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December 08 ,2018

Vol 9 ,Issue 12

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Scuba and Sea Rice: Sowing the Seeds for Greater Food
Security in Asia
5 DECEMBER 2018

Madeleine Lovelle, Research Analyst, Global Food and Water Crises Research

Background

With traditional varieties of rice unable to withstand days of being submerged under flood
waters, there is often a high risk of total crop loss for rice grown in rainfed and flood-affected
areas. Serious flooding is usually created by heavy rainfall, overflow from nearby rivers and
canals, and, in coastal areas, sometimes by tidal movements. Water is often prevented from
draining in rice-growing regions due to the topography of the land. Flooding causes an annual
paddy loss of 3.6 million tonnes; enough to feed 30 million people. Such events affect not only
farmers whose livelihoods depend on the production of the crop, but also pose a wider threat to
food supplies throughout Asia.

Comment

For decades, scientists have been working towards the development of so-called ―scuba rice‖;
designed to withstand periods of flooding for up to two weeks. It is now being grown by farmers
in India, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Indonesia. The average yield of most varieties of scuba
rice is around 4 to 5.8 tonnes per hectare. According to scientists at the International Rice
Research Institute (IRRI), scuba rice will still yield 2.7 to 3.6 tonnes after it has been submerged
in flood waters for two weeks.

In China, farmers in the Shandong province along the northern coast, are successfully growing
―sea rice‖, a variety of rice that is able to withstand high levels of alkalinity. The success of the
sea rice means that farmers may be able to grow sufficient rice on saline-alkaline soil to feed an
additional 80 million people. With China‘s population expected to reach 1.45 billion by 2030,
growth of the sea rice crop is an important development.

According to the IRRI, about 20 million hectares of Asian rice paddies are prone to flooding.
Most of the world‘s rice is grown within this region and some estimates suggest that more than
half the world‘s population rely on rice as a staple food. With Asia‘s population expected to
grow from 4.4 billion in 2018, to 5.2 billion people by 2050, their consumption is expected to
reach about 90 per cent of annual global rice production. The development of scuba rice and sea
rice is expected to help satisfy this demand and benefit farmers tending to 20 million hectares of
rice paddies throughout Asia.

While the scuba and sea rice varieties offer the prospect of increased food security and a higher
income for farmers throughout Asia, there are a handful of limitations to the crops. Firstly, stable

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rice harvesting may mean that farmers experience a higher income in the short term. These
economic benefits may be short lived, however, as supply increases and the local and
international market prices for rice decrease. While it may be detrimental for farmers, the
increased supply is likely to increase affordability for millions of the world‘s poorest people.

The growth of scuba and sea rice must also be carefully managed, to ensure that global rice
production does not become overly dependent on these varieties. The climate adaptive rice
varieties offer security against flooding, but farmers and food supply chains may become
vulnerable if disease were to wipe out a whole season‘s crop. It is important that farmers
throughout Asia do not abandon the traditional varieties of rice altogether.

At a time when the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly obvious, Asia is at a
significant risk of further hunger and famine. Further development of climate adaptive rice
varieties is a positive step towards long-term future food security throughout the region.

http://www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/scuba-and-sea-rice-sowing-the-seeds-for-greater-food-
security-in-asia/

Doctors explained when the rice may be hazardous to health


By paradox

06.12.2018

Supporters of a healthy diet is recommended to soak the rice.

Scientists conducted an experiment


during which found dangerous
quality of rice, namely, rice – ―the
champion‖ in content of
arsenic.Professor Zheng Zhou the
University of Indiana told me that
his fellow researchers conducted a
large-scale experiment, which
found that 70-90% of arsenic can
be absorbed into the rice grains
during the development of the

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plant.

And after drinking man substance enters the digestive tract, where it can gradually accumulate.
Scientists believe that this may lead to the development of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Read also: Doctors have called the product that can provoke a stroke

In this regard, supporters of a healthy diet is recommended to soak the rice, then rinse it and boil in
plenty of water. They explain that in this way it is possible to reduce the content of harmful
substances in rice.

http://micetimes.asia/doctors-explained-when-the-rice-may-be-hazardous-to-health/

Southeast Department of Agriculture, MRRMC Announce


New MM17 Rice Breed
December 6, 2018 | Agriculture, Campus, Home Page, Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics

Researchers in Southeast Missouri State


University‘s Department of Agriculture along
with the Missouri Rice Research and
Merchandising Council (MRRMC) have
announced a new rice variety bred in southeast
Missouri now available to growers for the
coming season.―MM17‖ is a semi-dwarf, mid-
season, medium grain variety with excellent
yield potential developed by pedigree selection
in Southeast‘s Rice Research Greenhouse in
Malden, Missouri, and at the Missouri Rice
Research Farm in Glennonville, Missouri. It is
the result of Missouri rice breeding efforts over
several years and represents the first released
variety for Missouri.

Greg Yielding, director of emerging markets and special projects with the U.S. Rice Producers
Association, and Dr. Mike Aide, professor of agriculture at Southeast Missouri State University,
say new rice varieties like MM17 are creating new market opportunities and supporting farm
profitability by creating expanded sales and export enhancements.

MM17 is now available from Tanner Seed Co., LLC, in Bernie, Mo.

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Yielding said the new variety was grown this past summer at the Missouri Rice Research Farm.
The rice was harvested and bagged, with some of the seed reserved for breeder seed, which is
now ready for sale to growers.

Aide and Yielding plan to present their work in breeding MM17 at the National Conservation
Systems Cotton & Rice Conference Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.MM17 was
created as a cross between two varieties – a short grain rice variety developed in Italy and an
experimental line from the Cooperative Uniform Regional Rice Nursery (URNN). The
Cooperative Uniform Regional Rice Nursery is a multi-state rice evaluation program where rice
varieties are evaluated by rice breeders across a spectrum of soils, climates, disease and insect
pressures.

―Missouri is appreciative of our multi-state cooperators in providing yield and quality


performance data,‖ Aide said.
The new variety was bred knowing Missouri rice producers value rice varieties having taste and
appearance characteristics

that create an eventful dining experience, he said.MM17‘s low amylose content, which is what
makes ―sticky rice‖ sticky, is ideal for medium grain table rice and restaurateurs serving
traditional rice recipes, especially for sushi-type cuisine, Aide said. Missouri is typically known
as a long-grain rice producing state where traditional elongated rice grain is grown, whereas
MM17 is a medium grain rice having a more rounded shape. Palate approval is important in
cultures where rice is routinely served, he said.

―The Department of Agriculture is quite excited


that the long-time collaboration between it and

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the MRRMC resulted in this new variety. We are certainly hopeful that this could have a positive
financial impact on the region and be a boon to our rice growers, said Dr. Julie Weathers, chair
of Southeast‘s Department of Agriculture. ―We also look forward to continuing our work with
the MRRMC on future development of this crop that is so important to our region.‖

https://news.semo.edu/southeast-department-of-agriculture-mrrmc-announce-new-mm17-

rice-breed/

Conservation of Sarangani‘s indigenous rice varieties pushed


December 6, 2018

By PNA

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The provincial government of Sarangani and the Philippine
Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) are pushing for the conservation of various traditional rice
varieties that that have thrived for centuries in the province‘s upland areas.

Celito Terando, program manager of Sarangani‘s Sulong Tribu program, said Thursday the local
government has launched a joint research with PhilRice to properly document over a hundred
upland rice varieties that were grown by the area‘s indigenous tribes.

Terando said PhilRice personnel are currently


visiting parts of the province‘s seven
municipalities to specifically conduct an
inventory through scientific means of the
area‘s existing traditional rice
varieties.Dubbed ―Conservation of Sarangani
Traditional Rice Germplasm,‖ Terando said
the initiative focuses on the ―identification,
collection and preservation‖ of the province‘s

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traditional rice varieties.

―Our goal is to set aside seed samples, especially of the premium or special varieties, and
eventually reproduce them to ensure that they will be preserved for our future generations,‖ he
said in an interview.

Terando said at least 107 upland rice varieties were listed to have been cultivated by the
province‘s tribal communities.

Among the popular upland rice varieties in the area are Malgas, Lagfisan, Moradu, Masipag,
Dinorado and Sampang.

Terando said the scientific research is needed as there are still a number of varieties that are not
included in the list.

They also need to establish the areas where the rice varieties have grown well and whether they
were cultivated by the Blaans, Tbolis, Tagakaulos or other minority groups, he said.

As part of the conservation process, Terando said the collected seed samples will be placed in a
seed bank that will be established later on by the provincial government.

―There are actually some varieties that are starting to vanish, and we want to save them,‖ he
added.

https://www.ptvnews.ph/conservation-of-saranganis-indigenous-rice-varieties-pushed/

Simple steps to climate-proof farms have big potential upside for


tropical farmers
Climate-smart agriculture boosts yields, mitigates extreme weather impact and reduces
greenhouse gas emissions. A study in Central America, Africa and Asia points to profitable
opportunities for farmers and the environment
INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR TROPICAL AGRICULTURE (CIAT)

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IMAGE: DROUGHT AND SALINITY-RESISTANT RICE AT AN INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR TROPICAL
AGRICULTURE RESEARCH SITE IN VIETNAM.

CREDIT: INTERNAIONAL CENTER FOR TROPICAL AGRICULTURE / GEORGINA


SMITH

Cacao farmers in Nicaragua lose their crop, the main ingredient for chocolate, to fungal blight
and degrading soils. Yields drop in Vietnam's rice paddies because of higher temperatures and
increased salinity. Bean and maize growers in Uganda see their plants die during severe dry
spells during what should be the rainy season. The two-punch combination of climate change
and poor agricultural land management can be countered with simple measures that keep farms
productive and profitable. Implementation of these climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices can
increase yields, benefit the environment and increase farmer income, according to a new cost-
benefit analysis by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) published
November 19 in PLOS ONE.

The study examines 10 major climate-related issues facing farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin
America and proposes site-specific CSA remedies. These include rotating rice fields with

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peanuts in Vietnam, manual blight control for cacao in Nicaragua, and planting drought-tolerant
varieties of beans and maize alongside each other in Uganda.

Where additional investment is required, initial rates of return on investment range from 17
percent to 590 percent. Startup costs can be recovered in one to eight years, depending on the
management practice. In all cases, yields increase.

"The potential for these strategies is immense and actionable immediately, if targeted to the right
farmers and accompanied by appropriate resources," said Peter Laderach, CIAT's Global Climate
Change and co-author of the study. "Now, the challenge lies in overcoming the obstacles to
implementing their adoption."

Many CSA practices that improve production, buffer fields against climate change and improve
nutrient-poor soils require little additional investment. Sometimes these cost less than business-
as-usual farming, which relies on single-crop plantations and chemical fertilizers. But adoption at
the most of the research sites in is minimal. Obstacles include resistance to changing habitual
farming techniques, labor constraints and lack of access to credit.

"Engaging multiple stakeholders, including the private sector, is crucial in ensuring the
widespread and sustained implementation of climate-resilient strategies," said Margarita
Astralaga, the Director of the Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division at the
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which provided funding for the
research.

Le Lan, a researcher at the University of Western Australia and the study's lead author, said
successful CSA interventions by governments and development agencies need to seek "the
greatest aggregated benefit to the community" and not just potential gain for individual farmers.
"In addition, if the area suffers from extreme climate events, targeted assistance must consider
the socioeconomic and cultural realities of farmer groups if the practices are to be widely
adopted."

Room to grow

Lan and colleagues conducted household surveys in Nicaragua, Vietnam and Uganda, tabulated
levels of CSA adoption, created a cost-benefit analysis for widespread CSA implementation and
projected potential adoption levels at each site.

At the Vietnam study site, the most widely adopted CSA techniques observed was crop rotation
between rice and peanuts. This increased profits for farmers and reduced their overall greenhouse

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gas emissions. Almost one third of farmers had adopted this technique. Ten percent or fewer had
implemented organic fertilization, improved rice varieties that withstand drought and salinity,
and shrimp farming.

The researchers estimate the adoption potential of five CSA techniques at the Vietnam site range
from 23 to 89 percent. Initial investments can be recouped in a maximum of five years, while
organic fertilization and peanut rotation are immediately profitable due reduced costs for
chemical fertilization and rice planting. In contrast, the research sites in Nicaragua and Uganda
showed zero uptake of the study's CSA strategies.

Nicaraguan cacao farmers can implement manual control of moniliasis - better known as frosty
pod rot disease - to recover up to 80 percent of their losses to the pathogen. Organic fertilization
and planting banana trees to shade sun-exposed cacao trees can help increase yield at little
expense. The researchers estimate a 50 percent adoption rate of these strategies is possible.
Estimated rates of return for these practices varies from 17 percent for organic fertilization of
cacao over eight years to 590 percent for banana-tree shading over one year.

Northern Uganda's drought-threatened farmers can benefit from intercropping hardier breeds of
beans and maize that mature faster, tolerate drought and have higher yields. Together with
implementing water-harvesting techniques for irrigation during dry spells and retaining soil
moisture, these varieties - which are already in use in other areas not included in the study site -
have the potential to be adopted by 90 percent of farmers. Estimated rates of return are 25
percent over six year and 85 percent over three years for the Uganda site.

"Scaling CSA is at the heart of CIAT and CGIAR strategies," said Godefroy Grosjean, a co-
author and leader of CIAT Asia Climate Policy Hub. "With key partners such as IFAD the World
Bank, we are developing CSA Investment Plans for countries including Bangladesh and Mali.
Our work also focuses on conceptualizing solutions to unlock investment in the agriculture
sector. This year, we launched a new initiative on Agricultural Risks Management that will
explore innovative financial products for CSA tailored to farmers' needs. The research from this
paper will be extremely useful to that purpose."

###

The study was funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in partnership with the
CGIAR's Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research program as part of IFAD's
Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Program (ASAP).

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The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) is a CGIAR research center. CIAT develops
technologies, innovative methods and knowledge that enable farmers, especially smallholders, to make
agriculture more competitive, profitable, sustainable and resilient. Headquartered in Cali, Colombia, CIAT
conducts research for development in tropical regions of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. https://ciat.cgiar.org

CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. Its science is carried out by 15 research
centers in collaboration with hundreds of partners across the globe. https://www.cgiar.org

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-12/icft-sst120418.php

Isabela rice farmers‘ harvest reaches 9 MT/ha


BY EIREENE JAIREE GOMEZ
DECEMBER 07, 2018
More than twice the national average of 4 MT/ha

A new farming technique called ―direct seeding‖ has raised the wet season yield of hybrid rice
crops in Isabela, with a dozen farmers reaping harvests of about 9 metric tons per hectare
(MT/ha), according to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).

Using the new technology for crop establishment of inbred and hybrid rice, in which pre-
germinated seeds are sown directly onto the soil surface, early adopters harvested as high as
almost 9 MT/ha and gained net income as much as P115,000.

Meanwhile, rice farmers in the villages of Villafuerte and Daramuangan Norte had wet season
harvests that averaged from 5.7 to 6.7 MT/ha and net income of up to P88,000.

The average rice yield for the Philippines is about 4 MT/ha.

Aside from increasing their yield, Isabela farmers were also able to reduce their production cost
through direct-seeding, according to Helen Pasicolan, lead of the direct-seeded rice technology
promotion at PhilRice in San Mateo, Isabela.

She said direct-seeded inbred and hybrid rice were produced at P16,000 and P19,740,
respectively. Meanwhile, transplanting inbred and hybrid rice were recorded at P22,540 and
P26,240, respectively.

PhilRice said that because field preparation for seedbed and puddling was also eliminated, diesel
cost was decreased by 60 percent. Water use was also reduced by 33 to 53 percent as sowing can
be done as soon as favorable rainfall has started, the agency said.

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―Farmers who experienced the advantages of direct-seeding were participants in the season-long
Farmers‘ Field School (FFS). Aside from the 91 FFS participants, the technology was also
showcased to more than 500 farmers
in neighboring barangays and municipalities through Farmers‘ Field Days,‖ PhilRice said.

It noted that farmers in nearby municipalities of San Mateo such as Ramon, Alicia, and Cabatuan
have also started to adopt the direct seeding technique.

Furthermore, the PhilRice Isabela office has partnered with other agencies for further trials that
would compare direct-seeded and transplanted rice in more barangays.

Isabela was the country‘s second top rice producer in 2017 with a total harvest of 1.286 million
MT, according to government figures.

https://www.manilatimes.net/isabela-rice-farmers-harvest-reaches-9-mt-ha/478866 /
Villar defends rice tariffication bill: It will help farmers survive
onslaught of rice imports
On Dec 6, 2018

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Senator Cynthia Villar on Thursday defended the rice tariffication bill, which is only one
signature away from passage into law, from criticisms that it would do nothing to improve the
lives of rice farmers.

She stressed that the package of support for farmers included in the rice tariffication bill is
government‘s response to the expiration last June 30, 2017 of the quantitative restriction (QR) on
rice importation under the agreement with the World Treaty Organization (WTO).

Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, noted that Senate Bill 1998 or the
bill which replaces the quantitative import restrictions on rice with tariffs, creates the P10-billion
Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or Rice Fund.―When cheap rice imports start flooding
the market, a program that will provide preferential attention to rice farmers, cooperatives and
associations adversely affected by the tariffication should be established. We will be doing our
farmers a great disservice if we let them face the challenges of a tariffied system without support
mechanisms in place,‖ Villar said.

Villar also lamented the ―disinformation intentionally circulated to discredit‖ the rice
tariffication bill and to block the passage of the needed support measures for local rice farmers.

―It is unfortunate that some groups are being made to believe that the rice tariffication bill which
we have scrutinized and carefully studied in the Senate, will not be beneficial to farmers,‖ she
said.

―On the contrary, it includes a package of support programs that will help farmers adjust to
competition under a tariffied regime,‖ she said.

A certified measure, the bill is already submitted for the President‘s signature after Congress
ratified the bicameral conference committee report last week.

Under the bill, the 10-billion Rice Fund will be allocated as follows:

· 50 percent will go to the Philippine Center for Post Harvest Development and Modernization
(PhilMech) to provide farmers with rice farm machineries and equipment;

· 30 percent will be released to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to be used for
the development, propagation and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and the
organization of rice farmers into seed growers associations engaged in seed production and trade;

· 10 percent will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal interest rates and
with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives to be managed by the
Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines; and

· 10 percent will be set aside to fund extension services by PhilMech, Agricultural Training
Institute (ATI), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for
teaching skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm
mechanization, and knowledge/ technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.

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Also under the bill, the excess rice tariff revenues and the P10 billion fixed appropriation for the

Rice Fund shall be released to the Department of Agriculture and shall be used for providing
direct financial assistance to rice farmers as compensation for the projected reduction or loss of
farm income arising from the tariffication.

Further, the rice tariffication bill earmarks a portion of the excess rice tariff revenues for the
titling of agricultural lands, expanded crop insurance program on rice and the crop diversification
program
http://politics.com.ph/villar-defends-rice-tariffication-bill-it-will-help-farmers-survive-onslaught-
of-rice-imports/

Is govt's $60 billion agri exports target feasible?


December 07, 2018 18:14 IST

Aiming to push India into the list of the top 10 agri export nations, the policy has been
backed by the Prime Minister’s Office

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

Under attack from farmer groups for falling prices, the government on Monday unveiled an
ambitious agriculture export policy that seeks to double agri exports to $60 billion by 2022 and
do away with arbitrary curbs on exports.

However, the policy found little support from experts who termed the target ‗highly ambitious‘,
given how exports had fallen from nearly $40 billion five years back to $36 billion in 2017-18.

The aim to remove curbs on exports also didn‘t find much traction. If previous experience is any
indication, the government tends to clamp down on exports at the slightest hint of rising
inflation, they said.

Aiming to push India into the list of the top 10 agri export nations, the policy has been backed by
the Prime Minister‘s Office.

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said the policy ties in logistics support, a better
trade regime, and states-led product development to connect farmers to global markets.

―Each state will have a designated department for promotion of agricultural exports, apart from
cluster-based development for specific commodities. We have also identified several sea ports to
serve as gateways for specific agri exports,‖ said Prabhu.

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Despite India occupying pole position in global trade of these products, its total agri export
basket still accounts for only a little over 2 per cent of world agri trade, estimated at a massive
$1.37 trillion.

―Achieving an agriculture export target of $60 billion by 2022 looks ambitious, given the current
global market conditions.

"More so, because India‘s export basket largely comprises meat, marine products, and basmati
rice whose demand in the world market is inelastic,‖ Gokul Patnaik, former chairman of
Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, said.

Significantly, the policy mandates that the government finalise a list of essential agro-
commodities. All commodities will see restrictions in the form of a minimum export price,
export duty or bans revoked.

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―This will help to stabilise export flows and stop friction between industries and the government
every time production of a certain commodity fluctuates.

"Also, sudden changes in policy regarding shipment of onion, rice, wheat, oilseed, pulses or
sugar have long-term impact on economic and foreign relations with many developing nations,‖
a senior commerce department official said.

On export ban on essential items, Patnaik said the world has moved away from a system of bans
as people in importing countries want consistent policies.

―Instead we should look at fiddling with tariff to protect farmers. Also, our response to sanitary
and phytosanitary measures by importing countries is outdated and needs sprucing up,‖ Patnaik
added.

Industry insiders also pointed to the fact that the largest exports will inevitably fall within the
essential category.

Case in point, cereals remain the largest category among agri products, currently totalling more
than $8.1 billion, of which the staple grain of a majority of Indians - rice - makes up $7.8 billion.

India‘s agricultural exports rose to $36.71 billion in 2017-18, after fluctuating over the previous
two years.

It had stood at $39.33 billion five years back. However, the government is hopeful of a fast
pickup in the export growth rate as the cost of logistics falls and investments in back-end
infrastructure such as cold chains.

However, the commerce ministry points out that exports rose 9 per cent between 2007 and 2016.
This is higher when compared to other major economies such as China (8 per cent), Brazil (5.4
per cent), and the US (5.1 per cent) between 2007 and 2016. On the other hand, India‘s total
agricultural imports stood at $24 billion in 2017-18, up from about $15 billion in 2013-14.

―There is no bold initiative in this policy and any hint of inflation will bring restrictions on
exports which depress domestic prices, hurting the interests of farmers,‖ said former agriculture
secretary Shiraj Hussain.

The government has estimated a total outlay of Rs 1,400 crore for agricultural exports.

This would be done by merging a myriad group of agricultural export schemes and incentives

https://www.rediff.com/business/report/is-govts-60-billion-agri-exports-target-
feasible/20181207.htm

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Centre eyes $60 billion in agriculture exports by 2022 with
new policy
Aiming to push India into the list of the top 10 agri export nations, the policy has
been backed by the Prime Minister's Office

Subhayan Chakraborty & Sanjeeb Mukherjee | New Delhi Last Updated at December 7, 2018
02:04 IST

India‟s agricultural exports rose to $36.71 billion in 2017-18

Under attack from farmer groups for falling prices, the government on Monday unveiled an
ambitious agriculture export policy that seeks to double agri exports to $60 billion by 2022 and
do away with arbitrary curbs on exports.

However, the policy found little support from experts who termed the target „highly ambitious‟,
given how exports had fallen from nearly $40 billion five years back to $36 billion in 2017-18.

17 | w w w . r i c e p l u s m a g a z i n e . b l o g s p o t . c o m ,
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The aim to remove curbs on exports also didn‟t find much traction. If previous experience is any
indication, the government tends to clamp down on exports at the slightest hint of rising
inflation, they said.

Aiming to push India into the list of the top 10 agri export nations, the policy has been backed by
the Prime Minister‟s Office.

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said the policy ties in logistics support, a better
trade regime, and states-led product development to connect farmers to global markets.

“Each state will have a designated department for promotion of agricultural exports, apart from
cluster-based development for specific commodities. We have also identified several sea ports to
serve as gateways for specific agri exports,” said Prabhu.

Despite India occupying pole position in global trade of these products, its total agri export
basket still accounts for only a little over 2 per cent of world agri trade, estimated at a massive
$1.37 trillion.

“Achieving an agriculture export target of $60 billion by 2022 looks ambitious, given the current
global market conditions. More so, because India‟s export basket largely comprises meat,
marine products, and basmati rice whose demand in the world market is inelastic,” Gokul
Patnaik, former chairman of Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development
Authority, said.

Significantly, the policy mandates that the government finalise a list of essential agro-
commodities. All commodities will see restrictions in the form of a minimum export price,
export duty or bans revoked.

―This will help to stabilise export flows and stop friction between industries and the government
every time production of a certain commodity fluctuates. Also, sudden changes in policy
regarding shipment of onion, rice, wheat, oilseed, pulses or sugar have long-term impact on
economic and foreign relations with many developing nations,‖ a senior commerce department
official said.

On export ban on essential items, Patnaik said the world has moved away from a system of bans
as people in importing countries want consistent policies. ―Instead we should look at fiddling
with tariff to protect farmers. Also, our response to sanitary and phytosanitary measures by
importing countries is outdated and needs sprucing up,‖ Patnaik added.

Industry insiders also pointed to the fact that the largest exports will inevitably fall within the
essential category. Case in point, cereals remain the largest category among agri products,
currently totalling more than $8.1 billion, of which the staple grain of a majority of Indians - rice
- makes up $7.8 billion.

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India‘s agricultural exports rose to $36.71 billion in 2017-18, after fluctuating over the previous
two years. It had stood at $39.33 billion five years back. However, the government is hopeful of
a fast pickup in the export growth rate as the cost of logistics falls and investments in back-end
infrastructure such as cold chains.

However, the commerce ministry points out that exports rose 9 per cent between 2007 and 2016.
This is higher when compared to other major economies such as China (8 per cent), Brazil (5.4
per cent), and the US (5.1 per cent) between 2007 and 2016. On the other hand, India‘s total
agricultural imports stood at $24 billion in 2017-18, up from about $15 billion in 2013-14.

―There is no bold initiative in this policy and any hint of inflation will bring restrictions on
exports which depress domestic prices, hurting the interests of farmers,‖ said former agriculture
secretary Shiraj Hussain.

The government has estimated a total outlay of Rs 14 billion for agricultural exports. This would
be done by merging a myriad group of agricultural export schemes and
incentives.https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/centre-eyes-60-billion-in-
agriculture-exports-by-2022-with-new-policy-118120700038_1.html

Inflation among poor households up 9.5% in October


December 7, 2018 | 7:26 pm

PHILSTAR
By Jochebed B. Gonzales, Senior Researcher

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INFLATION, as experienced by low income households, stood at 9.5% in October, driven by
sharp price upticks in food and utilities, the government reported on Friday.

The October inflation turnout for goods and services used by households at the bottom 30%
income segment matched September‘s 9.5% print, which was the fastest since the first quarter of
2009‘s 12.3%, based on available data from the Philippine Statistics Authority‘s Web site. It also
accelerated from the 3.4% year on year price increase recorded in the same month a year ago.

The latest reading brought the segment‘s year to date inflation to 7.0%, higher than the 2.9%
average during last year‘s comparable period.

The Consumer Price Index for the bottom 30% income segment reconfigures the model basket of
goods to reflect a heavier weighting for food, beverages and tobacco (FBT) index. This and other
weightings are regarded to more accurately capture the spending patterns of the poor.

FBT recorded the highest uptick among commodity groups, rising 10.7% year on year from
3.3% in October 2017. The food alone index logged a 9.8% growth with rice and corn prices
climbing 11.5% and 5.6%, respectively.

Fruits and vegetables registered a 14.2% price growth while fish and meat prices rose 12.6% and
7.1%, respectively.

The cost of utilities, consisting of fuel, light and water, accelerated to 9.8% from 6.5% a year
ago. Higher annual markups were also recorded in housing and repairs (5.1% from 2.8%),
services (3.5% from 1.8%), clothing (2.9% from 1.3%) and miscellaneous goods (2.2% from
1.3%).

By region, inflation on goods used by poor households was highest in Mimaropa at 15.8%. Also
seeing double-digit inflation were the regions of Ilocos (12.6%), Cagayan Valley (11.7%),
Western Visayas (11.7%), Bicol (10.5%) and Central Visayas (10.1%).Summing up the regions
apart from the nation‘s capital, inflation for the bottom 30% income segment in areas outside the
National Capital Region came in at 9.5%. Metro Manila, on the other hand, was lower with 6.9%
price growth.
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Sought for comment, Michael L. Ricafort, economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.,
pointed to faster increases in food and fuel prices.

―Food prices that have relatively higher inflation weights such as rice, corn, fish, fruits and
vegetables posted a relatively higher increase in 2018, especially amid reduced local supply
brought about by lower importation of rice that led to shortage/reduced market supply of cheap
NFA (National Food Authority) rice earlier this year,‖ he said, noting that the low income
segment purchased the more expensive commercial varieties of rice.

Mr. Ricafort added, ―The sharp increase in global crude oil/fuel prices earlier in 2018 resulted
(in) much higher expenses by households from the lowest income brackets since transport/fuel
costs account for a higher share of their budgets/expenditures as a result of lower income base,
thereby magnifying the adverse impact of higher transport fares and other fuel expenses
compared to higher-income groups.‖

He also pointed out: ―Inflation of the lowest income brackets, higher than the headline inflation
for all income segments, could ease by a much faster rate, given the dramatic decline in global
oil prices….‖

―Furthermore, harvest season for rice and the proposed tariffication of rice imports and other
non-monetary measures to increase rice/food supply in an effort to reduce prices could have a
bigger impact on the reduction of inflation for the bottom 30% income segment than on higher
income segments.‖

https://www.bworldonline.com/inflation-among-poor-households-up-9-5-in-october/

ASIA RICE-INDIA RATES SLIP; TOUGH CHINESE


RULES DENT VIETNAM EXPORTS
12/6/2018

* Indian rupee touches lowest in two weeks

* Tight supplies, Philippines demand limit price falls in Vietnam


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* Thai rice demand to remain soft until early 2019- traders

By Sumita Layek

BENGALURU, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Rice export prices fell a the second consecutive week in India
on a weakening rupee and slow demand, while strict inspections from top consumer China muted
exports from Vietnam.

India's 5 percent broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted around $364-$368 per
tonne this week, from $366-$370 the last week.

"Prices are down as traders are adjusting to the drop in the rupee. Demand is still weak," said an
exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Indian rupee fell nearly 1 percent on Thursday to the lowest level in two weeks, increasing
exporters margin from the overseas sales.

In an attempt to accelerate exports, the Indian government last month said it will give a 5 percent
subsidy for non-basmati rice shipments for the four months to March 25, 2019.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, rice imports in July-November stood at 106,640 tonnes, the


country's food ministry data showed, after the government imposed a 28 percent tax on
shipments to support its farmers after local production revived.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, rates for 5 percent broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> dipped to $400 a
tonne from $408 last week as exports to China fell on stricter inspections and conditions on
Vietnamese rice, traders said.

"Exports to China are almost frozen, no one dares to buy or sell. Some people who had their rice
ready at the port now have to take them back because they fear the Chinese side will not take
them," a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.

However, the fall in prices was limited due to tight supply at the end of a small crop season in
Vietnam and orders from rice-scarce Philippines.

The next major crop harvest in the southeast-Asian nation, the winter-spring crop, is due next
March.

In Thailand, benchmark 5 percent broken rice <RI-THBKN5-P1> prices narrowed to $390-$393,


free on board (FOB) Bangkok, from $380-$397 last week.

"Apart from the recent order from the Philippines, Thai rice exporters are not expecting any large
order until early 2019," a Bangkok-based rice trader said.

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Traders attributed this week's fluctuation in rice prices to the exchange rate. The Thai baht shed
more than a quarter of a percent on Thursday, after rising for four previous sessions.

"Some exporters are still talking about a possible deal to markets like Japan and Indonesia, but so
far things are quiet and will likely remain this way until January," said another Bangkok-based
trader. (Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Mai Nguyen in Hanoi, Ruma Paul in
Dhaka and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by David Evans)

http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

‗NFA rice to come from local farmers‘


By BusinessMirror

December 7, 2018

A farmer in Central Luzon plants rice in this file photo.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol vowed that affordable rice that will be sold by the
National Food Authority (NFA) starting next year will be produced by local farmers.

Piñol said this will be made possible by the passage of the rice tariffication bill, which will
disallow the NFA from importing rice to boost its buffer stocks.

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―The NFA will be focused on the procurement of palay [unmilled rice] produced by Filipino
farmers,‖ Piñol said in his latest Facebook post.

―This is a welcome development not only for the Filipino farmers but also for top officials of the
Department of Agriculture and the NFA who advocate for change in the image of the rice
agency,‖ he added.

The exit of the NFA from importation, Piñol said, will end the corrupt practice of some
employees who seek bribes before awarding import permits.

―[The NFA‘s] years of involvement in the rice importation program for buffer stocking,
suspicions were rife that there were financial transactions involved where officials raked in
money. The very tight requirements also led to corruption in the awarding of import permits,‖ he
said.

Piñol said the passage of the rice tariff bill ―assures farmers of a market and stable income.‖ For
next year, the government has allocated P7 billion for local palay procurement.

The House of Representatives on November 28 endorsed for President Duterte‘s signature the
rice tariffication bill and the coconut-levy trust fund after it ratified the bicameral conference
committee reports on the two measures.

The rice tariffication bill would lift the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice in keeping with its
commitment to the World Trade Organization after the special waiver on rice expired on June
30, 2017.

The conversion of the QR on rice into tariffs would enable government to increase its revenues.
Tariffs collected from imports will then form the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund
(RCEF), which will bankroll initiatives aimed at boosting farm productivity and helping farmers
access cheap credit.

Under the rice tariffication bill, 10 percent of the P10-billion RCEF will be set aside for credit to
farmers and cooperatives.

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Removing the QR on rice by amending Republic Act 8178 would allow the government to
generate P27 billion annually, according to a paper published by the Philippine Institute for
Development Studies.

Economic managers have been banking on the passage of the measure before the end of the year
to rein in inflation, as the spike in rice prices was tagged as a major factor behind the rise in the
consumer price index.

This year, the highest inflation rate was recorded in September, when it reached 6.7 percent. In
January, when the government started implementing the Tax Reform for Acceleration and
Inclusion law, inflation was only at 3.4 percent.

The government expects the increase in rice supply—with the scrapping of the QR—to cut the
price of the staple by P7 per kilogram.

https://businessmirror.com.ph/nfa-rice-to-come-from-local-farmers/

[ANALYSIS] Will rice tariffication live up to its promise?


Absent sufficient safeguards, the Rice Fund might only serve as another costly leaky bucket that
politicians can exploit

JC Punongbayan
Published 12:43 PM, December 07, 2018

Updated 12:44 PM, December 07, 2018

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As always, the devil is in the details.Amid high inflation (6% as of November), many people
expect the pending Rice Tariffication Bill to be a source of quick relief.

Some government economists estimated that the law, once passed, might slash the price of rice
by as much as P7 per kilo, thus tempering runaway inflation.

By allowing freer importation of rice, economists also expect the law to allow Filipinos to enjoy
somewhat the ridiculously low rice prices in countries like Thailand in Viet Nam (see Figure 1).

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Whereas rice in the Philippines costs more than P40 per kilo (on average), it costs less than P20
per kilo in Thailand and Viet Nam.

Figure 1.

The Rice Tariffication Bill has gone through both houses of Congress now, and is nearly up for
signature by President Duterte.

But in this article I discuss why the current form of the law leaves much to be desired, despite the
much-needed rice reforms it brings.

Overdue

The truth is we‘ve been putting off rice tariffication for decades.

For the longest time, importing rice in the Philippines has been controlled by one government
agency: the National Food Authority (NFA), and its predecessor the National Grains Authority
(created by ex-president Ferdinand Marcos in 1972).
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This import monopoly allows the NFA to bring rice into the country based on its projections of
rice demand and supply nationwide. However, over the years, miscalculations have often led to
over- or under-importation (thus, rice surpluses and shortages).

Since the country joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, we‘ve committed to put
an end to these import quotas and ―tariffy‖ them instead – that is, convert them into their
equivalent tariffs or import taxes.

When we say ―equivalent,‖ we mean we apply tariff rates that bridge the difference between
local and world rice prices.

But this international commitment to liberalize the rice sector posed a threat to Filipino farmers.

The Philippine government has since postponed its compliance with the WTO several times. In
1994 we asked for an extension until 2005, then another until 2012, and yet another until 2017.

Sure, these extensions were permitted by the WTO, but only on condition that the government
will allow the private sector to import rice within a certain quota, slapped with a tariff rate.

From 59,730 metric tons in 1995 (with a 50% tariff), this quota is now up to 805,000 metric tons
in 2018 (with a 35% tariff).

Finally, in 2016, the economic managers prevailed upon President Duterte to finally abolish
these rice import quotas.

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Philippines hopes to pass rice tariffication law in 2018
The rice tariffication bill aims to amend the present agricultural policy, which allows the National Food Authority to
monopolize rice importation

Senate approves bill lifting rice import limits


If the rice tariffication bill is passed into law, a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund would be created to
protect the rice industry from sudden or extreme price fluctuations

Caveats
Now, with the Rice Tariffication Bill, we‘re closer than ever to putting an end to these
interminable deadline extensions.

However, there are caveats.

First and foremost, this bill sets a 35% tariff rate on all rice imports from ASEAN countries, and
a 50% tariff on all imports from non-ASEAN countries.

But some experts say these tariff rates are still too high, and lower rates (say, to the tune of 10%
to 20%) might be more in keeping with the overarching goal of making rice more affordable for
Filipinos.

Second, apart from paying these tariff rates, the bill requires that all private players secure
―sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances‖ from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) before
they can import.

This is to ensure that the rice they‘ll import will not be infested by pathogens or pests
like bukbok (weevils).

Although this sounds reasonable enough, past experience tells us that this could be prone to
abuse – as rightly pointed out by Dr Ramon Clarete of the UP School of Economics.

Remember the abnormal increase of garlic prices in 2014? Investigations found that it was borne
by colluding BPI officials who issued sanitary and phytosanitary permits to select garlic cartels.

The whole point of rice tariffication is to abolish the licensing system that prevailed in the past.
But this provision in the Rice Tariffication Law creates what is effectively another import license
– albeit in the guise of health permits. Does the Rice Tariffication Bill have enough safeguards
against their abuse?

Third, the Rice Tariffication Bill also introduces a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund
(Rice Fund) that earmarks P10 billion annually for 6 years, sourced from the rice tariff revenues.
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This Rice Fund is supposed to shield Filipino rice farmers from the influx of competition from
abroad, and bolster their competitiveness by furnishing them with more farm equipment,
enhanced skills, and better seed varieties.

But again, we have to be wary of what happened in the past: similar funds had miserably failed
to improve the plight of our farmers. Some were even outright corrupted.

Remember the heinous Fertilizer Fund Scam, where P728 million worth of Department of
Agriculture funds meant to buy fertilizers for farmers were just funneled to the 2004 presidential
campaign of ex-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo?

Dr Emil Q. Javier of the National Academy of Science and Technology has also warned that the
free distribution of inputs the Rice Fund entails (including machinery or seeds) is ―well-meaning
but misdirected.‖

For him, the Rice Fund will be put to better use if it were focused instead on improving rice
farmers‘ access to credit and crop insurance.

The Rice Fund also does not address deeper problems in the agricultural sector, such as the
failure of the country‘s land reform program and the inability of small farmers to consolidate
their landholdings and exploit the cost savings borne by ―economies of scale.‖

All in all, absent sufficient safeguards, the Rice Fund might only serve as another costly leaky
bucket that politicians can exploit.

Let’s manage our expectations

The path to hell is paved with good intentions, and the Rice Tariffication Bill is no exception.

To be sure, its heart is in the right place. Not only does it promise to lower rice prices, abate
inflation, and fulfill our decades-old commitment to tariffy rice quotas, it also allocates funds for
the betterment of our rice farmers.

Yet with import license permits that could be abused and a juicy P10-billion pot of money that
could be mismanaged, the jury is still out whether the Rice Tariffication Bill will really live up to
its promise.

Let‘s manage our expectations accordingly. – Rappler.com

The author is a PhD candidate at the UP School of Economics. His views are independent of the
views of his affiliations. Follow JC on Twitter (@jcpunongbayan) and Usapang Econ
(usapangecon.com).

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https://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/218393-analysis-will-rice-tariffication-live-up-to-promise

Villar defends rice tariffication bill: It will help farmers survive


onslaught of rice imports
On Dec 6, 2018

Senator Cynthia Villar on Thursday defended the rice tariffication bill, which is only one
signature away from passage into law, from criticisms that it would do nothing to improve the
lives of rice farmers.

She stressed that the package of support for farmers included in the rice tariffication bill is
government‘s response to the expiration last June 30, 2017 of the quantitative restriction (QR) on
rice importation under the agreement with the World Treaty Organization (WTO).

Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, noted that Senate Bill 1998 or the
bill which replaces the quantitative import restrictions on rice with tariffs, creates the P10-billion
Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or Rice Fund.

―When cheap rice imports start flooding the market, a program that will provide preferential
attention to rice farmers, cooperatives and associations adversely affected by the tariffication
should be established. We will be doing our farmers a great disservice if we let them face the
challenges of a tariffied system without support mechanisms in place,‖ Villar said.

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Villar also lamented the ―disinformation intentionally circulated to discredit‖ the rice
tariffication bill and to block the passage of the needed support measures for local rice farmers.

―It is unfortunate that some groups are being made to believe that the rice tariffication bill which
we have scrutinized and carefully studied in the Senate, will not be beneficial to farmers,‖ she
said.

―On the contrary, it includes a package of support programs that will help farmers adjust to
competition under a tariffied regime,‖ she said.

A certified measure, the bill is already submitted for the President‘s signature after Congress
ratified the bicameral conference committee report last week.

Under the bill, the 10-billion Rice Fund will be allocated as follows:

· 50 percent will go to the Philippine Center for Post Harvest Development and Modernization
(PhilMech) to provide farmers with rice farm machineries and equipment;

· 30 percent will be released to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to be used for
the development, propagation and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and the
organization of rice farmers into seed growers associations engaged in seed production and trade;

· 10 percent will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal interest rates and
with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives to be managed by the
Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines; and

· 10 percent will be set aside to fund extension services by PhilMech, Agricultural Training
Institute (ATI), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for
teaching skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm
mechanization, and knowledge/ technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.

Also under the bill, the excess rice tariff revenues and the P10 billion fixed appropriation for the

Rice Fund shall be released to the Department of Agriculture and shall be used for providing
direct financial assistance to rice farmers as compensation for the projected reduction or loss of
farm income arising from the tariffication.

Further, the rice tariffication bill earmarks a portion of the excess rice tariff revenues for the
titling of agricultural lands, expanded crop insurance program on rice and the crop diversification
program.

http://politics.com.ph/villar-defends-rice-tariffication-bill-it-will-help-farmers-survive-onslaught-
of-rice-imports/\

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Villar seeks sustained financial support for local rice farmers
Published December 6, 2018, 5:47 PM

By Vanne Terrazola

Senator Cynthia Villar has called for sustained distribution of funds for local rice farmers once the proposed
rice tariffication law is enacted.

Senator Cynthia Villar


(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, stressed this Thursday as she
said that a ―package of support‖ for farmers who may be distressed comes with the government‘s
impending implementation of the measure that replaces the quantitative import restrictions on
rice with tariffs.

The senator, author and sponsor to the proposed act, said the bill creates the Rice
Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), or rice fund, amounting to at least P10 billion
every year.

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A certified measure, the bill has been submitted for the President‘s signature after Congress
ratified their bicameral conference committee report last week.

―When cheap rice imports start flooding the market, a program that will provide preferential
attention to rice farmers, cooperatives, and associations adversely affected by the tariffication
should be established,‖ Villar said.

―We will be doing our farmers a great disservice if we let them face the challenges of a tariffied
system without support mechanisms in place,‖ she added.

The RCEF, Villar noted, would also be the government‘s response to the June, 2017, expiration
of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice importation under the agreement with the World
Trade Organization (WTO).

Without the rice fund, the country‘s rice farmers will lose, the senator said.

Under the rice tarrification bill, P10-billion rice fund shall be allocated to the Philippine Center
for Post Harvest Development and Modernization (PhilMech) to provide farmers with rice farm
machineries and equipment (50 percent); and to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)
to be used for the development, propagation, and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers,
and the organization of rice farmers into seed growers associations engaged in seed production
and trade (30 percent).

Ten percent, meanwhile, will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal
interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives. It shall
be managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

Also 10 percent will be set aside to fund extension services by PhilMech, Agricultural Training
Institute, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for teaching skills on
rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and
knowledge/technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.

Aside from the P10-billion annual RCEF, excess rice tariff revenues shall be released to the
Department of Agriculture and shall be used for providing direct financial assistance to rice
farmers as compensation for the projected reduction or loss of farm income arising from the
tariffication.

The rice tariffication bill earmarks a portion of the excess rice tariff revenues for the titling of
agricultural lands, expanded crop insurance program on rice, and the crop diversification
program

https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/12/06/villar-seeks-sustained-financial-support-for-local-rice-
farmers/

‘NFA rice to come from local farmers’Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F.


Piñol vowed that affordable rice that will be sold by the National Food Authority (NFA) starting
next year will be produced by local farmers. Piñol said this will be made possible by the passage
34 | w w w . r i c e p l u s m a g a z i n e . b l o g s p o t . c o m ,
mujahid.riceplus@gmail.com
of the rice tariffication bill, which will disallow the NFA from importing rice to boost its buffer
stocks. ―The NFA will be focused on the procurement of palay [unmilled rice] produced by
Filipino farmers,‖ Piñol said in his latest Facebook post.

―This is a welcome development not only for the Filipino farmers but also for top officials of the
Department of Agriculture and the NFA who advocate for change in the image of the rice
agency,‖ he added. The exit of the NFA from importation, Piñol said, will end the corrupt
practice of some employees who seek bribes before awarding import permits. ―[The NFA‘s]
years of involvement in the rice importation program for buffer stocking, suspicions were rife
that there were financial transactions involved where officials raked in money.

The very tight requirements also led to corruption in the awarding of import permits,‖ he said.
Piñol said the passage of the rice tariff bill ―assures farmers of a market and stable income.‖ For
next year, the government has allocated P7 billion for local palay procurement. The House of
Representatives on November 28 endorsed for President Duterte‘s signature the rice tariffication
bill and the coconut-levy trust fund after it ratified the bicameral conference committee reports
on the two measures. The rice tariffication bill would lift the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice
in keeping with its commitment to the World Trade Organization after the special waiver on rice
expired on June 30, 2017.

The conversion of the QR on rice into tariffs would enable government to increase its revenues.
Tariffs collected from imports will then form the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund
(RCEF), which will bankroll initiatives aimed at boosting farm productivity and helping farmers
access cheap credit. Under the rice tariffication bill, 10 percent of the P10-billion RCEF will be

35 | w w w . r i c e p l u s m a g a z i n e . b l o g s p o t . c o m ,
mujahid.riceplus@gmail.com
set aside for credit to farmers and cooperatives. Removing the QR on rice by amending Republic
Act 8178 would allow the government to generate P27 billion annually, according to a paper
published by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

Economic managers have been banking on the passage of the measure before the end of the year
to rein in inflation, as the spike in rice prices was tagged as a major factor behind the rise in the
consumer price index. This year, the highest inflation rate was recorded in September, when it
reached 6.7 percent. In January, when the government started implementing the Tax Reform for
Acceleration and Inclusion law, inflation was only at 3.4 percent. The government expects the
increase in rice supply—with the scrapping of the QR—to cut the price of the staple by P7 per
kilogram.
https://businessmirror.com.ph/nfa-rice-to-come-from-local-farmers/

Support for farmers in rice tariffication is assured—Villar


December 06, 2018 at 10:20 pm by Macon Ramos-Araneta
Senator Cynthia Villar stressed Thursday the package of support for farmers included in the rice
tariffication bill was government‘s response to the expiration last June 30, 2017 of the
quantitative restriction on rice importation under the agreement with the World Treaty
Organization.
Villar, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, said Senate Bill 1998 or the bill
which replaces the quantitative import restrictions on rice with tariffs, created the P10-billion
Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or Rice Fund.
―When cheap rice imports start flooding the market, a program that will provide preferential
attention to rice farmers, cooperatives and associations adversely affected by the tariffication
should be established. We will be doing our farmers a great disservice if we let them face the
challenges of a tariffied system without support mechanisms in place,‖ Villar said.
A certified measure, the bill is already submitted for the President‘s signature after Congress
ratified the bicameral conference committee report last week.
Under the bill, the P10-billion Rice Fund will be allocated as follows:
• 50 percent will go to the Philippine Center for Post Harvest Development and Modernization
(PhilMech) to provide farmers with rice farm machineries and equipment;
• 30 percent will be released to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to be used for
the development, propagation and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and the
organization of rice farmers into seed growers associations engaged in seed production and trade;

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• 10 percent will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal interest rates and
with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives to be managed by the
Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines; and
• 10 percent will be set aside to fund extension services by PhilMech, Agricultural Training
Institute, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for teaching skills on
rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and
knowledge/ technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.
Also under the bill, the excess rice tariff revenues and the P10 billion fixed appropriation for the
Rice Fund shall be released to the Department of Agriculture and shall be used for providing
direct financial assistance to rice farmers as compensation for the projected reduction or loss of
farm income arising from the tariffication.
Further, the rice tariffication bill earmarks a portion of the excess rice tariff revenues for the
titling of agricultural lands, expanded crop insurance program on rice and the crop diversification
program.
The Nacionalista Party senator also said the bill sought to remove the factors that the Philippine
Institute for Development Studies identified as barriers to the Filipino farmers‘ competitiveness.
These are the lack of mechanization, the lack of good seeds, and the lack of access to cheap
credit.
Villar also said the bill, if enacted into law, will provide for a more focused function for the
National Food Authority, which is to buy palay from local farmers only.
Villar also lamented the disinformaton intentionally circulated to discredit the rice tariffication
bill and to block the passage of the needed support measures for local rice farmers.
―It is unfortunate that some groups are being made to believe that the rice tariffication bill which
we have scrutinized and carefully studied in the Senate, will not be beneficial to farmers. On the
contrary, it includes a package of support programs that will help farmers adjust to competition
under a tariffied regime,‖ Villar said.
http://manilastandard.net/news/national/282321/support-for-farmers-in-rice-tariffication-is-
assured-villar.html

DTI to rice traders, retailers: Revisit sound management


practices
07 Dec 2018, 22:38 GMT+10

MAASIN CITY, Dec. 6 (PIA)

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-- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has advised businessmen engaged in the rice industry to
look closely the way they do business to cushion potential adverse impact on the expected price ceiling
on rice.

Michael Nunez, DTI provincial director, aired the call twice, first at the dialogue initiated by the
National Food Authority (NFA) last week with concerned rice retailers and millers and, second, during
the Kapihan forum Friday where he was the guest.

In both instances, Nunez encouraged the traders to seriously consider doing sound management
practices with regards to how they conduct daily operations in the commercial grains business, like
having enough inventory to last until the next harvest season, or hold off hiring more personnel to save
on costs.
During the launching event for the suggested retail price on rice Tuesday last week, John Robert
Hermano, NFA regional director, told those directly involved in the grains business to dispose their
current stocks until November 30, 2018 only.

Starting on December 1, 2018, the highest price of rice based on the SRP will only be P47 per kg, so
those having price tags of more than P50 per kg must follow, Hermano declared, adding that this has
worked in other cities like Tacloban and Ormoc, so there's no reason this cannot be done hereabouts.

At the Kapihan forum, Nunez clarified that even as DTI is now mandated to assist NFA in monitoring
rice SRP in the market by December 1 for DTI's internal use, those who may notice non-compliant rice
stores are advised to go direct to the NFA office to complain.

He said in the light of this development on the implementation of SRP on a basic food staple like rice,
the DTI is contemplating on calling all involved retailers, wholesalers, and millers to retool them on
practical sound management practices.

He also called on the big traders and millers to do away with having a "canvasser," or at least start
distancing with them, again as a way to save on cost.

Canvassers serve as the link between traders and farmers, earning P500 per sack, an expense passed on
to consumers, according to a statement of a trader during the NFA-led forum based on actual
experience. (LDL/MMP/PIA8-Southern Leyte)
https://www.sierraleonetimes.com/news/258529457/dti-to-rice-traders-retailers-revisit-sound-
management-practices

Academic shines light on structural problems in padi industry


Ainaa Aiman

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December 8, 2018 8:50 AM

Universiti Malaya economics professor Fatimah Kari.PETALING JAYA: Padi farmers are still
one of the most marginalised groups where poverty rate is among the highest in Malaysia,
despite large investments in subsidies and training provided by the government.

Fatimah Kari, an economist from Universiti Malaya and a senior fellow at the Institute of
Democracy and Economic Affairs, partly attributed this to the unfair market structures within the
padi industry‘s supply chain.

―From the calculations that I made, the rent-seeking index in the industry was very high and
came to about 1.8, almost 2,‖ she told FMT during an exclusive interview after the launch of her
report.She said this meant that for every RM1 a farmer makes, large corporations such as
Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas), distributors and retailers will make the same amount, without
having to face the same risk factors, bear the same cost, or put in the same amount of labour that
farmers would have to endure.

―Whatever the farmer makes is equally created in distribution centres or big corporations in the
supply chain who face a different, more favourable risk profile,‖ she added.
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Her paper reflected the burden that farmers continue to face in a time of technological
advancements and development, and economic uncertainty.Her other findings included
government subsidies often missing the mark, and farmers remaining as mere producers instead
of expanding into major players in the market.

Speaking about Bernas in particular she said, ―The rent-seeking index means that Bernas is
getting 100% of the farmers‘ capital.

―Worse still, with Bernas, you are talking about their rent-seeking behaviour not only in terms of
control of imports but also control of inputs.‖

Bernas is the major importer of rice in Malaysia. It also produces over 30% of all padi
production in the country, equivalent to 800,000 metric tonnes of rice.It also operates private
wholesalers, distributors and rice mills.

It even owns a share of the ―input market‖ to the padi industry, which refers to the market selling
fertilisers, seeds and other farming necessities to the farmers, she said.She argued that calculating
Bernas‘ rent-seeking index would include all its profits from both importing and producing rice.

―That is their rent-seeking value because you must understand that they do not take similar risks
as the farmers,‖ she said, adding that farmers were the ones who would have to farm the land,
pay the labour, and use their own resources.

However, Bernas CEO Ismail Mohamed Yusoff, who believed that there was a need for some
monopoly, said during a press conference in July this year that Bernas was not attempting to
make ―monopolistic profits‖.

―Contrary to popular belief, Bernas does not make monopolistic profits,‖ he said.

Citing data, Ismail said Bernas‘ profit margins were minimal – between 0.4% and 1.8% over the
past three years.

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He added that Bernas‘ return on equity (ROE), or its net assets or assets minus liabilities, stood
at 4.9% in 2017.―This in comparison with fast-moving consumer goods companies such as
Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd or Nestle (M) Bhd, whose ROE were above 100% that year.‖

Padi farmers are still one of the most marginalised groups where poverty rate is among the highest in
Malaysia. (Bernama pic)

Break up the monopoly

It was announced by the Pakatan Harapan government that there would be a revision of Bernas‘
control over its licence to import rice.But ―despite the government‘s formal announcement, the
corporation‘s ownership has continued to be controlled by dominant personalities‖, Fatimah‘s report
stated.

In October, The Edge reported Agriculture Minister Salahuddin Ayub as saying that the government
would take over the function of Bernas after its concession terminates in 2021.

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Fatimah said efforts were needed to break up the monopoly to ensure open competition with other
players – importers, major wholesalers and millers – who are just as good and knowledgeable about
the market.

She said these ―other players‖ must also comprise of the farmers themselves.

―The farmers themselves must be part of the market chain, otherwise that monopoly will distort the
whole market.‖

She said they could be under a cooperative or an umbrella of small traders or small millers, who
could control a part of the market.

―Only then will you have a level playing field. Otherwise, now we are seeing a structure that is not
working at all.

―The other reason why breaking a monopoly like Bernas may be beneficial to the industry is you
cannot have one corporation controlling almost everything in the supply chain.

―It wouldn‘t make sense for Bernas to help farmers because if farmers become major producers, it
would affect their market share of the padi industry that they get from their rice imports,‖ she said.

Fatimah acknowledged Bernas‘ existing model which aims to help farmers, but said it was
ineffective.

―After a few years of having this model, its just not working. The farmers are still struggling.‖

She recommended that Bernas be revamped to reflect the reality of farmers on the ground, adding
that they remained just as poor as they were 20 or 30 years ago.

Food crisis

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In 2008 when Malaysia had a food crisis, she said Bernas automatically made the decision that it
would not increase its rice imports.

Back in 2007 to 2008, rice prices surged due to export restrictions by key rice exporting countries
such as India and Vietnam, in tandem with panic buying from rice importing countries such as the
Philippines.

This resulted in an increase in world rice prices by 117% to 149% in the first quarter of 2008.

Fatimah said Bernas having such autonomy and decision-making power in these matters made for a
very vulnerable market structure.

She added that this threatened food security and national self-sufficiency, which refers to a country‘s
capability to produce its own food.

Fatimah‘s report cited a 2018 Khazanah Research Institute paper, which argued that there was
growing concern related to food security and Malaysia‘s capability to be self-sufficient in its rice
production due to high rice production costs, limited production capacity and reliance on imports.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/12/08/academic-shines-light-on-structural-
problems-in-padi-industry/\

Officer seeks arrest of suspects for fake paddy purchase

Dec 8, 2018, 1:28 AM; last updated: Dec 8, 2018, 1:28 AM (IST)

Tribune News Service


Chandigarh, December 7
In over Rs 5 crore bogus paddy purchase at Guruharsahai, the Secretary, Food and Civil
Supplies, has written to the Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) to arrest the suspects in the
case as there is enough evidence against them.

In the last week of November, the Food and Civil Supplies Department had detected bogus
purchase of 86,939 bags of paddy worth Rs 5.6 crore.

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Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said the department had got inputs that
there was movement of paddy from other states to Punjab, following which district managers
were told to recheck the purchases and verify the same with the stocks on the millers‘ premises
personally.

The department had detected abnormal purchase of paddy at Jiwan Arain and Panje Ke Uttar
mandis by Reet Enterprises owned by Jaswinder Singh; Jagdish Chander and Sons owned by
Sandeep Kumar; and Dhruv Commission Agent owned by Rishu Mutneja.

They had allegedly made bogus purchases of 86,939 bags of paddy in connivance with Sunrise
Rice Mill, Jiwan Arain, Guruharsahai tehsil.

It is suspected that the miller was planning to buy paddy from other states, including Uttar
Pradesh and Bihar, where it is much cheaper than the minimum support price, and then deliver it
during milling to make a quick profit.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/officer-seeks-arrest-of-suspects-for-fake-paddy-
purchase/695232.html

President to visit Myanmar as India keen to boost


agricultural ties with neighbours
Kovind will visit India-funded agricultural research centre and Rice BioPark
By Rekha Dixit December 07, 2018 19:02 IST

Agricultural technology is becoming an important skill that India is sharing with her
neighbours | Reuters

President Ramnath Kovind is visiting Myanmar from December 10 to 14. Among his
engagements will be a visit to the Advanced Centre for Agricultural Research and Education and
the Rice BioPark, both of which have been funded by India.

Agricultural technology is becoming an important skill that India is sharing with her neighbours
in recent years under its development partnership thrust.

In Afghanistan, India has helped set up an Agriculture University in Kandahar. Students and
faculty from Afghanistan are coming to Pusa in Delhi regularly for their training, while the
university gets to stand on its own.
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In his visit to India earlier this year, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli had mentioned that
Nepal needed to have food security and therefore needed to boost its agriculture sector. In one of
the Memorandum of Understanding that the countries exchanged, they reaffirmed their ―resolve
to promote cooperation in agricultural science and technology, agricultural production and agro
processing...''. Nepal has sought the help of the developed countries, too, to boost its agriculture,
but its leaders believe that technology from nearby and similar terrain will certainly be
better. India has agreed to work with Nepal in areas like animal husbandry and bio-fertilisers
research in indigenous genetic resources and agroforestry.

India has extensive agricultural partnership with ASEAN. The fourth ASEAN-India ministerial
meeting on agriculture and forestry was held in Delhi earlier this year. The cooperation is in the
areas of R and D for global competence in agriculture, seed quality control systems, organic
certification for fruit and vegetable and new techniques for diagnosis of trans-border animal
diseases.

A big focus of the ASEAN-India partnership is in the area of rice research, especially in genetic
improvement of parental lines and developing heterotic rice hybrids.

Another agriculture partner of India in recent times is Israel, although in this partnership, India is
the receiver of technology, specially drip irrigation.

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https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2018/12/07/president-to-visit-myanmar-as-india-keen-to-
boost-agricultural-ties-with-neighbours.html

Nel Jayaraman, Farmer Who Preserved Traditional


Paddy Dies in Chennai
07 December, 2018 10:56 PM IST By: Abha Toppo

Farmer and consumer activist, Nel Jayaraman, who devoted all his life in collecting, reviving and
conserving traditional varieties of paddy died on 6 December after a long fight with cancer in
Chennai. Jayaraman was so famous that the word Nel or paddy became part of his name.

The farmer who was closely connected with CREATE, a consumer organisation had been
organizing paddy festival since 2005. He used to give 2 kg of traditional paddy seeds to farmers
and in return took 4 kg after harvest.

Ranganathan, General Secretary of Cauvery Delta Farmers Association said, ―Jayaraman‘s


passion earned the goodwill of an NRI from his village and he gave 9 acres of land for crop
cultivation and conducting training programmes‖.

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Jayaraman, who also coordinated ―Save Our Rice‖ movement, started with distribution of 15
paddy varieties and later increased to 64 varieties. He had collected over 170 varieties of paddy

seeds.

Some of the main paddy varieties Jayaraman had maintained include:

 Poongkar (for saline soil),

 Kattuyanam (for flood condition),

 Kuzhiyadichan (for alkaline soil),

 Karunguruvai (for making biriyani),

 Mappillai Samba (for high energy),

 Samba Mosanam (for flat rice),

 Arupatham Kuruvai (short duration variety).

This great cultivator had also received the best organic farmer award by Tamil Nadu government
in 2011 and was invited by the International Rice Research Institute in Philippines.

After doctors diagnosed him with cancer, actor Sivakarthikeyan admitted him in a private
hospital and also agreed to take care of his son‘s educational expense. Chief Minister Edappadi
K. Palaniswami had offered Rs. 5 lakh.
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/nel-jayaraman-laid-to-rest-in-native-
village/articleshow/66994285.cms

Rice fund will protect farmers – Villar


December 7, 2018 | Filed under: News,News Roundup | Posted by: Tempo Desk

SENATOR Cynthia Villar has called for the sustained distribution of the fund for local rice
farmers when the proposed rice tariffication law is enacted.
Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, on Thursday stressed that a
―package of support‖ for farmers who may be distressed comes with the government‘s
impending implementation of the measure that replaces the quantitative import restrictions on
rice with tariffs.
The senator, an author and sponsor of the proposed act, said the bill creates the Rice
Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), or rice fund, amounting to at least P10 billion
every year.

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A certified measure, the bill has been submitted for the President‘s signature after Congress
ratified it in the bicameral conference committee report last week.
―When cheap rice imports start flooding the market, a program that will provide preferential
attention to rice farmers, cooperatives and associations adversely affected by the tariffication
should be established,‖ Villar said.
―We will be doing our farmers a great disservice if we let them face the challenges of a tariffied
system without support mechanisms in place,‖ she added.
The RCEF, Villar noted, would also be the government‘s response to the June, 2017 expiration
of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice importation under the agreement with the World
Treaty Organization (WTO).
Without the rice fund, the country‘s rice farmers will lose, the senator said.
Under the rice tarrification bill, P10-billion rice fund shall be allocated to the Philippine Center
for Post Harvest Development and Modernization (PhilMech) to provide farmers with rice farm
machineries and equipment (50 percent); and to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)
to be used for the development, propagation and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers,
and the organization of rice farmers into seed growers associations engaged in seed production
and trade (30 percent).
Ten percent, meanwhile, will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal
interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives. It shall
be managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
Also 10 percent will be set aside to fund extension services by PhilMech, Agricultural Training
Institute, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for teaching skills on
rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and
knowledge/ technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.
http://tempo.com.ph/2018/12/07/rice-fund-will-protect-farmers-villar/

Farmers’ meet focuses on using technology to augment


livelihood
By By Our Reporter On Dec 8, 2018

SHILLONG: A two-day national meet on ‗North East Agriculture – Farmers Perspectives


(NEAFP 2018)‘ is being organised at the College of Post-Graduate Studies in Agricultural
Sciences (CPGS-AS), Umiam in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAD),
Bio-Diversity International, International Rice Research Institute, International Centre for
Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Livestock Research Institute
(ILRI).
The inaugural function was held on Friday. Prof. S. Ayyappan, Chancellor, CAU, Imphal,
emphasized on making the small farmers ‗smart farmers‘ through farmers‘ association, self-help
groups etc., with a focus on new technologies through integrated farming approach.

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Other guests including Dr. Tomio Shichiri, Country Director-FAD, New Delhi, Dr. S.K.
Srivastava, Vice Chancellor, NEHU, Dr. R.R. Hanchinal, International Bio-Diversity, Dr. U.S.
Singh, IRRI, India, Dr. K.L. Prabakar, NABARD, Bombay and Dr. K.K. Baruah, Director
Incharge, ICAR-RC for NEH Region, Umiam also addressed the gathering and spoke on making
the NE agriculture sustainable.
The progressive farmers from each of the NE states were awarded during the inaugural function
for their outstanding achievements in farm related activities.

Farm export policy hasn't been framed with elections


in mind: Siraj Hussain, ICRIER
ET Now|

Dec 07, 2018, 05.21 PM IST

The major thrust of this policy is on increasing the export of organic


products and processed food which is not easy, Siraj Hussain,
Visiting Senior Fellow at ICRIER, tells ET Now.

Edited excerpts:

The government is aiming to double farm export by 2022. What


sort of impact and policy decisions will this need?

It is a good initiative of the government to bring all the ministries and state governments on the
same platform so that the policies and implementation done by the states and the central
ministries is conducive to increasing exports.

However, Indian exports are not highly diversified. The basmati rice export is about $4 billion,
non- basmati rice export is $3.5 billion and both of these are in my view under challenge because
the European community has reduced the threshold of Tricyclazole, which is one of the
fungicides used for cultivation of rice.

That is a big challenge and the farmers and the rice industry have to rise up to that challenge.

Secondly, another item of exports is buffalo meat, another $4 billion. In the last three or four
years, there has been a lot of violence against the traders of animals and as a result, there is an
atmosphere of fear.

Even though the total quantum of export has not gone down, there is the possibility of increasing

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it. If we can tackle foot and mouth disease, because right now Indian buffalo meat does not go to
US, etc, not even China. If the barriers put up by these countries are tackled., it should be
possible to substantially increase the export of several commodities.

The major thrust of this policy is on increasing the export of organic products and processed food
which is not easy.

The cabinet has taken this decision to double farm exports but what about the timing? It is
coming at a time when there is a 90-day pause in a trade war between China and the US.
As part of that pause, Donald Trump has ensured that his counterpart is buying more
agriculture products from US. In the midst of all this, India has been saying it wants to
double farm exports as well. How is all of this going pan out?

The export policies do not result in transformation overnight because building up supply chains,
early chains, the stuffing, the possibility of exports, export competitiveness these things take time
and even though China has imposed tariff on several US agricultural commodities, our soybean
meal exports to China are still not going.

Even though our cotton has been going to China, we have not succeeded with soybean.
Similarly, Indian meat is not permitted in China. So this excitement is justified because we are
moving in the right direction but I am not sure whether it will yield results in a very short while.

The government’s main target has been to double farm income. You have been involved in
some crucial policy decisions. This decision to double farm export is coming a few days
after a massive farmers’protest in the national capital itself. Would you say that this is a
temporary blip prior to elections?

I do not think export policy has been framed with elections in mind. It is a very good initiative
which has been under discussion for several years and even now the policy has not really
travelled the entire distance.

The policy says that in case of sensitive commodities, the government can ban export or impose
minimum export prices. Some people have been saying that India has become permanently
surplus for agricultural commodities and yet the government thinks that it needs to take a
cautious approach and retain the powers to impose restrictions.

It is only the export of organic products and processed food where the government has
committed that no restrictions will be imposed. For all other commodities, the government has
retained the right to restrict exports. In a sense it is cautious and yet the government is showing
that it would like the exports to increase substantially.
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