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4th may,2015 daily gloabl rice e newsletter by riceplus magazine

Jul 21, 2016



Riceplus Magazine shares daily International RICE News for global Rice Community. We publish daily two newsletters namely Global Rice News & ORYZA EXCLUSIVE News for readers .You can share any development news for readers. Share your rice and agriculture related research write up with Riceplus Magazine contact , For Advertisement & Specs

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    Imports up for neighbours as rice consumption increases Published: Saturday May 2, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM

    Updated: Saturday May 2, 2015 MYT 8:10:01 AM


    PEOPLE in Singapore are eating more rice, and grains from Malaysia, Cambodia and Pakistan are seeing

    a huge growth in demand.Latest figures from Interprise Enterprise Singapore the government agency

    driving the republics external economy show that 361,930 tonnes of rice were imported in 2011, rising

    Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter

    May 04 , 2015 V o l u m e 5, Issue I

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    steadily to hit 498,633 tonnes last year, or a rise of 38%.Importers point to growing awareness of healthy

    eating as the main reason for the increase.Its healthier to eat rice ... or rice noodles like mee hoon than,

    say, fast food, said Lim Ek Kwong, operations manager of major rice importer See Hoy Chan.

    The recent influx of foreigners from rice-eating nations such as India and China may also have fuelled the

    demand, said importers. There are also more types of rice available now.The past few years had seen a

    change in the main supply source.In 2013, India, for the first time, overtook Thailand famous for its

    premium grade jasmine rice as the biggest rice supplier to Singapore. Last year, 37.4% of the total rice

    imports came from India, and 32.3% were from Thailand. Vietnam (22.6%) took the No. 3 spot.Other

    countries that supply rice to Singapore included Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar and Pakistan.

    While they accounted for less than 5% of the total rice imports last year, three of them saw huge growth

    increases.Demand for rice from Malaysia and Cambodia jumped 11 times and nine times, respectively,

    while demand for Pakistani rice tripled.Rice importers said the quality of non-Thai rice has improved over

    the years.

    They have improved their polishing and dehusking technology, said Lim.Prices also play a part. At

    FairPrice supermarkets, for instance, a 10kg bag of housebrand jasmine fragrant rice from Vietnam costs

    S$15.50 (RM41.80) while a similar bag of housebrand Thai fragrant rice and white rice blend costs

    S$18.60 (RM50.17). About 70% of rice sold at FairPrice is from Thailand, down from 95% in 2007.Lim

    said restaurants have turned to white rice from Vietnam, Cambodia and India as they cost less than the

    Thai variety.

    Andrew Tan, chairman of the Singapore General Rice Importers Association, said the shift to non-Thai

    rice began in 2011. That year, the Thai government started buying rice from farmers at above-market

    rates, building a stockpile at home. This reduced the amount of rice available for export and led to higher

    prices.People are also eating more rice because there are now more varieties available. Mui-Kok Kah

    Wei, FairPrices senior director of purchasing and merchandising, said the supermarket chains range now

    includes varieties like calrose, red unpolished rice and multi-grain rice.Basmati and ponni rice are also

    gaining popularity.

    Telemarketer Amutha Chetty, 44, said her family eats only ponni rice from India. We used to eat some

    Thai rice but we dont anymore. (It is) more expensive.But teacher Sarah Lim, 53, is sticking to her Thai

    rice. It is so ingrained in me that Thai rice is better ... I wont change to rice from elsewhere even if it is

    cheaper, she said. The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

    TAGS / KEYWORDS: Regional, regional

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    Vietnam rice boom puts pressure on farmers

    Rice farmer Nguyen Hien Thien is so busy growing his crops that he has never even visited Can

    Tho, a town only a few kilometres from his farm in the southern Mekong Delta."When I was a

    child, we grew one crop of rice per year -- now it's three. It's a lot of work," 60-year-old Thien,

    who's been farming since childhood, told AFP.Experts say Vietnam's drive to become one of the

    world's leading rice exporters is pushing farmers in the fertile delta region to the brink, with

    mounting costs to the environment.

    The communist country is already the world's second largest exporter of the staple grain. But

    intensive rice cultivation, particularly the shift to producing three crops a year, is taking its toll

    on farmers and the ecosystem."Politicians want to be the world's number one or two rice

    exporter. As a scientist, I want to see more being done to protect farmers and the environment,"

    said Vietnamese rice expert Vo Tong Xuan.A major famine in 1945 and food shortages in the

    post-war years led to the government adopting a "rice first" policy.This now generates far more

    of the crop than needed to feed Vietnam's 90 million population and has spawned a thriving

    export industry.Rice yields have nearly quadrupled since the 1970s, official figures show, thanks

    to high-yield strains and the construction of a network of dykes that today allow farmers to grow

    up to three crops per year.

    The amount of land under cultivation in the Mekong Delta has also expanded and quotas are in

    place to prevent farmers from switching to other crops.But experts question who really

    benefits.According to Xuan, farmers don't reap the rewards of the three crop system -- the rice is

    low quality and they spend more on pesticides and fertilisers, which become less effective year

    by year.He argues the delta would be better off if farmers cultivated a more diverse range of

    crops, from coconuts to prawns, with just the most suitable land used to grow rice.The country

    should consider abandoning the third crop and focus on improving quality and branding to sell

    Vietnamese rice at higher prices, he said.

    Currently, the bulk of Vietnam's rice is exported at cut-price costs on government-to-government

    contracts through large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) like the Southern Food Corporation,

    known as Vinafood 2."Over the last five years, the trend is towards lower-quality rice," admitted

    Le Huu Trang, deputy office manager at the firm.Some argue that such SOEs have a vested

    interest in maintaining the status quo as they earn lucrative kickbacks from the huge

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    contracts.But even as salt water intrusion, drought and flooding increase in the delta -- to say

    nothing of agricultural chemical pollution -- it is also hard to convince farmers to change."The

    prevailing mindset is to grow three crops... we have to explain two crops is better," said Nguyen

    Tuan Hiep from the Co Do Agriculture company.

    Over the last 20 years, Co Do -- which is state-run but a flagship model of how the industry

    could evolve -- has identified the best rice-growing land in the delta and helped farmers expand

    their farms.They now work with 2,500 families on 5,900 hectares of land, enough for each

    family to make a living -- typically the average rice farm in the delta spans less than one hectare.

    The firm invests heavily in high-quality seeds and improving irrigation, while also advising

    farmers on the best chemicals to use."Two crops is more sustainable long term -- the soil is not

    degraded, the environment isn't polluted, and value of the rice increases," Hiep said.Climate

    change is another factor threatening the delta, according to the World Bank Group's vice

    president and special envoy for climate change Rachel Kyte."This is really ground zero for some

    of the most difficult adaptation, planning challenges that any country in the world has," she said.

    Ultimately, Vietnam has tough choices to make, including whether to help people transition from

    a rice-based economy to aquaculture or other crops, Kyte added.The environmental costs of

    maintaining Vietnam's current level of rice production are also rising.The system of dykes,

    which blocks flood water, is preventing soil nutrients from flowing freely and over time "soil

    fertility will fade", said Tran Ngoc Thac, deputy director of Vietnam's Rice Research

    Institute.Scientists there are busy trying to breed new strains of rice that require fewer fertilisers

    and can survive in extreme weather."If farmers don't change, if we can't find a suitable new rice

    strain, pollution will continue and incomes will drop," Thac said, adding these measures were

    essential to save the delta.

    PARC introduces 11 new high-yielding rice varieties INP

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    The Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) approved 11 new high-yielding rice

    varieties including seven hybrid and four open-pollinated seed for cultivation in various

    ecologies.The Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) on Rice was held here at PARC

    headquarters under the Chairmanship of Member Plant Sciences Division Dr Muhammad Shahid

    Masood.In total, 19 rice varieties were presented before the VEC including 14 hybrid and five

    OP varieties, out of which 11 were approved and eight were rejected due to Bacterial-Leaf-

    Blight (BLB) disease susceptibility and poor grain quality performance. The approved varieties

    have been recommended to the National Seed Council.

    Details show that the hybrid varieties approved by the VEC have yield potential up to 92 mound

    per acre whereas the OP rice varieties have potential to produce much yield than the existing

    IRRI-6 and KSK-133 varieties.The OP varieties have been developed from the Green Super Rice

    (GSR) germ-plasm provided by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Philippines to

    PARC and National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE). These OP

    varieties have high yield potential and also submergence, salinity and water stress tolerance


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    With the addition of new recommended hybrids of

    rice in the national system of the country, it is

    expected that there will be a significant

    improvement in rice production in Pakistan, VET

    Chairman Dr M Shahid Masood said.He

    appreciated the role of stakeholders for taking

    interest in rice research and development and

    working in close collaboration with the public


    The VEC meeting, among others, was attended by 20 technical members of the committee from

    National Agriculture Research System (NARS) of the country including rice breeders,

    agronomists, entomologists, pathologists, seed experts, policy-makers, private seed companies

    representatives and provincial seed cooperation representatives.It is pertinent to mention here

    that the VEC on wheat recently released four new rust resistant wheat varieties including a bio-

    fortified variety having 50 percent Zinc (Zn) contents.

    The bio-fortified variety is the first-ever such introduction in the list of recommended varieties

    for farmers choice in any agro-ecology.Meanwhile, Chairman PARC Dr Iftikhar Ahmad lauded

    the efforts of the scientists and other stakeholders for introducing new rice varieties.I expect

    that the introduction of new rice varieties would not only produce promising crop yield but

    would also help farmers to raise their incomes to improve their livelihood and ultimately play

    role in building of overall economy of the country, he remarked.


    PARC approves 11 new high-yielding rice varieties for cultivation

    The approved varieties include seven hybrid and four open-pollinated seed.

    Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) has approved eleven new high-yielding rice

    varieties for cultivation in various ecologies.The approval was made at the meeting of Variety

    Evaluation Committee on Rice held in Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Member Plant

    Sciences Division, Dr Muhammad Shahid Masood.

    The approved varieties include seven hybrid and four open-pollinated seed.In total, nineteen rice

    varieties were presented before the Committee out of which 11 were approved and eight rejected

    due to Bacterial-Leaf-Blight disease susceptibility and poor grain quality performance. The

    approved varieties have been recommended to National Seed Council.Details show the hybrid

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    varieties approved by the Committee have yield potential up to 92 mounds per acre whereas the

    Open-Pollinated rice varieties have potential to produce much yield than the existing IRRI-6 and

    KSK-133 varieties.

    News by Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME)

    The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has invited the attention of federal

    commerce minister Khurram Dastagir to the closure of rice processing units and urged him to

    save the traditional export oriented industry from collapse by doing some out of box thinking and

    implementing the decision before the planting season of all varieties of rice.President UNISAME

    Zulfikar Thaver said rice exports business is only in the hands of a few big rice exporters and the

    SME unit owners have been eliminated. More than 1000 units have closed down due to lack of

    business. The lethargy of the government is damaging the age old industry which is next to

    textiles and employs a large number of people.

    He said in Sindh the parboiling units have proved to be dead investment and the par boilers of

    paddy are now sitting hand on hand.Although Thaver identified the crisis to a worldwide low

    cycle of commodities and said our main competitor India excels in parboil rice and offers it at

    lower than our price but in white rice Pakistan is competing India due to lower prices and better

    quality. However we cannot afford to close our parboil units and need to revive the parboil rice

    industry especially in Sindh.

    He said despite the fact that Pakistani rice is more tasty and inherits superiority we are unable to

    take benefit due to no support from government for farm inputs.The SME rice exporters have

    urged the government to examine the setback and study each and every aspect from irrigation

    methods, fertilizers, seeds, supply chain, cost of cultivation, pesticides and storage and last but

    not the least logistics.The SME rice exporters demanded level playing field and lamented that the

    Quality Review Committee (QRC) is not closed yet despite the fact that its futility is confirmed it

    is a bothersome pre- shipment inspection cell and a mockery of international pre shipment

    inspection and it is surprising as to why the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority

    (PSQCA) is tolerating it and why the MINCOM realizing its demerits is giving it extension.

    MINCOM even directed the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to begin the

    process of closing it but the SMEs fail to understand why it has not been closed and what is the

    reason for the slackness and who is interested in its continuity.

    This defective preshipment inspection cell( QRC) not equipped nor qualified nor eligible was

    basically formed to protect the basmati rice purity but now the rice business is mostly of 386,

    1121 and its blending with basmati and the purity is not expected nor practiced. In fact blending

    is now treated as a skill and 1121 is more expensive than basmati.UNISAME expects the

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    MINCOM to address the issues of the rice industry and urged it to seek help from the Small and

    Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) to revive the industry on modern lines

    with paddy drying systems, storage systems and to make value addition by making rice milk and

    other high value products from rice both for exports and the domestic market

    Posted Date: 3rd May, 2015 Last updated at 18:25 PST

    Folate biofortified rice could reduce birth defects: study

    Rice could soon be genetically modified to add folic acid to our diets. (CHAIWATPHOTOS /

    Published Saturday, May 2, 2015 10:15AM EDT

    Bolstering rice with a gene to produce more folate -- or vitamin B9 -- could ward off birth

    defects, according to a new study.An estimated 50 to 70 per cent of all neural tube defects occur

    due to maternal folate deficiency, according to the Belgian research team.The researchers

    suggest their folate biofortified rice (FBR) would be consumed in regions that lack the vitamin

    such as Balrampur, India and Shanxi, China. In a paper on the product, the research team used

    the standard metric of the World Health Organization called the Disability-Adjusted Life Year

    (DALY).According to them, the DALY reflects the sum of Years of Life Lost (YLL), a measure

    of premature mortality, in addition to the Years Lost due to Disability (YLD), which accounts for

    both morbidity and mortality for those with health problems.

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    By the team's count, folate biofortification could eliminate between 29 and 111 DALYs per year

    in Balrampur per 1,000 births and between 47 and 104 DALYs in Shanxi.In China and India,

    between 16,000 and 18,000 babies are born per year with neural tube defects, say the

    researchers, whose study was published in the International Journal of Biotechnology.This

    accounts for 12 per cent of the global estimated number of 300,000 babies born with neural tube

    defects per year.The idea of fortifying food with folic acid isn't new. Yet around the world,

    women are not taking enough folic acid and one study says that two-thirds of U.K. women

    bypass recommended pre-pregnancy doses.According to the paper, 1,000 pregnancies affected

    by spina bifida occur in the U.K. per year.The Center for Disease Control in the

    U.S. recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) of folic

    acid daily

    $2 million will benefit ultra-modern Foundation Seed


    The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board has directed $2 million to help construct an

    innovative Seed Foundation Facility at the states Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart. The facility will assist scientists and researchers to bring new higher yielding, high

    quality rice varieties to market so Arkansas farmers can profitably grow rice that meets

    worldwide demand.

    Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2015 8:00 am


    LITTLE ROCK The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board has directed $2 million to help construct an innovative Seed

    Foundation Facility at the states Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart. The facility will assist scientists and researchers to bring

    new higher yielding, high quality rice varieties to market so Arkansas

    farmers can profitably grow rice that meets worldwide demand.


    FBR : Fifth mini-budget in five months, higher taxes imposed on oil

    05/01/2015 | 12:29am US/Eastern

    In an unprecedented move, the federal government in its desperation to generate tax revenues on

    Thursday introduced a fifth mini-budget in as many months and imposed additional ad hoc taxes

    on petroleum products, which would have the combined effect of raising prices by as much as

    4.5% on such items.Through the new measures, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

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    of the Cabinet raised the general sales tax on high speed diesel (HSD) from 32% to 34%. Sales

    tax on petrol, kerosene, light diesel oil (LDO) and high-octane blended component (HOBC)

    increased from 18% to 20%, said one official at the Federal Board of Revenue.

    In addition, the government approved a 2% 'regulatory duty' on crude oil, petrol, and furnace oil.

    It also approved a 2.5% regulatory duty on HSD. These duties are in addition to the 5% it already

    imposed on furnace oil to recoup revenue losses from lower global oil prices.The move appears

    to be motivated by the government's upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary

    Fund for the release of the next loan tranche of over $500 million which are due to start on

    Friday (today).

    The government has historically relied on the energy sector for over 25% of its total revenues.

    With global oil prices dropping, the finance ministry claims it needs to raise rates to keep its

    revenues steady. However, some analysts believe that the government has levied more in

    additional taxes than it would have lost had tax rates remained constant.The net effect of the four

    mini-budgets prior to Thursday's move is close to Rs101 billion in additional revenues for the

    government, while Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has acknowledged that the net effect of lower oil

    prices on tax revenues was only Rs68 billion.

    Sources in FBR told The Express Tribune that the tax machinery was crumbling due to

    increasingly unchecked corruption a reason that the government does not admit to

    publicly. Iftikhar Vohra, the president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry said

    last week that theFBR was settling tax notices in exchange for Rs50,000 to Rs300,000 in bribes.

    The FBR did not deny the allegations.

    The FBR insists that the increase in GST rates and regulatory duties would generate only Rs10

    billion revenues in the remaining two months of the fiscal year. However, the tax body has in the

    past used misleading information even when testifying before Parliament on the matter of mini-

    budgets.Dar had told Parliament that four mini budgets would generate only Rs48 billion in

    additional taxes. However, in a report to the IMF the government said that these additional

    measures would generate revenues equal to 0.35% of Gross Domestic Product or Rs101

    billion.The move would further deny the benefits of falling global oil to domestic consumers.

    There will also be an increase in the cost of electricity generation.

    In the earlier mini budgets, the government increased the standard 17% GST rate on petroleum

    products, levied regulatory duties on steel products and scrap metal, introduced a regulatory duty

    on mobile phone, levied an additional 5% regulatory duty on furnace oil, increased the

    withholding tax on non-filer contractors, service providers, and importers. It also increased

    import duty on luxury items.

    Ramazan Package

    The ECC also approved Rs1.5 billion Ramazan package as compared to the Rs1.4

    billion approved last year. The Finance Division would provide upfront payment of Rs1

    billion to the Utility Stores Corporation to buy the items before Ramazan. These include flour,

    sugar, ghee, oil, pulses including dal channa, dal moong, dal mash, dal masoor, white gram,

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    baisen, dates, basmati rice, sela rice, broken rice, squashes and syrups (900 ml bottle), black tea,

    milk, and spices.

    PIA fleet payments

    The ECC approved the release of the remaining $36 million for the induction of 15 aircraft on a

    dry lease in the fleet of the state-ownedPakistan International Airlines. In its December 6,

    2014 meeting, the ECC had approved in principle, an amount of $52 million and provided the

    first tranche of $16.4 million for these aircraft. The PIA has arranged to acquire ten A-320 and

    five ATR-72 aircraft on dry lease.

    Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2015.

    The post Fifth mini-budget in five months, higher taxes imposed on oil appeared first on The

    Express Tribune.

    Rural stress affects farmers even in prosperous states

    Greater adoption of cash crops combined with a collapse in the prices of agri-commodities

    has led farmers to the brink in major agricultural areas

    Mayank Mishra | New Delhi

    May 2, 2015 Last Updated at 22:50 IST

    According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data, nearly 64 per cent of all farmer

    suicides in the country in 2013 took place in the four states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra

    Pradesh and Kerala, raising the question: why is rural stress resulting in farmer suicides in these

    relatively prosperous states?

    NCRB started collecting profession-wise suicide

    data in 1995. Under the category of self-employed

    (farming/agriculture), the bureau reported 10,462

    suicides in 2013. Maharashtra tops the list,

    accounting for about a third of these, followed by

    Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.Not all suicides

    take place because of economic stress. However,

    relatively higher incidence of suicide among

    farmers compared to non-farmers in most of the

    years for which data are available does indicate

    livelihood concerns associated with agricultural

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    economy, say experts.Greater adoption of cash crops in these relatively prosperous regions could

    be one of the reasons for acute rural stress in such states.

    "The pricing of agricultural commodities has been the biggest source of worry. My experience

    with the cotton growers is that they are forced to sell their produce below the cost of produce,"

    says Sharad Nimbalkar, noted agriculture expert and former vice-chancellor of Akola-based

    Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth in Maharashtra.Take the case of cotton, which has been

    a source of anxiety for farmers in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh (now bifurcated into the two

    states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh). Nimbalkar says that the cost of production for every

    acre of cotton is Rs 14,000-15,000. But at current market price, a farmer can expect at best a

    price of Rs 12,000-13,000 per acre, he adds.

    What has worsened the situation is the volatility in prices of some agri-commodities. According

    to the Cotton Corporation of India data, the average annual price of J-34 variety spiked from Rs

    3,115 a quintal to Rs 5,571 the following year and collapsed subsequently. In fact, in the past

    year itself, wholesale prices of cotton have fallen by 11 per cent in Maharashtra and nearly 13

    per cent in Andhra Pradesh. Incidentally, the number of farmers killing themselves declined

    during 2006-2010 but increased subsequently in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, thus

    indicating a direct correlation between the price of cotton and incidence of farmer suicide.

    The price of other cash crops like soyabean, rubber and basmati rice too has seen big fluctuation

    in recent years. "A combination of factors has exacerbated rural distress in recent years," argues

    Ajay Jakhar, chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj. "The collapse in the prices of agri-commodities is

    definitely one. Unseasonal rain has added to the hopelessness. What is needed is timely

    compensation to farmers."The extent of rural distress in recent years can also be understood in

    terms of differences in the rates of suicide of farmers and non-farmers. A 2014 study by Srijit

    Mishra of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) shows that between

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    1998 and 2010, suicide death per 100,000 people among male farmers was always higher than

    among male non-farmers at the all-India level.

    The situation was particularly bad from 2001 to 2006, after which the two rates began to

    converge.However, it has been a different scenario in the case of prosperous states such as

    Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The rate of suicide of male farmers in relation to that

    of male non-farmers has been at an elevated level throughout. About Kerala, the report says:

    "What is intriguing it that the difference between farmers and non-farmers suicide rates in Kerala

    is among the highest across states and the suicide rate for male farmers is 3.1 to 6.5 times greater

    than the suicide rate for male non-farmers.

    " On Maharashtra, the IGIDR study observes: "With not much fluctuation in the suicide rate for

    non-farmers, it implies that the suicide rate for farmers has increased till 2006 and then again

    from 2010."Experts point out that another factor behind rural distress has been the rise in input

    cost of farming. "My own experience is that input cost increases 15-25 per cent every year. It is

    mostly on the higher side in the case of cash crops," says Amol Totey, executive president of

    Orange Growers' Association. "In this scenario, if the price of produce drops for 2-3 years, it

    pushes farmers into a debt trap." He adds, "With banks showing unwillingness to restructure

    loans, farmers are pushed to the brink.

    "However, if one looks at the cost of labour, one of the key inputs for farming, data suggest a

    negative correlation between the rates of farmer suicide and growth in real rural wages.

    According to government estimates, "Nominal farm wages grew at only 1.8 per cent per annum

    from 2001-02 to 2006-07 and at a high 17.5 per cent per annum during 2007-08 to 2011-12."

    While the first period with minimum wage growth was characterised by acute rural distress

    manifested in higher rates of farmer suic

    ide, the latter period was relatively better.With a fall in average size of landholding and

    consequent fall in the number of cultivators, it is likely that many farmers double up as

    agriculture labour for additional income. And a dip in rural wage growth in the last few years

    may have added to the woes of such small and marginal farmers.

    New targets set for rice, sugarcane crops The Newspaper's Reporter Published May 01, 2015 06:20am

    ISLAMABAD: The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) on Thursday set the fresh

    production targets for sugarcane and rice crops.The target for sugarcane was fixed at 68 million

    tonnes from an area of 1.40m hectares as compared to last years production of 63.9m

    tonnes.The target for rice is 7m tonnes from an area of 2.8m hectares, whereas for the maize

    crop, the target is 4.6m tonnes.

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    The representatives of provincial agricultural departments urged the federal government to

    ensure adequate supply of urea and phosphate fertilisers during the season.Speaking at a news

    conference after the FCA meeting, Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar

    Hayat Khan Bosan stated that production of main crops, including rice, cotton, sugarcane and

    potatoes had increased. It had helped the government stabilise prices of essential commodities.

    He was of the view that farmers took a hit due to falling global prices of rice and cotton.

    As far as irrigation water is concerned, the meeting was informed that availability of water would

    be satisfactory except for some areas of Sindh.The Met Office reported the IRSA data that water

    levels in the reservoirs were better as compared to last year. Additionally, the Met Office was

    optimistic about prospects of rains in all parts of the country.

    The committee was informed that the availability of certified seeds had increased during the

    Kharif sowing season. The representative of State Bank informed the meeting that allocation of

    institutional credit for agriculture has substantially increased. Wheat production has been

    estimated at 25.03m tonnes from an area of 9.17m hectares. The revised estimates have reduced

    the production target from 25.48m tonnes in view of slight damage to wheat crop owing to freak

    weather conditions.The current production of gram crops has been estimated at 4.2m tonnes. The

    committee also reviewed production achievements of other crops, such as maize, chillies and


    Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2015

    Rice Importers Take on Customs over N20bn Import Duty


    04 May 2015

    Rice importers have taken on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over its resolve to collect the

    N20 billion import duty they allegedly evaded paying into the coffers of the federal

    government.Following the reluctance of the rice importers to pay the import duty, the Customs

    High Command had issued a public notice in selected national newspapers giving the importers

    or their agents an ultimatum to pay on or before April 14, 2015.Apparently seeing the ultimatum

    as an empty threat, the rice importers treated the public notice with levity.Two weeks after the

    expiration of the ultimatum as contained in the public notice, the importers did not pay the

    import duty and they were not arrested by NCS or any other security agency.

    THISDAY checks revealed that the importers resolve to ignore the ultimatum to pay the import

    duty, even as they dared NCS based on superior advice from those backing them.Impeccable

    sources close to the importers and their agents said they took the decision to ignore the public

    notice due to the fact that the Customs High Command presently lacked what it takes to sanction

    them.As far as rice importers are concerned, they regard NCS as a toothless bull dog. This is because most of them know their way in the system from the presidency to the Federal Ministry

    of Finance, Ministry of Trade and Investments, and Agriculture. In fact, as we speak, they are

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    pushing for the procurement of a waiver. Once they get the waiver, it will make nonsense of the

    N20 billion import duty NCS has been demanding from them all these while, the source said.

    According to the source who preferred anonymity, the rice importers are adopting a multi-

    layered approach to ensure that they obtain the waiver. They strongly believe the Ministry of

    Agriculture lacked the statutory powers to grant such waivers. That is why they are not

    restricting their pursuit of the waiver to that ministry alone. Besides, the importers are banking

    on the fact of the imminent change in government, as they strongly believe that the out-going

    administration of President Goodluck Jonathan may not be keen in pursuing them to recover the


    It was gathered that while some of the rice importers may be willing to pay the N20 billion

    import duty, they want to buy time with the belief that the in-coming government of

    Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) give them opportunity to re-negotiate the amount and the payment

    terms after it takes the reins of power on May 29, 2015.We are still working at raising the money. We have invested heavily and the commodity is not even selling as much as we had

    expected. So, what is the rush, in paying the excess duty? Look, we will pay. But I do not

    envisage my company paying everything. Is this not Nigeria? one of the affected importers said.

    While no one was willing to speak publicly on the matter, a senior official of the Federal

    Ministry of Agriculture in Abuja confirmed that some rice importers were granted waivers not

    long ago just as some others are still being processed.One of those granted waiver by the

    ministry is a seasoned rice grower and importer, Olam Nigeria Limited.

    According to documents obtained by THISDAY, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi

    Adesina, in the waiver dated April 13, 2015, said he was glad that domestic rice production was

    already on the increase, thereby resulting in a reduction of rice import requirements of the

    country. Given, Olam Nigerias massive rice production and milling investment in Nigeria, being the largest single existing investor in the sub-sector over the last two years with existing

    investments over $120,000,000, the ministry is willing to reduce the amount owed by 50 per cent

    to 54,000 MT to be applied to 2015 allocations.

    In response to inquiries, Public Relations Officer (PRO), NCS Headquarters, Abuja, Alhaji

    Adewale Adeniyi, said the position of NCS on import duty collection had not changed.Adewale,

    a Deputy Comptroller (DC), maintained that NCS would not fail to apply severe sanctions if the

    importers failed to pay the statutory fees.According to him, We are committed to a total recovery of the duty payable on excess importation of rice. We have the government backing on

    this. The President (Jonathan) has given us the mandate to recover fully, the duty on excess

    importation on rice and management has no reason whatsoever to shirk its responsibility in this

    regard. It is revenue that is due, from any excess importation; and we have President Jonathans backing to make this recovery.So, despite their foot dragging, they cannot escape paying it. I can

    assure on that.

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