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mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2008, 08:24:29 AM »
Opinion
Pinoys resilient enough to cope with food crisis
POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
OVER THE HUMP?: It might be too early to say we are over the palay shortage hump, but it is heartening to note that the dark scenarios of lengthening rice queues and food riots painted by the usual doomsayers have not materialized.

Keep your fingers crossed as the Department of Agriculture quietly works on short- and medium-term measures to assure a sufficient supply of rice and other food essentials, especially for the coming lean months.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told us yesterday that the department has plugged the expected 10-percent demand-supply gap by the National Food Authority’s contracting more rice imports.

Some 700,000 metric tons of rice will arrive this June, he said, in time for the July-September lean period before the onset of the wet or main harvest season that will further boost inventory.

*      *      *

DOUBLE BUFFER: The contracted volume of imports is now close to 1.7 million MT, equivalent to 32 days of buffer stocks or double the normal buffer of 15 days.

Yap said the NFA will continue procuring rice through government-to-government purchases or directly from local farmers during the summer harvest. This will help assure a 30-day buffer until yearend.

The DA is expecting the summer harvest to top 7 million MT, which is higher than last year’s dry yield of 6.7 million MT. As of May 16, field reports had shown that harvests had reached 6.59 million MT.

For the wet season, the DA is projecting a harvest of at least 10 million MT, thereby enabling the department to hit its 2008 target of 17.32 million MT.

*      *      *

FUEL & FOOD: While ensuring an ample supply of affordable oil-based fuels may be difficult for the country, it has the capacity to produce its own food in the unlikely event that all nations will go “kanya-kanya” (to each his own) in feeding themselves.

I dare say that, Filipinos — many of whom have known hard times at some stage of their lives — would be able to cope with a food crisis.

While there are already colonies of survivalists in other countries reportedly digging in for an “oil peak” that could unhinge this dominantly oil-dependent world, I doubt if such extremist groups would appear among historically resilient Filipinos.

Costly fuel could be a problem to us in a global pinch, but food supply would be manageable — with Filipinos and their government facing the problem together.

*      *      *

OPTIMISM: Rice expert Robert Zeigler, director-general of the International Rice Research Institute, recently expressed optimism over the government’s program to quickly make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice.

Zeigler noted that the record yields that Philippine agriculture has generated are even higher than the average yield of Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporter.

He said this is “testament to the ingenuity, hard work, and effectiveness of the DA” and the Filipino farmer, who, unlike his Thai counterpart, has to deal with typhoons all year round.

It is not mere coincidence that the administration has pumped more millions for rice self-sufficiency and stepped up the delivery of modern technology to help farmers improve their yields and incomes.

Kevin Cleaver, assistant president for program management of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development, announced during his recent visit that the local rice problem “could be handled pretty easily” in the immediate and long-term.

Yap said the funds needed will come from the President’s P43.7-billion package for agriculture, called FIELDS (Fertilizers, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure, Education and training for farmers, Loans, Dryers and other postharvest facilities and Seeds of high-yielding varieties).

*      *      *

DA-LPP PACT: Pitching in, governors have gone to the extent of reversing the devolution (assigning down or decentralizing) of agriculture and health services to local governments.

The League of Provinces of the Philippines and the DA signed recently a memorandum of agreement to assign back to the DA all agricultural workers and technicians in the provincial governments to help carry out the rice self-sufficiency plan.

The MOA was signed by Yap and Misamis Occidental Gov. Loreto Ocampos, LPP president, witnessed by Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, LPP chairman, and Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone, secretary-general.

The governors agreed to continue paying the salaries of their agricultural workers even while under the administrative and technical supervision of the DA. The department will pay for their official travel expenses and give them incentive allowances.

The governors also agreed to funnel part of their P12.5-billion share of the Internal Revenue Allotment for buying fertilizers.

*      *      *

DA FLASH: As if living up to his being dubbed “Flash Gordon,” Sen. Dick Gordon — who is also chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross — is quick to respond when disaster hits any corner of the country.

While other officials wait or even keep away unless there is a photo-op, Gordon comes to the rescue almost by reflex. He does not waste time. Even in discussions, he goes straight to the point.

Gordon, btw, headed the Philippine delegation to the Asean-UN International Pledging Conference for the Myanmar cyclone victims held in Yangoon last Sunday. He attended earlier the 17th governing board meeting of the International Federation of the Red Crescent in Geneva.

Last May 9, Gordon sent the first two of the three members of a PNRC team to Myanmar to lend their expertise in disaster management, particularly in relief goods distribution and water sanitation.

*      *      *

ePOSTSCRIPT: Read current and old POSTSCRIPTs at www.manilamail.com. E-mail feedback to manilamail@pacific.net.ph or fdp333@yahoo.com

 



mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2008, 08:26:23 AM »
Yes we can! - Leonor Magtolis Briones
 
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 THE BUSINESS OF GOVERNANCE By LEONOR MAGTOLIS BRIONES 
 
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 For once, government has to give agriculture the attention that it deserves.  I once wrote that the Philippines has been importing rice since 1901.  Javier says that we imported rice also during the Spanish period.  It is time to change history.
 
 
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Produce the rice we need without importing from abroad, that is. These are bold words coming from former UP President Emilio Q. Javier, president of the National Academy of Science and Technology, leading scientist on plant breeding, and former senior official of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He IS also former Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology.

One view which has emerged out of the debates on rice is the contention that the Philippines cannot produce all the rice that it needs. This is due to our geographical characteristics, climate which is prone to typhoons, accelerated conversion of rice land to other purposes, and so on. Importation of rice is inevitable, advocates of rice importation say.

Not so, says Javier, who spearheaded Philippine Agriculture 2020, the long term plan for sustainable agriculture. In the Philippines, the current yield per hectare is 3.2 tons. In Thailand, it is 2.8 tons per hectare. Javier points out that the latter has more land devoted to agriculture and fewer Thais to feed.

The Philippines is already producing 90% of its rice requirements. There is no reason why the Philippines can’t cover the 10% deficit with sufficient financing, modern technology and good governance.

At present, only 30% of irrigable areas are actually irrigated. Javier emphasizes that the government strategy should be to invest in irrigation systems. Less hectares will be needed for rice as long as the country has well managed, irrigated farm lands.

As for rainfed, low rice yielding farms, these should be switched to other food crops like corn which is eaten by large numbers of Filipinos from the Visayas and Mindanao. Javier proposes that the UP Los Banos Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB), Central Mindanao University and University of Southern Mindanao be given substantial research funds for research on white corn.

The challenge is also to produce sufficient corn for Filipinos who prefer it.

Yes, we can do it, says Javier. Government must invest in repairing damaged irrigation systems, as well as in building new ones, pour research funds into the development of high yielding varieties of white corn, send out extension workers to help farmers, and make credit available for other inputs.

For once, government has to give agriculture the attention that it deserves. I once wrote that the Philippines has been importing rice since 1901. Javier says that we imported rice also during the Spanish period. It is time to change history.

The alternative budget initiative: Round 3

The trend towards citizen participation in the budget process is gaining ground. The city of Porto Alegre in Brazil started it. Countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and even North America have followed suit. In Porto Alegre it is called participatory budgeting. In Canada, it is called an alternative budget. A common characteristic is that citizens claim the budget process as their own and participate in the decisions which allocate public funds for economic and social development.


In the Philippines, the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI)convened by Social Watch along with 48 civil society organizations, progressive congressmen and senators is gearing up for the 2009 National Budget. ABI participated actively in the budget process for the 2007 and 2008 budgets.

To kick off Round 3 of the Alternative Budget Initiative, Social Watch Philippines organized a capacity building workshop, "Towards Greater Participation, Transparency and Accountability in the Budget Process" last May 21-23 2008. Participants were drawn from civil society organizations and offices of congressmen and senators. The workshop was supported by the United Nations Development Program and the National Economic and Development Authority.

No less than the UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Nileema Noble, led the speakers and lecturers who gave valuable advice to the workshop participants. Ms. Noble explained how and why the UNDP supports civil society organizations actively involved in promoting the Millennium Development Goals.

Dr. Romulo E. M. Miral Jr. of the Congressional Planning and Budget Office linked the national budget to economic and social development goals. Civil Society leaders like Rene Raya and Mercy Fabros shared lessons from the first two rounds of the budget campaign. As legislative staff, Jessica Reyes Cantos and Rene Lopos gave insights on how successful campaigns in the legislator can be attained. The International Budget Project (IBP) based in Washington provided the comparative framework for budget analysis.

The NEDA presentation suggested strategies for enhancing citizen participation in the budget process.

The practice of public finance has changed profoundly. It is becoming truly public. Budgeting is no longer the exclusive turf of the executive and the legislature. Citizens refuse to be passive bystanders in the annual drama of deciding how public money should be spent. The orange campaign button of Social Watch/ABI says it all: BUDGET NATIN ITO!
 



mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2008, 12:04:15 PM »
 
BASF Plant Science and Academia Sinica (Taipei) to cooperate on gene discovery  05/27/08
P-08-278

Focus on yield increase and stress tolerance in crops such as rice and corn

Third plant biotech agreement by BASF Plant Science in Asia within eight months

Limburgerhof, Germany and Taipei, Taiwan – May 27, 2008. BASF Plant Science and Academia Sinica, the leading research institute in Taiwan, today signed a cooperation agreement. Focus is on the discovery of genes that increase yield and improve stress tolerance in major crops such as rice and corn. Financial details have not been disclosed.

Within the scope of the cooperation, Academia Sinica will continue their work on the detailed functional analysis of genes in rice. BASF will evaluate genetically modified rice plants and further develop the most promising genes in rice as well as other crops. Target is to market several genetically enhanced crops with improved yield. The duration of the cooperation has initially been set for two years.

“We are impressed by the broad expertise that our partner brings to the coopera-tion,” said Dr. Jürgen Logemann, Vice President Technology Management, BASF Plant Science. “BASF was able to select those genes from preliminary studies at Academica Sinica that show the largest potential to increase and secure yield in crops.”

“We are delighted to partner with BASF Plant Science for identification of rice genes that control stress tolerance and beneficial agronomic traits through study of our gene library and database called TRIM,” said Dr. Su-May Yu of the Institute of Molecular Biology at Academia Sinica, who heads the project. TRIM stands for Taiwan Rice Insertional Mutant library and database.
“Essential genes identified during the cooperation could be used to improve yield in rice and other cereal crops such as wheat, corn, and grass species, which are very much needed in order to ensure food and bioenergy security for the rapidly growing world population,” Dr. Yu added.

After agreements with CFGC (South Korea) and NIBS (Beijing), the agreement with Academia Sinica is the third cooperation agreement that BASF Plant Sci-ence has entered within the past eight months. “BASF Plant Science highly values the quality of work carried out by research institutes in Asia-Pacific,” said Logemann.


About Academia Sinica
Academia Sinica, is the most prominent academic institution in Taiwan. It was founded in China in 1928 to promote scholarly research into the sciences and humanities. After the Republic of China government moved to Taiwan in 1949, Academia Sinica was re-established in Taipei. It is now a modern institution with a worldwide reputation and a proud tradition.
Academia Sinica is currently under the leadership of President Chi-Huey Wong. It is divided into three divisions, the Division of Life Sciences, the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Division of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. Altogether it boasts a total of 24 institutes and 7 centers, the research from which can be seen regularly in international scholarly journals. In the 10 years from 1996 to 2006 Academia Sinica published a total of 9662 papers, 104 of which were listed as within the top 1% of highly cited research papers worldwide.

More at www.sinica.edu.tw/main_e.shtml

About BASF Plant Science
BASF – the Chemical Company – consolidated its plant biotechnology activities in BASF Plant Science in 1998. Today, about 700 employees are working to optimize crops for more efficient agriculture, renewable raw materials and healthier nutrition. Projects include yield increase in staple crops, higher content of Omega-3s in oil crops for preventing cardiovascular diseases, and potatoes with optimized starch composition for industrial use. To find out more about BASF Plant Science, please visit www.basf.com/plantscience.

About BASF
BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from oil and gas to chemicals, plastics, performance products, agricultural products and fine chemicals. As a reliable partner BASF helps its customers in virtually all industries to be more success-ful. With its high-value products and intelligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF has more than 95,000 employees and posted sales of almost €58 billion in 2007. Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at www.basf.com.



 
 

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2008, 12:07:45 PM »
 BIG DEAL
By Dan Mariano
Bracing for ‘silent tsunami’
 
 
 
Skyrocketing oil prices, the fight over control of Meralco and other issues have consigned the rice-price shock, which first hit the country late March, to the inside pages.

True, the retail prices of the national staple have stabilized after consumers realized stocks remained ample and that the panic-buying was spurred largely by exaggerated reports. But don’t let the lull fool you. A food crisis of global proportions still looms just beyond our horizon.

Officials of the United Nations World Food Program continue to warn of a “silent tsunami” resulting from rising food prices, which directly threatens 100 million people. According to UNWFP chief Josette Sheeran, at least 36 “food-insecure” countries now require multilateral assistance on an unprecedented scale.

Fortunately, our country is not on the UN list of food-insecure nations. A couple of international experts say why.

Kevin Cleaver, assistant president for program management of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (UN-IFAD), announced during his recent Manila visit that the domestic rice problem “could be handled pretty easily by the Philippines” in the immediate and long-term.

Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute, has pointed out that Filipinos have so far been able to overcome the global food crisis. He noted that the Philippines, “relative to a number of countries, adopted technologies quite effectively and used them rather well” in order to boost rice production.

The Philippines, unlike other developing countries, produces 90 percent of its food needs. Compared to, say, rice exporter Thailand, the Philippines actually averages higher yields of paddy, or palay. Our country is on a better footing when it comes to dealing with the silent tsunami.

Recent developments portend well for Philippine agriculture at a time of tightening global food supplies and price shocks.

The first was the official announcement last week that the farm sector grew by 4 percent in the first quarter of 2008 on the back of production increases in almost all subsectors, including palay and other crops. This expansion was higher than the 3.3 percent growth in the same three-month period in 2007.

According to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, palay farmers benefited much from President Arroyo’s “timely move to increase the palay support price to P17 a kilo beginning this summer harvest season” or almost 50 percent more than the previous P12 buying rate of the National Food Authority (NFA).

Production of palay and other crops rose 5.59 percent from January to March. Yap said this resulted from the sustained higher spending by the Arroyo administration on the Department of Agriculture’s intervention measures such as the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities plus the massive provision of higher-yielding seeds and post-harvest facilities.

Another positive development came in the form of a memorandum of agreement between the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) and the DA to detail the agricultural technicians in the governors’ respective areas. These farming experts will help the department implement its five-harvest, rice self-sufficiency plan, which aims to make the country 98 percent sufficient in rice by 2010.

The Local Government Code had mandated the devolution of agriculture and health services to LGUs, thereby stripping the DA and Department of Health of field personnel who could carry out their programs at the village level.

Prior to the signing of the agreement with the governors, the DA was like a military high command going into battle without foot soldiers who could implement its five-harvest sufficiency program. This logistical flaw was solved by the agreement, which commits the governors to detailing their agriculture technicians to the DA throughout the rice self-sufficiency program.

The agreement was signed by Yap and LPP president Misamis Occidental Gov. Loreto Ocampos and witnessed by Governors Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, who is LPP chairman, and Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, LPP secretary-general.

The governors also agreed to funnel a portion of their Internal Revenue Allotments (IRA) to implement the DA’s rice self-sufficiency program. Particular focus would be given to the acquisition of fertilizers to be used for the ongoing Quick Turnaround (QTA) Program and for the wet or main planting season.

The President issued an executive order monetizing the still-unremitted IRA share of LGUs totaling P12.5 billion. Yap said she issued the directive with the understanding that the local executives would use the funds for, among others, the rice self-sufficiency program.

The DA’s rice program runs for five cropping seasons because it includes the wet or main crops this year and in 2009, the dry crops next year and in 2010, and another QTA planting program in-between next year’s dry and wet crops.


 
   
   

 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
   

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2008, 12:10:44 PM »
Cyclone Impact: Water-proof rice to make debut soon
28 May, 2008, 0019 hrs IST, REUTERS
 
MANILA: Farmers in India and Bangladesh will likely start commercial production of flood-tolerant rice next year giving them protection against crop losses from typhoons and heavy monsoon rains.

“We now have a fairly big programme in India and Bangladesh to multiply the seed,” David Mackill, programme leader for rain-fed environments at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, said on Tuesday, adding “It would survive for about two weeks under water.”

Flood waters regularly engulf vast rainfed lowland areas of Asia and crop losses from prolonged submergence are estimated at around $1 billion a year, Mackill said.

Myanmar, once the world’s biggest rice exporter, faces the risk of food shortages after a cyclone flooded 5,000 sq km of its rice bowl earlier this month. Before Cyclone Nargis struck, Myanmar had offered to sell Bangladesh 300,000 tonnes of rice annually after the south Asian country lost 2 million tonnes of planted rice due to a cyclone and two spells of flooding last year.

With the Sub-1 flood-resistant gene, farmers could produce six tonnes of rice per hectare under normal conditions and around three tonnes if the paddy was submerged for two weeks. Normal varieties would only yield 1 tonne or less if subject to that sort of submergence. “The variety that has this gene still performs as well as the original without submergence,” said Mackill, adding “It’s like an insurance policy.”

The flood-tolerant gene is introduced to existing rice varieties through normal cross-breeding techniques and not via genetic modification.

Mackill said Indonesia was likely to be the first country in South-east Asia to introduce the flood-tolerant rice and China had also expressed interest in working with it.

“What we would like to do is to transfer the Sub-1 gene into a larger number of varieties that would mean the technology would be available to farmers in wider areas.”

IRRI, which started a Green Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s with the development of high-yielding rice seeds, is also working on drought-resistant varieties of the grain to deal with a world beset by global warming.

Mackill said it could take up to 5 years before such varieties, which would have similar yield advantages as the flood-tolerant seeds, would be ready for commercial production. 
 
 

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2008, 12:18:55 PM »
From producers to consumers: how rice farmers face catastropheIn the second part of our series, Jonathan Watts reports from the Philippines, where poor farmers are struggling to feed their families as the cost of rice soars
Jonathan Watts The Guardian, Wednesday May 28 2008 Article history

Link to this video
Jonathan Watts reports from Banaue, in the Philippines

Just after dawn, Marlon Tayaban makes his way down the terraced paddies in Banaue, in the northern Philippines where the rice farmer has his home and fields.

It is a stunning vista. The steep, thin steps and strips of cultivated land mottle the mountain slopes in infinite shades of green. As the 36-year-old descends the narrow path, he is surrounded by rice as far as the eye can see. On one side is a flooded paddy full of light green shoots. Higher up the distant hillsides on the other side of the misty valley are darker fields almost ready for harvest. Every inch of land appears to be given over to rice.

It is hard to imagine a more abundant symbol of Asia's most important crop. But Tayaban's journey down the giant steps highlights the growing problem facing millions of small-scale farming families.

The farmer is on his weekly trip to the market, where he has to buy more food than he sells because his ability to produce children has far outpaced the capacity of his land to feed them.

Thirteen years ago, when Tayaban started tilling the paddies, he had two fields and two mouths to feed. Today he has no more land, but six children. The producer has had to become a consumer. That was not a problem when grain was cheap. But in the past year, global prices have tripled.

Tayaban has little inkling of the reasons why. There is no television reception at his home, so he hasn't heard about UN warnings of a food crisis or seen the reports about tortilla rallies in Mexico, pasta protests in Italy and onion demonstrations in India.

He hasn't heard about climate change or biofuels, and knows nothing about the cyclones in Bangladesh and Burma that worsened the global balance between supply and demand.

But he can feel the consequences with each weekly journey to market. A year ago, he spent 2,200 pesos (£25.40) on rice each month. Today, after a surge in the price, he has to find 3,700 pesos. In a good month, Tayaban earns 3,000 pesos by fixing the rice terrace walls or other labouring jobs. "Life is more difficult now. Even though the price of rice is going up, we still have to buy it. I will just have to work harder," he says.

That the price hike is hurting here seems odd at first. In 1995, the United Nations declared this part of the northern Philippines a world heritage site - and not just for its beauty.

The high-altitude terraces of the Cordillera mountains are one of the oldest and best preserved examples of hydrological engineering on the planet. The stepped paddies, said to date back more than 2,000 years, are an ancient testament to man's ability to cultivate crops in the most uncompromising of environments.

But it has been many years since the area was self-sufficient. The main problem is population growth. The average couple here has five or six children. Tayaban is one of eight siblings as well as being a father of three sons and three daughters. Despite migration to the cities, Banaue's population is steadily rising. Fifteen years ago it was 18,000. Today it is 21,500.

But the amount of land is fixed and yield increases are limited because it is difficult to harvest more than one crop per year in this high-altitude environment.

Tayaban's two fields yield 150kg of rice per year, enough to last the family just six weeks.

It is a similar story throughout Banaue, where local officials say the average family produces barely enough rice to last half a year.

The same problem of demand exceeding supply applies to the country. The Philippines is the world's biggest importer of rice. It expects to ship in 2.7m tonnes this year, almost 10% of the total needed to feed a population of 91 million that is growing annually by more than 2%, one of the fastest rates in the world. Large tenders by the Philippines on the international market helped drive up rice prices by 76% between December 2007 and April 2008, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

But the fault does not lie only with the Philippines. The world has been consuming more food than it produces for five years now. Global rice stocks are down at levels not seen since 1976.

The reasons for the global food crisis are manifold, including rising consumption in fast-developing nations like China and India, droughts in Australia, the rising cost of oil, and the increasing use of crops for fuel. But more than any of these, in the Philippines the pressures are demographic. "At the end of the day, it is about the huge population more than biofuels or climate change," says Duncan Macintosh of the Philippine Rice Research Institute.

Such is the value of rice that some farmers in Thailand have started camping out in their fields with shotguns to prevent rice rustlers. Several big rice-producing nations, including Cambodia, Vietnam, Egypt, India, Pakistan and China have capped or halted exports to ensure food security for their own people. With so little rice traded internationally even during a good year, this makes the market volatile. The best Thai rice has tripled in price from $334 (£170)to $1,050 per tonne.

The economic and social impacts are rippling outwards, particularly on poor families such as Tayaban's.

According to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, the 30 million people in the Philippines who live on less than a dollar a day spend nearly 60% of their income on food.

Thanks to a surge in rice and oil prices, inflation hit a three-year high of 8.3% in April. According to the bank, a 10% rise in food prices will push an additional 2.3 million into poverty.

Stability
Maintaining the stability of rice prices is rule number one for Asia's leaders. President Gloria Arroyo knows that from personal experience. Her father lost power to the old dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, in 1965 amid anger at shortages. She is determined not to suffer the same fate. The food situation is "putting a strain on all hardworking Filipinos", Arroyo said last month. "We need to prevent this strain on individuals and economies from becoming a crisis by taking decisive action."

She has convened a national food summit, launched a campaign against rice and flour hoarders, issued orders to temporarily halt the conversion of the country's farmland and promised an extra 40bn pesos for rice seeds and subsidies.

The agriculture ministry has encouraged fast food outlets and restaurants to serve half portions of rice so there is less waste by the middle class. For the poor, extra support has been offered to ease the risks that some may go hungry. The government plans to give up to 1,400 pesos a month to 300,000 low-income families. Cheap rice is being distributed through national depots, attracting snaking queues in the cities even though people can only buy 3kg a time.

Tayaban's family have adopted a more traditional coping mechanism. When the rice farmers of Banaue are in trouble, they do two things: the women go overseas to work and the pigs get sold in the marketplace.

In April, Tayaban's wife, Yugenia, took a job as a maid in Dubai. She sends back 1,700 pesos per month to keep the bellies of her children full. It is a common story in the Philippines, which gets more than 5% of its GDP from overseas remittances.

Tayaban says he could not cope by himself. Even with two small incomes, life is a struggle. Last month, he cashed in what passes for an insurance policy in this part of the world: the family's four piglets. "When we run out of money that is what we do. It was a shame. The piglets were only 45 days old so I could only sell them for 1,000 pesos. It is better to wait until they are older and fatter because then you can get 4,000 pesos for each one. But I had no choice. I couldn't afford the feed."

The sale has kept the family in rice for a few more weeks, but it means no meat for a while. They are also more vulnerable to further price shocks. All they have left now is one sow and a few fighting cocks. Others are in a worse situation. At the local clinic, a district nurse, Roman Lingan, warned that inadequate diets were already a serious problem.

Out of 2,524 preschoolers in Banaue, 137 were malnourished. The rate is higher among older children. "The increase in the price of rice will have a big influence. We have a government programme to provide cheap rice but it is hard for people from the barrios to come into town and line up just to buy 3kg of rice. I think malnutrition will rise next year."

It is not easy to be self-sufficient here. The 1,000 metre altitude is unsuitable for hybrid rice, which can be harvested two or three times a year. Instead, most families grow a variety of organic rice, which has a long gestation period, so it can only be planted once annually. It provides far more energy per kg than other rice, but there is just not enough of it to go around. Tayaban has never heard of global warming - cited by many experts as a factor in the world food crisis - but he has noticed a change in the weather. May is usually the driest month. But this year there has been heavy rain every afternoon. It hammers down on the corrugated iron roof as he naps and his children huddle around a tiny, six-inch screen to watch a DVD of an old drama.

The head of the local agricultural bureau, Jimmy Cabigat, says climate change is putting pressure on paddies. "The rice terraces are a very fragile environment. Too much water damages the walls. Too much of a dry spell and the walls crack," he says. "Every year there is a change in the weather pattern. Because of climate change, we have more phenomena like el Niño." A steady water flow is crucial. To make one kg of rice, you need 2,000 litres of water.

Mixed blessings
Migration is a mixed blessing. Every year, millions of young Filipinos move into the cities, where they consume rather than produce food. Banaue also has a huge outflow, both into urban centres and local tourist businesses. This is pushing up the average age of the rural labour force and leaving fewer hands for the heavy work of irrigation and terrace wall management. Of Banaue's 1,118 hectares of agricultural land, 15% has been abandoned.

"The fields used to be pristine, but with the coming of tourism, labour has been diverted so people spend less time on the fields. The young generation own the land but they leave the elders to do all the work on it. That is why areas are becoming abandoned," says Cabigat. "When all the children leave to go to Manila or other cities, the old folk cannot manage the land and the irrigation."

Tayaban hopes his children will also leave the land. "If I could afford it, I would pay for the children to get a good education so they don't have to work in the fields. Working in the fields is hard work and sometimes there is no income."

For the moment, farmers like Tayaban struggle on. With bumper harvests expected worldwide, the pressure on prices should ease, at least until the next natural disaster. "Things have calmed down now, but we are on perilous ground. This is a wake-up call," said Duncan Mackintosh of the Philippine Rice Research Institute. "There is no reason to panic now, but the sense of crisis could return. If not after the typhoon season in the summer, then during the monsoons in May or June."

Demographic drivers
Longer term, the challenge is to grow enough rice for an expanding population. The Catholic Church - a powerful force in the Philippines - is predicting rice instability for at least three more years. A solution will depend on improved technology, new hybrid strains, more efficient irrigation and measures to tackle the demographic drivers of demand.

President Arroyo has said family planning is important if the Philippines is to become more self-sufficient in rice. Tayaban's family, at least, will not expand for a generation. Before she left for Manila, his wife had her fallopian tubes tied. Now he is putting his hopes - like his forefathers - on a good harvest and praying that the typhoon season will not blow his family into destitution.



 

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2008, 09:30:52 AM »
Rice Prices Stabilizing in Asia on Harvests, Yap Says
Bloomberg: The price of rice in Asia, the region's most important food, is starting to stabilize as producers harvest the first crops of the year, boosting supplies, Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said. ``There are harvests coming out,'' Yap said today in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong on his return from a United Nations' sponsored Food Security Summit in Rome. ``Prices are stabilizing.'' A halt to surging rice prices may help governments contain inflation and ease concerns about a global food crisis. The ten- member Association of Southeast Asian Nations may hold a regional food summit to discuss a stockpiles plan, Yap said. India, which has curbed exports to guarantee local supplies, may produce a record 95.5 million tons of rice this year, 2.5 percent more than 2007, according to a government official on May 29. Vietnam, which has also restricted exports, is set for bumper harvests, the Vietnam News Agency reported today.
Friday, June 06, 2008

 
Asian states feel rice pinch
Daily Star (Bangladesh): Asian countries have been struggling to cope as the cost of rice has reached record levels. The price of the staple crop has risen by as much as 70% during the last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), with increases accelerating in recent weeks. Shortages have begun to hit some importing countries. The International Rice Research Institute says that the sustainability of rice farming in India and elsewhere is threatened by overuse of fertilisers and poor soil health. Stocks have come down over the last three years as agricultural growth has failed to match the rest of the economy. And because of the low purchasing power of India's poor, even a small increase in prices can cause a sharp fall in real incomes.
Friday, June 06, 2008

 
Borlaug: How to Continue the Fight Against Hunger
Wall Street Journal: At the Washington, D.C. offices of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) there is a plaque dedicated to America's great statesman-general, George C. Marshall. It contains a quote from his epic 1947 Harvard commencement address, which spawned the Marshall Plan. The quote reads: "Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos." Our government needs to rediscover that vision. We are in a world food crisis that stands to drive at least another 100 million people into hunger and exacerbate global instability. Nearly three decades ago, the Green Revolution – and other advances in technology, production methods and related investments in agriculture – greatly increased food production world-wide, particularly in Asia and Latin America. Over time, food abundance was taken for granted as the supply outpaced population and income growth. We need investment in the maintenance of successful varieties of crops, and the development of technologies to raise yield ceilings. Moreover, research to develop seeds more resistant to climatic stresses like drought must be dramatically accelerated.
Friday, June 06, 2008

 
National rice reserve formed to stabilise market
VietNamNet Bridge: The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is planning to develop a national rice reserve of 100,000 tonnes to help stablise distribution and meet supply and demand when market prices fluctuate. The plan to establish the rice fund will be submitted to the government by MARD, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) and the Vietnam Food Association. According to the MIT, the price of rice is not expected to fluctuate from now until the end of the year because Vietnamese farmers are expecting bumper crops this year.
Friday, June 06, 2008

 
Solving the Food Crisis With an Unlikely Alliance
U.S. News and World Report: With a food crisis simmering around the globe, a new book, Tomorrow's Table, argues that the marriage of genetic engineering and organic farming is key to feeding the world's growing population. U.S. News spoke with coauthors Pamela Ronald, a professor of plant pathology who experiments with genetically altered plants at the University of California-Davis, and Raoul Adamchak, an organic farmer at the University of California-Davis's certified organic farm and former partner at Full Belly Farm, a 150-acre organic vegetable farm in California, about the unlikely alliance. "I have been involved in a project for the last 10 years that's developing a variety of flood-tolerant rice," says Dr. Ronald. My laboratory has recently isolated a gene that makes rice tolerate flooding. In collaboration with colleagues at the International Rice Research Institute, we have developed a rice variety for Bangladesh that yields 1 to 2 tons per hectare more under flooded conditions than the conventional variety in recent on-farm trials.
Friday, June 06, 2008

 
Street protests vs rice prices start
Philippine Daily Inquirer: Cagayan De Oro City – Children of street vendors joined their parents in a noise barrage here Wednesday to express their dismay over not being able to go to school because of the high price of rice. “We can’t continue attending school anymore because our parents’ income are only enough to buy rice,” said one placard held by a 9-year-old boy, who stopped going to school. The protest was held even as Mayor Constantino Jaraula announced that the National Food Authority (NFA) would soon sell rice in villages to ease the queue in market-based NFA outlets.
Friday, June 06, 2008

 
Vietnam plans to protect rice farms: state media
AFP: Hanoi — Fast-industrialising Vietnam plans to protect at least 3.9 million hectares (9.6 million acres) of rice fields to ensure long-term national food security, state media reported on Friday. The move comes amid the global food price surge that has seen grain prices skyrocket and aims to preserve a core growing area of the national staple food from mushrooming industrial parks, urban areas and golf courses. Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has instructed the Agriculture Ministry to prepare a Rice Cultivation Land Management decree and submit it for approval in the third quarter, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
Friday, June 06, 2008

 
Fractious summit vows to halve hunger, boost food output
AFP: Rome — A UN summit vowed to halve global hunger by 2015 and take "urgent" action over the global food crisis, but only after going into overtime at a fractious summit in Rome. In a final declaration at the gathering -- which saw some 6.5 billion dollars (4.1 bln euros) pledged, but which exposed strains notably over biofuels -- world leaders also agreed to boost food production in poor countries. "We are convinced that the international community needs to take urgent and coordinated action to combat the negative impacts of soaring prices on the world's most vulnerable countries and populations," it said.
Friday, June 06, 2008

 

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2008, 09:37:00 AM »
Hybrid rice gives hope of food self-sufficiency for Filipinos faced with rice crisis 
 
 
www.chinaview.cn  2008-06-04 14:37:30      Print
 
    By Xu Lingui  

    LOS BANOS, the Philippines, June 4 (Xinhua) -- In the Philippines, rice is not just daily food, it is also a symbol of life sustaining a rice culture that the Filipinos have cultivated over hundreds of years.

    As rice prices hit record high in May in the world market, long queues of low-income Filipinos have frequently been seen at the government rice supply centers. They just cannot afford to lose rice on the table.

    Both the public and the government have admitted that a rice crisis is taking shape and the country, which aims to buy 2.6 million tons of foreign rice this year, must attain food self-sufficiency as the only way to secure supply.

    The government has been trying hard to work out a comprehensive plan which also includes increasing allotment to farmers, lifting import tariffs, and cracking down on boarding and control of distributions.

    At the world famous International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)in Los Banos, Laguna some 50 kilometers south of Manila, IRRI's top hybrid rice scientist expressed both hope and anxiety over the rice situation in the Philippines.

    Xie Fangming, senior scientist of plant breeding in IRRI, told Xinhua that he believes the country can attain self-sufficiency in three years if the government has a concrete, consistent and coherent policy to promote hybrid rice. However, he is dismayed by the fact that the Philippines, blessed with rich natural resources and the availability of technology, has to import rice from abroad for decades.

    Xie worked as the director of Line Development of RiceTec. Inc.in the United States before moving to IRRI three years ago. He was among the first batch of students studying under Yuan Longping, China's "Father of Hybrid Rice", who developed the cross-bred rice varieties to usher in an era of ample food supply for the world's most populous nation since 1970s.

    Almost four decades later, as shrinking global rice stockage pushes up the price of benchmark Thai rice to 1,000 U.S. dollars per ton, Xie said hybrid rice is back to the limeline again.

    So far the Philippine government's campaign to promote hybrid rice has largely been hampered by the absence of training and know-how supports to farmers and inefficient distribution policies of the seeds, he said.

    "The root problem facing hybrid rice programs in the Philippines lies in promotional policies and extension support. Technology is no longer an issue," said Xie.

    Although cross breeding was introduced to the Philippines earlier than other Asian nations, the benefits of the technology has failed to take roots. Fields to grow hybrid rice shrank from 400,000 hectares in 2006 to 120,000 hectares in 2007.

    But as the Philippines was hard squeezed by the global rice price surge and a tightened supply, the government has announced plans to boost hybrid rice plantation to 900,000 hectares, about 30 percent of the country's total rice fields, by the end of 2010.

    KNOWLEDGE GAP

    Compared to Vietnam, India and most recently Bangladesh, farmers in the Philippines have limited access to hybrid seeds and less access to the knowledge and training which are crucial to successful plantation, Xie said.

    "It is not about just changing the seeds. It is a different way of growing rice," he said, adding that the money of the government's boost production projects can be better spent by fixing the defected distribution system and launching massive knowledge support programs for farmers.

    In a separate interview, Henry Lim, president of the SL Agritech Corp., which distributes about 60 percent of the hybrid seeds planted in the Philippines, echoed Xie's claim, estimating that almost 90 percent of the Philippine farmers have no clear idea about what hybrid rice is, less do they know how to properly grow it.

    "If the government does not adopt more effective promotional measures, hybrid rice is doomed to fail," Lim said.

    The IRRI-developed hybrid seeds in the Philippines can easily lift up yields from average 3.5 tons per hectare to 5.8 tons per hectare with good cases surpassing 6 tons per hectare, scientists said.

    Xie said there are still doubts among Filipino farmers over the productivity with false conceptions saying hybrid rice demands more fertilizer usage. All these factors translated into a slow adoption of hybrid rice among farmers.

    Xie said growing hybrid rice does raise costs by 17 percent but higher costs are offset by the usually bigger yields increase.

    SUBSIDY SCHEME HIT

    The top hybrid rice scientist of IRRI urged the government to amend the current subsidy program which authorizes only one seed company from which farmers can buy hybrid rice seeds at half price with the government covering the other half.

    Xie said he is not against the government's financial support for hybrid rice but is actually calling for a better scheme that can both invite more companies to the market and arouse business enthusiasm in selling hybrid seeds to locals.

    Lim, whose company is the only authorized one to benefit from the subsidy scheme, said he does not favor the current scheme either. He said the company did not deal directly with farmers butlocal governments acted as a median. The process of collecting payment and particularly the subsidies becomes too long, sometime to the tenth month after farmers made the purchase.

    "The more the company participates in the subsidy scheme, the deeper it sinks into debts," Lim said, adding that his company then turned to the more profitable export business. SL Agritech exported 550 tons of hybrid rice seeds to Indonesia last year and 750 tons in the first half of this year.

    Lim said if there had not been a rice crisis at home, he would have inked another 1,000 tons export deal with Indonesian traders.

    POTENTIAL NOT TO BE WASTED

    Xie said warmer weather has allowed farmers to grow two seasons of rice in a year and domestic political scribbles seldom affect the country's agricultural sector, providing a relatively stable political environment.

    "The Philippines has highly remarkable environment to grow rice. In a scientist's point of view, it is hard to imagine a country with such blessings was reduced to importing rice for the last few decades."

    "If the distribution and training problems are being tackled," Xie said, "I see no problem for the Philippines to achieve the rice self-sufficiency target within three years."

    He applauded the government's vowed measures to raise domestic rice production but warned that the administration should stick to that goal and not to be tempted to importation even when rice prices, if ever, fall back to a low level.

    "Hold grains in hand, one has no worries at heart," he cites a catchy slogan of late Chinese leader Chairman Mao Zedong, as a living alarm to Filipinos of the importance of rice self-sufficiency.     
 
 
Editor: Jiang Yuxia 

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2008, 11:37:16 AM »
New threat to food system: pricey fertilizer
Reuters: It powered the Green Revolution and helped save millions from starvation, but now one of the most important tools on the farm is being priced out of reach for many of the world's growers. With food prices soaring and stocks thinning, the world is in need of bumper harvests but once one of most bountiful of commodities, fertilizer, is becoming scarce and expensive. It's estimated that one third of the protein consumed by humans is a result of fertilizer. So high prices and spot shortages are yet another stress on the world's ailing food system.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 
Worries Mount as Farmers Push for Big Harvest
New York Times: In a year when global harvests need to be excellent to ease the threat of pervasive food shortages, evidence is mounting that they will be average at best. Some farmers are starting to fear disaster...United States soybean plantings are running 16 percent behind last year. Rice is tardy in Arkansas, which produces nearly half the country’s crop. “We’re certainly not going to have as good a crop as we had hoped,” said Harvey Howington of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association. “I don’t think this is good news for anybody.”
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 
Vietnam plans to maintain rice acreage to ensure food security
Chinaview.cn: Hanoi - Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development says the country should maintain rice acreage at 3.9 million hectares upwards from now to 2020 to ensure national food security, Vietnam News Agency reported Tuesday. Although Vietnam's paddy rice productivity increased by an average 2.06 percent or 77,000 tons a year in the 1997-2006 period, the country's annual paddy rice output remained at approximately 36 million tons due to shrinking rice-growing areas as a result of the establishment of industrial zones and urban areas nationwide, especially in the Red River and Mekong deltas, its biggest rice baskets.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 
Aerobic Rice Farming May Boost Yield
Bernama (Malaysia): Did you know that it takes 5,000 litres of water to put a kilogramme of rice on your table? That's the size of a small swimming pool, or your household water tank. And that is a demand that is getting harder to meet in the present situation, owing to the erratic presence of rain and the need to compete for water with industries and households. But like it or not, it's a demand we have to meet as a country where rice is the staple food. So what is the answer? Aerobic rice-farming could be it. Aerobic rice grows with very little water. What is needed are rice strains that have strong and vigorous root systems that absorb moisture from below the surface.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 
Opinion: The Fed and the Price of Rice
Wall Street Journal: Rice prices have ratcheted up during the past three years. In the last year alone, they've more than doubled, sparking urban food riots in several countries. Politicians have been quick to blame speculators and hoarders. Their blame is misplaced. The most recent rice price spike is partially the result of countries such as India and Egypt imposing restrictions and bans on exports, plus the desire of other governments including the Philippines, the world's largest rice importer, to bulk up their stockpiles. But the blame for the long-term trend of higher prices should be placed upon those who've delivered a weak U.S. dollar.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 
Rice pressure causes price hike for Beneo-Remy
Food Navigator: Beneo-Remy has announced a price increase of 40 per cent across its rice-derived ingredients portfolio to help counter the pressure of greater demand on rice supplies and higher costs. Rice prices have skyrocketed in the last year. Since Beneo-Remy's operations are based entirely around rice - its food ingredients are rice-derived starches, flours, proteins and stabilised rice bran - the present situation has inevitably resulted in greater costs. It says it had already worked to manage these costs internally, including making improvements to efficiencies. But it calls the current story a "force majeur" - that is, out of its control. Although prices vary on exporter and rice type, the International Rice Research Institute gives monthly exporter figures for Thai rice 5 per cent unbroken as a guide. Between April 2007 and April 2008, the price of this commodity has rise from US$317 per tonne to a staggering $907.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 
The world food crisis and the capitalist market
World Socialist Web Site: The current food crisis reflects not only financial events of recent years, but longer-term policies of world imperialism. Instead of allowing for a planned improvement of infrastructure and farming techniques, globalization on a capitalist basis has resulted in a restriction in many parts of the world of farm production. This has been carried out in order to lessen competition and prevent market gluts from harming the profit interests of the major powers...Nor are infrastructure difficulties limited to Africa. In Asia, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) noted reduced research investment, the lack of new irrigation projects, and “inadequate maintenance” of existing irrigation infrastructure as major problems. It added that an “unexploited yield gap of 1-2 tons per hectare currently exists in most farmers’ fields in rice-growing areas of Asia,” citing lack of proper irrigation and fertilizer, pest and disease control, post-harvest storage and transport facilities
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 
Funds for rice top wish list
New Straits Times: Kuching - One item on Sarawak's wish list for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he arrives today for a one-day working visit is funds for the rice-growing programme in the state. Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said the money would be for infrastructure and to reward the farmers. Speaking after declaring open the 22nd session of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (Apcas) here yesterday, Dr Chan did not disclose the amount needed. "It is expensive to build roads, canals and and irrigation network and we cannot leave that to farmers or entrepreneurs who want to go into rice-growing," said Dr Chan, also the state's minister for modernisation of agriculture.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 
Indonesia: Battling to beat the rice crisis
IRIN: Jakarta - Indonesia's Java island is so lush with rice paddies it is hard to believe the threat of a shortage could exist here. Yet the island nation of 235 million people has taken drastic steps to avert a crisis amid soaring global prices of the staple crop. In a bid to become self-sufficient in rice production, the government in 2006 launched a programme, Ketahanan Pagan, to plant 10,000 sqkm of additional paddy. Under the scheme, farmers received incentives to expand and improve planting areas, especially in eastern Indonesia...The ability to boost rice production will depend on finding available land on Java, home to half the vast archipelago's population. Success will "really depend on where the government wants to create rice fields", said Mahyuddin Syam, country head of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). "Land outside Java is less fertile and it is not so easy to open up land." For a time in the 1980s, during the Suharto government, large subsidies were provided for farming that enabled Indonesia to become self-sufficient in rice. But a loss of income from oil and gas production made it impossible to maintain those expensive policies. In 2007, Indonesia was one of the top 10 global rice importers, according to the IRRI.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 
Liberia: Rice Production Will Ease Food Crisis - Agriculture Minister Toe
The News via All Africa.com (Monrovia): Agriculture Minister Dr. Chris Toe has suggested that the best way in solving the looming food crisis in Liberia is for the people to roll up their sleeves and return to the soil. Minister Toe said the best resolution to the food crisis, especially the hike in the price of rice, is for Liberians to produce more rice.
Monday, June 09, 2008

 
Thai PM defends price supports for rice farmers
AFP: Bangkok — Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Sunday defended his government's move to offer price supports to rice farmers, who had threatened street protests in a bid to get state assistance. Farmers have accused millers of pushing down paddy prices by wrongly claiming their crops exceed moisture limits. The commerce ministry has listed rice prices at around 13,000 baht (390 dollars) per tonne, but farmers say they are receiving as little as 9,000 baht. "The government must take care of this matter," Samak said on his weekly television programme.
Monday, June 09, 2008

 
Rice scientist sees technology as a savior
International Herald Tribune: Los Banos, Philippines - Robert Zeigler has not had much time for scuba diving this year, but he is not complaining. Journalists from around the world have converged on Zeigler's office in Los Baños, a lush university town south of Manila, looking for explanations and solutions to a sharp increase in rice prices that many fear will tip millions back into poverty. As director general of the International Rice Research Institute, Zeigler, an American-born scientist, is in a unique position to provide some answers.
Monday, June 09, 2008

 
Price of Thai rice down 10%
The Star Online (Malasyia): The price of imported rice from Thailand has been slashed by 10%, bringing some much-needed relief for consumers. The price cut came four days after major rice supplier Lian Sin Trading Sdn Bhd announced it was raising the price of imported rice by between 30% and 50%. The company’s senior marketing manager Lim Boo Khiong said that a 10kg Butterfly brand pack from Thailand would now be sold at RM49.80, down from RM56. However, the new price is still significantly higher compared to about RM32 for the same pack of rice two months ago.
Monday, June 09, 2008

 
Vietnam pledges to provide enough rice for Cuba
Thanhniennews.com: Vietnam will ensure sufficient rice supply for Cuba this year, despite the significant increase in the price of rice in the world market recently, Vietnamese commercial counselor to Cuba, Nguyen Thai Binh, said. Vietnam is Cuba’s main rice supplier providing around 400,000 tons per year. Cuba’s rice consumption has reached about 600,000 tons per year, while its annual output is only 100,000 tons, according to Cuba’s Statistics Office.
Monday, June 09, 2008

 
RiceTec to field test drought resistant rice
Feedstuffs: RiceTec Inc. and Performance Plants Inc. (PPI) announced an agreement to develop drought-tolerant rice using Performance Plants' Yield Protection Technology (YPT). The technology helps protect plants against the damaging effects of drought by using a plant's own genes to enhance its natural response mechanism to drought. YPT makes plants able to tolerate by dry conditions better and recover faster when watered. Extensive field testing by PPI in other crops and ornamental species consistently shows up to 25% seed yield increases under drought conditions. According to PPI President Peter Matthewman the company has previously licensed YPT for application in corn, soybean, turfgrass and ornamentals
Monday, June 09, 2008

 
Interesting clash of views at Food Summit
The Star Online (Malaysia): The role of biofuels in diverting the use of crops away from food toped the topics at the World Food Security Summit, with political leaders divided on the causes of, and solutions to, soaring food prices. The Food Security Summit brought together more than 30 heads of government and scores of Ministers in Rome last week to discuss the crisis of rising food prices. Malaysia was represented by Agriculture Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, who highlighted the effects of bio-energy and climate change as causes of the food price crisis and spoke of the needs to mitigate the risks of over-dependence on food imports. He announced Malaysia’s initiatives to boost local food production, especially in rice.
Monday, June 09, 2008

 
RP rice stock hits 2.25M tons
Philippine Daily Inquirer: Manila - The country's total rice inventory hit 2.25 million metric tons, enough to last for 68 days, as of May 1. According to a Bureau of Agricultural Statistics report, this level is about 19 percent higher than the 1.89 million MT a year ago and 18 percent more than the 1.9 million MT in the previous month. Of the total inventory as of May 1, stocks in households accounted for the bulk or 1.178 million tons, enough to last for 36 days. This was, however, lower by 0.6 percent compared to year-ago level of 1.18 million tons.
Sunday, June 08, 2008

 
Philippines urges int'l donors to increase funds for agriculture research
Xinhua: Manila - The Philippines has called on the international donors and financial institutions to increase funding support for agricultural productivity research to addressing the global food crisis, reported the official Philippines News Agency on Sunday. The news agency quoted Philippine Ambassador to the UN Hilario G. Davide Jr. as saying at a UN special meeting on food crisis in New York last week that more money should be donated to food research institutions like the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) near Manila. The Filipino official told the Special Meeting on the Food Crisis convened by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Internal Fund for Agricultural Development and development partners should help raise the funds for research of IRRI. The IRRI has pointed out that brown plant hopper is multiplying by the billions and chewing through rice paddies in East Asia, threatening the diets of many poor people, he said
Sunday, June 08, 2008

 
Rice expert welcomes spotlight on food
Reuters: Los Banos, Philippines - Robert Zeigler hasn't had much time for scuba diving this year, but he's not complaining. Journalists from around the world have converged on Zeigler's office in Los Banos, a lush university town south of the Philippine capital Manila, looking for explanations and solutions to a dramatic run-up in rice prices that many fear will tip millions back into poverty. As director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the U.S.-born scientist is in a unique position to provide some answers. The grain that feeds half the world's population has dominated Zeigler's career, on and off, for over 20 years. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Congo in the early 1970s, Zeigler witnessed first-hand how the failure of a crucial crop, cassava, could cause starvation. With that as his background, Zeigler has been trying for years to highlight the risk of hunger from flattening rice yields and ever-increasing demand.
Sunday, June 08, 2008

 
Yap: Asian rice prices starting to stabilize
Manila Standard: The price of rice in Asia, the region’s most important food, is starting to stabilize as producers harvest the first crops of the year, boosting supplies, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said. “There are harvests coming out,” Yap said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong on his return from a United Nations-sponsored Food Security Summit in Rome. “Prices are stabilizing.” A halt to surging rice prices may help governments contain inflation and ease concerns about a global food crisis. The ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations might hold a regional food summit to discuss a stockpiles plan, Yap said.
Sunday, June 08, 2008

 

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #24 on: June 26, 2008, 07:54:02 AM »
Prospects bleak for rice harvest in typhoon-affected areas
Philippine Daily Inquirer: TAGUM CITY – Prospects turned bleak for the rice harvest in a town in Davao del Norte and the province of Sarangani as a result of damages wrought by floods brought by Typhoon "Frank." Sen. Mar Roxas said the losses in rice production as a result of the typhoon could aggravate a crisis in rice prices and supply. Rice production in Aklan, which supplies 10 percent of the country’s rice consumption, was all but wiped out and supply could plunge unless the government acted quickly, he said. Mayor Lolita Moral of the rice-producing town of Braulio Dujali in Davao del Norte said at least 200 hectares of rice lands were flooded after a dike along the Tuganay River was breached.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #25 on: July 01, 2008, 07:06:03 AM »
Fighting to survive on mountain of trash
Toronto Star: Manila - A spike in rice prices means increased hardship for millions of Filipinos living on less than $2 a day ... In the Philippines the impact of recent increases in the price of food has been profound: 35 million of its 88 million citizens are as poor as the people of Smokey Mountain, surviving on less than $2 per day. Six months ago, a kilogram of rice in Manila cost just 18 Filipino pesos (about 41 cents). Today, international rice shortages have driven that price to 34 pesos per kilo (76 cents) ... But it's not as though the world wasn't warned about the onset of the current food crisis and the impact it would have on these poorest of the poor. Robert Zeigler, executive director of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) warned the world as early as June 9, 2005, in a speech in Ottawa to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Monday, June 30, 2008

 
Analysis of global food crisis: Ill-conceived rush to ethanol
Toronto Star: If you were trying to develop a less effective means of kicking the gasoline habit and coping with climate change you'd be challenged to improve on North America's misguided biofuels policy, which is centred on corn-based ethanol and is contributing to the global food crisis. The need for higher-yielding, disease- and pest-resistant crops as global food demand explodes. A change in North American diets. Architects of such a blueprint would, as an early step, redeploy some of the investment in the false promise of corn-based ethanol into the food-research centres in the developing world that were making significant progress until their budgets were slashed by national governments. These include the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and Mexico's International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
Sunday, June 29, 2008

 
Overlooked in the global food crisis: A problem with dirt
Southcoasttoday.com (USA): Science has provided the souped-up seeds to feed the world, through biotechnology and old-fashioned crossbreeding. Now the problem is the dirt they're planted in. Fixing soil just isn't "sexy" enough to interest governments or charities, said Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute in Manila. Philippines. Zeigler's center this sprimg planted its 133rd crop of rice in the same land since 1963, trying to pinpoint the right combination of nitrogen and fertilizer. Better seeds worked wonders. But finding money for soil health is difficult and because of that, less work is accomplished, he said.
Sunday, June 29, 2008

 
Hungry for answers
Toronto Star: A single grain of rice symbolizes the breakdown of the global food system. In recent months, prices of staples have jumped and millions have joined the ranks of the marginally fed. Hungry people desperate for bread or corn or rice, the staples of simple diets. But a shortfall in supplies has doubled and tripled the prices of these basics, shoving them far out of reach of the poorest people on Earth, the one billion who live on less than $1 a day. The crisis was a shock, but not actually a surprise. Josette Sheeran, head of the World Food Program, likened it to a "silent tsunami" that had taken years to build.
Saturday, June 28, 2008

 
The Politics Of Rice
Mysinchew.com: Experts worry that while influential countries are able to secure food supplies, low-income and less influential countries are left with no food to import. A week after Cyclone Nargis struck Burma in May, Ma Mya Ayes was queuing for food in Labutta. Ma Ayes and a small group of villagers waited for two days in their village for government relief and rescue teams to arrive but they never came. The group decided to walk for a day to the Labutta in the Ayeyarwady division to get help. But it was never easy to get a single grain of rice. The cyclone—on top of a restrictive military regime—has made matters worse in the region’s former rice leader. But not only Burma has been facing a rice crisis. The Philippines, where the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is based, has been the biggest hit turning from rice producer to the world’s top importer. In the 1970s, IRRI taught farmers from Thailand and Viet Nam how to plant rice, but land conversion and lack of support to the agriculture sector have marginalised Filipino farmers. Duncan Macintosh, IRRI’s development director, noted that much of Asia’s economic growth has been driven by the rice sector. Rice farming is a major source of employment and income for rural households and rice is a staple food for the region’s 2.6 billion population.
Saturday, June 28, 2008

 
Increase in rice prices exacerbating wheat crisis
ISLAMABAD (Daily Times): WFP report says 50% rice consumers have switched to wheat. The unprecedented increase in the price of rice has worsened the wheat crisis in the country as 50 percent of rice consumers have switched to wheat, increasing its demand by another 1.25 million tonnes and pressing for further increase in wheat prices, says a World Food Program (WFP) report, yet to be released.
Friday, June 27, 2008

 
Hybrid Rice Strain Fetches US$500,000
HO CHI MINH City, June 27 (Bernama) -- A 66-year-old retired Vietnamese scientist has sold the rights to a high yielding hybrid-rice variety she developed in the late 1990s to a private company for 10 billion VND (US$500,000), Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported. Associate professor Nguyen Thi Tram, Ph.D., a former lecturer at the Hanoi-based Agricultural University No. 1, transferred the rights to rice strain TH3-3 to Doan Van Sau, director of Cuong Tan Company Ltd, in Nam Dinh province. In 2005, the long-grained, fragrant variety was recognised as a national rice variety and given a license two years later. The rice has a growth period of only 105-125 days, is able to survive harsh weather, resists common pests and diseases, and yields 6-8 tonnes per hectare, one to two tonnes more than other local rice strains.
Friday, June 27, 2008

 
Rebates for rice traders with early shipments--NFA
MANILA, Philippines (INQUIRER.net)-- The National Food Authority (NFA) will give rebates to rice traders whose shipments of imported rice will arrive on or before August 15, a National Food Authority official said on Friday. Deputy Administrator Conrado Ibañez said the NFA council has agreed to refund P1.75 per kilo of rice to traders whose shipments would arrive on or before July 31, and P1.50 for traders whose shipments would arrive between August 1 and 15. The refund was based on the P2 per kilo service fee traders initially paid the agency to purchase imported rice. Ibañez said the NFA council agreed to provide the rebate because of the "leveled prices of rice in the world market, high fuel costs resulting to higher freight rates, depreciation of the peso, and damages caused by typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen)."
Friday, June 27, 2008

 
Price of rice likely to fall in next few months
The Straits Times (Singapore): THE price of rice coming into Singapore is likely to fall in the next several months, say importers, who predict the drop will spell some relief for consumers battered by record-high prices. Buoyed by a surge in supply - based in part on an expected bumper crop from Thailand - the price of fragrant rice could tumble to US$1,000 (S$1,370) a tonne by year-end, importers forecast. That is 18 per cent lower than its peak last month.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
 

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2008, 11:38:17 AM »
BAAC expands insurance programme
Bangkok Post: The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives (BAAC) plans to expand its crop insurance scheme to cover rice next year. BAAC president Teerapong Tungteerasunun said yesterday that the state-owned bank may provide an insurance programme for rice farmers to guard against natural disasters. A study on the feasibility of the plan will be conducted between July and September. The insurance would first cover key rice production areas such as Phetchaburi, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai and other central provinces.
Saturday, July 05, 2008

 
Govt to step up aid to Visayas rice farms hit by ‘Frank’
Inquirer.net: Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines - The government will step up its infusion of assistance to rice farms hit by Typhoon Frank to ensure that Western Visayas hits its 2.1 million metric tons production target of the staple this year, according to a regional agriculture official. Manuel Olanday, the regional rice program coordinator of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas, gave this assurance on Thursday at a briefing on the provincial rice sufficiency plan at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City attended by Governor Isidro Zayco and the mayors of Negros Occidental. Typhoon Frank hit 14,000 hectares of rice lands in Western Visayas causing the loss of 33,000 MT of the staple.
Saturday, July 05, 2008

 
Vietnamese agronomists do magic in Africa
VietNamNet Bridge: In just a year Vietnamese farmers managed to help Sierra Leone double annual rice crops to two and quadruple per-ha rice yield to four tonnes, an unbelievable success that international experts had for long dreamt at. The success has been made by a group of experienced farmers led by Prof. Dr. Vo Tong Xuan, who went to Sierra Leone from the second half of 2007 to provide farmers there with rice farming expertise under a project on “Exporting Mekong Delta farmers to Sierra Leone”. The biggest achievement gained in the project is to help local farmers overcome the shortage of machinery and a poor irrigation system as well as to reserve 3 tonnes of rice seeds for a large scaled farming in the upcoming crop. It is a dream that has never come true to international experts despite their huge investments.
Saturday, July 05, 2008

 
Irrawaddy Delta farmers’ woes continue
Relief Web: At least 70 percent of farmland in the Irrawaddy delta remains uncultivated, as an inadequate supply of suitable rice seeds and power tillers continues to beset efforts to plant before the beginning of the rainy season, according to local sources. Farmers are in a race against time, as they say it will be impossible to plant after the middle of July, when the summer monsoon begins and fields fill with water. The planting season traditionally ends before the full-moon day of the lunar-calendar month of Waso, which marks the beginning of the Buddhist lent. This year, the day falls on July 17. Two months after Cyclone Nargis, and with just two weeks to go before the end of the planting season, many farmers say they are still struggling with the loss of rice seeds and buffaloes.
Friday, July 04, 2008

 
Test new rice farming method, Agriculture dep’t urged
GMA News: Manila Philippines - A rice farming system developed in Madagascar backed by US experts but sharply criticized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) may yet provide the answer to the country’s long-term quest for rice sufficiency. Called the system for rice intensification (SRI), the method lays emphasis on plant quality rather than quantity and espouses early planting of seeds and end the flooding of fields. Under this system, water and seed costs are reduced substantially since it allows better root and leaf growth. The principal result of this type of cultivation is the doubling of harvests, with at least one million farmers from Madagascar, India and Laos reporting harvests as high as eight tons per hectare, nearly double the current Philippine average of 4.2 tons per hectare.
Friday, July 04, 2008

 
Mozambique to import Vietnam rice to curb shortages
Reuters: Maputo - Mozambique will import 1.2 million tonnes of rice from Vietnam over the next three years to curb food shortages, a top government official said on Thursday. Industry and Trade Minister Antonio Fernando told reporters Mozambique would import 400,000 tonnes of rice a year for the next three years, at a price to be negotiated between Mozambican importing companies and Vietnamese authorities. "Vietnam has pledged to continue exporting rice to Mozambique, and we managed to persuade them to grant 1.2 million tonnes for the next three years," Fernando said.
Thursday, July 03, 2008

 
Food for thought: What fuels hunger?
Commodity Online: Haiti has fallen. Food riots have occurred in 22 countries, including Egypt, Yemen, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Philippines and Senegal. In North Korea, where food shortages and famine have been endemic for years, the average adolescent is 18 cm shorter than his counter part in South Korea. According to International Rice Research Institute, Vietnam, Thailand and Bangladesh are loosing tens of thousands of hectares of prime land every year to urban and industrial sprawl. In Malaysia, the government has promoted export driven palm-oil plantations.
Thursday, July 03, 2008

 
The politics of rice
The Island (Sri Lanka): Experts worry that while influential countries are able to secure food supplies, low-income and less influential countries are left with no food to import. A week after Cyclone Nargis struck Burma in May, Ma Mya Ayes was queuing for food in Labutta. Ma Ayes and a small group of villagers waited for two days in their village for government relief and rescue teams to arrive but they never came. The group decided to walk for a day to the Labutta in the Ayeyarwady division to get help. But it was never easy to get a single grain of rice. Duncan Macintosh, IRRI’s development director, noted that much of Asia’s economic growth has been driven by the rice sector. Rice farming is a major source of employment and income for rural households and rice is a staple food for the region’s 2.6 billion population.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008

 
Editorial: A second Green Revolution
Manila Times: The need for a second Asian Green Revolution amid a growing world food and rice crisis became a dominant theme at the Asian-European Editors Forum recently in Bangkok, Thailand. The forum gathered journalists and rice experts from Asia and Europe in a discussion of policy issues on the world food crisis, its effects on Asia, along with the search for solutions to a global problem. Two experts, current and past, from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, spoke at the forum. Duncan Macintosh, development director and spokesperson, IRRI, led the discussions on the rice crisis as a way to another Green Revolution. Dr. Kwanchai Gomez, executive director, the Asia Rice Foundation in Los Baños, discussed an Asia minus rice (“it isn’t Asia anymore”). She worked with IRRI from 1967 to 1996.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008

 
Genomics Research Focuses on Rice Variety Improvement
University of Arkansas Daily: Fayetteville, Ark. – Crop varieties can be improved through the study of genomics without creating genetically transformed varieties. That is the mission of a multistate research project led by the University of Arkansas System’s Division of Agriculture. RiceCAP, or Rice Coordinated Agricultural Project, is funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jim Correll, a Division of Agriculture professor of plant pathology, coordinates projects by 25 principal investigators in 12 states, the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008

 
Vietnam grows larger summer rice crop
HANOI (The Economic Times, India): Vietnamese farmers are expanding the southern planting area of the summer-autumn rice crop to catch up with high prices, with acreage up 4.4 per cent from last year at 1.81 million hectares, the government said on Tuesday. Prospects of a larger harvest this year prompted the government to lift a ban on rice exports last month and set a target to ship 4.5 million tonnes in the whole of 2008, similar to 2007. "The planting area under the summer-autumn rice crop in southern provinces this year is larger than last year's summer-autumn crop as food prices are at high levels, triggering farmers to expand the acreage," the General Statistics Office said in a report. It gave no output forecasts for the crop, the second-highest yielding in Vietnam after the winter-spring crop, which the report said has produced 18.03 million tonnes of paddy, up 5.9 per cent from last year's crop.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008

 
In food crisis, Asians look to agriculture
KARAWANG, Indonesia (USA Today) — In this Indonesian city, what used to be 100 acres of rice paddy is a maze of row houses and pastel-colored storefronts: a motorcycle garage, a printer, a medical clinic and a noodle shop. Until recently, this would have been just another green patch gone in a country where 100,000 acres of farmland vanish every year because of breakneck economic growth. That may be changing. The global food crisis means that countries across Asia are making agriculture a higher priority and taking steps to grow more crops within their own borders. "People suddenly care about agriculture" says Neil McCulloch, director for economics programs at the Asia Foundation office in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. "It takes a crisis to make everyone wake up and realize agriculture has been neglected."
Tuesday, July 01, 2008

 
After 30 percent slide, Asia rice could find floor
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Asian rice prices have tumbled even faster than they surged to record highs earlier this year, but the nearly 30 percent slide will soon end as a Thai government price-support scheme is about to kick in. Even bumper crops in leading producers and renewed exports from Vietnam and Cambodia are unlikely to force benchmark Thai rice prices much below $700 a tonne, the price at which Bangkok has agreed to buy supplies from farmers. That's down from a record $1,080 in April, but still double its $383 in January. After six months of exceptional volatility, a return to the price stability that characterized the thinly traded rice market for most of the past three decades would be a relief to policy makers and governments fighting food inflation worldwide, and anxious about the security of supplies.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008

 
Sri Lanka Says Mannar `Rice Bowl' Seized From Rebels
Bloomberg -- Sri Lanka said the army cut a main supply route for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam when soldiers captured Mannar's rice-producing area in the latest blow to rebels holding onto their last bases in the north. "Advancing security forces took control over the entire Mannar 'rice bowl' area" yesterday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement early today. Soldiers captured 120 square kilometers (46 square miles) that "mainly consists of the island's most fertile paddy fields." Soldiers seized 12 kilometers of the main A-32 road in Mannar district, one of the LTTE's main supply routes, the ministry cited Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a spokesman, as saying. The LTTE hasn't commented on the fighting. The LTTE lost the eastern region to the army a year ago in its worst defeat in its 25-year fight for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka's north and east.
Monday, June 30, 2008

 
Fighting to survive on mountain of trash
Toronto Star: Manila - A spike in rice prices means increased hardship for millions of Filipinos living on less than $2 a day ... In the Philippines the impact of recent increases in the price of food has been profound: 35 million of its 88 million citizens are as poor as the people of Smokey Mountain, surviving on less than $2 per day. Six months ago, a kilogram of rice in Manila cost just 18 Filipino pesos (about 41 cents). Today, international rice shortages have driven that price to 34 pesos per kilo (76 cents) ... But it's not as though the world wasn't warned about the onset of the current food crisis and the impact it would have on these poorest of the poor. Robert Zeigler, executive director of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) warned the world as early as June 9, 2005, in a speech in Ottawa to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Monday, June 30, 2008

 
India to Receive Normal Rains in July, Boosting Crops
June 30 (Bloomberg) -- India's monsoon rains will be normal next month, boosting the prospects for rice, lentils and soybeans and easing food prices that have helped drive inflation to the highest in 13 years. Rains in July, which account for a third of the four-month monsoon showers, will be 98 percent of the average of 293 millimeters (11.5 inches), said M. Rajeevan, deputy director general of the India Meteorological Department, in a telephone interview from New Delhi. The forecast allows for an error margin of 9 percentage points. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government is counting on increased food production to rein in an inflation rate that's doubled this year. A normal monsoon will also help the country's 234 million farmers benefit from record prices of commodities.
Monday, June 30, 2008

 
Supreme Court endorses ban on non-Basmati rice exports
New Delhi, June 30 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday upheld the ban on export of non-Basmati rice imposed by the central government earlier this year due to the fears of an impending food crisis in the country. Endorsing the ban, a vacation bench of Justice Altmas Kabir and Justice G.S. Singhvi suspended an Andhra Pradesh High Court order, waiving the ban for some state-based rice exporting firms and permitting them to continue exports. It also ordered suspension of all proposed rice shipments abroad by various firms. The bench’s ruling came on a lawsuit by the central government. Additional Solicitor General P.P Malhotra, appearing for the government, pleaded that the country faces the danger of an impending food crisis and the ban was imposed to avert this crisis. The government had also sought the apex court direction to transfer to itself at least 38 lawsuits pending in various high courts seeking permission to waive the ban.
Monday, June 30, 2008

 
Analysis of global food crisis: Ill-conceived rush to ethanol
Toronto Star: If you were trying to develop a less effective means of kicking the gasoline habit and coping with climate change you'd be challenged to improve on North America's misguided biofuels policy, which is centred on corn-based ethanol and is contributing to the global food crisis. The need for higher-yielding, disease- and pest-resistant crops as global food demand explodes. A change in North American diets. Architects of such a blueprint would, as an early step, redeploy some of the investment in the false promise of corn-based ethanol into the food-research centres in the developing world that were making significant progress until their budgets were slashed by national governments. These include the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and Mexico's International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
Sunday, June 29, 2008

 
Overlooked in the global food crisis: A problem with dirt
Southcoasttoday.com (USA): Science has provided the souped-up seeds to feed the world, through biotechnology and old-fashioned crossbreeding. Now the problem is the dirt they're planted in. Fixing soil just isn't "sexy" enough to interest governments or charities, said Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute in Manila. Philippines. Zeigler's center this sprimg planted its 133rd crop of rice in the same land since 1963, trying to pinpoint the right combination of nitrogen and fertilizer. Better seeds worked wonders. But finding money for soil health is difficult and because of that, less work is accomplished, he said.
Sunday, June 29, 2008

 
Hungry for answers
Toronto Star: A single grain of rice symbolizes the breakdown of the global food system. In recent months, prices of staples have jumped and millions have joined the ranks of the marginally fed. Hungry people desperate for bread or corn or rice, the staples of simple diets. But a shortfall in supplies has doubled and tripled the prices of these basics, shoving them far out of reach of the poorest people on Earth, the one billion who live on less than $1 a day. The crisis was a shock, but not actually a surprise. Josette Sheeran, head of the World Food Program, likened it to a "silent tsunami" that had taken years to build.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
 

mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2008, 09:53:06 AM »
Tips to Minimize Rice Postproduction Losses
According to the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension, rice farmers usually experience postharvest losses as high as 30 percent. Majority, or 15 percent, is attributed to postproduction practices of traders and millers, while 5 percent is ascribed to the practice of farmers.

Phil Rice-developed flatbed dryer is being recommended to ensure that grains are properly dried. It has a capacity of 1 to 6 tons per batch and removes moisture at a rate of 1 percent per hour.


To help farmers address postharvest problems such as low milling recovery and quality, the research team from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) composed of Engr. Artemuio B. Vasallo, Engr. Eden C. Gagelonia, Engr. Ricardo F. Orge, Dr. Manuel Jose C. Regalado, Dr. Eulito U. Bautista, Dr. Dante B. de Padua, Susan F. Brena, and Riza Abilgos-Ramos developed a guide in threshing, cleaning, drying, storing, and milling.

THRESHING
Threshing must be done right away after harvesting to prevent grain losses. To do this, farmers must separate grains from the panicle by rubbing, impact or stripping using either manually or mechanically operated threshers.

According to the researchers, there are two recommended kinds of threshers according to method of feeding. These are the hold-on-type, which strips the panicle without damaging the straw or the grain, and the throw-in-type, which has a separating and cleaning mechanism.

They also averred that “farmers can also choose threshers according to the movement of material to be threshed.” They explained that the through-flow thresher can separate the grain while driving the straw out of the thresher, while the axial-flow thresher can separate the grain while moving the straw around the axial cylinder to be discharged at the end of the machine.

The researchers also said that it is also necessary to consider the speed of the threshing drum since this affects the quality of the grains.’ “For throw-intypes, the speed must range from 14.50 meters per second (m/s) to 18.25 m/s, while for the hold-on type, it must range from 10.75 m/s to 13.25 m/s,” they added.

CLEANING
Cleaning the grains before drying, according to the research team, is another important postproduction activity.

The team recommends the use of IRRI grain cleaner, which has a cleaning capacity of 0.25 to 1 ton per hour and a purity output of 99 percent, and the PhilRice hybrid rice/inbred seed cleaner, which has a cleaning capacity of 1 ton per hour and purity output of 98 to 99 percent.

Farmers are also advised to clean the grains again after drying since most of the impurities are not easily removed from wet rice during the pre-cleaning process.

DRYING
“Farmers must also see to it that grains arc properly dried,” the researchers said. Proper drying of the grains is important to lessen the risk of spoilage, prevent insect activity, and avoid grain discoloration caused by grain heating at high moisture content. Some farmers prefer sun drying because it is cheap, does not entail cost for energy consumption, and because there are drying areas in most places.

To ensure the quality of harvested grains, reduce postharvest losses and dependence on weather conditions for harvest and allow more time for postharvest field work. PhilRice promotes mechanical dryers such as the flatbed dryer. The dryer, according to the researchers, has a capacity of 1 to 6 tons per batch and removes moisture at a rate of 1 percent per hour.

STORING
Storage plays a significant role in ensuring the availability of stocks. It also provides reserves for unpredictable circumstances such as drought, flood, and war. The research team advises farmers to store grains at a safe moisture level of 14 percent wet basis or lower for prolonged storage.

MILLING
In milling rice, farmers must use the multipass rice mills because according to the researchers, these have an average milling recovery of above 60 percent. Whereas, a single pass mill has a low milling recovery of only 55 percent. They also said that a 14 percent moisture content is needed to mill rice.

Moreover, farmers must also consider the quality of palay, milling setup, and the knowledge and efficiency of mill operators.



mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #28 on: September 02, 2008, 12:12:32 PM »
Rice Crisis : Scrounging Amidst Plenty
The current rice shortage seems to be of national magnitude, but solutions can be found by breaking down the problem into manageable parts…


In the news lately is the long queue of people buying NFA rice-taking more than an hour of waiting for a buyer to buy three kilos of low-priced-rice. The long lines are reminiscent of years of the past, when a similar situation came to fore.


The increase of the price of rice (and other food commodities) in the world market- over 1oo% over three years- is a nightmare for rice importing countries like us and Indonesia and Bangladesh where the food cost is about 8o% of income earned by their poorest Constituents.



And despite the continuing assurances of government that there is no rice shortage, people are more reacting to a shortage scenario, coupled with pronouncement from military and police authorities of raiding rice warehouses, looking for hoarded stocks.


Over the years, we have always looked at nearby rice-producing countries to supply the domestic gap between what we produce and the demand of households, and that is was profitable for NFA to import rice and sell at the domestic market. There was a margin or profit to be made whenever rice is imported and sold in the domestic market.


And that import volumes that were 600,000 metric tons before soared to more than a million and we were importing 1,500,000 tons by 2003. This continued to increase, and for 2008, we are looking at going beyond 2,000, 000 tons, a record of sort.


This continuing importation is a puzzle, to many as we claim to be an agricultural country, having a top-notch school, and home of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which is focused on increasing rice supply. This is aside from the fact that we were never in short supply of agri-technorats.


The importation and perceived rice shortage is a recurring bad dream that refuses to go away, that haunts the bureaucracy, and puts uncertainty over a period of time.


Many reasons have been brought forward why we continue to import rice, each pundit putting his ten-cents worth of analysis, and yet failing to see the whole scenario as a problem of political will. This is not the first time we have this problem.


The problem seems to be of national magnitude, but solutions can be found by breaking down the problem into manageable parts.

While an environment of cheap fuel cost is gone, and fertilizer price has gone out of the window, there are still options to negate the spiral-up effects of these inputs. All is not lost simply because we are in a regime of rising cost of production.


As I have always espoused, there are pockets of production areas that can still be brought into higher productive levels by working on the existing system. Identification of rice deficit areas and finding out why so can bring in solutions based on what exists at ground level.


A basic computation of rice produced in an area divided by its hectarage can bring out under-productive areas. Further study of why such a situation exists can bring reasons that are manageable even at the lower level of the bureaucracy.


It is in this scenario that DA should look at LGUs as an effective partner in working out solutions to this seemingly never ending food production short fall in the countryside.


There are about 78 provincial governors, more than 90 city mayors and about 1600 municipal mayors, and each would definitely like to establish production benchmarks that can provide food security for their constituents (who will cast their votes come election time).


Critical in this working hand-in-hand with local executives is a common understanding and agreement on expectations and this can he done through continuing dialogue as each individual area would require a tailor-fit arrangement, a far cry from the usual national approach of one program-fits-all .


The role and participation of local executives are imperative to any food production program coming from the national agency as agri-production takes in gestation or growing time. Agri-projects cannot be left alone, unlike construction of infrastructures. Any neglect along the way comes out in the computation of productivity levels, and as such, participation (or monitoring) at grass root level is a must.


Local government units are able to tap resources which are at arm’s length from them. Each would have the needed manpower to work on identified projects, and that they have their own funding sources, no matter how meager these are (brought about by the devolution). DA can tap on the strength of local units to further its objective of setting up production areas nearest the market, if not consumed within.


The regime of low fuel cost to transport agri-products to far-away consumption areas is gone. And if we continue to work on this model, transport cost incremental is added on to the price, making it unaffordable to consumers. This is one of the reasons why the price of Thailand and Vietnam rice had increased more than 100% over a period of less than a year.


Let us work on local areas of productivity to make food affordable, and we no longer need to scrounge for food amidst plenty.



mikey

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Re: International Rice News:
« Reply #29 on: October 04, 2008, 09:11:22 AM »
Hybrid Rice 101
Planting Hybrid Varieties has been proven to be one of the best options in increasing crop productivity per unit area of land per unit time.

In China, one-half of the total ricefield area is planted to hybrid rice and the other half is planted to inbred varieties. Yet, 60 percent of the total rice production in China comes from hybrids and 40 percent is contributed by inbreds. This translates to more than 20 million metric tons extra paddy per year because of the yield advantage of hybrid rice over inbred varieties. The yield difference between hybrids and inbreds in China is more than the total national rice production in the Philippines.

This new column in Agriculture Magazine, Tagumpay sa Palay, aims to provide our readers with the best practices, farming techniques, and latest technologies in hybrid rice cultivation. Mark Nas, the author, has previously worked at the Plant Breeding Genetics & Biotech Division of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). He stayed at IRRI for eight years, and has been with Pioneer Hi-Bred Philippines as a senior research associate for nearly two years.
In this maiden article, we will explore some of the facts, myths, and benefits of planting hybrid rice.

How is HYBRID RICE MADE?
Hybrid rice is the crop grown from the seed produced from a cross between two genetically distinct parents. Since rice is a self pollinated plant, male sterility systems are employed to facilitate cross pollination. The female parent is male sterile and does not produce viable pollens. True-to-type females are produced by crossing the females with an identical plant with viable pollens (maintainers). Hybrids are produced by crossing the female parent with a plant capable of restoring male fertility in the F 1. The female parent is usually called the A-line, the maintainer is called the B-line while the male parent or the restorer is called the R-line. Farmers involved in seed production refer to female seed increase and hybrid seed production when they talk about AxB and AxR crosses, respectively.

HOW CAN PLANTING HYBRID RICE INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY?
Hybrid vigor, or heterosis, is the superiority of the progeny over the parents, or in commercial breeding, over the local check varieties. It has been exploited and well-documented in cross pollinated crops such as corn. Hybrid rice can yield up to 30 percent more than inbred varieties. The table below further illustrates the economics of planting hybrid rice on a per hectare basis on an irrigated ricefield. It also shows that even without seed subsidy, farmers can still benefit more from hybrid rice.

ARE THERE SUSCEPTIBILITY TO PESTS AND DISEASES CORRELATED TO HYBRID RICE?

Majority of the hybrids in the Philippine market today are based on the wild abortive (WA)-type cytoplasm and issues have been raised as early as 1990s regarding possible susceptibility to biotic stresses.. This is a valid concern, and is similar to the susceptibility of the T -cytoplasm used in hybrid corn to southern leaf blight. Due to this susceptibility, the corn industry in some parts of the United States was nearly wiped out in 1950s.

A study was conducted in IRRI by Dr. Sant S. Virmani, father of tropical rice hybrids, on the association of cytoplasmic genes with certain disease/insect susceptibility in 2000-2001. The study showed that resistance or susceptibility of hybrids to major pests and diseases such as bacterial blight, blast, and leafhoppers is not correlated to the WA cytoplasm or cytoplasmic genes.

ARE THERE ISSUES ON EATING QUALITY OF HYBRIDS?
An issue was brought against rice hybrids several years ago and published in a popular broadsheet alleging that rice hybrids taste bad and “fit only for animals.” Apparently, the statement was a generalization of all hybrid varieties. While it is true that the earliest hybrid released in the Philippines, Magat, does not possess excellent eating quality, succeeding hybrids from public and private breeding programs have considerably improved upon what Magat hybrid lacked.

Eating quality is an important attribute to command premium farmgate price. The current eating standard for eating quality is the mega-variety IR64. It has long, slender grains and medium amylose content- suitable to the Filipino taste. One hybrid that is near to IR64’s eating quality characteristics is PSB Rc72H or Mestizo 1.

Eating quality of rice hybrids is dependent on the eating quality characteristics of the parental lines. Mestizo 1 has an acceptable eating quality because its female parent, IR58025A/B, has an acceptable eating quality, which the female parent of Magat, IR62829AB does not posses.

CAN I SAVE AND PLANT SEEDS HARVESTED FROM HYBRIDS?
It is not recommended to plant seeds harvested from hybrids. The yield level of a hybrid crop cannot be attained when seeds harvested from the hybrid crop (second generation seeds) are planted. This is because hybrids are not true breeding such as inbreds. While inbreds can be propagated by self-pollination, hybrids segregate when second generation seeds are planted, producing various combinations of characters from the male and female parents. Thus, a field planted with second generation seeds may exhibit variation in spikelet fertility levels resulting in severely reduced yield, non-uniform plant height if the parents differ in height, and variation in other characters where the male and female parents differ.

Hybrid vigor (e.g. yield advantage of hybrids) is a natural biological phenomenon and so is segregation among plants derived from seeds harvested from hybrids. Segregation is according to the laws of Mendelian genetics.

The ultimate gauge for measuring success of science is its adoption and acceptance by the constituents it means to serve. Disseminating high-yielding hybrid rice varieties that would increase productivity and profitability of farmers is an example of science working at its best. The writer Jonathan Swift once stated, “whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind…”


 

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