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****&****

My note –
N.Korea only seems to start shit that demands response from the international community when they have concerns over food and specifically rice – rice crops and hunger.

– cricketdiane, 04-04-09

What have our commodities speculators done? Are the agri costs preventing crops from being planted this year as a result of the global contraction and the skyrocketing costs of fertilizers and lower expected return from those crops on the market?

****


KABUL – Much of the international aid to Afghanistan over the past seven years has been spent to achieve military and political objectives, and the current approach to aid lacks “clarity, coherence and resolve”, a group of international NGOs has said. full report

Food aid not reaching most vulnerable
“Work has never been as difficult as now” – ICRC
IRIN’s most popular articles
Receive IRIN reports for free by e-mail

NEPAL: Switching to bananas


Concerns over worsening food security

MYANMAR: Rohingya face rising food insecurity

Regional approach to Rohingya boat people

BANGLADESH: Air pollution choking Dhaka

More Environment reports

PHILIPPINES: ICRC hostage freed

Philippines RSS feed

PAKISTAN: NGOs restricted, operating in fear

“NGOs should leave Swat” – insurgent leader

ASIA: Urgent need to tackle transboundary animal diseases, says FAO

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Asia News
Maps

AFGHANISTAN: Food aid not reaching most vulnerable women, children
INDONESIA: Search for 131 missing people continues
AFGHANISTAN: Dozens of schools reopen in volatile south
PAKISTAN: Some 1,500 IDPs clash with police
ASIA: Fighting the spread of Artemisinin-resistant malaria

[archive more news »]
Features
CAMBODIA: The high price of jealousy
PHNOM PENH, 26 March 2009 (IRIN) – Sreygao is house-bound, her life destroyed after a jealous wife doused her face and neck with acid. It burned into her skin and blinded her. “Everything has been taken from me because someone was very jealous,” she told IRIN.
full report
BANGLADESH: Fears for social stability as migrant workers return
DHAKA, 26 March 2009 (IRIN) – Abdul Monsur has good reason to worry. After losing his job as a pipe welder in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) he was deported to Bangladesh. Such stories are not uncommon. Layoffs and forced repatriation of Bangladeshi workers from the Middle East and Malaysia (the two primary destinations for Bangladeshi workers) are increasing at an alarming rate.
full report
PHILIPPINES: Insecurity jeopardises aid work
MANILA, 25 March 2009 (IRIN) – A hostage crisis involving three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers may force agencies to stop bringing assistance to some areas, officials told IRIN, as humanitarian workers feel increasingly under threat in the hostile south.
full report
PHILIPPINES: Maternal mortality rates “not making sufficient progress”
MANILA, 24 March 2009 (IRIN) – Thousands of Filipino women continue to die due to complications related to childbirth, according to health specialists.
full report
MYANMAR: Beyond the delta, aid projects miss out
YANGON, 19 March 2009 (IRIN) – The positive aspects of the Cyclone Nargis response in the Ayeyarwady Delta have yet to translate into better access or more funds for aid operations in the rest of Myanmar, where needs are great and often unmet, according to aid workers.
full report

http://www.irinnews.org/IRIN-Asia.aspx

***

World view
Global hunger
The crisis the world forgot

Last Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2009 | 11:53 AM ET Comments20Recommend48
By Brian Stewart CBC News

It says a great deal about the general instability of our age that the world can misplace entire crises in the shock of the latest alarms.

The G20 summit in London this week was chiefly concerned with what some now call The Great Recession across the developed world.

But what happened to The Great Global Hunger Crisis? You’ll remember how it swept across large parts of Asia and Africa over the past two years, provoking widespread hoarding of rice and grain as well as food riots.
Village women in Chirumhanzi, Zimbabwe, wait for food handouts from Oxfam in January 2009. At least five million Zimbabweans rely on food aid and the number is rising because of recent crop failures. Village women in Chirumhanzi, Zimbabwe, wait for food handouts from Oxfam in January 2009. At least five million Zimbabweans rely on food aid and the number is rising because of recent crop failures. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press)

It has since almost entirely disappeared from the news. But not from the real world.

In reality, the now largely overlooked food crisis is continuing to devastate much of the poor world and to reverse some of the historic advances over the past dozen or so years in reducing global poverty.

Until fairly recently, hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Africa and South America were moving into better lives, even joining the middle class.

But the lack of investment in agriculture, along with the rapid rise in commodity prices and the ravages of the current recession, has now cast an estimated 90 million people back into abject poverty.

The total now living in such extreme conditions is once again climbing above one billion, the first absolute increase in the hungry and destitute in a generation.
‘It’s a mess’

When I was in London recently I spoke with Tim Lang, who’s studied the economics of global food production for more than three decades. Lang is one of Britain’s leading development experts and an adviser to the World Health Organization.

“In 2007,” he said, “I started being optimistic for the first time in a very long time about world food policy. It looked like world leaders were going to be coming together and taking very seriously the coming food crisis.

“But then it actually started dropping off the agenda the moment the credit crisis happened. The leaders came to the UN and to the Food and Agriculture Organization in June 2008. But their minds were already on the meltdown of the capital markets.”

World leaders from the 20 largest economies gathered in London for a G20 summit on the international recession amid an unprecedented security operation and protests in the streets. World leaders from the 20 largest economies gathered in London for a G20 summit on the international recession amid an unprecedented security operation and protests in the streets. (Simon Dawson/Associated Press)

For the media, capital markets dominate global news even though one-third of UN nations — 60 overall — face growing food shortages and have large segments of their populations spending 75-80 per cent of their incomes on food.

To those like Lang who track agricultural production, there appears little hope of a turnaround in the near future.

“We’ve got a highly divided world of 6.7 billion people,” he says. “One billion are suffering malnutrition and hunger, 1.3 billion are overweight and obese. It’s a mess.”
A hungry planet

Indeed, it would be very difficult to exaggerate the gravity of the food crisis. Everyday, 24,000 children die from hunger related diseases — that’s one every 3.6 seconds.

The world should have enough food, but agriculture has suffered from severe under-investment for over 30 years.

Corn, sugar and petroleum products eat up steadily increasing amounts of prime land. Water is also in short supply, while populations are rising and countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China have been growing richer and adding more (grain-consuming) meat to their diets.

Together these things comprise the burning fuse of the 21st-century food crisis. And now you can add in the fact that food aid from rich donors has also been collapsing in recent months.

Of the $20 billion in new aid pledged by developed nations less than 20 per cent has actually been delivered. These countries are reneging on promises as their own economies weaken.
Neglect can be dangerous

But possibly the gravest danger at the moment is the one least talked about.

It is that, as economic protectionism rises, the jobs of many so-called guest workers will be sacrificed first.

These workers send home over $200 billion annually in remittances to family members in the poorest nations. This amount is three to four times the level of international aid.

In London, the head of the British Overseas Development Institute, Simon Maxwell, warns that the sacrifice of foreign workers could be the last straw collapsing a generation

“Countries which have a very heavy dependence on remittances, you know Kenya for example, see remittances that are down 40 per cent and falling rapidly.

“Mexico, where did their remittances come from? The United States. Those are falling. Bangladesh exports a lot of labour to the Middle East, but now the number of people leaving Bangladesh has dropped dramatically. And developed countries have become quite protectionist in terms of stopping migrant labour coming in. New rules, new formula, new quotas.”

Anti-poverty activists have been trying to nudge the wealthy G20 nations into reversing labour protection rules and spending stimulus money in developing countries. But given the air of barely suppressed panic in the rich world, that approach is unlikely.

For the wealthy nations, the future is too uncertain as the full blast of the economic crisis has yet to hit. That means the poorest countries will continue to receive minimal attention, which can have an impact well beyond their borders.

The UN estimates 27 nations are approaching violent instability as their brief period of food prosperity comes undone.

Given these realities, ignoring one crisis for another is not likely to increase the security of an increasingly troubled world.

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/04/02/f-vp-stewart.html

***
humanitarian news and analysis
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

THAILAND: Rising rice prices fuel fears of food shortages and starvation

Photo: Amantha Perera/IRIN
Mature rice ready for harvesting
BANGKOK, 4 April 2008 (IRIN) – International aid agencies are increasingly worried by the recent dramatic rise in food costs, and particularly rice prices, across Asia and the effect this will have on food assistance projects for the poorest people in the region.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is watching the rising price of rice, especially in Thailand, with alarm. “I have sleepless nights,” Jack Keulemans, regional procurement officer for the organisation, told IRIN.

“As prices go up in the world market many millions of people across Asia will face food shortages and possible starvation,” WFP regional spokesperson Paul Risely said. “Every day we are battling to procure food, and every day millions of people in Asia are in greater danger of going hungry.”

WFP estimates that at present prices, it needs more than US$160 million to maintain its current commitments in the Asia region. But, according to Keulemans, with rice prices increasing daily, the organisation will soon be hard-pressed to purchase rice at any price.

“It’s not that we are panicking just yet,” Erika Joergensen, WFP’s deputy regional director for Asia, told journalists in Bangkok last week. “But we are cautioning that unless this situation improves it may really become a major problem.”

International shortage

The rice price in Thailand alone has more than tripled since the beginning of the year. This week, the export price of Thai rice topped US$1,000 per metric ton – the highest since the early 1970s during the OPEC oil squeeze. More critically, there is also a shortage of rice and other grains on the international market.

World stocks of grain are at their lowest for more than 20 years, according to agricultural experts. International rice supplies are at their lowest since 1976.

The availability of rice on the international market has been further exacerbated by the decision of many of the world’s leading rice exporting countries to limit sales or ban them altogether.

Last week, the Cambodian prime minister urged people not to panic buy or hoard rice. In the past few weeks leading rice exporters, including Egypt, India and Pakistan have halted almost all exports of rice, at least for the time being, while China and Vietnam have also dramatically reduced their exports.

While this may help stabilise rice prices locally and ensure supplies in the supermarkets, it is not good news for importing countries like the Philippines and Timor-Leste, or aid agencies seeking rice supplies, according to WFP.

Contingency plans

The agency says it will have to reduce the size of food rations, or reduce the frequency of distribution to once a fortnight instead of once a week, if it does not receive more funds. Only as a last resort would WFP stop distribution all together, Risely told IRIN.

The situation in Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporter and where WFP buys most of its rice requirements for Asia, seems to be getting worse daily.

“The price is almost certain to continue to go up in the near future,” said Vichai Sriprasert, president of Riceland International, a major Thai rice exporter. “Exporters who have stocks are making a lot of money, as millers who have supply contracts are not actually delivering the rice.”

Many aid experts blame speculation and media reports about the prospect of further rises in rice prices for the regional price-hike crisis.

According to Prasit Boonchuey, president of the Thai Farmers’ Association, rice farmers do not seem to be benefiting from the increased prices. He said they have to sell their grain immediately after harvest because of the lack of storage facilities.

WFP is not alone in sounding the alarm about a pending rice crisis. Thousands of Burmese refugees, who fled across the border into Thailand to escape the military government, are now facing severe rice shortages.

Poorest people suffer

“The rice price is killing us,” said Jack Dunford, head of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) of agencies that provide food, shelter and other aid to more than 140,000 refugees along the border with Thailand.

The agency has appealed to its donors for more funds, but is seriously considering reducing the rations it currently provides the refugees. “This is a very vulnerable group of people,” Dunford said. “We may have to cut our support to them.”

His sentiments mirror those of many aid workers and UN officials providing support for the poorest people in the region. “They are the ones who are going to suffer most if the rice prices continue to skyrocket,” said WFP’s Risely.

“There is a potential for a significant humanitarian crisis as a result,” he told IRIN. “We have already seen unrest in some places in the region where price rises have affected people.”

lj/bj/sr

Theme(s): (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Economy, (IRIN) Food Security

[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=77608

***
http://www.irinnews.org/IRIN-Asia.aspx

humanitarian news and analysis
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Sunday 05 April 2009

Military’s influence on aid too great in Afghanistan – NGOs

KABUL – Much of the international aid to Afghanistan over the past seven years has been spent to achieve military and political objectives, and the current approach to aid lacks “clarity, coherence and resolve”, a group of international NGOs has said. full report

• Food aid not reaching most vulnerable
• “Work has never been as difficult as now” – ICRC
• IRIN’s most popular articles
• Receive IRIN reports for free by e-mail
NEPAL: Switching to bananas

• Concerns over worsening food security

MYANMAR: Rohingya face rising food insecurity
• Regional approach to Rohingya boat people
BANGLADESH: Air pollution choking Dhaka

• More Environment reports PHILIPPINES: ICRC hostage freed

• Philippines RSS feed
PAKISTAN: NGOs restricted, operating in fear

• “NGOs should leave Swat” – insurgent leader ASIA: Urgent need to tackle transboundary animal diseases, says FAO

• Asia RSS feed
Asia News
Maps
AFGHANISTAN: Food aid not reaching most vulnerable women, children
INDONESIA: Search for 131 missing people continues
AFGHANISTAN: Dozens of schools reopen in volatile south
PAKISTAN: Some 1,500 IDPs clash with police
ASIA: Fighting the spread of Artemisinin-resistant malaria
[archive more news »]
Features
CAMBODIA: The high price of jealousy
PHNOM PENH, 26 March 2009 (IRIN) – Sreygao is house-bound, her life destroyed after a jealous wife doused her face and neck with acid. It burned into her skin and blinded her. “Everything has been taken from me because someone was very jealous,” she told IRIN.
full report
BANGLADESH: Fears for social stability as migrant workers return
DHAKA, 26 March 2009 (IRIN) – Abdul Monsur has good reason to worry. After losing his job as a pipe welder in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) he was deported to Bangladesh. Such stories are not uncommon. Layoffs and forced repatriation of Bangladeshi workers from the Middle East and Malaysia (the two primary destinations for Bangladeshi workers) are increasing at an alarming rate.
full report
PHILIPPINES: Insecurity jeopardises aid work
MANILA, 25 March 2009 (IRIN) – A hostage crisis involving three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers may force agencies to stop bringing assistance to some areas, officials told IRIN, as humanitarian workers feel increasingly under threat in the hostile south.
full report
PHILIPPINES: Maternal mortality rates “not making sufficient progress”
MANILA, 24 March 2009 (IRIN) – Thousands of Filipino women continue to die due to complications related to childbirth, according to health specialists.
full report
MYANMAR: Beyond the delta, aid projects miss out
YANGON, 19 March 2009 (IRIN) – The positive aspects of the Cyclone Nargis response in the Ayeyarwady Delta have yet to translate into better access or more funds for aid operations in the rest of Myanmar, where needs are great and often unmet, according to aid workers.
full report

http://www.irinnews.org/IRIN-Asia.aspx

***

In-Depth: Food Crisis: Status and Impacts

<!–

–>

Asia Features
AFGHANISTAN: Drop in fuel, food prices raises hope for food insecure


LAOS: Breeding livestock to nurture livelihoods


NEPAL: Building a food bridge to survive the lean times


AFGHANISTAN: Urgent need to pre-position food aid <!–
PAKISTAN: Food inflation spikes over Ramadan
NEPAL: Fuel shortage threat to food security
THAILAND: Buffaloes play greater role as fuel and fertiliser prices soar
CAMBODIA: Farmers turn back to oxen as fuel price rises
INDONESIA: Battling to beat the rice crisis–>
Middle East Features
SYRIA: Rice import snag leaves some Iraqi refugees short


SYRIA: Bread subsidies under threat as drought hits wheat production


ISRAEL-OPT: Gaza fuel, cooking gas shortages beginning to bite


YEMEN: Soaring food prices force more people below poverty line – WFP
Africa Features
NIGERIA: Food stocks low, prices high, despite good harvest


WEST AFRICA: Do high food prices warrant a cash response?


CAMEROON: Life in Douala, one of the world’s most expensive cities


KENYA: Livestock disease, high prices fuelling food insecurity <!–
COTE D’IVOIRE: Racketeering at roadblocks raises food prices
SENEGAL: Dakar on less than $5 a day
MAURITANIA: Struggling to cope in pre-harvest “lean season”
NIGERIA: Desperate children swamp northern cities as food price hikes bite–>
Film/Audio
KENYA: Impact of climate change on three Masai families

Bangladesh – Cyclone misery
Coping with the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr

Fisherman Shiraz Munshi put  out of business
Widow Layli Akhtar left with one daughter
Orphan Mustafa Mullah can’t cope on his own
Food Crisis Q & A
Why everything costs more
Hear our Voices
KENYA: Agnes Ekelan, “I can only eat if I sell firewood”

more…

Photogallery
PHILIPPINES: Rice shortage hits poor
Links and References
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–><!–
–>The Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force
Food and Agriculture Organisation
World Bank
Overseas Development Institute
Famine Early Warning Systems Network
International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)
World Food Programme
BBC
In-Depth Feedback
IRIN welcomes feedback. Send your messages to feedback.

Global: Multimedia coverage, links and stories


Photo: Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN
WFP vouchers for free maize have prompted requests for rice (file photo)

BURKINA FASO: WFP expands food voucher pilot

OUAGADOUGOU, 3 April 2009 (IRIN) – Families in Burkina Faso’s second-largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, have begun receiving US$3 vouchers that can be cashed in for maize, cooking oil, salt, sugar and soap.

The distribution is the second half of a World Food Programme (WFP) urban hunger-alleviation experiment launched on 13 February in the capital, Ouagadougou, to help people cope with high food prices.

full report

<!–GLOBAL: Food aid must change to suit children–>FRONTLINE REPORTS

Increased hunger more

MYANMAR: Rohingya face rising food insecurity
KENYA: Severe warning sounded on food security

New online price tool shows food still expensive
JOHANNESBURG, 26 March 2009 (IRIN) – If you are a humanitarian food aid agency with limited resources, operating in Afghanistan and trying to access wheat supplies at the lowest prices, a new UN online tool can help you shop around.
full report

Rising aid costs more

GLOBAL: Winds of change in US food aid policy?
GLOBAL: Donor response to food crisis inadequate, agencies say

Health affected more

AFGHANISTAN: Food aid not reaching most vulnerable women, children
CONGO: Thousands to benefit in food and nutrition project

Reduced growth more

GLOBAL: Economic slowdown to push 100m into poverty
INDONESIA: Poor hit hard as fuel prices rise

Threat of unrest more

COMOROS: Concerns over possible social unrest
GUINEA-BISSAU: Soaring prices could trigger social conflict

Slideshow
Philippines: Rice shortage hits poor

Government intervention more

DJIBOUTI: “We are not moving as fast as I would like”
AFRICA: Soil scientists join efforts to boost food security

Opportunities? more

ZAMBIA: A better meal than maize-meal
CAPE VERDE: Growing food without soil

[ENDS]

HyperLink

http://www.irinnews.org/InDepthMain.aspx?InDepthId=72&ReportId=77872

****

My note – check this story from 1993 against actions in Asia / N, Korea

Floods in Asia ruin rice crop: Japan set to reverse import ban – Storms threaten rest of harvest

RAYMOND WHITAKER, Asia Editor

Monday, 11 October 1993

A COOL, wet summer in north- east Asia has devastated the rice crop, an event with political and social consequences ranging from raids on rice storehouses in Japan to possible unrest in North Korea. Typhoon Ed is threatening further damage in Japan, while further south and west, rice-growing areas of the Philippines and Vietnam have been hit by tropical storms.

Japan, where governments’ refusal to allow imports of rice forces consumers to pay at least nine times more than anywhere else, will have to import at least 1 million tonnes over the next 15 months, following the worst crop since 1945. Typhoon Ed is now threatening to bring more rain just as the harvest is being brought in.

South Korea has estimated that bad weather will cut its rice crop by just over 10 per cent. In Communist North Korea, propaganda organs have claimed a bumper harvest, but have given no reliable figures. According to a research institute in the south, Pyongyang is covering up one of the worst rice crops in recent years.

Kim Un-kun, a fellow of the state-funded Korea Rural Economic Institute, said North Korean rice production was expected to fall by nearly a third this year. Food shortages seemed to be ‘a serious problem’ in the north. Earlier this year rumours filtered out of food riots and guards being placed on warehouses where rations are kept. One report said visitors had seen a new slogan on billboards, calling on North Koreans to eat one meal fewer per day.

The South Korean institute said it co-operated with a Chinese institute to carry out surveys along North Korea’s borders with the two countries. The north’s collectivised agriculture, added Mr Kim, suffered from poor working practices, a lack of production incentives and shortages of technology and fertilisers. Andy Aronson, chief rice forecaster for the US Department of Agriculture, said North Korea was likely to attempt to make up its shortfall by bartering mineral resources for low-quality rice from China.

Rice forms a small part of the world trade in agricultural products, but the refusal of Japan and South Korea to permit imports has put their staple food at the top of the Gatt (world trade agreement) agenda. This week the US Agriculture Secretary, Mike Espy, arrives in Tokyo to keep up the pressure on Japan to open its market. He will be followed later this month by Peter Sutherland, the new Gatt chief, who will be seeking a resolution of the dispute by the 15 December Gatt deadline.

The failure of this year’s crop has heightened the embarrassment of Tokyo and Seoul. Japan has announced ’emergency imports’ of 200,000 tonnes this year, and will probably ensure that some is bought from the US, the world’s leading exporter. But Morihiro Hosokawa’s coalition government cannot afford to antagonise the country’s rice farmers, who have disproportionate political influence. It insists that the self-sufficiency policy will remain, even though imports of up to 1 million tonnes may be necessary next year. South Korea, where 15 per cent of the population earns a living from rice growing, is equally obdurate.

With astronomical rice prices likely to go even higher in Japan, thefts from storehouses have increased. Farmers and office workers have joined professional criminals in stealing supplies, hoping, according to police, to make a profit as prices rise.

World rice stocks are enough to supply deficits in any Asian country, but prolonged floods in the Philippines, which has been hit twice by Typhoon Flo, would weaken the country’s economy further. Vietnam, the world’s third- largest exporter, has the worst flooding for 90 years in central provinces, but its main rice-growing areas have had a record crop.

****

Bumper rice crop may not help the world’s poorest

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27 February 2009

Food and Agriculture Organisation has predicted that global paddy production in 2008 can bring down consumer prices. However, it also cautions that falling incomes and rising job insecurity due to economic meltdown may continue to affect the poor and their access to basic food.

Rome: The 2008 rice bumper harvest is coming to a close with better-than-expected production that could help ease consumer prices, FAO said in its February Rice Market Monitor.

But the agency warned that the global economic slowdown could outweigh the gains for the poorest of the world’s rice consumers, because of falling incomes and rising job insecurity.

Rice-Harvest.jpg
Rice harvesting in West Africa/ Photo credit: FAO

FAO currently predicts global paddy production in the 2008 season to rise to 683 million tonnes, 3.5% more than in 2007 and the fastest rate of growth for three years.

The increase will be due to a 2.2% increase in the amount of land cultivated globally as farmers and governments reacted to the high prices. The global 2008 rice harvest ends in Asian northern hemisphere countries around May.

Rapid increases in the price of rice – the staple food for around two and a half billion people – and other cereals played a major role in the food price shocks last year, characterised by high fuel and fertilizer prices that triggered political unrest in many countries.

Down but still high

Global rice prices for 2008 ended the year on average 80% higher than in 2007 despite the steady decline since their peak levels in May, FAO said. The price of a tonne of the benchmark Thai white 100% second grade was $611 in January compared to $385 in the same month in 2008 having risen to a peak of $963.

“One positive effect of the high rice prices in 2008 was that farmers and governments took up the challenges and opportunities and planted more, boosting production despite high fuel and fertilizer costs and a scarcity of quality seed,” said FAO Senior Economist Concepcion Calpe.

Favourable weather in many parts of the world also helped to sustain yields in the face of high fuel and fertilizer prices.

Slowdown to hit consumers

Soaring rice prices last year led governments round the world to take a variety of measures to try and dampen the effects on the poor.

“If last year they (governments) had to intervene on two conflicting fronts, both to stimulate rice production and to keep rice affordable to consumers, they may face even greater challenges in 2009 in the context of the severe global economic slowdown,” FAO said in its report.

“In this context, governments may again have to intervene, this time to sustain rice producer prices while also protecting the purchasing power of their populations, at a moment when demands for public help from other sectors are quickly intensifying.”

Much of the global production gain for the 2008 paddy season is expected to be concentrated in Asia, with bumper harvests expected in both large and small producing countries.

African harvest soars

African countries are also forecasting exceptional results and rice production is expected to rise by an impressive 18 percent due to government support and increased use of new, high-yielding and resilient seed varieties. As a result, rice imports to Africa are now expected to decline to their lowest level since 2004.

The excellent 2008 paddy crop is expected to lead to a strong rebuilding of world rice reserves this year to 118 million tonnes, in milled rice equivalent, the highest level since 2002 and nine million tonnes more than in 2008.

Traditional importing countries are forecast to replenish their reserves by over one million tonnes to some 20 million tonnes, but most of the world stock increase is likely to be concentrated among exporting countries.

Although lower prices are good for consumers, export prices below US$400 per tonne for top quality white rice could adversely affect producers and hamper polices geared towards self-sufficiency in many importing countries, FAO said.

Source : FAO

http://southasia.oneworld.net/todaysheadlines/bumper-rice-crop-may-not-help-the-worlds-poorest

***

Asia’s Rice Crop Under Threat: Research Institute – Rice Trade

1 post – 1 author – Last post: Oct 29, 2004

Asia’s Rice Crop Under Threat: Research Institute World Rice Farming Crop Management Info, Research & new Technologies.
http://www.oryza.com/forums/showthread.php?t=524 – 26k

  1. Asia Observer – Record cold weather threatens Thai rice crop

    Asia Observer is a portal to Asia with news, guide, community and forums.
    www.asiaobserver.com/content/view/576529/123/ – 43k – CachedSimilar pages

  2. The Rice Economy of Asia – Google Books Result

    by Randolph Barker, Robert W. Herdt, Beth Rose – 1985 – Rice trade
    High winds damage the rice crop by causing lodging (bending over of the stalks). In the temperate areas, cold weather limits rice production to one crop
    books.google.com/books?isbn=0915707144

  3. Waterproof Rice May Help Asia Cope with Flooding : NPR

    Oct 9, 2007 Asia’s rice crops are in danger from extreme weather associated with climate change. So now people are trying to develop rice that can adapt
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15032263
****

CROP

Harvest
Rice farming systems

Harvest

Depending on the weather and the cycle of the varieties, it is possible to obtain from one to four harvests per year.

In tropical climates, rice is generally harvested twice a year. Sometimes, there are three harvests as in Vietnam and the Mekong Delta. Up to four harvests have taken place in China. The main harvest normally occurs between December and February.

In temperate and cold tropical climates (in high altitude areas), there is only one harvest per year – from September to October in the Northern Hemisphere and from March to April in the Southern Hemisphere.

Many factors must be combined to ensure a good harvest :
– Adequate temperatures (the zero-physiologic is 12°C for Japonica and 13°C for Indica);
– Enough water;
– Careful work.

The necessity of warm temperatures is not the major obstacle. Higher temperatures are only indispensable during the maturation period (at least 20°C for 25 to 40 days). Rice can bear seasonal variations of temperatures in Mediterranean regions, where winters can be cold, since water supply is regular and abundant during the growing period. In high altitude areas, adapted varieties can tolerate low temperatures (12°C in average) at night.

Productivity

– World average productivity: approximately 3,9 tons per hectare;
– National maximum productivity: nearly 9,5 tons per hectare in intensive irrigated systems (Australia);
– National minimum productivity: approximately 0,75 tons per hectare in traditional upland rice systems (Congo Republic).

In most regions where the upland system predominates (Africa and mountain areas in the Southeast Asia which are characterized by burned areas and long 8-to-15 year rotations) the yields are low, with the exception of Brazil (intensive mechanized systems). Land easily deteriorates if handling practices (rotations and no tilage) are not quickly adopted. On the other hand, even without intense mechanization, irrigation allows very high productivity as in Australia (9,5 ton per ha) and Egypt (8,7 ton per ha).

Rice farming systems

The rainfed lowland rice

– It grows over a compacted soil (mainly in Africa and Madagascar), in bunded fields able to retain between 0-25 centimeters (low level) and 25-50 cm (medium level) of water. Rainwater or a local reception tank, passing from one paddy to another by gravity, feeds this non-irrigated rice. The rainfed lowland rice is also cultivated in deep water (50-100 cm), therefore excluding semidwarf varieties. The risk of temporary drought and unexpected floods is the major concern in this production system.
– Fertilizer utilization is rare. Introducing this type of cultivation, often associated with direct seeding and transplanting, is difficult and yields are low.
– This type of rice system represents 25 percent of the total rice area and 17 percent of world production, ranking second after irrigated rice.
– This rice farming system is located in rural regions where populational density is high, often in the poorest rural and urban populations.

Upland or dryland rice (in mountains or plateaus)

– Land is prepared for planting and rice is dry-seeded. Lack of humidity and normally poor soil affect crops and yields are often very low;
– This ecosystem is found in Brazil (Center-West), Madagascar, India and southeast Asia. In Asia it is observed mainly near the river banks when the water goes down at the end of the rainy season. In some African and Latin-American countries it represents more than 50 percent of the total rice area;
– Upland rice represents approximately 13 percent of rice planted area in the world and 4 percent of global rice production.

Irrigated rice

– Land is prepared while wet. Water is held in little reservoirs. Transplanted rice is most common in Asia. Elsewhere, direct seeding is used more and more due to increased labor costs.
– In the transplanting system, seeds are pregerminated and grown in wet seed-beds for a period extending from 9-14 days in Madagascar to 40-50 days after sowing in Asia. The seedlings are then transplanted.
– In direct seeding, seeds are frequently pregerminated. They may be broadcasted by hand (in Asia), machine-drilled in puddled soil or drill-seeded into dry soil, or even spread over the water by airplane (as in the United States and Australia).
– Fertilization helps increase productivity, especially with semidwarf varieties or high-yielding varieties from the Green Revolution. Mineral, organic and ecological fertilizers are applied.
– Rice productivity may obtain 5 tons per ha during the rainy season and more than 10 tons per ha in the dry season, when adapting advanced technologies.
– Irrigated rice accounts for 55 percent of the world rice area and about 75 percent of world production.

Deepwater or flood-prone rice

– Water is 1 to 5 meters deep and is supplied by rivers, lakes or tides in river mouth deltas. Water depth may exceed 5 meters in some parts of Bangladesh, as well as in the Mekong, Chao Phraya and Niger deltas.
– Seeds are broadcasted in ploughed fields, normally unbunded, in regions where the water level rises quickly after the beginning of the monsoon.
– Traditional long tiller and few sprout varieties are cultivated. The plant elongates and floats as the floodwater advances, thus its name – “floating rice”.
– Deepwater rice is found in south and southeast Asia (Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Sumatra), West Africa and South America.
– Productivity is low, mainly due to climate risks (droughts and floods) and the low production potential of cultivars grown with few inputs. Nevertheless, this ecosystem meets the needs of more than 100 million people, most of them living on small family farms.
– The construction of dams and other hydraulic projects has led to the transformation of some parts of Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Vietnam into irrigated rice areas.

http://www.unctad.org/infocomm/anglais/rice/crop.htm

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Gov’t embarrassed over wrong N Korean rocket launch info

National › 06:55 AM JST – 5th April

TOKYO — As Japan went on high alert in anticipation of an imminent rocket launch by North Korea, erroneous launch information sent…

http://www.japantoday.com/

Gov’t embarrassed over wrong N Korean rocket launch info

Sunday 05th April, 06:55 AM JST

By Daisuke Yamamoto

TOKYO —

As Japan went on high alert in anticipation of an imminent rocket launch by North Korea, erroneous launch information sent out by the Japanese government on Saturday led to widespread confusion among the public and municipal authorities.

The mistake has been tracked to the Self-Defense Forces, which misunderstood radar information as indicating a rocket launch had taken place and allowed the information to be sent out to the country and the world.

The misstep has embarrassed the administration of Prime Minister Taro Aso, who was apparently hoping that by quickly conveying the launch information to the public, he could raise his profile as an effective crisis manager.

‘‘We caused a great deal of trouble to the Japanese people. This was a mistake in the transmission of information by the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces,’’ Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters. ‘‘I want to apologize to the people from my heart.’’

The saga unfolded little more than an hour into the time frame North Korea had given for a rocket launch, which Pyongyang said would be conducted sometime between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Saturday to Wednesday to put a satellite into orbit.

Tensions were mounting after a report earlier in the day by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency that the satellite ‘‘will be launched soon.’’

At 12:16 p.m., the government released information via its Em-Net emergency e-mail system saying that ‘‘North Korea appears to have launched a projectile.’’

Although the information was retracted as a ‘‘detection failure’’ five minutes later, the damage had already been done.

Media organizations, both domestic and international, reported the notification as breaking news and some municipalities issued alerts to their residents based on an emergency email message sent by the central government.

According to the ministry, the Air Self-Defense Force’s ground-based FPS-5 radar at the ministry’s Iioka research and development site in Asahi, Chiba Prefecture, picked up a trace over the Sea of Japan on the radar screen.

The ‘‘Spark Information’‘—a code used for the detection of a ballistic missile—was immediately conveyed to the ASDF’s Air Defense Operations Group in the suburbs of Tokyo.

The information was then relayed to the ASDF’s Air Defense Command on the same premises. The phrase ‘‘Detection at Iioka’’ had been added to it by then.

However, the person who received the information at the command mistook the ‘‘Spark Information’’ for satellite early warning information provided by the U.S. military, according to the ministry. When the person conveyed the information to another person there, it contained two phrases that were not identical to the previous ones: ‘‘Detection at Iioka. SEW received.’’

Satellite early warning information is based on data sent by the U.S. military’s Defense Support Program satellite orbiting the Earth. Equipped with an infrared telescope, the satellite is normally the quickest tool to detect ballistic missile launchings.

The erroneous information was then relayed to the SDF’s Central Command Post in the Defense Ministry headquarters in central Tokyo, where the word ‘‘launch’’ was added in the process, and soon found itself within the crisis management center at the prime minister’s office at 12:16 p.m.

The center immediately passed the information on to local governments across the country and media organizations without realizing that it was mistaken.

‘‘Personnel at the Central Command Post should have confirmed on their own computer terminal that satellite early warning information had indeed been received. The mistake could have been avoided if they had done so,’’ a ministry official said.

The official declined to elaborate on why the personnel at the Iioka radar site misunderstood a trace on the radar screen as that of a ballistic missile or why the airman at the Air Defense Command mixed up the radar and satellite early warning information.

‘‘Although detection errors by an SDF radar are possible, the problem is serious if the launch information was disclosed to the public without cross-checking it with other pieces of information Japan and the United States had,’’ said Kazuhisa Ogawa, a military analyst.

Ogawa said those who are supposed to verify and make judgments on such detection information should be held accountable.

The day saw another blunder by the SDF in Akita Prefecture, over which part of the rocket is set to pass if it flies according to the plan announced by North Korea.

A few hours before the mistaken information was sent out by the central government, the Akita prefectural government was notified by the Ground Self-Defense Force that North Korea had ‘‘fired a missile.’’ Based on the information, it issued an erroneous report to all municipalities in the prefecture.

One of the municipal offices ended up communicating the report to households through a radio transmission for disaster management.

According to the Defense Ministry, the email computer system at the Ground Staff Office in the ministry malfunctioned and a message bearing wrong launch information was sent to hundreds of recipients of the service.

One of the recipients, a GSDF member at the prefectural government’s disaster preparedness headquarters, verbally communicated the message to a prefectural government official, who then passed on the information to all the municipalities six minutes later, prefectural officials said.

‘‘The (central) government disclosed the information it received as is, though it should have verified it at every step and carefully,’’ said Koichi Oizumi, an expert on crisis management.

‘‘This is the most elementary mistake…How can it defend the country like this? They need to scrutinize why they made mistakes,’’ the Aomori Chuo Gakuin University professor said.

© 2009 Kyodo News. All rights reserved. No reproduction or republication without written permission.

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/wrong-launch-info-an-embarrassment-to-government

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North Korea: U.S. Seeks To Resume Six-Party Discussions
Ambassador Bosworth (Apr. 3): “On the subject of the missile launch, which I suspect is at the forefront of everyone’s mind…we have continued to press the North Koreans and other countries on the issue of a missile launch. We take the position, as you know, that it is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718. We have continued to urge, as we urge now, the D.P.R.K. not to launch this.”  -Full Text  -Video

http://www.state.gov/

U.S. Policy Regarding North Korea
April 3, 2009

FPC Briefing
Ambassador Stephen W. Bosworth
Special Representative for North Korea Policy, U.S. Department of State
Foreign Press Center
Washington, DC

Date: 04/03/2009 Location: Washington, DC Description: Ambassador Stephen W. Bosworth, Special Representative for North Korea Policy, U.S. Department of State, Briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center on “U.S. Policy Regarding North Korea.” State Dept Photo

11:00 A.M. EDT

Video

MODERATOR: Okay. Welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center. We are very honored to have with us our Special Representative for North Korea Policy Ambassador Stephen Bosworth.

Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Thank you very much. It’s good to be here this morning. I recognize some faces and I suspect I will come to recognize more.

I have now been in this position for about six weeks. It has been a rather busy six weeks. I made, together with Ambassador Sung Kim and colleagues, a trip to the region. We went to Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul. In Seoul, we consulted with our Russian partners in the Six-Party process. And I met with the press several times on that trip. This is the first time I’ve met with the press since being back here.

Let me just say a few words and then I’ll take your questions. On the subject of the missile launch, which I suspect is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, I really don’t have anything new to say. We have continued to press the North Koreans and other countries on the issue of a missile launch. We take the position, as you know, that it is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718. We have continued to urge, as we urge now, the DPRK not to launch this. Whether it’s a satellite launch or a missile launch, in our judgment, makes no difference. It is a provocative act. And we hope that they will still reconsider and not do this.

If it does occur, we will be continuing to work closely with our partners and our allies in the UN Security Council to consult vigorously on what action might then be appropriate. We believe that a defiance of a UN Security Council resolution is an action that requires that there be some consequences, and that will be our objective. At the same time, however, I would also say that we continue to look with great interest, and give great priority, to the need to resume the Six-Party discussions with the goal of the denuclearization – the verifiable denuclearization – of the Korean Peninsula. And that remains, of course, our long-term goal. And we would hope to be able to return to that goal in as reasonable a period of time as possible.

So with that brief introduction, I would be happy to take questions. Yes.

MODERATOR: Wait, just one moment, please. I’d ask you, please, to wait for the microphone and identify your media. Start in the back. Sir.

QUESTION: Zoltan Mikes, World Business Press Online, Slovakia. I would like to ask if you have a set of negative incentives, like a set of punishments, what happens if North Korea do not – do not back up, end their launch? This flight, and if – because the positive ones didn’t work in the past, so what do you plan to do if North Korea will go on and they’ll provoke?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I really am not going to get into that question in any depth at all, other than to say that we will continue to consult with our partners and the other members of the UN Security Council on what would be an appropriate response.

MODERATOR: Sir.

QUESTION: Hi, good morning. Tomohiro Deguchi with Kyodo News, Japanese wire. It looks like the North Koreans are trying to link the missile issue and the Six-Party Talk issue. It’s – if you bring the missile issue to the UN Security Council, then they are going to leave from the Six-Party Talk framework. And is that your position to – I mean, if they move forward on the denuclearization, are you willing to give them the remaining assistance, which is the Japanese portion, about 200,000 tons? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I’m sorry, the two questions seem conflated somehow. Whether the North Koreans step back from the Six-Party Talks as a result of what might happen in the UN Security Council as a result of their decision to launch a missile is up to the North Koreans. We can’t obviously control that. I would hope that they would not link the two issues because from our point of view, both are important.

With regard to fuel deliveries, that’s something we continue to consult with our partners about, and I am confident that when we get back to the negotiating table in the Six-Party process, that we will be able to find solutions to that question.

http://fpc.state.gov/121278.htm

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*** 10.30 a.m. Hong Kong time 04-05-09 N. Korea launched long-range ballistic missile (10,30 p.m. EDT, Saturday evening, 04-04-09 our time.)  CNNI story this evening around 11 p.m.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

As North Korea counts down, Japan talks tough

Surprised by a 1998 launch, Tokyo is ready this time, warning against any violation of its airspace. Nervous Japanese officials know that the first moments after a North Korean rocket launch will be critical: Barely seven minutes after liftoff, it is likely to be hurtling over Japan’s northern coast.

http://press.jrc.it/NewsExplorer/clusteredition/en/20090404,latimes-69ebb152ed3276b619f86d02c46a8e1e.html

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