Thursday, October 28, 2010

Japan To Transfer Rice Technology

HANOI, Oct 28 (Bernama) -- Japan will transfer its most advanced technology to help develop new rice varieties in the midland and mountainous areas of northern Vietnam, reports Vietnam News Agency An agreement for the technical cooperation project was signed on Oct 27 by Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Vietnam, Tsuno Motonori, and Rector of Hanoi University of Agriculture, Tran Duc Vien. The five-year, US$4.6 million project aims to help Vietnam achieve long-term and nationwide food security. The new technology and equipment will allow scientists to produce new and improved rice varieties for all regions in the country. "In this project, we will transfer our rice breeding selection method with DNA Marker Assisted Selection, our most advanced technology, to the Hanoi University of Agriculture," said Motonori. "With such technology, we aim to produce rice varieties with short growing time, high yields and high disease resistance that can adapt to the natural conditions of the midlands and mountainous areas in the north," added Motonori. Rice production in the midlands and mountainous areas can meet the needs of only 70 percent of the population. Productivity is still low, with 40 percent of the land area used to grow only one crop per year. Although it is a rice export country, Vietnam is still facing food security challenges. More rice is needed to meet the growing population which is growing at a rate of one percent per year in Vietnam

Rice Imports May Surge 11 Times If Tariffs Removed, Farm Ministry Says

Japan’s rice imports may surge 11 times from the 770,000 metric tons a year bought now should it remove tariffs on overseas supplies under a free-trade agreement with exporters proposed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Japan, self-sufficient in rice, may buy an additional 7.6 million tons a year from overseas should it completely eliminate tariffs of 341 yen ($4.2) per kilogram, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a report today. Kan may announce Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement with countries including the U.S., Australia and Vietnam next month when he chairs the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Cabinet members including Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said participation in the pact, under which tariffs are to be eliminated in principle, is needed to bolster growth amid competition from industrial exporters such as South Korea. “Considering the huge impact on domestic farm production, it looks very difficult for Japan to join the agreement” unless major farm products including rice are exempted from the removal of tariffs, said Ruan Wei, chief economist at the Norinchukin Research Institute Co. in Tokyo. Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano told reporters on Oct. 22 the government should consider the importance of agriculture properly in carrying out its policy. Central Union of Agricultural Co-Operatives, Japan’s largest farm lobby, urged ruling party lawmakers including Vice Agriculture Minister Nobutaka Tsutsui on Oct. 19 they should not support participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement as the pact would deal “a fatal blow” to farming. Wheat, Sugar The agriculture ministry estimates 679,000 tons of domestic wheat production, or 90 percent of output, would be replaced by imports if Japan removes import tariffs of 55 yen per kilogram. The government also estimates that 869,000 tons of sugar output and 272,000 tons of beef production would be replaced by imports should tariffs be eliminated. Japan agreed to give minimum market access to rice- exporting countries at the Uruguay Round of world trade talks in 1993, buying 770,000 tons a year. The country started rice imports under the agreement in the fiscal year that began in April 1995, and purchased a total of 10.12 million tons in the past 15 years, according to the ministry. Stockpiles of foreign rice stood at 970,000 tons as of March 31, down from 1.11 million tons a year earlier.

Vietnam records highest rice yields in Southeast Asia

With a yield of 5.3 tonnes per ha per harvest, Vietnam now ranks top in rice productivity in Southeast Asia, confirmed Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong.
Some major rice producing areas such as the Mekong Delta provinces of An Giang, Can Tho and Dong Thap reaped up to 7.3 tonnes per ha in the freshly-harvested winter-spring crop, equivalent to world leading producers like Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The nation’s rice production output is estimated at 39.9 million tonnes in 2010, with southern provinces producing over 23.5 million tonnes, reported the Cultivation Department.
The Mekong Delta alone makes up almost 91.5 percent of the southern production output, gathering 21.5 million tonnes with an average per-ha yield of 5.47 tonnes.
The figures show Vietnam’s improved rice farming, explaining why Vietnam has entered into the list of world giants in rice exports.
In the past 10 months, the country has already exported 5.66 million tonnes of rice, earning US$2.63 billion. The yearly rice export volume is expected to reach 6.5 million tonnes due to the supply of wheat falling short.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) forecast a “possible skyrocketing” in world rice demand with Indonesia, which failed to reach a deal with Thailand, likely to import an additional 200,000 tonnes of rice from Vietnam. Typhoon Megi wreaked havoc in the northern Philippines and is expected to push the country to import between 500,000 and 600,000 tonnes of rice.
“The situation may drive the world rice market into a chaos,” said economists, adding that a surge in demand would make prices escalate.
In October, major rice exporters, including Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan and India, increased their export prices by at least 30 percent over the previous month.
Despite increased prices, Vietnam does not have much rice in storage for export, said MARD.
The world’s second largest rice exporter has expanded its line-up to parboiled rice, which is expected to increase by 300,000-400,000 tonnes in 2011 to meet rising demand, said the President of the Vietnam Food Association, Truong Thanh Phong.
Parboiled rice preferred by Muslims as it is dry when fully cooked, making it easy to eat by hand. The world demand for the product is estimated at between 3.5 and 4 million tonnes a year. Its price per tonne is often US$70-80 higher than five percent broken rice product, which now plays a key role in Vietnam’s rice exportation.
Vietnam’s parboiled rice quality is higher than that from Pakistan and India, the two biggest parboiled rice exporters of the world, sparking confidence on the “high competitive edge” among domestic rice exporters, Phong said.
VFA members are building three parboiled rice factories in the Mekong Delta, one of which - with a daily capacity of 500 tonnes - is scheduled to start operation later this year, bringing the total number to five.
The VFA has a plan to join hands with the Cultivation Department in marking off a special zone to provide raw material for these factories.

Three Questions: ASEAN and Rice Production

A farmer works in a rice field near the center of Pacitan Food issues are critical throughout Asia and involve a myriad of topics from agriculture and trade to health, hunger and infrastructure.On the eve of the ASEAN summit in Vietnam, discussions of rice are not prominent on the official agenda, if at all.Katsuji Matsunami of the Asian Development Bank explains how ASEAN can address rice production and distribution on a larger, regional scale. Rice has long been a staple of Asian diets, but its trade has become a very political issue since rice prices soared in 2008.What can ASEAN nations do collectively to ensure enough rice remains available at affordable prices? In many Asian countries, they call rice a political commodity rather than economic commodity. But to make this happen, rice productivity has to increase, so that we’ll have enough rice within the length of the area so that not large numbers of farmers would have to continue producing rice.For rice to become less political, we’ll have to work on other areas outside agriculture like trade where, when the price hike like 2008 happens, then the rice exporting countries put the export ban, and importing countries will, in desperation, buy rice at whatever the price is available.Then it would feed into further market volatility and price hikes, so on so forth. So I think there has to be a lot more work needed to be done on trade and also some regional activities like setting up the regional rice reserve, which ADB (Asian Development Bank) is working on within ASEAN+3 countries at the moment. So there is multi-sector aspects as needed.Also Asia is a major producer of rice and other grains, but increasingly, they are becoming importers.Rice has to become just one of other commodities in the longer run. Will this topic be discussed heavily at the upcoming meetings? We welcome ASEAN on rice issues, primarily on three things. Number one is trade. Can ASEAN+3 countries come to sit around the table and openly talk about the prospects of rice? Who might need rice? How much? And who might have marketable surpluses of rice? This kind of talk is not going on. These are all bilateral, government to government, and we are asking could it be possible to make it into the regional framework.And they say, “well, this is interesting, we could study this.” Similarly, there is a regional emergency rice reserve, and we are trying to set up implementation guidelines.At the moment, this regional rice reserve is purely for disasters. Could Asian regional rice reserves be used for situations other than disasters? These things require a lot more in-depth discussions among ASEAN+3 countries.Before we go out and say this could be this way we are going to do that, at the moment, we are trying to help them understand each other and see if we can come to some consensus about what we can do collectively.So at this moment, we are still working internally with ASEAN+3 countries, and us being able to go outside ASEAN+3 countries, and this is what we are going to do, takes a little more time.

Amira Foods closed rice deal worth US$30mn in Bangladesh

Recently Bangladesh had shown interest in purchasing rice from world market as they are short of grains this year Amira Foods India Ltd, the largest Indian held Rice Company, has bagged a rice deal in Bangladesh. According to the deal, Amira Foods will supply 60,000 MT of rice to Bangladesh worth USD 30 Million. The Tender is awarded by The Government of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh. Amira Foods won the tender by offering the lowest bid. Commenting on the deal, Mr. Karan A Chanana, Group MD, Amira Group, said “This is one of the important deals for Amira Foods in recent time. We participated in the bid process and won with quoting the lowest price. Recently Bangladesh had shown interest in purchasing rice from world market as they are short of grains this year. Looking at not so good rice production in India, we will have to source rice from other countries as well. As we believe that the world should connect through the language of food, we are here to export rice to the countries who need it” Although rice production in India is estimated to rise by 6 per cent, it will not be good enough to export. So, for the execution of contract, Amira Foods will source rice from countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan. Amira Foods Ltd is a leader in Agro commodities in India and is the leading exporter of basmati rice. The Amira Group was founded by late Shri. Karam Chand Chanana as a modest venture in the agro-commodities trade in 1915. Taking the business legacy forward under the stewardship of Shri Karan A Chanana, the Group Managing Director, Amira Foods India limited received the prestigious status of ‘Global Growth Company’ from the World Economic Forum. The Amira brand has established a reputation for fair trade practices. Quality products, honest pricing and the assurance of customer satisfaction have been the guiding philosophy to grow the brand.