Typhoon Karding farm damage to jack up rice, vegetable prices: Department of Agriculture

  • Karding has wiped out P2.02 billion worth of agricultural produce, with the rice sector accounting for nearly 82 per cent of the recorded damage.

    UNDER WATER Vast tracts of farms are submerged by flood in this photo taken during President Marcos’ aerial inspection of provinces ravaged by Supertyphoon “Karding.” —KJ ROSALES/PPA POOL

    MANILA — Consumers should brace for an increase of as much as 20 percent in the retail prices of rice and vegetables after Super Typhoon “Karding” (international name: Noru) wreaked havoc on the country’s farm sector, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.

    Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said they were expecting a spike of 15 to 20 percent in prices of food items because the rice-producing region of Central Luzon suffered the brunt of the typhoon.

    Karding has wiped out P2.02 billion worth of agricultural produce, with the rice sector accounting for nearly 82 percent or P1.66 billion of the recorded damage in the farm sector, based on the DA’s tally as of Thursday.

    “Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan and Quezon are among the affected provinces, with more than 20 percent of the total area planted destroyed,” Panganiban said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

    The rice sector was followed by high-value crops, which suffered P271.6 million in losses; corn, P44.6 million; fisheries, P43 million; and livestock and poultry, P7.9 million.

    The DA’s latest monitoring showed that the typhoon also ravaged farming, livestock and fishing areas in the Cordillera, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Bicol and Western Visayas regions.

    Damage to the agriculture sector in the Bicol region was placed at about P53 million worth of livestock, fisheries, rice, corn and high-value vegetables in Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte. The typhoon affected 2,853 farmers and fisherfolk and destroyed 3,828.19 hectares of farmland.

    Gov’t assistance
    The P2.02 billion worth of damage caused by Karding was nearly double the P1.13 billion in losses due to Severe Tropical Storm “Florita” (Ma-on) that hit in August, but only a fraction of the P13.3 billion in agricultural destruction during the onslaught of Typhoon “Odette” (Rai) in December 2021.

    Karding took its toll on the livelihood of some 91,944 farmers and fishers in the affected regions. The volume of production loss was estimated at 117,663 metric tons (MT) involving 150,693 ha of land.

    Panganiban assured the farmers and fishermen of government help to enable them to recover from their losses.

    “We will give about 70 million rice seeds, P83.16 million worth of corn seeds, and P13.5 million worth of assorted vegetable seeds,” he said.

    The DA, he said, would also give about P2.45 million worth of animal head and medicines for the livestock and poultry sector.

    The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, for its part, would give away fingerlings and fishing paraphernalia to aid small fishers affected by Karding.

    According to Panganiban, the agency would also provide equipment to affected fishermen, including financial assistance of up to P25,000, payable in three years at zero interest, under the Survival Recovery Loan Program of the Agriculture Credit and Policy Council.

    A P500-million Quick Response Fund would likewise be allocated as aid to affected areas, he said.

    Enough rice
    Despite the damage caused by the typhoon on palay farms in Central Luzon, the agriculture official assured the public that there would be enough supply of rice for the coming holiday season.

    Local rice production for 2022 was estimated at 19.5 million MT, or lower than the 19.96 million MT recorded in 2021, as farm yields were affected by skyrocketing prices of farm inputs such as fuel and fertilizer, the DA’s National Rice Program reported.

    The DA’s 2022 rice supply-and-demand outlook as of Sept. 15 placed the total annual supply at 17.36 million MT and the total annual consumption at 15.14 million MT. It said there would be an ending stock of 2.23 million MT, or a reserve level good for 60 days.

    The Philippines has imported 2.9 million MT of rice as of Sept. 22 this year, latest figures from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) showed. Bought mostly from Vietnam, the imported rice covered the shortfall in local production.

    “While all of the remaining issued import clearances by the [BPI] will only be valid until the third quarter and imports are yet to be estimated on the last quarter of this year, based on historical trend, import arrivals start to decline by the fourth quarter in time for the peak harvest from October to November,” the DA said in a statement.

    The DA has reported no significant movements in retail prices of commercial rice in Metro Manila between June and September this year.

    The prevailing retail price for imported well-milled rice as of Thursday stood at P39.50 a kilo, lower than the P44 a year prior, according to the DA’s price monitoring.

    Regular milled imported rice was being sold for P38 a kg, but no comparative data from last year was available on the DA website.

    Locally produced well-milled rice retailed for P40 a kg as against P44 last year, while regular milled rice remained at P38 a kg.

  • Asia rice: Thai rates gain on fresh orders, rupee dive trims India prices

  • Export prices of rice from Thailand rose this week, helped by demand from the Middle East and South Asia, while rates for the staple from top exporter India eased on a weaker rupee.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices rose to $422-$435 per tonne from $420-$435 a week ago.

    “There is new demand from Bangladesh of 200,000-300,000 tonnes and deliveries to Iraq,” said a Bangkok-based trader.

    Another trader said there was demand coming in from Iran, but only a few Thai companies had the goods manufacture practice (GMP) requirements to service that market.

    India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $376 to $384 per tonne, down from $385-$392 last week, amid the rupee’s dive, and expectations of more supply following the government’s decision to extend a free food programme for the poor.

    The rupee touched a record low on Sept. 28, increasing traders’ margin from overseas sales and allowing them to reduce export rates.

    “A few traders were expecting the government won’t continue free food beyond September. But with the government distribution for another three months, the market would be oversupplied,” said an exporter at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

    Meanwhile, India’s recent restrictions on exports seemed to drive expectations of more demand from other hubs such as Vietnam.

    Vietnam’s 5% broken rice prices rose to $420-$425 per tonne from $400-$410 a week ago, with traders also attributing the gain to the end of the summer-autumn harvest.

    However, “though prices are higher, not many new deals have been signed recently as buyers remain quiet while sellers are still waiting for further price hike,” a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    Preliminary data showed 37,400 tonnes of rice to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City port on Oct. 1-9, with most of it bound to the Philippines and Bangladesh.

  • Sindh rice crop: separating fact from speculation

  • Last week, rumor mills went in overdrive in farmer Whatsapp groups, claiming that government of Pakistan was considering banning of rice exports, in a bid to protect domestic food security. Later that week, press reported that as much as seventy percent of Sindh’s rice crop had been lost to the floods. Have the floods truly put Pakistan’s grain security at risk?

    Although the humanitarian fallout from the floods is truly catastrophic, the grave concerns raised on social media viz national rice crop risks painting a far more scary picture viz farm output than may be warranted. While it is correct that the province contributes as much as one third of national rice output, its share in basmati production – Pakistan’s mainstay rice variety – is less than 1 percent. Instead, the province primarily produces hybrid and IRRI rice, over 90 percent of which is exported on average.

    In fact, out of total four million metric tons (MMT) of IRRI and hybrid rice production in the country, as much as 2.5 MMT is grown in the southern province (or 63 percent). During the last fiscal year, Pakistan non-basmati (IRRI and hybrid) rice exports breached 4.1 MMT, implying that very little of the non-basmati varieties produced are locally consumed.

    In contrast, most of locally consumed rice is of the basmati variety, grown in the Kalar region of north-eastern and central districts of Punjab province. Fortunately, basmati region has remained protected from floods this monsoon, suggesting that Pakistan’s grain security – at least to the extent of domestic rice consumption – may have remained unaffected by the floods.

    But this does not mean that the exportable rice production of Sindh has been spared. That’s where facts become muddy. Of the 29 districts in the province, 23 were declared calamity hit by the provincial governmentin late August. This included the eight districts which contribute as much as 98 percent of provincial rice output, raising fears that provincial rice crop had effectively been washed away.

    Remember, because of Sindh’s frequent drought conditions, rice crop cultivation is encouraged in limited areas of the province, mainly on the right bank of river Indus in upper Sindh: Kashmore (incl. Kandhkot), Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Larkana, Kambar Shahdadkot and Dadu – and the Indus delta region in the south: Badin and Thatta (incl. Sujawal), where water is available in relative abundance. More than 70 percent of rice produced in these districts is hybrid variety, which is yet to gain significant traction in local cuisine. Historically, most paddy fields in Sindh are cleared by late September, to make way for land preparation for wheat cultivation in October.

    According to data released by PDMA Sindh, flood inundation in lower Sindh (Indus delta region) districts of Thatta, Badin and Sujawal remained restricted below 30 percent of land area at its peak level. Based on historic figures from Sindh Crop Reporting department, delta region’s contributes as much as 30 percent of provincial rice output, which could suggest that much of the paddy in the area may have remained protected from flood induced damage.

    This stands in sharp contrast to the situation in upper Sindh. Per PDMA, as much as 60 percent of land area in some of these districts became inundated by early September, which has seen been brought down to below 40 percent (as of last week). In areas such as Kambar Shahdadkot and Jacobabad, that means significant losses to rice crop may have taken place before draining began in earnest.

    While nothing can be said with certainty, there may be some cause for hope. Districts that witnessed limited flooding in the north including Kashmore, Shikarpur – and to a lesser extent Larkana –together account for half of provincial output. While the loss is in no way insignificant, Pakistan’s domestic demand should remain turbulence free. In fact, timely draining of water and land preparation before wheat sowing season presents a far greater threat to domestic food security than economic loss from Sindh’s rice crop damage ever could.

  • ‘Floods have destroyed 30pc of rice crop’

  • LAHORE: Recent heavy monsoon rains and floods have destroyed 30pc of the rice crop, especially in Sindh, says Pakistan Hi-Tech Hybrid Seed Association chairman Shahzad Ali Malik.

    Speaking to the media at the first Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the body here on Thursday, he said the country was expecting around 9.2 million tonnes of rice production during the current season. But, stagnation of water due to the heavy monsoon rains coupled with floods in the rice fields for weeks in Sindh, the crop was destroyed leading to around 30pc fall in the crop yield, he said.

    He called for increasing the use of quality hybrid seed to save the agriculture sector from total collapse. He said maize and rice, two of the five big crops of the country, were not only meeting the domestic requirements but also earning foreign exchange through exports as hybrid seed was being used for both the crops.

    He regretted the critical situation of the white gold (cotton) in the country as precious foreign exchange was being spent to import lint for meeting requirements of the local textile industry.

    Addressing the AGM participants earlier, Mr Malik said the association was in infancy stage having 102 members. He assured the participants that issues of the seed industry would be raised at every forum for their resolution. He also handed over a cheque worth Rs4 million to Al-Khidmat Foundation as flood relief donation and announced that Rs1 million more would be donated for the flood victims in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    Members on this occasion raised the issue of free movement of wheat seed which was hindering their efforts to produce quality seed for the next crop.

    Rice exporters Pir Nazim Hussain Shah, Sajjad Sulaiman Malik and others were also present.

    Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2022

  • Evonik in link-up for industrial scale supply of rice ash silica to tire industry

  • New plant, to be built in collaboration with Austrian and Thai partners, set for 2024 commissioning

    Essen, Germany – Evonik Industries AG is stepping up its sustainability efforts with a new partnership for the commercial supply of bio-based precipitated silica to the tire industry.

    The German chemicals supplier has entered a strategic cooperation with Austria’s Poerner Group and Thailand’s Phichit Bio Power Co., to supply sustainable Ultrasil-branded silica, derived from rice husk ash (RHA).

    As part of the agreement, the partners will use Poerner Group’s process to generate sodium silicate from RHA using biomass energy, said Evonik in a 28 Sept statement.

    This enables Evonik to deliver a CO2 footprint reduction of up to 30% compared to its standard silica.

    With its existing rice mills and biomass power plants, Phichit Bio Power Co., Ltd. will  then license Poerner Group’s technology and invest in a new RHA sodium silicate plant in Thailand.

    The facility, the exact location or capacity of which was not disclosed, is scheduled for commissioning in 2024.

    The new partnership follows "several years of research" between Evonik and Poerner to develop 'superior quality bio-silicates' at their demonstration plant in Germany, according to Gerhard Bacher, CEO of Poerner Germany.

    The patented Poerner bio-silicate technology is based on the ash of biomass power plants fired with rice husks, and involves a process that “intelligently uses the natural properties of the rice plant to produce high-quality sodium silicates.”

    Silica is the key-ingredient for fuel-efficient tires, reducing the fuel consumption by up to 8% compared to conventional passenger car tires.

    The joint project, according ot Evonik, will enable the German supplier to scale-up a reliable supply of bio-based sodium silicate to meet growing demand from the tire industry for more sustainably produced silica.

    "For the first time, we can offer our customers an Ultrasil silica with an improved sustainability profile,” said Emmanuel Auer, head of Silica business line.

    Further measures, said Auer, are currently underway at Evonik’s other sites to expand renewables offerings globally.

  • Rice farmers doing fantastic job in Nigeria – UN

  • The United Nations through it Food and Agriculture Organisation has described rice production by smallholder farmers in Nigeria as a fantastic job.

    It stated that though there were still a lot that should be done in the agriculture sector in Nigeria, the country had made considerable progress in rice production.

    The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday.

    Haile-Gabriel and the FAO Deputy Director of the Office of Emergencies and Resilience, Shukri Ahmed, are in Nigeria on a high-level mission to strengthen solidarity and amplify the voice of humanitarian actors in advocating support to stem food insecurity across the country.

    Commenting on the progress in the agriculture sector in Nigeria, the FAO regional representative said, “Nigeria used to be dependent on imported rice.

    “But in the past few years, Nigeria has done a fantastic job in the production of rice locally, moving towards self sufficiency.

    “So Nigeria has done a lot, it may not be enough but that is why there is a need for partnership to support the efforts of the government.”

    The FAO, in a advisory on the visit of its officials to Nigeria, stated that  delegation would also reiterate FAO’s commitment, at the highest level, to building resilience of agriculture-based livelihoods to multiple shocks.

    It added that the team would speak on FAO’s corporate strategic direction in agrifood systems transformation globally and specifically in Africa.

    “The delegation will meet with selected senior government officials in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Heads of Mission and development partners in Abuja,” the organisation stated.

    This came as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture in the Office of the Vice President, Andrew Kwasari, told journalists on the sidelines of the event that virtually all the produce of smallholder farmers in Nigeria were not insured.

  • China imports less glutinous rice from Vietnam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    He also said land planted to rice is declining.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    DGFT notification

    • The shipments where loading of broken rice on the ship commenced before the initial ban order came into effect and where the shipping bill is filed and vessels have already berthed or arrived would be allowed
    • On September 9, the government banned the export of broken rice with immediate effect
  • Liberia: The Global Food Crisis Necessitating Increment in Rice on the Liberian Market

  • MONROVIA – The call for an increment in the price of rice is not unique to Liberia as most countries in the region have already considered increment as a necessary option amid the global crisis which is now affecting food security across the globe.

    A May 2022 Food and Agriculture Organization Alert indicated that Food insecurity at unprecedented levels in most coastal and Sahelian countries.

    The alert revealed that the alarmingly high level of food insecurity is due to localized shortfalls in cereal production in 2021, worsening conflicts, high food prices, and macroeconomic challenges compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    According to the FAO, food insecurity has reached an unprecedented level in the subregion, with the estimated number of food insecure people on an upward trend since 2014 and almost quadrupling between 2019 and 2022, driven by severe shocks: localized shortfalls in cereal production, worsening conflicts and insecurity, reduced cross-border trade, high food prices and macroeconomic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In addition, the number of food insecure people could increase above the initial projections as the effects of the war in Ukraine, mostly related to soaring international prices of food, fuel, and fertilizers, was not factored in the latest food security analyses. Food insecurity conditions can worsen further if constrained access to fertilizers, persisting local insecurity, and forecast localized unfavorable weather conditions result in lower cereal production in 2022.

    Rice, being the staple food for most countries in the region, has seen monumental increments in price across various countries.

    FrontPageAfrica discovered that 25kg of rice in the Gambia is sold for US$25 while 50kg is sold for US$45. In Nigeria, 25kg of local rice is US$40 while 25kg of imported rice is US$55.

    Côte d’ Ivoire: 25kg US$30.00, 50kg US$50.00; Guinea: 25kg US$35.00, 50kg US$55.00 while 25kg of the highest quality of rice in Sierra Leone is sold for US$25.00 and the lowest quality is US$25.

    Like many other countries, particularly in our region, the impact of global trade challenges was immediately felt. Challenges such as accessing essential commodities globally and their transportation to our ports continue to be a cause for concern.

    In Liberia, the government immediately commenced engaging with all stakeholders, including rice importers on steps that can be taken to avert any shortage of rice on the market. And with retailers to ensure that they sell the commodity and not hoard thus creating an artificial shortage.

    This included providing some form of subsidy and operational adjustments to importers in order to keep the price of rice stable, unchanged, and available.

    The Government says it is working hard to ensure there is sufficient stock of rice in the country including a buffer stock level since this global supply chain challenge started; however, there have been instances of intermittent decline in this stock level as a result of logistical and technical challenges which most times cause panic buying by the public and hoarding by unscrupulous individuals. In addition to an increased demand for the commodity outside of the normal due to fear resulting from global challenges.

    Additionally, the government through its inspectorate is continuously monitoring the situation on the market, making sure that no one (importers or retailers) is engaged in acts that would undermine regulations and policies aimed at ensuring that retailers do not hoard the product or inflate the price of rice.

    FrontPageAfrica has learned that the President, through budgetary appropriations, is making sure that the government program to ensure rice is available and affordable is fully supported.

    Nevertheless, the government says it is continuously monitoring the impact of the global food crisis, especially in terms of global shortages in access to grains, and will continue to make decisions and policies in the best interest of the Liberian people reflective of global circumstances.

    In recent times, the price of a 25kg bag of rice has abruptly increased from US$13.50 to US$20, US$22 and US$25 respectively in Monrovia and other parts adjacent. The retail price of a cup of rice, which was sold for L$35, is presently being sold for between L$60 to L$80, respectively.

    local traders and consumers continue to troop at warehouses of importers in Monrovia in search of the commodity.

    They stormed the warehouses of Fouani Brothers Corporation, one of the major importers of the commodity, standing and sitting in long queue from the morning to evening hours to purchase rice for their respective shops, stores, market centers and homes, respectively.

    Fouani Brothers Corporation is the only company that is selling the product for now to local business owners and consumers, purchasing 20 bags of 25kg rice or above at its warehouses located at Freeport on the Bushrod Island, outside Monrovia.

    Fouta Corporation, Supplying West African Traders (SWAT), United Commodities Incorporated (UCI), K and K, are other major importers of rice to Liberia. But the companies were reported not to be selling to local business owners on grounds that they have ran out of supply.

    The situation compelled local Liberian traders, particularly young and elderly women to stand in the rain and sun for weeks now, grappling to buy the commodity at Fouani.

    The local traders have been out of business for a while now due to the multiple constraints they continue to encounter to buy their goods from the company.

    Police officers were spotted on the scene following the influx of the local traders at the warehouses of Fouani from the earlier morning hours of Tuesday, September 27 to the late evening hours.

    Selling 20 bags

    Fouani was only selling the commodity 20 bags of 25kg per customer.

    However, preference was given to other customers to purchase from 100 bags upward if they were willing to buy additional goods or commodities apart from the rice which they normally buy.

    The goods included flat-screen plasma television, cartoons of oats, and other provisions.

    “For over three weeks now, I been coming and I have not gotten rice. Today, I am here this time at least to buy rice and eat because nothing is in my shop and I get plenty of children. The last small rice I bought from SWAT, I bought it US$14.50. I managed to keep two bags and that is what we ate home,” Maima Massaquoi Momo, 45, stated.

    She added: “I am not a rice importer and so, I can’t tell whether rice is plenty in the country or not. But the rice importers are telling us that ‘no enough rice’. Our President should make sure that instead of the Lebanese people bluffing us let our government form a company to produce rice so they can stop suffering us.”

    The local Liberian business owners also reported that numbered tickets intended to guarantee law and order at the facility were being allegedly sold to them by some individuals assigned at Fouani.

    The distribution process of the tickets, which is normally done on a first come basis, has been marred by corruption and selection.

    They claimed that those willing to pay the amount of US$30 are given preference over others who stood in the rain and sun for several hours to buy their goods.

    “We are just sleeping here for nothing because, we can’t even get the rice and they are selling only 20 bags per person. I came to buy 50 bags, but they said only 20 bags I can buy. People can bring the tickets outside to sell to us; they can give the tickets to outsiders to sell to us,” Marie Dennis stated.

    Fatu Kamara, a young Liberian mother, visited Fouani last week and returned home unsuccessful under the heavy downpour of rain. She mustered the courage and return early Tuesday morning and managed to purchase rice from another person at a higher cost. 

    “I stand in that line for the morning to reach and we couldn’t get rice.

    The rain beat me that night and for me to even use the restroom, was not easy. I just bought rice from somebody here US$18 for a bag. I will be transporting each bag L$70 to my house.”

    She vowed to sell the rice at an affordable price to make a profit for the upkeep of her family.

    “Right now, I don’t know how much I will sell a bag for. But when I get home, I will decide. I have to look for plenty of money because I have my family.”

    Fatu said ordinary Liberians; especially consumers are the ones that will feel the pinch of the current situation.

    “We that are buying the rice and our customers, all of us will feel it; it’s not the foreigners that will feel it because they feel relaxed and money is coming to them. We that are always in the cold along with our customers will really feel it.”

    She observed that apart from Fouani, other importers of rice are not willing to sell it to local traders.

    “For now, UCI is not functioning. But if you go to SWAT, you will not get it. Don’t waste your time because every day SWAT does not have rice. For Fouta, they said they are not selling. But the day they are ready to sell rice, they will be selling it with flour. If you don’t have money to buy flour, you will not buy rice,” Fatu maintained.

    The cost of a bag of flour at Fouta is US$45. Struggling Liberian business owners do not have sufficient money to purchase and sell rice and flour at the same time.

    She admitted that Fouani are also allegedly compelling those buying above 20 bags of rice to purchase other goods before they are served.

    “For Fouani, it depends how many bags you want you will buy materials. But if you are buying 20 bags, they can give you anything they wish to give you to buy from them apart from rice,” she said.

    Fatu expressed frustration that things will become worse for her and her family members as a result of the difficulties she continues to encounter to get her supply of rice from importers to sell.

    “My children supposed to be starting school Monday. I even thinking how they will start; I have one child and three others I am supporting. We don’t even have money yet to start because, that’s the business I am depending on.”

    David Toby spent nearly two weeks at Fouani to receive his supply of rice.

    He also corroborated reports of these companies mandating local traders to buy other goods apart from the rice which they usually paid for.

    He claimed that at one of the offices of the rice importers, the amount of US$13 is placed on receipts given to local business owners to deceive the government and others for the price of a 25kg rice, while the commodity is sold to them at a different price

    “It is going to almost four months and K and K is not selling rice; if you go to Fouta, they will tell you to buy 100 bags of rice with 20 bags of flour. Where will I get that money from? So only Fouani we can maintain the price with even though they said if you buying 100 bags, you should buy three flat screen televisions. SWAT is selling US$17 and US$18. But if you buy the rice, they can put US$13 on your receipt. That’s the corruption there.”

    Toby added: “I don’t have anything to do with flat screen television and so, we can buy 20 bags and go and come back. The little profit I can put on it, me and my family can managed with it.”  

    Many households in Liberia are coping with the ‘every day rice shortage hullabaloo’ by substituting their staple food rice-to fufu or others. Fufu is a typical Liberian food made from cassava.

    “I had been coming here for one week now and I can’t get rice. I slept here under the rain last night. We can’t even enter or see the Lebanese people to talk to them. But people said they are only selling 20 bags. My whole shop is empty. My family and I are eating fufu because, we can’t get the rice,” Helena Flomo, 47, noted.

    Others are compelled to cut down the cups of rice they normally cooked for fear of running out of the product at their respective homes.

    “We used to cook eight cups for a household of about 11 persons. But we have reduced it to six cups now because, rice is very expensive. In fact, you can’t even see it. If you are lucky to see it, the price is like the cost of a gold dust”, Amara Fofana, a consumer stated.

    Alvin B. Smith, 30, is a seafarer, working with the United Seamen Union of Liberia.

    He earns money to take care of him and his family members’ responsibilities by offloading rice from docked vessels at the Freeport of Monrovia.

    However, things seem to be difficult for him and others due to the prolong delay for vessels ferrying rice to dock at the Freeport of Monrovia.

    As a result of this, Smith has joined his brother to wake up during the early morning hours to stand in the long queue at Fouani Brothers Corporation to buy several bags of rice for his sister who runs a shop.

     “Any rice ship comes in the country we can offload it; but for the past days now, we are not working. There is no rice in the country; K and K, UCI, Fouta are not bringing rice. There is no food, no rice in the country. What going in this country is too bad and we are tired with this situation.”

    Smith continued: “I can come by 7AM and I have not been served since then. I slept here for the past four days and my brother and I can change shift. They (Fouani Brothers) always telling us we should wait, rice will come. We keep sitting and sitting, but no rice.”

    He noted that though a ship reported being transporting rice to the Freeport of Monrovia is normally reported and spotted on the ocean, the availability of more metric tons of the commodity remains uncertain until the vessel can docked at the port.

    He claimed that the supply of rice currently on sale in Liberia was part of the latest ones brought into the country by Fouani.

    “We want the government to start importing rice into the country because, the Lebanese nationals that are involved, things are not fine and they are not treating us fair.”

    The local traders are not also earning more profits as compare to the past due to the delay in getting their goods from the importers.

    They are also experiencing difficulties in generating funds to pay the fees of their children as the academic year 2022/2023 commences and shoulder other needs and basic necessities for them and their respective family members.

  • Why millets are better than rice, wheat or your breakfast cereal for diabetes, heart and weight loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How are millets good for heart health?

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

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

    How do millets improve gut health?

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

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

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

    So, how do millets help in managing weight loss?

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

    How can you integrate millets in your diet?

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

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

  • “Weedy Rice” Develops Herbicide Resistance…

  • “Weedy Rice” Develops Herbicide Resistance: Agrichemical Industry Repeating Mistakes?

    (Beyond Pesticides, September 28, 2022) ‘Weedy rice,’ a close relative of cultivated rice that invades rice fields and reduces yields, is rapidly developing herbicide resistance in critical rice growing areas throughout the United States. According to research published this month in Communications Biology, the widespread planting of herbicide-resistant rice, developed through traditional, transitional (non-genetically engineered) breeding techniques, is driving this concerning phenomenon. The findings highlight the risk to agricultural production that relies on crops developed to tolerate repeated applications of synthetic chemicals, regardless of their method of development.

    Weedy rice is a form of rice that was “re-wilded,” or “de-domesticated” from cultivated rice, independently evolving multiple times throughout the world. It is highly adapted to grow in areas where cultivated rice is produced, and can result in significant yield loses, as well as a reduction in quality that reduces marketability.

    In the early 2000s, the agrichemical industry believed they had found a solution to the weedy rice. Multinational chemical corporation BASF developed a line of rice cultivars, produced through traditional breeding, that conferred resistance to imidazolinone class herbicides. This includes chemicals like imazapyr, imazaquin, imazethapyr, and imazamox, which poses cancer, reproductive, and neurotoxic risks to human health, and is toxic to bees and aquatic organisms. This line of rice, dubbed “ClearfieldTM rice,” now represents more than on third of all rice production in the U.S.

    Farmers began noticing hybridization of weedy rice, and subsequent herbicide resistance soon after the herbicide resistant cultivars were introduced, and by 2010 one study found 80% of weedy rice to be resistant.  

    With weedy rice causing an estimated $45 million annually in losses, scientists set out to better understand the current state of affairs. In 2018, weedy rice was sampled across five Arkansas rice fields, and its genome was sequenced. Researchers found that nearly all weedy rice is a crop-weed hybrid, yet its genomes shifted to become much more similar to its characteristically weedy forebears.

    “The situation is somewhat analogous to human health and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens. Widespread use of antibiotics ends up strongly selecting for the rapid evolution of the drug-resistant strains,” said senior study author Kenneth Olsen, PhD, of Washington University St Louis. “With weedy rice, herbicide-resistant weeds were being detected just a couple of years after herbicide-resistant rice was first commercialized.”

    This cross-breeding can occur when herbicide sprays do not kill all the weedy rice plants, and they happen to flower concurrent to the cultivated, herbicide-resistant rice crop. “As a de-domesticated weedy relative, weedy rice has always been able to outcross with cultivated rice. Based on our results, this ability to interbreed is what led to most of the herbicide resistance that we see today,” study coauthor Marshall Wedger, PhD said.

    Researchers note that the problem farmers are encountering is a result of an agricultural approach that relies on a single, streamlined method of weed control. “Just like in the case of antibiotic resistance, the rise of resistance to this particular herbicide will be met with a new technology that relies on a new herbicide,” Wedger said. “New herbicide-resistant cultivars are already in development, so I expect this process to repeat.”

    While the scientific community studies this process, it is not enough for pesticide reform advocates to simply throw their hands in the air as the next version of this overly simplified agricultural practice is perpetuated. The story here is a perfect example of what many opponents of genetic engineering have espoused – although genetic engineering is a risky technology that should be highly regulated, it is the agronomic practices genetic changes propagate that are most concerning. In other words, it is not the fact that crop has been genetically engineered that is the primary issue, but the fact that its use supports a toxic system that increases reliance on highly hazardous pesticides as a regular course of crop production. Whether created from traditional or genetic engineering, such a system is inherently flawed and sisyphean, kicking the can of responsible management down the road for future farmers.

    Yet as the chemical industry scrambles to create a new crop or chemical, traditional, effective management techniques are slowly lost. A recent study found that traditional, diversified rice production that integrated animals into the system was able to significantly outperform yields seen in the sort of monoculture rice fields that are reliant on toxic pesticides. And as new chemical solutions are developed with high cost to the environment and society, it becomes increasingly difficult for farmers to shift back to these traditional techniques. This is due to a range of factors, including not only lack of knowledge, but overhead investment in the chemical system and other economic factors, nearby cultivation of herbicide-resistant crops placing any non-resistant crops at risk from pesticide drift, and farmer culture and peer pressure, which in farming communities is often the primary method through which harmful agricultural practices are preserved.

    All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

  • SENEGAL TO SEEK TALKS WITH INDIA OVER RICE EXPORT BAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Three new basmati rice varieties show high yield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Rice yield in N. China’s Inner Mongolia achieves late academician…

  • Rice yield in N. China’s Inner Mongolia achieves late academician Yuan Longping’s goal of rice production in cold zone

    Rice yield of high quality rice in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region reached 700 kilograms per mu (666 square meters) at Yuan Longping Workstation in Hinggan League, and achieved the late academician's goal of rice production with high yield and high quality in the cold area.

    An assessment team made up of seven experts from institutes including China National Rice Research Institute and the Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, measured the yields of two experimental rice paddies with high quality rice species cultivated at the workstation on Monday, reported chinanews.com. 

    The average yields of the two species of rice reached 717.56 kilograms per mu and 702.5 kilograms per mu respectively, about 200 kilograms higher than the common yields of high quality rice of 500 kilograms per mu on the market. 

    The two new species presented the characteristics of more fruitful ears with larger size, heavier weight, higher quality and higher yield, Wang Xiaobing, director of the Inner Mongolia Rice Certification Committee said. 

    In the next one to two years, the two species will be promoted in large-scale production after they pass testing production and assessments, Wang added. 

    Hinggan League is located in the ecosphere of 46 degree north latitude, which is recognized as the world's golden planting belt of rice in cold zone. 

    Yuan Longping Workstation was set up in Hinggan League in 2018. Yuan , known as China's "Father of Hybrid Rice" who passed away on May 22, 2021, proposed the goal of increasing rice production by 100 kilograms per mu in three years and cultivated rice seeds with unique advantages for the Inner Mongolia grassland. 

    Wang Shigang, director of the workstation, said on Monday that the workstation will continue to cultivate excellent species  and increase production and improve quality of rice, trying to raise the added value with scientific and technological contributions to the rice industry, and to build a rice provenance production base and key technology export base in northern China. 

    Global Times

  • Chinese agriculture company to donate hybrid rice seeds to Pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BANGLADESH EDIBLE OIL COMPANY

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

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

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

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

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

     RASHID AGRO FOOD 

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

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

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

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

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

    BELCON GROUP 

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

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

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

    CITY GROUP 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    OTHERS ON THE LIST 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by Pankaj Yadav

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • China Harvest Season: New rice cultivation method aims to ensure food security

  • Farmers across China are embracing the autumn harvest. In recent years, technological innovation has become a driving force for rural development. In a once impoverished area in southwest China's Yunnan Province, locals are reaping the benefits of some of these advances first hand. Yang Jinghao reports from Yunnan.

    Farmers in this town in Lancang County are harvesting paddy rice. It's the first time that they have cultivated the crop in a different way – growing it in dry farmland instead of paddy fields.

    Before that, they had mainly bought the major staple food from market.

    LIU SHIBAO Farmer, Lancang County "In the beginning, I was skeptical about the feasibility of the practice and didn't expect much. But it surprisingly turns out a bumper harvest. Besides self-sufficiency, we can probably sell some of it. I'm really happy."

    This program is led by Zhu Youyong, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

    After years of experiments by his team, some 33,000 hectares of paddy rice was grown this way across Yunnan. Some is even planted on hillsides.

    Zhu says the method has made cultivation a lot easier, as some procedures like seedling raising are not needed.

    ZHU YOUYONG Academic, China Academy of Engineering "Another advantage is that it's conducive for the development of water-efficient agriculture. Take the rice fields here for example, we didn't irrigate them at all and just relied on rainfall. This type of farming is very suitable in areas with insufficient water."

    YANG JINGHAO Lancang County, Yunnan "China is both a big producer and consumer of grain. Zhu says this initiative will not only help farmers increase their income; it will also play an active role in ensuring food security."

    Initial measurement shows that the yield is about 9,000 kilos per hectare, outweighing that planted in paddy fields.

    Zhu says that two key issues were addressed during the process. One is how to make tillering possible in non-irrigated land.

    ZHU YOUYONG Academic, China Academy of Engineering "Another problem is that there are a lot more weeds in dry land than in paddy fields, and they also grow faster. With years of experiments, we've developed a new technology that can eliminate the weeds at the beginning."

    Zhu is a renowned plant pathologist. Since 2015, he has been dedicated to helping the county bordering Myanmar shake off poverty. He says technological innovation is the key to the sustainable development of the vast rural areas after the elimination of extreme poverty.

    The scientist says he hopes his methods can be promoted to more areas and even foreign countries to benefit more people.

  • Cambodia donates 6,000 tonnes of rice to Cuba

  • The Cambodian government has donated 6,000 tonnes of rice to the Cuban government and its people.

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Facebook said that the Cambodian government donated 6,000 tonnes of rice to the Cuban government and its people.

    “The donation by government and people is 3,000 tonnes of rice and the remaining comes from private sectors,” he said.

    Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel yesterday.

    “The donation will leave Cambodia in October, and arrive in Cuba in December,” he added.

    In the meeting, both leaders highlighted the good bilateral relations and reiterated the willingness to strengthen cooperation in sports, health, culture, and biotechnology.

    Mr Hun Sen said the Cuban President thanked Cambodia for its rice donation.

    President Díaz-Canel recalled the historical ties of friendship between both countries and the firm connection between Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz and King Father Norodom Sihanouk, founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (MNOAL).

  • More R&D encouraged to increase agricultural productivity

  • A Chinese expert checks the growth of rice with farmers in Abuja, Nigeria. Rice planted at four demonstration fields all produced good harvests this year. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

    Amid recent shocks to the global supply of grain from Eastern Europe and the ongoing threat of climate change, increased investment in research and development and other proven solutions are being encouraged to boost agricultural productivity, according to the sixth annual Goalkeepers Report released by the Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation.

    The report presents bleak projections for future crop yields and agricultural productivity — particularly in Africa, where 14 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for half their wheat. Severe climate stress is the primary reason 32 million more people in Africa are projected to be hungry in 2030, it said.

    Innovative solutions, such as developing new crop seed varieties, are key to increasing productivity despite the changing climate, Gates wrote in his essay, providing examples of planting climate-smart crops and using predictive modeling.

    With heat waves in southern China also affecting grain production, including rice and corn, the country is making innovations in its agricultural sector to contribute to global food security.

    Enock Chikava, interim director of the Agricultural Development Department at the Gates Foundation, said that China's agricultural transformation is compelling and that Africa can learn from its experience.

    Considering three headwinds to progress in agricultural transformation — climate change, regional conflicts and slow economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic — Chikava underscored the acceleration of innovation in terms of seed systems, improvements to crop varieties and digital transformation in a country where more than half the population earns its living from farming.

    As a global leader in hybrid rice, China's experience with the crop can help small-scale growers in Africa increase yields and escape poverty.

    The foundation has invested $50 million to support the Green Super Rice project launched by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, which aims to share high-quality rice varieties, germplasm resources and production techniques with Asian and African countries, as well as cultivate new varieties that can tolerate climate change and adapt to local conditions.

    Apart from high yields, current research on green super rice focuses on adding traits such as drought resistance and saline tolerance in order to improve adaptation to climate change, said Xu Jianlong, an expert from the CAAS.

    "Green super rice should also resist diseases so that less pesticide is needed and ecological security is protected," Xu said, adding that the strain was cultivated under challenges to both food security and the environment.

    From 2008 to 2019, the project covered nine African countries, 10 Asian countries and some provinces in China. During that period, 79 green super rice varieties were approved in Asian and African countries and grown on 6.12 million hectares of land, Xu said.

    "Incomes are estimated to increase by $1.4 billion," he added.

    However, the promotion of green super rice in Africa has not been successful because of insufficient investment in breeding, and an ineffective extended agriculture system.

    There are few seed enterprises or institutions to guide individual growers, and the processing and market chains are struggling to develop, Xu said.

    "Although green super rice varieties can reach Africa, it's hard to grow. That's the problem that we are about to tackle," he said.

    Given that China has experience in rice planting and scientific research, the foundation started supporting the establishment of a rice seed system in Africa this year, principally in Nigeria and Mali during the first phase of plans.

    "We hope to improve the efficiency of commercial rice production in Africa and ensure its food security," Xu said.

    In addition, this year's Goalkeepers Report, entitled The Future of Progress, notes that nearly all of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, which were expected to be achieved by 2030, will not be met.

    But despite significant setbacks caused by overlapping global crises, the report is optimistic, underscoring opportunities to accelerate progress toward ending poverty, fighting inequality and reducing the effects of climate change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Asia rice india rates near 18 month high

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

  • Aerial photo taken on Sept. 24, 2022 shows paddy fields at a rice planting demonstration zone in Dawang Town of Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area, north China's Hebei Province. Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area has a long history of rice cultivation. Located near Baiyangdian Lake, the largest wetland ecosystem in northern China, Anxin County has exceptional irrigation advantage in rice planting. In recent years, Anxin County has adopted rice-fish and rice-crab co-culture modes to build a modern eco-agriculture demonstration zone. (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao)

    Aerial photo taken on Sept. 24, 2022 shows paddy fields at a rice planting demonstration zone in Dawang Town of Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area, north China's Hebei Province. Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area has a long history of rice cultivation. Located near Baiyangdian Lake, the largest wetland ecosystem in northern China, Anxin County has exceptional irrigation advantage in rice planting. In recent years, Anxin County has adopted rice-fish and rice-crab co-culture modes to build a modern eco-agriculture demonstration zone. (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao)

    Aerial photo taken on Sept. 24, 2022 shows paddy fields at a rice planting demonstration zone in Dawang Town of Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area, north China's Hebei Province. Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area has a long history of rice cultivation. Located near Baiyangdian Lake, the largest wetland ecosystem in northern China, Anxin County has exceptional irrigation advantage in rice planting. In recent years, Anxin County has adopted rice-fish and rice-crab co-culture modes to build a modern eco-agriculture demonstration zone. (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao)

    Aerial photo taken on Sept. 24, 2022 shows paddy fields at a rice planting demonstration zone in Dawang Town of Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area, north China's Hebei Province. Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area has a long history of rice cultivation. Located near Baiyangdian Lake, the largest wetland ecosystem in northern China, Anxin County has exceptional irrigation advantage in rice planting. In recent years, Anxin County has adopted rice-fish and rice-crab co-culture modes to build a modern eco-agriculture demonstration zone. (Xinhua/Zhu Xudong)

    Aerial photo taken on Sept. 24, 2022 shows paddy fields at a rice planting demonstration zone in Dawang Town of Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area, north China's Hebei Province. Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area has a long history of rice cultivation. Located near Baiyangdian Lake, the largest wetland ecosystem in northern China, Anxin County has exceptional irrigation advantage in rice planting. In recent years, Anxin County has adopted rice-fish and rice-crab co-culture modes to build a modern eco-agriculture demonstration zone. (Xinhua/Zhu Xudong)

    Aerial photo taken on Sept. 24, 2022 shows paddy fields at a rice planting demonstration zone in Dawang Town of Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area, north China's Hebei Province. Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area has a long history of rice cultivation. Located near Baiyangdian Lake, the largest wetland ecosystem in northern China, Anxin County has exceptional irrigation advantage in rice planting. In recent years, Anxin County has adopted rice-fish and rice-crab co-culture modes to build a modern eco-agriculture demonstration zone. (Xinhua/Zhu Xudong)

    Aerial photo taken on Sept. 24, 2022 shows paddy fields at a rice planting demonstration zone in Dawang Town of Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area, north China's Hebei Province. Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area has a long history of rice cultivation. Located near Baiyangdian Lake, the largest wetland ecosystem in northern China, Anxin County has exceptional irrigation advantage in rice planting. In recent years, Anxin County has adopted rice-fish and rice-crab co-culture modes to build a modern eco-agriculture demonstration zone. (Xinhua/Zhu Xudong)

    Aerial photo taken on Sept. 24, 2022 shows paddy fields at a rice planting demonstration zone in Dawang Town of Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area, north China's Hebei Province. Anxin County of Xiong'an New Area has a long history of rice cultivation. Located near Baiyangdian Lake, the largest wetland ecosystem in northern China, Anxin County has exceptional irrigation advantage in rice planting. In recent years, Anxin County has adopted rice-fish and rice-crab co-culture modes to build a modern eco-agriculture demonstration zone. (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao)

  • Razzaque calls for increasing rice production to meet domestic demand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Transition to Low-Carbon Rice Will Help Vietnam Meet Its Emission Target

  • Moving to low-carbon rice production offers the highest potential for Vietnam to meet its goal of cutting methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030 while boosting the competitiveness of a strategic export item, a new World Bank report says.

    The report, titled “Spearheading Vietnam’s Green Agricultural Transformation: Moving to Low-Carbon Rice,” suggests that Vietnam can transform the rice sector by cutting GHG emissions, improving resource efficiency and yields, boosting resilience, and diversifying production. Such transformation will require significant investment and major policy reforms to align incentives and coordinate behaviors of stakeholders at all levels.  

    The agricultural sector, despite all its successes, is an important contributor to GHG emissions in Vietnam,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “It has reached a point where a transition to lower-carbon modes of farming is imperativethe longer it takes to switch, the higher the costs will be. Experience suggests that government has a catalytic role to play in driving the green transition through strategic allocation of public investment and strengthening the enabling environment for private sector participation in a modern, green agriculture sector.”

    Rice, which is Vietnam’s most important crop and grown on more than half of its agricultural land area, accounts for 48 percent of the agriculture sector’s GHG emissions and over 75 percent of methane emissions. Based on conservative estimates, improving water management and optimizing application of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticide can help farmers maintain or increase yields by 5 to 10 percent and reduce input costs by 20 to 30 percent, thereby boosting net profits by around 25 percent. More importantly, these improved techniques would also help cut GHG emissions by up to 30 percent. Such approaches were successfully piloted in over 184,000 ha of rice farming under the Vietnam Sustainable Agriculture Transformation Project financed by the World Bank.  

     “These methods have been proven effective,” said Benoît Bosquet, World Bank Regional Director for Sustainable Development in East Asia Pacific. “If we can scale them up in the whole agricultural sector, they will help Vietnam progress towards its 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target.

    The report highlights five short- to medium-term policy areas to accelerate the transition to low-carbon agriculture, including ensuring policy coherence and plan-budget alignment, repurposing policy tools and public expenditures, promoting public investments, strengthening institutions, and enabling the private sector and other stakeholders to participate.

    The report was launched at the “Integrated Climate Resilience and Sustainable Development of the Mekong Delta” workshop, co-organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the World Bank in Can Tho on September 24.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Direct Benefit Transfer is changing the lives of farmers in Punjab

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

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

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

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

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

  • Delta govt worries as farmer loses over N70 million rice farm to flood

  • “When I first saw the video, most part of the farm was above the water but as you can see, more than 70 per cent of the entire rice farm land is under water.”

    The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, in Delta State, Godfrey Enita, on Thursday expressed concern over the extent of damage wrought by flood on a rice farm in the state.

    The commissioner spoke with reporters after inspecting a 100 hectare rice farm taken over by flood at the Benin-Owena River Basin Authority in Ngegwu, Ajaji – Illah, Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state.

    According to Mr Enita, the damage to the rice farm is huge.

    “In fact, when the report got to me, I did not know that it was of this magnitude.

    “When I first saw the video, most part of the farm was above the water but as you can see, more than 70 per cent of the entire rice farm land is under water.

    “That tells you how massive the loss is. But I must commend the farmer, he is a dogged person because of his commitment.

    “These are people the government should encourage, particularly for someone who had invested much and only to experience this huge loss due to flooding,” he said.

    Mr Enita said the state government would liaise with the appropriate authorities to give the farmer the necessary support to remain in business.

    He said the magnitude of damage was enough to discourage the farmer, if nothing was done to “keep him afloat”.

    The commissioner said how to ensure food security would remain a national discussion.

    He said the issues of flooding should occupy the centre stage, if the nation must sustain the policy on food security.

    “We are aware that dams will be opened and flooding will come but why something tangible has not been done to stem it over the years is what we cannot understand.”

    The commissioner said there was nothing much the state government could do to stop the flooding.

    “But we will continue to support our farmers in all ways possible to give them hope and encourage them to stay in their businesses,” Mr Enita said.

    ‘We didn’t envisage this’

    On his part, the Managing Director, Merrybell Rice Farm, Felix Okonti, who lost 50 hectares (about 250 metric tonnes of rice) farm to the flood, said that his total loss was about N72 million.

    According to Mr Okonti, the total hectare under the river basin land development is 100 hectares which was leased to the Delta State Government Ministry of Agriculture Assisted Rice production.

    “Out of this, I own 50 hectares, and because we are mindful that there will be flood, we first planed planting 44, but due to delay in inputs, we opted for flood resistant variety, called Buga rice variety from Jos which we planted in this field.

    “We did not envisage that the height of flood will be this high, normally, this variety is supposed to withstand the flood but this is not the situation.

    “As you can see, it has covered all the plants and going by the average of five to seven tonnes of rice per hectare, the gravity of loss is colossal.

    “It takes about 120 days (three months) for this variety to mature, and these have reached 72 days when the flood came and as you can see, there is nothing to salvage from the farm.

    Mr Okonti, who encouraged himself said that despite the loss he would venture into dry season rice farming from November.

    “According to him, the farm is insured and give the current market price, the total loss is put at about N72 million.

    He, however, advised the federal government, as the manager of river basins and inland waterways, to construct the needed dams along the River Niger/Benue Basin to absorb the waters that cause havoc along the states in the area.

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the commissioner in company of the Permanent Secretary, Ben Agamah, and Mr Okonti, among others, paddled on a canoe through the flooded rice farm to check the extent of damage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Demand for MSP

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

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

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

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

    ‘Sowing of wheat hit’

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

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

    No takers

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

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

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

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

    'No procurement yet'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A big family of rice species

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

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

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

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

    Loss of market

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

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

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

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

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

    Incorrect data by DFPD

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

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

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

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

    Solution

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

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

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

    Suggested duty slabs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Domestic Rice Prices May Continue To Increase …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Balanced fertilization: A fulcrum for sustainable production of maize and rice in Africa

  • Efforts to improve the yields of staple cereal crops like maize and rice at scale in Africa remain seriously hampered by the effects of poor soil fertility. The lack of adequate information to base an effective fertilizer recommendation upon often results in inefficient nutrient use by crops and low crop yields. A root cause of poor crop response to applied nutrients is generalized fertilizer recommendations that fail to account for variability in factors such as the climate, soil properties, and water availability. As we improve our understanding of the range of underlying issues that interact to create variability, better solutions can be created for farmers, and confidence in fertilizer use will grow.

    Over the last 20 years, nutrient omission trials (NOTs) have become a widespread method of assessing crop responses to nutrient application within defined agro-climatic landscapes or even an individual farm field. NOTs are designed as a series of plots that omit single nutrients in order to isolate the effects of their absence on crop growth and yield. Plots omitting nutrients are also compared to plots providing a more balanced application of nutrients that attempt to achieve a predetermined yield target based on a current understanding of crop nutrient demand.

    The NOT technique is particularly adaptable to the fragmented landscape of smallholder agriculture. The use of NOTs provides a means to collect site-specific data on crop nutrient responses and soil nutrient supply and provide data essential for generating more targeted fertilizer recommendations. Additional motivation behind the development of the science supporting NOTs is that the method shows high promise as a scalable tool to replace long-standing generalized recommendations systems.

    Recently, an analytical review of NOT studies conducted in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development, has provided new insight into the causes of yield-robbing variability. The team of researchers began by collecting primary data from more than 3,000 NOTs conducted for maize (35 regions from seven countries) and rice (30 regions from 17 countries) in order to gather evidence on the most influential factors limiting these crop yields and gain a better understanding on why and to what degree yield responses vary across the landscape.

    "Ultimately, the team was searching for actionable information to improve nutrient management for sustainable crop production intensification in SSA and identify future nutrient management research and development priorities that can help breakthrough existing knowledge gaps that are preventing yield improvement at scale. The results of the analysis provide valuable insights into the role of balanced fertilizer in improving the performance of cropping systems as the continent prepares for the Africa Union-led 2023 Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health Summit," said Dr. Shamie Zingore, Corresponding Author and Director of Research and Development at the African Plant Nutrition Institute.

    The review provides a comprehensive look at the overall effects of nutrient application on yields and nutrient use efficiency in maize and rice, how yields vary across the landscape, and what are the best predictors of yield and yield response.

    Highlights from the study

    Results determined that balanced fertilization with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) doubled both maize and rice yields (i.e., from 2 to 4 t/ha) compared to current practice. Yet the analysis indicated that farmers could expect more consistency across their fields, and season-to-season, if NPK applications were combined with other macro- and micronutrients, or farmyard manure inputs. The authors point to an existing African Green Revolution target of 3 t/ha that would be more likely to be exceeded by farmers adopting this latter, more balanced fertilization approach.

    Critical to our knowledge, the study also details new insights on how, why, and to what degree maize and rice yield responses are expected to vary in SSA. Factors such as soil type, agro-climatic zone, crop variety, and nutrient imbalances are identified and ranked in terms of importance within the cropping systems. Nutrient imbalances of calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and K were identified as playing a large role in limiting yield responses to N and P application in SSA soils. Of specific note is the authors' recommendation to revitalize research efforts towards understanding why soil potassium responses vary widely across maize and rice cropping systems. In their concluding remarks the authors make a convincing case for revitalizing work on unraveling the site-specific interactions between potassium and other nutrients, as well as the role of potassium fixation, as two key areas of research needed to generate consistently high yields at scale.

  • Diffculties in rehabilitating farmland after floods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Rice dwarfing virus threatens Indian yields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Rice, Wheat Push Up The Inflation

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

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

    Core Concern:

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

    Why Is Wheat Production Impacted:

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

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

    Factors Responsible:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Rice dwarfing virus threatens Indian yields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    India exports rice to more than 150 countries (File)

    New Delhi: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Rice imports as of Sept. 8 exceed 2021 volume

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Most affected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Countries that will benefit 

    On the flip side, some countries could be beneficiaries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Rice production stood at 1329 million tonnes

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

    Food price pressure rises

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

  • Explained | The ban on the export of broken rice

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

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

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

    What does it have to do with inflation?

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

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

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

    What happened to rice production?

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

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

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

    What are the concerns on ethanol blending?

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

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

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

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

    What are the likely after-effects of the ban?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Floods damage non-basmati rice crop

  • Total rice damage across Pakistan equals 1,155,000 tons on 860,000 acres

    Pakistan produces rice and sugar in surplus quantity, which is more than the domestic requirement. Photo: file

    KARACHI:

    A significant part of the non-basmati rice crop has been damaged owing to the recent floods. In contrast, the basmati rice crop is standing intact.

    “The rice sowing target for the current Kharif season was set on 1.8 million acres. During the months of April, May and till the mid of June, farmers in Sindh, in particular those in the rice belt, faced acute water shortage,” said Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) President, Miran Mohammed Shah.

    “Owing to the water shortage, the rice nurseries could not be prepared in most of the areas,” he added.

    The SCA president explained that “rice nurseries were prepared on a very small scale, only in those areas where water was available. By the end of June, rice was sown in only half of the targeted areas. The current rains started from the first week of July which continued till August 20, 2022. During those 50 plus rainy days, 65-70% of the rice nurseries were washed away in severely rain affected areas. In the remaining areas, 40-45% damage was done to the standing rice crops.”

    Bayer Agri Grower Marketing Lead, Azeem Khan Niazi stated that “the rice area in general was impacted more by the heat spell, water shortage and load shedding before the monsoons arrived, particularly in Sindh.”

    The SCA president noted that the “rice crop had been damaged by up to 55-60% across Sindh”.

    “Pakistan exports approximately $2 billion worth of rice, of which 70% is coarse variety (IRRI-6 and 8), and 80% of the IRRI-6 variety is sown in Sindh. Thus, Sindh is the major contributor to the big quantity of rice exported,” Shah added.

    “Due to the huge losses to the rice crop, the country will definitely not export the commodity at such a large scale as it used to do in previous years,” he further added.

    “The damage was due to monsoon, flow of water from Indus Tributaries and the Kabul River,” said Agriculture Republic Co-founder, Aamer Hayat Bhandara.

    “In Balochistan, rice is cultivated in the districts of Dera Bugti, Naseerabad and Jaffarabad. Approximately, 280,000 acres of land and 310,000 tons of rice have been damaged which is valued at Rs28 billion,” he further explained.

    In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Swat and Dera Ismail Khan, 150,000 acres and 175,000 tons of rice have been damaged which is valued at Rs12 billion. In Sindh, 24% of the rice is grown in Thatta and Badin while 60% is grown in Kashmore, Shikarpur, Larkana and Shahdad Kot. Likewise, 16% is grown on the left Bank of the Indus in Ghotki, Khairpur and Sanghar. Out of this, 5% area of lower Sindh and 27% area of Dadu and Shahdad Kot, an estimated 310,000 acres, has been damaged by floods. The loss of rice totals 560,000 tons, which is valued at Rs44 billion.

    The rice damage in total across Pakistan amounts to 860,000 acres and equals 1,155,000 tons. The total value of losses adds up to Rs 91 billion.

    “If there had been no floods, then the total production would have amounted to 9.2 million tons valued at Rs810 billion,” explained Bhandara. However, the expected rice production after the flood damages stands at 8.1 million tons, he added.

    “Domestic consumption is 4.2 million tons while the expected production loss stands at 1.1 million tons. Likewise, the expected export loss is 700,000 tons,” said Bhandara.

    “Despite the floods, we do not need to import rice at all. Even after the damages and fulfilling the domestic need of 4.2 million tons, we will have over four million tons to export,” exclaimed Bhandara.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posing uncertainities

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

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

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

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

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

  • All, except farmers, profit from paddy farming

  • Paddy farmers in the northern districts have struggled to turn a profit for the past five years, as production costs have risen significantly but rice prices have not increased proportionally.

    Moreover, the recent hike in fertiliser and diesel prices has made it virtually impossible for marginal farmers to make any profits, said farmers from Bogura, Joypurhat, Gaibandha, and Dinajpur.

    Recently, the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) office, Bogura region, made estimates of the production cost of T-Aman paddy cultivated in Bogura, Joypurhat, Pabna, and Sirajganj districts.

    This document shows the cost of producing paddy per bigha (33 decimal) is Tk 18,607, which results in a yield of 617 kg (or roughly 15.5 maunds). From this venture, a farmer makes Tk 19,659 (including Tk 3,000 earned from selling paddy straws).

    The data also shows that farmers spend Tk 30 to produce one kg of paddy, despite the government's current price of Tk 27 per kg.

    Speaking to farmers in Bogura, Joypurhat, and Gaibandha, this correspondent found that the actual production cost was a little more in reality.

    They said almost never does the cultivation process go exactly as planned, so there are always extra costs associated with the means of production.

    Additionally, the costs of leasing land vary from region to region and depend on the land's capacity for yield and crop rotations, they added.

    Whereas in India, the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) estimates that it costs Rs 1,360 to produce one quintal (100 kg) of Aman paddy.

    Furthermore, in FY23, the Government of India set the minimum support price of paddy at Rs 2,040 per quintal, so farmers can make a profit of Tk 680 per quintal.

    Meanwhile, Bangladeshi farmers are set to incur a loss of Tk 300 per quintal as per the government's current price.

    Five years ago, the production costs per bigha for Aman, Boro, and Aus were Tk 11,500, Tk 13,250, and Tk 6,485, according to the DAE.

    Salim Sajjad, from Pashchim Palsha village in Dinajpur's Ghoraghat upazila, who cultivated Aman paddy on five acres this season, said, "All businesses related to paddy farming are profiting except the farmers."

    Farmers in the village said when landowners cultivate paddy, they can make some profit, but 30 to 40 percent of paddy farmers there worked on leased land and were unable to profit.

    Abdul Mozid, a farmer from Chokzora village in Bogura's Shahjahanpur upazila, said he now drives a CNG-run autorickshaw to support his six-member family.

    "Farmers have never spent so much money on Aman cultivation as they have this season. This year, it is uncertain whether they can make a profit," he said.

    Rashedul Islam, a farmer from Maltia village in Joypurhat's Kalai upazila, said, "After we harvest our crops this season, I'm afraid we have to sell all our crops in order to pay off our loans, which we took in the beginning of the season."

    "As a result, I'll have to buy rice from the market to feed my family and borrow money again to cultivate potatoes," he added.

    Md Nuruzzaman, deputy director of DAE, Dinajpur, said, "Paddy farming by itself does not produce a profit, so it is important for farmers to also cultivate other types of crops."

  • KOICA, MOFA holds training in Ghana on improved rice production

  • The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in collaboration with Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture has held a three-day training for 25 farmer leaders on improving rice production capacities of farmers in the Central Region

    The programme formed part of the rice value chain improvement project, a four-year bilateral cooperation between South Korea and Ghana to strengthen and build the capacity of smaller rice farmers in the Central Region.

    An amount of $8 million had been provided by the South Korean government for five districts, namely; Gomoa East, Assin Foso, Assin North, Assin South and Twifo Atti-Morkwa under the project.

    The workshop sought to improve rice processing and packaging, increase rice production, strengthen the Farmer-Based Organisation (FBO) capacity in branding and marketing, and strengthen post-harvest management capacity and to increase farmer income by 15%.

    Training details 

    Participants drawn from the beneficiary districts, were taken through practical handling of machines and equipment meant for rice production. They were expected to also train members of their farmer groups.

    The Central Regional Director of Agriculture, Dr Peter Omega, encouraged the participants to put into practice whatever they learnt during the training period to benefit individual rice farmers within their district. He noted that 52 tractor operators were trained last year to assist farmers to expand their farms, adding that the 25 trained at the workshop would facilitate rice production.

    “Last year, we were able to cultivate 10,800 acres of land for farming purposes the number increased to 10,965 acres of land in 2022 and this workshop is going to enhance rice production”, he said.

    He underscored the need for the farmers to ensure regular maintenance and repairs of the machines and equipment, saying, “We are to note that we are holding the machines in trust of our rice farmers to improve their Livelihood. We therefore, appealed for the provision of additional farming machines and equipment to boost rice production in the five beneficiary districts and the region in general,”

    The Project Manager of KOICA, Dr Chung Haegun, in an address, reiterated the commitment of his organisation towards supporting initiatives aimed at increasing rice production in the Central Region. The adoption of mechanised farming technique, he indicated, would boost rice production in the Central Region and Ghana as a whole.

    The Manager of Benda Services Group, one of the implementing partners, Benjamin Edusah, in his remarks noted that the skills acquired by the participants would ensure the proper operations and handling of the machines.

    Responding, team leader for the trainees, Prince Opoku, expressed his appreciation to KOICA and Benda Services Group for updating their skills with regard to the use of rice farming equipment during the training. Certificate of participation were awarded to the participants.

  • Govt to import another nine lakh tonnes of rice

  • The cabinet committee on economic affairs in a meeting on Wednesday agreed in principle to import 9,00,000 tonnes of more rice.

    Presided over by finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, the online meeting approved a proposal from the Directorate General of Food to import 4,00,000 tonnes under the direct purchase method and 5,00,000 tonnes through open tender.

    In a briefing, additional secretary Md Abdul Barik of the cabinet division said that the name of importing country would be informed later.

    With the latest decision taken in a fortnight’s time, the government is going to import 19,30,000 tonnes of rice and wheat.

    On September 7, a meeting of the cabinet committee on government purchase decided to import 2,00,000 tonnes of non-boiled rice from Myanmar.

    On August 21, the government decided to procure 5,00,000 tonnes of wheat from Russia and 3.30 lakh tonnes of rice from India and Vietnam.

    India will supply 1,00,000  tonnes of non-Basmati rice and  Vietnam 2,00,000 tonnes of non-Basmati rice and 30,000 tonnes of non-boiled rice.

    Officials at the Directorate General of Food said that they were directed to find out alternative sources of food import to maintain the country’s food security amid apprehension of food shortage in November.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The math behind the rice export ban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Devastating floods in Pakistan to cause food security crisis.

  • Sindh accounts for 55% of the country's onion production, floods destroyed about 70% onion, 50% peach and 30% apple damaged in Baluchistan

    The Climate Smart Agriculture Experts on Tuesday claimed that the devastating monsoon floods have a big toll on the agriculture sector in Pakistan that would seriously affect food security and global supplies of agricultural commodities exported by the country.

    “While the country is already undergoing a shortage of 2.6 billion tonnes of wheat, this would seriously affect food security. Moreover, as Pakistan is the fifth-largest cotton producer, accounting for 5% of global output, the damage could further shrink the world’s cotton supply. It may even force Pakistan to increase cotton imports. Pakistan is the world’s fourth largest rice exporter. The hot and dry conditions early in the season and the recent floods have ravaged large swathes of rice lands so will slash rice yield again impacting the rice economy and food security, Climate Smart Agriculture Experts Dr. Pashupati Chaudhary and Dr Ishfaq Ahmad told APP while sharing their account of massive collateral, economic and human life losses during the unprecedented torrential rains that caused massive inundation in the north and south of the country. Dr Pashupati Chaudhry said climate change and increasingly erratic extreme weather events were causing a surge in natural disasters such as, inter alia, heat waves and floods across the world. “Flood is amongst the most frequently occurring disasters affecting several million people and impacting several hundred billion of the economy across the world. Due to climate change, mainly warming, and extreme events and flood-led disasters have increased in frequencies and magnitudes in recent decades. Southeast Asia and South Asia are the hotspots for natural disasters, in particular floods, with immense impacts on people’s livelihoods and economy at trans boundary level since the region is home to several transboundary rivers.”

    Dr Ashfaq Ahmad said Pakistan recently sustained one of the most devastating flood-led disasters in the history. “Record monsoon rains, glacier melting and severe heat waves have triggered floods since mid-June 2022 that have swept away houses, roads, railway tracks, bridges, livestock and crops, and killed more than 1,400 people.” “Growing crops such as cotton, rice, sugarcane, sesame, moong, fodder, orchards and vegetables like onions and tomatoes are damaged, inundated, or washed away. Floods have also caused land degradation, sand deposition, siltation, and prolonged inundation making the lands unfit for planting winter crops such as wheat, cotton, oilseed, and a large number of winter vegetables. In some cases, there will be a delay in planting time. While the country is already undergoing a shortage of 2.6 billion tons of wheat, this will seriously affect food security.

    Moreover, as Pakistan is the fifth-largest cotton producer, accounting for 5% of global output, the damage could further shrink the world’s cotton supply. It may even force Pakistan to increase cotton imports. Pakistan is the world’s fourth largest rice exporter. The hot and dry conditions early in the season and the recent floods have ravaged large swathes of rice lands so will slash rice yield again impacting the rice economy and food security.”

    The experts opined that Sindh and Balochistan were the hardest hit provinces. Sindh province accounts for 55% of the country’s onion production and it is estimated that the recent floods destroyed about 70% onion. In Balochistan, it is estimated through local researchers that the recent downpours and flash floods have damaged around 50% peach and 30% apple. Moreover, the damages to rural infrastructures such as irrigation canals, roads, markets, and warehouses will immensely impact agricultural production, marketing, and distribution particularly the cotton crop.

    “The federal government has estimated a loss of at least $10 billion caused by torrential rains and subsequent floods, with Sindh, in particular, suffering damages of over $1.6bn (Rs355bn). Pakistan must be prepared to increase food import to make up for smaller domestic harvests. The countries that generally rely on Pakistan’s exports, including rice and cotton, will need to find alternative sources, which will. put additional pressure on global commodity supplies,” they added. To address the situation, the experts mentioned that the government has taken multiple measures along with various national and international allies. Federal and provincial governments have evacuated people from the affected areas and distributed basic necessitates. But that is not adequate. Pakistan will require financial and technical resources which the country may lack. To materialize its promises, the country and development partners can follow a well-established disaster response mechanism that encompasses rescue and relief, recovery, and reconstruction. Rescue and Relief is about immediate actions such as food, clean water, medicine distribution, support in sheltering, setting up a community resilience centers and relocation of livestock. The current initiative in this is not the end solution. Some medium to long-term interventions are required to bring back a better future of the affected people as discussed below.

  • Cambodia’s rice exports up over 13% in eight months

  • Cambodia exported 389,000 tonnes of milled rice in the first eight months of 2022, netting more than 242.80 million USD, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation.

    Cambodia exports 389,000 tonnes of milled rice in the first eight months of 2022, netting more than 242.80 million USD. (Photo: khmertimeskh.com)

    Phnom Penh (VNA) - Cambodia exported 389,000 tonnes of milled rice in the first eight months of 2022, netting more than 242.80 million USD, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation.

    The total rice export increased over 13% compared to the same period last year.

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

    China remains Cambodia's biggest importer with 44%. It was followed by France with 15%, Malaysia with 6%, the Netherlands with 4%, Italy, Gabon, and Brunei with 3% each, and the rest 22% covered by 48 other countries./.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Too much rice can only mean lower prices for farmers

  • Rice prices continue to decline despite the government's attempt to shore them up. 

    The National Assembly is in the process of amending a law to make it mandatory for the government to purchase rice, which it already does but is not legally required to.

    As of last week, the national average wholesale price for a 20-kilogram sack of rice was 46,700 won ($34), according to the Korea Agricultural Marketing Information Service (KAMIS) on Monday, 18.8 percent down from a year ago.

    When purchased directly from farms, the price of a 20-kilogram sack of rice decreased 24.8 percent from the previous year to 41,185 won. This year-on-year decline is the steepest since Statistics Korea started publishing related data in 1977, or 45 years ago.
     
    Production of rice has increased significantly in recent years, while consumption is decreasing. 
     
    Production of white rice last year was 3,881,601 tons, up 10.7 percent from the previous year. In fact, this increase followed five years of declining production. 
     
    And yet, per capita rice consumption has been declining every year. 
     
    There are about 530,000 rice farmers in Korea.
     
    The government has some tools to help farmers and keep prices higher, which include so-called market isolation, which refers to the government buying over-produced rice and reducing the supply. 
     
    The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs bought 144,000 tons of rice in February, 126,000 tons in May and 100,000 tons in August — 370,000 tons in total, the same level as in 2017, which was a record for the government.
     
    The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs decided to purchase a total of 450,000 tons of newly harvested rice this year, up from the 350,000 tons bought every year since 2017. The period of purchase has also been moved up to the end of August.
     
    “We expect that this will have the same effect as buying 100,000 tons of rice produced in 2022,” said an official from the ministry.
     
    A policy to reduce the area of rice cultivation is also being pursued to reduce production, but many question the strategy. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs suggested it will be optimal to limit cultivation to 700,000 hectares (1.7 million acres), a reduction of 32,000 hectares, or 4.6 percent,compared to the previous year. But, actual rice cultivation area this year was on 727,158 hectares, only 5,319 hectares, or 0.7 percent, down from the year before.

    The government is also trying to prevent overproduction of rice by giving direct payments to farmers who grow other crops such as wheat and soybeans, but immediate results from this strategy have not been felt. Many in the agricultural industry say asupport project implemented between 2018 and 2020 to encourage cultivation of other crops should be restarted.
     
    Politically, the Democratic Party (DP) claims the government is neglecting the plight of rice farmers, and it started a task force for normalization of rice prices. It's also proposed an amendment to the Grain Management Act, which would make it mandatory for the government to buy rice.
     
    The amendment also proposes a legal basis for the resumption of the support project from 2018 to 2020 to encourage cultivation of crops other than rice.
     
    “Rice has been chronically oversupplied for more than 20 years,” said Vice Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Kim In-joong on Sept. 1 while visiting a farm in Asan, South Chungcheong. “It is an issue that needs to be further discussed through the parliamentary process because demands from the DP are strong.”

  • Soldiers dispatched to harvest rice in flooded areas

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

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

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

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

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

  • Rice jumps 5pc after Indian export curbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • India Restricts Rice Exports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Africa’s rice dependency

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

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

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

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

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

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

    New harvest could ease pressures

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

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

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

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

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

  • Amid controversies, Centre asks states to organise awareness campaigns on fortified rice

  • Some reports state that iron-fortified rice may do more harm than good to Adivasis or indigenous populations

    Amid controversies and health concerns surrounding fortified rice, the Centre has directed states governments to organise awareness campaigns on benefits of the grain blended with micro-nutrients Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin B12.

    Officials said in order to “promote the benefits of fortified rice while elucidating concerns among some sections of the population vulnerable to Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Anaemia,” the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) has asked states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Telangana, Rajasthan and Kerala to organise workshops/seminar to sensitise tribal belts and districts with populations vulnerable to the disorders.

    “In a workshop organised by the Gujarat government, there was general consensus regarding the positive impact of fortified rice and its significant contribution to the country’s nutritional security strategy,” they said.

    To dispel “health risks” in indigenous population due to their consumption, the officials say “benefits of rice fortification far outweigh the harmful effects”.

    “Only 0.01% of the population may face health risk due to consumption of fortified rice, particularly those ailing with Thalassemia Major,” they said, quoting experts.

    However, there are reports of doctors, health workers and nutritionists sounding warnings that iron-fortified rice may do more harm than good to Adivasis, or indigenous populations, who suffer from the ailments or are genetically prone to them.

    “It is irresponsible of the Union Government to thrust the reckless scheme of rice fortification onto state governments,” said Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) and the Right to Food Campaign.

    An NGO had also written to the Odisha government demanding suspension of its distribution and to not go along with the “misadventure being attempted by the union government” following complaints of stomach pain among children in a village in the Bolangir district.

    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India define fortification as “deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve the nutritional quality of food and to provide public health benefit with minimal risk to health”.

    “Fortified rice helps in preventing Cretinism, Goiter, IIH (Thyrotoxicosis), brain damage, improvement in foetal and neonatal health and improvement in productivity of population. Therefore, the benefits of rice fortification intervention far outweigh the risks involved,” officials claim.

    Aiming to cover 291 districts aspirational and heavy burden districts by March 2023, the Centre plans to distribute fortified rice in a phased manner through all central government schemes by 2024 as also announced by the Prime Minister.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Loadings halted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Legacy of the green revolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Problems with transitioning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Unsustainable crops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Government support

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

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

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

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

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

    A transition package could also be linked to ecosystem services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Markets and consumers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • This Scheme Will Allow Distribution of Fortified Rice Under PDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    LOADINGS HALTED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Centre pushes for higher agri exports to Qatar after rice export ban

  • The potential GI products for exports include basmati rice, mango, pomegranates, products of northeast region . (iStockphoto)

    This comes after India banned exports of broken rice and imposed 20% duty on certain varieties of rice excluding parboiled rice and basmati rice

    The Centre has organized a virtual networking meeting between exporters of India and importers of Qatar to boost agri and food GI products exports in Qatar, the ministry of commerce and industry said on Monday.

    This comes after India banned exports of broken rice and imposed 20% duty on certain varieties of rice excluding parboiled rice and basmati rice. Exporters said that the rice exports will decline sharply after the move.

    Rice is the largest exported agricultural product from India and contributed to more than 19% of the total agriculture export during the year 2021-22, as per India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF).

    “More than 80 participants including exports, importers, representatives from Indian Business and Professionals Council (IBPC), officials of the Indian Embassy and Agriculture and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) participated," the ministry said.

    M. Angamuthu, chairman of APEDA in his address emphasized on the government’s focus on promoting GI, organic and natural products. The attributes of Geographical Indication (GI) add value to the products exported.

    The exporters were informed about the potential GI products for exports such as basmati rice, mango, pomegranates, products of northeast region and several processed products.

    There are more than 400 registered Geographical Indications in India of which around 150 are agricultural and food products GI, the ministry said adding that over 100 registered GI products fall under the category of APEDA scheduled products.

  • How A Major Threat To Rice Crops Is Gaining Resilience

  • How often do you think about rice? Probably not very much. Rice usually flies under the radar; its inoffensive blandness belies its importance in sustaining life on our planet. According to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, rice is a complex carbohydrate that is the most significant source of energy for half of the people on the planet.

    That likely explains why rice is so exceptionally multifarious. There are, says USA Rice, over 120,000 varieties of rice found around the world, when taking into account flavor, aroma, starch content, and milling. Black japonica has a whole-grain nuttiness and can be found in porridges and Chinese cuisine. Short-grain rice offers starchy creaminess to dishes like risotto.

    But rice, like all crops, is not without its threats. Science News outlines how climate change and its associated extreme weather, such as droughts and floods, have wrought havoc on rice farmers' ability to plant and harvest crops. And recently, scientists have found that a threat — once thought to be kept well in check — is posing an increased risk to crops at home and abroad.

    Genetic revolution

    Weedy rice is an innocuous name for a close relative of cultivated rice, one that, upon gaining a toehold within a crop of rice, will compete with — and often dominate — its cousin, says California Weedy Rice, a University of California program aimed at rooting out this nefarious plant. Weedy rice has been kept in check for years using herbicides and herbicide-resistant strains of cultivated rice. But findings from a recent study published in Communications Biology have found that weedy rice is quickly evolving to become herbicide-resistant itself.

    This is due to a "genetic revolution," says the study's senior author and Washington University professor Kenneth Olsen, that has seen weedy rice transform "from being very genetically distinct from U.S. crop varieties to nowadays mostly being derived from crop-weed hybridization" (via Washington University in St.Louis). Essentially, as weedy rice has intermingled with cultivated rice in fields, it has taken on the very traits instilled in cultivated rice meant to protect it.

    In addition to weedy rice and climate change, rice production faces another threat, one that is exacerbated by climate change. A paper published in Nature Communications details the rise of arsenic concentrations in the soil of rice paddies in California. As rice paddies are irrigated with arsenic — a naturally-occurring, but toxic compound — concentrations grow in the soil. Climate change, and the resultant effect it will have on rice's growth characteristics, will likely increase this trend and lead to a significant decrease in the yield and quality of rice harvests.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • How Rice Afrika is using technology to increase rice yield

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

    They train local youth to operate and service these combine harvesters.
    This not only allows farmers to utilize the harvesters, thereby resulting in increased productivity, but also creates local jobs (such as harvester operators, harvester mechanics, harvester booking agents).
    2) Precision farming solutions for the farmers
    Rice Afrika provides farmers with services such as weather reports, soil analysis, climate analysis, IoT (Internet of Things) driven insights, informed crop management decisions, techniques for increasing yield etc.
    This helps farmers make better farming decisions and utilize better farming practices, which help them improve their yield.
    3) Guaranteed off-take of produce at the farm gate
    Rice Afrika purchases rice from the farmers they partner with.
    Their ability to aggregate demand from the farmers and understand supply better, allows them to offer the farmers a premium price for their rice.
    They then use the rice to sell their premium packaged brand of parboiled rice.
    People can buy this rice from Rice Afrika through their website or mobile app among others.
    Rice Afrika also employs a flexible payment mechanism, wherein farmers can pay for the company’s services with their rice produce, in case they aren’t able to pay money at the time.
    The company has also developed RiceID, a crop identification and management system, which allows customers to track the source of rice. This helps ensure that farmers and customers aren’t affected by counterfeiters.
    Rice Afrika is also developing a mobile agency banking system, in order to facilitate frictionless financial transactions among the stakeholders in the rice value chain, viz. the farmers, the buyers/ customers etc.
    Till date, Rice Afrika has hired out harvesters to more than 5000 farmers. Farmers who have worked with Rice Afrika have been able to increase productivity by 50% and decrease fertilizer usage by 40%.
    They have also processed more than 2000 metric tons of Rice.
    For their efforts, Rice Afrika recently won the World Economic Forum’s Circulars Accelerator Cohort 2022, which awards circular economy innovators.
    Their integrated approach, which goes beyond just purchasing farming machines and providing it to farmers, is a step in the right direction when it comes to solving food production issues and increasing production yield.
    We, in Manipur, may have an insight or two to pick up from them.

  • Hyderabad: Ministers slam Centre over rice export ban

  • Hyderabad: Stating that the food security in the country was at risk and there was lack of foresight in the policies of the Central government, TRS working president KT Rama Rao on Saturday demanded Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal to implement one nation and one food grain procurement policy. Rao further alleged that the current food grain crisis clearly indicates that the Modi government lacks a long-term plan for the country's food needs. "It is people's misfortune that the inefficient BJP government at the Center neither has any clue about the development and welfare of the people nor does it have a strategic long term plan," The Minister remarked.

    Lashing out at the Union government, Finance Minister T Harish Rao said that the Centre doesn't have any agriculture policy to run the country. Speaking at a programme in Sangareddy district on Saturday, Harish Rao said few months ago, the Union government asked the Telangana farmers not to cultivate paddy as the country has abundant stock of rice which can be met the demand for the next four years. All of sudden, it has banned the exports of broken rice and imposed 20 per cent duty on exports of non-Basmati rice due to decline of food grains.

    It clearly indicates that the Union government doesn't have any vision towards the agriculture sector, Harish Rao alleged. The Minister said there was huge demand for rice across the globe due to various reasons and the Union government is unable to utilise the opportunity due to poor vision towards the agriculture sector. Harish Rao demanded that the Centre should give an explanation to people as to why the ban has been imposed on the export of broken rice and why the Union ministers have pressurised the Telangana farmers not to cultivate the paddy.

  • Govt imposes 20% export duty on non-basmati rice shipments, to hit overall rice exports in current fiscal

  • Rao said imposition of export tax will definitely reduce the volume of rice export this fiscal and make rice from India costlier.

    The government on Thursday imposed a 20% export duty on non-basmati ‘white’ rice exports which is expected to hit overall volume of exports in the current fiscal.

    According to a finance ministry notification, the export tax will be applicable from Friday.

    Exporters say that out of total non-basmati rice exports of 17 million tonne (mt) in 2021-22, share of white rice was around 60% and the rest of the shipments were par-boiled rice which has been exempted from export duty.

    “Our concern is whether this export duty will be applicable to around 2 mt white rice consignment in the transit,” V Krishna Rao, president, All India Rice Exporters Association, told FE.

    Rao said imposition of export tax will definitely reduce the volume of rice export this fiscal and make rice from India costlier.

    Currently, India is exporting non-basmati rice at around $360 a tonne.

    The finance ministry also imposed a 20% export duty on rice in husk (paddy)and husked brown rice.

    India has been the world’s largest rice exporter in the last decade — export earnings stood at $8.8 billion in 2020-21 and $9.6 billion in 2021-22.

    According to the commerce ministry data, India’s value of rice exports rose 12% to $2.6 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal compared to previous year.

    “It will make the exports costlier thereby ensuring affordability of rice to the common masses,” Saurab Agarwal, tax partner, EY said. Because of 5% decline in paddy sowing this kharif season because of deficient rainfall in key paddy growing areas of West Bengall, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, rice production is expected to decline 2022-23 crop year (July-June) from a record 130 mt achieved in 2021-22 crop year.

    The United States department of agriculture (USDA) in its rice outlook for August had stated that India’s rice exports are projected to increase to a record 22 MT in 2022-23. USDA has projected that country’s projected exports exceed the combined shipments of the next three-largest exporters — Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan.

    Out of the 21 mt of rice shipment in 2021-22, India exported more than 17 mt of non-basmati rice and the rest of the volume was aromatic and long grain Basmati rice. In terms of volume, Bangladesh, China, Benin and Nepal are five major export destinations of rice.

  • India, the world’s top rice exporter, just slapped a 20% tax on some rice exports. It could further fuel food inflation

  • India — the world's top rice exporter — has slapped a 20% tax on shipments of some rice grades in a move that could worsen the food crisis.

    The new export tax that affects some rice grades will take effect Friday, according to an announcement from India's finance ministry on Thursday. India also banned the exports of 100% broken rice, which is mostly used for animal feed, Bloomberg and Reuters reported, citing government notices.

    The developments come as rice plantings in India have been impacted by a lack of rainfall in some areas this year, per the news agencies.

    India accounts for about 40% of global rice exports, according to the US Department of Agriculture, or USDA. The country's moves to levy a 20% tax on some rice grades while restricting broken rice are expected to push up prices of the staple grain amid a surge in food prices worldwide.

    China and the Philippines are the world's top two importers of the staple grain, according to the USDA.

    As the prices of wheat and corn rallied this year on the back of the Ukraine war, rice prices remained relatively stable, giving inflation-weary consumers some reprieve. But India's latest move may change that, and shift demand from India to its competitors.

    "With this duty, Indian rice shipments will become uncompetitive in the world market. Buyers will shift to Thailand and Vietnam," B.V. Krishna Rao, the president of the India Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters. The two Southeast Asian countries are the world's second- and third-largest rice exporters globally.

    After wheat and sugar, rice is now the third major agricultural commodity in India to face export restrictions this year. The wave of food protectionism comes amid supply concerns and inflation fears.

  • Kharif rice production might slip by 10 mn tonnes due to drought: Food Secy

  • Sudhanshu Pandey explains reason for government banning export of broken rice

    Data sourced from various agencies show that in Financial Year 2021-22 (FY22) out of the 3.8-3.9 million tonnes of broken rice exported, around 1.6 million tonnes (over 41 per cent) went to China for use as feed meal.

    India’s rice production this kharif season could reduce by 10-12 million tonnes due to a drought in four states and a shift towards other crops elsewhere, said food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey on Friday.

    The preliminary estimate—it might change later due to good late rains—is the first official number on monsoon’s impact on kharif rice production in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. In the 2021-22 crop year, India produced over 111 million tonnes of rice in the kharif season.

    Pandey said the central government banned exports of broken rice on Thursday night as a “mind-boggling” increase had caused domestic shortage and increased poultry and feed meal rates. Broken rice is largely meant for the non-human consumption and it is used as a feed meal in the poultry industry.

    Data sourced from various agencies show that in Financial Year 2021-22 (FY22) out of the 3.8-3.9 million tonnes of broken rice exported, around 1.6 million tonnes (over 41 per cent) went to China for use as feed meal.

    “During April to August this year (FY-23), exports of broken rice has risen by a mind boggling 4178 per cent compared to the corresponding period of 2019, while between Fy-18 and Fy-19, too exports of broken rice from India has jumped by almost 319 per cent,” Pandey told reporters.

    “We have kept parboiled rice and basmati rice outside the purview of any sort of restriction be it higher export duty or total ban because these are used for human consumption in several countries across the globe,” he said.

    The share of broken rice in India’s total exports--estimated to be around 21.2 million tonnes in 2021-22--has increased to 23 per cent in April-August 2022 period compared to 1.34 per cent in the corresponding period in 2019.

    Pandey said apart from easing a shortage in the domestic market, the export ban would ensure that the drawdown of rice from Food Corporation of India (FCI) inventories towards ethanol production is not huge.

    “The ban on broken rice exports will also ensure that it is available for domestic ethanol manufacturing and the pressure on FCI rice to meet the needs of grain-based ethanol players is less,” said an industry representative from the grain-based ethanol manufacturing sector.

    In full 2021-22, around 81,000 tonnes of broken rice was allotted from FCI’s godowns for ethanol production. The amount jumped to 1.4 million tonnes till August 2022 as broken rice was unavailable in the open market.

    Pandey said between January 1 and September 8, broken rice prices had risen by 37.5 percent while maize prices have also gone up by 26.31 during the same period as broken rice is simply not available.

    About the government imposing 20 per cent export duty on some rice types before the ban on broken rice, Pandey said that the step will help in lowering prices.

    A government notification on banning the export of broken rice said that between September 9 and September 15, consignments and shipments where loading has started in the ports before the ban and shipping bills is filed of vessels berthed or where broken rice consignments have been handed over to the customs will be allowed to be exported.

    This exemption has been granted to ensure that in-transit shipments and goods which have already left the hinterland do not pile up in the ports as was the case when wheat exports were banned on May 14, 2022.

    Last evening, the Centre imposed a 20 per cent export duty on select rice varieties but kept major items like basmati out of its purview.

  • Climate change is hurting India’s rice crop

  • With extreme weather events affecting cropping patterns, growers need to be equipped with new farming methods.

    In parts of India, crops have been destroyed by both incessant rain and by the lack of it [File: Yirmiyan Arthur/AP Photo]

    In Haryana’s Bithmara, about 200 kilometres (124 miles) northwest of the capital New Delhi, 37-year-old Satish Jangra is distraught after seeing his paddy crops destroyed due to untimely and incessant rainfall in early August.

    “I am compelled to leave farming. The cost is much more than the output and I am falling into a debt trap,” he said.

    Each year, Jangra would till 3 hectares (8 acres) of his neighbour’s land in which he cultivated mostly paddy and other grains like wheat and millets. That has now been reduced to 1 hectare (3 acres). He is thinking of either changing the paddy field to another crop variety or stopping tilling the land altogether so that he does not have to worry about the losses each year.

    “You spend thousands on different fertilisers, diesel, water etc and when it’s time for output for paddy especially, you just get into losses,” he told Al Jazeera.

    Traders pay according to the quality of the rice, but over time farmers say, the quality has decreased.

    He still has to pay a $600 loan to the bank and for that, he is now looking for an alternative.

    “I have started working in a small furniture shop because I cannot be dependent on just farming,” he said.

    In eastern India’s Jamui Bihar village, farmer Rajkumar Yadav’s troubles are the opposite of Jangra’s as he waits for rainfall so that his paddy crops do not dry up.

    Each morning and evening, the 55-year-old’s family takes water from their well to sprinkle on the crops. He says his family can no longer rely on the monsoon.

    “In our area only 10 percent sowing of crops has happened so far because there is no rainfall. We all are dependent on the Tubewell [used to pump groundwater], which is also drying due to high temperatures,” he said.

    Researchers say that the production of rice in India is constrained by both droughts and heavy rains which can flood the fields.

    About 68 percent of the total cropping area in India is rainfed. Of the roughly 40 million hectares (100 million acres) of the rice-harvested area in India, 60 percent is irrigated leaving the rest dependent upon rainfall, and hence susceptible to drought.

    Aditi Mukherjee, principal researcher at International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a nonprofit research organisation, said overall, climate change has increased the probability of extreme events.

    While “impacts of droughts can be somewhat mitigated through access to irrigation, parts of India [such as eastern India which is a major rice basket], do not have adequate affordable irrigation, and depend mostly on expensive-to-operate diesel pumps,” she said.

    This year paddy sowing has been affected in key rice-producing states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, resulting in a 13 percent lag in area under paddy.

    A ban on rice exports?

    IWMI’s Mukherjee told Al Jazeera that it is going to be a hard year for farmers.

    “Heat waves, followed by drought-like conditions due to late arrival of monsoons, have impacted two main crops, wheat in the previous season, and now rice,” she said, adding that such late sowing of paddy is likely to affect yield, and also delay the next cropping cycle.

    And while it is not clear as yet what sort of shortage that will result in when the harvest finally comes, the United States Department of Agriculture has estimated that rice production may reduce by 0.9 per cent, the first decline since 2015. That leads experts to say they need to monitor the situation closely, especially if the government decides to ban or limit its exports as it did in May for wheat.

    Tavseef Mairaj Shah, who works in agroecology, warns that while a ban on rice exports would be catastrophic for the global food supply, such a move is not currently expected, although a rise in rice prices is not off the cards.

    The threat to India’s rice production also comes at a time when countries are already grappling with soaring food costs. The decline in production that farmers foresee could make India’s battle against inflation more difficult and lead to export restrictions.

    In India, rice is a staple food for more than half the population. Bangladesh, China, Nepal, and certain Middle Eastern nations are among some of its top clients, as India exports rice to more than 100 countries.

    “India has to take in consideration the domestic food security aspect. While we currently have grain stocks, we may have to buffer in case the Ukraine war continues,” said Srinath Sridhan, an independent markets commentator.

    Reimagine farming

    Congress party supporters shout anti-government slogans during a rally in New Delhi, India.
    Reimagine farming

    But eventually, to ensure food security, India needs to reimagine its agricultural practices, scientists say.

    “The unprecedented change in rainfall patterns, droughts and extreme heat is a stark reminder that India needs to uphold and promote a transition from mono to multi-cropping systems,” said Rohin Kumar, senior agriculture campaigner at Greenpeace India.

    Monoculture kills all the nutrients from the earth, weakening the soil, which in turn inhibits healthy plant growth.

    With the effects of climate change and the extreme weather expected to aggravate in coming years, India also needs to create adequate demand and supply of many local indigenous grains, vegetables and fruits, with urban communities stepping in to support farmers by directly buying from farmers, Kumar said.

    Agroecologist Shah agrees that there is an “urgent need” to transition to sustainable methods of rice cultivation to improve water use efficiency, farmers’ livelihoods, and make them capable of adapting to changing weather patterns and extreme weather events.

    While a government push to make any of these suggestions a reality is currently not on the table, farmers like rain-starved Yadav have already switched to cultivating different crops to make a living.

    “We have started cultivating coriander, and I think that that helps me a bit to sell it in my village,” he said.

    In Jamuai village, where Yadav lives, besides growing paddy and other crops, farmers have been doing organic farming, shunning the use of chemicals. And while they have been at it for half-a-dozen years, they are yet to find people willing to pay the premium prices that this process demands.

    “We have been trying to raise awareness about organic products but that is not happening much. When it comes to profit, no one thinks about the farmer,” he said.

  • Thailand targets higher rice exports of 7.5 mln tonnes this year

  • BANGKOK, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Thailand is aiming for rice exports of 7.5 million tonnes this year, up from a previous target of 7 million tonnes, due to increased output and a weak baht amid global food insecurity, a government spokesperson said on Thursday.

    Thailand, the world's third-largest rice exporter after India and Vietnam, exported 4.09 million tonnes of rice in the January-July period, up 54% from a year earlier, Rachada Dhnadirek said in a statement.

    The country's favourable weather has boosted its rice production while a weak baht has kept Thai rice prices competitive, she said. The Thai currency was hovering near its weakest level in more than 15 years against the dollar.

    Thailand has seen higher demand for its rice as countries seek to ensure food security and replace wheat and corn in the animal feed industry, Rachada said.

    The agriculture ministry expected paddy rice output of 26.92 million tonnes in the 2022/23 crop year, up 2.09% from a year earlier, she said.

  • Top Rice Exporter India Curbs Shipments in Threat to Inflation

    • Government bans broken rice exports and taxes other varieties
    • Move will send shock waves through global agricultural market.

    Workers bag rice paddy at a wholesale market in New Delhi, India.Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg

    India, the world’s biggest rice shipper, restricted exports of key varieties that mainly go toward feeding Asia and Africa, threatening to rattle global crop markets and exacerbate food inflation and hunger. 

    The government has imposed a 20% duty on shipments of white and brown rice, and banned broken rice sales abroad. The curbs apply to roughly 60% of India’s overall rice exports, according to Bloomberg calculations. 

    The moves by India, which accounts for 40% of the global rice trade, will put further pressure on countries that are struggling with worsening hunger and soaring food inflation. Rice is a staple food for about half of the world’s population, with Asia producing and consuming about 90% of global supply. 

    Rice is now the third major agricultural commodity in India to face restrictions on overseas sales this year. The South Asian nation has already curbed wheat and sugar exports, adding to a spate of food protectionism that’s exacerbated chaos in global food markets brought on by the war in Ukraine. 

    In contrast to the surge in wheat and corn prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rice has been subdued due to ample stockpiles, helping to ward off a bigger food crisis. With India’s latest move, that may be about to change.

    The restrictions apply to unmilled and husked brown varieties, the government said late Thursday. Semi-milled and wholly-milled rice -- or white rice -- will incur a similar duty. Parboiled and Basmati rice are excluded from the curbs. 

    The variety that now attracts the export tax accounts for about 60% of India’s non-basmati rice shipments, according to B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association. The restriction will benefit rival suppliers Thailand and Vietnam, he said, which are cooperating to shore up rice prices. 

    India Accounts for 40% of Global Rice Trade

    Rice exports for the year 2021-22

    Source: US Department of Agriculture

    “The government’s move will boost global rice prices,” Rao said, estimating that export prices of white rice may exceed $400 a ton from as much as $350 currently on a free-on-board basis. 

    Exporters will ask the government to waive taxes on about 2 million tons of rice that have been contracted but not yet shipped, he added. 

    Broken rice, which is banned for overseas sales, is mainly used for animal feed. Prices have jumped this year on increased export demand. Top buyers include China, which uses it for livestock feed, and some African countries that import it for food. It accounts for almost 20% of India’s shipments abroad. 

    India’s rice planting has shrunk 5.6% this season due to a lack of rainfall in some areas. Monsoon showers have been more than 25% lower than average in major growing states of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar. Overall, the country has received 5% above normal precipitation during the period. 

    The trade restrictions will create supply concerns given that India is the single largest rice exporter, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Alvin Tai. “Definitely won’t help global food inflation but depends how long they keep it up.” 

    — With assistance by Anirban Nag

  • Pakistan’s rice paddies face ‘extreme’ heat stress risk by 2045: report

  • Countries growing 70% of world's food also set to suffer

    Blistering crop-withering temperatures that also risk the health of agricultural workers could threaten swathes of global food production by 2045 as the world warms, an industry analysis warned Thursday.

    Climate change is already stoking heatwaves and other extreme weather events across the world, with hot spells from India to Europe this year expected to hit crop yields.

    Temperature spikes are causing mounting concern for health, particularly for those working outside in sweltering conditions, which is especially dangerous when humidity levels are high.

    The latest assessment by risk company Verisk Maplecroft brings those two threats together to calculate that heat stress already poses an “extreme risk” to agriculture in 20 countries, including agricultural giant India.

    Pakistan, whcih is a major Asian rice producer along with Vietnam, makes the list of 20 locations where “agriculture faces extreme heat stress risks in current climate conditions.”

    Other countries to make the list include sub-Saharan African countries such as sesame producer Sudan and shea producer Burkina Faso – which account for 11 of the 20 locations where agriculture faces extreme heat stress.

    But the coming decades are expected to expand the threat to 64 nations by 2045 – representing 71% of current global food production – including major economies China, India, Brazil and the United States.

    “With the rise in global temperatures and rise in global heat stress, we’re going to see crops in more temperate countries as well start being affected by this,” said Will Nichols, head of climate and resilience at Verisk Maplecroft.

    Rice is particularly at risk, the assessment said, with other crops like cocoa and even tomatoes also singled out as of concern.

    Growing risk

    Maplecroft’s new heat stress dataset, using global temperature data from the UK Met Office, feeds into its wider risk assessments of countries around the world.

    It is based on a worst-case emissions scenario leading to around 2 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels as soon as 2045.

    However, the authors stress that in projections to mid-century, even scenarios that assume higher levels of carbon-cutting action could still result in temperatures nearing 2C.

    India – responsible for 12% of global food production in 2020 and heavily reliant on outdoor labour productivity – is already rated as at extreme risk, the only major agricultural nation in that category at current temperatures.

    “There’s a very real worry that people in rural areas, which are obviously highly dependent on agriculture, are going to be much more vulnerable to these kinds of heat events going forward,” Nichols told AFP.

    That could impact productivity and in turn exports – and have potentially “cascading” knock-on effects on issues such as the country’s credit rating and even political stability, he said.

    By 2045, the list grows much longer.

    Nine of the top ten countries affected in 2045 are in Africa, with the world’s second largest cocoa producer Ghana, as well as Togo and Central African Republic receiving the worst possible risk score.

    The top 20 at-risk countries in the coming decades include key Southeast Asian rice exporters Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, the authors said, noting that rice farmers in central Vietnam have already taken to working at night to avoid the high temperatures.

    The assessment highlights that major economies like the US and China could also see extreme risk to agriculture in 2045, although in these large countries the impacts vary by region.

    Meanwhile, Europe accounts for seven of the 10 countries set to see the largest increase in risk by 2045.

    “I think what it reinforces is that, even though a lot of us are sort of sitting in sort of Western countries, where we might think we’re a bit more insulated from some of these threats, actually we are not necessarily,” Nichols said.

    “Both in terms of the sort of physical risks that we’re facing, but also in terms of the kind of knock on effects down the supply chain.

  • North Korea Turns to India for Rice Amid Food Shortages

  • FILE - Parched rice plants on a farm field on the outskirts of Chonqing, China, Aug. 21, 2022.

    WASHINGTON — 

    Pyongyang appears to be seeking rice donations from India as the regime of Kim Jong Un alerted the nation to prevent flood damage to farmlands from a typhoon passing across its eastern coast.

    The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday that cities and counties in North Hwanghae province, south of Pyongyang, took measures "to minimize the damage to crops nearing harvest" as Typhoon Hinnamnor approached North Korea's eastern coast after making the landfall in South Korea on Tuesday

    The same day, Kim held a meeting calling for efforts "to prevent disaster" and protect "the prosperity and development of the state."

    How the typhoon will affect North Korea's unharvested crops is unclear. But food shortages are expected to grow worse due to the flooding of farmlands in August and Pyongyang's strict COVID-19-related border closings.

    "With flooding again destroying crops, similar to last year, and North Korea's continued border restrictions, there are reasons to believe the access to food is tighter than prior to the pandemic," said Troy Stangarone, senior director at the Korea Economic Institute.

    Seeking help from India

    VOA's Korean Service has learned that Pyongyang has turned to India for rice, its staple food, which it usually imports from China.

    Manpreet Singh, executive president of the Indian Chamber of International Business, an organization that helps small to midsize Indian companies expand globally, told the Korean Service in an August 30 email that North Korean Embassy officials visited the organization in New Delhi.

    "We have been approached by the Embassy to look at possibilities for donations of rice" as "floods destroyed most of the crop," said Singh.

    North Korea's U.N. Mission in New York City did not respond to VOA Korean Service's questions about its food situation and whether it is seeking outside aid. North Korea has dismissed South Korea's offer of economic aid in exchange for its denuclearization, a deal outlined in South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol's "audacious initiative," introduced August 15.

    Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of the North Korea's leader, responded on August 19, saying, "No one barters its destiny for corn cake."

    Bradley Babson, a former World Bank adviser and current advisory council member of the Korea Economic Institute of America, said Pyongyang sought out the Indian business group instead of humanitarian organizations because, for health or political reasons, it probably wants to avoid requirements for accepting aid workers into the country to monitor aid distribution.

    "It might get a few thousand tons from a country like India or Vietnam that won't insist on monitoring requirements," Babson said.

    VOA's Korean Service also learned on August 26 about an ad seeking a vessel to transport 10,000 tons of rice from Vizag Port in eastern India to North Korea's Nampo Port between September 25 and 30. The ad is circulating via email in the global shipping industry.

    A source with knowledge of the ad told the Korean Service that the party exporting the rice wanted to ship the long-grain variety commonly grown in India, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. North Korea grows and consumes short-grain rice.

    Whether Pyongyang's inquiry to the Indian Chamber of International Business about rice donations and the Indian exporter's attempt to ship rice to North Korea are related remains to be seen.

    "The 10,000 tons of rice is not a lot of rice" considering North Korea's food deficit, Babson said. "I see these as largely symbolic and not really a solution to [its] food problem, which I think is extremely severe this year."

    'WFP remains committed'

    According to a 2021 report by the U.N.'s World Food Program, North Korea suffers from "chronic food insecurity and malnutrition" despite "the government's efforts to mitigate the effect of food deficits."

    Kun Li, spokesperson for WFP's Asia and Pacific regional office in Bangkok, told the Korean Service on Wednesday that WFP and other international humanitarian organizations that left North Korea at the beginning of the pandemic cannot return to resume aid operations because of its border closures.

    "WFP remains committed to the people of DPRK who need assistance and looks forward to being able to resume operations as soon as borders reopen to international personnel and cargo," Li said.

    North Korea needs about 5.7 million tons of food for its population of about 26 million people, according to the Seoul-based Korea Development Institute. In 2021, the country was about 860,000 tons of food short, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.

    Stangarone said Pyongyang might be importing rice from India because "North Korea does not want to become too dependent on China for its imports." However, he added, "India may soon restrict rice exports due to some areas of India seeing less rain. It potentially faces its own shortages as rice planting is down 13%."

  • UP govt seeks report  on shortfall in sowing  of paddy, other crops

  • The Uttar Pradesh government has sought reports from all the 75 district magistrates about the rainfall deficiency leading to shortfall in paddy sowing and other crops during the current kharif season. The government maintains only a 10 per cent shortfall in sowing of kharif crops, which also includes paddy, while as per the estimates of the state agriculture universities, the shortfall in paddy sowing is above 60%.

    “I admit that there is rainfall deficiency. We hope there will be sufficient rainfall in the remaining days of this month (September). The state government has sought reports from all the 75 district magistrates and after studying the report, appropriate decision will be taken as per rules and standards,’’ Finance Minister Suresh Khanna said here on Monday.

    According to IMD, the pan-India rainfall is above normal so far but there is a deficit in eastern India and northeast. 

    Rainfall deficiency in UP is as high as 44%, Uttarakhand 11%, Bihar 38%, West Bengal 18% and Jharkhand 26%. The rainfall deficiency in these states has hit paddy sowing and may impact kharif production. As per IMD data, central India and south peninsula have received more than normal rainfall so far. IMD has predicted above normal rainfall pan-India but below normal in east and northeast.

    The rainfall deficiency in Uttar Pradesh and other eastern states, which account for one-third of India’s total rice production, has forced changes in the sowing patterns, leading to a decline in paddy cultivation. Less rains will also impact livestock and take a heavy toll on farmers’ livelihoods.

    UP had achieved record paddy production in 2021. With acreage under paddy increasing to 60 lakh hectares in 2021 against 58.92 lakh hectares in 2020, the total paddy production was estimated to be 2.5 crore MT.

    The rainfall deficiency is likely to cause loss of close to 30 lakh MT in the production of paddy this year.

    An official of UP’s Agriculture department said: “Uttar Pradesh will have massive problems with its kharif crop, forcing the farmers to begin sowing other crops. In the areas of Bundelkhand, it would mean the sowing of dalhan (pulses) crops.”

    Kharif crops are sown before the beginning of the monsoon season — around May-end to early June — and harvested after the monsoon ends in October. Rice, maize, pulses such as urad, moong dal and millets are among the key kharif crops.

    The agriculture sector in India employs almost half of the labour force of the country. India is also the world’s second-largest producer of rice, of which a substantial amount is grown under rain-fed conditions during the kharif season. Thus, the deficiency in rainfall and resultant changes in rice cultivation patterns are likely to substantially affect farmers’ livelihoods and have considerable social impact. The paddy deficiency stands at about 8% today and the overall acreage is down by 5-6%.

  • Prices of rice and pulses increase in Peshawar

  • Traders halt transport of goods fearing attacks by looters 

    ISLAMABAD: The prices of rice and pulse prices in Peshawar have skyrocketed within a span of three months and are expected to rise further as the effects of the floods become more clear. 

    Speaking with Profit, Traders on Ashraf Road, Peshawar’s main commodity market, said that people in the province are already bearing the high cost of flour and will now also have to pay higher prices for other dietary staples.  

    They informed this scribe that a bag of 24.50 kg rice which was available for Rs4,500 three months ago  has risen by Rs1,750 in three months, taking the price in Peshawar to Rs6,250. Similarly, a 45 kg bag of matta rice which was available for Rs2,500 has increased to Rs4,000 while a bag of 49 kg super fine rice which used to be for Rs3,000, is now being sold for Rs5,000.

    Informing that beans are imported from Tajikistan in Peshawar, they said the price of a 50kg bag of beans which was Rs8,000 in January, has increased to Rs13,000. Similarly, masoor dal which was available for Rs7,000 per 49 kg bag in January, has now increased to Rs14,000.

    Gram is imported from Vietnam and Sudan. In January, a 49 kg bag of 10 mm gram was available for Rs8,000 which has now increased to Rs15,000.

    The traders said that since trucks carrying relief goods for flood victims are being looted, most of them have stopped transporting goods from other parts of the country, due to which there is a risk that the prices of food commodities will see a further hike within the next few weeks.

    They said that over the course of a year, prices of most commodities have increased by 100 per cent whereas the devastating floods are also likely to negatively influence the prices.  

  • Vietnam and Thailand cooperate to boost rice prices in global market

  • The Thai government has announced that Thailand and Vietnam have reached an agreement to increase the price of domestically produced rice in the global market in the context of rising costs in rice production.

    Thai Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Chalermchai Sri-on said that while rice farmers are affected by rising production costs due to recent complicated developments, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the price of rice on the global market has increased disproportionately.

    In such context, the world’s second and third largest rice exporters, Vietnam and Thailand, will join hands to negotiate a reasonable rise in rice prices through pricing mechanisms on the global market.

    To implement the agreement, Thailand and Vietnam will work to create a government negotiation mechanism while trying to convince more rice exporting countries to join the initiative.

    Alongkorn Ponlaboot, Thailand’s chief rice price negotiator, said that promoting fairer prices is the mission and responsibility of all rice exporting countries. As climate change is affecting rice cultivation and rice production worldwide, all parties need to work together to ensure food security.

    Farmers will have to deal with unfair rice prices in the global market without help and cooperation between the parties.

    President of the Thai Rice Mills Affiliation Rangsan Sabaimuang also advocates fairer prices for all parties. Therefore, the cooperation between Thailand and Vietnam has become the first step to implement the above efforts.

    The President of the Thai Farmers’ Association Pramot Charoensin welcomed cooperation between Vietnam and Thailand on rice prices, but warned that India still has the largest voice in the pricing of rice in the global market as it is the largest rice exporter in the world.

    Therefore, if only Thailand and Vietnam sell rice at a higher price, rice importing countries may turn to India to seek supply.

  • Capacity building in modern rice cultivation for Katsina farmers

  • As a way of boosting local rice production, another set of 70 rice farmers participated in a three-day training programme on modern ways of cultivating the commodity on a large scale in Katsina State.

    The participants are part of about 32,000 farmers being trained in batches, on effective ways of cultivating the produce for optimal harvest, and economic gain. 

    The training, held for the selected farmers from Raddawa community, Matazu Local Council, was organised by a South Korean foundation, Saemaul Undong, in collaboration with the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), and Katsina State Government. 

    The word ‘Saemaul’ stands for ‘New Village Movement’ that is guided by over 50 years of experience is present in 16 countries, and aims at rural development by examining their weaknesses and strengths in a bid to improve their productivity and self-reliance.

    The training on modern rice farming method first entails the cultivation of quality rice product in a nursery, then transplanting same on farmlands. 

    According to experts, the process is believed to boost commodity yield, and is the same system the Republic of Korea has been using and achieving outstanding rice production output. 

    The Director, Seamaul Undong foundation, Mr. Lee Kyungbok said the training would not just improve rice production, but would also improve their economic wellbeing as well. 

    Kyungbok said the foundation’s aim is to increase the income revenue of the farmers, and create a better life system for them and their family members.

    He said the foundation has been partnering with the state government for the past three years, even as he called on participants to give attention to what they were taught so that they can effectively replicate it on their farmlands.

    Before now, two batches of famers numbering over 70, have been trained in similar modern rice farming methods, and they have gone to cultivate large farmlands of the commodity in their various communities. 

    The state government, in collaborating with the foundation, had donated 100 hectares of land to the previously trained farmers, to cultivate the produce on a large scale. 

    Of the 100 hectares, 60 hectares was given to trained farmers at Makera village, in Dutsinma council area, and rest 40 hectares to farmers at Raddawa community, in Matazu council. 

  • Valuable crops of rice, cotton, vegetables destroyed, says Memon

  • Damage to crops causes loss in exports, fear of food shortage

    According to the finance ministry, assessment of crop damages is in progress by provinces, however, significant losses can be witnessed. photo: file

    KARACHI:

    Sindh Minister for Information, Sharjeel Inam Memon has said that crops spread on 4,420,484 acres have been destroyed by recent rains and floods in the province. The valuable crops of cotton, rice, vegetables have been destroyed 100%, which will cause a huge loss in exports and there is a fear of food shortage in the future.

    He said that 100% of the date crop has been affected. If the water situation remains same for the next one month, mango and orchards will also be affected. A mango tree takes eight years to give fruit.

    At a press conference, he said that in the current situation the nation needs unity. The minister has emphasised on mutual communication between the philanthropists, NGOs and the government of Sindh and has appealed that the philanthropists and non-governmental organisations should stay in touch with PDMA to deliver aid to every affected person so that the aid can reach people in remote areas.

    Sharjeel said that so far 559 people have lost their lives and 21,891 are injured. Also, 1,465,941 houses have been affected by the floods, of which 556,120 have been completely destroyed, while the rest have been partially damaged. He further said that 9,788,969 people of 1,675,817 families have been affected, 6,278,007 are homeless.

    In addition, 6,278,007 people have been shifted to relief camps, where they are being provided standard cooked meals and health facilities.

    Memon said that people living in villages have lost 103,066 cattle. He said that the Sindh government has also started vaccination to protect cattle from diseases. The provincial information minister said that the first priority of the Sindh government is to save the lives of the people in the affected areas and in the second phase, complete rehabilitation of the victims will be started.

  • Rising Salinity Threatens Rice Crops on Southeast Asia’s Sinking Coast

  • KAMPOT PROVINCE, CAMBODIA/LONG AN PROVINCE, VIETNAM/WASHINGTON — 

    Prak Nhorn has no hope for his rice crop this year.

    “When I transplant seedlings, they die out. The salt is still in the soil,” said the farmer from Slab Ta Aon village, a riverside settlement roughly 150 kilometers southwest of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, and 4 kilometers from the green, mangrove-lined coast of Kampot province.

    The farmer said that saltwater has destroyed rice paddies in Slab Ta Aon village for the past two years. Prak Nhorn, 55, doubts that he and the other villagers will be able grow rice in the future.

    Slab Ta Aon’s problem is no environmental fluke. It is an omen of a global environmental crisis that has been brewing for decades, destabilizing food systems that feed millions.

    Around the world, saltwater is seeping further and further inland from the coasts, tainting soils and fresh water with salt. A complicated interplay between groundwater extraction, river damming for hydropower, and riverbed mining is sinking shorelines as climate change raises the seas, drawing seawater inland.

    A rice farmer plants seedlings in Slab Ta Aon, Cambodia. (Sun Narin for VOA)
    A rice farmer plants seedlings in Slab Ta Aon, Cambodia. (Sun Narin for VOA)

    River deltas are especially vulnerable. Fan-shaped plains that form where rivers spill into the sea, deltas often boast fertile soils thanks to nutrient-rich sediments delivered from upstream. Increasing salinity puts these special agricultural regions at risk.

    The threat is perhaps most grave in Asia, where vast “megadeltas” are vital for growing the continent’s staple crop — rice. High salinity can make it impossible to grow rice.

    “You really see a solid layer … a white layer on the soil from where saltwater was,” said Bjoern Ole Sander of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Rice plants growing in saline soil “look like straw,” he continued. “If you touch them, they’re hollow. There’s nothing.”

    Food, drinking water at risk

    In Southeast Asia, saltwater threatens rice paddies in the Mekong River and Red River deltas in Vietnam, and the deltas of the Chao Phraya River in Thailand, and the Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar.

    In South Asia, it degrades soils and taints drinking water in the densely populated Ganges–Brahmaputra Delta of Bangladesh and India and the Indus Delta of Pakistan.

    China’s Yangtze River Delta also faces rising salinity.

    Beyond Asia, saltwater intrusion affects the Nile Delta in Egypt and the Mississippi Delta in the United States — both important agricultural regions.

    For subsistence farmers like Prak Nhorn, rising salinity directly threatens food security and access to drinking water. About 76% of Cambodians live in rural areas and many depend on natural resources for food. This makes many of the country’s 17.2 million inhabitants vulnerable to changes in the environment. Undernutrition rates in Cambodia hover around 15%.

    Cambodian rice farmer Prak Nhorn. (Sun Narin for VOA)
    Cambodian rice farmer Prak Nhorn. (Sun Narin for VOA)

    Cambodian farmers have reported issues with salinity for years and “there is saltwater intrusion” in the country, said Hak Mao, director of Cambodia’s Climate Change Department at the Ministry of Environment. But “limited technical capacity” means the true extent of the problem in Cambodia is not known, he said.

    In neighboring Vietnam, however, the costs of saltwater intrusion have been clear for decades.

    “If there’s fresh water, we can grow rice all year round,” said farmer Khau Van Ngoan of Vietnam’s Long An province. “If there’s none, nothing can be grown.”

    Vietnam grows more than half of its rice in one region — the Mekong River Delta.

    There, salinity has “really been on the rise,” said hydrologist Gijs Simons of FutureWater, a consultancy that uses satellite data to assess salinity for the Mekong River Commission (MCR). The area affected by severe salinity, which makes it nearly impossible to grow rice, has roughly “doubled since the '90s or even almost tripled for some years,” he said.

    In the past, saltwater would seep about 30-50 kilometers inland. Now it can reach areas more than 100 kilometers inward from the coast, said hydrologist Binh Doan Van of the Vietnamese-German University, who studies saltwater intrusions in the Mekong River Delta. One particularly severe salinity intrusion in 2016 affected 270,000 hectares of rice, said Andrew Wyatt, who oversees projects in Southeast Asia for the environmental organization International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. The damage totaled an estimated $455 million, or 1.5% percent of Vietnam’s annual rice yield.

    Cambodian rice farmer Prak Nhorn says storms, floods and salt water are ruining rice paddies in his village. (Sun Narin for VOA)
    Cambodian rice farmer Prak Nhorn says storms, floods and salt water are ruining rice paddies in his village. (Sun Narin for VOA)

    Shrimp alternative

    But it’s possible to see rising salinity as an opportunity rather than a disaster.

    Rice can’t tolerate salty water, but shrimp can — and shrimp fetch a better price than the rice Vietnam produces for export to low- and middle-income countries.

    “Shrimp is better business than rice. It’s more lucrative,” said Dang Thi Vich, a shrimp farmer from Ben Tre province.

    Some farmers in the Mekong River Delta took advantage of this as salinity rose, growing shrimp instead of rice during the dry season when conditions are most saline. The Vietnamese government and NGOs later launched programs to help more farmers adopt this rice-shrimp rotation system.

    “Shrimp farming began about some 20 years ago and it’s become very popular,” said Vich. “Everyone grew rice before that.”

    Things are changing fast. In 2018, 15% of farmers in the delta gave up rice farming for something else, usually shrimp farming, said Bradford Mills, an economist at Virginia Tech who studied the switch. The next year, another 10% stopped growing rice. Simons noted that the shift from rice paddies to shrimp ponds is visible in his satellite data.

    Experts say the Vietnamese government plans to scale back rice farming and diversify the Mekong River Delta’s economy. This will mean upping shrimp and other aquaculture along the coast and growing “high quality” rice for export to rich countries. This diversification “is in line with Vietnam's move from a low-income country to a middle-low-income country,” said Wyatt.

    But researchers have expressed concerns that adaptions to rising salinity in Vietnam are coming at a social cost, widening the gap between rich and poor.

    “For the country scale, [shrimp farming] may be good,” said Binh. “But for [the] local scale, for individuals, that's I think [it] still has some problems.”

    Ben Tre province farmer Nguyen Thi Be Lieu said she tried shrimp farming a couple of years ago, “but business didn’t take off. We spent more than we earned, so we stopped.”

    Switching from rice to shrimp aquaculture is risky. Not everyone can afford to. Those who can’t — and who don’t receive aid — can have no choice but to sell or lease their land and migrate to find work.

    There’s also evidence that shrimp aquaculture isn’t always environmentally sustainable. While Wyatt noted that rice-shrimp rotation is more sustainable than farming rice or shrimp exclusively for lands at the mouth of the Mekong, it isn’t a good solution everywhere it is being adopted. If there’s not enough freshwater flow from upstream, dry-season shrimp ponds can leave salt in the soil, which over time makes it hard to grow rice at all in the wet season. Ponds can get so salty that even shrimp can’t survive.

    Salinity is killing Cambodian rice farmer Prak Nhorn's crop. (Elise Cutts/VOA)
    Salinity is killing Cambodian rice farmer Prak Nhorn's crop. (Elise Cutts/VOA)

    “Saline soil is bad for business, even shrimp farming,” said Long An province farmer Pham Van Bay. “There’s absolutely nothing you can do with saline soil.”

    Aquaculture can also pollute waterways, a problem Binh says should be managed to ensure that it stays sustainable and profitable for the future.

    Still, if these challenges can be overcome, sating wealthy countries’ appetites for shrimp and high-quality rice could pay off for many farmers and the Vietnamese economy as a whole, said Binh and Wyatt.

    ‘How can we have rice to eat?’

    The question, said Sander, “is of course: where do you produce the rice instead? Because demand is still there. And shrimp cannot replace rice on people's plates.”

    A rice paddy in Slab Ta Aon, Cambodia. (Elise Cutts/VOA)
    A rice paddy in Slab Ta Aon, Cambodia. (Elise Cutts/VOA)

    Vietnam is the third-biggest rice exporter worldwide, and more than 90% of its exports come from the Mekong River Delta. Countries that are “big rice importers … are hit also by climate change impacts and salinity impacts in the Mekong Delta,” said Sander. For instance, the Philippines imports nearly 80% of its rice from Vietnam.

    Demand for rice is increasing as the world population grows. IRRI estimates that rice production globally needs to increase by 1% to 1.2% every year to keep rice prices low enough to be affordable for billions of people who depend on the grain.

    For the Mekong River Delta, Binh said that adapting to rising salinity involves a combination of pricey infrastructure to keep saltwater out — which can come with its own environmental problems — and changes to how people live and work, like adopting rice-shrimp systems. Other agricultural deltas face similar choices.

    Countries that import a lot of rice from salinity-affected regions will need to find new sources to meet their growing demand for rice, or consumers will simply pay more for it. Many farmers will need to adapt. And some will just need to find a way to survive.

    Suos Sovann lives just a stone’s throw away from Prak Nhorn’s farm in Slab Ta Aon village. She is a rice farmer — or was. Saltwater now floods her 7,000-square-meter farm every year, making her soil infertile.

    Unable to grow rice for herself and her family, Suos Sovann now depends on money sent by two of her children who work in a nearby garment factory. Combined, they send her about $50 every month. She will spend $30 of it on rice.

    She wonders if perhaps her children could send more money, but she doesn’t dare ask. There’s nothing to do but bear with it, she says.

    "If we don’t farm," asked Suos Sovann, "how can we have rice to eat?”

    The Vietnamese journalist who contributed to this report is not named for their safety.

  • Indian rice prices jump on sound demand

  • MUMBAI/BANGKOK/ DHAKA: Prices of rice from top exporter India this week climbed to their highest in more than a year, boosted by strong demand amid concerns over a possible restriction on exports of some grades of the staple.

    India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $379 to $387 per tonne, their highest since June 2021, from $366-$372 last week. Prices have risen for a third straight week.

    Indian parboiled rice prices rose because of a tender from Bangladesh, which could be forced to make big buying this year due to crop damage, said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India’s biggest rice exporter.

    At the same time, India is considering whether to restrict exports of 100% broken rice, government and industry officials told Reuters on Friday, with the paddy area reduced by a lack of rainfall.

    White rice prices were steady because of ample supplies, said an exporter based in Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Neighbouring Bangladesh was finalising deals with Vietnam and India to import a total of 330,000 tonnes of rice as it races to replenish reserves and cool domestic prices. Meanwhile, Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices dropped slightly to $415-$416 per tonne from $416-$420 last week.

    A Bangkok-based trader attributed the dip to a change in exchange rates. “During the rainy season buyers are not so active because there is always production,” the trader said, adding some orders came from the Middle East but not in large quantities.

    Another trader said orders were coming in from Africa for parboiled rice, while demand for white rice was normal. Shipments were expected to meet forecasts of 7 million to 7.5 million tonnes from depreciation of baht, lower shipping costs and good yield from rain, he added. Vietnam remained closed for the National Day holiday.

  • Deadly Pakistan Flooding Brings Destruction to Rice, Cotton Crops

  • Pakistan’s widespread flooding has killed more than a thousand people and left millions homeless. The flood’s destruction to Pakistan’s crops adds to the country’s pain, depleting food supplies and reducing revenues from exports.  

    Pakistan’s food imports will need to increase to make up for smaller domestic harvests. And countries that normally rely on Pakistan’s exports, including rice and cotton, will need to find alternative sources, putting additional pressure on global commodity supplies. 

    The monsoon has brought the most rainfall to Pakistan in at least 20 years. Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, weighted for the country’s total land area, shows that accumulated precipitation from June 1 to August 30 was 161% greater than the 10-year average. 

    Pakistan is a major producer of rice and cotton, and both crops have been damaged. Heavy rains and floods also threaten the upcoming wheat planting season, at a time when global wheat supplies are already tight. 

    Gro’s Observed Flood Index, which is available in the Gro Portal, shows the extent and location of Pakistan’s flooding. The Index provides readings of percent land area covered by flood at the municipal, provincial, and national levels.  

    Pakistan’s rice crop got off to a slow start because of hot and dry conditions early in the season. Now production is threatened by above average precipitation ahead of harvest, which is due to begin next month. Sind, the No. 2 rice-growing province after Punjab, has been especially hard hit. Aggregated precipitation in Sind’s rice-growing areas is the highest in at least two decades, as shown in this Climate Risk Navigator display. 

    China has emerged as a major buyer of Pakistani rice, mainly lower grade, broken rice for use as animal feed. China imported 350,000 tonnes of Pakistani rice in the first four months of 2022, a 163% increase from a year earlier. Flood damage to Pakistan’s crop comes as drought in China threatens as much as half of that country’s rice crop, as Gro wrote about here, and production in India, the No. 1 rice exporter, is expected to decline. Other buyers of Pakistani rice include Malaysia, East African countries, and Saudi Arabia. 

    While Pakistan is the world’s fifth-largest cotton producer, the country is a net importer. Flood damage will likely force Pakistan to increase cotton imports at a time when production in the US, the third-largest producer and No. 1 exporter of cotton, is forecast to plunge 28% year over year due to drought, as Gro wrote about here. 

    Flooded fields could prevent or delay planting of Pakistan’s wheat crop, which takes place in October and November. Pakistan is a major wheat producer, primarily for domestic consumption, and a smaller upcoming crop could heighten the country’s need for imports.

  • Steps being taken to distribute single boiled rice: Puducherry Minister.

  • The government intends to distribute rice to ration card holders instead of remitting money to the accounts of beneficiary

    Steps are being taken to start distribution of single boiled rice through Public Distribution Outlets instead of remitting money to the account of beneficiaries, Puducherry Minister for Civil Supplies A. K. Sai J. Saravanan Kumar has said.

    A statement from his office said the government intended to distribute rice to ration card holders instead of remitting money to the accounts of beneficiary. 

    “The government is keen on distributing rice instead of following the existing Direct Beneficiary Transfer mode for free rice scheme. The government is consulting the Union Government on reversing the implementation process of the scheme,” the Minister said.

    The government has also decided to issue more red ration cards to eligible persons belonging to the Below Poverty Line category.

    The Civil Supplies Department would also start distribution of green colour ration cards to economically well off persons . Branch offices of Civil Supplies would be established at Villianur and Embalem.

    Steps would be taken to address the grievances of legislators related to ration cards. On the second of every month, a meeting would be organised at the Civil Supplies Department to hear to the grievances of legislators, he said.

    Steps were being taken to revive the functioning of Puducherry Agro Products, Food and Civil Supplies Corporation Limited, the Minister said.

    The budget for 2022-23 has set aside provision to fill vacancies in the Fire Service Department. Several vacancies are to be filled in the department for about 15 years,

    For better operational requirement, the government has decided to create three Additional Divisional Fire officer’s posts in the Union Territory. More gadgets used for firefighting would be procured to equip the force to deal with major accidents, he said.

    The budget has also set aside sufficient amount to provide revolving fund of 5 lakh each to 50 self-help groups, the Minister said.

  • Subsidised rice for 1.5cr poor

  • Sale under OMS, Food Friendly Programme begins today; Govt okays import of 8.3 lakh tonnes of grains

    The government today starts selling rice at subsidised prices in an effort to give respite to the poor and low-income earners and bring stability to the volatile rice market.

    The food ministry plans to sell 7.65 lakh tonnes of rice to more than 1.5 crore people in three months.

    Of the beneficiaries, one crore will get the staple for Tk 30 a kg under the Open Market Sale (OMS) and 50 lakh special cardholders for Tk 15 per kg under the Food Friendly Programme (FFP).

    Yesterday, the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase approved the import of five lakh tonnes of wheat from Russia and 3.3 lakh tonnes of rice from Vietnam and India at a total cost of $378 million (Tk 3,590 crore) under G2G arrangements.

    Besides, Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Myanmar for importing another two lakh tonnes of rice.

    "We now have a huge stock of rice. But a large portion of it will be sold in the next three months under the OMS and the Food Friendly Programme … The government is importing rice to replenish the stock," Shakhawat Hossain, director general at the Directorate General of Food, said yesterday.

    According to the food ministry, the government had stocks of 17.5 lakh tonnes of rice and 1.4 lakh tonnes of wheat till August 30.

    The move comes at a time when the poor and low-income earners are struggling to cope with the soaring prices of essentials.

    In the middle of last month, the prices of all varieties of rice rose by Tk 2-5 per kg. The prices began to fall after the government reduced import duty on rice to 15.25 percent from 25 percent on August 28.

    According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), fine rice was sold for Tk 75 per kg yesterday, semi-coarse rice for Tk 60 a kg and coarse rice for Tk 56 per kg.

    A week ago, the price of per kg fine rice was Tk 80, semi-coarse rice Tk 60 and coarse rice Tk 58.

    WHEAT, RICE IMPORT

    Yesterday, the cabinet committee approved the import of five lakh tonnes of wheat from Russia for $214.94 million (Tk 2,042.5 crore). The import cost of wheat will be Tk 40.85 per kg.

    A food ministry official said one lakh tonnes of wheat will be brought by ships every month from September to January next year.

    The government will also import 3.3 lakh tonnes of rice -- 2.3 lakh tonnes from Vietnam and one lakh tonnes from India -- for $162.94 million (Tk 1,548 crore).

    The average import cost of per kg rice will be Tk 42.13.

    Officials said the government is considering importing another one to two lakh tonnes of rice from India.

    SALE UNDER OMS, FFP

    Shakhawat Hossain said the government will sell rice under the OMS and the FFP to protect the poor and low-income earners from price shock and bring stability to the rice market.

    "There will be two separate queues for TCB cardholders and general customers … The TCB cardholders will get priority," he said, adding that each cardholder will be allowed to buy 5 kg rice at a time for Tk 30 a kg.

    A cardholder will be able to buy up to a maximum of 10 kg rice a month, he mentioned.

    A total of 3.15 lakh tonnes of rice will be sold at 2,363 OMS centres in three months. However, there will be no sales at weekends.

    Asked whether poor people without TCB cards will be deprived of the benefit, Shakhawat said anyone can buy rice from OMS centres by showing National Identity (NID) card.

    Contacted, TCB Chairman Brig Gen Ariful Hassan said there are more than one crore TCB cardholders in the country.

    "They will be able to buy rice at the subsidised price of Tk 30 per kg from the OMS centres. Apart from this, sale of oil, sugar, onion and lentil by the TCB will continue simultaneously," he said.

    Under the FFP, 50 lakh special cardholders will be able to buy 30 kg rice for Tk 15 a kg per month from 10,110 dealers across the country.

    The food ministry will provide 4.50 lakh tonnes of rice for the FPP for three months. 

  • Lack of finance prevents Bangladesh farmers from diversifying their rice crops

    • About 15 million farmers in Bangladesh grow just five to six rice varieties, despite the availability of more than 130 different rice varieties, giving rise to an effective monoculture that leaves farmers at higher risk from pests and diminishing yields.
    • Observers attribute this to a lack of support from the government to help farmers explore other rice varieties, which typically have lower yields and fetch lower prices than the most popular varieties.
    • Lack of financial support means many farmers have to take out high-interest microcredit loans for their operational expenses, which in turn compels them to grow the most profitable rice varieties, locking them in a vicious cycle.
    • Observers have called on the government to do more to incentivize farmers to diversity their rice crops, pointing to long-term benefits in the form of improved soil health and resilience to pest attacks

    Bangladesh is home to more than 130 different rice varieties, but a lack of economic incentives means farmers here grow only a handful of the higher-yielding types. This has given rise to a virtual monocrop system, which farmers and experts say threatens both long-run production and soil quality.

    Most farmers, meanwhile, blame a vicious cycle of dependence on high interest micro-credit for agro-input, which leaves them overdependent on high yield varieties, and little room to experiment with other varieties.

    Abdur Razzak,a 48-year-old farmer in the northern district of Dinajpur, has for the past 15 years grown the most popular varieties — known as BRRI-28 and BRRI-29 — which yield around 6 metric tons of rice per hectare of land, or about 2.7 short tons per acre.

    “A couple of years back we tried BRRI-35,” he says. “[We] dropped it the next year as it yielded only about 3 [metric] tons per hectare,” or 1.3 short tons an acre. Making matters worse, the market price of BRRI-35 and other lesser-known varieties is lower than that of the popular varieties because of the lack of demand.

    Like Razzak, some 15 million farmers in Bangladesh depend just on five to six rice varieties in an effort to maximize their output, cultivating them on 8.6 million hectares (21.3 million acres) of land. That’s made Bangladesh the fourth-highest rice-producing country in the world, churning out 36 million metric tons of rice annually to feed its 170 million people.

    A paddy field in Bangladesh.
    A paddy field in Bangladesh. A cycle of dependence on high interest micro-credit for agro-input leaves farmers overdependent on high yield rice varieties, and little room to experiment with other varieties. Image by Abu Siddique/Mongabay.

    Other popular varieties are BRRI-58, 50, 63 and 74, all named after the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute that developed them. But it’s BRRI-28 and 29 that dominate, accounting for around 50% of all the rice grown in the country, because of their better yields and market price.

    Both farmers and researchers say the return on investment is the main reason for this practice, which has given rise to an effective monoculture. The high cost of production — ranging from irrigation and labor to fertilizers and pesticides — as well uncompetitive prices mean farmers have no incentive to explore beyond the dominant varieties.

    Lack of access to affordable financing

    In a country where agriculture is a mainstay of the economy and farmers play the chief role in ensuring food security, farmers have little formal access to low-cost financing for their operational needs.

    Generally, there are three sources of financial support available to Bangladeshi farmers. First, there are dadon, local lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates on loans that must be paid back in weekly installments. Then there are nongovernmental organizations that provide microcredit loans, followed by state-owned banks.

    Although the latter, with their lower interest rates, would be the ideal option for farmers, most shy away from banks because of the convoluted bureaucracy. The government established the Bangladesh Krishi Bank in 1973 with the aim of supporting farmers, but even today it hasn’t gained much traction.

    “Unfortunately, bureaucratic tangles, involvement of third parties in the loan disbursement process, and political intervention has made the bank ineffective,” said Fazle Rabbi Sadeque Ahmed, deputy managing director of the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF).

    Between the dadon and the NGOs, farmers tend toward the latter. But even here, the loans aren’t cheap: the average annual interest rate is 31%.

    “We are forced to sell the paddy at a low price immediately after harvest to repay our loans,” said Dilip Kumar, a 40-year-old farmer from another northern district, Lalmonirhat. “If we wait to sell it, the interest on our loan will go up.”

    The high cost of production — ranging from irrigation and labor to fertilizers and pesticides — as well uncompetitive prices mean farmers have no incentive to explore beyond the dominant varieties. Image by Abu Siddique/Mongabay.

    Risks of monocrop culture

    “If farmers cannot get a fair price for their produce and cannot access finance to meet their [production] needs on time, they will definitely go for varieties that have the best yield,” said Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, a researcher on environment and climate change issues.

    He said that makes the predominance of monoculture the fault of the government, as it has failed to address the farmers’ interests by making it feasible for them to explore other rice varieties.

    A 2019 study suggested that adopting alternative varieties of rice could help Bangladeshi farmers avoid risks such as pest attacks and low yields in the long run — risks that grow the greater the overdependence on a few varieties.

    Repeated monocropping also degrades soil health, which Ahsan Uddin, who is a member of the Green Climate Fund’s Independent Technical Advisory Panel of the Green Climate Fund, also blamed on the government.

    “The farmers are not liable for the damage to soil health. It’s the state’s responsibility to ensure availability of technology, finance and cultivable varieties. The government has failed in this regard,” he said.

    “The government should introduce a mechanism so that farmers get a fair price for their production,” said  Jibon Krisna Biswas, a former director-general of the BRRI. “Otherwise, they will continue to grow varieties like BRRI-28 and BRRI-29. This is leading to the monocrop culture, which will bring ecological ruin in the long run.”

  • Poor rainfall in major rice producing states of UP, Bihar and Bengal impacts Kharif crops

  • Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal are the major rainfall deficient states this year. Poor rainfall has impacted kharif crops.

    New Delhi: Over the past 12 weeks, record-breaking rainfall in India has caused unprecedented flooding in several parts, while eastern states have been reporting deficits by a big margin. The result: Bihar, West Bengal and east Uttar Pradesh, the eastern region with the highest intensity of paddy cultivation, have been highly deficit rains despite an active monsoon current in July and August. The reason: Ineffective low-pressure systems over the Bay of Bengal and a southward shift of the east-west monsoon trough. Agricultural experts told IANS one of the notable impacts of changes in track of monsoon systems can be seen on kharif crops, particularly the rice growing eastern region, where the rice is grown on the basins of Ganga and Mahanadi rivers.

    According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) data on the monsoon performance in major rice-producing states, Uttar Pradesh`s rainfall deficiency from June 1 to August 30 was as high as 44 per cent. Against the normal cumulative rainfall of 588.1 mm, the actual cumulative rainfall in Uttar Pradesh during this period was 330.9 mm. The IMD says only 11 of the 75 Uttar Pradesh districts have received normal rainfall. While in Bihar the rainfall deficiency from June 1 to August 30 was 39 per cent, it was minus 27 per cent in Jharkhand and minus 18 per cent in West Bengal.

    "Arrival of the monsoon and whether onset would be strong or weak will always continue to dodge us. However, changes in track of the system would have a more deadly impact on the crop which would be in the growing stage at the moment. Due to southward movement of all main monsoon low pressure areas and depressions, rice producing states like West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and East Uttar Pradesh have been deficit by large margins. This would have an impact on the quantity as well as the quality of the crop," said Skymet Weather Vice President (Meteorology and Climate Change) Mahesh Palawat. The uneven distribution rains along with increasing temperatures and humidity give rise to pest attacks and diseases. This will in turn impact the quality of the grain as well as the nutrition value may vary, say experts.

    Researches indicate the monsoon rainfall became less frequent but more intense in India during the latter half of the 20th century. An increase of either severe floods or droughts can cause rice production loss, but the drought effect on rice production is more prominent.

    India is the world`s second largest producer of rice, of which a substantial amount is grown under rainfed conditions during the kharif season. Any detrimental impacts of climate would have major consequences for food security from local to global levels. Moreover, the majority of farmers cultivating rainfed rice are smallholders, whose local livelihoods are highly vulnerable to climate changes and since 1980, the number of smallholder farmers in India increased by 77 per cent to almost 66 million in 2010-11.

    In addition, the agricultural sector employs almost half of the labour force of the country, so any changes in rice cultivation are likely to have considerable social impacts. Saying the entire South Asia has been reporting a series of extreme weather events in the past six months, Anjal Prakash, Research Director, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business and IPCC Lead Author, said while Bangladesh, Pakistan and India have battled severe floods, China is reeling under massive drought conditions.

    "All these events call for climate justice as climate change is not the creation of people of South Asian countries. Some of these countries are either carbon neutral or carbon negative. Our carbon footprint is 1.9 tonnes, one of the lowest as compared to the global average which is four tonnes. "South Asian countries must come up with coordinated voices and make the climate noise for funds which is not happening right now. As a result, the region will continue to face the wrath of extreme weather events. All these problems bring focus back on loss and damage that is not supported politically and shoved off as per the convenience."

    In India, states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Maharashtra have been recording excess rainfall this season. Most of these regions are not used to heavy rainfall as in a normal scenario. Monsoon systems move across Northwest India giving rains over the region. In fact, places Marathwada and Vidarbha are prone to deficit rainfall. Skymet Weather President (Meteorology and Climate Change) G.P. Sharma sees climate change behind these changes and calls for more research on the changes in the behavioural pattern of the systems.

    The IMD says this monsoon has seen the second highest `extreme` rainfall events since 1901. While incidents of floods and droughts have increased, there is more evidence to show how global warming has been impacting the Indian monsoon. Meteorologists are citing concerns over changes in the track of monsoon weather systems across the country. The trend has become more and more visible in the last four-five years, with the 2022 season being the latest one. In fact, Pakistan floods have also been a result of this change.

  • Centre has no plans as of now to curb rice exports, says report

  • The government has no plans as of now to impose any restrictions on exports of rice and there are adequate buffer stocks to meet the domestic requirements, according to an official source.

    The government has no plans as of now to impose any restrictions on exports of rice and there are adequate buffer stocks to meet the domestic requirements, according to an official source.

    There were some discussions on imposing curbs on rice exports but no decision has been taken yet. The government is unlikely to put in any place restrictions, the source said.

    India, the world's second largest rice producer after China, commands 40 per cent share in the global trade.

    The country exported 21.2 million tonnes of rice in 2021-22 fiscal year, of which 3.94 million tonnes were basmati rice. It exported non-basmati rice worth USD 6.11 billion in the same period, as per official data.

    The country exported non-basmati rice to more than 150 countries in 2021-22.

    With area under coverage for paddy down by 6 per cent to 367.55 lakh hectares so far this kharif sowing season due to less rains in some states, there are concerns that production of rice may fall in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June).

    Traders fear that the current situation might force the Centre to impose some restrictions on exports of rice as is now the case with wheat.

    Till August 26 of the current kharif season, less paddy area has been mainly reported from Jharkhand 10.51 lakh hectares (ha), West Bengal (4.62 lakh ha), Chhattisgarh (3.45 lakh ha), Uttar Pradesh (2.63 lakh ha), Bihar (2.40 lakh ha), and Odisha (2.24 lakh ha).

    Paddy is the main kharif crop, sowing of which begins with the onset of the southwest monsoon from June and harvesting starts from October onwards.

    Rice production rose to record 130.29 million tonnes in the last crop year as against 124.37 million tonnes in 2020-21.

    On the back of bumper production and high procurement in the last few years, the Centre is sitting on a stock of 47 million tonnes of rice, including rice equivalent of unmilled paddy, as on July 1. The buffer stock requirement is to have 13.5 million tonnes of rice as on July 1.

    Already, the Centre is supplying more rice instead of wheat through ration shops as its procurement of wheat fell sharply to 19 million tonnes this marketing year compared to 43 million tonnes in the year-ago period.

    Wheat marketing year is from April to March but almost the entire quantity of the grain is procured by the end of June.

    Currently, the government is providing wheat and rice for Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kilogram, respectively, under the National Food Security Law (NFSA). These food grains are provided free of cost under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to around 80 crore people.

    The Centre is providing 5 kg of food grains (wheat and rice) per person per month under the NFSA and another 5 kg per person per month under the PMGKAY.

    The PMGKAY scheme is valid till September and the government is yet to take a decision on whether to extend the welfare programme amid the tight stock situation with respect to wheat and likely fall in rice output.

    (Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

  • Centre has no plans as of now to curb rice exports, says report

  • The government has no plans as of now to impose any restrictions on exports of rice and there are adequate buffer stocks to meet the domestic requirements, according to an official source.

    The government has no plans as of now to impose any restrictions on exports of rice and there are adequate buffer stocks to meet the domestic requirements, according to an official source.

    There were some discussions on imposing curbs on rice exports but no decision has been taken yet. The government is unlikely to put in any place restrictions, the source said.

    India, the world's second largest rice producer after China, commands 40 per cent share in the global trade.

    The country exported 21.2 million tonnes of rice in 2021-22 fiscal year, of which 3.94 million tonnes were basmati rice. It exported non-basmati rice worth USD 6.11 billion in the same period, as per official data.

    The country exported non-basmati rice to more than 150 countries in 2021-22.

    With area under coverage for paddy down by 6 per cent to 367.55 lakh hectares so far this kharif sowing season due to less rains in some states, there are concerns that production of rice may fall in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June).

    traders fear that the current situation might force the Centre to impose some restrictions on exports of rice as is now the case with wheat.

    Till August 26 of the current kharif season, less paddy area has been mainly reported from Jharkhand 10.51 lakh hectares (ha), West Bengal (4.62 lakh ha), Chhattisgarh (3.45 lakh ha), Uttar Pradesh (2.63 lakh ha), Bihar (2.40 lakh ha), and Odisha (2.24 lakh ha).

    Paddy is the main kharif crop, sowing of which begins with the onset of the southwest monsoon from June and harvesting starts from October onwards.

    Rice production rose to record 130.29 million tonnes in the last crop year as against 124.37 million tonnes in 2020-21.

    On the back of bumper production and high procurement in the last few years, the Centre is sitting on a stock of 47 million tonnes of rice, including rice equivalent of unmilled paddy, as on July 1. The buffer stock requirement is to have 13.5 million tonnes of rice as on July 1.

    Already, the Centre is supplying more rice instead of wheat through ration shops as its procurement of wheat fell sharply to 19 million tonnes this marketing year compared to 43 million tonnes in the year-ago period.

    Wheat marketing year is from April to March but almost the entire quantity of the grain is procured by the end of June.

    Currently, the government is providing wheat and rice for Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kilogram, respectively, under the National Food Security Law (NFSA). These food grains are provided free of cost under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to around 80 crore people.

    The Centre is providing 5 kg of food grains (wheat and rice) per person per month under the NFSA and another 5 kg per person per month under the PMGKAY.

    The PMGKAY scheme is valid till September and the government is yet to take a decision on whether to extend the welfare programme amid the tight stock situation with respect to wheat and likely fall in rice output.

    (Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

  • Bangladesh to import rice from Vietnam and India to replenish reserves

  • DHAKA: Bangladesh is finalising deals with Vietnam and India to import a total of 330,000 tonnes of rice as it races to replenish reserves and cool domestic prices, two officials with direct knowledge of the matter said on Monday.

    Soaring prices of the staple grain for the country’s 165 million people pose a problem for the government, which plans to expand cut-price rice sales to help people hard-hit by high costs.

    The south Asian country will buy 100,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from an Indian public sector firm and 200,000 tonnes of parboiled rice and 30,000 tonnes of white rice from Vietnam, the government officials said.

    The price for the parboiled rice from Vietnam will be $521 a tonne and white rice $494 a tonne, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deals have not been made public.

    The price for rice from neighbouring India will be $443.50 per tonne via seaports and $428.50 per tonne via railways, the officials said. All the prices included freight, insurance and unloading costs, they said.

    “Preparations are underway to sign the deals soon,” one of the officials said, adding the rice would be delivered within two to three months after the signing.

    The Bangladesh government is also holding talks with Myanmar to import rice, the officials said, putting aside a rift over the Rohingya refugee crisis.

    Bangladesh this week slashed import duty on rice to 15% from 25%, cutting it for the second time since July in a bid to boost private imports.

    Its private rice import plan, however, faces a setback with only 36,000 tonnes bought since July, after the government allowed private traders to import nearly 1 million tonnes of the staple grain after slashing duty to 25.0% from 62.5%.

    The government will begin selling rice at a cheaper rate for 5 million poor families and expand such sales from September, in an effort to rein in surging domestic prices, which saw yet another uptick after it hiked domestic oil prices early this month.

    Bangladesh, traditionally the world’s third-biggest rice producer with around 35 million tonnes annually, uses almost all its production to feed its people. It still often requires imports to cope with shortages caused by floods or droughts.

  • What’s behind rice stunting in India? Researchers pin down virus first found in China 21 yrs ago

  • Stunting is being caused by Southern Rice Black-streaked Dwarf virus, which has previously led to yield losses in China, Vietnam & Japan, finds Indian Agricultural Research Institute.

    New Delhi: A research team from the premier Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Delhi, has found that the severe stunting that’s being reported in rice crops in India’s Green Revolution bowl was caused by a virus that was discovered in China over 20 years ago. 

    First reported in Guangdong, China, in 2001, the Southern Rice Black-streaked Dwarf virus has led to yield losses in Asian countries including China, Vietnam, and Japan. 

    Typical symptoms include pronounced stunting, darkening of leaves, and white waxy or black-streaked swellings along the veins on stems of rice plants, according to a research paper published in the journal Plant Pathology.

    However, the IARI report has found a limited incidence of the disease in the areas surveyed during its field investigation in northwestern India. 

    “On an average, there was around 1 per cent incidence of stunt disease in rice across the surveyed locations… in the affected fields, the disease incidence varied from 2-10 percent,” a summary of the investigation report seen by ThePrint said.

    The stunting is severe, with the affected plants reaching up to a quarter of the height of a normal plant.

    The stunting is severe, with the affected plants reaching up to a quarter of the height of a normal plant.

    “We have confirmed beyond doubt that the Southern Rice Black-streaked Dwarf virus is the cause of stunting. The vector (which transmits the virus) is the white-backed planthopper,” A.K. Singh, the director of IARI, told ThePrint.

    Planthoppers are a group of small jumping insects that feed on a wide variety of plants. 

    “Farmers have been advised to use insecticides to effectively control planthoppers… Milky grains from infected plants were also subjected to tests which ruled out the possibility of seed transmission,” Singh added.

    How the virus was found

    The IARI conducted a survey of the affected fields in Sonepat, Panipat, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ambala, and Yamunanagar districts in Haryana.

    Researchers found that the diseased plants have poorly-developed root systems, which affect nutrient delivery from soils. 

    The IARI has advised farmers and seed growers against using the infected crop to sow seeds for next season’s crops. State governments have also been advised not to allow infected plots for seed certification purposes.

    According to the IARI report, a comprehensive investigation using three independent methods — transmission electron microscopy, RT-PCR, and real-time RT-PCR — was carried out to help detect the virus.

    The infection was confirmed in 12 different varieties of both basmati and non-basmati rice. These include PB1962, PB1121, PB1509, PR114, PR136, PR130, PR131, Pioneer Hybrid, Swift Gold (manufactured by Bayer), and CSR 30.

    “This is conclusive evidence of the association of Southern Rice Black-streaked Dwarf virus with rice stunt disease and its presence in white-backed planthopper vectors. Further, the absence of virus in seeds of infected plants revealed that it is not seed-transmitted,” IARI said in the summary report of the investigation.

    According to the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, the stunting disease was first reported mid-July across several districts in Punjab — including Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, and Mohali.

    The university has advised farmers to inspect fields and spray insecticides to kill planthoppers that could transmit the virus to healthy plants.

  • Drones are reshaping how rice is farmed in Vietnam

  • Vietnam is the world’s second-largest rice exporter, and XAG says its agricultural drones have become the “new favorite” of farmers that grow the crop.

    The drone manufacturer, which has been actively pushing out its products in the Southeast Asian nation since the start of the monsoon, said drones have found takers even among those farmers who have been growing rice in the traditional way for over 40 years.

    Lê Thành Nguyên, at 62 years old, is one of the early adopters of agricultural drones in Vietnam. This year, he used drones on his seven-hectare rice farm for crop spraying, fertilization, and direct seeding by ordering the service from a local pilot team.

    Nguyên says he was driven to try out the new technology because he has been having difficulties hiring labor for manual jobs. The labor shortage has also led to an increase in costs, with the price of hiring agricultural workers reportedly jumping as much as 40% in just three years.

    “The drone eases the burden and greatly improves the efficiency,” Nguyên said. “In the past, I had to pay four workers to carry and spread one ton of fertilizers on my field from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and they were exhausted. The drone has the benefits of large-volume, uniform distribution, and high spray penetration, which can help me with better pest control and nutrition management.”

    The agriculturist also points out that when feeding nutrients to the rice seeds sown, 100% absorption is achieved by drone spraying, whereas only six or seven seeds out of 10 were able to take in the nutrition when sprayed manually.

    Meanwhile, according to XAG’s local distributor DigiDrone, agricultural drones can spray crops four times faster than manual labor while improving yield by 14% compared to traditional farming.

    XAG is confident that the number of farmers using drones for autonomous operations will only increase in the future. “Drones designed for agricultural use can reduce seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers without affecting crop yields through precise, effortless operation,” the company said.

  • India In-Focus — India considers curbs on exports of 100% broken rice; Talks with Russia over LNG supply resumption

  • India is in talks with Russia to resume gas supplies under the long-term import deal between Gazprom and GAIL India Ltd. (Shutterstock)

    RIYADH: India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, is considering whether to restrict exports of 100 percent broken rice, government and industry officials said on Friday, after paddy areas reduced due to a lack of rainfall.

    The potential export curbs could see rice prices rising globally because India accounts for more than 40 percent of the world’s rice shipments. It could also hit a few poor African countries that import 100 percent broken rice for human consumption, though broken rice, rice grains that are damaged during harvesting, milling or transportation. is mainly used for feed purposes.

    “We have been discussing whether we need some sort of curbs on 100 percent broken rice exports,” said a senior government official involved in the decision process.

    India is more than comfortable in terms of both private and government rice stocks, so there is no point considering any curb on overall rice exports, the official said, adding that the discussions are confined to broken rice.

    The state-run Food Corporation of India held 41 million tons of milled and rice paddy stocks as of Aug. 1, far above the government’s requirement of 13.5 million tons by July 1.

    Below-average rainfall in key rice-producing states such as West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh prompted the latest discussions in a country that has already banned wheat exports and restricted sugar shipments this year.

    India in talks with Russia over LNG supply resumption, GAIL says

    India is in talks with Russia to resume gas supplies under the long-term import deal between Gazprom and GAIL India Ltd., the state-run Indian company’s chairman said at an annual shareholder meeting on Friday.

    GAIL, India’s largest gas distributor and operator of pipelines, has not received the agreed imports since May and has had to cut supplies to clients as a result. 

    “There are some immediate issues which we are trying to tackle both at the company level and also at G2G (government to government) level,” said GAIL Chairman Manoj Jain, adding that supplies under the Gazprom deal have been hit by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

    Volumes under the deal were about a fifth of GAIL’s overall overseas gas portfolio of 14 million tons a year, including supplies from the United States, Qatar and Australia, Jain said.

    “So overall it is not affecting us in a significant way. The only effect is to the extent of 10-15 percent,” he added, pointing out that the addition of domestic gas reduces the impact on local supplies to about 7-8 percent.

    He said GAIL is scouting for more long-term gas import deals to prepare for “such eventualities in future.”

    (With input from Reuters)

  • China’s early rice output increase by 0.4 percent in 2022

  • China’s early rice output saw a 0.4-percent increase this year as government support policies paid off, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Friday. The output reached 28.12 million tonnes, up 106,000 tonnes from the level in 2021, according to the NBS. Since the beginning of this year, the government has taken multiple measures to stabilize double-cropping rice production, including raising the minimum purchase price of rice and increasing incentives for major grain-producing counties, said Wang Guirong, a senior official with the NBS. Due to unfavorable weather conditions from May to June this year, the per unit area yield of early rice decreased 0.1 percent year on year, Wang added. A bumper summer harvest and a stable early rice production have laid a good foundation for grain harvest this year and provided solid support for stabilizing the economic fundamentals, Wang said.

  • Paddy acreage deficit goes down from 15% to 6% in a span of 14 days

  • The saving grace is that unlike wheat, rice stocks in the central pool are much higher than required

    A strong pick up in paddy acreage might also have an impact on any move to impose export restrictions

    The shortfall in the area under paddy cultivation for the week ended August 26 over the same period last year has narrowed to 5.99 per cent from 8.25 per cent in the previous week due to a pick-up in rain in West Bengal and Jharkhand.

    This could ease some concern about a big drop in final output. However, a final analysis on output will be possible only when the harvest starts because much of the sowing in eastern India is happening after the ideal planting time, market participants said.

    According to the latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture, during the week ended August 26, paddy was sown in around 36.75 million hectares as against 39.09 million hectares during the same period last year.

    Till last week, paddy acreage across the country was 34.37 million hectares. Up to July 29, sowing was completed in just around 58.31 per cent of the normal area. This had risen to 92.5 per cent by August 26.

    “Normal area” is the average covered in the last five years -- 39.70 million hectares.

    The narrowing of the deficit could have an impact on prices, which have risen by 5.5-12 per cent between July 1 and August 15 for some common varieties in select markets of the country. It could also influence the decisions of a meeting -- scheduled for next week -- of a high-powered panel of officials of the Central and state governments.

    The meeting will take stock of the progress in sowing and price situation in order to finalise the procurement strategy for the next crop season, which will start on October 1, 2022. A strong pickup in acreage might also have an impact on any move to impose export restrictions.

    India, the world’s second-largest producer and top exporter of rice, commands a 40 per cent share in the global rice trade. The country exported 21.2 million tonnes in 2021-22. Of that 3.94 million tonnes was basmati.

    A Reuters report though said the government might consider imposing some restrictions on export of 100 per cent broken rice, which is less than 20 per cent of the country's total annual rice export.

    Meanwhile, the data showed that the kharif coverage of all crops also went up during the week ended August 26 and around 104.51 million hectares has been brought under cultivation -- just 1.58 per cent less than in the same period last year.

    In Gangetic West Bengal, the data sourced from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows that the cumulative monsoon deficit between June 1 and August 26 has narrowed to 27 per cent from a high of 46 per cent between June 1 and July 29.

    In Gangetic West Bengal, the data sourced from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows that the cumulative monsoon deficit between June 1 and August 26 has narrowed to 27 per cent from a high of 46 per cent between June 1 and July 29.

    The latest data shows till August 26, the major states that showed a deficit in paddy sowing over last year are Jharkhand (-1.05 million hectares), West Bengal (-0.46 million hectares), Chhattisgarh (-0.34 million hectares), Uttar Pradesh (-0.26 million hectares), Bihar (-0.24 million hectares), and Odisha (-0.22 million hectares).

    “Rainfall levels remain broadly normal, with no material shift in the regional distribution. Still, a potential shortfall in paddy crop sowing and output may create concern, especially for countries importing rice from India,” said Rahul Bajoria, managing director and chief India economist at Barclays in a note.

    The saving grace is that unlike wheat, rice stocks in the central pool are much higher than required. As on July 1, 2022, rice stocks in the Central pool are almost 134 per cent more than the buffer and strategic requirement.

  • “Drought, Watchword of the Week,” While India May Curb Some Rice Exports, and Black Sea Exports Continue

  • Kirk Maltais reported today at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “The worst drought in a decade is posing fresh challenges to farmers in the Corn Belt who already are struggling with surging costs, the dark side of a post-Covid commodities boom.

    Crop damage from South Dakota and Nebraska to Iowa and Illinois was evident this week in surveys by this year’s Professional Farmers of America Inc. Midwest Crop Tour, in which farmers, traders and others in agricultural industries evaluated corn and soybeans growing in fields across seven states.

    “Pro Farmer this month cut its outlook for corn yields by 13% in Nebraska and 22% in South Dakota, relative to levels in its survey last year. The reductions helped fuel a rebound in the prices of many grains this past week, adding to the volatility in futures trading on the Chicago Board of Trade.”

    U.S. Agriculture in Drought. USDA- Office of the Chief Economist (August 25, 2022).

    The Journal article noted that, “The Plains drought is only the latest weather-related hit farmers have suffered this year. A string of hailstorms hammered Nebraska crops in June, with hail coverage claims ranking among the most ever seen by crop insurer Rural Community Insurance Services, said Jason Meador, head of the insurer, which is a division of Zurich North America.

    “In Nebraska, projected crop yields dropped even in fields with irrigation systems, an unusual turn of events that reflects just how hot and dry the weather has been this summer in the Midwest.”

    Maltais explained that, “The implications are global. Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Bunge Ltd. forecast last month that Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and poor weather in South America, the EU and China would keep world grain supplies tight.”

    The Journal article indicated that, “To be sure, the news from the farm isn’t all bad. Crop stress in the western Corn Belt is being balanced in part by wetter crops in the east. In its most recent supply and demand report this month, the U.S. Agriculture Department said that it expects domestic corn production to total 14.4 billion bushels—down only slightly from its projection in July.

    “Additionally, the agency revised its soybean-production projections higher in its August report, to 4.5 billion bushels. ”

    And yesterday, Bloomberg writers Tarso Veloso Ribeiro and Kim Chipman reported that, “Drought was the watchword of the week: dry soils plagued the [Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour] participants throughout the western crop belt. Even in the east, where plants received more rain, yields were still looking a bit mediocre. Some evidence of crop disease and pest infestations also added to the woes.”

    More broadly, Christian Shepherd and Ian Livingston reported in today’s Washington Post that, “The unprecedented heat wave that has engulfed China this summer has dried up rivers, wilted crops and sparked forest fires. It has grounded ships, caused hydropower shortages and forced major cities to dim lights. Receding waters have revealed long-submerged ancient bridges and Buddhist statues.”

    The Washington Post (Page A8 – August 26, 2022).

    “At 73 days and counting, the heat wave has easily surpassed China’s record of 62 days in 2013. All-time highs are being broken, often only to be re-broken days later,” the Post article said.

    Elsewhere, Bloomberg writer Pratik Parija reported today that,

    India, the world’s biggest rice shipper, will likely restrict some exports as domestic supply is under threat, according to people with knowledge of the matter, a move that risks adding to the chaos in global food markets.

    “The government is discussing curbs on broken rice exports, which account for almost 20% of India’s shipments abroad, as local prices have soared, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Talks are in advanced stages and a decision may be announced soon, the people said.”

    The Bloomberg article explained that, “Unlike wheat and corn prices, which surged after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rice has been subdued due to ample stockpiles, warding off a bigger food crisis. Back in 2008, prices soared above $1,000 a ton, more than double the level now, as India and Vietnam banned exports, causing panic over supplies.
    Broken rice is mainly used for animal feed or to produce ethanol in India. Prices have jumped this year on increased export demand. Top buyers include China, which uses it mostly for livestock feed, and some African countries, which import the grain for food.”
    And Reuters News reported today that, “India, the world’s biggest exporter of rice, is examining whether there is a need to restrict exports of 100% broken rice mainly used for feed purposes, government and industry officials told Reuters on Friday.
    “The curbs on exports by India could lift rice prices in the world as the south Asian country accounts for more than 40% of global rice shipments.”
    Also today, Reuters .News reported that, “Germany’s grain and rapeseed harvest is better than expected after a heatwave and drought but damage is expected to maize (corn) and sugar beet crops, the German agriculture ministry estimated on Friday.”
    Europe is facing its worst drought in about 500 years, with crops in several countries suffering, especially maize,” the Reuters article said.
    In other news, Bloomberg writer Michael Hirtzer reported yesterday that, “Merchant vessels have a new route to reach three ports in war-torn Ukraine, a move that could further boost shipments of food out of the Black Sea where disruptions earlier this year sent wheat prices to a record.
    The new 320-nautical-mile route connects Ukraine’s ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi/Yuzhny with inspection areas inside Turkey’s territorial waters, according to a press release Thursday from the Joint Coordination Centre. The group includes representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations with a mission to ensure the safe transportation of food and fertilizer.”

  • India considers curbs on exports of 100% broken rice

  • MUMBAI, Aug 26 (Reuters) - India, the world's biggest rice exporter, is considering whether to restrict exports of 100% broken rice, government and industry officials told Reuters on Friday, after the paddy area has been reduced by a lack of rainfall.

    The potential export curbs could lift rice prices globally because India accounts for more than 40% of the world's rice shipments. It could also hit a few poor African countries that import 100% broken rice for human consumption, though that variety is mainly used for feed purposes.

    "We have been discussing whether we need some sort of curbs on 100% broken rice exports," said a senior government official involved in the decision process.

    India is more than comfortable in terms of both private and government rice stocks, so there is no point considering any curb on overall rice exports, the official said, adding that the discussions are confined to broken rice.

    The state-run Food Corporation of India held 41 million tonnes of milled and rice paddy stocks as of Aug. 1, far above the government's requirement of 13.5 million tonnes by July 1.

    Below-average rainfall in key rice-producing states such as West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh prompted the latest discussions in a country that has already banned wheat exports and restricted sugar shipments this year. 

    India's farmers have planted paddy on 34.37 million hectares, down 8.3% from a year ago, farm ministry data showed last week.

    India usually exports 5% and 25% broken rice, but demand for 100% broken rice has risen sharply in recent months, particularly from drought-hit China, exporters said.

    "The local cattle feed industry has been demanding a restriction on exports of 100% brokens so they can have more supplies," said one exporter based in Andhra Pradesh.

    In 2021 India exported 21.5 million tonnes of rice, including 3.6 million tonnes of broken rice.

    China was the biggest buyer of broken rice, with purchases of 1.1 million tonnes in 2021, while African countries such as Senegal and Djibouti bought brokens for human consumption.

    "Instead of banning, the government should impose duty on the exports. This will help India keep a presence in the market and allow African countries to import,” said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association.

    The price difference between 100% broken and 5% broken has dropped to $15 a tonne from more than $70 a year ago, exporters said.

    India's 5% broken white rice was quoted around $340 a tonne this week, against $325 for 100% broken white rice, they said.

  • Reducing ASEAN’s food import dependency

  • The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the Russia–Ukraine conflict have exacerbated global food insecurity. The current crisis has highlighted the reliance of many ASEAN states on staple food and animal feed imports, as well as ASEAN’s lack of coordinated strategy for food production. ASEAN needs to reduce import dependency to minimise the impact of global market fluctuations on regional food security.

    While ASEAN’s staple food is rice, there has been increased demand for wheat, soybean and maize over the past decade — an increase that ASEAN production cannot meet. Soybean and maize have become particularly important as animal feeds needed to support an exponential growth in livestock demand. Meeting this demand requires large imports from outside ASEAN.

    Food insecurity has highlighted ASEAN’s vulnerability to disruptions in the importation of foodstuffs. Several states are now prioritising localised production and shorter, more reliable supply chains. The ASEAN Secretariat estimated that ASEAN imported US$61 billion worth of agricultural commodities from outside ASEAN in 2020. ASEAN states are among the world’s largest importers of wheat and import significant amounts of soybean and maize.

    This reflects ASEAN’s insufficient production of the region’s main foodstuffs. ASEAN member states differ widely in their production capacities of rice, wheat, soybean, maize, vegetable oil and livestock. In 2020, ASEAN produced an underwhelming 46 million tonnes of maize, 735,000 tonnes of soybean and 113,400 tonnes of wheat. ASEAN maize production meets about 75 per cent of the region’s needs because of the relatively low production compared to the major maize exporting countries in North America, South America and Europe.

    ASEAN produces less than a tenth of its soybean needs. ASEAN soybean production is concentrated in Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Between 2018 and 2019, ASEAN member states imported about 7.5 million tonnes of soybean for animal feed and food. Soybeans have the largest dollar value of any ASEAN food import and imports exceed local production by a ratio of 10:1.

    ASEAN accounted for 15 per cent of global wheat imports in 2021. Wheat imports exceed production in ASEAN by a whopping ratio of 244:1. The majority of imported wheat is from Ukraine, so the Russia–Ukraine war has unsurprisingly disrupted the export of wheat to Southeast Asia and caused prices to spike.

    Indonesia is the biggest wheat importer in ASEAN. In 2021, Indonesia imported US$3.5 billion worth of wheat. Wheat imports are used to produce Indonesia’s staple foods, including noodles, bread and baked goods. The country has total reliance on wheat imports for its food and animal feed.

    Rice is the only staple food that ASEAN produces a surplus of. In 2020, ASEAN grew 48 million hectares of paddy rice, which harvested 191 million tonnes of rice. Rice production takes up about 66 per cent of the total arable land area in ASEAN. But many ASEAN states are still net rice importers, with Indonesia and the Philippines importing the most.

    In 2020, ASEAN states imported 76.5 per cent of their rice from other ASEAN member states. ASEAN countries clearly need to work together and to develop a coordinated strategy to reduce the region’s dependency on food imports. Increasing rice production may enable the region to become a net exporter of rice, strengthening its position in the face of another food security crisis.

    Increasing rice production will require a combination of technological innovations. This includes transitioning to biotechnology-improved rice, increasing on-farm yields of preferred rice varieties, infrastructural improvements, input financing and improved smallholder farmer management skills.

    But the large area taken up by rice production and the need to increase rice production raise concerns about its environmental impact. Rice crop lands are the largest contributors to ASEAN’s methane emissions. Policymakers must balance the need to reduce global warming with increased rice production.

    Soybean and wheat crop lands are still relatively scarce in ASEAN, making the gap between imports and production very large. Increasing crop lands and yields will require a coordinated strategy. There must be significant investment in the tropical soybean and wheat agronomy, including breeding and crop pest management. New soybean and wheat varieties need to be made available expeditiously by implementing innovative breeding technology and improving pest management.

    A well-resourced, ASEAN-wide initiative may increase the region’s wheat, soybean and maize supply resilience. This will enable ASEAN to capitalise on its biodiversity and under-utilised native plants to reduce its reliance on imported staple food and feed crops.

    Paul Teng is Adjunct Senior Fellow and Food Security Adviser at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

    A version of this article was first published here in the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies Commentary.

  • Haryana basmati exporters seek lower market levies

  • Haryana, which accounts for more than half of basmati shipments from India, imposes arthia commission of 2.5%, market fee of 2% and rural development cess of 2%; these take the total burden to 6.5%.

    In June last year, the Haryana government increased the market or mandi fee on basmati as well as the rural development cess from 0.5% to 2% each.

    Basmati exporters from Haryana have asked for a reduction of levies such as mandi fee, rural development cess and arthia (agent) commission imposed on the purchase of paddy from the current collective 6.5%, to bring them on a par with those in other key producing states like Punjab, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

    The levies are 3% in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, 3.25% in Rajasthan and 4.5% in Punjab. Higher levies bite into the margins of basmati exporters in Haryana, forcing many traders and processors to procure paddy from Delhi and Punjab.

    Haryana, which accounts for more than half of basmati shipments from India, imposes arthia commission of 2.5%, market fee of 2% and rural development cess of 2%; these take the total burden to 6.5%.

    “Higher levies on basmati paddy procurement are not only impacting exporters and processors, but also dragging down earnings of farmers,” said Vijay Setia, former president of the All India Rice Exporter Association and a Karnal-based basmati rice exporter.

    In June last year, the Haryana government increased the market or mandi fee on basmati as well as the rural development cess from 0.5% to 2% each.

    The Haryana Rice Exporters Association (HREA) had written to chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar that rice millers should be provided a level playing field with exporters from other states to enable them to compete in the global market. It said many rice millers and exporters have closed their plants due to recurring losses.

    Khattar had assured exporters to review the fees and other charges at mandis.

    According to exporters, basmati harvest from this kharif season will start arriving in mandis by October 1. The Haryana government has to take a call on reducing levies soon, they said.

    In 2021-22, India exported Basmati rice valued at $3.54 billion. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, UAE, US, Kuwait, UK, Qatar and Oman had a share of close to 80% in total shipments of the aromatic long-grain rice from India in 2021-22.

  • Rice-producing areas rev up drought relief

  • Water gushes through an irrigation system in a rice paddy in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province. Throughout the country, people are mitigating the drought's impact on agriculture amid excessively high temperatures. [Photo/Xinhua]

    NANCHANG - Despite persistent drought, Cao Liming, a 50-year-old farmer in Jiangxi province, is still looking forward to a bumper harvest this year.

    Cao contracts about 12.7 hectares of farmland in Zhouxi township, where the irrigation water source relies mainly on Poyang Lake, China's largest freshwater lake.

    However, starting July, a combination of hot weather and a lack of precipitation has swept across southern China. Poyang Lake officially entered this year's dry season on Aug 6, the earliest date since records began in 1951 and 69 days earlier than the average starting date between 2003 and 2021.

    Drought conditions have reduced the water area of the lake to 737 square kilometers, around 75 percent less than the same period last year, according to the Jiangxi provincial water resources department.

    Jiangxi is one of China's 13 major rice-producing areas, and the area around Poyang Lake is the province's main grain-producing area. To stabilize grain yields, strengthening water diversion and irrigation has become a priority task.

    Standing on the embankment of the Xiaoyang farming area, which is adjacent to Poyang Lake, Yu Guopeng, head of Zhouxi township, noted that the water's edge had retreated about 300 meters, leaving plants and riverbeds exposed.

    "When Poyang Lake is rich in water, we directly pump water to the irrigation pumping station and then to paddy fields," said Yu. "Now we have to dig canals in the dry riverbeds to divert the lake water first to the canal and then to the station.

    "We spent five days digging the canal and then drew the lake water to it with eight pumps running day and night," said Yu. "The solution has guaranteed irrigation water for more than 333 hectares of farmland in the Xiaoyang farming area."

    Zhouxi township is just one example of the overall efforts Jiangxi province is making to combat the drought. Weather forecasts show that heat waves will continue across Jiangxi in the coming week, while the water level of Poyang Lake is expected to continue its downward trend.

    Many areas in Jiangxi have stored water in advance to cope with potential drought. "Despite suffering severe drought, we have been working to ensure sufficient irrigation water. We still expect a bumper harvest," said Cao.

  • Agricultural restructuring policy contributes to rise in Vietnam’s rice prices

  • the Vietnamese government has issued an agricultural restructuring policy, by which the rice structure has been strongly adjusted, changing the rice cultivation protocols and paying more attention to improving rice quality rather than increasing production, according to a report by Research and Markets - the world's largest market research store.

    In 2015, Vietnam’s quality rice seeds accounted for only 35%-40% of the total seeds, while in 2020 the chart reached 75%-80%, and even in some places, the usage rate of quality rice seeds is as high as 90%. (Photo: VNA)

    Hanoi (VNA) – The Vietnamese government has issued an agricultural restructuring policy, by which the rice structure has been strongly adjusted, changing the rice cultivation protocols and paying more attention to improving rice quality rather than increasing production, according to a report by Research and Markets - the world's largest market research store.

    This is one of the reasons for the rise in Vietnam’s rice prices mentioned in the Research Report on Vietnam's Rice Industry 2022-2031.

    The report cites statistics showing that in 2015, Vietnam’s quality rice seeds accounted for only 35%-40% of the total seeds, while in 2020 the chart reached 75%-80%, and even in some places, the usage rate of quality rice seeds is as high as 90%.

    Secondly, the report says, Vietnam has signed many FTAs such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which creates conditions for a breakthrough in the country's rice exports.

    Another reason is that many industries were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but the market demand for food has not decreased.

    Vietnam’s rice exports are to continue to rise in both volume and value in 2022-2031. (Photo: VNA)

    According to experts, the Mekong Delta is the centre of rice cultivation in Vietnam, contributing half of rice production and up to 95% of the country’s rice exports.

    The report says Vietnam’s rice exports are to continue to rise in both volume and value in 2022-2031.

    Its rice export value reached 3.1 billion USD in 2021, and rice has become a bright spot in Vietnam’s agricultural products exports.

    Last year, Vietnam’s total rice production was about 44 million tonnes, meeting the demand for domestic consumption, processing, poultry and livestock feed, and export.

    Since the EVFTA came into force on August 1, 2020, rice exports have rapidly seen an upturn. Under the trade deal, the EU gives Vietnam a quota of 80,000 tonnes of rice with a zero-per-cent tax rate per year, including 30,000 tonnes of milled rice, 20,000 tonnes of unmilled rice and 30,000 tonnes of aromatic rice.

    For rice from Vietnam, the EU will reduce the import duty rate to zero in the coming years. Taking advantage of the above, from September 2020, Vietnam started to sell rice to the EU at a much higher price than before./.

  • Rs350m okayed for rice research

  • Rice production to increase with development of new seed varieties

    Investment of Rs350 million for the establishment of phytotron tunnels will expedite research and development on new rice varieties. PHOTO: file

    KARACHI:

    Sindh Government has approved Rs350 million for the establishment of phytotron tunnels for speedy research and development in order to introduce new rice varieties within the shortest possible time.

    Previously, it was taking six to eight years to introduce a new rice seed for commercial use, as per the statement of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP).

    “This project will be a game changer in the agriculture sector, as it is also useful for all agricultural commodities,” said REAP Secretary Altaf Hussain Shaikh.

    Officials of Sindh Agriculture Department have submitted the initial draft of the feasibility report (PC-1) with the planning department for sanction of funds for this project, he added.

    Pakistan is one of the largest producers of rice in the world. It produces about 9 million tons of rice annually and exports about 6 million tons to various countries.

    Pakistan has a large share in global rice exports alongside other commodities such as cotton and sugar. Pakistan’s production is more than that of other countries like Vietnam and Thailand.

    Rice is the most important cereal crop in Pakistan and it is produced in different parts of the country, with Punjab being the main producer and Sindh being its biggest consumer.

    Rice production in K-P has also risen over the years due to improved irrigation facilities as well as better rainfall patterns in some areas.

    In Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, however, wheat is grown instead of rice or maize because this area does not have enough water storage facilities for growing either crop.

    “We hope that after the establishment of these phytotron tunnels at Rice Research Institute Dokri, we will see a phenomenal increase in rice production, which will definitely help to increase rice exports to fetch much-needed foreign exchange,” he said.

    Rice is the staple food of Pakistan and yet more than one-fifth of the population suffers from food insecurity. The main challenges in rice production are limited use of crop technology, lack of good quality seed and poor market information due to unreliable supplies.

    The low production levels of rice are caused both by natural and man-made factors. Natural reasons include lack of space and water, as well as population pressure.

    The man-made reason for low production is the complex seed selection process which is time-consuming. Also, rice requires very high maintenance costs to ensure good yield.

    “We are very thankful to the government for its support, which is much needed,” said REAP ex-senior vice chairman Muhammad Raza. Sindh will be the first province to have this latest and advanced facility in its rice research centres, noted rice exporter Anis Majeed.

    “We have been discussing with the government that all the seeds including that of rice are mostly imported. This is itself reflective of the lack of research and development on varieties of seeds,” said Sindh Abadgar Board Senior Vice President Mahmood Nawaz Shah.

    Phytotron tunnels are facilities that produce new seeds in a controlled environment, he explained.

    “It is commendable that these tunnels are being introduced. That said, research work also needs to continue with clear objectives and accountability to bring results, without which the tunnels alone may not help,” he added.

  • China Focus: Major rice-producing province revs up drought relief efforts

  • Despite persisting drought, Cao Liming, a 50-year-old farmer in east China’s Jiangxi Province, is still looking forward to a bumper harvest this year.

    Cao contracts about 12.7 hectares of farmland in Zhouxi Township of Duchang County, where the irrigation water source relies mainly on Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake.

    However, starting July, a combination of hot weather and low precipitation has swept across south China. Poyang Lake officially entered this year’s dry season on Aug. 6, the earliest date since records started in 1951 and 69 days earlier than the average starting date between 2003 and 2021.

    Drought conditions have reduced the water area of the lake by around 75 percent. As of 10 a.m. Thursday, the total water area of the lake registered 737 square km, 2,203 square km less than that of the same period last year, according to the Jiangxi provincial water resources department.

    Jiangxi is one of China’s 13 major rice-producing areas, and the area around Poyang Lake is the province’s main grain-producing area. To stabilize grain yields, strengthening water diversion and irrigation has become a priority task.

    Standing on the embankment of the Xiaoyang farming area, which is adjacent to Poyang Lake, Yu Guopeng, head of Zhouxi Township, noted that the water surface of the lake had retreated to about 300 meters away, leaving water plants and riverbeds exposed.

    “When Poyang Lake has rich waters, we directly pump water to the irrigation pumping station and then to paddy fields,” said Yu. “Now we have to dig canals in the dry riverbeds to divert the lake water first to the canal and then to the station.”

    “We spent five days digging the canal and then drew the lake water to it with eight pumps running day and night,” said Yu. “The solution has guaranteed irrigation water for more than 333 hectares of farmland in the Xiaoyang farming area.”

    Zhouxi Township is just an epitome of the province’s overall efforts to combat the drought. Weather forecasts show that heatwaves will continue to blaze across Jiangxi in the coming week, while the water level of Poyang Lake is expected to continue its downward trend.

    Many areas in Jiangxi stored water in advance to cope with potential drought. “Despite suffering severe drought, we have been working to ensure sufficient irrigation water. We expect a bumper harvest,” said Cao.
    Source: Xinhua

  • 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 Monday.

    The deadline for submission of price offers is Sept. 6.

    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: Supply concerns lift Indian rates

    The rice can come from worldwide origins and shipment is required 40 days after contract award.

  • Shipment from Vietnam aboveboard – rice importer

  • ONE of the importers/consignees of the rice shipment that reached Iloilo claimed to have all the supporting importation documents to prove that duties and taxes were paid.

    Famint Corp. strongly objected to its inclusion in the list of importer/consignees that were implicated in the alleged anomalous importation of 38,400 metric tons of Vietnam rice worth more than P1 billion.

    "Famint has valid sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances from the Bureau of Plant Industry, the Department of Agriculture for all its rice importations, and has duly declared all these importations with the Bureau of Customs, and paid all the applicable customs, tariffs and taxes," it said in a statement.

    "At all times, Farmint ensures and upholds compliance to all laws and regulations of the Philippines, particularly relevant government agencies, in relation to its rice importation," it added.

    The Port of Iloilo earlier acknowledged the unloading of rice but claimed that the shipments were properly documented.

    It said that the rice shipments on board MV Hai Ha 58, MV Hoa Binh 54 and MV Hai Dang 168 were covered with clearances and permits issued by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry and that P83,322,586.68 in customs duties and taxes were paid.

    MV Royal 18, which was also carrying rice, is at the anchorage area and waiting for berthing space.

  • China Focus: Major rice-producing province revs up drought relief efforts

  • NANCHANG, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Despite persisting drought, Cao Liming, a 50-year-old farmer in east China's Jiangxi Province, is still looking forward to a bumper harvest this year.

    Cao contracts about 12.7 hectares of farmland in Zhouxi Township of Duchang County, where the irrigation water source relies mainly on Poyang Lake, China's largest freshwater lake.

    However, starting July, a combination of hot weather and low precipitation has swept across south China. Poyang Lake officially entered this year's dry season on Aug. 6, the earliest date since records started in 1951 and 69 days earlier than the average starting date between 2003 and 2021.

    Drought conditions have reduced the water area of the lake by around 75 percent. As of 10 a.m. Thursday, the total water area of the lake registered 737 square km, 2,203 square km less than that of the same period last year, according to the Jiangxi provincial water resources department.

    Jiangxi is one of China's 13 major rice-producing areas, and the area around Poyang Lake is the province's main grain-producing area. To stabilize grain yields, strengthening water diversion and irrigation has become a priority task.

    Standing on the embankment of the Xiaoyang farming area, which is adjacent to Poyang Lake, Yu Guopeng, head of Zhouxi Township, noted that the water surface of the lake had retreated to about 300 meters away, leaving water plants and riverbeds exposed.

    "When Poyang Lake has rich waters, we directly pump water to the irrigation pumping station and then to paddy fields," said Yu. "Now we have to dig canals in the dry riverbeds to divert the lake water first to the canal and then to the station."

    "We spent five days digging the canal and then drew the lake water to it with eight pumps running day and night," said Yu. "The solution has guaranteed irrigation water for more than 333 hectares of farmland in the Xiaoyang farming area."

    Zhouxi Township is just an epitome of the province's overall efforts to combat the drought. Weather forecasts show that heatwaves will continue to blaze across Jiangxi in the coming week, while the water level of Poyang Lake is expected to continue its downward trend.

    Many areas in Jiangxi stored water in advance to cope with potential drought. "Despite suffering severe drought, we have been working to ensure sufficient irrigation water. We expect a bumper harvest," said Cao.

  • Women farmers of Bengal’s Jhargram reap fortunes with organic rice

  • Women farmers growing indigenous varieties of rice in Jhargram district of West Bengal. Photo: Aamon women

    Turnover of the company, formed by 2,677 women, from cultivation of indigenous varieties pegged at ₹3 crore for the year

    Panchabati Baske of Damodarpur village and Nirmala Mahato of Murakhati village are trendsetters in their respective villages in West Bengal’s Jhargram district. Though not highly educated, Ms. Baske and Ms. Mahato have started a revolution by cultivating indigenous varieties of rice organically, without using any chemical fertilisers. There are 55 women farmers in Damodarpur village and 21 women farmers in Murakathi village following in their footsteps by growing indigenous varieties of rice.

    Hundreds of women farmers have taken up the cultivation of indigenous rice varieties like Kalabhat (Black rice), Mallifullo (brown rice) and Kerala Sundari (raw aromatic full bran folk rice) and Red Rice, locally called as Sathia, in the remote villages of Jhargram.

    What started in 2017 with a dozen women has taken the form of a company with 2,677 women farmers as shareholders to Aamon Mahila Chasi Producer Company Limited. The number of women cultivators, across the five-gram panchayats of Nayagram block in Jhargram, participating in this initiative now stands at over 4,500. The area of land cultivated this year is more than 1,100 hectares .

    Ms. Baske started by cultivating the indigenous rice varieties in two to three cottahs of land in 2016-17. This year, she has cultivated black rice in 1.5 bighas (1 bigha = 20 cottahs) of land and Sathia rice in one bigha land. “We are saving ₹4,000 to ₹5,000 per bigha on fertilisers and there is not much difference in the yield,” she said. Both Ms. Baske and Ms. Mahato told  The Hindu that they have made profits by cultivating organic indigenous rice varieties. They also said that as stakeholders to Aamon, they have a greater say in decision making when it comes to farming.

    PRADAN, a non-government organisation, have hand-held the women by providing training in the cultivation process. Photo: Aamon women

    PRADAN, a non-government organisation, have hand-held the women by providing training in the cultivation process. Photo: Aamon women

    PRADAN, a non-government organisation, have hand-held the women by providing training in the cultivation process. The body has also set up a rice processing mill and has started marketing the indigenous produce to different parts of the country. A bio- fertiliser unit has also come up in the region replacing the chemical-based fertilisers used in high-yielding varieties by farmyard manure and other natural inputs.

    Madhura Kanjilal, an executive with PRADAN, said that the turnover for Aamon this year is pegged at ₹3 crore. “The women who are part of Aamon have a voice now. Though agriculture is considered a male domain, most of the labour is provided by women. Women farmers at Aamon have the final say as to what to do when it comes to agriculture,” she said.

    According to the women farmers, the yield varies with the varieties. While it is about five to six quintals per bigha for indigenous varieties, for the high-yielding paddy cultivated with chemical fertilisers, this can be about nine to ten quintals. With the price of the indigenous varieties being three times, the women farmers are making profit. 

    Aamon also provided the women farmers with control over what seeds they could use to grow their food. Photo: Aamon women

    Aamon also provided the women farmers with control over what seeds they could use to grow their food. Photo: Aamon women

    Supplementary product

    Aamon has also provided the women farmers with control over what seeds they could use to grow their food, thereby relieving them of dependence on the high-yielding varieties available in the market which require chemical-based fertilisers.  Along with rice, the women also produce plates made of sal leaves, which are abundantly found in the region.  This year onwards, the women farmers are also selling this ecofriendly product.

    Buddhadeb Jana, manager at Aamon, who looks after the marketing of the indigenous organic rice varieties, said that the challenge remains to reach individual customers. “We have customers in different parts of the country from Maharashtra to Tamil Nadu. We at Aamon are mostly dependent on institutional buyers but are ready to sell those seeking orders above 50 kgs,” he said.

    Mr. Jana also added attempts are being made so that the rice varieties are available to individual customers through online platforms.

  • Nepal’s rice farmers brace for loss over lack of rains, fertilisers

  • A senior government meteorologist says it’s still too early to link the lateness of the monsoon to climate change

    The fertile plains in southern Nepal is known as the country’s rice bowl. Thousands of farmers here are currently facing a double whammy of a fertiliser shortage and inadequate monsoon rains.

    This is likely to affect production of the country’s staple grain, which also contributes around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product and provides employment of at least six months for a large proportion of the population.

    “Paddy has been planted only in around 75% of the fields as of end of July,” said Suma Karki, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture. “Last year this time, the figure was around 88%.”

    The monsoon clouds, which originate in the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean, are obstructed by the Himalayan mountain range when they try to move north. They then form a low-pressure band, shedding their moisture in the form of rain in the foothills of the mountains as well as the Gangetic plain that runs through Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The band, known as the monsoon trough, moves between the foothills of mountains in the north and the Indian plains in the south bringing rain wherever it goes.

    “This monsoon season, the trough has remained in the Indian plains for a longer period than we’d expect it to,” said senior government meteorologist Indira Kandel. This is why Nepal’s southern plains haven’t received adequate rains for rice farmers this year, she added.

    The monsoon rains account for 60-90% of Nepal’s total annual precipitation, and are crucial for the farmers who grow rice on around 1.4 million hectares (3.5 million acres) of land, 75% of which lie in the southern Terai plains. Most of the farmers are dependent on the rains as the irrigation system in the country can’t cater to all their needs.

    “Due to lack of adequate rain, the rice fields have developed cracks and the plants have dried up,” said Ranju Sharma, a farmer from the rural municipality of Katahari in Nepal’s Morang district, near the border with India.

    Farmers such as Sharma are already under stress as large numbers of Nepali workers seek jobs abroad in India and the Middle East. This makes it difficult to plant rice on time as the traditional cultivation practices are labour intensive. In addition, unexpected issues pop up virtually every year that forces the farmers to bear huge losses.

    Farmers work at a paddy field in Nepal.

    This year, the farmers had anticipated that the main challenge would be a shortage of chemical fertilisers. The government, which used to supply fertiliser to farmers ahead of the monsoon season, failed to do so this year as the fertiliser couldn’t be imported in time. But the lack of rainfall has created more trouble.

    “We were already worried that the output would go down this year due to lack of fertiliser, now the rainfall problem has added to our woes,” Sharma said.

    The change in rainfall patterns in Nepal’s plains come as record heat waves, attributed to climate change, recently engulfed much of the Northern Hemisphere, including India. “It would be too early to say that the heat waves had anything to do with the behaviour of the monsoon trough. But we can’t rule out that possibility,” Kandel said.

    What is known is that a changing climate has changed the long-term precipitation patterns in Nepal. A report by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology suggests that although the volume of total rainfall hasn’t changed much, the intensity has. This means rainfall patterns have become hard to forecast, and the chances of flash floods have increased.

    Many farmers say they still remember all too well the flash floods during last year’s monsoon, just as they were preparing for what they thought would be a good harvest. The monsoon, which typically leaves Nepal in late September, stayed longer last year, bringing unexpected rains in the second week of October. According to government figures, which usually underestimate damages, farmers suffered losses amounting to Rs. 11.87 billion rupees ($93 million).

    As the monsoon trough moves north again, farmers say they hope it brings adequate rain this time before it heads back south again. “The rains should stop when they are supposed to stop,” Sharma said. “If it doesn’t, we might have to abandon rice farming altogether as we can’t take losses year after year.”

    Nepal’s import-dependent economy, which is already under huge pressure due to rising fuel prices, could take another hit if rice production takes yet another major hit this year. The country, which only has sufficient foreign currency reserves to finance around seven months of imports, could face severe problems if the food import bill also rises, economists warn.

  • T. Narsipura farmer to display rice varieties at Delhi expo

  • Srinivas of Siddanahundi in T. Narsipura taluk of Mysuru district cultivates different varieties of rice in his field. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

    Srinivas, who won the Gene Saviour award for 2016-17 in recognition of his work, has over 250 varieties of rice in his collection and has created a ‘gene bank’.

    A farmer and rice breeder from Siddanahundi in T. Narsipura taluk will represent Mysuru district at a national-level exhibition that will showcase different varieties of rice conserved by farmers from across the country.

    Mr. Srinivas, who won the Gene Saviour award for 2016-17 in recognition of his work, has over 250 varieties of rice in his collection and has created a ‘gene bank’.  This includes about 240 varieties from different parts of India and 10 varieties from other countries.

    Some of the exotic varieties which Mr. Srinivas has conserved and grows exclusively include Rajamudi, Ratnachudi, Jeerige Sanna, Gandhasale, Sidda Sanna etc. from Karnataka; Burma Black from Myanmar, Jasmine from Thailand, Lanka 1 and Lanka 2 from Sri Lanka from other countries.

    Among his exotic collection of rice varieties from other States are Jugal from West Bengal and JP 11 developed by a farmer from Varanasi.

    Mr. Srinivas said that he toured different parts of the country including Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, etc., and met like-minded farmers who too were conserving indigenous varieties of rice. This interaction helped him to procure small quantities of different varieties of rice which he cultivated – not for consumption – but to sell it to fellow farmers who were keen to preserve and propagate the rare varieties by cultivating it on a large scale.

    ‘’Most of the rice varieties are on the verge of extinction and are not cultivated as the market prefers the polished and hybrid white rice. If the indigenous varieties are not conserved they will become extinct and with it we will lose a slice of our agricultural heritage,” said Mr. Srinivas.

    Though he had a large swathe of land till recently, the agricultural plot had to be divided among his brothers and so Mr. Srinivas is now left with just 1 acre. But this has not dissuaded him from taking up rice conservation. ‘’I cultivate on a portion of the land and grow crops and vegetables for domestic consumption and the rest is meant to grow different varieties of rice for distribution to other farmers,” he said.

    All 250 varieties cannot be cultivated at one go given the small size of plot. So Mr. Srinivas takes about 30 varieties each year and cultivates them on a rotation basis. ‘’There is great demand for different varieties from like-minded farmers and hence income is also assured,” he added.

  • RPT-ASIA RICE-SUPPLY CONCERNS LIFT INDIAN RATES;

  • RPT-ASIA RICE-SUPPLY CONCERNS LIFT INDIAN RATES; VIETNAM LOSES OUT TO COMPETITION

    * Thailand prices slip to $416-$420/t

    * China, Philippines have cut rice purchases from Vietnam - trader

    By Bharat Gautam

    Aug 19 (Reuters) - Indian rates for rice exports rose this week as lower planting fuelled concerns over supplies from the new season, while Vietnamese prices and quality of the grain lagged peers.

    Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted at $365-$371 per tonne, up from last week's $360-$366.

    "Weather is not supporting crop in eastern and northern India. Traders have started quoting higher prices for paddy assuming lower production from the new crop," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

    Neighbouring Bangladesh will begin selling rice at a cheaper rate for 5 million poor families and expand such sales from September, in a bid to rein in soaring domestic prices, which saw yet another uptick after the government hiked domestic oil prices.

    "I hope domestic rice markets will be stable after the beginning of the sales," Bangladesh Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said, adding that the country has adequate stock.

    Meanwhile, Vietnam's 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> were unchanged from the previous week at $390-$393 per tonne on Thursday.

    Vietnamese prices are lower than Thailand's due to weak demand and strong supplies from the summer-autumn harvest, a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said.

    The country's two key export markets, China and the Philippines, have reduced purchases, with buyers from the Philippines more interested in low-priced rice, the trader said.

    Prices have also fallen behind because the quality of rice from the summer-autumn harvest was not better than the grain from competitors, traders said.

    Thailand's 5% broken rice prices <RI-THBKN5-P1> dipped to $416-$420 per tonne from $420-428 last week. Despite declining shipping costs, there haven't been large orders, a trader said.

    Internal trade has kept domestic prices supported, another trader said, adding that there has been trading activity between the Middle East and Europe through Thailand, with continuous supply due to good rain and favourable weather. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Chayut Setboonsarng in Bangkok and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; editing by Uttaresh.V)

  • Asia rice: Supply concerns lift Indian rates

  • MUMBAI/HANOI/BANGKOK/DHAKA: Indian rates for rice exports rose this week as lower planting fuelled concerns over supplies from the new season, while Vietnamese prices and quality of the grain lagged peers.

    Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $365-$371 per tonne, up from last week’s $360-$366.

    “Weather is not supporting crop in eastern and northern India. Traders have started quoting higher prices for paddy assuming lower production from the new crop,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

    Neighbouring Bangladesh will begin selling rice at a cheaper rate for 5 million poor families and expand such sales from September, in a bid to rein in soaring domestic prices, which saw yet another uptick after the government hiked domestic oil prices.

    “I hope domestic rice markets will be stable after the beginning of the sales,” Bangladesh Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said, adding that the country has adequate stock.

    Meanwhile, Vietnam’s 5% broken rice were unchanged from the previous week at $390-$393 per tonne on Thursday.

    Vietnamese prices are lower than Thailand’s due to weak demand and strong supplies from the summer-autumn harvest, a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said.

    The country’s two key export markets, China and the Philippines, have reduced purchases, with buyers from the Philippines more interested in low-priced rice, the trader said. Prices have also fallen behind because the quality of rice from the summer-autumn harvest was not better than the grain from competitors, traders said.

  • Centre projects record production of rice

  • While the estimate of foodgrains production is 315.72 million tonnes, the production of rice is expected at 130.29 million tonnes. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

    Maize, gram, pulses, rapeseed and sugarcane could also witness high yields, says Agriculture Ministry

    The Union Agriculture Ministry released on August 17 the fourth advance estimates of production of major agricultural crops for 2021-22. The Ministry said the production of foodgrains in the country is estimated at 315.72 million tonnes which is higher by 4.98 million tonnes than 2020-21.

    A government release said the production during 2021-22 is higher by 25 million tonnes than the previous five years’ (2016-17 to 2020-21) average production of foodgrains. "Record production is estimated of rice, maize, gram, pulses, rapeseed and mustard, oilseeds and sugarcane," it said. Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the record production of so many crops is the result of the farmer-friendly policies of the Centre and the hard work of the farmers and the diligence of the scientists.

    While the estimate of foodgrains production is 315.72 million tonnes, the production of rice is expected at 130.29 million tonnes, which, according to the Centre, is a record. Wheat production could touch 106.84 million tonnes and for nutri/coarse cereals it could be 50.90 million tonnes.

    "Total production of Rice during 2021-22 is estimated at record 130.29 million tonnes. It is higher by 13.85 million tonnes than the last five years’ average production of 116.44 million tonnes. Production of Wheat during 2021-22 is estimated at 106.84 million tonnes. It is higher by 2.96 million tonnes than the last five years’ average wheat production of 103.88 million tonnes," the release said.

    “The assessment of production of various crops is based on the data received from States and validated with information available from other sources,” the Ministry said.

  • Rice VEC Of PARC Recommends 10 New Verities Of Hybrid Seeds For Cultivation

  • ISLAMABAD  – Rice Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council on Wednesday approved and recommended 10 new hybrids seeds verities for commercial cultivation in order to enhance per-acre crop output of the crop in the country.
    Out of the total new approved hybrids seed verities, one variety is long grain that is famous world over for its aroma and taste. The VEC met with Chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council Dr Ghulam Muhammad Ali in chair. Dr Muhammad Yousuf, National Coordinator presented the working paper for the sixty-two rice hybrids varieties for consideration and approval. The representatives of national and multinational seed companies including Seed Association of Pakistan, Crop Life Pakistan, Pakistan Hi-tech Hybrid Seed Association and federal and provincial research institutes attended the meeting.
    Speaking on the occasion, Chairman PARC highlighted the role of private and public sector in research and development of rice in the country and emphasized the importance of quality seed for enhancing the productivity and profitability of farmers. He asked the seed companies for making efforts to provide high quality of rice to farmers in the country in order to enhance local output of crop to tackle with domestic needs as well as enhancing exports to fetch foreign exchange reserves. Dr Ali also appreciated the role PARC scientists and private-public sector collaboration for taking interest in research and development of rice in the country, adding that the matching efforts would help in ensuring quality high yielding seed verities of wheat, cotton, maize and sugarcane to enhance their productivity.
    Dr. Imtiaz Hussain, Chairman Committee and Member Plant Sciences Division PARC presided over the variety evaluation committee meeting and informed participants that PARC is committed to perform its role in variety evaluation in transparent manner in collaboration with National Agricultural Research System.
    The Committee recommended nine rice hybrids and one long grain variety for commercial cultivation in the country. Representatives of seed companies appreciated the role of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council for its role in testing of rice hybrids varieties in Pakistan for the benefits of farmers as well as rice sector.

  • Sindh Govt To Help Set Up Rice Export Zones In Province

  • KARACHI – Sindh Government will extend all required support to rice exporters to set up rice export zones in Larkana and other areas of the province.  During a meeting with Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) delegation Sindh Secretary for Industries and Commerce Najabuddin Sahato who called on him in his office on Wednesday. The delegation was led by REAP Senior Vice Chairman Muhammad Anwer Mianoor, said release on Wednesday.

    The Secretary, on behalf of Sindh Government, assured of all facilitation and support in setting up rice export zones in Larkana and other cities of the province. However, he suggested to REAP representatives to submit their proposals to Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Minister for Industries and Commerce Jam Ikramullah Khan Dharejo for their execution on priority. He offered 500 acres for rice industries in Karachi and 200 acres for agro-based in Larkana industries. He also invited REAP to hold an international rice exhibition in Larkana.

  • Rice might pricier as erratic rains hold back sowing across states

  • Rice may get even more expensive in the times to come as low rainfall has impacted paddy sowing in key rice producing Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

    According to a recent report by Yes Bank, paddy sowing in India is now down by 13%. This could have global implications too as India is the second largest exporter of rice in the world. Overall, only 866 lakh hectares of field has been sown this kharif season, representing a dip of 4 lakh hectares from last year.

    “Even as production trends in India and the globe need to be monitored, we do not think it is of a huge concern immediately and the government need not have to immediately consider clamping down on the exports of rice as they had done for wheat,” said Yes Bank.

    Kharif CropsArea sown as of August 5, 2021Area sown as of August 5, 2022
    Rice267 lakh hectares232 lakh hectares
    Pulses119 lakh hectares116 lakh hectares
    Coarse Cereals154 lakh hectares160 lakh hectares
    Oilseeds174 lakh hectares175 lakh hectares
    Sugarcane54 lakh hectares55 lakh hectares
    Jute & Mesta7 lakh hectares7 lakh hectares
    Cotton114 lakh hectares121 lakh hectares
    Grand Total890 lakh hectares866 lakh hectares

    Source: PIB, CEIC, Yes Bank Economics Research

    There has been a global shortage of rice right now too due to adverse weather conditions across top rice suppliers in Asia. If the production of rice is impacted in India, it would lead to a limited export capacity for the country especially amid the supply chain disruptions caused by Russia-Ukraine war and climate change.

    To draw a parallel, India had to stop all exports of the wheat staple this May to address shortages in the country. The ban reduced the price of wheat in India by at least 5% in the first 10 days, compared to the record high it reached at the start of May before the ban.

    However, the ban did leave large importers of wheat like Bangladesh and UAE in a lurch.

    Bangladesh decided to learn from the past and made some policy changes in the month of June to prevent this situation from happening again with another staple, rice. The country reduced its import duty and tariff to 25%, from the previous 62.5%, in June 2022 when India witnessed its first dip in paddy sowing. It also allowed the import of non-basmati rice till October 31.

    The revised import policy had prompted more Indian traders to export rice out of India to clock in more income, which led to a 10% jump in rice prices in the first five days of the announcement.

    According to media reports, rice prices in India have increased 30% since June. Now it is too

    early to say whether rice can see the same trajectory as wheat, but their situation needs to be closely monitored.

    “At the current juncture, procurements are proceeding smoothly while the FCI stocks are largely comfortable when compared to the buffer norms. Though not of an immediate concern, the evolving situation needs to be watched carefully,” Yes Bank said in its recent report.

    It is important to note that 10 countries account for nearly 85% of the world’s rice production, with China and India being the top two producers. China has already witnessed a decline in rice yield due to pest issues, whereas other rice producing countries like Thailand and Vietnam have reported a decline in crop yields too along with increased cost of production.

    “The shortfall in kharif sowing of paddy, however, needs to be watched closely, although buffer stocks are quite large. Household inflation expectations have eased, but they still remain elevated,” Shaktikanta Das, governor of the Reserve Bank of India, said earlier this month in his credit policy statement.

  • Gov’t likely to hike special loan to rice sector

  • Cambodia exported 327,000 tonnes of milled rice in the first semester this year, an increase of 16 percent compared to the same period last year, earning the country $279 million. KT/Chor Sokunthea

    The government’s special fund through the Agriculture and Rural Development Bank to the rice sector is expected to witness an increase to help further promote rice production.

    Chan Seiha, deputy director-general of the Agriculture and Rural Development Bank, said that the bank has disbursed $80 million loan to the rice sector this year.

    The one-year-period loan has contributed to the development of the rice sector in Cambodia, Seiha said.

    Since 2016, the amount of emergency loans to the rice sector has increased from $27 million to $80 million in 2022, he said.

    “The government is expected to provide additional loans to enhance and further develop the rice sector to boost economic growth in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis,” Seiha added.

    The government’s special financing project has made a significant contribution, especially to the spread of Covid 19 to improve people’s livelihoods and provide food stocks in the current crisis.

    “For rice exports through low-interest loans, this is a contribution to cost reduction for many rice millers owners,” he said.

    The loan, with a maturity date of a year period, is offered to rice millers with lower interest rates than commercial banks.

    The loans are part of a lending mechanism initiated by the government in 2016 to help millers who are short on cash buy paddy rice from farmers and keep the price of the commodity stable.

    The loan is also designed for helping rice millers expand their silo and warehouses for rice production.

    The ARDB has called rice millers in need of capital to apply for government emergency loans for the upcoming harvest season.

    Lun Yeng, secretary-general of the Cambodia Rice Federation, applauded the move, saying that a package of special loan is the government’s effort to help lift the rice sector.

    “Providing lower interest rate loans to rice millers to collect paddy rice from farmers, to expand rice mills and silo facilities are help from the government to improve the sector in Cambodia,” Yeng said.

    Cambodia exported 327,000 tonnes of milled rice in the first semester this year, an increase of 16 percent compared to the same period last year, earning the country $279 million, according to a
    report by the Cambodia Rice Federation.

    China remained the Kingdom’s biggest export market for milled rice export during the period, the report said, citing that the export accounted for 51.43 percent of the total milled rice export, showing a 17.44 percent increase.

  • Rice exported from Guyana free of pesticides – Agri Minister asserts amid EU concerns

  • Amid worry over pesticide residue in rice, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha says the product is monitored by food seevral bodies locally to ensure safety standards are met.

    The concerns over the safety of exported rice were raised after an analysis by the European Union (EU) was conducted in 2020. Among the findings was that several foods, including brown rice, have traces of pesticide residue.

    The EU is currently Guyana’s largest export market for rice with a 48 per cent rate recorded in 2021.

    For the year thus far, the rate has already exceeded last year at 52 per cent. Portugal is one of the main destinations of Guyana’s rice for EU countries, bringing in US$32.3 million.

    Rice cultivation in Guyana

    Since the EU’s report, farmers have raised concerns about the quality of fertilizer being supplied locally.

    The Agriculture Minister was contacted by the News Room on Tuesday; during the telephone interview he said that the rice exported from Guyana is monitored by several bodies to ensure it is safe for consumption.

    “Our rice does not have pesticides, we don’t do that,” the Agriculture Minister said.

    He further ensured, “we take a lot of caution in ensuring that the pesticide and toxic chemicals control work closely with the GRDB [Guyana Rice Development Board].”

    According to the EU, in 2020, analyses samples randomly collected from 12 food products, including brown rice, were found with pesticide residue. As a response to this finding, the GRDB last month held a conference on “Pesticide residue in rice’, when Plant Pathologist, Dr. Rajendra Persaud said the EU has been clamping down with legislation on safety limits of agrochemicals (pesticides) in rice and other imported food products.

    Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha

    As such the GRDB said it is conducting a study of paddy bugs to reduce their impact on rice cultivation here. Dr. Persaud explained that the study is being done on the paddy bug because it is the most important rice pest. Rice farmers utilise insecticide to control pests.

    But with the use of insecticide, pesticide residue or the trace of pesticide compound remains on the crop, water, soil, and air. This can pose serious constrain to a person’s health and the environment.

    As such the EU have taken steps to put regulations in place to limit the use of pesticide.

    However, the GRDB has said a National Monitoring and Surveillance Strategy was established here. It is also evaluating new insecticides.

    Additionally, it must be noted that samples of rice were sent to the CABI Center of Agriculture and Bioscience International in the United Kingdom for a detailed analysis. The report from that analysis found the samples were discoloured as a result of several fungal and bacterial microorganisms.

    However, the samples were taken from “illegal” varieties of rice being cultivated in Regions Two, Three, and Five.

  • Rice millers, traders cash in on diesel price hike

  • Rice has witnessed a price surge as millers and traders are allegedly making more profits taking advantage of the latest diesel-price hike, while coarse rice hit maximum Tk 58 a kg in the city retail markets on Monday, marking a Tk 8.0 a-kg rise in a week.

    The latest 42.5 per cent hike in diesel price by the government has caused a surge in carrying cost of rice by Tk 0.5 to Tk 2.5 a kg depending on distance, but millers raised price by Tk 5.0-6.0 a kg in a week, according to market insiders.

    The mill-gate price hike has affected the city retail by Tk 6.0- 8.0 a kg in a week as coarse rice was sold at Tk 54-58 a kg, medium at Tk 62- 65 and finer rice Tk 75- 98 a kg, according to the city groceries and chain shops.

    Coarse rice of hybrid varieties was sold at Tk 54-56 a kg while Swarna at Tk 56-58 a kg, medium variety BRRI dhan 28 rice at Tk 62-66 a kg and non-branded common finer varieties like Jeera, Miniket, parboiled Banglamoti (BRRI dhan 50) and Nazirshail at Tk 72-92 a kg.

    Branded finer rice varieties were retailed at previous high of Tk 84-98 a kg, according to trading sources.

    According to the Bangladesh Truck Covered Van Owners Association and Bangladesh Bus Truck Owners Association, fares of goods-carrying vehicles have increased by 30-40 per cent due to the diesel price hike.

    Morshed Ajam, a Rangpur division based truck owner, told the FE that rice transport fare had increased by Tk 0.5-2.5 a kg depending on distance.

    Secretary of Bangladesh Auto Major Husking Mill Owners Association K M Layek Ali also recognised that the carrying cost of rice had increased by maximum Tk 2.5 a kg for the diesel price surge.

    Apart from diesel, prices of paddy have also increased by Tk 5.0-6.0 a kg in the last one and a half weeks, he told the FE.

    This has come as another blow for the millers as BRRI dhan 28 paddy was selling at Tk 1,400 a maund, while Jeera, Katari at Tk 1,850 a maund from last week.

    Mr Ali said the millers had reviewed prices recently by Tk 3.0-4.0 a kg, in order to make adjustments with the diesel price hike.

    If the paddy price continues to surge, the cost of rice might increase further, he said, adding that the production of rice in the Boro season was not adequate.

    He said the import process should be made easier for now to tackle any possible shortage and the government should take special care on rice production in the ongoing Aman season.

    Ishwardi-based rice miller M A Aziz claimed that the city retailers were charging much higher compared to the wholesale prices - this should be monitored.

    He said they were delivering BRRI dhan 28 rice at Tk 53-54 a kg to city wholesalers while wholesalers were charging Tk 56-57 from grocers but retailers were selling those at Tk 65-66 a kg.

    Farm economist and value chain expert Prof Golam Hafeez Kennedy said the existing 25 per cent import duty should be removed until October to bring in a good portion of rice from other parts of the globe.

    He said only 20,000 tonnes of rice had been imported in the last one month while the government had set a target to import 1.1 million tonnes within October.

    He said the tiny amount of rice import could hardly have any impact on the market.

    "The global rice market is still in a good condition compared to that of other commodities and the government should take this advantage immediately," he said.

    He said the state of local rice/paddy procurement from the Boro season as well as production scenario both in Aus and Aman seasons is not likely to be good this year - all these should be taken into consideration.

    He also said Boro production data should be disclosed immediately by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) to help take policies in ensuring the country's food security.

    According to the Directorate General of Food, it has been able to purchase 1.1 million tonnes of rice and paddy so far against a target of 1.95 million tonnes within August 31.

    S M Nazer Hossain, vice president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said the government's diesel price hike by such a high margin had left an impact on poor and low middle-income people.

    He opined that public interest was totally ignored while fixing the fuel prices.

    The unscrupulous millers and traders are now cashing in on the untimely price hike of fuel, he said.

    Apart from reviewing diesel price, strict market monitoring should be imposed both in the milling hubs and city wholesales and retails, he added.

  • Indonesia’s rice reserves secured until year’s end

  • Indonesia is no longer importing rice for consumption due to an abundant supply of rice, according to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture.

    Jakarta (VNA) — Indonesia is no longer importing rice for consumption due to an abundant supply of rice, according to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture.

    With current rice consumption, Indonesia's rice stock will be secured until the end of this year, said Kuntoro Boga Andri, head of the ministry's Public Relations and Information Bureau.

    Results of the 2022 national rice reserve survey showed that the country’s rice stock reached 9.11 million tonnes by the end of March.

    Indonesia has stopped importing rice for domestic consumption, namely medium-type rice, Kuntoro said, citing data from the Central Bureau of Statics (BPS). However, the country still imports rice for industrial purposes.

    Indonesia imported 444,510 tonnes, 356,290 tonnes and 407 tonnes of rice in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. Up to 99% of imported rice is in the form of broken rice as industrial raw materials.

    Previously, BPS Deputy for Production Statistics M Habibullah said the country's rice reserve hit 9.71 million tonnes as of June 2022.

    “Our rice stock is sufficient and will continue to grow along with the monthly harvest until the end of December 2022,” Habibullah was quoted by Antara news agency.

    He said rice stock in June 2022 was mostly in household institutions which reached 6.6 million tonnes, then 1.04 million tonnes in traders, 1.2 million tonnes in Bulog warehouses, and 0.69 million tonnes in mills and in hospitality.

  • Potential of solar-powered pumps to water rainfed rice fields

  • Head of Kalijaran Village’s Margo Sugih Farmers Group Association, Priyatno, inspects the solar-powered water pump at the rice farming area in Kalijaran Village, Maos Sub-district, Cilacap District, Central Java Province, on Wednesday (August 10, 2022). (ANTARA/Sumarwoto/uyu)

    In the near future, we will install the water pump with SHS technology at three locations, namely Karangrena Village (Maos Sub-district), Karangsari Village (Adipala Sub-district), and Kutawaru Village (Central Cilacap sub-district).

    Priyatno was engrossed in checking the condition of the groundwater pump in the rice farming area in Kalijaran Village, Maos Sub-district, Cilacap District, Central Java, which was located in proximity to the Surabaya-Bandung railway track.

    As Head of Kalijaran Village’s Margo Sugih Farmers Group Association (Gapoktan), Priyatno is tasked with managing a solar-powered groundwater pumping station using the Solar Home System (SHS) technology designed by a team from Cilacap State Polytechnic (PNC).

    Priyatno is pleased with the application of the SHS technology since it can help farmers in the village to meet the water requirements for their rainfed rice fields.

    In fact, the water pumping facility is also used by several farmers from the neighboring villages, as their fields are also close to the pumphouse.

    Rice fields in the southern region of Kalijaran Village and its surrounding areas are not equipped with a technical irrigation network.

    In addition, the only small river flowing near the agricultural area cannot be used optimally to irrigate fields during the dry season owing to frequent sea water intrusion into the stream.

    Before the SHS technology was implemented, local farmers used the oil-fueled pump to channel water from the river to irrigate their fields.

    With the solar-powered pump being operated, farmers can cut their operational costs since they do not need to spend their money to buy the fuel and rent the oil-fueled pump that costs Rp20,000 (US$1.34) per hour.

    Solar pump

    Priyatno recalled having spent Rp500 thousand (US$33.62) during a planting period to irrigate his rice field spanning two thousand square meters.

    However, since the solar-powered water pump station began operating, he no longer has to pay for the oil-fueled pump charge.

    In addition, farmers do not have to harbor concerns regarding various requirements when they purchase the subsidized fuel.

    "If we buy Pertamax (one of the non-subsidized fuels), we can (simply) use the jerry cans, though the price is higher," the head of Margo Sugih Gapoktan noted.

    Meanwhile, the maintenance costs of the solar-powered pump have been covered by Gapoktan’s budget, so members of the farmer group do not need to spend money to utilize the pump.

    Furthermore, farmers from neighboring villages can use the pump without any charge, though sometimes, they still give donation to Gapoktan as a good-will gesture.

    Priyatno has planned to optimize the solar-powered water pump station in order to develop the horticulture sector during the dry season, so that the economy of local farmers will not solely rely on rice cultivation.

    SHS Technology

    The development of SHS technology was initiated by PNC academic, Afrizal Abdi Musyafiq.

    He said the idea to develop the technology was encouraged by the fact that farmers in Kalijaran Village still used oil-fueled pump to meet the water demands for their rainfed rice fields.

    In fact, on average, seven liters per day of fuel is required to operate the machine for a rice field, with an area spanning about 2,100 square meters.

    Meanwhile, the area needs to be watered around eight times during a plantation period.

    Hence, to solve the issue, his side channels the water from a drilled well, with a depth of about 20-30 meters, by using a solar-powered electric water pump.

    Thus, the water pump station is energy independent since it does not depend on a conventional electricity grid.

    Furthermore, Musyafiq, who teaches the Renewable Energy and Power Generation System course at PNC, noted that the station can produce 20 thousand liters per day of water.

    In addition, the capacity of the installed solar panels is 500 watts, while the machine is able to operate 12 hours a day.

    The water pumphouse is also equipped with a battery to store the energy generated by solar panels during the day. Thus, the pump can also be operated at night by using the energy from the battery.

    The SHS technology can last up to a decade according to the average battery and solar panel life.

    Meanwhile, investment to develop the solar-powered water pump station is only about Rp80 million (US$5.3 thousand).

    "In the near future, we will install the water pump with SHS technology at three locations, namely Karangrena Village (Maos Sub-district), Karangsari Village (Adipala Sub-district), and Kutawaru Village (Central Cilacap sub-district)," Musyafiq noted.

    Award-winning technology

    The SHS technology bagged an award in the new and renewable energy-based technology innovation competition held by the state-run oil and gas company PT Pertamina’s institution for corporate social responsibility (CSR), Pertamina Foundation (PF).

    The foundation held the 2022 PFScience Program to laud energy practitioners for their consistence in developing and creating various clean energy-based innovations that are affordable for the community.

    Hence, the establishment of a solar-powered groundwater pump in Kalijaran Village showcases the recognition of the foundation to the works of the PNC team.

    Area Manager for Communication Relations and CSR of PT Kilang Pertamina Internasional (KPI) Refinery Unit (RU) IV Cilacap -- one of PT Pertamina’s subsidiary -- Cecep Supriyatna noted that the pump was established through collaboration of the Pertamina Foundation, PT KPI RU IV Cilacap, and PNC to help farmers in Kalijaran Village.

    The SHS technology can also become an alternative solution in helping to fulfil the water needs for rainfed rice fields and communities in areas not having conventional electricity networks.

    In addition, SHS technology is environmentally friendly, as there is no risk of pollution due to leaked fuel or lubricating oil from the pump’s engine.

    Hence, the technology should be adopted in all regions across Indonesia, especially for farmers with limited cultivation areas or inadequate water irrigation system.

  • Rice Stock Adequate for Next Two Years Before Export: Jokowi

  • TEMPO.COJakarta - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has ordered his aides to ensure rice stock adequacy to meet national demand until the next two years before they decided to export the commodity.

    Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo quoted the president's order on Sunday after Jokowi received an award from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for the country's success in achieving rice self-sufficiency and its food system resilience.

    "IRRI said that Indonesia should export (rice), but export high-quality rice. However, the president ordered to first make sure the national stock are available for national needs, then we can think about exporting," Limpo said.

    The minister noted that exports would only be made after the national rice demands could be met, especially with the threat of global food crisis.

    The national rice consumption is expected to reach 30.03 million tons per year, according to the Statistics Indonesia (BPS).

    According to Limpo, the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), and the National Food Agency must ensure that rice stocks are safe before they decided to export rice.

    "We have to have stock for up to two years which we consider it safe," he said.

    President Jokowi in his remarks after receiving the award at the Merdeka Palace on Sunday said that national rice stock until April 2022 has reached 10.2 million tons, revealing that Indonesia has a good food resilience system.

    "Our stock (rice) in the field was at its highest level in April 2022 end at 10.2 million tons. When one asks you, where is the rice. It's in the hand of the community, farmers, restaurants as well as Bulog and several food industries," Jokowi said.

    The President said rice surplus achieved in the midst of global food crisis has become one of the indicators that Indonesia has a good food resilience system that deserves the award from IRRI.

    Jokowi has also encouraged farmers to increase rice productivity so that Indonesia could enter the export market.

    "We also continue to encourage this so that we do not only produce (rice) for our people consumption only. Later when production increases, we must also start entering export markets," Jokowi said.

  • PHL seen to import record 3.2-MMT rice in ’22

  • THE Philippines, the world’s second-biggest buyer of rice, may import a record 3.2 million metric tons (MMT) this year, driven by higher-than-expected purchases abroad, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.

    In its monthly global grains situation report, the USDA revised upward its rice import forecast for the Philippines in 2022 by 100,000 MT from an earlier estimate of 3.1 MMT.

    Based on its latest projections, the USDA said the Philippines’s total rice imports this year would be 8.47 percent higher than last year’s 2.95 MMT recorded import volume.

    The USDA explained that it revised upwards its rice import projection for the Philippines because of the “strong” pace of imports this year.

    The Philippines’s rice imports from January to July rose by 62 percent to 2.325 MMT from last year’s 1.432 MMT, based on latest data released by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

    BPI data showed that 81.72 percent or about 1.9 MMT of the rice imported during the 7-month period came from Vietnam.

    BPI data also showed that it issued 448 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPS-ICs) to 47 eligible rice importers with a total corresponding import volume of 625,743.6 MT. The 448 SPS-ICs were all issued by BPI in June.

    The USDA kept its local rice production projection for the Philippines at 12.6 MMT, or 1.44 percent higher than last year’s 12.42 MMT.

    Per USDA data, total area planted with rice this year would reach 4.8 million hectares, slightly higher than last year’s 4.76 million hectares. The Philippines’s average rice yield is projected to inch up to 4.17 MT per hectare from 4.14 MT per hectare, based on USDA data.

    The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) earlier reported that the country’s total rice inventory as of June declined by 12.3 percent to 2.22 MMT from last year’s 2.53 MMT.

    The PSA said about 47.3 percent or some 1.049 MMT of rice were stored by households while 44.8 percent or 995,230 MT were held by commercial entities (warehouses, wholesalers and retailers). The PSA added that rice stocks in the National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses as of June 1 reached 175,490 MT, accounting for 7.9 percent of total inventory during the reference period.

    “Rice stocks inventory in all sectors decreased compared with their levels in the previous year. Stocks in the households dropped by -7.3 percent, in commercial warehouses/wholesalers/retailers by -15.2 percent, and in NFA depositories by -22.0 percent,” it said.

  • Rice prices go up again in Bangladesh

  • Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said his ministry will start selling rice at a cheaper rate for poor families through a food friendly programme from Sept 1.

    DHAKA – People’s struggle to cope with the escalating cost of living continues as the price of rice increased yesterday for the second time in just four days.

    On August 5, a day before the government hiked fuel prices by record levels, the price of coarse rice was Tk 48 per kilogramme, which shot up to Tk 50 on August 11. Yesterday saw a further Tk 2 rise to Tk 52 per kg, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data.

    Meanwhile, price of fine rice rose to Tk 78 per kg on August 11 from Tk 75 per kg on August 5, before surging further to Tk 80 per kg yesterday.

    Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said his ministry will start selling rice at a cheaper rate for 50 lakh poor families through a food friendly programme (FFP) from September 1.

    The ministry has also taken measures to expand its Open Market Sales (OMS) to the upazila level to provide rice at relatively low prices. The OMS programme will also begin from September 1, he said.

    “I hope there will be stability in the rice market after the beginning of the programmes,” the minister said, adding that they have sufficient stock.

    While businessmen are blaming the high price of paddy, transport cost and import taxes for the price hikes, the food minister blamed the manoeuvrings of unscrupulous businessmen.

    “Transport cost has increased. But the price of rice has gone up disproportionately compared to the rise in transport cost. There is no scope to deny that there are some dishonest businessmen,” he said while talking to journalists at his office at the Secretariat.

    “Besides, we are now between two seasons — Boro season is already over and Aman cultivation is beginning. People in many areas are fearful of poor Aman harvest due to drought,” said Sadhan.

    Meanwhile, price of rice of various brands shot up by Tk 4 to Tk 6 per kg in Kushtia’s Khajanagar — the country’s second largest rice hub.

    Every day, about 200-250 trucks laden with rice go to different districts including Dhaka and Chattogram from Khajanagar.

    According to locals, the price of rice has increased by Tk 4 to Tk 6 after the government hiked fuel prices.

    Umar Farooq, managing director of Fresh Agrofarm in Khajanagar, said the transport cost has shot up by Tk 2,000 per truck.

    Rice mill owners have to use generators due to load shedding, which has also impacted rice prices.

    On June 23, the government cut import duty to 25 percent from 62.5 percent in order to encourage imports, increase supply of the staple in the domestic market, and cool down its prices.

    On July 7, the food ministry had also given approval to 380 private organisations to import 10 lakh tonnes of rice in July.

    Until Thursday, 34,000 tonnes was imported since the approval, said Muhammad Mahbubur Rahman, senior assistant secretary (external procurement) of the ministry.

    However, some importers are choosing not to import rice due to high prices in India.

    Md Shahjalal, proprietor of Jalal Auto Rice Mill, said his brother Arshad Ali, who owns Dada Agro Food Products, is among those who received approval for importing rice.

    “The quality of the Indian variety is not as good as the native one. After bearing all costs, the price becomes higher than the local ones. We’ve sent our people to India but seeing the high price we have refrained from importing rice,” he said.

    Saying that the price of paddy has shot up, Shahjalal also claimed that farmers are selling paddy at Tk 1,800 per maund (37.32 kg). “After processing [the paddy into rice], the cost is Tk 3,700 [per maund],” he said.

    50 LAKH FAMILIES

    The food minister said the government was going to introduce an FFP for 50 lakh poor families.

    The families will be able to get 30kg rice per month at Tk 15 per kg. “About 4 crore people will get the benefit, if we assume each family to have four members,” he said.

    He also said the government will expand its OMS programme to upazila level through 2,013 dealers and double the daily sale limit to 2 tonnes.

    Each person will be able to buy 5kg rice per day at Tk 30 per kg.

  • SRI will work for Ghana to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production

  • Dr Edward Yeboah, the new Director of the Soil Research Institute (SRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has pledged to offer effective leadership in soil research, management and utilisation.

    He said the CSIR-SRI had already achieved excellent from research focusing on soil nutrient management, varietal release, mapping of soil resources and addressing nutrient deficiencies in the soils for optimum yield, especially in rice production.

    Speaking at a ceremony to formally induct him as the Director of CSIR-SRI at Kwadaso near Kumasi, Dr Yeboah pledged to lead a team of researchers for Ghana to be self-sufficient in rice production.

    “With good training and soil management practices, of an acre of field, one can get at least six tonnes of rice”, he said adding that, the SRI was now focusing on improved yields and maintaining the soil for sustainable production.

    He said Ghana was in the position to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, and as a research institution, SRI needed to work towards that and reduce importation of rice into the country.

    The Director pointed out that the ‘One Village One Dam’ concept and other irrigation facilities that were currently being rolled out in the country, were opportunities needed to harness to improve rice yields.

    A good number of rice on the market were imported one, he observed, and suggested that, the amount of money used in importing could be explored to develop the infrastructure and facilities required to wean Ghana of rice import.

    Dr Yeboah said the Institute would continue to discharge its mandate to generate technologies and build capacity for effective planning, development and management of the soil resources of Ghana for increased and sustainable agriculture, environmental qualities, and improve livelihoods.

    He said CSIR-SRI was working towards becoming the centre of excellence in research, development and innovation in tropical soil resources.

    On soil digitization, he pledged to bring relevant stakeholders on board to harmonize soil mapping for Ghana which he believed would be pivotal in developmental agenda.

    “We have realised that there are a number of institutions, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fertiliser Development Center and the Northern Development Authority that are also working towards soil maps for Ghana.”

    He said the SRI would further strengthen collaborations with CSIR agri-based Institutes to work towards sustainability and excellence.

    Source: GNA

  • Mountain districts face shortage of rice

  • The shortage is caused by delay in the transportation of grains by the contractors, officials say.

    People in mountain settlements depend on food supplied from lower regions.

    Food depots in the mountainous districts of Mugu and Jumla are running short on rice grains. Locals said the shortage has continued for the last two months.

    “We have to take loans to buy rice and that also does not seem to be an option right now,” Lavad said.

    Warehouses run by the Food Management and Trading Company Limited have 325 quintals of rice in stock in Jumla and 700 quintals in Mugu, officials said. But the stock is for emergency use only and not for sale, they said.

    This has forced the locals to buy rice from local traders at an exorbitant price. Harak Singh Budha, a resident of Soru Rural Municipality-7 in Mugu, said he had to pay Rs 2,200 for 25 kg of rice at the local trader’s. “I could buy the same amount of rice at Rs 1,500 from the depot,” he said.

    Officials at the company said shortage of rice in the two districts was caused by a delay in the transportation of rice grains by the contractors.

    Pushkar Bham, information officer at the company, said that the contractor transported only 8,000 quintals of rice to Gamgadhi in the last fiscal year, in contrast to a demand for 11,000 quintals. “Even Gamgadhi has only 700 quintals of rice in the warehouse for emergency situations,” he said.

    Ratapani and Kalai food depots in Mugu have also remained closed for a long time. Kamal Shahi, a local of Jima village in Soru Rural Municipality-6, said the shortage of rice has led to difficulties in their daily lives. “We don’t even have rice grains to be used for religious purposes,” Shahi said.

    Kalai, which has around 400 households, suffers from food insecurity. The local food production—mainly wheat, maize and millet—hardly lasts six months, say locals.

    In Mugu, the Food Management and Trading Company Limited has allocated 11,000 quintals of subsidised rice to Gamgadi, 1,000 quintals each to Soru, Shreekot and Pulu depots of Mugumkarmarong Rural Municipality for this fiscal year.

    Tsering Cyapne Lama, chair of Mugum Karmarong Rural Municipality, said that the villagers are facing major food issues because of the shortage of rice at the depot. The residents of Soru, Khatyad and Mugum Karmarong have not been able to get rice grains for even birth and death rituals as there is no rice in the local depot, he said.

    At Sarkegad and Shreenagar depot in the neighbouring district of Humla, contractors have been selling rice by themselves as there are no employees. “There are no employees at the depot, and contractors sell government rice at hiked prices,” said Lama.

    According to Nirmal Bista, head of the Jumla branch of the Food Management and Trading Company Limited, there are only 325 quintals of medium rice in Jumla. Similarly, 100 quintals of Basmati rice are kept for emergency situations. The quota of rice for Jumla has been set at 6,000 quintals for this fiscal year. Out of which, 1,300 quintals are sent to depots in Dolpa.

    “Every February, we ask for more rice. This time, the government increased the quota by 2,500 quintals of rice. But the contractor has not delivered the shipment yet,” said Bista.

    According to the company, 40 to 50 customers come to the depots daily to buy rice. But all of them return empty-handed. “We don’t have enough rice to sell. We are waiting for the additional 2,500 quintals to arrive,” Bista said.

    Khadka Construction Services has the contract to transport rice to the mountainous districts this year.

    Mugu faces food shortages almost every year, as the designated contractors do not transport rice on time. The Nagma-Gamgadhi road, which connects Mugu with the national road networks, is often blocked by snowfall in December, January and February, and during the monsoon season disrupting the transportation of essential goods to the district.

    The Karnali region sees a lot of discrepancies in the supply, management and sale of rice. In October 2020, police seized a truck carrying 250 kgs of subsidised rice at Subbakuna Check Post in Surkhet. The consignment meant for Mugu was headed to Bhaktapur in Bagmati Province.

    Subsidised rice is transported to various districts of Karnali from Surkhet, Nepalgunj, Dang and Dhangadhi through air and land. Some contractors even transport rice to Karnali from Bajura and Bajhang districts of Sudurpaschim Province.

  • Punjab bans use of 10 insecticides for basmati crop

  • Decision taken because the use of these insecticides is not in the interest of basmati rice growers: Dhaliwal

    Chandigarh, August 13

    The Punjab government has banned the use of 10 insecticides for basmati crop as the agro-chemicals were becoming a constraint in the export of the aromatic rice.

    The state government has issued directions to stop sale, stock and distribution of insecticides—Acephate, Buprofezin, Chloropyriphos, Methamidophos, Propiconazole, Thiamethoxam, Profenofos, Isoprothiolane, Carbendazim, Tricyclazole, said Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal in a statement.

    These insecticides were being potential constraint in the export and consumption of rice, especially basmati rice, the minister said.

    The above-mentioned pesticides are banned in Punjab for a period of sixty days so that good quality basmati rice with no residual effect can be produced,” added Dhaliwal.

    This decision is taken because the use of these insecticides is not in the interest of basmati rice growers, he asserted.

    The minister said as per the experts, there is a risk of higher pesticide residues than the maximum residual level (MRL) fixed by the competent authorities in the basmati rice on account of use of these agro-chemicals.

    Dhaliwal also said the Punjab Rice Millers and Exporters Association has also reported that many samples got tested by them contain the residue value of these much above the MRL values in basmati rice.

    The association requested for ban of these agrochemicals to save the heritage Basmati produce of Punjab, and to ensure hassle free export of basmati rice to other countries.

    The minister further said Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana has recommended alternative agrochemicals which are low in residue effect.

  • New rice variety released to farmers

  • Deputy Director of Ambalantota Rice Research Institute Harshini Siriwardena said that the Institute has taken steps to release the A T 378 Sudu Kekulu new rice variety to the farmers.

    A potential yield of 180 bushels per acre can be obtained through this new variety of rice which can be harvested in three and a half months. She also mentioned that the weight of a bushel of paddy is almost 21 kilograms. After a trial period of 13 years, this new rice variety has been cultivated by farmers in the Hambantota, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Matara, Galle, Ratnapura Districts and is suitable for cultivation in any region of the country.

    As this type of paddy plant is strong and does not fall during natural calamities. Cooked rice is very tasty and rice-based products can also be prepared from this variety of rice.

  • Hybrid rice seeds harvested in Guizhou, SW China

  • Aerial photo taken on Aug. 11, 2022 shows a view of a hybrid rice seed production base in Zhouping Village of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Guizhou Province. (Xinhua/Yang Ying)

    Aerial photo taken on Aug. 11, 2022 shows reapers harvesting hybrid rice seeds at a hybrid rice seed production base in Zhouping Village of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Guizhou Province. (Xinhua/Yang Ying)

    Aerial photo taken on Aug. 11, 2022 shows reapers harvesting hybrid rice seeds at a hybrid rice seed production base in Zhouping Village of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Guizhou Province. (Xinhua/Yang Ying)

    A reaper harvests hybrid rice seeds at a hybrid rice seed production base in Zhouping Village of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Guizhou Province, Aug. 11, 2022. (Photo by Yang Yun/Xinhua)

    Villagers harvest hybrid rice seeds at a hybrid rice seed production base in Zhouping Village of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Guizhou Province, Aug. 11, 2022. (Xinhua/Yang Ying)

    A villager harvests hybrid rice seeds at a hybrid rice seed production base in Zhouping Village of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Guizhou Province, Aug. 11, 2022. (Photo by Luo Hui/Xinhua)

    A villager dries hybrid rice seeds at a hybrid rice seed production base in Zhouping Village of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Guizhou Province, Aug. 11, 2022. (Photo by Tang Peng/Xinhua)

  • Fortified rice under public distribution completes one year, check how it has fared so far

  • New Delhi [India], August 12 (ANI): It has been almost one year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi In his Independence Day address last year from the rampart of the Red Fort announced that rice supplied under all public distribution systems would be fortified by the year 2024.

    Since his speech on August 15, 2021, a total of 151 districts across 24 States have already lifted fortified rice under the targeted public distribution system. Nearly 6.83 lakh tonnes have been distributed by the States/Union territories under the phase which started from April 1, 2022, an official statement said on Thursday.

    And under Integrated Child Development Scheme and the Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN), nearly 7.36 lakh tonnes have been lifted by the States/UTs so far. Around 52 per cent of the districts have lifted the foodgrains in Phase II.

    Fortification is the process of adding fortified rice kernels containing micronutrients (Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12) to normal rice. Fortified rice is nearly identical to traditional rice in aroma, taste, and texture. This process is done in the rice mills at the time of milling of rice.

    Fortification of rice is found to be a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets with low turnaround time and a step towards nutritional security and helps in fighting anaemia and malnutrition in the country. This strategy is implemented in many geographies in the world.

    Besides, Phase-I covering ICDS and PM POSHAN had been implemented during 2021-22 and nearly 17.51 lakh tonnes had been distributed in the States/UTs.

    Prime Minister Modi announced the supply of fortified rice in every scheme government of India throughout the country by 2024 in a phased manner.

    Meanwhile, the number of rice mills having blending infrastructure was 2,690 with a cumulative blending capacity of around 13.67 lakh tonnes as of August 15, 2021, which has now increased to more than 9,000 rice mills in the country which have installed blending infrastructure for the production of fortified rice, the statement added.

    The present cumulative monthly production capacity is around 60 lakh tonnes, which is an increase of more than 4 times since last year.

    The capacity for manufacturing such a variety of rice too has gone up.

    Cumulative annual fortified rice kernel manufacturing capacity which was at 0.9 lakh tonnes in August last year has gone upto 3.5 LMT, a four times increase.

    Food Corporation of India and other state agencies of states have been procuring fortified rice since 2020-21 and nearly 145.93 lakh tonnes of fortified rice have been procured so far, it added. (ANI)

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

  • Basmati rice exports up 26 per cent in April-June to $1.15 billion

  • APEDA has commenced a survey to estimate acreage, assess crop health and expected yield of aromatic and long-grain rice during 2022-2023 kharif season using climate-based yield modelling

    Basmati rice is a registered Geographical Indication tagged agricultural product.

    Exports of basmati rice increased by 25.54 per cent in April-June this fiscal year to USD 1.15 billion (around Rs 9,160 crore), the commerce ministry said on Friday.

    The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has commenced a survey to estimate acreage, assess crop health and expected yield of aromatic and long-grain rice during 2022-2023 kharif season using climate-based yield modelling, it said.

    It said the survey is being conducted after a gap of two years due to Covid-19 restrictions.

    Basmati rice is a registered Geographical Indication (GI) tagged agricultural product.

    As per the survey model, field-based as well as satellite imageries survey is being carried out on the basis of sample group of farmers selected at district level in seven basmati producing states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh (30 districts) and Jammu & Kashmir (3 districts).

    To ascertain accuracy levels, GPS points are to be recorded and each farmer is getting photographed at the time they participate in the survey, it said.

    India has exported basmati rice to the tune of USD 12 billion in the last three years.

    Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, the UAE, US, UK, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman had a share close to 80 per cent in total shipments of basmati rice from India in 2021-22.

    Basmati rice is one of the largest agro products for export from India. During 2020-21, India exported 4.63 million MT of basmati rice with a value of USD 4.02 billion.

  • Rice harvested in Jingzi Township, China’s Hunan

  • Aerial photo taken on Aug. 12, 2022 shows rice fields in Jingzi Township of Shuangfeng County, central China's Hunan Province. (Photo by Li Jianxin/Xinhua)

    Aerial photo taken on Aug. 12, 2022 shows a reaper harvesting rice in Tongliang Village of Shuangfeng County, central China's Hunan Province. (Photo by Li Jianxin/Xinhua)

    A reaper harvests rice in Tongliang Village of Shuangfeng County, central China's Hunan Province, Aug. 12, 2022. (Photo by Li Jianxin/Xinhua)

    A farmer airs reaped grain in Tongliang Village of Shuangfeng County, central China's Hunan Province, Aug. 12, 2022. (Photo by Li Jianxin/Xinhua)

  • Research Efforts to Provide Better Picture of Watergrass Issues in Rice

  • Research efforts are beginning to provide a better picture of watergrass issues in rice fields. Rice Farm Advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer, and Sacramento Counties Whitney Brim-Deforest conducted a survey of watergrass in the area. “We screened them in the greenhouse, and we were able to come up with a bit of a breakdown of what each type is susceptible to and a bit of an idea as to where they’re located throughout the valley; the different types.”

    Part of the research has also included providing clarity to enable industry members to better identify the watergrass species that may be occurring. “We’ve got some confusion about if we have late watergrass, versus early watergrass, versus a new type. So, we’re working on that. I’ve been collaborating with the UC Davis Herbarium and hopefully, we’ll have that – fingers crossed – more sorted by the end of the year,” Brim-Deforest noted.

  • Nepal girds for rice shortage amid delayed monsoon rains, fertiliser crisis

  • The annual monsoon rains have failed to arrive in Nepal as anticipated ahead of the rice-planting season, leaving farmers facing another season of loss and the country bracing for a food shortage.

    Women separate chaff hulls from rice along a street in Bhaktapur, Nepal.

    Thousands of farmers in Nepal’s fertile southern plains, the country’s rice bowl, face a double whammy of a fertiliser shortage and inadequate monsoon rains.

    This is likely to affect production of the country’s staple grain, which also contributes around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product and provides employment of at least six months for a large proportion of the population.

    “Paddy has been planted only in around 75 per cent of the fields as of end of July,” said Suma Karki, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture. “Last year this time, the figure was around 88 per cent.”

    The monsoon clouds, which originate in the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean, are obstructed by the Himalayan mountain range when they try to move north.

    They then form a low-pressure band, shedding their moisture in the form of rain in the foothills of the mountains as well as the Gangetic plain that runs through Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The band, known as the monsoon trough, moves between the foothills of mountains in the north and the Indian plains in the south bringing rain wherever it goes.

    “This monsoon season, the trough has remained in the Indian plains for a longer period than we’d expect it to,” said senior government meteorologist Indira Kandel. This is why Nepal’s southern plains haven’t received adequate rains for rice farmers this year, she added.

    This monsoon season, the trough has remained in the Indian plains for a longer period than we’d expect it to. It would be too early to say that the heat waves had anything to do with the behaviour of the monsoon trough. But we can’t rule out that possibility.

    Indira Kandel, senior government meteorologist, Nepal

    The monsoon rains account for 60-90 per cent of Nepal’s total annual precipitation, and are crucial for the farmers who grow rice on around 1.4 million hectares (3.5 million acres) of land, 75 per cent of which lie in the southern Terai plains. Most of the farmers are dependent on the rains as the irrigation system in the country can’t cater to all their needs.

    “Due to lack of adequate rain, the rice fields have developed cracks and the plants have dried up,” said Ranju Sharma, a farmer from the rural municipality of Katahari in Nepal’s Morang district, near the border with India.

    Farmers such as Sharma are already under stress as large numbers of Nepali workers seek jobs abroad in India and the Middle East. This makes it difficult to plant rice on time as the traditional cultivation practices are labour intensive. In addition, unexpected issues pop up virtually every year that forces the farmers to bear huge losses.

    This year, the farmers had anticipated that the main challenge would be a shortage of chemical fertilisers. The government, which used to supply fertiliser to farmers ahead of the monsoon season, failed to do so this year as the fertiliser couldn’t be imported in time. But the lack of rainfall has created more trouble.

    “We were already worried that the output would go down this year due to lack of fertiliser, now the rainfall problem has added to our woes,” Sharma said.

    The change in rainfall patterns in Nepal’s plains come as record heat waves, attributed to climate change, recently engulfed much of the Northern Hemisphere, including India. “It would be too early to say that the heat waves had anything to do with the behaviour of the monsoon trough. But we can’t rule out that possibility,” Kandel said.

    What is known is that a changing climate has changed the long-term precipitation patterns in Nepal. A report by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology suggests that although the volume of total rainfall hasn’t changed much, the intensity has. This means rainfall patterns have become hard to forecast, and the chances of flash floods have increased.

    Many farmers say they still remember all too well the flash floods during last year’s monsoon, just as they were preparing for what they thought would be a good harvest. The monsoon, which typically leaves Nepal in late September, stayed longer last year, bringing unexpected rains in the second week of October. According to government figures, which usually underestimate damages, farmers suffered losses amounting to 11.87 billion rupees ($93 million).

    As the monsoon trough moves north again, farmers say they hope it brings adequate rain this time before it heads back south again. “The rains should stop when they are supposed to stop,” Sharma said. “If it doesn’t, we might have to abandon rice farming altogether as we can’t take losses year after year.”

    Nepal’s import-dependent economy, which is already under huge pressure due to rising fuel prices, could take another hit if rice production takes yet another major hit this year. The country, which only has sufficient foreign currency reserves to finance around seven months of imports, could face severe problems if the food import bill also rises, economists warn.

  • Boiled rice delivery permitted from Telangana

  • Sonepat: Labourers stacking bags of wheat at an open FCI godown at Sonepat in Haryana on Sunday. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma(PTI5_9_2010_000080B) | Photo Credit: cueapi

    In some relief to the State which is grappling with huge stocks of paddy at rice mills and given the Food Corporation of India’s reluctance to procure boiled rice that was generally produced in rabi, the Centre has agreed to lift eight lakh tonnes of boiled rice. 

    The State had a production of 50.39 lakh tonnes of paddy in rabi of 2021-22 and, at 67% recovery of rice, the yield of rice was expected to be 33 lakh tonnes. But, the Centre had insisted that the State that it deliver the entire 33 lakh tonnes as raw rice. However, the State government expressed helplessness because the yield of raw rice out of paddy of rabi was not expected to be more than 55% per quintal. Due to the presence of a large quantity of broken rice, the State government wanted to deliver only boiled rice.  

    The latest decision of the Centre to procure eight lakh tonnes of boiled rice will be in addition to another 6.05 lakh tonnes of boiled rice and about three lakh tonnes of boiled fortified rice permitted earlier out of the stock of 50.39 lakh tonnes pertaining to rabi of 2021-22. The fortification of rice was allowed for paddy that was damaged due to exposure of stocks at rice mills to rain.  

  • The International Symposium on Rice Functional Genomics

  • From the 4th to the 7th of November 2022, Phuket, Thailand will host the 19th International Symposium on Rice Functional Genomics ISRFG 2022 where we will see agricultural science “Driving the Next Green Revolution”

    The annual ISRFG under the theme – “Driving the Next Green Revolution: New Frontiers in Food and Nutritional Security,” will provide relevant, up-to-date research and information about the current situation faced by rice farmers due to global warming.

    The objective of this year’s ISRFG is to bring together the rice functional genomics research community to “discuss the new frontier research to mitigate the impact of global warming on rice productivity, food and nutritional security in the near future.”

    Driving the Next Green Revolution: New Frontiers in Food and Nutritional Security

    Topics expected to be covered at the conference include a range of issues all with a continuing focus on adapting agricultural practices for the ongoing and worsening climate challenges. According to the ISRFG “new frontiers research may include but are not limited to Efficient photosynthesis, Water and nitrogen use efficiency, Heat and drought tolerance, Sea rice, Net zero carbon emission rice, High-yielding organic rice, multiple disease and insect resistance, and High nutritious rice.”

    “Comprehensive insight via functional genomics may impact more efficient precision breeding to drive the next green revolution into environmentally-friendly rice and future foods.”

    “Comprehensive insight via functional genomics may impact more efficient precision breeding to drive the next green revolution into environmentally-friendly rice and future foods.”

    Female rice farmer in thailand
    © Mcpics

    The impact of climate change on Rice production

    As of today, rice is a staple food for more than 3.5 billion people, its importance cannot be understated. As the climate is becoming increasingly fragile our planet will continue to experience weather extremes that require our agricultural sector to be prepared for.

    The ISRFG is a prime opportunity for experts to share knowledge and strategies to undertake in the following months and years in order to protect the world’s rice and food supplies.

    The ISRFG is hoping to ensure ‘adaptability under extreme climate changes and productivity of rice grown in environmentally friendly practices.

  • Non-basmati rice sown on 96% area under paddy cultivation in Ludhiana district

  • Less than 3% basmati, 1% direct seeding of rice technique in 2.59 lakh-hectare cultivated area

    A whopping 96 per cent of the total area put under paddy in Ludhiana district was cultivated with non-basmati rice as the current Kharif sowing season 2022-23 concluded here on Wednesday, the administration has confirmed.

    While less than 3 per cent of the cultivated area was sown with basmati rice, little over 1 per cent of the total 2.59 lakh hectares, which was maximum area put under paddy cultivation in the state, was cultivated through the direct seeding of rice (DSR) technique, in which seeds are sown in the field rather than by transplanting seedlings from the nursery, the official figures have revealed.

    Deputy Commissioner Surabhi Malik told The Tribune here on Wednesday that a total of 2,58,600 hectares area was put under paddy cultivation in the district, of which 2,48,253 hectares were sown with non-basmati rice, which accounted for 96 per cent, 7,550 hectares with basmati, accounting for 2.92 per cent, and 2,797 hectares of area was cultivated through the DSR technique, which was 1.08 per cent of the total area.

    She said the district administration ran an extensive awareness and education drive to motivate farmers to opt for the DSR, for which Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had given a clarion call to save water and natural resources in the agrarian state.

    Divulging block-wise paddy sowing figures, Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO) Amanjit Singh said the Sidhwan Bet block had topped the district, with the maximum of 33,294 hectares of area put under paddy cultivation while the Ludhiana block has witnessed the minimum paddy sowing in 13,701 hectares.

    He said the Sidhwan Bet block had cultivated 32,800 hectares with non-basmati rice, 200 hectares with basmati, and 294 hectares of area was sown through the DSR.

    Among other blocks, Ludhiana has cultivated 13,300 hectares with non-basmati rice, 200 hectares with basmati, and 201 with the DSR, Mangat with 31,000 hectares non-basmati, 103 hectares basmati, 331 hectares DSR, Pakhowal 22,100 hectares non-basmati, 100 hectares basmati, 243 DSR, Sudhar 28,145 hectares non-basmati, 650 hectares basmati, 312 hectares DSR, Jagraon 27,900 hectares non-basmati, 3,280 hectares basmati, 457 hectares DSR, Dehlon 20,040 hectares non-basmati, 126 hectares basmati, 171 hectares DSR, Doraha 18,789 hectares non-basmati, 91 hectares basmati, 153 hectares DSR, Khanna 18,439 non-basmati, 1,050 hectares basmati, 129 hectares DSR, Samrala 12,940 hectares non-basmati, 850 hectares basmati, 182 hectares DSR, and Machhiwara block has put 22,800 hectares under non-basmati, 900 hectares basmati, and 324 hectares was sown with the DSR technique.

    Of the total DSR paddy cultivation in 2,797 hectares, 2,751 hectares, which accounted for 98.36 per cent, were sown with non-basmati rice and 46 hectares, accounting for 1.64 per cent per cent, was put under basmati variety.

    The CAO added that 1,264 farmers have cultivated their land with the DSR technique and their applications were being verified for releasing them financial assistance of Rs 1,500 per acre as announced by the state government.

    He said Manpreet Singh of Talwara village in Sidhwan Bet and Lakhvir Singh of Gobindgarh village in Sudhar had sown 35 acres each through the DSR, followed by Mahinder Singh of Bhairomuna village 34 acres, Shingara Singh of Swaddi Khurd village 31 acres, Sukhwinder Singh of Uchai Daud village 27 acres, Lakhwinder Singh of Sehjomajra village and Balvir Singh of Goansgarh village 25 acres each, Jarnail Singh of Hans Kalan village and Sukhwinder Singh of Ismailpur village 20 acres each, and Jagdeep Singh of Jhamat village in the Ludhiana block has put his 18 acres under the DSR cultivation.

  • Team finds new mechanism for heterochromatin establishment and transcriptional silencing in rice crop fungus

  • Rice is one of the most important crops in the world, particularly in China. The rice yield is most severely hindered by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. According to the National Agro-Tech Extension and Service Center, approximately 400 acres of rice will be plagued by rice blast in 2022. Therefore, it is of supreme importance to reveal the pathogenic mechanism of Magnaporthe oryzae and discover potential pesticide targets for prevention and control of rice blast.

    The research team led by Tao Zeng from Zhejiang University College of Agriculture and Biotechnology and Kou Yanjun from China National Rice Research Institute published an open-access article in the journal New Phytologist on July 16. This study reveals how Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) regulates normal distribution of facultative heterochromatin and the stable maintenance of gene repression, and provides a more insightful understanding of the pathogenic mechanism of Magnaporthe oryzae, thereby offering theoretical guidance for the prevention and control of rice blast.

    Development in higher organisms requires proper gene silencing, partially achieved through trimethylation of lysine 27 on histone H3 (H3K27me3). The core subunits Kmt6-Suz12-Eed are indispensable for H3K27me3-mediated transcriptional silencing in Magnaporthe oryzae. Furthermore, these core subunits play an essential role in fungal development, stress response and pathogenicity to the host. However, the regulation on the normal distribution of H3K27me3 occupancy remains unclear, especially in fungi. Besides, Polycomb repressive complex 1 (PRC1) mediates transcriptional repression through H3K27me3 recognition, chromatin compaction and H2AK119 monoubiquitylation, but it remains unknown as to how PRC2 performs stable transcriptional silencing of target genes in the absence of PRC1 in the fungi.

    In this study, the researchers identified P55 as an additional PRC2 subunit and explored its critical role in the normal distribution of H3K27me3 and transcriptional silencing. They also found that loss of p55 could cause severe global defects in the normal distribution of H3K27me3 and transcriptional reprogramming on the H3K27me3-occupied genes. Furthermore, Sin3 histone deacetylase complex was found to be essential for sustaining H3K27me3 occupancy and stably maintain gene repression by directly interacting with P55.

    In summary, this study revealed a novel mechanism by which P55 and Sin3 engaged in the normal distribution of facultative heterochromatic modifications and the stable maintenance of gene repression in eukaryotes.

  • Impending Food Crisis? Rice Acreage Down 13% This Kharif Season

  • India's export accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the world's rice granary. Therefore, any deficiency in rice production in India, the world's largest exporter, is going to adversely affect the world work.


    New Delhi: Rice sowing in the current kharif season has come down by 13% till August 5 due to rainfall deficiency in main paddy-producing states. This crisis is even more concerning as it’s happening in a year when wheat output has fallen and the government’s own procurement of the cereal has dropped drastically.Also Read - West Bengal Likely To Face Famine-Like Situation As Rainfall Deficit Recorded Above 45%
    According to data released by agriculture ministry on Monday, the area covered under paddy stood at 274.30 lakh hectare as on August 5, against 314.14 lakh hectare in the corresponding period last year. This decreased paddy acreage is reported in large paddy-producing states such as West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana. Also Read - Basmati rice exports up 11.54% in Apr-Oct this fiscal: Comm Min

    According to data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), western Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a rainfall deficiency of 36% as on August 8, eastern UP has a deficiency of 43%. Bihar and Jharkhand have rainfall deficiency of 38% and 45% respectively. It also says the Gangetic West Bengal has witnessed 46% less rainfall. Also Read - Can't procure groundnut from Guj this Kharif season: NAFED

    India, which is the largest exporter of rice, commands a 40% share in the global market. If the situation goes bad and there’s a shortfall in rice production, it will affect worldwide trade, especially in a year when wheat production has dropped.

    Rice output stood at a record 129.66 million tonne in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June). India exported 21.2 million tonne of rice in 2021-22 fiscal year. The Centre has a stock of 47 million tonne of rice as on July 1 as against the buffer norm of 13.5 million tonne.

  • India Reassures Gulf Countries of Rice Availability

  • Rice is one of the most consumed food commodities in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

    Riyadh - Bandar al-Mosalam

    The head of the National Committee for Food Supply in the Federation of Saudi Chambers said Indian rice producers have conveyed a message of reassurance that Basmati rice - the most sought-after variety in the region – would not be affected by drought and lack of rainfall, currently affecting India and threatening its agricultural crop season.

    Abdullah Balsharaf told Asharq Al-Awsat that Basmati rice farms are located in areas that have seen normal rain levels, pointing to an abundance of stocks in the Saudi market.

    Consumers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have expressed fear over the possibility of a decrease in rice stocks in the region due to weak production levels in India, which could lead to a rise in prices.

    But Balsharaf stressed that the areas where the Basmati rice is grown have not seen drought, ruling out any significant impact on the stock.

    He revealed that there were 800,000 metric tons of rice stock in the Saudi market, according to figures released by the relevant authorities.

    Moreover, he explained that producers in India were expected to start the season at low prices due to the lack of high demand from competing countries, such as Iran and Iraq, and Europe.

    According to a recent report by the World Bank, Saudi Arabia ranked fifth among the largest importers of rice globally, as the average consumption per capita increased by 30 percent from 33 to 43 kilograms.

    It imported about 1.5 million tons of rice in 2021, compared to 1.6 million tons in 2020, bringing the average per capita consumption to about 43 kilograms.

    Saudi Arabia’s food security authorities recently began implementing the government support approved by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz to deal with the effects of the global price hike, allocating about SR9.5 billion (USD2.5 billion) to support strategic stocks of wheat and barley.

  • Rice prices may continue to rise in Arakan State, businesspeople warn

  • Rice merchants and businesspeople have said the prices of rice in Arakan State may continue to rise.

    The price of a sack of Paw Hsan Mwe rice averaged between K46,000 and K50,000 in Arakan State before prices began to rise. The price has increased by around K10,000, from K50,000 in early August to K60,000, according to rice dealers.

    Previously, one bag of low-grade rice was about K31,000, but now the price has increased to about K34,000, according to rice merchants.

    U Zaw Than Aung, a rice seller, said that since farmers in Arakan State only grow monsoon paddy on a commercial scale and there is still a shortage of paddy in the market, the price of rice may continue to rise.

    “Arakanese farmers grow only monsoon paddy on a commercial scale. We still need time to harvest the monsoon paddy, and the consumption of rice is on the rise, so the price of rice will continue to rise again,” he added.

    U Khin Maung Gyi, a local businessman, said the price of rice in the market has increased by about 10 percent, and due to the scarcity of paddy in the market, the rice price may rise even more.

    “The paddy stocks in the hands of merchants are not as much as they should be and there is still time to harvest paddy. As the price of rice rises, the rice dealers will raise the price, so the price of rice will continue to rise,” he said.

    U Khin Maung Gyi continued that the price of rice may be spurred to even greater heights due to skyrocketing fertiliser prices this year, numerous people abandoning farming, and damage to rice fields related to climate change.

    “At the moment, due to the drought, the rice crops are unable to survive, and it is known that about 50 percent of the planted acres have been destroyed. And because farmers can’t use enough fertiliser, next year’s rice yield will certainly drop. If the yield of rice goes down, the price of rice may rise again,” he added.

    Ko Nyi Khaing Thwee, a young Arakanese composer, pointed out that if the price of rice, the main staple food for Myanmar, increases due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the country’s ongoing political crisis, the grassroots could face many difficulties.

    “At this time, all people are facing various difficulties and are struggling to make ends meet. How will the grassroots cope with their livelihood hardships if the rice price continues to rise?” he said. “The grassroots are the first to suffer from political and economic instability. If only the grassroots face livelihood hardships, everything can explode. So, those concerned will need to deal with this issue carefully.”

    Rice dealers and residents have urged officials and businesspeople to take effective measures to help farmers solve the rice price increase caused by post-coup political turmoil.

  • Record 9m tonnes of rice production expected

  • LAHORE: The country is expected to produce record-breaking over 9 million tonnes of rice against all odds in the current fiscal year against the 8.9m tonnes produced in 2021-22.

    The US Foreign Agricultural Service GAIN report for July 2022 forecasts a lower production at 8.4m tonnes in Pakistan.

    However, local rice sector experts expect that Pakistan will harvest more than 9m tonnes of paddy in the forthcoming season because of weather conditions, increase in acreage and better availability of farm inputs.

    “Above normal rain in July and the first week of August, late sowing of paddy in cotton fields of Sindh and south Punjab which were damaged due to heavy rains, will push for a record rice production,” says Hamid Malik.

    The country has a carryover stock of around 1m tonnes but higher consumption of corn for animal feed purposes will leave more exportable surplus during FY23.

    “Pakistan has big chances of rice exports up to 5m tonnes during the FY23 because of lower paddy production of over 10m tonnes in India as the crop was hit by erratic rains of monsoon there, Chinese crop was affected by high temperature, and Vietnam suffered untimely rain at harvesting time,” he says.

    Due to these factors, global rice production will come down to 515m tonnes this year as against 519m tonnes last year leaving a gap of 4-5 million tonnes on the supply side, he estimates, adding global average price is expected to be higher than that of the ongoing season.

    About the Basmati growers, he says they may get a lesser price for their produce this year but with higher per acre yield and a cut in expenses for pumping out subsoil water due to rains and better availability of urea may give them consolation.

    He predicts that prices of non-Basmati rice varieties in the local market will be higher this year.

  • Wild rice season opens soon, but harvesters must ensure rice is ripe

  • As the Aug. 15 wild rice season opening date approaches, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds harvesters that rice stands must also be ripe before they may be legally harvested.

    Wild rice harvesters going out during the upcoming season will find variable conditions this year in many areas of Minnesota.

    “While we’ve heard reports of good rice in some places this year, a cooler early spring meant many lakes had late ice-out and the wild rice growing season was pushed back up to two weeks,” said Ricky Lien, DNR wetland habitat team supervisor. “Consequently, wild rice may ripen later than normal. Ricers need to remember that it is illegal to harvest green rice.”

    As people consider harvesting, they need to know the regulations that help protect wild rice stands for future years. Harvesters are allowed to take ripe wild rice each year during the wild rice season that runs between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30, but Minnesota’s green rice law makes it illegal to harvest unripe or “green” rice, even within the dates of the harvest season. So although rice beds may look like they are ready, ricers must make sure the grain is ripe and falling easily from the stalk before attempting to harvest it.

    Early reports from DNR and tribal biologists on the condition of this year’s wild rice have been mixed across central and northern Minnesota.

    “People interested in harvesting wild rice should do some scouting to look for good stands of rice,” Lien said. “Although we’re hearing of some places with good wild rice this year, other areas were hit by multiple heavy storms that had negative impacts.”

    Ahead of the wild rice season in mid-August, the DNR will post a wild rice conditions report online. To be notified by email when the conditions report is available, sign up for wild rice email updates (link is external).

    The conditions report is available each year on the DNR’s wild rice management page, along with license, regulation and safety information. For other details that may not be in the conditions report, anyone looking for more information on wild rice in their area can contact their local DNR wildlife manager or a Shallow Lakes Program specialist.

    Harvesting tips

    Harvesters usually use a nonmotorized canoe with a push pole or paddles for power, and collect rice using two sticks, or flails, to knock mature seeds into the canoe. While labor intensive, harvesting wild rice can be rewarding and finding a mentor who knows what they’re doing can make the learning process easier.

    Harvesters should keep access areas clean by packing out what they pack in. And before heading out, harvesters should make a plan for how the rice will be processed. Novice rice harvesters are often advised to use a processor rather than attempt to process themselves.

    It is unlawful for any person to take wild rice grain from any of the waters within the original boundaries at the White Earth, Leech Lake, Nett Lake, Vermilion Lake, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs reservations except for Native Americans or residents of the reservation upon which said wild rice grain is taken.

    The exceptions to this are Native Americans and residents of the reservations listed. In addition, all nontribal members wishing to harvest or buy wild rice within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation must have a Leech Lake Reservation permit.

  • Lack of timely rains, fertilizer hits rice farmers in Nepal’s granary

    • The annual monsoon rains have failed to arrive in Nepal as anticipated ahead of the rice-planting season, leaving farmers facing another season of loss and the country bracing for a food shortage.
    • A senior government meteorologist says it’s still too early to link the lateness of the monsoon to climate change, but what’s certain is that climate change is already wreaking havoc with rainfall patterns in Nepal.
    • Last year, a prolonged monsoon brought unexpected flash floods that cost farmers $93 million in damages.
    • A decline in rice production this year could put Nepal’s already strained finances under even more pressure by forcing the country to import rice.

    KATHMANDU — Thousands of farmers in Nepal’s fertile southern plains, the country’s rice bowl, face a double whammy of a fertilizer shortage and inadequate monsoon rains.

    This is likely to affect production of the country’s staple grain, which also contributes around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product and provides employment of at least six months for a large proportion of the population.

    “Paddy has been planted only in around 75% of the fields as of end of July,” said Suma Karki, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture. “Last year this time, the figure was around 88%.”

    The monsoon clouds, which originate in the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean, are obstructed by the Himalayan mountain range when they try to move north. They then form a low-pressure band, shedding their moisture in the form of rain in the foothills of the mountains as well as the Gangetic plain that runs through Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The band, known as the monsoon trough, moves between the foothills of mountains in the north and the Indian plains in the south bringing rain wherever it goes.

    “This monsoon season, the trough has remained in the Indian plains for a longer period than we’d expect it to,” said senior government meteorologist Indira Kandel. This is why Nepal’s southern plains haven’t received adequate rains for rice farmers this year, she added.

    The monsoon rains account for 60-90% of Nepal’s total annual precipitation, and are crucial for the farmers who grow rice on around 1.4 million hectares (3.5 million acres) of land, 75% of which lie in the southern Terai plains. Most of the farmers are dependent on the rains as the irrigation system in the country can’t cater to all their needs.

    “Due to lack of adequate rain, the rice fields have developed cracks and the plants have dried up,” said Ranju Sharma, a farmer from the rural municipality of Katahari in Nepal’s Morang district, near the border with India.

    Farmers such as Sharma are already under stress as large numbers of Nepali workers seek jobs abroad in India and the Middle East. This makes it difficult to plant rice on time as the traditional cultivation practices are labor intensive. In addition, unexpected issues pop up virtually every year that forces the farmers to bear huge losses.

    This year, the farmers had anticipated that the main challenge would be a shortage of chemical fertilizers. The government, which used to supply fertilizer to farmers ahead of the monsoon season, failed to do so this year as the fertilizer couldn’t be imported in time. But the lack of rainfall has created more trouble.

    “We were already worried that the output would go down this year due to lack of fertilizer, now the rainfall problem has added to our woes,” Sharma said.

    Paddy field Nepal
    A man walks through a paddy field in Nepal’s Terai. Image by Abhaya Raj Joshi for Mongabay

    The change in rainfall patterns in Nepal’s plains come as record heat waves, attributed to climate change, recently engulfed much of the Northern Hemisphere, including India. “It would be too early to say that the heat waves had anything to do with the behavior of the monsoon trough. But we can’t rule out that possibility,” Kandel said.

    What is known is that a changing climate has changed the long-term precipitation patterns in Nepal. A report by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology suggests that although the volume of total rainfall hasn’t changed much, the intensity has. This means rainfall patterns have become hard to forecast, and the chances of flash floods have increased.

    Many farmers say they still remember all too well the flash floods during last year’s monsoon, just as they were preparing for what they thought would be a good harvest. The monsoon, which typically leaves Nepal in late September, stayed longer last year, bringing unexpected rains in the second week of October. According to government figures, which usually underestimate damages, farmers suffered losses amounting to 11.87 billion rupees ($93 million).

    As the monsoon trough moves north again, farmers say they hope it brings adequate rain this time before it heads back south again. “The rains should stop when they are supposed to stop,” Sharma said. “If it doesn’t, we might have to abandon rice farming altogether as we can’t take losses year after year.”

    Nepal’s import-dependent economy, which is already under huge pressure due to rising fuel prices, could take another hit if rice production takes yet another major hit this year. The country, which only has sufficient foreign currency reserves to finance around seven months of imports, could face severe problems if the food import bill also rises, economists warn.

  • Agricultural and processed food products exports raised by 31%

  • A slowdown in India’s rural economy deepened in January, reflecting a crunch on spending by agricultural workers.

    Exports of agricultural and processed food products rose by 31% in the first three months of the current fiscal on a year-on-year basis.

    The overall export of agri products have increased to $7.408 billion in April-June 2022 from $5.663 billion over the same period of the last fiscal, according to the commerce department data. It also exceeded the export target for April-June 2022-23 at $5.890 billion.

    “The initiatives taken by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) that works under the ministry of commerce and industry have helped the country in achieving 31% of the total export target in the first quarter of the current fiscal," the department of commerce said in a release.

    For the year 2022-23, an export target of $23.56 billion has been fixed by APEDA for the agricultural and processed food products basket.

    As per the data, fresh fruits & vegetables registered a 4% growth, while processed fruits and vegetables recorded a significant growth of 59.71% in Q1 compared to corresponding months of the previous year.

    Also, processed food products like cereals and miscellaneous processed items reported a growth of 37.66% in Q1.

    Basmati Rice exports witnessed a growth of 25.54% in the first three months of FY 2022-23 ,while the export of non-Basmati rice registered a growth of 5% in Q1 of current fiscal

    “We continue to provide technical and financial assistance to various stakeholders in the agricultural goods value chains for boosting exports of unique products from the country," said APEDA chairman M. Angamuthu.

    India’s agri products exports had grown by 19.92% during 2021-22 to touch $50.21 billion, higher than 17.66% growth achieved in 2020-21, “despite unprecedented logistical challenges in the form of high freight rates and container shortages, etc.," said the department of commerce.

    “Through creating a necessary eco-system of exports along with collaboration with key stakeholders in the agri-exports value chains, we are aiming to sustain the growth in India’s agricultural and processed food exports in the current fiscal as well," Angamuthu said.

  • Basmati rice exports increase by 26% in Q1 to $1.15 bn: Commerce Ministry

  • Exports of agricultural and processed food products rose by 31 per cent in the quarter to USD 7.4 billion.

    Exports of basmati rice increased by 25.54 per cent in April-June 2022-23 to USD 1.15 billion, the commerce ministry said on Saturday.

    The exports stood at USD 922 million in the year-ago period.

    Non-basmati rice exports too increased by 5 per cent in June quarter to USD 1.56 billion, it said.

    Exports of agricultural and processed food products rose by 31 per cent in the quarter to USD 7.4 billion.

    For financial year 2022-23, an export target of USD 23.56 billion has been fixed by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) for the agricultural and processed food products basket, it said.

    Among these products, sectors which recorded growth during the period under review include fresh fruits and vegetables, and cereals.

    "The export of meat, dairy and poultry products

    increased by 9.5 per cent...dairy products alone recorded a growth of 67.15 per cent as its export rose to USD 191 million in the first three months of the current fiscal," the ministry said.

    M Angamuthu, Chairman, APEDA, said by creating a necessary ecosystem of exports along with collaboration with key stakeholders in the agri-exports value chains, "we are aiming to sustain the growth in India's agricultural and processed food exports in the current fiscal as well".

    (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.)

  • Po River drought: Risotto rice harvest fears as Italian paddy fields dry up amid lack of rainfall 

  • The feather of a bird lies on a completely dried rice field, in Mortara, Lomellina area, Italy, Monday, June 27, 2022  

    Risotto rice production in Italy's Po River valley is under severe threat as a historic drought continues to cause paddy fields to turn bone dry and become toxically salty. 

    Farmers say harvests of the rice used for risotto could be damaged for years by the increased salt content, which is seeping into the earth. 

    "As you can see, the situation is tragic, because we are talking about a loss of nearly 60%," said rice grower Elisa Moretto."These losses are not yet definitive because, besides the saltwater problem, we also have the problem of the huge heat."

    "The 2022 harvest is at risk," she added, saying rice plants may not even be able to make an ear and ripen this year due to the extreme conditions. 

    Rice plants in Italy's northern Po River Basin rely on water from aquifers. These are turning increasingly salty due to the Po River being at an all-time low, which is allowing more seawater to flow up the delta. 

    The amount of water in the Po River -- the largest in Italy -- hit just 95 cubic metres (3,350 cubic feet) a second last month, due to drought conditions caused by a lack of both snow melt and seasonal rain. 

    This water level is one-tenth of the annual average.

    Moretto, who owns the Moretto Agricultural Society, warned that these environmental troubles could have a permanent effect. 

    "A big problem of ours is also that, if salt remains on the soil, we risk also losing future harvests, because a salty field doesn't yield, it burns any kind of plant and crops sown," she said. "Beyond the short-term damage, we have to deal with all that is considered as future damage."

    The Po Valley, which accounts for nearly a third of Italy's agricultural production, is facing an unprecedented drought. 

    Water levels of the Po River running through the region are 2 metres (7ft) lower than average, while temperatures in June are 3.5 degrees higher. These environmental extremes are the result of human-induced climate change. 

    It has been nearly two months since rice farmers in the Po Valley have been unable to tap fresh water for agriculture, creating huge knock-on effects for their businesses. 

    Moretto hoped her business can salvage one-third of their crop this year. But she questioned whether it was possible to make a profit since other factors like increased fuel and fertiliser costs are also having an effect. 

    "I can't determine the economic loss," she said, citing how the price of fertiliser had increased from 40 to 120 euros per 100kg. 

    Rodolfo Laurenti, deputy director of the Po Delta drainage consortium, told reporters the level of salt recorded in the water of the Po River is way above what is suitable for agriculture. 

    "In this moment we are recording the value of 21 grams of salt per litre of water," he said. "This value is really high and it is not suitable for water distribution in agriculture, since the maximum limit is 1 gram of salt per litre," he says.

    The impact of the drought may last for many years to come since saltwater is leaching inland over distances never before recorded and seeping into aquifers -- underground layers of rock that can hold water.

    The Po River is fed by a delta, an area where fresh and saltwater exchange. However, with the river at historic lows, more salty water is flowing upstream, which is causing the region's salination problems.

     According to Giancarlo Mantovani, director of the Po Delta drainage consortium, this will cause "permanent damage."

    "When the salty water goes into the groundwater ... it takes years and huge amounts of fresh water for it to be got rid of," he said, describing the issue as an "environmental problem". 

    "The vegetation on the riverbanks, amphibians and birds have disappeared, and the whole ecosystem living around a freshwater environment, as we had in this territory, is no longer here," he says.

  • Global rice supplies at risk as harsh weather hits top exporters: Analysis

  • Adverse weather across top rice suppliers in Asia, including the biggest exporter India, is threatening to reduce the output of the world's most important food staple and stoke food inflation.

    By Naveen Thukral and Rajendra Jadhav

    SINGAPORE/MUMBAI (Reuters) - Adverse weather across top rice suppliers in Asia, including the biggest exporter India, is threatening to reduce the output of the world's most important food staple and stoke food inflation that is already near record highs.

    Rice has bucked the trend of rising food prices amid bumper crops and large inventories at exporters over the past two years, even as COVID-19, supply disruptions and more recently the Russia-Ukraine conflict made other grains costlier.

    But inclement weather in exporting countries in Asia, which accounts for about 90% of the world's rice output, is likely to change the price trajectory, traders and analysts said.

    "There is an upside potential for rice prices with the possibility of production downgrades in key exporting countries," said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank.

    "An increase in rice prices would add to already major challenges for food affordability in parts of the developing world," Ziebell told Reuters.

    Patchy rains in India's grain belt, a heatwave in China, floods in Bangladesh and quality downgrades in Vietnam could curb yields in four of the world's top five rice producers, farmers, traders and analysts told Reuters.

    "Rice has remained accessible even as overall food prices reached record levels earlier this year," said U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation economist, Shirley Mustafa.

    "We are now witnessing weather-related setbacks in some key rice producing countries, including India, China and Bangladesh, which could result in lower output if conditions don't improve in the next few weeks," Mustafa added.

    World cereals prices have surged in 2022 despite relatively flat rice prices: https://tmsnrt.rs/3d7kgiB

    'PRODUCTION DROP IS CERTAIN'

    India's top rice producing states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have recorded a monsoon rainfall deficit of as much as 45% so far this season, data from the state-run weather department shows.

    That has in part led to a 13% drop in rice planting this year, which could result in production falling by 10 million tonnes or around 8% from last year, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association.

    The area under rice cultivation is down also because some farmers shifted to pulses and oilseeds, Rao said.

    India's summer-sown rice accounts for more than 85% of its annual production, which jumped to a record 129.66 million tonnes in the crop year to June 2022.

    "A production drop is certain, but the big question is how the government will react," a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm said.

    Milled and paddy rice stocks in India as of July 1 totalled 55 million tonnes, versus the target of 13.54 million tonnes.

    That has kept rice prices down in the past year together with India's record 21.5 million tonnes shipment in 2021, which was more than the total shipped by the world's next four biggest exporters - Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States.

    "But the government is hypersensitive about prices. A small rise could prompt it to impose export curbs," the trader said.

    In Vietnam, rains during harvest have damaged grain quality.

    "Never before have I seen it rain that much during harvest. It's just abnormal," said Tran Cong Dang, a 50-year-old farmer based in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu.

    "In just ten days, the total measured rain is somewhat equal to the whole of previous month," said Dang, who estimated a 70% output loss on his 2-hectare paddy field due to floods.

    IMPORTS, PRICES

    China, the world's biggest rice consumer and importer, has suffered yield losses from extreme heat in grain growing areas and is expected to lift imports to a record 6 million tonnes in 2022/23, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    China imported 5.9 million tonnes a year ago.

    The world's third-biggest consumer, Bangladesh, is also expected to import more rice following flood-damage in its main producing regions, traders said.

    The full extent of shortfalls in countries other than India has yet to be estimated by analysts or government agencies that often only publish output data later in the year.

    But the impact of unfriendly crop weather can already be seen in the slight rise in export prices from India and Thailand this week.

    "Rice prices are already close to the bottom and we see the market rising from current levels," said a Singapore-based trader at one of the world's biggest rice merchants.

    "The demand is picking up with buyers such as the Philippines and others in Africa looking to book cargoes."

    Two-year price percent change in key global food staples: https://tmsnrt.rs/3PWKL8F

    (Reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; additional reporting by Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi and Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Gavin Maguire and Himani Sarkar)

    (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.)

  • Global rice supplies at risk as harsh weather hits top exporters

  • Labourers unload rice bags from a supply truck at India's main rice port at Kakinada Anchorage in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, India, September 2, 2021. 
    • Rice output in India, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam at risk.
    • Weather damage to rice crops comes amid near record food prices.
    • Rice prices have eased this year even as wheat, soybeans peaked.

    SINGAPORE/MUMBAI: Adverse weather across top rice suppliers in Asia, including the biggest exporter India, is threatening to reduce the output of the world's most important food staple and stoke food inflation that is already near record highs.

    Rice has bucked the trend of rising food prices amid bumper crops and large inventories at exporters over the past two years, even as COVID-19, supply disruptions and more recently the Russia-Ukraine conflict made other grains costlier. 

    But inclement weather in exporting countries in Asia, which accounts for about 90% of the world's rice output, is likely to change the price trajectory, traders and analysts said.

    "There is an upside potential for rice prices with the possibility of production downgrades in key exporting countries," said Phin Ziebell, an agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank.

    "An increase in rice prices would add to already major challenges for food affordability in parts of the developing world," Ziebell told Reuters.

    Patchy rains in India's grain belt, a heatwave in China, floods in Bangladesh and quality downgrades in Vietnam could curb yields in four of the world's top five rice producers, farmers, traders and analysts told Reuters.

    "Rice has remained accessible even as overall food prices reached record levels earlier this year," said UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation economist, Shirley Mustafa.

    "We are now witnessing weather-related setbacks in some key rice-producing countries, including India, China and Bangladesh, which could result in lower output if conditions don't improve in the next few weeks," Mustafa added.

    'Production drop is certain'

    India's top rice-producing states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have recorded a monsoon rainfall deficit of as much as 45% so far this season, data from the state-run weather department shows.

    That has in part led to a 13% drop in rice planting this year, which could result in production falling by 10 million tonnes or around 8% from last year, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association.

    The area under rice cultivation is down also because some farmers shifted to pulses and oilseeds, Rao said.

    Farmers plant saplings in a rice field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, July 5, 2019. — Reuters
    Farmers plant saplings in a rice field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, July 5, 2019. — Reuters

    India's summer-sown rice accounts for more than 85% of its annual production, which jumped to a record 129.66 million tonnes in the crop year to June 2022.

    "A production drop is certain, but the big question is how the government will react," a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm said.

    Milled and paddy rice stocks in India as of July 1 totalled 55 million tonnes, versus the target of 13.54 million tonnes.

    That has kept rice prices down in the past year together with India's record 21.5 million tonnes shipment in 2021, which was more than the total shipped by the world's next four biggest exporters - Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States.

    "But the government is hypersensitive about prices. A small rise could prompt it to impose export curbs," the trader said.

    In Vietnam, rains during harvest have damaged grain quality.

    "Never before have I seen it rain that much during harvest. It's just abnormal," said Tran Cong Dang, a 50-year-old farmer based in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu.

    "In just ten days, the total measured rain is somewhat equal to the whole of the previous month," said Dang, who estimated a 70% output loss on his 2-hectare paddy field due to floods.

    Import, prices

    China, the world's biggest rice consumer and importer, has suffered yield losses from extreme heat in grain-growing areas and is expected to lift imports to a record 6 million tonnes in 2022/23, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

    China imported 5.9 million tonnes a year ago.

    The world's third-biggest consumer, Bangladesh, is also expected to import more rice following flood damage in its main producing regions, traders said. 

    The full extent of shortfalls in countries other than India has yet to be estimated by analysts or government agencies that often only publish output data later in the year.

    But the impact of unfriendly crop weather can already be seen in the slight rise in export prices from India and Thailand this week. RIC/AS

    "Rice prices are already close to the bottom and we see the market rising from current levels," said a Singapore-based trader at one of the world's biggest rice merchants.

    "The demand is picking up with buyers such as the Philippines and others in Africa looking to book cargoes."

  • How rice gene tweaking can be a gamechanger

  • New possibility of increasing rice yield by 40% generates much enthusiasm in Bangladesh

    Bangladesh comes third among the world’s top rice-producing countries after China and India. 

    From less than 25% of their total available croplands, China and India grow as much rice, which together constitutes over half of the world’s annual rice output. 

    Due to fast diminishing croplands in Bangladesh, the country has to dedicate up to 75% of its total arable area only for growing rice, leaving the remaining 25% available for other crops to be grown.

    In other words, Bangladesh’s future food security largely depends on how quickly the country embarks on newer high-growth technologies as there is practically no scope for it to expand horizontally. 

    Amidst such a reality, a new possibility of increasing rice yield by 40% has generated much enthusiasm among the rice science fraternity in Bangladesh.

    Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) have successfully overexpressed a rice gene, thereby boosting yield by 40%, said the world’s leading peer-reviewed academic journal Science recently.

    Talking to Dhaka Tribune yesterday, Principal Physiologist of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute’s (BRRI) Dr Md Sazzadur Rahman said it is great news that gives new hope to countries like Bangladesh, where growing more rice from less land for a yet increasing population has always been a huge challenge.

    “We can do the study here at BRRI and we’ll soon develop a program to see how the technique (applied by CAAS scientists) helps us grow more rice from less land,” said Dr Sazzadur Rahman, who has long been associated with the internationally collaborated “The C4 Rice Project”, whose principal goal is to gain up to 50% higher rice yield by making the plant more photosynthesis efficient. 

    Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize nutrients from carbon dioxide and water.

    Dr Rahman says it could be a breakthrough if it happens. “We can compare it with the sd1 gene that triggered the Green Revolution.” In the 1960s, the discovery of a single gene – sd1 – helped rice scientists develop semi-dwarf rice plants with high yield potentials, thereby inaugurating the era of the Green Revolution.   

    In late July, the journal Science reported that by giving a Chinese rice variety a second copy of one of its genes, researchers have boosted its yield by up to 40%. The change helps the plant absorb more fertilizer, boost photosynthesis, and accelerate flowering – all of which could contribute to larger harvests. 

    “An extra copy of the OsDREB1Cgene in rice boosted its nitrogen intake, resulting in more efficient photosynthesis and 40% more in grain yield. The Chinese scientists who conducted the research are now looking at the possibility of doing the same for other plants like wheat,” noted Science. 

    A team led by CAAS crop physiologist Wenbin Zhou combed through 118 rice and maize regulatory genes, which encode proteins called transcription factors, that other researchers had previously identified as likely important in photosynthesis.

    They particularly wanted to focus on genes activated when the plant is grown in low-nitrogen soil as these might help increase plant growth activity and draw in more nitrogen to produce more grain. They narrowed the selection down to 13, of which five led to a significant amount of nitrogen intake. 

    They then selected the OsDREB1C gene and used it in a rice variety typically used for research – some had extra copies of the gene inserted into it while others had the gene knocked out. The plants were then subjected to greenhouse conditions where the scientists found that those with extra copies of the OsDREB1c gene grew faster as seedlings while those that had it knocked out were outgrown by control plants. The results indicated that the plants with extra copies of the OsDREB1C took in more nitrogen through their roots and transported it to the shoots, and were better at photosynthesis.

    The researchers then tested their method on a high-yielding rice variety and it was here that they recorded bigger grains as well as up to 40% more grain production per plot of the transgenic rice when compared to the control plants. They also noted that the plants flowered sooner than expected, which also contributed to the increased yield.

    In their journal article, Wenbin Zhou and his team wrote that overexpression of the OsDREB1C gene not only boosted grain yields but also helped rice plants become more nitrogen use-efficient, thereby requiring fewer amounts of chemical fertilizers. 

    “Our work demonstrates that by genetically modulating the expression of a single transcriptional regulator gene, substantial yield increases can be achieved while the growth duration of the crop is shortened.”

     IRRI-CAAS collaboration

    The CAAS-led rice science breakthrough comes at a time when the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have joined hands in establishing the Sanya International Rice Resource and Breeding Center in Hainan, China.

    CAAS Vice President Sun Tan and IRRI Regional Representative for Asia Nafees Meah signed the agreement on behalf of the two organizations in mid-July. 

    “IRRI and China, through the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, have had a long and fruitful history of cooperation. Since then, IRRI has been a steadfast supporter and partner of China’s remarkable journey to become the world’s largest producer of rice, and one of the key global players in agricultural innovation and technology,” said Nafees Meah.

    Over the years, almost 35,000 rice germplasm resources from IRRI have been introduced into China, and around 54% of the current Chinese rice varieties contain IRRI genealogy. China is also a pioneer and world leader in hybrid rice development, and about 99% of China’s three-line hybrids utilize restorer genes from IRRI.

    Established in 1957, CAAS is headquartered in Beijing. It oversees 42 institutes, and is the largest employer of scientific talent in agricultural science and technology in China, with over 5,000 professional employees. CAAS is credited with the development of as many as 1,000 new varieties of crops, livestock and poultry breeds.

  • Rice exports jump 20 pct

  • Vietnam exported 4.2 million tons of rice in the first seven months, 20 percent up year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    But earnings were only 9 percent higher at US$2 billion since global rice prices have fallen by over 10 percent to $489 a ton.

    Exports to the U.S. grew fastest at 65.3 percent, followed by the Philippines, Vietnam’s top market, at 48.6 percent.

    Domestic prices also fell as adverse weather affected rice quality and demand was low compared to previous months.

    Exporters have slowed down purchases from farmers and await the peak harvest season.

  • Agrivoltaics for rice growth

  • Scientists in Bangladesh have investigated the potential of agrivoltaics in rice fields. They analyzed the economic viability of bifacial agrivoltaic projects in Vietnam, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Brazil, and India.

    Scientists from Bangladesh's East West University have developed a modeling framework to determine how agrivoltaic power plants could be deployed in rice fields.

    “Our modeling should help policymakers and installers working on future agro-PV projects,” researcher Mohammad Ryyan Khan told pv magazine. “Very limited works have been carried out to date on agrivoltaics with major crops such as rice, wheat, corn, and maize.”

    The researchers investigated the economic viability of bifacial agrivoltaic projects for the most common type of rice – Oryza sativa, which is also known as Asian rice. They focused on six locations: An Giang, Vietnam; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Jiangsu province, China; Damietta, Egypt; Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; and Haryana, India. They considered location-specific weather conditions, PV system orientation, panel array row spacing, financing conditions, and the economic advantages of bifacial panels.

    “For a given location and bi/monofacial panel array configuration, we find the time-varying irradiance on each point on the cropland and panel surface,” the scientists explained. “Since higher PV density penalizes the crop output of an agrivoltaic farm, we do a parametric analysis to find optimal row spacing to ensure the desired amount of rice production per unit of land area.”

    Locations such as Damietta and Haryana are reportedly able to provide additional gains through higher energy yield, due to more favorable solar irradiance. The scientists found that financing conditions are also crucial in ensuring the economic viability of a project. They said that an agrivoltaic project for rice growth should ensure that at least 90% of the land is used for crop cultivation.

    “We predict the net profit to be 22 to 115 times higher in AVs (with 90% rice yield constraint) compared to only producing rice in those land,” they explained.

    The scientists described their methodology in “Agrivoltaics analysis in a techno-economic framework: Understanding why agrivoltaics on rice will always be profitable,” which was recently published in Advanced Energy.

    “We are currently planning to set up a pilot facility and demonstrate its socio-economic impact,” Khan said. “We also want to create awareness and prospects for farmland owners in Bangladesh.”

  • Mauritius tenders to buy rice

  • HAMBURG: The state purchasing agency in Mauritius has issued an international tender to buy 6,000 tonnes of long grain white rice sourced from optional origins, European traders said on Wednesday. The rice was sought for delivery between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.

    The deadline for submission of price offers in the tender is Aug. 22.

  • Cambodia earns 89 mln USD from milled rice export to China in Jan.-July

  • PHNOM PENH, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia exported 169,766 tons of milled rice to China in the first seven months of 2022, earning 89 million U.S. dollars in revenue, the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) said on Wednesday.

    China remained the largest buyer of Cambodia's rice, followed by the European Union, the CRF said in a news release, adding that China accounted for 48.3 percent of Cambodia's total rice export volume during the January-July period.

    CRF President Song Saran said China is a big market for Cambodian rice and the country hopes to export more rice to China.

    "The RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) will further ease trade in goods between Cambodia and China as well as other participating countries," he told Xinhua.

    "This mega regional trade pact provides a greater market access for Cambodia's products, and I think it will attract more foreign investors to invest in various sectors, including in the rice industry, in order to export finished products to those RCEP countries, with preferential tariffs," he added.

    According to the CRF, Cambodia exported a total of 350,902 tons of milled rice to 56 countries and regions in the first seven months of this year, up 13 percent year-on-year, generating 218 million U.S. dollars in revenue. 

  • Myanmar’s traders lower rice

  • Myanmar's traders lower rice price to reduce households spending amid pandemic.

    YANGON, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's rice producers and traders have retailed rice at lower prices in the country's commercial hub of Yangon starting from Wednesday as food prices are soaring.

    In the commercial hub Yangon, the price of Emata rice, or the Myanmar long grain rice, a staple food for locals, and the special groundnut oil increased by about 5.8 percent and 6.4 percent on Wednesday respectively, compared to a week earlier, showed the Central Statistical Organization (CSO)'s data.

    Daw Nwe, a woman from a family of eight, told Xinhua that she came from Mingaladon, a township located at the northernmost part of Yangon, to purchase the rice at the depot after hearing of the rice sales days ago.

    "Commodity prices keep rising, and it is a tough time for us. It is very difficult even to make ends meet in these days," she said, adding that she has saved about 10,000 kyats (about 5.4 U.S. dollars) for her family by purchasing a 108-pound rice bag from the depot.

    Although Myanmar is an agricultural country and a rice exporter, commodity prices including that of rice are on rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The lower-priced rice sale is aimed at helping households in the country reduce their spending on rice as commodity prices soar, a rice trader from the sales group said.

    "We are selling varieties of rice at lower prices for the public. We have planned to continue the sales for about three months until the next harvest season arrives," Zaw Khaing, a joint secretary of the Wahdan Rice And Paddy Wholesale Depot, told Xinhua.

    "We have imposed a purchase limit of a rice bag for per household," he said, adding that the move is to prevent the buyers from reselling the rice. 

  • U.S. rice interests have eye on Cuba

  • Legislation urged to ease exports

    USA Rice and industry leaders are seeking legislation to remove barriers to U.S. trade with Cuba to ease the way for U.S. rice exports to the island nation.

    The groups are members of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, a group that supports improving agricultural trade between the U.S. and Cuba.

    "USA Rice wants a piecemeal approach to be taken both administratively and legislatively to ease current restrictions on trade, travel, financing, etc., so that Cuba can grow its economy and become a reliable commercial importer of U.S. rice once again," USA Rice's Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs Peter Bachmann said Monday.

    "However, any legislative action that liberalizes the U.S.-Cuba relationship is seen as very contentious among a bipartisan group within Congress because of the political implications for South Florida and Miami, where there's a dense Cuban and Cuban-American population. This makes passage of legislation difficult with a Democrat majority in Congress and close to impossible with a Republican majority."

    Bachmann noted President Joe Biden's administration has not prioritized relations with Cuba as President Barack Obama did.

    "Regardless of whatever administrative actions are taken, congressional action to allow for financing and/or lifting of the embargo are necessary for normal commerce to resume," Bachmann said.

    Major rice consumer Cuba was once a top market for U.S. rice exports, and Arkansas grows nearly half of all rice produced in the U.S.

    Cuba now imports rice from Asian and South American countries, according to a recent USA Rice news release.

    Cuba can currently buy U.S. rice legally if the importer pays in cash up front and uses a third-country bank, such as the Bank of Canada, as an intermediary to allow the exchange of any money, per the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancements Act of 2000.

    The requested legislation would allow U.S. banks to directly provide financing for Cuban buyers and help U.S. exporters compete for better credit terms.

    Cuba is facing increasing economic pressures brought on by the pandemic.

    Cubans are experiencing shortages of food, energy, medicine and fuel, and recent protests spurred Biden to issue a statement about three weeks ago calling on the nation to respect the right to peaceful protest.

    Cuba's economy is recovering gradually and should show growth this year, but the country's economy is still 7.3% below where it was in 2019, per a July 21 Reuters report.

    The U.S. imposed an arms embargo against the country in 1958 in the wake of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro's rise to power and the establishment of a Socialist state in Cuba. President John F. Kennedy's administration imposed an all-encompassing trade embargo in 1962.

    The U.S. trade embargo cannot be lifted without Congressional approval and remains in place today.

    President George H.W. Bush increased U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba in 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but offered a path to normalizing relations via significant political and economic reforms, according to the Council on Foreign relations, an independent nonpartisan think tank.

    The U.S. embargo was further tightened and codified in 1996, penalizing foreign companies that do business with Cuba.

    Obama eased restrictions on travel and remittances in 2009, in a move considered the most notable step toward normalizing relations with the country to date.

    The Cuban government approved several economic reforms in 2011.

    Obama and Raul Castro announced plans to restore full diplomatic ties after a prisoner exchange in 2015, though the Republican-controlled Congress at the time vowed to uphold the economic embargo.

    In 2015, Gov. Asa Hutchinson called for Arkansas to position itself to export goods like rice and poultry to Cuba, as Congress considered ending the 50-year-old trade embargo with the nation. In 2016, Arkansas Rice Federation members traveled to Cuba to discuss the future of trade. Then, in 2017, President Donald Trump announced he would reinstate travel and business restrictions.In May, Biden eased Trump-era sanctions against Cuba, focusing on expanding travel and making it easier for families to visit relatives in the country.

  • Deadline extended for opening LCs for rice import

  • Farmers of most upazilas of Bogura have started preparing their land for Aman paddy transplantation. The photo was taken in Khamarkandi area of Bogura’s Sherpur upazila on Saturday. Photo: Mostafa Shabuj

    The food ministry has extended the deadline for private firms to open letters of credit (LCs) for importing rice until August 21 this year.

    The move comes as traders have been shy in opening LCs amid the increasing dollar cost and uncertainty whether they would be able to make profit by bringing in the staple grain.

    By the end of June, the government started allowing private firms to import rice to curb the spiralling domestic prices by increasing supply in local markets.

    Until now, the food ministry has granted permission for businesses to import around 10 lakh tonnes of rice at reduced duty and they have since received clearance to bring 600,000 tonnes, said a senior official of the food ministry.

    However, between July 1 and July 27, private traders imported just 5,500 tonnes of rice, according to food ministry data.

    Officials said a number of firms that are yet to open LCs to import rice had urged the government to the extend the deadline that ended yesterday.

    "Our objective is to facilitate imports and that would not be possible if we did not extend the deadline," he added.

    Chitta Majumder, managing director of Majumder Group of Industries, which operates rice mills and also imports the grain, said banks are not showing interest to open LCs amid the dollar scarcity. In addition, they are asking for a higher rate -- Tk 107 per dollar -- in case of payments above $100,000.

    "Rice prices are high in India and in this situation, many are not showing interest to import the grain assuming they would not be able to make profit," he added.

    Majumder got permission to import 50,000 tonnes of rice and his firm has imported around 2,000 tonnes so far.

    Over the last one month, rice prices declined for the government move to facilitate imports by slashing import tariff to 25 per cent from 62.5 per cent until October 31.

    Yesterday, prices of the coarse grain stood at Tk 48 to Tk 50 per kilogramme in Dhaka, down 2 per cent from a month ago, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.

  • Rice sowing still 13% below year-ago level

  • Kharif crops are sown in 108 MH and planting activities are expected to continue till middle of August.

    Rice sowing in the ongoing kharif season remained 13% below the year ago level on Friday, mainly because of deficient monsoon rainfall in the key growing areas of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.

    According to the agriculture ministry, rice has been sown in 23.15 million hectare (MH) against 26.7 MH reported a year ago.

    A ministry official told FE that the window of rice sowing will be open for the next few days and sowing of key crops is likely to increase.

    Lower areas under paddy has been reported from states including West Bengal (1.6 MH), Uttar Pradesh (0.6 MH), Bihar (0.5 MH) and Jharkhand (0.4 MH). The food ministry has recently said rice stocks with the Food Corporation of India could dip below the buffer by April 2023, if the free ration scheme is extended to the second half of the current fiscal year. Rice exports are seen to rise to a record high in the current year, given the robust global demand and dip in output in competing countries like Thailand and Vietnam. However, officials say even in that scenario, the country may not face any shortage of the staple grain.

    Overall summer crops including paddy, pulses, oilseeds, coarse cereals, sugarcane and cotton have been sown in 82.34 MH so far, about 2% higher than corresponding period last year.

    Kharif crops are sown in 108 MH and planting activities are expected to continue till middle of August.

    The rainfall deficiency in the east and northeast region has been 16% so far, while the cumulative rainfall received in all the four regions during June 1-July 29 was 465 mm, which was 9% more than the normal benchmark of 428 mm for the same period.

    Since the beginning of July, the country has received close to 19% more rainfall over the benchmark so far. While in June, cumulative rainfall was 8% less than the benchmark. Sowing of most other crops has been more than last year.

    Central India. the south peninsula and northwest regions have received 21%, 28% and 4% more rainfall respectively than the normal range so far has been given boost to sowing of pulses, oilseeds and coarase cereals, sugar and cotton.

    According to the official, oilseeds such as soybean, groundnut and sesamum have been higher than a year ago.

    While oilseeds have been sown in 16.4 MH which is marginally higher than last year.

    Soybean has been sown in 11.46 MH so far which is an increase of more than 2.5% than previous year. However, Soybean Processors Association of India stated that oilseed variety has been sown in 11.75 MH so far.

    “In some districts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, soybean fields are facing water logging due to continuous rains and this may result in partial crop damage or even total loss in some areas,” according to a statement by SOPA.

    Pulses have been sown in 2.8% more area than last year. Arhar, which constitutes the higher share in India’s import basket, planting has been lagging behind by more than 13% so far.

    The cotton sowing has been up by more than 5% so far.

    In April, 2022, the government had set a record foodgrain production target of 328 million tonne (MT) in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) against 314 MT of production in 2021-22, as per the third advance estimate of foodgrain production released in May.

    Rice production target of 112 MT in the ongoing kharif season of the 2022-23 crop year (July-June).

    Meanwhile, the average water level in 143 major reservoirs in the country till Thursday was 19% more than a year ago, the Central Water Commission said. The water level was also 39% higher than the average of the last 10 years.

  • Traditional Thai buffalo race kicks off rice growing season

  • Thai farmers raced their water buffaloes at a muddy annual race on Sunday to mark the beginning of the new rice growing season at the start of the monsoon weather, in a tradition dating back to the 1800s which celebrates the beasts of burden. Scores of spectators watched the racing on a 200 meter-long dirt track in the seaside province of Chonburi, some 80 km (50 miles) southeast of the capital, Bangkok. The race, which sometimes takes place at the end of the monsoon, was paused during the coronavirus pandemic but returned last year. Most Thai farmers no longer use water buffalo for farming but many are still keen to keep the animals. “Today, it doesn’t matter for for me if I win or lose. I wanted to preserve this tradition,” said Somchai Kamchab, 58, who owns a buffalo competing in the race.

  • First wheat, now rice — hit by bad weather, output could fall by ‘10 mn tonnes’ this season

  • A hit to India’s rice output could lead to a major policy overhaul as it arrives on the back of a lower wheat harvest.

    New Delhi: After a severe heat wave in April-May singed India’s wheat crop, leading to a ban on exports, planting of rice, the main rain-fed crop in the ongoing kharif season, has been hit due to patchy rains in several states.

    Major rice-growing states such as Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Bihar have seen deficit rains so far during the ongoing monsoon season, while Assam has been affected by massive floods.

    “Going by a conservative estimate and feedback from trade sources, about 15 million tonnes of rice production could be at risk,” said S. Chandrasekaran, a Delhi-based agriculture trade analyst.

    “Due to deficit rains in eastern Indian states, farmers will likely opt for short-duration varieties where yields are lower, or shift to crops like moong (a variety of summer-grown pulses),” he added.

    He further said that in Gujarat there has been a shift in acreage from paddy to cotton while excess rains in Telangana have damaged existing stock.

    A hit to India’s rice output could lead to a major policy overhaul as it arrives on the back of a lower wheat harvest.

    While the government estimated the wheat output at 106 million tonnes in 2022 — just about 3 per cent lower than last year — traders are pegging the harvest much lower, between 95 million tonnes and 100 million tonnes.

    India is currently sitting on large public stocks of rice — over three times what it needs for food security and strategic reserve purposes. So far, the government has used the excess rice stock to replace some of the wheat supplied under food security schemes.

    ‘Don’t panic but don’t be smug’

    T. Nanda Kumar, former secretary at the food and consumer affairs ministry, said “due to uneven rains, rice production could drop by about 10 million tonnes in the current season”.

    “That’s not a reason to panic but India has to be cautious. You cannot be smug about it… the dip in production means less flexibility for the government,” he added.

    “It may not be in a position to do open-market sales to cool rising prices. It may have to discontinue the free food scheme (Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana), which is on till September, and may even be pushed to impose trade controls such as an export tax or a minimum export price.”

    Unlike wheat, where India is a marginal player, it is a major rice exporter with a 40 per cent share in global rice trade.

    In 2021-22, India exported 21 million tonnes of rice — about a sixth of its annual production of 127.9 million tonnes.

    In the ongoing kharif crop season, India has set a target to produce 112 million tonnes of rice. The rest of the annual production comes from the winter rice planted in October-November.

    Missing numbers

    Data from the India Meteorological Department shows a high rainfall deficit in Uttar Pradesh (53 per cent lower than normal), West Bengal (26 per cent), and Bihar (45 per cent) between 1 June and 25 July. These three states contribute about a third to India’s annual rice production.

    Assessment of the current situation in rice has been further mired by lack of data on planting.

    Usually, the data is published every Friday, but, on 22 July, the agriculture ministry did not share data on the progress of rice-sowing. Data from a week earlier (released on 15 July) showed 17 per cent lower planting of rice, year-on-year.

    Trade is, however, taking a cue from market prices that are on the rise. “Factoring in lower plantings, rice prices have climbed up from Rs 2,400 per quintal to Rs 2,600 in a matter of days,” said Rajesh Jain, a Delhi-based trader.

    The demand, he added, is robust from neighbouring Bangladesh and from west African nations.

    “Bucking the usual trend, Bangladesh has been purchasing large volumes of premium non-basmati rice from India over the past few months,” said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association.

    “However, export prices are still lower than minimum support prices (MSP) announced by the government,” Rao added.

    That metric is critical.

    Higher export prices of wheat compared to MSP led to a shortfall in public purchases — as more farmers chose to sell to private traders and not to government agencies — eventually prompting the Union government to ban exports.

    As of now, domestic prices are climbing. Wholesale prices of premium non-basmati rice increased to Rs 38 per kg from Rs 31 between end-May and end-July, said a rice trader who did not want to be named.

    “If prices climb like this, wholesale prices will not be at the previous year’s levels when the new crop arrives in October,” he added.

    Data from the department of consumer affairs shows that, as on 25 July, wholesale rice prices were 7.2 per cent higher year-on-year. Daily retail prices had climbed up the highest in Kolkata to Rs 40 per kg, an increase of 25 per cent over the previous year.

  • Super seeds help boost Pakistan’s rice exports

  • Hybrid rice from China replaces some backward local varieties

    LAHORE:

    Pakistan’s rice exports grew 23% in fiscal year 2021-22 and reached $2.511 billion compared with $2.041 billion in fiscal year 2020-21.

    As per Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Pakistan exported 4.877 million tonnes of rice in FY22 against 3.684 million tonnes in FY21, recording a growth of 32.35%.

    Over the past couple of years, areas under rice cultivation have been on the rise. According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan (2021-22), the crop was sown on 3,537 thousand hectares, showing an increase of 6.1% against 3,335 thousand hectares last year.

    The record high output of rice stood at 9.323 million tonnes during 2021-22, higher by 10.7% than previous year’s production of 8.420 million tonnes.

    In addition to the increase in acreage, the increase in rice production is another important factor contributing to the surge in Pakistan’s rice exports.

    The renewal of good varieties and the use of advanced technology are essential factors for achieving high yields. Hybrid rice from China has replaced some backward local varieties.

    Longping South Asia Seed R&D Centre has bred high-yield varieties with strong stress resistance in Pakistan.

    Pakistan Hi-Tech Hybrid Seed Association (PHHSA) Chairman Shahzad Ali Malik maintained that the regular use of hi-tech hybrid seeds in agriculture can contribute a lot to achieving an ambitious $35 billion export target with the slogan of “Grow More, Export More”.

    R&D Centre Chief Scientist Long Chunjiu said in a recent interview that Pakistan has a great potential for rice export, in which hybrid rice seeds can play a critical role.

    Pakistan’s rice export to China in the first six months of this year was worth around $345 million, compared with $258 million in the same period of last year, according to the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC).

    THE ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON THE cHINA ECONOMIC NET

  • Pakistan’s rice exports witnessed a 23 percent growth

  • Other than expanded area of cultivation, increased rice production is a major element contributing to Pakistan's increased rice exports

    According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), rice exports witnessed a 23 percent growth and crossed the $2.5 billion mark during the 2021-22 fiscal year for the first time in country’s history.  Pakistan exported 4.877 million tons of rice in fiscal year 2021-22 against 3.684 million tons in fiscal year 2020-2021, showing a growth of 32.35 percent.

    In the last few years, rice cultivation area has expanded. As per the Economic Survey of Pakistan (2021-2022), the crop was sown on 3,537 thousand hectares, showing an increase of 6.1% against 3,335 thousand hectares last year. The record high output of rice stood at 9.323 million tons during 2021-2022, higher by 10.7% than the previous year’s production of 8.420 million tons.

    Other than expanded area of cultivation, increased rice production is a major element contributing to Pakistan’s increased rice exports. The adoption of innovative technology and the regeneration of good varieties are critical factors in promoting high yields. Some backward local kinds have been replaced by hybrid rice from China.

    According to Shahzad Ali Malik, Chairman of the Pakistan Hi-Tech Hybrid Seed Association (PHHSA), regular usage of high-tech hybrid seeds in agriculture can significantly contribute to attaining an ambitious US$35 billion export target with the tagline “Grow More- Export More.” Chunjiu Long, Chief Scientist of the R&D Centre said in a recent interview with Gwadar Pro that Pakistan has a great potential for rice export, in which hybrid rice seeds can play a critical role.

    According to the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China, Pakistan’s rice export to China in the first six months of this year is valued approximately Us$345 million, up from US$258 million in the same period previous year (GACC).

    In addition to an increase in Pakistan’s rice exports to China, China and Pakistan’s collaboration in the field of rice seeds has gradually increased.

    Long maintains that China-Pakistan seed industry cooperation is of great importance. He highlighted that we should efficiently utilize local germplasm resources like Basmati and fully take advantage of local high-quality meteorological conditions to help locals achieve grain self-sufficiency and export foreign exchange earnings. “”Through the cooperation platform between the two countries, China’s domestic seed companies can cooperate and develop with local enterprises with strong strength to provide high-quality technical services and varieties and improve local farmers’ passion for planting,” he added.

    As the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) heads towards its second phase, cooperation between China and Pakistan in the core of agriculture, seed, is a top priority. “We look forward to establishing a ‘Technology Transfer- Product Process- Export’ model for seed cooperation with Chinese partners. These include storage of agricultural produce, livestock breeding, research and development and a high yield variety of hybrid seeds,” Abdul Raheed concluded.

  • PAKISTAN RICE EXPORT TO CHINA WITNESS INCREASE

  • BEIJING: Pakistan’s rice export to China in the first six months of this year is worth around US$345 million, compared with the US$ 258 million in the same period last year, according to the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC).

    Pakistan’s rice exports witnessed a 23% growth in the fiscal year 2021-2022 and reached US$2.511 billion compared with the US$2.041 billion in the fiscal year 2020-2021.

    As per official statistics, Pakistan exported 4.877 million tonnes of rice in the fiscal year 2021-22 against 3.684 million tonnes in the fiscal year 2020-2021, showing a growth of 32.35%. Over the last couple of years, areas under rice cultivation have been on the rise.

    The crop was sown on 3,537 thousand hectares, showing an increase of 6.1% against 3,335 thousand hectares last year.

    The record high output of rice stood at 9.323 million tonnes during 2021-2022, higher by 10.7% than the previous year’s production of 8.420 million tonnes, China Economic Net (CEN) reported.

    In addition to the increase in acreage, the increase in rice production is another important factor contributing to the surge in Pakistan rice exports.

    The renewal of good varieties and the use of advanced technology are essential factors to promote high yields. Hybrid rice from China has replaced some backward local varieties.

    Longping South Asia Seed R&D Centre has bred high-yield varieties with strong stress resistance in Pakistan, the yield of which is as high as 150 monz/ac. Shahzad Ali Malik, Chairman of the Pakistan Hi-Tech Hybrid Seed Association (PHHSA) maintained that the regular use of high-tech hybrid seeds in agriculture could contribute a lot to achieving an ambitious US$35 billion export target with a slogan of Grow More- Export More.

    Long Chunjiu, Chief Scientist of the R&D Centre said in a recent interview that Pakistan has a great potential for rice export, in which hybrid rice seeds can play a critical role.

    High-tech hybrid seeds are producing double yield[s] as compared to other conventional seeds.

    In Pakistan, almost 200 hybrids are approved/recommended by the variety evaluation committee. More than 60 hybrids are available on the market. If high-tech hybrid seeds are applied to all major crops, it will help a lot to achieve our ambitious export targets, said Abdul Rasheed, a PHHSA member.

    In addition to the increase in Pakistan’s rice exports to China, the cooperation between China and Pakistan in the field of rice seeds has also intensified progressively.

    Long believes that China-Pakistan seed industry cooperation is of great significance.
    We should make better use of local germplasm resources such as Basmati and give full play to local high-quality meteorological conditions to help locals achieve grain self-sufficiency and export foreign exchange earnings; through the cooperation platform between the two countries, China’s domestic seed companies can cooperate and develop with local enterprises with solid strength to provide high-quality technical services and varieties and improve local farmers passion for planting, he explained.

    While continuing to work on breeding high-yield hybrid rice for stress resistance, Long Chunqiu is also working on breeding hybrid Basmati varieties and japonica rice.

  • IARI introduces three new basmati rice varieties

  • India exported 3.9 million tonne of Basmati rice worth $ 3.54 billion in 2021-22. Shipments to the top 10 countries — Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, the US, Yemen, Kuwait, the UK, Oman and Qatar have a share of more than 81% in India’s volume of exports of basmati rice.

    To boost export prospects and reduce pesticide usage, the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has this kharif season distributed seeds of three new varieties of basmati rice, which possess inbuilt resistance to bacterial blight and blast diseases.

    IARI, Pusa, Delhi, an institute affiliated to the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, has supplied seeds to farmers of improved PB1847, PB1885 and PB1886 rice varieties, in which two genes have been inserted, which could withstand the attack of bacterial blight and blast diseases that adversely impact the crop yield.

    According to AK Singh, director, IARI, three varieties would gradually replace the existing basmati rice varieties PB1121, PB1509 and PB6, which are cultivated in more than 90% of the about 2 million hectares of aromatic and long-grain rice-grown area.

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

    He said field trials of new varieties were conducted at select farmers’ fields last year and after getting encouraging results, the seeds for new varieties have been given to farmers for further multiplication this kharif season in key growing areas of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

    Scientists say that for managing bacterial blight disease and blast, farmers use antibiotics and fungicides, which is not a sustainable approach. There are several instances of consignments of India’s basmati rice being rejected by importing countries due to presence of pesticide residue in the crop.

    While the high-yielding and larger-grained PB1121 variety was certified as basmati rice in 2008, the PB1509, which takes fewer weeks to mature, was released in 2013. PB6 was released in 2008.

    The PB1121 and PB1509 varieties have a share of 70% in India’s basmati rice exports.

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

    Basmati rice exporters in association with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development Authority, have initiated outreach programmes to optimise use of pesticides by farmers.

    India exported 3.9 million tonne of Basmati rice worth $ 3.54 billion in 2021-22. Shipments to the top 10 countries — Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, the US, Yemen, Kuwait, the UK, Oman and Qatar have a share of more than 81% in India’s volume of exports of basmati rice.

    According to an analysis by IARI of the economic value accrued because of basmati rice, `1.66 trillion worth of export earnings between 2010 and 2019 were from the shipments of PB1121 and PB1509 rice varieties, while domestic sales were to the tune of `51,501 crore in the same period.

    After deducting the cost of production, the IARI assessment has stated that `1.34 trillion has been accrued as earnings to an estimated 1 million farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, who grow two varieties of aromatic and long-grained rice.

    In the global trade of basmati rice, India has a share of around 85%, while the rest is with Pakistan.

  • Meeting the demand for aromatic rice

  • AgriLife Research scientists showcase latest rice variety trials at Beaumont Field Day

    With a growing demand for aromatic rice in the U.S., Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists are stepping up field trial experiments and breeding activities to develop basmati and jasmine rice varieties that would best fit the state’s production environment and help meet growing consumer demand.

    The latest work was showcased recently at the 74th annual Beaumont Field Day themed Designing Texas Rice for the Future at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Beaumont. The annual event gives the region’s rice growers a first-hand look at innovations to consider for their operations.

    “The main focus of what we do is rice cropping systems and what we are trying to do is go beyond classical long grain types,” said Ted Wilson, Ph.D., center director and holder of the Jack B. Wendt Endowed Chair in Rice Research. “Historically, a minimum of 98% of the rice grown in Texas is long grain rice with a little jasmine and aromatic types. Right now, the imports of rice from other countries are steadily increasing.”

    Wilson said that in 2020 the U.S. imported $1.3 billion of rice from other countries and sold $1.9 billion.

    “Rice imports are increasing at a slow, steady rate,” Wilson said. “The question is where is our money going? The imports are basmati types from India and Pakistan and jasmine is coming from Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Those two varieties make up most of the rice imported, while only 1.7% of Texas acreage in 2021 was grown in basmati rice.”

    Breeding for Texas rice

    Stanley Omar Samonte, Ph.D., AgriLife Research rice breeder in the Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Beaumont, told attendees that work continues looking into breeding new jasmine and basmati lines to fit Texas’ growing environment and meet consumer demand to compete with imports. From 2010 to 2020, the US imported an average of 685,000 tons per year. U.S.-grown aromatic rice, which includes the jasmine and basmati varieties, makes up less than 1% of the market share.

    Stanley Omar Samonte stands with wader boots on in front of a flooded rice field with variety signs in it.
    Stanley Omar Samonte, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research rice breeder, discusses plant breeding work at the 74th annual Beaumont Field Day. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Blair Fannin)

    “To meet the increasing demand, we are having to breed for basmati and jasmine lines that are adaptable to Texas conditions,” Samonte said.

    Some of the challenges for breeding basmati varieties is 60% of the varieties are unacceptably tall and cannot be grown along the Gulf Coast due to lodging. They are also low yielding with no secondary or ratoon crop.

    Samonte said there is “tremendous opportunity for U.S. rice breeders” to develop Texas jasmine and basmati type varieties that feature the same aroma, flavor, and texture preferred by U.S. consumers. His current project includes F2 second generation plant populations in breeding nurseries that are being screened to develop aromatic jasmine and basmati rice types.

    Samonte’s specialty rice breeding project for jasmine, basmati, and high amylose rice types is funded by the Texas Rice Research Foundation.

    Breeding concentrates on important traits

    Xin-Gen "Shane" Zhou, a man in the turquoise shirt holds a rice plant up that shows the root system
    Xin-Gen “Shane” Zhou, Texas A&M AgriLife Research rice plant pathology/weed management, discusses new rice diseases in Texas. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Blair Fannin)

    Wilson also noted the research program includes rice varieties bred for high amylose concentrations, which have healthful benefits for those with diabetes, obesity or colon diseases.

    He said the AgriLife Research scientists at Beaumont Center are investigating kernel smut, narrow brown leaf spot, and brown spot diseases.

    “Kernal smut has gone from obscure to horrendous,” Wilson said. “2021 was horrendous. We had one of our producers that lost 300 acres or had 18% infected kernels. Maybe all of our growers need to learn that with kernel smut, they have to be really careful with nitrogen applications. It thrives on a high nitrogen application near panicle differentiation. It will get you in hot water quickly.”

    Focus on controlling stink bug infestations is another area of work. Lina Bernaola, Ph.D., recently joined AgriLife Research at Beaumont specializing in integrated pest management and host plant resistance. She is taking over for longtime researcher and nationally recognized Mo Way, who retired last year after nearly 50 years dedicated to rice research, 39 of those years with AgriLife Research.

    A man in a turquoise shirt and woman in a yellow shirt stand in a hallway.
    Ted Wilson, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Beaumont director, and Brenda Tubena, Ph.D., Louisiana State University AgCenter, at the 74th annual Beaumont Field Day. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Blair Fannin)

    Attendees also heard updates from Marcela Garcia, president and CEO, U.S. Rice Producers Association. Brenda Tubena, Ph.D., Louisiana State University AgCenter, discussed remote sensing applications for precise nitrogen. Morning tours led by AgriLife Research scientists featured specialty rice breeding, physiology, inbred breeding, nutrient management, and UAV demonstration, and pathology and entomology discussions.

    BU Growers was the field day signature sponsor, providing the barbecue meal for nearly 200 in attendance. Wilson also gave special thanks to  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M, Texas Rice Improvement Association, Texas Rice Research Foundation, and the Texas Rice Producers Board.

  • Thailand export earnings threatened by rice glut

  • The price of Asia's main food has not been anything like the wild ride of other staples. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

    Opinions diverge over outlook as fertilizer shortages loom

    TOKYO/BANGKOK -- The surge in wheat and corn prices driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine hit consumers around the world and made it harder for some to put bread on the table. But some Asian countries are grappling with a contrasting problem: a glut of rice that threatens to deal a blow to their export earnings.

    Thailand heads the list of nations confronted with the unexpected specter of overabundance thanks to favorable weather in Asia's paddy heartlands. The region's countries are now in a fierce rice price war as they seek buyers for their swelling stocks, but there are sharp divisions of opinion over where prices go from here.

    "A good crop in several countries allowed key exporters, particularly India and Pakistan, to compete by offering at low prices," Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, told Nikkei Asia.

    The price of Asia's main food has not been anything like the wild ride of other staples. At $420 per tonne, the benchmark 5% common grade Thai rice is trading within a few percentage points of where it was at the start of 2021 and shortly after the invasion this year. Intense price competition means buyers can get prices much lower than that on other rice.

    Both wheat and corn prices soared more than 40% as grain exports from Ukraine's ports were blocked and India banned wheat exports to prioritize domestic amid hot weather that disrupted its own production. Talks to end the blockade and bumper crops elsewhere have brought prices down sharply in recent weeks but wheat is still up 15% from a year ago.

    In contrast to its ban on wheat exports, India is trying to sell more rice overseas. The world's largest rice exporter sold an average of 22 million tonnes of rice over the past few years, almost half the world's rice trade.

    The price competition is already fierce. According to traders, India can offer as low as $343 per tonne, well below $388 offered by Pakistan and $418 by Vietnam. Thailand offers prices in the $420s due to higher production costs.

    "The Thai rice price was more than $80 per tonne higher than India and other competitors. That made it difficult for Thai exporters to compete with others," Charoen said, adding that world rice prices are expected to remain under pressure. Thailand is due to harvest its major crop in October, when around 24 million tonnes of paddy will be reaped.

    "It would be another year of disaster as we don't know how deep rice prices will plunge," one exporter said. "That would force the Thai government to issue price intervention schemes to support farmers." For the government, which faces a general election next year, it is crucial to keep more than four million rice-farming families happy. The consequence is that exporters are unlikely to sell at lower world prices when prices are being propped up at home, reducing their share of the global market.

    The quantity of rice in storage around this time of year has been historically high for several years, at more than one-third of annual demand. The decline in wheat and corn prices in recent weeks has cooled talk that rice may gain favor as an alternative, something that could have decreased elevated inventories.

    Not everyone agrees rice prices will stay low, however, and several point to fertilizer shortages as a reason to expect an increase over time.

    Russia is the world's biggest exporter of nitrogen, the second-largest of potassium, and third of phosphorous -- key ingredients of fertilizer, which is now harder and more expensive to obtain as a result of international sanctions.

    Akio Shibata, president of the Natural Resource Research Institute in Japan, warned that Asia could not remain optimistic about its staple supply. "If fertilizer prices continue to rise and its supply disrupted, rice prices will likely follow that of wheat and corn," Shibata told Nikkei Asia.

    Thailand, again, could be particularly vulnerable. Thai farmers typically rely on expensive chemical pesticides and fertilizers. It imports around four million tonnes of fertilizers annually.

    That is different from rivals such as Vietnam and India. Vietnam has spent many years developing new rice strains and rice-growing techniques that help cut production costs, while India and Pakistan grow rice in vast areas with economies of scale and cheap labor costs.

    As a result, the productivity of Thai rice remained low, with yield per rai (0.16 hectare) standing at 454 kilograms, well below Vietnam's 803 kilograms per rai. Disruption in fertilizer supply could further lower the productivity of Thai rice growers.

    The government in June approved a plan to allow Thai and foreign investors to develop the country's first potash mine to enable the domestic production of fertilizer. However, it will take years before a mine is actually up and running.

    David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, said fertilizer shortages could depress rice yields across the region and lead to a repeat of the 2007-2008 price spike that followed a drought in India and sent prices to $1,000 a tonne.

    "Asia is going to be pounded with this fertilizer crisis, which is going to devastate rice harvest over the next 12 months," he said. "And when you look at how much progress has been made on reducing hunger in the world, primarily in Asia ... this could truly set back global food security."

  • Vietnam increases rice export market share in UK

  • 23 July 2022, VN: Vietnam trade counselor in UK Mr. Nguyen Canh Cuong said that Vietnam ranks 15th among rice exporting countries to the UK with a market share of only 0.42%.

    The room for Vietnamese rice in the UK can also be expanded thanks to the 100,000 people of Vietnamese origin and thanks to the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA) tariff quota regulation. To turn this potential into reality, rice growers and rice exporters need to thoroughly apply Global GAP on a large scale, and at the same time promote the production of high-quality fragrant rice.

    On the side of the Department of Crop Production (MARD) and local authorities with large areas of rice land, it is necessary to implement programs to support farmers in rice varieties, safe agricultural materials, milling and rice storage before exporting. In particular, rice exporters need to understand the tastes and needs of rice consumption in the UK market.

    Regarding sustainable rice export solutions, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien informed that the rice industry is being promoted to restructure in the direction of promoting value and sustainable development with a focus on solutions and methods to improve the quality and value of Vietnamese rice.

    Therefore, in the coming time, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will coordinate with localities and businesses to focus on building a brand for Vietnam’s rice industry, and at the same time continue to implement mechanisms, policies and solutions to build complete rice value chains.

    Along with that, promoting the attraction of financial resources, application of science and technology, towards building a modern and sustainable development of Vietnam’s rice industry with high-quality rice production chains, such as: SRP, GlobalGAP, VietGAP…

    In order to achieve the goal of rice export of 6.3 million tons, worth 3.3 billion USD, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh suggested that the Vietnam Food Association and rice exporters need to ensure the purchase of rice for farmers, do not let the rice output clogged after harvest.

  • Demand for India’s rice likely to shoot up in global market as floods hit crop in Southeast Asian nations

  • Demand for Indian rice is expected to increase amid heavy flooding in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, which have been dominant players for this staple grain in the global export market. The heavy floods along the Mekong River belt have caused severe damage to crops in the two Southeast Asian countries. The paddy fields have been particularly washed away giving rise to concerns over food security amid surging global food prices driven by the Russia-Ukraine war.

    Even as sowing of the grain in India this year is estimated to be 17 per cent lower due to inadequate rains in states such as Bihar and Orissa, analysts said that there is no cause for any worry as the country is sitting on adequate stocks from last year.  However they maintained that New Delhi must refrain from taking any "sudden decisions."

    "Such adhoc and knee jerk reaction and banning of outbound shipment create problems for Indian exporters, they find it difficult to get orders in the future,"  Anil Ghanwat, senior leader of Shetkari Sangathana, a Maharashtra based farmers union earlier told India Narrative.

    India accounts for about 40 per cent of the global rice supply.

    “India's rice #exports to benefit & rise to ~$10-12 bn as key competitors ie Thailand & Vietnam suffer from loss in yields & cost surge. #India likey to #export 22 out of the 53 MT #rice demanded globally with market share of 40% in 2022,” Sachchidanand Shukla, Chief Economist, Mahindra Group said in a tweet.

    Indian rice is also less expensive compared to the grain sold by Thailand and Vietnam.

    According to World Grain, an analysis website, shrinking the price spread with Thailand and Vietnam, Pakistani quotes rose $40 to $420 per tonne amid steady demand from China. “Indian quotes rose minimally by $5 to $350 per tonne and remain the lowest globally with large supplies,” it said.

    Even as the price of Thai rice fell amid the uncertainties, it was more than the Indian rate.

    The problem of flooding is not specific to Southeast Asia. Even Bangladesh and parts of India – especially the northeast have been in the grip of floods. But at the same time there are states which have received less rain.

    “Sowing of paddy has been lower this year but a 17 per cent less sowing is nothing to cause any alarm. We have ample stocks, left from the last year’s yields…in fact due to large stocks, many farmers in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are also considering whether or not to sow paddy as then there will be problems related to storing. Our stocks are more than enough to feed our own people and export,” Ghanwat said.

    Meanwhile, news organisation , Vietnam Plus as the Mekong River water level is rising steadily and people living along its two banks in Thailand have been warned to be ready for dealing with floods that can happen at any time.

    The Mekong River belt is crucial for multiple crops. Besides paddy, beans, leafy vegetables, watermelon, chilies, various herbs, and many other varieties of vegetables are grown.

  • Rice exports surge 23pc to $2.5b in FY22

  • The exports of rice from the country during fiscal year ending on June 30, 2022 witnessed about 23pc increase as compared to the exports of the corresponding period of last year.

    During the period from July-June, 2021-22, over 4.877 million metric tons of rice including Basmati-rice and others valuing $2.511b were exported as against the exports of 3.684 million metric tons worth $2.041b of same period of last year (2020-21). Meanwhile, country earned $695.813 million by exporting about 750,517 metric tons of rice during 12 months of last fiscal year, which was recorded at 619,428 metric ton worth of $569.493 million of same period of 2020-21. According to the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the exports of Basmati-rice witnessed about 22.09pc growth in 12 months of last fiscal year as compared to the exports of same period of fiscal year 2020-21. Country also fetched $1.181b by exporting over 4.126 million tons of rice other than Basmati as against the exports of 3.065 million tons costing $1.473b of same period of last year, it added. It is worth mentioning here that food group exports from the country during fiscal year ending on June 30,2022 increased by 23. 37pc, whereas imports registered 8pc growth as compared to the corresponding period of last year. During the period from July-June 2021-22, different food commodities valuing $5.418b were exported as compared to the exports of 4.392b of same period last year.

    In last fiscal year, rice exports grew by 23pc and reached to $2.511b, fish and fish preparations increased by 3.87pc as it was recorded at $430.654 million, whereas country also earned $0.068 million by exporting different pulses. On the other hand, food group imports into the country grew by 8pc as food commodities valuing $9.015b were imported during 12 months of last fiscal year as compared to the imports of the corresponding period of last year. During the period from July-June, 2021-22, the imports of wheat reduced by 19.12pc as it came down from $983.326 million to $795.285 million. Dry fruits, nuts decreased by 16.78pc and it was recorded at $65.250 million as compared to $78.403 million and spices by 3.81pc and registered at $216.184 million against the import of $224.747 million of same period last year.

  • Supercharged biotech rice yields 40% more grain.

  • Genetic tweak may boost photosynthesis and fertilizer absorption in wheat, other crops, too

    By giving a Chinese rice variety a second copy of one of its own genes, researchers have boosted its yield by up to 40%. The change helps the plant absorb more fertilizer, boosts photosynthesis, and accelerates flowering, all of which could contribute to larger harvests, the group reports today in Science.

    The yield gain from a single gene coordinating these multiple effects is “really impressive,” says Matthew Paul, a plant geneticist at Rothamsted Research who was not involved in the work. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like that before.” The approach could be tried in other crops, too, he adds; the new study reports preliminary findings in wheat.

    A crop’s yield is fiendishly complex because many genes interact to influence plant productivity. For years, biotechnologists have searched for single genes that augment yield, without much luck. In recent years they’ve shifted their interest to genes that control other genes, and therefore multiple aspects of physiology, such as taking up nutrients from the soil, setting the pace of photosynthesis, and directing resources from leaves to seeds. Modifying one such regulatory gene in maize gives a 10% higher yield—a major gain compared with the 1% increase per year achieved by traditional plant breeding. 

    To find other candidate yield boosters, a team led by crop physiologist Wenbin Zhou of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) combed through 118 rice and maize regulatory genes, which encode proteins called transcription factors, that other researchers had previously identified as likely important in photosynthesis. Zhou’s team sought to find out whether any of the genes were activated in rice grown in low-nitrogen soil, because such genes might boost uptake of the nutrient. Increasing their activity in rice grown in regular soil could nudge the plant to draw in even more nitrogen—and make more grain.

    The team found 13 genes that turned on when rice plants were grown in nitrogen-poor soil; five led to a fourfold or greater boost in nitrogen uptake. They inserted an extra copy of one of the genes, known as OsDREB1C, into a rice variety called Nipponbare that’s used for research. They also knocked out the gene in other individual rice plants. Greenhouse experiments by Shaobo Wei and Xia Li of CAAS showed plants without the gene grew less well than control plants, whereas those with extra copies of OsDREB1C grew faster as seedlings and had longer roots.

    Good nutrition was one reason: Isotopic tracers revealed the plants with extra copies of OsDREB1C took up extra nitrogen through their roots and moved more of it to the shoots. The modified plants were also better equipped for photosynthesis; they had about one-third more chloroplasts, the photosynthetic organelles within plant cells, in their leaves and roughly 38% more RuBisCO, a key enzyme in photosynthesis. Planted in the field over 2 to 3 years, the enhanced rice gave higher yields at three sites in China with climates ranging from temperate to tropical.

    Importantly, the researchers also transformed a high-yielding rice variety often planted by farmers by adding an extra copy of the gene. These modified modern rice plants produced up to 40% more grain per plot than did controls, the researchers report. “That’s a big number,” says Pam Ronald, a rice geneticist at the University of California, Davis. “Amazing.”

    As in the greenhouse experiments, the modified plants in the field boasted both bigger grains and more of them. “What they’ve done is to take a very good [rice variety] and shown they can make it better,” says Steve Long, a plant physiologist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who adds that the result is a “lot more convincing” than improving a research variety.

    The modified plants also flowered sooner, which can offer advantages depending on the environment. For example, farmers might grow more crops per season or harvest crops before damaging summer heat sets in. However, although the modified Nipponbare flowered up to 19 days earlier, the widely farmed variety of rice bloomed just 2 days earlier.

    To demonstrate broader potential, the team added the rice OsDREB1C gene to a research variety of wheat and found the same types of effects. OsDREB1C and similar genes are present not just in rice, wheat, and other grasses, but also in broad-leaved plants. The researchers discovered comparable outcomes from adding an extra copy to the well-studied mustard plant called Arabidopsis. That’s consistent with a common role across the plant kingdom, suggesting other kinds of crops might be amenable to yield boosts from this modification.

    Transgenic crops such as the rice Zhou’s team made are unacceptable to some consumers. But Zhou and colleagues say the same yield boost could be accomplished by editing the plant’s own genes, which in some countries is now more lightly regulated than transgenic engineering. Another benefit is that increasing nitrogen efficiency of crops could lessen pollution of streams and lakes from excess fertilizer that runs off fields, Ronald says. And improved photosynthesis will be vital for adding to global food supplies, notes Steven Kelly of the University of Oxford in a commentary. “You can get huge jumps if you’ve got the right transcription factor,” Long says. “I’m sure there’ll be more.”  

  • Cambodia, Timor-Leste mull rice export deal

  • Cambodia and Timor-Leste discussed a rice export deal as the two countries pledged to strengthen bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

    The discussions were held when Rath Saravuth, Director General of International Trade at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce and Domingos Lopes Antunes, Vice-Minister of Commerce of Timor-Leste met at Dili city on Monday.

    In the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on boosting bilateral trade and cooperation between the two countries’ private sectors through business matching, mutual exchanges and exhibition activities, according to the Commerce Ministry.

    “The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to continue cooperating, facilitating and promoting business and investment activities to boost economic and trade growth between the two countries,” said a release.

    “The two sides also identified potential items for trade, especially the export of Cambodian rice to Timor-Leste,” it added.

    Cambodia has asked Timor-Leste to buy Cambodian rice and invest in local rice mills and warehouses after backing Dili’s bid to join the Asean.

    Timor-Leste is a potential market for Cambodia’s milled rice, said Lun Yeng, Secretary-General of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF). The two sides have been working on a rice export deal for some time, he said.

    “We have talked with the embassy of Timor-Leste in Cambodia that said it is working with the commerce ministry (of Timor-Leste) on a possible rice export deal. Now, we are waiting for the feedback from them,” Yeng said yesterday.

    The CRF is striving to find new markets for the Kingdom’s rice as it sets a target of at least 800,000 tonnes of milled rice export this year.

    Cambodia exported 327,000 tonnes of milled rice in the first semester this year, an increase of 16 percent compared to the same period last year, according to a report by the CRF.

    China remained the Kingdom’s biggest export market for the milled rice during the period, accounting for 51.43 percent of the total milled rice export from the country. The rest mainly went to European Union (EU) countries, accounting for 32 percent of the total volume.

  • Grain market review: Rice

  • LONDON, ENGLAND – Global rice prices are moving higher with the search for alternatives to wheat and other crops lost to the world market because of the conflict stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    In its Grain: World Markets and Trade report of July 12, the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service reported that “in the past month, US quotes rose $10 to $705 per tonne amid tight supplies.”

    “Uruguayan prices remain steady at $545 per tonne,” the report added. “Thai quotes fell $28 to $428 per tonne due to large stocks, a weakening Thai baht, and stiff competition from other Asian suppliers. Vietnamese prices fell by $13 to $410 per tonne as market conditions remain little changed from last month.

    “Shrinking the price spread with Thailand and Vietnam, Pakistani quotes rose $40 to $420 per tonne amid steady demand from China. Indian quotes rose minimally by $5 to $350 per tonne and remain the lowest globally with large supplies.”

    In its July 8 Rice Price Update, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said prices had risen in June by 1.4% month on month.

    “June marked the sixth consecutive month of international rice price increases,” the FAO said, explaining that levels reached 2.3% above the level of June 2021. “Quotations moved up in all the market segments last month, except in the glutinous sector, where a retreat of Chinese buyers from the market tended to weigh on sentiment.

    “Increases were most pronounced for aromatic rice, reflecting support provided to basmati quotations by strong demand from Near Eastern buyers and thinning availabilities. On the other hand, mixed trends across origins kept Indica increases at 1.1%, while Japonica values reached their highest level since May 2014, following a 1.6% monthly rise driven by sustained production concerns in California.”

    June export quotations followed contrasting trends in Asian Indica markets, the FAO said.

    “In Pakistan, prices leaped to 12-month highs, buoyed by strong export progress this year coupled with heightened inflationary pressure, including from increases in fuel and electricity costs,” the FAO said. “Quotations also edged up mildly in India amid consistently robust demand, with an import duty cut in Bangladesh also providing a late-month boost to values in the country.”

    By contrast, prices fell in Thailand, depressed by a pause in fresh Iraqi purchases occurring amid otherwise low demand and a depreciating Baht, the FAO said.

    “A slow pace of trade also lowered offers in Vietnam, where the early summer-autumn harvest began to trickle into the market,” the FAO said.

    In its July 15 Rice Advocate newsletter, the US Rice Producers Association, noting that US harvesting was set to begin, commented that “globally, all eyes are still on Asia where rice demand is believed to be stronger due to the Russian and Ukraine wheat fallout.” 

    “As the Middle East and North African markets hunt for alternative calories, rice is expected to become one of the key substitutes in this normally heavy wheat consuming region,” US Rice said. 

    Another factor that can place strain on the world rice market pertains to the fertilizer issue, the association said. 

    “Growers in Asia were clearly forced to ration fertilizer on higher prices, but the effects of those agronomical decisions have yet to be seen,” US Rice said. “China is already reporting increased pest and disease problems with its rice crop, and Thailand anticipates lower yields due to the inflated fertilizer and chemical costs. Since the Russia invasion, rice prices have remained rather stable when compared to wheat and corn. However, the last time the grain trade was this disrupted was in 2008, when rice prices ran past $1,000 per tonne, nearly twice the current value.”

  • The many meanings of rice in Asian culture

  • Rice plays such an important role in Asian culture that it takes a variety of names and is even used in greetings.

    In Asia, rice is life. More than 90 per cent of the world's rice is produced and consumed in the region, making countries and their citizens dependent on the crop.

    Indeed, rice is integral to the region's culture, cuisine and even verbiage.

    Greetings

    In many Asian cultures, asking if one has eaten yet is a way to show affection and concern.

    In Thailand, this question is replaced by the phrase, kin khao ayung?, which translates to 'have you had rice yet?'

    A common Mandarin greeting is ni chī fàn le ma? or 'have you eaten rice today?'. However, it's the equivalent of asking 'how are you?'

    Rice is the most important dish on the table. Without it, a feast feels incomplete.

    The many names of rice

    Vietnam is one of the top exporters and consumers of rice worldwide. It's no surprise then that there are several names for it in Vietnam, including lúa (rice plant), gạo (rice grain), cơm (cooked white rice) and nếp (sticky rice).

    In the Philippines, the myriad of names for rice almost feels like a progression: palay (unmilled rice), bigas (milled rice), kanin (cooked rice), tutong (burnt rice); bahaw (leftover rice), lugaw (rice porridge), kakanin (rice cakes) and pinipig (rice crispies).

    Meanwhile, in Japan, rice is considered a meal's foundation. The most common names for rice are kome (threshed, uncooked rice) and gohan (cooked rice or the rice meal itself). Meanwhile, the term asagohan is used to refer to rice eaten in the morning.

    Rice is deeply personal

    According to food historian Dr Cecilia Leong-Salobir: "Rice is a staple that is a permanent fixture in most Asian kitchens and is bought in large quantities."

    Dr Leong-Salobir says that rice is consumed in almost every meal. A baby's first taste of solids is rice porridge and those who are elderly, or sick or recovering, are typically given rice to aid in digestion and to regain health. It's also a part of celebratory and festive meals in Asia.

    "For the Asian diaspora in countries where not much rice is eaten, rice is remembered with nostalgia as comfort food," she says. "So, when a rice eater [in parts of Asia] sees a foreigner cook rice in a way different to his or her community or culture, there's a sense of incredulity, as if there is a disruption in the order of things," she says.

    Thailand's addictive dessert, mango and sticky rice.

    To cope with this feeling of disruption, some turn to humour. "There's the idea that when a non-daily rice eater cooks rice differently, then that is to be ridiculed."

    She gives the example of some cultures washing grains until the water runs clear. "Any deviation from the accepted practice causes mirth or pity. As a matter of fact, Asian comedians [such as Jo Koy and Nigel Ng] have picked up on this [and use it in their comedy]."

    However, at the end of the day, everyone's relationship to rice is personal. It can be a significant part of family rituals and traditions.

  • Basmati Rice is under Threat in Export Market due to EU’s Stricter Pesticide Residue Standards

  • The basmati industry is also concerned that the proposed FSSAI MRL standards, which are even stricter than the Codex standards that are normally followed globally, will halt basmati exports. The All-India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has urged the government not to implement the proposed rice MRL.

    Basmati rice varieties, including the world's longest grain developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), are under threat in the export market after countries such as Qatar and Jordan began adhering to the European Union's maximum residue limit (MRL) standards.

    However, IARI's new disease-resistant varieties and FSSAI's proposed domestic standards may help India offer the world's safest aromatic rice.

    The basmati industry is also concerned that the proposed FSSAI MRL standards, which are even stricter than the Codex standards that are normally followed globally, will halt basmati exports. The All-India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has urged the government not to implement the proposed rice MRL.

    Due to quality restrictions, basmati rice exports to the European Union fell 35% to 2.2 lakh tonne (lt) in 2021-22 from the previous year, while overall aromatic rice exports to all countries fell 15% to 39.5 lt. Though exports to the UAE and Lebanon increased in the last fiscal year, they remain lower than previous highs. According to sources, three main varieties — Pusa Basmati (PB) 1121 (the world's first most elongated rice after cooking), PB 1509, and PB 1401 — account for roughly 90% of basmati exports.

    For example, exports to the UAE were approximately 2.6 lt last year, compared to approximately 3 lt in 2018-19. Similarly, exports to Lebanon fell by a quarter in 2020-21, but increased marginally last year to around 9,300 tonnes. Despite industry concerns about Egypt, which has begun to follow EU MRL standards, it has been increasing every year for the last five years. Last year, the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, and the EU together accounted for 16% of India's total Basmati export.

    The FSSAI MRL norms were first notified in December 2018, and a draught notification was published in August 2020, in which MRLs for some pesticides were made extremely stringent. FSSAI has proposed changing MRLs for 18 pesticides used in the paddy crop (including Basmati). According to sources, Acephate and Chlorpyriphos are two of the nine pesticides that have raised concerns in the EU.

    According to the 2018 FSSAI notification, the MRL for carbendazim and cypermethrin is 2 (mg/kg), which has been proposed to be reduced to 0.05 and 0.01, respectively. "We are unable to meet even the FSSAI's 2018 standards." If the revised 2020 notification is implemented, pesticide residue standards will become more stringent, resulting in a much higher drop in future exports," said an industry representative to the government.

    "If the 2020 notification is implemented, not a single grain of Basmati rice produced will be compliant with norms," an exporter explained. "Residue problems have plagued Indian Basmati since 2012." Ad hoc approaches to residue issues in the past have jeopardized exports," said S Chandrasekaran, a trade policy analyst.

    Chandrasekaran suggested that exporters work with specific backward linkages systems until individual farmers are the solution and that the government should release varieties after appropriate scrutiny in accordance with emerging SPS standards. He also stated that the draught FSSAI standards may be the impetus for finding a permanent solution to this problem.

    However, AK Singh, director of IARI and inventor of PB 1509, stated, "It is not that the problem has arisen as a result of PB 1121 or PB 1509." (both of which are grown in 6 lakh hectare area, each). The earlier varieties were also susceptible to disease. The disease appears over time as an area under a particular variety grows, which is a natural phenomenon.”

    Singh stated that IARI has developed three improved varieties to combat bacterial blight and blast diseases: PB 1509 will be replaced with PB 1847, PB 1401 will be replaced with PB 1886, and PB 1121 will be replaced with PB 1885.

    During the most recent kisan mela in March, IARI distributed 20 quintals of these seeds to 2,000 farmers for multiplication (1 kg can produce 2 quintal seeds) in this kharif season, Singh said, adding that in 2-3 years, these would be able to address some concerns, particularly about Tricyclazole. "Right now, we're working on developing some varieties to combat the Brown planthopper, another common pest in paddy," Singh explained.

  • Thai rice popular among Kelantanese

  • State Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Biotechnology, Green Technology and Environment Committee chairman Tuan Mohd Saripudin Tuan Ismail said as a state which was located close to Thailand, it had attracted many locals to eat Thai rice. - NSTP/NIK ABDULLAH NIK OMAR..

    KOTA BARU: The Kelantan State Assembly was told that Thai rice has become a popular choice as a daily basic food among Kelantanese.

    State Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Biotechnology, Green Technology and Environment Committee chairman Tuan Mohd Saripudin Tuan Ismail said as a state which was located close to Thailand, it had attracted many locals to eat Thai rice.

    Despite their interest in the rice coming from the neighbouring country, Saripudin said they were also encouraged to consume local rice.

    "Being situated close with Thailand, is an advantage for Kelantanese and they now have the choice either to eat local rice or rice for their daily meals.

    "But the state government always carries out various campaigns to attract them to eat local rice so they realise that local rice is more nutritious," he said when replying to an additional question from Datuk Dr Ramli Mamat (Pas-Bunut Payung) at the Kelantan Assembly today. 

    Saripudin said due to the continuous efforts by the state government, local rice has slowly gained popularity among locals.

    "Our campaign in distributing local rice to the people in every state constituency received good response as the number of recipients increased every time we organised the drive, from 200 people previously to 300," he said.

    Earlier when replying to another question from Rohani Ibrahim (Pas-Tanjong Mas), Saripudin said Kelantan would not face a shortage in food should a food crisis hit the country as there was enough supply of rice, fruits and goats in the state.

    "Our stocks on these three basic foods exceeds the subsistence level of the state's population and the state government has taken proactive action by setting up the State Food Security committee chaired by Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob," he said.

    He added other steps taken by the state government to ensure food security was the implementation of semi-auto chicken meat farms and integration cattle farming in oil palm plantations.

    "The government has allocated about RM10 million for these projects," he added.

  • Rice import from India resumes after 10 months

  • A total of 512 metric tonnes of rice entered Bangladesh on Thursday and Sunday

    Rice being sold at market Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

    Rice import from India resumed at Benapole land port after 10 months, following a ban from Bangladesh government to ensure fair prices at domestic markets. 

    A total of two consignments, consisting of 512 metric tonnes of Rice entered Bangladesh on Thursday and Sunday. 

    Each tonne of rice is being imported at Tk30,650 ($340). For every kilogram of rice, Importers are paying Tk9.90 at 27.5% import duty.

    Imported parboiled Swarna rice is said to be sold at Tk47-48 per kg in the domestic market.

    Md Matiar Rahman, director of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce said on August 31 last year, Bangladesh barred rice imports from India to ensure better market price for locally produced products.

    “Nevertheless, as domestic crops were drastically damaged by the floods in the country's northern regions, the food ministry allowed 95 importers to import 4,09,000 tonnes of rice from India on June 30,” he added.

    He further mentioned that 379,000 metric tonnes of boiled rice and 30,000 metric tonnes of Atap rice are among the imported products. “The ministry also has directed to complete marketing of the imported rice by August 11.”

    Mamun Kabir Tarafdar, deputy director (Traffic) of Benapole Port, said rice would be released within 24 hours so traders can clear the rice quickly from the port. 

    On the other hand, a request has also been made to ensure that the trucks are not stuck at the Indian border for a long time, he added.

    Meanwhile, buyers have complained that the price of imported rice is high. 

    Mintu Mia told the Bangla Tribune: “Swarna coarse rice is being sold at Tk45 per kg. I was hoping that when Indian rice imports start, the prices will drop in the domestic market.”

  • 47 firms given go-ahead to import 73,000 tonnes of rice

  • The government has given go-ahead to 47 companies to import 73,000 tonnes of rice as part of its ongoing effort to contain food prices in the local market.

    The firms have been asked to bring 60,000 tonnes of non-basmati boiled rice and 13,000 tonnes of non-boiled atap by August 25, according to a notice issued by the food ministry on July 13.

    The government allowed firms for the third time this month to import the essential staple food amid volatility in the global market.

    Earlier in the month, the government allowed 230 firms to import 655,000 tonnes of rice in two phases.

    That means, the government has so far allowed the local food firms to import 728,000 tonnes of rice in the ongoing financial year.

    The companies who got the fresh permission were asked to open the letters of credit (LCs) by July 31.

    If they fail to comply, the import permissions would be cancelled, it said.

    The importers have been asked to inform the district food offices about how much rice is imported, sold and stored.

    Traders will have to sell the rice in the same bag that would be used to import the grain, according to the food ministry.

    The National Board of Revenue cut the duty on rice that will be imported in a period between June 22 and October 31 to 25.75 per cent from 62.5 per cent to facilitate the purchase of the cereal from international markets.

    In order to avail the tax waiver, importers will have to take permission from the food ministry for every shipment, according to the NBR.

    Coarse rice is being sold for between Tk 48 to 52 per kg in the kitchen markets in Dhaka today.

    The prices of coarse rice remained unchanged in the past one month, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.

  • Tanzania strategises how to increase rice production as exports soar

  • Dar es Salaam. Following a notable increase in rice export, the government has outlined several initiatives, which will help increase paddy production to satisfy the country’s demand and export a significant amount.

    Outlined initiatives include setting a paddy processing plant, increasing paddy seeds multiplication and improving irrigation infrastructures.

    It was recently noted that Tanzania rice export increased from 184,521 tonnes in 2020 to 441,908 tonnes in 2021 attracting an increase of revenue from Sh176.49 billion to Sh476.8 billion.

    According to the government statistics, last year, Tanzania produced 2,629,519 tonnes of rice in 2020/21 against the demand of 1,091,778 tonnes, which means the surplus stood at 1,537,741 tonnes.

    Furthermore, available data show that Uganda is the main rice importer from Tanzania with the East African country importing an average of 136,377.97 tonnes in the last three years which is equivalent to 56.42 percent of the whole exports.

    Other countries and an average exports tonnes in brackets are: Kenya (54,358.17); Rwanda (37,759.57); Democratic Republic of Congo (4,796.33) and Burundi (4,829.27).

    Others in the list are Zambia (404.00); India (234.20); United Arab Emirates (UAE); Malawi (151.67) and that 2,588.60 tonnes were sold to other African countries. Furthermore, Uganda emerged the East African nation that grabbed more share (278,925.0) out of 475,744.0 tonnes traded by Tanzania in the 2020/21 Financial Year. Other countries and the amount of rice in tonnes in brackets bought from Tanzania are Kenya (115,128.0); Rwanda (61,131.0) and DRC (6,724.0).

    Others are Burundi (11,979.0); Zambia (337.0); UAE (551.0); Malawi (410.0) with 558.0 tonnes sold to other countries.

    Also, data from the government show the amount in tonnes of rice produced by Tanzania and respective years in brackets as; 1.594 million (2017) and 2.22 million (2018).

    Others are 2.063 million (2019); 3.038 million (2020) and 2.688 million in (2021). Tabling the 2022/23 budget in Parliament, Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe said reaching 2030, demands for food in the country was expected to reach 18.797 million tonnes.

    “Of the amount 7.418 million will come from maize, 1.368 million tonnes of rice and 3.211 tonnes of cassava,” he told Parliament.

    Mr Bashe, who doubles as Nzega Constituency MP said the world population is expected to reach 9.9 billion by 2050 as Tanzanians number will climb to 100 million.

    He told the Budget House that there were all needs to prepare and benefit from opportunities brought by increasing food demand for security and sustainability. “Increasing population rises food demand to 33.94 million tonnes; 12.92 million of maize, 2.41 million of rice and 6.03 million of cassava,” he said.

    According to him, demand for cereals will increase to three billion tonnes both for human and animal consumption, therefore creating a huge opportunity for the country and Tanzania farmers.

    He said in order to tap the opportunity, the ministry was planning to execute several intervention measures in the 2022/23 in order to increase cereal production in the country.

    Processing factory

    Mr Bashed said the Crops and Other Produce Board (CPB) is finalising the commissioning of a paddy processing plant in Mwanza that will have a capacity to handle 28,800 tonnes annually.

    Seeds multiplication

    The minister said Agricultural Seeds Agency (ASA) will procure six sowing machines that will be put for use in its Kilangali farm.

    “ASA will also procure three drones for implementation of pests and diseases control programmes in its seed. multiplication plantations located in Arusha, Kilimi and Kilangali,” said the minister.

    According to him, Sh43.034 billion has been allocated for strengthening access to better seeds in the country in the 2022/23 Financial Year.

    Irrigation

    Furthermore, Mr Bashe said the government plans to increase irrigation land from 727,280.6 hectares in 2021/22 to 822,285.6 hectares in 2022/23, which is equivalent to 68.5 percent of the 1.2 million hectares forecasted for 2025.

    “Strengthening irrigation infrastructure will increase production of agricultural crops including paddy whose yields are anticipated to rise by 403,020 tonnes worth Sh345.4 billion,” he said, noting that move is forecasted to increase to 475,000 direct jobs.

    He said the National Irrigation Commission (NIRC) has planned to carry out a feasibility study and detailed design in 22 strategic irrigation schemes with 306,361 hectares scheduled to be constructed between 2022/23 and 2024/25.

    “Feasibility study and detailed design will also be undertaken to 42 schemes with 91,357 hectares planned to be constructed in the 2023/24 Fiscal Year following the allocation of Sh35.472 billion,” he told the Budget House.

    According to him, the ministry is also planning to mobilise paddy farmers to increase production in 2022/23, the move that will be supported by a number of factors.

    The factors include, strengthened irrigation infrastructures, increasing productivity efficiency from two tonnes to four tonnes per hectare and improving the market access and introduction of contract farming among farmers.

    Others are access to agricultural inputs, education provision to farmers and extension officers on the crop development and improved production, harvesting and processing technologies.

    Cultivation regions

    The Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari) researcher at the Dakawa Centre, Mr Vincent Pamba said paddy is grown in a number of regions including Mbeya, Morogoro, Katavi, Shinyanga, Arusha and Geita.

    Paddy varieties

    Mr Pamba said over the past three cropping seasons (2017/18 to 2019/20), the centre has managed to produce paddy seeds of diverse varieties at all classes.

    The seeds include, TXD306 (SARO 5); Komboka; TAI, SATO1 and SATO9, TARI RIC1 (SUPA BC) and TARI RIC2 (ZX117).

    “These quality rice seeds are available at the centre for sale to needy customers at modest prices,” he said. According to him, some of the seeds are suitable for planting in highlands as well as those cultivated in lowlands.

    He said most of the varieties produce high yield up to five tonnes per hectare as compared to traditional seeds that provided farmers with two to three tonnes per hectare.

    “Early maturity, pests and disease resistance as well as not being attacked by birds are some added characteristics of the new rice varieties,” said the expert.

    Post-harvest losses

    According to documents in the Tari website, the challenge is attributed to poor preparation of cereals preservation equipment, late harvests and the use of poor storage materials.

    Apart from early harvesting, farmers are also advised to use Purdue Improved Crops Storage (PICS), Super Grain Bag as well GrainPro Safe.

    Marketing

    A document titled: Enhancing Competitiveness of Rice Industry in Tanzania written by Derick Msafiri in a Repoa Brief in 2021 shows that domestic whole prices increased from $701 per tonne in 2018 to $762 per tonne in 2019.

    However, world market prices declined slightly from $421 per tonne in 2018 to $418 per tonne in 2019.

    “Tanzania’s domestic rice prices are higher than imported rice. This is more likely attributed to higher transaction costs, transport costs and the quality. Despite higher domestic rice prices, its demand remains stable due to its taste and aroma preference,” reads part of the document.

  • Global Markets: Rice – Pakistan Export Forecast Rises to Record While Importing More Wheat

  • 2021/22 Pakistan rice exports are forecast up 450,000 tons to 4.8 million, almost 30 percent higher than the previous year. Favorable export conditions are expected to continue as large stocks, competitive export prices, and strong demand from key markets are expected to spur exports further to 4.9 million tons in 2022/23.

    Pakistan retains ample supplies following two consecutive record crops, despite hot and dry conditions delaying the 2022 May/June planting season. The Pakistan Meteorological Department forecasts ample monsoon rains which are expected to be beneficial for this season’s harvest.

    In addition to favorable weather and market conditions, abundant supplies, and the devaluation of the Pakistani rupee have kept its prices globally competitive. Over the past year, Pakistani rice prices have closely mirrored Indian prices, which have been extremely low for almost 2 years; however, strong export demand has caused Pakistani quotes to spike in recent weeks.

    Pakistan’s top export markets include a diverse group of countries to which it exports different rice varieties, including fragrant long-grain basmati, regular milled, and broken rice. In recent years, Pakistan has emerged as a major supplier to China, the world’s largest rice importing and consuming country.

    In fact, in the first few months of 2022, Pakistan exported more rice to China than Vietnam, the historic top supplier. Pakistan exports both milled rice and broken rice to China, the latter primarily used in feed. Pakistan also exports competitively priced milled rice to East Africa – particularly Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania – and neighboring countries in Central Asia, mainly Afghanistan.

    Pakistan is also a producer and exporter of basmati rice, a premium product known for its aromatic qualities. Demand for basmati rice has grown in recent years, especially in the European Union and the Middle East. While still facing stiff competition from India, the top global basmati exporter, Pakistan is a significant basmati supplier to the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.

    Rice is an important food in Pakistan; however, wheat is the principal grain consumed domestically. Unfortunately, the same hot and dry planting conditions that delayed planting of the 2022 rice crop in Punjab and Sindh provinces have adversely affected Pakistan’s wheat production.

    This month, Pakistan’s 2022/23 wheat import forecast has been raised 500,000 tons to 2.5 million as the government has aggressively procured international and domestic wheat. Historically, the government intervenes heavily in wheat production, marketing, and trade to ensure sufficient supplies of a commodity critical to food security.

    Pakistan’s government intervention includes procurement of wheat from the domestic market through price support programs and a mandated selling price for flour mills, used to intervene in periods of high food inflation.

    At the provincial level, the government buys wheat from farmers at the support price and then sells it to flour mills at the fixed government price. The amount released from reserves is based on the estimated shortfall of production for the marketing year.

    While the 2022/23 crop is on par with historic yield trends, the output was short of the government’s production target, leading to some concerns about supply shortages. Output was adversely impacted by early-season fertilizer shortages and a heat wave in March which occurred during a key maturation stage.

    Procurement began earlier this year and in much larger volumes than usual, causing price spikes in the open market. To counteract rapidly rising prices, the government released wheat from strategic reserves several months early. This has led to concerns that stocks will be much lower by January-March 2023, which has traditionally been the time of the year where the market is more dependent on government intervention.

    Population growth, high inflation, and higher prices for milk, meat, and fruits have only increased the prominence of wheat-based products in the diet, further exacerbating concerns about available supplies.

    These same dynamics have led the government of Pakistan to look to the international market for wheat earlier in the year than expected. The Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), a state-owned enterprise within the Ministry of Commerce, issued two tenders in May and June, each for 500,000 tons of wheat.

    The government also approved the import of up to 3.0 million tons of wheat in order to satisfy domestic consumption and shore up its strategic reserves. Pakistani media has reported that 2.0 million tons of wheat will be purchased from Russia.

    High Domestic Prices Spur Vietnam’s Demand for Cambodia and India Rice

    Vietnam is forecast to once again purchase large quantities of rice with imports forecast at 1.1 million tons for 2022. Although down from the record set in 2021 at 1.8 million tons, demand for Cambodia and India rice remains strong amid high domestic rice prices.

    Traditionally, Vietnam imports around 400,000- 500,000 tons of paddy rice each year from neighboring Cambodia. Earlier this year, in an effort to reduce high domestic prices, the Government of Vietnam released a statement exempting the import tax on 300,000 tons of rice from Cambodia. Cambodia exported roughly 460,000 tons to Vietnam during January through May.

    Demand for broken and milled rice from India also remains strong. Imports peaked in the beginning of 2021 due to the gap in prices between Vietnam and India for all types of rice, influenced by high internal transit costs in Vietnam. After domestic Vietnamese prices trended down, rice imports dropped, more noticeably for milled rice.

    However, demand for India milled rice is rebounding, likely due to India’s low price. In April, India’s milled rice exports to Vietnam were priced at $326/ton. Demand for domestic broken rice has remained steady due to its use as a lower-priced feed alternative. As domestic broken rice prices remain higher than India’s rice, Vietnam’s importers continue to look towards India to meet demand.

    Looking ahead, Vietnam is forecast to import 800,000 tons of rice in 2023. Imports are anticipated to decline year over year but are still above the historical average. With ample supplies, India will remain an affordable alternative.

  • Pricier dollar discourages rice import

  • Bangladesh fears its rice production may decline this year due to natural calamities

    A pricier US dollar jeopardises the government's plan to cool off the local rice market through imports as traders are not showing any interest in bringing in the food staple from the international market.

    Rice traders say imported rice would cost at least Tk5 more per kg than the local produce thanks to a strong greenback and high import duty.

    Neighbouring India accounts for 80% of Bangladesh's rice imports through private channels. According to importers, the price of the crop has not gone up in the Indian market though the Russia-Ukraine war triggered a record price surge in the global food market.

    "Rice prices in India did not spiral, but rather dropped slightly as the dollar went up. This will not hurt exporters, but it appears to be an issue for those who import," Shahidur Rahman Patwari, an importer and vice-president of the Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association, told The Business Standard.

    In the first week of July, Shahidur obtained government approval to import 7,000 tonnes of rice. But he is yet to open a letter of credit for it.

    "The dollar is now at Tk98 – it was Tk84-85 last year – causing rice import to cost around Tk6 more per kg," the importer said on 6 July.

    According to importers, the price of BR-28, a medium-fine rice variety, is at $430-435 or Tk42,630 per tonne in India. There is a 25% import duty plus additional import processing charges. Ultimately, the price of the rice in the local market will stand at Tk54 per kg, while the locally produced variety is now selling for Tk48-Tk49 at mill gates.

    Similarly, imported coarse rice costs Tk48 per kg while locally produced varieties are at Tk43 a kg.

    Traders say besides India they can source rice from Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan. But these alternatives cost even more.

    Muhammad Mahbubur Rahman, senior assistant secretary (External Procurement) at the Ministry of Food, told TBS that some 218 private importers have been permitted to import 6.55 lakh tonnes of rice as of 6 July.

    Millers say many of them obtained the permission, and rice can be imported from India within a week. But no one is stepping up for fear of losses.

    According to the food stock report of the food ministry, no rice was imported from 1 July 2022 to 5 July 2022. However, import permissions have been issued since the last week of June.

    The authorities issued permissions to 415 importers to bring in around 17 lakh tonnes of rice in late 2021. But only 3.31 lakh tonnes of the crop were imported as costs had been ticking up.

    Food Secretary Md Ismiel Hossain said the government would allow 10 lakh tonnes of rice import initially. After verifying the impact on the local market, another 7 lakh tonnes might be allowed to be imported later.

    "Our main objective is to increase supply. That is why we have to import," he added.

    Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder expressed concern that rice production may decline this year due to natural calamities. However, the agriculture ministry claims that production will surpass the previous year's 1.98 lakh tonne rice yield.

    The government is now purchasing paddy and rice at the grassroots level to boost its food stock. However, procurement of paddy, parboiled and sun-dried rice is still far below the annual target.

    At a food ministry meeting around a month ago, worries that procurement might miss the targets this year were voiced.

  • India’s rice exports to surge on global crunch

  • Key competitors Thailand and Vietnam facing cost pressures, robust kharif crops also to boost shipments

    The decline in rice crop yields in Thailand and Vietnam and their increased costs of production may turn out to be bonanza for India’s rice exports in the current fiscal year, trade sources said. India is exporting rice at around $360 a tonne to key markets at present while Thailand and Vietnam are offering the grain at around $ 420 a tonne. The gap, according to the sources, is expected to widen in the coming months. Besides, prospects of a reasonably strong kharif crop could enable Indian exporters to fetch higher realisations. Even in volume terms, India’s rice exports in the current year could match or slightly exceed last year’s record level of 21 million tonne, according to V Krishna Rao, president, All India Rice Exporters Association.

    The prospects of another record in rice shipments come at a time when the country has imposed strict curbs on export of wheat due to depleting domestic stocks.
    According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rice outlook report released in June, the global rice trade in 2022 calendar year are projected at a record 54.3 mt. “India’s exports are projected to a record 22 mt and account for almost 41% of global shipments,” said the report. The USDA also stated that India’s projected rice exports are likely to exceed the combined shipments of the next three-largest exporters—Thailand, Vietnam, and Pakistan this year.

    Trade sources said major rice producers such as Vietnam, China and Thailand have been raising the issue of high production and freight costs which would make their rice much costlier than what India offers. Exports in value terms this year could be $10-12 billion, an all-time high.

    India has been the world’s largest rice exporter in the last decade — export earnings stood at $ 8.8 billion in 2020-21 and $9.6 billion in 2021-22.

    According to commerce ministry data, India’s value of rice exports rose by 12% to $ 2.6 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal.

    “We will sustain the momentum in rice exports in the current fiscal through shipment of quality rice,” M Angamuthu, Chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said.

    The Food Corporation of India (FCI) as of July 1, 2022, had rice stocks of more than 31.7 MT against the buffer norm of 13.54 mt. However, this stock excludes 15 mt of rice yet to be received from the millers by FCI.

    An agriculture ministry official said widespread monsoon rains especially in the key rice growing states since the beginning of the month is expected to give a boost to rice production which is predominantly a kharif crop. The official said rice sowing, which was lagging behind by more than 22% last week compared to last year, has picked up pace and rice sowing will reach normal levels soon.

    “India is in a position to cater to the world market in a big way and exports are expected to pick up pace after two months, currently earlier orders for shipments are being executed,” Vijay Setia, former president of All India Rice Exporters Association and an exporter, said.

    As per DGCIS data, India exported rice to over 150 countries in 2021-22. “It indicates the diversification of India’s rice export over the years,” a commerce ministry official said.

    Out of 21 MT of rice shipment in FY22, India exported more than 17 MT of non-basmati rice and the rest of the volume was aromatic and long grain Basmati rice. In terms of volume, Bangladesh, China, Benin and Nepal are five major export destinations of rice.

    As per third advance estimates for 2021-22 crop year (July-June), the rice production is estimated at a record 129.66 mt against the last five years’ average production of 116 mt.

  • Stricter pesticide residue norms may shrink Basmati exports

  • FSSAI proposes domestic standards for MRL; industry fears the worst

    Basmati rice varieties, including the world’s longest grain developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), are under threat in the export market after countries such as Qatar and Jordan started following the maximum residue limit (MRL) standards set by the European Union (EU).

    However, IARI’s new disease resistant varieties and proposed domestic standards by food quality regulator FSSAI may help India offer the safest aromatic rice to the world.

    The basmati industry simultaneously fears that the proposed FSSAI standards on MRL — which are even stricter than Codex, which is normally followed worldwide — will bring basmati exports to a halt. The All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has urged the Centre not to implement the proposed MRL with regard to rice.

    Dipping exports

    Basmati rice exports to European Union dropped 35 per cent to 2.2 lakh tonne (lt) in 2021-22 from the previous year due to qualitative restrictions, while the overall exports of the aromatic varieties to all countries dropped 15 per cent to 39.5 lt. Though exports to the UAE and Lebanon increased in the last fiscal, it is still lower than the highs experienced previously. Three main varieties — Pusa Basmati (PB) 1121 (world’s first most elongated rice after cooking), PB 1509 and PB 1401 — have a share of about 90 per cent in basmati exports, sources said.

    For instance, exports to the UAE was about 2.6 lt last year, compared to about 3 lt in 2018-19. Similarly, exports to Lebanon dropped by a quarter in 2020-21, and last year, it increased marginally to about 9,300 tonnes. Though the industry has expressed apprehension about Egypt, which has also started following EU’s norms in MRL, it has been been increasing every year for the last five years. The UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar and EU together had a share of 16 per cent in India’s total Basmati export last year.

    The FSSAI norms of MRLs were first notified in December 2018, after which it published a draft notification in August 2020, wherein MRLs of some pesticides are made very stringent. There are 18 pesticides used in the paddy crop (including Basmati) for which FSSAI has proposed to change MRLs. Out of the same, Acephate and Chlorpyriphos are among nine pesticides in which concerns have been raised in EU, sources said.

    Once implemented...

    The MRL of Carbendazim and Cypermethrin is at 2 (mg/kg) each, according to the 2018 notification of FSSAI, which has been proposed to be reduced to 0.05 and 0.01, respectively. “We are unable to comply with even 2018 norms of FSSAI. If the revised notification of 2020 is implemented, the norms of pesticide residues will become more stringent and will lead to a much higher drop in exports in the future,” said a representation from the industry to the government.

    “If the 2020 notification is implemented, it will lead to a situation where not even a single grain of Basmati rice produced will be compliant with norms,” an exporter said.

    “Indian Basmati has been facing residue issues since 2012. The adhoc approaches to the residue issues in the past has put exports in jeopardy,” said S Chandrasekaran, a trade policy analyst. Suggesting that exporters should work with specific backward linkages system till individual farmer is the solution, Chandrasekaran said the government should release varieties after appropriate scrutiny in accordance to emerging SPS standards. He also said the draft FSSAI standards may be the driver to reach permanent solution to this problem.

    Disease-resistant varieties

    But, AK Singh, director of IARI and inventor of PB 1509, said: “It is not that the problem has come due to PB 1121 or PB 1509 (both of which are grown in 6 lakh hectare area, each). The earlier varieties were also not disease resistant. With time, when area under a particular variety grows, disease also appears, which is a natural phenomenon.

    Singh said IARI has developed three improved varieties to take care of bacterial blight and blast diseases — PB 1509 to be replaced with PB 1847, PB 1401 with PB 1886 and PB 1121 with PB 1885. During the last kisan mela in March, IARI also distributed 20 quintal of these seeds to 2,000 farmers for multiplication (1 kg can produce 2 quintal seeds) in this kharif season, Singh said, and added that in 2-3 years, these would be able to meet some concerns, particularly about Tricyclazole.

    “Currently, we are working on developing some varieties to take care of Brown planthopper, another common pest in paddy,” Singh said.

  • Global food prices are soaring. Rice could be next

    • Food prices have been on the rise in the past few months, and export bans have followed.
    • Rice could be next in line. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index already shows international rice prices creeping up for the fifth straight month to reach a 12-month high.
    The spider web rice fields in Flores, Indonesia. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index shows international rice prices creeping up for the fifth straight month to reach a 12-month high, according to the latest May data published last week.

    Food prices have been on the rise in the past few months. And rice, a staple food in much of Asia, could be next, industry watchers said.

    The prices of many foods, ranging from wheat and other grains to meat and oils, have shot up. That’s been driven by a slew of factors, including the rising cost of fertilizer and energy in the past year as well as the Russia-Ukraine war.

    Food export bans or serious disruptions have included those from India (wheat), Ukraine (wheat, oats and sugar, among others) and Indonesia (palm oil).

    Rice could be next in line. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index already shows international rice prices creeping up for the fifth straight month to reach a 12-month high, according to the latest May data published last week.

    To be sure, rice production is still bountiful, experts said. But rising wheat prices, and the generally higher costs of farming, would make rice prices worth monitoring next.

    “We need to monitor rice prices going forward, because rising wheat prices could lead to some substitution towards rice, increasing demand and lowering existing stocks,” said Sonal Varma, chief economist at Japanese bank Nomura.

    Risk of protectionism

    Protectionist measures “actually worsen price pressures at a global level for various reasons,” she told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia.” Feed and fertilizer costs for farming are already rising, and energy prices are adding to freight costs, she added.

    “So there is a risk that we see more protectionism from countries,” said Varma.

    Nevertheless, she maintained that risks to rice are still low as global rice inventories are ample and harvests in India are expected to be good this summer.

    https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/CkDgK/2/

    Russia’s war on Ukraine has driven up wheat prices. Both countries are major exporters of wheat, and Russia’s invasion has disrupted farming and blocked grain exports from the country. Wheat prices have soared more than 50% since a year ago.

    On Monday of last week alone, they jumped 4% after the Russian military destroyed one of Ukraine’s largest grain exporting terminals, according to Reuters, citing Ukrainian authorities.

    Thailand and Vietnam were in talks on a deal to increase the price of their rice exports, according to a Reuters report citing a Thai government official in late May.

    Four exporters told Reuters that rice traders have been buying more Indian rice in the last two weeks, according to a June 6 report.

    “Right now, I will be much more worried by India slapping an export ban on rice in the coming weeks — as they were thinking about after wheat and sugar,” David Laborde, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, told CNBC.

    India and China are the world’s top two producers of rice, accounting for more than half of the global total, according to the World Economic Forum. Vietnam is the fifth-largest, while Thailand is in sixth place.

    India imposed export bans on wheat in May, citing a need “to manage the overall food security of the country.” It also slapped restrictions on sugar just days after the wheat ban.

    Are price hikes preferable?

    Laborde said that a price increase would be far preferable to any export ban.

    “We should really differentiate between a price rise that compensates for higher costs and will benefit farmers (and help them producing), than an export ban” that pushes prices up on world markets but pushes prices down on domestic markets, he said.

    Nafees Meah, regional representative for South Asia at the International Rice Research Institute, added that energy costs, which have been rising globally, are a big part of rice production costs.

    “So there is an argument to say … if the market is indicating an increase in price then why shouldn’t the farmers benefit from increased prices?” Nafees told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

    But an increase in rice prices would badly affect many in Asia, which is the biggest consumer of the staple.

    “So in in the Southeast Asia Pacific region, countries like East Timor, Laos, Cambodia and of course, places like Indonesia, which [has a] very large population, and many of whom are food insecure will be pretty badly affected if prices continue to rise and stay at these very high levels,” said Nafees.

    Way above pre-pandemic levels

    The U.N.’s food price index showed prices are now 75% above pre-pandemic levels, said Frederique Carrier, managing director and head of investment strategy for RBC Wealth Management.

    “Pandemic-related labor shortages and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have aggravated the situation by both curtailing food supply and pushing up energy prices even further,” she wrote in a June report.

    About a third of food production costs are energy-related, Carrier said. Fertilizer in particular is very energy-intensive to produce and prices have soared since last year.

  • Rice production under threat due to higher fertilizer costs, booming demand.

  • China's worried about the crop impact of pests, while India's output depends on a good monsoon

    A worker rests on top of wheat grain sacks at a wholesale market in the Narela district of New Delhi, India. (Photo: Bloomberg)

    Rice production is under threat in parts of Asia from higher fertilizer costs at a time when demand is increasing, posing a potential risk to food security and efforts to contain inflation.

    Crop yields may decline in Thailand, the world’s second-largest exporter, because of elevated prices for crop nutrients, according to a research unit of Kasikornbank Pcl, while in the Philippines, the No. 2 importing country, a lower harvest is likely to increase the need for overseas purchases. China’s worried about the crop impact of pests, while India’s output depends on a good monsoon.

    Most of the world’s rice is grown and eaten in Asia, making it vital for political and economic stability in the region. In contrast to the surge in wheat and corn prices after Russia’s invasion of

    Ukraine, rice has been subdued, but there is no guarantee it will remain so. Back in 2008, prices soared above $1,000 a ton, more than double the level now, amid a panic over supplies.

    While wheat, corn and cooking oils have surrendered much of this year’s gains because of an improved outlook for supplies, farm production is clearly dependent ultimately on the weather, which is becoming more erratic as a result of climate change. Any fresh surge in wheat and corn costs will inevitably reignite demand for rice for food and livestock feed.

    Much is riding on the rice crop in India, which ships about 40% of the world’s exports of the staple. “Global supply is at risk, but for now we still have massive Indian availability that is reining in prices,” said V. Subramanian, vice president at The Rice Trader, a researcher and conference organizer.

    Most of the world’s rice is grown and eaten in Asia, making it vital for political and economic stability in the region. In contrast to the surge in wheat and corn prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rice has been subdued, but there is no guarantee it will remain so. Back in 2008, prices soared above $1,000 a ton, more than double the level now, amid a panic over supplies.

    While wheat, corn and cooking oils have surrendered much of this year’s gains because of an improved outlook for supplies, farm production is clearly dependent ultimately on the weather, which is becoming more erratic as a result of climate change. Any fresh surge in wheat and corn costs will inevitably reignite demand for rice for food and livestock feed.

    Much is riding on the rice crop in India, which ships about 40% of the world’s exports of the staple. “Global supply is at risk, but for now we still have massive Indian availability that is reining in prices,” said V. Subramanian, vice president at The Rice Trader, a researcher and conference organizer.

    The Philippines expects its rice harvest to drop this year because of more expensive fertilizer. The government is also worried about soaring food inflation, including the cost of rice, especially for lower-income households who spend about 16% of their budget on the staple grain.

    China, the largest rice grower, has warned of a higher incidence of pests and diseases in its crop this year, with some provinces reporting an almost 10% increase in the area affected. Vietnam, a top shipper, said high freight and production costs are challenges, even as exports rose in the first half.“Looking at the current situation, India is acting as an anchor for prices with its large exports,” said The Rice Trader’s Subramanian.

  • Asia Rice: Strong demand props up India export rates

  • Indian rice export prices rose this week buoyed by strong demand as the rupee weakened, while Bangladesh allowed traders to import 700,000 tonnes of rice.

    India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $361 to $366 per tonne, up from the last week’s $355 to $360.

    Indian rice is trading at a hefty discount compared to Thai rice because of depreciation in the rupee, which has increased traders’ margin from overseas sales, said an exporter based at Kakinada in southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

    India’s rice farmers have planted 4.3 million hectares with the grain so far this season, government data showed, down 27% from the same period last year.

    Bangladesh will be importing most of the rice from India due to competitive prices and proximity, traders said.

    Last month, the government slashed import duty to 25% from 62.5% amid a spike in rice prices in Bangladesh after widespread destruction of crops due to flooding.

    While Bangladesh is the world’s third-biggest rice producer, it often requires imports to cope with shortages due to natural disasters.

    Vietnam’s 5% broken rice were offered at $415-$420 per tonne, unchanged from last week.

    “Domestic supplies continue to build up as farmers in the Mekong Delta have harvested around 30% of the summer-autumn crop,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    “However, traders are slowing down their purchases of paddy from farmers, waiting for domestic prices to ease because logistics costs remain very high for us.”

    Meanwhile, traders said global demand for Vietnamese rice is expected to remain strong during the rest of the year due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices rose to about $420 per tonne from $412-$415 last week.

    “Demand and price have been stable even though the currency has been weak. This is because Thai rice is priced higher than India and Vietnam,” a Bangkok-based trader said.

  • Another shot at growing rice crops in the Top End depends on native species

  • The Northern Territory has not had much luck with growing rice despite many attempts over the years.

    Researchers are hoping a native rice variety will turn the tables and soon appear on restaurant plates around the country.

    These researchers from the Charles Darwin University claim to have successfully harvested three species of wild rice found in wetlands across the Top End.

    The rice has been collected from Wulna-Limilngan country on the Adelaide River and then cultivated in trials in the CDU's Casuarina campus nurseries.

    This year a wild rice crop has been grown in demonstration plantings at the NT government's Coastal Plains Research Farm.

    Wild harvesting of native rice traditionally starts at the end of the wet season and runs to May.

    An irrigation channel was built from Fogg Dam in 1962 to irrigate seedlings. Picture: NT government.

    While cotton is all the rage at the moment as pastoralists look to diversify income with broadacre crops on their cattle country, rice has been tried many times without success.

    The most famous failure is Fogg Dam which was part of the Humpty Doo rice project, 70km from Darwin, from about 1956-1964.

    Former Prime Minister Harold Holt was involved in developing the rice idea.

    Many people over the years have dreamed about creating a food bowl in northern Australia to feed Asia.

    The downfall of that first rice project came unexpectedly from above.

    Monsoon rain was trapped by dams and rice was successfully grown until huge numbers of magpie geese flew in to enjoy the spoils and ruin the crop. But there many other problems as well.

    The Fogg Dam wetland near Darwin, location of a failed rice project and today's location of a wetland with the world's greatest predator biomass.

    Today Fogg Dam is visited by more than 100,000 people a year - not to see any rice but to observe a wetland which hosts the world's greatest predator biomass, no place for a cooling swim.

    This latest wild rice crop is proving as difficult as those from the past to harvest.

    CDU's Dr Penny Wurm blamed machinery breakdown and weather conditions for the problems.

    "This is why it's so important to develop agronomic knowledge to cultivate it successfully, and why this harvest is such a major milestone," Dr Wurm said.

    "It's just not viable to rely on collecting native rice for commercial purposes from the field."

    Cultivation research on the native rice species in various conditions in continuing.

    Dr Sean Bellairs said solutions have been developed to germinate seeds but researchers are working to develop threshing equipment, pest control and finding solutions to basic agronomic issues such as planting density, fertiliser application rates and harvesting techniques.

    The Federal government has provided $1.8 million to develop commercially viable native rice as an agri-business.

  • REAP vying to get duty-free access to UK market for white rice

  • KARACHI: Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has initiated efforts to get duty-free access into the UK market for the export of white rice.

    Currently, there is no duty on the export of brown rice from Pakistan to the UK and EU countries and Pakistani exporters are taking full advantage of duty-free access to the UK and EU. Pakistan exported some 0.35 million of brown rice approximately $300 to UK and EU during the last fiscal year.

    In recent development, in the first week of May, Pakistan’s major rice competitor-India has concluded a third round of talk with the UK on FTA to get concessional or duty-free access to the UK for the export of some 240 items including white rice. Both countries are ready to finalize the FTA by October this year.

    The maturity of FTA between the UK and India may pose risk to the exports of white rice from Pakistan to the UK. Although, the UK and EU is not major buyers of white rice, however REAP, sensing the importance of this issue, has initiated efforts to get concessional or duty-free access for Pakistani rice exporters.

    In this regard, Chairman REAP Ali Hussam Asghar held a meeting with the federal secretary Commerce Saleh Farooqi on Tuesday to discuss the India-UK FTA and its impact on Pakistani rice exports. During the meeting it was decided to further gear up the efforts for the same status from the UK which will be given to Indian white rice under the proposed FTA.

    Chairman REAP told Business Recorder on Wednesday that REAP is well aware of the situation and already in touch with the Ministry of Commerce to develop a strategy on this issue. The yesterday meeting with the Secretary Commerce was very successful and he realized the REAP concerns on the UK-India FTA and assured full support, he said.

    “We (REAP) are also in touch with Shafiq Shahzad, Pakistan’s Commercial Counselor in the UK and he is already monitoring the issue closely,” he added.

    He said “Pakistani white rice quality is much better than our competitors and Pakistan can earn more foreign exchange with export of rice.” Hussam said that as the Eid holidays were starting that week, it had decided to initiate the fruitful efforts after the Eid.

    Chairman REAP said that with some 25 percent healthy growth Pakistani rice exports rose to all-time high during the last fiscal year. For the first time in history, Pakistan exported rice worth $2.5 billion during FY22 compared to $2.04 billion in FY21. Pakistan can earn more foreign exchange by exporting rice; however, there is need to make efforts to enhance the rice crop production, he added.

    Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

  • India’s rice subsidies draw ire at WTO

  • GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — India’s use of the “Bali Peace Clause” to protect its food programs against trade dispute actions stemming from its use of rice subsidies has led the United States and other World Trade Organization (WTO) members to announce that they will initiate consultations with India on the matter, according to US rice industry advocate USA Rice.

    “India makes up nearly half of global rice trade and much of its exported rice benefits from the government-established floor price, and then exported at low prices, distorting trade," said Bobby Hanks, rice miller and chair of USA Rice. “USA Rice applauds the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and their colleagues at the USDA for starting this process of technical engagement with India regarding its rice support and egregious WTO violations.”

    In March 2020, India notified its support to the WTO for rice subsidies for 2019, and again in March 2021 for 2020 and in March 2022 for 2021, according to USA Rice. The reported support levels were ($5 billion) 11.46%, ($6.32 billion) 13.71% and ($6.9 billion) 15.14%, respectively, which exceed the 10% limit for price supports. India has claimed shelter from a WTO dispute settlement challenge to these subsidies under the 'Bali Peace Clause,’ which gives India the ability to build government stocks of food but also stipulates that WTO members cannot export those subsidized government stocks to the extent that it distorts global trade. 

    The action by the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Paraguay, Thailand and Uruguay will focus only on India’s invoking of the peace clause and is not the initiation of formal consultations for a WTO dispute settlement case with regard to the subsidies.

    USA Rice said it continues to advocate for the US government to address India’s WTO domestic support violations through a dispute settlement case that would push India to curb its rice subsidies, prevent consolidation across world rice production and increase the prices received by farmers.

    “This announcement is just one of many actions the US government can take to engage India at the WTO regarding its rice subsidies, and we are hopeful they will continue to take more actions in this direction,” Hanks said.

  • Vietnam’s spring rice crop impacted by weather

  • HANOI, VIETNAM – Abnormally cold weather, unseasonable rains and rising input costs led to a decrease in spring rice planted area and production in Vietnam, according to a Global Agricultural Information Report from the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

    The report estimated that spring harvested area fell by 10,000 hectares from an estimate earlier this year to 3 million hectares and production declined from 20.5 million tonnes to 20.1 million.

    FAS forecasts total 2021-22 rice output at 43.31 million tonnes, revised down from 43.73 million tonnes earlier in the year.

    “Abnormally cold weather in the first quarter of this year and uneven rain distribution affected yields of the spring crop in the northern region,” FAS said. “Unseasonable rain has also not been beneficial for the spring crop in the southern region, reportedly affecting the harvest pace and kernel quality in some areas.”

    The report also noted that Vietnamese farmers tend to reduce their use of fertilizers and pesticides when prices are consistently high, which can lead to lower yields.

  • Cameroonian Govt Raises US$84.6 million from IsDB to Support Rice Production

  • According to the IsDB, the purpose of this fund is to increase rice self-sufficiency, economic growth, and household incomes through improved production, processing, marketing, and support for private sector participation in the agricultural (rice) value chain.

    The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) agreed to lend the Cameroonian government US$84.6 million during its 47th annual meeting in Sharm El Sheikd to support rice production and finance new road transport, health, water and sanitation, and food security projects in four member countries: Guinea Bissau, Togo, Benin, and Cameroon.

    The overall goal of the project, according to the IsDB, is to improve rice self-sufficiency, economic growth, and household incomes through improved production, processing, marketing, and support for private sector participation in the agricultural (rice) value chain.

    The objectives will be met through the development of 5,000ha of land, road rehabilitation, market construction, storage facility construction, the establishment of rice processing units, farmer and other stakeholder capacity building, and access to finance.

    This would result in an increase in rice productivity from 4.5 to 6 tonnes per acre, a 10% increase in national rice production, the creation of 210,000 jobs, and a reduction in post-harvest losses.

    Cameroonian Economy Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey, who was also present at the meeting, stated that with this initiative, the government hopes to increase local rice production while significantly reducing imports.

    Rice is a major food product imported into Cameroon. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INS), rice alone accounted for 5% of Cameroon's total imports in the first half of 2021, totaling US$ 2.9 billion for 5.07 million tonnes of goods.

    To meet rising demand, authorities intend to purchase 400,000 tonnes of rice this year, despite rising global market prices.

    According to reliable sources, these imports will be free of customs duties and other port charges, which means that, in addition to depleting the country's foreign exchange reserves and widening the trade deficit, the announced rice imports will not generate direct tax and customs revenues for the government.

    Furthermore, rice imports to the domestic market are frequently re-exported to neighbouring countries via smuggling. According to the INS, rice worth US$138.6 million was smuggled into Cameroonian neighbouring countries in 2019.

  • Pakistan Rice Export To China Increases By 10pc

  • BEIJING – Pakistan’s export of rice to China crossed $277.56m in the first five months of FY2021-2022, up 9.73pc year-on-year bases. Pakistan remained one of the major broken rice suppliers to China, according to the official data from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC).  Badar uz Zaman, Commercial Counselor of the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing, said that currently broken rice, especially IRRI-6, IRRI-9, and semi or wholly milled rice were the main varieties of rice exported to China while Basmati and other top varieties still need to work hard to capture the Chinese market.

    “Last year, China imported 973,000 tonnes of rice worth $437 million from Pakistan. Seven new Pakistan rice exporters have been added to the approved list, which has risen to 53 in 2021. China relaxed import restrictions on Pakistani rice which helped rice export to China,” Badar mentioned.

    He believes that within a few years Pakistan will become the largest rice exporter to China, CEN reported.

    In the first five months, broken rice, commodity code (10064080), crossed about $42 million, an increase of nearly 865.26 percent as compared with last year, which was $4.32 million. Semi or wholly milled rice, commodity code (10063020), reached $132 million, according to GACC data received by Pakistan.

    Badar Uz Zaman said that Pakistan was using traditional and especially social media platforms here to create awareness about Pakistani rice in the Chinese market.

  • Export of rice increases 33pc in 11 months of FY21-22

  • The export of rice from Pakistan witnessed 33pc increase during first 11 months of fiscal year 2021-22 as more than 4.4m metric ton of rice exported to different countries.

    According to data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Pakistan earned $2,276m by exporting rice during July May 2021-22 that show 22.62pc increase in terms of value. In the corresponding period of previous fiscal year Pakistan exported 3.367m metric ton rice worth $1,856m, the PBS data stated.

    The export quantity of Basmati rice during July-May 2021-22 was recorded 690,562 M.T which earned Pakistan $632.5m that is 25.24pc higher in terms of quantity while 24.75pc higher in terms of value compared to July May 2020-21. In the 11 months of previous fiscal year 551,373 M.T Basmati rice worth $507m were exported, the data shown.

    The export of other varieties of rice also increased 34.32pc in terms of quantity and 21.81pc in terms of value as 3.78 M.T of other varieties of rice worth $1,643.5m were sent abroad in 11 months of 2021-22. The export of other varieties of rice stood at 2.8m M.T that worth $1,349m during 11 months of FY 2020-21.

    As per PBS data total export of rice during May 2022 remained 425,821 M.T that worth $224.7m. Compared to May 2021 export of rice witnessed 140pc and 111pc increase in terms of quantity and value respectively as 177,112 M.T of rice worth $106m were exported during May 2021. The data further indicated that export of Basmati rice remained 61,662 M.T and of other varieties 364,159 M.T which earned Pakistan $60.7m and $164m respectively.

  • Pakistan’s rice export to China hits $277.6m

  • Country becomes one of major broken rice suppliers

    With local demand picking up due to restrictions on imports, the recent rise in exports will come to an end. PHOTO: AFP

    BEIJING:

    Pakistan’s rice export to China crossed $277.56 million in the first five months of FY22, up 9.73% year on year.

    Pakistan remained one of the major broken rice suppliers to China, according to the official data from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC).

    Pakistan Embassy in Beijing Commercial Counsellor Badaruz Zaman said that currently broken rice, especially Irri-6, Irri-9 and semi or wholly milled rice are the main varieties exported to China, while traders still need to work hard to capture the Chinese market for Basmati and other top varieties.

    “Last year, China imported 973,000 tons of rice worth $437 million from Pakistan. Seven new rice exporters of Pakistan have been added to the approved list, which has risen to 53,” he said.

    “China relaxed import restrictions on Pakistani rice, which helped increase export to China.”

    He believes that within a few years Pakistan will become the largest rice exporter to China.

    THE ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON THE CHINA ECONOMIC NET

  • Myanmar exports over 322,650 tonnes of rice in April-June

  • YANGON, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar exported about 322,650 metric tons of rice and about 227,890 metric tons of broken rice in the first three months of the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) on Monday.

    In June, the Southeast Asian country exported 83,926 metric tons of rice and 62,168 metric tons of broken rice to countries including China, the Philippines, Belgium and France.

    The country exported 94,691 metric tons of rice and 58,815 metric tons of broken rice in May, while it exported over 144,030 metric tons of rice and 106,912 metric tons of broken rice in April, official data showed.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Myanmar has shipped most of its exported rice and broken rice via sea routes, showed the MRF data.

    In June, the country shipped 125,374 metric tons of rice and broken rice via sea routes, while it exported only 20,720 metric tons of rice and broken rice via land border gates.

    In Myanmar, rice is the most cultivated crop followed by beans and pulses, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

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

  • Direct-seeded rice: Why this water saving method failed in Punjab this year

  • Scanty rainfall, heat up to 48°C mar paddy prospects  

    Punjab has been able to bring only 77,000 hectares (ha) under direct-seeded rice (DSR) through June 30 this year, way below the 1.2 million ha (mha) it targetted.

    This is also substantially less than last year’s 0.6 mha and 0.5 mha in 2020. High temperatures and deficient rainfall are mainly to blame, said farmers. Other challenges included closed canals, erratic electricity supply for operating tube wells for irrigation and issue of weeds and rats. 

    DSR, also called the ‘broadcasting seed technique’, is a water-saving method of sowing paddy. Seeds are directly drilled into the fields in this method. This saves groundwater, as opposed to the traditional water-intensive method, under which rice seedlings are transplanted from a nursery to waterlogged fields. 

    In this process, paddy is sown between May 20 and June 10, earlier than in the transplantation method. The field is then laser-levelled and pre-sowing (rauni) irrigation is done. 

    But water availability was a challenge due to deficient to no rainfall in many parts of the state during May, farmers told Down To Earth.

    Sukhjit Singh, a farmer from Ludhiana district, said the higher-than-usual temperatures have affected the germination of his crops. “Generally, it rains in May. But this time it didn’t.”

    The temperature was in the range of  47-48 degrees Celsius on some days, whereas the ideal temperature is 42-43°C during the period, he added. 

    The deadline for opting DSR, after the state agriculture department extended it for the second time this year, is July 4, 2022. The state government also announced an incentive of Rs 1,500 per acre (Rs 3,750 per ha) to the farmers switching to the technique.

    But it hasn’t been a smooth transition. 

    Some farmers said they didn’t want to risk choosing DSR because their wheat crops had already suffered because of the heat wave. 

    To add to this, electricity supply on farms was erratic during the same period, making it difficult to draw water from tubewells regularly. 

    Palwinder Singh from Fatehgarh Sahib district sowed DSR on his 1.2 ha land May 20. He used to electricity for three hours a day and that too, with a gap of one or two days, he said. “Irrigating 1 acre (0.4 ha) is not possible in three hours.”

    Electricity supply in Punjab is usually uninterrupted for eight hours from the puddling season (conventional paddy sowing through transplantation) that begins mid-June. Farmers complain that this rule has created problems for those opting for DSR. 

    DSR is mostly about preparation, said Gurbinder Bajwa, a progressive farmer from Sarchur village in Gurdaspur district. The field is prepared to optimum soil moisture condition called ‘tar-wattar’ and paddy is seeded immediately. “This time it has failed in many fields,” said Bajwa. 

    The closure of Sirhind Feeder Canal due to a breach also created problems for farmers in the Malwa region. 

    Harvinder Singh, a farmer of Barnala distict under Malwa region, said he arranged water by borrowing from 14 neighbours before sowing DSR paddy. He said: 

    I understand that the government thinks if they give regular supply early, farmers might begin puddling earlier than the prescribed time. But it should come up with a strategy for us who want to sow using DSR method and save groundwater.

    State’s agriculture department’s officials agreed that DSR has not been successful this time and electricity supply has been an issue and the closure of the canal were the main bottlenecks. “We are taking the suggestions and opinions of farmers on what issues they faced and we will work on them for the next year,” said Gurvinder Singh, director of agriculture, Punjab. 

    Farmers on whose field DSR failed will now be sowing the same area using the conventional method. 

    The government has also not been able to tackle the issue of weeds and rodents, which has  been a problem in the DSR method. 

    Weed management plays a big role in harvesting a successful crop in DSR. This is because the technique doesn’t require flood irrigation for three weeks after sowing, and weeds tend to grow easily, unlike the conventional method. 

    Some farmers said that the recommended weedicides didn’t work. Satjit Singh, a farmer from Ludhiana district, said weeds were not controlled effectively and he had to spend extra on manual labour to remove weeds. 

    DSR is supposed to be cost-effective as it is less labour-intensive than the conventional method, Singh said. “But my cost doesn’t seem less this time. The weedicides had to be sprayed two-three times and extra labour was required.”

    The extension officers said they will come to investigate the weed problem but nobody has come till now, he added.

    Out of his 16 ha land, he has attempted DSR only on 2.4 ha and the rest has been sown under the conventional transplantation method, he shared.

    Ramandeep Singh Mann, a farmer activist from Punjab, said while DSR gained traction in 2020 during the lockdown period as availability of labour was an issue, it will require additional effort by the government on ground to succeed every year.

  • Pakistan’s rice export to China increases nearly 10%

  • Pakistan's export of rice to China crossed 277.56 million dollars in the first five months of Financial Year 2021-2022, up 9.73 percent year-on-year bases.

    Commercial Counsellor of the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing Badar uz Zaman said that currently broken rice, especially IRRI-6, IRRI-9, and semi or wholly milled rice are the main varieties of rice exported to China.

    Badar uz Zaman said that Pakistan remains one of the major broken rice suppliers to China.

    He said that China relaxed import restrictions on Pakistani rice which helped rice export to China.

    He believes that within a few years Pakistan will become the largest rice exporter to China. 

  • Pakistan rice export to China increases nearly 10%

  • BEIJING: Pakistan’s export of rice to China crossed $277.56 million in the first five months of Financial Year 2021-2022, up 9.73 percent year-on-year bases. Pakistan remained one of the major broken rice suppliers to China, according to the official data from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC).

    Badar uz Zaman, Commercial Counselor of the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing, said that currently broken rice, especially IRRI-6, IRRI-9, and semi or wholly milled rice were the main varieties of rice exported to China while Basmati and other top varieties still need to work hard to capture the Chinese market.

    “Last year, China imported 973,000 tons of rice worth $437 million from Pakistan. Seven new Pakistan rice exporters have been added to the approved list, which has risen to 53 in 2021. China relaxed import restrictions on Pakistani rice which helped rice export to China”, Badar mentioned.

    He believes that within a few years Pakistan will become the largest rice exporter to China, CEN reported.

    In the first five months, broken rice, commodity code (10064080), crossed about $42 million, an increase of nearly 865.26% as compared with last year, which was $4.32 million. Semi or wholly milled rice, commodity code (10063020), reached $132 million, according to GACC data received by Pakistan.
    Badar Uz Zaman said that Pakistan was using traditional and especially social media platforms here to create awareness about Pakistani rice in the Chinese market.

  • Rice Market Update: USDA – Stocks Down 10%, Support Higher Paddy Prices

  • By Dwight Roberts, U.S. Rice Producers Association

    The market continues to plod along, but this week with a shot in the arm from the USDA planted acres and rice stocks reports. As all expected, acres were down from last year, registering in this report total drop of 189,000 acres, split 70,000 acres of long grain and 106,000 acres of medium grain.

    This is perhaps less than some were expecting, so at this point we will keep an eye on weather to determine how much of the planted crop makes it to a healthy harvest. To that point, higher than normal temperatures in Texas are stressing the rice crop already, causing crop experts to warn of lower yields. The triple digit temps on the backs of a drought are not boding well for a strong crop at this point.

    The Stocks report paints a decent picture — one that helps support the higher paddy prices that have been sustained on the ground. Total rice stocks were reported down 10% from this time last year; long grain rough down 11%, long grain milled down 5.5%. Crop Progress is right on track, except in California where cool weather during planting has all but stunted the rice plants, slowing their growth to maturity.  And while Texas is experiencing dangerously high temps, cooler weather patterns in Arkansas and Louisiana bode well for harvest.

    A recent GAIN report on Mexico published this week shows an increase in expected production in the region, up to 291,000 MT (rough), which is up 6.2% or 17,000 MT over USDA’s original estimate of 274,000 MT. This equates to approximately 200,000 MT of milled rice, correspondingly up from the 188,000 MT estimate. The increase is a result of increased plantings, and a higher yield projection, however local sources temper this expectation with concerns about water availability in Campeche to finish the crop.

    In Asia, Thai prices dropped again, down to $410 pmt from $420 pmt las week. This is coming much more in line with the prices from three months ago before Iraq stepped in and tightened supply up a bit. Vietnam held constant at $420 pmt, as did India at $350 pmt.

    The weekly USDA Export Sales report shows net sales of 17,500 MT, down 13% from last week’s dismal report, and 45% from the prior 4-week average.  Exports of 45,800 MT were down 13% from the previous week and 25% from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were primarily to Haiti (15,100 MT), Japan (12,000 MT), Honduras (8,800 MT), Canada (3,400 MT), and South Korea (2,700 MT).

  • Arkansas Rice: High Yield Disease, A Concern That’s Not an Issue; Leaf Blast Sneaking In

  • By Jarrod Hardke and Yeshi Wamishe, University of Arkansas Extension Rice Specialists

    High Yield Disease of Rice

    As most rice is now into reproductive growth, all random things are showing up.  Sulfur and potassium deficiencies have begun to appear, along with some hydrogen sulfide toxicity.  Delayed phytotoxicity is still an issue on some recently flooded fields as well.

    Aside from these, I’d like to point out one repeated concern this week that isn’t necessarily an issue.  Fig. 1 shows what has been termed “high yield disease” in the past.  Most often this occurs on the second leaf down from the top when rice is in reproductive growth and plants are growing rapidly.  These leaf tips may have a nutrient imbalance as the plant draws mobile nutrients from the leaves.

    Anytime you see anything like this, it is still wise to examine the whole plant, including roots, to be sure nothing else is going on.  If this is on all leaves or more excessive, it could be an indication of an underlying issue.  Reports so far have only been of the high yield disease type.

    Fig. 1.  “High yield disease” in rice.

    Rice Leaf Blast Sneaking In

    No doubt, it’s time to scout for leaf blast in Arkansas commercial rice fields with a history planted with susceptible (S) or moderately (MS) varieties.  Historically leaf blast starts mostly between the 2nd and 3rd week of June.  In 2022, the 1st report came in on June 27 from Arkansas County on Titan.  It appears dew period is long enough to initiate spore germination.  However, the heat appears a little high.  But we know the blast fungus is versatile and easy to adapt.

    With rain in a forecast and overcast in blues, conditions may get favorable for rice blast progress.  Moisture fuels the disease.  The message is to keep on scouting.  As seen in Table 1, most of our conventional rice varieties grown in Arkansas are either susceptible (S) or moderately susceptible (MS).

    Where to Scout:

    At tree lines, dry field edges, levees, and spots in the field with greener canopy due to excessive nitrogen fertilization.

    Early Symptoms:

    Early symptoms may be confusing.  They may look greyish-black spots.  You may find the typical symptoms of blast if you open the canopy to lower leaves.  Please go to last week’s blog article here to learn more about leaf blast.

    Later Symptoms:

    Leaf lesions are spindle-shaped and elongated with brown borders and grayish centers.

    Advantages of Scouting for Leaf Blast:

    To help in fungicide application decision in protecting the crop from neck and panicle blast.

    To reduce spore production and lessen disease severity later in the season.

    Leaf Blast Management:  For leaf stages of the disease, maintain proper flood level.  Infection levels tend to be less severe where flood water is maintained at adequate but not excessive depths.  Avoid excessive rates of nitrogen (Nitrogen amounts vary with cropping history, soil type, varieties, etc.).

    Note:  The table below is comprehensive and includes frequently seen diseases in Arkansas commercial rice fields to serve you in your management options including fungicide application decisions.

  • Bangladesh bans aromatic rice export

  • The commerce ministry has imposed restrictions on the export of aromatic rice to rein in prices of the special quality of cereal in the local market of Bangladesh.

    The ministry took the decision recently in a response to a letter of the food ministry, which had urged to stop the export of aromatic rice since the prices of the rice variety were spiralling as well.

    It also sent a letter to the National Board of Revenue to this connection June 29.

    The export ban came into effect immediately, the ministry said in a circular.

    The ministry also cancelled the permission granted to 41 companies to export the rice.

  • Vietnam’s famous rice gains access to Japan

  • TOKYO: ST25 rice, a type of Vietnam’s fragrant rice that won the title of best rice in the world in 2019, gained access to the Japanese market.

    Vietnam’s leading service provider of agricultural products, Tan Long Group JSC in collaboration with Japanese bank based in Tokyo, Kiraboshi Bank held a ceremony in Tokyo on Thursday to introduce ST25 rice to the Japanese market, reported Vietnam News Agency.

    Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Vu Hong Nam appreciated the two sides’ efforts to bring the grain to such a high-standard market like Japan.

    Vietnam is one of the world’s leading rice exporters, and the country’s grain has been available in more than 100 markets over the world, and it is the first time the ST25 rice has been shipped to Japan.

    The diplomat expressed hope that more varieties of Vietnamese rice will be able to approach this choosy market, adding that the country must meet over 600 technical standards to bring ST25 into Japan.-Bernama

  • RPT-ASIA RICE-BUYERS TURN TO CHEAPER INDIA GRAINS, BANGLADESH CUTS IMPORT DUTY

  • * Thai prices at $412-$415/t vs $420-$425/t last week

    * Thai farmers under pressure from rising fertilizer prices-trader

    * Vietnam rates at $415-$420/t vs $418-$423/t last week

    By Eileen Soreng

    July 1 (Reuters) - Demand for Indian rice was robust this week as a weaker rupee made the staple more attractive than that from Thailand and Vietnam, while Bangladesh cut its import duty to cool surging domestic prices.

    Bangladesh has cut the import duty on rice to 25% from 62.5%, with traders saying a huge volume will come from neighbouring India.

    Deadly floods have damaged large areas of crop and have caused domestic prices to spike, even though it is peak harvesting season for the country's biggest rice crop.

    While Bangladesh is the world's third-biggest rice producer, it often requires imports to cope with shortages due to natural disasters such as cyclones and floods.

    Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted at $355 to $360 per tonne, unchanged from last week.

    "Buyers have been giving preference to Indian rice because of lower prices. Demand is robust for 25% and 100% broken white rice," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

    Thailand's 5% broken rice prices <RI-THBKN5-P1> fell to $412-$415 per tonne from $420-$425 last week.

    "Demand is coming in, but not in large amounts. The market is quiet - India rice prices are lower than that of Thailand," a Bangkok-based trader said.

    While the farmers are expecting a good yield this year, they are under pressure from rising costs of fertilizer, the trader added.

    Vietnam's 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> was offered at $415-$420 per tonne on Thursday, compared with $418-$423 a week ago.

    "Domestic supplies are building up with more output from the ongoing harvest of the summer-autumn crop," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

    Data on Wednesday showed that Vietnam's rice exports in January-June were estimated to have risen 16.2% from a year earlier to 3.5 million tonnes, with revenue from rice exports up 4.6%.

    (Reporting by Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Chayut Setboonsarng in Bangkok, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

  • South Korea to see dip in rice output

  • SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – South Korea’s rice production in the upcoming marketing year is forecast to decline slightly due to government efforts to avoid overproduction, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

    The rice crop for the 2022-23 marketing year, which begins on Nov. 1, is pegged at 3.72 million tonnes, down from this year’s estimated harvest of 3.88 million tonnes.

    The updated Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) farm planting survey in May 2022 indicated that planting area will total 722,000 hectares, down 1.4% from its previous survey in December 2021.

    “The decline in planting area is due to sluggish market prices and government efforts to reduce rice acreage following overproduction in the previous year,” FAS said.

    Forecast rice imports for 2022-23 remain unchanged from the previous report at 450,000 tonnes (milled basis), consisting of 210,000 tonnes from 2022 tariff-rate quota (TRQ) contracts and 240,000 tonnes from 2023 TRQ contracts.

  • Urea fertilizer for all rice farmers

  • COLOMBO (News 1st); The Ministry of Agriculture has decided to provide Urea fertilizer to all the farmers who cultivated paddy this year.

    The Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera has instructed the officials to take steps to provide the Urea fertilizer given by the Indian Government to all the farmers who cultivated paddy.

    The Minister has also highlighted that if the farmers who cultivated paddy on the advice of the Department of Agriculture are facing any difficulties, it is the Government’s responsibility to help the relevant farmers.

    Therefore, the Minister has instructed the officials to look into the possibility of providing fertilizer to the farmers if they need it, although the harvest has already been reaped.

    The Minister has further instructed to take steps to distribute urea fertilizer provided by the Government of India at the rate of 100kg per hectare.

  • NO Rice Shortage, assured Trade Ministry

  • COLOMBO (News 1st); The Ministry of Trade, Commerce, and Food Security says that there will be NO shortage of rice.

    The Secretary to the Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Food Security S.T Kodikara said that 47,000 MT of rice was imported by the 25th of this month.

    The Secretary further said that under the Indian Credit Line 25,000 MT of rice including Nadu, Samba and white rice was imported to the country during this month alone.

    The Ministry of Trade, Commerce, and Food Security says that the distribution of rice has been disrupted due to the fuel crisis.

  • Rice Price Drops, Bucking Trend for Grain

  • Rice is one of the few major agricultural commodities whose price has dropped this year, helping retard inflation in Asia.

    At mid-June, rice prices were about 17% lower than last year’s. By contrast, wheat is 37% higher and corn 27% higher, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    The drop in rice prices is mostly attributable to bumper crops in Asia. In addition, trading in rice is relatively unaffected by the war in Ukraine, which has roiled wheat and other commodity markets.

    The rice situation has put Asia in a good position with regard to inflation. Its inflation rate was 4%, less than half of the rate in the U.S. and much of the rest of the world.

    There are, however, some problems on the horizon. Rice farmers have to cope with lower prices for their crops, while dealing with rising costs for fertilizer and fuel. Some of them are switching to higher-value crops like corn and soybeans, the Journal reports.

  • Thai Rice Demand Predicted to Rise as Ukraine War Continues

  • The early morning sun peaks over the leafy Thai hillside as a crew of 20 migrant workers toss fresh rice seedlings into the soaked paddy fields, signifying the start of the rice season in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai Province.

    Speed and agility are the driving forces for the group of male and female laborers, mostly from neighboring Myanmar, who get paid by the hectare to plant the crop, earning as much as $35 a day, but working dusk to dawn.

    The men and women have crossed into Thailand - some illegally - to earn a higher-than-average wage as word of rising rice production in the country translates into added days in the field.

    Amid concerns about wheat shortages in Russia and Ukraine, Thai economists say demand for rice is set to rise this year, driven by the war in Ukraine and its impact on global commodity prices.

    For Thailand, as the world’s third highest exporter of the crop - behind India and Vietnam - there is hope of added benefits for the workers.

    While analysts predict Europe’s wheat shortage will help increase profits for rice producers as a substitute crop, many in the labor force face other obstacles.

    “I want the government to help us farmers more, not just help the middleman, because we’re investing more money into this business than they are. Fertilizers are expensive, the cost of workers is high, and it’s not worth it,” says farmer Prajuk Kantiya, who oversees the work crew.

    A weak Thai baht currency has helped make rice export prices more attractive but the long-term sustainability of increased rice production raises questions.

    Economist Nisit Panthamit, a professor at Chiang Mai University, points out the need for a balanced plan and better technology that will encourage and support the next generation of farmers in Thailand beyond Ukraine’s crisis.

    “The income of the farmer should be better and going up in the long run, but the productivity, how can you reduce the risk and reduce the cost of production that will be a sustainable way for farmers to gain on the world levels?”

    Government research centers are exploring new technology to cut costs for Thailand’s agricultural sector.

    “We are trying to incorporate newer techniques in farming in our “Young Smart Farmer” project, such as by using drones and other equipment that can lower the cost of farming and make it more convenient for farmers to plant their crops,” explains Nipon Boonmee, a director at the Chiang Mai Rice Research Center.

    “We also have another project that focuses on experimenting with the environment's effects on different rice strains. For instance, we’re analyzing which species of rice can adapt the best to environmental changes and which days are the most suitable for planting because we understand that the world is changing,” Boonmee tells VOA.

    While the plans sound good for the long term, local farmers currently face more pressing issues.

    Added expenses, like rising fuel and fertilizer prices as a result of Russia’s invasion, along with the fallout from trade restrictions and price hikes have hit farmers’ wallets.

    “As the price of the rice goes up, the amount of money we use to invest in supplies, like gas and fertilizer, will also increase, which it has. A bag of fertilizer used to cost 600 baht ($20) now it’s 1,000 baht.($30) It’s no surprise that the cost of buying rice has increased,” Boonmee adds.

    Last month, Thailand’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced plans to talk with Vietnam to discuss the possibilities of a joint global price increase on rice, though questions remain as to who will benefit.

    “Even if the price goes up today, we cannot just immediately produce additional supplies,” explains economist Panthamit. “To make things that work in a sustainable way in the long term, we have to make sure to balance the supply and demand.”

    Still, Thailand’s rice exports are benefiting from a rebound in global demand as the coronavirus pandemic eases. That means for workers like Kantiya, who was unemployed because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the future looks brighter.

    “Even after my quarantine period, my post-symptoms made it hard for me to work,” Kantiya explains to VOA, as he rests at the edge of a newly planted field.

    “I think there will be a higher demand for rice supplies because of all the war that's going on and I’d be grateful if I could get a good price on rice.”

  • Continued hike in rice prices unacceptable

  • Government must find a way to reduce prices and suffering

    It is alarming that rice prices continue to show an upward trend, piling pressure on customers who are already struggling to cope with the increase in cost of living and the prices of almost all food and non-food items. The hike in rice prices comes against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty caused by recent flooding, especially in the rice-growing north-western region, as well as a government move to lower customs tariffs on the import of rice, which was supposed to reduce prices.

    A look at the latest market price chart reveals that the price of paddy (fine grain) went up by up to 7 percent to Tk 1,400-1,450 per maund from a couple of days ago in some north-western districts. The prices of medium and coarse paddy also increased. In Dhaka, retailers on Sunday sold fine grain rice at Tk 64-80 per kg, an increase of 3.6 percent from a week ago. The question is, how long before measures taken by the government will actually start to have an impact?

    There is apparently a correlation, strange as it may seem, between the hike in paddy prices and the government decision on Thursday to more than halve the tariffs on rice import. Instead of reducing the price, it actually caused a hike as traders claimed that even the reduced rice import cost would not be lower than the current market price. There is a demand for removing the import duty to contain prices. Even if that is not entertained, it may take some time for the tariff cuts to positively impact the market as importers are yet to start the process of importing from India. Other issues like low yield and crop losses in flood-hit areas and pre-existing market realities may also continue to be at play.

    Meanwhile, the prices of petrol and gas have been rising since before Ramadan. Though prices of edible oil are coming down a little at the moment, it will not provide much relief if staples remain pricey. There is no denying that food prices need to be kept within the capacity of people