Saturday, August 23, 2014

China’s early rice output dips in 2014

CHINA produced 34.01 million tons of early rice in 2014, down 125,000 tons, or 0.4 percent, from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday in a statement.

According to the bureau, China’s early rice planting area for this year covers 579.5 million hectares, 0.2 percent less than last year, with yield per hectare down 0.2 percent to 5.87 tons.

Huang Jiacai, the bureau’s senior statistician, said it was still a good harvest year for early rice given the unit yield is the second highest in history.

Favorable policies implemented in the provinces of Hunan and Hubei have led to an increase in planting areas in the two regions, he said.

Hunan is China’s largest producer of early rice, with an output of 8.5 million tons and a planting area of 1.45 million hectares in 2014. Neighboring Jiangxi Province ranked second with an output of 8.2 million tons, according to the bureau.

Early rice is mainly planted in eight central and southern provincial-level regions of China — Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Guangdong, Hubei, Anhui, Fujian and Hainan.

China’s total grain output consists of three parts — early rice, summer grain and autumn production.
In 2013, China’s total grain output grew 2.1 percent year on year to 601.94 million tons, or 10 straight years of higher grain output. Based on the data in 2013, early rice took up nearly 6 percent of total grain output.
The summer grain crops, mainly wheat and early-season rice, accounted for 22 percent of China’s total grain output. Autumn grain crops, which include corn and middle- and late-season rice, took up the remaining 72 percent.

Rice Farming Is Most Profitable In Nigeria Today – Adesina

If you are looking to invest in Nigeria, the largest Economy in Africa, you should consider rice farming which is the most profitable in the Agriculture sector, the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, said on Friday.

In an interview centred on food security and the reforms in the Agriculture sector, Dr Adesina said that the agriculture policy of the government had opened up the sector for more investments to thrive.

He said that the government had made necessary contributions in terms of high yield seedlings for small, medium and large scale farmers.

He listed different chains in the agriculture sector that the government’s transformation agenda was focusing on, emphasising that ‘rice is the most profitable’.

The agenda is aimed at shifting the mainstay of the  Nigerian economy from crude oil to agriculture.

“If you invested 14 million dollars in an integrated rice mill in Nigeria today, the internal rate of return on the investment is 42 to 50 per cent and the time it takes you to pay back the investment is exactly two years. It is the most profitable thing that anyone can be doing in Nigeria today.

“That is because the population is rising and people are consuming more rice.

“If we folded our hands in Nigeria today and keep importing rice from India Thailand, by 2050, we will be spending 35 billion dollars importing rice from them.

“We have started distributing this rice variety and when we started, we started with roughly about 406,000 farmers in 2012 then we moved to 2.6 million farmers in 2013. In 2014, we have added another three million farmers growing this rice.

“Fifty per cent of the farmers that are growing rice in the wet season have shifted to this variety of rice that could be planted in dry season. We can now produce in the wet season and in the dry season,” he said.

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, had said he would be investing a billion dollars in commercial rice milling.

Other big names in Nigeria are also coming into the sector with huge funds, evidencing the viability of the sector.

Thai For Rice In Africa

The Minister said that with the policy that President Goodluck Jonathan had put in place, more investments were expected to come in.

“Nigeria Agriculture has changed and that is why the big names are coming in. They realised that it is a big money making enterprise. There is a role for everybody, the small the medium and the large.

“Aliko Dangote said by God’s grace we will become the Thai for rice in Africa and that is what a good policy does.

“I think that what the president has done is extremely good. He has set very good policies and we are beginning to see the rewards of that.Rice Farming in Nigeria

“In Rice today in Nigeria we have a total of 1.6 billion dollars of private sector investment going there.

“I feel the momentum is there and we will achieve it. I believe that in three to four years Nigeria will, by the grace of God, become just like Thailand for rice in Africa,” Dr Adesina said, expressing optimism that rice production would continue to increase.

Over the years, the amount spent on importation of rice from India and Thailand has been on the increase and the government is looking to reduce this in the next few years.

“It is a shameful thing that Nigeria will continue to import rice when it has the resources to export.

“We could not continue the import demand that we were having. It is affecting the Naira, We are spending so much money defending the Naira and we are exporting our jobs if we continue to import,” he stressed.

Despite the increase in the production of rice, there is still a shortfall of supply, as rice is a staple food that most Nigerians eat.

To shore-up supply, Dr Adesina stressed the need for more awareness to be created to get consumers realise that the “Nigerian rice is great and better than what they have.

“The next thing would be to continue to produce so that they can have regularity of supply to patronise the Nigerian rice.

“Nigerian rice is cheaper than the imported rice. An analysis of the market showed that the weighted price of the local rice is cheaper than the imported rice,” he said.

Since the government policy on rice importation was put in place, Rice smugglers have continued to bring in foreign products.

Mr Adeshina, however, urged security agencies manning Nigeria’s borders to increase surveillance and check smuggling activities.

“We have to deal with the issue of smuggling. We cannot have a situation where people defile our borders and come in with items they like. People don’t carry them on their heads. They go around in trailers and those that have to do their job must do their job,” he said.

Cocoa Farming Gaining Attention

Nigeria used to be a major cocoa exporter, but the discovery of crude oil led to dearth in the production. But as the government is looking to diversify the economy, cocoa farming is gaining gradual attention, with production increasing.

To encourage cocoa farmers in Nigeria the government had started giving away high yields and high breeds of cocoa that give five times the yield that farmers are currently getting.

Over one million farmers all across the cocoa growing states in Nigeria have received seedlings and that translates into roughly 39 million seedlings that have been given away for free. This will allow for the cultivation of 40,000 hectares of new cocoa plantations that will increase production from 350 thousand metric tonnes to 800 thousand metric tonnes in the next two years.

The Minister said that Nigeria was getting close to Cote d’Ivorie Coast and other cocoa producing countries, insisting that Ivory Coast will not beat Nigeria in cocoa.

“We are doing the same thing also for oil palm and we have given away nine million sprouted nuts of oil palm free of charge to farmers.

“We are replacing the tall palm trees variety with short once. Because nobody can export a tree, we are investing in planting them so that it will be producing fruits in the next 30 years.

“We must be looking at our ports’ use which should not only be for imports but for exports also. Our rice today in terms of total value added to our local economy in terms of gross value across all the states is 750 billion Naira since we started in 2012.”

Friday, August 22, 2014

NDA's BREI programme set to increase rice production in north-east

Though the government is yet to release funds for BGREI but it has earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the programme.

Though the government is yet to release funds for BGREI but it has earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the programme.

KOLKATA: The NDA government is taking ahead the Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India (BGREI) a programme that is aimed at increasing rice production in the eastern part of the country.

Though the government is yet to release funds for BGREI but it has earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the programme, which was conceived by the erstwhile UPA government and is considered to bring second green revolution in the country. But floods in Odisha and eastern Uttar Pradesh may have some impact on eastern India rice production, that contributes more than 50 per cent of the country's rice production.

"The government has already allocated the funds for BGREI. May be it is taking some time to release the funds. We are hoping that funds will come any moment. In the meantime, the government has asked us to carry out a survey on the state of paddy production in the country. Our scientists are visiting different states for field surveys. The government is also keen on usage of hybrid seeds to increase production," said Trilochan Mohapatra, director, Central Rice Research Institute.

Mohapatra is however, a bit worried about paddy production in eastern India.

"Though initially there was a lot of tension as monsoon was delayed but the situation improved gradually in July and August. But now our concern is the flood in Odisha and eastern UP which may damage the standing crop. Right now it is difficult to estimate the impact of damage," he said.

Added Swapan Kumar Dutta, deputy director general, ICAR "Funds from BGREI will start coming shortly. But this year rice production may not touch 106 million tonnes. Some farmers have shifted to millets. So there might be some marginal drop which will have very little impact on country's foodgrain supply ." Eastern states contribute 55 million tonne of rice to the country's total production of 106 million tonne and the bulk of it is produced during the kharif season. Production in the region has increased by 30 per cent in the last three years after the erstwhile UPA government introduced BGREI in the seven eastern states.

The seven eastern states are West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Jharkhand, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The seven states produced an average of 42.6 million tonne of rice before the launch of BGREI but now they contribute 55 million tonne or over half the rice produced in the country .

While floods in Odisha and eastern UP is a matter of worry but Jharkhand has received good rainfall this year after a gap of almost four years.

Weak monsoon may hike rice & vegetables prices

NEW DELHI: The stalling of the monsoon in northern, central and western India may lead to vegetables prices rising further, cut rice production by 10-15 per cent and affect winter-sown crops by drying up the soil unless rains revive quickly. The weather office forecasts a subdued monsoon in the northern and western states at least up to August 28, pointing to pressure on food inflation, which won't come as good news for the government or the central bank.

Rainfall in the past week was 25 per cent below normal, although reservoirs were filled to 65 per cent (88.735 billion cubic metres) of the total capacity of 155.05 billion cubic metres, down from 77 per cent last year, but better than the 10-year average of 62 per cent.

In Punjab and Haryana, monsoon shortfall over the season is 62 per cent, leading to an impact on productivity even though these regions have irrigation facilities. Rainfall was 51 per cent below normal on Thursday. There was no rain at all in Haryana, Punjab and west Rajasthan.

Paddy farmers have been hurt by the poor rainfall, said Krishan Singh Khokhar, vice chancellor, Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University. "There will be a drop in production of at least 10 per cent in the rice crop," he said. Production of cotton and pearl millets may also fall with poor rain in the state.

On Thursday, the Central Water Commission that monitors the 85 important reservoirs of the country on a weekly basis, said storage levels in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tripura, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are lower than the corresponding period last year.


Meanwhile, vegetable prices in most parts of north and west India have seen a slight rise in prices over the past four-five days. "There is slight fluctuation in prices of vegetables by Rs 5-6 a kg in wholesale due to floods and poor rains in north India," said Surinder Kohli, a vegetable trader at Delhi's Azadpur mandi. If it doesn't rain over the next few weeks, it will hit farmers growing seasonal vegetables such as lady finger, bottle gourd, cabbage etc, which will increase retail prices, Kohli said. Most vegetables from bitter gourd, lady finger, brinjal were being quoted at Rs 40 a kg, said Nanku Ram, a vegetable vendor who sells in Sarita Vihar in New Delhi.

Sahab Singh Tomar, who grows paddy on eight acres in Palla village in Delhi, said, "The weather is dry but paddy requires humidity. This will impact grain size and lead to loss in yield by over 15 per cent." The farmer, who also grows lady finger, brinjal and spinach, has already seen a loss in yield of over 50 per cent in his vegetable crops over the past fortnight.

In Punjab, where 95 per cent of the area is irrigated, agriculturists say that with farmers planting more basmati this season, it can lead to a drop in supplies to various government procurement agencies. Also, farmers and agriculturists are concerned about the winter planting of wheat, mustard and maize.

"Weak moisture content will definitely put stress on vegetation-crops, agro forestry and horticulture, but we might not see a huge impact in yields. It is only in winter sowing when ground level water is not recharged, that we may see an impact," said Ramesh Chand, director, National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, New Delhi.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


How popular is rice? It's simply the most consumed food in the world. Asian dishes may come first when you think of rice, but don't forget Italian risotto, Spanish paella, and the rice and bean dishes popular throughout Mexico and Central and Southern America.

The Long and Short of It

How rice is classified, as well as how it's best cooked, depends mainly on the length of the grain.

Long-grain rice

Long and slender with a length that's four to five times its width. Because its grains stay separate, light and fluffy, it's perfect as a side dish.

Short-grain rice

Short and plump; only slightly longer than it is wide. Its moist grains stick together when cooked and stay tender even at room temperature — think sushi.

Medium-grain rice

Falls somewhere between long and short, with grains about twice as long as they are wide. Risotto is made with medium-grain rice, as is paella.
Most varieties are sold as either brown or white rice, depending upon how they are milled.
Brown rice is unmilled and retains the bran and germ that surrounds the kernel, giving it a chewy texture and a flavor often described as nutty. It takes longer to cook brown rice and it's more nutritious. Because of the oil in the bran and germ, it spoils more easily and so it should be kept refrigerated.
White rice has had its bran and germ milled away. It cooks up tender and delicate, but it is somewhat less nutritious than brown, which is why it is sometimes fortified.

Cooking Rice

Different varieties of rice are best when cooked using a particular method. Be sure to follow recipe instructions to get the best flavor and texture from your rice.

Absorption Method

This is the most popular method, using a set amount of rice and a set amount of water, for a set amount of time. By the time the water is absorbed, the rice should be tender.

Steaming Method

This is usually the preferred method for cooking sticky and clinging rices. Rice is soaked, drained and put in a steaming basket set over a pot or wok of boiling water and cooked by steam alone, without the rice ever touching the boiling liquid.

Boiling Method

In this method, the rice is cooked much like pasta. Though this may sound appealingly easy and foolproof, it actually requires almost as much attention as does the absorption method. The rice is sprinkled into a large pot of boiling salted water, then stirred often to prevent sticking. When tender, it is thoroughly drained, then rinsed quickly to halt cooking. Sticky and clinging rices do not do well with this method, but many other varieties do fine.
Basic directions for absorption


This step removes surface starch and should only be done when you want the grains to remain quite separate, as in Indian basmati rice. For most rice preparations, do not rinse.


The general ratio is 1 cup rice to 1-1/2 or 2 cups water, plus 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Place rice, salt and water in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid.


Bring water and salt to a boil in a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add rice, bring back to a boil, stir once, cover and simmer over low heat until the grains are tender.

Cooking and Serving Rice

Cooking Tips

  • Use a sturdy pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Add salt for flavor.
  • Substitute liquids for water for more flavorful rice: try half broth, some orange juice or a little wine.
  • Don't peek! Lifting the lid will interrupt cooking.
  • For rice at its best, let it rest. After cooking time is up, let the rice stand off the heat for at least 5 minutes before serving.
  • Use a fork or a chopstick to fluff rice. Gentle handling will keep grains separate, not mushy.
  • If you cook a lot of rice, consider an electric rice cooker.

Rice: Cooking Tips and Serving Suggestions

Grain to Liquid
Basic Cooking Method
Arborio Rice (white)
Soft and creamy. Best used in risotto recipes. 1 cup to 3/4 cups After an initial toasting of the grains in butter or oil, liquid (usually broth) is added gradually as rice is stirred to create a rich almost saucelike result.
Basmati (white imported and brown)
A long-grain, highly aromatic, hulled rice from India. Usually aged for a year to develop its full flavor. White: 1 cup to 1-1/2 cups
Brown: 1 cup to 2 cups
Soak and rinse rice for 30 minutes. Simmer white basmati 15 minutes. Simmer brown 45 minutes.
Brown Rice (long grain)
Tends to remain separate and fluffy when cooked. Great for pilafs, rice salads and paella. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Brown Rice (medium grain)
Similar to long grain, but stickier. Great with stir-fries and curries. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Brown Rice (short grain)
A sticky, chewy rice; very good in sushi and puddings. 1 cup to 2-1/4 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Brown Rice (sweet)
Very sticky. It is what mochi and amasake are made from. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 50 minutes.
Forbidden Rice
A nutty-tasting black rice, imported from China. Soft textured; purple when cooked. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 30 minutes.
Jasmine Rice (white or brown)
An aromatic, long-grain rice similar to basmati. The perfect accompaniment to Thai curries. White: 1 cup to 1-3/4 cups
Brown: 1 cup to 2 cups
Simmer white rice for 15 minutes.
Simmer brown rice for 45 minutes.
Kalijira Rice (white)
A long-grain rice but on a miniature scale. Sometimes called baby basmati, these tiny grains are nutty and aromatic and cook up quickly. 1 cup to 1-1/2 cups Rinse well. Simmer 10-15 minutes.
Lundberg Countrywild
Long-grain brown rice, blended with Wehani and Black Japonica rices; delicious as a side dish. 1 cup to 2 cups Rinse rice and simmer 45 minutes.
Purple Sticky Rice
Used as a sweet dessert rice. 1 cup to 2 cups Rinse well. Bring to a boil (no salt), cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
Red Rice
Imported from Bhutan; has a nutty taste and pink color when cooked. 1 cup to 1/2 cups Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
Sushi Rice (white)
Medium grain, chewy and sticky 1 cup to 1 cup Rinse and drain several times until water runs clear. Bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes.
Texmati Rice (brown)
A cross between basmati and long-grain American rice. Delightfully nutty, fragrant rice. Great plain, with curried vegetables or seafood, or use in stuffings. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 15-20 minutes.
Texmati Rice (white)
A cross between basmati and long-grain American rice. Fluffier and milder in flavor and aroma than imported basmati. 1 cup to 1-3/4 cups Simmer 15-18 minutes.
Wehani Rice (red rice)
A long-grain rice, but on a miniature scale. Sometimes called baby basmati, these tiny grains are nutty and aromatic and cook up quickly. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Wild Rice
Technically an aquatic grass seed, but cooked and enjoyed as a rice. Delightfully chewy and full-flavored, it can be a little too intense on its own, so it's popular in grain mixes, soups and salads. 1 cup to 3 cups Rinse well. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer strongly for 45 minutes.
Wild and Brown Rice
20% lake-harvested wild rice and 80% long-grain brown rice. A milder alternative to wild rice and a great side dish. 1 cup to 3 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Wild Rice Blend
Made from long-grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, Wehani, Japonica and wild rice. A beautiful blend for sides or soups 1 cup to 3 cups Simmer 45 minutes.

End of the line: GMO production in China halted

Reuters / Stringer

 In a surprise U-turn, China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to continue with a program which developed genetically-modified rice and corn. Some environmentalists say public concerns about GM crops played a key role in the decision.
On August 17, when these permits were up for renewal, the Ministry of Agriculture decided not to extend them. In 2009, the ministry's Biosafety Committee issued approval certificates to develop the two crops, rice and corn.

Developed by the Huazhong Agricultural University, near Wuhan, it was hoped that the GMO strains would help to reduce pesticide use by 80 percent, while raising yields by as much as 8 percent, said Huang Jikun, the chief scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Reuters in 2009. It is illegal to sell genetically-modified rice on the open market in China.

However in July, GM rice was found on sale in a large supermarket in Wuhan, which is just across the Yangtze River from the Huazhong Agricultural University, where the product was developed, which caused a public outcry.
"We believe that loopholes in assessing and monitoring [GMO] research, as well as the public concern around safety issues are the most important reasons that the certifications have not been renewed," Wang Jing, a Greenpeace official based in Beijing, wrote in an email to ScienceInsider.

According to the South China Morning Post, state television commissioned tests on five packets of rice, which were picked at random, and found three contained genetically-modified rice. It is illegal to sell or commercially grow GM rice in mainland China. The safety certificates issued in 2009 only allowed the rice to be planted for research purposes, but never for sale on the open market.

The strain, which was found, was one of two developed by Dr. Zhang Oifa, who is a professor at the Huazhong Agricultural University. He said, "it was not impossible" for the seeds to be put on to the open market.

"You can't say [the seeds] were leaked on purpose. It's possible the seed companies have taken away the seeds and reproduced them illegally," he said, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

However, Huang Jikun also believes that public opinion was not the only reason why the project was shelved. He stated that China is reaching self-sufficiency in terms of rice production, so therefore there was no point in producing genetically modified versions. China exports very little rice as almost all of it is consumed within its domestic market. Huang also admitted, "rising public concerns [about the] safety of GM rice" likely also played a role.

Cong Cao, who is an associate professor at the University of Nottingham in the UK, was scathing of the decision. Writing in ‘The Conversation’ journal, he said the move “signals a major blow to the fight to establish GM food in China.”

Cao believes there is no logic behind the judgment adding that “Anti-Western sentiment has been judged more convincing than a raft of studies endorsing the merits of agro-biotechnology. Government support for GM food is dwindling fast, and it seems safe to say that the opportunity to commercialize GM rice – and with it the chance to help address some of China’s most urgent problems – is all but gone.”

The production of GM corn has not received as much skepticism, as it is mainly fed to livestock, according to Huang Jikun. Nevertheless, like rice, it has also not had its license renewed.