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News Detail

Rice cultivation made easy with aerobic system


Ageing Japan struggles with rice farming
bon Ratchthani ready for disbursement of farm subsidies tomorrow
Who Stands to Gain Most from India-Myanmar Rice Deal?
BAAC to start handing assistance money to rice farmers tomorrow
South Korea Rice Forecast at Similar Level to Last Years Near-average
Output
20 October 2014
Exporting rice harder under new ministry guidelines: Vice Head of
Rice Division
Vietnamese Rice Exports Reach 4.9 Million Tonnes This Year
Farmers unhappy with MARDs rice-production restructuring strategy
Cuba will sow rice to avoid its importation
Kharif rice area coverage crosses last year's level: Govt.
Paddy price plunge hits farms
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- Oct 20
India's total rice output unlikely to fall below 100 mt
Michael Koch] Why Korea, and the world, must protect crop diversity
USA Rice Welcomes Ben Mosely
Toronto Students Hungry for a Challenge Compete in Contest
Crop Progress: 2014 Crop 91 Percent Harvested
CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures
japan's 'sacred' rice farms rotting from inside
Nigeria's New Rice Policy Attracts U.S.$1.6 Billion Private Sector
Investments
Chinas GMO Stockpile
How Rice Overcomes Arsenic
Vistas of national rice breeding and the myth of traditional rice

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October, 2014
News Detail.

Rice cultivation made easy
with aerobic system
GOLLAPUDI SRINIVASA RAO
The new system is less labour-intensive,
requires less input and less seed
Agricultural scientists in the district have
introduced and popularised aerobic system of rice
cultivation wherein a farmer can directly sow the
seed like any other crop. The system is less labour-
intensive, needs less input and less seed.At a
demonstration programme held at Reddypuram on
Sunday, a local farmers crop which was grown
using the aerobic system was shown to about 300
farmers who had arrived here from different parts
of the district.Explaining the method, District
Agriculture Technology and Transfer Centre
(DATT) director R. Uma Reddy said farmers need
not raise nursery and wait to get maximum yield.
Also, they need not plough the land.
Using the seed drill pulled either by tractor or
bulls, farmers can easily sow the seed. Due to good
spacing, paddy will not develop any disease and
yield will be more compared to the traditional
method of cultivation, he said.A farmer, Biksham,
from Govindaraopet mandal said he too adopted
the method and came to share his experience. As
said by Mr. Uma Reddy, the method requires only
15 kg seed per acre as against 30 kg in the
traditional method, he said. Usually, farmers raise
nursery and transplant it after ploughing and
watering fields.
They also need labourers to transplant paddy
which is expensive.Another farmer Venkat Reddy
from Kunur village in Zafargad mandal said he did
not have any problem with the aerobic system of
cultivation, but wanted power weeder to curb the
growth of weed in the field.Director (Extension)
Raji Reddy urged the farmers to not opt for paddy
crop in Rabi season, but go for green gram, jowar,
maize and other crops. If you opt for paddy, then
adopt this method to save input cost and water, he
said addressing the farmers.Mr. Uma Reddy said
the new method was very useful to the farmers.
Ageing Japan struggles
with rice farming
Shuichi Yokota may be the future of Japans
struggling rice industry.The 38-year-old is
about half the age of most growers and he
relies on cutting-edge technology to
cultivate vast paddy fields that eclipse the
bulk of the countrys rice plots.And Mr.
Yokota doesnt fear opening up to foreign
competition taboo in a place where rice is
a sacred cow that is protected by subsidies
and massive tariffs.His farm in Ryugasaki, a
community north of Tokyo, has ballooned
more than fivefold in 15 years into an
operation spanning 112 hectares (275 acres)
almost 30 times bigger than the tiny
commercial rice fields commonly found in
the area.
This is simply the consequence of retiring
farmers asking me to cultivate their rice
paddies for them, he said.I am one of very
few full-time farmers in this area, and the
people who were retiring didnt have anyone
in the family to continue growing rice. But
they dont want to sell the land.While many
of Japans farmers get by with centuries-old
farming methods, Mr. Yokota and his
colleagues share workload information and
data such as temperature and water levels
monitored by sensors installed in each paddy
on their smartphones.
Mr. Yokota may be an accidental giant
among rice growers, but some are betting
that people like him are the best hope for
fixing an inefficient system, with wider calls
for a shake up of Japans cosseted
agricultural sector.Prices have tumbled as
Japans rice consumption has halved in 50
years, and there are fears the sector is rotting
from the inside despite or some say,
because of decades-old
protectionism.That reverence has translated
into strong protections for tiny plots tended
by families who inherited land through
generations resulting in a hefty premium
in stores. Tokyo has for decades stabilised
prices by controlling supply and penalising
overproduction to protect farmers a key
voter base from volatile world markets.
Unused farmland
This policy, known as gentan and
referring to small-scale cultivation,
effectively made rice farming a part-time job
left to older relatives while younger family
members worked in other sectors.But, as
with much of the greying nation, many
farmers are now retiring the average is
about 66 years old with few interested in
replacing them. That has left some 400,000
hectares of farmland unused across the
country, an area almost twice the size of
Tokyo.What needs to be done is encourage
older farmers to retire and then gather small
pieces of land into one big lot for someone
capable like Yokota, said Masayoshi
Honma, an economics professor at Tokyo
University. AFP
Ubon Ratchthani ready for
disbursement of farm subsidies
tomorrow
UBON RATCHATHANI, 19 October 2014 (NNT)
- Ms. Suwimol On-in, Director of Ubon
Ratchathani Provincial Office of the Bank for
Agriculture and Agricultural Co-Operatives
(BAAC) revealed the readiness to distribute to rice
farmers in the province a government subsidy of
1,000 baht per rai, but not exceeding 15,000 baht
or 15 rai per household.
As the money distribution will begin nationwide
tomorrow (20 October 2014), the BAAC branch
manager reminded farmers to bring respective
Identification cards, along with rice growers
certificates and BAAC bank passbooks to claim
the money at nearest BAAC branches. Ms.
Suwimol said however that her office is waiting
for a full list of eligible farmers from the
Agricultural Extension Office in the province. The
Office has so far issued certificates of guarantees
to 83,000 rice growers, out of the 202,000 farm
families in total. The complete list of eligible
farmers is expected by the end of this month. And
registration for the subsidies will continue until 15
November 2014
Indias total rice output unlikely to fall below
100 million tons Rice production unlikely to
slip despite some impact on kharif crop in
few states, due to rains following cyclone
Hudhud

Rice production stood at a record 106.54
million tonnes in the 2013-14 crop year
(July-June). The government is aiming to
achieve 106 million tonnes this year. Photo:
Mint New Delhi: The countrys overall rice
production is unlikely to slip below the level
of 100 million tonnes this year despite some
impact on the kharif crop in few states due
to rains following Hudhud cyclone, a top
government official said. Rice production
stood at a record 106.54 million tonnes in
the 2013-14 crop year (July-June). The
government is aiming to achieve 106 million
tonnes this year. Currently, the kharif
(summer) rice is ready for harvest. Overall
rice production will definitely be below last
years level but it should not fall below 100
million tonnes, agriculture secretary Ashish
Bahuguna said. The kharif rice contributes
more than 80% of the total rice production.
The government has projected lower kharif
output of 88.02 million tonnes for this year
taking into account the deficient monsoon
rains.
Now that the kharif crop is ready for
harvest, the recent cyclone Hudhud has
affected the crop not only in Andhra Pradesh
but also in other states, resulting in possible
further drop in overall rice production.
Asked about impact of cyclone on kharif
rice crop, Bahuguna said: There will be
some damage not only in Andhra Pradesh,
but in others states like Odisha, Chattigarh
and Jharkhand as well. Rainfall due to
cyclone in some places will boost prospects
of late sown crop, while in some places it
will damage the crop. However, we are yet
to make the assessment. We expect we will
make up from improved yields, he said.
The US department of agriculture (USDA)
has also pegged Indias rice production this
year to be at 100 million tonnes, which
includes 87 million tonnes of kharif rice and
13 million tonnes of rabi rice. Continued
deficient rains and normal cyclones in
eastern coast during October/November
could further affect the harvest of kharif rice
and planting prospects for the upcoming rabi
rice, the USDA had said in its latest report

image :Rice production stood at a record
106.54 million tonnes in the 2013-14 crop
year (July-June). The government is aiming
to achieve 106 million tonnes this year.
Photo: Mint

Who Stands to Gain Most from
India-Myanmar Rice Deal?
Posted on October 20, 2014 by Asia Briefing
By Benedict Lynn
Indias minister for consumer affairs, food
and public distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan,
has confirmed New Delhis plans to import
up to 100,000 tons of Burmese rice to
supply its northeastern states, Nagaland and
Mizoram. The final details are currently
being hammered out, but the deal, which
should see 200,000 metric tons of rice sold
per month over the next five months, is set
to come into effect by the end of October.
This will be the first time in almost three
decades that the worlds largest exporter of
rice (a title once held by Myanmar) will
have had to import the commodity.
Construction work on the Guwahati Silchar
railway project has created logistical
bottlenecks hindering delivery from the
mainland to the far-flung Northeastern
states. The Food Corporation of India (FCI)
is ferrying Indian rice through Bangladesh
for Tripura, and has turned to Myanmar to
supply Nagaland and Mizoram.
North-East-India
The Indian Embassy in Rangoon announced
an exploratory tender for the rice imports
last week. However, the region is a hotbed
of political uncertainty and criminal activity,
resulting in low bidder turnout and high
costs. Just two Burmese companies bid for
the sales contract, asking US$800 per ton of
rice.India has since turned to the Myanmar
Rice Federation (MRF), the countrys main
independent rice industry oversight body.
The MRF has halved the price, on the
condition that India will be responsible for
transporting the commodity from the border
station. Once issues such as tax rates and
quality control have been agreed upon, the
tender process will be reopened to Burmese
firms.
This is
excitin
g news
for the
newly
outwar
d-
lookin
g
republi
c, a
countr
y where, according to a recent World Bank
report, the agriculture sector represents
between 35 to 40 percent of gross domestic
product (GDP) and that up to 70 percent of
the labor force (of 32.5 million) is directly
or indirectly engaged in agricultural
activities or depend on agriculture for their
income.Despite an abundance of fertile
land, however, hesitant investors,
underdeveloped infrastructure and a
shrinking global demand for Myanmars low
quality 25 percent broken grain have
resulted in the country falling well short of
its ambitious three million ton export target
for this fiscal year.
The republic hopes to export 4 million tons
by 2020.For a country as heavily reliant on
agriculture as Myanmar, this deal, although
temporary, is therefore crucial. According to
the World Bank report, the republic has the
potential to more than double its rice
exports. It is also, however, of critical
strategic importance to India.
The 1,009 mile border between the two
neighbors is the only border Asias third
largest economy shares with an ASEAN
member state, making it Indias gateway
into Southeast Asia. India has long been
trying to assert itself amidst growing
regional influence from China, currently the
worlds top importer of Burmese rice. As
such it has been turning its attention to its
smaller neighbors, and Myanmar is no
exception. Bilateral trade between the two
has grown to US$2.18 billion in 2013-14, up
from US$12.4 million in 1980-81.
BAAC to start handing assistance
money to rice farmers tomorrow
SAMUTSONGKRAM, 19 Oct 2014, (NNT)
- The Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural
Cooperatives (BAAC) tomorrow (October
20th) would start handing out the assistance
funds of 1,000 per rai, with the maximum of
15,000 baht per household, to rice farmers.
Rice farmers in Samutsongkram who have
registered their names for the funding
program have been submitting required
document to the officials, as the handing out
starts tomorrow. They have expressed their
approval of the campaign, saying they
would use the money to fund their sideline
activities to supplement their income, or
farm drought resistant crops. Meanwhile, in
Phichit Province, the Agricultural Office
revealed that 49,154 rice farmers have
registered for the assistance money. All 15
BAAC offices in the province will start
handing out the money tomorrow as earlier
announced.
South Korea Rice Forecast at
Similar Level to Last Years
Near-average Output
20 October 2014
SOUTH KOREA - Harvesting of the 2014
rice crop is almost complete. FAO forecasts
the 2014 rice production (in paddy terms) at
5.5 million tonnes, 2 percent below last years
good outcome.Assuming average yields, the
anticipated decrease is attributed to a 2 percent
contraction in plantings.The area planted to
paddy has been declining since 2002,
particularly in recent years, as farmers shift to
more profitable crops and more land is
converted to other uses.
According to official data, the area planted to
rice decreased by 23 percent in 2014 compared
to the 1.1 million hectares planted in 2002.In
addition to rice, small quantities of barley, maize
and other cereals are produced.Improving
agricultural productivity and promoting rice
exports are top priorities for the Burmese
government, notes the World Bank report. It
seems India too stands to gain much more than
just a temporary supply of rice. The potential of
the northeast in further strengthening trade
relations between the two countries has been
thus far largely untapped. It will be interesting to
see just how temporary this deal really is.
Exporting rice harder under
new ministry guidelines: Vice
Head of Rice Division
Doaa Farid / October 19, 2014
Head of Citizens Against Price Rises
Association expected that rice prices in the
local market will significantly increase
Head of Citizens Against Price Rises
Association expected that rice prices in the
local market will significantly increase(AFP
Photo)
New conditions on rice exports listed by the
Ministry of Supply are more arduous for
exporters, Rice Division Vice Chairman at
the Federation of Egyptian Industries,
Mostafa Atallah, said Sunday.Mahmoud Al-
Askalany, Head of Citizens Against Price
Rises Association, expects local market rice
prices will significantly increase. He added
that the exported local rice will be sold
abroad at lower prices than it is sold locally,
with exporters losing out.For the first time
since 2013, rice exporters will be allowed to
return to the international market after the
government approved rice exports with
certain conditions.
This includes selling one tonne of rice to the
General Authority for Supply Commodities
(GASC) at EGP 2,000 per tonne exported,
the Ministry of Supply announced.Minister
of Supply Khaled Hanafy pointed out that
exporters will be required to pay $280 per
tonne, to be placed in the general
budget.Hanafy said in a statement the
decision will contribute to reducing rice
prices delivered to GASC, adding that it is
expected to export around 1m tonnes of the
grain. The total value of the export is $1bn,
with $280m to be placed in the general
budget.However, Atallah expected rice
exports will not exceed 300,000 tonnes.
In March, Hanafy said that issues with rice
exports have yet to be resolved, explaining
that he would reconsider a decision to
suspend exporting rice. Hanafy attributed
the demands to resume supply in order to
open new rice markets abroad.Former
Minister of Supply Mohamed Abu Shady
announced in October 2013 that rice exports
were to be halted in November 2013 until
all ration needs of the grain are met.At the
time, Abu Shady said that the government
sells 1.4m tonnes of subsidised rice per year
at EGP 1.5 per kg.
I will not pay heed to the interests of a few
dozen rice exporters at the expense of
domestic markets, Abu Shady said.Egypt
produces 6.5m tonnes of rice, of which it
uses between 3.5m and 4m tonnes,
according to Abu Shady.In 2012, Egypt
exported 650,000 tonnes of rice to 58
countries in Europe and the Arab region,
Atallah said.
The total value of Egyptian exports in 2014
marked $16.8bn at the end of September,
recording a 2.2% increase compared to
$16.4bn during the corresponding period last
year. The figure falls below Ministry
expectations for the first nine months of the
year, which were targeted for $18.6bn.The
targeted value of exports in 2014 is $25bn,
compared to $21.5bn in the previous year
according to an October report from the
Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade.
Vietnamese Rice Exports
Reach 4.9 Million Tonnes This
Year
HANOI, Oct 20 (Bernama) - Vietnam
exported more than 139 tonnes of rice
during the first two weeks of October,
bringing total export volume to 4.9 million
tonnes so far this year.The latest volume
generated more than US$2.1 billion in value,
Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reports citing
the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).
The price for rice in October is US$458.35
per tonne -- an increase from US$439.11 per
tonne in September.Without government
interventions to increase temporary rice
stocks, the price of rice remained high due
to the large volume of rice exported to China
via border gates.Vietnam expects to produce
25.48 million tonnes of paddy for 2014, with
8.5 tonnes of rice for export.-- BERNAMA
Farmers unhappy with
MARDs rice-production
restructuring strategy
VietNamNet Bridge The Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development
(MARD) has set high goals when drafting
the rice-production restructuring strategy,
which Vietnamese farmers have found
unfeasible and unrealistic.

MARD believes that the country should
strive to export white long-grain rice for an
average $600 a ton by 2020 and fragrant
specialty rice for $800 per ton.Experts said
the plan was impractical because the rice
export price set for 2020 would be nearly
double the current export price, about $430-
440 per ton.Nguyen Dinh Bich, a renowned
rice expert, said $600-800 per ton was
unreachable, especially when international
organizations predict that global rice prices
will not increase and even fall from now to
2020.

MARD has also decided that by 2020 one
hectare of rice cultivation in Vietnam would
need revenue of VND100-120 million.An
analyst has pointed out inconsistencies in the
MARD plan. The agency plans to reduce the
rice-growing area in the country from 7.9
million hectares to 7 million hectares.
However, if high revenue were actually
attainable, no farmer would want to give up
rice cultivation and would expand their
farming areas.The analyst went on to say
that MARDs planning had discouraged
farmers because they had not found
solutions to improve production and, in
particular, farmers incomes.

Bich said that farmers should have a higher
proportion of profits in the rice production
chain, because this was the key to
sustainable development.He believes that it
is necessary to re-organize the current
supply chain so that exporters and farmers
can closely cooperate to optimize profits.If
so, privately owned small companies, which
have been acting as intermediaries by
collecting rice from farmers to sell to export
companies, would no longer play an
important role in the supply chain.

However, rice export companies do not
agree. Lam Anh Tuan, director of Thinh
Phat Company in Ben Tre Province, noted
that the existence of private merchants,
serving as a link between farmers and
exporters, was necessary, because of small-
scale production, the main characteristic of
Vietnamese agriculture.Tuan knows that
many export companies have gained success
when cooperating with farmers to export
fragrant rice. However, he believes that, in
this case, cooperation can be maintained
because both sides can benefit from it.

Exporters need to join hands with farmers
to ensure the high quality of fragrant rice,
he explained. However, it will be
unreasonable to ask us to be responsible for
outlets for low-quality rice like IR
50404.Dr. Vo Tong Xuan, the leading rice
expert in Vietnam, said the strategy drafted
by MARD does not focus on settling the
biggest problems the role of the Vietnam
Food Association (VFA) and state-owned
food corporations, and the quality of
Vietnamese rice.
Thanh Mai
Tags:rice-production restructuring strategy,farmers,rice,

Cuba will sow rice to avoid its
importation
Submitted by: Camila
Business and Economy

Of total rice consumed in Cuba only a third
part of it is grown on the island, the rest is
imported mainly from Vietnam. That is why
the government has proposed to plant this
cereal which would be half the cost of
importing it. The Agriculture Minister,
Gustavo Rodrguez Rollero, after passing
through the central provinces of the island
inspecting investments and projects related
to the food, said the project will be realized
by 2016. In 2014 the country fields should
provide 254,000 tons of the 700,000 basic
demand of rice in Cuban diet.

Only just less than half a million tonnes will
be imported mainly from Vietnam or Brazil
to meet the rest of the national need. The
economic reform undertaken since 2011
includes a reduction of purchases abroad.
Within this strategy, the Ministry of
Agriculture expects to harvest 538,000 tons
of rice fields in 2016. If the plan succeeds,
external acquisitions of the cereal will
represent only 24% of national consumption.
The news of the new plan coincides with the
opening of state investment in the central
provinces of the island, with new industries
to support the planting of cereal.
Kharif rice
area coverage crosses last year's
level: Govt.
The government today said that acreage under
kharif rice had touched 380.06 lakh hectares (ha)
across the country as of yesterday, crossing the
level of 376.74 ha at this time of the season last
year.As regards rabi crops, coarse cereals (jowar
and maize) have been sown in 5.48 lakh ha so far
and oilseeds in 0.45 lakh ha, as compared to 4.91
lakh ha and 0.58 lakh ha at this time last year,
respectively, an official statement added.
Paddy price plunge hits farms
By Zaw Htike | Monday, 20 October 2014
Paddy prices have taken a big hit from a
recent drop in demand from China, as
border officials have strangled the bilateral
rice trade by stepping up efforts to prevent
illegal imports.
Rice exports to China make up over 50
percent of total rice exports, but while they are
legal from Myanmars perspective the exports
are illegal from Beijings point of view as
there is no bilateral agreement on health
standards. Yet its border officials had
generally allowed the trade until a crackdown
on illegal imports began last month.Chinese
buyers had paid higherthanmarket rates
particularly over the past few months, even as
negotiations have begun on the Sanitary and
PhyoSanitary (SPS) health agreement that
would allow legal Myanmar rice exports to
China to begin.
Closing the border to Myanmar rice has led to
significant problems for rice exporters,
causing prices to drop ahead of the harvest,
said U Thein Aung, chair of the Myanmar
Freedom Farmer League.We were expecting
quite a good price for exports from this years
harvests. But [if the closure continues],
farmers will be stuck with all the rice they
have grown, and exports will be terrible, he
said.Rice prices have increased significantly
for local farmers over the past two years,
driven partly by the surge in Chinese demand.
A World Bank report from earlier this year
said there was negligible overland rice trade to
China in 201011, while it constituted
752,000 tonnes by 201213.China has also
significantly increased prices for rice, paying
about US$436 a tonne in 2013, compared with
$381 a tonne in 2012 and $316 a tonne in
2011. Prices for 2014 were understood to be
higher still, until the recent border
crackdown.Traders told The Myanmar Times
in August that exports could increase further
this year as Chinese buyers looked to diversify
away from Vietnamese imports.Spurred by the
expected increase in demand, farmers have
been expanding the areas under cultivation
and spending more on inputs such as fertiliser,
said U Thein Aung.
We worry that if paddy prices drop, prices
will be below the breakeven point, he said.U
Lu Maw Myint Maung, joint secretary of the
Myanmar Rice Federation and a leading
exporter, said he expects the paddy price to
continue falling.Exporters have already
begun decreasing the amount of rice they are
buying to ship to the Chinese market. If this
trend continues, exporters wont buy a lot of
rice for the harvest season and it can lead to
further loses for farmers, he said. I dont
think paddy will be more than K3000 a basket
if this trend continues.Rice exports to Europe
have also decreased slightly since August,
though not on the level seen by China.Overall,
U Lu Maw Myint Maung said Myanmars
current level of production is geared toward
exporting about 100,000 tonnes a month, and
if volumes drop below that, rice prices will
also decline.
He added that Myanmar had been exporting
up to 3500 tonnes of rice a day to China, but
shipments now total less than 20 tonnes a day
through the Muse border gate in northern Shan
State.Myanmar traders are not sending their
rice through Muse because they are worried it
will be confiscated, and Chinese traders are
not coming to Muse to buy Myanmar rice as
they were doing before, he said.In
Myanmar, the local price for rice harvests is
already decreasing as a result.
Image:Current prices mean tough work for
increasingly little reward. Photo: Kaung Htet
Nagpur Foodgrain Prices
Open- Oct 20
Mon Oct 20, 2014 3:31pm IST
Nagpur, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Gram prices in
Nagpur Agriculture Produce and Marketing
Committee
(APMC) moved down on poor buying
support from local millers amid increased
supply from producing
regions. Fresh fall on NCDEX, high
moisture content arrival and easy condition
in Madhya Pradesh
gram prices also affected sentiment,
according to sources.

* * * *

FOODGRAINS & PULSES
GRAM
* Gram varieties reported strong in open
market on good Diwali festival demand
from
local traders amid tight supply from
producing regions.

TUAR
* Tuar varieties zoomed up again in open
market on good festival season demand from
local traders. Reports about weak
overseas arrival also boosted prices.

* Masoor varieties recovered in open
market on good seasonal demand from local
traders amid tight supply from producing
belts.

* In Akola, Tuar - 4,600-4,700, Tuar dal -
7,100-7,400, Udid at 7,000-7,200,
Udid Mogar (clean) - 7,800-8,100,
Moong - 6,900-7,300, Moong Mogar
(clean) 8,300-9,000, Gram - 2,600-2,800,
Gram Super best bold - 3,600-3,900
for 100 kg.

* Other varieties of wheat, rice and other
commodities remained steady in open
market
in thin trading activity, according to
sources.

Nagpur foodgrains APMC auction/open-
market prices in rupees for 100 kg

FOODGRAINS Available
prices Previous close
Gram Auction 2,400-3,030
2,490-3,070
Gram Pink Auction n.a.
2,100-2,600
Tuar Auction n.a.
3,950-4,200
Moong Auction n.a.
5,200-5,500
Udid Auction n.a. 4,300-
4,500
Masoor Auction n.a.
2,600-2,800
Gram Super Best Bold 3,850-
4,200 3,700-4,100
Gram Super Best n.a.
Gram Medium Best 3,650-3,750
3,550-3,650
Gram Dal Medium n.a. n.a.
Gram Mill Quality 3,450-3,550
3,300-3,350
Desi gram Raw 2,850-2,900
2,700-2,800
Gram Filter new 3,200-3,600
3,100-3,500
Gram Kabuli 8,500-9,800
8,500-9,800
Gram Pink 7,200-7,400
7,200-7,400
Tuar Fataka Best 7,400-7,600
7,250-7,450
Tuar Fataka Medium 7,150-7,250
7,000-7,100
Tuar Dal Best Phod 7,100-7,200
6,700-6,900
Tuar Dal Medium phod 6,800-
7,000 6,600-6,800
Tuar Gavarani 5,050-5,100
4,850-4,900
Tuar Karnataka 5,500-5,600
5,300-5,400
Tuar Black 8,300-8,600
8,100-8,400
Masoor dal best 6,700-6,800
6,600-6,700
Masoor dal medium 6,500-6,600
6,400-6,500
Masoor n.a. n.a.
Moong Mogar bold 9,000-9,800
9,000-9,800
Moong Mogar Medium best 8,200-
8,600 8,200-8,600
Moong dal super best 7,800-8,200
7,800-8,200
Moong dal Chilka 7,500-7,700
7,500-7,700
Moong Mill quality n.a.
n.a.
Moong Chamki best 7,000-8,500
7,000-8,500
Udid Mogar Super best (100 INR/KG)
8,000-8,200 8,000-8,200
Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG)
6,900-7,500 6,900-7,500
Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG)
6,200-6,700 6,200-6,700
Batri dal (100 INR/KG) 4,000-4,800
4,000-4,800
Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg) 2,900-
3,100 2,900-3,100
Watana Dal (100 INR/KG) 3,200-
3,400 3,200-3,400
Watana White (100 INR/KG) 3,250-
3,350 3,250-3,350
Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG)
4,400-5,200 4,400-5,200
Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG) 1,200-
1,500 1,200-1,500
Wheat Mill quality(100 INR/KG)
1,700-1,750 1,700-1,750
Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG) 1,300-
1,500 1,300-1,500
Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG)
2,100-2,450 2,100-2,450
Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG)
1,850-2,000 1,850-2,000
Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG) n.a.
n.a.
MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG) 2,800-
3,200 2,800-3,200
MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG)
1,950-2,350 1,950-2,350
Wheat 147 (100 INR/KG) 1,200-
1,300 1,200-1,300
Wheat Best (100 INR/KG) 1,500-
1,800 1,500-1,800
Rice BPT new (100 INR/KG) 3,000-
3,500 3,000-3,500
Rice Parmal (100 INR/KG) 1,700-
1,900 1,700-1,900
Rice Swarna new (100 INR/KG)
2,300-2,600 2,300-2,600
Rice HMT new (100 INR/KG)
4,000-4,400 4,000-4,400
Rice HMT Shriram (100 INR/KG)
4,800-5,800 4,800-5,800
Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG)
10,200-13,300 10,200-13,300
Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG)
7,200-9,800 7,200-9,800
Rice Chinnor (100 INR/KG) 5,200-
5,700 5,200-5,700
Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG)
1,300-1,500 1,400-1,600
Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG) 1,700-
1,800 1,700-1,800

WEATHER (NAGPUR)
Maximum temp. 34.9 degree Celsius (94.3
degree Fahrenheit), minimum temp.
20.3 degree Celsius (68.5 degree Fahrenheit)
Humidity: Highest - n.a., lowest - n.a.
Rainfall : 0.0 mm
FORECAST: Mainly clear sky. Maximum
and minimum temperature would be around
and 35 and 21 degree
Celsius respectively.

Note: n.a.--not available

(For oils, transport costs are excluded from
plant delivery prices, but included in market
prices.)

India's total rice output
unlikely to fall below 100 mt
New Delhi, Oct 20 (PTI) The country's
overall rice production is unlikely to slip
below the level of 100 million tonnes this
year despite some impact on the kharif crop
in few states due to rains following 'Hudhud'
cyclone, a top government official said.Rice
production stood at a record 106.54 million
tonnes in the 2013-14 crop year (July-June).
The government is aiming to achieve 106
million tonnes this year. Currently, the
kharif (summer) rice is ready for harvest.

Michael Koch] Why
Korea, and the world,
must protect crop diversity
Published : 2014-10-19 20:46
Updated : 2014-10-19 20:46
With Pyeongchang currently hosting the
12th meeting of the Conference of the
Parties to the Convention on Biological
Diversity, Michael Koch, director of finance
at the Global Crop Diversity Trust, explains
why we need to act now to ensure future
generations will be able to feed themselves.
Speaking at the opening of the regular
session of the 12th meeting of the
Conference of the Parties to the Convention
on Biological Diversity, which is taking
place at the Alpensia Convention Center in
Pyeongchang, Environment Minister Yoon
Seong-kyu pledged that South Korea would
take the initiative in upgrading the value
and preservation of biodiversity. This
pledge is immensely important, not just for
South Korea, but for the world. Yet, it has
received little attention, even here in the host
nation.
Why is that? Why is the preservation of
biodiversity not much higher on national
agendas? Whilst the global challenges posed
by climate change are issues that most
people are familiar with, biodiversity and its
importance for our future is much less
understood. Worldwide, we rely on a
relatively small number of crops to feed the
human race only about 150 crops, and a
relatively small number of varieties of each
of these crops, are cultivated on a large
scale. The risks of relying on such a narrow
base are enormous, and could have a
disastrous impact on world food supplies.
However, there are approximately 7,000
crop species in existence, and 80,000 edible
plant species, each of which exists in a vast
range of varieties. For instance, South Korea
has 26,906 varieties of rice in its national
genebank. These varieties have developed as
a result of variations in regional growing
conditions and the intervention of farmers
over millennia to meet specific conditions or
needs. So from a pragmatic perspective,
biodiversitys significance is obvious. Its
preservation will ensure we can continue to
feed our children, and our childrens
children, in an increasingly crowded and
inhospitable world.
It is this diversity that enables the same crop
to be grown in very different habitats, and
for different markets, and crucially provides
us with the raw materials to breed new
varieties to adapt to changing conditions. If
we lose that diversity, we lose the tools that
we need to develop that crop potentially
posing a threat to its continued existence. Do
we really want to do without rice?
Worryingly, diversity is already declining.
In order to stem the tide we need to put in
place a rational and cost-effective system for
its conservation, underpinning the worlds
future food supplies.
The Global Crop Diversity Trust is the only
worldwide response to this issue. Founded
by the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations and Biodiversity
International on behalf of CGIAR (formerly
the Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research) 10 years ago, the
Crop Trust is an international organization
working to guarantee the conservation of
crop diversity, forever. It does so in support
of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic
Resources for Food and Agriculture of 2001,
which 132 countries have signed, including
the Republic of Korea.
Working in partnership with agricultural
research centers around the world, we are
spearheading the conservation of crop
diversity in genebanks. To give an
indication of the breadth of this diversity,
the collection of rice supported by the
Global Crop Diversity Trust at the
International Rice Research Institutes
genebank in the Philippines conserves a
staggering 131,862 varieties. Remember,
South Korea has about 29,000. A lot, but not
as many as it has access to through the
International Rice Research Institute.
There is an economic aspect to this
argument too. The agriculture and food
sector in the Republic of Korea accounts for
2-3 percent of gross national income, and
employs around 4 percent of the countrys
working population. The future of this
sector, including the jobs and businesses it
supports, is equally reliant on crop diversity.
Whilst global in scope, the task at hand is
neither technologically complicated, nor,
considering its importance, expensive. The
varieties of many of the most important
crops can simply be stored at low
temperature as seed in genebanks. However,
funding even for this fairly straightforward
process can be surprisingly difficult to come
by, and many genebanks around the world
have faced cutbacks that have meant the loss
of unique seed varieties.
In response to this, the Crop Trust is raising
an endowment, the interest from which will
guarantee the effective conservation of all
the varieties of key food security crops.
Equally importantly, our work will ensure
that these varieties can be used to develop
new strains to feed future generations.
The Crop Trust has already raised over $180
million from governments, foundations,
companies and individuals around the world.
In order to preserve crop diversity forever,
we are working to increase that sum to $500
million by the time of our international
pledging conference in January 2016. It is in
this way, by contributing to this vital fund to
protect the worlds agriculture forever, that
the government in South Korea, and indeed
those around the world, can take one vital
step in making good on Minister Yoon
Seong-kyus pledge to take the initiative in
preserving biodiversity.
By Michael Koch
Michael Koch is the director of finance at
the Global Crop Diversity Trust) the sole
international organization devoted to
ensuring the conservation and availability of
crop diversity worldwide. Ed.
USA Rice Welcomes Ben
Mosely
Ben Mosely
Right to work
ARLINGTON, VA - The USA Rice
Federation is pleased to welcome Ben
Mosely as the new Vice President of
Government Affairs. Mosely comes to USA
Rice from the U.S. Senate where he was
most recently a senior staff member for the
U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture,
Nutrition, and Forestry. In that role, Ben
advised the Ranking Republican Member,
Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), on
commodity and risk management programs,
including cotton, rice, soybeans, corn,
peanuts and crop insurance.

Mosely was instrumental in getting the 2014
Farm Bill drafted and passed, including
strong advocacy for rice industry
priorities.Prior to his work on the
Agriculture Committee, Ben worked on
agriculture issues for Senator Saxby
Chambliss (R-GA) and served on the
Georgia Soil and Water Conservation
Commission.
"Ben's arrival is perfectly situated: after
passage of the Farm Bill, but during the
crucial implementation stage," said Betsy
Ward, USA Rice's president and CEO.
"Ben's deep understanding of the Farm Bill,
and his strong conservation credentials,
make him a great asset to our organization
and our members. I know they join me in
welcoming Ben."Mosely is a native of
Donalsonville, Georgia and he fully
appreciates the impact federal farm policy
has on rural communities. When not
working on farm policy, Ben enjoys duck
hunting, fishing, and golf.
Toronto Students Hungry for a
Challenge Compete in Contest
TORON
TO,
CANA
DA --
Earlier this
month, the
"Wrap up with
Rice Culinary
Challenge"
featured 12 Toronto high school students
who faced off at the Loblaws Cooking
School at Maple Leaf Gardens. The "Wrap
Up with Rice" event, was part
of feed tomorrow, a week-long series of
events dedicated to raising awareness and
money to help feed Toronto school
children.

Three teams of four students were allotted
one hour to create their rice-based
masterpieces in front of a panel of media
judges, a celebrity chef, members of the
Toronto District School Board, and the
Toronto Foundation for Student Success
(TFSS).

Students began preparing for the
competition in September at the twelve
Toronto high schools offering a Culinary
Arts and Tourism program. The students
were asked to create an original rice recipe
with ingredients that could be found at a

Thistletown Knows Rice!
local grocery store. Rice was stressed as a
food staple in the competition due to its
affordability, practicality, and cultural
relevance.

Following intense deliberations, the judges
ranked the recipes as follows:

1
st
place : Jacked up Jerk created by
Thistletown Collegiate Institute
2
nd
place: Crispy Sushi Pancake with Asian-
Style Salad by Western Tech Collegiate
Institute
3
rd
place: The Rain Forest Spicy Garlic
Shrimp with Coconut Rice by Heydon Park
Secondary School

Contact: Sarah Moran (703) 236-1457

Crop Progress: 2014 Crop 91
Percent Harvested
WASHINGTON, DC -- Ninety-one percent of the
nation's 2014 rice acreage has been harvested,
according to today's U.S. Department of
Agriculture's Crop Progress Report.
Rice Harvested, Selected States
Week Ending
State
October
19, 2013
October
12, 2014
October
19, 2014
2009-
2013
average
Percent
Arkansas 82 85 91 87
California 87 59 85 62
Louisiana 100 100 100 99
Mississippi 93 87 89 91
Missouri 78 69 78 84
Texas 100 100 100 100
Six States 87 82 91 85


CME Group/Closing Rough
Rice Futures
CME Group (Preliminary): Closing Rough Rice
Futures for October 20.

Month Price Net Change
November 2014 $12.500 - $0.045
January 2015 $12.650 - $0.065
March 2015 $12.915 - $0.065
May 2015 $13.110 - $0.065
July 2015 $13.290 - $0.065
September 2015 $12.655 - $0.065
November 2015 $12.630 - $0.065

Japan's 'sacred' rice
farms rotting from
inside

Oct 19, 2014 by Harumi Ozawa
Rice farmer Shuichi Yokota checks the
growth conditions of his rice with a
smartphone in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki
prefecture, on August 17, 2014
Shuichi
Yokota
may be the
future of
Japan's
struggling
rice
industry.Th
e 38-year-
old is about
half the age
of most
growers
and he
relies on
cutting-edge technology to cultivate vast
paddy fields that eclipse the bulk of the
country's rice plots.And Yokota doesn't fear
opening up to foreign competitiontaboo in
a place where rice is a sacred cow that is
protected by subsidies and massive tariffs.
His farm in Ryugasaki, a community north
of Tokyo, has ballooned more than five-fold
in 15 years into an operation spanning 112
hectares (275 acres)almost 30 times
bigger than the tiny commercial rice fields
commonly found in the area."This is simply
the consequence of retiring farmers asking
me to cultivate their rice paddies for them,"
Yokota said. "I am one of very few full-time
farmers in this area, and the people who
were retiring didn't have anyone in the
family to continue growing rice. But they
don't want to sell the land.
"While many of Japan's farmers get by with
centuries-old farming methods, Yokota and
his colleagues share workload information
and data such as temperature and water
levelsmonitored by sensors installed in
each paddyon their smartphones.Yokota
may be an accidental giant among rice
growers, but some are betting that people
like him are the best hope for fixing an
inefficient system, with wider calls for a
shake up of Japan's cossetted agricultural
sector.
Prices have tumbled as Japan's rice
consumption has halved in 50 years, and
there are fears the sector is rotting from the
inside despiteor some say, because of
decades-old protectionism.Ageing farmers
are also facing fresh competition, with the
country's largest supermarket chain Aeon
jumping into the rice business."The situation
is extremely seriousthis is the dawn of a
very difficult time," said Yoshito Yamada, a
66-year-old farmer in the northeastern city
of Kitakata.Rice farmer Shuichi Yokota
checks the growth conditions of his rice with
a smartphone in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki
prefecture, on August 17, 2014
Rice reverence
Whether it is a bed for a piece of raw fish,
an essential component of almost every
meal, or the key ingredient in making sake,
rice is Japan's unparallelled staple food and
enjoys a revered status.Hundreds of years
ago it was a currency, a symbol of wealth
and power, and a ritual offering that still
forms a key part of the native Shinto
religion, as well as tradition-bound Sumo
wrestling."Nothing gets done here without
rice," said Sachiko Goto, head of the Tokyo
Sushi Academy, a chef-training school.
That reverence has translated into strong
protections for tiny plots tended by families
who inherited land through generations
resulting in a hefty premium in stores.Tokyo
has for decades stabilised prices by
controlling supply and penalising over-
production to protect farmersa key voter
basefrom volatile world markets,This
policy, known as "gentan" and referring to
small-scale cultivation, effectively made rice
farming a part-time job left to older relatives
while younger family members worked in
other sectors.But, as with much of the
greying nation, many farmers are now
retiringthe average is about 66 years
oldwith few interested in replacing them.
That has left some 400,000 hectares of
farmland unused across the country, an area
almost twice the size of Tokyo."What needs
to be done is encourage older farmers to
retire and then gather small pieces of land
into one big lot for someone capable like
Yokota," said Masayoshi Honma, an
economics professor at Tokyo University.It
is estimated that ditching rice tariffswhich
can reach 778 percentwould see local
prices fall by about 341 yen ($3.20) per
kilogram, according to Japan's agricultural
ministry.An average five-kilogram (11-lb)
bag in a Tokyo supermarket costs between
1,500-2,000 yen, up to three times a
comparable bag in Sydney, Bangkok and
Beijing.Rice farmer Shuichi Yokota checks
the growth conditions of his rice with a
smartphone in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki
prefecture, on August 17, 2014
Overseas markets
Despite resistance to change by the powerful
agricultural lobby, some older rice farmers
such as Yamada blame the subsidy system
for a now stagnant sector.Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe last year said he would end
production quotas from 2018 and abolish
some cash handouts to rice farmers while
expanding other paymentsleading to
claims the policy was toothless.Despite his
plan to shake up the economy, Abe has
avoided taking an axe to rice tariffs that
have long been seen as untouchable.
The levies have kept imports of foreign rice
to a trickle77 tons last year against
domestic production of eight millionand
they remain a key stumbling block in
Tokyo's trade talks, including the US-led
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed
12-nation free-trade bloc.Despite fears the
industry would crumble if it has to compete
globally, Yokota insists competition might
be an opportunity to tap new markets."If our
supply exceeds domestic consumption, then
we will bring it overseasthe TPP wouldn't
be a threat in that sense," he said. Explore
further: The effects of growing rice in low
water and high salt conditions
Nigeria's New Rice Policy
Attracts U.S.$1.6 Billion
Private Sector Investments

By Chibuzor Emejor
Abuja Team Leader, Rice Value Chain of
the Agricultural Transformation Agenda
(ATA), Dr. Olumuyiwa Osiname, has said
the new rice policy introduced by the
present administration in Nigeria has
attracted $1.6 billion of private sector
investments in the last three years.Making a
presentation at a symposium to mark 2014
World Food Day in Abuja, Osianame
assured that Nigeria would become a net
exporter of rice within the next four
years.He noted that the number of integrated
mills in the country has grown from just one
in 2011 to 20 by 2014.
He expressed optimism that the 10
integrated rice mills recently approved by
the Federal Executive Council would
complement the existing mills in coping
with rapidly expanding production of paddy
rice across the country.He stated that the
biggest impact of this new paradigm in rice
production is the opening up of direct access
of small scale farmers to inputs such as
improved seeds, fertilizers and farm
machinery as well as direct participation of
the private sector in agricultural businesses.
He observed that the effect of new policy
has resulted in the availability of seeds of
improved rice varieties released directly to
farmers, adding that milled rice from the
paddy is competitive with imported rice in
both market and culinary qualities.Speaking
on the investment opportunities that abound
in the rice sub-sector, Osiname said the by-
products from the rice mills were of
commercial opportunities for Small and
Medium Enterprises [SMEs] in the areas of
energy, oil extraction and animal feeds.

On the steps taken by the government to
protect locally produced rice from undue
influx of foreign rice by smugglers, he
explained that an Inter-ministerial
Committee has been established to control
indiscriminate import of both paddy and
brown rice into the country.He pointed out
that prospective importers would be allowed
to import rice only on quota basis after a
review of their backward integration
programme.While commenting on the
success of the introduction of dry season
paddy rice scheme, he said it accounted for
about 50 per cent of the total additional
paddy production by ATA.

He further explained that the dry season rice
farming has taken advantage of the irrigation
facilities and Fadamas that are available in
the country, particularly in the northern parts
of the country.Osiname said the dry season
farming has ensured regular supply of paddy
rice all year round as well as provided jobs
for Nigerians during the otherwise slack
period of the year

Korgutt rice gets
national ID
Panaji: Goa's hardy red kernel variety,
korgutt, is now up among the country's elite
rice varieties, after being approved recently
by the National Bureau of Plant Genetic
Resources, New Delhi, for its tolerance to
salinity stress at seedling stage.The
traditional rice land race from the state has
been accorded due recognition as a unique
germplasm by the bureau after the Old Goa-
based Indian Council of Agricultural
Research (ICAR) applied for registration
following over four years of research in the
field.
"Korgutt as been granted national identity
number INGR14055 for record purposes as
well as conservation for future use," said
Manohara K K, scientist in genetics and
plant breeding, ICAR, Goa.After the
delicious, pulpy Cardozo Mancurad variety
growing on a tree in the Cardozo family
compound in Mapusa was registered by the
bureau in August 2011, korgutt has become
the second crop variety to be granted
national recognition and the first in rice
from Goa.
While updating its website recently, the
bureau showed a description pertaining to
the registration: 'Landrace (Korgut) from
Farmer's field, Chorao Island, Tiswadi
Taluka, North Goa' (sic).
The salt-resistant variety has been added to
the list of unique land races from other parts
of the country. Some of them are
submergence-tolerant, high-yielding and
short duration varieties.The ICAR scientist
had first evaluated korgutt under natural
coastal salinity conditions at Chorao island
in a farmer's field for four years. "The
evaluation over the years for its yield and
contributing characters proved that korgutt
can adapt to highly saline conditions in
coastal areas," said Manohara.Later, three
scientists from the Central Rice Research
InstituteKrishnendu Chattopadhyay,
Bishnu Charan Marndi and Onkar Nath
Singhcarried out research under artificial
conditions at their institute campus in
Cuttack.
"Here too they found korgutt is 100%
tolerant to salinity, as it could withstand
salinity up to 12dS/m (deciSiemens per
metre) at seedling stage," said Narendra
Pratap Singh, director, ICAR, Goa.Farmers
have been growing korgutt in the inter-tidal
mud flats and khazan lands for decades, but
of late the production has shown a decline.
The national identity, it is believed, will help
popularize korgutt across the country. "The
seeds of korgut will be made available to
researchers involved in the development of
high-yielding, salt-tolerant rice varieties for
coastal saline soils," said Singh.With rising
sea levels posing a challenge to growing
food in low-lying areas, climate-smart crops,
such as korgutt, are likely to be preferred by
farmers.

Chinas GMO Stockpile
With its world-leading research investments
and vast size, China will dominate the future
of genetically modified fooddespite the
resistance of its population.
By David Talbot on October 21, 2014
Rice (Oryza sativa) is a staple crop for half
of the worlds population, but it can
accumulate high levels of arsenic. When
consumed over time, arsenic can lead to
cancer and skin lesions. But the plant has its
own mechanisms for fighting arsenic
accumulation, according to a paper
published today (October 20) in PNAS.
Researchers based in Korea and Japan have
shown that a rice transporter protein called
OsABCC1 prevents arsenic from damaging
plant tissues by sequestering the element in
vacuoles.
Because of this, potentially harmful arsenic
remains in these cellular waste containers
rather than building up in rice grains.What
they have shown in this paper is really quite
impressive, said Andy Meharg, chair of
plant and soil science at Queens University
Belfast in the U.K. The difference between
having these ABC transporters and not
having them is very, very large.The
researchers now hope to find rice plants that
express high levels of OsABCC1 or to
genetically engineer rice to overexpress the
transporter.
This strategy offers one of the simplest and
most cost-effective approaches to solving
the problem of arsenic contamination of rice
and rice-based products, Mary Lou
Guerinot, who studies metal transport at
Dartmouth College, wrote in an e-mail to
The Scientist.Rice accumulates arsenic both
because of its growing conditions and
biology. The crop is often grown in flooded
rice paddy fields, where arsenic becomes
arsenite, a compound that bears a strong
chemical resemblance to silicic acid. The
rice plants take up the silicic acid through
transporters in their roots. Silicon makes rice
plants stiff and sharp, allowing them to
remain upright in damp conditions and to
ward off pests.
But while rice is getting its needed dose of
silicon, its accidentally drinking up
arsenite. Arsenic is also found as arsenate,
which mimics the key nutrient
phosphate.Arsenic toxicity is particularly
problematic in areas of Southeast Asia
where people drink arsenic-contaminated
water and eat rice as a staple of their diets.
Sometimes, they grow and cook their rice in
the same arsenic-rich water they drink.
The risk is related to the concentration in
rice that they have, and also the water they
are drinking, and the amount of rice that
[they] eat, said Steve McGrath, a
biogeochemist at Rothamsted Research in
Harpenden, U.K., who was not involved in
the study.Arsenic toxicity also poses a
problem for rice; among other things, it can
significantly stunt plant growth.The
researchers opted to examine the role of
OsABCC1 in rice because of previous
research led by coauthor Won-Yong Song of
Pohang University of Science and
Technology, whose team found that related
transporters sequesters arsenic in the model
plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
Song and his colleagues have now found
that OsABCC1 is found in the lipid
membrane surrounding vacuoles, called the
tonoplast, in rice cells. When the researchers
knocked out OsABCC1, the rice grew poorly
in the presence of arsenic compared to wild-
type plants. Furthermore, while only 3.4
percent of arsenic found in total in the rice
plants ended up in rice grains in wild-type
rice, 20 percent to 24 percent made it to the
rice grains in plants when OsABCC1 was
knocked out.
The next step is to determine whether
increased OsABCC1 expression can reduce
arsenic levels in rice below their current
levels in major cultivars. The key now is to
find rice or make rice through GMO
[genetically modified organism] techniques
that are suited to storing arsenic in the
vacuoles, said Meharg.Study coauthor Jian
Feng Ma, a professor at the Institute of Plant
Science and Resources at Okayama
University in Japan, said that his team plans
to proceed on all fronts.
He and his colleagues will attempt to use a
strong promoter to overexpress OsABCC1,
and they will also look at how expression
levels of the transporter vary naturally
between rice cultivars. If they find a cultivar
that expresses high levels of the transporter
and sequesters extra arsenic, they then may
be able to breed that cultivar with more
mainstream varieties.Finally, Mas team
continues to look for other transporters that
either help bring arsenic to the rice grain or
sequester it. Maybe there are a lot of
transporters for arsenic in different cells, he
said. If you combine all of them, maybe
you can get an arsenic-free rice.
W. Song et al., A rice ABC transporter, OsABCC1,
reduces arsenic accumulation in the grain, PNAS,
doi:10.1073/pnas.1414968111, 2014.
Tags.transporter protein, rice , Plant breeding, genetic
modification, arsenic and Arabidopsis
It is a hot, smoggy July weekend in Beijing,
and the gates to the Forbidden City are
thronged with tens of thousands of sweat-
drenched tourists. Few make the trek to the
citys east side and its more tranquil China
Agricultural Museum, where several formal
buildings are set amid sparkling ponds
ringed by lotus plants in full pink bloom.
The site, which is attached to the Ministry of
Agriculture, promises that it will acquaint
visitors with the brilliant agricultural history
of Chinabut whats missing from the
official presentation is as telling as whats
on display.
At least 9,000 years ago, people living in
China were the first to cultivate rice,
developing elaborate irrigation systems.
Today, rice is the nations (and half the
worlds) most important crop. Some 2,500
years ago, the Chinese also invented the first
really efficient iron ploughshares, called
kuan, with a curved V shape that efficiently
turned hard soil. These millennia-old
innovations are matched by those of the past
century.
A display honors Yuan Longping, Chinas
revered father of hybrid rice, who in the
mid-1960s posited that if he could find
male-sterile rice plantsones unable to self-
pollinatehe could create hybrid strains
reliably and at large scale. (In general,
hybrids are more vigorous and higher-
yielding than the parent varieties.) He later
found such plants and, together with other
researchers, created a process to make high-
yielding hybrids year after year,
revolutionizing rice production.
But the exhibits dont mention the vast
suffering wrought by Chinese agricultural
failure. Yuan himself lived through
Chairman Mao Zedongs Great Leap
Forward of 19581961, which triggered a
collapse in food production and distribution
by banning private farming in favor of vast
collective farms. As many as 45 million
people died, most by starvation. The
museum also says nothing about the most
fought-over product of modern-day
agricultural technology: genetically
modified organisms, or GMOs.
Yes, theres a 1990s-era gene gun, which
used high-pressure gas to blast DNA-coated
particles into plant cells to create early
transgenic crops. And theres a stalk
representing the big GMO success story that
used this approach: Bt cotton, a pest-
resistant variety that has been planted widely
in China for 15 years, greatly increasing
production while slashing pesticide use.
(The plant, which incorporates DNA from a
soil bacterium thats harmful to insects,
makes up 90 percent of the cotton crop and
by one estimate produces a $1 billion annual
economic gain for farmers.) But the story
seems to end more than a decade ago.
Chinas ruling Communist Party faces rising
popular opposition to GMOs. As in any
other nation, there are a variety of views
within China about whether its safe to eat
food made with genetically engineered
ingredients. But Chinese citizens have lately
witnessed a number of major food safety
scandals, including a 2008 disaster in which
melamine-tainted milk products killed six
babies or toddlers, sending 54,000 more to
the hospital, and a 2010 revelation that some
cooking oil sold to consumers had been
recovered from drains and probably
contained carcinogens.
Against this backdrop, otherwise
implausible-sounding claims from a vocal
minority of GMO critics (such as an
assertion that GMO soybean oil was
associated with a higher incidence of
tumors) gain traction in the countrys social
media, which many Chinese favor over
official state media as a source of news. The
Chinese press and social media lit up when,
in 2012, Greenpeace released a scary-
sounding report on a research project that
involved feeding children golden rice,
which is engineered to produce beta-
carotene and thus make up for vitamin A
deficiencies. (It turned out that the parents
were not told the rice was genetically
modified; China fired three researchers
involved.)
Maos Great Leap Forward triggered a
collapse in food production by banning
private farming in favor of vast collective
farms. As many as 45 million people died.
Recent informal opinion surveys in Chinese
social media suggest that large majorities
believe GMOs are harmful, and scientific
surveys also indicate that opposition is
significant. An academic survey this year
found that roughly one-third of respondents
opposed GMOs outright and another 39
percent worried about thema stark
difference from earlier government surveys.
Such opposition is often tinged with
nationalism.
With growing quantities of GM corn and
soybeans being imported to Chinalargely
for animal feed but also for processing into
food ingredients such as oilthe notion is
spreading through social media that
Americans are trying to poison Chinese
consumers, or at least foisting on them the
GMOs that they refuse to eat themselves
(although in fact, most processed food
Americans eat contains genetically modified
ingredients).
A Chinese general decreed earlier this year
that no GMO ingredients, not even a little
oil, should be allowed in soldiers food. So
for now, anyway, the government is holding
back on approving new GMOs for food
crops. Today no genetically modified food
(with the exception of a virus-resistant
papaya) is grown in China, even for animal
feed. The Ministry of Agriculture issued its
last significant safety approvals five years
agofor a pest-resistant rice developed in
China and a variety of corn whose
phosphorus content is more digestible to
pigs, enhancing growth and reducing
subsequent pollutionbut never gave the
okay for actual planting.
The safety certificates expired in August. A
recent endorsement of GMOs by the aging
Yuan Longping himself has done little to
move the policy or change public opinion.
Ji-kun Huang, director of the Center for
Chinese Agricultural Policy, says, The
technology is ready, but politically, its
sensitive. Commercialization will be a long
way off. Rice is a staple food, and public
concern about safety is serious.



Yet despite the uncertainties, research on
GMO crops continues. By one count
published in Nature Biotechnology, 378
Chinese groups employing thousands of
scientists are engaged in this work. The
government will have spent some $4 billion
on GMOs by 2020. Researchers are using
the latest modification technologies and
drawing from high-throughput genomic
analysis of thousands of crop strains,
accelerating the pace of discovery.
Cautious though they are of arousing public
opposition, Chinese leaders are well aware
that their country will need a lot more food.
Growing it will require new agricultural
tricks. The worlds most populous nation,
China has more than 1.3 billion inhabitants,
a number expected to rise to almost 1.4
billion by 2030.
Meanwhile, accelerating climate change will
pose great challenges for farmers, bringing
deeper droughts, more flooding, and hotter
heat waves (see Why We Will Need
Genetically Modified Foods,
January/February 2014). Although crop
yields in China tripled from the 1960s
through the 1990s, thanks to hybrid varieties
and generous spraying of pesticides, those
gains slowed significantly 15 years ago.
Since then, yields have flattened. To make
matters worse, rapid industrialization is
eating into the supply of arable land. Finally,
the population will be getting not just larger
but richer; rising GDP means more demand
for meat, putting huge pressure on crops.
Demand for imported corn alone is expected
to surge from about five million tons this
year to more than 20 million tons in just 10
years. Much of that crop is expected to feed
animals ultimately headed for Chinese
slaughterhouses.
In anticipation, the nation is building a
storehouse of genetically modified crop
strains for future use. China sees this as a
way of protecting its long-term security.
In fact, the country is the worlds top public
spender on genomics and genetic
modification of crops, says Scott Rozelle, a
China scholar and food security expert at the
Freeman Spogli Institute for International
Studies at Stanford University. Certainly
we [the United States] arent doing much
and the big multinationals arent doing much
right now in terms of spending on plant
biotech research, Rozelle says. And yet
China continues to do it. So far China has
been able to feed itself, so there is no
impetus to deploy this new technology, he
adds. Yet they continue to pour money into
it. Are they doing it for the love of science?
They are putting away for a rainy dayor a
non-rainy one. And when that day comes, I
think they will have more GM technologies
than anyone.
The government keeps current food prices
low by investing in irrigation and
subsidizing farmers, and it keeps meat on
the table thanks at least in part to imported
corn and soybeans. China became a net food
importer in 2008 and the worlds top food
importer four years later; it now imports
about 5 percent of its food. This makes
Chinas stance on GMO food crops critical
for the entire global market; if China green-
lights GMOs, many other countries that
export to China may accept them too.
Meanwhile, the rising use of imports puts
pressure on China to do more to feed its own
people, and that helps drive internal research
on GMOs. Imports are a very important
issue for food security, says Dafang Huang,
chief scientist of the Biotech Research
Institute at the China Academy of
Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, which is
collaborating on a vast array of agricultural
genome sequencing and GMO efforts. I
think the high-level officials are very
concerned. We have to use the new
technology. We have to develop the GMO.
Rice Editor
Exuberant and prone to charming bursts of
laughter, Caixia Gao embodies the
optimistic, energetic present of GMO
research in China. Wearing a gray T-shirt
emblazoned with Just Do It in large pink
letters, she leads a tour of her greenhouses at
the State Key Lab of Plant Cell and
Chromosome Engineering at the Institute of
Genetics and Developmental Biology, part
of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in
Beijing. Shes one of the worlds leaders in
using sophisticated gene-editing
technologies, including those known as
TALENs and CRISPR.
The earlier gene guns were analogous to
shotguns: they could not precisely control
where they inserted DNA into a plant cell.
The process was, quite literally, hit or miss.
The new methods, by contrast, insert
molecules that can cut specific sequences of
DNA. This makes it possible to delete or
add a gene at any desired spot on the
genome, or even to change just a few
nucleotides, something unthinkable with
older methods. Since the new tools make
their changes without relying on genes taken
from other species such soil bacteria, they
could also answer some of the objections
leveled against transgenic crops.
Gao is at the vanguard of genetic
engineering in rice. As she strides through a
humid greenhouse filled with test trays of
rice plants (the air feels cleaner here
though anything would be better than the
heavy smog outdoors), she explains that
each has had one or more of its genes
knocked out using the new editing tools.
On one shelf sits a strain that grows
straighter; more plants can fit in a given
area. On another, she shows off one with a
desirable fragrance: It smells good and
tastes goodfor quality. These features
could help the market accept future strains
engineered for traits such as disease
resistance. Finally, she arrives at a tray of
rice plants half as tall as the surrounding
ones. Their small stature resulted from
editing out a single gene; while the
implications arent yet clear, the hope is that
less of the plants energy is going into
making leaves and more into making the
edible seeds. That would permit higher
yields.
Large-scale field trials are going on all over
the country, but public data is scant.
Scientists feel they must hide the locations
of the trials. They have reason to worry.
Gaos trays are part of a massive nationwide
enterprise. In 2002, Chinese scientists were
among the first to sequence a rice genome;
this year they released the sequences of
3,000 varieties as part of a continuing effort
with the International Rice Research
Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and the
Beijing Genomics Institute to develop a crop
known as green super rice (GSR). BGI has
been using high-throughput technology to
systematically compare these strains. The
goal is to identify the genes that might be
important for traits such as yield, flavor, pest
and herbicide resistance, and tolerance to
drought, salt, and immersion. Combined
with the gene-editing tools, this new wealth
of knowledge means that an era of very
rapid and precise GMO development is at
hand.
PHOTO ESSAY: Chinas Growing Bets on
GMOs
Gao and colleagues are doing similar
systematic studies on the next-most-
important crops: corn, wheat, and soybeans.
They recently invented a wheat strain that
resists the second-most-common wheat
disease, powdery mildew. We drove to the
outskirts of Beijing, where behind a row of
industrial buildings, outdoor test plots were
full of new crop varieties made with both
conventional breeding and GMO
technology. The GMOs included a soybean
plant whose beans produce more oil and an
acre or so of rice that can avoid leaf death.
Large-scale field trials are going on all over
the country, but public data is scant. Two to
three hours outside Beijing, a number of test
fields of wheat have recently been
harvested, Dafang Huang says. Work at the
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science
includes planting drought-resistant varieties
of wheat. Other Chinese institutions are
making similar progress on drought-resistant
corn, he adds.
But like many of their colleagues across the
country, the scientists feel that they must
hide the locations of the trials. (They have
reason to worry. Three years ago Australian
Greenpeace activists destroyed a field of
GM wheat plants; last year, activists in the
Philippines destroyed a test plot of golden
rice. Gao and Huang told me they worry that
something similar could happen in China.)
But while there is no central public
repository of field trial data, Huang told me
it was safe to assume that the plantings are
widespreadand productive. You can
imagine that many, many field trials are
going on in the different areas, he says.
Basic research is very open, but for the
field trials, I think the data is very secret.
Researchers sometimes wonder if their work
will ever see the light of day. We can do
researchwe have enough financial
supportbut I dont know if Chinese
scientists can produce the product, Gao
says. At the National Key Laboratory of
Crop Genetic Improvement at Huazhong
Agricultural University in Wuhan, Qifa
Zhang, the labs director, is hard at work on
GSR. He also developed an insect-resistant
Bt rice, which is still barred from
commercialization. But hes reticent when it
comes to talking about GMOs. Inaccurate
quotations of such interviews have done me
more harm than help, he lamented in an e-
mail. I prefer not to talk.
Going It Alone
At the beginning of this year, China released
a policy document stressing the need to
match its world-class basic research with a
more modernized seed industry. The goal: to
consolidate many of the countrys thousands
of seed companies and develop ones more
like Monsanto, linking basic research to
large-scale production of seed. So I was
looking forward to visiting Da Bei Nong
Group, the giant Chinese animal feed and
seed company that is the most valuable
agricultural company in the Chinese market.
I was to visit the DBN Biotech Research
Center in Beijing, headed by Lu Yuping,
former head of Syngentas research unit
there. DBNs projects include herbicide-
tolerant soybeans as well as corn with so-
called stacked traits of herbicide and insect
resistance; the tour was to include a view of
extensive laboratory and field trials.
Then came the indictments.
In early July, just three weeks before my
visit, a federal grand jury in Des Moines,
Iowa, indicted Mo Yun, wife of Da Bei
Nong Groups billionaire chairman, on one
count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets: to
wit, valuable corn seed from test fields in
Iowa and Illinois owned by DuPont Pioneer,
Monsanto, and LG Seeds. Yuns indictment
followed those of six other employees of the
company or its subsidiaries in late 2013.
One was accused of trying to drive across
the border from Vermont to Canada with
containers of kernels stashed under the seats;
others are accused of packing stolen corn
into Ziploc bags and attempting to FedEx
them from Illinois to Hong Kong. All told,
the cost to Pioneer and Monsanto totaled
$500 million, prosecutors allege.
Despite all this, the circumspect, soft-spoken
Lu gamely agreed to meet me for an off-site
interview. Unsurprisingly, he would not
comment on the U.S. indictments, saying the
accusations are unrelated to his unit. But he
says the DBN Biotech Center is using gene-
editing technologies to create male-sterile
rice, hoping to accelerate the sort of research
Yuan pioneered, while it continues the top-
priority research into herbicide tolerance in
corn and soybeans. He stressed that the
company was working on its own varieties,
in part to deal with insect threats that occur
mostly in China. Some pests are China-
specific, and this is our challengewe have
to have new innovations, he says.
While the accusations fit into a larger
narrative of alleged Chinese corporate
espionage, it would be a mistake to assume
that such malfeasance, if its actually
occurring, is a mainstay of Chinas GMO
strategy. Stealing seeds would help avoid a
couple of years of breeding work. But given
the extensive government-funded in-house
work it has to draw upon, DBNs own
biotech R&D may be as productive as that
of multinational seed companies, says Carl
Pray, an economist at Rutgers University
who is a close watcher of the Chinese
agriculture sector. His sense is that DBN is
doing some pretty good research, he says,
adding, I dont think that the research they
are doing really can match the latest
research at Monsanto, DuPont, or Syngenta,
but the technology is probably getting to a
point where it will work fairly well in
China.
In addition, Chinese companies would enjoy
structural and economic advantages. The
example of Bt cotton is instructive. Back in
1997, Monsanto introduced its insect-
resistant cotton to China shortly before
Biocentury Transgene, a startup partly
owned by the Chinese Academy of
Agricultural Sciences, started to
commercialize its own Bt cotton seed, which
it was able to sell for half the price. The
company quickly overtook Monsanto, and
today its seed commands almost the entire
Chinese cotton market. It is not hard to
imagine that China could repeat the feat
with corn, soybeans, and other crops (Qifa
Zhang is working with another major
Chinese seed company, China National
Seed, on rice). China has restricted R&D by
multinational seed companies, leaving the
market wide open to local firms. And since
most of the results would be consumed
within China, those companies wouldnt
have to worry about regulations in the
GMO-skittish European Union or elsewhere.
Yet even promising startupsones
encouraged by the governmentare holding
back on GMOs. A few years ago, Xing
Wang Deng arrived in Beijing to start a lab
at Peking University through Chinas 1,000
Talents Program, which attempts to bring
Chinese-born experts back from abroad. A
native of rural Hunan province, he had
earned a PhD at the University of California,
Berkeley, and wound up running his own lab
at Yale. There, he led basic research into
understanding how plants respond to light
stimuli.
Nobody knows when China will begin
deploying its GMO stockpile. But few doubt
that at some point the government will
decide to plant what it has been developing
in its labs.
Since Deng has extensive experience
identifying the functions of plant genes, hes
in the perfect position to guide research
using next-generation, highly precise genetic
tools to subtly change crop genomes. During
my visit, a brand-new lab space was being
readied on campus; a few miles away stood
new office space for his startup company,
Frontier Laboratories.
But Deng wont include GMOs in his initial
batch of products. Hes trying to develop
hybrid rice and wheat varieties using
chemically induced mutations and molecular
biology techniques such as looking at
genetic markers to aid conventional
breeding. Hes even working on ways to
make crops herbicide-resistant without
adding genes from soil bacteria.
These might yield similar results to genetic
modification, he says. Dengs delicate
dance to avoid the GMO label is a sign of
the social and political climatefor now. It
seems the government is not in a rush, he
says. It probably has more challenging
issues on its hands, so this is not one to deal
with at the moment. The [need for] GMOs is
not rising to [such a] crisis that the
government has to deal with it.
Crises will come. The Chinese government
that wants to avoiding provoking the outrage
of its GMO-wary citizens may at some point
face a broader and even more distressed
constituency: farmers watching crops dying,
and citizens who cant affordor even
findenough food. Temperature increases
and precipitation decreases could slash
Chinas net yields of rice, wheat, and corn
by 13 percent over the next 35 years,
according to an analysis by scientists at
Peking Universitys Center for Climate
Research.
Even an outcome that merely keeps yields
flat would be catastrophic in the face of
population growth and rising demand. If
we have some very serious agricultural
disasters for the government officials, they
have to make decisions to push the
commercialization of GMOs, says Dafang
Huang.
Even if China can increase yields by
improving existing agricultural practices, as
it probably can, Rozelle and other China
watchers expect the country to approve GM
corn at some point; the demand for corn for
animal feed will become too urgent, and
using the crop for animal feed is far less
controversial than growing it for human
consumption. Nobody knows when or to
what extent China will begin deploying its
GMO stockpile to feed its citizens.
But few doubt that at some point, when
costs rise and supply gets tighter, the
government will decide its time to plant
what it has been developing in its labs. And
when that happens, given Chinas centrally
managed economy, farms and families can
be expected to adopt the technology quickly.
Once the official attitude is changed,
everything will be changed very soon, says
Huang. And in the decades to come, if one
of the innumerable GMO strains sprouting
in the labs of Gao and others should help get
the nation through a mega-drought or
pronounced heat wave, that fix might well
seem museum-worthy to future curators of
Chinese agricultural history.
How Rice Overcomes
Arsenic
Researchers have discovered a transporter protein in
rice that sequesters arsenic in vacuoles, preventing the
toxic element from traveling into grains.
By Kate Yandell | October 20, 2014
CHARLES HAYNES, FLICKRRice (Oryza
sativa) is a staple crop for half of the
worlds population, but it can accumulate
high levels of arsenic. When consumed over
time, arsenic can lead to cancer and skin
lesions. But the plant has its own
mechanisms for fighting arsenic
accumulation, according to a paper
published today (October 20) in PNAS.
Researchers based in Korea and Japan have
shown that a rice transporter protein called
OsABCC1 prevents arsenic from damaging
plant tissues by sequestering the element in
vacuoles. Because of this, potentially
harmful arsenic remains in these cellular
waste containers rather than building up in
rice grains.
What they have shown in this paper is
really quite impressive, said Andy Meharg,
chair of plant and soil science at Queens
University Belfast in the U.K. The
difference between having these ABC
transporters and not having them is very,
very large.
The researchers now hope to find rice plants
that express high levels of OsABCC1 or to
genetically engineer rice to overexpress the
transporter. This strategy offers one of the
simplest and most cost-effective approaches
to solving the problem of arsenic
contamination of rice and rice-based
products, Mary Lou Guerinot, who studies
metal transport at Dartmouth College, wrote
in an e-mail to The Scientist.
Rice accumulates arsenic both because of its
growing conditions and biology. The crop is
often grown in flooded rice paddy fields,
where arsenic becomes arsenite, a
compound that bears a strong chemical
resemblance to silicic acid. The rice plants
take up the silicic acid through transporters
in their roots. Silicon makes rice plants stiff
and sharp, allowing them to remain upright
in damp conditions and to ward off pests.
But while rice is getting its needed dose of
silicon, its accidentally drinking up
arsenite. Arsenic is also found as arsenate,
which mimics the key nutrient phosphate.
Arsenic toxicity is particularly problematic
in areas of Southeast Asia where people
drink arsenic-contaminated water and eat
rice as a staple of their diets. Sometimes,
they grow and cook their rice in the same
arsenic-rich water they drink. The risk is
related to the concentration in rice that they
have, and also the water they are drinking,
and the amount of rice that [they] eat, said
Steve McGrath, a biogeochemist at
Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, U.K.,
who was not involved in the study.
Arsenic toxicity also poses a problem for
rice; among other things, it can significantly
stunt plant growth.
The researchers opted to examine the role of
OsABCC1 in rice because of previous
research led by coauthor Won-Yong Song of
Pohang University of Science and
Technology, whose team found that related
transporters sequesters arsenic in the model
plant Arabidopsis thaliana.Song and his
colleagues have now found that OsABCC1 is
found in the lipid membrane surrounding
vacuoles, called the tonoplast, in rice cells.
When the researchers knocked out
OsABCC1, the rice grew poorly in the
presence of arsenic compared to wild-type
plants. Furthermore, while only 3.4 percent
of arsenic found in total in the rice plants
ended up in rice grains in wild-type rice, 20
percent to 24 percent made it to the rice
grains in plants when OsABCC1 was
knocked out.
The next step is to determine whether
increased OsABCC1 expression can reduce
arsenic levels in rice below their current
levels in major cultivars. The key now is to
find rice or make rice through GMO
[genetically modified organism] techniques
that are suited to storing arsenic in the
vacuoles, said Meharg.
Study coauthor Jian Feng Ma, a professor at
the Institute of Plant Science and Resources
at Okayama University in Japan, said that
his team plans to proceed on all fronts. He
and his colleagues will attempt to use a
strong promoter to overexpress OsABCC1,
and they will also look at how expression
levels of the transporter vary naturally
between rice cultivars. If they find a cultivar
that expresses high levels of the transporter
and sequesters extra arsenic, they then may
be able to breed that cultivar with more
mainstream varieties.
Finally, Mas team continues to look for
other transporters that either help bring
arsenic to the rice grain or sequester it.
Maybe there are a lot of transporters for
arsenic in different cells, he said. If you
combine all of them, maybe you can get an
arsenic-free rice.
W. Song et al., A rice ABC transporter,
OsABCC1, reduces arsenic accumulation
in the grain, PNAS,
doi:10.1073/pnas.1414968111, 2014.
Tags:transporter protein, rice , Plant
breeding, genetic modification, arsenic and
Arabidopsis

Vistas of national rice breeding
and the myth of traditional rice
October 20, 2014, 12:00 pm


By Dr Parakrama Waidyanatha
Continued from yesterday
Emergence of new rice varieties (NIVs)

Developing lodging resistant varieties then
became the major challenge for the rice
breeders, but fortunately, a new plant type
created in Taiwan around 1960,
exemplified by Taichung (Native 1) paved
the way. It had short sturdy lodging
resistant stems and short, upright, narrow
leaves which could efficiently capture
sunlight. The International Rice Research
Institute based in the Philippines,
experimenting with the new plant type
developed the variety IR 8. However, both
IR 8 and Taichung Native 1 failed to
perform in Sri Lanka due to several
reasons.

Consequently, a major interdisciplinary rice
improvement programme was launched
with the objective of breeding short statured
lodging resistant and fertilizer responsive
varieties which were also resistant to
diseases. Bacterial leaf blight (BLB) by
then had turned out to be a major disease
both here and elsewhere in Asia. A series of
new improved varieties NIVs) such as Bg
11-11 (4.5 month variety) and Bg 34-6 (3.5
month variety) were released with the
requisite attributes and a yield potential of 7
t/ha replacing H 4 and H 7. Another high
yielding red rice Bg 3-5 replaced H 9. A
major breakthrough was the development
of Bg34-8 with a yield potential of 7 t/ha
which became immensely popular,
replacing the traditional variety
Pachchaperumal with an average yield of
only 2-3 t/ha.

The new varieties had adequate resistance
to BLB, and by 1974 the extent under them
increased to over 55% as against the old
improved varieties (OIVs, the H series)
which were reduced to 24%. Over the
years, more and more NIVs began to
emerge, a major one being BG 94-1, a 3.5
month variety, which was able to replace
even the existing 4 and 4.5 month varieties
because of the higher yield potential and
the ability to cultivate in both Maha and
Yala seasons.
The resulting conservation of water and
field time was notable. The farmer
acceptance of these NIVs continued to
steadily increase replacing both the OIVs
and the traditional varieties., and prompting
breeders to steadily develop more and more
dwarf statured varieties with increasingly
higher yields. Some examples being Bg 90-
2, Bg 94-1 and Bg 94-2 with yield
potentials of 10 t/ha. The outstanding
variety being Bg 94-1, a 3.5 month variety,
which replaced Bg 43-1 as a variety for
both seasons.
Although the NIVs had resistance to leaf
diseases, they were found to be susceptible
to several pests such as brown plant hopper
and gall midge. However, our breeders
were again able to breed varieties resistant
to these pests with the introduction of
resistant genes from some Indian varieties.
Interestingly, two of the new varieties that
emerged, Bg 400-1 and Bg 276-5 also
showed resistance to iron toxicity, enabling
their introduction to high iron soils in the
Wet Zone. In fact they replaced the low
yielding traditional varieties there from. So
if the policy makers need varieties for iron
toxic soils, the answer obviously is these
new varieties and not the low-yielding
traditional ones.
New red rice varieties with high nutritive
value
Until about the late 1980s the rice breeding
thrust had essentially been for productivity
to achieve self sufficiency. The breeding
scope thereafter broadened also to
accommodate other attributes such as grain
quality, nutritional value and consumer
preference.
All the NIVs bread hitherto were, however,
white except Bg34-6 which was red but
with limited yield potential. However,
given the demand for red rice both from the
northern and southern regions, a new high
yielding variety of red rice, At 16 was
developed for cultivation in the high
potential areas.
In the last two decades, NIVs exceeding
10t/ha such as Bg 358, Bg 352, Bg 300 and
At362 which are now the most popular
varieties among farmers emerged. Bg 403
is a red variety with the same potential
yield. In addition many other red varieties
in all age classes such as At 303, Bw 272-
6/B ( 3month varieties), At 362, At353, Bw
364 (3.5 months) and At 402, Bw 401 and
Bg 406 ( 4months) with yield potential in
excess of 8 t/ha are available with equally
high nutritive value as the traditional ones.
Is there then any rationale to get back to
traditional rice with inherently much lower
yields and far greater susceptibility to pests,
diseases and lodging. There are, however,
claims of yields of 4 to 5 t/ha from
traditional varieties apparently from small
plots under well managed conditions. This
may be true . But the danger is when
extents under these varieties are expanded
the risk for pest attacks increase
substantially, and if they are to be grown
organically without pesticide, the damage
could be even greater.
The Department of Agriculture together
with the Industrial Technology Institute
(ITI) had in 2011 published a booklet
comparing yields and nutritive values of 25
popular traditional varieties. Unfortunately
only the nutritive values for some of the
NIVs are in it but not the yields. Yield data
records of NIVs from farmers fields are,
therefore, incorporated for comparison.
Anti-glycation data adapted from another
publication by scientists of the ITI are also
incorporated in the Table below.
It shows that whereas the white varieties
have lower protein, antiglycation ( higher
the % , greater the health benefit) ,
antioxidant, iron and zinc levels, all red rice
varieties irrespective of whether they are
improved or traditional have comparable
levels, and hence comparable health
benefits.
The primary objective of grain breeding is
to breed for energy (carbohydrate) and
palatability, and other nutriments being
secondary. They are usually derived from
other foods - pulses, meat, fish, fruits and
vegetables. Breeding high protein rice
together with the high yield attribute had
not met with much success although some
traditional rice varieties with as much as
15% protein have been reported from other
countries.
About 8 9% protein appears what is
achievable. In any case, given the massive
yield advantage of all NIVs, there is no
argument to return to traditional varieties
on a large scale, given also the fact that the
special attributes of these varieties are
already available in the new red rice
varieties.
Whither rice research?
The need is now not to go back to
traditional rice, but to face the enormous
challenges of climate change and the
resultant vagaries of weather leading to
crop losses, the demand for more food from
the limited land resources given the ever
increasing population, and more seriously,
the problem of environmental pollution
leading to diseases such as CKDU.
Is our political resolve and resource
allocation equal to the task? Sadly it is not
so. We have, for example, an ageing rice
research team in the Department of
Agriculture without competent
replacements for lack of a coherent training
and succession plan. Of a full cadre of 8 -10
breeders and other rice researchers at the
Rice Research and Development Institute ,
for example, there is now only one fully
trained (PhD) researcher who is also due to
retire in a few years. The situation is no
better in other institutes of the Department
of Agriculture (DOA). What are the
authorities doing?
(Concluded)

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