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LIVESTOCKS => AGRI-NEWS => Topic started by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:28:58 AM

Title: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:28:58 AM
Philippine president calls for Southeast Asian cooperation to ensure rice supply
Oliver Teves
May 21, 2008 - 12:09 a.m.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called Wednesday for cooperation among Southeast Asian countries to ensure adequate rice supplies and stable prices.

Addressing a meeting of farmers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in southern Cagayan de Oro city, Arroyo urged the regional bloc to work on improving productivity through research and development of new high-yielding varieties.

The Philippines is the world's top rice importer while Thailand and Vietnam are among the biggest exporters. All are members of ASEAN, along with some of the world's other top rice-consuming nations — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:34:47 AM
Japanese eat more rice as other food prices climb
Thu May 22, 2008 5:20am EDT  Email | Print | Share| Reprints | Single Page
More Business & Investing News... TOKYO (Reuters) - The average Japanese ate 0.6 percent more rice in March than a year earlier, a survey showed on Thursday, marking the biggest rise in three years in the wake of a series of price hikes for bread, noodles and other food.

The recovery, though slight, could signal the beginning of a shift from wheat that may eventually weigh on international grain prices, given that Japan is the world's fourth biggest wheat importer. Japan imports about 90 percent of the wheat it needs.

An Agriculture Ministry survey of 8,340 households showed rice consumption per person was an estimated 4.91 kg in March, compared with 4.88 kg a year earlier and 4.58 kg in February.

The year-on-year growth was the biggest since February 2005, when consumption increased 1.3 percent from a year earlier.

World rice prices have almost trebled this year, but the price that Japanese consumers pay for a 5 kg bag of rice has held around 2,000 yen to 2,500 yen ($19-$24), due to heavy restrictions on imports and government intervention to maintain supplies. ID:nT240312

The government, which controls bulk imports of wheat, plans to import 4.99 million tonnes of the grain in the current year to March 2009, up 4 percent from a year earlier.

The price of wheat products in Japan will likely rise further, with the government set to boost prices for wheat it sells to flour millers by 30 percent or more in October, from the current level set in April.

Last week Yamazaki Baking Co (2212.T: Quote, Profile, Research), Japan's biggest bread maker, boosted the price of bread and pastries by 8 percent on average, followed by similar moves among its rivals.

The cost that Yamazaki suggests for "Double Soft", a popular loaf of bread, is 240 yen ($2.30). That's up from 200 yen before the company raised prices in December for the first time since 1983.  Continued...


Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:37:34 AM
   
Thursday, May 22, 2008
 
 
Rice subsidy reaches P6.9B
 
NFA already given more than half of allotment
 

State-run National Food Authority  (NFA) already availed of more than half of its programmed tax subsidy this year in the first four months alone, the Department of Budget and Management reported Wednesday.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said the tax subsidy extended to the grains agency from January to April reached P6.9 billion, or more than half of the P7.5 billion for the entire 2008.

As a result of higher spending by the food authority for rice importation, Andaya added that the government possibly will raise the programmed tax subsidy to accommodate additional expenses needed by the cash-strapped state firm.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves earlier said they were considering a higher tax subsidy for the grains agency to compensate for the high prices of rice in the world market and to increase its buffer stocks.

This year, Teves added, the grains agency is expected to post a budget deficit of P43.1 billion from last year’s P17 billion.

Economists said the agency’s losses are seen to reach P136 billion by 2010 on account of high prices of commodities.

Andaya said the government has set aside P43 billion in the next two years to support the Agriculture department’s programs on rice sufficiency, production support, irrigation and post-harvest facilities.

To cut government spending on rice importation, the food authority scrapped the 50-percent duty imposed on rice starting last month. Under the lifting, commercial-rice traders will not pay the full duty, but only a service fee of P2 per kilo of rice.

President Gloria Arroyo also earlier lifted the country’s quota on rice imports.

At end-April, government subsidies extended to government-owned and controlled corporations and government financial institutions dropped 70 percent to P2.29 billion from P8.43 billion year on year.

This year, state subsidies are programmed to reach P10.12 billion, compared with P27.33 billion last year.

If the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is to be believed, the country can attain 100-percent rice self-sufficiency by 2010 with a projected production of palay (unhusked rice) reaching 19.70 million metric tons, enough to feed the Philippines’ projected population of 94.89 million.

The PhilRice website revealed that to attain a 100-percent sufficiency in rice by 2010, the government has to spend P14.89 billion in 2009 and P14.97 billion in 2010 or a total of P29.857 billion.

Palay production this year is projected at about 17 million metric tons for a population of about 89 million. At present, the country is 90-percent to 95-percent sufficient in rice production.

“That’s even 100.74-percent sufficiency level [for 2010]. Translating it to the terms of the current daunting issue, it means the country will be freed from scrambling for a rice-supply commitment from any member of the cartelized rice trader in the region,” said Dr. Anselmo Roque of PhilRice, referring to Asia.

The palay self-sufficiency plan is called “Focusing on Increasing Provincial Productivity,” which by its name will involve provinces named as “rice champions,” according to the PhilRice website. The agency had identified 49 provinces as “rice champions.”

Under the plan, each province will get a support fund, and a P1-million incentive will be given to the top three provinces that will exceed their palay production targets.

The palay self-sufficiency plan was formulated by a PhilRice team led by its executive director, Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, along with current and former officials of the Agriculture department, the International Rice Research Institute and a number of local officials and other government agencies involved in agriculture.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the plan is “highly doable because the planners themselves are teaming up to implement it.”

“Self-sufficiency in rice, after all, is not a puzzle to us Filipinos. Not so long ago, we had produced more than enough rice for ourselves, we even shared part of our produce to the world,” Yap wrote in the plan’s foreword.

The amounts to be spent in 2009 and 2010 are on top of the P43-billion FIELDS initiative of President Arroyo, where massive amounts of funds will be infused for fertilizers, irrigation and other rural infrastructure, education and training of farmers, dryers and other post-harvest facilities and seeds of high-yielding varieties.

According to PhilRice, the country can save up to $500 million annually from importing rice if local rice production is boosted to self-sufficient levels.
--Chino S. Leyco And  Conrad M. Cariño
 
   
 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:42:12 AM
 
Myanmar’s next rice crop in peril
Larry Jagan, Foreign Correspondent

Last Updated: May 20. 2008 11:52PM UAE / May 20. 2008 7:52PM GMT 
A homeless Myanmar woman eats rice beside her one-day-old infant at a temporary shelter on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar. Associated Press
BANGKOK // As Myanmar mourns the thousands dead or missing from Cyclone Nargis, the UN is warning that time is running out for the country’s rice farmers if they are to plant new crops before the end of the main growing season.

If seeds are not sown before the end of June in the Irrawaddy Delta – Myanmar’s rice bowl – the country will lose a significant amount of food that it desperately needs to feed its impoverished people.

“The clock is ticking if we are to save the country’s next rice crop,” Diderik de Vleeschauwer, a spokesman for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said.

But the signs are not good, as much of the rice paddy in the cyclone-hit areas of the delta are still under water and farmers are in need of the most basic amenities — food, shelter and clothing.

The United Nations said it has only been able to reach a quarter of the people in need, as the junta has refused to allow foreign aid workers into the country.

But in what appeared to be a breakthrough, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said yesterday the generals had granted permission for the World Food Programme to use helicopters to drop aid to people in the delta.

The medium- and long-term effects of the cyclone on Myanmar’s economy are going to be significant. Agricultural experts are now warning that the disaster could turn Myanmar from a rice exporting nation into an importer.

“Food stores have been lost, seeds have been destroyed and other assets needed have all been swept away,” Mr de Vleeschauwer said.

“In the lower Delta [hardest hit by the cyclone] they just do not have the capital to replace the seeds, livestock and tools needed to start replanting rice in the next few months,” he said.

This is the time the usual planting season starts in the Irrawaddy Delta – which produces two-thirds of Myanmar’s rice. Around a quarter of the rice paddy in this area is flooded with salty sea water and decaying animal and human carcasses. These have to be cleared before planting can begin.

The heavy rains that have fallen in the area over the last week have helped dilute the brackish water a little, but it is still a major problem. The irrigation channels need to be repaired and water pumps replaced.

More than half of the region’s livestock, which was used for ploughing, has been killed.

The excess water needs to drained away and the debris cleared from the land. So far, very little has been done.

Pumps are badly needed, according to local aid workers who have been to the region, and then the land needs to be tilled.

“We are looking at providing small Chinese-made tractors for some of this work,” said another agricultural expert working in Myanmar. “But in some areas the water is so high that machines wont work.”

There is an acute need for fertilisers, which are scarce in Myanmar. All fertilisers must be imported and are generally too expensive for the average farmer, but are essential to boost rice yields, according to the FAO.

“On poor or depleted soils, yields can be increased by up to 30 per cent through the provision and use of nitrogen fertilisers,” said Mr de Vleeschauwer. “In this area, the use of fertilisers is considered highly critical,” he said.

“Our rice could recover if the sun ever got the chance to shine,” one farmer in the delta told a local journalist as he tried to dry his rice seeds beside the road. “But it will never be good quality again.”

The most pressing problem is getting the farmers back on to the land. “There is a question about the ability of the rice planters to get back to cultivation,” said Paul Risely, a regional spokesman for the World Food Programme. “They’ve got to put their houses back together first.”

While next year’s rice crop hangs in the balance, the survivors of the cyclone are now faced with a new threat, from water borne-disease: diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, dengue fever and malaria.

“There is a very real danger of a second wave of death from disease if food, clean water, shelter and emergency health care cannot be provided to the displaced people on the move from the devastated areas in the delta,” said Amanda Pitt, the regional spokesman for the UN.

Already, cases of cholera have been confirmed among those affected by the cyclone in the Irrawaddy Delta, according to Maureen Birmingham, the acting head of the World Health Organisation based in Bangkok.

“At this stage the numbers are not significant and consistent with the usual presence of the disease in the area,” she said.

But there is cause for concern, especially with the acute lack of safe water, she said. There has been a massive jump in the number of cases of diarrhoea, which could lead to a cholera outbreak. “There is no explosion yet, but the risk is very high,” she said.

As a precaution, the authorities have begun fogging – a technique used to spray insecticides – in temporary shelters to prevent and control the proliferation of diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as malaria and dengue, according to the WHO in Yangon.

People in the delta area are also in acute need of medical attention. Many have suffered injuries that have become infected, according to a young Australian volunteer helping in the area.

More than 100 Asian doctors have arrived in Myanmar in the last few days, from Bangladesh, India and Thailand, and this should help the relief effort.

Yesterday, the junta gave permission for the WFP to start using helicopters to distribute food and other aid in the delta.



Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:44:24 AM
Philippine rice crisis due to bad policies, not shortage: economist
4 days ago

MANILA (AFP) — The rice crisis affecting the Philippines is not caused by a shortage of rice but due to bad policies that have hurt the agriculture sector, a leading economist said in a report released Wednesday.

"The so-called rice crisis is really an income crisis," said Rolando Dy, executive director of the food division of the Manila-based University of Asia and the Pacific.

He blamed "under-investment in agriculture and infrastructure, a poor record in eliminating poverty (and) poor infrastructure quality," for the crisis which has forced thousands of poor Filipinos to line up for hours for subsidised rice.

"We cannot reap what we did not sow. We failed in reducing rural poverty compared to other countries," like China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, he said.

The Philippines is one of the world's biggest rice importers and does not enjoy large contiguous land areas with large river systems that allow China, India, Vietnam and Thailand to grow huge amounts of rice, Dy conceded.

But he said other countries which are more dependent on imported rice, like Malaysia and Singapore did not have long queues for rice and were not suffering from the crisis as badly as the Philippines.

Dy said that rice consumption in the Philippines was so high because much of its population was still poor and could afford to eat nothing else.

"There are so many poor people here, the only food they can afford is a mound of rice and some catsup (tomato sauce)," he said.

The Philippines could raise productivity but it had not properly invested in agriculture or its support infrastructure like irrigation and farm-to-market roads, Dy said.

He said the government was investing little in research and development, building sub-standard rural roads and not putting enough irrigation into potential growth areas like the southern region of Mindanao.

Dy also complained that an agriculture modernisation law that took effect in 2000 was not getting adequate funding.

Graft and corruption also hurt the agriculture sector with rural infrastructure being built to poor standards.

The rice crisis might even be a blessing in disguise because it "will spur production and even investments," in agriculture which will have a positive effect in the long run, Dy said.

But he said the rice issue is "a problem not just of the executive branch... it is a problem of the legislative and judiciary," as well.

Dy said that there is likely to be "some correction in rice prices in the next 12 months but not dramatically," remarking that world rice prices will not return to levels seen in 2006.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:46:57 AM
IBM taps idle computing power to help solve rice crisis


By Lawrence Casiraya
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:40:00 05/21/2008


MANILA, Philippines -- IBM is tapping unused computing power worldwide to help solve the rice crisis in developing countries like the Philippines.

IBM is collaborating with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which is based in Laguna, and the University Washington in a project called World Community Grid.

The project aims to create a network that will tap into unused computing power from individual PCs worldwide to harness unused computing power in studying rice protein structures.

The goal is to create "super hybrids" that can withstand worsening climate conditions and produce more yield. Nearly a million PCs -- equivalent to the processing power of 167 teraflops -- have signed up for the project, IBM said in a statement.

World Community Grid will run a three-dimensional modeling program created by computational biologists at the University of Washington to study the structures of the proteins that make up the building blocks of rice.

Understanding the structure, according to IBM, is necessary to identify the function of those proteins and to enable researchers to determine which ones could help produce more rice grains, ward off pests, resist disease or hold more nutrients.

In the end, the project aims to create the largest and most comprehensive map of rice proteins and their related functions, helping agriculturalists and farmers pinpoint which plants should be selected for cross-breeding to cultivate better crops.

“There are between 30,000 and 60,000 different protein structures to study," said Dr. Ram Samudrala, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Washington.

"Using traditional experimental approaches in the laboratory to identify detailed structure and function of critical proteins would take decades," said Samudrala. "Running our software program on World Community Grid will shorten the time from 200 years to less than two years."

The project received an initial grant of $2 million from National Science Foundation in the United States.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:50:40 AM
 IRRI’s 9-point action plan for grain crisis
 Commodity Online
MANILA: Many reasons have been cited for the ongoing food grain crisis: consumption overtaking production, lower annual yield growth, lack of land resources to raise acreage, reduced public investment in agricultural research and development, increase in population, adverse weather, pests, diseases etc..

What are the solutions?
According to International Rice Research Institute, Manila, in the near term, urgent actions from national governments and international agencies are needed on two fronts: rapidly exploiting existing technological opportunities for increasing rice yields and policy reforms to improve poorpeople’s food entitlements. Rice production can be revitalized, but there are no silver bullets.

The world community must invest now and for a long time to come.

Some of the actions listed below deal with the immediate crisis while others provide long‐term solutions to prevent future crises. IRRI is calling for the implementation of the following nine‐point program of short‐ and long‐term interventions:

1. Bring about an agronomic revolution in Asian rice production to reduce existing yield gaps
Farmers have struggled to maximize the production potential of the rice varieties they are growing, so there is a gap between potential yield and actual yield. Depending on production conditions, an unexploited yield gap of 1–2 tons per hectare currently exists in most farmers’ fields in ricegrowing areas of Asia. Such yield gaps can be reduced through the use of better crop management practices, particularly in irrigated environments.This requires funding support for programs aimed at improving farmers’ skills in such practices as land preparation, water and nutrient management, and control of pests and diseases.

2. Accelerate the delivery of new postharvest technologies to reduce losses
Post harvest includes the storing, drying, and processing of rice. Most farmers in Asia suffer considerable losses in terms of both quantity and quality of rice during post harvest operations because of the use of old and inefficient practices. Active promotion of exciting new technologies that are currently available for on‐farm storage and drying will reduce losses considerably.

3. Accelerate the introduction and adoption of higher yielding rice varieties
New rice varieties exist that could increase production, but farmers are not using them mainly because the systems that develop and introduce new varieties are under‐resourced.

4. Strengthen and upgrade the rice breeding and research pipelines
Funding for the development of new rice varieties has steadily declined over the past decade or more. This must be reversed in order to develop the new rice varieties that will be required for sustained productivity growth.

Opportunities exist to accelerate the development of new rice varieties with increased tolerance of abiotic stresses (such as drought, flooding, and salinity) and resistance to insects and diseases through new precision‐breeding approaches. Likewise, record high fertilizer prices and new pest outbreaks demand the urgent revitalization of research on rice crop and resource management.

5. Accelerate research on the world’s thousands of rice varieties so scientists can tap the vast reservoir of untapped knowledge they contain
Working with IRRI, the nations of Asia have spent decades carefullycollecting the region’s thousands of rice varieties. More than 100,000 types of rice are now being carefully managed and used at IRRI and in Asian nations. However, scientists have studied in detail only about 10% of these types. It is urgent that researchers learn more about the other 90% so they can be used in the development of new varieties.

6. Develop a new generation of rice scientists and researchers for the public and private sectors
Another vital concern for the Asian rice industry is the education and training of young scientists and researchers from rice‐producing countries.Asia urgently needs to train a new generation of rice scientists and researchers—before the present generation retires—if the region’s rice industry is to successfully capitalize on advances in modern science.

7. Increase public investment in agricultural infrastructure
Adequate investments in agricultural infrastructure such as roads, irrigation systems, and market systems are critically important for raising and sustaining productivity growth in rice. As with agricultural research, the underinvestment in infrastructure needs to be corrected urgently.

8. Reform policy to improve the efficiency of marketing systems for both inputs and outputs
Domestic and international marketing systems need to improve so that changes in consumer prices are reflected in producer or farm‐gate prices (this is known as efficient transmission of price signals). Policies should be developed and revised to remove barriers to the efficient transmission of price signals and to create conditions that allow the private sector to function smoothly.

9. Strengthen food safety nets for the poor
Poor and disadvantaged people who are highly vulnerable to food shortages require strong food and social safety net programs to ensure that their needs are adequately met. Both urban and rural poor people would benefit from food or income transfers and nutrition programs focusing on early childhood.


 
 
 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:54:27 AM
High rice price empties Dhaka begging bowls
Wed May 21, 2008 2:05pm IST  Email | Print | Share| Single Page[-] Text

DHAKA (Reuters Life!) - It's a tough life being a beggar in impoverished Bangladesh, and now the global crop crunch has made it even harder.

Rice has always been the alms of choice in this South Asian nation where the crop is a staple food, but shortages in the grain, and ensuing high prices, have meant less rice on Bangladeshi tables -- and in begging bowls.

Many beggars in the capital Dhaka make a living by selling their rice donations at a steep discount at a makeshift market which has been convening each day in a disused, downtown stadium for over 20 years.

Their customers are usually labourers and rickshaw drivers who cannot afford to buy rice at supermarket prices.

But these days the market sees few hawkers, and even less rice. The food shortages have also driven many beggars to leave the capital for the countryside, hoping to feed themselves and their families off a bumper summer rice harvest.

"Even a year ago it was a good business for us," said Maziran Begum, who has been begging in Dhaka for years.

"I would get three or four kgs of rice every day and I could sell most of it. Now nobody wants to give us rice as it became costlier. If we ask people for rice, they give us a coin.

"Now, whatever I get, is sometimes not even good enough to feed myself," she said. 

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 11:57:22 AM
Little typhoon damage on rice crops
May 20, 2008 23:19:00
Neal Cruz opinion@inquirer.com.ph
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The typhoon that barreled through Northern and Central Luzon damaged many homes but not, luckily, the rice crops-not much anyway. The rice fields were newly planted with rice seedlings or were just being prepared for planting, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told the Kapihan sa Manila last Monday, so there wasn't much damage. All that has to be done is to plant again. The previous crop has long been harvested.

So what is the rice situation?

"There is no rice shortage," Secretary Yap said confidently.

But read between the lines. That answer is full of mental reservations. He means there is no rice shortage "at present," today, this week, this month. There is plenty of rice stocks-at present.

But what will happen beginning July when the lean months come marching in?

"We have already contracted for the rice imports to fill in our production shortfall," said Yap, but not so confidently this time.

For having import contracts is one thing and having the rice actually delivered is another. Rice exporting countries have already warned that they may not be able to fulfill export commitments because of less supply and increased demand.

What will happen when typhoons (this is the typhoon season) hit the rice exporting countries and their rice crops are damaged, their productions fall short, and they are not able to deliver on their export contracts? Yap was asked.

"We will just have to look for other sources," was his answer.

But there are no other sources. The whole world is short of rice. What then?

Let the people eat cake, as Marie Antoinette advised. Or, more practically, eat camote. Don't laugh at this last advice. During the war, when there was practically no rice, the people survived on camote, both the tubers and the camote tops. And on coconuts, of which we have plenty.

Practically speaking, camote and coconut can really be used to bake cakes. Flour can be made out of sweet potatoes and coconuts--and from cassava and bananas. These four can be processed into flour and mixed with wheat flour and used for bread, cakes, biscuits, etc. If we do this, they will augment the supply of wheat and rice. Or they can be eaten cooked as is.

The trouble is Filipinos have to be weaned away from rice. Filipinos do not feel satisfied unless they eat rice. This is just a matter of habit and taste, however. Sweet potatoes, coconut and bananas have better nutrition than rice.

What is rice, anyway? It is mostly starch. Camote and bananas are also starch but they also have sugar. And coconut has fat. Plus they have plenty of vitamins. So these three are better than rice, nutrition-wise.

What's more, rice needs plenty of water. Many liters of water are needed to grow just one rice plant. That is why rice is grown on irrigated fields, and only during the rainy season on farms without irrigation. But constructing water impounding dams and reservoirs and kilometers of irrigation canals and maintaining them are very expensive. Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam can grow plenty of rice only because the mighty Mekong River runs through them and their flat rice lands run along the river. The Philippines, on the other hand, is made up of many islands and their rivers do not run as long with deltas like the Mekong.

On the other hand, camote, cassava and banana need little water. After you have stuck the camote and cassava cuttings into the soil, you hardly need to water them. Like the bananas, they grow by themselves, with little care from humans. And coconuts are already growing and bearing fruit in vast plantations.

Even better, camote and cassava grow on poor soil, and bananas fertilize themselves with the abundant fronds that they produce. The first two produce huge tubers on sandy soil (because the soil is loose), especially in Pampanga and Tarlac where Mt. Pinatubo deposited huge amounts of lahar many centuries ago. Now that Pinatubo has again erupted with vast quantities of lahar only years ago, camote and cassava may make the vast wastelands of lahar around the volcano productive again.

But farmers won't start planting camote and cassava in the sand unless they see somebody else do it and profit from it. So the Depapartment of Agriculture has to experiment and see if this can be done. If it is possible, then it should show the way to and encourage the farmers.

It cannot just rely on importation, although there are plenty of commissions to be had from importation. We have to be self-reliant on food.

I think that in the future, it is the agricultural countries that will survive. The present, rich industrialized countries will increasingly be dependent on the agricultural countries for their food. They cannot eat the metals that they produce. So they will be at the mercy of the agricultural countries in the same way that the world is now at the mercy of the oil-producing countries. But when the oil under their ground run out, they will have to buy biofuels and food from the tropical, agricultural countries that they made to pay through the nose during the times when oil was king. Then it would be the turn of the tropical nations to make them pay through the nose. That would be sweet revenge. And global justice.

Similarly, the world will be forced to eat less meat in the future. It takes many kilos of grain to produce one pound of meat. Unlike before when cattle thrived on grass alone, now they are fattened with grain-grain that will henceforth be needed to feed humans. And unlike before, when pigs, poultry and cattle were free-roaming animals that fed themselves, now they have to be fed with plenty of grains and fishmeal-food that humans will increasingly need for themselves.


Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 12:04:09 PM
Sunday.May,25,2008

 Frank A. Hilario
May 20, 2008
 2008, Battle for the Stomach. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines and Director General Robert Zeigler of the International Rice Research Institute did not talk about the wars of the world on Friday, May 2 at the IRRI main campus in Los Baños, Laguna in the Philippines; they talked about the war for the stomach of the Filipinos, which are hungry for rice. The Warrior Queen by genes, the Warrior King by environment.

Did they talk about this paradox: That the Philippines is the world’s biggest importer of rice and, based in the Philippines, IRRI is the world’s biggest researcher on rice? No. And no, she didn’t beg for more rice from IRRI; and no, IRRI did not turn his back on his mother country. They talked about the worst of soils and the best of soils.

My shot shows the sign in the ricefield beyond and between them saying, ‘IDSA 77: TOLERANT’ – very suggestive, very educational. IDSA suggests EDSA, Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue, synonymous to People Power to the Filipinos and the world (EDSA Revolution); tolerant means able to put up with, withstand notwithstanding. GMA has so far tolerated an infinite number (77 times, Matthew 18: 21-22, New American Bible) of EDSA attempts to oust her from power. Will she be able to weather this food crisis? Wrong question!

She is my President, if you have to know. No, there is no food crisis in the Philippines – there is a food price crisis. And that’s true all over the world. The difference is gross: Food goes to the stomach, price goes to the pocket.

The use of food crops for biofuels has triggered the rises in the prices of foods. The United States and China are guilty in using corn to produce bioethanol – corn is a food crop, food to people and feed to animals. Brazil is guilty in using sugarcane to produce the same – sugarcane is sugar to everyone, confectionery and syrup and juice to millions. You can’t have our food and we eat it too!

The price crisis is a supply crisis. And it is triggered by 2 kinds of hunger: on one hand, peoples’ hunger for green & gold; on the other hand, other peoples’ hunger for food.

In fact, it’s not simply a crisis; it’s a war. In fact, it’s not simply a war; it’s 2 wars. In fact, it’s not simply 2 wars; it’s 3 wars.

2020, the Third World War. Which alien species brought the plague called climate change to the human inhabitants of the Earth? Homo sapiens. This species was alien to the idea that if you allow Politics to blend with Science to blend with Private Interests and leave out much of the Public long enough, there is a Climate Change where the Icebergs of Indifference melt and the Temperatures of Neglect rise and the Storms of Protests visit with fury. I’m imagining the 3rd War of the World, the very last. 100% success.

Leading to that 3rd War of the World, I'm imagining a failed 1st War of the World and a failed 2nd War of the World. Failed wars? I’m imagining wars different from your World War I and World War II. Those wars are nothing compared to what I am about to describe. Because they are largely unseen, and they seem to be unreal. And that makes each one of them deadlier than the physical thing. And yes, they are occurring simultaneously, in parallel worlds.

The First War of the World

The 1st War of the World is the War on the Poverty of the Spirit. Between those who empty their hearts and those who refuse to empty themselves of their baggages. I’m referring not only to Roman Catholics and Protestants of all denominations.

Why do we have a food price crisis in the Philippines? Despite the efforts of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and IRRI in increasing rice production, farmers suffer because of hoarders, private warehouses and private houses, big and small stashers of food, human squirrels who think nothing but of themselves. In one conference outside Manila, an official of a government agency confessed that some of his staff were buying ‘one sack of rice every day’ (see my ‘The Drylanders’). It’s easy to be selfish, to be self-indulgent – you don’t need practice.

The cause is the same as the political crisis in the Philippines: unlimited human wants. This is the take-off point, The Grand Assumption for the Science of Economics. That is to say, here is one Science that assumes gluttony as a necessary beginning for the acts of Man. So, why are we surprised that politicians have insatiable desires for power and privilege?

The destructive forces in the 1st War of the World emanate from unlimited desires; the Wealth of Nations is the Wealth of Some, not the Wealth of All. An unwinnable war?

The Second War of the World

The 2nd War of the World is the War on the Poverty of the Mind. Between those who are ignorant and those who think they know better.

Battle Stations #1

Take the advocacy of the Philippines in research for development (R4D) in agriculture. Last Friday, Agriculture Secretary Arthur C Yap and IRRI Director Robert Zeigler signed in between IRRI ricefields in the presence of GMA a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on ‘Accelerating Rice Production in the Philippines.’ Good for 5 years, in brief, the MOA calls for IRRI to ‘enhance’ – IRRI Deputy Director William Padolina’s term – the capabilities of the DA to improve advocacy and assistance to Filipino rice farmers from seed to drying of grains, and the capacity of the farmers to produce more rice, particularly in areas with either lack or excess of water supply. According to the MOA, the collaboration calls for, among other things, provision of high-yielding rice varieties, training, extension, use of modern information & communication technologies, including assessment of potentials of current and candidate rice-growing areas with the use of geographic information systems, remote sensing, crop & climate modeling. The farm technologies include site-specific nutrient management, integrated pest management, controlled irrigation, as well as better postharvest handling of produce to reduce losses. I say the farmers don’t have to be fed these hard-to-digest terms to benefit from them.

In his brief talk, Zeigler was very generous in his praise of Filipino IRRI staff and very emphatic in his promise of assistance by IRRI. Zeigler said:

I would like to make special mention of the extremely high quality of nationally recruited staff that makes us the envy of the agricultural research world. Their high quality work and dedication are the foundation of the success and contributions that IRRI has made to the Philippines and to the world. Madam President, I can assure you that as other international centers recruit our national staff to go work for them, we also contribute to (or suffer from) the excellent reputation of the Filipino Overseas Workers.


If IRRI’s so smart, why are Filipinos rice poor? It is neither technology nor mathematics, my dear Aunt Sally. The Filipino farmer, Zeigler said, produces much more per hectare than the Thai farmer. This is ‘testament to the ingenuity, hard work and effectiveness of the DA – farmer partnership.’ And oh, no, Zeigler said, ‘Thailand doesn’t even have to deal with typhoons!’

Madame President, I and my colleagues both in IRRI and in the Department of Agriculture are honored to have you witness the signing by me and Secretary Yap of a new Memorandum of Agreement between IRRI and DA that will allow us to work together to quickly move Philippine rice production forward towards self-sufficiency.

I liked the sound of that.

In his short message, among other things, I heard Yap talk about a ‘new management approach’ to rice production with the use of ‘compact cluster areas’ of 40-100 hectares, especially but not solely in agrarian reform communities. I understand that to mean the communities must learn to be communities.

I liked the sound of that too.

But I was expecting more. But I was expecting too much: The MOA was only for meeting the need to increase the rice supply up to the need to handle the harvest to decrease losses, not for meeting the needs to act to bring about advantageous marketing arrangements and react to adverse market developments.

Still, another thing I would expect is the DA convincing GMA on the need to pay serious attention to the drylands (the unirrigated as well as the uplands). For starters, the setting up of a Philippine Drylands Institute has been recommended as a result of a national conference on the drylands held at the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga last April 17-18. (For more details, see my ‘The Drylanders’).

The drylands can contribute much. With 1 million hectares of the drylands adding say, a modest 10 cavans more per hectare, that’s 10 M cavans of added rice in 100 days. The drylands are also good for planting other cash crops that the farmers need, such as sweet sorghum, a drought-tolerant species used as food, feed, forage, fuel, fertilizer. (For more details, see my ‘Grey-to-Green Revolution.’)

Who are those who think they know better? The politicians in the Philippines, especially the opposition. And the noisy minority in and out of media who cannot see anything good that GMA does or says.

Battle Stations #2

Take the advocacy of the United States in R4D for the developing countries of Asia, Africa, America: Instead of slosh, there’s slash. According to Science, the magazine published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ‘Researchers charge that the US Government is moving to slash funding for international agricultural research’ (Dennis Normile, April 18, sciencemag.org). Fionna Douglas, speaking for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), said that the CGIAR has been told that ‘the 2008 USAID budget includes extensive earmarks requiring funding to be directed primarily to health issues, leaving little for agriculture.’

The 2008 USAID budget is like 75% for health, 25% for food. That is to say, for every dollar, 75 cents for AIDS and cancer and stem cells and the like, and 25 cents for cereals of the tropics. That is to say, the illnesses of the First World are more important than the hunger of the Third World. That is to say, the peoples of the developed countries first before the peoples of the underdeveloped.

So I understand when Zeigler says, ‘This is the worst of times.’ Certainly for IRRI, which is one of 15 CGIAR centers that depend on outside funding for their science, certainly for all of us in the tropics: ‘Part of the reason we’re having this deterioration of the global agricultural situation is that there has been a steady erosion of support for research.’ Zeigler means the global food crisis is in part explained by dearth of funds for research to improve the lives of poor farmers. So, the poor farmers we shall always have with us?

In the meantime, David Dickson reports that a ‘global agriculture study calls for increased research’ (April 16, scidev.net). ‘An international study of global agriculture has concluded that significant investment in agricultural research is needed for the world to feed its growing population in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.’ Rather than investing in war, the United States of America should be investing in peace.

To be fair, for the last 50 years, with US aids, science in agriculture has been concentrating on increasing yields of crops, for example, rice and corn for the Third World. And they have succeeded quite well, thank you very much. Did you know that, for instance, the Philippines increased its rice production from 5.3 M tons in 1970 to 16.2 M tons in 2007, that is, by more than 300%? Tell that to the Thais!

In the meantime, businesses have been concentrating on increasing their income from crops, that is to say, from the sweat of the producers of those crops.

Who are those who think they know better? Those who have ignored the marketing needs of farmers. Those who do not know that the Wars of the World are not between the Haves and Have-Nots; they are between the Grow Mores and the Gain Mores in the member countries of the United Nations.

In my mind, IRRI and DA, through PhilRice (and the Philippine Drylands Institute when established), can collaborate and together work with local government units, civil society and private interests to bring about not only a rice self-sufficient Philippines as soon as 2010 but also help create a social system that ensures an equitable distribution of the benefits from the growing of more rice.

If we can talk about that, then we can talk about fighting the Third World War. Is winning this war an impossible dream? No, but winning over our insatiable desires may be.

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 26, 2008, 12:07:56 PM
Loss of Filipino rice crops was stoppable The ongoing loss of rice crops throughout the Philippines at the hands of a growing insect horde could have been prevented, researchers say.

International Rice Research Institute researchers say they could have created rice varieties that would have been resistant to brown plant hoppers, but budget cuts by the Filipino government hindered their research, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Institute Director General Robert S. Zeigler said the budget cuts were due to the international stance that the world's food problems had finally been under control.

People felt that the world food crisis was solved, that food security was no longer an issue, and it really fell off the agenda, he told the Times.

Yet with East Asian rice crops now threatened with billions of the minuscule insects, global leaders have begun to finally take action.

The Times said the U.S. Congress has been asked for $770 million to provide food aid to struggling global populations. Nonetheless, the United States has begun cutting funding to global research sites such as the rice institute that are aimed at improving crops in poor countries, the U.S. newspaper said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 27, 2008, 08:11:00 AM
UN Aims to Raise Potatoes' Appeal
High grain prices and the International Year of the Potato bring greater attention to the vegetable. Transcript of radio broadcast:
26 May 2008


Some governments and agricultural experts have this advice to help people deal with high grain prices: Eat more potatoes.

 
 
The United Nations has declared two thousand eight the International Year of the Potato. There is even a Web site to help bring more attention to the world’s third most important food crop, after rice and wheat: potato2008.org.

The world produced three hundred twenty million tons of the vegetable last year, about the same as in two thousand five. The top five producers were China, Russia, India, Ukraine and the United States. India hopes to double production in the next five years.

Officials in Bangladesh say that country produced a record eight million tons this season. Prices for rice, the main food crop, have doubled in Bangladesh in the past year. Potatoes now cost much less than rice.

Yet potatoes are not an especially popular food choice in Bangladesh. The government hopes that will change. And some Bangladeshis may have no choice. Soldiers are now being served potatoes as part of their daily food.

The International Potato Center in Lima, Peru, says potatoes could offer better food security for at least twenty Asian countries.

International trade in potatoes currently represents only about six percent of production, so prices are set locally. Potatoes are a good source of nutrients. And farmers can plant them in rotation with grain crops.

The United Nations World Food Program says potatoes can grow in almost any climate. They do not require very much water. And experts say potatoes can produce more food per hectare than wheat or rice.

Until the early nineteen nineties, most potatoes were grown in Europe, North America and the former Soviet republics. Person for person, Europeans still eat the most potatoes. But the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says production has increased sharply in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The F.A.O. says developing countries grew more potatoes than developed countries for the first time in two thousand five.

That same year, an American-led research team tried to settle the debate over where potatoes came from. They reported that all potatoes today have a single origin in southern Peru. The earliest evidence suggested that farmers developed potatoes from wild plants more than seven thousand years ago.

And that’s the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson.


 

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 27, 2008, 08:14:03 AM
Bangladesh farmers rush to plant rice before monsoon
Mon May 26, 2008 5:38pm IST  Email | Print | Share| Single Page[-] Text
1 of 1Full SizeDHAKA (Reuters) - Barely three weeks before the start of the annual monsoon, Bangladesh farmers are preparing to sow aus and aman varieties of rice, shortly after a bumper harvest of the summer rice crop, boro.

"We have no time to waste, it's a close call," said Anwar Faruk, a senior official of the government's agriculture ministry.

The harvest of boro is nearly finished with a confirmed yield of more than 19 million tonnes, 2 million above target and up from 15 million tonnes last year, other officials said.

It compares with an average annual total rice production of over 29 million tonnes, including aus and aman.

Farmers are now clearing their fields to sow the monsoon varieties over the next couple of weeks before widespread, heavy rain heralds the advent of the monsoon season, from mid-June to September.

Two-thirds of Bangladesh, home to more than 140 million people, remain under water through these months.

But farmers and officials said they were better equipped this time to face any impending disaster following the bumper boro crop.

Weather officials said on Monday the monsoon was advancing from the Bay of Bengal steadily and likely to spread over the country over the next two or three weeks.

"But it is too early to predict a flood or any other unusual monsoon phenomenon," one meteorology official said. 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 27, 2008, 08:18:36 AM
Food aplenty with Sabah's agriculture policies
By : JOSEPH SIPALAN

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Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin says the state is self-sufficient in fishery products.


Sabah is going great guns in agriculture, Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin tells JOSEPH SIPALAN.

Q: What are the main obstacles to increasing the yield of rice production in Sabah? What is needed to achieve the state's goal of 100 per cent self-sufficiency?
A: One major problem is the lack of infrastructure. Of the 35,600 hectares used for rice production, only 10,400 hectares have basic irrigation and drainage in place and are ready for double-cropping.

This has led to a lack of interest among land owners, as low production means low income. This makes the multi-million ringgit offers from property developers more attractive.


We need a comprehensive plan which will get each and every stakeholder - that is, the Agriculture Department, Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Agrobank, Mardi, Bernas and the local authorities - to collaborate and synergise their roles rather than compartmentalise their efforts.


Q: Is Sabah planting or considering planting hybrid rice?
A: There is no hybrid rice cultivation in Sabah at the moment, but the Department of Agriculture is looking into the feasibility of hybrid rice cultivation, either through private sector participation or joint efforts with outside expertise such as Mardi and/or the International Rice Research Institute of the Philippines.


Q: Has Sabah set aside land for permanent food production parks?
A: Sabah has five permanent food production parks planned for implementation under the Department of Agriculture. The parks are in Mandalipau and Kampung Langkawit in Papar, Sungai Lokan in Sandakan, Sungai Koyah in Kinabatangan and Mile 15, Jalan Apas in Tawau. The parks will focus mainly on fruits and vegetables and cover a total of 1,525 hectares.


The Department of Veterinary Services and Livestock Industry has identified 3,800 acres in Nabawan for breeding cattle. When fully operational by 2010, it is expected to have 6,000 head of beef cattle, 15,000 head of goat and 3,000 head of deer.


Another 486 hectares have been identified in Sebrang, Keningau, as a dairy cattle production centre with a targeted 3,000 head of dairy cattle under the Sabah Development Corridor.


Sabah has also been identified as a National Aquaculture Zone, with 69,900 hectares identified for five types of aquaculture production - seaweed, marine fish, molluscs and invertebrates, marine crustaceans and freshwater fish.

Sabah is self-sufficient in fisheries products, amounting to a total of 230,966 tonnes valued at RM679.81 million last year.


Q: Sabah is Malaysia's biggest milk producer. How many litres were produced last year and which are the export markets?
A: Sabah is 120 per cent self-sufficient in liquid fresh milk production, producing 10.30 million litres last year. It is projected to produce 12 million litres this year. The milk is exported mainly to Brunei, Sarawak, Labuan and Peninsular Malaysia.


Q: What is Sabah's self-sufficiency level in meat and poultry production?
A: Sabah is 100 per cent self-sufficient in eggs and pork production. The state produced 401 million eggs and 11,340 tonnes of pork last year and exports both commodities to Brunei, Sarawak, Labuan, Kalimantan in Indonesia and southern Philippines.


However, Sabah is only 26 per cent self-sufficient in beef production (including buffalo, cattle, goat and deer meat), with imports totalling 5,678 tonnes of frozen buffalo meat from India and 757 tonnes of frozen beef from Australia and New Zealand, with an overall value of RM45.51 million.


We are 98 per cent self-sufficient in poultry production, with the two per cent balance comprising chicken wings and processed products such as sausages, nuggets, burgers and meat balls from Peninsular Malaysia, Holland and Denmark
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on May 27, 2008, 08:21:18 AM
Timor's Ramos-Horta Says Farm Subsidies Will Help Food Security

By Jason Gale

May 26 (Bloomberg) -- East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta said his country must use subsidies to bolster agriculture and protect its food security in the face of soaring import costs.

East Timor, Asia's youngest and least-developed nation, can be ``mostly'' self-sufficient within five years, Ramos-Horta, 58, said in an interview in Singapore today. About two-thirds of the rice consumed in the country is bought from Vietnam and Thailand.

Cheaper food from overseas can't be relied on because rising fuel prices are ratcheting up transport costs and major rice- producing countries, such as China and India, will need more to feed their own people, leaving less for export, Ramos-Horta said.

``Food security must be priority No. 1 for us,'' he said. ``For our own food security, our survival, our independence, we should spend more money -- including subsidizing our farmers -- to produce more.''

The Nobel laureate, who served as prime minister from 2006 until his inauguration as president last year, was shot and almost killed in a Feb. 11 rebel attack.

``At the time I was prime minister I said I am going to subsidize our agriculture sector,'' he said. ``We have to. That would make us independent, and eventually it will be cheaper.''

Ramos-Horta said that using subsidies to protect farmers and encourage domestic agricultural production may rankle multilateral finance agencies, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which advocate free trade as a mechanism for lowering food costs.

``If we do the opposite of what they say, I think that will be about right,'' he said.

Import Surge

The cost of importing rice has more than doubled this year as countries including Vietnam and China curbed overseas sales to protect domestic supplies. Governments worldwide may spend a record $1.035 trillion on imported foodstuffs in 2008 because of higher commodity prices and escalating transport costs, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said in a report last week.

In East Timor, which derives about $100 million a month from its petroleum reserves, farmers are offered incentives to expand crop production, and new roads and bridges are being built to bring food to consumers faster.

The government is considering building warehouses to store food in strategic areas around the country for emergencies to assist ``vulnerable people,'' said Ramos-Horta. About 40 percent of the nation's 1 million people live on $1 or less a day.

`Matter of Decency'

Ensuring the availability of affordable food is ``a matter of decency and morality for the poor, but also a matter of stability and security,'' Ramos-Horta said. The poverty-inducing affects of food inflation ``will set back development efforts in developing countries at least 10 years,'' he said.

Food prices would have escalated more in East Timor had the government not stepped up imports of rice, corn and potatoes to bolster local supplies, the president said.

``With climate change, more industrialization and the development of countries like India and China, there will be less and less land available for agriculture,'' Ramos-Horta said. ``We have to quickly make ourselves completely independent in food.''

East Timor, formally known as Timor-Leste, was established in May 2002, ending 24 years of Indonesian control and three years of UN administration.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Gale in Singapore at jgale@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: May 26, 2008 05:04 EDT
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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

 

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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!
 

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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.
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Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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.


 
   
   

 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
   
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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. 
 
 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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.



 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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

 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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

 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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
 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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
 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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.


Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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.


Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey 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…”

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on November 14, 2008, 11:37:21 AM
IRRI chief volunteers to be human guinea pig for GM rice
By Jose Katigbak STAR Washington Bureau Updated November 08, 2008 12:00 AM 


WASHINGTON – International Rice Research Institute chief Dr. Robert Zeigler has said he will be the first to eat genetically modified (GM) “golden” rice when the IRRI introduces it in the Philippines in 2012 to show Filipinos it is both safe for human consumption and nutritious.

IRRI scientists over the past 10 years have been investigating and field testing the safety of this GM rice invented by a Swiss plant biologist which contains beta-carotene.

It is called “golden” because the inserted beta-carotene turns the rice grains a golden yellow color. In a typical serving, golden rice can supply 10 percent of a person’s daily requirement of Vitamin A.

Zeigler expects the price of golden rice to be slightly cheaper than ordinary rice but more important, he said, it will fill the nutritional needs especially of the poor.

“Many of the consequences of poverty are malnutrition, because if people are too poor to buy fruits and vegetables then they don’t get their vitamins. If we can supply that with rice that would be good,” he said.

He said the IRRI was working with the Philippine government to make sure all regulations are complied with.

“The Philippines has a very good regulatory framework; it is the most advanced in Asia and I would say we are complying with that very closely,” he said at a presentation organized in Washington by Asia Society.

Zeigler said another variety of rice transformed with insecticidal genes from Bacillus thuringiensis and known as BT rice will also likely be approved for human consumption by 2012 if not earlier.

BT rice is insect resistant and on average yields about 500 kilos more per hectare of land. It is undergoing field trials in a number of countries including China and India, he said.

“Farmers will not need to apply any insecticide on BT rice so cost of production will be less, the negative impact of improper insecticide use on the environment will be less, the impact on farmers’ health will be better and yield will be a bit more,” he said.



Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on January 20, 2009, 10:14:17 AM
 
At the onset of the year, the Los Baños-based International Rice Research Institute issued an ominous warning that world prices of rice would “likely rise sharply.” The institute acknowledged that prices of the staple cereal have gone down dramatically from their peak in 2008 but the global financial crunch has made it difficult for farmers to secure credit for seeds, fertilizer and other essential farm inputs.

Amid this gloomy forecast, it is a source of comfort that rice is not only in abundant supply in the country but prices of rice varieties that the ordinary families usually buy are affordable. As confirmed by the IRRI and reported by the Agriculture Department’s Bureau of Agriculture Statistics, domestic rates have actually fallen further at the close of the main harvest season. Rice is being sold in Metro Manila markets at an average price of P30 per kilo and the price dropped to as low as P23 per kilo in certain outlets in November.

Fortunately, concrete and timely measures were put in place by the national leadership and agriculture officials to address the problem. Because of these, it may not be whimsical to hope the nation will be spared of the looming jump in global rice prices.

As early as April last year, the government organized a National Food Summit to beef up production and stabilize the prices of rice, corn, and other farm products. Pursuant to the recommendations of the summit, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap swiftly launched  a five-year rice sufficiency program—with the help of experts, including seven former heads of the Agriculture Department and two ex-administrators of the National Food Authority—and jumpstarted the department’s intervention programs to boost yields and stabilize supply.

Being implemented by the department is a program to expand the areas planted to palay by 7.5 percent to 2.58 million hectares during the wet season. This has boosted hopes to meet its revised 2008 harvest volume of 16.7 million metric tons, or 9.2 million cavans more than the 2007 output.

Next, Yap zeroed in on the problem of steep cost of fertilizer which has led to a 30- percent decline in usage among palay farmers.  After the period of high crude oil prices ended, he carried out President Arroyo’s order to see to it that the downward spiral of fuel prices in the world market is reflected in the farm sector by a corresponding decrease in the market rates of petrochemical fertilizers. He directed the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority to keep a tight watch on the possible price-manipulation activities of certain traders and appealed to fertilizer producers and supplies to reduce their retail prices.

As a result of this initiative, prices of chemical-based fertilizers went down in December by more than half of the prevailing rates in September.  For instance, the price of triple 14 fell 40.7 percent, or from P1,940 to P1,150 per bag. While 21-0-0 brand dropped 53 percent from P1,065 to only P499 per bag. The sharp decrease in fertilizer cost came at a providential time when farmers were starting to plant for the coming summer or dry cropping season.

But if there was a government action that heartened the farmers most, it was most likely the President’s order to the National Food Authority to double its domestic procurement of palay. This means that from the original volume of 500,000 metric tons, the NFA is now buying one million MT from local farmers. Yap reported that the government’s procurement of locally produced rice climbed from 33,000 MT in 2007 to 650,000 MT last year, the highest since l979.  This is an unprecedented boon to farmers because they can now more easily sell their rice harvest and convert the fruits of their labor into cash. Gone were the days when they always faced the dilemma of disposing their rice stock and wrest for months with storage problems.

The increased domestic procurement complements an earlier government move to raise the buying price of palay from below P10 to P17 per kilo. This approach is very beneficial to the economy especially because government spending for rice importation can be significantly reduced. As Secretary Yap always says, every ton of local palay bought by the government helps lower the level of imports.

As the linchpin of the aggressive procurement and distribution strategy, the NFA last year beefed up its inventories with imports and then flooded the market with cheap rice stocks costing P18.25 per kilo. These were sold to the “poorest of the poor” families in partnership with local government units, Church-based groups like the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action and the Social Welfare Department.

The DA-DFA also sold rice at P25 and P35 for middle-income consumers, kept tabs on rice millers and grains traders, and ran after hoarders and profiteers. This enabled them to pull down prices to P32 at the start of the lean season from a range of P40 to P50 during the height of the global grains crisis last summer.  Proof of the successful supply and price stabilization effort last year was that rice was even more expensive at that time in Thailand and Vietnam where the per-kilo rates reached an equivalent of P56 and P67, respectively.

Likewise, big rice millers were persuaded to agree to unload rice stocks from their warehouses and pare down their prices in exchange for a lower volume of rice that the NFA has been selling in the market in competition with traders.

At the same time, Malacañang issued a directive encouraging large firms to go into corporate farming by producing or importing the rice requirements of their employees, and another one relaxing the rural credit squeeze by setting up an Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool with contributions from government financial institutions.  To date, the Guarantee Fund deposited with the Land Bank stands at more than P4 billion and is being used to infuse more credit to agricultural stakeholders through rural, cooperative and thrift banks and irrigators’ associations.

To sustain the gains in the food production and security program, Secretary Yap says his department is backing the enactment by Congress of at least eight farm-friendly measures. One of these bills will amend the Agri-Agra Law (Presidential Decree 717) to free billions of pesos available from commercial banking institutions to develop the agriculture sector and raise incomes for its small direct stakeholders. It seeks to remove the provision of the law allowing banks to invest in government securities as alternative compliance with the law, and specifies those who may have access to credit to ensure that small farmers and fisherfolk are given priority by these credit sources.

The department is also lobbying for the approval of the long-pending legislation that will spell out a national land use policy to regulate the conversion of farmlands for non-food uses.

Other proposals that the DA is supporting are the extension of the comprehensive agrarian reform program, creation of the Office of Trade Representative to unify the government’s fragmented approach to trade and promoting a Green Philippines and the financial and corporate restructuring of the NFA to bankroll a multibillion-peso national grains highway that would further boost farm production and raise rural income.



Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on January 20, 2009, 10:17:47 AM
New, higher-yielding rice plant could ease threat of hunger for poor       
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 
Global consortium of scientists developing rice that would boost yields by up to 50 % for smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia

Los Baños, Philippines – An ambitious project to re-engineer photosynthesis in rice, led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) through a global consortium of scientists, has received a grant of US$11 million over 3 years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As a result of research being conducted by this group, rice plants that can produce 50% more grain using less fertilizer and less water are a step closer to reality.

Currently, more than a billion people worldwide live on less than a dollar a day and nearly one billion live in hunger. Over the next 50 years, the population of the world will increase by about 50% and water scarcity will grow. About half of the world’s population consumes rice as a staple cereal, so boosting its productivity is crucial to achieving long-term food security. IRRI is leading the effort to achieve a major increase in global rice production by using modern molecular tools to develop a more efficient and higher-yielding form of rice.

Photosynthesis, the process by which plants use solar energy to capture carbon dioxide and convert it into the carbohydrates required for growth, is not the same for all plants. Some species, including rice, have a mode of photosynthesis (known as C3) in which the capture of carbon dioxide is relatively inefficient. Other plants, such as maize and sorghum, have evolved a much more efficient form of photosynthesis known as C4.

According to IRRI scientist and project leader John Sheehy, in tropical climates the efficiency of solar energy conversion of crops using so-called C4 photosynthesis is about 50% higher than that of C3 crops. Given the demands from an increasing population, combined with less available land and water, adequate future supplies of rice will need to come in large part through substantial yield boosts and more efficient use of crop inputs.

“Converting the photosynthesis of rice from the less-efficient C3 form to the C4 form would increase yields by 50%,” said Dr. Sheehy, adding that C4 rice would also use water twice as efficiently. In developing tropical countries, where billions of poor people rely on rice as their staple food, “The benefits of such an improvement in the face of increasing world population, increasing food prices, and decreasing natural resources would be immense,” he said.

“This is a long-term, complex project that will take a decade or more to complete,” said Dr. Sheehy. “The result of this strategic research has the potential to benefit billions of poor people.”

The C4 Rice Consortium combines the strengths of a range of partners, including molecular biologists, geneticists, physiologists, biochemists, and mathematicians, representing leading research organizations worldwide. Members include Yale, Cornell, Florida, and Washington State universities in the United States; Oxford, Cambridge, Dundee, Nottingham, and Sheffield universities in Britain; the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australian National University, and James Cook University in Australia; Heinrich Heine University and the Institute for Biology in Germany; Jiangsu Academy in China; the University of Toronto in Canada; and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


# # #

About the International Rice Research Institute
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the world’s leading rice research and training center. Based in the Philippines, with offices in 13 other countries, IRRI is an autonomous, nonprofit institution focused on improving the well-being of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, particularly those with low incomes, while preserving natural resources. IRRI is one of 15 centers supported, in part, by members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR; www.cgiar.org) and a range of other funding agencies.

# # #

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people, especially those with the fewest resources, have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on January 29, 2009, 03:43:56 AM
 The global food crisis
Manila strikes secretive rice deal with Hanoi
By Javier Blas in London, Tim Johnston in Bangkok and Roel Landingin in Manila

Published: January 14 2009 17:02 | Last updated: January 14 2009 17:02

The Philippines, the world’s largest importer of rice, is on track to secure most of its needs for this year through a large and secretive government-to-government deal with Vietnam, bypassing the international market, traders said on Wednesday.

The south-east Asian country has already bought 500,000 tonnes of the grain from Vietnam’s state exporter, and is in talks with Hanoi to acquire a further 1m-1.5m tonnes, traders said. Both governments would not confirm the contracts.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Manila can resist crisis, says Arroyo - Dec-04Careers Asia: No respite for Manila’s call centre recruiters - Nov-20World View: San Miguel sets course - Nov-03Philippine shares suffer record drop - Oct-28Identity error led to Manila gaffe - Oct-21Philippine claim highlights lack of unity - Oct-15The deal, which would meet the bulk of Manila’s rice needs this year of about 2m tonnes, signals a move among food-deficit countries to source supplies through diplomatic rather than commercial channels, in order to prevent price spikes.

Manila’s rush last year to secure rice through large commercial tenders was seen as one reason behind the jump in rice prices to an all-time high of $1,100 a tonne for Thai medium-quality rice, the world’s benchmark, up from $350 (€266, £241) in 2007.

The move is also a response to some exporting countries restricting their commercial overseas sales. India, the world’s third largest rice exporter, has yet to restart its commercial sales as it tries to keep its domestic market well supplied, but it is selling on a government-to-government basis.

Samarendu Mohanty, a senior economist at the International Rice Research Institute, said that although such deals were not new, it was a trend he expected to see more of. “Rice is a political commodity,” he said. “For sensitive commodities like this, these sorts of deals are very much on the rise.”

Ben Savage, of London-based rice brokers Jackson Son & Co, said the 500,000- tonne deal was for “25 per cent broken Vietnamese rice” – a popular variety – and it was sealed at $420 a tonne, including freight.

“It is a government-to-government deal which has been under negotiation for a long time,” he said, adding that there were talks for a further 1m-1.5m tonnes, but so far the deal and the prices had not been sealed.

While tight-lipped about the deal with Vietnam, a spokesman for Philippines’ National Food Authority (NFA) said the government was keen to buy rice through quiet negotiations with state trading organisations rather than through public tenders.

“We will import quietly, perhaps not through open bidding but through a government-to-government [negotiation], so we won’t give suppliers an excuse to drive up prices,” said Rex Estoperez, NFA spokesman.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said it was advising Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter, to follow a similar route to offload its large rice stocks.

Thailand’s government will buy about 10m tonnes of rice from the country’s farmers this year in an effort to stabilise prices. Instead of reselling the rice on the market, Mr Chookiat said Bangkok should talk directly to foreign governments.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on March 26, 2009, 10:48:47 AM
Rice Demand Growth May Top Expansion in Output Amid Recession
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By Luzi Ann Javier

March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Global demand growth for rice may exceed the expansion in output this year as the recession forces people to eat more grains in place of meat and farmers struggle to secure loans as banks hoard capital, a research official said.

The pressure on supply may drive up prices for rice, a staple for as many as three billion people, Robert Ziegler, director-general of the International Rice Research Institute, said in an interview yesterday in Los Banos, south of Manila.

“You can have an upward demand pressure on rice,” he said. “If our demand continues to be at or slightly higher than our yield growth, we’re going to have problems.”

The global credit crunch has made it more difficult for farmers to secure financing, curbing productivity. Rice yields dropped in Indonesia, the world’s third-largest producer, just as the Asian financial crisis erupted in 1997, Ziegler said.

“It’s a real-life example of what happened in a financial crisis,” he said. “It’s almost counter-intuitive that a slowing economy can drive demand.”

The price of rice reached a record $25.07 per 100 pounds in April last year as Vietnam, India and Egypt restricted exports to bolster domestic supplies. The gains stoked inflation and sparked riots from Asia to the Caribbean. Futures have dropped more than half from the peak as the world economy tipped into recession, cooling demand for commodities, including grains.

Still, supplies of rice have been increasing in producing countries as farmers increased planting in response to last year’s prices.

Food Emergencies

World paddy-rice output in the 2008 season may total 683.2 million tons, 18 million tons more than estimated in July, helping to lift global stocks to a seven-year peak, the Food and Agriculture Organization said Feb. 25. Even so, the FAO lists 32 countries that are still facing food emergencies.

Policy makers may have been “distracted” by the current financial crisis and the “structural problems” that led to last year’s food crisis may remain unsolved, Ziegler said.

“We should be prudently cautious and recognize that last year was a wake-up call,” he said. “We can’t just turn the alarm off and go back to sleep. We have got to get up, get dressed and do the job.”

To contact the reporter for this story: Luzi Ann Javier in Singapore at ljavier@bloomberg.net

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on October 11, 2009, 08:10:33 AM
RP expected to import 2M tons of rice in 2010       
Agri-Commodities 
Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter     
Thursday, 08 October 2009 20:33 
AS the rice sector bore the brunt of the two recent supertyphoons, the Philippines sees rice imports to reach 2 million metric tons (MMT) in 2010 to beef up local stocks and plug the expected shortfall in production this year.

Agriculture Undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla also noted that the worst may not be over for the country’s rice sector, as three more typhoons could hit the Philippines before the end of the year.

“[We will import] probably around 2 MMT. We will be meeting with the Inter-Agency on Rice and Corn [IAC] this week to determine the exact volume of rice imports,” said Fondevilla at the sidelines of an agricultural trade fair which kicked off in Pasay City yesterday.

He said that, at this time, conducting a bidding is not an option and that Manila could again go the government-to-government route to procure its rice requirements.

“With [the] government-to-government [route], we could negotiate for better prices. We do not [plan] to front-load importation, unlike last year, since we have sufficient inventory,” said Fondevilla.

Manila could again source from Hanoi, as well as other countries such as Thailand. Malaysia, the Department of Agriculture (DA) official said, has also expressed interest in supplying rice to the Philippines.

The Philippines has a memorandum of agreement with Hanoi for the procurement of as much as 1.5 MMT of rice, depending on supply availability.

This year the government imported a total of 1.775 MMT, of which 1.5 MMT were procured from Vietnam. The remaining 275,00 MT were procured through separate tenders involving the private sector.

In 2008, at the height of the food crisis, the Philippines imported as much as 2.3 MMT.

Due to the extensive damage caused by Tropical Storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng, as well as the incremental damages from previous storms, the DA has scaled down its paddy-rice production target to 17 MMT, from 17.48 MMT.

The DA noted that the rice subsector lost 301,580 MT of palay, which represents 4.65 percent of the national target of 6.48 MMT for October to December 2009. Losses in the rice subsector from Typhoon Pepeng, which amounts to 61,609 MT, constitutes an additional 0.95 percent in production.

Tropical Storm Ondoy’s damage to the rice subsector amounted to more than P5 billion, while the tab from Typhoon Pepeng was placed at more than P1 billion.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the government is looking at setting aside some P1.5 billion to repair damaged irrigation facilities and provide subsidies to rice and corn farmers affected by the storms.

Yap said around P900 million is needed to repair the irrigation facilities and around P600 million will be required to assist affected rice and corn farmers.

 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on June 19, 2010, 11:48:37 AM
Korea and the Philippines sow mutual benefits from 45-year partnership       
Thursday, 06 May 2010 
 

Los Baños, Philippines. Rice growers in Bohol, an island province of the Philippines, are expecting higher rice yields and income thanks to new japonica rice varieties developed in collaboration with Korea and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

04 May 2010

 

Los Baños, Philippines. Rice growers in Bohol, an island province of the Philippines, are expecting higher rice yields and income thanks to new japonica rice varieties developed in collaboration with Korea and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Early last month, as part of IRRI’s 50th anniversary celebrations and to commemorate the 45-year partnership between the Rural Development Administration (RDA) of Korea and IRRI, MS11, one of the new rice varieties, was ceremonially handed over to the Bohol Japonica Rice Growers Association by Dr. Jae-soo Kim, administrator of the RDA.

“This is our symbol of gratitude toward the International Rice Research Institute for helping Korea, through collaborative research, become self-sufficient in rice,” said Dr. Kim.

Japonica rice is a high-quality medium-grain rice that attracts a premium price in countries where it is not traditionally grown – including the Philippines. Usually it grows only in temperate climates such as those found in Korea, but Maligaya Special 11 (MS11) can grow in tropical climates.

IRRI Director General Dr. Robert Zeigler attested that “Korea, through the RDA, had remained not only a donor, but also a vital partner through the years in providing scientific support to IRRI.”

IRRI and the RDA started collaborating in 1963 by developing the indica/japonica rice variety Tong-il that can be grown in the temperate climate of Korea. Tong-il, coupled with a rapid seed multiplication program, helped Korea significantly raise rice production in the 1970s, transforming the country from a rice importer to a self-sufficient rice producer.

By 2008, MS11, the first japonica rice suited to tropical climates, was released in the Philippines, followed by its sister variety, Japonica 1, in 2009. These rice varieties outyield local tropical varieties and sell at higher prices – boosting farmers’ income.

RDA and IRRI plan to continue working together where RDA will contribute US$100,000 per year for 2010-2011, focusing on developing drought-tolerant rice using marker-assisted backcrossing, developing cultivars resistant to high temperature, and improving high-yielding Tongil-type cultivars and their adaptability to tropical regions.

RDA is also funding a $100,000 joint project that will address Asia’s impending food crisis caused by climate change and population growth. The joint project is seen to steer rice-importing countries in Asia toward self-sufficiency. “Asian countries should build an institutional model for agriculture,” said Dr. Kim. “This is the first and most important step toward achieving agricultural development.”

At the same event, RDA launched the book “Partnership for 50 Years Between IRRI and Korea,” documenting past experiences and the continuing association between the two institutions. A tree-planting was also held at IRRI, led by Dr. Zeigler, Dr. Kim, and the IRRI Board of Trustees, to symbolize the continuing relations between IRRI and Korea.

 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on June 21, 2010, 06:08:03 AM
Why does the Philippines import rice?
The Philippines is currently the largest importer of rice in the world, importing around 1.8 million tons of rice in 2008 (Source: United States Department of Agriculture). Three main factors explain why the Philippines imports rice:

Land area: The Philippines has around 300,000 square kilometers, of which around 43,000 square kilometers of harvested area are used for rice production. As most of the country is very mountainous and consists of many small islands, suitable land is limited to expand rice production into without affecting wetlands, forests, or areas producing other crops. Urban areas also continue to expand rapidly.   
Population growth: The population of the Philippines is estimated at 97 million. Its annual growth rate of around 2% – among the world’s highest – means that just to keep pace with growing demand the country would have to increase rice production and yield at rates rarely seen in history.
Infrastructure: Irrigation infrastructure is not used and maintained as efficiently as it could be, thus reducing productivity potential. Transport infrastructure, particularly good-quality roads, is lacking in the Philippines, which affects the transport of rice and hinders the rice trade.


How is IRRI helping?
IRRI is doing a whole host of research that is helping the Philippines increase its rice production. Philippine farmers eagerly adopt new technologies and varieties that have resulted in a steady increase in rice yields over the last 50 years since IRRI was established. Philippine rice yields are close to the world average and higher than in many other rice-producing countries in Asia, including Thailand and India. There is, however, still room for improvement when compared to the high rice yields of China and Vietnam.

Average rice yield in the Philippines and a selection of
other rice-growing countries (tons per hectare) (Source: FAOstats)



Research that IRRI is involved in that is helping Filipino farmers increase their rice yields includes

Developing new high-yielding rice varieties with built-in resistance to pests, diseases, and other stresses such as heat and drought.
Developing rice crop management strategies that improve nutrient-use efficiency to get the most value out of inputs and reduce wastage.
Developing climate change adaptation strategies and technologies.
Training the next generation of rice scientists and building the capacity of rice practitioners to ensure the sustainable development of the rice industry.
Rice varieties for the Philippines
Between 1966 and 2009, 457 IRRI rice breeding lines were released as 864 varieties in 78 countries and it is estimated that 60% of the world’s rice is now planted to varieties developed from IRRI breeding material. In the Philippines alone, 107 varieties are attributed to IRRI, second only to Vietnam in the uptake of IRRI varieties.

In 2009, three new varieties of IRRI-bred rice arrived in the Philippines – one variety is flood-tolerant, one is drought-tolerant, and one is salt-tolerant.

The salt-tolerant variety alone has the potential to increase rice production in the Philippines by 0.8 to 1.0 million tons per annum if widely adopted on the 400,000 hectares of coastal rice-growing land in the Philippines affected by salinity from sea water. Under high salt stress, high-yielding Philippine rice varieties typically produce less than a ton of rice per hectare. Under the same conditions, the new IRRI salt-tolerant variety can produce 2.5 to 3.5 tons of rice per hectare.

Working with the Philippine government
IRRI works with its partners in the Philippine government to deliver rice research to farmers to improve their rice yields and the environmental health of their rice farms. These partnerships greatly increase IRRI’s capacity to make a difference. We rely on national and local research and extension providers, such as PhilRice, the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture and others within the public and private sector, to help develop and facilitate the adoption of technologies that suit farmers.

IRRI also discusses with the Philippine government ways to increase rice production, improve the accessibility of affordable rice to poor rice consumers, and reduce the national trade deficit in rice. We do not advocate specific policy positions for the Philippine government to adopt because we understand that policy is developed in light of a wide range of inputs and must consider economic, social, political, and environmental issues, some of which are beyond the scope of IRRI’s expertise.

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on July 19, 2010, 11:25:29 AM
Philippines raises typhoon alert in rice areas       
Tuesday, 13 July 2010 

Reuters: The Philippines raised alerts along coastal and low-lying areas of its main island of Luzon on Tuesday as Conson, the first sizeable typhoon of the season, moved closer to rice-producing areas. Conson, a category 1 typhoon with winds of 120 kph (75 mph), was about 40 km north northeast of central Camarines Norte and moving at 22 kph westward towards Luzon's central lowlands, chief weather forecaster Prisco Nilo told a media conference. "We expect strong winds and heavy rains, especially in areas Basyang will pass through," Nilo said, using the local name for the typhoon, saying it was expected to make landfall near Aurora and Quezon provinces late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Nilo said five areas in Conson's path had been put on storm alert 3, out of a scale of 5. Another 30 provinces, including the capital Manila, were placed on lower alert levels due to expected heavy rains and strong winds. Some major rice-producing areas -- Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Tarlac, Pampanga and Isabela -- and wide areas of Luzon were put on either alert level 1 and 2, while the coconut-producing provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, northern Quezon, Polilio island and Aurora were on Alert 3.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on July 19, 2010, 11:31:28 AM
From genes to farmers' fields: Waterproof rice set to make waves in South Asia

 Delhi, India - "Waterproof' versions of popular varieties of rice, which can withstand 2 weeks of complete submergence, have passed tests in farmers' fields with flying colors. Several of these varieties are now close to official release by national and state seed certification agencies in Bangladesh and India, where farmers suffer major crop losses because of flooding of up to 4 million tons of rice per year. This is enough rice to feed 30 million people.

The flood-tolerant versions of the "mega-varieties" -high-yielding varieties popular with both farmers and consumers that are grown over huge areas across Asia - are effectively identical to their susceptible counterparts, but recover after severe flooding to yield well.

A 1-9 November tour of research stations and farms in Bangladesh (photo below) and India led by David Mackill (8th from left, standing on low cement wall), senior rice breeder at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), marked the successful completion of a project, From genes to farmers' fileds: enhancing and stabilizing productivity of rice in submergence-prone environments, funded for the past 5 years by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

 
Click here to watch on YouTube a ceremonial harvest of a Sub1 rice variety on the BRRI station, Rangpur, Bangladesh.

The new varieties were made possible following the identification of a single gene that is responsible for most of the submergence tolerance. Thirteen years ago, Dr. Mackill, then at the University of California (UC) at Davis, and Kenong Xu, his graduate student, pinpointed the gene in a low-yielding traditional Indian rice variety known to withstand flooding. Xu subsequently worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Pamela Ronald (7th from left, standing on low cement wall), a UC Davis professor, and they isolated the specific gene -called Sub1A-and demonstrated that it confers tolerance to normally intolerant rice plants. Dr. Ronald's team showed that the gene is switched in when the plants are submerged.

A geneticist from UC Riverside, Julia Bailey-Serres, is leading the work to determine exactly how Sub1A confers flood tolerance.

"Sub1A effectively makes the plant dormant during submergence, allowing it to conserve energy until the floodwaters reced," said Dr. Bailey-Serres.

Typically, rice plants will extend the length of their leaves and stem in an attempt to escape submergence. The Sub1A gene is an evolutionarily new gene in rice found in only a small proportion of the rice varieties originating from eastern India and Sri Lanka. The activation of this gene under submergence counteracts the escape strategy.

"This project has been a great success, not only in its results but also in the truly international collaboration that made the project possible," said Dr. Mackill, referring to the several national organizations, including the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), India's Central Rice Research Institute and Narendra Dev University of Agriculture and Technology.

"The potential for impact is huge," he said. "In Bangladesh, for example, 20% of the rice land is flood prone and the country typically suffers several major floods each year. Submergence-tolerant varieties could make major inroads into Bangladesh's annual rice shortfall and substantially reduce its import needs."

Using modern techniques that allow breeders to do much of their work in the lab rather than the field, Dr. Mackill and his team at IRRI were able to precisely transfer Sub1A into high-yielding varieties without affecting the characteristics-such as high yield, good grain quality, and pest and disease resistance-that made the varieties popular in the first place.

"The impact is evident for farm families as well as at a national production level," said Dr. Ronald. "To be part of this project as it has moved from a lab in California to rice fields in Asia has been inspiring and underscores the power of science to improve people's lives."

Because plants developed through this "precision breeding," known as marker-assisted selection, are not genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the new Sub1 varieties are not subject to the regulatory testing that can delay release of GMOs for several years.

Once Sub1 varieties are officially released within the next 2 years, the key will be dissemination to smallholder farmers in flood-prone areas. IRRI is leading this initiative through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

# # #

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the world’s leading rice research and training center. Based in the Philippines, with offices in 13 other countries, IRRI is an autonomous, nonprofit institution focused on improving the well-being of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, particularly those with low incomes, while preserving natural resources. IRRI is one of 15 centers funded through the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), an association of public and private donor agencies (www.cgiar.org).

# # #

For information, contact Adam Barclay, IRRI, DAPO Box 7777, Metro Manila, Philippines;
tel +63-2-580-5600; fax: +63-2-580-5699

Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on July 26, 2010, 10:57:48 AM
Pinoy savants developing
flood-tolerant rice
BY PAUL ICAMINA
Filipino scientists are developing a new rice variety that survives flashfloods, a common occurrence during typhoons, and resistant as well to common pests and diseases.

Most of the provinces where rice fields are most prone to flooding are major rice-growing areas: Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Maguindanao, Bulacan, North Cotabato , Oriental Mindoro and Ilocos Norte.

It is estimated that about 300,000 hectares of rice fields are prone to flashfloods.

Loida M. Perez and some scientists at the Philippine Rice Research Institute, in collaboration with researchers at the International Rice Research Institute, are thus looking into a new rice plant variety that is submergence-tolerant and just as robust as the most high-yielding variety now planted.

Scientists at IRRI have produced the so-called IR64-Sub1 variety that grows well in submerged rice fields. The variety, however, is susceptible to pests and diseases which are common in flooded and rain-fed areas.

"There was a need to develop other varieties with submergence tolerance where farmers can have the option of planting them in pest and disease-stricken rainfed areas," said Perez, who specializes in molecular genetics at the PhilRice Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Division.

"We transferred the submergence-tolerant gene from IR64-Sub1 into PSC Rc82, a popular and high yielding local rice variety planted in irrigated areas in the country," she told Malaya Business Insight after a recent lecture on her research at the National Science and Technology Week Scientific Forum.

The PSB Rc82, released in 2000, has the highest yield among rice varieties released in the Philippines from 1991-2009, with recorded yields of more than 10 tons per hectare.

The PSB Rc82 variety has a maximum yield of 12 tons per hectare and matures in 110 days. Hopefully, a submergence tolerant rice based on the same variety will yield the same, said Perez.

New varieties will be advanced for seed production and recommended as the new and improved varieties of submergence tolerant rice.

The new varieties, she said, will benefit farmers in flashflood-prone areas.

"Rice fields, and not just residential areas, were also submerged during Ondoy and during typhoons," she said. "With global climate change, flooding and typhoons become more unpredictable."

"Growing flooding-and submergence-tolerant rice is viable and should minimize if not prevent production losses," Lopez added.

The new PSB Rc82-Sub1 variety, developed through marker assisted breeding, will be evaluated during the 2010 wet season.

Marker assisted breeding or MAB involves the use of DNA markers which are like specific landmarks of a particular gene, she said.

In MAB, plants are selected using DNA markers or landmarks. The process starts by isolating or extracting DNA from the plant (in rice, the leaf tissue is used) and use this in DNA analysis to find the desired gene.

The selected plant with the desired gene will be advanced further in the rice breeding process.

Conventional breeding takes about eight to 12 years. With MAB, this process is shortened and selection of plants is more precise, thus reducing time and resources, and bringing the technology faster to rice farmers.

Hopefully, the new submergence-tolerant rice will be available to farmers by 2011, Perez said.

"It is called precision breeding or precision agriculture," said Perez, whose research won the Best Paper award during the 24th National Rice R&D Conference last March at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on November 12, 2010, 12:04:01 PM
Thailand’s rice supplies tighten
[12 November 2010] Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporter, said that output will drop because of flooding, while the Philippines, the largest buyer, said its harvest may miss a target, potentially raising import demand. Main crop, rough-rice output may decline 3.9% to 22.34 million tonnes, while second-crop production may gain 0.9% to 8.33 million tonnes, according to a statement from Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on November 13, 2010, 11:19:32 AM
NFA Assures Rice Inventory Safe Despite Typhoon Juan

(October 19, 2010)

 


National Food Authority Administrator Angelito T. Banayo gave the assurance  that  the NFA has  enough food security stocks and there is no need to import rice to meet the rest of the year’s requirement.


According to Banayo, NFA’s rice inventory at present stands at 37.5 million bags sufficient for the country’s food security need for 52 days  or until the middle of December.


He noted that while it could be expected there may be a reduced palay procurement from the typhoon affected areas in Northern Luzon,  this could be compensated by intensive buying from other palay producing areas of the country to augment the agency’s grains inventory.


The NFA chief also allayed fears  that the damage  brought by typhoon Juan will require  the NFA to import  higher  volume  of rice  next year.


On the typhoon effect, Banayo cited that damage to standing palay crop in Isabela, Cagayan, Kalinga, Pangasinan and some towns in Nueva Ecija are still being estimated by the joint team of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and NFA personnel.


A report will consequently be issued through the DA after the final assessments have come in, he said.


The NFA will also continue to provide assistance to the affected farmers to mitigate the damage of the typhoon that include  allowing them to use at affordable cost the agency’s mechanical dryers and other post harvest facilities they may be needing.


This, Banayo said is in addition to buying their produce to the extent of the allowable grains moisture content and the storage capacity of warehouses in the area.


“We will do our best  even with limited resources  to assist our palay  farmers in Northern Luzon  and other areas   knowing that they were already  badly hit by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng  last year,” Banayo added.

He also reiterated his appeal to traders not to take advantage of affected farmers by offering them a much lower price for their palay produce.  “This is the second straight year that farmers have been badly affected  by weather upheavals,”  he noted.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on November 15, 2010, 10:12:47 AM
World must act to boost rice supply
[15 November 2010] Urgent action is needed to reverse inefficient farming methods and boost the world’s supply of rice in order to prevent rising poverty and hunger, experts told the participants of the 3rd International Rice Congress 2010 in Vietnam. “Projected demand for rice will outstrip supply in the near to medium term unless something is done to reverse the current trends” of slow productivity growth and inefficient, unsustainable management of natural resources, said Robert Zeigler of the International Rice Research Institute. Rice is the staple food for about half the world’s population.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: mikey on November 16, 2010, 09:28:40 AM
Stable outlook for the price of rice
[16 November 2010] Traders expect rice prices to fluctuate between USD 500-600 a tonne next year as good harvests and decent reserve levels mitigate pressure from rising prices of other commodities. The Financial Times reported that with the price of other basic foodstuff such as wheat, corn and sugar soaring, the relatively benign outlook for rice is one of the few factors preventing a full-blown crisis.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: Mustang Sally Farm on January 09, 2011, 11:01:02 AM
Philippines, Norway vaults saving rice diversity
By Cecil Morella (AFP) – Oct 23, 2010

LOS BANOS, Philippines — In a greenhouse near the Philippine capital, botanists grow strange grasses that bear tiny seeds which are promptly flown to a doomsday vault under Norway's Arctic permafrost.

The Norway deliveries are just the newest facet of a decades-old effort by more than 100 countries to save the world's many varieties of rice which might otherwise be lost.

A fire-proof, quake-proof, typhoon-proof gene bank set up by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines in 1962 now holds 115,000 varieties of one of the world's most important grains.

"We've got genes stored which could potentially help us increase the yields of rice, improve pest tolerance and disease resistance, and help us address the effects of climate change," IRRI geneticist Fiona Hay said.

The rice varieties are grown at IRRI's sprawling complex at the university town of Los Banos, two hours' drive south of Manila, so that they can be provided -- free of charge -- to farmers or governments around the world.

Yet Hay said that rice varieties were constantly being lost forever, despite the preservation efforts of IRRI, a non-profit organisation funded by governments, multilateral banks and philanthropists.

Such losses are under a global spotlight this week as delegates from more than 190 countries meet at a UN summit in Nagoya, Japan, to map out a strategy to stop the world's rapid loss of biodiversity in all plants and animals.

A rice variety can easily vanish due to pests, disease, drought or other natural disasters like a cyclone, or if for some reason farmers simply stop planting it, Hay said.

Not just urbanisation, but even farming can push wild rice varieties into extinction.

And while some countries run their own gene banks, they are not always successful in preserving seeds. In the tropics, high humidity causes rice seeds to spoil after several years, Hay said.

At the IRRI gene bank in the Philippines, seeds are stored in dry and cool conditions and can remain usable for up to 40 years.

The institute keeps its base collection in tiny, sealed, bar-coded aluminium cans in a room kept at a temperature well below freezing.

They include a Malaysian variety that was collected soon after the gene bank opened in 1962, some reed-like Latin American ones that grow taller than a man, and Indian varieties that look more like crawling weeds.

Duplicates in small foil sachets of about 400 seeds each are stored in a separate vault kept at two degrees Celsius (35.6 Fahrenheit) and low humidity for passing on to those who need them for farming or research.

Given the importance of the collection, extra insurance is always desirable -- hence the rice gene bank being duplicated in Svalbard, Norway, Hay told AFP on a tour last week of the Philippine facility.

Since the Svalbard seed vault opened in February 2008, IRRI has reproduced 70,000 of its own grains and sent them in tiny freeze-dried aluminium cans to northern Norway, in a series of flights that take four days.

One final delivery of about 40,000 varieties is due to be flown out from Manila airport this week to complete the project.

The seeds include those no longer grown by farmers, plus 4,000-odd weeds with genes harnessed by scientists to make the rice plant more aromatic and more resistant to pests and disease, and tolerant of drought and saltwater.

Once completed, the Norway facility will act as a further backup to a US Department of Agriculture vault in Colorado that already holds duplicates of IRRI's seeds.

IRRI has in particular helped Cambodia's farmers to recover from the ravages of war. The Khmer Rouge regime killed millions of people -- many through starvation -- and forced farmers to grow only certain rice varieties in the 1970s.

Flora de Guzman, senior research manager of the gene bank, said she had once processed a request by Cambodia to send back seeds for about 500 of their native rice varieties.

"They lost the materials during the war. We had the collection here, so between 1981 and 1989 we repatriated the varieties that they lost," she said.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: Mustang Sally Farm on December 30, 2011, 11:04:17 AM

Chinese Technology To Increase Rice Yields
29 December 2011



MOZAMBIQUE - Mozambican Prime Minister Aires Ali has challenged the country's young people, as well as its businesses, to increase food production, by banking on the introduction of new agricultural technologies to increase yields.

This would be possible, he said, through the use of knowledge and techniques learnt through the cooperation between Mozambique and China.
 
According to a report in the Beira daily paper "Diario de Mocambique", Mr Ali was speaking on Monday, during a working visit to the Lower Limpopo irrigation scheme in the southern province of Gaza. Here, in the Ponela block, a rice production project is underway as part of the twinning between Gaza and the Chinese province of Hubei.
 
A memorandum signed between the two provinces in mid-2007 stipulates that in an initial phase the Chinese investors should ensure rice production in an area of 300 hectares.
 
Tests began two years ago, and since then rice production at Ponela has been raised to ten tonnes per hectare. Previously, under the traditional Mozambican system, yields were between two and three tonnes per hectare. The Chinese production techniques have been transferred to about 20 Mozambican farmers to date.
 
"What we want is that Mozambicans, particularly young people and the business sector, should embrace this project enthusiastically, obtaining the technologies and the machinery to increase production levels", said Mr Ali.
 
Gaza has educational institutions that specialise in agriculture, and Mr Ali suggested that students from these colleges should go the Lower Limpopo irrigation scheme for apprenticeships where they would assimilate Chinese rice production techniques.
 
Agricultural engineers and other specialists should also visit Ponela, he said, so that they could understand the Chinese technologies and spread them to other provinces.
 
The Ponela block covers about 11,000 hectares or arable land. 7,000 hectares are worked by commercial farmers, and the other 4,000 hectares are in the hands of around 8,000 peasant producers.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: Mustang Sally Farm on March 16, 2012, 03:25:57 AM

Samar Farmers Adapt Rice Ratooning
15 March 2012



PHILIPPINES - Samarnons may adapt rice ratooning to augment their dwindling harvest.

In Pinabacdao town where 756 hectares are devoted to rice farming, the rice ratooning technique will be done along with some other towns in Samar making the total area to be ratooned, 300 hectares, said Nelson Badolid, Municipal Agriculturist.

The idea was conceived in a meeting of agriculturists with Anita Taran, provincial agriculturist.

Ratooning, according to Badolid, is leaving rice stubbles in the field after harvest, applying a bag of fertilizer per hectare, and saturating the field with water. After some time, new grains will sprout and can be harvested after 45 days.

According to the agriculture journal, this is an inexpensive way to produce a second harvest of rice.

Mr Badolid recommended this as it is less affected by the climate and pests because the growing period is short.

“It enables farmers from having a second cropping because when the time comes, the field will then be cleared,” Mr Badolid offered.

Meanwhile, while Samarnons are rejoicing that it is harvest time, the agriculturists are grumbling because of the low productivity. Mr Badolid said that only 60 per cent of the rice grains are filled up because of the inclement weather.

He added that whereas before, farmers were able to harvest some 100-120 bags of rice per hectare, farmers now only get 40 bags due to the change in climate.

“Rains just pour unexpectedly, during the flowering stage, so that the grains end up half filled,” said Mr Badolid.

Pinabacdao Mayor Mario Quijano said he challenged the agriculture department to come up with a technology to cope with the worsening effects of climate change.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: Mustang Sally Farm on August 18, 2012, 03:01:20 AM

India’s 2012/13 Rice Production Forecast Lowered 2.0 Million Tons
17 August 2012



INDIA - Global rice production for 2012/13 is forecast at 463.2 million tons (milled basis), down 1.9 million tons from last month’s forecast and 1.8 million tons below a year earlier. This month’s downward revision is largely due to a smaller global area forecast.

At 158.8 million hectares, global rice area is 1.2 million hectares below last month’s forecast, with India and Brazil accounting for most of the downward revision in global rice area. Global area is virtually unchanged from a year earlier. The average yield remains forecast at 4.35 tons per hectare, fractionally below the year earlier record.

India accounts for the bulk of this month’s downward revision in global production. India’s 2012/13 crop was lowered 2.0 million tons to 98.0 million tons due to a delayed, deficient, and poorly distributed monsoon rainfall that has reduced area and yield potential for growers dependent on the seasonal rains. The forecasted crop is 6 per cent below the year earlier record. India’s 2012/13 total rice area was lowered 1.0 million hectares to 43.0 million hectares, a drop of 1.4 million hectares from a year earlier. At 3.42 tons per hectare, the average yield is down 3 per cent from last year.

Despite the smaller crop, India is projected to have adequate supplies of rice for both its domestic market and global buyers. Elsewhere in Asia, North Korea’s 2012/13 production was lowered 100,000 tons to 1.5 million tons based on severe drought in May and June that was followed by heavy rains and flooding in July. Outside Asia, Brazil’s 2012/13 production was lowered 850,000 tons to 7.82 million based on a much lower area estimate recommended by the US Agricultural Counselor in Brasilia. At 2.4 million hectares, Brazil’s rice area is 350,000 hectares below a year earlier and the lowest in more than a half a century. Finally, the US 2012/13 crop forecast was lowered 1 per cent to 6.05 million tons based on a weaker yield reported by the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The southern United States—where the bulk of the US crop is grown—has experienced an extremely hot summer.

These downward revisions were partially offset by several increases. First, China’s 2012/13 crop was raised 1.0 million tons to a record 142.0 million tons based on slightly higher area and yield estimates. Weather has generally been favorable in China for rice production this year. South Korea’s 2012/13 production was raised 100,000 tons to 4.3 million based on a higher area forecast recommended by the US Agricultural Counselor in Seoul. This is the first year-to-year area increase for South Korea since 2001/02. Finally, Mexico’s 2012/13 production forecast was raised 25,000 tons to 153,000 tons based on a larger area estimate recommended by the US Agricultural Counselor in Mexico City. At 45,000 hectares, rice area in Mexico is the highest since 2009/10.

Despite the downward revision in production, global rice supplies are expected to be plentiful in 2012/13. Record crops are projected for four Asian exporters—Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam—and a near-record crop is projected for Pakistan. Among the non-Asian exporters, Australia, Egypt, and the United States are project to harvest larger crops in 2012/13 than in 2011/12.

Global production for 2011/12 is estimated at a record 465.0 million tons, up 1.1 million tons from last month’s estimate and 3.5 per cent above a year earlier. India accounted for the bulk of this month’s upward revision in 2011/12 production. India’s 2011/12 crop was raised 920,000 tons to a record 104.32 million tons based on the Government of India’s Fourth Advance Estimate. Indonesia’s 2011/12 crop was raised 200,000 tons to 36.5 million based on a slightly higher harvested area for its third crop. These upward revisions were partly offset by a 40,000-ton reduction in Brazil’s 2011/12 production forecast to 7.82 million tons based on a smaller yield reported by the Government of Brazil.

Global disappearance for 2012/13 is projected at a record 466.4 million tons, down 0.4 million from last month’s forecast, but almost 2 per cent larger than a year earlier. Consumption forecasts were raised this month for China and Indonesia, but lowered for Brazil and India.

On a year-to-year basis, Bangladesh, Burma, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam account for most of the expected increase in global domestic use. Global ending stocks for 2012/13 are projected at 101.8 million tons, down 0.7 million tons from last month and 3.2 million tons below a year earlier, with India and Brazil accounting for most of this month’s downward revision. The global stocks-to-use ratio for 2012/13 is calculated at 21.8 per cent, down from 22.9 per cent a year earlier. Despite the downward revision in production, global rice supplies are expected to be plentiful in 2012/13. Record crops are projected for four Asian exporters—Cambodia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam—and a near-record crop is projected for Pakistan.

Among the non-Asian exporters, Australia, Egypt, and the United States are project to harvest larger crops in 2012/13 than in 2011/12. Global production for 2011/12 is estimated at a record 465.0 million tons, up 1.1 million tons from last month’s estimate and 3.5 per cent above a year earlier. India accounted for the bulk of this month’s upward revision in 2011/12 production. India’s 2011/12 crop was raised 920,000 tons to a record 104.32 million tons based on the Government of India’s Fourth Advance Estimate. Indonesia’s 2011/12 crop was raised 200,000 tons to 36.5 million based on a slightly higher harvested area for its third crop. These upward revisions were partly offset by a 40,000-ton reduction in Brazil’s 2011/12 production forecast to 7.82 million tons based on a smaller yield reported by the Government of Brazil. Global disappearance for 2012/13 is projected at a record 466.4 million tons, down 0.4 million from last month’s forecast, but almost 2 per cent larger than a year earlier. Consumption forecasts were raised this month for China and Indonesia, but lowered for Brazil and India.

On a year-to-year basis, Bangladesh, Burma, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam account for most of the expected increase in global domestic use. Global ending stocks for 2012/13 are projected at 101.8 million tons, down 0.7 million tons from last month and 3.2 million tons below a year earlier, with India and Brazil accounting for most of this month’s downward revision. The global stocks-to-use ratio for 2012/13 is calculated at 21.8 per cent, down from 22.9 per cent a year earlier.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: Mustang Sally Farm on January 02, 2013, 09:31:57 AM
An agreement to help Filipino rice farmers produce more rice under the Philippines’ Food Staples Sufficiency Program was signed yesterday morning by Philippine Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Director General Robert Zeigler of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The FSSP is aimed at the country achieving self-sufficiency in rice and other food staples by 2013 – the National Year of Rice.
 
“Indeed, this is an opportune time to renew our partnership with IRRI, which has been a strong ally and supporter since 1960, as we are nearing our goal of rice sufficiency,” said Agriculture Secretary Alcala at the signing of this memorandum of agreement (MOA).
 
Backed with full support from the Department of Agriculture, the 5-year agreement – “Sustaining rice self-sufficiency and food security in the Philippines” – outlines areas of collaboration to support, extend, and fast-track the delivery of the Philippines’ Food Staples Sufficiency Program.
 
These include producing and distributing high-quality and improved rice seeds; developing varieties that are able to withstand salinity, flooding, and drought; using geographic information systems to monitor rice crops; and exploring new and modern farming systems or technologies that would help expand current areas of production.
 
Moreover, best agricultural practices and support tools are going to be developed and disseminated, which will include skills training for extension and field workers.
 
"IRRI provides technical assistance crucial for rice-sector strategy and planning," said Zeigler. "IRRI's key contributions help improve farm productivity and profitability while keeping in mind sustainability.”
 
He added that the best IRRI science has been openly and freely available to public and private Philippine stakeholders since the Institute was established in the country in 1960.
 
Through the signing of the agreement, IRRI and the DA will renew their commitment and will work together toward reducing poverty and hunger, improving the health of both farmers and consumers, and ensuring food and environmental sustainability in the Philippines.
 
The MOA was signed at the Agribusiness Development Center, DA in Quezon City and, immediately after its signing, the DA, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and IRRI came together for a series of planning and budget workshops on its implementation. The resulting budget is expected to be significantly larger than that of previous agreements between the DA and IRRI.
Title: Re: International Rice News:
Post by: Mustang Sally Farm on November 17, 2013, 01:37:16 AM
MANILA, Philippines, November 14, 2013 (ENS) – Amidst the deaths and devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan that lashed the Philippines last weekend, the island nation has caught a much-needed break. The rice crop was spared because the storm struck in between planting seasons, say officials with the International Rice Research Institute.

Leyte, the province that endured the worst of the typhoon, is a rice–producing province, with more than 100,000 hectares of rice land. Between 2000 and 2009, Leyte posted the third biggest increase in rice production among all provinces, and has the highest average annual growth rate in terms of yield per hectare.

rice farmer
One of the Philippines’ many rice farmers (Photo courtesy IRRI)
 
Coming from an assessment meeting with the Philippine Department of Agriculture today, V. Bruce J. Tolentino, IRRI deputy director general for communication and partnership, said that the typhoon struck Leyte after most farms had already completed their wet season harvest and were just starting to prepare for the dry season crop.

“The most serious issues will arise from extensive losses resulting from the storm surge – in farm machinery, storage, housing, and damage to roads and irrigation. These will need replacement and rehabilitation,” said Dr. Tolentino.

“In the meantime,” he said, “access to markets is constrained and household food stocks are down to zero, causing a spike in local food prices.”

As of tonight, the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center confirmed that the typhoon has claimed 2,357 lives.

The number of confirmed deaths is much lower than the 10,000 estimated by local Leyte officials immediately after the storm.

In addition 3,853 people are reported injured and 77 are still missing, nearly a week after the storm left the islands heading westward across the South China Sea.

A total of 8.67 million Filipinos were affected in some way by the typhoon.

IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler expressed his condolences to those affected and linked the severity of the storm to climate change.

“In all of my years in the Philippines, since 1992, I have never seen devastation of this scale,” he said. “Like many of you, I am deeply saddened by the great loss of life and massive destruction caused by this typhoon.”

Dr. Ismail, Plant Physiologist at IRRI, inspects rice varieties with the sub 1 gene. The sub 1 gene is responsible for flood tolerance in rice. (Photo courtesy IRRI)
Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail, a plant physiologist at IRRI, inspects rice varieties with the sub 1 gene, which is responsible for flood tolerance in rice. (Photo courtesy IRRI)
 
IRRI staff and friends are collecting donations of money and supplies for people affected by the typhoon.

As climate change continues to add to challenges for rice production, Filipino farmers respond by planting climate change-ready rice varieties developed by IRRI and released by the Philippine government.

About five million farmers across Asia are now using “scuba” or flood-tolerant rice, which can withstand submergence for up to two weeks.

IRRI has released 101 improved rice varieties in the Philippines, including “scuba rice,” known by its local variety name, “Submarino.”

As part of its response to help people affected by the typhoon, the International Rice Research Institute, with the Department of Agriculture, will provide seeds of flood-tolerant rice to farmers.

“The current rice crop in the affected regions accounts for less than 10 percent of the Philippines’ annual national rice production, and most of the rice crop in these regions had already been harvested before the typhoon came,” said Samarendu Mohanty, IRRI economist and head of the institute’s social science and policy arm.

Still, Dr. Mohanty said that it will take more time to determine the full extent of the damage to the country’s rice crop. The extent of flood damage to rice that was stored on farms and in public and private warehouses remains to be seen.

Philippine rice farmers have to cope with more than 20 typhoons each year. Super Typhoon Yolanda/Hiayan was the 25th typhoon to hit the islands this year.

IRRI continues to work on making rice more resistant to extreme weather conditions. This includes studying how rice can thrive despite salty soil, hot or cold weather, submergence and drought.