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November 27 ,2018

Vol 9 ,Issue 11

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Rice tariffs to solve consumer woes, boost productivity: NEDA
November 23, 2018

By NEDA PR/PNA

MANILA — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on Friday welcomed
the passage of the rice tariffication bill in the bicameral conference committee, which said this
bill — once signed into law and enforced — will solve food supply issues and improve the
country’s agricultural productivity.

The two chambers of Congress have approved the passage of the rice tariffication bill, which
amends Republic Act (RA) No. 8178, otherwise known as the Agricultural Tariffication Act of
1996. This will replace quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice imports with tariffs and remove
unnecessary government intervention in the rice market.

―We view this as a positive development as the administration’s economic team exhausts all
efforts to tame increases in the prices of goods. With only the President’s signature before rice
tariffication becomes a law, we are making a big step in the realization of our agricultural reform
agenda,‖ Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

Pernia said the Bicam-approved bill addresses not only the tariffication of rice in compliance
with the Philippines’ obligation to the World Trade Organization (WTO), but it also addresses
food security by increasing the availability and accessibility of cheaper rice to the consuming
population.

―The economic team has always been mindful that food remains to be the major contributor to
inflation. Efforts to address food supply concerns, especially rice, will definitely help bring down
consumer prices,‖ he added.

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According to NEDA’s preliminary estimate, headline inflation rate would be reduced by 1
percentage point if rice prices will be reduced to the level of imported rice. Even with just a
PHP1.00 per kilo reduction in the wholesale price of rice, headline inflation rate would also be
reduced by 0.3 percentage points.

Rice tariffication also helps improve the productivity of farmers and, as a result, enables them to
increase their incomes.

The bill provides for the establishment of a rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF) from
an annual appropriation of PHP 10 billion for the next 6 years.

If the tariff revenues exceed PHP10 billion in any given year, the excess revenue will still be
plowed back to RCEF to support rice farmers.

―The RCEF will be used to provide key interventions to support our farmers and enhance their
competitiveness, including farm machinery and equipment to improve farm mechanization, rice
seed development, propagation and promotion, expanded rice credit, and extension services,‖
Pernia said.

A portion of the rice tariff revenues in excess of PHP10 billion shall also be used to provide
direct financial assistance to rice farmers adversely affected by the removal of the quantitative
restriction

https://ptvnews.ph/rice-tariffs-to-solve-consumer-woes-boost-productivity-neda/

DTI private rice import program only partly awarded


November 22, 2018 | 9:51 pm

PHILSTAR
ONLY 15,000 metric tons (MT) of rice has been awarded out of a total of 350,000 MT private-
sector import volume allocated to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Agriculture
Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said.

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In a news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Piñol said: ―We have the DTI 350,000 MT, of which
only 15,000 has been awarded… The problem is that they did not know that the NFA (National
Food Authority) has a requirement that the importer needs to have a warehouse.‖

Mr. Piñol said that DTI has so far only endorsed Puregold as an importer to the National Food
Authority (NFA) which is in charge of granting import permits to approved companies.

At the height of the rice crisis the DTI offered its self as a channel for private rice imports, in the
hope that it could directly course large volumes to the retailers and food companies which it
regulates.

―The DTI arrangement is one-time only, with no deadline,‖ Mr. Piñol. He added that Robinsons
Supermarket, through its parent Universal Robina Corp. (URC) chairman Lance Y. Gokongwei,
has expressed interest to take part in the DTI’s importation program.

―I think Robinsons is interested. I spoke to Lance Gokongwei, who is interested, not only in rice
importation but also in linking up with our farmers for the production of good-quality rice. I
would like to commend Robinsons for being the first to signify its intention to link up with
farmers,‖ Mr. Piñol said.

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It can be recalled that URC has earlier donated P5 million worth of table potato seeds from
Canada to the DA for distribution to farmers in Benguet, Mountain Province, Bukidnon and
Davao del Sur.

Meanwhile, the NFA Council has approved the out-of-quota importation of rice, with
participants required to demonstrate financial, warehousing and retailing capability.

Asked whether the out-of-quota imports will clash with the DTI program, Mr. Piñol said: ―The
DTI came first. It was a program presented to us. This was approved long before we decided on
the out-of-quota program.‖ — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

https://www.bworldonline.com/dti-private-rice-import-program-only-partly-awarded/

Mekong Delta should forsake unsustainable third rice crop


14:17 | 26/11/2018
VietNamNet Bridge – Developing flood-based agriculture models, ditching intensive shrimp
farming for integrated farming could be key for the Mekong Delta to cope with the threat of
climate change.

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Workers prepare the ground for a shrimp farm pond in the Mekong Delta province of Soc
Trang. Intensive shrimp farming has been regarded as a highly unsustainable production
method, especially in the Mekong Delta. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha

These livelihood solutions for the region, predicted to be among worst hit by climate change and
rising sea levels, were presented by Andrew Wyatt, Mekong Delta programme manager, from
the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), at a
conference held by Green Mekong to review its past working year.
Green Mekong was an initiative by the HCM City-based Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper, launched
shortly after the Government adopted a milestone document on sustainable development for the
Mekong Delta in late 2017, to review climate-resilient economic models in the Mekong Delta
provinces as well as the implementation progress of the Government’s Resolution.
The Mekong Delta is facing a series of challenges, as unsustainable land use and poor
management of underground water and alluvium has actually worsened the rate of the sinking,
posing even greater risks than rising sea level, while weak planning of sea zones and thinning
mangroves leave coastal areas exposed to disastrous consequences from strong typhoons and
rising sea level, Wyatt from IUCN told the conference held last Thursday.
He advised against intensive farming near the coastal zones and switching to integrated shrimp-
mangroves model, eliminating the need to draw up underground water, an activity that was
proved to accelerate the sinking rate of the delta as sea level rises.
―The key issue here is that there needs to be a mindset change, from people, governments and
businesses in the Mekong Delta,‖ Le Minh Hoan, Party Secretary of the Dong Thap Province.
Farmers need to abandon the practice of three rice crops a year, as building up dikes to retain
water in the paddy fields would prevent the already declining alluvium from entering the fields at
all.
―If the rice’s growth depends solely on the fertilisers, their quality and taste would suffer, the
farmers would also suffer as production costs rise,‖ Hoan said, warning careless pursuit of more
output would backfire.
He suggested that there is an urgent need to switch to other integrated models, such as rice-fish,
rice-lotus, or rice-shrimp farming.
―Of course, each locality would need to find what model most suits them.‖
Luong Minh Quyet, director of Soc Trang Province’s agriculture department, proposed the
establishment of a Mekong Delta committee, chaired by the HCM City Party Secretary. The
committee would have 130 members, who are capable scientists and engineers that would advise
the chair on matters related to Mekong Delta connectivity and development.
Sustainable models
From January to July this year, Green Mekong has reviewed the performance of nearly 30
agricultural production models in the Mekong region with 13 of the best models selected to
receive financial support.
Notable models include switching low-yielding paddy fields in Ba Tri, a coastal district of Ben
Tre Province, to cattle grass; a wind power farm in Bac Lieu Province; a model in the upstream
regions of Kien Giang seeks to teach farmers to replace third rice crop with lotus and know-how
to grow bananas in tandem with growing vegetables and breeding fish.
Another highlight was a story of Le Thanh Nghia, a farmer in Dong Thap Province, who for 20
years, has painstakingly converted his vast tracts of land into a bamboo forest, creating a habitat

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for the storks, once thought to have disappeared from the area along with the diminished bamboo
trees, to return and flourish. This model was highly rated by the Green Mekong, not only for its
successes in landscape restoration, but also its economic viability as the bamboo forest is now a
known eco-tourism spot.
https://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/213542/mekong-delta-should-forsake-
unsustainable-third-rice-crop.html

ASIA RICE-INDIAN RATES GAIN FOR 3RD WEEK;


MARKETS EYE PHILIPPINE ORDER
11/22/2018

* Indian rupee hits over 2-month high

* Prices dip in Vietnam, Thai rates narrow

* Bangladesh to buy 600,000 tonnes from local farmers

By Harshith Aranya

BENGALURU, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Rice export prices rose for a third straight week in India as
the rupee gained, while an order from the Philippines did little to infuse activity in Thailand and
Vietnam.

India's 5 percent broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted around $367-$375 per
tonne this week, from $363-$371 the last week.

The top exporter's rupee currency rose to its highest level in more than two months, trimming
exporters' margins.

"Paddy rice prices have jumped in Chhattisgarh and other neighbouring states and accordingly
export prices are going up," said an exporter based in Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra
Pradesh.

In July, the government raised prices paid to local farmers for common grade paddy rice by 13
percent from a year earlier to 1,750 rupees per 100 kg for the new season crop.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Bangladesh will procure 600,000 tonnes of rice at 36 taka ($0.40) per
kg from local farmers in the current harvesting season to boost reserves, a food ministry official
said.

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In Vietnam, rates for 5 percent broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> fell to about $410 a tonne from
$415-$420 last week.

"Though prices are lower, trade remains very quiet as domestic supplies are empty. Prices will
fall further in the coming weeks, closer to the levels offered by Thailand and India," a trader
based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

"The Tan Long Group offered 118,000 tonnes in a Philippines import tender for 500,000 tonnes
earlier this week, but the firm hasn't been seen buying rice from the local market, and it's not
clear where its source will be."

The Philippines is on a rice-buying spree this year in a bid to tame prices that surged as stocks at
government warehouses nearly ran out.

Singapore-based commodity trader Olam International offered to supply the Philippines with
210,000 tonnes and Vietnam's Tan Long Group Joint Stock Co offered 118,000 tonnes.

Traders said the Vietnamese market will remain quiet until early next year when supplies of the
winter-spring crop become available.

Meanwhile in Thailand, benchmark 5 percent broken rice <RI-THBKN5-P1> prices were quoted
at $382-$395 per tonne, free on board (FOB) Bangkok, narrowed from $380-$398 last week.

Thailand will only supply part of the Philippines deal so there has been no immediate impact yet,
but there is a chance that domestic price could rise later this week because of it, a Bangkok-based
rice trader said.

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai


and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; editing by Jason Neely)

https://www.agriculture.com/markets/newswire/asia-rice-indian-rates-gain-for-3rd-week-
markets-eye-philippine-order

India to give 5 percent subsidy for non-basmati rice


exports for four months: government
NOVEMBER 23, 2018 / 11:

A woman winnows rice in a field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Amit
Dave/FilesMUMBAI (Reuters) - India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, will give incentives for
non-basmati rice shipments to help boost flagging overseas sales, the government said in an
order reviewed by Reuters.

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The government will give a subsidy of 5 percent for non-basmati rice exports for the four months
to March 25, 2019, the trade ministry said in the order dated Nov. 22.

The subsidy will help accelerate exports in the next few months, Nitin Gupta, vice president of
the rice business at Olam India, told Reuters.

India’s non-basmati rice exports have weakened this year despite a weaker rupee that makes the
grain cheaper for holders of other currencies.

India’s rice exports fell 9.6 percent to 5.8 million tonnes in the first six months of the financial
year that began in April, according to official government data, as Bangladesh, a leading buyer,
cut purchases due to a bumper harvest.

The decision to give financial support for non-basmati rice exports would also help keep local
prices steady, especially when new-season supplies tend to drag prices down, said B. V. Krishna
Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association.

New-season rice supplies have already started arriving in the local market.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Writing by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Tom Hogue


https://in.reuters.com/article/india-cenbank-overseasloans/rbi-eases-hedging-rules-for-external-
commercial-borrowing-idINKCN1NV27H

Food firms hope to feast on snack sales in Vietnam


Indian rice rates gain for third week; markets eye Philippine
order
Rice export prices rose for a third straight

week in India while an Philippine order did little to infuse activity in Thailand and Vietnam.
India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety was quoted around $367-$375 per tonne this week,
from $363-$371 the last week. The top exporter’s rupee currency rose to its highest level in more
than two months, trimming exporters’ margins.
―Paddy rice prices have jumped in Chhattisgarh and other neighbouring states and accordingly
export prices are going up,‖ said an exporter based in Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra
Pradesh.
In July, the government raised prices paid to local farmers for common grade paddy rice by 13
percent from a year earlier to 1,750 rupees per 100 kg for the new season crop.

9|www.riceplusmagazine.blogspot.com ,
mujahid.riceplus@gmail.com
Meanwhile, neighbouring Bangladesh will procure 600,000 tons of rice at 36 taka ($0.40) per kg
from local farmers in the current harvesting season to boost reserves, a food ministry official
said.
In Vietnam, rates for 5 percent broken rice fell to about $410 a ton from $415-$420 last week.
―Though prices are lower, trade remains very quiet as domestic supplies are empty. Prices will
fall further in the coming weeks, closer to the levels offered by Thailand and India,‖ a trader
based in Ho Chi Minh City said.
―The Tan Long Group offered 118,000 tonnes in a Philippines import tender for 500,000 tons
earlier this week, but the firm hasn’t been seen buying rice from the local market, and it’s not
clear where its source will be.‖
The Philippines is on a rice-buying spree this year in a bid to tame prices that surged as stocks at
government warehouses nearly ran out.
Singapore-based commodity trader Olam International offered to supply the Philippines with
210,000 tons and Vietnam’s Tan Long Group Joint Stock Co offered 118,000 tons.
Traders said the Vietnamese market will remain quiet until early next year when supplies of the
winter-spring crop become available.
Meanwhile in Thailand, benchmark 5 percent broken rice prices were quoted at $382-$395 per
ton, free on board (FOB) Bangkok, narrowed from $380-$398 last week.
Thailand will only supply part of the Philippines deal so there has been no immediate impact yet,
but there is a chance that domestic price could rise later this week because of it, a Bangkok-based
rice trader said.
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/india-to-give-5-percent-subsidy-for-
non-basmati-rice-exports-for-4-months-government/articleshow/66762378.cms

Rice-export duty benefit extended


PTIT+ T-

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 26

The government has extended duty benefits to non-


basmati rice exporters under a scheme to boost the
shipment of the agri commodity. ―Non-basmati rice
items have been made eligible for MEIS benefits at
the rate of 5 per cent for exports made with effect
from November 26 and up to March 25, 2019,‖ the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)
said in a public notice.https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/rice-export-
duty-benefit-extended/article25599494.ece

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Egypt unlikely to buy Indian rice after it fails cooking test -
sources
NOVEMBER 22, 2018

DUBAI (Reuters) - All Indian rice samples offered in Egypt’s first international rice buying
tender for 2018 have failed a cooking test required for approval of purchases, three trade sources
with direct knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.All Chinese rice samples were accepted,
while one Vietnamese rice sample was accepted and the other rejected, they said.Egypt,
previously a rice exporter, is estimated to need about 500,000 tonnes of imported rice this season
as it reduces local production to save water. It has purchased Indian rice in the past.

―There have been Indian sales before to Egypt in past years so this is an unexpected result and
we don’t know exactly how these cooking tests were conducted,‖ one source said.

―The result means Egypt will be highly dependent on China at least for this tender,‖ he said.The
samples were tested by a research centre which falls under the Agriculture Ministry.Egypt’s state
grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), which falls under the
Supply Ministry, is handling the purchase tender.

GASC and Agriculture Ministry officials were not immediately available to comment. GASC
has yet to announce the results of its rice tender.A total of 11 suppliers submitted samples and
offers to GASC for testing and sales, traders have said.GASC is seeking short or medium grain
milled white rice of any origin in the tender and has asked traders to submit 2 kg samples of their
grains for a cooking test.

https://in.reuters.com/article/india-cenbank-overseasloans/rbi-eases-hedging-rules-for-external-
commercial-borrowing-idINKCN1NV27H

Nigeria to begin rice export in 8 months


By Vincent A. Yusuf | Published Date Nov 22, 2018 13:21 PM

A Thai consortium has signed a Memorandum


of Understanding (MoU) with Rice Farmers
Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) to invest in the
local production of rice for export in the next
eight months.This partnership was necessitated by
the Nigerian rice revolution and a drastic drop in
11 | w w w . r i c e p l u s m a g a z i n e . b l o g s p o t . c o m ,
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rice importation from Thailand from more than 600,000 metric tonnes to 20,000 metric tonnes
annually.

National President of the association, Aminu Goronyo stated this in an interview with Daily
Trust in Abuja.

Goronyo said that the Thai consortium was in Nigeria in order to invest in the country’s rice
industry to establish rice processing, packing facilities and support farmers on how best they can
cultivate, process and package rice for the local and international market.

―We have achieved self-sufficiency in rice production, and in the next two production circles,
which is about 8 months, Nigeria will start exporting rice to our neighboring African countries.‖

―Already we are no longer importing rice massively from Thailand that is why they are here so
that we can sign an MoU to enable them to deploy their machinery to begin the processing rice to
support this presidential agenda because we are no more importing,‖ he said.

Also speaking, Dr Shah Siraji, leader of the Thai consortium delegation to Nigeria stressed that
the Nigeria rice production initiative was doing excellent because the country needed to be self-
sufficient in rice.

https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/nigeria-to-begin-rice-export-in-8-months.html

Time for competence at DA


Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2018 - 12:00am

The legislative bicameral conference committee has approved the rice tariffication bill with no
licensing by the NFA, removal of the NFA Council, and a P10 billion fund for rice
competitiveness. Economists have long advocated replacement of quantitative restrictions on
rice importation with a simple tariff.

But the reform measure has also been vigorously opposed by some supposedly farmers groups
and by agriculture officials, including the current secretary. They claim that import restriction
protects local farmers. That has not worked for decades, but they still believe it miraculously
will.

12 | w w w . r i c e p l u s m a g a z i n e . b l o g s p o t . c o m ,
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As proposed by the economic managers, the bill allocates P10 billion for the Rice
Competitiveness Enhancement Fund to buy farm machinery and equipment, seed production,
and training on rice farming. The restrictions on rice imports only punished rice consumers,
including farmers who buy from the open market once their personal stocks are consumed.

President Duterte actually ordered rice import liberalization after heated discussions in the
Cabinet between the finance secretary and the agriculture secretary. But in the end, the
agriculture secretary insisted no written order was given by the President.

In fact, the agriculture secretary in his new capacity as NFA chairman, dilly dallied in
implementing a DTI program allowing supermarkets to import 350,000 metric tons of rice. Only
15,000 metric tons have been approved for importation by the Lucio Co Puregold Price Club.

Under the DTI program, supermarkets and traders can import rice from any country with the
maximum quantity to be allocated per importer set at 20,000 MT. Rice sourced from an ASEAN
country will be levied a 35 percent tariff and 50 percent for non-ASEAN origin.

Removing the rice import restrictions became urgent after the country’s inflation rate zoomed up
beyond the expectations of government economists and the central bank. The cause was traced to
an above normal rise in food cost inflation, notably the price of rice.

NFA not only failed to import enough buffer stock, but also caused the public to panic when its
administrator showed empty warehouses to media reporters. Duterte initially blamed the rapid
rise of international oil prices for the high inflation rate. Many also mistakenly blamed TRAIN 1
as the culprit.

High inflation was caused by the failure of Duterte to decide amidst the long running debate
between the old chairman of the NFA Council and the NFA administrator on the right rice
importation policy. That probably explains why Duterte was using other explanations for high
inflation.

Rice import liberalization makes sense. As estimated by Rolando Dy, an agri-business specialist
from the University of Asia and the Pacific: CIF Manila for rice (25 percent broken) P22.63;
tariff P7.92; Handling/importer mark-up P5; total warehouse price P35.55 and a retailer mark-up
of P1.50 for a retail price of P37.05 a kilo.

But we must do more than just liberalizing rice importation. We need a total program for
everything from convincing farmers to plant hybrid seeds to giving farmers access to farm credit
and modernizing operations of rice farms.

We also need to have economies of scale in rice farming, same as Thailand and Vietnam. That is
difficult, if not impossible, under the Agrarian Reform Law. We need to have a president bold
enough to declare the law dead and come up with a better program.

13 | w w w . r i c e p l u s m a g a z i n e . b l o g s p o t . c o m ,
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We need a new Rafael Salas to lead our agriculture sector to produce the country’s food (not just
rice) requirements. We can concede the current secretary has the best intentions, but we also
need one with training and experience to do the job.

We need someone with the organizational ability of the late Paeng Salas, the international
experience of William Dar, and the political skills of Arthur Yap.

While Dar and Rep. Yap had their chance as past agriculture secretaries, they didn’t have the
funds now available to produce a new golden age. Hopefully the President realizes how
important it is to have the right person… or risk high inflation again or worse.

Other than rice, the other important crop that has been neglected in the last two years of Mr.
Duterte is coconut. It is so bad that the Thais are killing us in our own market.

At Unimart Capitol Commons, I noticed that the shelf for something as simple and basic as
coconut milk is now Thai territory. Several brands of packaged coconut milk from the top shelf
to the bottom are occupied by Thai brands. Only Knorr is Philippine made.

This reminds me of a similar visit I made a year or so ago to an Asian supermarket in California.
I found a coconut water brand called Sarap that was canned in Thailand. There were also boxes
and boxes of fresh young coconut or buko from Thailand.

Let us not talk about patis, a product as Filipino as we can imagine. That, too, is now dominated
abroad by the Thais. We have been hearing how bad poverty is in our coconut regions.
Processing of agriculture products like coconut provides another level of local value added that
should help farmers get better prices for their produce.

Food processing isn’t as high tech as producing cell phones or as complicated as manufacturing
cars. Why isn’t this happening?

Is this a problem of DTI as well? Even here, we have lost the cooking oil market to palm oil of
Malaysia. I am not surprised given the massive assistance the Malaysian government gives their
planters.

We are not even talking of allocating additional government funds to help the coconut farmers.
The farmers have billions of pesos in coco levy funds sleeping, and maybe being pillaged
somewhere. Why can’t these funds be used to help the farmers get a better living from coconuts?

I am hoping 2019 will be the year for agriculture. That can happen with a new inspiring leader
for this sector. Results! We need less promises and more good results!

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com.


Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

https://www.philstar.com/business/2018/11/26/1871623/time-competence-da

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Rice tariffication to benefit other crops–expert
By Cai Ordinario

November 26, 2018

THE passage of the rice tariffication bill at the Bicameral Conference Committee will also
benefit other agricultural crops, according to a local economist.

Ateneo EagleWatch Senior Fellow Leonardo A. Lanzona Jr. told the BusinessMirror that the
tariffication can boost reforms in other crops given that it will lessen the rice-centric approach of
the government in agriculture. Local economists have pointed out that the government’s focus
on rice has stolen time and resources away from developing other crops where the country could
have a comparative advantage.

―The impact of this law goes beyond the lowered rice price which the lawmakers intended. Its
impact is to rationalize the agricultural sector which has focused on rice sufficiency. With this
law, other crops where we have comparative advantage can now be considered for reform,‖
Lanzona said.

Lanzona said the impact on rice prices may not even be felt given that inflation has been
managed. But what is more important is that more resources can be given to other activities in
the farm sector.

―Even the prices will not be affected in the short run since inflation has now been managed. But
government resources can now be placed more effectively over the long term, bringing in greater
productivity in the sector,‖ Lanzona said.

Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) estimates that headline
inflation would go down by a percentage point if rice prices are reduced to the level of imported
rice.

Even with just a P1 per kilo reduction in the wholesale price of rice, Socioeconomic Planning
Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said headline inflation rate would also be reduced by 0.3 percentage
points. The Neda said rice tariffication also helps improve the productivity of farmers and, as a
result, boosts their incomes.
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The bill provides for the establishment of a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund from an
annual appropriation of P10 billion for the next six years. If the tariff revenues exceed P10
billion in any given year, the
excess revenue will still be plowed back to RCEF to support rice farmers.

―We view this as a positive development as the administration’s economic team exhausts all
efforts to tame increases in the prices of goods. With only the President’s signature before rice
tariffication becomes a law, we are making a big step in the realization of our agricultural reform
agenda,‖ Pernia said.

In 2014 PIDS Senior Research Fellow Roehlano M. Briones and Research Analyst II Danileen
Kristel C. Parel said the country’s rice self-sufficient policy is obsolete.

They said it cost taxpayers debts worth P156 billion as of 2009, courtesy of the National Food
Authority, whose ―buy high, sell low‖ policy is draining government coffers.

https://businessmirror.com.ph/rice-tariffication-to-benefit-other-crops-expert/

NFA expected to survive under rice tariffication regime as keeper


of buffer stock
November 26, 2018 | 10:28 pm PHILSTAR

SENATOR Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the committee on food and agriculture, said on Monday
that the National Food Authority (NFA) will not be abolished with the implementation of the rice
tariffication bill.Ms. Villar said that only the regulatory and importation functions of the NFA
will be removed, but the agency will remain, to solely focus on buffer-stocking with its inventory
acquired from domestic farmers.

―There is no provision in the rice tariffication on the abolition of the NFA. We think it will limit
its role to buffer-stocking, buying from the local farmers, but no abolition,‖ Ms. Villar told
reporters after the Senate budget hearing for NFA on Monday.

―We want to keep the buffer-stocking except that now the NFA is required to buy it from local
farmers, not importing,‖ Ms. Villar said.

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According to Ms. Villar, the budget for the NFA should be pegged at around P7 billion, strictly
for the maintenance of a buffer stock to stabilize the rice supply and allow it to sell subsidized
rice to the poor and to release emergency supplies during periods of calamity.

Ms. Villar added that with the NFA committed to buying domestic rice at P17 per kilo, with an
additional P3 incentive, the price of NFA rice might be P33 per kilo, a level seen sufficient to
achieve break-even.

―If it is purchased at P17, the break-even price is P30. If it is purchased at P20, the break-even is
P33,‖ Ms. Villar said.

Ms. Villar said that the senate committee will discuss in plenary session on Monday, Dec. 3, the
NFA budget for 2019.

―We go plenary on Monday… There is a prediction that the budget will be re-enacted for one
month. I don’t think we can finish the budget from Dec. 3 to Dec. 12, two weeks. I think we’ll
finish sometime in January so that means the budget will be re-enacted for one month and then
we pass the 2019 budget in January,‖ Ms. Villar said.

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The rice tariffication bill is due for submission to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for enactment
into law.

―We will forward it to the President as soon as we ratify the bicameral report,‖ Ms. Villar said.

The bicameral conference committee approved last week the rice tariffication bill which aims to
lift quantitative restrictions on importation of rice, and impose a tariff on importers, to be used
for the rice competitiveness enhancement fund. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

https://www.bworldonline.com/nfa-expected-to-survive-under-rice-tariffication-regime-as-keeper-of-
buffer-stock/

Govt extends duty benefits to non-basmati rice exporters to


boost shipment
The duty benefit is provided under the commerce ministry's Merchandise Exports
from India Scheme (MEIS)

Press Trust of India | New Delhi Last Updated at November 26, 2018 15:06 IST

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The government has extended duty benefits to non-basmati rice exporters under a scheme to
boost the shipment of the agri commodity.The duty benefit is provided under the commerce
ministry's Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS).

"Non-basmati rice items have been made eligible for MEIS benefits at the rate of 5 per cent for
exports made with effect from November 26 and up to March 25, 2019," the Directorate General
of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has said in a public notice.

DGFT, under the commerce ministry deals with export and import related policies.Under MEIS,
government provides duty credit scrip or certificate depending on product and country.

Those scrips can be transferred or used for payment of a number of duties including the basic
customs duty.

India is one of the largest exporters of non-basmati rice and in 2017-18, the country exported
8.63 million tonnes of the rice, which was more than double the quantity of basmati rice exports
of 4.05 million tonnes.

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Non-basmati rice exports during April-February 2018 stood at $3.26 billion as against $2.53
billion in 2016-17.

Rice is the country's main kharif crop. As per the first advance estimates of foodgrains
production for kharif (summer-sown) season for 2018-19 crop year, rice output is estimated at
record 99.24 million tonnes as against 97.5 million tonnes of production in last year's kharif
season.

The sowing operation of kharif crops begins with onset of monsoon and harvesting starts from
mid-September. Paddy, maize and soyabean are major kharif crops

https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/govt-extends-duty-benefits-to-non-basmati-
rice-exporters-to-boost-shipment-118112600418_1.html

Chinese researcher claims first gene-edited babies


By MARILYNN MARCHIONE

11/26/18 9:17 AM

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HONG KONG — A Chinese researcher claims that he helped make the world’s first genetically
edited babies — twin girls born this month whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new
tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life.If true, it would be a profound leap of science
and ethics.A U.S. scientist said he took part in the work in China, but this kind of gene editing is
banned in the United States because the DNA changes can pass to future generations and it risks
harming other genes.Many mainstream scientists think it’s too unsafe to try, and some
denounced the Chinese report as human experimentation.

The researcher, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during
fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far. He said his goal was not to cure or
prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have — an
ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.He said the parents involved
declined to be identified or interviewed, and he would not say where they live or where the work
was done.

There is no independent confirmation of He’s claim, and it has not been published in a journal,
where it would be vetted by other experts. He revealed it Monday in Hong Kong to one of the
organizers of an international conference on gene editing that is set to begin Tuesday, and earlier
in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press.―I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just
to make a first, but also make it an example,‖ He told the AP. ―Society will decide what to do
next‖ in terms of allowing or forbidding such science.Some scientists were astounded to hear of
the claim and strongly condemned it.It’s ―unconscionable … an experiment on human beings
that is not morally or ethically defensible,‖ said Dr. Kiran Musunuru, a University of
Pennsylvania gene editing expert and editor of a genetics journal.

―This is far too premature,‖ said Dr. Eric Topol, who heads the Scripps Research Translational
Institute in California. ―We’re dealing with the operating instructions of a human being. It’s a big
deal.‖
However, one famed geneticist, Harvard University’s George Church, defended attempting gene
editing for HIV, which he called ―a major and growing public health threat.‖―I think this is
justifiable,‖ Church said of that goal.In recent years scientists have discovered a relatively easy
way to edit genes, the strands of DNA that govern the body. The tool, called CRISPR-cas9,
makes it possible to operate on DNA to supply a needed gene or disable one that’s causing
problems.

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It’s only recently been tried in adults to treat deadly diseases, and the changes are confined to
that person. Editing sperm, eggs or embryos is different — the changes can be inherited. In the
U.S., it’s not allowed except for lab research. China outlaws human cloning but not specifically
gene editing.
He Jiankui (HEH JEE’-an-qway), who goes by ―JK,‖ studied at Rice and Stanford universities in
the U.S. before returning to his homeland to open a lab at Southern University of Science and
Technology of China in Shenzhen, where he also has two genetics companies. The university
said He’s work ―seriously violated academic ethics and standards‖ and planned to investigate. A
spokesman for He confirmed that he has been on leave from teaching since early this year, but he
remains on the faculty and has a lab at the school.
The U.S. scientist who worked with him on this project after He returned to China was physics
and bioengineering professor Michael Deem, who was his adviser at Rice in Houston. Deem also
holds what he called ―a small stake‖ in — and is on the scientific advisory boards of — He’s two
companies.
The Chinese researcher said he practiced editing mice, monkey and human embryos in the lab
for several years and has applied for patents on his methods.
He said he chose embryo gene editing for HIV because these infections are a big problem in
China. He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 that forms a protein doorway that allows HIV,
the virus that causes AIDS, to enter a cell.
All of the men in the project had HIV and all of the women did not, but the gene editing was not
aimed at preventing the small risk of transmission, He said. The fathers had their infections
deeply suppressed by standard HIV medicines and there are simple ways to keep them from
infecting offspring that do not involve altering genes.
Instead, the appeal was to offer couples affected by HIV a chance to have a child that might be
protected from a similar fate.
He recruited couples through a Beijing-based AIDS advocacy group called Baihualin. Its leader,
known by the pseudonym ―Bai Hua,‖ told the AP that it’s not uncommon for people with HIV to
lose jobs or have trouble getting medical care if their infections are revealed.
Here is how He described the work:
The gene editing occurred during IVF, or lab dish fertilization. First, sperm was ―washed‖ to
separate it from semen, the fluid where HIV can lurk. A single sperm was placed into a single
egg to create an embryo. Then the gene editing tool was added.
When the embryos were 3 to 5 days old, a few cells were removed and checked for editing.
Couples could choose whether to use edited or unedited embryos for pregnancy attempts. In all,
16 of 22 embryos were edited, and 11 embryos were used in six implant attempts before the twin
pregnancy was achieved, He said.
Tests suggest that one twin had both copies of the intended gene altered and the other twin had
just one altered, with no evidence of harm to other genes, He said. People with one copy of the
gene can still get HIV, although some very limited research suggests their health might decline
more slowly once they do.
Several scientists reviewed materials that He provided to the AP and said tests so far are
insufficient to say the editing worked or to rule out harm.
They also noted evidence that the editing was incomplete and that at least one twin appears to be
a patchwork of cells with various changes.
―It’s almost like not editing at all‖ if only some of certain cells were altered, because HIV
infection can still occur, Church said.
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Church and Musunuru questioned the decision to allow one of the embryos to be used in a
pregnancy attempt, because the Chinese researchers said they knew in advance that both copies
of the intended gene had not been altered.
―In that child, there really was almost nothing to be gained in terms of protection against HIV
and yet you’re exposing that child to all the unknown safety risks,‖ Musunuru said.
The use of that embryo suggests that the researchers’ ―main emphasis was on testing editing
rather than avoiding this disease,‖ Church said.
Even if editing worked perfectly, people without normal CCR5 genes face higher risks of getting
certain other viruses, such as West Nile, and of dying from the flu. Since there are many ways to
prevent HIV infection and it’s very treatable if it occurs, those other medical risks are a concern,
Musunuru said.
There also are questions about the way He said he proceeded. He gave official notice of his work
long after he said he started it — on Nov. 8, on a Chinese registry of clinical trials.
It’s unclear whether participants fully understood the purpose and potential risks and benefits.
For example, consent forms called the project an ―AIDS vaccine development‖ program.
The Rice scientist, Deem, said he was present in China when potential participants gave their
consent and that he ―absolutely‖ thinks they were able to understand the risks.
Deem said he worked with He on vaccine research at Rice and considers the gene editing similar
to a vaccine.
―That might be a layman’s way of describing it,‖ he said.
Both men are physics experts with no experience running human clinical trials.
The Chinese scientist, He, said he personally made the goals clear and told participants that
embryo gene editing has never been tried before and carries risks. He said he also would provide
insurance coverage for any children conceived through the project and plans medical follow-up
until the children are 18 and longer if they agree once they’re adults.Further pregnancy attempts
are on hold until the safety of this one is analyzed and experts in the field weigh in, but
participants were not told in advance that they might not have a chance to try what they signed
up for once a ―first‖ was achieved, He acknowledged. Free fertility treatment was part of the deal
they were offered.He sought and received approval for his project from Shenzhen Harmonicare
Women’s and Children’s Hospital, which is not one of the four hospitals that He said provided
embryos for his research or the pregnancy attempts.
Some staff at some of the other hospitals were kept in the dark about the nature of the research,
which He and Deem said was done to keep some participants’ HIV infection from being
disclosed.
―We think this is ethical,‖ said Lin Zhitong, a Harmonicare administrator who heads the ethics
panel.Any medical staff who handled samples that might contain HIV were aware, He said. An
embryologist in He’s lab, Qin Jinzhou, confirmed to the AP that he did sperm washing and
injected the gene editing tool in some of the pregnancy attempts.The study participants are not
ethicists, He said, but ―are as much authorities on what is correct and what is wrong because it’s
their life on the line.‖―I believe this is going to help the families and their children,‖ He said. If it
causes unwanted side effects or harm, ―I would feel the same pain as they do and it’s going to be
my own responsibility.‖
AP science writer Christina Larson, video journalist Emily Wang and researcher Fu Ting
contributed to this report from Beijing and Shenzhen, China
http://www.dailyjournal.net/2018/11/25/us-med-genetic-frontiers-gene-edited-babies/

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