10 billion in 60 years’ time”

    Dr Robert Caine, Lead Author of the study from the University of Sheffield’s School of Biosciences, said: “Rice is a hugely important food crop eaten by over half the world’s population on a daily basis. Ensuring that it can survive in harsher conditions caused by climate change will be integral to feeding a growing population that is projected to reach 10 billion in 60 years’ time.

    “Our findings reveal how rice can be modified to grow as effectively as possible in different climates – varieties of rice that have less stomata can survive with less water and in places with salt water. Meanwhile, natural rice varieties with fewer, bigger stomata are able to thrive in hotter temperatures.”

  • Researchers peg genetically modified rice as key to…

  • Researchers peg genetically modified rice as key to tackling food shortages caused by climate change

    16 Jan 2023 --- Scientists at the University of Sheffield have discovered that genetically engineered rice with fewer stomata has better salt tolerance, allowing it to be grown in places it would otherwise fail. 

    The findings and new results that explore the number and size of stomata have been published in the New Phytologist. As concluded by the researchers, rice can be adapted to survive in environments that are becoming harsher due to climate change, which will help in tackling food insecurity around the globe.

    Demand for rice 
    Rice is arguably the most essential food crop on earth – it is relied on by 3.5 billion people every day and 30% of the world’s freshwater supply is used to grow the crop. 

    As sea levels rise due to climate change, more and more places worldwide are struggling with seawater inundation – where salt water from the sea is flooding further inland and destroying crops that can’t cope with the increased salinity.

    As sea levels rise, seawater reaches places it previously wouldn’t, causing increasing crop damage.

    Rice is one of the worst affected crops – arguably the most important carbohydrate on earth – but in countries like Vietnam, it is becoming harder to grow due to increasing seawater interference.

    Dr. Robert Caine, lead author of the study from the University of Sheffield’s School of Biosciences, says: “Rice is a hugely important food crop eaten by over half the world’s population daily. Ensuring it can survive in harsher conditions caused by climate change will be integral to feeding a growing population that is projected to reach 10 billion in 60 years.”

    “Our findings reveal how rice can be modified to grow as effectively as possible in different climates – varieties of rice with fewer stomata can survive with less water and in places with salt water.”

    The number of stomata is key
    However, findings from the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food have revealed that genetically modifying rice to reduce the number of stomata it has – tiny openings used for water loss – makes it more salt-resistant. 

    Stomata are openings that most plants have which regulate carbon dioxide uptake for photosynthesis and release water vapor. 

    Several years ago, Sheffield scientists revealed that reducing the number and size of stomata rice plants have allowed them to use up to 60% less water, making them hugely beneficial in places prone to drought.

    The researchers also discovered, however, that reducing the number and size of stomata could make rice harder to grow in extremely hot temperatures. As a result, to make sure that rice can grow as effectively as possible in different countries and environments, additional modifications will need to be made. 

    For example – rice with fewer, larger stomata could be better suited to growing in hot temperatures.

    “Meanwhile, natural rice varieties with fewer, bigger stomata can thrive in hotter temperatures,” explains Caine.

    The researchers from the University of Sheffield, working alongside the High Agricultural Technology Research Institute in Vietnam, studied 72 natural and genetically modified rice varieties. 

    They are now planning to investigate whether they can make dwarf rice varieties, which produce the highest crop yields, more heat-resistant.

    Rice spotlighted
    The food staple is a vital commodity across global food markets and continues to be in the F&B industry news spotlight.

    A 29% increase in prices for long rice started last December, with price increases set to continue through 2023, according to UK’s Eurostar Commodities. Severe drought in the Northern Hemisphere hit the commodity hard. 

    Meanwhile, as risks to food security continue to weigh down economies, authorities have promoted caloric-dense rice as an alternative to inflation-impacted food staples. 

    Scientists are researching how to make the crop more resistant to climate adversity, and formulators’ interest in the ingredient regains intensity.

    Edited by Elizabeth Green

  • Why there is a case for Basmati as a paddy replacement in Punjab — despite no MSP and lower yield

  • In Punjab, nearly 30-31 lakh hectares (74 to 76 lakh acres) are dedicated to the rice crop (kharif season), out of which 25-26 lakh hectares come under paddy.

    The area under Basmati crop has remained around 5 lakh hectares over the last several years. File

    Crop diversification is a key issue in Punjab. The state has large areas under the water-guzzling paddy crop mainly on account of the assured returns to farmers in the form of Minimum Support Price (MSP) from the government and the high yield it offers. But the aromatic Basmati rice, which has fluctuating prices and no MSP, still offers hope as the best alternative to paddy. Here’s a look at the economics of growing Basmati.

    How much area could be increased under Basmati?

    In Punjab, nearly 30-31 lakh hectares (74 to 76 lakh acres) are dedicated to the rice crop (in the kharif season), out of which 25-26 lakh hectares come under paddy. The area under Basmati crop has remained between 4-5 lakh hectares over the last several years. Basmati’s early and late varieties are sown between June and July, and harvested in September and October.

    Rice exporters say there is a huge demand for Basmati, and the state has the potential to grow it in vast areas. It is estimated by experts that at least 10 lakh hectares could easily be brought under the Basmati crop in the state, which will help reduce the area under paddy.

    What is the yield of Basmati as compared to paddy?

    Punjab grows both short-duration and long-duration paddy varieties. The average yield of short and long-duration paddy varieties is around 28 and 36 quintals per acre, respectively. Basmati, too, has long and short-duration varieties. The average yield of these varieties is between 20 and 25 quintals per acre — which is 8-10 quintals less per acre as compared to paddy.

    The market for the crops

    Paddy is procured by the Union government on MSP for distribution under the Public Distribution System. Basmati is neither procured by the government nor has any fixed price. It is procured by traders and exporters as Indian Basmati has large demand abroad.

    What is the profit margin for each crop?

    The MSP of paddy was Rs 2,060 per quintal in the 2022-23 kharif marketing season. The Basmati rate remains between Rs 3,200 to Rs 4,000 per quintal during September (for early varieties) and October-November (for late varieties).

    Currently, its rate is Rs 4,600 per quintal as some farmers, who had held back some crops after harvesting, are now bringing it to the market, said Vinod Gupta, a Fazilka Mandi-based commission agent. He said that Basmati’s demand hardly goes down and its rate remains good. But, he added that local traders form cartels to give less to farmers and that the government must check such practices.

    As per the MSP of paddy, a farmer could sell paddy worth Rs 57,680 to Rs 74,160 per acre depending on yield, Basmati could be sold for between Rs 64,000 to Rs 1 lakh per acre despite the lower yield. Last year, the average rate of Basmati remained between Rs 2,500 to 3,500 per quintal.

    What are the benefits of the Basmati crop?

    Experts say that 4,000 litres of water are required to grow a kilo of paddy. Basmati cultivation, on the other hand, is largely dependent on rainwater as it takes place during the main monsoon season. Even if some early varieties are sown in June, they are harvested at least a month before the main basmati and paddy varieties, thus saving water. Basmati cultivation can also reduce stubble burning — farmers use its stubble for fodder.

    “It hardly needs any pesticides. The state government bans the sale of around 10 pesticides during the Basmati-growing season for the past five years, which indicates that it does not need those chemicals. According to an estimate by the Punjab Agriculture Department, farmers spent Rs 200 to 250 crore less on pesticides on Basmati over the past five years since 2017-18 years. This is a big cut in costs,” said Ashok Sethi, Director of the Amritsar-based Punjab Rice Millers & Exporters Association, in an interaction with Basmati farmers.

    What is the role of Punjab’s Basmati in the export market?

    Basmati is a premier and heritage product of Punjab. It is known for its flavour, length and taste due to Punjab’s excellent weather, soil and irrigation (through river and canal water). Also, Punjab is among the states and Union Territories (Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are the others) that have a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Basmati.

    The annual Basmati rice export from India is around 4 million tons (worth Rs 36,000 crore), out of which Punjab contributes between 35 to 40 per cent.

    Is there any hurdle Punjab’s Basmati faces in the export market?

    Experts said that despite the government’s efforts to ban pesticides during the basmati-growing season, several farmers have indulged in unnecessary and excessive usage of chemicals combined with fertilisers. Several shipments of such crops are rejected after landing on US and European shores, owing to strict health regulations.

    How can the government increase the Basmati area in Punjab?

    Some experts say the Union and state governments must encourage farmers by giving them a bonus of Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per acre. Haryana gives bonuses to those who are growing crops other than paddy. They suggest several other measures: Good quality seeds, rice exporters’ collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, strengthening of canal/river water, and setting up of solar panels.

    A testing lab has already been set up in Amritsar to help farmers. The government can help educate farmers about the judicious use of only authorised pesticides. Exporters also said that pesticides unregistered in the EU and the USA are freely available for sale in India, which needs to tighten regulatory control over the sale and distribution of such products.

  • Farmers warn of low yield

  • LAHORE: Farmers have demanded the government should ensure opening of letters of credit (LCs) of farm inputs to make the country food secure and prevent food inflation.

    “The government should direct the State Bank of Pakistan to make arrangement for opening of the LCs for import of pesticides, seed, agriculture machinery and [related] parts right away to ensure food security of the country and prevent inflation likely to be caused due to shortage of wheat, rice, maize, fruits and vegetables, as a result of decline in their yield because of unavailability of farm inputs, especially seed,” Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) president Khalid Mahmood Khokhar says in a statement here on Sunday.

    He says the agriculture is a time-bound activity and any action will be of no use if not taken at an appropriate time. Hence, he says, availability of farm inputs at right time has utmost importance for the sector. Fertilisers like DAP and other phosphate nutrients etc are also imported and require timely opening of their LCs, he adds.

    Mr Khokhar says Pakistan also imports insecticides and fungicides to manufacture pesticides locally, and it takes four to six months from import to manufacturing of the products to be available in the market.

    The farmers’ representative warns that any delay in import of pesticides will affect the Kharif crops in terms of pest management. Such delay, he says, will especially hit cotton, which provides raw material for 60 percent export goods, as over 80pc of the insecticides are exclusively used on this crop. Other crops that will suffer because of non-availability of appropriate insecticides, include rice, maize, sunflower, besides mango, citrus and vegetables etc, that are vital for national food security and earning foreign exchange through exports, Mr Khokhar stressed.

    Referring to poor agriculture research in the country, he says due to insufficient investment local research institutes could not develop any hybrid seed so far and most of the indigenous crops relied on imported seeds.

    He says the delay in opening of LCs will also impact many industries, like those of edible oil, solvents, poultry and animal feed, fruit processing etc, that will have to reduce their production leading to unemployment and inflation in the country.

    PKI head adds that agriculture machinery is also needed for mechanised production and efficient operation, and if LCs of related imports are not opened, repair and maintenance of the existing equipment could not be carried out.

  • ‘Biochar’ increases rice yield in Nueva Ecija

  • "Amending" the soil, a suggestion from the Singapore-based Alcom Pte. Ltd. for greater rice yields, worked for Filipino growers like Lauro Medina.

    A farmer from Nueva Ecija, which is widely acknowledged as the "Rice Granary of the Philippines," Medina took the "green" company up on its recommendation to try biochar, which the latter pushes as a green soil amendment.

    Biochar has proved to be a revelation to the local farmer.

    He observed that rice seedlings planted on the "amended" soil are "shock-resistant and germinate quickly," with their leaves turning green "immediately" unlike in the past when he just relied on additives that were available.

    Medina said biochar also makes rice "more robust" when employed on the growing grains.

    He added that he noticed that the plants were "significantly larger" than those that were untreated with what the producer of biochar has described as a breakthrough in sustainable agriculture.

    Also, according to Medina, "grain stalks were larger and the grains were fuller" when enhanced with biochar.

    This year and thanks to biochar, he eventually produced 24 cavan of rice from 2,644 square meters to which the crop had been planted with an average of 59.00 kilos per cavan.

    "In the past and based on my long years of farming, I only made 21 cavan of rice with an average of 50.75 kilos from a 2,900 square-meter plot," Medina said.

    "So, I truly believe that using biochar in my farm helped increase the yield by almost one metric ton per hectare," he added.

    The biochar maker, Alcom Carbon Markets Philippines is a subsidiary of Alcom Pte. Ltd., a renewable energy firm with headquarters in the Lion City that specializes in carbon-removal projects.

    It has partnered with the provincial government of Nueva Ecija to produce biochar in the province and possibly promote the product later in other rice-producing parts of the country as well.

    Biochar, according to Alcom Carbon Markets Philippines, is an environment-friendly soil amendment made from rice husks or "ipa" that locally are being disposed of mainly through indiscriminate burning outside rice mills or left to rot elsewhere.

    In 2021, the Philippines was reported to have produced 19.96 million metric tons of rice, indicating an increase over the previous year.

    With this great amount of the grain comes an equally huge quantity of rice husks that are a by-product of the harvest and a big issue for the industry.

    Jefrey Disameto, another Nueva Ecija farmer, has noted that his fellow growers just leave the rice husks outside rice mills and the husks are usually burned shortly by millers in order to decongest their plants.

    Dr. Claro Torres, chief agriculturist of biochar maker Alcom Carbon Markets Philippines, said burning involves oxygenation that produces a by-product that is basically ash.

    "During the process, we can expect that elemental components of the rice husks are converted into gases that enter the atmosphere. With complete burning, you release carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to heating of the atmosphere leading to climate change," he added.

    Rice husks are made up of carbon, water, silica, cellulose and lignin.

    According to Torres, "global environmental and health issues" are brought by the burning of the rice husks, an approach that is deemed cost-effective by many farmers and millers but, he pointed out, not only produces smoke but also breathes out "health-hazardous chemicals."

    Alcom said it has been recommending biochar not only for rice but also onion and calamansi (Philippine lime) farms, also observing that limes cultivated in soil infused with biochar grow 30 percent larger than those without it.

    With the mission of protecting the environment from global warming and climate change, according to Alcom Pte Ltd. founder Prateek Tiwari, the company said it at the same time helps local communities in the Philippines by providing jobs to farmers and teaching them sustainable agricultural practices.

    Indeed, such practices have been adopted by Lauro Medina, getting positive results from them.

    He said biochar has proved to be effective in reducing adverse effects of heavy metals in plants, increasing water retention three to five times and improving soil permeability and aeration.

    Concluding that biochar is an eco-friendly soil enhancer and a sustainable nature-friendly soil amendment, Medina pointed to his increased rice harvest that he said would not have been made possible by commercial fertilizers in the market today.

    This output, according to Rodeo Nunez Jr., lawyer and managing director of Alcom Carbon Markets Philippines, "demonstrated that using biochar widely and extensively is highly advantageous for both agricultural and climatic systems, making it a viable tool for regenerative agriculture."

  • Basmati Rice in your plate might be mixed with artificial colour! Know Govt’s latest rule to stop adulteration

  • It has regulated standards to maintain the natural aroma and quality of basmati rice. The comprehensive regulatory standards will be enforced from August 1. 

    Adulteration of food has become a big cause of concern amid ever-growing competition between the corporates. In recent days, it has been observed that some of the corporates, in order make their fast moving consumer products (FMCGs) more sellable, have resorted to unfair memes like adding artificial odour and colour to the food grains

    Basmati rice - considered as the most popular rice form in the country - has also suffered adulteration. 

    Taking note of some recent complaints, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has specified the identity standards for basmati rice - It has regulated standards to maintain the natural aroma and quality of basmati rice. The comprehensive regulatory standards will be enforced from August 1. 

    What are the regulatory standards?

    As per the standards, the natural aroma of basmati rice has to be maintained. Any kind of artificial coloring and fake fragrance cannot be added to Basmati rice. These standards apply to brown basmati rice, milled basmati rice, parboiled rice, milled basmati parboiled brown basmati rice. 

    The standards also specify various identity and quality parameters for basmati rice such as average size of grains and their elongation ratio after cooking, maximum limits of moisture, amylose content, uric acid, defective/damaged grains and incidental presence of other non-basmati rice.

    India is the largest exporter of Basmati Rice

    India is the largest exporter of Basmati rice worth about Rs 30,000 crore every year. New Delhi has also applied for GI tag for Basmati in European Union. 

    What is Basmati Rice?

    Basmati is long aromatic rice grown traditionally in the Himalayan foothills, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarkhand. Its speciality is that it has extra long grains and has more soft and fluffy texture upon cooking. Basmati rice is unique among other aromatic long-grain rice varieties.   

  • Payment fact sheet available to rice farmers

  • Rice farmers with questions about funding contained in the omnibus bill signed last month by President Biden can find answers in a fact sheet released Friday by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

    The Fiscal Year Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes $250 million in funding for a one-time payment to rice producers to help them offset high costs faced by the industry. Drivers of those costs include weather, war and other factors, said Hunter Biram, extension economist for the Division of Agriculture.

    “We knew there would be a lot of questions and we wanted to have ready information for Arkansas rice farmers to make sound decisions for the 2023 growing season,” Biram said.

    The fact sheet is available for download at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/publications/pdf/FSA68.pdf.

    Biram authored FSA68 along with Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture and Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center.

    “Rice producers in particular were impacted heavily by major increases in production costs in 2022, more so than other crops,” Hardke said. “Hopefully these payments ensure that rice farms are able to stay in operation moving forward and the economic outlook improves.”

    Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center said the ad hoc funding “was a huge legislative lift and a significant help to rice producers in Arkansas and beyond.”

    Both Biram and Hardke urged rice growers to exercise caution where the payments are concerned.

    “While this assistance will be key to growers remaining profitable, caution should also be exercised regarding expectations about how much each grower will receive and how that impacts their planning and operation for the 2023 season,” Hardke said.

    Farmers should be sure to read the FAQs in the fact sheet and urged them to “not make any decisions until you get a check in the mail,” Biram said.

  • FCI procures 17.5 LMT of fortified rice in 2021-22 in Andhra Pradesh

  • It has been distributed in some southern States

    A total quantity of 17.59 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) of fortified rice was procured by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) during Kharif Monsoon Season (KMS) 2021-22 in Andhra Pradesh. Out of this, the FCI has dispatched about 5 LMT of fortified rice to consuming States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka by December 2022. The procurement includes 6.52 LMT through FCI and 11.07 LMT through the State Civil Supplies Corporation (CSC).

    A quantity of 6.15 LMT fortified rice has been distributed in high burden and aspirational districts under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) as well as PM Poshan and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) schemes in Andhra Pradesh, Chandra Shekhar Joshi, General Manager, Andhra Pradesh Region, FCI, told The Hindu.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address in 2021 said fortified rice would be supplied through the government schemes to ensure nutrition. Accordingly, the Centre approved the supply of fortified rice through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under the NFSA and ICDS, PM POSHAN and other schemes in all States and Union Territories (UTs) in a phased manner.

    Mr. Joshi said under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana about 30.08 LMT foodgrains were issued to beneficiaries in the Andhra Pradesh region through the FCI.

    Under multi-modal transport, 41,320 MT of foodgrains were moved to Kerala through the riverine movement, during 2021-22. 

    A quantity of 32,642 MT and 23,234 MT of foodgrains were despatched to Andaman & Nicobar Islands through coastal movement during 2020-21 and 2021-22 respectively.

    He said, “To ameliorate the hardships faced by the poor due to economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to minimise the impact of the pandemic on food security, the Government in March 2020 had announced the distribution of additional foodgrains (rice/wheat) free of cost to about 80 crore population under the NFSA {Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Households (PHH)} at the rate of 5 kg per person per month under the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY). So far, under the scheme, the department had an offtake of about 30.08 LMT of foodgrains from the A.P. Region. Currently, Phase VII (October-December 2022) of PMGKAY is operational in all States and Union Territories.

  • As Buhari Exits, Questions Over Rice Pyramids Linger

  • President Muhammadu Buhari launched 13 rice pyramids in Abuja in January, 2022, in a ceremony that received international media attention and elevated Nigeria to the…

    President Muhammadu Buhari launched 13 rice pyramids in Abuja in January, 2022, in a ceremony that received international media attention and elevated Nigeria to the position of top rice producer in Africa. 

    The launch was to showcase the successes of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) driven by the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and to announce a crash in the price of the crop.

    However, one year after the debut, the price of rice increased to N40,000 per 50kg in December, 2022, up from N26,000 before the fiesta, leaving Nigerians wondering if the event was stage-managed to make the president believe the billions of naira put into the production were worth it.

    Prior to 2015, about N600bn worth of rice was imported each year to close the demand-supply mismatch for milled rice.

    With only six operational integrated rice mills and a national paddy output of roughly 4.5 million metric tonnes at the time, the Nigerian rice business was unattractive to both farmers and millers because imported rice predominated the Nigerian market.

    However, a game-changing scheme, the ABP, was launched in November, 2015, starting with the financing of smallholder farmers of rice and wheat.

    Through the provision of inputs in kind, biometric identification of farms and farmers, extension services, secured markets through well-established offtake contracts and additional connections to the agro-processors to ensure the transmission of the benefits from primary production to other nodes of the value chain, ABP created a dynamic ecosystem among all stakeholders.

    As at February, 2022, the CBN had disbursed N975.61bn to 4.52 million smallholder farmers across the country under ABP.

    Productivity per hectare increased to an average of four to five metric tonnes, integrated rice mills grew astronomically to over 50 in 2021 and national output to over nine million metric tonnes.

    For many Nigerians, the billions of naira did not translate to cheap rice; instead, they are spending more to eat rice.

    “Finding cheap rice is a worry for me as a customer. I don’t understand why the government would claim that after spending billions on rice cultivation we cannot afford it,” said Mr Akin Tunde in Abuja.

    For two seasons now the ABP has stopped due to bad loans and as Buhari exits in the next four months stakeholders fear the success may be reversed.

    Rice production in W/Africa grew by 44%

    Region still imports 8m tons

    Dr Boladale Adebowale, the Executive Secretary of the ECOWAS Rice Observatory, speaking recently in Abuja, stated that in the 14 of the ECOWAS member states rice played a very important and increasing socio-economic role. 

    She said the consumption of rice had experienced an exponential demand growth since the second-half of the 70s due to an increasing population that was nearly doubling every 25 years. 

    Dr Boladale said, “The regional production increased by 44 per cent between 2008, when we were only producing 6.9 million metric tonnes in the region to 13.8 million metric tonnes recorded for 2020 alone. 

    “However, demand has not been met from local production, no matter how much we try to shy away from that. The region has relied on importation from Asia to meet this shortfall. In 2020 alone as I mentioned earlier, over eight million tons of milled rice was imported by West Africa. And the bill was over $3.4bn. This did not only deplete the scarce foreign reserves that we have, but what it has done is to undermine the indigenous capabilities that we have in the production of rice and the development of the rice value chain as well. 

    “In West Africa, local production of rice covers only 62 per cent of current demand, and it is a fact. In Nigeria it covers only about 72 per cent. That is also a fact.”

    Troubled CBN, dead ABP leave farmers in limbo

    Muhammed Ali Baba of RIFAN, during the launch of a rice policy in Abuja, said, “The greatest challenge we have had so far with the ABP is repayment. It is what has killed it.

    “These past two seasons we didn’t have ABP because repayment was abysmal,” adding that the value chain players, especially those at the lower level, must be sensitised if such intervention must be sustained.

    For some time now the CBN has been facing criticism over the huge amount (about N1trn) spent in the programme with rice still unaffordable.

    Although the ABP recorded some successes in the sector, some stakeholders believe that most of the funds ended up in the hands of people who are not real farmers, adding that increased local production is due to import ban and border closure.

    “A lot of people got rich through a number of interventions because of corruption in the system. Some people forced themselves to become leaders of some commodity associations just to tap into the funds. These people don’t have farms but because they know those who are in charge of administering these funds.

    “That’s why output will never commensurate the amount claimed to have been spent on production,” Ali Barde, a farmer said.

    Dr Fatima Aliyu, the focal person for rice at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, while speaking on rice transformation in the country recently  said that by 2018, Nigeria had achieved 70 per cent self-sufficiency.

    “No matter what people say, Nigeria has made gigantic progress in the production of rice in Africa. People don’t notice it because we have a very large population. But whatever the case, when our borders were closed, when there was a shutdown of everywhere during the COVID-19 pandemic, the exporters were not exporting, so there was nothing to import, but there was rice in Nigeria,” she said.

    Gov Bagudu speaks 

    Governor Atiku Bagudu Abubakar of Kebbi State, who is the Vice Chairman of the National Food Security Council and also Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Rice and Wheat, also believes a lot has been done. 

    He said, “We have done well, there’s no doubt about it, in the rice sector, the increase in production, the mobilization of private investments, the coming together of financiers,  scientists and  policy makers under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has  produced monumental results above 15 million tons. 

    “But that we have done well does not mean we cannot do better, and that again needs to be appreciated.  The goal of doubling rice production by 2030 to 30 million metric tons is even modest. And in terms of the fact that we have seen rapid increases in yield, we have seen revolution at the lowest level, meaning at the farmer level and most of our farming communities today, you find farmers transiting and willing to embrace agronomic practices, which in a while ago they were very reluctant to embrace. They are now willing to invest in seedling and or even appreciate the value of adequacy of inputs and so on and so forth. 

    “So this transformation is achieving a critical mass which we believe will bring to bear how easy it is for us to go to the next level in terms of achieving that 30 million tons. And it makes sense because the former known Western states which include Niger, Sokoto. Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara, have a landmass of about 149,000 square kilometres, slightly bigger than Bangladesh. Bangladesh is 147,000, but yet Bangladesh, even with 170 million people occupying that land, produces about 35 million metric tons of rice. So if we ask to support even one part of the country. We can see why the 30 million goal is not too ambitious. So it’s not out of a dream, especially given the fact that all the 36 states in Nigeria and FCT have potential for rice production.” 

    But with Buhari’s tenure coming to an end, CBN under search light and commercial banks’ interest rate going beyond smallholder farmers, the future is unpredictable. 

    Currently, farmers are battling low productivity, high cost of production, poor rural infrastructure, land tenure issues, climatic factors, little access to irrigation services, banditry and insurgency.

  • Panchamrutha launches unique fortified rice

  • MARGAOPanchamrutha Industries, a well-known name in the field of food products, has on Thursday launched "Panchamrutha Fortified Rice" in Goa at Margao.
    Panchamrutha Director Jambulingappa Hosmani informed that Panchamrutha Fortified Rice is unique and unprecedented in the sense that the rice is enriched with vital vitamins and minerals to improve its nutritional content.
    “Panchamrutha was launched in 2002 in Goa. Our mantra was 'Ghar Ghar Mey Panchamrutha'. Since then we have gone ahead in a big way. The uniqueness of Panchamrutha is that there is consistency in quality, consistency in price, and consistency in supply,” he said.
    He pointed out that the Union government in 2015 had announced the need of producing fortified products to combat malnutrition in the country, Hosmani said “we took it up as a challenge, fortified our rice, and strengthened our network throughout the State.”
    He added: “The advantages of this new Fortified Rice are that it improves haemoglobin content, fights anaemia, builds robust immune system and strengthens metabolism. When people purchase Panchamrutha rice, they can see some yellow grains present in the pack. It is because of that yellow grain the rice gets fortified. We have studied the advantages of this yellow grain after subjecting it to various tests.”
    He said Panchamrutha Fortified Rice has all the potential to increase the physical health and fitness of the people and thus lead to a healthy society.   

  • No broad-based decline in food inflation yet

  • Spices inflation was 20.35% in December 2022 as prices of jeera (cumin seeds), dhania , turmeric and black pepper rose by 25.25%, 22.53%, 7.7% and 10.18% respectively on year.

    Nomura's price trackers for pulses, vegetable oils and sugar also show a further contraction in January; cereal prices are moderating, while momentum remains strong for eggs and milk prices. (IE)

    While food inflation fell to 4.19% in December, the lowest since January 2022, thanks to a sharp fall in prices of vegetables, edible oils, meat products and pulses, the prices of several commodities such as spices, cereals and dairy products continued to be at elevated levels amid supply contraints.

    While stating that sharp corrections in vegetable prices eased up food inflation, Crisil said prices of most other food groups rose year-on-year. Cereals, which contributed majorly to inflation zooming past 7% for most of the first half of this fiscal, saw prices going up by 13.8% in December.

    “It is not a broad based decline in food inflation, the fall is due to the most volatile part of the basket, that is vegetables,” DK Joshi, chief economist, Crisil told FE. Joshi said there remains stickiness in other components such as cereals where the wheat crop got hit last year while rice production is likely to decline this year. Wheat and rice inflation was at 22.2% and 10.49% respectively in December 2022 on year.

    As per agriculture ministry, wheat output in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) declined by around 3% on year to 106.8 million tonne (MT) because of heat waves during the flowering stage of the crop in March last year. India’s rice production in the current kharif season for the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) is expected to decline by around 6% to 104.99 MT against 111.76 MT in 2021-22.

    In May 2022, India banned wheat exports for ensuring domestic supplies while in September 2022, the government also banned broken rice exports as well and put additional export duties of 20% on the certain varieties of non-basmati rice exports.

    Spices inflation was 20.35% in December 2022 as prices of jeera (cumin seeds), dhania , turmeric and black pepper rose by 25.25%, 22.53%, 7.7% and 10.18% respectively on year.

    Nomura said in a report that while the fall in vegetable prices in December 2022 is in line with seasonal trends, “the size of the contraction is surprising in view of the variations observed in daily market prices.”

    “Early data for January suggest that vegetable prices have continued to fall in line with seasonal trends (our tracker for tomato, onion and potato prices is down -7.1% m-o-m from -10.5% in December), which is likely to continue having an outsized effect on headline inflation,” it said. Nomura‘s price trackers for pulses, vegetable oils and sugar also show a further contraction in January; cereal prices are moderating, while momentum remains strong for eggs and milk prices.

    Milk and egg inflation in December was at 8.23% and 6.91% respectively.

    On rise in milk price this year, Meenesh C Shah, chairman, National Dairy Development Board had said that, in the last one year fodder and feed costs have increased by 25% and there was ‘some drop in milk production in few pockets because of the spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD) amongst livestock population’. Mother Dairy, a fully owned subsidiary of NDDB, a major milk supplier in NCR-Delhi region, had announced the fifth round of increase in milk prices this year.

    HSBC said in January, vegetable prices continue to ease, particularly that of tomato and potato. “Strong sowing bodes well for wheat production, and if all goes well, food inflation could fall further in the coming months,” it stated.

    According to agriculture ministry data on Friday, wheat sowing this season has been reported at record 33.71 million hectare.

  • Asia rice: strong baht, demand props up Thai export prices

  • MUMBAI/HANOI/ BANGKOK: Export prices of rice from Thailand rose this week to their highest level in nearly two years on a stronger baht and sturdy demand, while Vietnam rates fell to a six-week low as activity slowed ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice rates rose from $480 per tonne last week to $495 per tonne on Thursday - its highest since March 2021 - helped by a strong baht and more regional demand, traders said.

    “Prices are the highest in 3-4 years because of the strong baht and demand coming in from Indonesia,” said a Bangkok-based trader, adding prices could reach $500. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $445-$450 per tonne, free on board, down from $458 per tonne a week ago. “Trade is slow as the Lunar New Year holiday is nearing,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    “Exporters are focusing on delivery for the signed contracts,” the trader said, adding that domestic supplies are low after strong shipments in 2022.

    Traders said the winter-spring harvest, the largest crop of the year, will begin in February and peak from mid-March.

    Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $375-$382 per tonne, unchanged from last week. White rice prices in India rose to $398-$405 per tonne from $394-$400 per tonne a week ago on good demand.

    “Buyers are giving preference to Indian rice despite export duty.

    Indian supplies are at least $50 per tonne cheaper than other destinations,” said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading firm.

  • Rice farmers cushion losses with resilient farmer-bred variety

  • Kabuhian Communal Farm (Photo by Angeliza Arceno)

    The PBB 401 rice variety stands out because it has repeatedly shown its resilience to floods, including those induced by extreme weather events.

    HINIGARAN, Negros Occidental — A farmer-bred rice variety never leaves farmers from barangay Calapi in Hinigaran town in mid-southern part of this province empty handed.

    “With PBB 401 variety, there’s always something to harvest,” said Ruben Laquita, member of a small peasant group in Hinigaran.

    Farms in this coastal town are frequently flooded following heavy rains, which Laquita described as an unfortunate experience in the last three cropping seasons. “We used to plant other rice varieties [through organic farming], but floods completely destroyed them.”

    The PBB 401 rice variety, on the other hand, stands out because it has repeatedly demonstrated its resilience to floods. Extreme weather events, also known as conditions beyond average weather and climate patterns, have become more common because of climate change.

    Over the last two decades, the country has had the highest occurrence of extreme weather events, particularly tropical typhoons, among Asian developing countries included in this study, with flooding being one of the major agricultural damage-causing hazards. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, these unmitigated disasters have cost the agriculture sector the most, with 63 percent damage or P290 billion pesos recorded from 2010 to 2019, further impoverishing the poorest members of this already vulnerable sector, the majority of whom significantly contribute in their local economies’ food production as a big part of rural population.

    As a result, farmers like Laquita prefer the PBB 401 because preventing total production losses is “better than nothing.”

    What is PBB 401?

    PBB 401 is an organic white rice variety developed by the late Pepito Babasa, a farmer-breeder from Camarines Sur in the Bicol region. Babasa used two parent materials for breeding: native red rice Bulao and salinity-resistant M115-1. This resulted in a slightly “blonde” husk, droopy flag leaf, a not-too-slender/elongated grain which ripens before the leaves. It can reach a height of one meter.

    “Here in our place [in Bato town] there’s no irrigation system. Upland farms are rainfed, and farmers can only plant once per year. Those in the lowlands pumped water from the river, which can also flood their riceland during heavy rains,” Babasa said.

    According to him, the PBB 401 is drought-resistant due to its deep-penetrating roots, and farmers in other Philippine provinces such as Negros and Cotabato in Mindanao, where irrigation is also scarce, attest to its productivity amid extreme drought, even without using chemical fertilizer.

    But while the PBB 401 was made as drought-resilient, its adaptors also found it flood-resistant, including the Hinigaran farmers. Their most recent experience was when super typhoon Odette (Rai), the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 2021 and the first to develop strength beyond tropical storms in December since typhoon Nina in 2016, flooded their communal farm. It is also the second most damaging after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, which a study published in Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology estimated to have a return period of 13 years for affected rice farmers, adding 12.5 million tons of rice have been lost to typhoons since 2001.

    Despite the severe flood, the Hinigaran farmers were still able to harvest 35 cavans of rice, compared to their normal harvest of 95 to 100 cavans, while the Rc10 variety was completely destroyed.

    In a phone interview, Ronald Labrador, who obtained a salinity-resilient PBB variety called 410 for a coastal communal farm that he used to manage in Albay province, said these varieties are highly adaptable. According to him, the communal farm was established in response to saltwater inundation of ricelands, an environmental hazard that has become more common with the rapid climate-induced sea-level rise.

    Moreover, Babasa said his farm is along Lake Bato, one of the largest in the country and is part of the lake system in Camarines Sur. It overflowed after heavy rains, causing flooding that could last two weeks.

    Trial farming

    Laquita is a member of the Barangay Calapi Daat Small Farmers Association (CADASFA), a Hinigaran peasant organization made up of beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform program (CARP). The CARP is a government program that provides agricultural lands to landless farmers such as agricultural tenants and lessees, regular and seasonal farmhands, and other farm workers.

    After obtaining their Certificate of Land Ownership, the CADASFA started to grow rice varieties, including the PBB 401 in the .75 square meters of trial land. A trial land is a communal land where farmers grow farmer-saved rice varieties to test their adaptability to local conditions. Prior to harvest, participating farmers select varieties that are compatible with their farm ecologies and hazards. The ten most picked will be mass produced at the trial farm and distributed for free.

    PBB 401 has a “strong body,” according to CADASFA farmers, and produces a lot of yields, especially when not sprayed with chemical pesticides. “If you do not add poison (commercial pesticides), the plant will grow strong and will not be attacked by pests,” Laquita said.

    At the trial farm, these farmers practice organic farming to save money while maintaining the soil’s microbial health. “Why buy when you have natural materials around you? If you have it, use it. The plants remain healthy,” said CADASFA member Roger Noblezada.

    CADASFA farmers typically use natural pesticides derived from vermicompost and a blend of madre de cacao, tobacco, peppers, lemon grass, and makabuhay — all of which can be found on the farm.

    “We never had problems with organic pesticides,” Noblezada said, adding “commercial pesticides are expensive and we know what happens when we use it.” Excessive use of chemicals, according to him, “causes soil acidity, results in pesticide-resistant insects, and increases health risks to farmers.” Unlike organic farming, inorganic farmers have to buy chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and even seeds.

    But while both organic and inorganic fertilizers contain nitrogen, which crops do not absorb entirely, the latter is more prone to leaching and surface runoff. As a greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide can warm the atmosphere 300 times more than carbon dioxide. Fertilizers must be used and produced strategically in light of their potent emission impacts, which organic and pastoral farmers have been doing. Furthermore, the production of inorganic fertilizers contributes to the increased use of fossil fuels such as methane gas. Agriculture, along with forestry and land use, are second to the energy sector in terms of global human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which caused the climate crisis.

    Argene Seron, Kabuhian Association chairperson, believes that an adaptable seed is critical to cultivating climate-resilient crops. KABUHIAN is a farming association of CARP beneficiaries from Kabankalan City that also planted PBB 401 in their trial farm and saw similar yield results.

    Trial farming shows them that climate-resilient seeds are locally-adapted, diverse and rely on fertile soil. As Babasa put it, a resilient seed in one place may not be the same in another. Thus, the need for on-farm testing, which farmers can do if they have control over their food production practices, such as choosing what seeds to plant and cultivating and exchanging them for diverse varietal lines without the legal constraints of patents, among other things.

    Farming support network

    The CADASFA farmers have been working closely with the non-governmental peasant organization Paghida-et sa Kauswagan (Peace in Development Group/PDG) and its partner Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development/MASIPAG), both of which assist them in having control over their food production. The PDG through ensuring land rights, and MASIPAG (with its progressive scientist members) by encouraging agricultural biodiversity of staple crops, particularly rice, through localized food systems.

    PDG focuses on peasant communities, including CARP beneficiaries’ struggles, whereas MASIPAG works with its network of 50,000 marginalized Filipino farmers to ensure access to farmer-saved seeds and training on how to cultivate them without being tied to the costly monocrop, chemical-based farming prioritized by the Green Revolution. The latter’s exclusionary nature resulted in agro-biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, and debt-overwhelmed rural subsistence farmers — the same reasons that prompted the formation of MASIPAG to combat these threats.

    CADASFA farmers obtain their seeds from the PDG and MASIPAG seed libraries, which currently contain 2,000 rice varieties, including 600 traditional varieties, 1,299 MASIPAG rice, and 506 farmer-bred rice. Its 188 trial farms spread across the country keep at least 50 traditional seed varieties.

    Babasa used a MASIPAG line, the M115-1 variety, to produce the PBB 401. The organization was also able to save Philippine native rice varieties, like the Bulao, and has served as its custodian since.

    PDG coordinator Gilberto Premediles also attested to PBB 401’s resilient characteristics. “For example, if rainfed irrigation becomes clogged, PBB varieties like 407, 436, and especially the 401, have resistance to flooding and also drought. This is based on my experience with other farmers in Negros.”

    According to Premediles, Hinigaran farmers have been growing this rice variety for over two years and it has greatly aided their harvest. This is because it is a F7 crop that underwent (more or less than) three years and seven croppings of testing to become a pureline using MASIPAG’S breeding process. As a result, an established variety emerges (based on the breeder’s goals) that is distinctly superior from its parent materials.

    “Usually when you plant something successfully the first time, there is no guarantee that the next production will still have good seeds, sometimes a variation occurs,” Premediles said.

    This is also why farmers who grow commercial seeds (often hybrids) buy every planting season because hybrids revert to the traits of one of the parent materials. As a result, replanting does not guarantee the same qualities. Whereas based on Negros farmers’ experience with PBB 401, the second production will be just as good as the first.

    Other associations planted the PBB 401 and experienced the same positive results, including a good eating quality for having a fragrant smell, according to Premediles. Farmers from southern Negros Occidental towns, particularly Kabankalan City, are among them. He adds that all the grains must be ripe before harvesting in order to maximize yields.

    Core challenge: land rights

    Peasants are benefiting from the PBB 401 rice variety thanks to trial farming, which would have been difficult without access to land. Farmers can test rice varieties before planting them on their own farms by using communal lands as trial farms.

    According to Premediles, they usually grow a variety of rice seeds per gram and spread them on a small area of the rice bed that can hold at least 50 pieces of seeds. When those begin to grow, they observe and document how they perform, whether they are healthy or if they have any defects.

    Landless farmers, instead, grow what their landlords prefer, which is often inorganic crops, because the government prioritizes them for subsidies. That is the same reason why smallholder farming families continue to practice chemical farming despite knowing its economic impact on them and its environmental tolls.

    In 2022, the government’s budget allocation for fertilizer and oil price hike subsidies amounted to P20 billion pesos. Farmers qualified for such subsidies are those that receive chemical-dependent, high-yielding rice seeds from the government and those registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), which, according to the Department of Agriculture, “contains basic information of legitimate farmers, farm laborers and fishers.”

    Because of this, as well as the lack of support for farmers to organize, including CARP beneficiaries, Premediles laments how, despite the PBB variety’s success in reducing losses from extreme weather events, it is not widely used by Filipino farmers.

    Trial farming is a systematic activity that people’s organizations mobilize on the ground. Its members voluntarily participate in organic farming training provided by MASIPAG, attend regular meetings in their localities for the exchange of agricultural knowledge, and are willing to provide MASIPAG with a copy of their bred seeds, which will be distributed for free to its trial farms nationwide.

    According to Premidiles, “aside from simply granting them land, it would be preferable if the government would assist new beneficiaries in better managing their lands.”

    This is one of the reasons the CARP and its various iterations have failed to deliver on their promise of closing the gap between landless farmers and land ownership, despite having reportedly distributed 4.9 million hectares (out of 5.4 million hectares designated for CARP) since 2005. CARP beneficiaries struggle to keep their lands because farming is a capital-intensive and high-risk endeavor, especially inorganic farming, and many farmers end up giving up because of debt. In other cases, they suffered from and struggled against intimidation and harassment.

    While the CADASFA farmers had a smooth turn over and have no issue of land grabbing on their end, others are not as fortunate. The former are currently holding individual lands as well as eighty five square meters of communal land, which includes the trial land.

    Nancy Vingno, a peasant farmer from KABUHIAN Association in Kabankalan, said it took years to process their certificate of land ownership award (CLOA). “Having it for 24 years now is also 24 years of never ending struggle against land grabbing and constant harassment by landlords and the military when we simply would like to focus on farming and to be able to farm in peace,” she said.

    This is also happening in other parts of the country where land disputes have resulted in human rights violations of farmers, indigenous groups and environmental defenders. In June this year, members of the Philippine National Police illegally and violently arrested agrarian reform beneficiaries in Tarlac for rightfully claiming their land rights in favor of a local politician claiming ownership of the land.

    Other challenges

    Furthermore, there are no monetary funds to invest in the trial farms, which are managed locally and must be organized to obtain funding through donations or grants. Because their seed libraries are housed in simple huts, they are vulnerable to typhoons, as was the case in Kabankalan.

    Prior to typhoon Odette, farmers from Negros provided seed to typhoon-affected MASIPAG farmers, while those from Albay held feeding activities for farming families who were affected by movement restrictions during the lockdown.

    Still, the available seeds are limited, so CADASFA farmers had to make do with a non-flood resistant RC10. “We’d like to have a more consistent operation of the trial farm on our communal land, but it’s currently empty because we don’t have the money to maintain it,” Laquita said.

    Developing locally adapted rice varieties like the PBB 401 also takes years, and some members may become inactive along the process due to lack of adequate support. This is happening now with some CADASFA members.

    “Sometimes it is not just about the money but also about other resources. Owning our own land gives us control over our time and food production, and receiving the necessary support for land improvement activities and management constitutes true agrarian reform,” said Cutie Dalumpines, PDG coordinator for CADASFA. (JJE, RVO) 

  • India’s basmati exports surge on short-supply from Pakistan

  • Growers benefit in turn as the fragrant variety’s paddy sells above ₹4,250/quintal.

    Basmati rice exports from India have gained in value and volume following short-supplies from Pakistan, the only other competitor in the global market for the long-grained rice.

    Data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) show that basmati shipments during April-November of the current fiscal have increased to 2.73 million tonnes (mt), a 13 per cent jump over 2.4 mt in 2021-22. 

    The value of exports, on the other hand, has increased to $2.87 billion from $.2.06 billion. This is in view of the unit value rising 39 per cent during April-November to $1,051 a tonne from $860 for the entire 2021-22.

    More room for a hike

    In rupee terms, the rise in value is 48.6 per cent. Though data are available only till November, the picture has changed dramatically since then with Pakistan basmati exports dropping 44 per cent during the July-December period.

    Since then, basmati rice prices have increased further. Currently, the fragrant rice from India is quoted at $1,450 a tonne, while the Pakistan variety is offered at $1,350. 

    The buoyant exports have resulted in basmati farmers fetching 60 per cent higher price this fiscal. According to data from Agmarket, an arm of the Agriculture Ministry, the weighted average price of basmati paddy is ₹4,326 a quintal against ₹2,688 a year ago. “There is room for India to increase basmati prices further in view of the shortage in Pakistan,” said S Chandrasekaran, who has authored the book “Basmati Rice: The Natural History and Geographical Indication” and is a trade analyst.

    Wettest August in 61 years

    Pakistan has been badly hit by the wettest August in 61 years it witnessed last year. The neighbouring country’s agricultural production, mainly basmati and non-basmati paddy, has been badly affected by floods. 

    Despite the damage, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not projected any major setback to agricultural production. However, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan has been quoted by the media that basmati production had declined 40 per cent in the Sindh province due to floods.

    On the other hand, India’s basmati production is expected to be higher but details are awaited. Trade sources said Pakistan is going through a turbulent period due to a shortage of US dollars that is preventing it from importing commodities. The drop in basmati exports will further affect Islamabad’s balance of payment problem. 

    Damage to rail link

    Pakistan is currently witnessing skirmishes for food with social media flooded with such incidents. Last year, its wheat crop suffered due to a heatwave and currently, it is having to look at imports to overcome the shortage in the domestic market.

    Chandrasekaran said during the August-December period, there would have been at least 50,000 tonnes shortfall in Pakistan basmati supplies in the global market each month. “The historic floods have damaged the Karachi-Lahore rail link. It is another reason for Pakistan’s basmati exports to be affected,” he said. Differences between Pakistan and China over Main Line railway project under China Pakistan Economic Corridor have delayed the work to restore the link.

    India, on the other hand, has gained with Iran buying 6.28 lakh tonnes (lt) of basmati rice during the first half of the current fiscal. This is two-thirds of its total basmati imports last fiscal. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are the next big buyers of Indian basmati, importing 4.45 lt and 1.8 lt respectively in the first half.

  • BRS, BJP lock horns over 5-kg free rice scheme

  • The BJP leaders said the BRS government has been implementing 6kgs rice per head at the rate of Rs 1 per kg all these years. (Image: PTI)

    HYDERABAD: The ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) of K.Chandrasekhar Rao and the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are embroiled in a new conflict over a 5-kg free rice scheme that would be extended to ration card
    users across the state beginning this month.

    The BJP-led government in New Delhi recently decided that it will offer 5-kg
    of rice per person in each ration-card-holding family across the country for
    a year from January to December 2023 to those covered by the National Food
    Security Act, 2013. In addition to the Centre's 5-kg rice scheme, the Telangana government said on Wednesday that it will  begin distributing 5kgs of rice per person per family with ration cards immediately. Civil supplies minister Gangula Kamalakar made the announcement on Wednesday. This provoked a war of words between the BRS and BJP leaders. The BJP leaders claimed that the BRS government was forced to implement this scheme after the Centre announced a free rice scheme.

    The BJP leaders said the BRS government has been implementing 6kgs rice per
    head at the rate of Rs 1 per kg all these years and when the central government announced 5kg free rice scheme from January, the BRS government decided to scrap its scheme and implement the Centre's free rice scheme to reduce its subsidy burden. When the BJP leaders threatened to hold agitation programmes, the BRS government backtracked and announced a 5-kg free rice scheme.

    The BJP claimed that the state government's decision to distribute free rice
    was a result of its state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar demanding the same.
    The party, in a news release said the government's decision was forced after
    Sanjay wrote a letter to the CM on Tuesday asking if the Telangana
    government wanted the poor to be on empty stomachs during the harvest
    festival of Sankranti.

    Gangula Kamalakar claimed that his department had to change a software system in order to implement the Centre's free rice scheme at all ration shops, resulting in delay in distributing free rice to beneficiaries for a week. The plan to supply free rice from Wednesday has nothing to do with the BJP threatening agitation programmes.

     "Telangana has 55 lakh ration card holders covered under the Centre's NFSA
    while the state government issued an additional 35 lakh ration cards on its own to cover more beneficiaries by increasing income ceiling. The Centre is giving free rice to only 55 lakh ration card holders while we are bearing additional expenditure on another 35 lakh beneficiaries. We are supplying free rice to all these beneficiaries with our own funds. This shows the humane approach of CM KCR towards the poor," Kamalakar said.

  • Back to TRADITIONAL rice

  • Sometime in the year 2003, a bumper harvest saw rice prices plummeting in Sri Lanka severely affecting the paddy farmers of the country. The Government of the time decided that a concerted communications campaign was necessary to increase the demand for rice. The advertising company Phoenix-Ogilvy was given this task.

    It coincided with one of my first conversations with Irvin Weerackody who was instrumental in initiating me into the fascinating world of advertising, a venture which I believe helped considerably improve my writing skills among other things. He asked me to come up with a line. So I did: ‘yali sahalata’ and the English version, ‘Back to rice.’ The idea was accepted and of course considerably enhanced by the Phoenix creative team.

    At that time, as had been for several decades, the focus was on obtaining food security. Interesting term. Although it has connotations of self-sufficiency, what it really implies is the ability to either grow all the food a country (or a household or an individual) needs or possess the means to purchase the same. For those who believed that the former was the better option, which would make the term ‘food sovereignty’ more appropriate, it was about volume. In short, it was about growing all the food needed in the island itself.

    There’s something missing though. Nutrition. New ‘improved’ rice varieties introduced with the Green ‘Revolution’ (the quotation marks are significant, please note) were hailed as miracles. Shailesh Awate, Co-founder of OOO Farms, a social movement in India, argues, however, that the term ‘improved’ was misleading because it suggested what people were eating before was underdeveloped.

    The new varieties did help countries become self-sufficient but they also brought with them a lot of problems. They were thirsty for chemical fertilizers, demanded insecticides and pesticides and required farmers to buy new seeds every year. Traditional rice varieties had been developed over centuries and were adapted to specific environments. Most importantly, their nutritional benefits were immense.

    So ‘back to rice’ on the face of it addressed a particular problem and did justice to the brief submitted by the then Government — necessary but not sufficient, one has to conclude in retrospect.

    The self-sufficiency drive was launched in a context of the above ‘miracle’ as well as more than half a century since Japan developed technology to separate the inedible outer husk of rice grains which polished the grain so much that the bran got removed and turned brown rice into white. The removal of fibre and nutrients through polishing, it is now acknowledged, has affected the health of populations with rice-heavy diets. Dr. Vasanti Malik of the University of Toronto, points out that ‘white rice, because it lacks fibre and other nutrients, is absorbed quickly, prompting rapid spikes of blood glucose and insulin levels which, over time, increases the chances of developing diabetes.’ Asia, unsurprisingly, is projected to see the biggest rise in diabetes cases by 2045.

    Strangely, though, the World Health Organisation in its report on non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, has recommended as long ago as 2002 that it would be prudent for countries to shift to traditional foods. It seems, then, that the subjects of agriculture and health (and within it, nutrition) have existed like two countries separated by oceans, mountains and massive chasms.

    The problem is a fascination or even fixation with improving yield density at the cost of virtually abandoning nutrition density and along with it traditional rice varieties. Dr. Sirimal Premakumara of Colombo University, after studying brown, purple, red and gluteus varieties of rice still grown in Sri Lanka, concludes that their nutritional density is superior to even that of the iron-fortified ‘breakthrough rice’ developed by Thailand.

    The ITI (Industrial Technology Institute) data shows that traditional varieties such as Pachchaperumal, Kalu Baala Vee, Rath Suwandel, Kalu Heenati, Rathu Heenati, Gona Baru, Kahavanu, Madathavalu and Beth Heenati are considerably richer in protein, iron and antioxidants than the modern, hybrid varieties that have been pushed over so many decades. They have superior anti-diabetes and anti-cancer properties, higher fibre content, improve immune systems and are far more nutritious.

    The argument can be made and indeed is often tossed around that traditional varieties will not help the cause of achieving self-sufficiency. That’s bad science, isn’t it? First of all, they were rubbished by ‘experts’. Then they were deemed to be useless in the context of the yield-mantra, a gain proposed by experts who didn’t seem to think that nutrition needed to be considered. It was always about volumes, never mind if the population was forced to eat tons of unhealthy rice. Never mind if the Treasury had to allocate more and more money to deal with patients with non communicable diseases such as diabetes.

    An unhealthy population is ok as long as they aren’t hungry, it’s ok if they suffer, it’s ok if they die young, seems to be ‘expert thinking’. All ok as long as manufacturers of so-called miracle seeds, agrochemicals and paddlers of such things profit and prosper, we might add. And the current call for ‘fortified rice’ is not about shifting to a different culture of consumption, it’s not about promoting traditional rice varieties or research on the same, perhaps towards improving yields, or about communication campaigns on eating better and on the severe risks of bad food habits. These things need to be talked about.

    Back to rice. Good. Not good enough. Back to traditional rice. Better. Much better. Maybe the Government can consider commissioning a communication campaign along these lines. It could be a simple, four-word brief: ‘Back to TRADITIONAL rice.’

  • First batch of imported rice in 2023 arrives

  • AT least 12,417 metric tons of imported rice have arrived in the country, the first batch of importation for the staple food in 2023, according to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

    The BPI also said that the total imported grains in 2022 reached 3.8 million metric tons (MMT).

    Based on the report of BPI, as of Jan. 5, 2023, at least 6,500 metric tons of the imported grains came from Thailand and 5,917 metric tons were sourced from Vietnam.

    According to the BPI, the fresh rice imports were covered by at least nine sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs).

    The BPI added that total rice imports in 2022 reached 3,826,238 MT, more than double the total importation in 2019 of 1.857MMT.

    The bulk or 83 percent of the rice importation in 2022 came from Vietnam with 3.178MMT. This was 817,789 MT or 26 percent bigger compared to the 2.4 MMT total imports from Vietnam in 2021.

    The country's total importation in 2022 was 1.05MMT or 28 percent bigger compared to the 2.8MMT rice imports in 2021.

    Other sources of rice importation last year included Myanmar, 244,738 MT; Pakistan, 198.912 MT; Thailand, 183,230 MT; India, 10,095 MT; China, 9,328 MT; Singapore, 822 MT; Korea, 400 MT, Japan, 303 MT; and Spain, 4.96 MT.

    Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla had said the DA expects 2.5 MMT of rice imports in 2023, lower than last year's 3.8 MMT.

    Sombilla blamed the typhoons that hit the country in 2022 for the spike in the rice imports.

    She added that the BPI was tasked to manage the issuance of SPSICs under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

    According to Sombilla, the DA targets 20 million metric tons of local palay production in 2023.

    According to Sombilla, a big chunk of the budget for 2023 will be for the subsidy for the farmers.

    For his part, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa attributed the decline in palay production to the increase in the cost of farm inputs, particularly fertilizer.

  • Bangladesh to buy rice from Indian govt traders at higher rate

    • Price of rice at the two private companies is $393 and $397 per tonne
    • Govt-run companies selling at $433 and $436 per tonne
    • Govt-run traders earning Rs 330 million more per 100,000 tonnes
    Rice sacks at the market

    The ministry of food in Bangladesh has started the process of importing 300,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from India. The government will purchase two-thirds of the rice directly from the Indian government in a government-to-government (G2G) transaction. The remaining 100,000 tonnes of rice will be bought through a global import tender.

    The ministry will procure the rice from four Indian companies and the import process is in its final stage. However, Bangladesh is spending nearly US $40 more per tonne when buying from government-run Indian companies compared to the private traders.

    A number of Indian media outlets have already ran stories on the discrepancy of the price between government and private companies.

    A source at the food ministry said the rice the two private companies in India are selling at $393 and $397 per tonne is priced at $433.6 and $436.5 by the two government-run companies.

    Bangladesh will buy 100,000 tonnes of rice each from the government-run companies and 50,000 tonnes from each of the two private companies. The food ministry and cabinet committee on public procurement has already approved the import order.

    When the country is going through a dollar crisis, the government should purchase rice at the cheapest rate possible. If the price of rice is going down then they should wait for a bit and then buy rice

    AMM Shawkat Ali, Former agriculture secretary

    Food ministry secretary Mohammad Ismail Hossain told Prothom Alo, “The cost of rice fluctuates in every country. The talks to purchase rice through a governmental transaction began in last October. The talks were finalised in mid-December. The rate was fixed according to the export prices at the time. The global import tender was issued last December. By then, the price of rice had fallen. That’s why we could purchase rice at a lower price.”

    In December last year, a six-member team led by food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder and Mohammad Ismail Hossain toured Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to seek traders to import rice at a lower rate. But the team couldn’t secure a deal to import the requisite amount. So, the food ministry resumed the process of importing rice from India.

    A source at the food ministry said that very soon the ministry will sign a deal with India’s National Co-operative Consumer Federation (NCCF) and their central reserves to purchase 100,000 tonnes of rice from each.

    The directorate general of food issued a letter of intent (LoI) to both the companies on 21 December. Around 70 per cent of the imported rice will be brought via the Chattogram and Mongla ports. The remaining rice will come in trains. The companies are contractually obligated to deliver the rice within 70 days of the signing the agreement.

    The talks to purchase rice through a governmental transaction began in last October. The talks were finalised on mid-December. The rate was fixed according to the export prices at the time

    Mohammad Ismail Hossain, food ministry secretary

    In the global import tender, the two Indian private companies proposed the lowest quotations and were given the contract. The companies are the Singapore-based Agro-Crop International Limited and Bagadiya Brothers.

    Business Line, a newspaper owned by Indian media house the Hindu group, ran a report on 21 December on the difference of price between the government and private traders. They expressed shock at Bangladesh choosing to buy from the government traders over the private ones.

    The report said the Indian co-operative traders are getting Rs 330 million more per 100,000 tonnes of rice. In total, the co-operatives will earn an extra Rs 660 million.

    The report claimed that the government and private traders from India are selling rice at the lowest rate in the current global market and traders in Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar traders are selling at a higher rate in comparison.

    Former agriculture secretary AMM Shawkat Ali told Prothom Alo, “At a time when the country is going through a dollar crisis, the government should purchase rice at the cheapest rate possible. If the price of rice is going down, then they should wait for a bit and then buy rice.”

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), India will be the biggest global exporter of rice in the running fiscal year. China will buy 1.35 million tonnes of rice from India and Philippines and middle-eastern countries are also showing interest to buy rice from India.

    As per the food ministry, currently around 1.4 million tonnes of rice is stored at government food reserves. The government distributes nearly 200,000 tonnes of rice every month as part of its social security programmes.

    After the price of rice spiked in the country, the distribution amount was increased to 300,000 tonnes. That’s why, the government is trying to purchase from external sources to replenish the reserve.

    *This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy

  • Rice breeding breakthrough to feed billions

  • Summary:

    An international team has succeeded in propagating a commercial hybrid rice strain as a clone through seeds with 95 percent efficiency. This could lower the cost of hybrid rice seed, making high-yielding, disease resistant rice strains available to low-income farmers worldwide.

    An international team has succeeded in propagating a commercial hybrid rice strain as a clone through seeds with 95 percent efficiency. This could lower the cost of hybrid rice seed, making high-yielding, disease resistant rice strains available to low-income farmers worldwide. The work was published Dec. 27 in Nature Communications.

    First-generation hybrids of crop plants often show higher performance than their parent strains, a phenomenon called hybrid vigor. But this does not persist if the hybrids are bred together for a second generation. So when farmers want to use high-performing hybrid plant varieties, they need to purchase new seed each season.

    Rice, the staple crop for half the world's population, is relatively costly to breed as a hybrid for a yield improvement of about 10 percent. This means that the benefits of rice hybrids have yet to reach many of the world's farmers, said Gurdev Khush, adjunct professor emeritus in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. Working at the International Rice Research Institute from 1967 until retiring to UC Davis in 2002, Khush led efforts to create new rice high-yield rice varieties, work for which he received the World Food Prize in 1996.

    One solution to this would be to propagate hybrids as clones that would remain identical from generation to generation without further breeding. Many wild plants can produce seeds that are clones of themselves, a process called apomixis.

    "Once you have the hybrid, if you can induce apomixis, then you can plant it every year," Khush said.

    However, transferring apomixis to a major crop plant has proved difficult to achieve.

    One Step to Cloned Hybrid Seeds

    In 2019, a team led by Professor Venkatesan Sundaresan and Assistant Professor Imtiyaz Khanday at the UC Davis Departments of Plant Biology and Plant Sciences achieved apomixis in rice plants, with about 30 percent of seeds being clones.

    Sundaresan, Khanday and colleagues in France, Germany and Ghana have now achieved a clonal efficiency of 95 percent, using a commercial hybrid rice strain, and shown that the process could be sustained for at least three generations.

    The single-step process involves modifying three genes called MiMe which cause the plant to switch from meioisis, the process that plants use to form egg cells, to mitosis, in which a cell divides into two copies of itself. Another gene modification induces apomixis. The result is a seed that can grow into a plant genetically identical to its parent.

    The method would allow seed companies to produce hybrid seeds more rapidly and at larger scale, as well as providing seed that farmers could save and replant from season to season, Khush said.

    "Apomixis in crop plants has been the target of worldwide research for over 30 years, because it can make hybrid seed production can become accessible to everyone," Sundaresan said. "The resulting increase in yields can help meet global needs of an increasing population without having to increase use of land, water and fertilizers to unsustainable levels."

    The results could be applied to other food crops, Sundaresan said. In particular, rice is a genetic model for other cereal crops including maize and wheat, that together constitute major food staples for the world.

    Khush recalled that he organized a 1994 conference on apomixis in rice breeding. When he returned to UC Davis in 2002, he gave a copy of the conference proceedings to Sundaresan.

    "It's been a long project," he said.

    Coauthors on the paper are: Aurore Vernet, Donaldo Meynard, Delphine Meulet, Olivier Gibert, Ronan Rivallan, Anne Cecilé Meunier, Julien Frouin, James Tallebois, Daphné Autran, Olivier Leblanc and Emmanuel Guiderdoni, CIRAD and University of Montpellier, France; Qichao Lian and Raphael Mercier, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany; Matilda Bissah, CSIR Plant Genetics Resources Research Institute, Ghana; and Kyle Shankle, UC Davis. Khush is not an author on the new paper.

    The work was supported in part by funding from the Innovative Genomics Institute and the France-Berkeley Fund.

  • Months designated to highlight agriculture in the Philippines

  • by RALPH LAUREN ABAINZA

    The Philippines celebrates the wonders of the country’s agriculture every year through different national month-long celebrations and festivals. From rice to fish, there is a lot to celebrate and appreciate around the country.

    Here are the official month-long celebrations designated to appreciate the contributions of the agricultural sector to the country’s development:

    Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month

    January

    Celebrated every January, Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month aims to promote the use of indigenous textiles and raw materials, such as abaca, banana, and pineapple leaves, being produced in the country. Under Presidential Proclamation No. 313, series of 2012, the government, led by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), crafts programs to sustain increased interest and active participation of Filipinos in local tropical fabric developments.

    One of the local companies taking part in promoting indigenous textiles is LARA in the municipality of Basey in Samar. LARA remasters the traditional art of weaving while empowering local women weavers.

    Countryside Development Month

    February

    Through the virtue of Presidential Proclamation 212, series of 2016, the Countryside Development Month aims to promote national economic decentralization through a series of activities that will highlight countryside products among local consumers and increase public-private market linkages.

    One of the groups actively promoting and helping in countryside development is Green Rescue Organic Association Inc (GRO). Through the group, Arcely ‘Cely’ Lagardo, a former worker in Manila was able to grasp more opportunities in the countryside by learning organic farming with GRO.

    Farmers’ and Fisherfolks’ Month

    May

    Throughout the country’s history, the agricultural sector has contributed a lot to shaping the national economy and culture. The month of May is proclaimed as Farmers’ and Fisherfolks’ Month through the virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 33, series of 1989, to recognize the role of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk in helping the country achieve food security and sustainability.

    One of the fisherfolks leading in the mission of making the fisheries sector more sustainable is Roberto Ballon, a fisherman from Zamboanga Sibugay. Together with his 30 other colleagues, he started Kapunungan sa Gamay Nga Mangingisda sa Concepcion (KGMC) which aims to promote mangrove reforestation to revitalize marine ecosystems.

    Nutrition Month

    July

    In a bid to increase awareness and help in alleviating the problem of malnutrition in the country, the government designates July as Nutrition Month through the virtue of Presidential Decree No. 491, series of 1974. The series of activities during Nutrition Month aims to promote the importance of nutrition among Filipinos, especially children. The month also highlights the role of agriculture in ensuring a healthy population.

    Developing the agriculture sector is essential to reaching the community’s nutrition goals. Promoting sustainable agriculture and combating malnutrition is the mission Cherie Atilano, president and founder of social enterprise Agrea, aims to continue as a high-level ambassadress for the United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.

    Bamboo Month

    September

    Bamboo is a fast-growing grass known for having a variety of uses. In recognition of the many uses of bamboo and its potential to help in developing communities, the month of September is designated as Bamboo Month through the virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1401, signed just last 2022. The month-long series of activities aims to strengthen the local bamboo industry by promoting the product development of bamboo and enhancing market access to bamboo products.

    One of the companies recognizing the value of bamboo is Bambu Salubre in Bulacan. The company’s six-hectare farm in the town of San Jose Del Monte is home to more than 80 species of bamboo being utilized to produce essential oils and hydrosols.

    National Rice Awareness Month

    November

    Rice is life for many Filipinos, shaping not just the local cuisine, but also the country’s economy. Despite being a staple food in the country, problems in the supply of rice continue to bug the local industry and are further aggravated by the problem of food waste. Through the virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 524 Series of 2004, National Rice Awareness Month every November aims to raise public awareness of the importance of rice, combat malnutrition and poverty, and promote rice self-sufficiency. During this month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) also highlights the need for responsible consumption of rice.

    More than appreciation, Filipinos are called upon to support local rice farmers. From patronizing local rice to more active community involvement, there are several ways to support Filipino farmers.

    Organic Agriculture Month

    November

    Highlighting the importance of organic agriculture in ensuring food security with environment-friendly practices, Presidential Proclamation No. 1030, series of 2015, designates November of each year as Organic Agriculture Month. The series of activities during the month aims to promote the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines as an effective tool for rural development, ecological conservation, and health protection of farmers and consumers.

    After changing careers, farmer Emma Tolentino is now helping her community in Victoria, Tarlac through organic farming. Her Eco Natural Integrated Farm is home cultivating guava apples, organic rice, mushroom, and other herbs and spices.

    The monthly agriculture celebrations not only remind Filipinos of the abundance and contribution of the local agricultural sector but also highlight the need for it to be further developed amidst the country’s glaring problems on food security and sustainability.

  • Vietnam’s ethnic farmers go green with organic farming

  • Under People-Led Development Program, farmers can find real solutions to their own problems

    Participants receive tips on organic farming at the two-day event at the Pastoral Center in Da Lat in Vietnam on Jan 5 (Photo supplied)

    Bitter weather did not prevent hundreds of ethnic farmers in Vietnam from joining hands to promote organic farming.

    Some 160 farmers in Da Lat Diocese attended the two-day gathering on Jan.5, organized by the local arm of Caritas at the Pastoral Center in Da Lat, capital of Lam Dong province.

    They brought over 100 kinds of seeds of rice, beans, vegetables, and chili. Most of the seeds were locally produced and some were gifts from farmers in Nepal and the Philippines.

    “This is the first time I have tasted various traditional dishes from indigenous groups,” said Simon Long Ding Haonh from the Chin ethnic group in Dung K’noh Parish.

    The 35-year-old father of four, who cultivates coffee and gathers honey from forests for a living, said local preparation methods should be passed on to younger generations to preserve ethnic traditions. 

    Under the People-Led Development Program, volunteers from Caritas imparted lessons on climate change and on the mass extinction of plant species. 

    The program, initiated by Caritas Da Lat in 2014, encourages local farmers to find real solutions to their own problems.

    Under the program, over 10 communities from Chau Ma, Chin, Chu Ru, K'hor and Mnong ethnic groups are participating in sustainable farming by using compost instead of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

    Before they exchanged seeds to propagate them in their areas, they prayed in their own languages. The meeting also discussed organic farming activities as a way to protect the environment.

    They also took part in traditional competitive games, including pounding rice in the compound. They prepared over 100 traditional simple dishes from fish, vegetables, fruits and roots which they collected from their local areas. 

    At the event, participants performed folk dances in traditional costumes.

  • India Considers Lifting Rice Export Curbs as Supply Improves

    • Stockpiles are adequate to meet the needs of welfare programs
    • India will likely sell wheat in open market to control prices
    India accounts for about 40% of global rice trade.Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg

    India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, is likely to lift restrictions on grain shipments in a move that would mark a further easing of a global wave of food protectionism after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Authorities are actively considering removing curbs on some rice exports as domestic prices are stable, according to a person familiar with the matter. Government stockpiles are adequate to meet the needs of welfare programs, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

    India accounts for about 40% of the global rice trade. Any relaxation of the export curbs will likely cool benchmark prices in Asia, which are trading near the highest since mid-2021. The move is being discussed as concerns over food inflation have eased. Global food costs ended 2022 roughly where they started despite a year of disruptions from the war in Ukraine and extreme weather.

    A spokesperson for the food and commerce ministries declined to comment. 

    India imposed a 20% duty on exports of white and brown rice in September, and banned broken rice sales abroad. The curbs, which apply to about 60% of Indian rice exports, came on top of restrictions on wheat and sugar sales. 

    Shares of Indian rice producers and exporters surged Tuesday on expectations that any change in shipment rules will potentially boost their sales. KRBL Ltd., one of the biggest shippers, climbed as much as 3.2%. LT Foods Ltd. rose 4%, while Chaman Lal Setia Exports Ltd. jumped 5.4%.

    Rising Global Food Protectionism Risks Worsening Inflation

    The Rice Exporters Association will call on the government to scrap some limits on exports as domestic supplies have increased following the harvest of monsoon-fed crops. The industry group will seek approval to ship at least 1 million tons of broken rice and request that the 20% tax on white rice exports be removed, according to B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the group.

    Increased availability of the grain helped the government to boost its purchases for various welfare programs. The federal agencies have bought 53 million tons of unmilled rice as of Jan. 1 from the 2022-23 crop, an increase of 11% from a year earlier, according to data compiled by the state-run Food Corp. of India.

    Officials are also considering selling about 2 million tons of wheat from state reserves in the local market to control prices, according to the person. This may be sold at a fixed price to users including flour mills, the person said.

    — With assistance by Andrew Janes and Jason Scott.

  • Study IDs gene that may reduce chalkiness of heat-stressed rice

  • POCKET SCIENCE: EXPLORING THE 'WHAT,' 'SO WHAT' AND 'NOW WHAT' OF HUSKER RESEARCH

    Welcome to Pocket Science: a glimpse at recent research from Husker scientists and engineers. For those who want to quickly learn the “What,” “So what” and “Now what” of Husker research.

    What?

    Oppressive temperatures can curb the growth and yields of multiple cereal crops, including rice, which is eaten by some 3.5 billion people worldwide. Though much of the research into heat stress has investigated its effects on quantity, it can degrade grain quality, too. Heat stress is especially known for introducing chalkiness to the interior of a rice seed, which, by complicating the milling process and making the grain less palatable to consumers, also lowers its market price.

    Still, researchers know less about the genetic contributors to that stress-driven chalkiness — and how to counteract it — than they do yield and other outcomes.

    So what?

    Nebraska’s Harkamal Walia and colleagues recently aimed to both identify genes linked with chalkiness and determine a faster, more efficient way to compare that chalkiness among different varieties of rice. The researchers began by exposing 229 genetically diverse rice plants to heat stress for five days, then collected and scanned grains from each of those plants. With the aid of SeedExtractor, a Husker-developed imagery analysis program, the team found that the ratio of red vs. green wavelengths reflected from the seeds could help estimate the amount of chalkiness within.

    After incorporating that red-green ratio into a genetic analysis of the rice plants, the team pinpointed one particular gene, OsCG5, that seemed especially active in the face of heat stress. The number of proteins originating from OsCG5 — a measure of gene expression — rose sharply not long after the researchers turned up the heat. That rise in gene expression also correlated with less chalkiness in the stressed rice seeds. Rice plants lacking OsCG5, meanwhile, responded to heat stress with more chalkiness than did plants containing the gene. Seeds from the OsCG5-absent plants grew 11-17% shorter, too.

    Now what?

    Learning more about OsCG5 could inform the development of rice varieties that yield less-chalky seeds amid the heat waves of a still-warming planet, the researchers said. Incorporating the team’s red-green pixel analysis might also speed the identification of other chalk-relevant genes in rice and related cereal crops.

    Nebraska’s Harkamal Walia and colleagues have described a novel form of a gene obtained from wild wheat that has the potential to improve drought tolerance in cultivated wheat. Craig Chandler | University Communication

    Nebraska's Harkamal Walia, professor of agronomy and horticulture.

  • Komal Rice: All You Need to Know About The Magical Rice of Assam

  • Are you in search of a new and flavorful way to add nutrition to your meals? Look no further than Komal rice, a type of aromatic rice that is native to the Assam region of India and widely used in Indian cuisine.

    Known for its distinct flavor and fragrance, Komal rice is a popular choice for traditional dishes like biryani and pulao. In this article, we will delve into the various health benefits of Komal rice and how it can be easily incorporated into your daily meals. So, if you want to add some flavor and nutrition to your meals, keep reading to learn more about this rice variety.

    Elevate Your Meals with the Soft, Fluffy Texture of Komal Rice.

    One of the unique characteristics of Komal rice is that it can be cooked using a method called "soaking." To prepare Komal rice using this method, you simply need to rinse the rice and then soak it in water for a few minutes. After soaking, the rice can be drained and used in a variety of dishes. This method of cooking Komal rice results in a soft, fluffy texture and allows the rice to retain more of its nutrients and flavor compared to other cooking methods.

    Komal rice is not just good for your taste buds, but good for the planet too!

    What really sets Komal rice apart is its farming methods. Unlike other types of rice that are grown using modern, industrial techniques, Komal rice is often grown using traditional methods that involve natural fertilizers and no chemical pesticides or herbicides. This results in a rice that is more flavorful, nutrient-rich, and better for the environment. And it's not just good for the planet - these traditional methods also help support local communities and economies by providing employment and income for small farmers.

    In addition to its delicious taste and versatility in the kitchen, Komal rice is also a healthy choice.

    Komal rice is a good source of complex carbs, which provide sustained energy and help regulate blood sugar levels. It is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, iron, and niacin. And with its low fat and cholesterol content, Komal rice is a wise choice for those looking to maintain a balanced diet.

    Just like every good thing out there, Komal rice does not come without its challenges.

    As mentioned before, the grains of Komal rice are thin and delicate, which can make it difficult to handle and cook. It is also more prone to damage and breakage compared to other types of rice. Additionally, Komal rice is more expensive than many other types of rice, which can be a barrier for some consumers. However, despite these challenges, the end result of cooking Komal rice is well worth the effort.

    Did we tell you? Komal rice is not just popular in the Assam but all over the world.

    It is also gaining popularity around the world and can be found in many international restaurants. So why not add some global flair to your dinner tonight with a dish featuring Komal rice? Trust us, your taste buds (and the planet) will thank you for choosing this delicious and sustainable option.

  • Malaysia’s move to break rice import monopoly could backfire on farmers…

  • Malaysia’s move to break rice import monopoly could backfire on farmers’ welfare: Analysts

    Malaysia aims to increase local rice production to 75 per cent of the country’s consumption by end-2025. PHOTO: BERNAMA

    KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s move to break the rice import monopoly of Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas) could well achieve his objective of ensuring open competition and affordable prices for consumers.

    But analysts warn it may also disrupt local padi farmers’ livelihoods, if existing safeguards such as subsidies and minimum price guarantees are not maintained – especially with Malaysia’s aim to increase local rice production to 75 per cent of the country’s consumption by end-2025.

    Bernas is a private company controlled by business tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, who has close ties to ruling party Umno. The company received a 10-year extension until January 2031 on its concession to import rice under the previous government led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

    Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar’s company Tradewinds became a major shareholder in Bernas in 2009. Since then, Bernas has obtained two 10-year extensions in 2010 and 2021 for its concessions.

    In December, Datuk Seri Anwar said he had reprimanded Mr Syed Mokhtar for monopolising rice imports. “He must know that this import permit is not a concession and not a reward for him, but instead given to Bernas,” said the Prime Minister.

    But ending the concession may not be an easy task for Mr Anwar politically, as he has to balance the need to protect farmers’ production and keep prices low for consumers, said agricultural economist Julian Conway McGill from commodities consultancy firm LMC International.

    “A full liberalisation of the rice market would result in lower rice prices for consumers, greater imports and lower output among rice farmers who will not be protected from competition,” said Dr McGill.

    More imports will push down rice prices in Malaysia, he added. But rice farmers who incur high production costs are likely to stop producing without price protection such as tariffs on imports.

    “As a consequence, Malaysia’s rice self-sufficiency ratio will decline. Such an outcome is unlikely to be politically acceptable,” he told The Straits Times.

    Malaysia consumes about 2.7 million tonnes of rice a year, of which about 30 per cent is imported by Bernas to make up for the shortfall in local production. The company also buys rice from local farmers and millers to sell.

    Besides maintaining adequate rice supplies, Bernas is also tasked with keeping prices fair and stable for farmers and consumers, and distributing subsidies to farmers on behalf of the government. It is obligated to buy any excess rice produced by padi farmers at a guaranteed minimum price and is currently required to maintain a rice stockpile of 200,000 tonnes.

    But padi farmers have long complained that Bernas ignores farmers’ interests and is more focused on profits.

    For the 2020 financial year, the company paid out about RM670 million (S$206 million) in dividends. For 2021, it made a net profit of RM182.3 million on the back of RM4.7 billion in revenue.

    In contrast, the monthly household income from both agricultural and non-agricultural activities for padi farmers averaged RM2,526, placing them in the bottom 40 per cent of earners in the country, reported Khazanah Research Institute in April 2019.

    Bernas did not respond to ST’s request for comments.

    Given Bernas’ key role in the industry, it would be disruptive to dismantle the private company’s rice monoploy without first replacing it with a well-conceived alternative, said Malaysian Institute of Economic Research senior research fellow Shankaran Nambiar.

    The exit strategy could include giving import rights to farmers’ associations, as previously suggested by Mr Anwar.

    “Giving import rights to farmers’ associations will empower farmers to participate more actively in the padi market. They can also be another channel for the import of padi, which will give them an opportunity to make profits from trade,” Dr Nambiar told ST.

    Dr McGill suggested that the government can also assist farmers directly so they can retain their livelihood while allowing more imports. “The Malaysian government could maintain their own stocks, rather than allowing Bernas to do so,” he said.

  • Satisfied with Karawang rice output: Minister

  • Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo and deputy head of Karawang, Aep Syaepuloh, during rice harvest in Karawang. (ANTARA/HO-Pemkab Karawang)

    Karawang, West Java (ANTARA) - Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo has expressed satisfaction over the rice production recorded in Ciptamarga village, Jayakerta sub-district, Karawang, West Java, during this year’s harvest period.

    "Rice production at the beginning of this year ensures that production in Karawang is really good," Minister Limpo noted after the rice harvest in Karawang on Monday.

    He informed that the harvest at the beginning of this year was one of the measures taken by the Agriculture Ministry and Karawang government to ensure that national rice production was met.

    On a plantation area of around 2 thousand hectares, the village managed to produce 8 tons of rice per hectare, he noted.

    "Of course, this ensures that if production in Karawang is good, then production in other areas will also be good. Because Karawang is a gauge to the success of Indonesia's rice production," the minister said.

    According to him, the production target could reach 4 million tons and cover an area of 1.4 million hectares in the period from March to April 2023. This bodes well for national food resilience, he said.

    He further said he expected farmers to plant rice and secondary crops three times a year. Moreover, efforts are on to improve the food logistics system.

    Deputy head of Karawang, Aep Syaepuloh, said that the farmers have expressed their gratitude for the generous amount of agricultural aid provided to Karawang in 2022.

    “Today (Monday), there is aid of 500 hectares of rice seeds, a power thresher machine," Syaepuloh added.

    In January, the rice harvest area in Karawang spanned 18,103 hectares, with productivity reaching 8 tons per hectare. The price of grains was quite profitable for farmers at Rp6,000–Rp6,100 per kilogram.

  • The challenge of shrinking farm sizes

  • Countries in South Asia, including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, have been experiencing a decline in agricultural farm sizes because of increasing population and division of land among family members in successive generations. In particular, landholding has decreased rapidly in the areas that have a high population growth with dense populations. Pakistan is no exception to this.

    In Pakistan, the average farm size has steadily declined from 5.3 hectares in 1971 to 3.1 hectares in 2000 and then subsequently to 2.6 hectares in 2010 (Agricultural Census 2010). As a result, the agriculture sector is now dominated by smallholders. Over 90 per cent of farms are smaller than 12 acres, out of which 67pc are below even five acres (two hectares).

    The majority of farms have become so small due to successive land divisions that they are no longer economically and operationally viable. Small size is a major limiting factor for increasing labour and land productivity, mechanisation of farms, optimal application of quality farm inputs, and adoption of advanced agricultural practices and technologies.

    At the same time, more than 8.2 million farms pose a serious challenge for the government to provide extension services, offer credit facility to all farmers, enhance their effective access to the market and even implement government programmes for farmers, primarily due to the high transaction costs involved. All these challenges translate into higher production costs and, in turn, a lack of competitiveness. As a result, farmers demand farm subsidies, putting additional pressure on the country’s scarce financial resources.

    In Pakistan, the average farm size has steadily declined from 5.3 hectares in 1971 to 2.6 hectares in 2010

    Interestingly, in East Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, instead of shrinking, farm sizes are increasing. In fact, thriving manufacturing and service sectors have provided lucrative employment opportunities, resulting in labour migration from agriculture to non-agriculture sectors.

    Many research studies have explored and proven the inverse relationship between farm size and crop yields. In Pakistan, the solution undeniably lies in consolidating agricultural holdings into somewhat larger and more efficient farms. But the real challenge is to devise and execute effective policy measures. Among the options explored, cooperative farming and corporate farming are often the most cited.

    Cooperatives (associations of persons united voluntarily) have been successful in many countries in empowering farmers to pool in multiple lands together, use collective bargaining to buy agricultural inputs and sell their produce, and collectively undertake value addition to attain greater efficiencies. Their success can be gauged from the fact that cooperatives in Europe have over 40pc market share in agri-food supply chains, whereas, in the USA, around 75pc of the country’s milk is marketed by dairy cooperatives.

    Due to the peculiar socio-cultural context of our rural areas, particularly in Punjab and Sindh, people do not exhibit an inclination towards working together for common needs and aspirations. Therefore, cooperatives in the agriculture sector could not reap the desired results. In Pakistan, cooperatives often do not hire professional managers. Therefore, when the majority of members lose interest in managing the organisation due to one reason or another, a small group takes control and manages it for their own gains and interests.

    Another widely mentioned option is corporate farming (large-scale agriculture by large companies). The arguments in favour include companies’ greater capacity and financial muscle to introduce mechanisation and new technologies, undertake effective marketing of farm produce, develop linkages with national and international value chain players, and improve farm and area infrastructure. All these factors result in higher productivity and competitiveness.

    However, the major issue is the availability of large areas of land for prospective companies. In Pakistan, however, millions of acres of land are lying uncultivated in Cholistan, Thal, and other regions, which can be leased to local companies for 10-15 years for development and cultivation under high-efficiency irrigation solutions, ideally suitable for water-scarce areas.

    Another option is reverse leasing, which is contrary to the historical rural tenancy system where landlords used to lease out their lands to small farmers for a fixed payment or crop sharing. Companies may get land from small farmers on a long-term lease in lieu of biannual payments or by making them shareholders in the business or/and by providing employment. However, its successful implementation requires intense social mobilisation to educate and coordinate with the farmers.

    We should be cautious and circumspect about lessons learned from other countries. For example, Ethiopia encouraged foreign investment and foreign companies to transform its agriculture sector, but this drive led to large-scale land grabbing — partly illegitimate appropriation of lands by corporate investors — that has been largely supported by the government in the name of public interest/public purposes. The whole strategy dispossessed and displaced farmers and forced them to seek jobs either in urban centres or with agribusinesses.

    Another point of view, expressed by a significant number of labour market experts, is that the issue of shrinking farm sizes would automatically be resolved without any external intervention by developing export-oriented manufacturing and service sectors.

    Alternative sources of income generation in non-agriculture sectors would decrease peoples’ reliance on the land and help reduce the high rates of underemployment and disguised employment, which does not affect aggregate economic output in Pakistan’s agriculture sector. Several countries like China, Bangladesh, and Indonesia have experienced similar structural transformations in their labour markets.

    However, along with developing manufacturing and service sectors, two policy measures are essential. Firstly, a special credit facility with low-interest rates is required, enabling small farmers to buy land, available-for-sale, adjacent to their farms or family members’ share of the inheritance.

    Secondly, the government must take appropriate measures to reduce the cost and time required for land purchase, leasing in, and leasing out, as land purchase currently entails high transaction costs. Already, Japan and China have successfully implemented such policies aimed at land consolidation.

    Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 9th, 2023

  • VIETNAM DEC RICE EXPORTS AT 434,611 TONNES…

  • VIETNAM DEC RICE EXPORTS AT 434,611 TONNES, DOWN 26.1% M/M - CUSTOMS DEPT

    HANOI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Vietnam's rice exports in December fell 26.1% from the previous month to 434,611 tonnes, government customs data showed on Monday.

    Rice shipments from Vietnam in 2022 rose 13.8% year on year to around 7.1 million tonnes valued at $3.5 billion, it said. (Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Martin Petty).

  • Rice acres and yield down in 2022 due to weather input costs, other factors

  • Market pressures and less-than-ideal weather are partly to blame for a drop in rice acreage in Arkansas in 2022.

    Arkansas rice farmers were hit with a number of dramatic challenges as the planting and growing season unfolded during 2022. Weather patterns shifted from too wet to drought. Input costs for fuel, fertilizers, and others rose dramatically.

    Agronomist Jarrod Hardke has a word for the 2022 rice season — erratic.

    “The year began with dramatically higher input costs, especially for fertilizer and diesel fuel,” said Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

    Average yields are down from last year’s record average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimate, Hardke said. “Average yield is estimated at 165 bushels per acre, down from almost 170 bushels an acre in 2021.”

    While the average yield is lower this year, Hardke said — and he expects it to be a little lower when the final data is in — it’s not far off the previous years of 2017-2020.

    Arkansas accounts for nearly half the rice grown in the U.S. In 2020, rice contributed more than $1.1 billion to the state’s agricultural economy, according to the 2022 Agricultural Profile published by the Division of Agriculture. Planted acreage this growing season topped 1.11 million acres, according to NASS.

    All rice production for the state is forecast at 81.2 million hundredweight, down 5% from the August forecast and down 11% from last year’s production of 91.1 million hundredweight, NASS reported. The all-rice yield for 2022 is forecast at 7,500 pounds per acre, down 50 pounds from August and down 130 pounds from last year.

    Rice prices began to rise around planting time, Hardke said, holding out hope that farmers might recoup their input costs in the end. But 2022 was the fourth or fifth wet spring in a row, and that delayed field preparation and planting, making those projected prices shaky.

    “The rains stabilized a bit around May,” he said. “And then in June, it was like someone threw a switch, the rain stopped, and temperatures got up in the 90s. It got hot and dry, and everything just dried up really fast.”

    The dry weather in June, when it was time to fertilize and flood rice, put a lot of strain on irrigation systems.

    “Rice is very hardy in the face of extremes,” Hardke said. “So, in June, the rice was growing so fast it was soaking up all the water. A lot of growers were late getting nitrogen incorporated into the soil, and it took much longer to put a flood on the rice. Fields that might take three to four days to flood were taking 10 or 14 days.”

    Irrigation pumps were running non-stop, Hardke said. “Growers experienced a lot of problems with wells going down because they were running so hard. And then, they had issues with replacing parts because of supply chain shortages.”

    “These problems just nagged us all season,” Hardke said. “But rice is resilient, and when it needs help, it will kind of wait on you, so there was a bit of an escape for us. But it will only wait for so long.”

    Hardke said milling yields were average for the year. “That’s better than last year when we had record rough rice yields, but milling yield was low,” he said. “That’s not a big gain for farmers, but it helps to get a little of that value back from a lower yield.”

    Hardke said the NASS yield estimate doesn’t paint a complete picture of this year’s rice crop.

    “The story is about the variability of success from field to field,” he said. “Yields were erratic because of the weather extremes and other problems growers faced in 2022.”

    Dry weather kept disease pressure low, Hardke said. But late rains in some areas in August revived disease problems in those fields until hot, dry weather returned. On the other hand, the dry weather during harvest was a bonus.

    “This year was the smoothest, driest harvest anyone could remember,” Hardke said.

    The extended dry weather also allowed many growers to prepare fields for next year, work that usually has to wait for a dry window between August and April. And those windows of opportunity have been few in recent years.

    “The speed that farmers were able to move through their fields meant that a ton of fall field work got done, especially in northeast Arkansas,” Hardke said. “A lot of fields are basically ready to plant next year.”

    Rice producers who had losses this last season will receive some aid from the federal government.

    The U.S. House and Senate passed a year-end spending package in late December. Included in the bill was $250 million in assistance for domestic rice farmers to help combat major losses due to record high input costs.

    U.S. Sen. John Boozman said he helped get the aid included in the spending bill.

    “It has been a difficult year for rice producers,” said Boozman, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “Soaring input costs have hurt producers of every commodity, but—as documented by two separate studies out of Texas A&M University—had a disproportionate impact on rice producers. I am pleased we came together to address this challenge in the year-end bill.”

    David Gairhan, chair of the Arkansas Rice Federation, said the aid is much needed.

    “The Arkansas rice community greatly appreciates Sen. Boozman’s successful efforts to provide support during a time of record high input costs. The timing of this assistance is crucial as farmers consider options for the upcoming planting season. Our state benefits from his leadership and we look forward to continuing to work with him and his staff in the new year on the next Farm Bill and other issues of concern,” he said.

  • ASIA RICE-THAI RATES SCALE 1-1/2-YEAR PEAK ON STRONGER BAHT, DEMAND.

  • Bangladesh to buy 100,000 tonnes of rice in tenders

    *

    Some buyers favour cheaper Indian variety

    *

    Thai rates rise to $480 a tonne this week

    By Brijesh Patel

    Jan 5 (Reuters) - Thailand rice export prices rose to their highest since May 2021 this week, helped by a stronger baht and domestic buying, while firm demand kept prices near multi-month highs in other top exporting Asian countries.

    Thailand's 5% broken rice <RI-THBKN5-P1> was quoted at $480 per tonne on Thursday, up from $452 to $465 per tonne quoted last week due to the strength of the local currency, traders said.

    "There are lots of demand for rice in the domestic market, while exporters continue to buy rice for shipment to Indonesia," a Bangkok-based trader said.

    Traders said Indonesia ordered "hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rice" in mid-December.

    Meanwhile, Vietnam's 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> was offered at $458 per tonne free-on-board on Thursday, unchanged from last week when they hit the highest since mid-July.

    "Trade is slow amid the holiday season," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said, adding that some traders were already off for the Lunar New Year holiday.

    State media cited the Vietnam Food Association as saying strong demand for Vietnamese rice had supported prices over the recent days, noting that the Philippines, Vietnam's largest buyer, had refrained from raising its rice import tariff to tame inflation.

    It said other buyers, including Indonesia and Bangladesh, had also announced their rice purchase plans, without elaborating further.

    Bangladesh has approved purchases of 100,000 tonnes of rice in tenders, officials said, as it seeks to build reserves to control domestic prices. The government is also looking to buy rice from India through state-to-state deals.

    Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> remained unchanged from last week at $375 to $382 per tonne - highest since late-November.

    "Orders are getting diverted to India from Thailand and Vietnam because of lower prices," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trade house. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Additional reporting by Brijesh Patel; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

  • What Rice-Farming Cultures Can Teach Us about Pandemic Preparedness

  • Societies that farm rice over wheat tend to be more tight-knit and interdependent, which could protect them from pandemic viruses like the one behind COVID

    Paddy fields in Vietnam with people transplanting rice. Credit: Dave Mckay/Alamy Stock Photo

    Rice farming is hard. It’s complicated. Traditional rice farming takes twice the amount of labor as crops like wheat, corn and potatoes. Paddy rice was built on irrigation networks that forced farmers to cooperate with each other. Rain falls on the fields of both rogue and cooperative wheat farmers, but irrigation networks flood paddy fields only if farmers work together to build them and manage to keep them working. In short, rice required a lot more social coordination compared with crops such as wheat, which the West was built on.

    Rice farming might seem far removed from the COVID-19 pandemic. But research from my lab finds that some of the cultural traits of rice-farming communities are more important for handling pandemics than hard assets like health care dollars and hospital beds. Cultural traits around social norms and relationship networks can explain why rice-growing nations, including some of the world’s poorest, suffered death rates that were 3 percent those of non-rice-growing nations, including some of the world’s wealthiest. This theory suggests that, when the next highly transmissible infectious disease emerges, if everyone thinks like a rice farmer, rather than a wheat farmer, we could save millions of lives.

    In the early days of COVID, China, Vietnam and South Korea were clear standouts in infection control. At the time, some observers suggested that the collectivistic culture of some East Asian countries meant that they were more likely to wear masks and more likely to comply with stay-at-home orders. As someone who researches the historical roots of culture, I noticed that these star performers were cultures with a deep history of rice farming. From my earlier research, we know that rice-farming societies around the world tend to share particular cultural traits. I wondered if those traits could help explain their outperformance.

    RICE CULTURES HAVE CLOSED SOCIAL NETWORKS

    One trait that rice-farming cultures tend to have is low relational mobility. Cultures low in relational mobility tend to have closed social networks, and they report having met fewer new acquaintances in the last 30 days. A study of 39 countries found that the U.S., the U.K. and Mexico have lots of relational mobility, whereas rice-farming cultures such as Malaysia and Taiwan are less mobile. Famously introverted Japan came in last in relational mobility.

    These fixed relationships make sense with the work of traditional rice villages. Rice farmers put in twice the number of hours in their fields as do wheat farmers. To deal with this backbreaking labor, rice farmers rely heavily on extended family and neighbors.

    This labor sharing puts people in binding relationships. It’s similar to how paying for a friend’s coffee today sets them up to pay for your coffee tomorrow. This interdependence helps cement relationships over time.

    NORMS HELP MANAGE IRRIGATION AND PANDEMICS

    Rice cultures also tend to share tight social norms. In cultures with tight social norms, people feel more constricted in what they can do in public. For example, tight-laced Singapore is famous for its chewing gum ban. Rice-farming cultures such as Sri Lanka and Japan report tighter social norms than people in cultures such as the U.S., Netherlands and U.K.

    These tight social norms show up in anthropologists’ accounts of rice villages. Social norms help rice farmers manage the irrigation networks they use to flood paddy fields. Maintaining the irrigation channels benefits all the farmers in the village, but no single farmer wants to be stuck with the massive burden of building it and dredging the channels every year. To make it work, rice villagers split up the work and make sure everyone contributes. For example, rice villagers in southern China set up work assignments, monitor who shows up, and punish villagers who fail to show up.

    How do these cultural traits relate to COVID? My colleagues and I analyzed COVID cases and deaths from 132 countries around the world. We found that rice-farming cultures suffered just 3 percent of the deaths per capita of non-rice-farming nations. Low relational mobility and tight social norms both independently accounted for differences in COVID outcomes. And both cultural traits continued to explain COVID deaths and case counts after accounting for wealth and health care infrastructure.

    NATURAL EXPERIMENT RULES OUT CONFOUNDS

    One alternative explanation is that nations with seemingly good COVID outcomes were just suppressing the numbers. For example, Turkmenistan was famous for reporting that it had no coronavirus cases over a year into the pandemic. Nations like the U.S. and U.K. did more testing and probably reported deaths more openly than countries with few resources or repressive governments.

    That meant we had to take underreporting into account. We statistically controlled for coronavirus testing across countries. We also used estimates of underreported deaths from third-party researchers. Yet even after taking into account testing and transparency, the data showed that culture mattered.

    East Asia is the classic rice basket, but rice-farming cultures outside of Asia also outperformed their neighbors. The African countries of Madagascar and Sierra Leone farm rice, and they outperformed nearby countries like Senegal and Zimbabwe, according to estimates from Our World in Data.

    Another way to get at this question is to compare counties in southern and northern China. Southern China grows rice, and northern China grows wheat. Examining rice-wheat differences between nearby counties in China let us compare regions with the same national policies, ethnicity and religion, but different farming legacies.

    We found wheat-farming regions reported three times more COVID cases than rice-farming regions. And just like the global findings, rice provinces of China have tighter social norms than wheat provinces, according to our own data.

    FIRST MOBILITY, THEN NORMS

    The data also taught us that mobility and norms played different roles. Relational mobility hurt societies like France and Brazil most in the early days of the pandemic when the coronavirus hijacked people’s flexible social networks. But once cases spiked and hospitals filled up, even people in mobile cultures like the U.S. started to trim their social networks, as one study found.

    Tight norms followed the opposite trajectory. Norms didn’t seem to matter in the first few months of the pandemic. But by September 2020, cultures with tight norms started to pull ahead of other cultures in case counts and deaths. It takes time for cultures to coalesce around norms for a new disease—an average of four months for COVID, according to one estimate.

    The narrower relationship networks in rice-farming cultures like Korea gave the coronavirus a little less runway to build up speed early on. Then, the tight norms made it easier for rice cultures like Taiwan to enforce rules on masks and monitor whether people were following quarantine guidelines. Monitoring quarantine rules is not far from the cultural memory of monitoring work assignments in rice irrigation networks.

    In contrast, cultures like the U.S. and the U.K. that were built on less-binding crops like wheat mostly refused to enforce rules. U.S. travelers ignored quarantine orders and talked about it openly with journalists. The BBC reported that 300,000 British travelers ignored quarantine rules. U.K. authorities said that enforcing mask rules should only be “a last resort.”

    WHY THE RANKINGS GOT IT SO WRONG

    Culture can teach us why experts in preparedness got it so wrong. In October 2019, just before COVID struck, researchers at Johns Hopkins University ranked countries around the world on how prepared they were to handle pandemics. Wealthy countries like the U.S., U.K. and the Netherlands took the top three spots. Meanwhile, poorer countries like Sierra Leone, Madagascar and Vietnam ranked 50th or lower.

    Two years later, the U.S., U.K. and the Netherlands were among the countries with the highest number of COVID cases and deaths per capita in the world. Madagascar, Vietnam and Sierra Leone all had fewer cases and deaths per capita than the global average.

    The Johns Hopkins rankings focused on hard assets—things that are easy to count, such as accredited labs, government health care spending and hospital beds. Our analysis suggests that the rankings got it wrong because they ignored the “softer” assets of culture. Hard assets like dollars, labs and hospital beds matter. But we shouldn’t let the fact that beds are easier to count get in the way of accounting for culture. Sometimes culture is a matter of life or death.

    This is an opinion and analysis article, and the views expressed by the author or authors are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

  • Rice Imports Banned.

  • The import of rice has been practically banned since early November and no kind of rice can undergo customs clearance, according to the head of Rice Importers Association of Iran.

    “Respective officials have cited ‘balancing out bilateral trade’ as the reason for banning rice imports from the countries we normally purchase the grain from,” Karim Akhavan-Akbari was also quoted as saying by the news portal of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.   

    His comments came after it was earlier announced that only Indian rice imports were banned...

  • Pakistan’s rice exports fall 30pc in 5MFY23

  • LAHORE (Web Desk) - The country s rice exports (basmati and non-basmati) have recorded nearly 30 per cent decline in quantity and almost 11pc decline in value during the first five months of fiscal year 2022-23 as compared to the corresponding period of FY2021-22.

    Pakistan registered quantity wise 44pc decline in export of basmati rice during the period of July-November 2022 as compared to the corresponding period.

    Similarly, non-basmati varieties registered a quantity-wise decline of 12pc and 5pc in value in the same period.

    According to the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) the rice export was hit hard owing to a 40pc decline in long grain (non-basmati) crops in Sindh due to unprecedented recent floods, every increasing value of the greenback against the Pak rupee coupled with a huge gap between its value in the interbank against the open market rates.

    Likewise, basmati rice which is surplus in Punjab is being hoarded by the stockiest pushing the prices skyrocketing for the commodity.

    During the period mentioned above, Pakistan exported 210,184 metric tons of basmati rice (July-November 2022) against the export of 302,771 metric tons in the same period of the corresponding year 2021.

    Pakistan exported 1.1 million tons of non-basmati rice during the period July-Nov 2022 against 1.235 million tons in the corresponding period of 2021.

  • ‘Golden Rice’ harvest reaches 100 tons

  • MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines harvested over 100 tons of genetically modified “Golden” or “Malusog” Rice in 17 pioneer production sites across the country, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said.

    PhilRice said Malusog Rice is expected to be fully commercialized at the latter part of 2024 once more seed supply becomes available.

    According to the agency, the first harvest will be milled for distribution in target households with pre-school children identified at-risk for vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and undernutrition, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers.

    Viga and Virac in Catanduanes had already received promotional packs of Malusog Rice as part of the initial household distribution.

    Catanduanes is one of the seven pilot provinces to receive the beta carotene-enriched variety.

    The said province has one of the highest incidences of malnutrition in the country according to the Expanded National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

    Distribution activities were conducted in partnership with Department of Agriculture (DA) – PhilRice, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and local government units in Catanduanes.

    As one of the pilot provinces, Antique governor Rhodora Cadiao said the Malusog Rice can be one of the ways to address the province’s VAD problem among pre-school and school children.

    VAD could lead to poor eyesight and weak immune systems that make children prone to viral infections and other diseases, delayed growth and development.

    Farmer-cooperators also showed their support and delight as among the first to produce Malusog Rice in their respective provinces.

    “As I have observed, Golden Rice (GR) has good quality of seeds, and I want to taste it already. It also has good characteristics in terms of its elongated stem. I was encouraged to be a cooperator of GR to help the government minimize cases of malnutrition,” said Leo Franco Ebardo, a seed grower in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.

    Malusog Rice (Golden Rice) is branded after its first variety registered in the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) as Malusog 1 or NSIC 2022 Rc 682GR2E.

    PhilRice and IRRI, in collaboration with partner agencies, are currently multiplying the seeds for commercial production.

    The current supply will be used for promotion and initial distribution in provinces with high incidence of malnutrition, especially vitamin A deficiency.

    In July 2021, the Philippines was the world’s first country to approve the commercial production of genetically modified “golden rice” that experts hope will combat childhood blindness and save lives in the developing world.

    Prior the approval, the IRRI spent two decades working with  DA-PhilRice to develop golden rice – named for its bright yellow hue.

  • Milled rice exports soared by 3.2 percent last year, CRF says

  • Milled rice is exported to 59 countries. Of these, China remains the largest buyer of Cambodian rice. KT/Chor Sokunthea

    Milled rice export from Cambodia increased by 3.2 percent to 637,004 tons in 2022 compared with 617,069 tons shipped across the world in 2021, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF). The export of the commodity garnered $414.29 million for the country, the federation said on Tuesday.

    The milled rice was exported by 61 Cambodian rice exporters to 59 countries. Of these, China remained the largest buyer of Cambodian rice (288,830 tons) and accounted for 45 percent of the total export for the year.

    After China, 25 European countries together bought 221,504 tons or 35 percent of the total milled rice shipped from Cambodia. Four ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states bought around 10 percent (64,733 tons) of Cambodian rice. And the rest 10 percent (61,937 tons) were delivered to 27 countries, including the United States of America, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, and several African nations, among others.

    Among ASEAN member states, Malaysia imported 45, 789 tons, Brunei 14,112 tons, Singapore 3,808 tons and Vietnam 1,024 tons of Cambodian milled rice in 2022

    For the country that has set itself a target of exporting one million tons of milled rice from this year onwards, the shipment seems to have reached a plateau. But for 2020 in the last six years when the export touched a new high of 690,829 tons, the shipment figures have been oscillating around 630,000 tons.

    While 635,679 tons were exported in 2017, the amount declined to 626,225 tons in 2018. In 2019 when Covid-19 broke out, the total milled rice export figure came down to 620,106 tons, only to record a leap of 70,723 tons of additional shipments in 2020.

    In 2021, the shipment from the Southeast Asian nation declined to 617,069 tons, even below the 2019 figure. And this year it is back to a figure which is closer to the 2017 data.

    At 277,739 tons, premium aromatic rice of Cambodia led from the front and accounted for 44 percent of the total shipment, according to the CRF data shared with Khmer Times. Over 179,070 tons of fragrant rice (Sen Kra-Ob) were bought by international clients and it accounted for 28 percent of the total export. White rice accounted for 24 percent or 153,428 tons, parboiled rice about 2 percent or 15,781 tons, organic rice less than 2 percent or about 10,963 tons, and glutinous rice 23 tons, said the federation.

    The Kingdom also exported 3,477,886 tons of paddy, worth $841.09 million, to the neighbouring country of Vietnam in the year, the CRF release added.

    On China being a huge market for the country’s potential agricultural products, Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina has been quoted by Xinhua as saying that the kingdom hoped to export more to China under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA). “Cambodia and China have solid agricultural cooperation, and we have exported milled rice, mangoes, bananas, and, most recently, longans to China,” he told Xinhua.

    In an effort to increase milled rice shipment, the government has sought to open new markets through free-trade agreements, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPA), and several memoranda of understanding (MoUs), the CRF, a government-recognised organisation, told Khmer Times earlier.

    Agriculture is one of the major contributors to the Cambodian economy. The sector contributed 24.4 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. In 2021, production of paddy was 12.2 million tons, which was a rise of 11.6 percent over 2020, it said.

    In 2019, agriculture accounted for 31.2 percent of jobs and 20.7 percent of GDP. Rice accounts for around half of the agricultures contribution to the GDP.

  • Govt to procure 1 lakh MTs of non-Basmati rice

  • The government on Wednesday approved two separate proposals for procuring some 1 lakh metric tons of non-basmati boiled rice through international open tendering from India and Singapore.

    The approvals came from the 1st meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) in this year held today virtually with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair.

    Briefing reporters after the meeting virtually, Cabinet Division Additional Secretary Sayeed Mahbub Khan said that the day's CCGP meeting approved a total of four proposals.

    He said following a proposal from the Ministry of Food, the Directorate General of Food would procure some 50,000 metric tons of non-Basmati boiled rice from M/S Bagadiya Brothers Pvt Ltd. India under package two under international open tendering method with around Taka 210.36 crore. The price for per ton rice will be $393.19 against the previous per ton price of $443.05.

    The Directorate General of Food will also procure some 50,000 metric tons of non-basmati boiled rice from M/S Agrocorp International Pte Ltd Singapore under package three under international open tendering method with around Taka 213.40 crore where the import of per ton rice would cost $397.03 up from the previous per ton price of $393.19.

    Besides, Mahbub said following a proposal from the Local Government Division, the joint venture of SMEC International Pte Ltd Australia; ACE Consultants Ltd. Bangladesh; and Development Design Consultants Ltd Bangladesh have been awarded the work for consultants for the package number-SD2 with Taka 33.79 crore under the Dhaka Sanitation Improvement Project of Dhaka WASA.

    Apart from these, the CCGP meeting also approved a proposal from the Local Government Division under which the joint venture of Nippon Koei Co. Ltd.; Koei Research and Consulting Co. Ltd.; Nippon Koei Bangladesh Ltd.; Resource Planning and Management Consultants and BETS Consulting Services Ltd have been appointed as the consultants with around Taka 281.73 crore for the Urban Development and City Governance Project.

  • US ag exports expected to fall in 2023

  • WASHINGTON, DC, US — US agricultural exports in fiscal year 2023 are projected at $190 billion, down $3.5 billion from the August forecast, according to the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture. This decrease primarily is driven by reductions in soybeans, cotton, and corn exports that are partially offset by gains in beef, poultry, and wheat, the ERS said.

    The report said soybean exports are forecast down $2.4 billion, to $32.8 billion, due to smaller production and increased competition from South America. Cotton exports are forecast down $1 billion, to $6 billion, based on lower unit values and subdued demand. Grain and feed exports are projected to decrease by $300 million, to $46.2 billion, with declines in corn, sorghum, and rice exports partially offset by higher exports of wheat and feeds and fodders.

    The forecast for corn is down $600 million, to $18.5 billion, on lower volumes. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are forecast to increase by $300 million, to $41.4 billion, as increases in beef, poultry, and variety meat exports more than offset declines in pork and the value of dairy exports. Beef exports are up $500 million, to $10.3 billion, driven by higher prices. Ethanol exports are unchanged at $4.2 billion from the August forecast and remain a record if realized.

    The ERS noted that agricultural exports to China are forecast at $34 billion, down $2 billion from the August projection, due to lower export prospects for soybeans, cotton, sorghum, and pork. China is expected to remain the largest market for US agricultural exports.

    US agricultural imports in 2023 are forecast at $199 billion, up $2 billion from the August forecast, largely driven by higher imports of horticultural products, sugar and tropical products, and grain and feed products. A strong dollar, while a headwind to the export forecast, is partially responsible for the higher import demand, the ERS said.

  • Bangladesh to import 1 lakh tonnes of rice from India, Singapore

  • The government is going to procure 1 lakh tonnes of non-basmati rice to bolster the supply chain of the country’s main staple food against the backdrop of high inflation.

    Two suppliers — one each from India and Singapore —have been selected by the food ministry through international tenders for supplying the amount of rice equally – 50,000 tonnes from per supplier – at a total estimated cost of Tk 423 crore, said the food ministry officials.

    They said that the food ministry had submitted proposals to the cabinet committee on government purchases in the past week seeking approval to give import order to the suppliers.

    The cabinet committee chaired by finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is likely to review the food ministry proposals in a meeting today.      

    The food ministry selected Indian company Bagadiya Brothers Private Limited as it quoted lowest $393.19 for per tonne in an international tender participated by a total of four suppliers.

    In another international tender, Singapore-based Agrocrop International Private Limited quoted lowest $397.03 for per tonne rice among three bidders to be selected by the food ministry.

    The rice procurement is a part of the government initiative to collect 30 lakh tonnes of rice for the current financial year ending in July this year.

    Of the overall collection target, one third will be imported while the rest from local rice growers.

    According to the ministry officials, they have already struck deals on the government-to-government basis to import 7.3 lakh tonnes of rice.

    They said that the rest of the amount would be imported through competitive bidding. Bangladesh’s rice import stood at 9.87 lakh tonnes in FY22.

    Rice from the Indian company would cost Tk 42.07 per kilogramme and Tk 210 crore would be required for the total consignment while that from Singapore Tk 42.68 per kg and Tk 213 crore for the total consignment, said the food ministry officials.

    One kilogramme coarse variety of rice was selling at Tk 46 to Tk 52, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh’s daily update on retail market prices of essentials on Tuesday.

    Despite claims by the government that the country has surplus amount of rice, the prices of the staple had been increasing unusually since 2020 pushing fixed-income people into difficulties.

    Volatilities in price of rice and other essentials kept the inflation close to double digits over the past six months.

    Against the backdrop of unusual hike in rice prices, the government slashed the rice import duty but prices continued to rise.

    On Saturday, the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute revealed a study report blaming millers and big corporations for destabilisation of the rice market.

    ‘Millers make a profit of at least Tk 8 to Tk 14 on the sale of per kilogramme of rice,’ said BRRI director general Md Shahjahan Kabir while sharing the study findings in Gazipur.

    On June 1, 2022, food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder blamed Square Group, Pran Group, City Group, Akij Group, Bashundhara Group and ACI Group for the price hike of rice during the harvesting period.

  • Rice acres and yield down in 2022 due to weather input costs, other factors

  • Arkansas rice farmers were hit with a number of dramatic challenges as the planting and growing season unfolded during 2022. Weather patterns shifted from too wet to drought. Input costs for fuel, fertilizers, and others rose dramatically.

    Agronomist Jarrod Hardke has a word for the 2022 rice season — erratic.

    “The year began with dramatically higher input costs, especially for fertilizer and diesel fuel,” said Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

    Average yields are down from last year’s record average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimate, Hardke said. “Average yield is estimated at 165 bushels per acre, down from almost 170 bushels an acre in 2021.”

    While the average yield is lower this year, Hardke said — and he expects it to be a little lower when the final data is in — it’s not far off the previous years of 2017-2020.

    Arkansas accounts for nearly half the rice grown in the U.S. In 2020, rice contributed more than $1.1 billion to the state’s agricultural economy, according to the 2022 Agricultural Profile published by the Division of Agriculture. Planted acreage this growing season topped 1.11 million acres, according to NASS.

    All rice production for the state is forecast at 81.2 million hundredweight, down 5% from the August forecast and down 11% from last year’s production of 91.1 million hundredweight, NASS reported. The all-rice yield for 2022 is forecast at 7,500 pounds per acre, down 50 pounds from August and down 130 pounds from last year.

    Rice prices began to rise around planting time, Hardke said, holding out hope that farmers might recoup their input costs in the end. But 2022 was the fourth or fifth wet spring in a row, and that delayed field preparation and planting, making those projected prices shaky.

    “The rains stabilized a bit around May,” he said. “And then in June, it was like someone threw a switch, the rain stopped, and temperatures got up in the 90s. It got hot and dry, and everything just dried up really fast.”

    The dry weather in June, when it was time to fertilize and flood rice, put a lot of strain on irrigation systems.

    “Rice is very hardy in the face of extremes,” Hardke said. “So, in June, the rice was growing so fast it was soaking up all the water. A lot of growers were late getting nitrogen incorporated into the soil, and it took much longer to put a flood on the rice. Fields that might take three to four days to flood were taking 10 or 14 days.”

    Irrigation pumps were running non-stop, Hardke said. “Growers experienced a lot of problems with wells going down because they were running so hard. And then, they had issues with replacing parts because of supply chain shortages.”

    “These problems just nagged us all season,” Hardke said. “But rice is resilient, and when it needs help, it will kind of wait on you, so there was a bit of an escape for us. But it will only wait for so long.”

    Hardke said milling yields were average for the year. “That’s better than last year when we had record rough rice yields, but milling yield was low,” he said. “That’s not a big gain for farmers, but it helps to get a little of that value back from a lower yield.”

    Hardke said the NASS yield estimate doesn’t paint a complete picture of this year’s rice crop.

    “The story is about the variability of success from field to field,” he said. “Yields were erratic because of the weather extremes and other problems growers faced in 2022.”

    Dry weather kept disease pressure low, Hardke said. But late rains in some areas in August revived disease problems in those fields until hot, dry weather returned. On the other hand, the dry weather during harvest was a bonus.

    “This year was the smoothest, driest harvest anyone could remember,” Hardke said.

    The extended dry weather also allowed many growers to prepare fields for next year, work that usually has to wait for a dry window between August and April. And those windows of opportunity have been few in recent years.

    “The speed that farmers were able to move through their fields meant that a ton of fall field work got done, especially in northeast Arkansas,” Hardke said. “A lot of fields are basically ready to plant next year.”

    Rice producers who had losses this last season will receive some aid from the federal government.

    The U.S. House and Senate passed a year-end spending package in late December. Included in the bill was $250 million in assistance for domestic rice farmers to help combat major losses due to record high input costs.

    U.S. Sen. John Boozman said he helped get the aid included in the spending bill.

    “It has been a difficult year for rice producers,” said Boozman, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “Soaring input costs have hurt producers of every commodity, but—as documented by two separate studies out of Texas A&M University—had a disproportionate impact on rice producers. I am pleased we came together to address this challenge in the year-end bill.”

    David Gairhan, chair of the Arkansas Rice Federation, said the aid is much needed.

    “The Arkansas rice community greatly appreciates Sen. Boozman’s successful efforts to provide support during a time of record high input costs. The timing of this assistance is crucial as farmers consider options for the upcoming planting season. Our state benefits from his leadership and we look forward to continuing to work with him and his staff in the new year on the next Farm Bill and other issues of concern,” he said.

  • Who is to blame for the ongoing rice crisis in Egypt?

  • Rice stocks at many companies have been dwindling for a long time with the finger of blame not only being pointed at the government but also at retailers’ monopolistic practices.

    File photo: Egyptian farmers plant rice in a field of the Mit al-Ezz village, near Mit Ghamr town in

    File photo: Egyptian farmers plant rice in a field of the Mit al-Ezz village, near Mit Ghamr town in the Nile Delta, some 80Km north of the Capital, on June 25, 2022. AFP

    Housewives and customers have found themselves forced to buy relatively lower quality rice or unpacked rice after the products of several well-known rice companies, including Al-Doha, Al-Sa’aa and Zamzam, have almost vanished from markets.

    Some large retailers have been offering one rice pack of these well-known companies per each citizen, while other supermarkets have not seen these companies’ products for months.

    “These products have become extinct. I almost forgot their names,” one retailer humorously told Ahram Online.

    Another retailer has echoed widely-circulated claims that blame the government for a part of the crisis, saying some of the companies, including Al-Doha, have halted production after the government forced them to sell rice at lower prices.

    However, Al-Doha company has denied the claims in a statement circulated on media in October, saying it supports all the decisions of the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade that regulate the circulation of rice in the market.

    Failure to collect enough rice

    Late in August, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhi said that the ministry intends to collect 1.5 million tons of rice this year. Only 300,000 tons have been collected, however, according to remarks made by TV Presenter Ahmed Moussa late in December.

    Moussa said that the decisions taken by the government over the past two months, with the aim of regulating the rice market, have failed to secure the collection of the required rice and have had a negative impact.

    He added that rice is sold in the free market for EGP 9,000 per ton; whereas the government announced that it would buy the rice quantities from farmers for only EGP 6,600 per ton. Therefore, the farmers refrained from supplying rice to the government.

    Moussa urged the government to explain the reasons for its failure to collect the rice required for consumption, particularly since Egypt already has a surplus of 400,000 tons in wheat cultivation.

    Egypt produced around 3.6 million tons of white rice this year, while local consumption of white rice stands at 3.2 million, Head of the Internal Trade Sector at the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade Abdel-Moneim Khalil said in November.

    Confronting price hike, monopolistic practices

    Since September, the government has set a maximum price for 1 Kilogram of unpacked and packed rice, ranging from EGP 12 to EGP 15 respectively. In mid-December, the government extended the decision for another three months but raised the maximum price to EGP 18 for a 1 Kilogram pack that contains almost no broken rice.

    Violators are punished by a fine ranging from EGP 100,000 to EGP 5 million under the Law on the Protection of Competition and Prohibition of Monopolistic Practices.

    In November, the cabinet said rice will be considered a strategic commodity, which means that the government is entitled to regulate its trading in the market for a specific period of time as per the country’s consumer protection act.

    Egypt's cabinet also issued in November a three-month decree penalising vendors who monopolise or stock up on rice with at least one year in prison and hefty fines of up to EGP 2 million to prevent any shortages in the strategic commodity in the market.

    The decree obligates rice traders, including producers, suppliers, distributors, and merchants, to notify the directorates affiliated with the supply and internal trade ministry of the types and quantities of rice they have.

    In October, The government extended the ban on rice export to “meet the local market's needs,” a decision that has been taken several times especially since 2008 to meet the demands of local consumption.

    In August, the supply ministry mandated that farmers must supply one ton of barley rice for every feddan cultivated with rice, which amounts to 25 percent of a typical 3.5 to 4-ton yield, to regulate the trade in local barley rice during the current season.

    Stocking up on rice and failing to sell it after the deadline is punishable by a jail term of no less than one year and a fine of EGP 100,000 to EGP 2 million, the ministry warned.

    In addition, the ministry warned that farmers who do not abide by the decision will not be allowed to plant rice during the following year or be granted subsidised fertilisers and pesticides for a period of one year.

    The ministry noted that violators would also be required to pay the cost of the undelivered quantities (EGP 10,000 per ton).

    Blaming retailers

    Over the past months, authorities have confiscated dozens of tons of rice whose owners have attempted to trade on the black market. These movements by the authorities are in tandem with the intensified market monitoring campaigns -- launched by the government’s Consumer Protection Agency -- to prevent price gouging in strategic commodities.

    Head of the Egyptian Farmers Syndicate Hussein Abu-Saddam told Al-Ahram in November that monopolistic practices are behind the current crisis in rice prices.

    Speaking to the media, Abu-Saddam said that the government must intensify its monitoring campaigns to fight such monopolistic practices by big retailers. These retailers, he said, reap huge profits as a result of such practices.

    The government has been fighting unreasonable price hikes on commodities to ensure that there are no variations in the price of commodities.

    In mid-December, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced that a two-week deadline has been set for all retailers nationwide to place price-tags on their wares.

    Madbouly said that inspection tours would be carried out periodically to ensure retailers adhere to the regulations. He encouraged members of the public to report shops that do not use price tags.

  • Nepal has a chance to become self-reliant on fine rice production.

  • Officials and experts say India’s restriction on export could be a blessing in disguise for Nepal to promote production and consumption of domestic rice as well as other cereal products.

    On Sept 8 last year, India banned the export of broken rice and imposed a 20 percent duty on exports of various grades of rice in a bid to boost local supply and control rising market prices.

    The move, however, resulted in a spike in the price of key staple food in the Nepali market as the people in the country heavily rely on imported rice.

    According to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the prices of cereals including rice surged by 9.19 percent in mid-Nov 2022, a sharp jump of 2.08 percent from the same period in the previous year.

    Though Nepal produces a roughly adequate quantity of rice, fine rice, which is in huge demand in the country, is insufficient.

    According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, about 70 percent of Nepal’s total rice production comes under the category of mota chamal (rough rice) which is not a popular variety of rice to use as meals in the country.

    With long-grain rice varieties increasingly becoming popular in the country basically due to the increase in income of ordinary Nepalis and the growing culture of consuming rice in daily meals, Nepal has increasingly relied on imported long-grain rice in the past two decades.

    Amid this growing reliance, the market prices of rice have surged after India’s restrictions on rice exports.

    However, officials and experts say that India’s restriction on export could be a blessing in disguise for Nepal to promote the consumption of domestic rice as well as other cereal products.

    As a result of India’s restrictions, there has been a sharp drop in the imports of rice and overall cereal products. According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC), cereal imports during the first five months of the current fiscal year dropped by 40.2 percent to Rs 20.31bn during the first five months of the current fiscal year 2022/23.

    According to Nepal Rastra Bank(NRB), imports of rice and paddy dropped by 49.7 percent to Rs 6.68bn during the first four months of the current fiscal year. In early November last year, India allowed the export of 600,000 tonnes of unmilled rice to Nepal. The southern neighbor, which is the largest exporter of rice in the world, said it would allow cargos of white and brown rice backed by letters of credit (LCs) issued before Sept 9 to be shipped overseas, a measure that provides some relief to exporters grappling with fresh government curbs.

    Hikmat Kumar Shrestha, Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Programme under the Ministry of Agriculture, said reduction in imports should not worry Nepal about food security as the country has produced close to enough rice for the national population this fiscal year.

    Official statistics show paddy production in the country in this fiscal year increased by 6.94 percent to 5.48m tonnes covering both productions of both rainy and dry seasons. In the last fiscal year, paddy production had dropped by 8.74 percent to 5.13m tonnes. “If all Nepalis consume rice only as their meals, we will have an inadequacy of only 550,000 tonnes of rice for the current fiscal year,” said Shrestha. “If we change our food habits by consuming other cereal products too as a staple food, there will be no food shortage in the country.”

    But most of the rice produced in the country falls under the category of mota chamal (rough rice). Shrestha said farmers don’t like to cultivate long-grain or fine rice as their productivity is not as good as that of mota chamal. “That’s why the country has been increasingly importing fine rice from India for meals,” said Shrestha.

    Lately, the government has been encouraging the cultivation of fine rice in the country through incentives.

    According to Shrestha, as a result, the share of mota chamal production in the country has come down to 70 percent from around 90 percent just 5-7 years ago.

    Most of the mota chamal is used for producing beaten rice, dry-fired grains, and other kinds of feed. There has also been an effort from the private sector to promote the cultivation of fine rice. For example, Buddha Air owner Birendra Bahadur Basnet has invested in paddy processing.

    He has set up the Arju Rice Mill in Duhabi, Sunsari which promises to pay farmers the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy before they begin the transplantation. The company has also promised to harvest and collect the crop from the farmers’ fields.

    The country spends a lot of money on importing agricultural products including rice though a lot of people are employed in the agriculture sector. According to a study conducted by the National Planning Commission, Nepal imported agricultural goods worth over Rs 200 billion in the fiscal year 2019/20, which could be produced within the country. The study titled Status of Export and Import of Agriculture Goods says most agricultural goods came from India. Massive imports in the last year resulted in fast depletion of foreign exchange reserves in the country raising concerns that Nepal could go the ‘Sri Lanka way’.

    “Export restriction from India should be taken as an opportunity to increase and promote domestic products and production,” said a senior NRB official, adding, “We will not have to suffer from hunger due to the export restrictions as rice comes to Nepal also through informal channels. So, we should utilize this as an opportunity.”

  • BCG model for rice farms

  • Four agricultural associations have joined hands to promote the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) model in rice farms across ten provinces, covering about 50,000 rai of paddy fields, with the aim of getting them to produce premium-quality rice.

    The associations are the Save Planet Agro-Economy Development Association, the Community Rice Centre Association of Thailand, the Agriculturist Association and the Thai Rice Mills Association.

    Pana Tappinkorn, president of the Save Planet Agro-Economy Development Association, recently said that the BCG model would be applied during off-season planting. It is a continuation of Save-Planet Rice's pilot projects which it successfully implemented in 20 villages.

    The project helped lower investment costs, increased productivity and improved rice quality, he said.

    He said the rice produced by the villages which took part in the pilot project commanded premium prices. It was handed out as gifts at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) 2022 summit.

    The model applied in the pilot project will be gradually introduced to farmers nationwide, starting with farmers in Chiang Rai, Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, and Lop Buri.

    These farmers will be encouraged to grow their rice organically, in an environmentally friendly manner to ensure their sustainability, said Mr Pana.

    The four associations recently signed a memorandum of understanding to work on sustainable, chemical-free rice production.

    It will help farmers save on production costs, he said.

    The MoU was endorsed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Nov 21.

    "There have been some orders from China. This warm reception will encourage the expansion of the BCG model and make Thai rice the country's top revenue source again," he said.

  • How 500 Tons of Rice Vanish from State Warehouse

  • File photo: A Bulog employee inspects a pile of rice at a warehouse in the province of Gorontalo on December 12, 2022. (Antara photo/Adiwinata Solihin)

    Makassar. Law authorities in South Sulawesi have been investigating the disappearance of some 500 tons of rice from a warehouse belonging to the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) for more than a month and finally on Monday they detained two high-profile suspects.

    The South Sulawesi prosecutors’ office said the head of Bulog’s local branch identified as Radityo Putra Sikado was named corruption suspect along with Muh Idris, who is in charge of the agency’s warehouse in the district of Pinrang.

    "Both men have played a role in the release of rice disregarding the existing procedures," Soetarmi, a spokesman for the provincial prosecutors’ office, was quoted by Kompas news website as saying.

    In late November, Radityo told reporters that he had “lent” half a million kilograms of rice to trading company Sabang Merauke Persada so that the warehouse could receive additional supplies necessary to “stabilize rice prices” in local markets.

    While admitting that he had violated operating procedures, Radityo insisted that what he did was a “common practice”.

    “Before I took office, it’s possible that the Bulog warehouse in Pinrang had previously lent its rice to a third party like what I did,” Radityo said.

    “I simply happened to have bad luck. If there was no breach of contract by the third party, this would have been just fine,” he said, referring to the trading company.

    He also claimed that before the company failed to pay for the rice or returned it to the agency, it had been involved in a mutually beneficial partnership with Bulog. 

    His arrest came around two weeks after prosecutors detained a businessman identified only as Irfan, the owner of Sabang Merauke Persada. 

    Like the Bulog official, Irfan denied any wrongdoing before being named a suspect and said that he would “tell everything honestly” when he came to the prosecutors’ office without a lawyer a day before his arrest on December 14.

    It remains unclear if he already sold the entire Bulog rice handed to him by Radityo.

    Prosecutors estimated that the rice steal scandal cost the state Rp 5.4 billion ($347,000) in lost revenue. 

    Bulog has a unique task of stabilizing the price of basic commodities, most importantly rice which becomes the staple food for the country's population, by keeping it affordable to low-income families but not too cheap to allow local farmers to reap some profit from the domestic rice market.

    Its headquarters in Jakarta is led by a presidential appointee, currently retired police general Budi Waseso.

  • New govt policy to facilitate cultivation of 2.7mln hectares of rice.

  • The document noted that cultivable land in the country is estimated at 4.234 million hectares, made up of rain-fed uplands at 30 percent, rain-fed lowland at 52 percent

    According to the recently launched National Rice Development Strategy II (NRDS II) Nigeria is aiming at increasing the rice area under irrigation from less than 1 million hectares to 2.7 million hectares, particularly areas under supplementary water supply to attain 2 cropping per year.

    The document noted that cultivable land in the country is estimated at 4.234 million hectares, made up of rain-fed uplands at 30 percent, rain-fed lowland at 52 percent, irrigated lowlands at 17 percent and mangrove at 1 percent.

    The new Strategy also targets to build the capacity of 84,000 extension agents and 12 million farmers on Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Sustainable Rice Production (SRP).

    Part of its goal is to increase on a sustainable basis the volume of rice paddy produced, stored-up and marketed in Nigeria to meet the widening annual national demand and surpluses for export in the long run, and to improve the livelihoods of rice-dependent households in the country.

    The document further noted that the objectives of the new Strategy is to bring more of Nigeria’s potential rice areas into cultivation through land development and make more rice land available.

    “Enhance the productivity of existing cultivated areas through increased adoption of GAP for sustainable rice production and closing the yield gaps existing between farmers;

    “Promote the adoption and use of climate-smart technologies and practices that reduce greenhouse gas emission from rice fields and increase the resilience or adaptation to climate change impact;

    “To promote the adoption of SRP standards to mitigate the negative impact on the biophysical and social environment of rice production. Enhance farmer’s access to quality agro-inputs and their optimal use at a realistic cost”, the document stated.

    The new Rice Strategy also aims at increasing average yield to 4.0 tons per hectare for rain-fed upland, 6.0 tons per hectare for rain-fed lowland and 7.5 tons per hectare for irrigated ecology through the introduction of new high-yielding climate-smart rice varieties.

    While launching NRDS II in Abuja, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, said the rice value chain has been identified as being strategic to achieving food and nutrition security.

    “The NRDS II document is a ten-year plan which seeks to provide direction for the development of the rice subsector to achieve government’s goals of self-sufficiency in rice production, food and nutrition security, employment creation and production of surplus for export”, the minister said.

  • NFSA Beneficiaries To Get Free Rice, Wheat In J&K.

  • Srinagar- In an important decision, Government of India has made distribution of foodgrains to NFSA beneficiaries free of cost from January, 1st this year.

    So far under NFSA, subsidized foodgrains were being distributed at Rs 3 per kg for rice, Rs. 2 per kg for wheat and Rs. 3 per kg for wheat flour to NFSA beneficiaries under PDS in Jammu & Kashmir.

    The Central Government has now decided to provide free of cost foodgrains, rice and wheat, to all NFSA beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for one year, effective from 1st January, 2023.

    The Department of Food & Public Distribution in J&K is commencing free distribution of foodgrains (rice and wheat) to all NFSA beneficiaries from 1st January, 2023 across Jammu and Kashmir.  Appropriate instructions have been issued to field officers, NIC Team and Technical Teams to incorporate these changes in IT system, e-POS applications, and PDS, so as to ensure free of cost distribution of rice and wheat to NFSA beneficiaries from 1st January, 2023.

    While distribution of rice and wheat would be absolutely free, Rupee 1 would be charged for wheat flour per kg as conversion charges, with applicable conversion loss, where wheat flour is provided to beneficiaries instead of wheat.  The beneficiaries are advised to obtain printed e-PoS receipts, clearly indicating free distribution of rice and wheat, along with their entitlement.

    The above benefit is exclusively for NFSA beneficiaries and the rate/scale shall remain unchanged in respect of Non-NFSA beneficiaries.

    All the field staff and FPS dealers have been advised to create awareness amongst the beneficiaries for free of cost foodgrains distribution under NFSA. This free distribution under NFSA shall continue till 31st December, 2023.

  • The problem with rice

  • The staple of so many countries may also be the dirtiest of crops

    Methane is the most potent greenhouse gas, silently baking the planet and responsible for around 30% of global temperatures. Enormous quantities are pouring out of farms, landfills, and fossil fuel infrastructure. Rice paddies are a significant source of methane emissions from agriculture. Rice makes up 12% of global methane emissions and accounts for a staggering 2.5% of all GHG emissions, due to its anaerobic decomposition during its production processes. 

    Rice feeds the world's population daily, but the less-known fact is that rice is one of the key contributors to global warming and a victim of climate change as well. That's why 48% of the countries included rice in their agricultural nationally determined contributions (NDCs) strategy to tackle climate change effectively. 

    And so, the question arises: Can we produce rice in a better way? 

    Rice is a vital crop that feeds 3.5 billion people worldwide. It provides 20% of the world's calories, a staple of kitchens in various countries. It was domesticated and fed hungry civilizations on three continents across Asia, Africa, and South America for thousands of years. 

    Crops grow better in wet soil than dry soil, and once farmers found that flooding the fields killed the weeds, but the rice survived, rice fields were kept inundated for months. 

    When bacteria in the soil break down dead plants, they usually release carbon dioxide. But in a flooded field where air can't get in, there's less oxygen to react with the carbon in the organic waste. That encourages the growth of bacteria that make a gas called methane instead. Methane doesn't last as long in the air as CO2, but it heats the planet 80 times more over a 20-year period. 

    Furthermore, the nitrogen in the fertilizer means paddies spew out nitrous oxide, which is 270 times more potent than CO2. At emissions per kilogram, rice is not as bad as the same amount of eggs, cheese, or meat, but it's worse than other carbs. With total emissions, it's an entirely different story. We eat so much rice that it heats the planet more than everything but the cattle industry. Fixing the rice production process could save a ton of pollution. 

    The obvious solution is to drain fields, so bacteria don't make more methane. Across East Asia, farmers have drained their paddies in the middle of the growing season to save water. As water has grown even scarcer, others are piloting alternative techniques like “alternate wetting and drying water management”, which doesn't remove all flooding, but could reduce 30 percent of water use and cut GHG emissions by 90 percent, while boosting yield. 

    In principle, it's a simple technology and requires no special machinery. This simple trick has halved methane emissions on some farms and saved increasingly scarce water. 

    Intermittent flooding is significant for growing crops efficiently and reducing emissions. Still, the rigid policies and reluctance of farmers are the primary reasons it isn't happening. In Bangladesh, a recent study found that alternate wetting and drying have failed to take off because farmers don't receive either economic incentives to reduce or suffer no penalty to increase water use. They see little benefit from using less because they receive free water or subsidized electricity which allows pumping water from deep in the ground. 

    The second problem is nitrogen. Fields where the water content varies over the season, produce more nitrous oxide. Wetting and drying create cracks in the soil that let in oxygen, which reacts with nitrogen to form nitrous oxide. Using less fertilizer can help avoid this, but scientists are still trying to work out how to stop it entirely. 

    The third problem is the yield if the soil gets too dry. One review found that yields fell 5% in fields repeatedly drained and flooded. This can be life-changing for farmers. A simple way to fix this is by sparingly wetting and drying fields. 

    The hundreds of millions of tons of farm waste is another issue. How farmers usually deal with it is toxic for people and the planet. There are only a few valuable things to do with rice straw, like turning it into animal feed. Innovation is needed to produce bio-energy or valuable products such as organic fertilizer that can be used on the farm itself. 

    Changing people's behaviour is tough, and few governments even seem to be trying. A more radical idea to grow less rice is to swap it for cleaner and sturdier crops, like potatoes. This might sound absurd, but there are reasons governments in Asia might want to encourage other crops. In 2015 China launched a national strategy to make potatoes a staple crop to improve the country's food security and cut GHG emissions. 

    Methane is way more substantial in the short term. If we can reduce methane emissions by about 45% in the next 10 years, we can shave off almost 0.3C of warming during the next 2-3 decades. To make the global food system more secure in the face of increasingly extreme weather, we need to work out an efficient and sustainable rice production system to keep the planet from heating, save dwindling water supplies, and cut air pollution. 

    Unlike meat or dairy, there's no big rice industry lobbying against change and holding back progress. The challenge instead is to change the habits and traditions of farmers worldwide -- who can afford neither lower yields nor more extreme weather. Governments must put policies in the right direction and shift incentives, and invest into growing our crops as a nation more effectively and efficiently. Because climate change is affecting everything, mitigation of agricultural GHG should be our priority.

  • Analysis of Purchasing Power erosion during CY22

  • As the news flow and forecasts focus on the need for austerity and more belt-tightening during 2023, BR Research showcases what recent years have been like for daily wagers

    Daily wagers’ purchasing power set back by a decade!

    Introduction

    CY2022 has not been an easy year for Pakistanis. Inflation averaged above 20 percent during the calendar year, despite the much-reviled freeze on energy prices during the first part of the year. As the news flow and forecasts focus on the need for austerity and more belt-tightening during 2023, BR Research showcases what recent years have been like for daily wagers.

    The analysis compares two sets of data to arrive at a proxy for long-term trends in purchasing power: one, monthly national average prices of kitchen essentials published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics as part of the Sensitive Price Index (SPI). Two, the national average daily wage is calculated using the wages for various skilled and non-skilled workers collated by PBS; that is, the average wage of the following professions: laborer, mason (Raj), plumber, carpenter, and painter.

    A comparison is then drawn by calculating the ratio between the retail price of each kitchen essential category, and the national average daily wage.

    Based on PBS data, the average daily wage has increased from Rs571 in January 2012 to Rs1,356 in December 2022, an increase of 2.37 times over a span of 11 calendar years (or 132 months).

    Analysis

    During the 11-year period under review, an average Pakistani daily wager witnessed two major trends. The first trend lasted between December 2013 and September 2018, when an average household should have witnessed improvement in its food security as measured by the affordability of various kitchen essentials.

    For example, the ratio of a kg of wheat flour to daily wage rose from 16 times to 26 times; broken basmati rice from 9 times to 14 times; of a dozen farm eggs from 5 times to 12 times; of fresh milk from 9.5 times to 12 times; and, for edible oil from 3 times to 5 times. Other than mutton and some pulses (which are imported), daily wagers saw the affordability of all kitchen essentials improve during this five-month period, which coincided with the global oil price crash and historically low inflation at home as a result.

    In arithmetic terms, this means that a daily wager who could afford only 3 liters of cooking oil on his daily income in Dec-13, could afford 5 liters by the end of 2018. Of course, in real life, improved affordability does not mean more consumption. However, it could mean that when food security improves, it frees up more space for expenditure on other amenities of life such as education, medical treatment, or utilities.

    Post-2018, daily wagers have witnessed a massive erosion in purchasing power, if retail prices of kitchen essentials are anything to go by. Today, an average daily wager can afford a lower quantity of flour than he did back in January 2012, fewer farm eggs, less fresh milk, fewer kilos of chicken meat, barely the same kgs of rice and pulses such as moong, and far fewer liters of cooking oil. The only exception is refined sugar, where affordability has in effect improved, despite the rise in the absolute price of the commodity.

    The increase in the price of any good or service need not imply that affordability has declined if the rise in income takes place in tandem. Of course, that has not been the case as also noted by the rise in Pakistan’s labor competitiveness in the export market (ergo, labor has become cheaper). But does it necessarily mean more people are at greater risk of food insecurity and malnourishment?

    There is of course no direct way to prove the argument. However, if prices of other services such as utilities, fuel, transport, schooling, house rent, or medical treatment had grown by a significantly lower quantum, it may free up more financial space to spend more on essentials. However, neither has been the case. A typical daily wager then faces Sophie’s choice: cut expenditure on fuel to work; children’s schooling; shift to cheaper housing; or, reduce expenditure on the kitchen. And as purchasing power erodes over a stretch of five year period– marked by intervening periods of layoffs, lockdowns, floods, and indebtedness, that forebodes a society at the brink of malnourishment: lower fats consumption, lower protein consumption, and ultimately, less calories altogether.

    Conclusion

    Although Pakistan’s poor fiscal management is beyond the pale and definitely needs serious introspection and course correction, stakeholders must appreciate what the inflation over the past five years - and especially over the last year – has meant for those at the bottom of the income pyramid. Floods, global commodity price spiral, political upheaval, pandemic, and five years of severe currency depreciation have in effect wiped out the purchasing power of the most vulnerable communities, who can afford fewer rotis today than a decade earlier. And while social protection programs such as BISP and Ehsaas may be helpful, these fail to reach the vast swathes of the affected populations. The tremendous escalation in prices of kitchen essentials may have put many more at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition, especially at a time when the specter of job losses and mass layoffs looms ahead.

    The state must do more, but vulnerable communities also need action from both private citizens and business groups. More importantly, the international community and partners must also look closely before imposing more austerity on a country facing default. Ruling classes may have slipped up, but Pakistanis are in dire need of help.

  • PhilMech to focus on distribution of rice processing facilities until 2024

  • The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization said it will focus on providing rice millers and other postharvest facilities to farmer-beneficiaries during the remaining years of the rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF).

    PhilMech said it will fast-track the distribution of rice processing systems (RPS) to improve the rice sector’s productivity as part of its mandate under the rice trade liberalization (RTL) law.

    “As of the end of 2022, PhilMech has completed a total of seven RPS, and has set the construction of another 17 RPS. Remaining targets are set for post-qualification and rebidding activities,” the attached agency of the Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

    PhilMech said the remaining three years of the RCEF mechanization component would be focused on the distribution of RPS to reduce postharvest losses in the rice sector.

    The agency noted that the first three years of the RCEF mechanization component focused on the distribution of production and harvesting technologies, such as tractors, tillers, transplanters and combined harvesters, among others.

    “The next three years of the RCEF-Mechanization Program, or from 2022 to 2024, should be focused on the distribution of postharvest technologies for drying and milling palay (unmilled rice) also to qualified farmers’ organization and LGUs [local government units],” PhilMech’s Supervising Science Research Specialist at the Facility Management and Field Operations Division Engr. May Ville B. Castro said.

    “This will make the rice farmers actively participate in the rice value chain,  enabling them to sell milled rice at the wholesale or retail level.”

    PhilMech said it has three types of RPS under its mechanization programs that vary depending on the capacity of the rice mills.

    The RPS-1 is a multi-pass rice mill with a capacity of 1.5 metric tons per hour and two units of recirculating dryer with a capacity of 6 metric tons, which is worth P17.5 million.

    The P61.7-million RPS 2, meanwhile, has a 2- to 3-metric ton per hour capacity with two units of recirculating dryer with a capacity of 12 metric tons.

    Lastly, the RPS 3 has a capacity of 4 to 5 metric tons per hour with two units of recirculating dryer with a capacity of 12 metric tons. It costs about P72.6 million.

    “To date, seven sets of RPS 1 were already delivered and installed. Another  15 sets of RPS 1 and two sets of RPS 2 are due for delivery and construction,” PhilMech said.

    “Post-qualification of 14 sets of RPS 2 and five sets of RPS 3 are ongoing. And lastly, for rebidding are 24 sets of RPS 1 and four units of RPS 2.”

    Under the RTL law or Republic Act 11203, the annual guaranteed P10-billion RCEF program was created which would run for six years from 2019 to 2024. Under the law, half of the RCEF funds or P5 billion will be directly managed by the PhilMech for the distribution of free machinery to eligible rice farmers and cooperative-beneficiaries.

  • As groundwater dries up and rainfall becomes scarce, rice farmers…

  • As groundwater dries up and rainfall becomes scarce, rice farmers in north-west Bangladesh find new hope in vegetables

    For decades, Shafiqul Islam Babu grew rice on his land in north-west Bangladesh — until climate change made rainfall more erratic and overused groundwater began drying up in the mid-2000s.

    As his rice harvest declined, so did his earnings.

    In response, the 45-year-old farmer decided to grow cabbage — a high-value crop that uses less water than rice, has plenty of buyers, and provides him with a steady income.

    "I didn't know what to do instead of paddy farming, which was my ancestor's profession, [and] I had to maintain my family with my savings," he said in an interview, cleaning weeds and dead leaves from his 20-hectare cabbage farm.

    "Then, vegetable farming showed me a ray of hope."

    Mr Babu said he sold his entire cabbage crop ahead of harvest this year, with demand for the vegetable high in Dhaka, the capital.

    He managed to make about 215,000 taka ($3,063), up from the 80,000-odd taka (around $1,139) he used to receive for his rice harvest.

    Accelerating climate change impacts have led many farmers in Bangladesh's Rajshahi district to swap rice for vegetables as they strive to make their business pay on an ever-hotter planet.

    Eight years ago, rice was the region's main crop – but now it is the "loser crop", with vegetables from cabbage to gourds increasingly favoured.

    A farmer sits in the middle of a wide field of cabbages.
    Vegetables like cabbages have increased in popular in the last few years. (Reuters: Mosabber Hossain)

    They need less water, produce higher yields and bring in more money, according to Shamsul Wadud, head of the district's Department of Agricultural Extension.

    Farmers in Rajshahi used to struggle to grow rice for two seasons a year, but many are now cultivating vegetables three or four times annually on the same land, Mr Wadud explained.

    "They are getting good prices [and] the production of vegetable crops has now increased many times," he said.

    Since 2009, the area of land dedicated to growing vegetables has almost quadrupled to about 78,500 hectares in Rajshahi, making it the nation's largest vegetable-producing district, agriculture ministry figures show.

    People walk through a market filled with large cloth bags full of radishes.
    Farmers who make the switch are able to sharply increase their earnings. (Reuters: Mosabber Hossain)

    But Rajshahi is not the only area looking beyond rice.

    Bangladesh's agriculture minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said the government was aiming to use "all kinds of abandoned and sandy land" to expand vegetable production.

    Sandy soil is considered superior for growing vegetables rather than rice because it requires less water and fertiliser, officials said.

    Rainfall decreasing 'day by day'

    While some parts of Bangladesh have been experiencing record-breaking monsoon rains and flooding, drought has becomes increasingly common in the Barind region, which covers most of Rajshahi and some of Rangpur district.

    The area's annual average rainfall has fallen to about 1,100mm, less than half the nationwide average, said Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, a geology professor at the University of Rajshahi.

    And, due to accelerating climate change, average rainfall in the Barind region has been "going down day by day", he said.

    A farmer sits under garden trellises holding thin vegetables in his hands.
    Vegetables like bitter gourds need less water than rice, relieving the pressure on some farmers. (Reuters: Mosabber Hossain)

    Because there has been so little rain, farmers in the region rely on deep wells to get water to irrigate their crops, putting intense pressure on groundwater supplies, Mr Sarwar Jahan added.

    Groundwater levels in Barind are dropping by 50 to 60cm every year, according to the Bangladesh Water Development Board.

    This spurred some farmers in Rajshahi in the late-2000s to try growing cabbage and pointed gourd — which is similar to cucumber — on land where they had given up on rice, according to Dewan Ali, 55, a farmer living in the village of Godagari.

    "A few months later, they were surprised to see that with less water and less fertiliser they were getting a good harvest," said Mr Ali.

    "This good news was flying all over. Within two years, most of the farmers started to farm different types of vegetables."

    A farmer stands holding two bunches of leafy vegetables in front of a table piled with more.
    Farmer Jalal Mia sells the amaranth he grows on his farm at a nearby vegetable market.(Reuters: Mosabber Hossain)

    The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) estimated certain vegetables — including tomatoes, okra and radishes — could be grown using about 336 litres of water per kilogram, nearly 10 times less than it would take to grow the same amount of rice.

    Boosting vegetable production has become a priority for the Department of Agricultural Extension in Rajshahi,

    The department has been training farmers in everything from how to use fertilisers to controlling disease.

    It has also given them seeds free of cost, working to raise awareness to encourage more to make the switch, according to Mr Wadud.

    He said the Rajshahi government was only focusing on areas where farmers were struggling to grow rice, so there was no danger of the shift to vegetables affecting overall paddy production.

    "An adequate amount of paddy [rice] is grown in other parts of the country," Mr Wadud added.

    Growing hope among farmers

    While many farmers say their livelihoods have been saved by the discovery that vegetables can thrive on parched land, those abundant harvests can sometimes prove too much of a good thing.

    In particularly productive seasons, oversupply drives down the prices farmers can charge for their produce, while storage is also an issue, said Hossain Ali, a farmer in the Godagari area of Rajshahi.

    Farmers sit in front of piles of vegetables on the street at a market.
    The vegetables need to be sold quickly before they rot. (Reuters: Mosabber Hossain)

    When farmers grow more rice than they can sell, it can be dried and stored easily for six months, he said, but surplus vegetables quickly rot unless they are kept refrigerated.

    "If the government builds cold storage, we can preserve (vegetables) and in the off-season we can sell them at a good price," said Mr Ali, who had 30 hectares of land growing various vegetables including cauliflower and tomatoes.

    However, for farmer Mohammed Ali, the challenges of growing vegetables are far outweighed by the benefits for his family.

    After spending 10 years in Saudi Arabia as a construction worker to send money home, Mr Ali returned in 2010 to Rajshahi to farm rice.

    But water shortages forced him to quit, and he instead opened a small grocery store beside his house.

    A smiling man holds gourds in his hands in the middle of a large vegetable garden.
    Farmer Mohammed Ali says growing vegetables has changed his life. (Reuters: Mosabber Hossain)

    Then, a visit to relatives in the region changed Mr Ali's life. He was amazed to see their land full of plump vegetables.

    "I found some hope," said the husband and father of two, who lived in Lalpur, in the region's Natore district.

    Mr Ali planted bitter gourd and pointed gourd as soon as he got home, and said he sold his first harvest two months later.

    Now, he can make 28,000 taka ($398) each month on just one acre of land – with no need to consider leaving home to find work.

    "I don't think about going abroad because I can earn a healthy amount by staying at home," Mr Ali said.

    "Nothing could be better than earning money and being with family."

  • High-value, nutritious black rice can bring farmers more profits.

  • Two farmers of Jalma and Gangarampur villages of Batiaghata upazila in Khulna have cultivated high-value and nutrition-rich black paddy variety in this Boro season. The price of per kg rice obtained from this paddy is usually Tk300 to Tk400.

    Upazila agriculture office says that about 15 maunds (600 kg) of paddy can be obtained from one bigha (33 decimals) of land in this region. The yield of the black paddy variety is the same as the general ones on the same land.

    "I have experimentally cultivated black rice on 12 katha (19.8 decimal) land in the current Boro season. I bought two kg of black paddy seed from a local man for Tk400 who brought it from Thailand," Abdur Rahim, a farmer of Jalma village said.

    He added, "I sowed the seeds in July and the seedlings were planted at the end of August. I will harvest about 8 to 10 maunds of paddy in January from here". 

    He also hoped that he would sell around Tk80,000 worth of paddy for which he had to spend only a total of Tk10,000.

    At present, the average price of general variety rice in the market is Tk60 per kg. On the other hand, the price of black variety rice is at least Tk300 per kg. Thus, farmers will get at least five times higher profit than that of general rice variety by cultivating black rice on the same land.

    For the general rice the external coating of the rice is removed and Vitamin B and thiamine outside the rice are lost during polishing. Since black rice is not polished, its nutrients remain intact.

    Black rice also contains anthocyanins, which act as cancer-fighting antioxidants. Black rice contains nutrients, vitamins, zinc, fibre and minerals at least three times more than that of the general rice.

    However, black rice cultivation is not for the first time in Khulna. Earlier, the farmers of Dumuria upazila cultivated this rice. That farmer had also made more profit than the regular paddy cultivation. However, it is not widely cultivated due to a lack of promotion among the farmers.

    Batiaghata Upazila Agriculture Officer Rabiul Islam said, "In the current season, two farmers have cultivated black rice on about 1.5 acres of land in our area. Next year, we have set a target to cultivate this rice in eight acres of land".

    He added: It will gradually gain popularity among the farmers.

    Directorate of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Khulna Office Additional Deputy Director Mosaddek Hossain said, "The price of the rice is high and nutritional value is also high. Therefore, the farmers benefit more by cultivating this type of rice".

    He said that it takes 160 days to cultivate the general rice varieties while it is 120 days for the black rice. Also, the black rice plant has less insect infestation and requires less fertilisers and pesticides. 

    "So, we are taking the initiative to expand black rice cultivation. There is a legend that because of the nutritional values, once the kings of some countries, including Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, used to eat this rice," he said. 

    He added: The common farmers of those countries were forbidden to grow or eat this rice. So, it is also called forbidden black rice.

    The rice is sticky and aromatic, which is used more in cooking payes and khichuri. The rice contains high fibre, which slowly produces glucose in the body. As a result, blood sugar level remains under control. This rice is very helpful for the diabetic patients, he said.

  • Basmati rice: new rules aiming to remove poor varieties from market

  • Basmati is the most popular speciality rice in the UK, adding extra flavour and subtlety to everything from curries to pilafs to kedgerees. Nearly three-quarters of the world’s basmati is produced in India, and the UK buys 3% of it – plus substantial amounts from the second-largest producer, Pakistan.

    All has not been well with this delicious staple, however. A huge number of newly cultivated varieties have been permitted in the UK and EU since 2017, and some have turned out to be sub-standard, lacking the unique popcorn-like fragrance that helps to make this rice so sought after.

    New rules are being introduced at the beginning of 2023 that aim to take these lesser varieties of basmati off the market. So will this solve the problem?

    Basmati and the code of practice

    Basmati rice has been cultivated for thousands of years in the fertile alluvial plains between the Indus and Ganges rivers. To qualify as basmati, grains must meet certain standards related to things like fragrance, grain length and width, as well as cooked texture. They must also have a mid-range level of amylose, a part of the starch in rice.

    Fraudsters nevertheless became notorious for cutting basmati with lesser rice grains, drawn by the fact that it is up to 50% more expensive per kilo. Several decades ago, it wasn’t uncommon for imported basmati to be more than 50% impure.

    To get around this problem, the UK Rice Association introduced a code of practice in 2005. Also followed across the EU, the code specified that basmati could be no more than 7% impure, as well as introducing a list of 15 permitted varieties: nine traditional ones that could be imported duty free and a further six that were modern cultivars. We at Bangor University devised the system of DNA fingerprinting that is used to enforce the code and has sometimes led to prosecutions for infringements.

    The system worked well until 2017, when the code was updated to add 25 new modern cultivars. This followed an explosion in new breeding in the 2000s and 2010s to address the problem that traditional basmati varieties are tall, low-yielding plants which fall over if they are fed with too much fertiliser. Breeders overcame this by using crossing and selection to add the so-called “green revolution” semi-dwarfing gene, which is also bred into most other modern rice varieties.

    India and Pakistan had successfully persuaded the UK and EU that these 25 new varieties were as high in quality as the existing 16, but several years later we were able to show that this wasn’t entirely right.

    By developing alternative DNA markers for fingerprinting, we showed that six of the new varieties – five from India and one from Pakistan – had not been properly bred for fragrance. Some did not even contain the version of the BADH2 gene that makes basmati fragrance possible in the first place. Although India and Pakistan have rigorous systems for testing rice quality, they don’t necessarily do the gene testing that would have picked up the problem.

    The future

    The Rice Association has responded to this discovery by publishing a new code of practice that removes the six varieties from the permitted list. Coming into force on January 1, the code also adds five new varieties that do pass muster. As a result, consumers should once again be able to buy basmati rice in the knowledge that it is of the highest possible quality.

    But this isn’t the end of the story. For one thing, the 7% impurity rule remains. I have long argued that the Rice Association should adopt the same 1% rule that applies in many products – non-GM foods, for example. There’s no real reason for the basmati exception, and it is also arguably easier to enforce a 1% rule because of the way that DNA testing works.

    Secondly, rice breeding is not standing still. Breeders have started focusing on making crosses to allow basmati varieties to inherit genes that will mean they need less fertiliser, resist disease so they need fewer or no pesticides, and even withstand drier growing conditions or salt-contaminated soils.

    These varieties aren’t quite ready to hit the market but are urgently needed to increase the sustainability of rice production. But if such varieties are to be sold labelled “basmati”, they too will have to be monitored to ensure they meet the same high standards that consumers expect. The same goes for varieties created by gene editing, which have not yet started emerging but probably will do over the next couple of decades.

    If we don’t maintain today’s standards, it may harm the industry – and crucially the farmers who work so hard to produce this beautiful rice in the first place. It’s an interesting case study of how cutting-edge technology and the right regulation can ensure that an ancient industry remains fit for purpose in the 21st century.

    Katherine Steele, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Crop Production, Bangor University

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

  • Millers express concern on theft of rice containers

  • Threaten to stop production if missing trailers not recovered

    Customs personnel searched the loaded container on suspicious trailer number KBL-1663 and seized 780 bags of illicit urea from it on Tuesday. PHOTO: EXPRESS

    Irked by the alleged stealing of containers and trucks, shipping rice from the mills, the Sindh Rice Millers Association has warned of suspending rice production if the theft incidents are not stopped.

    At a press conference at the Hyderabad Press Club on Thursday, the association’s Farooq Ahmed and Dr Chetan Samrani said that three trucks filled with rice went missing during the last month.

    According to them, they registered FIRs in the police stations in Karachi and Jamshoro districts. Still, only one of the stolen consignments has been recovered from Tando Muhammad Khan district. They alleged that police and a gang of criminals and truck mafia are involved in the theft. The stolen consignments were worth tens of millions of rupees.

    “The trailers transporting rice are being stolen in an organised way,” said Ahmed, denying that the recent theft incidents appeared random. He said that the trailers leave mills but do not reach their destinations and the companies operating those vehicles react indifferently to such incidents. “The owners and drivers of trawler trucks living in Karachi are responsible for these incidents,” he alleged. He informed that when the police take action against those truckers, they and their families, including children and women, take to the streets in protest.

    The office bearers apprised that the mills employ thousands of workers, and if they closed the mills, the bread and butter of the labourers would be affected. The consignments still missing belong to Qalandari rice mill, Hyderabad, and Shah Bhitai rice mill, Sujawal.

  • Basmati rice: The new authenticity rules aiming to remove sub-standard varieties from the market

  • Basmati is the most popular specialty rice in the UK, adding extra flavor and subtlety to everything from curries to pilafs to kedgerees. Nearly three-quarters of the world's basmati is produced in India, and the UK buys 3% of it—plus substantial amounts from the second-largest producer, Pakistan.

    All has not been well with this delicious staple, however. A huge number of newly cultivated varieties have been permitted in the UK and EU since 2017, and some have turned out to be sub-standard, lacking the unique popcorn-like fragrance that helps to make this rice so sought after.

    New rules are being introduced at the beginning of 2023 that aim to take these lesser varieties of basmati off the market. So will this solve the problem?

    Basmati and the code of practice

    Basmati rice has been cultivated for thousands of years in the fertile alluvial plains between the Indus and Ganges rivers. To qualify as basmati, grains must meet certain standards related to things like fragrance, grain length and width, as well as cooked texture. They must also have a mid-range level of amylose, a part of the starch in rice.

    Fraudsters nevertheless became notorious for cutting basmati with lesser rice grains, drawn by the fact that it is up to 50% more expensive per kilo. Several decades ago, it wasn't uncommon for imported basmati to be more than 50% impure.

    To get around this problem, the UK Rice Association introduced a code of practice in 2005. Also followed across the EU, the code specified that basmati could be no more than 7% impure, as well as introducing a list of 15 permitted varieties: nine traditional ones that could be imported duty free and a further six that were modern cultivars. We at Bangor University devised the system of DNA fingerprinting that is used to enforce the code and has sometimes led to prosecutions for infringements.

    The system worked well until 2017, when the code was updated to add 25 new modern cultivars. This followed an explosion in new breeding in the 2000s and 2010s to address the problem that traditional basmati varieties are tall, low-yielding plants which fall over if they are fed with too much fertilizer. Breeders overcame this by using crossing and selection to add the so-called "green revolution" semi-dwarfing gene, which is also bred into most other modern rice varieties.

    India and Pakistan had successfully persuaded the UK and EU that these 25 new varieties were as high in quality as the existing 16, but several years later we were able to show that this wasn't entirely right.

    By developing alternative DNA markers for fingerprinting, we showed that six of the new varieties—five from India and one from Pakistan—had not been properly bred for fragrance. Some did not even contain the version of the BADH2 gene that makes basmati fragrance possible in the first place. Although India and Pakistan have rigorous systems for testing rice quality, they don't necessarily do the gene testing that would have picked up the problem.

    The future

    The Rice Association has responded to this discovery by publishing a new code of practice that removes the six varieties from the permitted list. Coming into force on January 1, the code also adds five new varieties that do pass muster. As a result, consumers should once again be able to buy basmati rice in the knowledge that it is of the highest possible quality.

    But this isn't the end of the story. For one thing, the 7% impurity rule remains. I have long argued that the Rice Association should adopt the same 1% rule that applies in many products—non-GM foods, for example. There's no real reason for the basmati exception, and it is also arguably easier to enforce a 1% rule because of the way that DNA testing works.

    Secondly, rice breeding is not standing still. Breeders have started focusing on making crosses to allow basmati varieties to inherit genes that will mean they need less fertilizer, resist disease so they need fewer or no pesticides, and even withstand drier growing conditions or salt-contaminated soils.

    These varieties aren't quite ready to hit the market but are urgently needed to increase the sustainability of rice production. But if such varieties are to be sold labeled "basmati", they too will have to be monitored to ensure they meet the same high standards that consumers expect. The same goes for varieties created by gene editing, which have not yet started emerging but probably will do over the next couple of decades.

    If we don't maintain today's standards, it may harm the industry—and crucially the farmers who work so hard to produce this beautiful rice in the first place. It's an interesting case study in how cutting edge technology and the right regulation can ensure that an ancient industry remains fit for purpose in the 21st century.

  • Agricultural and processed food products exports up by 16% to USD 17.43 billion for period April-November FY 22-23 compared to same period last year

  • 74% percent of total export target for 2022-23 achieved in eight months

    (April-November FY 22-23)

    Export of processed fruits & vegetables up by 32.60% to USD 1310 million in eight months of current fiscal in compared to corresponding period last year

    The exports of agricultural and processed food products rose by 16 percent in the eight months (April-November) of the current Financial Year 2022-23 in comparison to the corresponding period of FY 2021-22.

    According to the provisional data by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S), the overall export of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) products increased by 16 percent growth in terms of USD during April-November 2022 to USD 17.43 billion from USD 15.07 billion over the same period of the last fiscal.

    The initiatives taken by the APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) that works under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry have helped the country in achieving 74 percent of its total export target for the year 2022-23 in eight months of the current fiscal.

    For the year 2022-23, an export target of USD 23.56 billion has been fixed for the agricultural and processed food products basket and an export of USD 17.435 billion has already been achieved in eight months of the current fiscal.

    As per the DGCI&S provisional data, processed fruits and vegetables recorded a growth of 32.60 percent (April-November 2022), while fresh fruits registered four percent growth in compare to corresponding months of the previous year.

    Also, processed food products like cereals and miscellaneous processed items reported a growth of 28.29 percent in compare to the first eight months of the previous year.

    In April-November, 2021, fresh fruits were exported to the tune of USD 954 million that increased to USD 991 million in the corresponding months of the current fiscal. Exports of processed F&V jumped to USD 1310 million in eight months of the current fiscal from USD 988 million in the corresponding months of the previous year.

    The export of pulses has witnessed an increase of 90.49 percent in eight months of the current fiscal in compare to the same months of the last fiscal as the export of lentils increased from USD 206 million (April-November 2021-22) to USD 392 million (April-November 2022-23).

    Basmati Rice exports witnessed a growth of 39.26 percent in eight months of FY 2022-23 as its export increased from USD 2063 million (April-November 2021) to USD 2873 million (April-November 2022), while the export of non-Basmati rice registered a growth of 5 percent in eight months of current fiscal. Non-basmati rice export increased to USD 4109 million in eight months of the current fiscal from USD 3930 million in the corresponding months of the previous year.

    The export of poultry products increased by 88.45 percent and the export of other cereals recorded a growth of 12.90 percent in eight months of the current fiscal. The export of poultry products rose to USD 82 million in eight months of the current fiscal from USD 43 million in corresponding months of the previous year.

    Similarly, dairy products recorded a growth of 33.77 percent as its export rose to USD 421 million in April-November 2022 from USD 315 million in the corresponding months of the previous year.

    Wheat export has registered an increase of 29.29 percent in eight months of the current fiscal as its export rose to USD 1508 million in April-November 2022 from USD 1166 million in April-November 2021.

    Other cereals’ exports increased from USD 619 million in April-November 2021 to USD 699 million in April-November 2022 and the export of livestock products increased from USD 2665 million in April-November 2021 to USD 2709 million in April-November 2022.

    On the achievement, M Angamuthu, Chairman, APEDA, said, “We have been working with all the stakeholders such as farmers, exporters, processors to ensure that quality agricultural and processed food products are exported from the country.”

    The rise in the export of agricultural and processed food products is the outcome of various initiatives taken for the export promotion of agricultural and processed food products such as organising B2B exhibitions in different countries, exploring new potential markets through product-specific and general marketing campaigns by the active involvement of Indian Embassies.

    Several initiatives were also taken to promote products having registered geographical indications (GI) in India by organising virtual Buyer Seller Meets on agricultural and food products with the United Arab Emirates and on GI products, including handicrafts with the USA.

    India’s Export Comparative Statement: APEDA Products
    Product HeadApril-Nov, 2021April-Nov, 2022% Change (April-Nov, 2022)
    USD Million
    Fruits & Vegetables9549913.90
    Cereal preparations & Miscellaneous processed items2232286328.29
    Meat, dairy & poultry products266527091.65
    Basmati Rice2063287339.26
    Non Basmati Rice393041094.57
    Other products3228389017
    Total150721743515.68

    Source: DGCIS Principal commodities data April-November, 2022) (Provisional data)

  • Imported Rice Could Threaten Local Farmers, Kadin Chief Says.

  • TEMPO.COJakarta - The chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or Kadin, said that the country needs to be aware of the impact of disparities in the exorbitant price of rice. He referred to a World Bank report entitled 'Indonesia Economic Prospect' which stated that the cost of Indonesian rice was the most expensive compared to countries in the Southeast Asian region.

    According to Arsjad, if the difference between domestic and foreign prices is too large, there will be a tendency for imported rice to be cheaper. As a result, the desire to import rice from abroad is very high and it could threaten local farmers.

    "This condition can pose a threat to farmers," he said in a written statement, quoted on Friday, December 30, 2022.

    The government has assigned the Indonesian Bureau of Logistics (Bulog) to import as many as 200,000 tons of rice by the end of 2022 to fulfill the government's reserve stock of rice or CBP. According to Arsjad, the impact of the price disparity was triggered by the import policy on rice that occurred when Bulog reported that CBP stocks had shrunk from 1 million tons in early 2022 to 587,000 tons in November 2022.

    Arsjad stated that Bulog should replenish the rice stock by increasing it to a safe level of around 1.5 million tons as they have to intervene in the market during the famine season, which is three to four months ahead, and anticipate the need for natural disasters. Bulog is trying to obtain rice stock from the domestic market but is having difficulty acquiring it, even though the benchmark price regulations have been eased.

    Therefore, the government decided the option to import rice. "This is the source of disagreement between Bulog and the National Food Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture," he said. 

    In fact, Arsjad went on, Indonesia had achieved rice self-sufficiency in the 2019-2021 period. The current period only imported special rice, a type of rice that didn't grow in Indonesia. This special rice is generally intended for hotels, restaurants, and catering businesses. Based on data from the Central Statistics Agency, Indonesia imported special rice that reached 407,700 tons in 2021, an increase from 2020 which was only 356,300 tons.

    The high price of rice would not lead to polemics and change the government's focus on maintaining food security, Arsjad warned. Today is a very important time to reinforce food security, considering there is a potential for a global crisis due to the continuous war between Russia and Ukraine.

    He added that in the long term, the Indonesian government needs to encourage investment in agricultural research and development. It also must be added with counseling and development of agricultural human resources to increase farmer productivity.

  • Direct seeding of rice technique fails to find favour with growers

  • Cotton production falls 70% due to whitefly, pink bollworm attack

    Chandigarh, December 29

    If there is one area where Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party has taken baby steps to make a difference, it is in the state’s traditional agricultural practices. Their agenda is clear — to save the state’s depleting groundwater while ensuring a thriving agrarian economy.

    It is another thing that the initial changes in agriculture policy, announced almost immediately after the Aam Aadmi Party came to power — giving a push to the summer moong cultivation and using direct seeding technique for rice by incentivising it — seem to not have been much thought over. Little wonder that the moong cultivation in areas that traditionally grow cotton led to whitefly attack on the cotton sown after moong.

    Notably, the cotton production this year has fallen by over 70 per cent because of the attack on the crop by whitefly and pink bollworm. This has led to the cotton growers fetching prices between Rs 9,000 and

    Rs 10,000 per quintal.

    The direct seeding of rice (DSR), too, was almost rejected by farmers as the use of this water saving technique for paddy cultivation was far below the target set by the government. Rather, the use of DSR technique was much below its use in the last year. “Saving groundwater is something that the state needs to do aggressively to delay its imminent desertification. The government’s intention was good, but to bring a major change, the entire ecosystem too has to be changed. This year, power pangs during the paddy cultivation season and the rather poor availability of canal water during the sowing time for the direct seeding led to the decline in area under the DSR,” said farmer Kuldeep Singh of Doraha.

    This year, the harsh summer and the delayed monsoon too had an adverse impact on some crops, forcing farmers to revert to safer crops where minimum support price is guaranteed. To give the state government its due, the two procurement seasons — rabi marketing season in April-May and kharif marketing season now — have gone smoothly.

    Basmati and cotton growers have got premium prices for their produce, despite cotton farmers suffering losses because of insect attacks. With the production hitting rock bottom and demand remaining high, cotton reaching mandis is fetching high prices.

    The government, upon assuming power, has also cleared the dues of sugarcane growers. Cane crushing so far this year has remained smooth and the state government is also paying a higher State Advised Price — up by Rs 20 per quintal.

    Agriculture being the mainstay of the state economy, a change in policy is accepted by farmers only if it leads to higher realisation of profit from the sale of produce. Realising this, the government has already gone to the drawing board to come up with a new agriculture policy in 2023.

    The Punjab State Farmers and Farm Workers Commission is already talking to all stakeholders to draw up a comprehensive policy, with an emphasis on crop diversification, which is being personally looked into by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

  • Bangladesh farmers swap rice for vegetables as water dries up

  • RAJSHAHI, BANGLADESH – For decades, Shafiqul Islam Babu grew rice on his land in northwest Bangladesh — until climate change made rainfall more erratic and overused groundwater began drying up in the mid-2000s.

    As his rice harvest declined, so did his earnings.

    In response, the 45-year-old farmer decided to grow cabbage on his land — a high-value crop that uses less water than rice, has plenty of buyers, and provides him with a steady income.

    “I didn’t know what to do instead of paddy farming, which was my ancestor’s profession, (and) I had to maintain my family with my savings,” he said in an interview while cleaning weeds and dead leaves from his 20-hectare cabbage farm.

    “Then, vegetable farming showed me a ray of hope.”

    Babu said he sold his entire cabbage crop ahead of harvest this year, with demand for the vegetable high in Dhaka, the capital. He managed to make about 215,000 taka ($2,000), up from the 80,000-odd taka he used to receive for his rice harvest.

    Accelerating climate change impacts have led many farmers in Bangladesh’s Rajshahi district to swap rice for vegetables as they strive to make their business pay on an ever-hotter planet.

    Eight years ago, rice was the region’s main crop — but now it is the “loser crop,” with vegetables from cabbage to gourds increasingly favored as they need less water, produce higher yields and bring in more money, according to Shamsul Wadud, head of the district’s Department of Agricultural Extension.

    Farmers in Rajshahi used to struggle to grow rice for two seasons a year, but many are now cultivating vegetables three or four times annually on the same land, Wadud explained.

    “They are getting good prices (and) the production of vegetable crops has now increased many times,” he said.

    Since 2009, the area of land dedicated to growing vegetables has almost quadrupled to about 78,500 hectares in Rajshahi, making it the nation’s largest vegetable-producing district, agriculture ministry figures show.

    But it’s not just Rajshahi that is looking beyond rice.

    Bangladesh’s agriculture minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said the government was aiming to use “all kinds of abandoned and sandy land” to expand vegetable production.

    Sandy soil is considered superior for growing vegetables rather than rice because it requires less water and fertilizer, officials said.

    Depleting groundwater

    While some parts of Bangladesh have been experiencing record-breaking monsoon rains and flooding, drought is becoming increasingly common in the Barind region, which covers most of Rajshahi and some of Rangpur district.

    The area’s annual average rainfall is about 1,100 millimeters — less than half the nationwide average – said Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, a geology professor at the University of Rajshahi.

    And, due to accelerating climate change, average rainfall in the Barind region “is going down day by day,” he said.

    Because there is so little rain, farmers in the region rely on deep wells to get water to irrigate their crops, putting intense pressure on groundwater supplies, Sarwar Jahan added.

    Groundwater levels in Barind are dropping by 50 to 60 centimeters every year, according to the Bangladesh Water Development Board.

    This spurred some farmers in Rajshahi in the late-2000s to try growing cabbage and pointed gourd — which is similar to cucumber — on land where they had given up on rice, according to Dewan Ali, 55, a farmer living in the village of Godagari.

    “A few months later, they were surprised to see that with less water and less fertilizer they were getting a good harvest,” said Ali.

    “This good news was flying all over. Within two years, most of the farmers started to farm different types of vegetables.”

    The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) estimates that certain vegetables — including tomatoes, okra and radishes — can be grown using about 336 liters of water per kilogram, nearly ten times less than it takes to grow the same amount of rice.

    Boosting vegetable production is a priority for the Department of Agricultural Extension in Rajshahi, which is training farmers — from how to use fertilizers to controlling disease — giving them seeds free of cost, and raising awareness to encourage more to make the switch, according to Wadud.

    He said the Rajshahi government is only focusing on areas where farmers are struggling to grow rice, so there is no danger of the shift to vegetables affecting overall paddy production.

    “An adequate amount of paddy (rice) is grown in other parts of the country,” Wadud added.

    Growing ‘hope’

    While many farmers say their livelihoods have been saved by the discovery that vegetables can thrive on parched land, those abundant harvests can sometimes prove too much of a good thing.

    In particularly productive seasons, oversupply drives down the prices farmers can charge for their produce, while storage is also an issue, said Hossain Ali, a farmer in the Godagari area of Rajshahi.

    When farmers grow more rice than they can sell, it can be dried and stored easily for six months, he said, but surplus vegetables quickly rot unless they are kept refrigerated.

    “If the government builds cold storage, we can preserve (vegetables) and in the off-season we can sell them at a good price,” said Ali, who has 30 hectares of land on which he grows various vegetables including cauliflower and tomatoes.

    However, for farmer Mohammed Ali, the challenges of growing vegetables are far outweighed by the benefits for his family.

    After spending ten years in Saudi Arabia as a construction worker to send money home, Ali returned in 2010 to Rajshahi to farm rice. But water shortages forced him to quit, and he instead opened a small grocery store beside his house.

    Then, a visit to relatives in the region changed Ali’s life. He was amazed to see their land full of plump vegetables.

    “I found some hope,” said the husband and father of two, who lives in Lalpur, in the region’s Natore district.

    Ali planted bitter gourd and pointed gourd as soon as he got home, and said he sold his first harvest two months later.

    Now, he can make 28,000 taka each month on just one acre of land — and does not need to consider leaving home to find work.

    “I don’t think about going abroad because I can earn a healthy amount by staying at home,” Ali said. “Nothing could be better than earning money and being with family.”

  • Christmas: Auta distributes rice to less-privileged

  • The Kaduna South senatorial candidate of the Labour Party, Engr. Michael Auta, has distributed truck loads of rice to widows and orphans under the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Jama’atul Nasir Islam (JNI), across the eight local government areas of the Zone.

    Inaugurating the distribution exercise held on Wednesday in Kafanchan, Eng. Auta said the gesture was in the spirit of the Christmas and New Year festivities.

    Speaking through the director general of his campaign organisation, Alhaji Muhammed Zakari, the senatorial candidate said the gesture will also be extended to the communities recently affected by attacks in Zango Kataf and Kaura local government areas of the state to cushion their plight.

    He explained that as a philanthropist, he will continue to put the interest of the less privileged at heart in spite of politics.

    The candidate mentioned that the country needs leaders with a human face of quality Leadership that can provide good governance towards righting the many wrongs and challenges bedeviling the nation.

    He wished the people happy celebrations and urged them to conduct themselves peacefully while celebrating the yuletide period.

    Also speaking, the secretary of the campaign organisation, Mr. Jeremiah Kaburat Tunzwung, explained that  the zonal JNI and CAN leadership have been given 350 bags of 10kg rice each, to share amongst the vulnerable, while two hundred bags will be distributed to the communities affected by the recent attacks through their various village heads.

    He however, said more groups will be carried along as soon as the final consignment of the rice is delivered.

    Responding separately, the coordinating Zonal Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa Ishaku and the Zonal JNI Chairman, Alhaji Garba Alhassan Adamu thanked the Labour Party senatorial candidate for remembering the less-privileged and prayed God to provide all that his heart desires.

    They observed that his kind gesture was an indication if given the mandate to represent the people, he will perform credibly.

    They also prayed that God will in 2023, give Nigerians the right leaders that will change the current hardship the ordinary man is facing for the better.

  • Price of parboiled rice skyrockets in Kerala as shortage hits supply through ration shops ……

  • Kozhikode: Kerala has been witnessing huge demand for parboiled rice in the open market as the supply through ration shops got interrupted due to the unavailability of stock. Following this, the price of parboiled rice had a steep increase in the state.

    As per the reports, the Kuruva variety of rice is priced at Rs 45 to 48 in the market. At the same time, Ponni and Vellakuruva are being sold in the market for Rs 40 to 45 while Bodhana is priced at Rs 35-38.

    Even in state-run Supplyco outlets, the demand for parboiled rice is high.

    As of now, ration shop-based distribution of parboiled rice is only limited to BPL card holders. The quantity per cardholder is 5 kg.

    According to ration dealers, there is not much demand for row rice. Many white and blue cardholders are not interested to purchase their ration as parboiled rice is unavailable. The parboiled rice will not be available in the next month too, reports said.

  • Kota Belud farmers happy with increased rice harvest under the Smart SBB programme

  • KOTA BELUD: A group of 40 farmers in Kampung Jawi-Jawi here welcomed the end of 2022 with a smile when their rice harvest increased by more than 60 per cent.The farmers under the Bernas Large-Scale Smart Paddy (Smart SBB) programme reached their target when their rice harvest for the first season in Block 3 and 4, Kampung Jawi-Jawi recorded an increase from 2.60 metric tonnes to 4.15 metric tonnes per hectare.The Smart SBB programme for the area’s first season of 2022 started on May 12, 2022, which is the result of Bernas’ joint venture with the Sabah Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

    Other government agencies involved are the Kota Belud Integrated Agricultural Development Area (IADA), the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Regional Farmers Organisation and the Sabah Agriculture Department, among others.Kampung Jawi-Jawi Smart SBB Supervisor Rajumin Jamrin said the programme participants expressed happiness and gratitude for the actual yield that exceeded the set target of four metric tonnes per hectare.“The 42.34-hectare paddy field has been planted with the TR8 rice variety. The rice harvesting process started on Sept 5, 2022 with a total net yield of around 176 metric tonnes or an average yield of around 4.15 metric tonnes per hectare,” said Rajumin Jamrin, who is the Jawi-Jawi Block Chief.According to Rajumin, the rice farmers were initially less confident in the Smart SBB programme. But after trying it and seeing the results, many people started showing interest in participating in this programme.“Now that they have entered the second season, they have voluntarily started following the planting methods recommended by Bernas and the agencies involved. “In addition, the facilities for ploughing and harvesting machinery, which used to be difficult to obtain in this area, have now been supplied by Bernas.“It has provided comfort to the rice farmers while saving their time and energy. All this will definitely be achieved if the programme participants have discipline and continuous effort, God willing,” he said.

    One young participant, Hisham Stu, who worked in rice fields for the first time, was very satisfied with the returns he received.“Before this, I got a net return from the rice field harvest of around RM2,000 per season. Alhamdulillah, after participating in Smart SBB it increased to RM6,000.“In addition, the work that used to be heavy and dangerous has now become easier, planned and safer with technology such as drones for fertilising and poisoning weeds. “Guidance from Bernas and other agencies helped us a lot to understand how to grow rice more efficiently,” he added.This achievement apparently allows the rice farmers to pay back their operating costs, in addition to enjoying surplus income.Another Smart SBB participant Duli Okoi said he felt very satisfied with the results and income he got for this season.“Adherence to an organised farm work schedule and integrated farm management activities have yielded significant results.“To the rice farmers in Kampung Jawi-Jawi who have not yet participated in the Smart SSB programme, join us in the coming seasons.”Smart SBB was first introduced at the beginning of 2021 and is one of the initiatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) to increase the country’s rice Self-Sufficiency Level (SSL) rate to 75 per cent by 2025 or before the end of the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK-12).Based on the achievements so far, this programme appears to be on the right track in guiding the rice farmers and driving changes towards the development of the local rice and paddy sector.So far, Bernas is planning to develop 127 hectares of land with 86 participants in Kota Belud, Sabah. The programme will be expanded in the future so that it can benefit more rice farmers.

  • VIETNAM 2022 RICE EXPORTS AT 7.2 MLN T, UP 15.7% Y/Y- STATS OFFICE

  • HANOI, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Vietnam's rice exports in 2022 are estimated to have risen about 15.7% from a year earlier to 7.22 million tonnes, government data showed on Thursday.

    Revenue from rice exports in the period is seen up 7% to $3.5 billion.

    December rice exports from Vietnam, one of the world's leading shippers of the grain, likely totalled 550,000 tonnes, worth $283 million and up 11.3% from a year ago. (Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Martin Petty)

  • Bangladesh farmers swap rice for vegetables as…

  • Bangladesh farmers swap rice for vegetables as water dries up

    More Bangladeshi farmers are growing vegetable crops instead of paddy as climate change results in less rainfall and groundwater.

    For decades, Shafiqul Islam Babu grew rice on his land in northwest Bangladesh - until climate change made rainfall more erratic and overused groundwater began drying up in the mid-2000s.

    As his rice harvest declined, so did his earnings.

    In response, the 45-year-old farmer decided to grow cabbage on his land - a high-value crop that uses less water than rice, has plenty of buyers, and provides him with a steady income.

    “I didn’t know what to do instead of paddy farming, which was my ancestor’s profession, (and) I had to maintain my family with my savings,” he said in an interview while cleaning weeds and dead leaves from his 20-hectare (49-acre) cabbage farm.

    “Then, vegetable farming showed me a ray of hope.”

    Babu said he sold his entire cabbage crop ahead of harvest this year, with demand for the vegetable high in Dhaka, the capital. He managed to make about 215,000 taka ($2,000), up from the 80,000-odd taka he used to receive for his rice harvest.

    Accelerating climate change impacts have led many farmers in Bangladesh’s Rajshahi district to swap rice for vegetables as they strive to make their business pay on an ever-hotter planet.

    Eight years ago, rice was the region’s main crop – but now it is the “loser crop”, with vegetables from cabbage to gourds increasingly favoured as they need less water, produce higher yields and bring in more money, according to Shamsul Wadud, head of the district’s Department of Agricultural Extension.

    Farmers in Rajshahi used to struggle to grow rice for two seasons a year, but many are now cultivating vegetables three or four times annually on the same land, Wadud explained.

    “They are getting good prices (and) the production of vegetable crops has now increased many times,” he said.

    Since 2009, the area of land dedicated to growing vegetables has almost quadrupled to about 78,500 hectares in Rajshahi, making it the nation’s largest vegetable-producing district, agriculture ministry figures show.

    But it’s not just Rajshahi that is looking beyond rice.

    Bangladesh’s agriculture minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said the government was aiming to use “all kinds of abandoned and sandy land” to expand vegetable production.

    Sandy soil is considered superior for growing vegetables rather than rice because it requires less water and fertiliser, officials said.

    Depleting groundwater

    While some parts of Bangladesh have been experiencing record-breaking monsoon rains and flooding, drought is becoming increasingly common in the Barind region, which covers most of Rajshahi and some of Rangpur district.

    The area’s annual average rainfall is about 1,100 mm (43 inches) - less than half the nationwide average - said Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, a geology professor at the University of Rajshahi.

    And, due to accelerating climate change, average rainfall in the Barind region “is going down day by day”, he said.

    Because there is so little rain, farmers in the region rely on deep wells to get water to irrigate their crops, putting intense pressure on groundwater supplies, Sarwar Jahan added.

    Groundwater levels in Barind are dropping by 50 to 60 cm every year, according to the Bangladesh Water Development Board.

    This spurred some farmers in Rajshahi in the late-2000s to try growing cabbage and pointed gourd - which is similar to cucumber - on land where they had given up on rice, according to Dewan Ali, 55, a farmer living in the village of Godagari.

    “A few months later, they were surprised to see that with less water and less fertiliser they were getting a good harvest,” said Ali.

    “This good news was flying all over. Within two years, most of the farmers started to farm different types of vegetables.”

    The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) estimates that certain vegetables - including tomatoes, okra and radishes - can be grown using about 336 litres of water per kg, nearly ten times less than it takes to grow the same amount of rice.

    Boosting vegetable production is a priority for the Department of Agricultural Extension in Rajshahi, which is training farmers – from how to use fertilisers to controlling disease – giving them seeds free of cost, and raising awareness to encourage more to make the switch, according to Wadud.

    He said the Rajshahi government is only focusing on areas where farmers are struggling to grow rice, so there is no danger of the shift to vegetables affecting overall paddy production.

    “An adequate amount of paddy (rice) is grown in other parts of the country,” Wadud added.

    Growing ‘hope’

    While many farmers say their livelihoods have been saved by the discovery that vegetables can thrive on parched land, those abundant harvests can sometimes prove too much of a good thing.

    In particularly productive seasons, oversupply drives down the prices farmers can charge for their produce, while storage is also an issue, said Hossain Ali, a farmer in the Godagari area of Rajshahi.

    When farmers grow more rice than they can sell, it can be dried and stored easily for six months, he said, but surplus vegetables quickly rot unless they are kept refrigerated.

    “If the government builds cold storage, we can preserve (vegetables) and in the off-season we can sell them at a good price,” said Ali, who has 30 hectares of land on which he grows various vegtables including cauliflower and tomatoes.

    However, for farmer Mohammed Ali, the challenges of growing vegetables are far outweighed by the benefits for his family.

    After spending ten years in Saudi Arabia as a construction worker to send money home, Ali returned in 2010 to Rajshahi to farm rice. But water shortages forced him to quit, and he instead opened a small grocery store beside his house.

    Then, a visit to relatives in the region changed Ali’s life. He was amazed to see their land full of plump vegetables.

    “I found some hope,” said the husband and father of two, who lives in Lalpur, in the region’s Natore district.

    Ali planted bitter gourd and pointed gourd as soon as he got home, and said he sold his first harvest two months later.

    Now, he can make 28,000 taka each month on just one acre of land – and does not need to consider leaving home to find work.

    “I don’t think about going abroad because I can earn a healthy amount by staying at home,” Ali said. “Nothing could be better than earning money and being with family.”

  • Rice export: REAP initiates talks with Azerbaijani importers

  • LAHORE: Following exemption announced by the Azerbaijan government on rice imports from Pakistan, the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has initiated dialogues with the Azerbaijani importers to grab its share in the market of $33.93 million per annum.

    Currently, India is the largest exporter to Azerbaijan having a 73% market share worth $24 million whereas Pakistan stands in the fourth position as a rice exporter to Azerbaijan with a market share of 4.63% worth $1.57 million.

    “Pakistan has the potential to boost rice export to Azerbaijan as the tax waiver is an opportunity for the Pakistani exporters to compete with regional rice exporting countries and grab their share in the Azerbaijan market.

    The decision will not only help in enhancing rice exports but will also increase the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries,” said REAP Senior Vice Chairman Haseeb Khan while talking to Business Recorder on Tuesday.

    The REAP sent a trade delegation recently led by Haseeb which held meetings with different rice importers and the investment promotion agency of Azerbaijan (AZPROMO).

    The embassy of Pakistan in Baku facilitated the delegation and Bilal Hayee at the embassy briefed the delegation about this opportunity. Head of export (AZPROMO) Yusif Abdullayev, showing interest in rice import from Pakistan, said his government has exempted the import of Pakistani rice from customs duty for five years.

    The decision would expand the export of rice from Pakistan to Azerbaijan and open new opportunities for Pakistani exporters. The REAP delegation leader Haseeb Ali Khan said that different types of rice can be exported from Pakistan to Azerbaijan. He hoped the opportunity would be helpful for both countries and the people of Azerbaijan would be able to use better and higher quality rice from Pakistan.

    Haseeb said they also exchanged rice samples with the importers in a bid to grab the market in future. Replying to a query, he said that as the buying season in Azerbaijan was over, they hope that result of the exemption of duty and B2B contacts between Pakistani and Azerbaijani traders would bear fruit from the next season.

  • Myanmar, Bangladesh benefitting from ‘Rice Diplomacy.

  • Bangladesh gets its staple, Myanmar develops the Ayeyarwady region

    There is nothing new about the impact food has on politics. In the old days, many kings practised food diplomacy in entertaining their guests; by serving the best and most unique dishes that could have been created only by the royal house’s finest chefs. The tradition continues in the modern political world. Many leaders of political parties and heads of government use food diplomacy to strengthen relationships between allies or diffuse tension with the opposition.

    Rice seems to have emerged as a favourite diplomatic tool for Myanmar and Bangladesh to build strong ties with each other. The commodity is the staple diet for most people in countries like Indonesia, Thailand and also the neighbouring countries China and India.

    The agricultural sector is one of the most important and most strategic sectors for the survival of a country, for without food the country could be in a position of chaos and bankruptcy.

    There are so many ways that the Bangladesh government maintains the availability of rice, one of the most common ways is by importing rice. Bangladesh is known as an agricultural country, but unfortunately, it continues to import rice.

    Due to the current state of the world, especially the Ukraine-Russia conflict, many nations have stopped exports to maintain their domestic stock. Rice is a very important commodity in the Bangladeshi people’s lives; and there is even a proverb that says that Bangladeshis have not eaten if they have not consumed rice.

    Despite tensions between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Dhaka imports millions of tonnes annually, and has placed an import order with Myanmar.

    As agriculture and livestock are the backbone of Myanmar’s economy, it earns foreign exchange from rice exports beyond self-sufficiency. The state is supporting the stockholders including farmers and investors to bring about business opportunities. According to the Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh, 200,000 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar will be exported to Bangladesh.  A total of 2,650 tonnes of rice are to be directly shipped by the MV MCL-7 for the first time from the Ayeyarwady International Industrial Port AIIP in Pathein Industrial City, Ayeyarwady Region, to Bangladesh.

    Bangladesh and Myanmar officials signed a sales contract on 8 September in order for exporting 200,000 tonnes of Myanmar’s white rice to Bangladesh. About 30,000-50,000 tonnes are scheduled to be sent to Bangladesh from the Pathein Port. On 28 October, the loading of 2,650 tonnes of Emahta rice onto a ship for Bangladesh commenced.

    All the stakeholders involved in the supply chain, including the Ayeyarwady Region Government, departments concerned and private businessmen, are being exerted upon to meet the rice demand of Bangladesh and ship directly from the region. The direct rice shipment from Ayeyarwady Region, Myanmar’s rice bowl, to the foreign markets brings about economic opportunities for rice millers, farmers and traders and employment opportunities for local communities.

    “Rice exports generate foreign currencies as well as contribute to private sector development. It is the first step of the regional efforts with the first ever direct rice shipment from Pathein city to the external market, with an aim to spur the developments in public and private sectors harmoniously together. The next step is to facilitate the trade in the Pathein Industrial City. The exports of rice also cause the GDP growth in the region. In addition to rice, corn and sesame are also targeted for direct export through Pathein City.

    Myanmar’s rice exports to the neighbouring countries can enhance the livelihood of the farmers and create business opportunities for related businesses. This achievement in Pathein city can also strengthen the tripartite relationship between the State, farmers and entrepreneurs for ensuring A sustainable market and export promotion.

    More than 20,000 tonnes of rice have been sent to Bangladesh by October, according to the Ministry of Commerce of Myanmar, after the MoU in September.

    According to this MoU, Bangladesh agreed to buy 250,000 tonnes of rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027.

    Since 7 September 2017, Myanmar and Bangladesh have engaged in rice trade under a government-to-government pact. That MoU stated that Bangladesh has agreed to buy Myanmar’s white rice (250,000 tonnes) and parboiled rice (50,000 tonnes) till September 2022.
    Myanmar sent 100,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh each in 2017 for the first time and 2021 for the second time, as per the sales contract.

    The Ministry of Commerce has granted an export licence for 191,700 tonnes of rice for Bangladesh according to the agreement.

    As per the MoU 48 companies, under the supervision of the Myanmar Rice Federation, are to export 200,000 tonnes to Bangladesh with Chinese yuan payment between October 2022 and January 2023.

    Myanmar and Bangladesh inked another MoU this September, according to which Bangladesh agreed to buy 250,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027.

    Myanmar plans to export a total of 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh under a G-to-G agreement. The first shipment was directly made by the Ayeyarwady International Industrial Port (AIIP) in Pathein of Ayeyarwady Region, and 10,565 tonnes of rice out of the targeted 200,000 tonnes has been exported from 2 to 22 November.

    Deputy Director U Tun Tun from the Consumer Affairs Department commented on the benefits to farmers and businessmen due to direct export, said there was an instruction to export 20,000 tonnes as the first batch and 40,000 tonnes as the second batch, totalling 60,000 tonnes.

    The respective ministry and export companies are working together to ensure the quality of export rice and fast shipping. Rice mills in Ayeyarwady Region are running to export good-quality rice, it is learnt.

    Myanmar has conveyed about 110,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh under the government-to-government pact, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

    Myanmar

    Following the contract, white rice (ATAP) GPCT Broken STX variety will be delivered.

    Since 7 September 2017, Myanmar and Bangladesh have engaged in rice trade under the government-to-government pact. That MoU stated that Bangladesh has agreed to buy Myanmar’s white rice (250,000 tonnes) and parboiled rice (50,000) tonnes between 2017 and September 2022.

    According to the Government-to-Government, Bangladesh has been purchasing Myanmar’s white rice. The country has shipped rice directly from Pathein Industrial City since 2 November 2022. Between 1 and 8 December, 5,260 tonnes of rice were loaded onto the two ships in the second batch and the MCL-12 ship carrying 2,650 tonnes of rice departed in the morning of 8 December from the Ayeyarwady International Industrial Port AIIP in Pathein Industrial City, Ayeyarwady Region, to Bangladesh.

    Earlier, Myanmar conveyed rice to Bangladesh through Yangon Port and Thilawa terminals. In the first batch from 2 to 22 November 2022, 10,565 tonnes of Aemahta rice (five-per-cent broken) were shipped by four ships directly from Pathein city to Bangladesh. The country delivered 2,610 tonnes on 1 December and 2,650 tonnes on 8 December in the second batch, totalling 5,260 tonnes. On 7 December, the MCL-18 ship arrived at the Ayeyarwady International Industrial Port and further exports are to be undertaken.

    Myanmar’s white rice direct delivery from Ayeyarwady Region to Bangladesh was an accumulated 15,825 tonnes, with 10,565 tonnes in the first batch and 5,260 in the second.

    “The main export item from Pathein Port is rice. If Bangladesh buys corn in addition to rice, there is an adequate supply of corn in the region. Myanmar has indicated readiness to export corn depending on the market demand. The rice shipment for the second batch has finished. “We plan to export agricultural products from Ayeyarwady Region to foreign trading partners. For the initial stage, efforts are being made to complete the rice shipment first,” said U Tun Tun, deputy director of the Ayeyarwady Region Consumers Affairs Department.

    Earlier, the second batch of rice shipment was slated for the second week of December. However, Myanmar managed to ship the rice in the first week to Bangladesh as rice outputs from Ayeyarwady Region increased.  All the stakeholders involved in the supply chain, including the Ayeyarwady Region Government, departments concerned and private businessmen, are being exerted upon to meet the rice demand of Bangladesh and ship directly from the region. The direct rice shipment from Ayeyarwady Region, Myanmar’s rice bowl, to the foreign markets brings about economic opportunities for rice millers, farmers and traders and employment opportunities for local communities.

  • Kerala’s tribal farmer saves 54 local rice varieties from extinction

  • Leading the way by example is tribal farmer Cheruvayal Raman who has become the custodian of seeds of 54 varieties of native rice

    For the last two decades a tribal man has dedicated himself solely to saving native rice varieties of India and even at the age of 72, he continues to do so. Farmers in Kerala’s Wayanad had been growing indigenous rice varieties but over a period this has changed as they switched to high-yielding and genetically modified seeds posing a serious threat to the local varieties which faced extinction.

    Thanks to the efforts of Cheruvayal Raman, also known as India’s “living paddy gene bank” and “Guardian of Native Paddy”, that didn’t happen as 54 ancient types of rice have been saved by him in the last 20 years.

    Born in Kurichiyas tribe in Wayanad, Raman and his community had been producing rice and also promoting and preserving its indigenous varieties. When he realised that the native varieties are being substituted by hybrid ones, he sowed the former in 1.5-acre of his field.

    Things took a turn for the better, when Raman inherited 40 acres of land in 1969 from his uncle and from then on, he completely devoted himself to farming and saving the local rice varieties.

    Cheruvayal Raman2
    The storeroom where tribal farmer Cheruvayal Raman keeps the seeds of indigenous rice varieties

    Among the varieties saved by him are Mannu Veliyan, Chembakam, Palveliyan, Kanali, Thondi, Channalthondi, Chettuveliyan and the aromatic ones like Gandhakashala, Jeerakasala, and Kayama. All these he keeps in his 150-year-old mud house which also doubles up as a storehouse for rice harvest. Now he is expert in distinguishing the types by their look.

    Raman does not sell the seeds but presents them and the only condition he stipulates is that the borrower should return the same quantity of seeds from their field after the first harvest.

    He has been appreciated and awarded by several organisations, including the Government of Kerala.

  • Bangladesh receives offers in tender to buy 50,000 T rice

  • HAMBURG: The lowest price offered in a tender from Bangladesh’s state grains buyer to purchase 50,000 tonnes of rice was assessed at $397.03 a tonne CIF liner out, traders said.

    The tender closed on Tuesday and offers are still being considered with no purchase yet made, the traders said.

    The lowest offer was believed to have been submitted by trading house Agrocorp.

    Two other trading houses were said to have participated, with Bagadiya Brothers offering $400.01 a tonne CIF liner out and PK Agri offering $428.94 a tonne CIF liner out.

    Liner out terms include some ship unloading costs for the seller.

    The tender sought price offers for non-basmati parboiled rice for shipment to the ports of Chattogram and Mongla.

    The rice can come from worldwide origins and shipment is required 40 days after contract award.

    Bangladesh had also issued an international tender for 50,000 tonnes of rice, closing on Dec. 21.

    Vietnam 2022 rice exports estimated at 7 million tonnes

    The lowest offer was believed to be $393.19 CIF liner out, submitted by Bagadiya Brothers, traders said.

    Bangladesh, historically the world’s third-biggest rice producer, often imports rice to manage shortages caused by natural disasters.

  • This 72-year-old Man in Kerala Has Saved 54 Native Rice Varieties in 20 Years, Here’s How

  • Raman spent the majority of his life producing rice. He was born in Wayanad's Adivasi community of Kurichiyas. (Representative image, Credits: Reuters)

    Due to the switch to high-yielding varieties, indigenous rice varieties in Wayanad have been preserved by tribal farmers for decades. But they are now in danger of going extinct. Cheruvayal Raman, also known as the “Guardian of Native Paddy” and India’s “living paddy gene bank,” has alone preserved 54 ancient rice types from Kerala over the last 20 years.

    Raman spent the majority of his life producing rice. He was born in Wayanad’s Adivasi community of Kurichiyas, a tribe with a long history of preserving and promoting indigenous varieties of rice. He opted to sow native seeds in a 1.5-acre portion of his field upon seeing native paddy being substituted by hybrid seeds in the village.

    The Better India quoted Raman as saying, “I embarked on this path sometime during the early 2000s. Wayanad has always been a region known for its paddy cultivation, but our native paddy varieties were losing out to hybrid and genetically engineered seeds.”

    Raman began planting paddy when he was only ten years old. However, he was left 40 acres of land by his uncle after he passed away in 1969. At that point, he thoroughly immersed himself in farming. Mannu Veliyan, Chembakam, Palveliyan, Kanali, Thondi, Channalthondi, Chettuveliyan and aromatic rice kinds like Gandhakashala, Jeerakasala, and Kayama are among the native rice varieties he keeps as stock in his 150-year-old mud house that also functions as a storage space. After all these years of cultivation of over 50 varieties of rice, Raman can now distinguish different types of rice just by looking at them.

    Furthermore, the 72-year-old farmer doesn’t really sell his seeds, but rather presents them on one condition: the borrower must return the exact same quantity of seeds from their field after the first round of harvest. Raman has received numerous honours and accolades, including the Plant Genome Saviour Award and the P K Kalan Award from the Kerala government.

    South First reported that Raman was willing to delegate the duty of conserving these indigenous rice to any rice research centre, agricultural university, nongovernmental organisation, or interested individuals.

  • Vietnam 2022 rice exports estimated at 7 million tonnes

  • HANOI: Vietnam’s rice exports this year are estimated at seven million tonnes, up 12.2%, the government said on Monday.

    Revenue from rice exports for the year is estimated at $3.5 billion, up 6.4%, the government said in a statement.

  • DA eyes 2.5 MMT rice imports in 2023

  • THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said that the agency expects 2.5 million metric tons (MMT) of rice imports in 2023, lower than this year's importation of 3.5 MMT.

    Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla attributed this to the typhoons that hit the country in 2022 that caused a spike in rice imports.

    "Usually, our average rice importation is only at 2.5 million and for this year we expect it to be 2.5 million MT," Sombilla said.

    She added that the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) was tasked to manage the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

    "The issuance of SPSICs is a continuing process as under RTL, you should not stop. The BPI is just trying to control the processing of SPSICs. If you stop the processing of SPSICs, the more we cannot monitor the entry of imported rice," Sombilla added.

    Sombilla defended anew the decision of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to extend Executive Order (EO) 171 allowing low tariff on rice, pork and corn until Dec. 31, 2023, saying this is necessary to prevent high inflation rate.

    She said that while low tariff on rice help bring down the retail prices in the staple food, the DA implements various programs to boost local palay (unmilled rice) production, which she regards as "most important."

    According to her, the RTL helped in stabilizing the prices and supply of rice in the country.

    "You can see a drop in the retail prices of rice after EO 171, so it really helped. We are really trying to lower it to P32 [per] kilo, that's the objective of the RTL," Sombilla said.

    At present, the prevailing price of rice is between P35 and P37 per kilo.

    This, as the Agriculture department is aiming to reach 20 MMT of local palay production in 2023.

    "We already exhausted all the possibilities of increasing the yield. What we are targeting right now is really to increase land productivity," Sombilla noted.

    She added that many farmers still do not use certified seeds despite the government's program to promote its use.

    "Only 40 percent of the farmers believed in certified seeds. After their harvest, they allocate for their next planting. The advantage of the certified seeds is about 1 ton per hectare," she said.

    Sombilla said a big chunk of the budget for 2023 will be for subsidizing the farmers.

    For his part, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa attributed the decline in the palay production to the increasing cost of farm inputs, particularly fertilizer.

    "We did not reach our target but significantly higher. For example, for rice, last year we reached 19.96 million metric tons, it declined a little because of the increase in the cost, especially fertilizer. That is why we put more budget in the fertilizer to supplement the increase in the prices," de Mesa said.

  • Cambodia eyes rice sales to Maldives

  • Milled-rice exports have been performing well this year, amounting to 509,249 tonnes in the first 10 months of 2022, up 10.67 per cent from the 460,169 tonnes registered in the same time last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported. - PPP

    PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network): Cambodia plans to begin the formal export of milled rice to the archipelago nation of Maldives, a month after its Phka Rumduol jasmine variety was crowned as the “World’s Best Rice” for a fifth time, as part of a campaign to raise the profile of the local grain on the regional and international stages.

    At a ceremony marking the beginning of work to revamp the 95.27km National Road 41 on the morning of Dec 26, Prime Minister Hun Sen revealed that he would visit the Maldives next month to discuss milled-rice sales as well as stepping up tourism ties.

    “The Maldives is a rice-deficient country, so we want to forge links through tourism and milled rice exports. The Maldives may be a small country, but she also has demand [for milled rice] due to her large number of tourists. Our milled rice is superb, so she can bring milled rice from our country,” he said.

    Speaking to The Post on Dec 26, Lay Chhun Hour, group president and CEO of City Rice Import Export Co Ltd, a major rice miller based in Battambang province, suggested that the more markets that Cambodian rice can establish a presence in, the more well-known it will become.

    “We certainly welcome the efforts of our government, which is always trying to find new markets for our agricultural products and expand [existing ones], no matter how large or small, and our milled rice is becoming more and more known,” he said.

    Chhun Hour is seen as the main person behind Phka Rumduol’s participation at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17 that awarded it the World’s Best Rice award for the fifth year.

    Phka Rumduol is a type of long-grain jasmine rice that has emerged as a top choice of international buyers, and is one of the varieties exported under the “Angkor Malys” certification mark.

    Lun Yeng, spokesman for the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body, confirmed to The Post that Cambodia has never officially exported milled rice to the Maldivian market. He welcomed government plans to start doing so.

    “Having more markets would be a boon for the Cambodian rice sector. Whether big or small, it’ll raise the profile of our milled rice on regional and international markets,” he said.

    Straddling the equator in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives stretches along a length of 871km north-to-south and covers an area of around 90,000sq km, only 298sq km of which is dry land.

    Most of the Maldives’ 1,192 islands form part of a double chain of 26 atolls that are grouped together into 21 administrative areas. The country reportedly had a population of 543,620 at end-2021 – up 0.57 per cent year-on-year – with 36.86 per cent women.

    Milled-rice exports have been performing well this year, amounting to 509,249 tonnes in the first 10 months of 2022, up 10.67 per cent from the 460,169 tonnes registered in the same time last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported.

    Fragrant rice contributed the bulk of the exports at 348,501 tonnes or 68.44 per cent, followed by white rice (148,933 tonnes; 29.24 per cent), and parboiled rice (11,815 tonnes; 2.32 per cent).

    China was the largest buyer of Cambodian milled rice in the January-October period, accounting for 231,873 tonnes which were up 1.18 per cent year-on-year, followed by the EU (165,630 tonnes; up 43.43 per cent) and Asean. (48,253 tonnes; up 10.19 per cent), while other countries and territories bought 63,493 tonnes, marking an 11.48 per cent drop, the ministry said, indicating that four of the 27 EU countries did not import any through official channels.

  • 20 indigenous rice varieties go extinct in Lakshmipur.

  • In last five years, at least 20 indigenous rice varieties, used to make a range of grain foods and dishes such as Muri, Chira, Khoi, Biriyani, Firni and Payesh, have gone extinct from Lakshmipur as the high-yielding hybrid rice varieties are dominating rice cultivation to ensure food security.

    Many farmers, agro businesspeople and industry stakeholders say steps should be taken to preserve local rice varieties across the country.

    Md Manchu Bepari (70) of the Char Lawrence village of the district's Kamalnagar upazila said he is cultivating few high-yielding varieties on 15-acre land in the current Aman season.

    He said that in the past he used to cultivate other varieties including rice for muri, chira and khoi but not anymore.

    Farmer Abdur Rahman of Char Monsa in sadar upazila, said even five years ago he used to cultivate aromatic varieties Kalojeera and Shakkorkhora, which are only used for polao and firni, on half the land he cultivated.  

    Like Abdur Rahman, many farmers of his area have opted for high-yielding varieties instead of the indigenous ones.

    Md Ismail, another Char Mansa farmer, said in the past almost all farmers used to cultivate Holidhan rice in the Aush season.

    The Holidhan variety, once famous for sweet chira, has completely disappeared since the last five years.

    Lohachura, which was well-known in Lakshmipur for khoi, and Geegs, which was used to make muri, have also gone extinct.

    Saleh Uddin Palash, plant conservation officer of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), said 13 indigenous varieties have disappeared in the last 5 years – Madhumalti, Kalarajashail, Lotorh, Bajailsada, Rajashail, Agunishail, Katishail, Kutia Moni, Pakkiraj, Patjat, Lohachura, Dholamoda and Nonahail.

    "Currently, farmers cultivate five indigenous varieties – Geegs, Bhushihara, Kajalshail, Kalojira and Shakkarkhora – in a very small quantity," he said.

    Kalahatiya is the only indigenous variety of the Aush season that is still cultivated, according to farmers.

    Seven Aush season varieties – Bolaim, Goyal, Holidhan, Marhicha, Kerondol, Kotoktara and Panbira – have disappeared in the last five years.

    Local farmer Mamunur Rashid Bhuiyan said that government subsidies should be given to rice farmers of grain foods, just as special loans and subsidies are given to oilseeds.

    DAE Deputy Director Zakir Hossain said 3-4 indigenous varieties are cultivated during Aman season and 2-3 varieties in the Aush season.

    He added that 90% of the varieties which are cultivated in the Aush, Aman and Boro seasons are now high-yielding hybrids.

    The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRI) developed 106 high-yielding rice varieties including 23 Aush, 7 hybrids, and 46 Amon till 2021. On the other hand, Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) developed 30 varieties. However, in Lakshmipur, a key paddy production area, only 3-4 varieties are cultivated every season.

    From 1998 to 2020, the Seed Board allowed imports of 170 hybrid rice varieties – 18 Aman varieties and 152 Boro varieties.

    Professor Mahbubur Rahman of the Greenland Project of the Sabuj Bangladesh, said gene banks should be established at the district level to save the indigenous rice varieties.

  • How I lost N2 billion worth of rice farm to flooding – Agric expert

  • The Director General, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Dr. Manzo Maigari has said that he lost 500 hectares of rice farm to this year’s flooding, stressing that if quantified in monetary term, it stands at N2 billion.

    Dr. Maigari who is the former Commissioner of Agriculture & Forestry under governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State, however noted that it has become imperative to engage and involve insurance companies in farming business in order to get compensated in the event of such incidents.

    He spoke in an interview with newsmen during a workshop on Climate Smart Agriculture Technologies and Practice in line with Food Safety Standards and Grades, in Kaduna.

    According to Dr. Maigari, “This is a regional workshop that brings together youths and women farmers and players in Agriculture business management with the aim of sensitising and educating them on the challenges of climate change as it affects farmers today across Africa and even across the world.

    “The participants are drawn from across the whole North West. We are looking at 50-500 participants, we are targeting a minimum of 500 participants at this two days workshop.

    “This initiative is 100 percent funded by Bill Gates Foundation with Nigerian business groups as collateral and with the federal ministry of Agriculture as partner as well as the Kaduna State government, and that is why you see the State Commissioner for Agriculture came to give an address at the workshop.

    “It is a four years project and we are in the second year, so you can’t know the monetary value until you finish and do the compilation, before you get to the funding.

    “However, I want to speak practically as an individual who had lost so much to flooding. I lost 500 hectares of rice farm to flooding this year, and not a single stand of the rice survived, and if you want to quantify it in terms of monetary value is not less than N2 billion. The rice was to be harvested, processed, packaged and branded into the market. All I have lost is 4000 hectares of rice, you know what that means if you multiple 500 by 8 and the N2 billion multiplied by 8 also”.

    On what preventive measures have been put in place against subsequent flooding, the Agric expert said, “We need to see agriculture as a business so that farmers can engage and involve insurance companies for insurance cover so that when you lost your product to flooding, you get compensated by the insurance company.

    “We also need to look at alternative to rain season farming. So if you do dry season farming, you won’t experience flooding. And we need to look for varieties of crops, rice that can survive flooding, stay under water for days without dying”.

    Earlier, speaking on ‘Small Scale Climate Smart Crop Production’, Professor Emeka Daniel Oruonye, noted that the need to grow more food crops and increase the income of the small-scale farmers has become necessary in order to mitigate poverty and achieve food security has become very important.

    “Especially in this pandemic era, stakeholders under the agricultural space must join hands in maximising our numerous endowments to ensure that the desired economic growth is achieved.

    “The greatest challenges facing farmers today is how to meet the increasing food demand to meet population growth. Climate volatility, more frequent extreme weather events and temperature changes increasingly threaten the viability of food crop production,” the Professor of Geography from Taraba State University told participants.

    Speaking on ‘Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Technologies and Practice in line with Food Safety Standards and Grades, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pyrogenesys, Mr Simon Ighofose, harped on the importance of climate smart agriculture, and said the production of biofuels and bioenergy remain some of the advantages of CSA.

    “Considering the fact that small scale farmers cultivate small land areas, usually less than two to five hectares, are not engaged in producing crops as competitors, nearly 72% of them live on less than $1.90 per day, thereby plunging most small scale farmers into the hole of poverty”. Mr. Ighofose said.

  • VIETNAM 2022 RICE EXPORTS ESTIMATED AT 7 MILLION TONNES, UP 12.2% – GOVT

  • HANOI, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Vietnam's rice exports this year are estimated at seven million tonnes, up 12.2%, the government said on Monday.

    Revenue from rice exports for the year is estimated at $3.5 billion, up 6.4%, the government said in a statement. (Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)

  • Over 1.39m metric tons rice exported in five months

  • ISLAMABAD -Over 1.393 million tons of rice valuing $749.407 million was exported during the first five months of the current financial year as compared to the exports of 1.585 million tons worth $826.505 million in the corresponding period of last year.

    During the period from July-November, about 214,618 metric tons of Basmati rice valuing $229.297 million was also exported as against the exports of 296,674 metric ton worth $524.935 million of same period last year.

    In the last 05 months, the exports of above mentioned commodity witnessed about 145 percent growth in dollar terms as compared to the exports of same period last year, according the data of PBS. During the period under review, 1.178 million metric tons of rice other then Basmati worth of $520.111 million was also exported as compared the exports of 1.290 million metric tons valuing $571.537 million of same period last year, hence showing about 75 percent growth during the period under review. On month basis, the exports of rice from the country in November of current fiscal year decreased by 12.40 percent as 418,207 metric tons of rice valuing $203.146 million was exported as against the exports of 493,844 metric tons valuing $231.908 million of same month of last year.

  • Agriculture Ministry Ensures Rice Supply Safe for Christmas, New Year

  • TEMPO.COJakarta - Agriculture Ministry ensured that rice supply is safe for Christmas and New Year by bringing farmers' rice production closer to consumers.

    The chain of distribution that can be cut down will hopefully provide profit for farmers and affordable price for consumers.

    The government has marketed rice in six locations in East Jakarta as well as five locations in Greater Jakarta Area several days ago, the ministry said.

    This rice distribution is marketed with affordable price in Greater Jakarta, Evaluation and Reporting Data Substance Coordinator at the Ministry's Food Crop Directorate General Batara Siagian informed in a statement on Saturday.

    The government marketed 2.5 tons of rice at the start and marketed another 2.5 tons of rice on December 22, leading to a total of five tons.

    The government sells two types of rice, namely medium and premium. Medium rice is sold for Rp9,400 per kg while the price tag for the premium rice is Rp10,000 per kg.

    "This selling price is lower than the current market one, and it is expected to help the people," he remarked.

    In relation to this distribution chain, he suggested that there should be a special consideration as well as active role from various related parties in providing such things as rice data collection to marketing.

    These related parties include the Agriculture Ministry, Trade Ministry, State Logistics Agency, and National Food Agency (NFA)

    Food Crop Director General at the Agriculture Ministry Suwandi stated that this intervention is undertaken in accordance with Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo's instruction to provide food during Christmas and New Year celebrations.

    "By doing so, farmers' rice production will get closer to consumers because the current rice price hike is caused by the distribution chain that is too long," he explained.

  • Thailand opens genetic testing centre to improve its rice

  • Thailand has opened a genetic testing centre to improve its rice after Hom Mali (jasmine) grain was dethroned by a Cambodian rice variety at the World Rice Conference last month.

    Bangkok (VNA) – Thailand has opened a genetic testing centre to improve its rice after Hom Mali (jasmine) grain was dethroned by a Cambodian rice variety at the World Rice Conference last month.

    Ronnarong Phoolpipat, chief of the Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) under Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce, said that the centre at Ubon Ratchathani Rice Research Centre will boost Thailand’s export competitiveness in line with the country’s rice development plan between 2020 and 2024.

    The DNA testing service will help rice farmers, millers and traders ensure the authenticity of their products via rapid genetic tests at low cost.

    The service aims to strengthen the international reputation of Thai rice and create an advantage amid fierce competition, he said.

    Thai Hom Mali rice (Jasmine Rice) is native to Thailand and considered the pride of the nation. It was recognised with the World’s Best Rice Award 2021 for a second consecutive year. The “Jasmine” name comes from the color of its grain which is white as the jasmine flower.

    From January to October 2022, Hom Mali rice exports reached 1.28 million tonnes, up 27% over the same period last year.

    According to DFT, Thailand is likely to meet its export target of 7.5 million tonnes of rice this year and may even exceed the target of 8.58 million tonnes.

    Ronnarong said that Iraq imported 1.3 million tonnes of Thai rice in the first 10 months of this year, helping the country's rice exports increase by 500% over the same period last year. 

    Thailand’s rice exports to two key markets - the US and the Philippines - increased by 25% and 44% respectively./. 

  • Rice unfit for humans and used for other purposes to attract 5% GST: AAR

  • Authority couldn't find adequate rate for the farm produce on the basis of its final product

    Rice unfit for human consumption and used for other purposes would not be exempt from the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Chhattisgarh authority for advance rulings (AAR) has ruled.

    The farm produce would attract 5 per cent GST, said AAR. Shraddha Traders, which runs a rice mill, sought a ruling from the AAR on paddy rice unfit for human consumption and used in industries, manure production and cattle feed.

    Tax rates under GST are based on their classification under the harmonised system of nomenclature (HSN). The AAR said the farm produces merits classification under 100610 which attract five per cent GST.

    However, the authority could not find an adequate GST rate for this rice on the basis of its final product such as industrial, manure or cattle feed as the applicant had not given details of the procedures.

    Sandeep Sehgal, partner, tax, at AKM Global, said since the rejected/damaged paddy is not fit for human consumption, the same cannot be classified as rice or paddy exempted from tax.

  • Asia rice: more exports, stronger baht send Thai rates to 6-month high

  • MUMBAI/ HANOI/ BANGKOK,/DHAKA: Prices of rice exported from Thailand this week rose to their highest since early June on the back of increasing shipments and a stronger baht, while cheaper rates for the staple in India kept orders rolling in.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $452-$460 per tonne, up from a $425-$457 range last week.

    “There is more demand from Asian countries now, while African countries are more interested in rice from India,” said one Bangkok-based trader.

    There was news that supply could soon tighten so exporters were buying to stock up, said another trader.

    Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety edged higher to $374-$380 per tonne, from last week’s $373-$378, on a slight improvement in demand, although rising supplies from the new season crop capped the upside.

    “December’s second half usually remains quiet but this year few sellers got export orders since Indian rice is cheaper than other destinations,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Traders said Cuba was buying more rice from India, with a vessel being loaded with 28,150 tonnes at Kakinada Port for delivery.

    Neighbouring Bangladesh was in talks with India to buy a total of 200,000 tonnes of rice in government-to-government deals, officials said, as it seeks to build reserves to cool domestic prices of the grain. Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $448-$453 per tonne, unchanged from a week ago, when rates reached their highest level since July last year.

    “Demand for Vietnamese rice remains steady, especially from top buyer, the Philippines,” said a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Preliminary shipping data showed 167,650 tonnes of rice is to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City port in the Dec. 1-28 period, with most of it heading to the Philippines and Indonesia.

  • Rice business plays important role in economic improvement of Pakistan

  • The delegation of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan met with the officials of the Federal Ministry of Commerce under the Chairmanship of Chairman Chela Ram Kewlani.

    Federal Secretary to Ministry of Commerce Muhammad Sualeh Ahmad Faruqui, DG Agro Products Ministry of Commerce Qamar Zaman, and other relevant representatives were present in the meeting.

    During the meeting, the delegation included the Former Chairman REAP Ch. Samee Ullah Naeem, Senior Vice Chairman REAP Haseeb Ali Khan, Members MC REAP Fuad Hamid Gharib, Mian Sabih Ur Rehman , Sec. General REAP Kasif ur Rehman and others.

    In the meeting, the representatives of the Federal Ministry of Commerce were informed in detail about the problems faced by rice exporters.

    Electricity and other issues including gas supply were discussed. REAP’s representation in EDF board and other related issues were discussed.

    All other businesses in Pakistan have the status of the industry. Rice businesses should also be given the status of industry because rice business plays an important role in the economic improvement of Pakistan.

    Chairman REAP Chela Ram Kewlani’s conversation with officials of the Fed. Ministry of Commerce.

  • NCRI develops flood resistant rice varieties

  • The National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi, Niger State, says it has produced two flood-resistant rice varieties, to mitigate the impact of flood on the production of the commodity.

    The Executive Director of the Institute, Dr Aliyu Umaru, who disclosed this to newsmen in Bida, Niger State, listed the new varieties to include: Faro 67 and Faro 68.

    Dr. Aliyu noted that the varieties can withstand submergence for between two to three weeks, compared to the previous varieties that normally perish after two to three days submergence.

    He, however, urged farmers in the country to adopt appropriate varieties in flood-prone areas. “The farmers should adopt varieties that are flood-tolerant in to those areas.”

    Umaru recalled that this year’s floods were devastating across the country, resulting in colossal losses to the farmers, including the institute.

    The NCRI boss also called on the government to put in place water control structures in wetlands across the country.

    “Such structures should be put in place in areas where flood is recurring annually and these structures are not there. That is why dry season farming where you have water control structures is more profitable than that of the wet season or rain-fed rice production.

    “Old irrigation schemes that had become dilapidated as a result of lack of maintenance should be rehabilitated. Such schemes were established in the 1950s, but due to climatic extremes and other human factors they are no longer able to control water,” Umaru added.

    He also called for the establishment of new irrigation schemes, adding, “irritated agriculture outweighs rain-fed agriculture by far.
      Umaru disclosed: “The yields are also high, less prone to flood, while incidences of pests and diseases are also reduced.”

  • Egypt shows interest in importing meat and rice

  • Envoy calls Pakistani products better than its neighbours

    ISLAMABAD:

    Pakistan produces better quality meat and rice than its neighbouring countries, said Egypt Ambassador Tarek Mohamed Dahroug.

    The ambassador on Wednesday called on Federal Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar where he expressed Cairo’s desire to enhance the import of halal meat and rice from Pakistan.

    Dahroug specifically requested Pakistan’s government to take measures to make it easier for Egyptian importers to purchase meat and paddy. “We believe that Pakistani meat and rice are better in quality than its neighbouring countries,” a statement quoted the envoy as saying.

    Qamar assured the envoy that his ministry would work closely with the Egyptian embassy to ensure the implementation of the proposed measures. The minister observed that total trade between Pakistan and Egypt stood at $636.89 million in July-June 2021-22, of which Pakistan’s exports amounted to $104.68 million and imports were worth $532.21 million. But it “did not match the actual trade potential of the two countries”.

    He outlined the challenge of visa stamps being faced by the business community, even to participate in Egypt’s trade fairs. In response, the ambassador assured the business community that they would not face such a problem in future, adding that the Egyptian embassy would offer on-arrival visas at airports to passengers with Schengen, American and Canadian visa stamps on their passports.

  • Rice 2022: a good year for (some) farmers?

  • Just 9 months ago, rice was marketed as the cereal that would save the planet. As war broke out in the Black Sea, fertilizer prices spurt out of control, and wheat harvests failed across the globe, world rice production remained unaffected, restraining fears of global food insecurity and hunger. Pakistani policymakers breathe a sigh of relief, as a substantial surplus in rice production could help mitigate two of their worst fears: a grain/cereal shortage in the local market; and, a widening trade deficit. Unfortunately, that hope could prove short-lived.

    First, came the floods. The horrific monsoon rains destroyed Sindh’s coarse rice crop, which in the past has contributed up to 80 percent of Pakistan’s rice export by volume, and 75 percent by value. Pakistan’s annual rice production has now been written down by at least 3 million metric tons (MMT), down from 9.3MMT achieved last year. During 5MFY23, coarse rice exports are down by 5 percent in volume, and 9 percent in value, even as residual exports fetched the highest unit prices in nearly a decade.

    Since then, luck has only taken a turn for the worse. Global rice production forecast has been lowered by 12 percent, as output in India dropped by a whopping 6MMT. As the world’s largest rice exporter imposed duties and tariffs on the export stage – particularly on broken rice and other coarse rice varieties – global prices have picked up, further tightening world supply. Unfortunately, Pakistani exporters are in no position to gain from the situation.

    The story of basmati export is even berserk. Basmati prices in the international market have risen by more than half – 56 percent between Nov 2021 and 2022. Yet, it seems a grain shortfall in the local market coupled with tightening supplies due to lower cultivated area has resulted in weaker exports – which are 29 percent lower in volume terms during 5MFY23 compared to the same period last year. This more than offset the gains on unit prices, with an overall 11 percent drop in basmati export revenue during the period under review.

    Although the exporting industry is hopeful that things shall pick up in the latter half of the fiscal year, don’t pin your hopes on it. After the wiping out of coarse rice surplus from Sindh, the record-shattering export target achieved during the last fiscal is now a distant dream. Higher basmati prices could stem the tide of falling export revenue, but the quantity exported of basmati would have to rise by at least 50 percent – from 0.75MMT in FY22 to 1.15MMT in FY23 – for annual rice export receipts to reach the $2.5 billion goal.

    Two push factors may alleviate the export situation. First, premium basmati prices in the local market have skyrocketed over the last two months. If demand shows significant price elasticity, expect more supplies to become available for export. Two, inventory financing trends raises the possibility that procurement by milling segment may be keeping up pace with last year, even though bank lending rates have basically doubled between Nov 2021 and 2022. Of course, an alternative explanation could be that mills are paying through their noses for a smaller crop. Only market insiders can explain!

    Either way, if you were a Pakistani rice farmer with a healthy crop yield during the outgoing Kharif 2022 season – most likely located in the northeast or central Punjab, congratulations on a year of excellent profitability!

  • Strong rice results

  • Improved availability of rice in the Riverina has contributed to a more than 30 per cent growth in revenue for SunRice compared to last year.

    Group revenue for the first half of this financial year was $758 million, which is up 34 per cent on the prior corresponding period.

    There were also strong growth in earnings, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBIDTA) of $42.6 million and net profit after tax of $19.6 million, up 16 per cent and 17 per cent respectively on the prior corresponding period.

    A fully franked interim dividend of 10 cents per B Class Share has been declared, and the estimated paddy price range for crop year 2022 currently being processed and marketed has been updated to $435 to $470 per tonne for medium grain Reiziq - a naturally earned record.

    SunRice Group CEO Rob Gordon says other key drivers of the first half performance include sales price increases across most segments and product categories, continued recovery of the CopRice business including positive impact of the Pryde’s EasiFeed acquisition and ongoing recovery of strategic Pacific markets.

    “The SunRice Group delivered a strong financial performance, with improvements in both revenue and profitability reflecting the strength of the Group’s brands and market positioning, especially as consumer spending is currently impacted by the high inflationary environment,” he said.

    “The various investments in strategic and organic growth initiatives across the Group over the last few years are delivering benefits and enabled us to withstand some of the challenges that are affecting other industries and companies, particularly across our profit businesses.

    “We expect the revenue growth achieved (in the first half of the financial year) to continue into the second half of the year, supporting strong paddy returns in the rice pool business and profitability in the profit businesses, despite underlying operational and inflationary pressures continuing in the near term.”

    Mr Gordon said the combination of the increased availability of Australian rice stemming from the large CY22 crop and secured global supply sources, positions the SunRice Group favourably to take advantage of any under supply in key markets currently impacted by drought, including the United States.

    The Group should also be able to extend its participation in global tenders in the second half of the year, which will support returns for both the rice pool business and international rice segment.

    SunRice has said the planting window for the CY23 has now closed, and while it has been disrupted by heavy rain falls and flooding activity across the Riverina, the Group is expecting ample Riverina rice supply in CY23.

    “The current water outlook is pointing towards positive growing conditions into CY24,” the company’s outlook states.

    “The group is well positioned to take advantage of these favourable conditions and current global market dynamics to help deliver positive returns to both A and B Class shareholders.”

  • All you need to know about steamed rice

  • Subramani Ra Mancombu talks about the controversy surrounding steamed and the process of making steamed rice.

    https://youtu.be/uygmGF-wdPA

    The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has clarified that steamed rice is not raw rice as it involves more processing before being made available for sale. This came as a relief for the exporters after steamed rice was stopped from exporting by the Customs authorities.

    This controversy made everyone question how steamed rice is different from boiled rice and raw rice. In this video, Subramani Ra Mancombu, Head of Agri-biz & Commodities, takes us through the process of making steamed rice and also talks briefly about the challenges of producing steamed rice.

    Credits:

    Reporter: Subramani Ra Mancombu

  • DP/Sheikhoo, Guard Rice emerge victorious in Lahore Open Polo

  • Diamond Paints/Sheikhoo Steel, Guard Rice and Diamond Paints emerged as winners in the Coca-Cola Lahore Open Polo Championship 2022 here at the Lahore Polo Club on Tuesday.

    Nicolas Antinori hammered an impressive hat-trick in the Diamond Paints/Sheikhoo Steel’s thrilling 7-6 triumph over Salam Polo in the first match of the day. Besides the heroics of Nicolas Antinori, Mir Huzaifa Ahmed (two goals), Usman Aziz Anwar and Umar Malhi (one goal each) also made a good contribution from the winning side.

    Nicolas Ruiz Guinazu was in sublime form and played well for the losing side as he contributed with fabulous four goals while his teammates Agha Musa and Raja Arslan struck one goal each.

    Diamond Paints/Sheikhoo Steel, Guard Rice and Diamond Paints emerged as winners in the Coca-Cola Lahore Open Polo Championship 2022 here at the Lahore Polo Club on Tuesday.

    Nicolas Antinori hammered an impressive hat-trick in the Diamond Paints/Sheikhoo Steel’s thrilling 7-6 triumph over Salam Polo in the first match of the day. Besides the heroics of Nicolas Antinori, Mir Huzaifa Ahmed (two goals), Usman Aziz Anwar and Umar Malhi (one goal each) also made a good contribution from the winning side.

    Nicolas Ruiz Guinazu was in sublime form and played well for the losing side as he contributed with fabulous four goals while his teammates Agha Musa and Raja Arslan struck one goal each.

  • Govt Differs World Bank Report, Claiming Indonesia’s Rice…

  • Govt Differs World Bank Report, Claiming Indonesia's Rice is ASEAN's 2nd Cheapest

    TEMPO.COJakarta - Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo issued a statement regarding the country’s rice production which comes as a direct response to a report by World Bank ranking Indonesia’s rice as the most expensive in Southeast Asia, which garnered international attention. 

    One of the aspects the World Bank believes contributed to the rising prices of rice grains are trade restriction policies such as import tariff, SOEs import monopoly on main commodities, and the minimum purchasing prices policy imposed on farmers, all of which has been implemented by Indonesia. 

    The Agriculture Minister did not directly respond to the WB report but asserted that the domestic production and rice harvest remain plentiful. 

    “Our harvest areas amount to over 10 million hectares and production is maximized,” Minister Syahrul wrote on December 20.

    He said that the current rising prices of rice are caused by farmers not harvesting. The supply of rice in the community, according to him, remains sufficient, namely 60 percent of the total rice supply in the country.

    Citing data from Statistics Indonesia, he assures that the national rice production can still sufficiently meet domestic demands. He then said prices of rice had never reached the retail upper cap prices (HET) and contradicted the World Bank’s report by stating that Indonesia has the second lowest price for rice in ASEAN.

  • Myanmar, Bangladesh benefitting from ‘Rice Diplomacy’

  • There is nothing new about the impact food has on politics. In the old days, many kings practiced food diplomacy in entertaining their guests; from serving the best unique dishes that could have been created only by the royal house’s finest chefs. The tradition continues in the modern political world. Many leaders of political parties and presidents use food diplomacy to strengthen relationships between allies or diffuse tension with the opposition.

    Rice seems to have emerged as a favourite diplomatic tool for Myanmar and Bangladesh to build strong ties with their neighbors. The commodity is the staple diet for most people in countries like Indonesia, Thailand and also neighbouring country China, India.

    The agricultural sector is one of the most important and most strategic sectors for the survival of a country, without food the country could be in a position of chaos and bankruptcy.

    There are so many ways that the Bangladesh government does to maintain the availability of rice, one of the most ways is by importing rice, this import policy reaps a lot of cons because Bangladesh is known as an agricultural country or a country with most of the worker in the agricultural sector, but unfortunately, Bangladesh continues to import rice.

    Due to the current state of the world, which is experiencing a global food disaster due to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, many nations have closed the export door to maintain their domestic stock.

    Rice is a very important commodity in the Bangladeshi people’s lives; there is even a term in Bangladesh that says that Bangladeshi people have not eaten if they have not consumed rice; from this term, it can be seen that rice has become a staple for the Bangladeshi people.

    Despite tensions between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Dhaka, which imports about millions of tonnes of rice every year, has placed an import order from Myanmar.

    As agriculture and livestock are the backbone of Myanmar’s economy, it earns foreign currencies from rice exports beyond self-sufficiency. The State is supporting the stockholders including farmers and investors in order to bring about business opportunities. According to the Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh regarding rice trade, 200,000 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar will be exported to Bangladesh.  A total of 2,650 tonnes of rice are to be directly shipped by the MV MCL-7 for the first time from the Ayeyawady International Industrial Port AIIP in Pathein Industrial City, Ayeyawady Region to Bangladesh.
    Bangladesh and Myanmar officials signed a sales contract on 8 September in order for exporting 200,000 tonnes of Myanmar’s white rice to Bangladesh. About 30,000-50,000 tonnes of rice are scheduled to be sent to Bangladesh from the Pathein Port. On 28 October, the loading of 2,650 tonnes of Emahta rice (5% broken) onto the ship heading for Bangladesh commenced.
    “Rice exports generate foreign currencies as well as contribute to private sector development. It is the first step of the regional efforts with the first ever direct rice shipment from Pathein city to the external market, with an aim to spur the developments in public and private sectors harmoniously together. The next step is to facilitate the trade in the Pathein Industrial City as the government is looking forward to the city with good prospects. The exports of rice also cause the GDP growth in the region. In addition to rice, corn and sesame are also targeted to be directly exported to foreign markets through the Pathein City.

    The loading process of 2,650 tonnes of rice was completed on 31 October and the MV MCL-7 left for Bangladesh through the AIIP. More ships arrived and departed at the Port. It was the direct export of local products from Ayeyawady Region.
    Myanmar’s rice exports to the neighbouring countries can enhance the livelihood of the farmers and create business opportunities for the related businesses driven by rice exports. This achievement in Pathein city can also strengthen the tripartite relationship between the State, farmers and entrepreneurs for ensuring the sustainable market and export promotion.

    More than 20,000 tonnes of rice have been sent to Bangladesh by up to October 2022, according to the Ministry of Commerce of Myanmar. Myanmar and Bangladesh inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice trade in September this year.
    According to this MoU, Bangladesh has agreed to buy 250,000 tonnes of rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027. Following the MoU, Bangladesh’s Directorate-General of Food and MRF signed a sales contract for 200,000 tonnes of Myanmar’s rice to be exported to Bangladesh. As per the sales contract, Myanmar has shipped over 20,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh up to 31 October 2022.
    Furthermore, over 15,000 tonnes of rice were loaded onto the vessel. The remaining over 150,000 tonnes of rice will be exported during the set period.
    Since 7 September 2017, Myanmar and Bangladesh have engaged in rice trade under the government-to-government pact. That MoU stated that Bangladesh has agreed to buy Myanmar’s white rice (250,000 tonnes) and parboiled rice (50,000) tonnes between 2017 and September 2022.
    Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Food and MRF signed the sales contracts as per the MoU and Myanmar sent 100,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh each in 2017 for the first time and 2021 for the second time, as per the sales contract.

    The Ministry of Commerce has granted an export licence for 191,700 tonnes of rice that will be shipped to Bangladesh according to the agreement between the two countries.
    As per the Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the rice trade, 48 companies, under the supervision of the Myanmar Rice Federation, are to export 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh with Chinese yuan payment between October 2022 and January 2023.
    Following the contract, white rice (ATAP) GPCT Broken STX variety will be delivered. The FOB prices were 2.78856 Yuan per kilogramme and 2788.56 Yuan per tonne.
    The Export/Import division of the Trade Department issued over 534 million Yuan worth 42 export licences for 41 companies to convey 191,700 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh.
    Myanmar and Bangladesh inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice trade in September this year.
    According to this MoU, Bangladesh has agreed to buy 250,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027.
    Under the MoU, Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Food and MRF signed a sales contract for 200,000 tonnes of Myanmar’s white rice to be exported to Bangladesh. As per the sales contract, Myanmar has shipped over 20,000 tonnes of white rice to Bangladesh till 31 October 2022. The remaining will be delivered before the deadline.
    Since 7 September 2017, Myanmar and Bangladesh have engaged in rice trade under the government-to-government pact. That MoU stated that Bangladesh has agreed to buy Myanmar’s white rice (250,000 tonnes) and parboiled rice (50,000) tonnes between 2017 and September 2022.
    Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Food and MRF signed the sales contracts as per the MoU and Myanmar sent 100,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh each in 2017 for the first time and 2021 for the second time, as per the sales contract.

    Myanmar plans to export a total of 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh under a G-to-G agreement. The first shipment was directly made by the Ayeyawady International Industrial Port (AIIP) in Pathein of Ayeyawady Region, and 10,565 tonnes of rice out of the targeted 200,000 tonnes has been exported from 2 to 22 November.
    The AIIP exported 2,650 tonnes of rice by MV MCL-7 from Ayeya Hintha company on 2 November, 2,615 tonnes by MV MCL-21 on 7 November, 2,650 tonnes by MV MCL-12 on 13 November and 2,650 tonnes by MV MCL-18 on 22 November, 10,565 tonnes of rice in total. A total of 211,300 bags of 50-kilogramme Emahta rice were conveyed from the AIIP to Bangladesh. Efforts are underway to continue exporting the second batch of targeted tonnes of rice.
    Deputy Director U Tun Tun from the Consumer Affairs Department commented on the benefits to farmers and businessmen due to direct export that there was an instruction to export 20,000 tonnes of rice as the first batch and 40,000 tonnes of rice as the second batch constantly, totalling 60,000 tonnes.
    The direct shipment enhances the economic development of the region and brings advantages to residents and the State. There will be a ship to dock over the next two or three weeks as well, he added.
    The respective ministry and export companies are working together to ensure the quality of export rice and fast shipping. Rice mills in Ayeyawady Region are running to export good-quality rice, it is learnt.

    Myanmar has conveyed about 110,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh under the government-to-government pact, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
    Myanmar and Bangladesh inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice trade in September this year.
    According to this MoU, Bangladesh has agreed to buy 250,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027.
    Under the MoU, Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Food and Myanmar Rice Federation signed a sales contract for 200,000 tonnes of Myanmar’s white rice to be exported to Bangladesh. As per the sales contract, Myanmar has shipped about 110,000 tonnes of white rice to Bangladesh as of 28 November 2022. Furthermore, over 2,000 tonnes of rice are being loaded onto the ship for now. The remaining will be delivered before the deadline.
    As per the MoU between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the rice trade, 48 companies, under the supervision of the Myanmar Rice Federation, are to export 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh with Chinese yuan payment between October 2022 and January 2023.
    Following the contract, white rice (ATAP) GPCT Broken STX variety will be delivered. The FOB prices were 2.78856 Yuan per kilo and 2788.56 Yuan per tonne.
    The Export/Import division of the Trade Department issued 42 export licences worth over 534 million Yuan for 41 companies to convey 191,700 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh.
    Since 7 September 2017, Myanmar and Bangladesh have engaged in rice trade under the government-to-government pact. That MoU stated that Bangladesh has agreed to buy Myanmar’s white rice (250,000 tonnes) and parboiled rice (50,000) tonnes between 2017 and September 2022. Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Food and MRF signed the sales contracts as per the MoU and Myanmar sent 100,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh each in 2017 for the first time and 2021 for the second time, as per the sales contract.

    According to the Government-to-Government pact between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Bangladesh has been purchasing Myanmar’s white rice. The country has shipped rice directly from Pathein Industrial City since 2 November 2022. Between 1 and 8 December, 5,260 tonnes of rice were loaded onto the two ships in the second batch and the MCL-12 ship carrying 2,650 tonnes of rice departed in the morning of 8 December 2022 from the Ayeyawady International Industrial Port AIIP in Pathein Industrial City, Ayeyawady Region to Bangladesh.
    Earlier, Myanmar conveyed rice to Bangladesh through Yangon Port and Thilawa terminals. In the first batch from 2 to 22 November 2022, 10,565 tonnes of Aemahta rice (five-per-cent broken) were shipped by four ships directly from Pathein city to Bangladesh. The country delivered 2,610 tonnes of rice by MCL-19 ship on 1 December and 2,650 tonnes of rice by the MCL-12 ship on 8 December in the second batch, totalling 5,260 tonnes. On 7 December, the MCL-18 ship arrived at the   Ayeyawady International Industrial Port and further exports are to be undertaken.
    Myanmar’s white rice direct delivery from Ayeyawady Region to Bangladesh accumulated 15,825 tonnes, with 10,565 tonnes in the first batch and 5,260 in the second batch.
    “The main export item from Pathein Port is rice. If Bangladesh buys corn in addition to rice, there is an adequate supply of corn in the region. Myanmar has indicated readiness to export corn depending on the market demand. The rice shipment for the second batch has finished. We plan to export agricultural products from   Ayeyawady Region to foreign trading partners. For the initial stage, efforts are being made to complete the rice shipment first,” said U Tun Tun, deputy director of the Ayeyawady Region Consumers Affairs Department.
    Earlier, the second batch of rice shipment was slated for the second week of December. However, Myanmar managed to ship the rice in the first week to Bangladesh as rice outputs from Ayeyawady Region increased.  All the stakeholders involved in a supply chain including the Ayeyawady Region Government, departments concerned and private businessmen are being exerted to meet the rice demand of Bangladesh to ship them directly from the region. The direct rice shipment from Ayeyawady Region, Myanmar’s rice bowl, to the foreign markets brings about economic opportunities for rice millers, farmers and traders and employment opportunities for local communities.

  • Slowdown in issuance of spsics stays as tool to manage rice imports

  • THE Philippines will continue its practice of “managing” the entry of rice imports by slowing down the issuance of pertinent import documents during harvest seasons as authorities “balance” local production and foreign supplies.

    However, high-ranking agriculture officials hinted that they may issue fewer sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) that would cover import arrivals in the first half should official figures indicate abundant supply.

    Senior Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban revealed that due to sufficient stocks, the Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Bureau of Plant Industry, is not yet “on the verge” of issuing SPSICs for rice imports that would arrive in the first quarter of next year.

    Panganiban explained that the department continues to review the country’s rice supply situation, including production figures to manage the volume of imports that will arrive in the country.

    “Importation has been going on without SPSICs. There has been no SPSICs issued by the BPI. So we shall not import anymore,” he said at a press briefing on Monday.

    Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla emphasized that the BPI’s current practice of slowing down on SPSICs, when local harvest season is nearing, shall remain in place.

    “The review of SPSIC applications does not stop. But what is happening actually now is that during the peak harvest season, the BPI’s approval of SPSICs becomes very slow because again we are balancing production and the import arrivals,” Sombilla explained.

    The country’s rice imports has reached a record-level of over 3.5 million metric tons (MMT) as of early December, which Sombilla described as a “blessing in disguise” since it compensated the reduction in local output due to higher production costs driven by expensive fertilizer and fuel.

    Since the rice trade liberalization law took effect in 2019, authorities have been looking for ways to manage the arrival of rice imports to avert an oversupply that would depress farm-gate prices of local palay.

    One of the ways the government limits the entry of rice imports especially during harvest seasons is by slowing down on the issuance of SPSICs.

    The last time the BPI issued SPSICs for rice imports was June 6, with a corresponding volume of a little over 625,000 MT.

    The BPI, an attached agency of the DA, is mandated under Republic Act 11203 or the RTL law to oversee rice importation through issuance of SPSIC. The SPSIC is a required import document that certifies an imported good or product is safe for human consumption and health and does not bring in any threats to the local agriculture sector such as plants and animals.

    Nonetheless, the agriculture officials assured the public that the country will not face a rice shortage next year. The worst scenario, they pointed out, would be smaller than average beginning rice stocks at the start of 2023.

    “There will be no shortage of rice next year. In fact, we are hoping to maintain the level of production from last year to this year,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel V. De Mesa said. The country’s palay output last year reached a record high of 19.96 MMT.

    The Philippines’s habit of using SPSICs as a mechanism to manage the entry of food imports has been questioned by its trade-partners, especially the United States, at the level of the World Trade Organization.

  • Organic Rice Production From the Growers’ Perspective

  • Gone organic (from left): Michael Bosworth, Daniel Cavazos, and Ken Danklefs (Photo: USA Rice)

    AUSTIN, TX — Organic rice accounts for a small percentage of the rice produced in the United States but total acreage is on the upswing as more and more consumers prefer organically-produced foodstuffs. The USA Rice Outlook Conference addressed this growing trend last week with an excellent breakout session focused on organic rice production in the U.S. featuring three panelists representing diverse operations and growing regions.

    Michael Bosworth is a California grower and marketer from Olivehurst, Daniel Cavazos is the director of rice and organic farming for Florida Crystals Corporation near Belle Glade, Florida, and Ken Danklefs is a rice producer near Garwood, Texas, west of Houston. All three produce both organic and conventional rice in their operations so were able to provide perspectives on the differences between the two types of production.

    The speakers discussed the significant requirements associated with organic rice production, including the avoidance of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, instead relying on animal manures, crop residues, green manures, tillage, water, and other biological measures to supply plant nutrients and minimize pest damage. Only products that have been certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) can be used in organic production.

    In addition, fields to be used for organic production must have been free of application of any non-organic approved products for the previous three years. Hence, one of the biggest constraints is finding land suitable for organic production. Danklefs said that if enough such land was readily available, he would likely be 100 percent organic.

    While diseases and insects can be troublesome, weeds are a major challenge in organic production. Bosworth gave an example of a field that had a yield reduction of 50 percent from one year to the next and finally was taken out of organic production because of weed pressure.

    Cavazos said he plants all of his organic rice prior to seeding his conventional crop to give him somewhat of an advantage on some of the major organic production constraints.

    All three agreed that yields on organic production are typically below that on conventional rice and, in some cases, significantly reduced. This can vary from year to year and field to field.

    Each producer has a different approach to marketing their product. Florida Crystals has their own rice mill (Sem-Chi). All of their production is milled there and most of it is sold in Florida. Danklefs sells his rice to one of the two mills in Texas that handle organic rice – Douguet’s Rice Milling and Gulf Pacific Rice. Bosworth has his own food distribution business, called Next Generation Foods, and sells his organic packaged products under the “True Origins Foods” brand.

    While organic rice production can be challenging and is not for everyone, it was apparent listening to these three farmers that they enjoy the challenge and are in it for the long haul. All three also participated in a podcast which will be available soon as part of The Rice Stuff podcast series.

  • Exports increase by 28.43% in five months

  • * On year-on-year basis, exports increased by 5.89% in November 2022 to Rs.531,599m against exports of Rs.502,009 during November 2021

    The exports from the country in the rupee term witnessed an increase of 28.43 percent during the first five months of the current fiscal year (2022-23) as compared to the corresponding period of last year, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported.

    Exports during July-November (2022-23) totaled Rs. 2,661,304 million as against Rs. 2,072,145 million during the corresponding period of last year showing an increase of 28.43%, according to provisional data released by PBS.

    On year-on-year basis, the exports increased by 5.89 percent in November 2022 to Rs.531,599 million against the exports of Rs.502,009 million during November 2021.

    On month-on-month basis, the exports increased 1.10% in November when compared to the exports of Rs. 525,831 million in October 2022.

    The main commodities of exports during November 2022 were knitwear (Rs. 88,974 million), ready-made garments (Rs. 72,620 million), bed wear (Rs. 49,457 million), rice other than Basmati (Rs.34,909 million), cotton cloth (Rs. 34,140 million), towels (Rs.20,597 million), fish & fish preparations (Rs.11,382 million), rice Basmati (Rs.10,252 million), cotton yarn (Rs.9,533 million) and surgical goods & medical instruments (Rs.8,343 million).

    On the other hand, imports during July – November (2022-23) totaled Rs. 5,841,359 million as against Rs. 5,532,271 million during the corresponding period of last year showing an increase of 5.59%.

    On YoY and MoM basis, imports into Pakistan during November, 2022 amounted to Rs. 1,152,054 million (provisional) as against Rs. 1,039,036 million in October 2022 and Rs. 1,366,681 million during November 2021 showing an increase of 10.88% over October 2021 but a decrease of 15.70% over November 2021.

    The main commodities of imports during November 2022 were petroleum products (Rs. 157,448 million), petroleum crude (Rs.121,378 million), natural gas, liquified (Rs.70,725 million), palm oil (Rs. 70,720 million), plastic materials (Rs. 42,730 million), raw cotton (Rs.38,923 million), fertilizer manufactured (Rs.37,281 million), electrical machinery & apparatus (Rs.34,692 million), medicinal products (Rs.34,487 million) and Iron & steel (Rs.34,170 million).

  • Rice Import Plan Exposes Bulog’s Lack of Management, Says Farmers Union

  • TEMPO.COJakarta - The Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI) in a written statement on Monday argues that the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) has exposed its weak management of national food reserves and food production cooperation as the agency remains to be open to importing rice at the end of this year. 

    Henry Saragih, the Chairperson of SPI wrote: “Bulog is an agency that is tasked to manage national food reserves and shows its weaknesses in planning and conducting its role.”

    This week, the Indonesian government imported a total of 10,000 tons of rice from Vietnam and Thailand which will arrive until February of next year until it reaches its goal of 500,000 tons. This decision was taken following two meetings with President Joko Widodo. 

    The government believes this is a crucial step in adding to the government rice reserves that have continued to deplete. Bulog argues the slimming of reserves is because it did not purchase unhulled rice from local farmers during the months of March up to June this year when farmers undergo grand harvest. 

    Adding to worsening the situation is the fact that Bulog issued its rice and grain reserves as local farmers were undergoing their grand harvest. Currently, the number of harvests in December is far less than in the middle of the year and reaches prices that tend to exceed the price Bulog is able to afford. 

    Citing data from Statistics Indonesia, he said the rice production from local farmers this year is more than enough to fulfill the national need for rice. 

  • FG plans rice export growth – Agric minister

  • The Federal Government, on Thursday, inaugurated the National Rice Development Strategy-II (2020-2030) and the Competitive African Rice Platform to ensure surplus rice production for export, food security and job creation.

    It said the NRDS-II was developed following the successful implementation of the first phase of the NRDS-I, which took place between 2009 and 2019.

    The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, disclosed this in his keynote address at the inauguration of the second phase of the rice development strategy in Abuja.

    He explained that based on the gains of the NRDS-I in 2020, the national paddy rice production rose significantly towards the self-sufficiency target of the Federal Government.

    “As a result of this success, NRDS-I was reviewed to give rise to the formulation of a new NRDS document in 2021,” he stated.

    Shehuri added, “This is the document that is being inaugurated today. The NRDS-II document is a 10-year plan which seeks to provide direction for the development of the rice subsector to achieve the government’s goals of self-sufficiency in rice production, food and nutrition security, employment creation and production of surplus for export.”

    He said the document was adopted at the 4th National Council of Agriculture, which was held by all stakeholders, with support from the Competitive Africa Rice Platform.

    Shehuri said, “CARP, formerly known as Sustainable Rice Platform, is dedicated to the productivity and sustainability of the rice industry with two main objectives, which are to ensure the competitiveness of Nigerian rice and sustainability of the Nigeria rice sector.

    “The Competitive African Rice Platform-Nigeria is a multi-stakeholders platform set up to advocate policies and drive transformational changes in standard practices in the rice sector.”

    On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhihe, said the collaboration of the FMARD and several development partners had yielded positive results on rice production and processing in Nigeria within the last decade.

    He named the partners to include the German Cooperation Agency, the Competitive African Rice Initiative, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

  • Give Bernas allocation directly to rice farmers, industry players say

  • Industry players say output-based incentives will have a greater likelihood of achieving productivity growth than input subsidies.

    A padi farmer sprays pesticide at a field in Kampung Alor Senibong in Langgar, Kedah.

    While the move to distribute RM10 million this year to padi farmers has been welcomed by those in the sector, industry players say a comprehensive view is needed of the problems at hand, in order to ensure the effective improvement of their welfare. 

    Nurfitri Amir Muhammad, coordinator of the Malaysian Food Security and Sovereignty Forum, said the allocation was in fact the long-delayed responsibility of Padiberas Nasional (Bernas), as the company still has social duties that have yet to be carried out, including the establishment of disaster funds, the supply of machinery and the development of a padi database in addition to ensuring funds for the supply of rice seed buffer stocks. 

    "Nevertheless, the farmers have not yet been told how the funds will be channelled, whether in direct cash aid or through development programmes," he said. 

    He was responding to the move by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim directing Bernas to pay RM10 million to farmers this year and RM50 million in the year to come. 

    Bernas, known as Lembaga Padi dan Beras Negara before it was privatised in 1994, controls the local rice industry and foreign rice imports.

    Its largest shareholder is corporate tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary.

    Tey Yeong Shen, a senior researcher at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), said it was not yet clear how the RM10 million allocation would be used. 

    "If it is to be returned to the farmers, output-based incentives will present a greater likelihood of attaining productivity growth than input subsidies," Tey, of UPM's Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Food Security, told MalaysiaNow. 

    On the problems faced in the rice industry, he said that in terms of policy, proactive measures such as price controls and input subsidies contribute to unintended effects including stagnated yields, a drop in competition and innovation, and low added value in addition to stunted development for SMEs.

    "Straight removal could be politically and socially infeasible," he said. 

    "A soft landing or transitional approach would be better for materialising progressive measures, such as output-based incentives." 

    Nurfitri meanwhile said that troubles in the rice industry could be seen from the aspects of market and production. 

    Over time, he said, farmers had lost more and more of their bargaining power due to a dip in the number of rice mills. 

    "Farmers looking to harvest their crops don't have a lot of choices when it comes to selling as there are only one or two mills in any given location," he said. 

    "So they are forced to accept whatever price is offered as well as the net weight deduction imposed by the mills." 

    He said farmers should also have the freedom to choose which seeds, fertiliser and cropping system to use, whether conventional or alternative. 

    "Subsidies should be given directly to the farmers, not the suppliers," he said. 

    "The agricultural input market must be opened up to allow for competition. Then the price and quality will be reasonable." 

  • Rice import process to undergo comprehensive review

  • The Government has initiated a “comprehensive review” of Jamaica’s rice importation regime following a Sunday Gleaner probe that exposed the release of a substandard shipment of the popular staple linked to a company in which a Cabinet minister is the sole shareholder.

    “ … In light of the concerns raised, the ministry is undertaking a comprehensive review of the existing policy, procedures and processes governing the importation of rice to Jamaica,” said a statement from Sancia Bennett Templer, permanent secretary in the Aubyn Hill-led Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.

    A timeline for the review was not disclosed.

    The ministry was responding to Sunday Gleaner questions on whether it has established that there was any breach of laws or protocols in the release of rice imported in July by Blue Zone Limited, despite test results showing that the product failed one of the compulsory standards.

    The CEO of the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA), Dr Lorice Edwards Brown, authorised the release of the detained products on July 20, the same day that test results from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica showed that the rice exceeded the maximum allowed broken kernels for Grade A rice.

    Some 2,780 bags of long-grain Dew Prem-branded rice were detained on July 7.

    Edwards Brown has not answered questions on why she, as head of a state entity tasked with protecting Jamaicans from substandard products, released the shipment given the unfavourable test results and without the NCRA’s investigative processes being triggered.

    Attorney-at-Law Stephanie Sterling, who chairs the NCRA’s advisory board, is also remaining mum, only offering “no comment” when contacted for a response to the situation, which senior figures in the industry ministry have described as “alarming” and “deeply troubling”.

    Blue Zone’s managing director is Charles Tufton, the son of Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton. The government minister is the entity’s only shareholder.

    Charles is listed among three directors of the company that was incorporated in January 2021, records show.

    Dr Tufton, who ceased being a director in July 2021, has said he has not been involved in the operations of Blue Zone.

    “I am neither an officer nor a director,” he told The Sunday Gleaner when asked whether he was aware of the matter or had played a role in its resolution.

    Charles, meanwhile, confirmed that the situation with his company’s rice shipment was resolved after the “intervention” of the NCRA boss, the circumstances of which remain unclear.

    “The ingredients or composition of the product was never in question, but rather how it was labelled,” he sought to explain.

    Blue Zone’s rice was imported as a Grade A milled product, the standard for which includes a maximum moisture content of 14 per cent and maximum broken kernels of 10 per cent. Sample one had 22.34 per cent breakage; sample two, 17.54 per cent; and sample three was at 17.04 per cent, according to test results seen by The Sunday Gleaner.

    The greater the number of broken grains, the lower the quality of the product, which typically attracts a lower price than rice with higher levels of whole grains.

    The NCRA has reportedly hammered out a solution with Blue Zone Limited, which is now allowed to import the same product under an acceptable classification.

    Charles, who accused the regulator of poor communication, said the experience has left Blue Zone feeling “victimised and unfairly treated by a regulator who selectively enforces its mandate”, charging that more established companies which import the same product are not subject to the same level of scrutiny.

    He accepted that his company may not have been thorough in its due diligence to determine the Jamaican standard prior to entering the rice business in October 2021. The registered core activity of the company, which was incorporated in January 2021, is construction.

    Blue Zone’s rice shipment was bought in Suriname, which, along with Guyana, accounts for 90 per cent of rice imported into Jamaica in 2021.

    The NCRA has admitted that it is concerned that the maximum level of broken kernels “is not met” by importers of Premium Grade A and Grade A rice.

  • Why small Chinese farmers are warming to this new variety of rice

  • When Liang Yuxin first heard about a new rice variety that could be harvested for years without replanting, he was eager to try it out.

    If his experiment was successful, it would give confidence to local farmers, said Liang, the representative of a farmers’ cooperative in China’s southwestern region of Guangxi.

    “There are many plots lying fallow in the rural areas of southern China and the planting cost is high. But if I can plant rice once and reap harvests for several years, the cost will be greatly reduced,” Liang said. “Why won’t I try it?”

    Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

    Liang is one of more than 40,000 small farmers in China who have chosen to plant this new kind of rice.

    Developed by researchers from Yunnan University over two decades, the perennial rice variety has not only demonstrated yield potential, but also lowered costs and enhanced soil quality, according to a study published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Sustainability.

    The researchers crossed an Asian domesticated annual rice cultivar with a wild perennial African variety to create a new hybrid, which they called Perennial Rice 23 (PR23).

    Its yield has been shown to be slightly higher than that for annual rice for the first four years, at an average of 6.8 tonnes per hectare (2.5 acres) per season, compared to 6.7 tonnes of the replanted variety.

    While the costs are similar for both kinds of rice in the first season, the perennial variety does not need seeding, planting and ploughing for several years, which means farmers can save up to US$1,400 per subsequent season.

    China urges farmers to consider new variety of perennial rice

    Overall, perennial rice can cut labour costs by 60 per cent and halve input costs for each regrowth cycle. The net economic benefits can range from 17 per cent to as much as 161 per cent above annual rice in different planting locations, according to the authors of the study.

    PR23 was made commercially available for Chinese farmers in 2018 and was among the 29 varieties recommended to them by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs earlier this year.

    Last year, the total planted area of perennial rice in China was over 15,000 hectares, four times higher than in 2020.

    Liang planted another perennial variety, the PR25, across more than 1 hectare in August and harvested over 8 tonnes three months later.

    “We have confidence in perennial rice,” said Liang, who aims to further expand his area of cultivation.

    “Normally it is very hard to earn money by growing rice. But after planting perennial rice, I am pleased that [we can] make some money if we manage it well. It will be a great boon to farmers if its cultivation is promoted.”

    Harvesting under way for perennial rice after the first growing season in Guangxi. Photo: Liang Yuxin

    Erik Sacks, professor in the crop sciences department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and co-author of the study, said less frequent ploughing in the perennial rice system conserved soil and built organic matter content.

    “Soils with high organic matter are more productive than soils with low organic matter because the organic matter can loosely hold onto plant nutrients and make them available for crop growth,” he explained.

    Growing perennial rice also saved water, as less water was needed to obtain “ratoon crops” – or second harvests – of rice, compared with getting a new crop from seeds or transplanted seedlings, Sacks added.

    Lead author Zhang Shilai, professor at Yunnan University’s School of Agriculture, said the team will continue to work on developing cold-tolerant, heat-tolerant, and disease-resistant varieties so that they can be promoted over larger regions.

    “We promoted perennial rice across Yunnan and addressed the key issues that matter most to farmers: yields, costs, taste and stable production across multiple seasons. Many of these farmers grow rice as a staple food for their families, so perennial rice must compete against other rice varieties,” Zhang said.

    In April, Yunnan University and genomics organisation BGI Group set up a perennial rice joint venture, focusing on large-scale localisation.

    However, the study also noted challenges with pests, disease and weeds, which might be easier to control in annual crops.

    “But perennial rice is still a very new crop, and we predict that cropping systems and pest-resistant varieties will be developed,” said Tim Crews, study co-author and chief scientist at The Land Institute, a Kansas-based non-profit organisation.

    The new perennial varieties hold special significance for China. The world’s most populous country is also its top consumer of rice, accounting for about 30 per cent of total global demand.

  • Philippines extends tariff cuts on imported rice, other food items to fight inflation.

  • MANILA, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has approved the recommendation of the economic ministry to extend up to the end of next year lower tariff rates on rice and other food items to help combat inflation, his office said on Sunday.

    The modified rates approved in 2021 were due to expire at the end of this year, but an inflation rate running at 14-year highs warranted an extension of the tariff reprieve until Dec. 31, 2023.

    That means the tariff rate for imported rice will stay at 35%, while the import levies on corn and pork products will remain at 5%-15% and 15%-25% respectively, the press secretary's office said in a statement.

    The tariff for coal imports, a key fuel in power generation, will remain at zero beyond the end of next year, but will be reviewed regularly.

    "Through this policy, we shall augment our domestic food supplies, diversify our sources of food staples, and temper inflationary pressures arising from supply constraints and rising international prices of production inputs," Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in the statement.

    At 8.0% in November, consumer price inflation is well beyond the Philippine central bank's target range of 2%-4% for this year and the medium term.

    Soaring inflation has prompted the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to raise interest rates (PHCBIR=ECI) seven times this year and flag more tightening in 2023 to bring inflation back to within its target.

    "We are determined to steer the Philippine economy to meet the 6.0%-7.0% economic growth target for 2023," Balisacan said.

  • Research sheds light on rice’s natural defenses

  • A farmer holds late-season rice in his hand in Huai'an,Jiangsu province on Nov 24, 2022.

    Rice plants attacked by the striped stem borer, a major paddy pest, send out airborne substances to warn their neighbors so they can prepare chemical defenses, Chinese scientists have found.

    The findings can help enhance the widely planted crop's resistance against one of its most devastating pests, according to a study published in New Phytologist, a plant science journal, in mid-October, a boon to world food security.

    HIPVs, or herbivore-induced plant volatiles, are complex mixtures of volatile organic compounds emitted by plants attacked by herbivores.

    They play a crucial role in plants' interactions with insect communities, experts say.

    For example, HIPVs can be used by insects to locate their hosts or prey, and to evade predators.

    They can also be perceived by nearby plants and thus serve as airborne signals during inter-plant interactions.

    The volatiles, emitted by plants attacked by herbivores or pathogens, can be sensed by other plants and lead to what is known as defense priming, which has been widely observed among corn, tomato and tea plants.

    The study by agrarians from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and a Swedish researcher went a step further.

    They worked to decipher the process through chemical and molecular analysis and insect behavioral experiments.

    Their research has found that pre-exposure to stem borer-induced HIPVs allows rice plants to activate a more intense response upon attack by creating a sudden surge of jasmonic acid and defensive proteinase inhibitors, which are harmful to the pest's larva.

    Moreover, "primed" plants were found to emit larger amounts of volatiles that attract a wasp that parasitizes the stem borer.

    "Understanding the details of the underlying processes should facilitate studies to elucidate similar interactions in other systems and may lead to strategies that exploit the odorous alert signals to manage the striped stem borer and other destructive pests," said the paper, which was partly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

    Data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs showed that the striped stem borer and other major paddy pests and pathogens affected more than 57 million hectares of rice last year.

    The research forms part of a broader effort by China to boost its food output through agricultural sciences and technologies.

    The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs last month announced a program to step up breeding research in hopes of developing homegrown, high-yield varieties of crops and livestock to better feed the country's 1.4 billion people.

    Rice is a staple food for 3.5 billion people worldwide, and more than 1 billion make a living through growing the crop, Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, told a virtual forum last month. The crop also feeds around 60 percent of Chinese.

    China has been leading the world in rice-related research. In 2004, Yuan Longping won the World Food Prize for developing hybrid rice, whose output was around 7.5 metric tons per hectare, compared with 4.61 tons globally.

  • FG to boost rice production for export

  • The Federal Government, on Thursday, inaugurated the National Rice Development Strategy-II (2020-2030) and the Competitive African Rice Platform to ensure surplus rice production for export, food security and job creation.

    It said the NRDS-II was developed following the successful implementation of the first phase of the NRDS-I, which took place between 2009 and 2019.

    The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, disclosed this in his keynote address at the inauguration of the second phase of the rice development strategy in Abuja.

    He explained that based on the gains of the NRDS-I in 2020, the national paddy rice production rose significantly towards the self-sufficiency target of the Federal Government.

    “As a result of this success, NRDS-I was reviewed to give rise to the formulation of a new NRDS document in 2021,” he stated.

    Shehuri added, “This is the document that is being inaugurated today. The NRDS-II document is a 10-year plan which seeks to provide direction for the development of the rice subsector to achieve the government’s goals of self-sufficiency in rice production, food and nutrition security, employment creation and production of surplus for export.”

    He said the document was adopted at the 4th National Council of Agriculture, which was held by all stakeholders, with support from the Competitive Africa Rice Platform.

    Shehuri said, “CARP, formerly known as Sustainable Rice Platform, is dedicated to the productivity and sustainability of the rice industry with two main objectives, which are to ensure the competitiveness of Nigerian rice and sustainability of the Nigeria rice sector.

    “The Competitive African Rice Platform-Nigeria is a multi-stakeholders platform set up to advocate policies and drive transformational changes in standard practices in the rice sector.”

    On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhihe, said the collaboration of the FMARD and several development partners had yielded positive results on rice production and processing in Nigeria within the last decade.

  • Marcos gives one-time rice allowance to all gov’t employees

  • MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. granted a one-time rice allowance to all government personnel for this year, Malacañang announced in a statement on Saturday.

    Those who are entitled to receive the rice subsidy include civilian personnel in national government agencies, including those in state universities and colleges (SUCs), government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), government financial institutions, government instrumentalities with corporate powers, and government corporate entities occupying regular, contractual or casual positions.

    Military, police, fire, and jail personnel are also entitled to receive the rice assistance.

    Personnel from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria) are also entitled to get the service recognition incentive.

    ‘Service recognition incentive’

    Meanwhile, the Chief Executive also granted a “service recognition incentive” for employees in the executive department.

    “The President’s order authorizes the grant of a one-time service recognition incentive at a uniform rate not exceeding P20,000 for executive department personnel,” the Office of the Press Secretary said.

    Those who are entitled to receive the incentive include civilian personnel in NGAs, covering those in state SUCs, GOCCs, regular, contractual, or casual employees, members of the military and the police, as well as fire and jail personnel under the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

    Bucor, PCG, and Namria employees will also receive the incentive.

    Employees of both houses of Congress, the Judiciary, the Office of the Ombudsman, and Constitutional offices may also be granted a one-time SRI by their respective heads of office at a uniform rate not exceeding P20,000.

  • Output dip. Rice market set for a bull run

  • World over rice production is likely to fall due to a combination of drought and floods

    Three developments over the past couple of months have put the global rice market in focus. First, the India curbed rice exports by banning shipments of fully broken rice and imposing a 20 per cent duty on white rice exports.

    Second, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar told the Rajya Sabha last week that due to deficient rainfall in some rice-growing States such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, the cereal’s production may decline this season (July 2022-June 2023). In its first advance estimate, the Agriculture Ministry pegged kharif rice production at 104.99 million tonnes (mt) this season against 111.76 mt last season.

    Third, Bangladesh has approached India for 0.5 mt of parboiled rice on a government-to-government basis to build stocks for its public distribution system. The move comes after Dhaka had scouted for supplies in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Another reason for the Sheikh Hasina Wajed government to turn to New Delhi is the price competitiveness of Indian rice.

    Trade analysts are of the view that these are signs of a bull run in the rice market in early 2023. According to the International Grains Council (IGC), the rice sub-index has increased 15 per cent over the past year.

    Lower estimates

    Though Indian production has been pegged about 7 mt lower than last year, there are fears that the output could be even less. Though kharif rice procurement is 13 per cent higher till the week-ended December 10, analysts say this is because procurement in Chhattisgarh began a month early. The trade says a clear picture will emerge only by the middle of January.

    The problem in rice production is not confined to India alone. Pakistan is among the worst affected with much of its paddy crop washed away in floods during July, the worst since 1961. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has projected Pakistan’s rice production at a 10-year low of 6.6 mt this season against a record 9.1 mt last year. Analysts peg the crop loss at 4 mt.

    The scenario in China is not clear, particularly since it faced its severest drought in 61 years for nearly 70 days from July to September in the Yangtze region. Seven of the 13 major producing regions affected by the drought accounted for 48 per cent of the nation’s rice production in 2020. Research agency Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research has cautioned the trade saying China might provide a false sense of slackness in the market. The USDA has projected a 2 mt drop in China’s production, though fears are that the loss might be higher.

    There have been problems with the paddy crop in Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand which could result in supplies being affected in the global market. Drought in parts of Europe and the US will affect the rice crop in those countries with production dropping by 0.5 mt.

    In Bangladesh, two of its three paddy crops have been affected. While the Aush crop was affected due to lower rainfall, the Boro crop was earlier damaged by flash floods. Dhaka fears the third crop — Aman — might also be hit and the Hasina Government is looking to import to ensure the neighbouring nation has ample stocks.

    FAO projections

    The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Agricultural Market Information System has estimated global rice production to drop by over 12 mt, while the International Grains Council and the USDA project the output 9-10 mt lower. Trade analysts, however, say there could be a nearly 14 mt drop in production.

    The three agencies have estimated the carryover stocks lower ranging from 3mt to 13 mt, which could trigger a bull run in the global rice market.

    A major reason why the rice market will likely soar over the next few months is that the trade is one-tenth of the global production. In such a limited trade, any variation in production or supply could trigger volatility.

    Rice prices have increased by 5-8 per cent since India imposed curbs on the cereal’s exports. Analysts say prices have more headroom to move up and there should be no surprise if they surge by another 15-20 per cent.

  • Senegal struggles to break dependence on imported rice

  • Around the village of Dak in central Senegal, women cut rice stalks with sickles and knives, singing and dancing. In this West African country, which is a major consumer of the cereal, the current harvest will not cover all needs.

    "This production is for self-consumption. We don't want to buy imported rice anymore, which is very expensive," says Diétéo Diouf, head of a women's association, in the middle of the rice fields.

    The global food crisis and inflation caused by the war in Ukraine and the rise in cereal and energy prices have made the search for food self-sufficiency in Africa a pressing issue.

    Rice, one of the staples of the African diet, is particularly affected as India, the world's second largest producer, announced restrictions on its exports in September, raising fears of a shortage in Africa, where more than 280 million people were already undernourished by 2020 according to the UN.

    The Asian giant banned the export of broken rice (rice with lower prices and accidental or unintentional fractures) and introduced a 20% tax on exports of high-quality rice to improve domestic supplies after a major drought in the main producing regions.

    To combat speculation, Senegal recently set a price of 325 CFA francs per kilo (about 0.5 euros) for Indian broken rice, one of the cheapest and most widely consumed types of rice, and virtually the only one imported into the country, according to the coordinator of the national rice self-sufficiency programme, Waly Diouf.

    Rice is essential for the preparation of ceebu jën, rice with fish and the most popular dish in Senegal.

    Panic and tension

    Africa accounts for 32% of the world's rice imports for 13% of the world's population, according to Africa Rice, a research centre in Abidjan with 28 member countries.

    "Local rice production covers only about 60% of current demand in sub-Saharan Africa," the centre said.

    India's decision to limit its exports has created panic in several African countries where rice is an essential commodity.

    In the Comoros, an archipelago of 890,000 inhabitants where more than a quarter of the population lives on less than two euros a day, the soaring price of rice caused clashes at the end of September.

    In Liberia, queues formed in front of wholesalers amid rumours of a shortage. Prices reached the equivalent of 23 euros per 25kg bag, compared to the usual 13 euros.

    "The threat (of shortages) is real in Senegal" when India says it will not export any more, Diouf said. The country experienced "hunger riots" in 2008 due to a sharp increase in the price of basic foods.

    Over the past two years, "Senegal has produced some 840,000 tonnes of rice each time, or nine months' consumption, a quantity that is increasing," Diouf said.

    The country "imports an average of 900,000 tonnes of rice every year. This exceeds the country's needs, but importing makes it possible to guarantee the availability of the product and to avoid speculation," he explained.

    Producing locally

    The aim is to reduce this dependence. "By 2030, consumption in Senegal should reach 1.5 million tonnes of rice per year. We have worked on a strategy to move towards self-sufficiency," says Waly Diouf. He estimates the financial effort needed to achieve self-sufficiency at 1,371 billion CFA francs (about two billion euros).

    "We need more rice fields, credit, combine harvesters and a new irrigation system," says Mouhamadou Moustapha Diack, president of a farmers' union in Boundoum (north). There, the dykes and irrigation channels between the rice fields are worn out, dotted with eucalyptus and water lilies.

    Beyond the quantity, the supposedly poorer quality of rice produced in Senegal has long turned consumers away. "That has changed," Birame Diouf, head of a rice mill in Ross Béthio (north), a factory that removes impurities such as small gravels, told AFP. The grains are swallowed up in huge vats, where they are husked, cleaned and processed into whole or broken rice.

    Senegal hopes to follow the example of Côte d'Ivoire where 'the quantities imported from India have fallen by 24% from 2021 to 2022. There has been a clear shift towards Ivorian rice and secondarily towards other origins," Régina Adea, communications officer for the Agency for the Development of the Rice Sector in Côte d'Ivoire (Aderiz), told AFP.

  • kenya to import 1.5 million metric tons of duty free maize rice.

  • NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – Kenyan Government will allow millers and traders to import 1.5 million metric tons of duty free maize and rice to bridge the food deficit in the country.

    A total of 900,000MT of maize and 600,000MT rice from February to August 2023.

    In a public notice, State Department for Crop Development Principal Secretary Kello Harsama said the duty waiver shall apply to white maize and milled rice.

    “An Import Duty Waiver will be granted for millers and traders to import a total of 900,000 metric tons of white maize grain and 600,000 metric tons of milled rice from February 2023 to August 2023 to enable the Country have adequate stocks to last until next harvest from July- August 2023,” said Harsama.

    While imported maize moisture content should not be more than 13.5 per cent, aflatoxins levels are capped under ten parts per billion.

    Milled rice is also required to be grade one, dry, clean, wholesome, and uniform in size, color and shape.

    “Shall be free from abnormal flavours, musty, sour or other undesirable odour, obnoxious smell and discoloration and also shall be free from micro-organisms and substances originating from micro-organisms, fungi or other poisonous substances in amounts that may constitute a hazard to human health,” he said.

    Harsama instructed all interested millers and dealers to submit their registration information within 15 days to the Head/Supply Chain Management Services, Kilimo House.

  • Mid-December Food Prices: Rice, Beef and Onions Still Rising

  • TEMPO.COJakarta - As Christmas and New Year (Nataru) approaches, the majority of staple food prices have continued to rise in the past week. However, some prices like cayenne pepper, cooking oil, and eggs are experiencing a decline.

    As reported by the National Food Agency (Bapanas) Price Panel on Thursday, December 15, 2022, the red cayenne pepper price dropped by 0.10 percent to IDR49,530 per kilogram (kg) compared to a week ago. Chicken egg prices also declined by 0.37 percent to IDR9,940 per kg, packaged cooking oil prices were down by 0.73 percent to IDR17,680 per kg, and bulk cooking oil prices dropped by 0.56 percent to IDR14,260 per kg.

    Meanwhile, other staple foods such as rice, soybeans, and beef are experiencing a price increase. Premium rice prices increase by 0.62 percent to IDR13,010 per kg, medium category rice prices increase by 0.62 percent to IDR11,430 per kg, imported soybeans prices increased by 0.41 percent to IDR14,840 per kg, shallots prices rose by 0.68 percent to IDR35,550 per kg, and garlic prices increase by 0.78 percent to IDR25,920 per kg.

    Furthermore, prices of curly red chili increased by 1.29 percent to IDR36,870 per kg, pure beef price increased by 1.03 percent to IDR135,940 per kg, bulk wheat flour price increased by 0.45 percent to IDR11,140 per kg, and corn prices increase by 1.76 percent to IDR5,770 per kg.

    Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade (Kemendag) ensured that prices and stocks of food staples (bapok) are relatively safe, especially in preparation for Christmas 2022 and New Year 2023 (Nataru).

    Minister of Trade Zulkifli Hasan (Zulhas) said that based on the Ministry of Trade's records, although prices of food staples have increased, some recorded a decline, such as the price of rice in modern retail which remains stable, or even lower compared to the permissible highest retail price (HET). Meanwhile, Bulog's (Indonesian Bureau of Logistics) rice prices remained unchanged. In addition to rice, chicken meat prices also decreased.

    "Overall, the stock is available and the price is stable. Therefore, once again the stock is available, and the price is stable. We are doing everything we can to keep stock of staple foods safe," said Zulkifli in his statement on Monday, December 12, 2022.

    Zulkifli added that inflation in November 2022 was recorded at 5.42 percent, a number lower compared to the previous month, which was recorded at 5.71 percent.

  • Could ‘Rice Diplomacy’ bolster Myanmar-Bangladesh ties?

  • Without food, a nation could face turmoil and financial ruin. The agricultural sector is one of the most crucial and strategically vital for a nation to survive.

    There are numerous things the Bangladeshi government can do to keep rice in supply, but one of the most common is to import it. This import policy has many drawbacks because Bangladesh is known as an agricultural nation or a nation where the majority of workers are employed in agriculture, but despite this, Bangladesh still imports rice.

    In order to safeguard their domestic supply, several countries have blocked the export door due to the current state of the world, which is going through a worldwide food disaster as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

    Rice is a very essential commodity in the life of Bangladeshi people; in fact, there is a saying in Bangladesh that states that if rice has not been consumed, a person has not eaten. This saying illustrates how important rice has become to Bangladeshi culture.

    Despite tensioned relations between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Dhaka has made an import order from Myanmar. Bangladesh buys millions of tonnes of rice annually.

    Since agriculture and livestock form the foundation of Myanmar’s economy, rice exports provide additional foreign currency income. To create economic prospects, the State is assisting stockholders, including farmers and investors. 200,000 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar will be exported to Bangladesh, according the Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh addressing rice commerce. For the first time, 2,650 tonnes of rice will be transported straight to Bangladesh by the MV MCL-7 from the Ayeyawady International Industrial Port AIIP in Pathein Industrial City, Ayeyawady Region.

    On September 8, representatives from Bangladesh and Myanmar inked a sales agreement to export 200,000 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar to Bangladesh. From the Pathein Port, between 30,000 and 50,000 tonnes of rice are expected to be delivered to Bangladesh. On October 28, 2,650 tonnes of Emahta rice (5 percent broken) began to be loaded into the ship bound for Bangladesh. “Exports of rice help to develop the private sector and produce foreign currency. The first direct rice export from Pathein City to the outside market marks the beginning of regional efforts to promote growth in both the public and private sectors cooperatively. The government looks forward to the city with promising futures, thus the next step is to ease trade in Pathein Industrial City. The region’s GDP is growing as a result of rice exports. In addition to rice, corn and sesame are also intended for direct export through Pathein City to global markets.

    On October 31, the 2,650 tonnes of rice that had been loaded were finished, and the MV MCL-7 departed for Bangladesh via the AIIP. At the Port, more ships arrived and left. It involved the direct export of regional goods from Ayeyawady. Exports of rice from Myanmar to its neighbors have the potential to improve farmer livelihoods and open up new markets for enterprises dependent on rice exports. In order to ensure a sustainable market and the promotion of exports, this accomplishment in Pathein City can help improve the tripartite partnership between the State, farmers, and businesses.

    According to media reports, by October 2022, more than 20,000 tonnes of rice had already been delivered to Bangladesh, according to the Myanmar Ministry of Commerce. In September of this year, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an MoU regarding the trading of rice. In accordance with this MoU, Bangladesh has pledged to purchase from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027 250,000 tonnes of rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice. Following the signing of the MoU, MRF and Bangladesh’s Directorate-General of Food signed a sales agreement for 200,000 tonnes of rice to be sold from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Up until October 31, 2022, Myanmar has transported more than 20,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh in accordance with the sales agreements.

    Furthermore, the vessel was filled with more than 15,000 tonnes of rice. During the designated time, the extra 150,000 tonnes of rice will be shipped. Since September 7, 2017, rice has been traded between Myanmar and Bangladesh as part of a government-to-government agreement. According to the MoU, between 2017 and September 2022, Bangladesh has promised to purchase 250,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Myanmar. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, the Directorate General of Food of Bangladesh and MRF signed the sales contracts, and as per the sales contract, Myanmar will send 100,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh in each of the years 2017 and 2021.

    According to the agreement between the two nations, the Ministry of Commerce of Myanamr has given an export license for 191,700 tonnes of rice that will be sent to Bangladesh. 48 firms, under the direction of the Myanmar Rice Federation, are required to export 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh with Chinese Yuan payment between October 2022 and January 2023 in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the rice trade. White rice (ATAP) GPCT Broken STX variety will be delivered in accordance with the contract. 2.78856 Yuan per kilogram and 2788.56 Yuan per tonne were the FOB prices.

    42 export permits totaling more than 534 million Yuan were granted by the Trade Department’s Export/Import division to 41 businesses for the shipment of 191,700 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh. In September of this year, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an MoU regarding the trading of rice. In accordance with this MoU, Bangladesh has pledged to purchase from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027 250,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice.

    A sales agreement for 200,000 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar to be exported to Bangladesh was signed as part of the MoU by MRF and the Directorate General of Food of Bangladesh. Till October 31, 2022, Myanmar has transported more than 20,000 tonnes of white rice to Bangladesh in accordance with the sales agreements. The remainder will be sent ahead of schedule. Since September 7, 2017, rice has been traded between Myanmar and Bangladesh as part of a government-to-government agreement. According to the MoU, between 2017 and September 2022, Bangladesh has promised to purchase 250,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Myanmar.

    According to a G-to-G agreement, Myanmar intends to export 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh. Out of the 200,000 tonnes of rice that were intended to be exported, the first cargo was made directly by the Ayeyawady International Industrial Port (AIIP) at Pathein of the Ayeyawady Region from November 2 to 22.

    A total of 10,565 tonnes of rice were exported by the AIIP, including 2,650 tonnes by MV MCL-7 from the Ayeya Hintha business on November 2, 2,615 tonnes by MV MCL-21 on November 7, 2,650 tonnes by MV MCL-12 on November 13, and 2,650 tonnes by MV MCL-18 on November 22. 50-kilogram bags of Emahta rice weighing 211,300 pounds were transported from the AIIP to Bangladesh. The second batch of targeted tonnes of rice is currently being exported. The Consumer Affairs Department’s Deputy Director U Tun Tun made a comment regarding the advantages of direct export to farmers and businesspeople, noting that there was a directive to export 60,000 tonnes of rice, divided into two batches of 20,000 tonnes and 40,000 tonnes.


    The direct shipping benefits the state, the people living there, and the region’s economic growth. Over the next two or three weeks, a ship will also dock, he added. To guarantee the quality of the rice sent and quick transportation, the relevant ministries and export businesses are collaborating. It is known that rice mills in the Ayeyawady Region are operating in order to export high-quality rice.

    According to the Ministry of Commerce, Myanmar has transported around 110,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh under the government-to-government agreement.

    In September of this year, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an MoU regarding the trading of rice.

    In accordance with this MoU, Bangladesh has pledged to purchase from Myanmar between 2022 and 2027 250,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice. A sales agreement for 200,000 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar to be exported to Bangladesh was signed as part of the Memorandum of Understanding by Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Food and Myanmar Rice Federation. As of November 28, 2022, Myanmar had supplied around 110,000 tonnes of white rice to Bangladesh in accordance with the sales agreements. Additionally, the ship is currently being loaded with more than 2,000 tonnes of rice. The remainder will be sent ahead of schedule.

     48 firms, under the direction of the Myanmar Rice Federation, are required to export 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh with Chinese Yuan payment between October 2022 and January 2023 in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the rice trade. White rice (ATAP) GPCT Broken STX variety will be delivered in accordance with the contract. The FOB costs per kilogram and ton were 2.7885 Yuan and 2788.56 Yuan, respectively. 42 export permits totaling more than 534 million Yuan were granted by the Trade Department’s Export/Import division to 41 businesses for the shipment of 191,700 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh.

    Since September 7, 2017, rice has been traded between Myanmar and Bangladesh as part of a government-to-government agreement.

    Bangladesh has been buying white rice from Myanmar in accordance with their government-to-government agreement. Since 2 November 2022, the nation has shipped rice directly from Pathein Industrial City. 5,260 tonnes of rice were loaded onto the two ships in the second batch between December 1 and December 8, and the MCL-12 ship, carrying 2,650 tonnes of rice, sailed from the Ayeyawady International Industrial Port AIIP in Pathein Industrial City, Ayeyawady Region to Bangladesh early on December 8, 2022.

    Prior until now, Yangon Port and Thilawa terminals in Myanmar were used to ship rice to Bangladesh. 10,565 tonnes of Aemahta rice (5% broken) were transported by four ships directly from Pathein city to Bangladesh in the first batch from November 2 to November 22, 2022. A total of 5,260 tonnes of rice were delivered by the nation, 2,610 tonnes by the MCL-19 ship on December 1 and 2,650 tonnes by the MCL-12 ship on December 8. The MCL-18 ship landed at the Ayeyawady International Industrial Port on December 7 and additional exports will be carried out.

    15,825 tonnes of white rice were directly exported from Myanmar’s Ayeyawady Region to Bangladesh, with 10,565 tonnes coming in the first batch and 5,260 in the second. “Rice is Pathein Port’s principal export product. There is enough corn in the area to meet Bangladesh’s needs if it purchases it in addition to rice. In accordance with market demand, Myanmar has expressed its willingness to export grain. The second batch of rice has been shipped out. We intend to trade with international nations by exporting agricultural goods from the Ayeyawady Region. The rice shipment is being completed first for the initial stage, according to U Tun Tun, deputy head of the Ayeyawady Region Consumers Affairs Department.

    Prior to this, the second shipment of rice was planned for the second week of December. However, due to improved rice production in the Ayeyawady Region, Myanmar was able to send the rice to Bangladesh in the first week. All the parties engaged in a supply chain, including the government of the Ayeyawady Region, the relevant departments, and private businesspeople, are working hard to meet Bangladesh’s demand for rice by shipping it from the area. Direct rice exports from Myanmar’s rice bowl, the Ayeyawady Region, to overseas markets create business opportunities for rice millers, farmers, and dealers as well as job chances for nearby communities.

    The good news is that, despite political disagreements over how to handle Rohingya refugees, trade relations between Myanmar and Bangladesh will be normalized and strengthened. Rice’s will be brought into Bangladesh from Myanmar. Greater cooperation between Bangladesh and Myanmar could benefit the entire region and strengthen the bilateral ties.

  • African countries requested for supply of non-basmati rice, admits Centre

  • It may be recalled that the BJP-led union government has been refusing to procure parboiled rice from Telangana for three consecutive seasons since Yasangi (Rabi) of 2020.

    Hyderabad: Amid the rising demand for supply of rice by foreign nations, the union government on Wednesday admitted that a few African countries have requested India for supply of non-basmati rice including broken and parboiled rice. However, it did not share any specific action plan to facilitate the supply of rice from Indian States like Punjab and Telangana which were having record level rice production, to other countries witnessing demand for non-basmati rice.

    In response to a question raised by the BRS MPs in the Lok Sabha, union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel said the total non-basmati rice exported during April-October 2022 was 10.21 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT). However, she stated that export of non-basmati rice has registered a decline after prohibition on broken rice and imposition of export duty of 20 per cent on other non-basmati rice except parboiled rice on September 8 of 2022.

    India has recorded rice exports of about 35.49 MMT of non-basmati rice including 16.73 MMT of parboiled rice which is worth 12.97 billion US dollars between 2019-20 and 2021-22. Currently, India has a total stock of 23.92 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice.

    It may be recalled that the BJP-led union government has been refusing to procure parboiled rice from Telangana for three consecutive seasons since Yasangi (Rabi) of 2020. Though the State government informed the Centre about the demand for rice in the international market and explore export options considering the rising rice stocks in Telangana, union Food Minister Piyush Goyal suggested the Ministers to accustomise people of Telangana to eat broken rice which created an uproar.

    Anupriya Patel, in her reply, did not give any categorical assurance to facilitate rice exports, but stated that an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) constituted by the Centre will consider various factors like domestic prices, production, available stocks, production estimates, forecast etc., of essential agricultural commodities, before taking measures for export of prohibited items including rice to support the needs of neighbouring and vulnerable countries for their food security.

  • Rice, wheat inflation continue to rise contrary to overall inflation

  • The retail inflation rate in wheat rose to 19.67 per cent in November from 17.64 per cent in October.

    Cereals inflation rose to 12.96 per cent in November from 12.08 per cent during the previous month

    The retail price inflation in cereals refused to decline, unlike overall or food inflation, as production was hit due to adverse weather conditions.

    Cereals inflation rose to 12.96 per cent in November from 12.08 per cent during the previous month.

    This comes even as overall inflation came down below the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) mandate of six per cent for the first time in 11 months. Food inflation also declined to its lowest level of 4.67 per cent in 11 months.

    The retail inflation rate in wheat rose to 19.67 per cent in November from 17.64 per cent in October.

    At the beginning of the year, it was just 5.1 per cent and rose to 9.59 per cent at the beginning of the current financial year. From there, it more than doubled in November.

    Another cereal — rice — saw inflation rate rising to 10.51 per cent in November from 10.21 per cent in October. It was just 2.8 per cent in January and 3.96 per cent in April.

    Wheat and rice drove the prices since the inflation rates in other cereals were negative in all these months, except October and November. The rate rose to 1.99 per cent in October from -1.37 per cent in September before cooling a bit to 1.7 per cent in November.

    Rise in inflation in wheat and rice may disturb the budget of the poor, but the government has already extended the free foodgrain scheme for 800 million people by three months till December 31.

    Under the scheme — the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) — five kg of wheat or rice is provided free of cost to the beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act. This is in addition to their monthly quota.

    Besides, rationed rice and wheat have not seen much inflation.

    For instance, public distribution system (PDS) rice saw a decline in prices during the first four months of the calendar year till April. And then, the inflation rate stood below one per cent till September. There was absolutely no inflation in October-November for PDS rice.

    In the case of PDS wheat, prices continued to fall every month till November 2022 year-on-year (YoY).

    Production of both wheat and rice has been below last year’s levels, according to the government’s estimate. But the extent of the fall has varied between what has been officially pronounced and what private traders calculated.

    This is also perhaps among the very few times in recent history when output of both the main cereals has seen a drop due to adverse weather conditions.

    Whole wheat output dropped in 2022 rabi season due to sudden rise in terminal heat, just ahead of the harvesting stage.

    Rice production dropped in the preceding kharif season due to drought and patchy rains in the main growing states of eastern India — Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

    According to official estimates, wheat production in the rabi season of 2022 that ended in June was officially pegged at 106.41 million tonnes. This is 3.8 million tonnes less than last year’s output as heat waves in the main crop-growing stage crimped output.

    However, private traders have pegged the production at much less, somewhere around 98-100 million tonnes.

    As a consequence of the drop in production, prices flared up in the domestic market. It was also aided by the acute shortage of wheat in the global markets due to the Ukraine war.

    Similarly, in the case of rice, too, the weather played spoilsport and drought in eastern India pulled down rice output.

    According to the first advance estimates, rice production in the just-concluded kharif season is expected to be at 104.99 million tonnes. This would be almost 6.05 per cent less than the same period last year.

  • BD issues tender to buy 50,000 tonnes of rice

  • HAMBURG: Bangladesh’s state grains buyer has issued another international tender to purchase 50,000 tonnes of rice, traders said on Tuesday.

    The deadline for submission of price offers is Dec. 27. Bangladesh had also previously issued an international tender for 50,000 tonnes of rice closing on Dec. 21.

  • Rice steady amid flooding in Thailand

  • BANGKOK, THAILAND — Flooding in Thailand had a minimal impact on rice production, corn growers are seeing a slightly smaller crop on less acreage and wheat imports are up significantly year-over-year, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    FAS Bangkok Post’s outlook for marketing year 2022-23 rice production remains unchanged from previous forecasts at 19.9 million tonnes, up slightly from 19.87 million tonnes in 2021-22. Precipitation between January and October 2022 was well above last year while damage from flooding on main-crop rice production from August to October was marginal. Flooding did delay the main-crop rice harvest in some areas of the northeastern region due to slow water drainage.

    The 2022-23 forecast for corn production also remains unchanged at 5.2 million tonnes, 2% lower than last year due to expected lower offseason corn acreage. The main-crop corn harvest was completed in late October 2022 with good average yield due to favorable rainfall and sufficient water supplies. 

    “Traders expect lower offseason corn acreage, however, as production costs remain relatively high compared to other field crops such as cassava and offseason rice, which have lower maintenance costs and higher returns,” the FAS said.The forecast for 2022-23 wheat imports is unchanged at 2.9 million tonnes, but that is a 23% increase from 2021-22 due to an anticipated increase in domestic production and growing consumption of wheat-based foods. The total contract commitment of US wheat export sales to Thailand between July 1 and Nov. 10, 2022, was 374,227 tonnes, up 49% from the same period a year ago.

  • Resurrecting Climate-Resilient Rice in India

  • Seemingly miraculous varieties that can withstand drought, flood, and saltwater intrusion are the result of centuries of selective breeding by ancient farmers.

    Until as recently as 1970, India was a land with more than 100,000 distinct varieties of rice. Across a diversity of landscapes, soils, and climates, native rice varieties, also called “landraces,” were cultivated by local farmers. And these varieties sprouted rice diversity in hue, aroma, texture, and taste.

    But what sets some landraces in a class of their own—monumentally ahead of commercial rice varieties—is their nutrition profiles. This has been proved by the research of Debal Deb, a farmer and agrarian scientist whose studies have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and books.

    In the mid-1960s, with backing from the U.S. government, India’s agricultural policy introduced fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation facilities, and high-yielding varieties of crops under the moniker of a “Green Revolution” to combat hunger. Instead, it began an epidemic of monocultures and ecological destruction.

    In the early 1990s, after realizing that more than 90% of India’s native rice varieties had been replaced by a handful of high-yielding varieties through the Green Revolution, Deb began conserving indigenous varieties of rice. Today, on a modest 1.7-acre farm in Odisha, India, Deb cultivates and shares 1,485 of the 6,000 unique landraces estimated to remain in India.

    Deb and collaborators have quantified the vitamin, protein, and mineral content in more than 500 of India’s landraces for the first time, in the lab he founded in 2014, Basudha Laboratory for Conservation. In one extraordinary discovery, the team documented 12 native varieties of rice that contain the fatty acids required for brain development in infants.

    “These varieties provide the essential fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids that are found in mother’s milk but lacking in any formula foods,” Deb says. “So instead of feeding formula foods to undernourished infants, these rice varieties can offer a far more nutritious option.”

    Deb and his team have also documented high levels of antioxidants and several B vitamins in more than 250 landraces of rice. Both of these compounds are essential for the functioning of a healthy human body, Deb says, but are rarely found in modern high-yield varieties.

    In Garib-sal, a rice variety from a remote village in West Bengal, Deb and his co-workers discovered the bioaccumulation of silver in its grains at 15 parts per million. This may explain why Garib-sal was prescribed in traditional medicine for the treatment of gastroenteric infections, since silver nanoparticles are known to kill pathogenic microbes.

    Miraculous as these traits may appear, they are far more than happy accidents of nature. They are the result of a conscious exercise of selective breeding by ancient farmers, whom Deb refers to as “unnamed, unknown scientists.”

    “These farmer-scientists did not know anything about DNA, proteins, or enzymes,” he says, “yet they managed to develop novel varieties through generations of selective breeding.”

    Deb’s conservation efforts are not to preserve a record of the past, but to help India revive resilient food systems and crop varieties. His vision is to enable present and future agriculturists to better adapt to climate change.

    Cultivating Resilience

    Deb conserves scores of climate-resilient varieties of rice originally sourced from Indigenous farmers, including 16 drought-tolerant varieties, 20 flood-tolerant varieties, 18 salt-tolerant varieties, and three submergence-tolerant varieties. He shares his varieties freely with hundreds of small farmers for further cultivation, especially those farming in regions prone to these kinds of climate-related calamities. In 2022 alone, Deb has shared his saved seed varieties with more than 1,300 small farmers through direct and indirect seed distribution arrangements in several states of India.

    One of these farmers is Shamika Mone. Mone received 24 traditional rice varieties from Deb on behalf of Kerala Organic Farmers Association, along with training on maintaining the purity of the seeds. Now these farmers have expanded their collection, working with other organic farming collectives in the state of Kerala to grow around 250 landraces at two farm sites. While they cultivate most of their varieties for small-scale use and conservation, they also cultivate a few traditional rice varieties for wider production, which yield an average of 1.2 tons per acre compared with the 1 ton per acre of hybrid varieties.

    “But that’s only in terms of yield,” Mone says. “We mostly grow these for their nutritional benefits, like higher iron and zinc content, antioxidants, and other trace elements. Some varieties are good for lactating mothers, while some are good for diabetic patients. There are many health benefits.”

    These native varieties have proven beneficial in the face of climate change too.

    With poor rains in 2016, for example, the traditional folk rice variety Kuruva that Mone had planted turned out to be drought-tolerant and pest-resistant. And in 2018, due to the heavy rains and floods, she lost all crops but one: a folk rice variety called Raktashali that survived underwater for two days.

    “They have proven to be lifesavers for us,” Mone says.

    With extreme weather events, like droughts, floods, and storm surges, on the rise across the world, small farmers suffer damage to their farms, lose harvests, and go into debt. But small organic farmers incur less debt since they don’t depend on expensive inputs.

    “About 90% of the overall costs incurred on most organic farms in Kerala are mostly for labor costs, while only around 10% goes on manures and composts, if any,” Mone says.

    By expanding the cultivation of resilient crop varieties, an agricultural system can bounce back faster to its original capacity.

    “Our emphasis and advice to every farmer in the world would be to foster and nurture diversity at all levels—at the species level, at the crop genetic level, and at the ecosystem level,” Deb says. “The building of complexity and diversity is essential to building resilience.”

    The Case for Agroecology

    Many fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides commonly used in commercial farming act as biocides (killers of life forms) and, in so doing, decimate the microorganisms in the soil. Soil microorganisms, like mycorrhizal fungi, are recognized as essential to deliver nutrients from the soil to the plants. Without these nutrients, plants cannot remain productive, and they become more prone to pest attacks. Thus begins the degenerative cycle of spraying more pesticides while adding more synthetic fertilizers to compensate for the lack of nutrients.

    Industrial farming, associated with monocultures and synthetic chemical inputs, leads to the loss of soil fertility year over year and ultimately the collapse of the farm ecosystem. Commercial hybrid seeds, dependent on costly inputs, have also proved to fall behind in climate tolerance.

    “We need resilience under uncertainty and hardship,” says Sujatha Rajeswaran, a farmer from Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, who received seeds and training from Deb. She sells her produce directly to a group of friends and family members.

    “Growing traditional varieties coincides with our philosophy for life,” Rajeswaran says. “Just having a lot of money is not enough. We need good physical and mental health. We need good relationships. We need good ecology, not only in a human-centric way, but for all beings to be able to live and thrive.”

    Deb asserts that in order to grow resilient and nutritious food sustainably, global food systems must transition to agroecology, which doesn’t introduce toxic chemicals to the environment. Deb and many other scientists have also documented agroecology to be more productive than industrial farming, and that it leads to better soil fertility year over year.

    “Agroecology is an essential component in the fight against climate change and [greenhouse gas] emissions,” says Steve Gliessman, professor emeritus of agroecology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an international expert with more than 50 years of teaching, research, and production experience in the field of agroecology.

    “Agroecology is all about farming practices that capture and hold carbon, but it is also all about how all other parts of the food system contribute to sustainability. This means more local, seasonal, and integrated food systems, where what we call ‘food miles’ are reduced, food waste is reduced, and local food production capacity once again plays an important role.”

    Gliessman applauds Deb’s conservation and participatory work with local farmers. “[His work] confronts the modern idea of ‘improved’ seeds when farmers already have the seed knowledge they need in their hands. Deb has rescued this knowledge, codified it, and made it available once again.”

    Roadblocks to Implementation

    Despite a plethora of reasons to prioritize a transition to agroecology, funding for these open-source solutions is severely lacking. Public institutions and private businesses alike favor putting their money toward patented technologies and seeds.

    There are two pathways to adapt agriculture to climate change, according to Rasheed Sulaiman V., director of the Centre for Research on Innovation and Science Policy, a nonprofit organization that promotes research in the area of innovation policy for agriculture and rural development. Pathway 1, he says, is the development and promotion of new climate-resilient, high-yielding varieties of seeds. Pathway 2 is to promote and strengthen in-place conservation of native, climate-resilient varieties by civil society organizations and seed champions like Deb.

    Based on a detailed case study in Odisha, Sulaiman says Pathway 2 can help in achieving several more of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals than Pathway 1, without causing adverse impacts to the environment and agro-biodiversity. “Unfortunately,” he says, “almost all science, technology, and innovation support is invested in Pathway 1, and there are practically no resources invested in strengthening Pathway 2.”

    Deb documents that many native varieties of crops measure more resilient and nutrient-dense than commercial varieties and patented seeds, even after the billions of dollars that have been invested in agribusinesses. For example, the International Rice Research Institute, an agricultural research and training organization that contributed to the Green Revolution, has developed an iron-fortified genetically modified rice variety, IR68144-2B-2-2-3, containing 8.9 ppm of iron. This is meant to be its “high iron” variety. Contrast that with the approximately 80 native varieties of rice Deb has documented that contain between 20 and 152 ppm of iron.

    Such knowledge becomes vital in light of government policy that favors food fortification instead of food sovereignty. The Indian government recently mandated that rice supplies be fortified with iron and other supplements in order to tackle malnutrition. This fortification process involves rice being milled into a powder form, fortified with supplements, and reshaped into rice grains. The Mandatory Food Fortification Program is now in effect across four states (Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand) and counting, and all rice supply in India will need to be fortified by 2024.

    “According to this fortification mandate, everyone, whether you need it or not, has to consume this fortified rice. What if your child has thalassemia, a condition where excess iron is lethal?” wonders Deb. So far, local news outlets have produced concerning reports: Children in Bolangir district of Orissa fell ill after consuming the fortified rice in their public school meals. In the state of Punjab, 19 samples of fortified rice out of 22 collected failed national quality control tests.

    “Experts are spending billions of dollars to fine-tune genetic engineering, while these nutritious and resilient varieties already exist,” Deb says. “In the name of smarter agriculture, we are losing these climate-smart varieties.”

    Small-Scale Solutions

    Patented and high-tech solutions have also proven inequitable for small farmers. Deb asserts that these are not for peasant countries like India, where nearly 80% of farmers operate on less than 5 acres of land. High-yielding varieties have raised the input costs (since fertilizers, pesticides, and the seeds themselves have to be bought every year), making farmers increasingly dependent on markets. At the same time, the prices farmers receive for their harvests have fallen with greater market supply.

    At times, in the short run, growing fragile, high-yielding varieties can be profitable. But in the long run, only large landholders are able to weather losses thanks to their other asset classes. Small landholders, Rajeswaran says, don’t have that cushion. They go into debt and face complete ruin. In fact, today in India, more than half of all farming households are in debt, leading to episodes of farmer suicide.

    On the surface, reduced drudgery and more yields may seem worth it, which is why so many farmers opt in. “New varieties are being created for higher yields and process mechanization—for doing well in control environments,” Rajeswaran says. “But the real world is not a controlled environment, although we are constantly trying to make it one.”

    Nearly three decades since beginning conservation work, Deb remains motivated. He recognizes that some of the farmers requesting his seeds today are the descendants of his original seed sources. They come to him after losing their seeds to high-yielding varieties.

    “These ancient farmers never wrote down their discoveries or patented their work, so we are [wrongly] taught to assume they were unscientific,” Deb says. “Our task is to honor their discoveries by conserving these varieties.”

  • Arkansas farmers lose billions as weather and war impact yield, costs

  • Corn research plots at the Milo J. Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville, Ark. on July 8, 2022.

    War in Ukraine, heavy spring rains and then a prolonged summer drought impacted Arkansas’ farm industry in 2022. As a result, input and commodity prices fluctuated wildly, throughout the growing and harvest season.

    “As farmers were in the field preparing to plant their crop, Russia invaded Ukraine fueling uncertainty across the world and in agricultural input markets,” said Hunter Biram, extension economist for the University of Arkansas. “We saw prices paid for chemicals, fertilizer, and fuels increase by about 10% to15% over 2021 after there was a 30% increase in the prices paid for chemicals, 60% increase in prices paid for fertilizer, and 50% increase in the prices paid for fuels relative to 2020 Any potential relief the high commodity prices provided was essentially eliminated by these increases in input prices.”

    According to the 2023 Division of Agriculture crop enterprise budgets, nitrogen fertilizer is projected to be about 6% lower relative to 2022 but still 14% higher relative to 2021. Phosphate and potash are projected to be up some over 2022 at around 1.6% and 0.5% higher, respectively. Diammonium phosphate, known as DAP, and defoliant, key inputs used in cotton production, are projected to be up 7% and 10% respectively over 2022. Insecticides and fungicides, which are key inputs used in rice production, are projected to be up 98% and 18%, respectively, over 2022.

    Torrential springtime rains covered the state as farmers planted crops, and it led to yield losses. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency, there were $1.4 billion in rain-related losses across the U.S., and $400 million were primarily in the Mid-South states.

    “In Arkansas, we saw $171 million in losses account for half of the total coverage purchased in 2022. Prevented planting claims were the primary driver of losses with 81% of the losses directly attributed to prevented planting,” Biram said.

    A deluge of water in the spring led into one of the worst droughts on record as the summer began.

    “Drought struck the entire United States which resulted in significant crop losses in Texas, Oklahoma, and parts of the east coast,” Biram said. “Of the $3.9 billion in total drought-related losses across the U.S., $2.4 billion were in the Southeast.”

    Arkansas weathered the drought better than other states, thanks to irrigation. Arkansas ranks third nationally in terms of acres under irrigation. However, the drought would find another way to hit farmers in Arkansas and elsewhere, as it dropped the Mississippi River to historically low levels. The levels were so low, the river was closed to traffic between Osecola and Greenville, Mississippi. Elevator prices followed the river levels.

    “These price losses at the local grain elevator came in the form of extremely weak basis during arguably the most unfortunate time: harvest,” Biram said. “During the usual harvest window, basis or the local cash price less the relevant futures price, fell from about 40 cents over to 125 under at Helena, Arkansas.”

    “Once the river levels increased, basis strengthened to about 50 over and has stayed relatively consistent at this level even though most new crop delivery from the 2022 harvest is finished,” he said.

    According to the November estimates from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Arkansas corn was expected to yield 176 bushels per acre, down from 184 bushels per acre in 2021. Cotton was forecast to yield 1,166 pounds per acre in 2022, compared to the record-setting 1,248 pounds per acre in the previous year. Peanuts were expected to yield 5,000 pounds per acre, same as 2021. All rice was expected to yield 7,450 hundredweight per acre in 2022, down from 7,630 the previous year. Soybeans were expected to improve in 2021, rising to 53 bushels per acre — which would be a new state record average yield — up from 52 bushels the previous year.

  • FPCCI urges govt to grant status of industry to rice sector.

  • KARACHI: Federation Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI)supporting the demand of Rice Exporters...

    KARACHI: Federation Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) supporting the demand of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has urged the federal government to give the status of an industry to the rice sector immediately and provide same facilities being provided to five other export-oriented industries.

    While, chairing the 2nd meeting of the FPCCI Standing Committee on Rice, Convener Rafique Suleman said that rice is the largest export sector among commodities in Pakistan and earning more than two billion dollars annually. The sector can earn more foreign exchange for the country, if the federal government gives it the status of the industry and provides power to it at concessional rate. “If the government follows the recommendations of FPCCI, all the economic indicators can improve and economy will come on right track,” he added.

    He said that despite the promise, the government has not provided financial assistance to the flood-affected rice owners, which faced massive loss during the rain and flooding. If a farmer does not have money, how he will plant rice, wheat or any other crop, so the government should fulfil its promise immediately, Suleman demanded.

    Senior Vice President of Federation Chamber Suleman Chawla, Vice President Shabir Mansha Chura, Chairman Rice Exporters Association Chela Ram Kewlani, President Lower Sindh Rice Mills Association and Joint Secretary Sindh, Balochistan Rice Mill Association Farooq Ahmed Chhipa, Javed Jilani, Faisal Anis and other members were also present.

    Suleman said that the government of Sindh has made it clear that 70 percent of the rice crop in Sindh has been affected due to rain and flooding. The exports of non-basmati rice have decreased by 15 percent, while as per millers’ estimates the rice crop has been affected by 30 percent. This shows that government’s figures of crop losses are wrong, he said.

    He said that the rice crop is bumper in Punjab and Basmati export will be more than last year in term of value and volume.

    Rafique Suleman said that some 170,774 metric tons of basmati rice worth $181 million was exported in October 2022 and some 725, 662 metric tons non-basmati rice worth $363 million was exported.

    He mentioned that currently the exchange rate is volatile and there is massive difference in the Interbank and Open Market rate. Dollar is being trading at Rs 225 in inter-bank market and Rs 250 in open market. The silence of the government on the difference of 25 rupees is surprising, he said.

    Senior Vice President of FPCCI Suleman Chawla said that rice is the largest commodity exported from Pakistan, if rice exporters pay full attention to the Chinese market, they can enhance the exports. He said that FPCCI is fully supporting the REAP demand for the industry and all possible efforts will be made to facilitate the rice exporters.

    Suleman Chawla said that a rice festival will be organized in FPCCI after the Eid. He demanded that the government to provide cheap electricity to the rice sector.

    Chairman REAP Chela Ram said that the supply of gas to rice industry is stopped and exporters are compelled to invest for self power generation to keep the mills operational. But when the gas is not available, how the rice factories can run and how the exports will be increase, he questioned

    He said that there are billions of rupees funds in the Export Development Fund, but neither this money is getting to the rice sector nor has any representative of REAP in the EDF. He demanded REAP’s representation in the EDF board. He also expressed concern over the ongoing economic situation and urged the political parties to work for the country and economy to overcome from this crisis. He also raised question on the statistics of the crop and said that there is no any organization in the country that can provide accurate information of crop productions. Chela Ram said that the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are the emerging markets for rice exporters, but the same problems are happening in Indonesia. “Government of Pakistan should urge them to buy rice from Pakistan as we are importing edible oil from Indonesia,” he suggested.

    Sindh Rice Mills Association Farooq Ahmad Chhipa said that a number of rice mills are closed due to floods; however, the amount is being collected for the fixed load of electricity from the closed mills. In addition, income tax department is sending notices. He said that until the rice sector does not get the status of an industry, cannot get respect.

  • B’desh Govt Seeks 5 Lakh Tonnes of Parboiled Rice from India

  • Bangladesh has approached India to source at least 0.5 million tonnes (mt) of parboiled rice for distribution through ration shops on a government-to-government (G2G) basis. The Sheikh Hasina Wajed government has approached India's High Commissioner in Bangladesh for assistance, even though Dhaka has issued two tenders of 50,000 tonnes each to import parboiled rice, according to trade sources.

    Rice production is expected to be 104.99 million tonnes (mt) this year.

    Tenders issued on December 6 and 12 will expire on December 21 and 17, respectively. Bangladesh approached India after a Dhaka delegation, including the Food Secretary and Director-General of the Food Directorate, scouted supplies in Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia last month.

    Bangladesh has turned to India because it has been unable to find parboiled rice at a competitive price in these three countries. According to the sources, one of the four agencies (NAFED, NCCF, Kendriya Bhandar, and Kribhco Agri) could be shipping rice to Bangladesh on a G2G basis.

    According to the Thailand Rice Exporters Association, Thailand currently offers parboiled rice at $468 per tonne, while Pakistan offers between $453 and $457. The prices for Indian parboiled rice are $373 and $377. Thailand's offer price has risen by $5-6 per tonne in the last two weeks, while Pakistan's rate has fallen slightly. On the other hand, prices in India have fallen by $1. Although the Wajed government claims to have ample rice stocks, it has begun importing rice on G2G and through private trade to avoid a crisis.

    Rice prices in Bangladesh have risen recently as weather, floods, and drought have harmed the country's paddy crop. Because its exports have not been restricted, India may not have difficulty supplying parboiled rice to Bangladesh.

    In its order restricting rice exports beginning September 9, the Centre banned shipments of fully broken rice and imposed a 20% export duty on non-basmati white rice.

    Parboiled and Basmati rice are exempt from all tariffs. However, rice prices in the country have been rising due to concerns that the Kharif paddy crop will be lower than expected, as key growing regions in West Bengal, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha have been affected. Despite export restrictions and a 20% export duty, Indian rice remains the most competitive globally. On December 9, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar told the Rajya Sabha that rice prices in the domestic market have risen 8% year to date due to concerns about lower production in the Kharif season.

    Rice production is expected to be 104.99 million tonnes (mt) this year, down from 111.76 mt last year, according to the Agriculture Ministry's preliminary estimate.  According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Exports Development Authority (APEDA), non-basmati rice exports increased to 8.96 million tonnes in the first half of the year, up from 8.23 million tonnes the previous year, with shipments fetching $3.03 billion, up from $2.97 billion. To manage a tight food situation, the Centre imposed restrictions on rice exports, with cereal stocks falling to their lowest since 2018 at 16.6 mt, alongside 19.65 mt of milled paddy (13.5 mt of rice) as of November 1.

    Last fiscal year, India exported a record 17.26 million tonnes of non-basmati rice, earning 45,649.74 crore, compared to 13.08 million tonnes earning 35,448.34 crore in 2020-21. India's rice exports have been driven by record production in recent years. India produced 130.29 million tonnes of rice during the last crop year (July 2021-June 2022).

  • Rice import: Minister-secretary return home without no headway

  • Rice samples are seen demonstrating for export at a rice processing factory in Vietnam's southern Mekong delta, Vietnam on 6 July 2017. 
    Reuters file photo

    A high-level delegation led by food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder returned home after visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand where they held discussions with officials of those countries on the import of rice.

    However, no deal or memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with any of these countries on rice import during their trip.

    According to food ministry sources, the government is emphasising strengthening relations with countries exporting rice other than India fearing global rice price may rise further next year.

    The trip to three countries was made as part of a special approval on rice import by prime minister’s office.

    The six-member delegation took part in the minister-level talks in Vietnam and Cambodia and held meetings with government agencies exporting rice and traders in Thailand.

    Speaking to Porthom Alo, food secretary Md Ismail Hossain said, “We have already started importing rice from Vietnam and talks were held for import of more rice.”

    “Cambodia wants to export 20-30 thousand tonnes of parboiled rice, but we do not need this rice now. Thailand is not interested in government-to-government deal to export rice for now, but private sector can import rice from this country,” he added.

    Breakdown of rice export

    Like in the past, India will export the highest amount of rice this year. However, rice production dropped in the country due to drought. The country exported 21.5 million tonnes of rice last year and will export 17 million tonnes of rice this year. India has imposed ban and increased tariff on rice export since September this year.

    India is the main destination of Bangladesh for rice import. In 2007, Bangladesh singed a deal with India to import 500,000 tonnes of rice, but Bangladesh did not receive the entire amount. This time, when talks on rice import began India restricted export and Bangladesh took an initiative to import rice from other countries.

    Speaking to Prothom Alo, former agriculture secretary AMM Shawkat Ali said rice should be imported from any country if price is cheap.

    When a high-level government delegation visits any country, they will get assurance on rice export from the respective country and officials of food departments are enough to improve relations and hold talks in rice import, he added.

    From neighbor to East

    The government looked to East Asian countries to import rice after trouble arises in India. Thailand has decided to export 7.5 million tonnes of rice this year. Bangladesh is interested in government-to-government (G2G) deal to export rice, but Thailand did not give a positive response. As private sector is strong in Thailand, its government is not interested in G2G deal on rice export.

    According to the delegation sources, China, world’s largest importer of rice, has already singed a deal with Thailand with advance payment to procure rice. Indonesia and several Meddle East countries also paid Thailand in advance. Amid this situation, import of rice is not possible from Thailand other than private sector deal

    The delegation sources further said the five-year MoU on import of rice between the governments of Bangladesh and Vietnam would end this December and both countries agreed to renew it.

    The Food ministry has started working to finalise the MoU by this month. However, Vietnam wants to export sunned rice, but Bangladesh does not procure it now. There is no progress on Vietnam now other than renewing the MoU.

    Cambodia also wants to export 20-30 thousand tonnes of sunned rice, but Bangladesh needs parboiled rice. So, no rice will be import from Cambodia for now. However, its government called Bangladesh to invest in paddy cultivation and setting up parboiled rice mills in the country.

    Led by food minister and secretary, the delegation visited Cambodia on 22-24 November, Vietnam on 24-27 November and Thailand on 27-31 November and returned home on 1 December.

    Sources at food ministry said a G2G deal was signed with Vietnam in September last to import 230,000 tonnes of rice. Besides, 100,000 tonnes of rice are being procured from India and 200,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar. Parboiled and sunned rice is being procured from Vietnam at a price of $521and $494 a tonne respectively.

    This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna

  • Bangladesh issues another tender to buy 50,000 tonnes rice

  • HAMBURG: Bangladesh’s state grains buyer has issued another international tender to purchase 50,000 tonnes of rice, traders said on Tuesday. The deadline for submission of price offers is Dec. 27.

    Bangladesh had also previously issued an international tender for 50,000 tonnes of rice closing on Dec. 21.

    The new tender, like the first, seeks price offers for non-basmati parboiled rice in CIF liner out terms, including ship unloading costs, for shipment to the ports of Chattogram and Mongla.

    Indian rice prices climb on higher demand

    The rice can come from worldwide origins and shipment is required 40 days after contract award.

    Bangladesh, traditionally the third-biggest rice producer in the world, often imports to manage shortages caused by natural disasters.

  • Govt seeks to import 50,000 tonnes of rice.

  • The government has decided to import 50,000 (+/- 5%) tonnes of non-basmati parboiled rice through a Letter of Credit (LC) under the international open tender method.

    Traders have until 27 December to submit bids in the tender, according to a notice of Bangladesh's Directorate General of Food published on Monday (12 December).

    As per the official notice, total 60% of the rice imports must be done through Chattogram Port and 40% via the Mongla Port.

    The notice marks the third rice tender of the current FY2022-23.

  • Rice millers warn Discos of protests if inflated bills not taken back.

  • LARKANA-The Sindh-Balochistan Rice Millers and Traders Association issued an ultimatum authorities to resolve the simmering problem of issuance of inflated electricity bills to the mills or they would be forced to take extreme steps after Dec 18.

    Qamaruddin Gopang, Asad Tunio, central president and general secretary of the association, respectively, said at a press conference at Larkana Press Club that the power distribution companies (Discos) had been sending highly inflated electricity bills to the mills for two months, which they could not afford to pay.

    They said that their business had not only suffered heavy losses in the post-rain conditions but it had also led to closure of many mills. Of 2,500 rice mills in both the provinces, 300 had remained completely shut, still they had been sent bills, they said.

    They claimed that unprecedented rains and floods had rendered jobless around 500,000 labourers and technical staff employed in the mills. But instead of extending financial assistance to support the rice industry to cope with the drastic damage and losses, the government had refused to provide any relief to the millers even in the calamity-hit areas, they said.

    They said that in addition to the inflated bills, a host of taxes -- environment, property, excise, weight and measure, market committee, labour department, food department, Sindh Building Control Authority, municipal taxes paired with sale and purchase tax -- were imposed and collected from the millers.

    They regretted the ‘silence’ maintained by federal and provincial government towards the serious issue. How could the millers pay the exorbitant utility bills when the mills were lying closed, they questioned.

    It was strange that whenever they approach-ed federal government to seek their help it simply came up with the reply that its powers had been decentralized under the 18th Amendment, so they had better contact the provincial governments to have their issues resolved, they said. They said that presently, they had been sandwiched between federal and provincial governments.

    The institutions linked with agriculture had not yet consulted the association regarding the new policy which was quite discouraging, they said.

    “We do not want to create trouble for the country’s institutions by declining to pay the bills. Hence, the organisation has time and again written to prime minister, federal minister, secretary and heads of power utilities asking them to resolve the problem but in vain,” they said.

    They said in unequivocal terms that rice millers could not pay the highly inflated power bills being sent by SEPCO, HESCO and QESCO as they were barely surviving under the precarious financial conditions.

    They demanded the authorities concerned take notice of their genuine problems and provide them relief by taking back the infla-ted bills, or they would be forced to go for extreme step after Dec 18.

  • Deadline extended for rice purchase agreements.

  • Farmers thresh Aman season paddy at Shiromoni, nearly 20 kilometres away from Khulna city. This rain-fed crop accounts for Bangladesh’s second-biggest rice output or nearly 40 per cent of annual rice production. Farmers and agriculturists say Aman output is higher this year from the previous year. Despite that, prices of paddy and milled rice have risen in the local market. The photo was taken last month. Photo: Habibur Rahman

    The food ministry has extended the deadline to sign contract with rice millers regarding the purchase of the grain by a week to December 15 this year, said a notification.

    The announcement comes as the responses from millers to supply the cereal to the state warehouses are low because of high prices in the local market.

    The food directorate targets to buy 500,000 tonnes of rice from the ongoing harvest of Aman crops from millers at Tk 42 per kilogramme.

    As of yesterday, it has signed the contract for the supply of around 267,000 tonnes with millers, said Md Raihanul Kabir, director of procurement at the Directorate General of Food.

    The food ministry initially targeted to complete signing contracts with millers for rice purchase within December 8 this year.

    Apart from milled rice, the food office plans to buy 300,000 tonnes of paddy during the current harvesting season of Aman, the second biggest crop providing 39 per cent of total annual rice production.

  • Heat-resistant hybrid rice variety developed

  • New variety, a joint work of Chinese and Pakistani researchers, gives 12.5% higher yield

    BEIJING:

    The Honglian type of hybrid rice, introduced in Pakistan in 2018, has achieved promising harvests in various demonstrative plots as field trials exhibited a 12.5% higher yield, said Zhu Renshan, Director of Wuhan University.

    The demonstrative plots where the hybrid rice was planted were in Lahore, Gujranwala, Vehari and Pakpattan in Punjab, Shikarpur and Larkana in Sindh, which covered the main planting regions in Pakistan.

    An online session of the 2nd International Cooperation and Development Forum on the Honglian type of hybrid rice was held in Wuhan, China on Friday.

    Scientists and officials of China and Pakistan attended the forum to explore cooperation in hybrid rice in the future, China Economic Net (CEN) reported.

    “Developing high-yielding hybrid rice is of great significance for the resumption of grain production and economic growth after the flood disaster,” Shahzad Sabir, Director Agriculture Headquarters, Punjab told the forum.

    “We sincerely hope Honglian Type Hybrid Rice Joint Research Centre could become a long-term platform for China-Pakistan agricultural science and technology cooperation to safeguard mutual food security and deepen friendship,” he said

  • Go ahead and import rice

  • The reality is that Indonesia only has 503,000 tonnes of rice in store, well below the level of 1.1 million to 1.5 million tonnes required to maintain sufficiency.

    Workers transport rice at Cipinang Rice Main Market, Jakarta, Monday (15/3/2021). Main Director of Perum Bulog Budi Waseso said that the government rice reserve stock (CBP) will reach above 1 million tonnes by the end of April 2021, an increase from the position per March 14, 2021 of 859,877 tonnes due to entering the main harvest season in March-April 2021. (JP/Yulianto Catur Nugroho)

    JAKARTA – Each time the government rolls out a plan to import rice, the public reacts with resistance. Understandably, for many Indonesians, rice is considered more than just a staple food, but also a sort of political commodity.

    Importing rice is deemed as taboo by some, although such a decision does not necessarily reflect the country’s failure to achieve self-sufficiency. At times, rice import is necessary to avert calamities such as a food crisis, speculator’s intervention, a severe price hike or inflation and thinning Government Rice Reserves (CBP).

    Regarding the issue, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo highlighted during a recent cabinet meeting the urgent need to secure national rice stock for 2023 amid the risk of an imminent food crisis.

    “We have to be aware of the food crisis risk since it may trigger social and political unrest. Therefore, anything regarding domestic rice reserves must be calculated carefully and precisely. Do not make a mistake,” Jokowi stated.

    The bad news is that to date the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) only has 503,000 tonnes of rice in store, well below the level of 1.1 million to 1.5 million tonnes required to maintain sufficiency. It is estimated that Bulog has to distribute 200,000 tonnes this month, further depleting Bulog’s reserves.

    The agency has set a target of securing 1.2 million tonnes by the year-end. The problem is to fill the gap with domestic production, which is in good condition, amidst challenges of surging grain prices.

    The price of unhusked rice at local mills has now ranges from Rp 6,000 (39 US cents) to Rp 6,300 per kilogram and this impacts downstream rice prices, which are currently in the range of Rp 11,000 to Rp 12,000 per kg, far above the highest retail price (HET) for medium rice of Rp 9,450 to Rp10,250 per kg.

    Consequently, the government has no choice but to give Bulog the green light to import 500,000 tonnes of rice. It will be Indonesia’s first import since Bulog entered the international rice market for a significant volume in 2018.

    Let’s not debate over whether the decision is correct. Indonesia is indeed racing against time to secure its staple food for national security’s sake. Timing is crucial to hinder imported goods arriving at the time of Indonesia’s main harvest in early 2023.

    The government’s policy of revoking cheap rice and replacing it with Non-Cash Food Assistance (BPNT) as well as its foot-dragging revision of the government purchase price (HPP) policy have been the underlying issues of Bulog’s inability to maintain its rice procurement from the domestic market and stabilize prices.

    At the end of the day, to make sure this rice import furor does not recur when the country is entering the critical political year in 2023, it would be appropriate for the government to consider that the procurement of rice for the BPNT program comes only from Bulog’s reserves.

    If Bulog is given a chance to once again be the sole supplier of rice for the BPNT, it will be easier for the agency to stabilize rice prices and avoid import amid a local production surplus. In addition, it will ensure the efficient use of the state budget.

  • Airline magnate’s Arju brand long-grain rice to hit store shelves next month

  • ‘We don’t buy paddy from the Indian market. We encourage farmers to produce it,’ says Birendra Bahadur Basnet, managing director of Buddha Air, about his rice mill venture.

    Gopal Bahadur Dahal has always been running into problems while selling his paddy. For decades, the farmer from Belbari in Nepal’s eastern region has been using a middleman to market his crops who takes a big cut.

    So last year, Dahal made a deal with a rice mill in Duhabi to sell his paddy for Rs600 per maund (about 40 kg). But nobody came to pick up the ripened paddy for a week, by which time it had spoiled a bit.

    “The mill then said it wouldn't pay more than Rs400 per maund. There was nothing I could do,” he said.

    But now a modern rice mill has opened near Dahal's home, and he is upbeat that it will make his life easier.

    Arju Rice mill in Dangihat promises to pay farmers the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy before they begin the transplantation. It will also harvest and collect the crop from the farmers' fields.

    The state-of-the-art rice mill is the creation of airline magnate Birendra Bahadur Basnet. The factory has spent around Rs450 million to set up rice processing equipment made by Swiss company Buhler Group.

    Farmer Karna Bahadur Thapa of Rangeli said he took a big risk by transplanting Ram Dhan, a home-grown improved variety of paddy, to sell to the mill.

    “After four months, the result was astonishing. I didn't believe that the aromatic long-grain paddy productivity would be so high,” he told the Post.

    Thapa was able to produce 110 maund on a bigha (0.67 hectares). He was ecstatic at having grown a bumper crop even without applying a sufficient amount of chemical fertilisers.

    Nepal suffered the worst chemical fertiliser shortage during the June-August paddy transplantation season.

    Thapa said he piloted Ram Dhan on a bigha out of his 5-bigha farm for the first time at the mill's request. “Definitely, it was a risk. No one knew about the outcome.”

    For Thapa, the biggest incentive was the price assurance given by Arju Rice.

    “We were paid within 48 hours,” said Thapa, who grew 4.4 tonnes of Ram Dhan. But he didn’t sell his entire harvest. “It has a good taste, and I have kept 10 sacks for myself.”

    According to Thapa, the yield was good but it was no record performance.

    “We have produced up to 140 maund per bigha by planting Swarna Sub-1. The productivity of this paddy variety is amazing, but we don’t make much money growing it.”

    Nepal’s paddy harvest in the last fiscal year ended mid-July is expected to reach 5.13 million tonnes.

    Experts say that in many districts, farmers have to struggle to sell their paddy because of the low demand for local varieties. And this has resulted in ballooning imports of fine varieties of rice which Nepal produces only in small quantities.

    Long-grain rice holds a unique charm in global markets including Nepal, and this has resulted in a growth in rice imports although the country produced surplus grain in previous years, agro experts said.Post Photo

    Nepal's ever-swelling agricultural imports hit the Rs400 billion mark in the last fiscal year, prompting experts to warn that a farming country becoming so dependent on imported food indicates a full-blown emergency.

    The value of cereal imports in the last fiscal year came to Rs74.28 billion. Out of the total shipments, rice and paddy amounted to Rs29 billion and Rs16.99 billion, respectively.

    In 2015-16, cereal imports were worth only Rs39.34 billion.

    Experts say there seems to be a direct link between remittance and food habits in Nepal. Nepalis have been earning more over the last couple of years, and demand for long grain and aromatic basmati rice has grown accordingly.

    Arju Rice says it has targeted the spring season for paddy production. The country possesses 1.42 million hectares of farmland suitable for growing paddy. However, spring paddy is planted on only 112,000 hectares.

    “For the spring paddy harvest, we have announced a rate of Rs900 per maund, up from Rs750 last year. We basically want to encourage farmers to produce more,'' said Basnet, chairman of Arju Rice and owner of Buddha Air, Nepal’s leading private airline.

    “That’s a good offer,” said Dibya Raj Khatiwada, another farmer of Kanepokhari-3. “Getting price assurance before the transplantation definitely encourages farmers.”

    Khatiwada says he has decided to transplant Ram Dhan for the first time. “It’s a risk shifting to new varieties. But there are successful farmers also.” He transplanted Tej Gold on his 5-bigha farm last year.Post Photo

    Farmers are troubled by the high cost of production of paddy. "For this reason, young farmers aren't much attracted to growing paddy," said Khatiwada.

    According to him, you would need Rs4,000 worth of fertiliser for a 1-bigha field if you can't get the subsidised product. The cost of preparing land with a tractor is Rs2,200 per hour, up from Rs1,500 previously after the price of diesel shot up.

    Farm hands need to be hired to prepare the soil, and they charge Rs900 per day.

    During paddy transplantation, workers need to be paid Rs600 extra. The total cost for a bigha exceeds Rs10,000 nowadays, but farmers are excited about Ram Dhan's performance.

    The improved variety of Ram Dhan was released in 2006. Its productivity ranges from 4 tonnes to 7.2 tonnes, depending on the availability of fertilisers and irrigation facilities. The maturity period is 133 days, according to the Crop Development Directorate of the Agriculture Ministry.

    Research has shown that Ram Dhan has a higher grain return of Rs89,100 per hectare. The high market price of this variety is associated with high cooking quality, including taste and aroma.

    “Many farmers did not supply us the paddy as committed because they have kept it for their own consumption,” said Basnet. “We hope many farmers will switch to Ram Dhan now.”

    Khatiwada is optimistic that high-yielding and high-value Ram Dhan will boost his earnings.

    “We have seen and listened to the success story of Ram Dhan. But we need technical know-how to avoid crop failure,” he said.

    Nepalis' food habits are gradually shifting towards fine and aromatic rice from coarse rice, according to the Agriculture Ministry’s research papers. As a result, rice market transactions are moving to fine rice.

    Rice traders try to sell even cheap coarse rice by converting it into fine rice using a high degree of polishing for a higher price, the ministry’s document says.

    “These days, rice traders are attracting consumers by branding any type of rice as Jiramasino (fine rice). Sales of fine and aromatic rice in Nepali supermarkets and department stores have been on the rise for the past few years.”

    Arju Rice has brought happiness to farmers who have been struggling to sell their paddy in the market for decades. Nowadays, they get paid in 48 hours which is a drastic change.

    “The mill announces the MSP early. That’s a very positive and farmer-friendly policy by the private sector,” said agro expert Rajendra Uprety. “The mill is really a boon to farmers.”

    The MSP is the lowest legal price that can be paid for farmers’ harvests. The government does not fix the floor price of fine paddy.

    “We declare the MSP to encourage farmers. This will enable them to make an early decision to transplant paddy as per our demand,” said Basnet. “Basically, our approach is a ‘harvest-to-market’ initiative. We buy paddy from farmers' fields. We process it, package it.”Post Photo

    Arju Rice is planning to introduce Nepal’s first packaged long-grain aromatic rice in the domestic market on January 15. “We don’t buy paddy from the Indian market. We encourage farmers to produce it,” said Basnet.

    Arju brand fine rice may cost Rs140 per kg.

    Ram Dhan, which is 6-7 mm in size, could substitute ever increasing rice imports from India if marketed well, experts say.

    Arju Rice provides harvesters and transport facilities for a minimal fee. “Our goal is to substitute rice imports from India. If we succeed with the Dangihat project, we will replicate this model across the country,” Basnet said.

    The company is also promoting spring paddy. “We need at least 8,000 tonnes of spring paddy.”

    Arju Rice says it will require at least 22,000 tonnes of paddy per annum. The factory has two dryers, each with a capacity to dry 15 tonnes of paddy per hour, and can mill 4 tonnes of paddy per hour.

    The company aims to supply 14,000 tonnes of rice to the market annually.Post Photo

    Agro expert Uprety said that due to a lack of modern mills and low quality seeds, Nepal has become dependent on imported paddy and rice from India.

    “This mill has brought better business opportunities to farmers, who are seeing increased profitability from growing more rice. It also facilitates direct connections between farmers and traders to create win-win relationships,” he said. “Farmers get fair prices, and millers maintain sufficient stock.”

    According to Upreti, Nepal’s policy is focused on trading, and it has been affecting the production sector.

    “If you import paddy, mill it and package it under a Nepali brand, you can have a turnover of Rs1 billion. But if local mills buy local products, the business hardly exceeds Rs200 million,” he said. “That’s why trading is thriving, and that’s not good for the economy. 

  • India’s ban on rice and wheat exports has been a failure

  • Workers load wheat at a wholesale market in New Delhi: The imposition of restrictions covering the majority of India's grain exports was irresponsible and futile.   © Hindustan Times/Getty Images
    Prerna Sharma Singh is a director and co-founder of policy research and advisory company Indonomics Consulting in New Delhi and heads its agriculture, food and retail practice.
    With its exports sagging and economic growth slowing, India has begun to lift restrictions on overseas shipments it imposed earlier this year in a bid to contain domestic inflationary pressures in the wake of spiking commodity prices resulting from the Ukraine war.
    So far, New Delhi has removed controls on exports of organic non-basmati rice, steel and low-grade iron ore, and policymakers are understood to be considering lifting remaining limits on rice, wheat and sugar.
    The relaxation of these restrictions is an implicit recognition that they have provided little benefit to India, and in fact have been largely counterproductive.
    As India is the world's largest rice exporter, the imposition of restrictions covering the majority of its exports was both irresponsible and futile: irresponsible in that higher global rice prices were particularly painful for poorer developing nations, which were already struggling to pay for imports; futile in that the bigger culprit in India's domestic price pressures has been higher costs for chemical fertilizers, labor and other inputs.
    The weakening of the rupee this year has aggravated the problem by further raising the effective cost of imported crude oil and fertilizers for Indian buyers, given that the products are traded globally in dollars. By boosting transportation costs, excessive state and federal fuel taxes have also kept prices high.
    Populist moves by the government to raise minimum prices paid to farmers for their rice, wheat and sugar cane have also been inflationary, as well as a poor substitute for addressing low farm productivity. While Indian farmers produce four tons of rice paddy per hectare, their counterparts in Vietnam, the world's second-largest exporter, can grow six tons per hectare.
    Mill workers load harvested sugar cane in Sangli, India: Populist moves to raise minimum prices paid to farmers have been inflationary.   © Reuters
    Overall retail-level food inflation was 7% in October, an improvement from 8.6% in September thanks to slower price growth for vegetables, edible oils, and lentils, beans and peas.
    Notably, the pace of price hikes for wheat and rice accelerated after New Delhi restricted their export in May. Year-on-year retail wheat price growth went from 9.6% in April to 17.6% in October while rice inflation rose from 4% to 10.2%.
    Aside from failing to curb price growth, India's selective export restrictions tend to encourage lobbying, bureaucratic corruption and cronyism. Well-connected companies that use restricted products as inputs can be relied on to seek the extension and expansion of controls to ensure that they have better access than foreign customers do. Makers of cotton yarn, for example, have lobbied New Delhi to ban cotton exports.
    Export restrictions also disrupt shipments and turn India into an unreliable supplier. This is likely to cap future overseas demand for Indian agricultural and food products by prompting importers to seek new supplies in their own countries or elsewhere.
    At the same time, denying producers and investors in India's agricultural value chain the opportunity to make profitable overseas sales will discourage them from making new investments. This will make management of future food price inflation even more difficult.
    The announcement of stringent export curbs usually signals to the public that there is a serious supply shortage. That, in turn, encourages hoarding and speculation, which makes curbs even more ineffective at controlling prices. It is thus little wonder that rice and wheat prices have continued to rise since May.
    Better options to provide short-term relief to consumers on grain prices would be to release stocks held by the state-owned Food Corp. of India on the open market and to reduce fuel taxes.
    As of Nov. 1, the government held 16.56 million tons of rice and 26.37 million tons of unmilled rice. Given that quarterly operational requirements for rice distribution to the poor and for strategic reserves add up to just 10.25 million tons, there is more than enough surplus on hand. It is time for India to make use of these stocks.
    In the longer term, better demand-supply forecasting, more regular weather updates to help farmers make timely sowing and harvesting decisions, and measures to deepen futures markets would help all parties in India manage food price moves more effectively, with no adverse side effects.
    It is vital that New Delhi hold to a more predictable trade policy regime with respect to agricultural and food commodities. That, in turn, will encourage investment, especially needed in infrastructure to handle harvested crops. Such improvements can reduce post-harvest losses and keep food prices lower.
    The focus of the country's national agricultural policy should shift from cereals to fruit, vegetables and protein-rich foods, including dairy and poultry, to match changes in consumer demand. Better coordination of demand and supply can help reduce price volatility, too. Finally, freer trade, rather than export bans, would be more conducive to price stability.


  • Lahore Grain Market Rates

  • LAHORE: Grain and other commodity rates in rupees on Akbari Mandi on Wednesday (December 07, 2022)...

    LAHORE: Grain and other commodity rates in rupees on Akbari Mandi on Wednesday (December 07, 2022)

    ======================================
    Per 100 kg
    ======================================
    Sugar                        9000-9100
    Gur                        10500-12000
    Shakar                     11000-13000
    Ghee (16 kg)                 7200-7600
    Almond (Kaghzi)            10000-42000
    Almond (Simple)            12500-15000
    Sogi                       40000-70000
    Dry Date                   14000-20000
    Chilli (Sabat)             26400-36000
    Chilli (Pissi)             25000-31250
    Turmeric                   15500-16500
    Darchini (large)           26000-28000
    Mong (Sabat)               15500-17000
    Dal Mong (Chilka)          17000-19000
    Dal Mong (Washed)          17500-19500
    Dal Mash (Sabat)           29000-31000
    Dal Mash (Chilka)          31000-35000
    Dal Mash (Washed)          37000-40000
    Dal Masoor (Local)         38000-40000
    Dal Masoor (impor)         25000-27000
    Masoor (salam-impor)       25000-27000
    Masoor (salam-local)       30000-35000
    Gram White                 26000-37000
    Gram Black                 18000-18500
    Dal Chana (Thin)           17000-19000
    Dal Chana (Thick)          20000-23000
    White Kidney Beans
    (Lobia)                    20000-22500
    Red Kidney Beans
    (Lobia)                    32000-35000
    --------------------------------------
    Rice (per 100 kg)
    --------------------------------------
    Basmati Super (Old)        28000-29000
    Basmati Super (new)        25000-30000
    Kainat 1121                19000-32000
    Rice Basmati (386)         13000-17000
    Basmati broken             13000-16500
    --------------------------------------
    Tea (per 1 kg)
    --------------------------------------
    Tea (Black)                    650-980
    Tea (Green)                   500-1300
    ======================================
    
  • Surigao City farmers get P2.4-M worth of rice seeds

  • RICE SEEDS FOR FARMERS. Farmer beneficiaries pose with the sacks of rice seeds at a warehouse in Surigao City on Wednesday (Dec. 7, 2022). About 1,907 rice farmers from Surigao City’s 34 barangays benefited from the two-day rice seeds distribution, which was funded under the National Rice Program of the Department of Agriculture. (Photo courtesy of Surigao City PIO)

    BUTUAN CITY – About 1,907 rice farmers in Surigao City received PHP2.44 million worth of rice seeds during a distribution conducted by the city government and the Department of Agriculture (DA) 13 (Caraga) from Wednesday until Thursday.

    In a statement on Thursday, the Public Information Office (PIO) of the Surigao City government said 3,210 bags of certified palay seeds were distributed during the two-day activity.

    “Agriculture, especially rice production, is among the priorities of the present administration of Surigao City government under Mayor Pablo Dumlao II,” the PIO said.

    It said the 1,907 farmer beneficiaries came from Surigao City’s 34 barangays.

    The distribution of rice seeds is being funded under the DA’s National Rice Program.

    The PIO also reported that PHP1,815,255 worth of certified rice seeds was given by the City Agriculture Office (CAO) to the rice farmers in the area in September.

    “We are also announcing that the city government of Surigao is set to receive additional aid under the Quick Respond Fund (QRF) of the DA,” it said.

    The additional QRF support will consist of 70 bags of certified rice seeds and 100 bags of hybrid rice seeds.

    “The city government is also working on the procurement of an additional 315 bags of certified rice seeds with separate funding from the City Disaster and Risk Management Office,” the PIO said.

    It said the city government, through the CAO, has yet to schedule the distribution of the additional rice seeds for farmers in the area. (PNA)

  • Bulog Rice Import Plan to Secure Domestic CBP Supply

  • TEMPO.COJakarta - The Indonesian government is currently preparing to import up to 200,000 tons of rice until the end of this year as the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) is seeking export countries that fit the government’s budget. 

    “We are attempting [to import] 200,000. We will try to fulfill it by the end of December,” said Bulog president director Budi Waseso on Wednesday, December 7.

    The massive rice import was agreed on following a limited meeting with President Joko Widodo. The Trade Minister has also ratified the permits to import 500,000 tons by the end of this year. 

    Bulog said that the current global conditions made it difficult to import rice. The geopolitical situation between Russia and Ukraine which is still heating up has hampered the world food supply chain, resulting in almost all rice-producing countries closing their exports.

    Budi Waseso claims there was one country ready to export rice to Indonesia but decided to cancel it. The reason is that the country is not ready to send the bulk in a short time. In addition, according to him, licensing matters are also not easy.

    Despite the challenges, he believes Indonesia will not experience a rice shortage and strengthened his belief by citing a data by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) showing that rice supplies for critical aspects suffice. However, the official government rice reserve or CBP is starting to decrease and justifies rice imports as CBPs are used to stabilize food prices and disperse disaster aid. 

    The total rice currently available at Perum Bulog as of December 6 amounts to 494,202 tons. The total rice includes CBP stocks of 295,337 tons or 59.76 percent and commercial stocks of 198,965 tons or 40.24 percent. Thus, at least around 700,000 tons are needed to reach the minimum CBP stock limit which must be supplied from within the country of 500,000 tons and 200,000 tons from abroad.

    RIANI SANUSI PUTRI

  • Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation is planning to purchase 1.5 lakh tonnes of rice

  • Procurement is being planned through National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation

    The need for the State to procure rice has arisen in the light of the Centre suspending the Open Market Sale Scheme. File

    After a gap of four years, the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation is planning to procure rice from the open market. 

    Initially, it has placed an order for 1.5 lakh tonnes of rice with the National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation (NCCF), a body under the jurisdiction of the Department of Consumer Affairs at the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.  The NCCF, one of the agencies authorised by the TNCSC, has also been procuring paddy too in the State.

    The quantity will be helpful in meeting the requirements of beneficiaries covered under the category of Non-Priority Household (NPHH) ration cards.  This is likely to arise in late January and February 2023.  “If required, we may purchase another 1. 5 lakh tonnes,” says a senior official who looks after the Civil Supplies Corporation.. 

    The need for the State to procure rice has arisen in the light of the Centre suspending the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS), through which the shortfall in requirements were met in the past.  The element of uncertainty over the continuance of the  Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme beyond December, which is meant for distributing  free food grains to the poor, has also contributed to the decision. 

    On an average, the monthly off-take of rice under the public distribution system (PDS) is about 3.20 lakh tonnes, of which around 2.76 lakh tonnes are being provided  by the Centre. It is for the balance portion that the State has to approach different sources including  the OMSS.  Except in the case of tide-over allotment which is charged at ₹8.3 per kg, the allotments for the categories of Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) & Priority Households (PHH) are levied at  ₹3 per kg.   The rate fixed by the Central department of Food and Public Distribution for OMSS is ₹23  per kg.  Since August, there has been no sale of rice under the OMSS.. As Tamil Nadu has been following the universal public distribution system and supplying rice free of cost to ration cardholders, it is bearing the entire cost.

    Asked how much will be the cost of rice that the government has proposed to procure, the official says it may be around  ₹35 per kg.  

    It may be noted that the Centre has determined the economic cost of rice at ₹36.7  per kg for the current year for the purpose of its calculations. 

  • Rice exporters hope to cash in on customs duty waiver from Azerbaijan

  • ISLAMABAD - Pakistani exporters are hoping for a sharp growth in rice export to Azerbaijan following the latter’s decision to waive customs duty on rice import from Pakistan.

    Muhammad Kashif-ur-Rehman, Secretary General of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), told WealthPK that exporters are hoping to take full advantage of the relaxation announced by the Azerbaijan government on import of rice from Pakistan. The Azerbaijan government has announced exemption of customs duty on rice import from Pakistan till December 31, 2027. Kashif said that Pakistan’s rice export to Azerbaijan was registered at $1.57 million in 2021, which was only 4.63% of the total rice import of Azerbaijan during that period.

    “Pakistan has the potential to boost rice export to Azerbaijan following the waiver of customs duty,” the REAP secretary general said. He was of the view that the tax waiver is also an opportunity for Pakistan to compete with regional rice exporting countries and grab more shares in the Azerbaijan market. He said that Pakistan’s rice exports increased during the last few years and were at the highest at $2.51 billion in 2021-22. Rice exports also remained highest in terms of quantity at 4.87 million metric tonnes (MT) during the last year, he informed. Kashif called upon the government to help exporters find new markets for rice export. “Concessions from various countries in customs duties will increase exports,” he added. Chela Ram Kewlani, Chairman REAP, said in a statement that Pakistan’s rice export to Azerbaijan would be enhanced following the decision of waiving the customs duty. “The decision will not only help in enhancing rice export, but will also increase the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries,” he added.

    Kewlani urged rice exporters take maximum advantage of this relaxation. According to the State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the country imported 46,765 MT rice in 2021 worth $33.92 million. India was the largest exporter of rice to Azerbaijan having 73% market share worth $24 million, followed by Russia with a share of 9.79% worth $3.32 million, and Kazakhstan with 9.65% share worth $3.27 million in 2021. Pakistan remained the fourth largest rice exporter to Azerbaijan with a market share of 4.63% worth $ 1.57 million during last year. According to the World Bank, population of Azerbaijan is 10.14 million, and rice is among the main food items of most of the people in the country.

    According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), rice export to Azerbaijan was registered at $242,000 during first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year against $158,000 during the same period of last year, with an increase of 53.16%. In September 2022, Pakistan’s rice export to Azerbaijan grew by 110% and rose to $82,000 from $39,000 during the corresponding month of last year. Kenya, China, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Tanzania and other Gulf and European countries are the major buyers of Pakistani rice.

  • Weird weather hit cattle ranchers and citrus growers in 2022. Why it likely will get worse.

  • This has been a year of extreme weather,  including ruinous floods, horrific hurricanes, unrelenting heat, drought and massive rainfall events. Farmers, always at the mercy of the weather, have taken a hit.

    In 2022, so far there have been over a dozen climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    While harvests in the U.S. overall have been good, some crops were devastated.

    In Texas, the cotton harvest was hit hard by drought. Hurricane Ian blew oranges off the trees in Florida. Rice farmers in California have left fields empty for lack of water, and cattle ranchers are sending more cows to slaughter because drought-stunted pastures can't support normal calving activity.  

    Climate change can't be directly blamed for every bad harvest or extreme weather event this year, but the effects of climate change – including drought and rainier hurricanes – hurt harvests across the nation in 2022.  Climate models make clear more is coming.

    It's a pattern scientists have been warning about for decades, that higher global temperatures will bring on "weather weirding."

    Every year the farmers who feed our nation get smarter and more resilient, but it's increasingly stressful to adapt to the extreme variability they face, said Erica Kistner-Thomas, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Institute of Food Production and Sustainability.

    "One year they'll have the best year ever and then the next year they'll be hit with a major flooding event or drought," she said. 

    Here are some crops for which 2022 was a hard year:

    Rice in California

    The "megadrought" in the West, the worst in 1,200 years, has had an enormous impact on farming in California. Seven percent of the state's cropland went unplanted due to lack of water for irrigation.

    Rice, which relies on surface water, was hardest hit. Over half the state's rice acres went unplanted, according to the USDA.

    A fallow rice field near Dunnigan, California in 2022. Sean Doherty of Sean Doherty Farms was only able to plant four of his 20 rice fields in 2022 due to drought conditions.

    "Rice is a major crop in California. We lead the nation in medium and short grain acres," said Gary Keough with the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

    "A significant number of acres were not planted just because of a lack of water," he said.

    In Colusa County north of San Francisco, fifth-generation rice farmer Sean Doherty was able to plant only four of his usual 20 rice fields. 

    "I've never experienced a year like this," he said. "There's just no comparison to other years whatsoever." 

    There was so little water that his fields, which normally would have held thousands of pounds of premium sushi rice, are instead bare dirt. "Just to keep my guys busy we re-leveled some fields to improve water efficiency," he said. But no amount of efficiency helps when there's simply no water to be had.

    "You can't conserve your way out of an empty bucket," Doherty said. 

    At least for now Doherty is doing all right because he has crop insurance. But that won't help the businesses in his county that depend on farmers to survive. "My crop dusters don't have insurance; my parts store and fertilizer dealers, they've got no business," he said. 

    Citrus in Florida

    Hurricane Ian hit John Matz's orange and grapefruit groves hard. He lost over 50% of his crop from it being blown off the trees.

    "It's pretty disgusting to look at the amount of fruit that was on the ground," the grower in Wauchula, Florida, said. 

    Oranges in a Florida grove that were blown off trees after Hurricane Ian in October 2022. The state's citrus crop was significantly damaged by the hurricane and subsequent flooding.

    The winds were only the beginning. Standing water damaged root systems. Even now, when the waters have receded and the fallen fruit has been counted for insurance purposes, more bad news is coming, said Roy Petteway, president of the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association.

    "Trees are very sensitive; they're not like squash or cucumber," he said. "You might not see the full extent of the damage for eight months to a year."

    He's not convinced that human-caused global warming is behind the weather shifts he's seeing, but there is definitely change in the land his family has held for generations in Zolfo Springs, Florida.

    "I'm 36, and I've gotten through three once-in-a-lifetime storms." he said. 

    How is climate change affecting the US?:The government is preparing a nearly 1,700 page answer.

    HURRICANES:Is climate change fueling massive hurricanes in the Atlantic? Here's what science says.

    But after six generations in Florida, he's not about to give up. "We don't know how to fail. There's a reason there's an orange on our license plates."

    Florida mostly grows citrus for juice, so there shouldn't be a big impact on consumer fruit prices, said Ray Royce, with the Highlands County Citrus Growers. But every time there's a storm that damages the crops, it's one more blow to U.S.-produced fruit.

    "Replacement juice will be brought in from Brazil and Mexico," he said. "At some point for processors it's cheaper to ship it in. All the juice you drink now is a blended product of domestic and offshore juice."

    Cattle in Texas

    Look for beef prices to risein 2023 and 2024 –in part because drought in Texas is forcing ranchers to send more cows to slaughter.

    "There isn't enough grass to eat, and it's become too expensive to buy feed. We’ve had a large amount of culling this year because of drought," said David Anderson, a livestock specialist at Texas A&M University. 

    "We're sending young female heifer cows to feed lots because we don't have the grass to keep them," he said. Cows that would normally have a calf in the next few years are instead going to slaughter.

    Beef slaughter is up 13% nationwide and in the Texas region, it's up 30%.

    "In the short term, that means beef will be cheaper. This year we're going to produce a record amount of beef, over 28 million pounds," said Anderson. 

    But long term it will mean higher prices. 

    Those calves that might have been born in the spring of 2023 would be ready for slaughter in about 20 months. So in the fall of 2025, there will be fewercattle to slaughter and higher prices. 

    "There's going to be a shortage of beef, and prices are probably going to go up," said the USDA's Kistner-Thomas. "This could also have a compounding effect on other meat prices as people switch from beef to chicken."

    Today, Texas has about 14% of the nation's beef cow herd but as the climate changes, ranchers will face growing challenges. 

    "These events are getting more frequent," said Anderson. The state's experiencing more frequent severe droughts. And when the rains do come, they come differently than before, in intense bursts rather than over a longer period of time.

    "You may get the same total rainfall, but you're going to get it all in one afternoon," he said. "The plants are adapted for one pattern, and we're not going to have that pattern anymore."

    Almonds in California

    This year's marzipan for Christmas won't be affected, but next year's might be, given the one-two punch California's almond groves took this year.

    First, an unseasonable freeze in the last week of February killed some of the fruit just as it was forming. Then the ongoing Western megadrought forced farmers to choose between which trees could get enough water to actually produce.

    A California almond orchard in bloom. In 2022, erratic weather and drought cut 11% out of the nation's almond harvest. An unseasonable cold snap in February kills some early fruit just after bloom while ongoing drought meant many growers didn't have enough water for their trees.

    Some farmers are getting out of the business entirely or watering trees just enough to keep them healthy but not enough for good harvests — hoping for more water in the future, said Richard Waycott, CEO of the California Almond Board.

    "Generally speaking, you grit your teeth and bear it."

    The United States produces 82% of the world's almonds, almost all in California. In 2022, the harvest was down 11% from the year before. This year's production is expected to drop as much as 2.6 billion pounds.

    Cotton in Texas

    Texas is the largest cotton producer in the United States, but this year's drought has cut the harvest by at least a third, said John Robinson, a professor and specialist in cotton marketing at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

    A cotton field is harvested in Mission, Texas, on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Farmers fear of damage to other crops as drought and lack of water concerns continue in the Rio Grande Valley. Cotton is one of the main crops grown in the area.

    "This year they're projecting less than 4 million bales; in an average year it's 6 million," he said. "Cotton was planted, then it just didn't even come up. There was a whole lot of land that was simply plowed up because the seeds never germinated." 

    That's called the "abandonment rate," the percentage of unharvested acres compared to total planted acres. This year's abandonment rate for cotton in Texas is 68%, "which is a record," said Robinson.

    What does climate change mean for the future of US farming? Preparation is key.

    Things would have been much worse if it weren't for advances in plant breeding, said Paul Mitchell, a professor of agriculture and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

    "Crops are more resilient to dry weather than they were 20 years ago," he said.

    As the kind of severe weather events that can devastate crops become more frequent, better breeds won't necessarily be able to save farmers, said Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, an economist at Cornell University who studies how agriculture is coping with environmental change.

    "U.S. agricultural productivity is rising, but it's not becoming more resilient to extremes," he said. "When bad years start to line up, are we doing things to prepare for the unusual as it becomes more usual?" 

  • Centre seeks info from embassy on Iran’s bar on rice, tea imports

  • 'As of now, there has been no confirmation from the authorities and the response from the embassy in Tehran is also taking time'

    The development is crucial, considering that Iran is India’s key export market for basmati rice and high quality tea.

    The department of commerce has urged the agriculture ministry as well as the diplomatic mission in Tehran to apprise it of details as to why Iranian buyers have stopped import of rice and tea from India, a senior government official said.

    Exporters said that exports of items such as high quality tea and rice have stopped since last week.

    As of now, there has been no confirmation from the authorities and the response from the embassy in Tehran is also taking time, they said.

    “This has been a big concern since India exports high quality orthodox tea to Iran in big quantities. Assam orthodox tea goes to Iran in high volume. There is a huge demand for Indian tea in the Iran market.

    We have reached out to the department of commerce, DGFT and the embassy in Tehran. We want to understand why buyers have suddenly stopped purchasing tea and rice from India,” said Sujit Patra, secretary (exports), Indian Tea Association.

    “Market reports say that Iran’s agriculture ministry has stopped order registration of proforma.

    Before importing, a buyer has to get a proforma registration issued from Iran’s agriculture ministry.

    Since issuance of the proforma has stopped, Iran’s Customs will not allow any ship to call at any Iran port. So, Indian exporters are not able to send tea consignments to Iran,” Patra added.

    The development is crucial, considering that Iran is India’s key export market for basmati rice and high quality tea.

    A fifth of India's total outbound shipment of tea is sent to Iran.

    Rice exporters said that disruption in trade has been triggered by anti-hijab protests in Iran. As a result, Iranian buyers have been defaulting on payment obligations and are placing fresh orders, they said.

    Similarly, in the case of basmati rice, a fourth of the total exports from India went to Iran during the last financial year.

    Top Indian exports to Iran include rice, tea, sugar, fresh fruits, pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, industrial machinery and boneless bovine meat, among others.

    During April-September, bilateral trade between India and Iran stood at $1.3 billion, with exports at $1 billion and imports at $306 million. Total trade increased by 59.9 per cent compared to the previous year.

  • Coffee, Chocolate, and Rice Are Increasingly Endangered Species

  • Shellfish and wine could also be in danger—but there are ways to prevent extinction.

    Climate change is threatening future crops, and some of the losses we’ll experience might be staggering. It’s hard to imagine the world that far ahead into the future, but decades from now, it’s increasingly likely that many global food sources, from indulgent treats to staple crops, will cease to exist.

    “A number of foods that we hold very dear to our hearts and largely take for granted are under a real threat,” said former White House chef Sam Kass in a recent interview with People. “And you’re seeing in the future, we’re on track for a lot of those to become quite scarce and some really to be largely unavailable to most people and others just significantly increased in cost.”

    Such products include wine, chocolate, coffee, shellfish, and rice, Kass notes. We’ve known for some time that coffee plants are in serious danger due to climate change, but the idea that it might be 100% impossible to obtain within our lifetimes is a less than welcome thought. And of course losing access to rice, a grain that feeds practically everyone on the planet, is virtually unthinkable.

    Rice production in particular releases an estimated 34 million tons of methane per year, released by microbes that grow in the flooded fields where rice is cultivated. It’s an unsustainable practice, to say the least.

    So what’s the solution to crop extinction?

    Kass suggests that while eating less red meat and including more whole grains and beans into your diet will go a long way, regenerative farming practices are where we should be headed.

    Regenerative farming, also called regenerative agriculture, is a practice you’ll likely hear much more about in the near future. It’s a holistic approach to agriculture that works in tandem with nature instead of against it, meaning that farming plays a role in the overall health of an ecosystem. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation explains regenerative farming using five basic principles:

    • Minimizing soil disturbances, meaning soil isn’t agitated in physical or chemical ways, so as to prevent disruption of natural processes
    • Soil coverage, ensuring that all soil is covered in vegetation or natural ground cover (like mulch)
    • Increased plant diversity to keep the ecosystem varied and healthy
    • Keeping roots established underground, which helps ensure that soil can capture excess water and not lose nutrients or moisture
    • Integrating farm animals into the process, i.e. using manure as fertilizer to help soil stay nutrient dense without chemical/commercial fertilizers

    The hope is that by using these techniques, they become normalized and adopted across agriculture to prepare for the coming decades. Changing the existing agricultural standards is a monumental task, but if our food system can learn to keep crops in tune with nature, we can capture carbon and stay fed in the process.

    I sure hope that’s where we’re headed, at least. I love my morning cup of coffee.

  • Broken rice exports up 33% to 2.4 million tonnes in Apr-Sep FY23: Report

  • Exports of broken rice increased 33.37 per cent to 23.82 lakh tonne during April-September FY23 as against 17.86 lakh tonne in the year-ago period, Parliament was informed on Wednesday

    Exports of broken rice increased 33.37 per cent to 23.82 lakh tonne during April-September FY23 as against 17.86 lakh tonne in the year-ago period, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.

    Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel said there has been a sudden increase in demand for the Indian broken rice in the international market due to geo-political reasons.

    "India's exports of broken rice have increased from 17.86 Lakh MT in 2021-22(April- September) to 23.82 Lakh MT in 2022-23 (April-September), registering a growth of 33.37 per cent," she said in a reply to the Lok Sabha.

    The minister added that the export has increased about three times in the last four years from 12.21 lakh tonne in 2018-19 to 38.90 lakh tonne in 2021-22 in volume terms.

    In value terms also, shipments rose from USD 369.58 million in 2018-19 to USD 1.13 billion in 2021-22.

    Broken rice is mainly used for ethanol production and as poultry and cattle feed.

    Citing the first advance estimates for 2022-23, released by Directorate of Economics and Statistics, she said the production of rice is estimated to be lower than the target fixed for the current year.

    "Therefore, in order to ensure adequate availability of broken rice in the domestic market, the government has prohibited export of broken rice with effect from September 9, 2022," Patel said.

    In a separate reply, she said there is no proposal at this stage to offer export subsidies to pulse traders.

    (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.)

  • Ancient Tools Provide Earliest Evidence of Rice Harvesting

  • Striations and residue found on stone tools in China reflect harvesting methods.

    Rice plants near the Shangshan site in the Lower Yangtze River Valley in China. (Photo by Jiajing Wang)

    Anew Dartmouth-led study analyzing stone tools from southern China provides the earliest evidence of rice harvesting, dating to as early as 10,000 years ago. The researchers identified two methods of harvesting rice, which helped initiate rice domestication. The results are published in PLOS ONE.

    Map illustrating Shangshan and Hehuashan sites in the Lower Yangtze River Valley of China. (Compiled by Jiajing Wang using images from Esri, HERE, Garmin, USGS, NGA.)

    Wild rice is different from domesticated rice in that wild rice naturally sheds ripe seeds, shattering them to the ground when they mature, while cultivated rice seeds stay on the plants when they mature.

    To harvest rice, some sort of tools would have been needed. In harvesting rice with tools, early rice cultivators were selecting the seeds that stay on the plants, so gradually the proportion of seeds that remain increased, resulting in domestication.

    “For quite a long time, one of the puzzles has been that harvesting tools have not been found in southern China from the early Neolithic period or New Stone Age (10,000—7,000 Before Present), the time period when we know rice began to be domesticated,” says lead author Jiajing Wang, an assistant professor of anthropology. “However, when archaeologists were working at several early Neolithic sites in the Lower Yangtze River Valley, they found a lot of small pieces of stone, which had sharp edges that could have been used for harvesting plants.”

    “Our hypothesis was that maybe some of those small stone pieces were rice harvesting tools, which is what our results show.”

    In the Lower Yangtze River Valley, the two earliest Neolithic culture groups were the Shangshan and Kuahuqiao. The researchers examined 52 flaked stone tools from the Shangshan and Hehuashan sites, the latter of which was occupied by Shangshan and Kuahuqiao cultures.

    Image

    Image of different rocks outlined with red dots to show the edge worked with

    A selection of stone flake tools from the Shangshan (a-h) and Kuahuqiao cultures (i – l). Red dots delineate the working edge of tools. (Graphic by Jiajing Wang)

    The stone flakes are rough in appearance and are not finely made but have sharp edges. On average, the flaked tools are small enough to be held by one hand and measured approximately 1.7 inches in width and length.

    Quote

    Our hypothesis was that maybe some of those small stone pieces were rice harvesting tools, which is what our results show.

    ATTRIBUTION

    JIAJING WANG, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ANTHROPOLOGY

    To determine if the stone flakes were used for harvesting rice, the team conducted use-wear and phytolith residue analyses. Phytolith refers to the silica skeleton of plants.

    For the use-wear analysis, micro-scratches on the tools’ surfaces were examined under a microscope to determine how the stones were used. The results showed that 30 flakes have use-wear patterns similar to those produced by harvesting siliceous, or silica-rich, plants, likely including rice.

    Fine striations, high polish, and rounded edges distinguished the tools that were used for cutting plants from those that were used for processing hard materials, cutting animal tissues, and scraping wood.

    Through the phytolith residue analysis, the researchers analyzed the microscopic residue left on the stone flakes. They found that 28 of the tools contained rice phytoliths.

    “What’s interesting about rice phytoliths is that rice husk and leaves produce different kinds of phytolith, which enabled us to determine how the rice was harvested,” says Wang.

    The findings from the use-wear and phytolith analyses illustrated that two types of rice harvesting methods were used—“finger-knife” and “sickle” techniques. Both methods are still used in Asia today.

    The stone flakes from the early phase, 10,000—8,200 BP, showed that rice was largely harvested using the finger-knife method in which the panicles at the top of the rice plant are reaped. The results showed that the tools used for finger-knife harvesting had striations that were mainly perpendicular or diagonal to the edge of the stone flake, which suggests a cutting or scraping motion, and contained phytoliths from seeds or rice husk phytoliths, indicating that the rice was harvested from the top of the plant.

    Image

    Illustration of rice harvesting techniques used

    Schematic representation of rice harvesting methods using a finger-knife, at left, and sickle. (Illustration by Jiajing Wang)

    “A rice plant contains numerous panicles that mature at different times, so the finger-knife harvesting technique is especially useful when rice domestication was in the early stage,” says Wang.

    The stone flakes however, from the later phase, 8,000—7,000 BP, had more evidence of sickle harvesting in which the lower part of the plant was harvested. These tools had striations that were predominantly parallel to the tool’s edge, reflecting that a slicing motion had likely been used.

    “Sickle harvesting was more widely used when rice became more domesticated, and more ripe seeds stayed on the plant,” says Wang. “Since you are harvesting the entire plant at the same time, the rice leaves and stems could also be used for fuel, building materials, and other purposes, making this a much more effective harvesting method.”

    Wang says, “Both harvesting methods would have reduced seed shattering. That’s why we think rice domestication was driven by human unconscious selection.”

  • Sharp spike in Basmati rice & processed foods shipments

  • Wheat export registered an increase of 70% to $ 1.5 billion in April-October 2022-23 from $ 886 million reported during the same period previous fiscal.

    The agri-exports in previous fiscal was close to 20% more than FY21. (File)

    Exports of agricultural and processed food products rose 19% to $ 15.2 billion during April-October (2022-23) compared to the same period last year, driven by spike in shipment of rice, fruits and vegetables, livestock and dairy products.

    According to provisional data released by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, the value of Basmati rice exports rose by more than 37% in the first seven months of current fiscal to $ 2.5 billion in the first seven months of the current fiscal year. The shipment of non-Basmati rice registered a growth of 8% to $ 3.2 billion during the period.

    Export realisation from shipment of aromatic long grain Basmati rice grew by 23% to $1056/tonne in the April – October, 2022-23 period from $ 857/tonne realized in same period previous year. Non-basmati Rice exports are likely to decline in the second half of the current fiscal, as India has imposed a ban on broken rice exports and imposed a 20% export tax on white rice.  

    Wheat export registered an increase of 70% to $ 1.5 billion in April-October 2022-23 from $ 886 million reported during the same period previous fiscal.

    India had banned shipment of wheat in May while allowing only those consignments aimed at meeting food security needs of developing countries. In the current fiscal, India has exported 4.6 million tonne (MT) of wheat so far while 7 MT of grain was shipped in FY22.

    For the current fiscal, an export target of $ 23.5 billion has been set by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Authority (APEDA). Other key agricultural products exported from the country include marine products, spices, tea, coffee and tobacco

    Exports of products under APEDA basket was $ 25.6 billion in 2021-22, which was around 51% of  the country’s total agricultural goods exports of more than $ 50 billion. The agri-exports in previous fiscal was close to 20% more than FY21.

    The export of meat, dairy and poultry products rose by 5%  to $ 2.3 billion during April-October period of current fiscal compared to previous year. The dairy products alone registered a growth of 43% to $ 380 million during the same period.

     “We have been working in collaboration with the key stakeholders such as farmers, exporters, and processors to ensure that quality agricultural and processed food products are exported from the country.” M Angamuthu, Chairman, APEDA, said.

    The rise in the export of agricultural and processed food products is the outcome of the centre’s initiatives for export promotion of agricultural and processed food products such as organising B2B exhibitions in different countries, exploring new potential markets through product-specific and general marketing campaigns by the active involvement of Indian Embassies.

     Meanwhile, the government has formulated a strategy to boost exports of nutri-cereals – millets and valued added products focusing on the key markets including USA, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Japan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

    As part of the promotion of Indian millets exports, APEDA has planned to showcase millets and its value-added product at various global platforms such as Gulfood 2023, Foodex, Seoul Food & Hotel Show, Saudi Agro Food, Fine Food Show in Sydney (Australia), Belgium’s Food & Beverages Show, Germany’s BioFach and Anuga Food Fair, San Francisco’s Winter Fancy Food Show, etc

  • Bangladesh issues tender to buy 50,000 tonnes rice

  • HAMBURG: Bangladesh’s state grains buyer has issued an international tender to purchase 50,000 tonnes of rice, traders said on Tuesday. The deadline for submission of price offers is Dec. 21.

    The tender seeks price offers for non-basmati parboiled rice in CIF liner out terms, including ship unloading costs, for shipment to the ports of Chattogram and Mongla.

    Asia rice: Thailand, Vietnam bank on new deals; few eye cheaper India supply

    The rice can come from worldwide origins and shipment is required 40 days after contract award.

  • China-India farm cooperation can grow amid global shortages

  • India is working on developing the "world's largest grain storage" program, Indian news outlet Mint reported on Monday, citing two people aware of the development. The proposal comes amid rising global food prices in the wake of disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic, the report claimed.

    The disruptions in global food supply chain have increased food security concerns in many countries, including India. It is understandable that some Indian officials have taken a positive attitude toward a grain stockpiling program, which aims to ensure India's food security, but it will not be easy to achieve those goals.

    There are both short-term and long-term challenges ahead for India. India's federally held cereal stocks have declined to a five-year low as extreme weather pummeled both winter-sown wheat and summer-sown rice crops, driving up retail food prices to a 22-month high, the Hindustan Times reported in October.

    A prolonged heatwave in March crimped India's wheat output, prompting New Delhi to ban wheat exports without prior government approval in May as domestic supplies dwindled. In September, the government also banned the export of broken rice with an aim to increase domestic availability. India's moves in this regard have drawn criticism from the West. Last week, India lifted the ban on exports of organic non-basmati rice, including broken rice. Although the announcement is welcomed as it will increase global rice supply, this may also add difficulties for the country to develop the "world's largest grain storage" program.

    We cannot be blindly optimistic, too, in the long run. India, despite having large areas of arable land, suffers from low productivity. The Global Food Policy Report 2022 has warned that climate change may push many Indians toward hunger by 2030 due to a decline in agricultural production and disruption in food supply chain, Outlook India Magazine reported in May.

    While it is certainly necessary to pile up grain reserves, the main difficulty lies in how India can ensure domestic supply and food price stability, avoid hunger and poverty, ensure reasonable growth in grain exports, and maintain its export competitiveness, at the same time develop the "world's largest grain storage" program. We believe India's agricultural policies are aimed at achieving multiple goals, rather than a solitary effort to pile up grain reserves.

    At the very least, India has limited room to reduce domestic grain supply and allow food prices to rise beyond a certain level, because this will put further pressure on overall inflation, which eased to a three-month low of 6.77 percent in October but remained above central bank's tolerance limit.

    If India wants to pile up grain reserves, the country has no choice but to achieve an increase of grain production. Seed, irrigation, and fertilizers need to be vastly improved, helping farmers increase yields. Advances in machinery, artificial intelligence, satellite imagery, and other emerging technologies could also improve the efficiency of inputs and further increase yields. In this regard, China and India have broad space for cooperation in the fields of agricultural infrastructure, finance, and agricultural technology.

    China achieves one-fourth of the world's total grain production and feeds one-fifth of the global population with less than nine percent of the land on earth. In recent years, China has actively promoted cooperation in agricultural science and technology innovation.

    China and India, two nations with a profound culture and long history of farming, are both a large agricultural producer, consumer and trader. The two countries should strengthen agricultural cooperation under bilateral or multilateral frameworks such as BRICS.

    In recent years, BRICS countries have made continuous efforts to establish a long-term and stable cooperation mechanism focusing on food security. Agricultural cooperation enjoys potential because they are mutually beneficial.

  • Iran no longer importing tea and basmati rice from India, says report

  • There is no clarification from Iran for the stoppage but exporters believe that it is due to widespread anti-hijab protests in the country

    Last week, Iran has stopped signing all contracts to import tea and basmati rice from India. There is no clarification from Iran for the stoppage, but exporters believe that it is due to widespread anti-hijab protests in the country, as the Economic Times (ET) reported. Shops, hotels and markets have remained closed since the start of the protest nearly two months ago.

    Several experts have expressed that this might also be because India and Iran are working on the rupee trade settlement agreement. The report added that Iran imports around 30-35 million kg of orthodox tea and 1.5 million kg of basmati rice from India every year.

    "There is no clarity on why suddenly this has happened. We have asked the Iranian buyers but they do not have any clear answer...We have informed the Tea Board and we are waiting for some clarity," Anish Bhansali, managing partner of Bhansali & Company, told ET.

    However, the impact on basmati rice may be lesser as their exports have risen amid high demand from other countries. This is also due to high commodity prices globally amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

    In the first eight months of 2022, between January and August, exports of tea from India increased by 14.8 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to 140.28 million kilograms, according to Tea Board data. During the January-August period in 2021, the shipments stood at 122.18 million kilograms (mkg).

    However, tea shipments to Iran failed to increase due to economic sanctions imposed by the US on Iran, a report by PTI said earlier in November. Exports to that country marginally increased to 16.40 mkg in the January-August period as compared to 16.06 mkg in the corresponding period last year.

    Tea exports rose marginally in other countries also, due to higher shipping and container costs which skyrocketed due to the war between Russia and Ukraine.


  • Rice, integral to Madagascar, may be hastening the decline of its unique biodiversity; here is how

  • Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; most of the plants, animals, insects and fungi found there are not found anywhere else  

    Rice and zebu cattle have had the largest impacts on the Madagascan landscape as a result of their vital role in sustaining human populations. Photo: iStock Rice and zebu cattle have had the largest impacts on the Madagascan landscape as a result of their vital role in sustaining human populations. Photo: iStock

    Rice, the main food crop of Madagascar, could be hastening the loss of biodiversity in the fourth-largest island of the world, according to two exhaustive studies published in the Science journal December 2, 2022.  

    The cultivation of rice on the island, especially using shifting agriculture, is causing deforestation and subsequent biodiversity loss, according to the research papers.

    The papers also urged that collection and analysis of data on Madagascar’s remarkable biota must continue and accelerate “if we are is to safeguard this unique and highly threatened subset of Earth’s biodiversity”.

    Madagascar, classified as a ‘Least Developed Country’ by the United Nations, has been in the throes of upheaval in the past few years.

    Drought has been affecting vulnerable regions over the last four decades. More than one million people needed food emergency assistance in the island country in 2020.

    Climate change has wrought havoc on the island, with the latest being Tropical Storm Ana earlier this year.

    Rice and zebu

    Rice cultivation was brought a millennium ago to Madagascar by Austronesian peoples, who are thought to have sailed to the island from the Indonesian archipelago in outrigger canoes.

    Rice is integral to Malagasy cuisine. On average, each Madagascan eats 120 kilogram of rice or vary per year.

    Madagascar’s extraordinary biodiversity: Evolution, distribution, and use, one of the papers published December 2, noted how rice had changed the Madagascan landscape:

    Since settling on the island, humans have introduced crops and livestock for agriculture and husbandry. Of these, rice and zebu cattle have had the largest impacts on the landscape as a result of their vital role in sustaining human populations.

    It added:

    Rice is currently widely cultivated both in the Central Highlands (using paddy production) and in the humid east, where swidden agricultural methods are used (ie, shifting cultivation involving clearing forest for conversion to cropland, usually by burning).

    The paper said slash-and-burn cultivation depleted soils rapidly. This caused farmers to abandon land for long fallow periods with further vegetation being cleared at a new location.

    “Our analysis of IUCN assessments indicates that overexploitation and agriculture are the most frequently listed threats to Malagasy fauna (excluding invertebrates) and flora, mirroring global findings,” Madagascar’s extraordinary biodiversity: Threats and opportunities, the second paper, noted.

    The paper said agriculture primarily led to deforestation on the island. Some 44 per cent of the land covered by native forest in 1953 was deforested by 2014.

    The rate of deforestation has steadily increased. It was 99.0 kilohectare per year between 2010 and 2014 and 72.9 kha/year from 2014-2020.

    “Deforestation in Madagascar reflects global patterns and is primarily driven by the small-scale but widespread practice of swidden agriculture (also known as shifting cultivation; in Madagascar referred to as tavy for rice cultivation in humid and subhumid areas and hatsake for cassava and maize in dry and subarid areas),” the paper said.

    Additionally, cash crop production, particularly maize and peanut, had become a major driver of deforestation alongside the production of products for international markets, such as forest-derived vanilla, it added.

    The researchers added that the trend of increasing deforestation rates will continue, as people clear land for agriculture with small-scale fires.

    Natural system modifications add to deforestation. They threaten 23.2 per cent of vertebrates and 68.9 per cent of plants.

    “Some predictions indicate that in the absence of an effective strategy against deforestation, 38 to 93 per cent of forest present in 2000 will be no longer present in 2050,” according to the authors.

    Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot. Most of the plants, animals, insects and fungi found on the island are found nowhere else in the world. Some 56 per cent of the island’s birds, 81 per cent of freshwater fishes, 95 per cent of mammals, and 98 per cent of reptile species are endemic.

    Madagascar, along with India, was part of Gondwana, one of two supercontinents formed millions of years ago. South America, Africa and Australia too were part of the great landmass.

    Madagascar later split and moved till it reached its present position in the Indian Ocean, separated from Africa by the Mozambique Channel. This relative isolation enabled the high endemism among its biota.

    But knowledge about Madagascan biodiversity still remains poor, something which the papers delved upon.

    Despite the global significance of Malagasy biodiversity, many taxonomic groups remain poorly known, and Madagascar ranks among the top countries for the predicted percentage of terrestrial vertebrates lacking scientific description, Madagascar’s extraordinary biodiversity: Evolution, distribution, and use said.

    Considerable work remains to be done to fully characterize Madagascar’s biodiversity and evolutionary history, it added.

  • China achieves world’s first seed-to-seed rice breeding in space

  • ISLAMABAD: A Chinese research team has yielded rice seeds from ‘parent’ rice seeds that had germinated, grown and matured after 120 days on a full life cycle in China’s Space Station.

    This is the first time that seed-to-seed rice breeding was achieved in space, China News Network learned from the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Monday.

    The rice seeds, along with seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant harvested after a full life cycle in space, returned to Earth with the Shenzhou-14 return capsule on Sunday evening, and were delivered to scientists in Beijing on Monday. The seeds are scheduled to be sent to labs in Shanghai for further analysis.

    Three main experiments were completed this time, said Zheng Huiqiong, a researcher at the Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    The first is the experiments on rice’s full life cycle in space, including germination, seedli